Home‎ > ‎

IsbellOnline News

IsbellOnline News subscriptions are available, free.

I frequently post new content on this site, which appears in the IsbellOnline News box on the Home Page. You can subscribe to email or RSS notifications of these posts. If you are new to subscriptions to posts, check out About Subscribing.

To subscribe to the email feed, click on Email Feed Notification Form. (If you subscribe but don't start receiving emails, check your spam filter.)

To subscribe to the RSS feed just click on the link next to the orange chicklet below. 

Meditations for Epiphany

posted Jan 2, 2020, 7:46 AM by Tim Isbell

The Christian calendar includes seven seasons (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and Ordinary Time). I just published a collection of twenty Responsive Prayer Meditations for the third season. To access, click on Epiphany meditations

For an overview of the entire meditation project, which includes links to access all previously published meditations, click on Responsive Prayer Meditations

Blessings, Tim

Christmas Season Meditations - now available

posted Dec 22, 2019, 1:25 PM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Dec 22, 2019, 1:25 PM ]

The Christian calendar begins with Advent and has seven seasons (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and Ordinary Time). I have just published a collection of my meditations for the second season of the current Christian year. You can access these, click on Christmas meditations

For an overview of the entire meditation project, which includes links to access all previously published meditations, click on Responsive Prayer Meditations

Blessings, Tim

Advent Season Meditations

posted Nov 28, 2019, 8:39 AM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Dec 22, 2019, 7:35 AM ]

At the start of Advent in 2018, I started writing meditations for a full Christian year. Instead of writing articles for humans, I address each meditation to God. I did it to enlighten my personal prayer life and intending to publish these the following year.

A year later, I counted 71 written meditations, meaning that I spent about five days refining and living in the context of each one. Now in the first year of publishing these meditations, the project remains enjoyable and fulfilling in my own life. Through this year of publishing, I revisit each meditation and find myself adding new ones along the way.

I encourage you to follow along. As the calendar ticks through the year, you can join me in building this project into your spiritual life. Perhaps you will write some reflections of your own! Or you can choose titles from my Table of Contents and jump directly to them. Some of you will need fresh material to minister to someone, or to address your church, or in some other setting. You are welcome to use any of my meditations in any way you like.

To get started, I suggest that you read Responsive Prayer Meditations. It includes all you need to know to take full advantage of the project, and it provides links to access the “Advent season meditations.”

(Also, If you're a minister or worship leader and looking for Advent readings for public worship settings, please check out Advent Readings.)

Blessings, Tim

Politics and The Way of Jesus

posted Nov 3, 2019, 4:39 PM by Tim Isbell

A subset of conservative evangelical Christians believes God wants them to exercise dominion over society by taking control of political and cultural institutions. Such far-right thinking is called dominionism.

  • Dominionists believe that the United States once was, and should again become a Christian nation. They deny the Enlightenment’s influence on the founding of American democracy. (The far-left denies the Christian influence on the founders.)
  • Dominionists generally do not respect other faiths or, sometimes, different versions of the Christian tradition. (The far-left typically rejects all organized religion.)
  • Dominionists believe the Ten Commandments and biblical law should be the foundation of American law and that the Constitution is a vehicle for implementing biblical principles. (The far-left considers themselves non-religious and guided by natural law.)

Religious right-wings are not new. In the gospels, Jesus grappled with the first-century religious right. They were called zealots. They believed God wanted them to make Israel great again by taking back its sovereignty as the Jewish nation governed by ancient Israelite Law. Simon-the-zealot was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. Crowds around Jesus often pressed him to use his miraculous powers to break Rome’s control over Israel. The zealots called for a return of their nation’s sovereignty and had long expected that a Messiah would come to deliver it. Jesus knew that he was the Messiah, and he heard their calls. Instead of ushering in a theocratic state, Jesus went to the cross - and invited all people to follow him. In other words, Jesus understood and rejected dominionism.

So how does the Christian right-wing theologically justify dominionism? Check out Politics: The Way of Jesus.

Regards, Tim 

Where Nazarenes fit (a Christian Holiness tradition)

posted Sep 3, 2019, 2:07 PM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Sep 4, 2019, 11:48 AM ]

I am an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene. Occasionally, someone asks where we fit among the Christian traditions. First, I ask if they are familiar with any church. If so, I start there.

Otherwise, I explain that we are a Holiness subgroup within Protestantism. Our sister traditions include Christian & Missionary Alliance (CMA), Church of God (Anderson), Free Methodist, Salvation Army, and Wesleyan Methodist.

If they want to go deeper, I explain the distinctives of the Christian Holiness tradition by walking them through Where Nazarenes Fit

Blessings, Tim

Is climate change an apocalyptic threat?

posted Jul 19, 2019, 8:02 AM by Tim Isbell

Here's the problem: We residents of wealthy nations now know that our use of fossil fuels to produce cheap energy has put the earth on an accelerating track toward destruction. This post is a summary of one Christian's view on climate change, its repercussions, and what we can do about it. You can read it at Climate Change - Apocalyptic? 

Blessings, Tim

Paschal Mystery

posted Jun 29, 2019, 4:25 PM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Jul 2, 2019, 9:51 PM ]

All of us suffer interim deaths in our life, such as the death of our youth, the death of our dreams, the death of our wholeness, the death of our honeymoon, the death of our innocence, and others. 
Many of the most joyful people in the world have suffered these deaths. And many of the most discouraged people in the world have suffered these deaths. The difference is that the first group have embraced the Paschal Mystery. 

This post unpacks the mystery of how we can receive new life and a new spirit to go with the new life. Hope you'll take a few minutes to read the Paschal Mystery.

Blessings, Tim

Strategy for Living Through the Snares

posted Feb 28, 2019, 8:56 PM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Feb 28, 2019, 8:57 PM ]

I needed an epiphany this Epiphany Season - a fresh strategy for living as a Christian among the snares of the world. By snares, I mean living in a world of unbalanced wealth, where lies pass for alternative facts, where racism is rising, where dysfunctional and corrupt politics prevail, and where we’ve degraded “our common home” to the precipice. 

Fortunately, God provided that epiphany.  To read it, click on Living Through Snares.


Characteristics of God - Revised

posted Feb 4, 2019, 11:51 AM by Tim Isbell

I know, this sounds like a really odd title. 

You probably already know that God hasn't revised his core characteristics in, well, forever! 

But in 2018 God revised my understanding. A year ago I posted a webpage listing two categories of God's characteristics: Greatness and Goodness. Last year, God showed me a couple of new ones: Glory and Beauty.

So I decided to revise the original post. It's available at Characteristics of God.

Blessings, Tim 

The Romance

posted Jan 2, 2019, 8:44 AM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Jan 2, 2019, 8:47 AM ]

I counseled, taught, and preached about an intimate romance with God for many decades. Since 2010 I intended to write a single, concise article that makes this concept more widely accessible. Last fall, a friend's question prompted me to start gathering material for the writing project. But I got stuck on one last question. Then, just before Advent, another friend tipped me off about some material from Christian musician and writer. I bought it and was shocked when his insight resolved that final question. So I finished the article over the holidays and now offer it to you in the link below. The article took 35 years to write - but you can read it in 15 minutes. I wrote it to shave decades off of your journey to the romance. Here are the questions that frame the article:
  1. When did you start thinking about this romance concept?  
  2. What's the big deal about Christmas and Easter?  
  3. What is so valuable about humans that made God condescend so far?  
  4. How can we possibly respond to such a passionate heart as God's?  
  5. What roadmap can I offer others that will guide them into the romance?  
To read the whole article, just click on The Romance. --Blessings, Tim

1-10 of 212