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 Subscription 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. 

A Primer for people new to American politics

posted Jul 12, 2016, 2:57 PM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Jul 13, 2016, 4:57 PM ]

I trade many texts with an Asian-American friend regarding investment strategies and Christian spiritual formation. When texting about the impact of the United Kingdom's Brexit vote on investing, my friend asked several questions about U.S. politics and the upcoming election. 
He wanted to understand the landscape of American politics so he could factor it into his investment decisions. 

In the process of helping this and another international friend get up to speed in American politics, I realized that many new people are registering to vote in the November elections. Some of these are internationals who are now citizens; others are responding to the campaigns of Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. And some long-time voters may just want a refresher. If this is you, then I hope you will take a look at Political Primer 2016.

How to bless others

posted Jun 28, 2016, 9:23 PM by Tim Isbell

Recently, a soon-to-be new mother asked Robin and me to join in a time of blessing and offering of advice to her husband, the soon-to-be new father. 

I remembered, many years ago, teaching this skill using principles from The Blessing, a book by Gary Smalley and John Trent. The book, a little dusty, still sits on my shelves, and I also found my old teaching notes. Together these informed my contribution to the occasion, attended by a circle of friends. It was a blessed time, indeed.

Afterward, I decided to post Smalley and Trent's five elements of blessing others. To learn more about blessing people, click on Blessing Others.

Are you a stock or a bond?

posted May 8, 2016, 8:52 AM by Tim Isbell

Our financial capital is the total of our saved assets, beyond the value of the home where we intend to reside in retirement.

Human capital is the present value of all future earnings. It is our health, knowledge, skills and motivation. Anything we do to increase our ability to earn higher future income is an investment in human capital. It's at its peak around age 25 and mostly gone by age 65. 

At best, we have about 40 years to convert enough human capital into financial capital to last the rest of our lives.

For how this impacts your asset allocation strategy, click on Human v Financial Capital.

The Invitation

posted Apr 27, 2016, 9:44 AM by Tim Isbell

A few weeks ago I visited Ohio on family business and attended a Sunday worship. I quickly realized that Heather Kimura's message would head toward an invitation to follow Jesus. So I took notes, and am glad I did! 

A few weeks later, I decided to polish up the notes, add some personal content, and publish these in the Christian Teachings section of my site.

Maybe you're a follower of Jesus and, like me, always looking for another fresh way of packaging an invitation to follow Jesus. Or maybe God has already prepared you to receive his invite. Either way, I hope you'll check out The Invitation.



Try "Pondering Prayer"

posted Mar 29, 2016, 8:49 AM by Tim Isbell

I meet individually with a few men who are working their way through Timothy Keller's book: Prayer - Experiencing Awe and Intimacy of God

Recently, two of us met for morning coffee at Panera Bread and talked about Keller's advice for meditative, or pondering, prayer. Keller unpacked a meditation framework from Martin Luther, which was intriguing enough that we decided to give it a try.

Later that morning I was preparing for a troublesome meeting on my agenda for two days later. I anticipated a "train wreck," and saw no way to stop it. In the process, I expected more criticism than I deserved and the perceived unfairness of that bothered me - too much. So I searched for an avoidance strategy but fell short.

As the day progressed, I experienced an unexpected intersection of pondering prayer and the troublesome meeting. By the end of the week, I had experienced the value of pondering prayer and decided to add it to my website. For the rest of the story and an explanation of the four parts of Luther's meditation framework, click on Pondering Prayer.  



"Why Mission?", a new book by Dean Flemming

posted Feb 20, 2016, 8:04 AM by Tim Isbell

Dr. Dean Flemming is a long-term friend, professor, and author. I serve as one of his editor/reviewers, so he recently sent me a complimentary copy of his new book. Re-reading it in finished form was so insightful that I'm sending gift copies to nine friends. So if you don't find a copy in your mailbox next week, I hope you'll order a copy from Amazon and start reading!

Dean wrote Why Mission? for followers of Jesus. It provides solid biblical and theological perspective for Christian living in secular western cultures. This book describes how followers of Jesus fit into the broad mission of God, the "misseo dei." He does this through the lenses of Matthew, Luke (his gospel and the Acts), John (his gospel and the Revelation), Saint Paul (Philippians), and Peter (1 Peter).

I particularly found that his chapters on Philippians, 1 Peter, and the Revelation offer valuable perspectives on my context in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'm sure Dean picked these two epistles because they speak profoundly to places where the culture views Christians with skepticism. This includes North America, where people increasingly see Christians, along with other religions, as part of the world's problem rather than carriers of its solution. Beyond the epistles, Dean's treatment of Revelation provides perspective and guidance on living a life of true worship of God, while the dominant culture busily worships an array of other gods.

Here are three excerpts to give you a flavor of the book:

From Dean's chapter on Philippians: Paul reminds the church that, although they conduct their public, common life - their citizenship - in a setting where Caesar seems to hold all the cards, they must do so according to a higher loyalty and a different lifestyle... they must visibly live out the values of the kingdom of Christ, not the empire of Caesar.

From his chapter on 1 Peter: Christian holiness is not a retreat from the world into a safe house of individual spirituality. Nor is it a crusade against the world, treating it as a foe to be defeated. Instead, Peter envisions a church that is radically different, yet fully engaged, for the sake of others.

From his chapter on the Revelation: The chief problem facing the churches to which John writes is not systematic persecution from Rome... For most of these churches, it was the temptation to accommodate to the dominant Roman ideology and culture.

The witness of God's people in Revelation is intertwined with worship. Worship is not only a liturgical practice. It is also a political act. Worshipers declare allegiances. Throughout Revelation, worship of the one true God in heaven is set over against the worship of the beast on earth, embodied for John's audience in the imperial cult.

Why Mission? (Reframing New Testament Theology) is available on Amazon.

Other books by Dr. Dean Flemming:

  • Contextualization in the New Testament: Patterns for Theology and Mission
  • Recovering the Full Mission of God: A Biblical Perspective on Being, Doing and Telling
  • Philippians: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition
For more from other authors, check out my Reading Suggestions 


Tim Isbell

Two Keys to a lasting Relationship

posted Jan 28, 2016, 9:16 AM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Jan 28, 2016, 9:19 AM ]

It's been a long time since I added a new resource to my Advice for Couples web page, but I added one today. It came from a young woman who I counseled, along with her husband, before their marriage 11 years ago. The article offers fantastic advice on how to make a relationship last year-after-year. It's a must-read if you're early in a relationship, then reread when the bumps come along, and eventually to pass along to your kids and grandkids. Here's the article: Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down to Two Basic Traits (An Atlantic article, published in BusinessInsider).

For more relationship resources, check out Advice for Couples. Or, if you're a pastor or professional who counsels people before marriage, click on Resources for Premarriage Counseling


Measuring your portolio's results

posted Jan 12, 2016, 10:24 AM by Tim Isbell

Many people buy and sell investments based on articles they read, advice from a professional, and their theories. They try to time their buys and sells. They have anecdotes of gains that encourage them, and of losses that they try to forget. But if you ask for their asset allocation between stocks and bonds, they need to go away and tally it up - despite that it determines 80% of their return. They have no way to assess whether their investing work adds or subtracts value beyond what they would undoubtedly receive from buying and holding a single, balanced, index mutual fund.

To learn how to compare your actual results with a meaningful benchmark, check out Portfolio Evaluation.

Prayer Resources for Ending Terror

posted Jan 4, 2016, 1:01 PM by Tim Isbell

On December 13, a few weeks after the Paris and San Bernardino terrorist attacks, we held a prayer service at New Life Nazarene Church (Cupertino, CA). It was a small, intimate, gathering of 15-20 Christian people praying for the many dimensions of the current situations.

We prepared the Worship Center with prayer stations and played quiet instrumental Christmas music. Each station had a poster and a few scriptures to guide peoples' prayers. Finally, we regathered in one group and closed with prayer. 

In case you want to do something similar, or just want the material for personal use, click on Let's Pray to End Terror



Do the math

posted Dec 13, 2015, 9:59 AM by Tim Isbell

One of Robin and my joys in retirement is helping under-resourced middle and high school students get better in math. Each year we have 5-10 students who we pair up with the same number of coaches. We meet one night a week to help students with their math homework. We season the calendar with a monthly dinner, occasional special activities (recent: miniature golfing), and even service projects (recent: Operation Christmas Shoebox and water-sealing 600 sq. ft of brick wall). As our students reach late high school, we help them with college and career strategies. And, in any ways we can, we cheer them on.

I have a separate Math Coaching website to support this work. Recently I posted four web pages to help our students - especially those in Algebra 2. If you know an Algebra 2 student right now, they're probably studying for first semester finals and they might benefit from the four links below. Or, if you're just curious about what Common Core high school math looks like these days, check out the links below:

So why post this on IsbellOnline? 

Partly just because some of you might also like math and teenagers and will consider giving something like this a try near where you live - whether it's math, or focused on some other subject area. While the Math Coaching website is primarily for our students and coaches in west San Jose, California, I also designed to help anybody get started in something like it. So check out the whole site by just typing mc.isbellonline.org into any browser.

Or, Contact Tim.


Tim Isbell


1-10 of 164