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New Advent Readings posted!

posted by Tim Isbell   [ updated ]

Sharon Rauenzahn, the author of 2 previous years' Advent Readings already on my site, is writing a new set for this year! 

So if you're looking for extremely fresh material, check out "Preparing for Perfection." The readings for the first two Sundays are finished and ready for use. The ones for the remaining Sundays will be ready in a few days - well before you need them.

Or for links to all 5 reading sets, go to Advent Readings.

Blessings,

Tim (and Sharon)

Sainsbury's Christmas Video

posted Nov 15, 2014, 8:57 AM by Tim Isbell

An acquaintance sent me a link to Sainsbury's 2014 Christmas advertisement. Sainsbury is the third largest supermarket chain in the U.K. and they built this ad around a true story which has circulated among Christian preachers for years. I think I used it myself. But Sainsbury's 4-minute dramatization tells it far better than I ever did.
The clip depicts the 1914 story of a 48-hour localized truce during WW1 between British and German troops to celebrate Christmas. 

Sainsbury is receiving some criticism for commercializing this "war story." But the story is a good one, and (in my opinion) is not about commercializing or condoning war. Quite the opposite, it is about the Spirit of Christmas showing up, even in the worst of circumstances.

After all, Christmas is very much about God incarnate coming into the broken circumstances of our world. And Christmas offers much, much more than a temporary, localized truce. This clip will help some ministers make this point.

Blessings,
Tim


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Most Visited Pages

posted Nov 9, 2014, 4:24 PM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Nov 12, 2014, 7:13 AM ]

I noticed it last year, and it's happening again this year: A significant uptick in the number of visitors to my site looking for Advent Readings. Looks like Christmas is coming! 

If you've been intending to take a look at my site but haven't gotten around to it, here are some places to start. These are the 5 most visited pages over the last 30 days:

  1. Advent Readings. I'd like to add a couple new Advent readings to the four that are already there, and have a couple of writers considering adding to this offering. If you are a good writer with an interest in this sort of thing, take a look at the link to see what these look like. Let me know if you want to give one a try.
  2. Premarriage Counseling. While the visitors to this page are probably mostly pastors or professional counselors, the Advice for Couples page contains similar material that is designed especially for parishioners.
  3. Tithes & Offerings. This is a very complete treatment of a complicated topic. It is good for pastors and parishioners. See also a related and very recently posted page: Tax-smart Donations.
  4. Stock Donations. Good for parishioners, and also for pastors/church leaders who want to position their organization to receive such donations.
  5. Overcoming Temptation. While I'm a bit surprised by the popularity of the first four on the list, I'm not surprised by this one. Everyone struggles with one or more temptations, and have fallen to these more than once in their life. When this happens we all want help so we can do better next time. I know that I need to write some more on this topic, and am working on some material in the background.
Blessings,
Tim

Assessing my Investment Expectations

posted Nov 4, 2014, 7:48 AM by Tim Isbell

If you wonder...
  • "What return can I reasonably expect from my investments?"
  • "Should I take more risk on my portfolio, or is it already too risky?"

... then this webpage is for you: Portfolio Expectations.

Hope you will check it out,

Tim

Tax-efficient Donations

posted Oct 10, 2014, 10:36 AM by Tim Isbell

It's the time of the year for tax planning. For many of us this includes implementing charitable donations that we want to include as deductions on our federal and state tax forms. 

This resource describes 4 options that most readers can implement themselves, though I recommend that you check with a tax adviser. And it includes 3 more options that are complex enough to require a certified financial planner and/or lawyer.

Along with each strategy is an estimated lead-time to help you determine when to start the process in order to fit the deduction into the current tax year.

To view the document just click on Tax-smart Donations.

All the best,

Tim


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Delay Social Security? ... revisited

posted Oct 6, 2014, 6:14 AM by Tim Isbell

A year ago I posted a webpage on the tradeoffs between filing for Social Security benefits as early as possible, waiting until the "full retirement age," or delaying all the way until age 70. After interacting with a Google+ contact, more reading, and thinking about the topic I decided to completely rewrite the webpage. This new version is simpler and provides more links to resources for those who want to go deeper. So if you're thinking through your Social Security filing options, check out this link: Delay Social Security? ... revised.

All the best,
Tim

Resolving Conflicts

posted Sep 9, 2014, 3:33 PM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Sep 10, 2014, 10:00 AM ]

Last Sunday our pastor preached an intriguing sermon on Matthew 18.15-17. As often happens, God shows Pastor Jeff things in a passage that God never showed me - despite the fact that I preached the same passage two or three times in the past. It's one of the delights of worship at New Life. So, last Sunday was another enlightening Sunday.

After church I went looking for a particular sermon I remembered preaching many years ago on that passage. I found it in my files for 1998 and noticed that I had not previously posted it to the public. And I'm it contains some very helpful content for anybody who leads others - in the church, the home, on the athletic team, or the workplace. It's simply been my go-to passage and philosophy for all kinds of conflict management.

So I revised it into a sort of teaching to guide pastors and parishioners in resolving conflicts in all kinds of settings - or to use to teach others how to do this. To have a look, click on Resolving Conflict

(To hear Pastor Jeff's teaching on Matthew 18 you'll have to wait until he retires, and hope he'll start posting his sermons on the internet. Sorry about that.)

Blessings,

Tim Isbell



Repost of Sermons to finish Year A

posted Aug 31, 2014, 8:47 PM by Tim Isbell

The morning after sending out that last post I reread it and was embarrassed the quality. To make matters worse, it included announcing that I now use an editor - whom I bypassed for that post! My mistake. So I cleaned up the post and gave it to my editor, then made the changes she recommended.

(By the way, I don't plan to use an editor in every post, but she puts her byline at the end of whatever she edits. So if you don't see it there, you know who to blame.)

Okay... here's the repost:

In the fall of 2010 I started posting sermons for Year A, attaching sermon files in Microsoft Word to webpages. In Year B I moved to posting sermon notes as links to Google Docs, making it easier for people to view and download them through any browser - regardless of any updates to the Microsoft Office suite. In Year C I polished the Google Doc format another notch. Finally, during this past year I converted all Year A and a few other sermons to Google Docs. 

Now you can browse short descriptions of all published sermons, organized by lectionary season as well as by sermon series, at >Sermon Collections. The sermon notes, including associated resources for each sermon, are available by the simple click of a link.

You can also access all these same sermon resources in one easily navigable chart at >Sermon Chart, where the default sort is by the Christian calendar date. Or you can sort this chart by biblical text, if that fits your preaching strategy better.

Occasionally I will add additional sermons from my 18 year stock. And my editor (Renee Biggar, a recent Seattle Pacific University graduate) is currently polishing up Year B so that by the time each lectionary season arrives they will be as clean as Years A and C. 

In 2010 the thing that triggered the creation of this website was to make these sermons available for others - especially preachers. Since then I've expanded this website's scope to include a wider range of Christian content. Plus I've added a couple of additional areas for the general viewer: 

  • Personal Finance section to help people manage their money.
  • A section for social-political commentary (packaged as IMHO).
Finally, a couple of years ago I built a completely separate Math Coaching website to support our work coaching under-resourced middle and high school students in math.

Back to the reason for today's post: 

We are currently in the last part of Ordinary Time for Year A. Ordinary Time began back on Trinity Sunday and progresses through several numbered weeks, labeled Proper 4, 5, 6... 26, 27, 28, and finally finishing on Proper 29 (Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday in the Christian Year).

Here's the Year A Ordinary Time (late) webpage that picks up the lection calendar on 9/7/2014 (at Proper 18) and goes through the last Sunday of the current Christian year (11/23/2014).

Blessings,

Tim


Edited by Renee Biggar

Sermons to finish Year A

posted Aug 28, 2014, 3:46 PM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Aug 31, 2014, 8:47 PM ]

This post completes the conversion of all 3 years of lectionary sermons to Google Docs.

In the fall of 2010 I started posting sermons for Year A, attaching sermon notes files in Microsoft Word to webpages. In Year B I moved to posting sermon notes as links to Google Docs, making it easier for people to view and download them through any browser. In Year C I polished the Google Doc format another notch. During this past year I converted all Year A and a few other sermons to Google Docs.  

Now you can browse short descriptions of all published sermons, organized by lectionary seasons as well as by sermon series, at >Sermon Collections. The sermon notes, including associated resources for each sermon, are available by the simple click of a link.

And you can also access all these same sermon resources in one easily navigable chart at >Sermon Chart, where the default sort is by the Christian calendar date. Or you can sort this chart by biblical text, if that fits your preaching strategy better.

Occasionally I will add additional sermons from my 18 years of preaching. And my editor (Renee Biggar, a recent Seattle Pacific University graduate) is currently polishing up Year B, so that by the time each lectionary season arrives they will be as clean as Years A and C. 

In 2010 the thing that triggered the creation of this website was to make these sermons available for others - especially preachers. Since then I've since expanded this website's scope to include a wider range of Christian content. Plus I've added a couple of additional areas for the general viewer: 

  • Personal Finance section to help people manage their money.
  • A section for social-political commentary (packaged as IMHO).
Finally, a couple of years ago I built a completely separate Math Coaching website to support our work coaching under-resourced middle and high school students in math.

Back to the reason for today's post: 

We are currently in the last part of Ordinary Time for Year A. Ordinary Time began back on Trinity Sunday and progresses through several numbered weeks, labeled Proper 4, 5, 6... 26, 27, 28, and finally finishing on Christ the King Sunday (the last Sunday in the Christian Year).

Here's the Year A Ordinary Time (late) webpage that picks up the lection calendar on 9/7/2014 (at Proper 18) and goes through the last Sunday of this Christian year (11/23/2014).

Blessings,

Tim

Collection of Financial Rules-of-Thumb

posted Aug 13, 2014, 6:53 AM by Tim Isbell

Here is a collection of nuggets of financial wisdom. I didn't create them, but I've used them long enough to confidently share them with you. They are not actually "rules" - they are more in the category of good advice. So don't apply them rigidly, but receive them as good guidelines and starting points in your own financial life. 
I've placed them in the sequence that most of us need them - from the beginning of our working life and into retirement. Interested? Here's the link: Financial Rules-of-Thumb.

All the best,
Tim

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