Latest Updates

"These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full", John 15:11.
  • We at have talked with several people who have noticed a year-end rise in their health insurance premiums. In talking with people who are insured by several different insurance companies, one fact remains common to all of them, their monthly premiums have increased by as much as 50% to 100%, while one person we talked with had a monthly premium increase of over 150%. 

    Hopefully, you will not see this type of astronimical increase, but beware, your premiums will likely increase in the near future.

    President Obama promised that unless congress passes his health care bill that insurance premiums will rise. Here we are, the last week of 2009 and many citizens have witnessed monumental increases while the government-run health care bill has not even been moved through the reconciliation process, much less seen final approval.

    What are we to make of this unhealthy trend?

    1. Insurance rates will rise in 2009 and in 2010 with or without government run healthcare.

    2. Insurance companies have raised their rates before possible passage of the health care bill in order to get ahead of the effects, restrictions, and impositions passage of a health care bill would place upon them.

    3. Some of the rate increases might be interpreted as a “purging” of some of the less profitable clients.

    4. Some rate hikes are a necessity. Insurance companies are “for profit” entities and though their rates seem astronomical, the amounts they pay out are even higher. Their profit margins are far lower than the average retail store where you shop.

    5. Medicare premiums will increase and services will decrease with the Obama health plan.

    6. Be bold: contact your congressmen or women and express your views.

    7. Depend upon the Lord for wisdom and pray for guidance in financial matters.

  • Dec 23
    In the Christmas season of 1951 many steelworkers were dealing with the effects of a layoff due to frequent union strikes.  As a kid, I was oblivious to that because we were provided all the essentials and warmth of a loving family and a good home.  All I knew at age nine was an all-consuming desire for my first bicycle for Christmas.

    Early in December I inadvertently overheard my parents discussing our bleak financial situation and the bleak outlook for that Christmas.  My father tried to comfort my mother by assuring her he could pick up an extra job or two.  My heart sank, and I talked myself into believing that I didn’t really need a bike.  I never mentioned it again that season.

    The lesson of sacrifice I would learn would not have been so insightful had I not already experienced the sacrifices my father had made in providing for our family.  On Christmas morning of the last year I awoke to see a bright orange metal basketball rim leaning against the fireplace.  It wasn’t in a box like the ones at the sporting goods store.  When I went to lift it I discovered the difference.  My father had handcrafted the rim out of solid steel.  The back was heavy steel and the net hooks were expertly welded in place.  Dad had meticulously woven a net out of nylon parachute cord from his World War II mementos.  

    Part of the fun that season was that of having the opportunity to help him build my backboard and erect the goal in the back yard.  I spent many days with my friends and never noticed any difference in my handcrafted goal until after an unusually severe windstorm that blew down and damaged most of the goals at school and in the neighborhood.  Though blown down, mine barely had a small dent in it that was quickly repaired and easily rehung.

    However, it was the Christmas of 1951 that impacted me so deeply.  There on Christmas morning, leaning against that same fireplace was a new, shiny, red Western Auto Western-Flyer bicycle.  Somehow my father had managed my unexpected miracle.  The time-frozen moment for which I am eternally grateful was not feeling the smile on my beaming face, but rather the look of joy in my father’s eyes.  In that brief moment I saw all the joy that comes from sacrifice and investment of time and effort spent to produce joy in another’s life.

    As dad helped me take my new bike down the front steps, I glanced down at those strong hands full of creases, nicks, scars and dark work-lines.  I wondered how many were there on my behalf.  I stole a quick look back as I rode off and saw my father waving with a broad triumphant grin on his face.  My eyes unexpectedly flooded with tears as I tried to steer my new bike realizing that I wasn’t the only one having fun.

    Christmas reminds me of sacrifice and of nail-scarred hands.  Hands scarred on my behalf because of God’s love.  Every Christmas reminds me of God’s perfect gift, the unwrapping of it and the need and the joy of sharing it---that’s when the fun begins.

    From an expose written by Jay Spencer Hurd for the Alabama Baptist, December 17, 2009.

    With the end of 2009 just days away, you still have time to make some shrewd

    financial decisions. Some things you may wish to consider include 10 items listed below.

    1. Make an extra house payment before January 1, 2010. This will allow you to deduct the interest portion of your house payment on your 2009 taxes.

    2. Make a tax-free gift of up to $13,000 to each of your children or grandchildren before December 31, 2009. The IRS views this gift as tax-free to both the giver and the recipient. A married couple can give $26,000 to each recipient. Be sure and call your tax advisor or accountant before making this gift to insure it is compliant with IRS rules.

    3. Contribute an extra amount to your future through your company retirement plan.

    This must be done before January 1, 2010.

    4. Contribute to your own private 401(k), IRA, or Roth IRA. You have until April 15, 2010 to make this contribution.

    5. You may wish to delay receiving a company bonus or holiday gift until after January 1, 2010. However, you will still be responsible for the taxes; you will only delay them for one year, and the check must be dated in 2010.

    6. Make a generous contribution to your church or place of worship prior to January 1, 2010.

    7. Make a generous contribution to your favorite charity prior to January 1, 2010.

    8. Considering making a large purchase (a house, a new car, etc.,) in the next few weeks?

    Talk with your accountant to discover the advantages or disadvantages of timing your purchase in 2009 versus 2010. Make the decision that best benefits your financial situation.

    9. Take an honest and heartfelt look at your financial situation and develop a realistic spending plan for 2010.

    10. Talk with your tax advisor or accountant about other year-end tax-saving moves you may make.

  • One of my most memorable Christmases happened when I was about 10 years old.

    No, I didn't receive a Lionel train, a new bicycle, an ipod, or a video game; it was something entirely unexpected and refreshingly different.

    We kids were up by our typical Christmas morning 3:30 - 4:00 AM. We woke our parents, waited until they gave us the all-clear, and ran to the living room to find what Santa had left us. Everyone was happy. Everyone unwrapped their presents, and my brother, sister, and I began to play while our parents went back to bed.

    Later that morning we had breakfast and my mother asked each of us kids to pick out a few of our older but still usable toys and bring them into the living room. We spent the next few minutes going through our rooms collecting the toys and obediently lay them at our mother's feet.

    All of us were wondering what she was up to. When we were finished she told us. She told us about a family that didn't have any toys that year. She asked us to look over at our new toys and to then to look back at our old toys. Next, she asked us if we would give the old toys to some boys and girls that didn't have any toys to play with. After a bit of negotiating about which toys to give and which to keep, we agreed.

    It was a cold December 25 when we arrived at the poor family's house. My dad and mom went to the door, delivered a sack of groceries and Christmas treats while we waited in the warm car. Watching intently, we saw several children filing out of the ramshackled house. Spontaneously, we stepped out of the car and my brother, sister, and I gave our old toys to the boys and girls who had none.

    As I remember, very few words were exchanged. I guess it was because we didn't really know what to say. As we handed each child a football, baseball glove, toy car, or a baby doll, we were greeted with sheepish grins. Somehow we knew that we had just done something that was good and that was right.

    The ride home was quite. Our parents allowed the experience to sink in...and it did. We were never quiet the same again after that experience. The experience itself taught us far more than our parents could have with platitudes and moral teachings. We had learned to share, we had learned how blessed we were, we had learned one of the major truths taught by the Spirit of God that Christmas: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

    Have a Merry Christmas!