The Deep Things of God: Beeson Lay Academy

The Deep Things of God: Beeson Lay Academy

Special Feature

The Lay Academy of Theology at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School helps believers live a deep life in God amidst the troubles that swirl around us. This semester the Academy offers many excellent opportunities to study under the leadership of Divinity School professors in both afternoon and evening classes.

Dr. Doug Webster’s course, “Followers of the Lamb: Living in Rhythm with the Book of Revelation,” aims to deepen our understanding of salvation history and the meaning of discipleship. “The Book of Revelation may be the Devil’s favorite book of the Bible. Through confusion and misinterpretation, the Devil has managed to intimidate believers into ignoring the Bible’s powerful canonical conclusion,” explains Dr. Webster who is Professor of Pastoral Theology and Preaching at Beeson.  “In our six-week Lay Academy course we will endeavor to understand what the Apostle John said to the first-century church and what he is saying today to the twenty-first century. John wove together storied truth, prophetic climax, cosmic parables, symbols in tension, patterned repetition, and numbered meaning into a Holy Spirit inspired theological masterpiece.” The course begins March 1 on six Thursday afternoons from 1-3pm.

Delve into twelve pivotal actions that fit together to achieve God’s plan and purpose for us in Dr. Kenneth Matthews course, “Twelve Decisive Events in the Bible” which will be taught on six Monday evenings from 6-8pm beginning February 26.  “One of the most important opportunities of my ministry is teaching the Lay Academy because the participants are especially hungry for learning the Bible. I am directly contributing to each person’s life and contributing to each person’s impact on their family, church and world,” says Matthews, Professor of Divinity at Beeson. “I enjoy giving laypeople a bird’s eye view of the grand sweep of the whole Bible—from Genesis to the Book of Revelation.”

Other courses being offered this spring include “The Jewish Jesus” led by Dr. Gerald McDermott, “The Gospel in the Books of Moses” taught by Dr. Allen Ross and “The Pastoral Epistles,” offered by Dr. Gerald Bray. For more details on these classes as well as additional lecture opportunities visit www.beesondivinity.com/layacademy.  A special discounted rate is offered to participants who register early for classes. †

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Relief for Paying for Private K-12 Education

Relief for Paying for Private K-12 Education

Money Matters

presented by: Vision Financial

Having just paid for two children to graduate from Briarwood Christian School, I wish that I could have received better tax breaks for paying for private education for grades K-12. While Coverdell Education Savings accounts allowed tax-free savings for K-12 qualifying expenses, they are also subject to income limits and less generous contribution limits. Under the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, saving for a private education just became a little easier by allowing income tax benefits under 529 plans to help fund private K-12 tuition. Let’s look at some of the Federal and State tax treatments for these plans and how they may be coordinated with Coverdell plans and tax credits.

Federal income tax treatment of qualified withdrawals. Contributions to 529 plans are tax deferred. This means that you don’t pay income tax on the plan’s earnings each year. When you take out money and use it to pay for qualified education expenses, the earnings portion of your withdrawal is free from federal income tax. This presents a significant opportunity to help you accumulate funds for college, and now private k-12 education. Qualified education expenses include tuition, fees, and books.

State income tax treatment of qualified withdrawals. States differ in the 529 plan tax benefits they offer to their residents. Some states may offer no tax benefits, while others may exempt earnings on qualified withdrawals from state income tax and/or offer a deduction for contributions. Keep in mind that states may limit their tax benefits to individuals who participate in the in-state 529 plan. Alabama allows you to deduct up to $10,000 on your state income tax per year. In general, you won’t be required to pay income taxes to another state simply because you opened a 529 account in that state. But you’ll probably be taxed in your state of residency on the earnings distributed by your 529 plan (whatever state sponsored it) unless your state grants a specific exemption.

Deducting your contributions to a 529 plan. Unfortunately, you can’t claim a federal income tax deduction for your contributions to a 529 plan. Depending on where you live, though, you may qualify for a deduction on your state income tax return. A number of states now allow a state income tax deduction for contributions to a 529 plan only if you contribute to your own state’s 529 plan. Most of the states that provide a deduction for contributions impose a deduction cap, or limitation, on the amount of the deduction.

Coordination with the Coverdell education savings account and education tax credits. You can fund a Coverdell education savings account and a 529 account in the same year for the same beneficiary without triggering a penalty. You can also claim an education tax credit in the same year you withdraw funds from a 529 plan to pay for qualified education expenses. But your 529 plan withdrawal will not be completely tax free on your federal income tax return if it’s used for the same higher education expenses for which you’re claiming a credit.

Paying for private K-12 education just got less expensive, however navigating the options may seem a little more complicated. See your financial professional for help on how to take advantage of these changes.

Mike Mungenast, Sr. Vice President, Senior Advisor 

Vision Financial Group

4505 Pine Tree Circle, Birmingham, AL 35243

205-970-4909, www.vision-financialgroup.com

 

Investment advisory services offered through Investment Advisors, a division of ProEquities, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.  Securities offered through ProEquities Inc., a registered broker-dealer and member of FINRA and SIPC.  Vision Financial Group, Inc. and West Alabama Bank are independent of ProEquities, Inc. Securities and insurance products offered are not bank deposits, have no bank guarantee, are not FDIC insured, and may lose value. Prepared by Broadridge Communication Solutions, Inc.

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Cold Weather Workout Tips

Cold Weather Workout Tips

Healthy Living

Cold weather is upon us, but getting your exercise in is still a good idea. Here are a few ways to keep the frigid feelings down and your heart rate up during the chilly months, courtesy of The Mayo Clinic.

  1. Watch the wind. Temperature, wind, and moisture, along with how long you will be outside, are vital to planning a safe workout in the cold. Wind and cold combine to make up wind chill, and even with warm clothing, serious wind chill can make outdoor exercise unsafe, because the wind can penetrate clothes and remove that layer of warm air that insulates your body.
  2. Layer up. The mom on “A Christmas Story” didn’t quite have the right idea when she encased Ralphie’s little brother in too much winter wear. You should not dress too warmly—because when you exercise, you’re going to generate lots of heat. That will make you feel like it’s warmer than it actually is. Then when sweat evaporates, it will pull heat from your body and make you feel cold. The solution is to put on layers that you can take off when you start to sweat. Start with a wicking material such as polypropylene, which will pull sweat away from your body. Then add a layer of fleece or wool for insulation, and top your layers off with a waterproof, breathable outer layer.
  3. Stay dry. Avoid wearing cotton, which will stay wet next to your skin. If it’s raining or snowing, think about staying indoors—unless you have waterproof workout gear. Getting wet will make you more vulnerable to cold, and getting totally soaked could keep your core body temperature from staying high enough.
  4. Protect your head (and hands, and feet, and ears.) When it’s cold, blood flow concentrates in your core—so your head, hands, and feet become vulnerable. Put on a thin pair of glove liners made of a wicking material, then put on heavier gloves or mittens, wool or fleece, over those. Put on the mittens or gloves before your hands get cold, then remove the outer pair when your hands get sweaty. Buy exercise shoes a half-size or more larger than you usually wear to make room for thick, thermal socks, or at least an extra pair of regular socks. And wear a hat or a headband to protect your head and ears. If it’s really cold, add a scarf or a ski mask.
  5. Don’t forget the sunscreen. Don’t pack the sunscreen away in the beach bag during the cold months. No kidding. It is just as easy to get sunburned in the winter as it is in the summer, even more if you’re in the snow or at higher altitudes. Use sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays, as well as a lip balm that has sunscreen. You should probably leave the flip-flops in the beach bag, though (your toes will thank you).
  • Joe Crowe

YMCA of Greater Birmingham, www.ymcabham.org 

Read more healthy information from the YMCA at www.BirminghamChristian.com. Click on News/Health

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Mobility Aids: Tips on How to Broach the Topic with Parents & Older Relatives

Mobility Aids: Tips on How to Broach the Topic with Parents & Older Relatives

Healthy Living

As the Baby Boomer generation ages, there is an increasing trend in choosing to “Age in Place” rather than in a nursing home or assisted living facility. With this push toward an independent lifestyle comes a great adversity toward the mere suggestion of using a scooter or stairlift. In fact, merely mentioning that mom would benefit from a stairlift could provoke a heated disagreement and lead to hurt feelings that most would rather just avoid.

It is no secret that mobility aids can provide an immense benefit in ensuring independence and safety at a substantially lower cost than an assisted living facility. However, most individuals stigmatize these items as being for “old people” – certainly not for themselves! Whether it’s a parent, grandparent, sibling, or spouse, there is a right way and a wrong way to recommend the use of a mobility aid. Here are a few tips that can help keep the discussion civil while broaching the topic with your loved ones in a way that will empower, rather than belittle or offend, them:

#1: Emphasize the benefits. Independence, safety, and increased mobility are just a few. Stay positive – if your mom avoids going up stairs because it hurts her knee, suggest that a stairlift can help her regain access to her whole home without arthritis dictating when and where she goes. If dad is having trouble getting up from the couch and usually takes a few tries or a helping hand to get up, suggest that a lift chair could make his transitions easier while being just as stylish and comfortable as his current one – they are even available with heat and massage features (and nobody would know the difference just looking at it)! If they become defiant or shut down, threatening to move them to assisted living is not going to help the situation. It may take some time and gentle prodding before they come around.

#2: Let the individual choose. When you’ve reached an agreement about using a mobility aid, let the person who will be the primary user of it make any additional choices. Equip your mother with the resources to research the options and make her final selection. You can also schedule home consultations for most products, where a knowledgeable Product Specialist will come to the home to make recommendations and answer any questions. This will solidify a sense of ownership, rather than a sense of “my kids made me get this thing.”

Tip #3: Do a trial run. Find out if there is a way to test the aid first before buying or renting, giving the individual time to become more comfortable or familiar with its use. Think of it as a test drive for a new car. Many products are available for rental, which is a good way to let your relative test it out for a few months without having to commit to a purchase. Once mom has the opportunity to integrate the stairlift into her daily routine and realize how beneficial it is, she’ll likely become much more receptive to purchasing it.

Tip #4: Phone a friend. Do you know of one of mom’s garden club members who has a stairlift, or one of dad’s golf buddies who uses a cane? Have them reach out to lend some advice – a little peer pressure can be a good thing in some situations. If you’re not getting anywhere with the discussion, try having an impartial relative or even a young grandchild make the suggestion – a tiny voice asking, “Grandma, won’t you please get a wheelchair for me?” could make a world of difference.

Derek Gann 

Locally Owned & Operated in Birmingham, Serving Residents Across Alabama

205-538-5692

Alabama.101Mobility.com

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Benefits of High Powered Nutrition

Benefits of High Powered Nutrition

Healthy Living

Are you, or anyone you know, praying for better health? Our bodies are miracles!  All we need to do is take a moment to think about all the different functions of the body and how it all works together. It’s amazing! God gave us a gift and it’s our responsibility to take good care of it. A big road block can be processed foods. They contain chemicals used to manipulate growing more, bigger, prettier food. They’re fast and easy but we all know we aren’t getting the nutrition our bodies need from it! The proof is in the high rate of diabetes, cancer, obesity, autism and more…. You know the list! And the prescription drugs we take can mask those symptoms, help us feel better short term, but what about the side effects? You’ve seen the commercials. It’s scary. Giving our bodies high powered fuel, high powered nutrition, not only benefits us, but is our responsibility as recipients of the gift we’ve been given.

I have, personally, been taking high powered nutritional products for 9 years. I needed hope. I’ve experienced relief from many issues including allergies, chronic diarrhea, thyroid issues, muscle spasms as well as lifeline anxiety and panic attacks. My anxiety issues started with an ongoing trauma when I was very young. I can remember having daily panic attacks since I was 2 years old. It was awful. As an adult I tried psychiatrists, psychologists, medication, meditation and much more. Nothing helped. It was paralyzing both physically and emotionally. I missed so much of my family’s life. When a friend told me about this nutrition, I was very impressed. Patented as food, no warning labels, and the science and research behind it was easy for me to comprehend. She didn’t give me any promises, again our bodies are the miracle, but I understood it. And my life changed. I’m forever grateful. There aren’t enough words to express it. I have been able to take responsibility for this gift I was given by feeding it properly. If you are interested in how high-powered nutrition may help you, call me. I’d be happy to share information.

Donna Darling

402-433-5047

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