Boomers are Caregivers

Boomers are Caregivers

(This is Part 3. See Part 1 here and Part 2 here)

They are caregivers, often stressed and “smooshed.”

Baby Boomers may have completed their child-rearing responsibilities, but many are now taking care of grandchildren. In 2008, 2.6 million Boomer grandparents were raising their grandchildren, while many more help with childcare so their adult children can work. This has an enormous impact on the Boomers’ incomes and social relationships, as well as their health.

Largely because of the economy, and perhaps skills and values that weren’t communicated well to their children, many Boomers provide housing and resources for their “boomerang” children—those who return home after college or remain home after high school. Often these boomerangs come with their own children. The number of 26-year-olds living with parents has jumped almost 46 percent since 2007. In 2010, the number of 18- to 30-year-olds living with their parents grew to 20.7 million, a 3.9 percent gain in one year. This means that about a quarter of American adults between the ages of 18 and 30 now live with parents, while intergenerational households have reached the highest level in more than 50 years. The largest group of those moving back home is college graduates entering the worst jobs market since the Great Depression. Some 85 percent of those graduates, after four years of higher education, are left with little more than a worthless piece of paper and no hope. While Boomer parents may or may not welcome this return, they feel they have little choice.

Thirteen million Boomers are also involved in the care of their parents. For many this is from afar, while 25 percent of those parents live in the home of a Boomer offspring. As their parents age, this responsibility increases and often comes with emergencies. If they are fortunate, parent care comes after their children are launched, but increasingly, Boomers are caring for both parents and children at the same time, creating what is known as the Sandwich Generation. Especially if they are still working, these Boomers are truly smooshed.

Because of the combination of care giving and financial stressors, many Boomers are postponing retirement or looking at a retirement that is different from what they anticipated. Resources that had been targeted for travel or leisure now are needed for everyday living, for parents, or for adult children and grandchildren.

See Part 1 and Part 2.

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Boomers Biking Together gI_161420_12-14bikingtogether

Boomers: The Fittest Generation to Date

(This is Part 2. See Part 1 here).

What are some characteristics that define Baby Boomers?

They are the fittest generation.

As they’ve passed each decade milestone, they’ve challenged it. Today, as the oldest Boomers reach beyond their mid-60s, many claim that 60 is the new 40. Indeed, because of an immense emphasis on fitness, many Boomers are healthier and younger-looking than their parents were at this age. On the other hand, one third of Boomers are defined as obese, and one third are defined as overweight, leading to an increase in heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Despite this, Boomers have a longer life expectancy than their parents, which leads to complex questions about retirement.

They were changed by the women’s movement.

Boomers have been successful in work, enhanced by the women’s movement that came to prominence as they were entering the workforce. This resulted in many women attaining career goals not even considered by their parents. But it also came at a huge cost to families. Both because of opportunity and increased cost of living (especially the increasing tax burden), two-income families became the norm, leaving children to fend for themselves. Middle class families were often able to patch together a series of after school activities that doubled as childcare. Lower income families often left children unattended, or attended by the TV. Families began to look upon the school system as responsible for their children during the working hours, complaining when the schools were not available.

They are financially powerful, stressed, and stretched.

Boomers have generally enjoyed higher incomes and higher standards of living than their parents. Currently in their peak earning years, American baby Boomers control over 80 percent of all personal financial assets and more than 50 percent of discretionary spending power. They are responsible for more than half of all consumer spending, and 80 percent of all leisure travel. In 2005, Boomers had over $2 trillion in disposable income.

While this has had advantages, it has also led to the lowest level of personal savings and the highest level of consumer debt. While Boomers now have healthy incomes and spend a great deal of money, they’re not saving as much as they should, so their retirement income will be less stable than that of previous generations. Therefore, most were not prepared for the economic decline starting in 2008. Sixty percent of those who had savings and retirement accounts saw a 40 percent loss in their portfolios in 2008, throwing their retirement planning into chaos and causing over 40 percent of Boomers to delay retirement. The concurrent mortgage crisis resulted in many Boomers losing their homes, or at least facing serious financial challenges. Older Boomers are moving into retirement years with great uncertainty.

A 2011 survey found that 25 percent of baby Boomers still working said they’d never be able to retire and 42 percent are delaying retirement plans. Moreover, nearly 60 percent said their workplace retirement plans, personal investments, or real estate lost value during the economic crisis.

Boomers are also facing a health care crisis, a Social Security crisis, and an increased need for long-term care. By the year 2020, the population of Americans over age 65 will increase to 53 million. (In 1997, there were only 34 million.) By 2030, the Boomers will be ages 66–84 and will make up 20 percent of the total population, which will have a huge impact on spending and health care costs. Sixty-nine percent of those over 65 will require some long-term care before they die.

See Part 1 Here:

Photo Credit: PRWeb_12_2011

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Baby Boomers: A Complex Generation

Baby Boomers: A Complex Generation

(This is the first in a three part series on ministering to Baby Boomers).

People born between 1946 and 1964 are known as baby Boomers. Born in the 18 years following World War II, Boomers have been until recently the largest and most influential generation in history, making them known as the “me” generation. From the beginning, they’ve been convinced they’re special.

As the wave of Boomers passed through the years, they created a demographic bulge that impacted every area of society. Schools were too small, requiring new construction. Manufacturers discovered Boomers when they were yet children, directing both production and advertising toward them.

Boomers are the rebellious generation, rejecting and redefining traditional values. They made Rock and Roll, the Beatles, fast cars, the hippy movement, drugs, free love, the women’s movement, abortion, and gay tolerance part of American culture. American Boomers are the first generation to grow up with television. And the first wave of Boomers are the Vietnam generation, fighting a war that we didn’t win, and returning to the disdain of their peers.

They genuinely believed that as they grew up, the world would improve. As the first divorce generation, they divorced and remarried. They raised children, often without a cultural moral compass. And now, there are 79 million Boomers ages 50 to 68 who are still making an impact on American society.

Wednesday: Characteristics of Baby Boomers

Photo Credit: Jim Reynolds

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What the New Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of their Writings

May 9, 2016 | Comments Off on What the New Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of their Writings

What the New Testament Writers Really Cared About: A Survey of their Writings, Kenneth Berding & Matt Williams, eds.

What the New Testament Writers Really Cared About: A Survey of their Writings, Kenneth Berding & Matt Williams, eds.

Back in 2014 I reviewed What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Jesus’ Bible, recommending  it as an excellent resource for Bible study leaders. Just recently I’ve had the opportunity to read the companion volume, What the New Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Their Writings. I highly recommend it for pastors and small group leaders who want accessible information quickly.

The book’s 15 scholars take a thematic approach, with the book being organized around the nine New Testament authors and their books rather than the canonical order. This organization adds depth and texture to the book. Just a different way of approaching the material.

The book is designed for undergraduate students, which makes it very approachable for most small group leaders. Each chapter begins with a short summary page, as well as a textbox with key concepts. It’s hard to miss the point. Chapters are about 10 pages, but nicely punctuated with beautiful photos as well as a lot of sidebars and callouts offering application for today. It also includes excellent maps and a substantial index. Key names and concepts are in bold in the text, facilitating quick skimming. As is true of most Kregel Publications books, the paper and layout are exquisite.

My only complaint is that the book is weak on footnotes and references, with only three citations per chapter. I would like to see a few more references, especially when I need to go deeper. But that’s probably just the academic in me. Seriously, this is a great reference.

 

 

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That’s My King!

March 26, 2016 | Comments Off on That’s My King!

I wonder, do you know him?

Have a blessed Resurrection Day!

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A Commentary On 1 & 2 Chronicles by Eugene H. Merrill

March 9, 2016 | Comments Off on A Commentary On 1 & 2 Chronicles by Eugene H. Merrill

A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles by Eugene Merrill

A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles by Eugene Merrill

A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles (Kregel Exegetical Library) is the third Old Testament commentary I have reviewed for Kregel (the others being A Commentary on Exodus (Kregel Exegetical Library) and A Commentary on Judges and Ruth (Kregel Exegetical Library)). I found it to be the most challenging to read and assimilate–perhaps because that is the nature of the biblical source. While I personally love the books of Kings and Chronicles, I admit they take some effort to read and sadly, my enthusiasm is seldom shared by my small groups. Unfortunately, I can’t remember many sermons or bible studies based on these books—especially the books as a whole. That being said, I’m delighted to be able to add this book to my library.

The author, Eugene H. Merrill, brings excellent credentials to the project. He is the distinguished professor emeritus of Old Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. He is a prolific author with more than two dozen books to his credit, including other publications on these books. Theologically, he is conservative, as would be expected from Dallas.

The Commentary rests somewhere between accessible and scholarly. While he uses some Hebrew, there is less than many similar commentaries, positioning it for use by non-seminary educated readers. However, the Hebrew that is included does not include transliterations. Even though I took Hebrew just a year ago, I would have appreciated an assist with a transliteration as well as a translation.

The format is comprehensive, with just about anything any reader might want.  It includes Chapter Outlines, Theological Principles, an NIV Translation, Text Critical Notations, and Exegesis and Exposition. While the book’s flyleaf indicates that the translation is the author’s own, in fact, the translation provided is the NIV. This was a disappointment. I always prefer to see the author’s unique translation somewhere in the chapter, even if side-by-side with an “approved” translation. And of all the excellent translations available, why the NIV? I appreciated having the Text Critical Notations within each chapter. Although as a lay leader I seldom pay attention to those, it’s good to know what they are and when they might be important for my purposes. The book also includes a number of charts and tables, but many of them didn’t advance my understanding. I often asked, “Why?” A helpful introduction positions the reader in the history, culture, authorship, genre, and canonical placement.

Perhaps the most noteworthy aspects of the book are the extensive footnotes and excellent bibliography. Merrill includes a 26-page bibliography, showing the extensiveness of his scholarship. Also of note is the theological overview of each chapter, providing a road map of God’s over-arching theme. He continues to call us back to this overview, always looking forward to the Messiah. He also offers some application, which is useful for the lay leader, and even for busy pastors.

This is a well-done commentary. Not the best I’ve ever read, but it certainly provides more information than I as a lay leader will ever use. Thanks to Kregel Academic for inviting me to review this book.

 

 

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The Challenge of Challenging People

February 22, 2016 | Comments Off on The Challenge of Challenging People

Challenging messy people

Some folks are more challenging than others!

Recently my friend, Mike Mack posted my article The Challenge of Challenging People on his blog, Small Group Leadership. I’ve previously post a longer version of this article in the resources section here. If you’re dealing with a group of wounded, challenging people, I invite you to print either the short or the long version and share it with your leaders. Let me know if you find it helpful or if you would like more training in this area. I continue to find challenging people everywhere I go. The need is great for leaders who will listen, love, and minister to these people. Are you one of them?

 

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Happy 40th Birthday to Me!

January 11, 2016 | Comments Off on Happy 40th Birthday to Me!

Forty years ago today I made the most important decision of my life. I stopped fighting and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Happy Birthday to Me! Photo Credit: Abby

Happy Birthday to Me!                                   Photo Credit: Flickr/Abby

Little did I know what that decision would mean. I was simply looking for a life preserver, a fire insurance policy. Since my friend, Jadene, had shared Jesus with me a few months before, I knew that day would come. I figured that when I hit bottom, I could just pull out Jesus – my “get out of jail free card” – and all would be well. It took me awhile to realize that I didn’t have to hit bottom. After all, how much lower could I go? And did I really want to go there?

I drove from San Francisco to the church her husband pastored in Fresno, and in a bucket of tears, surrendered my life to the Great Unknown. And that Great Unknown met me, right where I was. I didn’t have to clean up my act first. I just had to come.

Well, by the time I got back to San Francisco, He was already beginning to rearrange the furniture of my life. Within a week he threw me into a Christian singles group where I was loved, discipled, and given every opportunity to grow. And every time I said yes to an opportunity, they gave me another. Never since have I seen a better discipleship program, and these folks were all lay people, unpaid and untrained. But they nurtured me to maturity and laid a firm foundation for me. Many of these people are still my best friends, and one – the coordinator of the group – is my husband.

I want to offer a huge thank you to everyone who has played a part in my life over the past 40 years, and a monstrous thanks to Jesus, who rescued me from the miry pit and set my feet on solid ground. I couldn’t ask for a better life.

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3 Essentials for Disciple-Making: Create a Safe Environment | Part 5

October 14, 2015 | Comments Off on 3 Essentials for Disciple-Making: Create a Safe Environment | Part 5

The third element of discipleship is creating a safe environment. (See the introduction to this article here.)

Disciple-Making: Create a Safe Environment

Disciple-Making: Create a Safe Environment

Create a Safe Environment

Discipleship is personal, so it’s important to create a safe environment where disciples can explore and grow. Here are three tips for creating safety:

Meet in a Safe Place
It isn’t always easy to find physical space for small groups or one-on-one discipleship. If you have a family or roommates, your home may not have sufficient privacy. When crying or anger are involved, a coffee shop isn’t a good option. You may need to be creative, but you need to make sure that your disciples have the privacy needed for intimate conversations.

Stress Confidentiality
Often in a small group, I share something of my past or even my present that I don’t want broadcast beyond that setting. This actually goes both ways. You want to assure your group members that anything they say belongs to them and neither you nor anyone in the group will share it with anyone, anywhere. The only exception to that is if you believe the group member’s life or another life is in danger. Otherwise, they must know they can trust you—and you must be able to trust them.

Avoid Condemnation
Often you will observe or hear of unbiblical lifestyle choices that your disciples are making. If you condemn or sound like Mom or Dad, your disciples will bolt and little will be gained. Asking good questions instead is helpful. Explore the rationale. Do they not know this is wrong? Have they twisted Scripture to make it right? Have they even thought about it? Is it an addiction, a deeply ingrained habit, or a family trait? Once you know those answers you can begin to address the issue. But do so gently and patiently. People don’t change overnight, even if they want to.

Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way and lost a disciple who was dear to me because I came down too hard on her for a behavior that, in retrospect, wasn’t that big of a deal. Now I’m more careful to honor the image of God in each person, and I attempt to love and woo them into a better choice, even if it takes longer.

Discipleship can be one of the most rewarding opportunities for Christians. What a delight to see a person grow up into Christ and the faith! What a joy to see them take on leadership or ministry and become all God created them to be. And we benefit, too. We get to look at things with fresh eyes, which is energizing. But discipleship in groups won’t happen with intentionality and work. Are you up for the challenge?

This article was originally published on SmallGroups.com.

3 Essentials for Disciple-Making: Introduction | Part 1

3 Essentials for Disciple-Making: What is Discipleship? |Part 2

3 Essentials for Disciple-Making: Ask Good Questions | Part 3

3 Essentials for Disciple-Making: Stress Application | Part 4

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3 Essentials for Disciple-Making: Stress Application | Part 4

October 12, 2015 | Comments Off on 3 Essentials for Disciple-Making: Stress Application | Part 4

The second element of disciple-making is stressing application. (See the introduction to this article here.)

The second element of disciple-making is stressing application.

The second element of disciple-making is stressing application.

Stress Application

It’s understandable to want to use a prepared Bible study. They often require much less preparation time. But few prepared studies will meet disciples where they are, and they seldom stress application. While it’s crucial to teach doctrine, teach it within the bounds of disciples’ immediate needs. Make sure that whatever you cover, the disciples know what to do with it in real life: How can they apply it at home, at work, or in their internal lives?

Beyond Gaining Knowledge

A key skill we need to teach our disciples is how to apply biblical principles to everyday questions and needs. The world is ready with answers to every question, so Christians need to know how to find the answers they need in Scripture. Of course not every answer is in the Bible, so disciples need to learn how to reason biblically—looking to Scripture rather than Dr. Phil.

Application is difficult not just because it sometimes doesn’t seem clear, but also because it often means we must act counter-culturally. We need to admit this difficulty to our disciples and walk with them through the challenge. Too many Christians prefer the wisdom of the world, assuming biblical solutions are old-fashioned, judgmental, or meaningless. We need to teach our disciples why and how to be countercultural.

Read Part 5 on Wednesday.

This article was originally published on SmallGroups.com.

3 Essentials for Disciple-Making: Introduction | Part 1

3 Essentials for Disciple-Making: What is Discipleship? |Part 2

3 Essentials for Disciple-Making: Ask Good Questions | Part 3

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