Salvation: How Saved Are You?

Yes, I’m having you question your Salvation: not whether you should be but whether you are. There are professed Christians walking around with the false comfort that they’re saved and going to Heaven, washed clean by the blood of Christ. I want everyone to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but I’m not convinced everyone knows how. 

Romans 10:9

You may not know that Salvation is a 2-step process as described in Romans 10:9 (NLT): If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Step 1: openly confess with your audible words that Jesus is your Lord and Savior. Step 2: believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead to cover your sins and invite the Holy Spirit to renew your heart. Jesus answered in John 3:5, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” Some people never complete the second task, believing if they only say the script following the pastor’s prompt, that all will be settled.

Why Your Heart Matters in Your Salvation

You may question why believing with your heart makes a difference. I’d say that God makes the rules, and we likely won’t find out until we make it to Heaven. I have a theory though why it matters.

God made each of us in three parts: body, soul (mind), and spirit (heart). When you’re saved, the Holy Spirit camps out in your heart, and you have a renewed spirit. Only your heart is able to commune with God through the power of the Holy Spirit. Your earthly body and mind only come along for the ride as your spirit connects with God. That’s why it’s so important that you fulfill part 2 of Romans 10:9. Your connection with God through the Holy Spirit, confirms you’re saved. If you only profess through your words and have head knowledge, you haven’t made the connection.

Why You May Think You’re Saved When You May Not

In Christian circles, there are those who have a personal relationship with The Trinity, and then those who never do. Christians can become blocked from being “too churched”, not uncommon for those kids who grew up culturized in the church. They learn the laws and stories of the Bible but lack a spiritual connection. Their relationship is based on pure head knowledge.

Because these “churched” Christians intellectually believe and understand the Bible, they mindfully believe Jesus is the way. They profess with their mouths but don’t necessarily believe in their heart. They don’t complete the final step and find joy in the Holy Spirit. Truly when the Holy Spirit comes it’s a spiritual encounter you won’t forget.

Don’t assume that I’m not for church. I’m all for Christian fellowship, discipleship, and growing in the Word which many churches facilitate. However, don’t depend on the church or substitute the church for your personal relationship with Christ. If you want to talk about Jesus and your personal relationship with God, reach out for a conversation.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to find their purpose, be the heroes of their own life stories, and help them be a shining light in this spiritually dark world. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as you coach by reaching out to her at shinecrossings@gmail.com

What’s Your Vision of Heaven and Hell?

What’s your vision of Heaven? Hell? Specifically? You may be wondering why that’s important. Because without a detailed vision of what you, as a Christian, will get to enjoy when your spirit passes from your earthly bodysuit to Heaven, you’ll likely make different decisions while alive. The same is true of Hell. As a Christian, if you had a vivid picture of Hell, you’d probably spend more time spreading the Gospel, so others could make an informed decision to accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior?

When we don’t have a clear picture of the rewards or punishment of the future, it’s difficult to make choices to sacrifice in the present. Proverbs 29:18: Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. What relevance is vision with Heaven and Hell?

Your Vision of Heaven

If you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior, you become a Christian and reserve a spot in Heaven. Acceptance of Jesus Christ is not a head decision but a heart decision. Many people debate, and we’ll never know until we get there, whether you’re truly saved if you don’t have a heart change. That’s a discussion for another day.

Assuming you’re saved, you’ll will be judged by your earthly works on earth for the glory that will be bestowed upon you in Heaven. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (Corinthians 5:10). Therefore, “do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). Please know that good works don’t get you into Heaven, only the grace of God, but once you are a Christian, you’re still judged and rewarded by your works by the glory you’ll receive in Heaven.

Heaven is a glorious place for eternity with God. What’s your vision of Heaven? How do you visualize it? I see 24 hours of praise and worship and basking in the power and glory of God. I feel no pain or fear and only love and complete understanding. What you see can help you make better choices in bringing more of the Kingdom to earth as it is in Heaven.

Your Vision of Hell

Have you really spent much time thinking about hell and what it must be like? I know the spiritual realm exists based on my own communing with the Holy Spirit and demonic activity pressing into my world. I do believe in specific testimonies where Jesus has given a glimpse of Heaven and Hell to certain people. When I heard their accounts of hell, it chilled my bones.

Not surprisingly, someone described seeing Hitler in Hell. What were the demons doing to him? Hitler was tied to a chair and his flesh was continuously burned off his skeleton. When Hitler was only bone, the demons replaced his skin and burned it off again and again. Can you visualize that in your mind?

I don’t know what tortures Satan has for you if you find yourself to Hell, but he won’t have mercy for anyone. His modus operandi is clear: kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). When I imagine in my mind of what Satan wants to do to every one of God’s children, I want to declare the Good News. Anyone, and I mean anyone, can join God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in Heaven. You just accept Jesus as your personal savior, who shed his blood to wash you clean. As you stand before God on Judgement Day, Jesus will then step in front of you and say, “There is no case against [your name]. The case is closed. I paid [your name] the price with my blood.”

Your Next Step

Do you want to deepen your relationship with God and Jesus? Do you want to pass from this earth and know where you’re going? If you want to talk about God, Jesus, Heaven, and/or Hell, reach out for a conversation.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to find their purpose, be the heroes of their own life stories, and help them be a shining light in this spiritually dark world. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as you coach by reaching out to her at shinecrossings@gmail.com

Where Are You on the Spiritual Continuum?

We’re all on a continuum of spirituality. The question is where are you today, and what direction do you want to go? One anchor of the continuum is the Demonic Spirit with the other end as the Holy Spirit. If you think no one would sit on the right hand of Satan, think again. There are devil worshipers, witches, and warlocks walking among us. I’ve met them. From my perspective the Religious Spirit sits in the middle.

Many people may understand the difference between the Holy Spirit and Demonic Spirit but are confused in the definition of the Religious Spirit. Aren’t people who profess their faith in the Christian religion of the Holy Spirit? Not necessarily.

The difference between the Religious Spirit and Holy Spirit is the ability to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit. There are many people who are Christian in head knowledge and mind acceptance. These types of Christians are typically rule-based and judgmental of people and situations that don’t align with religious laws. They have no personal relationship with the Holy Spirit and aren’t able to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit for healing, miracles, and casting out demons.

Those who know the Holy Spirit have personal relationship with God through their heart connection. Although they have knowledge of the religious, they tap into the power, discernment, and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. The body (flesh) and the soul (mind) don’t intimately know the Holy Spirit. They go along for the ride when the heart and the Holy Spirit commune. People aligned with the Holy Spirit feel the love of Jesus Christ and are compelled to be obedient to the Lord’s calling for their life. They actively seek the knowledge from their books written in Heaven before they were born, and their greatest reward is to live out those pages for the Kingdom.

Our spiritual being is on a journey. Where are you on the spiritual continuum and where do you want to go? What will you do next to get there?


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to find their purpose, be the heroes of their own life stories, and help them be a shining light in this spiritually dark world. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as you coach by reaching out to her at shinecrossings@gmail.com

What Every Christian Needs to Know About Spiritual Realms

What’s at the deep of your core? As a life coach, I help my clients focus on what God put inside of them as part of His design. This same God that breathed out stars, breathed life into you. Yet, it seems so many know so little about the true nature of God, themselves, and God’s design for their life.

Where does one start when one wants to get started? The basics. Understanding the two realms that exist and how we tap into them. You’re familiar with the earthly realm, but how much do you know of or live in the spiritual realm? As children of God, we should live in both, but you can only hang out with God by having the key to the spiritual realm.

World Realms

God created two realms: God’s Kingdom (spiritual) and Earth (physical). Before the Fall (original Sin), Adam and Eve walked and talked daily with God in the Garden of Eden. Both were in the spiritual realm; all was perfect as it is in Heaven.

God’s Children

God made humans in His image, but we are comprised of three parts as we live on earth:

  • Body (earth suit)
  • Soul (mind, emotions, will)
  • Spirit (heart)

The Fall created separation between God and us. After the bite of the fruit from the Tree of Good and Evil, Adam and Eve hid from God. They no longer were allowed to enjoy the fruits of the spiritual realm, as they were no longer one with God. The Spirit connection was broken.  

Although Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden to live out the consequences of their sin, God had a design to spiritually reconcile Him with humanity through the blood of Jesus Christ. By the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus, people can choose by their free will to believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

If you so believe in your heart, the Holy Spirit will connect your heart with the Father, so you can walk in the spiritual realm. When Jesus left the earth to return at some appointed time in the future, He left us with the gift of the Holy Spirit (a helper) to help guide and support us while we live in this earthly world.  

Our physical body and soul cannot access the spiritual realm, only our heart spirit. Satan doesn’t have access to your heart spirit if you are a Christ believer. The devil and his demonic dominions can only attack your body and soul, and they do to distract and separate us from God and his design for our life.

Christian Spirituality

Unfortunately, most Christian only have head knowledge and not heart knowledge of Jesus and God. They’ve never communed with God in the Spirit. The devil rejoices if he can keep you out of the spirit.

In some circles, you may hear that many Christians are 18 inches from salvation: the average distance between a person’s head and heart. Others say you can get into heaven based on a mind commitment but beware Judgement Day with the Father.

The more I try to talk and walk with God, the stronger my personal relationship with Him grows. I live in this world, but I don’t want to be of this world. And yes, the devil tempts and does his darndest to distraction me.

How to Connect with the Spirit

Your soul can help you connect with your spirit through the renewing of your mind. Read the Bible (even small passages), reflect, and implement the Word. Pray. These actions help you focus on connecting with God through the Holy Spirit and hearing God’s voice. Mediate, quiet your mind, listen for God’s messages, and wait for God’s visions.

Forgive others, so unforgiveness doesn’t poison your heart. I believe God looks at unforgiveness as the greatest sin. Why? Because Jesus’s ultimate sacrifice was dying on the cross to forgive us our sins. If we won’t do so for others, when we have been gifted ultimate grace, we truly don’t know the heart of our Father.  

Role of the Church

Since many pastors don’t preach on the spiritual realm, they don’t cover these building blocks and how we can connect spiritually connect with God. If you don’t get these concepts, you won’t understand how the spiritual realm and earthly battlefields interact and how demons work against you in finding out and living out God’s design for your life.

Christianity is the expression of a personal relationship with God in the spiritual realm. Religion is only man’s interpretation of God’s Kingdom on earth carried out through a set of rules. If you’ve never experienced God in the spiritual realm, you’ll likely believe Christianity is a bunch of “do good” rules to follow.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to find their purpose, be the heroes of their own life stories, and help them be a shining light in this spiritually dark world. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as you coach by reaching out to her at shinecrossings@gmail.com

Gospel Conversations Made Easier

Where are my Christian brothers and sisters? I pray that you enjoyed celebrating Easter—your gift of Salvation from our brother, Jesus, when he rose from the grave on the third day after his slaughter as the sacrificial lamb for our everlasting life. Our Christianity, a faith that embraces diversity and inclusion, invites everyone to believe. No one is excluded from the gift of grace. Now that is Good News worth talking about. So, brothers and sisters, when was the last time you shared the Gospel with an unbeliever?

I know, having a Gospel conversation can be uncomfortable, especially when you haven’t done it or it’s been awhile. Feeling a bit unpracticed? Feeling unskilled? You are absolutely equipped where you stand, because you are a Christian. Remember that you’re not responsible for bringing people to Christ, because that’s God’s job, but you are responsible for having the conversation and letting the Holy Spirit do His work.

I have a suggestion on how to have easier Gospel conversations. Be inviting and open so people will share their own personal struggles. You don’t have to have walked in their shoes, but you can share how the Gospel has changed your life as a way to connect. 

Start with a response with “Can I share with you something that helped me when I struggled?” Most people will give their permission. If paper and pen are available, use them, because pictures always help. If not, do the best you can to tell the story.  The conversation unfolds around 3 circles connected by 3 arrows.

Make the story your own but include the following points:

  1. God has a design (circle) for your life to bring all good things for you
  2. Sin (arrow) was created and takes us to our
  3. Brokenness (circle) which can manifest in addiction, anger, broken relationships, and despair
  4. When we repent and believe (arrow) in Jesus as our personal savior we live out
  5. The Gospel (circle) which allows us to
  6. Recover and pursue (arrow) all the God has for our lives and allows us to live out God’s Design.

Use your own testimony that follows this simple full circle process. Think through and practice your own testimony that brings the 3-circle methodology to life.

You can wrap the conversation with questions with “Is there anything that would prevent you from repenting and believing in Jesus as your personal savior right now?” Be prepared to lead them in the words to invite Christ into their heart. If they aren’t ready to make the commitment, let them know you are always open for another conversation.

Good luck and don’t be afraid. The Holy Spirit is with you.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to find their purpose, be the heroes of their own life stories, and help them be a shining light in this spiritually dark world. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as you coach by reaching out to her at shinecrossings@gmail.com

Revelation: Which Church Do You Attend?

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Months into living with COVID, many Christians are reading Revelation. Are we headed into End Times? Will we be the generations that live through the final book of the Bible? As I read Revelation and specifically the letters that were written to the seven churches, I couldn’t help but ask myself: what church am I attending and which church best reflects my current faith journey.

The seven letters provide both commendations and rebukes for each church and encouragement for action.

Churches

Is there a church today that is Philadelphia? If so, I don’t think I’ve come across it. I’ve attended or been a member of churches such as Ephesus, which did the hard work but missed the big picture—a personal relationship with Jesus. They were the Martha when they should have been the Mary (Luke 10:38 – 42).

Many churches are proud of their good works but compromise God’s Word. I’ve also been to churches such as Sardis who were effective but superficial. Since authenticity is one of my core values, these churches cause me the most pain. When you truly reflect on your home church, where does it lay on the continuum of superficiality?

martin-sattler-yw2UcAJ6OAU-unsplashIn this day, I see many churches that follow the pattern of Thyatria. In living out faith, love, and service, they also adopt a heavy dose of acceptance for all things liberal in the world. They have sacrificed absolute truth and adopted the mindset that we should be inclusive of everyone’s truth. Christians are not called to judge others, but they are empowered to discern God’s truth and live according to his Word. God offers absolute truth.

My desire is to become Thyatira for its commendation with no rebuke for immorality. Where are you on the continuum? What type of church do you belong or attend? Based on the church and world conditions is there a trend toward the small home church?.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a marriage coach along with her husband, Darin, who help couples across the world via seminars, workshops, and private sessions. She customizes a relationship journey tailored based on curriculums from their own content, Prepare & Enrich, SYMBIS, FOCCUS, and Marriage on the Rock. Couples design their marriage, learn tools, and then work toward achieving their vision. Learn more about the ministry or sign up for a session by contacting Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

What Color Was Jesus?

blackjesus_smallDo you know the shortest verse in the Bible? “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). I imagine that Jesus is now shaking his head back and forth from his throne in heaven, watching the world come under one world order with the gnashing of teeth, destruction, rampant fear, and anger. Countries are merging into global communities through the events spilled forth from the COVID-19 epidemic and the death of George Floyd. Unfortunately, the behaviors of too many people have been less than virtuous: rioting, looting, destruction of property, name-calling, and even what some label as justified murder of police and bystanders.

When I posted on social media that rioting polarizes people and protesting starts the conversation, an acquaintance replied that years of black oppression warranted a few days of cathartic outrage. I guess that quite simply captures what we are feeling and seeing by many in our cities and propagated in our media.

The country has moved from the acceptance of vandalism and desecration of our historical monuments to now encouraging the destruction of all white images of Jesus, because they supposedly represent the works of white supremacy. God helps us! I want to scream, “Stop the insanity! This is ridiculous.”

Scripture states, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created them; male and female.” (Genesis 1:27). Jesus also said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Jesus, the son of God, represents the image of God on earth for all men and women. What does this mean for us mere mortals? What does Jesus look like in appearance? He’s the image that we carry of Him in our hearts and minds. We are free to create in imagery what we believe Jesus looks like, and not surprisingly, I would bet that each person paints Jesus’ color near their own skin likeness.

I’ve traveled the world and seen Jesus portrayed in paintings, postcards, and places of worship in every shade of skin color. Am I offended by any of these portraits? Absolutely not. I’m just grateful that Jesus has a presence in that community and that people have found a personal savior in Jesus Christ.

So, what color was Jesus? Jesus was all colors. If you’re in favor of ripping white Jesus from the walls, don’t be fooled into thinking you are taring down white supremacy. Jesus was all colors to all men, including white men. Jesus was the lover of the lepers, the healer of the cripples, friends of the criminals, and champions of the outcast. When you defile white Jesus, you are dishonoring what Jesus stands for: love, kindness, compassion, humility, and justice. When you desecrate Jesus in any color, your behaviors ultimately reflect religious bigotry.

For Christians who carry Jesus in their hearts, I believe it hurts us deeply to see our personal savior desecrated, defiled, and pulled off the cross. I can only imagine that we’re getting a small taste of what Jesus experienced during his many hours of crucifixion. Imagine the pain he experienced as he took on the burdens, sufferings, and sins of mankind. He suffered deeply, and we, as Christians, are now suffering. What shall we do with this pain?


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a marriage coach along with her husband, Darin, who help couples across the world via seminars, workshops, and private sessions. She customizes a relationship journey tailored based on curriculum from their own content, Prepare & Enrich, SYMBIS, FOCCUS, and Marriage on the Rock. Couples design their marriage, learn tools, and then work toward achieving their vision. Learn more about the ministry or sign up for a session by contacting Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

How to Strengthen Your Marriage When Your Spouse Is Incarcerated

DSC00765I struggled with a title that would do justice in describing my experience volunteering as a relationship coach at a marriage seminar for 30+ couples in Lockhart’s Women’s Prison. What words could I share that would capture your attention to read and embrace the incredible impact that Greg and Melissa Alvis have every month on the couples who spend a full day in prison with the intent of strengthening their marriage.

Statistics show that the likelihood of a couple divorcing increases by 32% per year for every year that one spouse is incarcerated. With an average divorce rate already nearing 50%, you can safely assume that most marriages never survive through a spouse’s incarceration. Prison truly tests the strengthen of a marriage, and Greg and Melissa are slowing down that divorce rate to keep families not only surviving but thriving.

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The Ministry

Greg and Melissa travel the state of Texas with their self-created marriage strengthening seminar–knocking on prison doors and selflessly offering their personal testimony, program, and time. Spouses are invited to spend a Saturday with their incarcerated partner as the Alvis team and volunteers lead the couples through powerful material delivered in the form of lectures, exercises, and small group discussions. Oh, and the seminar ends with the couples renewing their vows! Wow, you can’t help but shed a few tears of joy.

DSC00786Greg and Melissa relate to these couples, because they are the heroes and authors of their own marriage story. The defied the marriages statistics. Greg was incarcerated for over 20 years, entering prison at the age of 26. Without a doubt, they struggled to keep their marriage alive, but their marriage survived 22 years of incarceration. They now have a powerful marriage testimony to share with other couples, who can travel their own path but end up in the same position as Greg and Melissa. Under the ministry of Ephesians 521, they taken their powerful learnings on the road, and the feedback is both emotionally moving and priceless.

The Ministry Impact

I could share my thoughts, impressions, and the words shared with husband, Darin, and me, but I’ll let the couples own words, in the form of direct quotes from the evaluation forms, sing praises for the program and its impact on their lives.

What was your favorite part of the day?

  • Spending time with my husband, incorporating God, being given healthy tools to meet our needs moving forward, and the volunteers’ perspective. Learning to love my partner the way he needs.
  • Tools on how to make my marriage better while incarcerated, because I was in fear of losing my husband.
  • I enjoyed the small groups, because we were able to learn more about each other’s needs.
  • Besides seeing my wife for a full day, receiving the training we both know will help us and the encouraging stories.
  • Renewing our wedding vows. I think it is exactly what we needed.
  • The renewal of our vows, because it was what we needed to move forward in our lives.
  • Looking into my husband’s eyes and holding his hands as we re-affirmed our love and commitment for one another.
  • Group discussions. I loved watching and listening to my husband talk about his opinions and feelings about our relationship, and it opened up our communication.
  • Spending time with my wife made us realize how important family is to stay together.
  • Enjoying my husband and renewing our vows and learning more about our needs and where we stand.
  • Eating lunch with my wife.
  • The gathering in small groups and finding out about others’ experiences.
  • The renewing of vows. I believe I have a new beginning in my life and my marriage.
  • Identifying personality types and traits. It seems helpful for day-to-day living.
  • Holding and touching my wife.
  • Spending the day bonding with my husband. We needed to have the physical touch.

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What is one thing you can take from the day that will help you move forward?

  • All that we have been through has made us stronger. Now we get to go from this with a stronger relationship and faith in one another…
  • I am not alone, and I have tools!
  • We’re not alone in our struggles.
  • Knowing how we still feel about each other in our relationship and what we have to look forward to.
  • Knowing we are not alone, and it’s only going to get better.
  • That my husband was committed to our marriage so much so that he put everything on hold in his life to be here with me, for us, for an entire day.
  • Listening to his feelings and working on his relational needs.
  • The book Growing Together as One. Learning about it and taking this advice home and practicing it towards our life.
  • Not lose faith in my spouse and enjoy life and the love we have for each other.
  • The actual real stories they spoke encouraged us.
  • To keep believing and staying together through it all–iron sharpens iron.
  • Knowing that I can move forward in faith and work with my husband and have a new relationship.
  • What my wife requires to feel loved.
  • Five love languages—learning to love him the way he needs.
  • Our commitment.
  • Recommitting and learning my husband’s feelings and our future is growing stronger.

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Importance of Marriage Support in Prison

Supporting any marriage is important, because so many relationships are at stake. If the marriage is strong, the family is strong. If the family is strong, the children are strong. If the children are strong, there is a greater chance the children will continue the legacy of a strong family. Keeping families together in a healthy marriage helps with mental health, financial security, and general well-being.

DSC00864AAs a marriage coach (www.shinecrossingsministry.com), I have a passion for strengthening marriages. As an executive volunteer with the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (www.pep.org), I have a mind to invest in felons who will eventually be released and need a hand up. As a marriage volunteer (www.ephesians521.org), I have a heart to help prison inmates take what is surely a first big step in investing in their marriages.

The Future

If I had to boil it down to its core, what Greg and Melissa bring to prison for the incarcerated and their spouses is hope–hope that their marriage can not only survive but thrive. They are the walking testimony of this fact. Go back and re-read the messages from the couples. They primarily speak of hope for a better future in their marriages.

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There aren’t many ministries that have this magnitude of impact in just one day. If you are as moved as I am on what Greg and Melissa are doing in the local mission field, I encourage you to visit their website (www.ephesians521.org) and make a donation of any amount. They are funding these seminars, primarily from their own resources and could use your encouragement in both word and donations.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

 

 

Support Rescuers’ Suffering from Compassion Fatigue

Dedicated to my 18-year old rescue, Mr. Butters, whom I lovingly helped over the rainbow bridge today

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Compassion fatigue? I first learned of the term while reading the book Toxicity Charity which defined it as the emotional distress that results from the constant demands of caring for others. Some sources claim it as the feeling of apathy when continuous charitable giving doesn’t meet expectations. Regardless of which definition you lean towards, the rescuer’s energy and mindset are exhausted. While doing good, the caregiver gets emotionally and/or physically hurt or burnt out.

Who’s to Blame?

Some believe rescuers are at fault, because they should have personal boundaries and stop when they get too tired. Those in the rescue field feel they have no choice; their big hearts care too much. Who will step up, if they don’t? The problem of unwanted dogs and cats is bigger than any one or group of people can manage. If you’re a family member or friend watching a loved one playing on the field with compassion fatigue, what can you possibly do?

 

Those in rescue need to wrestle with compassion fatigue and figure out what they can and cannot do. As fans from the stands, we can’t play the game for them. This isn’t our sport, and we likely don’t know the rules. We can, however, support from the sidelines. We can be the water-boy in football or the ball retriever in tennis. We don’t play the game, but we can be there to help.

What Does Help Look Like?

What does help look like for someone suffering from compassion fatigue? I would encourage you to offer your services to lift some of their burden. Can you give them a gift card for a personal service or a meal? Many of these caregivers are using their own funds while also giving their time.

My daughter has been involved in animal rescue for several years. It all began when she browsed the local SPCA and Human Society shelters looking for a dog in need of a forever home. After adopting 2 dogs and 1 cat, she then took in her first heeler mix as a foster. Volunteering has become a full-time job, and she works with several non-profit rescues to:

  1. Serve as a board member
  2. Search and pull dogs from shelters
  3. Arrange dog transport from other states to Colorado
  4. Foster several dogs
  5. Arrange fostering families
  6. Transport dogs to foster families and for vet care
  7. Administer vet care
  8. Process adoption paperwork

She is well connected in the rescue community and routinely get requests for help when people find abused dogs. Alex gets paid nothing for her time and routinely uses her own money to help the animals. My daughter is one of my heroes for her selfless giving and ability to organize through this complicated ministry. And yes, she suffers from compassion fatigue! She’s commented that working in rescue is both the most rewarding and depressing job she could imagine. Alex exemplifies a true servant leader who selflessly gives of herself to bring dogs and families together in need of each other.

I’m grateful for servants like my daughter, who’ve made it possible for me to have 17 rescue cats [Frisky, Missy, Midnight, Butterball, Tigger, Popcorn, Slurpy, Tigger, Rascal, Fiddler, Little Girl, Toby, Tigger 2, Mr. Butters, Felix, Zipper, and Zoey] and 2 rescue dogs [Crystal and Duffy] over the last 40 years. Without rescues, I wouldn’t have had the companionship, love, and laughs of these furry friends.

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Thank you to all the caregivers serving in the world. If our paths cross, I hope I can find a way to ease your burden. If you’d like to learn more about the epidemic of rescue fatigue, read this article: The Fatal Epidemic of Animal Care Workers That No One Is Talking About


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

 

Is Your Church Thriving, Surviving, or Dying?

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On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your church involvement? What would be your score 5 years ago? How different are your answers to these two questions? Scrappy Church: God’s Not Done Yet (Rainer, 2018) discusses the status of today’s declining churches and provides a working model for those who choose to fight for a comeback. The stories from pastors, church leadership, and membership are vulnerable and explain the “why” behind church death based on choices and their unintended consequences.

I agree with the mentioned reasons for a church’s decline and how to best address each; however, the book leaves out an important factor influencing engagement. As the saying goes: times, they are a changing! Part of a church’s decline in attendance may have little to do with the church, but the priority church has in the over-scheduled, over-stressed average American family’s life. Even if a church hits on all cylinders in outward deluge, welcoming, and back door closure, it’s hard to overcome a family’s pressure on time management with the options that technology provides.

Years ago, if you wanted to attend a service not inside brick and mortar, you only had a few TV evangelism options such Billy Graham, Joel Osteen, Oral Roberts, Jerry Falwell, and Jimmy Bakker. Technology now allows us to stream a live service of our favorite church or pastor from our iPhone or watch a video on our computer at our convenience. You could call it: church service on demand in the comfort of our own home.

I too have succumbed to watching Jeremy Foster preach on a Sunday morning in my bathrobe while eating bacon and eggs. Afterwards, I dress and get to work, saving myself a couple hours of commuting. Of course, I miss the worship music vibrating through my body and meeting up with friends. I can schedule coffee and conversation later when it’s more convenient. What about spreading the Gospel? Our church outreach includes inviting people to Saturday dinner on occasion and followed by a church service at Hope City. I’m not justifying my choices but explaining how I get comfortable with my decision.

I believe churches that will thrive will be those that break the mold on traditional church. Church members want intimacy with flexibility, which I believe will be difficult for most churches to achieve based on the traditional upbringing in how church is done. Do you wonder what church will look like 10 years from now.

Reference

Rainer, T. (2018). Scrappy Church: God’s Not Done Yet. B&H Publishing: Nashville, TN


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, premarital/marriage, finances, and ministry. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com