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Monday, August 31, 2015

It's Your Birthday

Pocket Full of Quarters Journey 2015
It's Your Birthday
Dedicated to Pastor Dan Nold
Calvary Church, State College, Pensylvania

Let's Evangelize America
By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. Psalm 42:1

Pretend it's your birthday. What do you want for your birthday? Most of us have been asked that question before. My birthday is August 21 and I can tell you what I want. I want you to lead someone to Christ on August 21. I think it would be very cool for someone's spiritual birthday to match my belly button birthday. I like the idea of the heavenly hosts having a reason to celebrate on my birthday. Since I know most of you aren't willing to do that yet, my back up birthday request is for you to donate something - anything - to evangelism. Any size evangelism donation on my birthday would thrill me but letting me know you led someone to Jesus would thrill me more.

I know what many of you are thinking. Cheryle just asked me to give the Gospel and then she dared to ask me to give money. Is she trying to make me stop reading? No, I'm just telling you what I want for my birthday. Please keep reading. I promise I won't ask again and you will be blessed by God's birthday gift to my pastor.

To set up the story of this birthday gift, I have to explain a couple of things. Because of that Golden Rule thing, if I know it's your birthday and that you care deeply about people meeting Jesus, I will deliberately go out and evangelize in your honor on your birthday. All you have to do is ask.

I also pray for people on their birthday. I'm not talking about that quick morning prayer for the people on my prayer list. I'm talking about the prayer deep dive that includes deeply interceding on their behalf and lifting the birthday boy or girl up continuously all day. This asking and praying is why I was awake at 6:00 AM on August 18.

August 18 was my pastor, Dan Nold's birthday. Since I worked until after midnight the night before his birthday, I began praying for Pastor Dan at midnight. A couple of years back when Pastor Dan noticed me evangelizing in someone's honor on their birthday, he quipped that his birthday was August 18. Pastor Dan doesn't like a big deal made out of his birthday so I took that idea and ran with it. Since I went to bed praying for him and remembering my commitment to evangelize in his honor, I shouldn't have been a bit surprised when God woke me up at 6:00 telling me to get dressed, get Shiloh, and go outside to give the Gospel.

But God, I've only been asleep 5 1/2 hours.

Get dressed, take Shiloh, and Go!

But God, It's still dark.

Get dressed, take Shiloh, and Go!

But God, I went to bed with this on my mind. This probably isn't even you talking. It was just on my mind.

Get dressed, take Shiloh, and Go!

But God, no one will be outside

Get dressed, take Shiloh, and Go!

Now I know why the disciples fell asleep while you were in the garden.

I got dressed, took Shiloh, and went. I didn't shower, comb my hair, brush my teeth, eat breakfast or have tea. Shiloh and I went down one row and back up on the other side. It was still "quiet hours" so when the cat darted by, I fought unsuccessfully to quiet Shiloh.

But God, if people are mad at me, they aren't going to want to talk to me. Maybe we should go back to the camper.

Keep going!

Just as I got to the end of the second row, a woman was sitting outside on her picnic table smoking a cigarette.

"You're up early," I said. "It's still dark."

"I am," she sighed. "I have things on my mind. Everyone else is still asleep, even my dogs." She looked down at Shiloh so we talked dogs a few minutes. Then, I noticed that she had a "Gators" banner on her camper. It surprised me because we were in Ohio. Since I too am a Gator, we talked Gators. With both of us dog lovers and Gator fans - how could we not bond?

It wasn't too much longer that I learned that she had some belief in God and Jesus but didn't go to church. Her husband didn't believe at all. She said she tried to keep believing but so many bad things had happened and it made her wonder. When I asked where she would be going in the next life, she hoped it would be heaven but wasn't sure. She knew about God but didn't have a personal relationship with God. There as the sun came up, with her husband and dogs asleep in the camper, this woman tearfully met Jesus. August 18th is her spiritual birthday. Her spiritual birthday is the same as Pastor Dan's physical birthday. How cool is that? Happy Birthday Pastor Dan. God prepared an encounter and sent me out just for you. If you pray for me on my birthday, would you tell God that I'm not a morning person and ask Him to send me out later next year?

That one salvation was enough to celebrate for a lifetime but God's birthday wishes to Pastor Dan didn't stop there. I spent the afternoon in Cuyahoga National Park, where I met Nicole and Michael. I could tell immediately that their hearts were heavy. They later told me that they had gone to the park that day to escape the pain of what was going on in their lives. Marriage struggles and deep grief over the deaths of loved ones had them in a difficult season of life. At the mention of God, big strong Michael went to crying and soon, Nicole joined him. The scripture reference "as a deer pants for water" came to mind as I watched their hunger for something more. They were eager to talk. They filled in details. When I spoke scripture, they leaned forward and listened. There with the lovely Brandywine Falls as our backdrop, Nicole and Michael tearfully asked Jesus to be their Savior.

Happy Birthday Pastor Dan. All of heaven is celebrating on your birthday. I really enjoyed August 18.

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