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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Eyes of the Christ Child

Day 2: The Eyes of the Christ Child

Meditation (3-5 Minutes)

Begin by being still before God. Read Isaiah 9:6 and meditate on the words.

Isa 9:6 (NIV)
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

1) Be still and know he is God.

2) Think about Jesus as a child.
a) What can you imagine him doing?
b) Do you think he enjoyed getting and receiving gifts?
c) How do you think the Christ Child would experience Christmas?
d) View this Christmas through the eyes of the Christ Child.

3) Let him be your Wonderful Counselor.
a) Surrender your problems.
b) Seek his wisdom.

4) Let him be your Mighty God.
a) Feel his power.
b) Surrender to his power.
c) Claim his power.

5) Let him be your Everlasting Father.
a) Bask in his love.
b) Feel his arms around you.

6) Let him be your Prince of Peace.
a) Release all contentious thoughts or worries.
b) Experience his peace.

1) Ask God to speak to you during this worship time.

2) Requests of the Christ Child

a) Pray specifically for those that need to experience Christmas through the eyes of the Christ Child.
i) Specifically name those in emotional or physical pain.
ii) Specifically name the non-Christians in your life.
iii) Add them to the list.

b) Prayerfully update the list with new requests and any answers from God.

c) Praise God for his answers.

3) Gifts from the Christ Child
a) Praise God for his blessings.
b) Update the list.

4) Gifts to the Christ Child
a) Ask God to give you his spirit as you give gifts to others.
b) Prayerfully, update the list.

5) Ask God for knowledge of his will for you and the power to carry it out.

6) Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.

Bible Study

Jesus came to earth as a baby. Like other babies, people gave him gifts and celebrated his birth. As far as we know, he had to learn to walk, talk, and dress himself. He grew up loved by his earthly mother and father. As an adult, Jesus loved children. He instructed us to let children be our teachers.

Background Scripture
Matthew 9:13-15, Mark 10:13-16, and Luke 18:15-17: Read the background scripture carefully. Jesus took time to be with children. How did he treat these children? What did he do for them?

What lesson was Jesus trying to teach his pious and impatient disciples?

The Faith of a Child
Lauren is eight years old. “I can’t wait for Christmas. It is my first Christmas as a Christian.” Earlier this year, Lauren asked Jesus to be a part of her life. “I was baptized,” she excitedly told me.

Lauren lives in a Godly home. She has been in church all of her life. Jesus has always been part of her life in some way. I questioned her further. “You already knew about Jesus. Why is this Christmas different?”

“Christmas has to be different because everything is different now. Jesus is my friend. I need him this year because two of my other friends moved away. Jesus will never move away.”

“What do you do with Jesus?” I asked.

“I talk to him. My brother is sick so I ask God to help him. My Daddy needs a job. I tell Jesus.”

“What is your favorite part of Christmas?” I asked.

“Church is fun at Christmas. I love singing the Christmas Carols. I get to go upfront and light a candle.” I asked about her favorite Christmas service. “Christmas Eve,” she said. “We turn off the lights and light candles.”

“What about the Bible? Do you have favorite verse?” I prompted.

Without hesitation, she answered, “Genesis 1:1. I can say it. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. This was the first verse I memorized. It reminds me that God made me. My favorite verse in the New Testament is John 3:16. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” I wondered if she understood and asked her about it. “This tells me I will live forever with Jesus.”

Read John 3:16 and Genesis 1:1.

Since Lauren is just eight, I knew there had to be more to Christmas for her. “What about gifts?” I quizzed. “What was your favorite gift?”

Her face lit up. “I love gifts. When I was three, I got a toy car that fit over my legs. I sat the ground and pretended to drive. It had a steering wheel and a gearshift. Driving this car made me feel like a grown up. When I got older, what I liked changed. I gave that toy car to a girl in my church. Now I like Barbie Christmas gifts. Wearing a Barbie nightgown makes me feel pretty. I want a new Barbie for Christmas.”

“Lauren, why do you think we celebrate Christmas?” I was expecting her to say we celebrated the birth of Jesus. Her answer was better.

“We celebrate God’s gift to us. Christmas reminds me of a song I sing in church. This song says that we do not have to go looking for the gift of Christmas. Jesus is the gift that comes to us.” In what way does Lauren have the eyes of the Christ Child?

Luke 18:17: How are we to receive the kingdom of God?

A footnote to Lauren’s story is that her brother got well and her father found a job.

Application (5-10 Minutes)

1) Making It Personal
a) Name and pray for your favorite Christmas celebration.
b) Write your favorite Bible verse.
c) What was your favorite Christmas gift? Thank God for it.
d) Think of a child that you know well. Pick someone who is sweet, innocent, and bright with the joy of a child.
e) How will this child react to life today?
f) What areas of your life need the eyes of the Christ Child?
g) Ask God to help you have a childlike spirit throughout the day.

2) Praying Continuously (1 Thessalonians 5:17):
a) Stop and briefly pray when you feel strong emotions (i.e. impatience, anger, excitement, frustration, or joy).
b) As you feel each of these emotions, ask yourself this question: “If I were experiencing this with the faith of a child, how would I be reacting?”
c) Ask for the faith of a child.

Ending the Day

a) Thank God for the children in your life.
b) Did you have the eyes of the Christ Child today?
c) Confess if necessary.
d) Ask God for the eyes of the Christ Child.

Godly Fellowship At Christmas

Day 1: Godly Fellowship At Christmas

Morning Meditation (3-5 Minutes)

Begin by being still before God. Read Psalms 46:20 and meditate on the words.

Psalms 46:10 (NIV) Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

• Be Still.
o Clear your mind.
o Breathe deeply.
o Sit quietly.

• Know He is God.
o Feel his presence.
o Let his presence envelop you.

• He is exalted among the nations and on the earth.
o Feel his power.
o Surrender to his power.
o Claim his power.

Prayer (5-10 Minutes)

Ask God to speak to you during this devotional time.
Requests of the Christ Child

• Pray for the Christmas season.
o Pray for the Christmas worship services and celebrations in the community.
o Pray for your church and your Christmas celebrations.
o Pray for our Nation during this holiday period.
o List any specific events/concerns that need continued prayers.

• Pray for needs.
o Pray specifically for the people in your lives.
o Pray for your church.
o Tell God your concerns and needs.
o List any specific requests that need continued prayers.

Gifts from the Christ Child
• Think about your blessings this Christmas.
• Praise God for his blessings.
• List your top three blessings.

Gifts to the Christ Child
• Ask God to help develop that gifts given to anyone is a gift to the Christ Child.
• Ask God what gifts he wants you to give this Christmas.
• Prayerfully, fill it any gifts you plan to purchase between now and Christmas.

Ask for knowledge of his will for you this Christmas and the power to carry it out.

Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.

Morning Bible Study (10-15 Minutes)

Christmas is a time for fellowship. We fellowship with God, families, friends, and our church. God tells us, “It is not good for you to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) Healthy loving hearts need fellowship. If we fellowship with God and open our eyes and look around, God will send us people with whom to have deep and intimate fellowship. We read his word to learn about Godly fellowship.

Background Scripture
The background Scripture is Luke 1:1-56. Open your Bibles to the familiar passage. Today’s devotion studies the fellowship between the two Godly women God chose to begin the very first Christmas. We will study how Mary and Elizabeth fellowshipped with God and each other. We will study the following aspects of their fellowship: Love, the Holy Spirit, God the Father, and Jesus Christ.

God chose two very unlikely women. Elizabeth was too old to have a child. Mary was too young and innocent to have a child. They were both a “disgrace” by their world’s standards. Elizabeth’s disgrace had been her barrenness. Mary’s disgrace was that she became pregnant before she married.

Our Holy God loves to do the unexpected. The world judged them unworthy. God judged them most worthy. He chose Elizabeth to bear the son that would tell the world about the Christ Child. He chose Mary to bear His son.

Background - Elizabeth
Read Luke 1:5-7. Elizabeth had been married for many years to Zechariah. Both Zechariah and Elizabeth were descendents of priests. They lived blameless lives. Zechariah was faithful to his priestly calling. Their religion taught them that children were blessings from God. People assumed the inability to have children was a sign of God’s punishment. Elizabeth and Zechariah were most likely the subject of gossip and/or questions. How do you think Elizabeth felt about being barren?

Read Luke 1:25: Elizabeth desperately wanted children. She pleaded with God and had faith he would answer. She waited and most likely held her breath each month. She probably felt shame and disgrace over her barrenness as the years progressed. Miraculously, God finally answered her prayers. How does she feel now?

Read Luke 1:16-17: God had planned her blessing for years. He gave more than she asked. Her child was special. What was her son’s purpose?

Background - Mary
Mary was a young woman with the same dreams that other young women had. She was faithful to God. We see from her questions to the angel that she was intelligent, confident, and faithful. She was a woman of honor and purity. Mary was engaged to a kind Jewish man named Joseph. She expected to follow in the footsteps of the faithful people that had taught her how to live and love.

Read Luke 1:29-31 and Luke 1:12-13: Again, God does the unexpected. An angel named Gabriel appeared to her, changing her plans. Gabriel had been very busy. He had also visited Zachariah, announcing Elizabeth’s pregnancy. What would your reaction be to a visit from an angel? Not surprising, Gabriel frightened both Zachariah and Mary. We can only hope Gabriel does not take our reactions personally. He seems to be used to the reactions because he had his response ready.

Read Luke 1:34: Gabriel told Mary that she was going to bear the son of God. Mary’s parents had obviously told her the “facts of life.” Why was Mary confused?

Read Luke 1:38: In the end, she humbly accepted the will of God. She even rejoiced in the news. What was her answer?

One can only imagine the conversation with Mary’s mother. “An angel said what?” Mary must have been tempted to ask Gabriel to come back and explain this situation to her mother. We do know that Mary left her home in a hurry. (Luke 1:39)

Read Luke 1:43-44: Mary went straight to Elizabeth’s house. Here we have one of the most beautiful demonstrations of love that is recorded in the Bible. These women shared their faith and joy. They quoted scripture and worshipped God as they talked. They encouraged one another. Elizabeth rejoiced at Mary’s arrival. What did she say to Mary?

Baby John was not going to be left out. What did he do?

Holy Spirit
Read Luke 1:41-42: True Godly fellowship includes the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth was “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Because the Holy Sprit was a part of their relationship, Elizabeth understood the situation before Mary even told her.

God, The Father
Read Luke 1:46-47: True fellowship includes worship of the Holy Father. Mary and Elizabeth praised God together as they sang and quoted scriptures. “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God, my savor.” Enjoy the words of their worship service.

Read Luke 1:42: The final piece of true fellowship is Jesus Christ. Jesus was the point of Mary and Elizabeth’s fellowship. What were Elizabeth’s words to Mary?

Application (5-10 Minutes)

1) Making It Personal
a) List the people with whom you will fellowship the most this Christmas. (write your answer)
b) Whom do you love? (write your answer)
c) With whom do you share Godly fellowship? Which relationships include the presence of the Holy Spirit, worship of God the Father, and the love of Jesus Christ? (write your answer)
d) Which relationships need improvement? (write your answer)
e) Ask God to help you improve your relationships.
f) What can you do to improve your relationships? (write your answer)
g) If you are lonely and need more fellowship, write a letter asking God to meet your needs. Ask God to send you one new person today. (write your answer)

2) Praying Continuously (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
a) Pray for those closest to you at lunch, dinner, and at bedtime:
b) Tell at least one friend how important they are to you.
c) Look for his answers throughout the day.

Ending Each Day With God

a) Ask God to help you with your fellowship with him and those closest to you.
b) How was your fellowship on this 1st day of the Christmas season?
c) Confess your failures and claim your victories.
d) Decide to apologize the next day, if necessary.
e) Praise God for his fellowship this Christmas.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Secret to Surviving the Economy

By Cheryle M. Touchton

Whine, Whine, Whine. Everyone is whining about the same subject – the economy. I know because I was whining too. I felt justified. My husband’s employer eliminated the entire department that we moved across the country for him to work for. We owned houses in two cities and both were worth around 40% less than we had paid for them.

I had company with my whining. I turned on the television and heard whining within minutes. It was the most popular discussion topic at social events. I opened my newspaper and the whining began on the front page. The last time I checked, whining did not help. What I needed was an answer. I have great news – there is one and, thank goodness, I remembered it.

My answer started with knowing that God has amazing plans for me – plans to prosper me and give me a hope and a future. How did I know? God said so in Jeremiah 29:11. The trick was to discover those plans. Then I remembered. I knew an ancient secret that had been around for thousands of years.

The irony of me forgetting this secret is that I’m an author and this ancient secret is the subject of all of my books and articles. If you are Jewish, you probably wear this secret around your neck and call it the Sh’ma. If you are Christian, you know it as the Greatest Commandment. It is practical, balanced, and simple. In short, when we stop working on our problems and simply love God with our entire mind, heart, soul, and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves, the problems take care of themselves.

When my husband and I stopped worrying about the economy and refocused all energy on loving God and our neighbors, we were able to hear the plans God has for us along with how to finance them. It was not easy and we had make some difficult decisions but just two short years later, our houses are sold, we have no debt, my husband has another job, and we are gradually rebuilding our financial security. We do not make as much money as we have in the past and we are renting instead of owning a home, but we live in a lovely house and have enough money to meet our needs, give to others, have fun.

So how does this apply to the reality of unsold homes, job searches, and stressed budgets? Below are five simple steps for surviving the economy.

Step 1 – Mind Matters
First, focus your mind on what is good, lovely, pure, and admirable in your life. List them on paper. Then, get honest and answer, in writing, the following questions:
• What is the reality of your financial situation? List your income, expenses, and debt. (a spread sheet helps)
• List your risks. For example, is your job in jeopardy? Are you over/under qualified for the current job market? Has your home value decreased?
• What can you reasonably afford with the income you have?
• What can you reasonably do without?

Step 2 – Heart Helps
Whining, complaining, and self-pity are heart poison. Stop! If your financial situation has taken a downturn, don’t pout. Instead, face what you have given up and move on. If fear is worming its slimy way through your heart, stomp your feet in defiance. God of the Universe has plans for you! Reel in those rambunctious emotions.

• What you had to give up
• What you lost and are grieving
• What you are afraid of losing
• Whom and what you are mad at or blame

Step 3 – Soul Solution
Economy issues are nothing for a God that can create a universe. Trust Him and pray, confess, and praise.

Ask God:
• To help you forgive anyone and any situation that has hurt you financially
• To reveal His plans for you and how you are to carry them out
• To give you wisdom to know what to do next
• To give you courage and power to carry out those plans

Thank God for everything in your life, including the economic crisis. List:
• What you need to do next
• What you want to do next

Trust what you wrote down.

Step 4 – Strength Solutions
Act immediately. Put your plan into action. This is no time for fear, doubt, laziness, or delay. Work with the energy and confidence of the determined. Work into the night. Smile while you are working because you know a secret. God has plans to give you hope and a future.

Step 5 – Neighbor Needs
If you’ve followed the above steps, you’ll be a light in this troubled time. Your financial recovery story will become hope for others. Love for your neighbors will bubble out with no effort. Let the economic stress bring you closer to others. Be generous with what you have and accept generosity. Don’t whine and walk away from anyone whining. Watch in wonder as the plans of God unfold, sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly, but always timely.

In the scheme of all eternity, unsold homes, short sales, and unemployment are unimportant but they matter to most of us. They must matter to God because He promised us a future and gave us the secret for dealing with them. When we stop worrying about the economy and focus all our energy on loving God and our neighbors, the economy crisis will serve its purpose and take care of itself. Hope will return! We will have a future. God said it and we can believe it!

Thursday, September 2, 2010


This post is dedicated to my fun and funny friend, Jan Lucas, April 28, 1961-August 14, 2010

I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Eccl 1:14 NIV

Are you feeling windblown today? Are you fretting over people, places, and things you can’t control? Are you trying to win when winning does not matter? Are you upset over events that are meaningless within the perspective of eternity? A recent series of events has given me a new perspective on chasing after the wind.

I couldn’t imagine my friend, Jan, dead. She was only 49. I shuddered as I remembered laughing with her over everything. She lit up a room when she entered. Even when she was upset, she found humor. She worked full time as an assistant to a department head at a university and part time as a licensed mortician. Through her university job, she traveled all over the world and had an amazing understanding of cultures. Her training and experiences as a caring mortician gave her calming perspectives and insights that the rest of us depended on. They say if you want something done, you give it to a busy person, and Jan’s church had come to depend on that. The last time I saw her, I sat with her in her church and was amazed at how many people came over to ask her about some church project they were working on. I teased that she had fingers literally in every pie professionally and personally. Her husband and two daughters beamed as they watched her flit from person to person. Beautiful Jan was full of earthly life one minute and in heaven the next. It seems inconceivable that it could happen so quickly and yet it did.

Jan was a member of a weekly spiritual support group that I participated in for 3 years. We discussed our relationships with God, family, friends, church, and employers. We shared our feelings and struggles. Honesty was our guiding principal and we were careful to protect secrets. We occasionally met for lunch, for coffee in individual homes, and even visited each other’s churches for special occasions. We were friends.

Jan was the 4th member of that 6 person group to die since I moved away 4 years ago and all but 1 of the women were younger than me. Each died of differing conditions that destroyed the frail human body quickly. As I remember discussions and admittedly even whining in those intimate gatherings, I realize how truly windblown most of us are. As a group, we discussed issues with children, husbands, jobs, and finances as if they mattered. With perfect hindsight knowledge, would those things have been so important if we had known those lovely women had such a short time left on earth? Perhaps we’d have chosen to sit together in parks talking with God and each other while feeling the sunshine on our faces. Maybe we wouldn’t have cared so much about scattered newspapers left by hapless husbands and thoughtless remarks by distracted children. Unreasonable bosses, dwindling checkbooks, and church disputes lose their power with the decay of earthly bodies.

One of my mentors has a saying, “Life is life.” My life has vicissitudes that mimic things that matter. My husband recently had the thrill of getting to observe the next Mars Land Rover. Bob and I are excited about a planned romantic getaway. My granddaughter’s 2nd birthday is soon. As I write this, my mother sits in the waiting room of a cancer doctor. I spent the morning researching depressing elder care options for my beloved aunt and uncle. I reviewed the gloomy ministry checkbook and wondered what we were going to do. I talked to my youngest granddaughter and ached to hold her. I washed clothes, answered e-mail, and made my husband breakfast and dinner. Are all of these things meaningless under the sun? The answer is yes and there is relief in that answer.

When I look at life through the eyes of eternity, loving God and people more is all that matters. I can pass through thrilling and disturbing life events with the knowledge that my eternity is secure and forever. When I realize that an entire earthly life is a tiny blip in all of eternity, I understand what it means to live 1 day, 1 minute, and 1 second at a time with the peace that passes all understanding. Mathematically, a life of 5, 30, or even 100 years are all the same when the ratio is to an eternal timeframe. As I wait for news of my mother’s health and God’s wisdom regarding the next steps for my aunt and uncle and ministry checkbook, I do so while being held in the loving arms of a Father who has a perfect place already prepared for me. When my husband arrives home tonight, maybe I won’t care if he leaves his dishes in the sink or hugs the cat before he hugs me. When we love God with our entire minds, hearts, souls, and strengths, love for our neighbors becomes a guiding principal that improves the world around us. That sure beats feeling windblown.

PS – I’d still welcome your donations:

Copyright: Pocket Full of Change Ministries

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Changing So I Can Share an Un-Changing Jesus

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Heb 13:8 NIV

Jesus may be the same yesterday and today and forever but generations and ways of reaching each generation changes. I thought I kept up – after all, I travel the country talking with all kinds of people from various cultures, races, and religions. When potential publishers ask what age group I target, I’ve never been able to come up with an age that I best reach. Children, young people, and adults all read my blogs. I lead all ages to Christ. The name of my Ministries os Pocket Full of Change Ministries. How could I be out of touch?

It all started when I read in the State College newspaper that most college freshman can’t read cursive. I had no idea. I was so upset that I wrote about it on Facebook. For days, I was stunned. Because I want people to be able to read what I write, I haven’t written in cursive for years so it wasn’t that I thought cursive was so important. I was more stunned that I didn’t know cursive was going the way of vinyl records, phone booths, and hand written letters.

Next, Bob took me out for my 58th birthday. Perhaps, I wouldn’t have been so sensitive if it hadn’t have been my birthday, but it was and I was.

First, the college-aged hostess said, “I love your dress.”

“Really,” I said, beaming that a younger person liked my clothes.

“Yes,” she said. “We were all talking about how much we like your dress. We like your earrings too.”

“The earrings were my birthday present. My daddy says this dress looks like something Endora from Bewitched would wear.”

The hostess stared at me blankly.

“Cheryle,” Bob whispered. “I don’t think she’s ever watched that TV show.”

“Wow,” I said. “You should look for it on reruns. It is a fun show.”

Then we went to the movie theater and stared at the choices. Most movies in State College are geared towards the student population and don’t appeal to me. We narrowed it down to 2. I overheard several giggling college freshman discussing the merits of one of the movies we were considering.

“So you liked it?” I asked.

“We did,” a young girl said. “It was funny.” No one seemed to mind that I’d butted into to their conversation.

“I don’t like slap-stick,” I said. “It makes me cringe. That movie looked like it has a lot of slap-stick humor in it. Does it?”

“What’s slap-stick?”

“You know,” I answered. “Like in the Three Stooges.”

Another blank look.

Cheryle, the teacher, came to life. “Slap-stick is a form of humor where you laugh at people getting hurt. The pain is usually exaggerated and I don’t get that type of humor.”

“Like this,” one of the girls said, hitting her friend.

“Exactly,” I laughed. “Show us again.”

“I don’t think the movie had any slap-stick,” said the girl dodging the second hit.

Bob and went to the movie. Slap-stick was in the very first scene and continued throughout the entire movie. I shuddered and cringed between laughing. I left feeling old, out of touch, and like a poor communicator.

This will not do. God sent me to State College and since I live there, I need to be able to minister there. I’m in a church that reaches college students and I want to serve my church. Jesus and the message of Jesus may be the same but ways of delivering that message change. I need your help.

To share an unchanging Jesus, I have to be willing to change. I’m already willing to worship where the music and worship style maybe not be my favorite but are more effective in reaching people for Christ. What else do I need to change to minister in a community comprised mainly of college students? What moves and TV shows should I watch to know what they are talking about? What expressions should I use so they will understand me? What doesn’t work because it offends so deeply that they stop listening? I’m not going to wear short skirts or pierce anything that isn’t already pierced. I might dream about a butterfly tattoo but it isn’t going happen. However, I’d even take feedback on dressing in ways where I can still be me and not make clothing a barrier for sharing an unchanging Jesus in a changing world. It will be hard but I might even consider wearing less makeup. I’d love your feedback.

Monday, August 2, 2010

When Prayers Intersect

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. Matt 18:19-20 NIV

How about 90? I’m thrilled with 89 but I’d love to make it 90. Could you send me just one more person before I go home?

I felt foolish about the prayer. The 2010 Pocket Full of Quarters Missionary Journey was ending the next day. I’d been on the road 4 months, had traveled 17,000 miles, and visited 30 states. 89 people praying to receive Jesus in 4 months was more that I’d ever personally experienced. Plus, I’d participated in events where hundreds had come to faith. Surely, I should happy. Still, 90 would be such a nice even number.

I called to tell Bob about my prayer. I didn’t learn until later that Bob began praying for God to send at least 1 more person.

I arrived at the book signing 30 minutes late feeling disorganized and embarrassed. It’s hard to get out of a campground early and Tom Tom, my GPS, gets as lost in Indiana as I do. I quickly set up at my table, which was right next to the front door, and began greeting people.

In walked a woman with her two teenaged grandsons. We introduced ourselves and began talking. Not wanting to leave the young men out, I turned to the oldest, an 8th grader, and asked, “Jacob, Do you go to church?”

“I go to two churches,” he muttered.

“He goes with his mother and with me,” his grandmother said. “He goes to our youth group.”

“Have you been baptized?” I asked.

“No,” he said, sounding defensive.

“It’s a problem,” his grandmother said quietly. “He hasn’t been ready.”

“Jacob,” I asked. “If something happened to you today and you didn’t live through the rest of the day, do you know where you’d go next?”

“I don’t,” he answered, waving his arms in the air. “That’s the problem. I really don’t know. I just don’t know.”

“Do you know what the Bible word is for making mistakes?”

“Sure,” he said. “Sin.”

“Aha,” I said. “You know some Sunday School answers. Have you ever sinned?”

“I don’t like Sunday School answers,” he said.

“Good for you for being honest,” I said. “That takes courage. So, have you sinned?”

“Yes,” he said.

“You’re in good company,” I said. “The Bible says we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It also says the wages of sin is death. It sounds like the reason you don’t know where you’re going when you die is that you know you’ve sinned.”

“That’s right.”

“The good news is that the gift of God is eternal life. God loved you so much that He sent his only son, Jesus, to die on the cross and pay the price for your sin. Do you believe in Jesus?”

“Yes,” he said. “I do.”

“Do you believe in the dying on the cross and the resurrection thing?”


“Great. That’s the hard part. Believing that someone rose from the dead is hard to believe but I suppose God wouldn’t be much of a God if He couldn’t bring the dead back to life.” Jacob laughed.

“You’ve just confessed that you’ve sinned and that you believe. The Bible says all who call on the name of Jesus will be saved. All that’s left is for you to call on the name of Jesus. We could do that right now and you could be sure you’re going to heaven. Would you like to do that?”

“I don’t know,” he said, looking at his grandmother.

“Are you OK with this?” I asked her.

“Of course,” she said.

“Jacob,” I said. “The Bible also says that the angels celebrate when someone prays to receive Jesus. We could give all of heaven an excuse for a party if you decide to follow Jesus and invite Him into your life right now. There is no party like an angel party. How about it? I’ll make it easy. I’ll tell you exactly what to pray.”

Jacob took a deep breath. His grandmother and I held our breaths. Long seconds ticked by as we waited. Finally, he said, “Sure, why not.”

I took one hand and directed his grandmother to take the other. I looked at Jacob’s younger brother. “You could do the same thing if you want.”

“No,” he said backing away. “I’m good.”

“You’re not ready yet but maybe you will be soon.” I prompted Jacob, line by line. He carefully and solemnly repeated the words:

“Dear Jesus, I believe you died on a cross and rose from the dead for my sins. Help me with the parts of me that doubt this. I confess that I have sinned and ask for your forgiveness. Please come into my life and be my Lord and Savior.”

“Congratulations, Jacob. When some other strange lady asks where you’re going when you die, I want you to tell her that you’re going to heaven because you asked Jesus into your life.” Jacob grinned.

“Here is a Christian tract that will explain what you just did. I want you to tell your church what you did and tell them you’re ready to be baptized. Maybe your grandmother can help you figure out what church to do that in.”

“Can I have two tracts for my brother and sister?” he asked. “They need to do this.”

“Absolutely,” I said. “Go home and lead them to Christ.”

I was about to burst with the good news. I thought about the angel party that was going on and needed someone to celebrate with. I walked over to the bookstore owner and said, “That young man just prayed to receive Jesus. I’d had 89 people pray to receive Christ on this journey. The journey ends tomorrow and this morning, I asked God for 1 more so the number would reach 90. God gives me the delights of my heart.”

“Now you need to ask for 95,” he joked.

The next day, I cried as I read the following e-mail:

“There are never any words big enough to say thank you when you have changed someone's life. I came home from work last night and found that my son, Jacob, had been saved. He met you yesterday at Tree of Life in Greenwood, Indiana. We have been praying for him and my husband for many years. Jacob has been involved with youth camps, church, and volunteering in the children's ministry. He just never gave his heart to Jesus. I thank God for answering that prayer through you. Your loving sister in Christ, Amie”

Amie had been praying for her son Jacob. Bob and I had been praying for a 90th person to lead to the Lord. All of our prayers intersected in Greenwood, Indiana where Jacob met Jesus. What a way to end the 2010 missionary journey.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Would You Donate Monthly to Help Me Tell More People About Jesus?

Would You Donate Monthly to Help Me Tell More People About Jesus?


Do you long to tell the world about Jesus but feel guilty because you don’t speak up more? There is another way to help. Maybe God is leading you to become a part of evangelistic work through Pocket Full of Change Ministries. In the last 3 months, I’ve personally prayed with 85 people as they became Christians. I’ve assisted events that led hundreds to salvation. I’ve traveled through 28 states handing out quarters that represent the free grace of God and tracts that tell the story of Jesus. I’m Cheryle Touchton and the Director of Pocket Full of Change Ministries. I’m asking you to join me in telling more people about Jesus by committing to a monthly contribution.

Potty Patrol at Bonnaroo Leads People To Christ


In June, God put me on Potty Patrol. Bonnaroo is a rock concert that attracts 80,000 yearly to the tiny town of Manchester, Tennessee. I joined the Sojourners to use that concert to tell the good news of Jesus. I stood outside smelly portable toilets handing out free antibacterial wipes and tracts about Jesus to grateful young people. Many prayed to receive Jesus while waiting in line. I’ve been invited back next year. Would you help me say “Yes” by donating?

July 4th Was Harvest Time at Christ on the Mall in Washington DC


On July 4, I stood for 13 hours in 99-degree heat at a booth on the Mall outside our nation’s Capital. Inside-Out Ministries from Seattle, Washington and I gave away 5000 Liberty Bracelets that tell the story of Jesus. Two mothers begged me to tell their troubled daughters about Christ and cried as they prayed for salvation. A man named George cried as he realized he no longer had to be afraid of hell. Muslims and Buddhists heard the story of Jesus and said “Yes” to the Way, Truth, and Life. I want to go next year and take others. Would you help me go by donating?

A Halloween Block Party is a Potential Mission Field


Athens, Ohio says they are one of the most haunted places on the planet and hosts one of the largest Halloween block parties in the nation. The Christian community in Athens has asked for help telling the attendees about Jesus. Would you help me help them by donating?
Requests for Help are Pouring In and We Need Monthly Contributions to Say “Yes”

People are hungry for Jesus and Christians are hungry for help with evangelism. This is my calling from God and spiritual gift and I need your help. You can mail tax deductable monthly donations to Pocket Full of Change Ministries at POB 51205, Jacksonville Beach, Florida 32240 or have a monthly contribution deducted from your credit card or checking account via PayPal. Each day on the road costs $120. Monthly donations are critical to our ongoing work. Pray about sending monthly contributions of $10, $25, $50, $120, or even $500. Please pray about saying ”Yes” so I can say ”Yes.” Donate

Saturday, July 10, 2010

40 In 3 - Here Am I, Send Me

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" Isa 6:8 NIV

How can I possibly explain what it feels like to be with 40 people in just 3 days as they pray to invite Jesus Christ into their lives? That is what happened to me on July 4th at “Christ on the Mall” in Washington DC. Every year, Christians come to our nation’s capital, set up booths on the mall outside the Capital Building, and tell people about Jesus. I was there with Inside Out Ministries from Seattle, Washington. Hundreds prayed with our group to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It was like a hot dog stand. People crowded around and waited to talk with us.

I’d use words like awesome or amazing but I looked up the definitions and these words weren’t big enough to describe my feelings. Thinking about it “takes my breath away,” brings on renewed tears, and for some reason, leaves me feeling strangely unworthy of such an honor. I want to leap for joy and shout it from the tops of mountains. I want to call everyone who donated to Pocket Full of Change Ministries and say, “People will be in heaven because you gave money.” I long to experience it again and fall to my knees with pleas of “Here am I, send me.”

We were giving out free Liberty Bracelets that had colored beads to represent the way to true liberty. The gold bead represented heaven and the amazing plans God has for each person. The dark bead represented the sin that separates us from God. Red is the color of the blood Jesus shed to give us a way back to God. White is the color or purity and represents how God sees us when we invite Jesus into our lives. Green represents the growth we have in a relationship with Jesus. We gave out 5,000 bracelets to people of all races, nationalities, religions, ages, and genders.

A man named George waited in line for his bracelet. As I tied it on, I asked if he knew where he would go if he died today. It seemed a harsh question and I don’t usually start that way, but the Holy Spirit urged me.

“No,” he shuddered. “I want to go to heaven but I worry about it all the time.” George was a well-dressed man who looked to be in his 50’s. Nothing about his countenance indicated his concerns about eternity and yet it was there.

“Do you believe in Jesus?” I asked. “His birth, death, and resurrection?”

“I guess,” he said. “I just can’t stop worrying about hell.”

I explained what the bracelet meant and why Jesus died on a cross. “The Bible says that you only need a tiny bit of faith. It describes it as the size of a mustard seed. It sounds like you have at least that much faith. I suspect you’ve made mistakes and feel you deserve hell,” I offered gently. His tears affirmed the truth.

“I’ve tried to make up for them,” George said. “Nothing makes me feel better.”

“The Bible says everyone has sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. Sin is the Bible word for mistakes. If you’ve sinned, you’re in good company. Everyone has. In God’s eyes, all sins are equal, so you sins are no better or worse than any other person.“

George was listening intently so I continued. “You’re right to worry about hell because the Bible says the wages of sin is death. The good news is that the Bible also says the gift of God is eternal life and that all who call on the name of Jesus will be saved. You’ve done the hard part. You already believe in Jesus. All that is left is for you is to call on the name of Jesus and ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. Let’s do that right now.”

“Please,” he begged, visibly trembling.

“Pray after me,” I said. “Dear Jesus, I believe in you. I know you died on a cross and rose from the dead for me. Help me with the part of me that doesn’t completely believe. I have made so many mistakes and feel guilty. I ask for your forgiveness. Please come into my life right now and be my Lord and Savior. Thank you for my salvation.”

“Thank you,” George said, as he finished praying.

“Do you need to sit down?” I asked, leading a shaking George to a folding chair.

“I do,” he said, taking the offered seat under the tent. As George tried to compose himself, Christians all around us were praying with people. It was almost 100 degrees but Inside Out Ministries stayed on that mall for over 13 hours, constantly leading people like George to Christ.

“You don’t ever have to worry about hell again,” I told George. “That issue is settled. You remember your mistakes but God has already forgotten them. You probably need to make amends to some people in your life but God has forgiven you for all of eternity. The angels are throwing a party because you’ve invited Jesus to be your Savior and a place for you in heaven is already being prepared.”

“Thank you,” was all George could manage to say.

“Thank you Jesus,” I whispered as George left. I’ve been on the 2010 Pocket Full of Quarters missionary journey since April 1st. I’ve visited 29 states, driven 14,000 miles, and 85 people have prayed with me to receive Jesus. I’ve been present as hundreds changed their destiny through prayer. People long for Jesus because He is worthy. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. (Matthew 9:27)

Have you prayed the words, “Here am I send me?” If not, you cannot imagine what you are missing. God probably won’t send you on the road as He does me, but there are people like George in your grocery stores, shopping malls, and parks. Look for them. They need to hear about your Jesus. Ministries like Pocket Full of Change Ministries need funding. Donate so we can do the work God has called us to do full time. Pray, “Hear am I Lord, send me.” Go into the world as God calls. Please, do not miss the joy of being a part of leading people to an eternity with Christ.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Grace Wasted

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Eph 2:8-9 NIV

What I long to do more than anything is to be able to communicate the power of grace the world. To communicate it, I have to understand it myself and I confess to occasionally struggle. A couple of years ago, I wrote a book called, “Pocket Full of Grace.” The words I wrote communicated to the best of my ability, the Biblical view of grace. When the book was complete and I reread my own words, I shelved the book without publishing it because I realized how bound I still was to law and the guilt and judgment associated with lack of perfection. While my eternity with Christ is sealed, I sometimes waste grace in this life. I won’t publish the book about grace until I can accept the grace of Jesus Christ so fully that I offer grace to myself and those close to me. I know I am saved by grace so why do I still demand perfection in others and myself? That is the question I’ve been trying to answer since shelving my book, “Pocket Full of Grace.”

I ache when I meet people tortured by their past. Lynn is a Buddhist. Christians surround her. Her daughter and best friend have tried to tell her about the grace of Jesus but real mistakes from this life and imagined mistakes from a past life torture Lynn.

“I can’t be a Christian,” Lynn said. “It can’t be that easy. It takes all of the responsibility off me. I know I must have done something terrible in the last life to deserve everything that has happened to me in this life. I’ve given up trying to be happy in this life and am working hard to be good so I have a chance of happiness in the next life.”

I spoke words of grace from the Bible and told her that if she accepts Jesus, she could be relieved of guilt of her past but as I said the words, I remembered how many Christians still believe they are being punished for past sins.

A Christian mother told me, “I’m having so many problems with my teenage son. I’ve done my best but I think God is punishing me for my own teenage mistakes.”

Where is her relief by grace? I know firsthand how painful a troubled teenager is for a mother. This poor mother is suffering from agonizing pain made even worse by her rejection of the grace that is her right through Christ.

I visit churches that waste grace. 25 years later, they are still holding members accountable for past mistakes as they retell tales. I hear words like, “Our piano player is on her second marriage” or “She’s getting what she deserves. You should have seen her in high school.” Preachers preach sin and point fingers from the pulpit where their members roast that same preacher over Sunday lunch. Where is the peace of grace?

Where is grace in Christian families? I hear wives torturing husbands for not being perfect while I stand in grocery store lines. I hear criticism in jokes and husband bashing stories. I hear husbands complaining about things like weight gains, cluttered homes, and nagging. Adult children drag out the mistakes of imperfect parents as childhood stories become dinnertime entertainment. Parents try to discipline children’s current mistakes by clubbing them with past mistakes. Smug words like “I told you so” start family wars that indicate just how much we waste grace while on earth.

Perhaps it would be easier to tell Lynn, the Buddhist, about the grace of Jesus if the Christians who surround Lynn could accept the grace of Jesus so completely while on earth that there is no judgment or guilt remaining in them. Wouldn’t the resulting peace of grace radiate out so far that it would draw the world in?

Jesus was perfect. When I long for perfection in others, and myself, I’m really longing for more of Jesus. Since shelving the book, “Pocket Full of Grace,” when I find myself tortured by what I left undone or by the mistakes of others, I stop and seek out the face of Jesus. I apologize to Him for wasting grace and let grace surround me and return my peace. Real or imagined slights of others lose their power, as I love them through the forgiving eyes of Jesus. The demands of perfectionism that condemn me to restlessness and discontent are replaced by the gentle peace of knowing that others and I are made perfect through the love of Christ.

There is such peace in grace. I cry over Lynn trying so hard to make up for mistakes from a past life but perhaps the real tragedy is when Christians, who are saved by grace, waste it. For today, I’m committing to offer myself and others grace for our own lack of understanding about and acceptance of grace.

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage all of us and strengthen us in every good deed and word. (Paraphrased from 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Halleluiah Healed

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. Matt 18:19 NIV

I’m just grateful that all we need is faith the size of a mustard seed. The healing of Halleluiah seriously humbled me about the size of my faith. Before you judge me too harshly, remember…judge not lest you be judged. You might just find out your own faith struggles.

Halleluiah’s refrigerator broke. It worked with the generator and the battery but would not work with gas. For a week, I fought with it. I ran the battery down and wasted generator gas trying to keep food cold. I turned it off and back on, lit the gas stove to check gas levels, stomped on the brake in case it had an air bubble, and prayed over it. Nothing helped. Food spoiled and I pouted. It was affecting my entire trip.

I dreaded what I was going to have to do about it. Fixing camper refrigerators is expensive and takes time. Not every camper dealership works on them. When I arrived at Bonaroo, I emptied the refrigerator’s contents into my host’s fridge and sighed over my woes. I pretty much whined about it to anyone who would listen.

When I whined to Riley Stephenson from Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Riley said, “Why don’t we pray for it. Brad’s generator broke on the way here. He was going to have to go back home because he had his elderly mother with him and she needed the air-conditioner. We prayed over it and the generator started working again.” Brad is Riley’s friend and often travels with their ministry. Brad and Riley had driven from Fort Worth, Texas to meet us in Tennessee for the concert.

“The fridge has done this before,” I said dubiously. “I already prayed about it and it still isn’t working. I think it needs to go into the shop. When I get to Jacksonville, I’ll try to get it fixed.”

Riley has that innocent childlike faith that everyone wants. I confess to having a bit of a scientific mind and believe that God often uses science to fix things. I was feeling protective of Riley and his faith. I didn’t want him disappointed. Words like “Oh ye of little faith” now come to my mind. I’m just being honest here.

“Let’s go pray,” Riley insisted. We went outside and Riley and his friend Brad, the owner of the healed generator, touched Halleluiah’s refrigerator. I sat in the driver’s seat squirming.

“Dear God,” Riley prayed. “You promise us that when two of us agree, it will be done. Cheryle needs this refrigerator for her ministry. We ask in the name of Jesus for you to heal this refrigerator.”

Brad turned it on. “It’s working,” he announced.

“It always works for the first three minutes,” I said, still not sure. “Then, the “check” light comes on.”

I cranked Halleluiah and we drove off. Every few minutes, someone in the back seat would announce, “It’s still working. The check light isn’t on.”

Well – It’s been 4 days and the refrigerator is still working. Brad and Riley weren’t surprised. I don’t know why I am since I see God’s miracles every day. God and I are working on that.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Potty Patrol

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Phil 4:11 NIV

I try to be content in all circumstances but some circumstances are more challenging than others. The concert, Bonaroo, is an exciting event for most people. You can ride amusement rides, listen to music, play games, eat and eat some more, dance, hear comedians, and sleep in the sunshine. I’ve found that God doesn’t much care about my personal comfort on these missionary journeys and sure enough, at Bonaroo, God put me on Potty Patrol. I wrote about this on my Facebook and the Christian author, editor, speaker, and apparent comedian, James Watkins, commented that I was doing my Christian “dooty.” You have to have a sense of humor when doing God’s work.

Yearly, over 80,000 people descend on the tiny town of Manchester, Tennessee for a concert that attracts the biggest and best popular musicians and entertainers. Ron Fuller is one my mentors and invited me to participate with them in an evangelistic outreach to the concert attendees. Ron, The Sojourner, is pastor of the Sojourners Ministry, a home church ministry whose hub is in Manchester. I go where I’m invited. You can visit the Sojourners Hub

Manchester doesn’t have enough hotel rooms, camp grounds, restaurants, or restrooms to accommodate everyone, so eager attendees sleep in tents and campers on concert grounds and in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Massive rows of portable toilets frame the city and concert grounds. People wait in line in temperatures that exceed 90 degrees and the scowls on faces indicate their distaste for the foul smell and dread of entering the tiny nasty coffin-like boxes. I spent hours standing beside them handing out individually wrapped sanitary wipes and Christian tracts. Potty Patrol worked.

“Would you like a wipe?” I’d offer. Their face would light up.

“Absolutely,” so many said. “Thank you so much.”

“How about a wipe in the name of Jesus? He loves you so much that He put me on Potty Patrol just for you.” Most grinned, took my wipe, the tract, and thanked me. I worried they would toss the tracts in the potty but people were so eco-friendly that they came out carrying and reading their tracts.

One woman said, “Oh, no, not another one. Are you going to tell me I’m going to hell because I’m listening to this music?”

“Did someone tell you that?” I asked.

“Oh yeah, there is a Christian group here warning people that this music will send them to hell.”

“They are not with us. I’m with the Sojourners and we share good news. Music can’t send anyone to hell. That’s bad theology. Jesus came to save the world – not to condemn it. I’m here and I promise you, I’m going to heaven. The Bible says in Romans 3 that all have sinned and that includes the person who told you that. It says in Romans 6 that the wages of sin is death and the gift of God is eternal life. In Romans 10 it says that all who call on the name of Jesus shall be saved.”

“I like the way you think,” she said, her voice cracking.

“I think you’re worried about hell,” I said gently. “Let’s take care of that issue right now.”

“OK,” she said with relief.

“Pray after me,” I said. Line by line, she prayed the following prayer.

“Dear Jesus, I believe in you. I believe you died on a cross and rose from the dead for me. I’ve made mistakes and I ask for your forgiveness. I ask you to come into my life and be my Lord and Savior. Thank you for my salvation.”

When we finished, she was crying. I said, “If anyone else tells you that you are going to hell, you look them in the eye and say firmly, ‘I’ve called on the name of Jesus and He saved me by His blood on the cross. I’m going to heaven.’”

“Thank you so much,” she said, still crying. She hugged me, took her life into her own hands, and dashed into the nasty potty.

Potty Patrol was a success. I gave out 200 wipes and tracts. Next year, I’ll take more. People were grateful for the wipes and while a few refused the tracts, no one got mad. Many received Jesus right there by the smelly stalls and many more walked away reading the words of love. Our small group had 131 salvations and 41 people prayed with me directly to receive Jesus. We never know where God is going to use us. Our job is to say yes to God and to be content in all circumstances – even the smelly ones.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Nothing Shocks Me Anymore...Or So I Thought

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; Heb 4:12 NIV

“I’ve seen so much on the road that nothing shocks me anymore,” I casually announced to a room full of people. Saying that was a bad idea. It was as if I had issued a challenge.

The Sojourner, Ron Fuller, had invited Ken Copeland Ministries and Pocket Full of Change Ministries to Manchester, Tennessee to participate in an evangelistic outreach to the 80,000+ crowds expected at the famous secular concert, Bonaroo. Ron Fuller is my mentor and has an amazing heart for God and ministry. In addition to being the pastor of their local home fellowship, The Sojourner mentors home churches and ministries all over the world. Visit Sojourners Hub.

Riley Stephenson from Ken Copeland Ministries was kind enough to bring training materials and tracts for the Sojourners to use. We began on Wednesday night with Riley leading evangelism training. Riley reminded the Sojourners that Jesus came to save and not condemn and that to evangelize meant to share good news. He said we were going to see shocking things. We were to stay positive and not debate or condemn. That was when I said the words that would come back to haunt me.

The next morning, we went to Bonaroo. It was amazing. In the middle of that dusty noisy field, many young people prayed to receive Jesus. I’d been walking for hours in 92 degree temperatures and was exhausted. I spotted The Sojourner sitting under a giant oak tree and dropped beside him to rest on the grass.

“How many steps have you taken?” a young woman asked. She’d noticed my pedometer. I turned around to answer her and didn’t see her boyfriend standing next to her.

“I’m over 16,000,” I said.

“Wow,” she said. “Do you always walk that many?”

“It depends,” I laughed. “I’m a Christian missionary and writer. When I’m on a mission trip, I almost always walk over 10,000 steps. When I’m back home writing, it stays under 5,000. I’m here at Bonaroo telling people that Jesus loves them and wants a relationship with them.”

She quickly lost interest but the word Jesus got her boyfriend’s attention.

“Jesus,” he slurred. “He’s cool. My girlfriend broke up with me last month and I was bummed. I cried out to Jesus to hold me and it felt like He did. I called my Mom and told her Jesus held me. I don’t understand it but ever since, I’ve been hearing about Jesus everywhere.” I resisted the temptation to remind him that since he was here with another girl, he hadn’t grieved for very long.

I followed his voice and as my eyes traveled upward, I saw bare feet, bare legs, and then, my eyes quickly moved past the only thing he was wearing - hot pink men’s bikini underwear with a bright yellow band. They left nothing to the imagination and covered little. I shuddered as I looked upward to notice the beer can in his hand.

I remembered my casual words from the night before and prayed, “God, is this a test? Maybe it is a joke.” Between the beer and the bikini, I was tempted to ignore the opportunity but I remembered Riley’s training from the night before. He’d reminded us that the word of God never returns void. I took a deep breath, shook off my shock, and proceeded with the process Riley had suggested.

“You called on the name of Jesus. That was serious and He heard you. In the Bible, Romans 3 says that all have sinned. Romans 6 says that the wages of sin is death and the gift of God is eternal life. Romans 10 says that all who call on the name of Jesus will be saved. We’re going to take care of that right now.” I had his full and amazingly sober attention. He leaned over to me and I had to choose between smelling the alcohol on his breath or taking the chance of seeing something I didn’t want to see again… beer-breath won by a landslide.

“Pray after me,” I instructed, staring deep into his eyes.

“Ok,” he soberly nodded.

Line by line, he repeated the following words. The entire time we were praying, his new girl friend was snapping pictures of him from behind.

“Dear Jesus, I believe in you. I believe you died on a cross and rose from the dead for me. I’ve made mistakes and I ask for your forgiveness. I ask you to come into my life and be my Lord and Savior. Thank you for my salvation.”

He said the words without any slur and I knew the word of God had indeed divided his soul and spirit and the Holy Spirit had reached this young man’s spirit in spite of the beer and his state of undress.

“You’ve just made the best decision of your life,” I said. I had to bite my tongue not to add, “Now, go put on some clothes.”

Instead, I said, “Chances are, you’re going to do everything you planned to do at this concert but pay close attention. It is going to feel differently now. You won’t enjoy it as much. The Holy Spirit is already working on you.”

He walked off trying to tell his uninterested girlfriend what he had done. I heard him saying Jesus repeatedly. The Sojourner, who’d been quiet until that moment said, “I saw that young man earlier. I noticed what he was wearing and asked God to help him. A few minutes later he is over here starting a conversation with you.”

“It’s a good thing you were here to witness this,” I joked. “Otherwise, no one would believe this story. I never should have said that nothing shocks me.” Hmmmm...Maybe now I can say nothing else could possibly shock me.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Once You're a Pickle, You Can't Go Back to Being a Cucumber

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” Romans 10:9-10

How can one simple prayer, “Jesus, I ask you to be my Lord and Savior,” make such a difference? I don’t completely understand it myself but I know it makes all the difference in this world and in eternity. I know it because the Bible says it and because of what I witness in people.

So many I meet have done the hard part but have stopped just short of becoming a Christ follower. They already believe the astounding facts that Jesus came to earth as a baby via a virgin birth, died on a cross, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. Many go to church and some have even gone so far as to confess their sins to God or a priest.

They say they believe but then indicate that it isn’t enough. So what is missing? When I ask if they have invited Jesus to be their personal Lord and Savior, I often get blank or surprised stares. Sometimes, they mutter words that resemble, “Surely I have. I just don’t remember.”

“Oh, you’d remember if you had,” I answer. If I can get them to pray that simple prayer, their testimony to the power of that prayer is consistently the same. People who sincerely ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior report that it changes them forever.

“Everything is different now. Things are calmer. Our family enjoys church. We all get along better. It all started with that prayer I prayed with you last year,” Michelle said in wonderment. She’d been updating me about everything that had happened in the year since she had prayed to ask Jesus to be her personal Savior. Michelle had already believed in Jesus and attended church sporadically. She tried reading the Bible but didn’t understand it. The problem was that she was trying to practice religion without ever having prayed to receive Jesus personally.

“Of course it all changed,” I said. “You prayed to receive Jesus. He entered your life. You’re different so everything is different. It’s like dipping cucumbers into vinegar. Once a cucumber becomes a pickle, it is changed forever.”

When I tell young children about becoming a Christian, I do an object lesson. First, we taste a cucumber. Next, we soak it in vinegar and taste the resulting pickle. I always ask, “Do you think this pickle can ever go back to being a cucumber?”

“Noooo,” they shout in unison.

“That is how it is when you pray to receive Jesus. Once you invite Him into your life, you can never go back to being a cucumber again. You are changed forever.”

Mallory told me the same story. She’d grown up in a Catholic church. When I met her on the first missionary journey in 2002, she believed in Jesus and had been baptized and confirmed. She’d never invited Jesus to be her personal savior. She was the first person Pocket Full of Change Ministries helped lead to Christ. I met her again in 2010 and she told me what had happened since that simple prayer. She’d gone from being a sad confused college student to becoming a committed Christian, church member, and student of the Bible. She’d graduated from college and had married a Christian man. Her transformation from cucumber to pickle was apparent in her glow.

Last week, I took a vacation with my sweet husband. I jokingly wrote on Facebook that since I was on vacation, I hoped others were telling people about Jesus. A few hours later, God assured me that other Christians were busily helping cucumbers become pickles. I sat in a restaurant in Maine and listened to the testimony of Heather, my server.

“My boss led me to Jesus. I don’t understand it but everything is different since I invited Jesus into my life. I feel different about everything. I already believed but now I know Him.”

“Of course everything is different,” I joked. “You’re a pickle instead of a cucumber. You’re changed forever.” At her confused look, I explained what I meant.

If you believe in Jesus but have never asked Him to be your personal Lord and Savior, you’re still a cucumber longing to be a pickle. Believing is the hard part but we also have to confess with our mouths. I beg you to pray this simple prayer: “God, I believe that Jesus came to earth as a baby, died on a cross, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. I’m not perfect and have made so many mistakes. Please forgive my sins. Jesus, I invite You into my life to be my Lord and Savior. If any part of me doesn’t believe, help me in my unbelief. Thank you for my salvation. Amen”

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Top Ten Perks to Being a Christian Writer and Missionary

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Phil 4:4 NIV

Recently, my Christian writer’s group asked us to come up with the perks of being a Christian writer. Eight years ago, I left a lucrative and exciting corporate career to answer God's call to ministry and writing. I had only planned a 2-month sojourn between executive jobs but life became so interesting, I forgot to job hunt. If you don’t job hunt, I suppose you never find a job. In those years, I’ve come to understand why God had to remind me to rejoice in all things.

Below are my “Top Ten Perks to Being a Christian Writer and Missionary”

1. I am no longer tempted by the "evils" of money.

2. Since I spend much of my life in campgrounds, I really enjoy nice

3. I can't always get showers on the road so I now appreciate showers.
It is a real bonus when they are clean, hot, and bug-free.

4. I now have an outlet for the stories running around in my head so I let
others talk at parties and in Bible studies.

5. My husband makes more money than I do, which is really good for his male ego. (He has offered to get over the ego thing in exchange for my former salary.)

6. My own ego is kept in check by humiliating book signings where people walk by me while avoiding eye contact.

7. If the writing thing doesn't work out, book signings have prepared me to work booths at carnivals.

8. The galleys I deal with are less fattening then the galleys of yachts and cruise ships. (Galleys are the type set proof copy that writers review just before a book goes to press.)

9. I spend so much time with my dog that I hear her voice. My readers
like her voice better than mine.

10. My clothes cost a lot less and are more comfortable and interesting.

I loved my last job and I love this one. In fact, I rejoice in this job. I love being with people when they pray to receive Jesus. I love people saying my books helped. Would you believe I almost rejoice in the Lord when showering with bugs? I once showered with a mouse and discovered just how well Baptists could really dance.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

When God Is Silent

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God. Ps 38:15

What do you do when God is silent? I pace, fret, and assume I’ve done something wrong. When I don’t hear His voice, I look for other voices to guide me. Thankfully, God’s silence is loud enough to overshadow doubts and other well-meaning voices.

I hugged my grandchildren goodbye. My daughter-in-law, Whitney, and her mother, Elaine planned to visit Whitney’s sick grandma and then head to the Charlotte Airport to fly to Jacksonville, Florida. I watched them drive off, already lonesome.

I cranked Halleluiah and was distracted by the domestic scene in front of me. A tiny grey mother kitty carried her babies, one by one, to a new location. She carefully and tenderly held babies by the skin on their delicate necks. I thought of my own grown children. I still had a mother’s tender heart that longed to carry babies but they didn’t need to be carried any longer. I felt a moment of nostalgia as I remembered carrying my babies from one location to another.

I put Halleluiah in reverse and realized I didn’t know where to go next. I was stunned. Since I began these journeys in 2002, I’ve always had an instinct about the next location. I panicked because I couldn’t hear God. I remembered my morning devotions with my grandchildren. Should I also have done private devotions? I sat in the car and prayed for wisdom. God was silent. Why couldn’t I hear Him? What was I doing wrong?

I called Bob. He’s never silent. “Bob, I don’t know where to go next.”

I heard the computer keys clicking. “What about Myrtle Beach. You can be there in a few hours. They’ve got a KOA. You haven’t stayed near the ocean yet.”

I hung up and called the Myrtle Beach KOA. They had room. I couldn’t make myself reserve a spot. I called Bob back.

“It doesn’t feel right. I don’t know what’s wrong. I always know where to go.”

“Maybe you can stay in Charlotte.”

“Both Charlotte campgrounds had room but I couldn’t make that reservation either,” I said.

“What about Wilmington, North Carolina?” he offered. I sighed. He was trying to help but nothing felt right.

“When you don’t know what to do, I guess you do the next right thing,” I said. “I’m going to grocery shop.” I drove across the street and filled Halleluiah with food. I still didn’t know what to do so I filled Halleluiah with gas. I ate lunch but still no word from God.

I started driving. I called Bob again. “I’m just driving. I have no idea where I am or where I’m going but I was bored sitting there. I guess when I figure out where to go, Tom Tom will figure out where I am and send me there.”

I passed a shopping mall and saw a Massage Envy. I have a membership because of my fibromyalgia and was behind in using my pre-paid massages. Maybe God wanted to give me a massage. Unfortunately, they had no openings.

I was wasting gas so I drove into the parking lot of a sandwich shop that had free Wi-Fi. I got a diet coke and was sorry I’d already eaten lunch. I briefly considered eating again but knew that wouldn’t help. I decided to sit in Halleluiah and use their free Wi-Fi until God told me what to do. I looked at my watch. Three hours wasted and I was only 3 miles from where I started. It was time for Whitney’s plane to leave so I called her.

“Are you at the gate?” I asked, picturing Ava and Noah excited about boarding the flight.

“No,” she said frantically. “We’re going to miss our flight. I have to go. Chris is calling. He’s trying to find us another flight.”

“How can I help?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she said as she hung up.

Suddenly I knew why God had been silent. Whitney was going to need help. He couldn’t tell me earlier because the need hadn’t even happened yet.

I called Bob. “Whitney missed her plane. Now I know why I’ve been sitting here. God wants me to drive them to Jacksonville.”

“Their stuff won’t fit in the camper. You don’t have enough seat belts,” he argued.

“I have 2 belts in the back, 1 in the middle, and 2 in the front. That’s enough. You’re forgetting the rule about vehicles – you can always put in one more thing.”

I called Whitney back. “God hasn’t let me leave Charlotte. He wanted me to wait on you. I’ll drive you to Jacksonville.”

“Are you sure?” she asked. “We can’t get another flight out. But I don’t want to interfere with your ministry.”

“Whitney,” I said. “You and Chris donate to this ministry. Today you get your very own minister. God kept me in Charlotte for 3 ½ hours waiting on you to miss that flight. Let me help.”

“We’re sitting in the lobby of the airport. The kids haven’t even eaten yet so we’ll have to stop for lunch.” I looked at my watch. It was after 2.

“I’m going to take a minute and repack Halleluiah so I’ll have room for your stuff,” I said. “I’m 30 minutes away. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

Bob called while I was repacking Halleluiah. Packing Halleluiah is his job. I’m not the most methodical person in the world and he likes knowing where things are so he can help me find stuff.

“Where are you putting things?” he asked frantically.

“Anywhere I can. Ouch!” I screamed.

What happened?” he demanded. “Are you safe?”

“I’m lowering the spare tire so I can put stuff underneath. It was hot and burned me. I’m parked and safe. Yuck.”

Now what?” he said.

“I got grease all over me.”

“Cheryle,” he said. “I didn’t think you could lift the tire by yourself.”

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I’m going to figure it out. I just wish it wasn’t so hot. I’m putting the boxes of books underneath.”

I went inside and realized that the toilette area could act as a closet.

“What are you doing now?” Bob asked.

“Stuffing stuff in the toilet.”


“Well, technically, the toilet lid is closed. I’m stuffing stuff inside the toilet closet.”

“What if you need the bathroom?”

“I’ll take the stuff out. I hope no one opens this door or they will be crushed.” Bob’s blood pressure rose even more.

When I finished repacking, I headed to the airport with Bob still on the phone. It was a good thing it was Saturday or his job might have been in jeopardy.

“Cheryle, find out what airline they’re at,” Bob instructed. “You have to get in the correct lane.” Sighing again, I resisted the urge to remind Bob that I’d been driving to airports as long as he.

I drove up to find two hungry grumpy children disappointed about no airplane ride, a frazzled Mama, and a weary Nana waiting in the airport lobby with 2 giant suitcases, 2 backpacks, 2 car seats, 2 purses, and a stroller. We loaded everyone and everything in tiny Halleluiah. We stopped for fast food and drove to Jacksonville.

I felt honored to serve my children. I was like that mama kitty carefully carrying her babies to another location. I thanked God for my wonderful daughter-in-law who allowed herself to be ministered to by the ministry she supports so faithfully. Whitney’s mother, Elaine, rode in the front. She and I had known each other since 3rd grade but had never really spent any quality time together. We had hours to revisit memories and fill in the intimate details of our lives. At the end of the drive, Elaine and I left the car planning our next outing. At one of our stops, Whitney witnessed one of the Divine Encounters she makes possible through her donations. Tiny Ava rode in the middle seat. She isn’t much of a traveler but having the resources of Halleluiah available made her trip more pleasant. Noah rode in the back with his mother and enjoyed their quality time. It was a fabulous trip.

When Whitney tried to pay for the gas, I argued. “You’ve already donated to this trip. It would be like you were paying twice.”

“Take the credit card!” she insisted. I did.

I spent the night at their home, went to church with them the next morning, and hit the missionary road again. This time I knew exactly where to go and when I arrived, I met the person God had sent me there to meet.

I learned a lesson about God’s silence. It doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve done anything wrong or that I couldn’t hear Him talking. In fact, it wasn’t about me. The answer wasn’t prepared yet. I’d been tempted to listen to other voices more willing to speak but God’s silence spoke louder than those voices. Maybe the next time God is silent, I’ll just relax and wait.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32 NIV

Since the beginning of the 2010 Pocket Full of Quarter’s Missionary Journey, Belle the Missionary Dog and I have traveled in our camper van, Halleluiah, through 20 states evangelizing and handing out quarters. I’m writing from Florida but soon will be heading up the East Coast. Every person we meet is in a different phase of the continuum of his or her walk towards or away from The Truth. Below are a few recent examples.

Seekers – Need The Truth and Time to Think

Jules said she was a former Mormon. She left the church because she thought the rules were silly. She lived in Utah, where everyone she knew believed the same teachings. She’d never heard about God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit or that grace was free if you asked. She was a young mother and wife and said, “I want my 2-year-old son to learn about God but I can’t take him to a church I don’t believe it. I’m trying to learn about other religions.”

“May I tell you a little about traditional Christianity?” I asked. She nodded eagerly and listened with rapt attention. At the end of the “Truth Lesson,” I invited her to pray to receive Jesus.

“Not yet,” she said, backing up. “I have to think about things. Can I keep this information?”

“Absolutely,” I said. “Here’s a card to my website. The quarter in it represents the free grace of God. The website contains more information. Jules, I can see it in your eyes. You’ve recognized the truth. This is simple. All you have to do is ask Jesus to help you in your unbelief and pray the prayer in that pamphlet. The Holy Spirit will do the rest.”

Rebels – Wait Until Truth Has Their Attention and Go Slowly

Emma grew up forced to go to church and hadn’t personalized it. When her sister announced she was a lesbian, Emma’s religious mother struggled. Emma decided religion was judgmental and rejected it. Then her best friend got addicted to cocaine. She worried about him and watched him ruin his life until he met Jesus. She said, “The change in him was amazing. He is off cocaine and productive. Now he wants me to think about Jesus. I suppose all of this could be real. It has sure helped him.”

“What do you know about becoming a Christian?” I asked.

“I suppose you have to go to church and get baptized,” she said.

“No,” I said. “Christianity is about a relationship with Jesus. Those things you mentioned are important but not about becoming a Christian. May I share with you the way?” She nodded and I spent the next 20 minutes reading scriptures that demonstrated that the Jesus loved her, wanted a relationship with her, and was waiting for her to invite Him into her life. She listened openly but I knew that if you push a rebel to pray for salvation too soon, it could postpone that decision for years.

“Think about it,” I suggested. “Read this. I’m sure your friend would be honored if you prayed this prayer with him.”

The Fearful – Need Help Identifying and Releasing What is Blocking Truth

Sandy was a non-practicing Jew. A Christian friend helped her understand Jesus was real and possibly the Messiah that her faith was waiting on. She knew how to pray to receive Him but was terrified of what it would do to her family relationships. When I probed, I found the root of her fear. It was deep and went back to her childhood. An aunt had become a Christian. The family ostracized the aunt, who later committed suicide.

I took her hands. “Tell me exactly what you’re afraid of.”

“I’m afraid I’ll become a Christian and end up doing the same thing as my aunt.”

“Sandy – you already believe in Jesus. I can see His Truth in your eyes. You’ve come too far to stop now. Are you worried that meeting Jesus will change you so much that you’ll lose control?”

“Yes,” she whispered. “I don’t know what I’ll be like. I have a son. What if I do what my aunt did?”

“Can you make a decision to trust God with that fear? You don’t have to trust Him yet, just decide to.”

“I can try,” she said. Her hands were trembling.

“Good job. Now, let’s ask God to remove the fear.” She agreed and I led her to ask God to remove the specific fear. She looked up and took a deep breath.

“Tell me the first thing that came to your mind after you prayed to remove the fear,” I said.

“I can!” she said excitedly. “I suddenly heard myself say I can do this.”

“Do you want to invite Jesus into your life right now?” I asked.

“No,” she said thoughtfully. “I think I should pray that prayer with my friend. She deserves that.”

“What an honor,” I said. “She will remember it forever.”

Deceivers – Bolt from the Truth – Even While It’s Pricking Them

A shabbily dressed man knocked on my window. I cranked Halleluiah for a quick getaway and rolled the window down. Belle barked warningly.

“My car overheated. I tried to buy lunch but my credit card won’t work. You’re in ministry. Could you loan me a few dollars? Give me your address and I’ll mail it to you.”

“I won’t loan you money but I’ll give you some. I live off donations so I don’t have much.” I pulled $5 from my wallet. He reached through the window.

“Wait,” I said, pulling it back. “First, let’s talk about Truth.” I presented the gospel of Jesus. “Jesus is The Truth.” He took a tract and pretended to be interested.

“I’ll pray for you.”

“Sure,” he said reaching for the money. “I can always use prayers.”

“I mean now,” I said, keeping the money where he could see it but out of his reach. I prayed for his character and for Truth to be revealed. I finally handed him the $5 and he snatched it away. He literally ran from the car, jumped in his supposedly overheated car, and sped away.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Trekking and Tracting Through Carowinds

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Mark 16:15-16 NIV

OK – I admit it – I love amusement parks. They are fun. People are generally in a good mood and receptive to receiving information about Jesus. I also like rides. I go to amusement parks whenever possible.

My Pocket Full of Quarters journey rule is to go where I’m invited and do what I’m asked. My daughter-in-law Whitney called to say her 92-year-old grandmother was gravely ill. Her grandmother, Louise, was my Girl Scout troop leader when I was child and I love her dearly. I knew she was in Charlotte, North Carolina visiting her youngest son.

“How can I help?” I asked immediately.

“Mom and I want to go to Charlotte. Chris has a business trip and can’t keep the children.“

“If you take the kiddoes to Charlotte, I’ll meet you there.” I negotiated. “They can help me tell people about Jesus while you and Elaine visit Louise.”

If you’ve been reading this blog, you may remember that my youngest granddaughter, 1-year-old Abigaile, helped me hand out tracts a few weeks back. Now, 2-year-old Ava and 6-year-old Noah were going to get a turn. I’d been to Carowinds Amusement Park in Charlotte and knew they would enjoy it so I began making plans.

We arrived at the Charlotte hotel about the same time. “Gi Gi!” Noah said excitedly. “You’re going to love this. Look.” He opened the drawer and pointed to the Gideon Bible.

“Gideon is a ministry that hands out Bibles,” I explained, showing him the name. “I’ve met people who worked with Gideon. God has told them to put a Bible in as many hotel rooms as possible.”

“Let’s go see if there is one in your room,” he said excitedly. Sure enough, I had one too.

“I’m going to put it with your ‘talk to God books,’” Noah said, getting the Bible out of the drawer and taking it to the zippered zoo bag that holds my Bible and study books.

“I brought the ‘talk to God book’ you like,” I said. “We’ll read it tonight before you go to bed.”

That night, I read the children a devotional and showed them the tracts. “We’ll ride rides tomorrow but our job is to tell everyone about Jesus. I need you to help me give these to people.”

The next morning, as we were walking across the Carowinds parking lot, Noah said, “Look Gi Gi, look. Look!” He pointed to a license plate.

“Where is it from?” I asked.

“No,” he said excitedly. “Read it.” The words across the bottom read “In God we Trust.” I thanked him for being so observant and took a picture. We entered the park and began riding rides and handing out tracts.

Ava liked giving tracts to preschool girls like herself. She’d walk up shyly and simply hold it out. I’d ask their mother’s permission and after the mom nodded, the children took the tracts. These cute tracts had a picture of cow and the cover read, “You’re very special to God.” As we stood in lines, Ava beamed as their mothers read the words that told these tiny children about how much God loved them and how they could find Him. Even at 2, Ava understood the importance of what she was doing.

Noah also understood what we were doing and figured out right away which tract was for which age group. We had Transformer tracks for adolescents, Cow Tracts for preschoolers, and Billy Graham tracts for adults. He passed them out everywhere.

Unlike Ava, there was nothing shy about Noah. Worried that a “no thank you” would discourage him, I warned, “Not everyone wants to hear this good news. It is our job to share about Jesus and their job to say yes or no. Even if they say no, we are always nice. We want them to see Jesus in us.” He accepted that and stayed hopeful when 2 people said no thank you. They were polite and so was he.

As we walked out of the park, Noah reached in my purse and grabbed the rest of the tracts. He handed them to everyone we passed. When we were down to 1 Transformer tract, he asked, “Can I keep this one? It’s about transformers.”

“Absolutely,” I said. “We’ll read it before we go to bed tonight.”

We saw many people reading our tracts. We don’t know if anyone prayed to receive Jesus but I’ve met an amazing number of people who say getting a tract played a vital role in their becoming a Jesus follower.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Gift

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 2 Cor 9:15 NIV

I met a man who had given his country the gift of his faithful service. Dennis was 19 when he signed up to serve our country. He fought in Viet Nam. He came back to America to go to school on the GI Bill. His fist day of college, the professor had everyone introduce themselves and tell a little about their lives. When Dennis told his story the professor said, “Why don’t you come to the front of the room and demonstrate how to bayonet a baby?”

“Thank you for serving for us,” I said. “I’m so sorry that America didn’t treat you better when you came home. I entered college in 1970. I remember what professors said about the war and the soldiers. It was terrible. I had a cousin in Viet Nam and I got so angry.”

I met Dennis in the Charlotte KOA Campground. He was there to help a friend with their gun display at an NRA Tradeshow. Dennis had recently retired from a 35-year career as a fire fighter in Chicago and was spending his retirement traveling the country and living in campgrounds. He was single with no children.

“Many of the Viet Nam Vets have had a hard time,” I said. “That war seemed harder on our solders than the others. Maybe it was because of how they were treated when they returned.”

“The average World War 2 Vet saw front line combat 30-40 days during their enlistment. We saw it almost every day for the entire time we were enlisted,” Dennis said. “You can be under that much stress for only so long without it damaging you. I had nightmares for years.”

“Did it make you cynical about your country?” I asked.

“Not my country but it made me cynical about people. People do stupid things.”

“The people I’ve met also tell me that it made them have a hard time with the concept of God,” I said.

“Recently, I was in the hospital. The doctor came in and told me I had a spot on my lung and they were going to give me chemo. He walked out. The next thing that happened was a Chaplin walked in to pray with me. Next, a priest came in. Then a Rabbi. Wait – I'm not done. A Cleric came in. I figured I was covered on the prayer thing. God had heard from all sides. I was just glad a Buddhist didn't come in. The Buddhist would have told me to try to accept it and I didn’t want to accept it.”

“So did you have cancer?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “It turned out to be a lung infection. I still had a hard time. 12 weeks of antibiotics shut down my kidneys. Then it left me with 6 weeks of gout.”

“How are you now?”

“OK,” he said. “My foot still hurts.”

“It sounds like those prayers are working. If you had to pick, which of those religious brands would have worked for you?”

“I guess the priest. I don’t think any of them have it all right.”

“I have a real simple definition when I ask people if they are a Christ follower. Do they believe in the God as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Do they believe in the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus as the son of God? Have they confessed their mistakes and asked Jesus into their life? Christianity is about a relationship with Jesus, not a religion. The religion might come later but it starts with a relationship. Are you active in the Catholic church?”

“Semi,” he said, pondering what I’d said.

It was time to go. I prayed about what to give him. The answer came and I walked to the car. I grabbed my book, The Secret to Dealing With Pain and Related Depression. It dealt with pain and contained the way to Jesus.

I walked back over and handed him the book and a card with a quarter in it. “The quarter represents the free grace of God. It is a gift. All you have to do is ask Jesus into your life. He makes everything better. This is a copy of my pain book. I don’t think you’re depressed but you mentioned pain.”

“Thanks,” he said, looking pleased. “May I make a donation or something?”

“This book is a gift. We live off of donations but this book is a gift.”

He opened his wallet and pulled out a $20 bill.

“You don’t have to do this,” I insisted. “This was a gift.”

“I don’t have to do anything,” he said. “I don’t do anything I don’t want to. I want to give you this.”

I knew I had to accept his gift so I took it. I prayed he would accept the real gift that the book told about.

Cheryle M. Touchton is the Director of Pocket Full of Change Ministries. For more information or to schedule a speaker for an event, go to or call Cheryle Touchton at 904-614-3585.

This ministry exists because people like you are called to help fund the work of the kingdom. To help keep the Pocket Full of Quarters Lady on the road leading people to Christ, you can donate at Donate

Copyright: Pocket Full of Change Ministries

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Losing Perspective in the Darkness

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12 NIV

I was on the phone with My Best Friend Nancy as I stepped outside my camper. It was dark and Belle needed to walk.

I can’t see anything,” I cried. Nancy didn’t like hearing that. She frets about me traveling alone and does not like me being outside at night.

“I can’t see and I can’t remember where the lake is. I can hear the frogs but it sounds like they are everywhere. How do I know I’m not going to walk Belle into the lake? Do they have alligators in South Carolina?”

“Yes,” Nancy said. “They do have alligators. Alligators eat dogs.”

“Great,” I said. “I’ve completely lost my perspective in this dark.” An alligator didn’t eat Belle and I didn’t fall in the lake.

A couple of weeks later, I stepped outside in the pitch-black dark in Colorado. I knew there was a giant cliff close to me that dropped hundreds of feet into the canyon below but couldn’t remember which direction it was in. I knew that if Belle and I walked over the cliff, bad things were going to happen. I turned on my tiny flashlight beam and still couldn’t get my perspective back. I had completely lost my way and that tiny beam that pointed in one direction didn’t help. I needed a light that lit up the darkness all around me.

I meet many people who have lost their way. It is as if they are wandering around in the darkness and do not even notice it is dark. They don’t know which way to go or that there is anything available but darkness. They have lost their perspective about the difference between right and wrong. They have no idea of what living in the light could even be like. They have no memory of anything but darkness so darkness seems normal. They wander around dangerously close to a cliff and sometimes they fall over.

Occasionally, people shine tiny lights their way in the form of rebukes, pep talks, or advice. “You can do better,” people suggest. “Stop or you’ll kill yourself,” frantic loved ones cry. Unfortunately, like my tiny flashlight beam, these poor lost souls see the light but it does not illuminate the darkness or help them find their way out.

The only hope is to allow the bright illuminating “Sonshine” of Christ’s love and grace burst through us in the form of love, grace, faith, and kindness. The light of Christ is so bright that not only will it light up their darkness, it will make them long to walk towards it. Once they accept the love and grace of Jesus, He will convict their heart about sin and show them a way out.
Cheryle M. Touchton is the Director of Pocket Full of Change Ministries. For more information or to schedule a speaker for an event, go to or call Cheryle Touchton at 904-614-3585.

This ministry exists because people like you are called to help fund the work of the kingdom. To help keep the Pocket Full of Quarters Lady on the road leading people to Christ, you can donate at Donate

Copyright: Pocket Full of Change Ministries