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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.