Search This Blog

Friday, November 30, 2012

Happy 30th Birthday Sweet Bethany - Get Well

Happy Birthday sweet girl. Get well quickly so you can have a proper celebration. Bethany Edwards Patterson and my granddaughter Ava Touchton are birthday buddies. On November 30, 2012 Bethany turned 30 and Ava turned 5. Bethany is beloved by so many, my family included. She is the youngest daughter of my best friend, Nancy Edwards, so I have loved Bethany since she was born. Bethany is a Christian, married to Rev. Wayne Patterson, and has the kindest spirit of anyone I know.

I write this in honor of her birthday and to ask for your prayers on her behalf. Today, she celebrates her birthday from Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida, where she is fighting to save the kidney that that a friend gifted to her seven years ago. I wrote about Bethany’s kidney transplant in my book, Pocket Full of Christmas. The name of the chapter that contains her story is Peace in All Circumstances and she is a model for that. As a birthday tribute to her, I am including that story below.

I ended her story by saying, “After a transplant, life has all the ups and downs of riding a roller coaster. You take blood levels several times a week and hold your breath waiting for results. You go to routine checkups wondering if you will be hospitalized again. Twice Nancy has called and calmly said, ‘We’re back on the roller coaster.’ Each time, the doctors solved the problem and Bethany came home from the hospital healthy again.”

They are back on the roller coaster again. Let’s all agree in prayer that Bethany will come home from the hospital healthy again. Please pray for our darling Bethany. You can follow her condition and pray for her by reading her husband’s blog “Jesus is Worth It.”

Bethany's Story: Difficult News At Christmas
From Pocket Full of Christmas – Having a Purpose Filled Advent, December 21: Peace in All Circumstances – Page 150

“Bethany’s going to need a kidney transplant,” the doctor gently informed a distraught mother and daughter.

“But she’s so young. She’s only twenty. Surely there’s another answer,” Nancy, her mother, argued. Bethany had one kidney removed at birth. A progressive kidney disease was causing Bethany’s remaining kidney to fail rapidly. While she had struggled with some health issues most of her life, this dire news came as a blow.

Bethany was a college student and enjoying normal campus life. She was a good student, a Christian, and her beautiful elf-like face glowed when she spoke. Although many young people stopped attending church when they left for college, not Bethany. “I get strength from church and my Christian friends. Of course I go to church,” she said.

Nancy has been my best friend since high school. We often joke that Bethany is the perfect daughter. Bethany always laughs and says, “I’m far from perfect.”

Bethany grew up in a Christian home. Her father, Barry, a full-time Christian minister, is on staff in a large church. Nancy plays violin in the church orchestra. Bethany has one sister, Allison, who loves her, and would gladly donate a kidney. My sense of fairness says this family has done everything right, so why were they facing a kidney transplant? It seemed particularly unfair to visit so many doctors at Christmas.

Concerned, I asked Bethany how Christmas was going. She looked surprised. “It’s going great. I’ll enjoy Christmas just as much as ever. I believe my doctors when they say that many people with a kidney transplant go on to have a family, career, and full lives. I trust God with my future. Doctors do make me nervous, but I go anyway. My main worry is Allison. I don’t like it that my illness might cause her pain.”

Bethany’s mother, Nancy, depended on prayer to get them through this. After getting the news, she immediately asked her church to pray. While normally very independent, she allowed friends to help. “I can’t go through this alone,” she said. Nancy trusts God with Bethany’s future. “I won’t allow any thoughts except Bethany coming out of this healthy and whole. She will have a good life. There will be a kidney for Bethany.” What some would call denial, others call faith.

The next year was difficult medically, with many trips back and forth to the doctor and hos¬pitals, some of them emergencies. You aren’t an official transplant candidate until your kidney function drops to a certain level. Waiting on that to happen is like being in the final stages of a difficult pregnancy, wondering when labor will start, and if the baby will be okay. Just before Christmas the following year, the doctors announced it was time.

Unfortunately, Allison’s kidney wasn’t a match. “I’m not worried,” Nancy said. It was tempt¬ing to put Bethany on a list for a cadaver donor but Nancy stood firm. “Cadaver transplants are riskier and require higher doses of rejection drugs. We will find a live donor. Someone will be a match.”

Anxiety overtook me. I knew people who had been on a transplant list for years. Yet, I should have trusted God more.

A friend of theirs fired e-mails to everyone he knew, asking for prayer and a kidney. Donna got one of those e-mails. Donna hadn’t seen Bethany in 5 years and immediately called Nancy. “I’m the one. I want to be tested first. God has told me I’m going to be a match. No one else needs to get tested.”

Again, I doubted. “What are the chances?” I warned Nancy. “Don’t get your hopes up.”

“Cheryle,” Nancy scolded. “Don’t cause me to doubt.” She was right. I was feeling protec¬tive and didn’t want her disappointed. I resolved from that moment forward, I was going to offer faith instead of doubt. Sure enough, Donna was a perfect match. The doctors wanted to schedule the surgery immediately, but Bethany put her foot down.

“I want to get through Christmas first. I’m also going to a Christian retreat in January with my friends.” Nancy and I both fretted over this, but Bethany was insistent. “I’ll be fine,” she said calmly. “This will be the last chance I’ll get to be with some of these friends because they’re graduating. I need this retreat.”

Bethany breezed through Christmas and enjoyed her retreat. She returned home spiritually centered and ready to face the future. She checked in the hospital, surrounded by family and Pocket Full of Christmas friends. I counted over thirty people in the waiting room when she had her surgery. “Go home,” she gently scolded. “I’ll be fine.” She hated worrying everyone. We stayed anyway.

As I write this 6 months after the transplant, Bethany and the donor are doing well. Donna never lost her sense of purpose or humor. When asked why she was willing to do this, she said, “When God tells you to do something, you’d better do it.” “I’m blessed that God picked me.” Donna is feeling great and is back at work.

After a transplant, life has all the ups and downs of riding a roller coaster. You take blood levels several times a week and hold your breath waiting for results. You go to routine checkups wondering if you will be hospitalized again. Twice Nancy has called and calmly said, “We’re back on the roller coaster.” Each time, the doctors solved the problem and Bethany came home from the hospital healthy again.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sample Christmas Devotional - Godly Fellowship

Below is a sample Chapter from Cheryle Touchton's Christmas Book, Pocket Full of Christmas - Having a Purpose Filled Advent. You can order it on Amazon and get a second one for free by e-mailing Cheryle.

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.
o Be Still.
o Clear your mind.
o Breathe deeply.
o Sit quietly.
o Know He is God.
o Feel his presence.
o Let his presence envelop you.
o 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.

Appendix A - Requests of the Christ Child
o 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.
o 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.

Appendix B - Gifts from the Christ Child
o Think about your blessings this Christmas.
o Praise God for his blessings.
o List your top three blessings.

Appendix C - Gifts to the Christ Child
o Ask God to help develop that gifts given to anyone is a gift to the Christ Child.
o Ask God what gifts he wants you to give this Christmas.
o 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.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cheryle, My Missionary

By My Aunt Ka Ka - Catherine Mosely Herrington

Cheryle is a Missionary
That travels from place to place.
Meets the needs of many people
In the human race.

She tells them what God has done for her,
That changed some of her plans.
He changed her so completely,
As she followed His demands.

Go for it Cheryle, you can tell the world.
You are strong and life is good.
Meet the needs of the Human race.
I always knew you could.

Be there when they need you,
Like I feel you are for me.
“Thank you God” for placing Cheryle
In my family tree.

She usually tells me where she’s going next.
I pray for mission.
I get excited over her trips,
And pray for her protection.

Stay strong for the trips!
Be careful too!
Because of our love,
And affection for you.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dress For Success

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. Rom 13:14

In the 80’s, I was a young female corporate executive leading mostly men. In an effort to be successful, I read the book “Dress for Success.” The primary principle of the book is power dressing – dressing in a way that is most likely to give you the influence you need to be successful. As soon as I read it, I rushed out to buy expensive navy suits, white blouses, maroon bow-tied scarves, and simple navy pump styled shoes. It really did seem to make a difference.

When I went into ministry, I quickly learned to dress another way. If I wore my navy suit while evangelizing in a mall, I would intimidate everyone I was talking with. A navy suit speaking to a group of young Christian mothers simply didn’t work. I started studying what worked with my new calling. Dressing casually for evangelism was best but if I didn’t wear makeup and jewelry, people assumed I was homeless and were scared of me. I check out the “dress code” for the churches I speak in. This includes issues like theological views on makeup, dresses or pantsuits, and unbelievably, even panty hose. My rule is to respect the belief’s of those I’m serving. However, I still have clung to the basic rule of “dress for success.”

Recently, I had an epiphany. I’ve had many powerful Divine Encounters stretched out on a massage table. Trust me, on a massage table, I’m not “dressed for success.” I have a couple of physical problems that massages help with. My calling is often very physical so Bob and I have decided to budget for everything that keeps me moving and that includes occasional massages.

My most recent massage was at a resort in Coronado Island in California. I always go into a massage hoping for a quiet relaxing time. Sometimes, God has other plans. Resort massages are more expensive than I am comfortable with but I was in pain so Bob and I decided to book a massage. As much as I was paying for the resort massage, I really hoped this would be one of those “quiet times.”

When I went in, we exchanged introductions. She asked why I was here and I answered that my husband was at a conference and I had joined him to do ministry. She didn’t inquire about what kind of ministry and I didn’t elaborate.

The first half of the massage was what I had hoped for. She carefully and quietly worked out each sore spot in my body. About half way through the massage, she asked, “What kind of ministry do you do?”

I felt it – the surge of the Holy Spirit. I knew right then, covered only by a sheet, that the Holy Spirit was already at work. This woman and her husband were saved before they were married. She knew she was going to heaven and why. They had never gone to church since they had been married. Their oldest child was 10 years old and she was feeling very guilty about not taking her children to church. Not only was this a Divine Encounter, it was the hardest I face – exhorting.

“Your children don’t know Jesus,” I said sharply. “You do but they don’t.”

“I tell them about Him and take them to church on Christian holidays.”

“Have they invited Jesus to be their savior?”

“No,” she said. “I asked them about going to church but they don’t want to go. I keep telling my husband we need to take them to church. They are so busy with competitive dance and sports that I hate to force them to do another activity.”

I was firm. “Do you give them a choice about school?”

“No,” she said.

“Knowing God is way more important than school. I used to teach music and know the advantages to competitive arts events but teaching our children about Jesus affects their eternity. When your son turns 16, you are going to need a good youth group to help him because you may not be able to influence him. Trust your mother’s heart. Yes, I know you want your husband to lead spiritually but trust your heart. Your children need Jesus and church. Nothing is more important than that.”

My words hurt her – but in a way I knew was effective. There on that table, without the benefit of my power suit, I wielded the power of the Holy Spirit exhorting one of His beloved children. I only told her what she already knew – she admitted to feeling guilty about not going to church. She didn’t say another word and I knew I didn’t need to say another word. We finished the massage and I paid her. All she said was, “Thank you.” The painful but true words were still doing their work in her soul. Yes, when I evangelize, I give the Good News of the Gospel. Speaking to Christians not living for Christ is entirely different and often God calls Christians to deliver tough words of exhortation.

I still believe in being dressed for success and will still respect the cultures of the places I speak, but for Christians, being dressed for success means being clothed with Christ Jesus and giving His message.

Click to Donate and Help Us Lead People to Jesus

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Sting Operation - Bumblebees for Jesus

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor 15:56-57

On Halloween night, Bob and I decided to eat on Orange Ave on Coronado Island, California. We knew people would stroll by in costume so we asked for a table out on the sidewalk. When a bumblebee buzzed to our table to ask if she could serve us, I was charmed. Her yellow and black winged costume was adorable and without the sensuality that most of the costumed wait staff portrayed.

We chatted each time she returned to our table bringing menus, taking orders, checking on us, offering dessert (which we declined), and finally settling the bill. We discovered she had been married a year. Her parents had moved up north almost as soon as she married and she missed them. Her sweet smile lit up the room and she admitted that while she didn’t feel like a grown up yet, she guessed she was. She sheepishly admitted to already “partying a little too hard” for Halloween so she had no plans to go out later. She and her husband knew that God needed to be involved in their marriage so they had started going to a church I was familiar with and knew offered the pure and holy Gospel.

"It is a good church," I said. Because of her sweet spirit and church attendance, I guessed our bumblebee wasn’t worried about the “sting” of death so I almost didn’t ask. When she brought our check, I felt that “sting” of the Holy Spirit to tell her about victory in Christ Jesus.

“I’m glad you are going to church,” I said as I handed her a credit card. “It is a great way to start your marriage. If I asked you where you are going in the next life, I’m guessing you know the answer.”

Her eyes widened. She looked as if she had been stung. Then she said hesitantly, “I hope I am going to heaven.”

“It certainly beats the alternative,” I joked, hoping to lighten the mood.

“It does,” she agreed, relaxing a little.

“When you get to heaven and God says, “You are an adorable bumblebee but is there any other reason I should let you into heaven, what would you say?”

She stood there, deeply troubled. “I don’t know. I guess I need to give that some serious thought.” She got quiet and I was sure she was thinking about “partying a little too hard.” I could see it on her face. She knew she didn’t deserve heaven.

“It sounds like you believe in Jesus – his birth and resurrection,” I encouraged.

“Yes,” she said. “I do.”

“The reason you are hesitating about heaven is that the Bible says we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are sinners and we know it.”

“You’re right,” she agreed, looking at the floor.

“The wages of sin is death. That is the bad news. The gift if God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. My favorite line in the entire Bible is that all who call on the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved. You don’t have to hope about heaven. May I lead you in a prayer calling on his name?”

“Please,” she begged. She repeated my words, confessing her sin and her belief in Jesus. She invited Jesus into her life to be her Lord and Savior.

When we finished, Bob said, “Cheryle, tell her about the angel party.”

I laughed. “The Bible says that when someone meets Jesus, all of heaven throws a party. An angel party is way better than a Halloween party.”

“I’ll bet,” she agreed.

“Have you ever been baptized?” I asked.

“No,” she said.

“The term for what you just did is ‘born again.’ The Bible says unless you are ‘born again,’ you can’t enter the kingdom of heaven. I want you to tell your church about being ‘born again.’ They will know why it is important and help you with what is next. We get baptized out of obedience so you will probably want to do that.”

I left her information, paid the check, and we left. The Sting Operation: Bumblebees for Jesus was successful.

Click to Donate and Help Us Take the Sting Out of Death

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Came For Halloween - Left With Jesus

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: Rom 5:20 KJV

Satan had big plans. Abundant Life Church had bigger plans. Satan’s plan was to use Halloween to bring people to Athens, Ohio to do his bidding – to participate in activities that destroy lives. Abundant Life Church’s plan was to claim the power of Jesus to “snatch and rescue” these people from the deceitful, deadly claws of the Evil One.

Satan sent his invitations and Abundant Life sent theirs. Satan may have had more people attending but Abundant Life Church had the mighty power of Jesus behind them. Evangelists from Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio joined forces with Pastor Bob Gall and Abundant Life Church. Several ministries joined Abundant Life Church, including Riley Stephenson with Kenneth Copeland Ministries and Pocket Full of Change Ministries. This is the third time this year I've evangelized with Riley and I continue to be amazed at his gifting. We worked as one team. We trained, prayed, armed ourselves with the word of God, and a group of about 15 people marched into battle to give the gospel to witches, goblins, zombies, and vampires. We spoke scripture to people blowing cigarette and pot smoke into our faces and staggering from too much alcohol consumption. We gave Good News to many people, were kind when people were rude, and showed the love of Christ when our human flesh wanted to recoil. We weathered the rain and cold, grew hoarse from shouting the Gospel over the various bands playing at the event, and shuddered at the foul language coming out of so many painted mouths. The result - 105 people came for Halloween and left with Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

How can people find Jesus in the middle of so much debauchery? Truthfully, my human side cannot understand it. The only answer I have is that the Bible says where sin increases, grace abounds. I believe it because the Bible says it and because I have witnessed it many times. People are simply more likely to receive Jesus when they know they are sinning.

Why is Abundant Life Church willing to subject themselves to the torture of so much debauchery? The Bible says to go into the world and give the Gospel. The Ohio Halloween Block Party represents “World” and all of its trappings about as well as anywhere I have ever visited. Abundant Life Church is obedient.

Why would Jesus care enough to die for a world attracted to so much debauchery? I don’t understand it myself but I am eternally grateful that 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. (John 3:16)

To Donate and Help People Meet Jesus