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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Don't Argue - Ask

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

Is the person who has slept beside you 10, 20, or even 50 years saved - in relationship with Jesus and on their way to heaven? You might be surprised at the answer. I meet people every day who aren’t 100% sure their spouse is saved but think they probably are. Sometimes I meet people who argue theology with their spouse when their spouse expresses doubts about salvation. Never argue or preach. Believe what people tell you. Find out for sure if they are saved – you don’t want to be standing at a coffin one day wondering. If they aren’t saved, lead them to Jesus.

Last night was wonderful. Nancy’s sister and brother-in-law Sandra and Rick Mowery visited her in Atlanta, Georgia. When she found out they were headed to Branson, Missouri, she mentioned I was headed there as well. Rick contacted me. I was supposed to leave the morning they arrived but extended my trip so we could visit. Imagine – them living in North Carolina, me in Pennsylvania, and us coming together in Missouri for an evening of fellowship and evangelism. Don’t you love how God works things out?

Dinner was wonderful. We were in a busy tourist area and I confess to being disappointed that God didn’t open any evangelistic doors. We decided to return to my campground, sit on the dock, and talk.

Well – we talked all right – to other people. We led 2 people to Jesus. This story is about Karen. We were almost to the dock when we met her. She was from Joplin and active in church. When I asked where she was going in the next life, her answer was, “I hope heaven.”

“It sure beats any other alternative,” I quipped. “I hope you go as well. When you get there and God asks why He should let you in, what will you say?”

“I’d tell him that I hope I’ve been good enough to get in.”

“Karen!” her husband interrupted. “You know that’s not what our pastor says.” Karen stared at the ground. They’d had this argument before.

“What does your pastor say?” I asked.

“He says we get there because of Jesus – his grace,” he answered.

“You’re pastor’s right. Have you asked Jesus to be your Savior?”

“I have,” he said. “Karen and I have talked about this before. She knows the answer.” Again, Karen looked at the ground without bothering to answer.

“Karen,” I said. “I want you to know you are going to heaven. Do you believe in Jesus?” She nodded.

“Do you know you are a sinner in need of forgiveness?” I asked. Again, she nodded, looking at the ground.

“Karen, you may not have ever done the easiest part – inviting Jesus into your life. When you do that, the Holy Spirit enters your life and you’ll have the assurance of your salvation. May I lead you in that prayer?”

“Yes,” she said quietly. We prayed and affirmed her faith in Jesus and need of forgiveness. Then, she invited Jesus into her life. We all saw it – the look of light and hope come on  her face. She’d found the missing piece of the puzzle.

“She’s done things like this before,” her husband grumbled.

“She’s probably done parts of it but that last part, inviting Jesus in, makes all the difference.” I looked at Karen. “I’m guessing you haven’t done that part before.” Karen nodded her affirmation and smiled.

“Now your wife will be in heaven with you one day,” Rick said. “All of heaven is throwing a party.”

We’d began the conversation with discussing Hot Air Balloon Festivals so I said, “An angel party is better than a Hot Air Balloon Festival.” Everyone laughed.

This sweet couple had been married and going to church for 50 years. Somewhere along the line, hubby met Jesus and assumed his wife had as well. When she doubted her salvation, he argued, preached theology, and reassured her. What he didn’t do was believe her and lead her to Jesus.

Occasionally, I meet people who doubt their salvation even though they are saved. Maybe someone scared them when they were children or sin has blocked the voice and feeling of the Holy Spirit. Those people know the answer about what gets them into heaven because they remember inviting Jesus in. For those, it is important to walk them back to the event that caused the doubt and help them with either repentance or forgiveness.

That was not the case here. This woman was a good woman trying to work her way into heaven and falling woefully short. She needed to meet Jesus personally instead of being taught “about” Him.

Tonight, when you climb into bed, turn to your spouse, and ask, “Where are you going in the next life?” Listen and don’t argue. If they say heaven or hope they are going to heaven, follow up with, “When you get to heaven and God asks why He should let you in, how will you answer?” Listen without argument. If they say anything other than I’m going to heaven because of the blood of Jesus or because I’ve called on the name of Jesus as my Savior, simply quote scripture.

“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life. All who call on the name of Jesus will be saved.”

Ask them if you can lead them in a prayer so you will one day be in heaven together. Let them know you’ll tell them exactly what to pray. Chances are they’ll say yes. It they don’t, let it go. God will use the scripture to convict their heart.

If they say yes, pray, “Dear God, I believe in you. I believe in your son Jesus – that He died on a cross and rose from the dead for me. I confess that I am a sinner. Please forgive me. Come into my life and be my Lord and Savior. Thank you for my salvation. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Go to sleep knowing for sure that your spouse will one day be in heaven with you. Don’t ruin their amazing moment with more intellectual teaching. Just be quiet, hold them, and let them enjoy their Holy Spirit Moment. Trust that they now have the Holy Spirit working for them and be patient with their growth.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

I Christian

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

I was hot and sticky. Evangelizing in an outdoor mall in 100-degree temperatures is brutal. Evangelistically speaking, it had been a disappointing day. People were too hot to talk. It was my birthday so I splurged by ending it at a nail salon. I plopped down in the pedicure chair, put my feet in the water, and promptly fell asleep.

“Why you in Branson?” I vaguely realized someone was working on my feet and talking so I shook off sleep.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” the nail tec said. “You sleeping. I won’t talk.”

“No,” I said. “I want to talk to you. I do ministry. I travel America and help people meet Jesus. I am staying at the campground next door.”

Her English name was Phoebe. Her Vietnamese name was Une. She was twenty and had been in America almost 3 years. She loved talking but struggled with English. We both just kept repeating things and saying things in different ways until we understood each other. 

“You Christian?” she asked.

“I am. In Viet Nam, was your family Catholic or Buddhist?”

Her face lit up. “We Catholic. In Vietnam, we from south. South more like America and North follow Russia and China. North mostly Buddhist. In Viet Nam, we have 2 ways - God or Buddha. My family follow God. In America, I hear Christian. My friend’s family Christian. I not know difference.”

“Christian means people follow Jesus. Jesus is God’s son. You were taught about God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?” I made the sign of the cross.

“Yes,” she said, saying the words back awkwardly. “But we follow God. No talk much about other.”

“Christian means you believe in Jesus, have asked for forgiveness of sin and asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior. Christian includes many religions. In America, we have Catholics, Baptists, Pentecostals, Episcopalians, and others but all are Christian if Jesus is their Savior. Do you know word sin?”

She shook her head and looked confused at the word.

“Sin is the mistakes we make. Things we do wrong.”

“Yes,” she nodded. “My grandmother said demons will make me do wrong and if I do wrong, I go to hell. Buddhists can come back for another life but Catholics go to be with God or to hell.”

“Yes,” I laughed. “Demons will try to make you do wrong but I want to talk more about hell. When you ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, he forgives you for your sin and saves you from hell. The word Lord means he is your boss – he is in charge of you. Like the person you work for here. Do you understand?” She nodded.

“Savior means he died on the cross to save you from hell. Jesus doesn’t want you to go to hell.”

“I understand,” she said, her face lighting up. “Woman came to Landing. She had picture. God on one side and me on other. Cross was bridge. I had to walk across. Picture made me understand what you say.”

“I am happy she showed you that picture. I have seen that picture. It very good. Did she pray with you?”

“No, but I think about it. She Christian. She say ‘God bless you.’ She nice. Christians like to say ‘God bless you.'”

“Phoebe, Bible says we all sin. The cost of our sin is death and that means hell. Yes, demons want you to go to hell but heaven is God’s gift to us. All who call on the name of Jesus will be saved from hell – they will be Christian. Would you like to pray and become Christian?”

“My English no good enough.”

“I help you. I tell you what to say and make you understand.” Notice, that I used her simplistic broken English. That was on purpose. I’ve found it helps those struggling with English understand better if I copy their phraseology.

“Yes please!” she said. “Thank you. I want to be Christian.”

We prayed slowly and simply. I stopped to explain words she stumbled over. Occasionally, she would repeat a phrase when she understood it better. As soon as she finished praying, she begin bouncing up and down and giggling.

“You are feeling the Holy Spirit. He came into your life when you asked Jesus to be Savior and Lord.”

“Yes,” she giggled. “I feel Him. I understand Christian.”

“You are Christian,” I encouraged.

“I Christian!” she said, giggling again.

“The Bible calls that getting born again. You have been reborn as Christian. ”

“Wait,” she said. “I get paper. You write word down. Born again. I put in my phone.” She got paper and I wrote ‘born again’ down along with the meaning.

“If the woman who showed you the picture comes to the mall again, tell her what you did,” I encouraged. “God was sending you people to help you be Christian.”

“I will. She come Tuesday. I Christian! I tell her. I say God bless you.” 

“I want picture of you. You are smiling and I want  a picture,” I said.

“Yes, take picture.” She posed. We swapped information so we could be facebook friends.

Phoebe hugged me as I left. She whispered in my ear, “I Christian. God Bless you.”

I felt God sing, “Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday dear Cheryle, Happy Birthday to you.” Was that my mama I heard harmonizing with Him?

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

I'm Not Easy But Jesus Is

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

But where sin increased, grace increased all the more. Rom 5:20

I have a knack for it – saying that thing that sets others up for a joke. I don’t do it on purpose, it just happens – sometimes very publicly.

“I’m going to the campground.” I announced, stepping onto the Casino shuttle bus in Vicksburg, Mississippi. I’d spent the evening evangelizing at the Casino. I’d had many meaningful conversations but was a little disappointed that I hadn’t led anyone to Jesus. I’d also had an excellent seafood buffet. I did not gamble but have to confess that those quarters I give away were burning a hole in my pocket. On my first journey in 2002, God made it very clear that on these journeys, quarters were to be used for Him.

“What campsite are you in?” the driver asked.

“The very first site you come to - 1.”

“I can sure find that,” he said, laughing.

“Yep, I’m easy.” Talk about awkward silence. The driver and the two men on the bus were all thinking the same thing. I stood there a moment deciding between leaving it alone or quipping my way into an evangelism opening. You guessed it – I had everyone’s attention so I went for it.

“Well, I’m not easy. My husband probably wouldn’t like to hear I’m on a Casino bus announcing I’m easy.”

“Where is your husband?” one man asked. “Did you leave him there gambling?”

“Nope, he’s home praying for me.” Everyone laughed.

“Did his prayers work? How much did you win,” the same man asked.

“We’ll see after this bus ride. Actually, he was praying that I was winning but not what you might think. My job is to win souls for Jesus. I was at the Casino sharing the good news of Jesus.”

The man scowled. “I’m a Christian but I don’t think you should be sharing about this here. Seems like you’d have more luck at the homeless shelter where people are down on their luck.”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I saw some people here tonight down on their luck.  What about you? Did you win?”

“No but I don’t think people want to here about Jesus while they’re gambling. Beside, you can’t talk to people about Jesus who are drinking. ”

“We need all the prayers we can get,” the bus driver chimed in. Comforting that the driver was joking about being a drinker.

“Actually you can talk to a drunk. The Gospel scriptures are powerful and will sober up a drunk. I’ve seen it happen many times. You’ll be surprised but I lead people to Jesus in these environments all the time.”

I turned to the man who had been silent the entire time. “Did you win?”

“No,” he said, shaking his head sadly. “I try to be a Christian but don’t know how good I am at it.” I suspected his gambling losses had been bigger than he expected.

“Do you go to church?”

“Not as much as I could.”

“Do you believe in Jesus?” He nodded firmly but looked down.

“Do you know where you are going in the next life?”

“I hope heaven but I’m not sure I’m going to make it.”

“I might not be easy but Jesus is,” I encouraged. “You don’t have to try so hard or worry about making it. The Bible says we’ve all sinned and fallen short. Yes, the wages of sin are death and you look like you believe that right now.” He nodded sadly.

“The Bible goes on to say the gift of God is eternal life and all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. Calling on Jesus gets us to heaven – not being good enough and trying.”

 “Here you are,” announced the bus driver. “We are at your campsite.” I knew he’d been listening to every word.

“I know we are at my campsite,” I continued. “But this is important and the kind driver will wait right here until we finish this. Would you like me to lead you in a prayer calling on Jesus as your Savior?”

“Yes, please,” he whispered.

I led him in a prayer. He said it firmly, especially the part asking for forgiveness and asking Jesus to be his savior. When we finished, I encouraged him to keep being good but explained that now he had the Holy Spirit helping. I resisted the urge to rush the end even though I was probably messing up the shuttle schedule. I told him that the Bible says all of heaven celebrates one person meeting Jesus and that an angel party was better than a Casino party. Everyone on the bus laughed one last time.

“Thank you for waiting,” I told the driver, quickly stepping off. I felt bad that I hadn’t confirmed his faith.

“No! Thank you!” he said firmly. “And I’m waiting here until you get locked inside.” I don’t know if he was thanking me because he was a Christian appreciating what had happened or if he had prayed along with the man sitting on the bus. I could tell by the warmth in his voice that he was saved.

As I stepped off the bus, I also resisted the urge to tell the proclaimed Christian, “I told you so.”

PS – I know my best friend Nancy Edwards is going to scold me for letting 3 men know I was staying alone in this campground but God is just going to have to protect me because this was meant to be.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

I'm Late - I'm Late - For a Very Important Date

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

For we are God's [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]. Ephesians 2: 10

Swimming in the Florida Sun
People always ask where I’m going to go next. Sometimes I answer, “I don’t know. Are you about to tell me?” These journeys mimic my life – I plan one thing and God plans another and God’s plans are often revealed through circumstances and other people. If I know something is God’s plan, I usually do pretty well with obedience but the trick is to know something is God’s will.

For example, I left Jacksonville and meandered west on US-90. I was feeling the pressure of being able to click another state on the website map so when I got to Tallahassee, I headed north into Alabama. I had what I labeled as a flash of longing to head to Pensacola but chalked it up to my longing for Florida sunshine and beaches and disciplined myself to “stay focused.” Why is it that I forget that God also works through the delights of my heart?

Then I found out that my nephew Jim Milligan’s Grandfather-in-law had moved to heaven and that the services were going to be in Pensacola. I had only met his wife’s grandfather once but I was only 3 hours away and wanted Jim to have family representation at the funeral. Besides, I’ve found funerals to be great places to talk about Jesus because people are thinking about eternity. I then realized that the “flash of longing” was actually the “still small voice” letting me know where I was to go next. What a testimony I’d have had if I’d just trusted the voice when I heard it and was already in Pennsacola when my “sight” told me I needed to be here. But alas – it is hind sight that is 20/20. So after getting this important lesson, you’d think I’d automatically trust that voice the next time a test comes along but I almost talked myself out of listening again.

The funeral was actually this morning at ten. Ten is early for getting somewhere from a campground so I carefully planned the morning. I’d planned on leaving Pensacola right from the campground but I got invited to another party the night after the funeral. My rule on these journeys is to go where I’m invited so I had to tell the campground that I was staying an extra night. The office didn’t open until 9. It was a 30-minute drive and I needed gas so the timing worked if I had everything ready to go after I went to the camp office.

Everything was on schedule until the office was late opening up. While I impatiently waited, I visions of the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland saying, “I’m late. I’m late – for a very important date.” A man joined me on the porch. I felt that gentle tug to talk with him but also felt time pressure about what I knew was going to be a very formal funeral. I heard stirring inside the office indicating they were about to open and almost gave into the pressure of “being late for my very important date.”

With a mental sigh, I asked the man, “Where are you from?”

“Alabama. I needed to get away. My daughter and I moved here after my wife died.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“Thank you. I wanted to give up but my daughter’s just 10 and she needs me.” He was working in the campground. He’d grown up in church but because he liked rock music and tattoos, after one too many accusations of being a devil worshipper, he gave up on church. He’d never met Jesus personally but in his desperation to find solace in his grief, he’d visited what he called an “amazing church” two weeks ago.

It was so sweet. The Holy Spirit had prepared Him. He wanted Jesus to be real and longed for hope. I forgot the tick tock of that important date. Instead, I heard the song, Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling playing in my head and knew I needed to go softly and tenderly. I used the sweet words of the Gospel and he literally leaned into my words. He believed in a Father God but not Jesus so I shared what he was missing by limiting his belief to Father God. Father God is our Daddy – our Creator. Jesus is our Savior – offers grace for our mistakes and teaches us how to live abundantly. The Holy Spirit is the comforter that Jason so desperately craved but could not find until he met Jesus. When I invited him to pray, there was no hesitation. Afterward, he whispered, “I felt something.” I suspected that he had been blocking feelings because of grief. Imagine what a relief it must have been to feel again and have that feeling be the Holy Spirit.

I got into my camper oblivious to time. I gassed up and drove into the church parking lot two short minutes before my important date. I sat on the pew just as the music and funeral processional began.

All I can say is wow about my time in Pensacola. I’ve given the Gospel many times. Three people have met Jesus. I’ve had a full dose of Florida sunshine, sand, swimming, dolphins, birds, and yes, unfortunately, flies and mosquitoes. My plan is to leave Pensacola tomorrow. We’ll see what God has planned.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Sitcom - I Love Camping

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

Moses arguing with God: But Moses said to the LORD, "If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?" Exodus 6:12

I screamed and sunk to my knees in pain. Shiloh barked and leapt off the bed to join me on the floor. The camper cabinets work on gravity so they shut hard. This time, it had slammed on the tip of my ring finger. I had no ice so I opened the freezer and laid my finger against the side. I felt light headed as the pain throbbed. My finger was swelling so I slipped off my rings.

I called Bob for comfort and he his response was, “How did that happen?”

“I stuck my finger in the cabinet and slammed it!” Poor Bob. He is always trying to help me get better at living in a tiny camper.

 I have always tried to enjoy the sitcom that is my life. I do better when my sense of humor is intact. I love sitcoms. My first and still favorite was I Love Lucy – possibly, because I identify with Lucy. She loved her family and friends. She wasn’t afraid to try new things or things she might not be good at. She had creative ideas that often got her in trouble and yet, she kept on being Lucy. I love Lucy. My current sitcom is called I Love Camping. Yes – I love it. I love the wandering, birds and dolphins, new scene every day, knowing the nimbleness of it allows me to meet new people, and knowing I am worshiping the same God under the same heavens no matter where I am. Some people call it wanderlust but I suspect that if it is wanderlust, God had to pour it into me for me to be willing to accept this unique call on my life.

So why is it a sitcom? Like Lucy, I have a tendency to get in over my head – not over God’s head –over mine. I’m not naturally good at much of what camping requires so my life offers much of the slapstick and puzzles that make sitcoms so much fun. When God first called me to camp my way across America, I literally laughed. I was used to 5 Star hotels and my children were placing bets on how many days I would actually camp. No one expected this to be easy for me.

Take the finger for example. I had too much stuff in the tiny cabinet. Just as the door started to slam, the cinnamon started to fall out. Naturally, I reached up to catch it. Bam!

Currently, I am sporting a grapefruit sized bruise on my hip. I have weak ankles and had to wear corrective shoes as a child. That
means, I’m more likely to stumble than most. Setting a camper up is hard. I know to wear sturdy athletic shoes – that doesn’t mean I like to stop and put them on. When I set up last Sunday night, I was still wearing the decorative sandals from church. It was dusk and after I finished hooking up, I stepped backward and lost my footing on the water hose. I fell sideways onto the metal black water receptacle sticking up out of the ground. I groaned not only from the pain but because I also knew what was on the ground around that receptacle.

Camper keys continue to be a problem. We’re down to one complete set – which has Bob and me both nervous. Yes, we’ve made extra ignition keys but if I lose the last alarm fob and have to use an extra key to open the door, it will set off the alarm and make starting the engine impossible. I’ve always had difficulty with keys and have developed systems. The camper key “system” is that as soon as I park, I connect the camper keys to a lanyard that stays around my neck. Shiloh and I had been sitting outside evangelizing for hours. In between encounters, I worked on the computer. I realized Shiloh and I had been in the sun too long when the keyboard began blistering my fingers. I was wilted and all I could think of was cooling us off. I took the computer, Shiloh, my books, and the phone and dumped it all on the seat as we climbed in the camper. The lanyard was hot and scratchy so I took it off and laid it on top. I collapsed inside only to realize that I'd left Shiloh’s water bowl outside. I opened the door, making sure Shiloh didn’t escape, shut the door, got the water bowl that was literally 5 steps away, and when I came back to the camper, the doors were locked. I didn’t hear any beeps or clicks but the only thing that could have possibly happened was that Shiloh jumped on the alarm fob. My last dog Belle locked me out of the camper years ago in the middle of the night – which was much more complicated. This time, two hours later, a nice man from AAA rescued me with only one dry comment, “You haven’t taught your dog to unlock the door?”

About a week ago, I went to the back of the camper to get water bottles. I tossed them on the bed and walked around. Shiloh took advantage of the fun and by the time I got inside, she had chewed through a water bottle. My king sized bed was soaked everywhere. She must have shook it as she chewed. I sat on the bed for the next two hours with my handy dandy blow dryer.

Two nights ago, I made my usual tall cup of hot milk before bed. I sat it down on the wobbly camper table and sat down. I stood up to get something, tripped on the computer cord, and knocked the entire cup of hot milk over. How it managed to scald my leg, soak the cloth passenger seat, the floor, and the carpet between the two front seats is beyond my ability to understand. Shiloh was thrilled to help, which means she jumped in the middle to lick…with all 4 paws squarely in the milk. I sat there for second stunned until I realized the milk was burning and finally pulled my pajama bottoms away from my leg. I wondered if I had any milk left. Then, I remembered I was out of paper towels. I used Bob’s towel and wash cloth to begin cleaning. It was impossible to keep Shiloh out of it so I stopped trying and just let her lick and wallow. I’d clean her next. That escapade took about an hour and I’m still finding milk in cracks and crevices.

I could write about the time I put something on the driver’s side floor board that laid against the brake pedal and woke up to a dead battery. I have written about the camper stove flame getting stuck on, the many mad dashes my dogs have made through campground, getting lost, breaking down, two minor accidents that resulted in weeks of being stranded, having black water (yes – sewage) pour all over me, toilets overflowing, leaks, spider bites, mountain lions stalking us, and waking up surrounded by alligators and coyotes (but not at the same time). I have often said that if they made a sitcom out of my true life on the road, people would think it was caricature of reality because no one could have that much happen and continue to do it. 

Yet, I Love Camping. No – I’m not naturally mechanically inclined and I was born with little ability to navigate from point A to point B but I love it anyway. It facilitates me doing what God has called me to do. It forces me to depend on God. It allows me to understand the truth that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. It keeps me close to God’s creations. It is good for the prayer life of those who love me. It is a testimony of God’s power to those who know me. I confess that I often want to bolt for home but here is the truth. God’s norm is to call us to something that is beyond our natural abilities. Look at Moses with a stutter – called to lead a nation. To say we “can’t” or to not do it because we’re uncomfortable condemns us to an unsatisfying mediocre life. Following God is never boring. Are you bored, too comfortable, or restless? Was there something God called you to that you thought impossible?

PS – My finger is not broken and hurts very little. I might lose the nail and still can’t get my rings on but all in all, I’m good.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Casual Encounters Walking Through A Campground

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

Religion is Cultural

“Where are you from?”


“Welcome. Thank you for visiting us. How long in the US?”

“We stay here one year. My husband worked in Houston. We go back now - today. We came to this campground for holiday. We go home today.”
“Did someone invite you to church while you were here?”

“No.” She looked puzzled.

“I’m so sorry. That was rude. When people visit us, we should invite them to our churches.”

“It is….good,” she soothed, searching for the right word. “People were nice.”

“Did someone at least talk to you about Jesus?”


“Now I really apologize. There are many Christians in Houston. Do you go to church in France?”

“No. In France church is…how do you say…cultural.”

“Do you believe in Jesus or God?”


“Did you ever believe?”

“I went to Catholic church some but I never believed.”

“Would you want to know if Jesus were real? Would you want to know if He were the truth, the way, and the life and wanted you to spend eternity with him?”

“Of course!”

I told her the story of Jesus and gave the Gospel scriptures. I ended with the Jesus Challenge – ask the Jesus you don’t believe in – the true Son of God and the Savior of the World – to reveal Himself to you in a manner that is beyond your ability to not believe.

“I would love to lead you in a prayer right now asking Jesus to be your Savior.”

“No. I don’t think I believe in him yet. Thank you so much. This meeting – maybe it was meant to be. I will do Jesus Challenge.”

Houston, we have a problem – what happened here? I know how many of you love Jesus. I suspect that with a couple of more encounters, she would have left America loving Jesus.

What Kind of Gospel Are You Sharing?

Shiloh locked me out of the camper. I laid my keys on the seat and stepped outside to bring in her water bowl and yes – she jumped on the automatic door lock. If this is triggering something in your memory banks, you would be correct. Belle did the same thing about 8 years ago.

“You haven’t taught your dog how to unlock the door?” the AAA technician chided.

“I didn’t know I’d taught her to lock it. I hate to admit it but I’ve had a dog do this before.”

“I spect you should keep your keys with you. What is Pocket Full of Quarters?” he asked looking at my van sign.

“I am an evangelist. I travel the country sharing the Gospel with people. “

“What kind of Gospel are you sharing?”

“The good kind – you know - God loved us so much that He sent His only son that whosoever believed might have eternal life. The kind that says all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life and all who call on the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved. Do you know where you will spend eternity?”

“Yes ma’am I do and it ain’t because of anything I done. I reckon that is sure enough good Gospel.”

What kind of Gospel are you sharing? Is it Good Gospel?

Mama’s Praying

“Shiloh! Stop barking. Hush. No one is going to talk to us if you don’t stop barking. I’m sorry,” I said looking up. “She is barking at your golf cart. Where are you from?”

“I live here in the camp ground. It helps pay the bills. I’m disabled so I can’t really work but I help out here.”

“Are you involved in church?”

“Not yet. My wife keeps looking for one but we haven’t gotten around to it.”

“Did you ever go to church?”

“I went to a Pentecostal Church as a kid. I haven’t been back much.”

“Do you know where you are going in the next life?”

“I sure hope heaven but I don’t think my works are good enough yet. It is all about the works.”

“Really?” I asked puzzled. “Because the Bible says we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. If it is about works, I’m not sure any of us are going.”

“That’s true enough,” he agreed.

“The Bible does say that the wages of sin is death but it goes on to say that the gift of God is eternal life. My favorite line in the whole Bible is the one that says all who call on the name of Jesus will be saved. Works don’t get us in – it is all about grace. The thief on the cross next to Jesus sure didn’t have time to do any good works before he went to heaven.”

“That’s true enough – I hadn’t thought about it that way.”

“Do you believe in Jesus?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Do you understand you’re a sinner?”

“That’s the whole problem. I try to be good but I don’t know if I’m good enough.”

“Let me help you with this – you aren’t good enough. You never will be. I’m going to heaven but it sure isn’t because I’m good enough – It’s because I’m forgiven. Who’s praying for you? I can tell someone is praying for you. My job is to help people meet Jesus and I knew I was supposed to talk to you the minute I saw you. Who’s praying for you?”

“My mama. She wants me back in church.”

“Let’s make your mama happy. Can I lead you in a prayer calling on the name of Jesus?”

“Please.” We prayed.

 “Now, promise me you’ll go home and call your Mama to tell her your good news. We mama’s like that kind of thing.” He grinned.

A reminder to all of you mamas out there - keep praying.

I’m Not Sure

“Oh you don’t have to worry about me. I got saved a few years back and I know I’m going to heaven because Jesus died for me.” She looked hot. She had ridden up in a golf cart full of cleaning supplies. She and her husband were living and working in the campground.

“Great. It’s too hot to stand here and give you the Gospel. But I would have if you’d needed to hear it. What about your husband? Is he saved?”

“I suppose so. He’s Lutheran.”

“I’m glad he goes to church but is he as sure about the next life as you are?”

“I assume so but I’ve never thought to ask.”

“How long have you been married?”

“Twenty years. I probably should know the answer to that question.”

“Probably. Are you sure he believes in Jesus?”


“Has he asked Jesus to be his Lord and Savior?”

“I don’t know,”  she sighed.  "Now I’m going to have to ask.”

“Yep. Ask him why God should let him into heaven. If he says anything other than because Jesus died on the cross for me, pray this prayer with him.” I handed her a tract and pointed out the prayer.

“He’s going to think I’ve been out in the sun too long.”

“Well, we have been standing here a while. Are you going to ask him?”

“I suppose I have to now.”

Do you know where everyone in your family is going in the next life? If not, ask today. I once stood with a mother next to a coffin containing her teenage daughter. She was having nightmares because while her daughter grew up in church, went to youth group and had certificates from the faith based church programs, she had never thought to ask if her daughter knew Jesus personally. I couldn't reassure her because while I'd taught her daughter piano, I hadn't asked either. I don't ever want to feel that way again. Don't assume anything where the answer really matters.

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What A Gift

By Cheryle M. Touchton

The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

I had such a gift on Sunday. I love Facebook. I let friends know I was in Ozark, Alabama and Suzanne Sudduth Taylor let me know she was right up the road. Suzanne is the sister of my son’s best friend and was a neighbor for many years. I helped with her wedding reception and accompanied my son singing in her wedding. The last time I saw her was when I met baby Travis and gave Suzanne a baby gift. Imagine my excitement to get to see her – especially on Sunday because it meant we could go to church together. Then, imagine my shock when I saw tall handsome 15-year-old Travis – I still pictured him a child. How had 15 years flown by?

Suzanne’s youngest son was sick so her husband had to stay home with him but I loved worshipping with Suzanne and Travis. The service was uplifting. My favorite part was at the end when the pastor gave a pure and simple positive Gospel message and invited people to Jesus. He said, “We want to know if you just met Jesus. We won’t know unless you tell us. Please tell us by walking to the front during the music.” Wonder of wonders, a husband and wife came to join the church and the husband tearfully made a profession of faith. After the service, I took a moment to go speak to someone I had noticed under conviction during the service and then stopped by the ladies room. There was a woman in there crying and joyful – it turned out it was her brother that accepted Christ that morning and she had been praying for him for years. I didn’t think my day could get any better than it already was, but I was wrong.

Suzanne invited me to lunch and I jumped at the opportunity. She was just as I remembered – fun and funny. She looked the same and as I studied Travis, I decided he was a blend of both parents. Travis loves technology and I enjoyed talking to him about that. He didn’t seem to mind a bit being at lunch with someone who loved him but he had no memory of. I told him stories about his mother’s wedding and he seemed to enjoy them.

New Christian
Our waiter walked up and we ordered. “We’re Christians and we’re going to say a blessing,” I said. “Do you have any prayer requests?”

The question surprised him. He thought for a second and finally said no.

“It’s Sunday. We just came back from church,” I said. “You probably didn’t get to go because of work. I’m sorry.” He shook his head but didn’t quite meet my eyes.

“I don’t think he’s saved,” I told Suzanne and Travis. “We’ll talk to him when he gets back.”

I was right - he wasn’t saved. Avoiding eye contact was guilt over not going to church. He grew up in Mexico and was Catholic. He said he wasn’t going to church because of his job but I suspected he hadn’t been in a while. He believed in Jesus and hoped he was good enough to get into heaven. He looked relieved and hopeful when I quoted the Bible verses that explained he didn’t have to be good enough, just forgiven. I didn’t have to ask him twice about praying to meet Jesus. We talked about his wife and his two teenage children. He thought they believed in Jesus but didn’t know if they had a personal relationship with Him. I gave him information and a lesson on how to lead his family to Jesus. We talked about his responsibility of being the spiritual head of his home. I gave him a copy of the prayer I prayed with him. I feel certain that he went right home and led his family to Jesus.

“Have you ever been with anyone when they got saved?” I asked Suzanne after he left.

“Not like that,” she answered.

“It’s not always that easy,” I assured her. I gave Suzanne and Travis what I call the “evangelism cheat sheet” and went on to explain to both Suzanne and Travis that what made this particular encounter so easy was that our waiter’s parents and church taught him to believe in Jesus. While he had never developed a personal relationship with Jesus, nothing had happened to him to make him not want to believe. The hard parts of becoming a Christian are to believe in the resurrection of Jesus and admitting you are a sinner. He had already done both and knew something was missing. All he had to do was invite Jesus into his life. It was a huge relief to him to know what was missing and we could tell by the look on his face that he experienced the Holy Spirit.

Suzanne drove me back to Hallelujah. They took a tour and Shiloh put on her Jesus show. I’m still smiling about our day together. What a gift – to visit with an old friend and lead someone to Jesus together.

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Power Full Connections

By Cheryle M. Touchton

The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18

Prayer is a huge part of these journeys. I pray everywhere as I go. I think of my travels as a prayer walk across America and when I post pictures, I pray people will prayer walk with me. My favorite result of prayer is what I like to call Power Full Connections. When I start praying for someone, God starts connecting the dots between Himself, the person I’m praying for, others – some I know and some I don’t, and me to answer the prayer. A powerful circuit forms that travels and eventually completes back to me in some way. Often the person I start out praying for, years later ministers to me in some powerful way. When I think about the “power” of prayer, I literally think about the connections much like electricity but literally Power Full. 

Recently, God gave me the idea to use Facebook as a way to remember to pray for people. The idea was to use the reading and writing of posts and comments as well as likes as a way to take a brief second to pray for the person. I posted this idea on Facebook and many agreed to join me.

So what has happened in just a couple of weeks? Power Full Connections! I’ve renewed bonds with people I love but had lost touch with. I’ve met in person people I’d only talked to on Facebook. Ministry doors that I’ve been trying to break down for years have literally opened before me like electric doors. People on Facebook have noticed where I am and invited me to their home or church. I’ve met Facebook friends in person and led people to Jesus with them. People have sent encouraging God inspired messages to me at exactly the right moment. Spiritual bonds have deepened with people I only know through Facebook. People I’ve reached out to have reached back. All I can say is wow.

When I pray for someone, I fall in love with them. That means these Facebook prayers have people on my mind more so now, I’m finding myself praying for them while I’m driving or kneeling in front of a lake during quiet time. I feel their pain and celebrate their victories more than I did before – in short – I’m more connected with my Facebook friends.

You might be thinking that all of this takes too much time. First, since God sent the idea, how much time it takes isn’t relevant if I want to keep hearing and feeling the Holy Spirit. Besides, I’m supposed to be praying without ceasing and this is just another process for how to efficiently direct those prayers. Finally, I’ve noticed that when I’m doing something through the power of prayer, my time is like Jesus feeding the 5,000 with just a few loaves of bread and fish – it is unlimited. I can’t explain it by logic but there is enough to go around.

I invite you to join me in this Facebook Prayer Challenge. When you post a comment or hit like, pray for the person. When someone posts a comment or hits like on your post, pray for them. I’m not talking about a long prayer – maybe just 2-3 words – but invite the Holy Spirit into the relationship by praying for them. For example, as I "like" something you have posted, I will pray for you. Then, when you see my “like” of your post appear, just say, “Help Cheryle” or “Bless Cheryle.” You get the idea. You’ll stand amazed in the presence of God as He forms Power Full Connections in a way only He can.

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Give an Invitation

By Cheryle M. Touchton

The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

And he said unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. Matthew 4:19

Just this week, I walked into the campground bathroom and found two teenagers curled up on a long bench clicking away on their phones.

“I’m guessing you don’t have Wi-Fi at your campsite,” I said. They shook their heads without looking up. I knew they were hoping I’d stop talking but they had no idea how good my news was going to be.

“Where are you from?” I asked. They were polite and finally put their cell phones down. Hunter and Alexis were half-sisters on a camping trip with their mutual father. They lived with their mothers in different cities. None of their parents knew Jesus but Alexis went to church with her friends and Taylor went with her cousins. They were actively involved in youth groups, believed in Jesus, and understood they were sinners in need of forgiveness. Neither girl had a personal relationship with Jesus. They had not asked for forgiveness of sin, confessed belief in Jesus, or asked Jesus to be their Savior. I gave the Gospel scriptures just in case their education had been lacking, which it had not.

“Can I lead you in a prayer asking Jesus to be your Savior?”

 “Sure!” they said enthusiastically after looking at each other for a second.

They were excited about praying and their words were clear. They grinned when they finished and agreed to tell their youth pastor what they had done. They couldn’t wait to get baptized.

 “I’m curious.” I said. “You’d obviously knew about Jesus. Why hadn’t you already asked Him to be your Savior?”

“I guess no one asked us to,” Taylor said. Alexis agreed.

I see this all the time. What if I walked up to you and said, “I’m having a fabulous party. The most amazing people will be there. The best bands in the world will be playing and there will be dancing like nothing you have experienced before. The hall will have banquet tables filled with mouthwatering delicacies.Everything is free.”

You’d probably be expecting me to invite you to the party. After all, why would I get you excited if I didn’t invite you? You’d also expect the directions for how to get there. How would you feel if I just walked away?

You’d certainly have the right to chase me down and ask, “What’s the deal? Why did you tell me about the fabulous party and not invite me?”

What if I answered, “Oh, I didn’t want to be pushy. I figured if you wanted to go, you’d ask. Other people can tell you how to get there. Do your own research and make your own decision.”

It sounds silly yet I hear about Christians doing that every day. When I tell people what I do they often say, “I’ve been witnessing to (fill in the blank) for years. They just aren’t interested in Jesus.”

I always ask what they mean by “witnessing to.” They usually report that they have been telling people about Jesus, selling the merits of Christianity or the Christian lifestyle, inviting people to church, and even dangling heaven as a carrot or using hell as a stick. What most people don’t do is invite people to the amazing eternal Jesus party and give directions for how to get there. The result – their prey doesn’t get saved and invariably runs the next time they see them coming. I have to confess that I used to do the same thing.

I am begging you to give an invitation and directions. When I was a child, our church had what we called “The Invitation.” Many churches still do this. At the end of the service, the pastor gave the Gospel and asked people to walk the aisle to give their life to Jesus – a simple process that, if done right, works. Regardless of your opinion of that process, you have to admit that in those churches, no one leaves without an invitation to the Jesus party or directions for how to get there. Frankly, I don’t care what process a church uses as long as they invite people to Jesus and tell them how to meet Him.

Instead of talking people to death or giving an annoying Jesus sales pitch, ask people where they are going in the next life and why God should let them into heaven. Give the Gospel scriptures and invite them to meet Jesus.

Not everyone will say yes to your invitation but at least you’ve done your part. Just today, a man said he and his fiancé had been talking about Jesus, going to church, and trying to figure it out. After listening to the powerful Gospel scriptures, he agreed that he wanted to become a Christian but said he thought he and his fiancé should do it together. No problem – I gave him a tract with the directions and told him how to explain it to his fiancé. I trust prayer, the scriptures, and the Holy Spirit so I’m sure they are both now on their way to heaven. Give an invitation.

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Following Jesus Has Taken the Fun Out of Sinning

By Shiloh The Shepherd’s Sheep Dog
Mommy - Cheryle M. Touchton

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:14

I had a slip today. I didn’t mean to do it but it happened so fast. I saw the opening and I just took it. A few weeks ago, I finally understood my job. Mommy follows Jesus and I follow Jesus by following Mommy. We tell people about Jesus. When I started listening and obeying, life became good. Mommy is happier and gives me more freedom. I’m also getting a lot more treats.

So what happened today? It all started with going into Camping World. Mommy turned on the generator and then surprised me by pulling out the leash. Camper World is Dog Friendly and that meant I was Camping World Friendly.

They didn’t have the light bulb Mommy needed so we went back to Hallelujah. The generator was off. 

“I thought I left that on,” Mommy said as she pushed the button. It didn’t work.

“On no! I can’t leave you in the camper with no generator. I need help.” We rushed back inside.

“It’s OK,” a nice man wearing a Camping World shirt said soothingly. “It’s broken at just the right place. Come on back and we’ll check you in right now.”

It was easy. Mommy was already in their computer. They took Mommy’s keys and we sat down. For the first two hours, I had fun doing my tricks and helping Mommy tell people about Jesus. Then, I got tired of being on a leash.

I barked. Mommy ignored me. Then I howled. She shushed me. I twisted to get out of the collar and she scolded me. She started reading her book and I tried to chew my way out of the leash.

“Stop it Shiloh!” Mommy commanded. “Leave it.”

Finally, the nice man sat by Mommy. “We have your generator running. It’s perfect for now. Your fuel pump had gone dry and we had to prime it. We think it overheated and shut off. It probably means the fuel pump is going bad but we can’t be sure. It may work fine for 6 months or may break tomorrow. It’s expensive to replace because we have to take out the generator. What do you want us to do?”

“I leave my dog in there. I can’t take chances. I can’t do my work if I can’t leave her in the camper.”

“I understand,” the man said sadly. “A bad air conditioner cost me the best dog I ever had.”

“In a camper?”

“No, it was a garage shed,” he said with tears in his eyes. “It was too hot outside so I put my dog in an air conditioned garage shed. I was trying to keep her safe but the air conditioner broke." Best sales pitch ever (just kidding - he was nice and sincere) but Mommy had already decided to replace the fuel pump.

“It’s too late to put it in today. You can stay behind our building. We have hook ups and everything. I’ll drive your camper around back.”

“Stop it Shiloh!” Mommy said as we walked to the camper. Didn’t she understand that I wanted that leash off?

“Walk with me!” I quit pulling but wasn’t happy.

Mommy opened the door and I jumped in. She took off the leash while she was stepping in. We both spotted the open refrigerator door at the same time.

“How did that door get open?” Mommy wailed trying to beat me to the food scattered all over the floor. In her haste to keep me from eating everything, Mommy forgot to close the camper door.

This was when I lost it. Freedom was within reach. Mommy grabbed food and never even saw me leave.

 “Shiloh, Shiloh, where are you? Here, here!” I turned and looked but ran.

She ran and called louder and I could tell she was scared. She pulled the treats out of her pocket. “Treat, Shiloh. Treat!”

Really? I’d passed up the chicken salad and bacon for freedom. Did she think I was going to give up freedom for mere treats? The campers were bigger than Hallelujah and I ran under and around them. A man tried to catch me. Mommy kept running and yelling. People were staring. A big truck drove by pulling a camper and Mommy screamed. I looked but ran again.

Here’s the problem. Running away used to be fun. I’m fast and I forget about Mommy. Everything was different now. I still ran but it wasn’t as fun. Mommy says that following Jesus might not stop you from sinning but it will ruin it for you. I found that out. I kept looking back at Mommy and pinned my ears back. I made sure I could always see her.

All of a sudden, Mommy ran in the opposite direction. “Bye Shiloh. I bet you can’t catch me.” I chased after her. She slowed and tried to catch me and I jumped back just in time. She started running away again. She stopped and I backed up. She showed me the treat and I ran away again but she ran away from me again. This time I got too close. She lunged and right there on the cement, she fell on top, picked me up, and carried me back to the camper.

Here’s the real truth. I was glad to be in that camper with Mommy. It was hot outside. I ran to the water bowl and drank. Chasing Mommy was just what I needed to get her to carry me home.

Mommy and I meet people all the time who are running from God. They are doing things that the Bible says in sin. Mommy says sin is missing God’s mark. These people try to act like they are having fun but I’m a dog. We sense things. They aren’t happy. Sin is like that. It sucks you in by promising fun and then traps you by whispering that you can’t get out.

If you are running from God, try chasing someone running in the opposite direction. Jesus will joyfully fall on you, put His arms around you, pick you up, and carry you back to safety.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sometimes We Have to Be the Delivery Person

by Cheryle M. Touchton

I confess that what I call "Service Evangelism" is harder for me. It takes more time and sometimes years to see the fruit - if ever. However, sometimes our only job is to be the delivery person. Recently,God told me to take a meal and money to someone. It seemed random. I am not usually the person to cook or take food anywhere - that just isn't my calling. I love and support several ministries and my church and in order to be a good steward, I'm careful with what and who else I give money to. While I deeply love the woman God laid on my heart and have shared my faith with her, she wasn't someone I spend much time with. I knew money was probably tight for her and that she was having a medical issue but my responding to that wasn't something she would have expected. With regards to spiritual issues, I know she doesn't have the joy of being alive in Christ but also know to respect clear boundaries and not be pushy.

When God first put the idea into my head, I argued. I felt self-conscious about showing up with food and money – was it presumptuous? I had a busy schedule and a short window of time when it was even possible. Scheduling complications made it even more inconvenient. God’s leading was urgent – even forceful. I knew to listen.

I went shopping and began the 30 minute drive across town. When I was almost at her house, a  friend called to say that the woman I headed towards was distraught over a sudden severe financial crisis and too upset to even answer the door. I finally understood why God was sending me to her and why the food and money were so urgent. I also understood not wanting to see someone while distraught so I worked it out that I would knock and leave the gifts on the porch. I confess that I hoped to have a larger role than just being the "delivery person." My fantasy was that she would open the door, I'd put my arms around her, she'd cry on my shoulder, and finally surrender to the sweet comforting love of Jesus. That didn't happen. As planned, I knocked, put the bags on the porch, and left.

A few minutes later I received a sweet text thanking me and insisting I didn’t “have to do it.” I texted back confessing that I didn’t get the credit and that God had urged me to do it days before I knew how urgent her situation was. It was all God’s idea and I did indeed “have to do it” because God insisted. She thanked me again via text. She also thanked me for my prayers.

I prefer using the cookbook formula for evangelism. It's quicker and I'm more comfortable with it.

Cookbook Evangelism

1. Pray for and respond to the the assignments God sends.
2. Ask questions about where people will spend eternity.
3. Listen.
4. Give good news Gospel scriptures.
5. Invite people to meet Jesus.
6. Pray with them if they wish but don't push.

With many and possibly most people, cookbook evangelism is the best approach but not with everyone. Service evangelism requires us to hear the creative voice of the Holy Spirit, trust that we've heard it, and do the required work without having the reassurance of ever seeing the results.

Service Evangelism Is Only Evangelism If:

1. God sends the assignment.
2. The people know the Gospel (if they don't, we have to make sure they hear it).
3. We make it clear that we are doing it in the name of Jesus and not because we are "good people."
4. We follow up with prayer.

As with all evangelism, it must be driven by love and a pure desire to share the Good News of Jesus. This week, my job was to deliver food and money in the name of Jesus. I didn’t give the Gospel – she already knew it. I didn't even see her. I heard God, acted, and made sure she knew it was God's idea. As always, I continue to pray for her.

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By Cheryle M. Touchton

The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

I’ve never been a big fan of games that put a blindfold on me so it should come as no surprise that sometimes walking by faith and not by sight is a little troubling. I like to plan. I’m good at planning. God often treats me by letting me use that skill in organizational structures but mostly, God reveals His plans to me personally one traffic light and donation at a time. By the time Saturday night rolls around when I’m on the road, I’m starting to wonder what time I need to set the clock for church the next morning.

“I need a suggestion for church tomorrow,” I said to the campground attendant.

Church? she said with surprise.

“You know,” I said. “That place you join others and worship God.” She laughed and I said, “I looked on my Church Finder app and drove around and didn’t see any. Any suggestions? I don’t much care what flavor it is as long as it is Christian.”

“I think there is one about a mile up the street. I don’t know the name of it but you could drive up there and look.”

I did. It was a tiny building. I couldn’t tell much about it and didn’t recognize the “flavor.” I called Bob to look it up on the internet. We still couldn’t tell much about the church but at least I found out what time to set the clock.

“What is God saying about which church?” Bob asked.

“I haven’t heard from Him. That’s why I’m calling you to do research.”

I don’t know why I do that – try to live by sight rather than by faith. I should have known God had my church picked out.

The next morning, I was aggravated when I woke up an hour before the clock went off. I grabbed my phone, looked at Facebook, and had a message from Facebook friend, Cheryl Kipreotis. Her church, Faith Alive in Laconia, New Hampshire was just 45 minutes away and because I was up early and dressed, I had exactly enough time left to get there. Coincidence? I think not. I bolted.

I walked up just in time and Cheryl was waiting for me. We’d been encouraging and praying for one another for awhile on Facebook and were excited to meet in person. We took a moment to hug and went in. Faith Alive’s faith was indeed alive. I relaxed and let the intimate fellowship and rejuvenating worship minister to me.

After church, Cheryl and her young granddaughter invited me to lunch. At Wendy’s, I noticed a mother holding a baby in the air and laughing. Then I saw another young boy.

“You are blessed with 2 boys,” I said.

“Actually, 3 boys and a girl,” she said, smiling. “My oldest son is 21.”

“No!” I said, shocked. “You can’t be old enough to have a 21 year old son.”

“Thanks,” she said, beaming. Her husband and daughter walked up.

“I love your body art,” I complimented, noticing the artistic detail. “Tell me about it.”

“We always use the same artist,” she said, nodding towards her husband. “I have spiders and vampires.”

“I know vampires are popular,” I said. “Tell me about the spiders.”

“I like them.”

“A friend of mine is the bass player from the band Cold. I sometimes meet his fans who have tattoo spiders to represent his band. Yours look different so I’m guessing they aren’t to honor Cold.”

“No,” she said. “I just like them.”

“Where are you from?”

“Plymouth,” she said. “We just drove over for the day.”

“I’m not from here either. I drove over to go to church with my friend. Do you go to church back in Plymouth?”

“No,” she laughed. “Our oldest son does. He’s started going to a Christian church. He isn’t the type of person you’d think would go to church so everyone is surprised about how serious he is.”

“I’ll bet it’s changed him,” I said. “Has he mentioned getting born again?”

She nodded. “He really likes it. Maybe it is because his friends go there.”

“It’s probably because he met Jesus. He’s probably praying for you. That’s most likely why I’m here. My job is to help people have faith in Jesus. I always ask people who prayed me to them.”

“He probably is,” she agreed, sighing.

“Did you ever go to church?”

The husband and wife looked at each other. She answered, “We went some to the Episcopal Church when we were younger.”

“Did you ever develop a personal relationship with Jesus?” They looked at each other again and both shook their head.

“What about the afterlife?” I asked. “Do you know where you’re going?”

“No,” she said. “I’m hoping for reincarnation.”

“Really? I hear that a lot. What do you want to come back as?”

“Probably a spider.”

Cheryl spoke up. “Then I’d probably step on you.” Great job Cheryl, I thought. The job of the second evangelist is to provide what I call the “color” and it was perfect -humor, no judgment, and truth.

“I thought about that,” the woman agreed. “I’d probably just get squashed.”

“Do you have any level of belief in Jesus – His birth, death, and resurrection? Have you heard that God loved you so much that He sent His only son to die on the cross for your sins so you that you could really live?”

Again, they looked at each other and finally both nodded. “I guess we both still believe,” she said. “We were taught that when we were younger.”

“God loves you so much,” Cheryl encouraged. “He wants to have a relationship with you.”

“All you need to meet Jesus is a mustard seed size of faith.” I gave the Gospel scriptures. I noticed both of her older children listening so I pulled out 2 liberty bracelets and gave each one of them a bracelet, retelling the Gospel using the colors of the beads.

“Your older son is probably praying for you to meet Jesus. Can I lead you in a prayer doing that right now?” They agreed and we prayed. When we finished, I asked each member of the family if they had prayed. The mother, father, and 6 year old son met Jesus. Their daughter did not.

“Call your son today and tell him you asked Jesus to be your Savior,” I encouraged. They excitedly agreed. “I can see it on your face – you are feeling the Holy Spirit. I’m sorry but you won’t get to come back as a spider – you will be in heaven one day with us and your son.”

“Will you be my facebook friend?” I asked. She said yes and we exchanged contact information. What a good day. Cheryl and I loved being used by the Holy Spirit.

I thought back to the frantic internet search the night before and the setting of the clock. I could have just gone to sleep without thinking about church and God would have awakened me at exactly the right time to accept the invitation waiting for me in Facebook.Unfortunately, that feels too much like a blindfold so next Saturday night might find me searching again. Any suggestions?

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Everyone Is Ready - But Not Everyone Is Willing

By Cheryle M. Touchton

The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. John 4:35-36 NIV

The settings were the same – nighttime conversations around the campfire. The message was the same – All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. The evangelist and the Holy Spirit were the same. The first night a couple heard the Gospel and said no. The second night, seven friends heard the Gospel and all seven met Jesus. Why?

The answer most give to that is that the people the first night weren’t “ready.” Logical but not Biblical. Jesus scolds us for saying the harvest needs more time. He goes on to tell us to open our eyes and look at the fields. They are ripe for harvest! If people needed time to get “ready,” why would multitudes have met Jesus at Pentecost or Billy Graham revivals? Why would seven people pray to meet Jesus at the same time? If ready was a requirement, the odds would be against so many getting “ready” at the same second. I agree that people are “ready” now for salvation because the Bible says it and I have witnessed it so many times.

So, why did the couple say no? The answer is simple…they weren’t willing…yet. There are many examples in the Bible of people who were not willing. Think about one of the two thieves on the cross or the rich young ruler who walked away from Jesus without Jesus.

So why would people be unwilling to say yes to Jesus? Maybe, they don’t believe yet or believed at one time but never met Jesus personally so they stopped believing. That is why it is so important to speak the Gospel scriptures to people – it will not return void and will continue to work long after we leave. The combination of the scripture and the Holy Spirit testifying to the truth of it is impossible to ignore for long.

I think the more common reason people say no is that they are damaged. At some point, they gave Christians, Christianity, and/or the church a try. They most likely were taught “about” Jesus but not told how to “meet” Jesus and never developed a love relationship with Jesus. Then, something disappointed or wounded them and they bolted.

At the first campfire, I walked outside with Shiloh. The couple loved dogs so they called her over. They introduced themselves and when I tried to introduce myself the woman said, “We know who you are. We saw your website on your camper and looked it up on my I-pad. I’ve been all over it.”

“And you still talked to me?” I teased. They laughed. “Are you believers?”

“We believe in something,” the man said. “A higher power. I tried church but it didn’t work for me.”

She said, “It doesn’t have to be Jesus. It can be more than that.”

“What about the next life? Where do you think you’ll go.”

“My mother used to tell me I was going to hell,” she answered.

“I’m so sorry,” I said, stunned by her words. “Why did she think that?”

“She didn’t like what I was doing. She was Catholic and told me constantly I was going to hell. I don’t believe her. I’m a good person and think I get more than one chance.”

“Being bad doesn’t send us to hell,” I said. “We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The wages of sin is death but God’s gift to us is eternal life if we ask for it. My favorite line in the entire Bible is that all who call on the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved. That’s a promise. Christians are forgiven, not good. When you went to church, did either of you ever develop a relationship with Jesus?”

“Can’t say that I did,” the man said. She also shook her head.

You know the end of the story. They had some belief at one time. The church and the faulty theology of a parent let them down. They left the church without meeting Jesus and were not willing at this time to give Christianity a second chance. I spent another hour chatting about life in general, and enjoying their company. I didn’t need to debate them or beg them to meet Jesus because I trust the word of God and the scripture to continue working.

So what happened the next night? I arrived at the crowded campground and was put in an area mostly filled with tents. Seven friends, aged 21 and 22 were having a high school track team weekend mini-reunion.

“I hope we won’t be too loud for you,” one said. His words rendered me speechless as I pondered the volume of the many rock concerts I’ve evangelized at and six grandchildren running around my house.

“I don’t think it’s possible for noise to be too loud for me,” I said. “However, I might decide to join your party later.”

“Come on,” one of them hollered. “Join us any time.” I was teasing and they knew it so I continued to walk Shiloh, set up camp, and then blogged.

When I finished posting, I walked Shiloh and one of them asked again if they were too loud.

I laughed and explained that I went to rock concerts so noise didn’t bother me.

“Come over and talk to us,” someone invited. You don’t have to ask me twice.

You go to rock concerts?” one of them exclaimed. “Which one?”

“I’ve been to Bonnaroo several times.”

A collective impressed gasp came from the crowd sitting in the dark around the campfire. The girl closest to me said, “It is our dream to go to Bonnaroo. Which bands are your favorite?”

“I am a musician and like most kinds of music,” I said. “I especially enjoy the Celtic music that is so popular. I hate to disappoint you but as much as I enjoy the music, I don’t go for the music.” I went on to tell them why I went.

“That’s cool,” the same girl said again.

“Are any of you Christians?” I asked.

“I go to Christmas Eve mass,” a young man volunteered. “I love it but I don’t really believe in that stuff.”

“Why do you go?”

“For my mom.”

“On behalf of mom’s everywhere, I want to thank you. We moms like that kind of stuff. It sounds like you grew up Catholic. Did you go through confirmation, communion, and confession?”

“I did but I haven’t been to confession since I was ten.”

“Maybe you haven’t sinned since you were ten.” Everyone hooted at that.

“Well,” I said, “If you’ve sinned, you are in good company. We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life. What about the afterlife? Do any of you have any clue where you are going next?”

Most shook their heads.

“My dad teaches a Bible study,” someone volunteered. “He talks to me about Jesus all the time.”

“That’s great but I’m pretty sure you don’t get after life cred because your Dad teaches the Bible. The Bible says all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. I think that means you have to do it for yourself.”

“I have a confession to make,” the young man who hadn’t been to confession since he was 10 said.

“I’ll listen to your confession,” I offered and everyone laughed again. I loved these polite young people and felt blessed to be so accepted.

“I’m a hypocrite. I say I don’t believe but when I get in trouble, I pray. I guess it is because I was taught to pray. I don’t understand it and I think praying when I don’t believe means I’m a hypocrite.”

That was it. I knew it was coming. I had thought to myself…wait for it…wait for it.…My heart soared. It was what I call the Holy Spirit Hook. Everyone got quiet. I felt the power of God flow through me and knew what to say next.

“You are not a hypocrite,” I assured quietly. “It just means that deep down, you believe. Almost everyone does at some level. God built you with a God shaped hole. You might try to put other things in it but nothing else fits but God. May I lead all of you in a prayer to meet Jesus right now? The Bible says that if you have a mustard seed level of faith, you can meet Jesus. That is tiny and you all have that much.”

I held my breath and waited. They looked at each other. The one who labeled himself a hypocrite finally said, “Sure…why not. Let’s do this.” They all nodded their agreement and we prayed. After the prayer, they all sat silently and let them enjoy the moment. Finally, I told them that what they were feeling was the Holy Spirit and He was theirs forever. I also told them that the angels were throwing a party because they met Jesus and that an angel party was even better then a Bonnaroo party. Everyone laughed.

So why did they say yes? They all had been to church and still believed at some level but had never met Jesus personally. Eventually, they stopped going to church but because they hadn’t been damaged, they were willing to say yes to the simple invitation.

It’s been a great week. 15 people said yes to Jesus. Probably double that said no but if they gave me a chance to speak the words of the Gospel over them, I have faith that they will eventually meet Jesus. The harvest is ripe. Don’t miss the reaping – it is the sweetest thing anyone can experience this side of eternity.

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Shiloh's Shenanigans - Rough Road Ahead

By Shiloh The Shepherd’s Sheep Dog 

Mommy - Cheryle M. Touchton

The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9

“Traffic jams in the mountains usually mean something terrible has happened,” Mommy muttered as we sat there. We waited for over an hour as one by one, they turned each car around. I warned Mommy about everything passing us but she didn't seem to appreciate it.

“I have no idea how to get where I’m going,” Mommy told the man when it was her turn to turn around. Since Mommy usually tells people how to get to heaven, I knew she probably wasn’t talking about heaven.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

Mommy, I thought. That’s what you usually ask.

“The KOA Campground.”

 “It sure is going to take you a lot longer to get there,” he said.

Mommy sighed. “It really will take a long time if I don’t how to do it. I don’t see but one way there on the map and I tried reprogramming the GPS with a roadblock but it just says route unavailable.”

The man rattled off a series of several highways, towns, and turns. I've traveled enough with Mommy to know she still didn't know how to get there. It sure would have been easier just to tell him how to get to heaven.

“Please say that again,” Mommy begged. The man looked hot and tired but he repeated it.

Mommy turned Hallelujah around and immediately called Daddy.

“Reroute Tom Tom using the roadblock feature,” Daddy suggested.

Mommy sighed again. “That was the first thing I tried. Tom Tom doesn't think it can be done. The worker seemed to think it could.”

“Where are you?” Daddy asked.

“I don’t know. Hang on.” I knew Daddy was sighing. Everyone is happier now that Tom Tom has a Where Am I? button.

When Mommy finally told Daddy where she was, he was quiet for a few minutes. “It sure is going to take you a lot longer to get there.”

 “That’s what the man said. I know the first two turns but remember nothing after that.”

“What are the turns he told you about?”

“I've already made them.”

But what where they?”

“Bob!” Mommy said. “Breathe. I can hear your blood pressure rising through the phone. I’m safe.” She told him what the worker said.

“OK,” Daddy said. “I see what he’s doing. Here’s what you do.” He repeated the instructions a couple of times. Mommy kept getting confused and suddenly lost cell coverage. Poor Daddy and Mommy.

“Shiloh, we’ve got to do this on our own,” Mommy said. No we weren’t. We had God. He would help Mommy remember. Besides, eventually Tom Tom would find us.

“This road sure is bumpy.” She didn’t have to tell me that! Mommy quietly concentrated on navigating the bumpy twisty roads, remembering what Daddy said, and avoiding colliding with the bumper-to-bumper frustrated drivers in both directions having the same problem.

“Oh no,” Mommy wailed. “The sign says rough road for the next 3.5 miles. How much rougher can it get?” I’m young but even I have learned not to ask that.

I thought about our first year together. It was like that bumpy road. We thought it was bad with all the twists and turns but along came a sign that said Rough Road Ahead and sure enough, the road got rougher.

When I first moved in, Mommy had been on a bumpy road. She was still sad about my older sister Belle and her Aunt Ka Ka dying. Mommy tried to train and play with me but it was hard to enjoy my puppy antics when she was so sad.

Just as she was getting better, the road got rough again when Granpap got sick. We rushed to Jacksonville to take care of him. Mommy went to the hospital and I spent most of my days in the laundry room. When Granpap got better, we went back to State College and I was happy because I had Mommy back.

Then Mommy got sick. She was in the hospital a week. This time, I was locked in the apartment bathroom during the day. When Mommy finally came home, she had to rest. I kept doing what puppies do and Mommy wasn’t very happy.

Finally, Mommy got better and we left for our first journey. I’ll admit I didn’t behave very well that first week but in my defense, Mommy’s rough road had caused my training to be bumpy.

We had enjoyed the first 10 days of the trip when suddenly the phone rang and there was another sign –Rough Road Ahead.” Grandpap had had a stroke. We were in Texas and made a mad dash for Jacksonville. Mommy went to the hospital and I went to the laundry room. In just three days, Granpap went to heaven. I stayed in the laundry room as Mommy and Uncle Vaughan made funeral arrangements and tried to take care of Ginny.

I wondered if our rough road would get smoother but it got rougher when Ginny was rushed to the hospital. Just 29 days after Granpap went to heaven, Ginny joined him there and I went back to the laundry room while Mommy and Uncle Vaughan made more funeral arrangements.

Mommy was sad a long time. She leaned on God and gradually got better. She started training and playing with me again. I got to meet a Mommy who wasn’t having to concentrate so hard on navigating bumpy roads. This Mommy was fun and I wanted to learn from her. I got excited when I realized what an important job I had – I got to tell people about Jesus. We were both excited when we led the first person to Jesus together.

But back to the rough road in New York. We arrived safely and Mommy finally got to call Daddy. His directions had saved the day but you and I both know that it was nothing short of a miracle that Mommy found her way through dozens of mountain roads without Daddy or a GPS.

Since we left home 6 days ago, Mommy and I have led 5 people to Jesus together and talked to many more. I’m not perfect – I still get too excited about birds and Mommy doesn’t like it that I can get out of every restraint she puts on me but at least I’m listening to her. We’re a team! Mommy says all Christians are a team too and everyone needs to do their part proclaiming what the Bible says about salvation.

We found out later that like Mommy suspected, a terrible accident had caused our roadblock. I sure hope someone had told the people who died in that accident about Jesus. Their rough road either ended forever because there are no more tears in heaven or the road just became unbearably horrible.

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