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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How Not What

Pocket Full of Quarters Journey 2015

How Not What

Written In: Salt Like City
By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground. Psalms 143:10

Since 2002 and my first journey across America, I've been struck by how desperate people are for the "how." Perhaps they grew up in church where people told them "what" to believe in. Many truly tried but didn't know how. People literally sag with relief when they learn "how" to enter into a relationship with Jesus. When you know Him, it is easy to believe in him. Many were told in church "what" to do but when their sinful nature did what sinful natures do and they found themselves unable to live up to the church's standards, many rejected it either out of a sense of failure or rebellion. I've known since the beginning of my call to ministry that the "how" not the "what" was my calling.

In this day and age of what used to be called "New Age" and now is often labeled by those I meet as "spirituality," many Christians are wary of 12 Step Recovery but I'm not. These programs are gifted at giving the "how." I have great respect for the success they've found with addicts, alcoholics, and compulsive eaters. They have been around long before anything called "New Age" and they are all about the "how." People who come into 12 Step recovery already know they "shouldn't" be doing what they are doing. They've sat through enough temperance and morality sermons to know "what" they should be doing. The problem is that they can't. Step 1 helps them admit their powerlessness. The first 3 steps can be summed up by saying, "I can't. God can. I think I'll let Him." The rest of the steps tell them "how." 12 Step recovery breaks the "how" down into 12 simple steps that if taken, allow poor suffering souls to find their way out of a Godless hell. Then, if they so choose, they can allow God to be the God of their lives and outside the recovery rooms, find their way into churches, the word of God, and an eternity with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are my role model for the "how."

Take for example the three young ladies Bob and I met in Colorado. Heather was traveling with her fiancée and working in a KOA. She'd been to church but no one had ever told her "how" to meet Jesus. She knew she "should" be going to church but work schedules and lack of discipline got in the way and left her feeling slightly guilty for not accomplishing the "what." She'd probably been taught somewhere along the line about the "what" of sexual purity and I wondered if she was also feeling a guilty about living with her boyfriend. Regardless of any of that, she needed to start with the "how" of meeting Jesus. When I shared that "how," she eagerly followed directions. After she prayed to receive Jesus, she hugged me and said, "Thank you! Wow! I feel so much better. Wow!" It was as if she couldn't find words big enough to express what she was experiencing. I understood because I am a writer and still don't have words big enough to explain that moment.

Felicia and Amber were sisters. They didn't look alike so at first I didn't realize it. Felicia was our server and like so many, she'd wandered in and out of church seeking something but not quite finding it. I gave the gospel and just as she was about to pray to meet Jesus, the door opened and Amber burst in. "I need food! Feed me!"

Felicia left to put in an order and since I assumed Amber was another customer, I thought the opportunity had passed.

A few minutes later, Felicia came back and said, "I'm ready to keep talking." I looked over at Amber still standing there and Felicia said, "Don't worry about her. She's my sister. She can wait." Felicia held my hand and invited Jesus to be her Savior. As soon as she finished praying, she said, "Amber, come over here!" She looked at me and said, "Amber needs this. Will you talk with her?"

Amber had 2 children and told me she was probably going to hell. Felicia gasped at that and Amber said "Well, it's true. You know what I do." Amber also knew "what" to do but couldn't live up to the standards she knew were right. It is no wonder she thought she was going to hell. She felt like a complete failure. I gave the Gospel but when I asked her to pray, she hesitated. "I think I need to work on some things first."

"It sounds like you need Jesus to work on those things. Would you let me lead you in a prayer calling on Him?" She agreed. Amber most likely also has addiction issues. Praying to receive Jesus certainly saves her for eternity and she now has the Holy Spirit at her beck and call but she also needs some specific "how" help for what to do next if she is to live the complete life God has planned for her. I have her contact information and am asking for special prayers for Amber. She needs a church and probably a 12 Step program who will love her while helping her learn "how" to move to the next step.

In every conversation we have on the streets and in everything this ministry writes, we are called to focus on the "how" that helps people make one tiny change towards God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For the pre-saved, that change starts with meeting Jesus but it does not end there. Our Monday Ministry Moments, blogs, Social Media sites, books, and speaking engagements focus on the "how" of meeting the needs we witness on the streets of America. Pocket Full of Change is a metaphor for being prepared for life and eternity and represents our call to point people to the God given tools to make the changes necessary to live productive and joyful lives. Today, make sure when dealing with the pre-saved or the prodigals, you focus on the "how." If you know the "what" but not the "how," turn to the word of God for answers. Focusing on the "how" to meet Jesus and live a fulfilled life in Jesus instead of the "what" people should be doing turns judgment into compassion and allows us to be useful.

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