Pocket Full of Change Ministries

This blog needed a name. Somehow, Divine Encounters While Living In a Hotel didn’t work. Besides, the Bible word for hotel is Inn. I asked Facebook friends for help. I narrowed 40 amazing suggestions to 7 and gave it back to Facebook for a vote. INNCounters, submitted by my best friend, Nancy Edwards, won by a landslide. Join the INNCounters God sends my way.

Friday, November 16, 2012

College Moms Pray - God Answers Their Prayers

By Cheryle M. Touchton
Director – Pocket Full of Change Ministries

They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. Acts 1:14

Do you have a child in college? Pray for them. Even Mary, mother of the son of God, prayed for her son. When you visit them, attend church every time, even if your college student thinks he or she is too busy, grown up, intellectual, or independent to go with you. Let a church in their local area know about your college student and follow up with them to make sure they are reaching out to your beloved child. Pray constantly.

I live in a hotel in a college town. Every morning, Bob and I go down for breakfast and talk with the visitors who pass through our area. Abby looked too young to be the mother of the 3 little boys who were giving her a run for her money. Bob and I watched in amusement, as the youngest suddenly decided breakfast wasn’t as much fun as whatever he wanted to chase down the hall. Abby turned to the other two and said, “Stay!” She dashed off after her little lost lamb.

“Are they your brothers?” I asked when she returned with the recalcitrant child in tow.

“No,” she said sitting down wearily. “They are my cousins. They are visiting me.”

“Are you a student?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “A freshman.”

“Welcome to State College. Have you found a church yet?” I asked “We go to church right across the street from the campus – in the State Theater. Everyone there is your age – not my age. We would love to have you visit us.”

“You’re kidding,” she said. “What is the name of your church?”


“I can’t believe it,” she said. “My mother has visited there 3 times when she came to see me. She’s been trying to get me to attend.”

“She must be praying,” I said. “Her prayers brought me to you.” One of her charges darted away. She looked at me apologetically, grabbed the two remaining urchins and began chase. We didn’t see her again.

The next morning, I noticed a woman I hadn’t met before peacefully eating breakfast alone. “Where are you from?” I asked. Just as I spoke, the 3 little urchins from the day before raced into the room and attacked the breakfast bar.

“No!” she shouted as she dashed over to save our breakfast. It took a few minutes and a lot of effort but she got plates for all of them and returned to her table.

“I met them yesterday,” I said, laughing at their antics and assuming she was their mother. “I also met their cousin. You must be Abby’s aunt.”

“No,” she sighed. “I’m not their mother. I’m only their Aunt. “

“So you are Abby’s mother. Abby said you have visited our church, Calvary.”

She gasped and tears sprang into her eyes. “You are who invited Abby to church. I don’t know how to thank you. She is a freshman and has been having a hard time. I’ve visited Calvary 3 times but I can’t get Abby to go. I even talked to your pastor, Stacy, about her. I can’t believe you invited her to that same church. I’ve been praying so hard for her.”

“Stacy heads up my Life group,” I said. “I know him well. The best thing a mother can do for her college student is pray. God is sending people to take care of Abby so relax. I know it feels strange to give your daughter’s phone number to a stranger but pray about giving me a way to contact her again.”

“I will,” she promised as she gathered up her unruly herd and headed to her room.

A few minutes later, Abby’s mom returned alone. She walked over and handed me her precious daughter’s phone number. “I prayed about it and God said it was OK. Thank you. You can’t imagine what this means to me.” I stood up and hugged her as she cried.

I’ve talked to my Life Group about Abby. My Gathering Pastor, Stacy Sublett, remembered this mother. We had a moment basking in the wonder of how God worked all things together for Abby. We are going to do our best to be her family away from home. I've called Abby and when she gets back from the Thanksgiving Holiday, she says she will meet us at church. If you are the mother of a college student, follow this model.

1. Pray for your college student.
2. Go to church when you visit your college student – even if he or she doesn't go with you.
3. Let the church know about your college student.
4. Pray more for your college student.

That will work much better than nagging, begging, or preaching. God and Christ’s church will faithfully hear your prayers and respond. You and your college student will be amazed at the power of God. After all, God doesn't have any grandchildren.

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Friday, September 28, 2012

INNCounters – In Heavenly Places

By Cheryle M. Touchton
Director – Pocket Full of Change Ministries

To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. KJV Eph 3:10-11

I enjoy evangelizing in the hotel where I live because it also means I have the opportunity to invite people to my church. Many staying there are living in State College for months at a time doing temporary work or moving there and living in the Inn while they seek housing that is more permanent. A good church is the closest I can get to heaven while I’m still here on earth and I want the people to whom I minister to experience that. I have heard enough church horror stories during my travels across America to also believe that a bad church is like being in hell on earth. So far, every INNCounter who has visited Calvary has wanted to return. My favorite part about taking people to church is that since the Bible says church reveals God’s plan in the Heavenly Places, I feel as if I am having INNCounters with the principalities and powers in the Heavenly Places.

As wonderful as my church is, I still resist the temptation to use church invitations as a short cut to the uncomfortable work of evangelism. When I was a little girl in the fifties, the easiest way to evangelize was to invite people to church. People appreciated an invitation to church and often came when invited. Most churches made sure that if members got people in the door, our guests would hear the Gospel preached and wouldn’t leave without learning how to meet Jesus. Year 2012 is a different world. The public is more cynical about church and it is difficult to get unsaved people into church. Also - it is entirely possible that if they do visit church, they will leave without ever learning how to begin a walk with Jesus. For me, taking people to church is like the proverbial “icing on the cake.” To be clear about the metaphor, icing (going to church) is the sweet part but useless without the cake itself (meeting Jesus.)

I do like the icing though. Worshiping next to someone severely damaged by the church and watching them cry through the praise and worship, take notes during the sermon, and put money in the offering plate is thrilling. Hearing the words, “I can’t wait until next Sunday,” and “This prepares me for the entire week,” is the impact the true Bride of Christ should have and makes me appreciate my church more. Seeing the people I bring to church bring others is how ministry ought to work and demonstrates to me the continuous love of Jesus flowing from one person to another. Bringing people into eternal fellowship with Christ and His followers must be the “eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” and being a part of God revealing His will in Heavenly Places through church is not an experience anyone would want to miss. I love Jesus and my church and sharing both.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

INNCounters that Go Bump In the Night

By Cheryle M. Touchton
Director – Pocket Full of Change Ministries

Terrors startle him on every side and dog his every step.
Calamity is hungry for him; disaster is ready for him when he falls. Job 18:11-12 NIV

Yes, I live in an INN. It is a nice one, as Inns go. However, when you share an INN filled with all of your stuff, a husband, dog, and cat, things do not always go as you hope. This blog is about a different kind of INNCounter – the kind that happens in the middle of the night - the kind that startles me on every side and dogs my every step – the kind that goes “bump” in the night.

I wake at least once each night to make my way quietly in the dark to the facility. I sleep next to the window. There is about 1.5 feet between the window and the bed, just enough room for Belle the Missionary Dog’s bed. As I make my way around the bed, I have to negotiate getting between the foot of the bed and the dresser, just wide enough to open the drawer – about a foot. Next, I have to cross into the closet and sink area where our giant noise-masking fan blocks the way. The tiny bathroom is crowded with pet food and water bowls, making the final steps of my obstacle course the most tricky.

As I stumbled sleepily out of bed, my first INNCounter was Belle, who yipped and ran when I stepped on her. I regained my footing, turned the corner, and I yelped when I hit my shin on a partially open drawer. Bob lay sleeping peacefully, undisturbed by my first two INNCounters.

The third INNCounter came when I tripped over Belle who was standing on the other side of the bed, waiting for me to move so she could get back to bed. I grabbed the bed to stabilize myself and Bob kept sleeping.

My fourth INNCounter was when I ran into the fan, sending it crashing to the ground. Bob began yelling, “What happened? What happened? Are you OK?”

“Go back to sleep Bob,” I urged, far from OK. My fifth and final INNCounter came when I inched my way into the tiny bathroom and stepped into the surprisingly cold bowl of water. Screaming, I sent water everywhere as I regained my footing and removed the soggy sock.

Cheryle?” Bob hollered. “Do you need help?”

“Yes,” I said. “But not the kind you can give.” That must have satisfied him because I never heard another peep.

I wish I could tell you that those INNCounters happened only once, but alas, I’ve had similar INNCounters most nights. I have not stepped on Belle again because she jumps up and bolts every single time I move and I move a lot. While Bob still seems to be able to get a good night’s sleep, Belle does not.

Yes, my Inn has things that go bump in the night. Those things all involve Belle and me.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Do Not Disturb

By Cheryle M. Touchton
Director – Pocket Full of Change Ministries

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Ps 42:5-6 NIV

They were young and in love – that much was obvious. When they got into the hot tub, they cuddled up close and stared into each other’s eyes. Their message was clear – Do Not Disturb. Bob and I were also cuddled up and staring into each other’s eyes and I sighed when I felt the pesky tug of the Holy Spirit. I knew that for that night, not only was my relaxing hot tub visit disturbed, I was not going to take their “Do Not Disturb” hint.

Leeann and Robbie were 16 and 17 and in 11th and 12th grades, respectively. They were adorable clean cut, athletic, and studious young people. They’d been dating for three months, didn’t go to church, and neither knew where they were going when they died. Leeann was in town for her dad’s softball tournament. Robbie was along for romance in the hot tub. As I disturbed what my grandmother would have called their “sparking,” they were polite and listened to the Gospel. For Robbie, the message of his heart was clear – Do Not Disturb! Leeann sent another message – please disturb with the truth I have been seeking. Leeann was under conviction but struggling because her boyfriend had no interest. I silently rebuked Satan’s use of peer pressure.

While I was praying about what to say next, two of their friends ran up and suggested swimming in the pool. The four young people left the hot tub but as they left, Leeann looked at me and mentioned she was coming back later to warm up. I was already well past my hot tub limit and starting to wilt, but I stayed. I wondered about fainting and how Bob would get me out of the hot tub. When Robbie and Leeann returned, I breathed a sigh of relief that we wouldn’t be disturbing the entire hotel by calling 911 to revive me.

God bless Bob. He always knows just what to do to support my call. He began an intellectual religious discussion with Robbie, which Robbie was thrilled with. I took advantage of the distraction, hoisted myself up backwards up out of the hot tub, went to the other side of Leeann, and sat down on the bumpy pool tile.

“Leeann,” I whispered. “I knew you were interested in what I was saying earlier.” She shyly nodded.

“You already believe in Jesus but never met him personally. You seem worried about eternity and like you want to know Jesus.” Again, she nodded.

“Would you let me lead you in a prayer asking Jesus to be your Savior?”

“Yes,” she whispered, shyly glancing downward as her face turned even redder then it already was from the heat.

About that time, Robbie noticed us. “Robbie,” I explained. “Leeann learned about Jesus as a child. Now, she wants to pray to meet Jesus. I’d love it if you prayed with us but I suspect you are not ready yet. It is your choice.”

“Not now,” he said. “I’m good.”

“I understand,” I said. Quietly and reverently, Leeann prayed to receive Jesus. When she looked up, her radiant face met my eyes for the first time. Robbie had quietly listened to every word without a trace of the smug cynicism that had lined his face earlier. After giving Leeann suggestions about what to do next, Bob and I stood up to leave them to their “sparking.”

As Bob got out, he said, “Robbie, you will remember what happened here. The Holy Spirit will continue to speak to you. Like me, eventually, you are going to want to do the same thing.” Robbie nodded and we knew that he had taken down the “Do Not Disturb” sign from his heart.

“I knew the Holy Spirit was working,” Bob said as we walked to the room. “You managed to get out of the hot tub without using the stairs. You sat on the ground next to Leeann and when you finished, you stood back up without any trouble.”

“Yes,” I sighed. “At my age, I can still do all of those things. I just don’t do them in public because it is not a pretty sight. The fact that I did it in front of everyone while wearing a bathing suit is testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit.” When Bob and I arrived at the room, we put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on our door.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Room Encounters

By Cheryle M. Touchton
Director – Pocket Full of Change Ministries

The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room. Mark 14:14 NIV

I’d said I wasn’t going to have any more room encounters and here I was evangelizing to a stranger inside my hotel room. One unnerving thing about living in a hotel is how many strangers come inside the room. Maintenance and housekeeping staff thinks nothing of using their passkey to enter and do their jobs. I’m an evangelist and when I meet people, I have to do my job. I’d decided not to have any more room encounters after a maintenance man grew agitated and I grew frightened when I had trouble getting him leave the room. My resolve lasted a week when I found myself praying with a hotel staff person inside my room. Yesterday, I had yet another room encounter.

Someone knocked and Belle barked. When I opened the door, Belle saw an evil vacuum cleaner and charged. The poor woman behind the vacuum screamed and backed up.

“Belle,” I commanded. “Stop!” She did but she carefully stood between me and the vacuum cleaner.

“Leah, Belle won’t hurt you,” I said, reading her name tag. “She doesn’t like vacuums. She loves people. Are you afraid of dogs?”

“Yes,” she said is a shaky voice. “I’m not coming in unless you promise she won’t bite.”

“She’s Belle the Missionary Dog and she helps me tell people about Jesus,” I said. “Belle, say Jesus.” Belle dutifully barked.

“Now,” I said. “Show this nice lady how to take Jesus’ hand.” Belle held out her paw. Leah didn’t take her hand.

“Show her how to lie at the feet of Jesus.” Again, Belle was obedient.

Leah relaxed and came inside. “Are you from here?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, cleaning as we talked.

“Do you go to a church in the area?”

“No. I took my children to church when they were little but I haven’t been in years.”

“Leah, I’m a Christian. If something were to happen to you today, do you know where you will go in the next life?” I asked. There it was - startling question. There is simply no way to ease into it.

“I don’t,” she said, acting as if she got asked that question every day. “It would be nice to come back as a dog or a bird.”

I ignored the irony of her wanting to come back as an animal she was afraid of. Instead, I said, “Being a bird would be fun. I would enjoy flying.”

Leah went into the bedroom to clean so I assumed we were done. I’d sowed seeds and knew I’d probably see her again so I didn’t push. I went back to work and after a while, I heard her walk back into the living room.

“No,” she said, as if we’d never stopped talking. “I don’t have a clue about the next life.”

“Do you believe in Jesus?” I asked. “That He came to earth, died on a cross, and rose from the dead?”

She tilted her head as if to think. After a second, she hesitantly said, “I think so.”

“Think is enough,” I encouraged. “The Bible says you only need faith the size of a mustard seed. A mustard seed is tiny. The Bible also says we all have sinned and fallen short. Sin is why most of us worry about the next life. The wages of sin is death and at some level, we all know that.” I stopped and smiled and she smiled back her agreement.

“The Bible also says the gift of God is eternal life. Who knows – it is heaven after all and God is God. Maybe He would even let you be a bird for a little while. My favorite line in the entire Bible is that all who call on the name of the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved. Leah, all you have to do for eternity is call on the name of the Lord Jesus. Would you like to do that?”

“Yes,” she said quietly. “I really would.”

“Pray after me,” I encouraged. “Dear God.” She solemnly repeated each line, confessing her belief in Jesus, admitting she was a sinner, and asking for forgiveness. When she invited Jesus into her life to be her Lord and Savior, her look of relief left me breathless.

“If anyone ever asks you again about the next life, tell them you are going to heaven because you called on the name of Jesus,” I whispered. Leah beamed.

Another housekeeping staff member walked up and our time together ended. I’ll eventually get her full name and address, give her a study book, and invite her to church. I suppose God will continue to send room encounters and I suppose I’ll keep accepting them. After all, my room is really Jesus’ room.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

INN Daily

By Cheryle M. Touchton
Director – Pocket Full of Change Ministries

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Rom 8:28 KJV

We live in a hotel. For purposes of this “INNCounters” blog, I will refer to it as an Inn and for now, I live in this “Inn Daily.”

You may be wondering why. When I tell people I live in an Inn, I get odd looks and questions. The story of why we live in an Inn is without the drama it takes to be interesting. It boils down to the fact that God and/or my beloved husband Bob didn’t like any of my other housing ideas. So here, I sit in two tiny rooms while four bedrooms of furniture and all my “stuff” collects dust in expensive storage units.

You may not feel sorry for me. Whining got me no sympathy. After all – the Inn is newly remodeled, serves 10 free meals a week, has a housekeeping service, my own (tiny) kitchen, an indoor pool, hot tub, and work out room. When I complained about the size of my living quarters, I was reminded it was bigger than a camper. When I discovered that it took the fun out of shopping with no room to put anything, I was told it would save money. My best friend Nancy reminded me I love adventure and claimed living in a hotel was an adventure. Many even went so far as to say that they would love to live in an Inn and have everything done for them. If that is true, why the odd looks and why aren’t they living in one as well? We all know the answer to that – houses are bigger, more efficient, and less expensive. People we love can visit. We have windows that look out across lawns manicured to our specifications. We can hang pictures of our family on the walls and bask in the comfort of furniture worn to the groves of our bodies and lifestyle. I confess that until recently, I wasn’t thrilled with living in an Inn. The words “rejoice in the Lord always” mocked me.

I did what I always do when I’m disappointed. I first tried to fix it. Next, I complained to God and trusted people. Then I accepted my circumstances and sought the promised “good” that was going to come from it. When I saw that “good,” I wanted to weep with joy. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it before. My whining had blocked my vision.

My favorite scripture and life goal is to love God with my entire mind, heart, soul, and strength and to love my neighbor as myself. On the days I get close to that goal, I care about people – about their lives and eternities. I pray for those around me. I notice their expressions - the joy or pain. I wonder if they know my beloved Savior. I long to help them fill their spiritual pockets by assisting them in making one tiny “change” in the direction of an abundant walk with Jesus. I am the Director of Pocket Full of Change Ministries and I gleefully realized that God had handed me a “Daily” new mission field as people pass through the “Inn” where He has placed me.

I joyfully accept this call from God. God will orchestrate the “INNCounters” as I eat breakfast and dinner with strangers, do my devotions on a public patio, and visit the hot tub, pool, and work out room. I will share these “INNCounters” with you because if I don’t, my joy would explode and as the scripture says, the “rocks would have to cry out.” I invite your comments and prayers as you visit my “Inn Daily” with me.

For More Information About Pocket Full of Change Ministries
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