Friday, October 27, 2006

Journey to Jesus

The first time my children and grandchildren uttered Jesus’ name gave me an incomparable thrill. There’s just something about that name.

Learning about Jesus can start anywhere in life. Children and grandparents can acknowledge Jesus. Recently in my son’s congregation, a senior citizen made a confession of believing in Christ and was baptized. Some seek God in a time of crisis, and Mark records such a story about a woman ill for 12 years who hunted for Jesus.

On that day, the woman tried to reach Jesus in a desperate effort to be healed. However, he was surrounded by a shoulder-to-shoulder, tight knit throng (Matthew 9, Mark 5, and Luke 8).

Contending with a draining illness for 12 years, this woman joined the press of people. Energy depleted, she had few resources left. Doctors had tried to remedy her illness, but “instead of getting better, she grew worse” (Mark 5: 26). Fragile in body and emotions, she inched her way into the swarm.

A kid in the crowd might have complained “Mama we’re squashed together.” Luke describes the crowd as body-to-body, so close they nearly crushed Jesus. No air space. Somehow, despite the pressing crowd, she pushed forward.

She’d thought earlier, “If I just touch his clothes I will be healed” (Mark vs. 28). Finally, within tagging-distance, she shoved an outstretched arm toward Jesus. Wiggling her fingers a few inches closer she made contact with his clothing. The second her finger tips touched cloak-fibers, good heath returned.

Getting to Jesus is a journey. Throughout a lifetime, heart wounds, soul scars, and mind-boggling dilemmas add up, but Jesus-seekers receive divine attention when they set out on the expedition to find him.

During my teen years, I heard the question, “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?” I didn’t have a clue what that meant. Although the phrase isn’t found in the Bible, it’s a biblical concept. Christians call God “Father” and Jesus becomes our brother and friend—very personal connections, relationships.

A God-message billboard encourages this journey to Jesus: “C’mon over and bring the kids—God.” Parents, start your children on their journey early. Like the woman who was ill—press on. Press in. And here’s God’s promise to journeyers: “Let us press on to acknowledge him . . . . he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth” (Hosea 6:3).

You may contact Cathy at

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Cathy’s hardback gift book The Stained Glass Pickup is an inspirational gift for the holidays. Regular price is $10.99 plus S&H. If ordered from her Web site, she will autograph and mail anywhere in the United States. For discounts for two or more

Check out what folks are saying about The Stained Glass Pickup and at

Faith of Our Fathers

An article title stated, “God Has No Grandchildren.” Most of us know that faith isn’t as easily bequeathed to children as a set of silverware. While children may keep inherited silver, they may not embrace their parent’s faith.

In Abilene for the ACU Lectureship, I attended a lecture by Darryl Tippens, who recently authored Pilgrim Heart. The subtitle is “The Way of Jesus in Everyday Life.” It’s about modeling and experiencing the Christian disciplines.

Two statements in his foreword shined a little light in my soul and caused me to give further thought to this faith community’s part in ensuring that there is another generation of devoted Christians. Darryl Tippens mentioned in his book and lecture a probing question Jesus asked, “When the Son of Man comes again, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

The second challenge came when Tippens told statistics from author Charles Williams. Because generations die off physically, faith is reestablished through new converts and Christians’ children. Here are the staggering facts: In just 30 years of passive living, not reaching out to neighbors and not teaching children, the church could die in a locale.

Love for God is both taught and caught; following are suggestions for parents and grandparents who long for their children to inherit more than earthly estates:

• Be a “taught and caught” adult role model. Model Jesus’ justice and compassionate living. Talk about your devotion to God’s Son.
• Act like God acts. Forgive like God forgives. Repent in your home before spouse and children when you do wrong.
• Kick the world out of your home. Make a safe shelter where children learn godly virtues, not the latest ad campaigns that draw them into the U.S. rampant consumerism.
• Read scriptures to your children. Memorize with them. Where do your kids get most of their Bible learning? Home should be their primary “Sunday school.”
• Talk about your faith and your struggles. Do your children know your salvation story? Share how you came to know the Lord.

The best news is when God gives us a task such as “go and make disciples” he also equips us for the work. Pray, grab hold of God’s promises and his hand because we have plenty of work assignments during the next 30 years. Each day, assist God in founding faith in this community and in the next generation.

You may contact Cathy at

Friday, October 13, 2006

Workplace Chaplains

Workplace Chaplains

Local chaplain Carol Hurley, employed by Marketplace Chaplains USA, makes bi-monthly visits to several businesses in Conroe, TX. On visits to Taco Bell, Choate Ceramics, and Cargo Blue Magic, Ms. Hurley gets acquainted with employees. The service she most often provides is “listening.”

Marketplace Chaplains USA Gulf Coast Division Director, Brian Horner, said Marketplace chaplains serves public and privately owned companies. Companies range from 10 to 43,000 employees, in the US, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Because chaplains cover a large geographic area, employees can make requests for out-of-state chaplains to visit hospitalized relatives or family in prison. With immediate attention to needs, Marketplace Chaplains live up to their description as “America’s Employee Care Program.”

Founder Gil Stricklin, for 23 years, has run the chaplaincy on a military model and has a three-fold goal for the company: 1) for the male and female chaplains to visit workplaces and regularly interact and build relationships with employees; 2) for the program to be proactive by effectively dealing with problems in the early stages, not just a “crisis response”; 3) to offer a broad range of services: home, jail, hospital visits, encouragement by phone or mail, and conducting weddings and funeral services, and to provide those services for all employees, immediate family members, customers and suppliers.

Pilgrim’s Pride, with 43,000 employees, is one of the largest companies contracting the services of Marketplace Chaplains. Pilgrim’s Vice President of Human Resources, Jane T. Brookshire, said, "People need to be cared for, and continually the biggest issues people go to our chaplains about are family-related issues, and those things that go on regardless of your faith."

A chaplain’s typical visit to the workplace does not interfere with an individual’s work, and if an employee desires a longer consultation, a time outside of work is scheduled. At job sites, the friendly contact and chats last only a few minutes, but build a trusting relationship based on care. Companies who avail themselves of chaplaincy services have experienced improved “morale and teamwork” and increased “loyalty and commitment” to company goals. Fraud and absenteeism diminish as well.

Marketplace Chaplains USA actively seeks new companies to serve, as well as hiring chaplains for part time work. They have a training program for prospective chaplains, but request that trainees have some type of ministry experience and have commerce experience, such as business savvy about production deadlines and payroll.

Local chaplain Carol Hurley says, “Sometimes we just listen and pray, sometimes we refer them to government or local aid.” Chaplains answer questions about what employees are seeking, and provide help to those who have no church affiliation. “Basically, we are there to provide support in any way we can.”

Brian Horner, Division Director, said in a phone interview that they welcome the participation of local churches because many employees are eager to renew their faith or find a church home. “Over a year’s time, hundreds rededicate their lives or start attending church for the first time.”

Chaplain Carol Hurley summed up the program, “The employee care program is a benefit that we pray helps them get through the bumps in life.”

A hearty thank you to Marketplace Chaplains USA and the help with all those “bumps in life,” the bumps we all have.

Businesses and prospective chaplains may visit

You may contact Cathy Messecar at

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Fill up God-voids

At home, I rarely have my television on, but Monday I was out of town and turned on FOX news in our motel room. When I heard the breaking-news-words, I experienced trepidation.

As you already know, Monday’s grim news reported a school shooting in an Amish community, the third school in seven days to have violent fatalities on property dedicated to higher learning. Violence in the place of knowledge. Violence near a playground. Violence near the heart of Americans.

Violence, killing, and hatred are woven into the human fabric, but I’m ready to start some unraveling. How about you? In the earliest family in the Garden of Eden, Adam, Eve, Cain and Able were separated when Cain, in a jealous rage, slew his brother Able. Thousands of years later, we’re still puzzled that anyone could assign themselves the role of robbing life from another.

In an interview on Dateline NBC, notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was asked what he felt while committing his crimes? His reply: “I felt that I didn’t have to be accountable to anyone,” he said. “Since man came from slime, I was accountable to no one.” If you followed Jeffrey’s story, you know that in prison he eventually came to a belief in God and had remorse for his horrific crimes.

Recently, I read Dark Journey Deep Grace a book by Roy Ratcliff (with Lindy Adams) about Jeffrey Dahmer’s prison life after his sentencing. Minister Roy Ratcliff was told that Jeffrey Dahmer wanted to be baptized and while arranging for that to take place, he had weekly studies with Jeffrey, before and after his baptism. When God filled voids in Jeffrey’s life, he began to respect life again, his life and the lives of others.

Hate of self or others is complex, and that kind of hate takes supernatural intervention to turn a soul from evil to good purposes. Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself. Easy to write. Easy to say, but it’s impossible to do on our own. But, when God calls us to love a neighbor or a serial killer, he then equips us to carry out the command. How?

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He offers help and rest to nominal Christians, to those who hate, those who suffer depression, guilt, or sorrow so profound their chests feel like 80 pounds of cement. His invitation is for those who have wearied of living, to those who have wearied of taking one more breath.

Jesus’ solution is supernatural. It goes beyond the love a human being can muster for a spouse, child or neighbor. When Jesus pardons an individual’s sins, he moves in, abides with that person for a better future. He sticks closer than a brother, and he brings God’s kind of love with him—a limitless amount of out-of-this world compassion for fellowmen.

Jesus didn’t just preach love messages. He lived them out by embracing lepers. He forgave adulterers. He taught us not to pick at a neighbor’s splinter when we need to take care of a two-by-four problem of our own. And one of his finest lessons came while he was dying at the hands of the wicked. From his death-cross, even in agony, he expressed forgiveness to those who sanctioned his innocent death. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34).

A God-void produces an empty space that can become a devil’s workshop. But Jesus is ready to move into empty places, relieve disillusionments and instill a healthy respect for life—respect that allows doing good to a neighbor not harm.

You may contact Cathy at