Friday, April 28, 2006


Garbology. William Rathje started the garbology project while a professor at University of Arizona. Garbology is the study of a society by examining what it discards.

Archaeologist know that what remains at a civilization’s refuse area is sometimes the only evidence of their lives. When no writings or buildings remain, these discards are valuable findings. Such items as broken tools and pottery, and fragments of furnishings offer a glimpse into ancient cultures.

The word “garbology” caused me to think about other discards of life. Oh, not the stuff that we set on the curb for the sanitation department to cart away. I’m thinking about the personal choices we make about what is worthy. I’m pondering what people cast away as unimportant? And what those castoffs say about an individual or society?

Shame is one of the things that can be laid aside. Blushes seem not to happen as often these days. Skin is in. A great grandmother’s face might flush crimson if she revisited in the summer of 2006. Grandpa’s, too.

Chastity—described by Encarta Dictionary as “the practice of abstaining from sex on moral grounds,” is a past virtue for some. God’s definitioin is to save sex for marriage—for the home and society’s good.

Guilt can be shrugged off. Personal wrongdoings are blamed on parents, schools, churches, and government. The late Flip Wilson’s line “The devil made me do it” is alive and well: only the subject has changed.

The unborn can be legally discarded in the United States.

Arrogant minds toss aside “unworthy” people. If someone’s accomplishments or lack of achievements don’t fit the prescribed niche of the prideful mind, then they are written off, or worse yet, treated with contempt.

Discipleship Magazine reported that the word “integrity” was the word most often looked up in online dictionaries. That’s good. When integrity is defined in lives, then there will be less disposal of morals, values and people. No garbage left behind.

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:5-6).

Friday, April 21, 2006

Escape Technique

In East Texas, the spring pollen dusted windshields and porches as if they were powdered doughnuts. The good thing about pollen is by the time it arrives, the flu season has passed.

In a crowded shopping mall this winter, my husband and I walked toward a swath of people. One of them sneezed. A humongous explosion. Her hand moved toward her mouth in slow motion and landed there way too late.

Facing the germy droplets, we either had to turn and run or walk through. Our choice probably didn’t make much difference because I’m told that a sneeze exits at 100 mph. We walked through the mist. But, in a whisper, I cautioned my husband and myself. “Don’t breathe. Don’t breathe.”

The air borne bacteria reminded me of the bad things in life that influence people. Young-adult Joseph experienced temptations but resisted.

Sold into slavery by his own brothers, Joseph served in the household of a powerful Egyptian official, Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife kept seducing Joseph. “Day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.”

Joseph said to Mrs. Potiphar, “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:10). She wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, and one day, she dismissed all servants. Like a spider, she weaved a trap.

With only Joseph on the estate, she again made advances. This time, Joseph ran from the house so fast that he left his cloak behind. Offended by his refusal, she convinced her husband that Joseph attacked her, and Joseph became an innocent prisoner.

But God didn’t forget Joseph’s faithfulness, and he eventually placed him second in command to the Pharaoh. Joseph, proven upright, would be instrumental in saving many from starvation.

Joseph’s evasive actions in the face of temptation remind me of the famous line from the movie “Forest Gump”: “Run, Forest, run!”

James advices, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:7).

Like Joseph found out, “Opportunity may knock only once, but temptation leans on the doorbell.” Another remarked about succumbing, “If you go to bed with the dogs, you will rise up with fleas.”

The next time temptation leans on your doorbell, remember Joseph’s good example and “run, Forest, run.”

You may contact Cathy at

Friday, April 14, 2006

Little Matthew's Hope

He is Risen!

At a February banquet honoring missionaries, my friends Monty and Melody Huffman and I listened to a chorus sing an old spiritual about heaven. The music ranged from mournful to exuberant finale. As the song ended, I looked toward Melody. She grasped my hand, saying, “Makes you want to go there, doesn’t it?” One reason Melody longs to make the trip — heaven adopted her seven-year-old son Matthew in 1991.

In 1989, the Huffmans moved their family from Happy, Texas to Salvador, Brazil to work with a missionary team. Five-year-old Matthew and seven-year-old Micah quickly learned Portuguese. When he wasn’t sleeping, Matthew was outdoors. He explored. He captured bugs. Scamper, a marmoset, was his constant companion. The small New World monkey was just the right size pet for little Matthew.

Melody home schooled, and the Huffmans lived near a beach on the Atlantic Ocean. Near the soft waves one hot August afternoon, the family looked for black sea urchins with tiny pink mouths, but Matthew didn’t feel well. On the walk home, he held his mother’s hand.

Unknown, at the time, Matthew had bacterial meningitis. Later, his condition worsened. The onset of severe headaches followed by sudden blindness caused his parents to scoop him up and rush him to a hospital. Frantic, his dad drove 30 miles down coast. In the backseat, Melody cradled Matthew in a blanket.

Melody tells what happened on the way to the hospital: “Matthew kept reaching out his hand into the air. I would take his hand and tell him ‘I’m here.’ I was holding his hand and he said, ‘No, not you.’ This happened several times.

“Finally, in desperation I said, ‘What do you want, Matthew? I’ll get it for you.’ His last words as he slipped into a coma were, ‘I’m trying to reach Jesus' hand.’ With those words, his little hand seemed to close around something in the air.”

Never regaining consciousness, Matthew died two days later. His family brought him back to Happy, Texas. On his grave stone, a small hand rests in a much larger one.

Matthew’s story is part of a greater story, the greatest story ever told. Jesus promised to overcome God’s enemy Death. After his resurrection, Jesus asked Mary Magdalene, who was weeping, “Woman, why are you crying?”

It wasn’t a calloused question, but an illuminating one: Jesus knew tears are native to the earth, and eternal life is native to heaven. This weekend celebrate the risen Lord. Hold his hand through life, then, like Matthew, stretch your hand toward Jesus when you journey home.

You may contact Cathy at

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Friday, April 07, 2006

da Vinci's Last Supper


In a convent dining room in Milan, Italy, Leonardo da Vinci, dipped the bristles of his brush into paint and began a masterpiece on the wall. In 1495, he began a commissioned work of the last supper, 15 by 29 feet, covering an entire wall. A known procrastinator, he finished in 1498.

His art was not the only portrayal of Christ at the last supper. However, Leonardo’s Last Supper is acclaimed as the first to show the disciples displaying real emotions. The scene records the artist’s interpretation of the disciples’ reactions to an announcement Jesus made—just seconds before—that one of the 12 would betray him. Their countenances reflect questions, appall, and denial.

Over the years, the painting deteriorated. Paint flaked, and further damage occurred when a construction worker, not quite aware of his exact location in the convent, proceeded to open up a wall for a doorway. Standing on the other side of the painted wall, he chiseled away plaster, ripping out the portion of the painting where Jesus’ feet were.

In Leonardo’s Last Supper, all elements and persons point to the central figure of Jesus, very fitting. The apostle Paul wrote about that meal: “The Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me’” (1 Corinthians 11:23).

Some Christians eat this “remembrance supper” each Sunday, while others do so at regular intervals or gatherings such as funerals and weddings. Each time Jesus is met at the table, it’s a time to look to the past, to the future, and inward.

Looking back. Remember the everyday Jesus, who brushed tears away with his fingertips, nurtured villages, chucked children under their chins. Recall his sacrifice, his forgiveness even from the cross.

Looking forward. Pray for Jesus to invade community and church, so peace is more prevalent than bickering. Ask for a better world, where people are clothed in purity and integrity, where Jesus is the standard for imitation, not Hollywood.

And, finally, during the meal with Jesus, look inward for traces of betrayal. Is his example the superior standard for personal behavior?

Leonardo’s work of art focused on the Christ. Help restore Jesus as a central figure in the 21st Century, and let the chiseling away at the Savior be relegated to history.