Monthly Archives: August 2015

C.S. Lewis and the Butterfly Effect

C.S. Lewis

Why would C.S. Lewis take the time to correspond with a young American girl he did not know? Would his four letters, including the one he wrote to her just 11 days before his death, have any consequence?

In our culture we are taught to swing for the fences. Blast the game-winning home run high over the center field wall. Instant gratification and recognition. Great work if you can get it.

But a life lived in obedience to God is seldom like that. It’s much more like the butterfly effect—where one small change can make a big difference in the way things turn out. Consider the chain of events in the following story.

  1. In the 1960s, a somewhat under-appreciated (at the time) Cambridge don, deep thinker, and writer of children’s literature gets a fan letter from a 12-year-old American girl. Despite all he has going on, he takes the time to write back to her.
  2. The young girl begins to read some of his other work, including his Christian writings. She writes more letters, he writes back.
  3. When he dies, only a small number of friends attend his funeral.
  4. Through subsequent publishing he becomes one of the most influential Christian thinkers of the 20th century.
  5. Because he took the time to write to the little girl, his corpus has a profound effect on her faith and her ability and desire to defend her Christian worldview.
  6. The little girl grows up, marries a small town preacher, and has a profound effect on him.
  7. The small town preacher becomes one of the most influential Christian writers and thinkers of the 21st century.

For the whole story, read this article.

We really don’t take enough time to correspond with people. Taking the time to write someone can have significant and lasting consequences—much more so than hitting a dramatic home run.

HT: Marion Paine, David the Older


Where Did Cain Get His Wife?

Talk about a dysfunctional family! Cain and Abel, 15th-century by unknown German artist, from Speculum Humanae Salvationis

Talk about a dysfunctional family! Cain and Abel, 15th-century by an unknown German artist, from Speculum Humanae Salvationis (credit: Wikipedia). Is it not the story of every family?

So, where did Cain get his wife?

This question is a real head scratcher, a favorite of skeptics and a longtime puzzle for those who want to understand the Bible. The difficulty in trying to resolve this question is that the Bible does not give us an obvious answer. We have to look at different clues from within the text to try to figure this out. Nevertheless, the question of Cain’s wife allows us to explore some of the challenges when trying to interpret difficult passages within the Bible.
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Dr. Jim Shaw and the Butterfly Effect

Dr. Jim O. ShawThe essence of the butterfly effect is that one small change can make a big difference in the way things turn out.

Dr. Jim Shaw died last Wednesday, and while reading the online media tributes, I can’t stop thinking about the butterfly effect.

For those unfamiliar with Jim’s story, he is best known as the founder of Lackey Free Clinic, which provides “skilled, compassionate health care and counseling to the medically disadvantaged in a manner that honors the name of Jesus Christ.” He was also a husband, father, grandfather and respected pulmonary specialist. For their compassion and humanitarian efforts, Jim and his wife, Cooka, received the Daily Press Citizen of the Year award in 2007. Lackey Free Clinic just celebrated its 20th anniversary, racking up quite an impressive list of awards and accolades along the way.

I served with Jim as an elder in our church. He commanded respect. He was smart, humble, and determined to make a difference in this world. He was steadfast in his faith—not just in the hearing of the Word, but in the doing. Jim modeled what he read in the Bible.

If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm and eat well,” but you do not give them what the body needs, what good is it? So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by my works.
(James 2:15-18 NET)

Jim had a very long battle with cancer, chronicled in the links above. He fought the disease bravely, intelligently, and with conviction. He found a way to take all the pain and suffering and turn it into good in the name of Christ. Not unlike Dick Woodward.

The butterfly effect? My most profound memory of Jim is one in which, truthfully, I was a little peeved at him. It was a couple of decades ago when a group of volunteers would meet every Saturday morning to cut the grass at the Church. We saw all the comings and goings of people from the business end of our lawnmowers. Jim was one of those who kept coming. He had a lot of questions about Christianity, and he would show up Saturday mornings, Bible in hand, to meet with our senior pastor. I remember thinking, “Bill doesn’t have time to meet with this guy every Saturday. He’s got sermons to prepare and a church to pastor.”

Shows how much I know.

Chi Rho, Jim. Our community is far better off on your account, and you completely succeeded in honoring the name of Jesus Christ. We will miss you.

HT: Bill Warrick, Tuck Knupp, Lackey Clinic, Daily Press (Photo)


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