Nature is not our “mother” but our sister….

As the media continues to wig-out over our wintry weather, and as pop culture fills 1439189_60768599terabytes of social media with pictures and captions expressing weather weariness, Christians should remain vigilant not to use the pagan language referring to nature as our “Mother.”

I was reminded of this as I read the latest dispatch from The Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College. Just today Dr. Gary L. Welton, an assistant dean and professor of psychology at GCC wrote a great little essay: “Mother Nature? Nature is Not Our Mother.” It’s more than a boiler-plate warning; he shares some interesting insights, stirred by the old G. K. Chesteron. Welton writes —

G. K. Chesterton, however, wrote in “Orthodoxy” that, “The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister.” He argued that because we share the same father, we are siblings. Nature has no authority over us. “Nature is a sister, and even a younger sister: a little, dancing sister, to be laughed at as well as loved.”

He also quotes James Fennimore Cooper as he elaborates on the whole sibling idea. But he does arrive at an important consideration:

Although the analogy of nature as our sister works better than the analogy of nature as our mother, there is a sense in which the analogy falls short. In the creation mandate, we are instructed to have dominion over nature. My parents never gave me any dominion over my sister. Although there are a few times I tried to establish such dominion, she never allowed it. Our charge to have dominion over nature is not consistent with the sister analogy.

This is timely stuff from the helpful Vision & Values team at GCC. I suggest you subscribe to their emails. At least click on over and read Welton’s essay (just a page or so long), here.

~ pdb

Super cell is but dust to God

A Supercell Thunderstorm Cloud Over Montana (NASA site)

Nahum 1:3
The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.
His way is in whirlwind and storm,
and the clouds are the dust of his feet.

Tremble at those clouds…

The Lord is slow to anger
and great in power,
and the Lord will
by no means
clear the guilty.
His way is in whirlwind
and storm, and
the clouds are
the dust of his feet

(Nahum 1:3 ESV)

Tornado hits Minneapolis, Warning? *UPDATED


It happened yesterday, a freak storm and a tornado (as reported here).

Minneapolis Pastor & theologian John Piper just posted the following report and interpretation of this event. It is worth considering…

The Tornado, the Lutherans, and Homosexuality
I saw the fast-moving, misshapen, unusually-wide funnel over downtown Minneapolis from Seven Corners. I said to Kevin Dau, “That looks serious.”

It was. Serious in more ways than one. A friend who drove down to see the damage wrote,

On a day when no severe weather was predicted or expected…a tornado forms, baffling the weather experts—most saying they’ve never seen anything like it. It happens right in the city. The city: Minneapolis.

The tornado happens on a Wednesday…during the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s national convention in the Minneapolis Convention Center. The convention is using Central Lutheran across the street as its church. The church has set up tents around it’s building for this purpose.

According to the ELCA’s printed convention schedule, at 2 PM on Wednesday, August 19, the 5th session of the convention was to begin. The main item of the session: “Consideration: Proposed Social Statement on Human Sexuality.” The issue is whether practicing homosexuality is a behavior that should disqualify a person from the pastoral ministry.

The eyewitness of the damage continues:

This curious tornado touches down just south of downtown and follows 35W straight towards the city center. It crosses I94. It is now downtown.

The time: 2PM.

1964_steepleThe first buildings on the downtown side of I94 are the Minneapolis Convention Center and Central Lutheran. The tornado severely damages the convention center roof, shreds the tents, breaks off the steeple of Central Lutheran, splits what’s left of the steeple in two…and then lifts.

Let me venture an interpretation of this Providence with some biblical warrant.

1. The unrepentant practice of homosexual behavior (like other sins) will exclude a person from the kingdom of God.

The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

2. The church has always embraced those who forsake sexual sin but who still struggle with homosexual desires, rejoicing with them that all our fallen, sinful, disordered lives (all of us, no exceptions) are forgiven if we turn to Christ in faith.

Such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11)

3. Therefore, official church pronouncements that condone the very sins that keep people out of the kingdom of God, are evil. They dishonor God, contradict Scripture, and implicitly promote damnation where salvation is freely offered.

4. Jesus Christ controls the wind, including all tornados.

Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? (Mark 4:41)

5. When asked about a seemingly random calamity near Jerusalem where 18 people were killed, Jesus answered in general terms—an answer that would cover calamities in Minneapolis, Taiwan, or Baghdad. God’s message is repent, because none of us will otherwise escape God’s judgment.

Jesus: “Those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:4-5)

6. Conclusion: The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners.

Clarifying the Tornado, 21 Aug 2009

Three years ago God sent the tornado of cancer into my life. It split the steeple of my health and shredded the tents of my sexual life. I wrote an article to myself: Don’t Waste Your Cancer. It could have been titled: Don’t waste your tornado. God’s message to me in my tornado was essentially the same as to the ELCA in theirs. My tornado was…

…a gentle but firm warning to me and all of us: Turn from every approval of sin in your life. Turn from the justification and promotion of any behaviors in your life that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great biblical heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from your inveterate bent to distort the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform you and all other sinners. (from Thursday’s post)

That is the message of every calamity (Luke 13:1-5). And every sunny day (Romans 2:4).

I said to myself three years ago: God’s design in the tornado of this cancer is “to deepen my love for Christ…and to wean me off the breast of the world.” It aims to make my besetting sins look less attractive than they ever have.

This tornado “is designed to destroy the appetite for sin. Pride, greed, lust, hatred, unforgiveness, impatience, laziness, procrastination—all these are the adversaries that cancer is meant to attack.” In other words, the cancer-tornado was a merciful rebuke to my worldliness and a timely thrust toward holiness.

This is the lesson that Luke 13:1-5 and 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, 4:17-18; 12:9-10, and many other texts imply for every tornado in any city, and any life, anywhere in the world. Only the details change.

My tornado was a call to repentance. Yours will be too. But that is not Satan’s design. Only God’s. Satan’s design is that you approve your sin. God’s is that you let him forgive it and overcome it.

Off to Camp…

mainsign2It’s that week in July when, as an Assistant Scoutmaster, I travel with my Boy Scout troop to summer camp near beautiful Lake George at CAMP WAKPOMINEE. It’s year number 8 or 9 for me, and I love it! Not only do I get to spend time in the great outdoors, but with one (or more) of my sons too. This year is the first camp for Daniel, and the second for John. And, I enjoy building relationships with the scouts, sharing skills and knowledge of scouting — all while representing my Lord Jesus Christ in their midst!

Not to mention that walking the trails and hills, chopping fire wood, and all the rest are good physical exertions for this sedentary pastor!

So, no new posts until week’s end.

HEY, you might just want to take a look in the “archives” (see sidebar to the lower right) or search The Breadline using the categories or tags (also to the right). I think some of my earliest posts are some of my best writing…. What do you think?

Do pray for me at camp.

Bat Slayer!

Here’s one of the more interesting accounts, from my week with the Scouts at Camp Wakpominee.

Early one morning, while the troops assembled awaiting the morning flag raising, I walked over to the dining hall for my first mug of coffee. One of the staff was sending all the table-setters, etc, out of the hall, and refusing admittance to everyone. “What’s up?” I asked, hoping to still get to my coffee. There were some BATS in the dining hall, which meant no scouts could enter. “Let me in,” I said. “I know how to deal with bats.” So they let me in.

Kitchen staffers were running aorund the hall with brooms in the air, swinging wildly at 3-4 large brown bats. Quickly I explained how, back in college, I used to deal with bats in the dorms, and the weapon of choice was not a broom but a tennis racquet! A minute later they put one in my hands, and I was after the bats myself. The guys with the brooms tried to direct the bats out one of the doors or windows — or to me.

Eventually, one flew out a door, one bat was pinned against a window screen, and the last one made the mistake of flying within reach of my racquet. With a large arc, as if hitting a serve, I knocked the bat from above my head towards the fireplace, 20 yards away. He landed there unconscious. The sound of the bat hitting the sweet-spot of the racquet was followed by a cheer; the last bat was gone, and breakfast could be served.

The rest of the week at camp, while dealing with the buckets of rain, I campaigned for the nickname “bat slayer” but it didn’t seem to stick.

…more tales to follow….

Home, sweet home!

After a couple of weeks vacation — one camping with the Boy Scouts and one camping with the family — it is good to be home. I thank God for rich blessings and answered prayers all the while. I could easily fill a few pages with fun anecdotes from this summer’s camping, but I will do so piecemeal (a post here or there) as I get back up to speed. So stay tuned!

Yours, by divine mercy,