Monthly Archives: May 2021



I recently watched an American Experience documentary on PBS called “Mr. Tornado.” It chronicled the life and research of meteorologist Tetsuya “Ted” Fujita, dubbed “Mr. Tornado” because of his knowledge of and devotion to the study of tornadoes. He developed the F-scale that is currently used today to describe the severity of a tornado. He discovered the existence of downbursts and microbursts, which changed the way that weather was predicted and air travel was conducted, ultimately saving thousands of lives. His findings came about through his meticulous recording of the aftermaths of severe storms. What he saw at the end of these events told a story of what had happened before to cause such destruction.

To me this man’s story shows a picture to us as Christians of what we should be doing in our lives as Christ’s followers. We, much like Mr. Tornado, are called to assess the damage of sin in our lives and determine what can be done about it. We have seen homes wrecked, families broken, people injured or killed because of “tornadoes” of sin that have ripped through the lives of so many. But the more we understand sin in the world, the better we are able to prepare for it. Sin seeks to destroy us, but God seeks to lift us up. So when we see the path of sin’s destruction coming, we know to flee from it and seek shelter in the almighty arms of our Savior and Protector from sin, Jesus. Any “bursts” of sin that might come our way can be avoided by listening to our Lord and being on the lookout for any surprises from Satan, so that we can escape from them and not be alarmed by them.

Our close study of Scripture and our divine connection to Jesus help us to weather any storm that pops up and come out on the other side unscathed by sin because our Savior died for us. Our lives are in his hands, whichever way the wind blows.

The Carpenter’s Son


Is not this the carpenter’s son? Matthew 13:55

There is something very telling about the people in his hometown calling Jesus the carpenter’s son. First of all, it suggests a familiarity with him. They knew Jesus well. They knew his father and his family. It also reveals a normal quality about Jesus. He did not stand out in the crowd, but was one of the people, a regular kid, if you will. It also connects Jesus to a trade. It is assumed that Jesus was trained by Joseph in the art of carpentry and that this is the path that Jesus will follow in his work life.

That is why the townsfolk are so astonished when they hear “their” Jesus speaking so eloquently and with such wisdom and authority on spiritual matters in the synagogue. This was not the Jesus they expected. Jesus was showing them that he was not the regular kid from down the block anymore. His ministry had begun. He had a story to tell of God’s plan and a people to save through his death and resurrection. This was far from the carpenter’s life the community had in mind for him.

But was it? It is no mistake that Jesus was born in a wooden manger crafted by hand to hold straw, and it is no coincidence that Jesus was nailed to a wooden cross, fashioned with two beams. Christ’s connection to wood and carpentry bookend his perfect life on earth for our redemption. So it is no surprise that Christ continues to craft and fashion a life for us that is designed to serve a purpose for him. And it is no wonder that he said he is preparing a place for us in heaven, a room and space for us to dwell in unity with him forever.

So the question, “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” becomes for us not a dismissal of Jesus, but a declaration of hope in the One who building and creating a new thing. What great masterpieces are in store from Christ, our Carpenter!

Human Object Lesson

little child

Recently, I have been working on writing object lessons for each week of the school year which match the readings for the upcoming Sunday. I try to come up with some little trinket or picture to show the children to explain the point I am attempting to get across. Children are visual learners, after all, and are more likely to remember the message being shared if they recall the image they saw.

In one of the readings, I came across these verses:

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest” (Luke 9:46-48).

What strikes me in this scene is that Jesus used the little child as a human object lesson, if you will. He added a visual to his point. He made his lesson real and personal. “You should be like this actual innocent young person here.” Biblical historians note that in Jesus’ day, little children were not regarded as very valuable or important or worthwhile to society. But here Jesus turns that thinking on its head, putting a child front and center in his discussion with his disciples. The lesson then becomes that only the ones who welcome those who are as “out of the loop” as this little child are called greatest in the kingdom of God.

It occurs to me that this teaching of Jesus would not have had the impact that it did were it not for the living, breathing child before them. Jesus continues to teach lessons to all the world through living, breathing you and me. We, too, are Jesus’ human object lessons. And what does he have to teach through us? We stand before the world as examples of sinners, for we have done what is evil in the sight of God. And we stand before the world as real-life illustrations of what it means to be loved and forgiven by Christ through his cross. We are called to live out our response to that grace through words and actions that are loving and caring, hopeful and helpful for all to see.

So think about it. What would you do if Jesus put you front and center before a crowd? It might be scary to consider at first, but in the end we know it is not about us but about what Christ has done through us. We are merely vessels that display his work in human lives. Now that’s a good object lesson to remember.

Empty Nets

fishing net

As we all know, many of the disciples were fishermen, and Scripture reveals that the job was difficult, referring to two specific times when the fishermen ended up with empty nets:

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” (Matthew 5:5).

“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing (John 21:3).

In both instances, you can sense the exasperation. They worked hard. They took the time. They were patient. They followed their training. Yet nothing happened. They came up with not a single thing to show for their efforts.

How often do we experience the pain of “empty nets,” so to speak? We spent hours on a project at home or at work that ultimately did not work out. We followed all the directions on filling out an application for something and then heard no response. We asked someone to join us for church or Bible class, but they never came. Empty nets.

But what these verses in Scripture show us is that we should not let any “empty nets” stop us from moving forward in our lives, especially as Christians. Christ came to the fishermen at their lowest, with empty nets in their hands, and told them to cast out into the water one more time, which they did. The result in both cases was a miraculous catch of fish so abundant that the nets could barely hold the haul.

With Jesus in our lives, we need to remember that “empty nets” are never the end of the story with our Savior. Any disappointment we may experience along the way cannot compare to the overflowing gifts Jesus grants to us in his time. We must always remember that Jesus sees us in our distress and will provide us in the right way with more than we need to carry on. Our work through the hardships only sweetens our moments when we realize that it is Christ alone who fills our empty nets, supplying us with everything necessary to serve and follow him, as the disciples did.

No Longer Elementary

no longer elementary

But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years! Galatians 4:9-10

In these verses, Paul is addressing the fact that the people of Galatia were falling back into following false gods and observing the days and rituals associated with them. He wants to remind them that now that they know the true God or the God who knows them, they need to reverse course and come back to the ways of God, which are not related to the ways of the world.

The ways of the world are weak and worthless and elementary, while the ways of God are strong and certain and deep. We do not live to gain the favor of God, as was done with false gods. But we live to love him in response to what Christ has done for us on the cross. Our observances of the special days of the Church Year are ways of honoring our God, not appeasing him as some sort of requirement, which was the approach regarding false gods.

These verses apply to us in our lives because we are often prone to falling back into following the false gods of our day, things like fortune, fame, popularity, possessions, entertainment and job advancement. These are the elementary, that is, earth-bound, drivers of our lives that we no longer should be slaves to because they are grounded in greed, pride and personal desire. We should instead follow the desires of our God and act according to his will, in ways that are no longer elementary, but divinely inspired, The things of our one true God are peace that the world cannot give, hope that is an anchor for the soul, and grace by which we are saved. Everything else can be turned aside.



But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15

Have you ever been with someone who is wearing perfume and you can still smell the fragrance of that perfume after the person has left the room? That is what we are to be with others in our spreading of the Gospel: a sweet perfume that lingers. Just as perfume can fill the atmosphere of a space, so our words about Christ can permeate the air with the aroma of grace and forgiveness and love.

I think of Mary of Bethany, who anointed the feet of Jesus with expensive ointment and wiped his feet with her hair. “The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume,” we read in Scripture (John 12:3). All those who were gathered in that room were reminded of the act of worship and the preparation for burial that Mary had performed.

What we declare about Jesus and how we worship him can have a lasting impact on those around us, even if we don’t think so at the time. Our words matter and our faith in Jesus has a lingering effect. People remember what Jesus means to us and so many breathe in the scent of Christ’s constant presence in their own lives.

The next time you are witnessing about your faith, think of your words wafting into the air and landing on the people around you. Let the Holy Spirit breathe into you what you are to say and breathe out the blessings of God.