Lessons I Learned From A True Man of Steel

I live in Metropolis, IL which is the official home of Superman and everyday I drive past a giant statue of the man of steel but growing up I had the opportunity to actually learn life lessons from a true man of steel — my dad, Lawrence “Bucky” Buchanan.  A couple of days ago I got a reminder of just how much my dad taught me when I was surfing the internet looking for some pictures of the steel mill where he worked.  During the search I came across a video on YouTube entitled “High Speed Steel, 1969” and to my surprise at the 5:57 and then the 6:07 mark of the movie caught sight of my dad.  Click here to check out this interesting movie about the Basic Oxygen Plant at Weirton Steel.

The image of my dad in a movie that I didn’t even know existed was a thrill but even more touching BOP 1for me was what he was doing in the movie.  If you click on the above link and watch the movie you will see him with a group of other steel workers drawing a sample of steel out of the blast furnace so that they can send it to the lab.  (My dad is on the far right side bending forward to look into the furnace)  This is a crucial moment in the steel making process because if the test doesn’t come “back on spec” they will not be able to “pour the heat.”  If these terms aren’t familiar you really need to watch the film.


Nearly every day of my life growing up, I heard my dad talk about this moment.  As a “melter” he loved to make steel and from those who worked with him I’ve heard that he was exceptionally good at it.  In fact, at his funeral one of his co-workers shared with my brother Dick that at one time dad had an unparalleled string of “heats” that all met “specs.”  The exact number escapes me now but when my brother asked if this was good, dad’s co-worker simply replied, “that is better than good, it is nearly impossible.”  Up until this past Sunday I had never actually seen my dad at work in the steel mill.  To see him bent over in front of that mighty furnace, doing what I had heard him describe a million times was one of the greatest gifts that I’ve ever received.

Like every other steel-worker, the mill was more than just a place where my dad worked.  Like many of the men who worked at Weirton Steel, my dad spent the majority of his adult life inside the confines of the mill.  Like all “melters” Dad took great pride in the steel he helped to produce and when he came home his thoughts were often still on the mill.  I can remember many nights waiting up for him to come home from afternoon shift and listening to him talk about the “heat” that they had just finished pouring.  If the “caster” or the “de-gasser” was broke down, dad wouldn’t get home on time and we would hear about every step of what it took to fix it.  So it should be no surprise that nearly every life lesson my dad taught me had something to do with the process of making steel.

Gazing at the image of my dad on a computer screen was an amazing experience.  That film was made in 1969, the same year that I was born and it captures a part of my dad’s life that I had never actually gotten to see before.  Over the past couple of days, as I’ve been thinking about dad and the lessons that he taught me, I decided to write this series of posts to share with you the lessons that I’ve learned from a true man of steel.  This series is dedicated to the memory of dad but I also hope that it will be a tribute to all the men and women who worked at Weirton Steel and mills just like it across the country.

The story of the steel industry in America is one of both triumphant and tragedy. The steel made at Weirton Steel and other mills like it built the cars, buildings and bridges that built America.  During World War II, they made artillery shells and upped their production capacity to contribute to the war effort.  These mills made the steel that built America but were then betrayed by their own government who refused to protect them from the flood of cheap foreign imports.  These once proud mills now sit idle, abandoned and empty, serving only as reminders of the ingenuity and hard work that built the American dream.

Over the next several days I will be posting some of the lessons that dad taught my from the steel-mill.  If you grew up with family members who worked in the mills, I hope that you will take a few moments to share some of your thoughts in the comments section.

The Significance of Jesus’ Return

You will remember that this entire discourse on the Second coming was begun in Matthew 24:3 when Jesus’ disciples asked about the timing of the second coming.  Throughout these two


Second Coming Jesus 16


chapters, Matthew 24 and 25, Jesus has been emphasizing that the timing of His return is not the most important issue.  Far more important than understanding when Jesus will return is the need to understand the significance of His return and to be adequately prepared for when it occurs.  In this post I want to show you




1. At His Return Jesus Will Be Revealed in All of His Glory (v.31)  The word “glory” refers to Jesus splendor, might, and wort




In the OT there are 25 Hebrews words that are translated by this single Greek word “doxa.”  Briefly these words can be used to refer to:


  • Wealth = Genesis 45:13 Joseph tells his brothers to tell their father about all of his splendor – referring to the wealth and material blessings he has acquired in Egypt.
  • Armies = Sometimes a Kings armies were referred to as his glory, for instance in Isaiah 8:7 the Bible talks about the King of Assyria in “all of his glory.”Armies represented power in those days.So in this instance, the word glory is used to refer to Assyria’s army and its enormous military power.
  • Population = Another measure of a King’s success is the size of his country.  Therefore, Proverbs 14:28 “In a multitude of people is the glory of the King…”


All of these idea and more are captured in the use of the word glory here in Matthew 25.  But for our purposes we need to see what the Bible has to say about the glory of Jesus.  What we find in the Bible is that the glory of Christ is displayed in every phase of his ministry


Pre-incarnation –  Jesus shared the full glory of God.


  • John 17:5 “And now Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”
  • 2 Corinthians 8:9 ” For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. “


Incarnation– after Jesus came to earth He continued to reveal the glory of God.


  • John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. “
  • The primary ways that Jesus accomplished was by:
  • By Declaring the truth about God – John 1:18 “ No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. “
  • By Accomplishing the work that God the Father sent Him to do- John 17:4-5 “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. “
  • By His death on the cross- Philippians 2:5-8 ” Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”


After Ascension– in Jesus exalted state in heaven He continues to glorify God


  • John 14:12-14 “  “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. “


Return– at His return Jesus will be revealed in all of His glory. 


  • Daniel 7:13-14 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.  And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”
  • That which had been veiled in mystery and the incarnation in the past, will be fully revealed and made visible someday in the future




2.  At His Return Jesus Will Sort Everyone Into Two Groups (v.32-33) 


The Scope of this judgement




  All of the nations are going to be gathered before Him


  • The judgement of Christ is universal in its scope: 2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. “
  • The question is not will I stand before God, but when will I stand before God
  • The even bigger question is not ” will I stand before God,” but “what will happen when I do?”




The decisiveness of this judgement v.32b. “and he will separate people one from another.”


  • The word “separate” here carries with it the idea of sorting and separating one thing from another.
  • In this case the “separation” involves the separating of all of the people who make up the “nations” or ethic groups of the world into two categories: Sheep – representing the save or Goats – representing the unsaved
  • There is no confusion here — sheep and goats are clearly different animals and one is not mistaken for another. This points us to the fact that Jesus is decisive in making a distinction between the peoples of the earth.
  • This is decisive:- You are either saved or your lost.  You have either been made righteous through faith in the gospel or you have not.  You are either in or you are out! There is no third option, no third category, no alternate plan— the judgement seat of Christ is decisive and clear.
  • The only question is, which one are you?  But before you make a choice, let’s look at what happens to each group.




3. At His Return Jesus Will Judge the Unrighteous and Reward the Righteous (v. 33-46) 




Once again, notice the two groups that are talked about here:




v.34-40 tells us about the Sheep, or the righteous.


  • These are the ones who have turned away from their sin and trusted Christ as their savior.
  • As a result they have been declared righteous by God and their actions reflect the condition of their hearts.
    • When they see someone in need (thirsty, naked, sick, or lonely) they reach out with love and compassion to minister.
    • Their actions do not make them right with God but instead flow out of a life that has been redeemed by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
  • Notice that this group is rewarded:
    • v.33 Seated at the right hand of God
    • v.34 Given the Kingdom as an inheritance
      • notice the wording here — he doesn’t just give a place in the Kingdom, or a piece of the Kingdom, HE GIVES US THE KINGDOM.
      • This is what Paul means when he refers to us a “co-heirs” with Christ.
      • Everything that is encompassed by the concept of the Kingdom is given to you as an inheritance when Jesus comes back.


v.41-46 Jesus turns His attention to those on His left hand — the goats.


  • Everyone who has ever lived but not turned from sin and trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior is included in this group.
    • Their sin has never been dealt with and their actions demonstrate their unrighteousness:
    • They see the same suffering and problems in the world but don’t do anything about it.
    • Core of the problem is that they are selfish and shortsighted.
  • When Jesus returns the unrighteous will be punished. (v.41-46)
    • Separated from God
    • – v.41 “Depart from me”
      • This is the worst thing that can possibly happen to a person because we are created in the Image of God.
      • We were created for the purpose of knowing God and enjoying His presence.
      • Being cast out of God’s presence for eternity is the worst possible scenario for anyone.
      • It represents the loss of all hope, all purpose, all meaning,
    • Punished for Eternity – v.41b and v.46
      • The unrighteous will be treated to the same fate as the devil and his angels.
      • The BIble is clear that Hell is a real place and that people who go there will:
        • Be conscious
        • Be punished
        • Be hopeless