Shattered Dreams…

Everything seemed to be looking up, all the pieces seemed to be in place, when suddenly all their hopes and dreams came crashing down around their ears. Their dream had become a nightmare. Dead. Crucified. Buried. Gone.

Had they misread the signs? Were all the prophesies wrong? What had happened? How could everything have gone to hell so quickly, so abruptly? Why???

Who can’t relate to this story? We have all been there, done that, and gotten the T-shirt. We have all been in times and situations which seemed to be so full of hope and promise that we were dreaming of a rosy future, when our dreams turned into nightmares and our hopes were extinguished.

A highly-anticipated pregnancy turns into a miscarriage, or worse yet, the baby is born with horrible birth-defects and only lives a few hours. A cancer surgery, which was hoped to be life-saving, turns into a closed-up incision with the verdict of “The cancer has spread too far, so it was impossible to get it all.“. A man goes in for open-heart surgery which will give him a new lease on life but dies on the table before surgery even begins. A person with cancer is given six months to live and dies less than six weeks later. Grieving parents, a grieving widow, and grieving family and friends are left behind to pick up the pieces of their dream-shattered lives.

A new relationship seems to be going well, but ends abruptly a few weeks later. “Til death do us part” turns into “Til death or disconvenience do us part“. “Happily-ever-after” turns into “Nightmare on Rainbow Chase Place“. What happened? How could everything that seemed to be going so right abruptly go so wrong? Why???

Were we all wrong to get our hopes and dreams up? Another question might be “Were we hoping for all the wrong things?“. Is there something better in store for us that we could never dream of or anticipate? Did the “good” get sacrificed to make way for the “best“?

Two thousand years ago, two men trudged along a dusty road, disappointed that their dreams and hopes had died, talking about what had brought those dreams and hopes to naught. They had witnessed their dream, their hope of a new and better future, being crucified on a Roman cross. Maybe they had even helped prepare His body for burial. The only thing that they knew for certain was that Jesus of Nazareth was dead, buried, and with His death and burial was buried their dreams and hopes. Grieving family and friends were left behind to pick up the pieces of their dream-shattered lives. Luke recorded this scene for us in detail.

On the Road to Emmaus
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” He asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him; but we had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find His body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said He was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged Him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So He went in to stay with them.

When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when He broke the bread. (Luke 24:13-35)

They had heard Jesus teach, they had witnessed His miracles, they had been part of the adoring crowd as He rode into Jerusalem, but they were totally-baffled by His crucifixion. We certainly can’t blame them for being despondent, because had He become their King, Jerusalem would have become His capitol and they would be in training as Ambassadors. They were dreaming of an earthly-kingdom, not realizing that Jesus was establishing a heavenly-kingdom.

Their despondency turned into amazement and jubilation when their risen Savior broke bread with them, and just a few weeks later, they were given their new assignments and received the Holy Spirit to enable them to carry them out. He WAS their King and they became His Ambassadors, but in a very-different way. The “good” had been displaced by the “BEST“.

Final thoughts…
We DO lose loved-ones to death and are left to pick up the pieces of our dream-shattered lives, but did their death spare them future or further suffering? Relationships DO go awry, but sometimes the opportunities we gain outweigh the loss of that relationship. That is certainly the case with my most recent debacle, because I have gained ministry-opportunities which wouldn’t have been possible had everything gone as “planned“. I am NOT saying that everything has turned-out peachy, but in spite of the pain, it has turned out well. One dream has been replaced by a far-better dream, so stay tuned.

In Christ,
Steve

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Music In The Air…

I have long enjoyed the sound of wind-chimes, but when I started shopping for a set, I couldn’t afford any that were worth taking home, and any that I could afford weren’t worth taking home. Whether it was junky materials, poor design, or poor construction, there were a lot of wind-chimes that shouldn’t even have seen the light of day, let alone be out for sale. There was only one real solution, build my own.

First set…
My wife got me a pattern from her dad, who had built a set a few years before. They were time-consuming to build, but the results were definitely worth the effort. Those were good-sounding chimes. Unfortunately, when my wife “split-the-sheets” with me(filed for divorce), she took the sheets and the wind-chimes, and everything else of value that I didn’t already have before we got married.

More chimes…
A couple of years ago, I got the hankering for another set of wind-chimes. I have a sheltered place to hang them where there is often a nice breeze. After doing some research on the internet, I settled on building an eight-chime set in A-mixolidian. If you aren’t familiar with A-mixolidian, it is A-major with a flattened seventh. It is also the scale that the Great Highland Bagpipe plays, and since I use to be a piper, I have a particular affinity to that scale. My wind-chimes are pitched with A-440 as the lowest note and A-880 as the highest note.

Materials…
I have always enjoyed the beauty of Oak, particularly Red Oak, so that was my choice for all the wood parts, the top, clapper and sail. For the chime tubes, steel tubing is the least expensive material that can still produce a nice sound. EMT, electrical-conduit, is the least expensive and most readily-available of the steel tubing, as it is available at most any home center, including Lowes and Home Depot. When I get ready to build a set, I have to shop both Lowes and Home Depot to see which has the best quality tubing on hand because they change suppliers frequently. I look for the thinnest-wall tubing with the smoothest interior, because tubing with a thick wall and rough interior produces a very dull sound, while tubing with a thin wall and smooth interior produces a pleasing and resonant sound. Wheatland tubing produces a nice, ringing sound, while Silverline tubing produces a dull, almost-lifeless sound. I have made one set with 1″ tubing and three sets with 3/4″ tubing.

Fabrication…
I wish I had access to a wood-shop but I don’t, so everything is hand-cut and hand-finished. I do have a belt-sander and an orbital-sander which help speed-up the finishing-process. The top is made from 1″ X 8″ stock, cut into an octagon (eight-sided) shape. The clapper and sail are made from 1/4″ X 4″ stock. The clapper is round and the sail is a rounded-corner diamond-shape.

I cut the chime-tubes with a tubing-cutter. I bought a Greenlee conduit-cutter, but it doesn’t work as well as my 50+ year-old Ridgid tubing-cutter. I was pleasantly-surprised that I can still get cutter-wheels for the old Ridgid. The Ridgid belonged to my dad, who was a plumber when I was growing up, so it has had a LOT of hard use in its day.

Dimensions…
I started with the dimensions for the chime-tubes that I got from the internet, but those dimensions produced a slightly-lower pitch than I wanted, so I had to do some experimenting. If I wasn’t picky about the pitches, which I am, the “stock” dimensions would have just made for a slightly off-pitch set of chimes. Fortunately Audacity is a free utility that will analyze the sound from anything and display the sound-spectrum, so I just cut each tube and checked the pitch until I was happy with the pitches. While the pitches aren’t exact, they are about as close as I can get with available materials and tools. When I got the dimensions to my liking, I made a chart to work from for subsequent sets. The longest tube is about 22″ long, and the shortest tubes is about 15″ long, when made using 3/4″ tubing.

Another important factor in how wind-chimes sound is how and where the tubes are hung. Good-sounding wind-chimes always have the tubes hung one-fifth of the length of the tube from the top. As a practical illustration, if a tube is 20″ long, the hang-point will be 4″ down from the top of the tube. I use a “through-the-tube” hanging system with the hang-string passing through a small tube inserted through each tube. That tube, made from a Bic pen ink-cartridge, isolates the string from any sharp edges in the chime-tube. It is slightly-longer that the width of the chime-tube and Super-glued in place.

Finishing…
After all the materials have been cut, drilled and sanded or deburred, they have to be finished. The wood parts are stained with a dark-red stain and finished with Minwax Helmsman Spar satin polyurethane. The chime-tubes are painted with whatever colors I have chosen for that set. Everything gets at least three coats of finish. All the sets I have made so-far have been red, white and blue.

Assembly…
A hand-full of parts is not a set of wind-chimes until everything is assembled. Thirteen screw-eyes screwed into the top piece provide places for the tube-suspension strings and the chime-suspension cables. I use a four-point harness to hang the whole wind-chime assembly, which is fabricated from 1/16″ steel cable, threaded through screw-eyes on the bottom and a key-ring on the top. The small loops at each end of the hang-cables are secured with aluminum crimp-ferrules.

The chime-tubes, clapper and sail are hung using 45-pound test Meatmaster braided Dacron fishing line. It is both strong and durable, and is easy to tie. The chime-tubes are hung so that the mid-point of each tube is the same distance from the top, and the clapper is hung so that it strikes each chime-tube slightly-below that mid-point. The sail is hung about six to eight inches below the bottom of the longest tube.

Time…
Yes, all these steps take time, but I have plenty of that. Finishing the parts is the most time-consuming step because each part has to dry adequately between coats of finish. If I really stayed after it, AND the weather cooperated, I could make a set of wind-chimes in a week. My last set, which I finished just a few days ago, was started several months ago.

Where do they go?
I gave my first set to my mom and they are on her front deck. I have the second set (1″), and I sold the third set. I sent the last set to a special friend to help him celebrate his retirement and his 65th birthday. I have another set to build, a set to give to the nursing-home where my dad spent the last three years of his life…a memorial.

Parting thoughts…
I hope you have enjoyed this peak inside my other hobby – building windchimes. As image-bearers of God our Creator, we are called to be creative also. While I can’t speak wind-chimes into existence, I can use existing materials to fabricate and assemble them, thus building sets of wind-chimes which are uniquely my own. God has provided the air (wind) and I give music to it.

God bless!
Steve

Missing Love…

Have you ever missed an opportunity to love someone? Have you ever been so busy pointing out someone’s faults that you forgot to love them? Do you ever judge someone else so that you feel better about yourself? If we are honest, we have all missed opportunities to love someone because we are too self-centered to lay aside our judgemental-attitude long enough to do what we are supposed to do, love them. How many relationships have we destroyed by being judgemental?

I wish I could say that this is rare among Christians, but it isn’t. I had a sad experience recently which has hammered this point home to me. I was at a Bible-study, and since our usual leader was out of the country on a missions trip, his parents joined us to share what God is doing in their lives. They have been missionaries with Wyckliff Bible Translators for many years, and God has done some phenominal things through them and in their lives. When I got ready to leave, I told them I am in Christian nudist missions, and his response was “You can’t be a Christian and a nudist.”.

Someone else in the group had already told them about me, so they had already prejudged me before they even met me. What could have been a beautiful friendship between fellow-laborers in God’s kingdom was destroyed in an instant. Judgement eclipsed love…

That brings us to 1st Corinthians 13, the beautiful “Love-chapter”
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it his not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13)

Wisdom…
He who answers a matter before he hears it,
It is folly and shame to him. (Proverbs 18:13)

A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city,
And contentions are like the bars of a castle. (Proverbs 18:19)

He who restrains his words has knowledge, And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent. (Proverbs 17:27-28)

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” (Abraham Lincoln)

Final thoughts…
As I have thought about this for the last several days, I am not going to make any further analysis of this situation and these Scriptures. Instead, I am going to heed the words of Proverbs and the wisdom of the old rail-splitter and hold my piece. With David, I will simply say:

“May the Lord be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.” (1 Samuel 24:15)

In Christ,
Steve

Good Books

Our lives can be enriched by reading, and reading good books goes a long way towards a richer, healthier and fuller life. These are some of the books in my library:

Christianity:
New Geneva Study Bible

Commentary – Matthew Henry

Grace – Max Lucado
Traveling Light – Max Lucado
God Came Near – Max Lucado
Resurrection Morning – Max Lucado

Meeting At The River – Rev. David L. Hatton, RN

The Search For Peace – Robert S. McGee
The Search For Significance – Robert S. McGee

Walking His Trail – Steve & Ginny Saint

Finding God – Dr. Larry Crabb
Inside Out – Dr. Larry Crabb

Loving God – Charles Colson
Kingdoms In Conflict – Charles Colson

Every Thought Captive – Richard L. Pratt Jr.

The Man God Uses – Henry & Tom Blackaby

Ordering Your Private World – Gordon MacDonald

Lord, Change Me! – Evelyn Christenson

Your God Is Too Small – J. B. Philips

Marriage and sexuality:
The God Of Sex: How Spirituality Defines Your Sexuality – Dr. Peter Jones

The Act of Marriage: The Beauty of Sexual Love – Dr. Tim & Beverly LaHaye

Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage – Dr. Kevin Leman

A Celebration of Sex – Dr. Douglas Rosenau

The Marriage Builder – Dr. Larry Crabb

Making Love Last Forever – Gary Smalley

Love Life For Every Married Couple – Ed Wheat, M.D. & Gloria Okes Perkins

Real Moments For Lovers – Barbara De Angelis Ph.D

It Was Better in the Backseat – Sherry Lehman, M.A.

Relationships and recovery:
Men In Mid-Life Crisis – Jim Conway

The Art of Understanding Yourself – Cecil Osborne

Rebuilding – Dr. Bruce Fisher

The Journey from Abandonment to Healing – Susan Anderson
Black Swan – Susan Anderson

Sexual addiction:
An Affair of the Mind – Laurie Hall

Don’t Call It Love – Patrick Carnes, Ph.D.
Out Of The Shadows – Patrick Carnes, Ph.D.
Contrary To Love – Patrick Carnes, Ph.D.

Reference:
Private Parts: A Doctor’s Guide To The Male Anatomy – Yosh Taguchi, M.D. (urologist)

Out In The Open: The Complete Male Pelvis – R. Louis Schultz, Ph.D.