Category Archives: Fruit and Frustration

Detroit

I recently read these two articles:

Detroit: The Death – and Possible Life – of a great City

What Killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones? A nighttime raid. A reality TV crew. A sleeping seven-year-old. What one tragedy can teach us about the unraveling of America’s middle class.

If Bethany’s extended family did not live there, I would have never thought about Detroit. But now, Detroit is on my mental map and I am astounded. I am so for two reasons:

1) I am appalled at how horrible the worst parts of Detroit are. I know that there are good parts, even vibrant portions of inner-city life. But the worst portions are horrible (even St. Louis looks good in comparison). The articles above do a great job in exploring the depths of these situations.

2) There is no PCA church within 45 miles of inner-city Detroit, not to mention the metro area. Here is a great map detailing this (I have heard that the church in Novi, MI recently closed). This does not mean that there is no faithful bible believing witness in that area. But, for our denomination it is embarrassing when in the neighboring Chicago there are around 16 PCA churches. This is not to impugn the motives of the Great Lakes Presbytery; the church plant in Novi is clear evidence that they greatly care. It simply is a continuing need.

We feel called particularly to missions and not church planting. So we are praying that the Lord would raise up someone who cares, and who would be a great fit (especially for an African American brother) for the work of the Lord that is so painfully needed there. Pray with us.

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Thwarted

The Sachs Freewheel I picked up is too wide for my current axle setup in the rear. The 126mm distance between my rear dropouts is the old standard for road bikes.

Now, I can either re-dish my wheel so that it is slightly off center but able to fit the block of gears, or scrap the whole indexing system. ┬áPeople have said that the strength of the wheel decreases when you re-dish it off center, but I wonder how much. I have a Mavic rear wheel, which is relatively new, with metal (aluminium I imagine) spokes and a shimano hub. I just don’t want to lose my whole wheel and really be screwed. I also don’t want to give up the possibility of having an indexed shifting system on that bike (its an 8-speed index, so a normal 7 speed won’t work).

Argh.

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Unsettled on Account of Christ

“We are foolish on account of Christ, but you all are reasonable in Christ; we are weak but you all are strong; you are distinguished, but we are dishonored. Up until now, even the present hour, we are hungering, and are thirsting, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated and are unsettled and while, working, we labor with our own hands, when we are reviled we bless, when we are persecuted we endure, when we are slandered we exhort, we became as the refuse of the world, the scum of all, until now (even now).” I Corinthians 4:10-13

Unsettled – astateo – to be without permanent residence, be unsettled, be homeless… of Paul’s way of life (BDAG)

This has been an encouraging word to translate and read. Paul doesn’t say that he had no house to sleep in. Or that he was constantly moving from town to town, never staying more than a week. Rather, he stayed in Corinth for some time (a year or more), and Ephesus for 3 years. Some places he left quickly, but where he could he did stay. To say that he had no home might have been offensive to the people who gave him housing when he came to town. Rather, Paul is unsettled. He is nomadic, having no ‘home’ in the most significant sense of the word. Paul didn’t seek a hard life, he received it willingly as part of his ministry, “on account of Christ”.

We have a home of our own. But it is difficult to name where ‘home’ is. ‘Home’ has changed several times. And it will likely change again once we finish seminary. This hasn’t been horrible, just…tiresome. Its good to know we have company with Paul (and everyone else who is, or has been, in seminary, or done missionary work). We are very grateful that most of the other items on the list are not true of us. God is gentle to his more fragile servants. But it is good to be reminded that our God has been using people in this way for a long, long time.

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Frustration with Student Failure – Thorns

More than the blistering heat, annoying curriculum (and sometimes unresponsive leaders), sun spiders and other invasive insects (millions on millions of ants), my students failing classes is the most difficult thing to deal with this year. It has gotten to the point now where I grade my best students last so that I won’t be torn apart by my students who consistently get every single problem wrong. That way I can be comforted by my students who care and try hard.

The problem is that of the ones who do poorly, all but one of them is discouraged by it, and tries even less the next time. If none of them cared, (like me in Jr. High), then I would be happy to give them the “F” they so willingly embraced. But as it is, they wish they did well, but don’t. There are a number of reasons for that, such as them not really appliying themselves, or going above and beyond to remedy the situation. They prefer soccer or friends over study…..just like I did.

Yet I am still left discouraged. Why? I am not quite sure. It gets under my skin that my students are failing. I feel as though I have failed. It is my charge to instruct, teach and walk along side these students, and when they fail I take it by implication that I have failed. Bitterness, frustration, and even straight up anger result.

Pastor Kelly (Crosspoint) and Pastor Irwin ( CPC) have both told me that they experience this constantly in the pastorate. After teaching something for 10 years, one of their parishoners will finally get it at some conference, and come back raving about the speaker. That would just be salt in the wound if that were me. The difference for them is that they don’t get to grade their parishoners lives, and the tragedy is immediate and grave when the people of God don’t live as they ought.

My prayer has become one of submission; Lord here are my efforts, I lay them at your feet. Here are my students, I lay them at your feet. Here I am at your feet, wash my efforts with your blood, bless my work for your son’s sake. I look forward to your return, groaning with the rest of creation.