Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Makes you think, doesn't it... Made Tim think. http://www.challies.com/archives/002397.php
I tell you what I think. I don't think the world - either the physical world or the world of men - will end by freezing, roasting or exploding. I think it will end when Jesus the King returns and brings it to an end.
What do you think?
One the one hand we have James Cameron. He's an excellent movie maker, but if you want to know the truth about the Titanic disaster nobody ever suggests you watch Leonardo diCaprio's antics and take them seriously.
On the other hand we have the scholars and academics who say that the names on the ossuary are common, the place is wrong and the inscription can be read to say other things anyway, it is so bad.
Like the daVinci Code, it raises the whole issue of what our society believes and where it gets its information from.
I like TV and film, but they are entertainment media. That colours and controls the way they present things and what they choose to present.
It's a bit like the way the media present evangelicals. Of course they will present the people who do crazy stuff, writhing and falling and screaming and so on. Five people going bananas is far more viewable than a thousand people listening calmly to someone explain something. Of course, the sad thing is that so many of our newspapers and magazines have sold out to entertainment, too (and so many evangelicals.....)
To find out the truth about the Titanic disaster you need to read the eyewitness accounts and the analysis of careful historians. And whaddayaknow ! You can do just that for the truth about Jesus in the gospels.
When you want to know the truth, you don't go to the movies. Sorry James.
We went to the big 20 screen cinema in the heart of town because while our splendid local cinema (to which we have never been!) has the film, we wanted to watch Ben Stiller in English.
VOSTF - we noticed that the couple behind us were deaf - they spoke to each other in sign language - and the subtitles are great for them.
The film was super. Good old fashioned rubbish with a bit of derring-do and a subplot of old enemies being reconciled by fighting a common peril, and of no-good Dad makes good in the end.
One stupid little detail irritated me. Do Museums of Natural History really have dioramas of Roman cities and the Wild West? Perhaps they do in the states. Anyway, compared with the rest of the stuff in the film, that was easy to believe...
The queues outside the cinema were huge! I expect some people were queuing for Odette Toulemonde, a clever title which sounds like in debt to everyone. If the film's as good as the title it must be good.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
He came, he dug, he dumped, he levelled, he spread, he rollered and now it is all looking level and nice and pink.
There isn't actually enough gravel to cover all the driveway. He reckons that before the houses in front were built there was plenty, and that the heavy vehicles have probably spread it all over greater Pessac. However he also reckons that the gravel isn't vital - it just makes it look prettier and cleaner, and to dump a lorryload of gravel over the top would cost 600 euros, so I said we would consider it once the houses are finished. And we will. And I know what our answer will be. Maybe the neighbour behind will want it done. I am not bothered. We have gravel at the end of the driveway by the house anyway. And I quite like the pink.
I was walking round a village, just a typical village, bumping into church folk, hugging and saying a tearful farewell.
Then I found myself wandering round a ship where I bumped into John, a good friend with whom I worked at Honeywell 1980 - 1982, and we said our fond farewells.
It's a strange thing, the human mind, eh?
I woke up in the bath tearfully hugging Catrin's teddy-bear.
Monday, February 26, 2007
It's a collection of short texts, each one either two or three pages long, and each is an observation or a reflection of something quite particular. e.g. receiving a text message, watching a lady walking the dog, a town square on a warm summer's evening, etc.
Every one a gem, and the texts are short enough to make it a good idea for your first book in French. So far all very harmless, too.
A celebration of the little things in life that make you smile.
Here's a piece by him, in English, about Monet's garden at Giverny.
2 Co 4:6 Car Dieu qui a dit : La lumière brillera du sein des ténèbres ! a brillé dans nos coeurs pour faire resplendir la connaissance de la gloire de Dieu sur la face de Christ.
2 Co 4:6 Oherwydd y Duw a ddywedodd, "Llewyrched goleuni o'r tywyllwch", a lewyrchodd yn ein calonnau i roi i ni oleuni'r wybodaeth am ogoniant Duw yn wyneb Iesu Grist.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
I think part of the problem is Welsh, where you conjugate the verb with "who" and not with "me". But also I think part of the problem is English, where formal English does one thing and informal another. Consider:
It is I who am going this afternoon - correct I think, but hopelessly formal !
It is me who's going this afternoon - incorrect, but far more common.
How to fix it in French? I am simply going to avoid saying "C'est moi/lui/elle/eux" etc. After all, it's a construction I don't use much in English. I should be able to avoid it in French, and then one day maybe I can reintroduce it and get it right.
Seigneur, par la clarté de ton amour,
Chasse l'obscurité qui nous entoure.
Jésus, toi la lumière qui nous éclaires,
Vérité qui nous guides et qui nous libères,
Brille sur moi, brille sur moi.
OK. Should it be Toi qui nous éclaires or la lumière qui nous éclaire ? Either we drop the s or we introduce commas. Same thing with the next line.
However, when we discussed this we decided that the whole translation is a bit... Anyway. We are not going to change it.
To illustrate the difference this makes imagine a hymn that went :
"Father-like he tend and spare us,
Well our feeble frame he know,
in his hands he gently bear us,
rescue us from all our foes..."
It would be wrong. It would sound wrong. It would cry out to be corrected.
This morning it's the PowerPoint (as usual, we project our hymns) but also I am leading the service. This is a good thing because even in English I am not the warmest, most jovial personality you'd ever meet°, and I find it much easier to preach, when you have a script or at least an outline to follow and something (hopefully) of great import to say. So this morning I can concentrate on trying to convey that sense of quiet, happy, reverent, confident expectation that is so important. Hmmm. (Help!)
This afternoon we are taking the preacher up to Blaye, which will be good. Last time we talked all the way which is not a good idea with me because I cannot drive and talk at the same time. I was quite relieved by the recent findings that suggested that driving and talking on the phone, even with a handsfree, is unsafe. I always knew it. For me driving and talking to my passengers is unsafe!
Anyway it was good to get to know our friend a little better, and it will be good to be in Blaye. In fact on 11 March I am preaching there myself. However, it does mean that I will miss the prayer meeting at 6pm at the student centre.
° comments in the past have ranged from the kindly "you're an old sobersides" to the less kindly "have you had your sense of humour surgically removed?" If so they took my memory with it - which would explain a lot!
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
To receive the food of Your Holy Word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness,
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes for Your glory.
Teach us, Lord, full obedience,
Holy reverence, true humility;
Test our thoughts and our attitudes
In the radiance of Your purity.
Cause our faith to rise; cause our eyes to see
Your majestic love and authority.
Words of pow'r that can never fail—
Let their truth prevail over unbelief.
Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds;
Help us grasp the heights of Your plans for us—
Truths unchanged from the dawn of time
That will echo down through eternity.
And by grace we'll stand on Your promises,
And by faith we'll walk as You walk with us.
Speak, O Lord, till Your church is built
And the earth is filled with Your glory.
Surely John Masefield owes a huge amount to Gray.
Incidentally you can sing any 4-line strophe iambic pentameter poem to "Woodlands" - "Tell out my soul"... Try it!
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds:
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such as, wandering near her secret bower,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude Forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed,
The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share,
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke;
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the Poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th' inevitable hour:-
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye Proud, impute to these the fault
If Memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of Death?
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre:
But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Rich with the spoils of time, did ne'er unroll;
Chill Penury repress'd their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood,
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood.
Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their history in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbad: nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined;
Forbad to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.
Yet e'en these bones from insult to protect
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd Muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply:
And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.
For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
Nor cast one longing lingering look behind?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
E'en from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires.
For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead,
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate, --
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away,
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn;
'There at the foot of yonder nodding beech
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high.
His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.
'Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Muttering his wayward fancies he would rove;
Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,
Or crazed with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.
'One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill,
Along the heath, and near his favourite tree;
Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;
'The next with dirges due in sad array
Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne,-
Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay
Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.'
- The Epitaph
Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth,
And Melacholy marked him for her own.
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heaven did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to Misery all he had, a tear,
He gained from Heaven ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.
No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode
(There they alike in trembling hope repose),
The bosom of his Father and his God.
By Thomas Gray (1716-71).
So today we will begin by chatting over the week - how their studies are going, etc.
Then we'll read together from Matthew chapter 6 in the NIV. We'll discuss the words and structures used and people may want to discuss the content of the passage.
Then we'll listen to something from the BBC Learning English website. Their Weekender programme has things about the right length, and I am torn between an article about "affluenza" and one about learning languages as an adult.
Then there's some time that hasn't been fully planned where we can discuss any grammar or pronunciation issues that have arisen, or practice with tongue-twisters, or whatever.
Friday, February 23, 2007
I knew of him through Joy's blog, http://karagraphy.com/ , which pointed me to the Bixby Family Blog ( http://rbixbyfam.blogspot.com/ ), and to the sites of Bob and Tim Bixby who pastor churches in the USA ( http://www.wordcentered.org/welcome.html , http://weblog.wordcentered.org/ , http://www.clevelandparkbible.org/ ) . The lads fall in the reformed baptist end of the Christian spectrum (Bob's church is fond of the 1689 confession).
He knew of me because apparently if you google "church Pessac" you get the Daveys. Hmmm.
Anyway, yesterday we spent a couple of hours together. He showed me some of the materials he uses in French. I always find that invaluable. Their home is above the church rooms in a very fine rented house near the university campus in an area of Pessac known as Compostelle.
It was a good time. Pray for the churches of Bordeaux.
Mr Bixby said "You've been how long in France ? And you are doing what ?" He said that he generally tells people that it'll take four years before they can do much at all except converse one on one. Well, he really helped me to feel encouraged at the progress so far and to feel that it is worth while battling on.
I told him that I always preach from full notes in French and very seldom depart from my notes. Like that I can check the grammar and the genders, and I can eliminate most anglicisms.
Of course, the Thursday evening Bible Study is another matter. There it's the old Socratic questions and discussion format. (If Socrates were alive today he'd be ... well he'd be very old for a start..) However that does mean you can't have full notes.
And that you say coronation instead of couronnement, and entrônement, for which, apparently, no word exists - so I claim the royale right to invent new words in my bravitude, and proclaim the entrônement of Jésus.
Incidentally, one of the students is going to be a dentist, and couronnement led to an interesting little post-study discussion of whether one could say to one's dentist "Pouvez-vous me couronner, s'il vous plait". Perhaps "Pouvez-vous me couronner le dent, s'il vous plait" may work ?
Ah well, you win some, you lose some - but it shows how far we've come ..... and how far we have yet to go !
We are so thankful to God for his help and enabling. We are so thankful to God for a situation where we need to get working. And we are so thankful to God for gracious students who help me with my French while I help them with the Bible.
And we laugh a lot.
Anyway Pat watched it with the kids and at one point Gwilym got quite upset. It was the part of the programme where the children started school and had their struggled with the language and culture and everything.
It's good to have that behind us, and the children have our utter admiration and gratitude for their courage and determination.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
I had long pondered the advisability of getting someone to pass a glance over our gleaming fangs¤ so now's our chance.
And theirs !
* - gnashers - a familiar word for teeth
§ - gnasherama - this word does not exist in English, but is coined# here to mean a dentist
¤ - fangs - this word usually means the teeth of animals
# - coined - to make up a word
I especially like the way they have thought about the blog and its purpose and gone straight for that. Cracking ! I haven't checked, but 25700 is probably the postal code for their town.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
I use iTunes. It's easy and free and takes no time to manage. It also does nearly everything I want it to for the church sermon recordings. And no messing!
Podcasts are great because you can get such a variety of useful and helpful things. Here are some of the ones I am subscribed to :
White Horse Inn,
Renewing your Mind,
Desiring God Sermon Video,
Christ Church Deeside Sermon Podcast,
Capitol Hill Baptist Church,
10th Presbyterian Church,
All Things Considered,
In our Time,
Ten O Clock News,
From our own correspondent,
De Quoi je me Mail,
Loïc Le Meur,
Papous dans la Tête,
Obviously that's a lot, and the problem is that in busy times I find them building up, so for news casts I only ever keep one month's worth, for documentaries only the ones that are relevant, interesting and short, and for Christian podcasts I only keep the best and most useful. All these criteria I usually judge before listening to the item !
Covenant Seminary have compounded my problem by making lots and lots of their classes available as podcasts. You can sit in Bryan Chappell, David Calhoun and Jerram Barrs' classes and have .pdf files of their handouts.
How useful is that?
We also had a voucher for 27 euros, thanks to a 'buy one, get one free by means of a voucher' scheme that Géant ran the other day, when we had bought two of everything we normally buy one of.
Thus it was that I emerged from the supermarket with the gizmo itself, a big pack of cheese (smells a bit), some bacon, some belly pork, some courgettes, some cauliflower, etc. etc. and paid 9 euros - about 6 quid in total.
Coincidentally we had invited the students round for the evening, it being half term for us and them. Thus it was that we did the first go at raclette with 8 little pans and twelve people. Three of them don't like cheese so they ate other stuff while we happily smothered our spuds with the hot gooey gloop.
The best thing about it is that it is very easy. Boil the spuds. Open the packets. Bung it in / on. The pans are non-stick, so at the moment they're OK. The worst thing is the stone that goes on top because they warn you that if you put it in water when you wash it then next time you use it it will explode. Oh well.
Today some street evangelism just before lunch, then the prayer meeting this evening.
(For all the fun of collecting the points and getting your money-off token, and the "6 bottles, of which one free", and "50% extra" that the supermarkets do, I'd gladly swap it for straightforward, understandable and realistic prices...)
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
France is a country that has known occupation in the relatively recent past. The government has been moved from Paris to Bordeaux, I think three times : once during the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, once in 1914, and once at the 1940 invasion. I often walk past the house where deGaulle spent the night before flying from Mérignac to London to continue the struggle from there.
The second BBC article shows that things are not always as cut and dried as they appear. Certainly the French word l'Etat has a very different feel from the English The State. L'Etat is glorious, strong and honourable. The State is sinister, scary and tolerated almost as a necessary evil.
You can watch a BBC video about her TV programme last night (which I didn't watch!)
Monday, February 19, 2007
Together with various other translations.
Gwilym is helping me with the flatpack wardrobe. He's really doing well at all those awful repetitive tasks, like tacking on the backboard etc..
I have a wardrobe to build. In fact I have three, but the first one took me nearly all day, though that did include putting the framework together twice; once wrong, once right.
I have a family at home to spend a little time with. All are now out of bed and some French cartoon is on the TV.
But I began the day by reading Gary Brady's blog. He's an old college friend who was also the best man at our wedding (well, second-best man to be precise, but let's not reopen old wounds...)
His prolific blog www.darbygray.blogspot.com provided this great link http://www.bibleplan.org/
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Some years ago I decided that you could memorise hymns pretty easily by reading each line quickly and looking up from your book to sing it. After a couple of goes you have got the hymn in your head (and I like it because it is a nice easy lazy way to learn something. Anything easy and mechanical - that's me!)
This is perhaps my favourite hymn. Abbots Leigh is a good strong tune, and I once sang it to audition to join a choir - I thought the arpeggios and octave leaps were a good idea.
Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God!
He, whose word cannot be broken,
Formed thee for his own abode:
On the rock of ages founded,
What can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation's walls surrounded
Thou may'st smile at all thy foes.
See! the streams of living waters
Springing from eternal love;
Well supply thy sons and daughters,
And all fear of want remove:
Who can faint while such a river
Ever flows their thirst to assuage?
Grace, which like the LORD, the giver,
Never fails from age to age.
Round each habitation hovering
See the cloud and fire appear!
For a glory and a covering,
Showing that the LORD is near:
Thus deriving from their banner
Light by night and shade by day;
Safe they feed upon the Manna
Which he gives them when they pray.
Blest inhabitants of Zion ,
Washed in the Redeemer's blood!
Jesus, whom their souls rely on,
Makes them kings and priests to GOD:
'Tis his love his people raises
Over self to reign as kings
And as priests, his solemn praises
Each for a thank-offering brings.
Saviour, if of Zion 's city
I through grace a member am;
Let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in thy name
Fading is the worldling's pleasure,
All his boasted pomp and show;
Solid joys and lasting treasure,
None but Zion 's children know.
Incidentally, it is pretty obvious that, like Stephen and the apostles (Paul and Peter etc.), John Newton identified the church and Christians today with Israel and the Israelites in the desert wanderings between Egypt and Canaan. I think everyone can see that?
How still this quiet cornfield is to-night!
By an intenser glow the evening falls,
Bringing, not darkness, but a deeper light;
Among the stooks a partridge covey calls.
The windows glitter on the distant hill;
Beyond the hedge the sheep-bells in the fold
Stumble on sudden music and are still;
The forlorn pinewoods droop above the wold.
An endless quiet valley reaches out
Past the blue hills into the evening sky;
Over the stubble, cawing, goes a rout
Of rooks from harvest, flagging as they fly.
So beautiful it is, I never saw
So great a beauty on these English fields,
Touched by the twilight's coming into awe,
Ripe to the soul and rich with summer's yields.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
These homes, this valley spread below me here,
The rooks, the tilted stacks, the beasts in pen,
Have been the heartfelt things, past-speaking dear
To unknown generations of dead men,
Who, century after century, held these farms,
And, looking out to watch the changing sky,
Heard, as we hear, the rumours and alarms
Of war at hand and danger pressing nigh.
And knew, as we know, that the message meant
The breaking off of ties, the loss of friends,
Death, like a miser getting in his rent,
And no new stones laid where the trackway ends.
The harvest not yet won, the empty bin,
The friendly horses taken from the stalls,
The fallow on the hill not yet brought in,
The cracks unplastered in the leaking walls.
Yet heard the news, and went discouraged home,
And brooded by the fire with heavy mind,
With such dumb loving of the Berkshire loam
As breaks the dumb hearts of the English kind,
Then sadly rose and left the well-loved Downs,
And so by ship to sea, and knew no more
The fields of home, the byres, the market towns,
Nor the dear outline of the English shore,
But knew the misery of the soaking trench,
The freezing in the rigging, the despair
In the revolting second of the wrench
When the blind soul is flung upon the air,
And died (uncouthly, most) in foreign lands
For some idea but dimly understood
Of an English city never built by hands
Which love of England prompted and made good.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
If there be any life beyond the grave,
It must be near the men and things we love,
Some power of quick suggestion how to save,
Touching the living soul as from above.
An influence from the Earth from those dead hearts
So passionate once, so deep, so truly kind,
That in the living child the spirit starts,
Feeling companioned still, not left behind.
Surely above these fields a spirit broods
A sense of many watchers muttering near
Of the lone Downland with the forlorn woods
Loved to the death, inestimably dear.
A muttering from beyond the veils of Death
From long-dead men, to whom this quiet scene
Came among blinding tears with the last breath,
The dying soldier's vision of his queen.
All the unspoken worship of those lives
Spent in forgotten wars at other calls
Glimmers upon these fields where evening drives
Beauty like breath, so gently darkness falls.
Darkness that makes the meadows holier still,
The elm-trees sadden in the hedge, a sigh
Moves in the beech-clump on the haunted hill,
The rising planets deepen in the sky,
And silence broods like spirit on the brae,
A glimmering moon begins, the moonlight runs
Over the grasses of the ancient way
Rutted this morning by the passing guns.
What I like about this poem:
Iambic pentameter (Hurrah - you can't beat iambic pentameter, can you)
The sense of timeless twilight
The awareness of a long history of wars fought far, far away
The refusal to give an empty comfort - instead that brooding, heavy melancholy.
On Saturday I did the moment spi (moment spirituel) on dessine-moi un mouton, starting from John 10:27, linking to 2 Tim 3 and James 1 - on hearing the shepherd and following the shepherd.
This morning I am preaching on dessine-moi mon berger, also known as Psalm 23.
We get our boy back after the service.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
I was doing the moment spi this morning, so we did dessine-moi un mouton from John 10:27 - about hearing the shepherd and following the shepherd, lurching into 2 Tim 3 and into James 1.
They had worksheets and they split into groups and it seemed to me to go OK.
Then down to the centre for the English Class.
Friday, February 16, 2007
I got on the tram more or less when I should have, but there was an intervention on the part of the pumpers (the firemen did something somewhere) and stopped all the trams - so I was a couple of minutes late.
But not as late (thankfully) as the man in charge.
They'd be crazy to put a child with us - but you never know.
Then a mad dash up to the church where the young people's camp-in was beginning.
A bit of last-minute sorting out, a spot of running here and there, the odd phone call ... and the weekend got underway.
The Bible can celebrate sex because of the security of the marriage covenant.
Our secular culture apparently sees sex as dangerous and urges the use of "protection", and does nobody ask why ?
Well, some people do, it seems...
Thursday, February 15, 2007
It's a simple blocked drain. The one that carries the washing-up water.
Well, I say "a simple blocked drain", but it appears that our drainage system is rather complex, with plastic ventilators in strange places and a great big water outlet just by our front window, handy if anyone ever wanted to put in a pool...
We poked all manner of stuff down it, but it cleared not. Perhaps soda ? Perhaps one of those flexible thingies ?
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
There's a lot of talk here about l'humour anglais, which is seen as very funny and extremely odd. I think this video qualifies perfectly as l'humour anglais.
BBC Prime Europe shows the best in British television as a showcase to the world.
Now you have to guess which programmes. I'll post a comment in a while to say what they show.. (Cheats will find that BBC Prime Europe has a website)
We got them from IKEA and though they are not the classiest or strongest wordrobes you ever saw they're pretty big and they were really cheap. We even had them delivered, and I was so glad when I saw the delivery men struggling into the house with them.
And would you believe it - no screws or parts missing ! So far..
Later we walked to the student centre down the tramline and suddenly we both stopped, transfixed, rooted to the spot outside this boulangerie.
After spending too long looking in the window we entered to find that one of the proprietors is partly Scots. As usual, the part with the kilt. What are they like?
Mind you, what am I like, taking a photo of the bakers! The guy seemed quite pleased with our admiration, though.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
54%, in fact. Why do you think this is?
My guess is that it is due to the falling price of laptops and the growth of wi-fi internet connections.
Certainly the students all seem to have laptops and to lug them round almost everywhere.
If one sign of a great theologian is his ability to sieze hold of the imagination of his readers witha single line, to disturb them, to fascinate them, to make them think, then Forsyth ranks near the top. Here's a few to start the week:
`None but the great theologies of redemption are adequate to the great tragedies of the world.'
`An undogmatic Christ is the advertisement of a dying faith.'
`The peace of God is not a glassy calm but a mighty confidence.'
`The seat of revelation is in the Cross, and not in the heart.'
`Look to the Gospel, and it will see to the experience.'
And a particular favourite of mine: `Half gospels have no dignity and no future. Like the famous mule, they have neither pride of ancestry nor hope of posterity.'
Every one a cracker.
And speaking of crackers, I would be very grateful if someone could explain what name Ligon is short for..
Monday, February 12, 2007
The whole garden now is just one big sea of mud.
It's like a perpetual national eisteddfod ! Amazing.
And the rain comes down in all directions - horizontally, whatever.
This morning it was coming down solid in little lumps. Our chimney has a sort of roof on it, but some of the hailstones jerked sideways at just the right moment and made it down the chimney anyway.
And today was the day the EDF men came to move our electricity wire. There they were, up their ladders, while the wind whistled round and round their boilersuits and the rain soaked them through.
One of the chaps says "normalement à Bordeaux il pleut tout le temps".
I think you can work that one out.
Reminds me of Swansea.
They say if you can't see the tower of the Brangwyn Hall then it's raining.
If you can see the tower then it's about to rain.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
(When I was a student, Lyndsay was a travelling secretary with UCCF.)
I am about to listen to my MP3 of Psalm 139. I will also read a bit from John, the call of Nathanael. I'll listen to the MP3 really to iron out pronunciation and to ensure liaisons are in the right place.
I was talking to people in the English class yesterday about the moment when you move from thinking about rules to when your ear tells you what's right (for example for the sound of walked, spotted, answered). My ear is getting there. Slowly.
However, I was told recently that my pronunciation is getting worse.
So I have increased the amount of French radio and TV I listen to to try and help that. And this morning I will try to take my time and enunciate everything very clearly.
Ah well. I've done all I can.
I have this lurking fear that I have learned too quickly and started ministry too soon, that if I had spent longer agonising over everything then all would be better. But that's me. I am always like that. And in the end you do what God gives you to do, and you go through the doors he opens for you, and you trust him to work out his plan.
Psalm 139, really!
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Pat is very brave indeed. She has 7 girls coming for the party - and no adult help! I am at the student centre.
She says, "Gwilym will help, and the girls won't mind someone who makes a moose of her French..."
See her blog later for a report on how things went, and maybe some photos. Who knows?
Friday, February 09, 2007
By the way - been trying to get hold of my plumber friend all week! I'll get him this weekend I am sure.
Meanwhile it has rained SO MUCH in Bordeaux that the whole garden is one big swamp now. I think we might just have badly draining soil...
Oh well - there's plenty of other jobs for him to do here...
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
The following are examples of launch, guide and summary questions:
Launch: What observations did Nicodemus make about Jesus in verse two?
Guide: How did Jesus respond to these observations?
Summarise: What can we conclude from this dialogue about our human abilities to understand spiritual matters?
The questions on the book of John in the Appendix are mostly launch questions. You will find that as you actually get into the discussion of a passage you will be able to improvise most of the guide and summary questions.
Evangelism for our generation, Jim Petersen (what long sentences!)
HERE ARE THE RULES:
1. Grab the book closest to you.
2. Open to page 123; go down to the fourth sentence.
3. Post the text of the following three sentences.
4. Name the author and book title.
5. Tag three people to do the same.
Consider yourself tagged....
He's got a point, hasn't he. In fact he's got ten.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Please pray for me as I try and establish :
1) who I contact about it
2) if it's a leak, whether our house insurance will cover it
3) whether it's the responsibility of the water company anyway up until the house (or just to the boundary of the garden)
We have a secret weapon - a chap in another church who used to be a plumber and who just loves fixing things. Maybe I should ring him first... He's expecting a call from me anyway.
This lunchtime the Pessac lads meet up for the first time with Graeme Goldsworthy's book.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
1) the guy was preaching from Jesus' words in John 10:27 - 30. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one.
His big point was that despite the seemingly feeble and ephemeral methods we use, such as words, preaching, explanations, etc, Jesus works that way and his people respond. And no sheep will fail to follow because of language barriers, or inadequate explanations, or whatever.
2) A chap passing through visiting one of the team here is serving with a mission in the Philippines. Someone asked him how long he had been there, and he said "Three years". That's twice as long as we have been here (and a bit more), yet soon we will have been here for three years. And how much will our French have improved, and how much more useful in the work will we be then? Three years, eh!
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Last night I couldn't sleep very well. One or two little things bothering me just now - so I turned my mind to reflecting on the exciting times I've lived in.
For example I became a Christian in 1978. At that time the rediscovery of the local church was in full swing. It was great! In the 50s and the 60s when you became a Christian it was just you, God and Billy. And Billy quickly left town. So the important thing was your quiet time. It was you and God. Guidance was individual. You went to church, sure, but the people there often thought you were a real freak because you believed the things you read in the Bible. Amazing! Then in the 1970s the local church moved right to the heart of our thinking. Churches seceded from their denominations. New churches were begun. Mission became about church planting. Eldership was reestablished and a plurality was essential. (There were a lot of mistakes along the way, of course.) Now the important thing was to be in a good church, a fellowship where you would be fed and nurtured. I think that's probably more Biblical, don't you?
Another exciting development has been to see a new awareness of God's work in the world, the universal church! In the 1950s China closed to missions, and the state took control of the church. Ha! When the bamboo curtain lifted it was simply astonishing to see how Jesus had kept his promise and continued building his church in China. Don't be dazzled, though. In China's humungous cities (7 million people in one city! That's two Walesfuls all squashed into Swansea!) the church is still utterly invisible, but she's there and she's growing. Same thing for so many countries all over the world. How can anyone maintain a pessimistic attitude to the future of the world? Beats me! It takes real faith to be a pessimist.
Of course, another exciting development has been the growth of the biblical theology movements. When you pick up the Bible you only have to read the first few chapters of Genesis and the last few chapters of Revelation to realise that this is no collection of religious jottings spread over thousands of years - it is one book with one theme unified by the work of God's Spirit in all those who wrote.
But how to define that theme? How to draw the big picture? I see two biblical theology movements doing the rounds at present. They are not unrelated, but they do come from different backgrounds and they represent two slightly different views.
The first comes from Moore College, Proclamation Trust, etc. and tends to express the theme of the Bible in terms of God's people, in God's place, under God's King. This is a shockingly brief expression of the theme, but it comes basically from "The King, the Snake and the Promise", which is a really laudable attempt to explain the big picture of the Bible to children. Coming from the United Kingdom and Australia, this approach tends to emphasise the importance of the rule of God's King. Interesting, eh? I have a slight reservation sometimes in that I don't just relate to Jesus as my King, and rule is not the only thing a Biblical King had to do. He had to care for his people, guard, and protect, and provide for them, and those words don't immediately spring to mind when you say "rule". Though obedience is really important, it is not the same thing as faith - faith includes more than just doing what someone says. (A bit like my reservations over the slogan "Saved to serve". It's not that it's not true. It's just not enough.)
The second comes mostly nowadays from the US, and has its roots in historic presbyterianism, therefore in Switzerland, France and Scotland - Covenant Theology. Covenant theology finds its unifying theme in the big promises God makes to his people, expressed either in one or two great overarching covenants - the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. (Some people deny the existence of the covenant of works.) Christ is seen as the mediator of the covenant, and my joy as a Christian is rooted in the certainty of God's promise. I have a slight reservation in that the important thing is not really the covenant, but the God who made the promise. After all, lots of people make promises, but there's only certain people whose promises I rely on! It's a bit like when we sing about "Amazing grace" or "Great providence of heaven" - it's not out of order to do it, but really our faith isn't in grace or in providence but in Jesus Christ, the God of grace and providence. (And "Amazing grace" can be loved and enjoyed as a pop song with no thought of Jesus at all... both interesting and tragic. Nobody has yet done the same thing for "Great providence of heaven". Where's those bagpipes?)
I think we are looking at "work in progress", and I love it. Sometime someone will do some work to draw together these two strands of Biblical Theology and develop a strong, warm, Christocentric Biblical theology. After all, he is the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. (John 1:45).
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Cracking. Thanks, Dickie, for drawing my attention to it.
Paul saw Thessalonica as a radiating center for the message in Macedonia and Achaia. Oh for Bordeaux to become a radiating centre for the message in Aquitaine and beyond.
Did Israel fail in her mission? If so, what are we doing here? Or could it be that despite many and repeated failures on Israel's part, God's plan succeeded and Israel succeeded in her mission, too!
The snow that fell a week ago is still lying on the roofs of the houses and in shaded parts of the gardens and streets.
By the way, you know that the Telegraph, the Times and the BBC, among many other newspapers , including French ones, send out their headlines by email each morning?
But it gets so confusing:
British tax year: April to April, French tax year follows the calendar year.
French tax system, you declare the income of your household. British system is individual taxation.
British system, I can offset ministerial expenses against my income tax. French system, there's a "lower threshold" for expenses and we don't reach it.
What really got me was that there didn't seem to be a spot to say that this income was taxable in France rather than Britain. Mind you, I had the same thing with the French declaration - there I had to declare my income in Britain and tell them how much tax I paid.
Very confusing for me.
I just hope I got it all right. If this turns into the "Reformed Imprisoned Inadvertent Tax Evader Blog", then you'll know I made a boo boo! le Davey de Clink.