Tuesday, July 29, 2014
He'll leave Bordeaux on 7 August to be a Church Apprentice at Freshbrook Evangelical Church, in Swindon, working with youth, doing the South West Gospel Partnership Training Course, serving in the church and preparing for the future.
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Then off to the hospital to visit a lady from Bergerac who comes down every fortnight at the moment for chemotherapy.
Then off to Gwilym's shop to take him some instant coffee, then a moment of quiet in a bookshop before tramming across the river to the first Conseil d'église that I have attended for a long time.
Tim got it sorted like a boss, with times allocated for each agenda item, and we only overran by about 1/2 hour.
Then off home via Auchan to pick up some essential supplies for the lad.
I took some photos on the way.
|The courtyard of the hospital|
|The hospital chapel|
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
And it's by far the best computer I've ever had.
It's just as fast as the day I first had it.
Its battery life is just as good. I still get around 12 hours.
It still looks like new, too.
I have needed to fuss with applications far less than with PCs.
For word processing I use Pages. Comes with the Mac.
For presentations Keynote is more than adequate. Also comes with it.
I have Sunrise to present my Google Calendar.
Olive Tree Bible software, though I also have Logos loaded.
Skype, of course.
It's just great.
It tells you the route that brought you where you are today.
It warns you of the mistakes and errors that others, wiser than you, made.
It inspires you with stories of heroism shown by people in worse circumstances than you.
And the history of the church is especially God's Story.
Dr Brian Cosby is pastor of Wayside Presbyterian Church in Tennessee, and he has sketched out this little survey of Church History for students.
Here we hit our first snag. British people will think the book is aimed at university students, at kids of 18 - 21. If the book is aimed at university students of age 18 - 21, then I suggest it is aimed a bit low. But high school kids would appreciate the level of Dr Cosby's approach.
The book is the product of a pair of theologically safe hands. You can generally see where the author is coming from in his treatment of the reformation, of the puritan period, of Christianity in the New World, etc. On the other hand the Anabaptists get one sketchy paragraph and the twentieth century is skimmed over very quickly. Also it's very centred on Europe and the USA. We don't get anything about the faith in China or in the Middle East. North Africa disappears after Augustine. For information about the Missionary Movement and the growth of the church in the southern hemisphere the student will need to look elsewhere.
What the book does, however, it does pretty well. I would suggest that rather than it being a history of the church, really, it is a history of the theological roots of the reformed churches today.
There are some clangers due perhaps to sloppy editing - for example I googled "ad fonts" just in case, and got some fascinating information about typefaces, rather than the renaissance return to the sources, ad fontes.
And is it true that the Western Church adopted latin rather than greek because the latin language was not tainted by its use by the Roman persecutors, who spoke greek? I always thought that it reflected the historical use of the languages, greek in the eastern empire following the conquests of Alexander the Great, and latin in the western empire following the conquests of Caesar. Google and Wikipedia didn't help me and after all, what do I know? Gentle reader, can you help?
I enjoyed the book, and it could be useful for kids in their late teens to give them a quick overview of the road that got us where we are. But I would want them to move on to something more substantial and more thorough pretty quickly.
I received a review copy of God's Story free of charge from Cross Focused Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review.
Here's a video promoting the book :
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Some of her friends from Holland were visiting.
They came into the bookshop earlier that day, which was great.
The Dutchies and Daveys evening was spent in the usual European high-jinks, including :
: Making those wristbands out of rubber bands, you know the things...
: Trying to work out how to make a Dutch "r", by vibrating something deep in your throat that I am sure does not exist. Catrin is a natural at this.
: The "Sing a song that has this word in it" challenge. We failed on scissors. (There is a Dutch song about the dentist, would you believe...)
Then this morning, by unhappy coincidence, I discovered that some person or persons unknown in Germany and in Holland has been accessing my Hotmail account.
I have now set up two-step verification and a password SO ENCRYPTED that even I don't know it.
Saturday, July 19, 2014
But météofrance forecast a nasty storm, so they cancelled it.
(no storm came)
Then last night was the first night of the reenactment of the battle of Castillon, which ended the Hundred Years' War and returned Aquitaine to French rule. Also various open air music concerts were planned.
But météofrance forecast a nasty storm, so they cancelled it.
(no storm came)
This time we did have some brief downpours of rain and thunder rumbled a bit. But nothing that would make you batten down the hatches or cancel your stuff.
I hope météofrance doesn't swing the other way, though!
Friday, July 18, 2014
But her camera is a bit... well... she could do better.
So she's been saving up. We said we'd pay half and so on.
So the other day we started looking seriously at what might suit her. We looked at websites and videos done by people who make videos.
Some of them - well they say "An inexpensive set-up" and wave this massive device at you that would cost thousands.
One lady said "I use my iPhone."
One person pointed out that for singing the important thing is to capture the voice well with an external mike, so that set us on a more helpful quest. So off to the Fnac we went to hunt for cameras that take an external mike.
I'd been fancying a Lumix FZ200 for her, really because I'd like one myself, except it's too big so an LX7 would be the best for me, but the lens on the FZ200 is a marvel... Our trip to the Fnac confirmed that it has an external mike socket and we mugged up on microphones, too. We didn't have enough money saved up, but we'd get there...
Then on the way out of the Fnac they gave us a magazine all about photography and cameras and I saw another beast, the Canon Eos M, at a very reasonable price. And it has an external mike socket.
I mugged up on it. It got bad reviews because of its slow autofocus, but they fixed that with a firmware update. I looked on the Fnac website and, yes, it was available at Bordeaux.
AND... there was an offer where if you bought gift vouchers in advance they would add 25% to their value.
Which means getting 25% off.
Then you use the vouchers to buy whatever - in this instance, Catrin's camera.
Consultations on every hand. Catrin was happy. Fnac staff assured me it was right and it would work.
Well I bought the vouchers.
Waited till they were credited to my Fnac card.
Went into Bordeaux having printed off my account details showing the vouchers.
Fretted and prayed all the way - these things rarely work as you think and you often have to rant in the shop... :-(
Saw the same lady as yesterday in the camera department. Thanks !
She remembered me. Thanks again!
She remembered what I wanted to do. Many thanks!
She sorted it out and lo and behold off I walked with the camera at 25% off an already very good price!
I said, "Vous savez, je pensais que ça n'allait pas marcher, mais voilà, sans même râler!" (you know, I didn't think that would work, but there you are, without even having to rant)
She laughed and said, "Ouais, toujours souriante!" (yes, smiling all the way)
Bravo Fnac and bravo lady in the camera department.
Now we need to buy a microphone...
At lunchtime I came out of the nice, cool, stone-built bookshop into the heat of the afternoon sun on the hottest day of the year so far, 38°C.
When it's 38°C in Bordeaux it's a bit like when you check the barbecue to see if it's nice and hot.
The sun beats down at you mercilessly and you need to drink lots of water and seek the shade.
Everyone walks very slowly. Very slowly indeed.
Thankfully there were nice breezes, but still the side facing the sun was getting nicely cooked.
I had an errand to run in town, then home on the nice air-conditioned tram!
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Another thing that you can"t help but notice is the number of Ukrainian families seeking asylum in France.
Youngish parents, one family with 6 little children, all sat in a row in the préfecture. Imagine!
I remember a conversation with one of the church leaders of the congregation where I had preached. He criticised another denomination because they had lost the truth, "gone rotten from the bottom up" because of their independency and democratic church government. "Our system kept the church pure", he said.
I thought, 'You don't get out much or go to your denominational meetings, do you?', but I listened politely, treasured up what he said and pondered it in my heart.
His answer to decline was having the right structure.
Even more years ago I was very keen on a strong independency myself. "Groups of churches go down the Swannee", I would say, "keep pure, keep keen, keep out".
Trouble is that individual churches go down the Swannee, too, in all sorts of ways.
I read stuff now that says, "A confession of faith! Otherwise you'll go down the Swannee."
Or "Proper liturgy" or "simple dependence on the means of grace" or "expository preaching" or "seminary-trained pastors"... well the list goes on.
A robust confession of faith, good Biblical structures, expository preaching, simple dependence on the means of grace, strong, qualified leaders, well-trained pastors, expository preaching,
All these things are very important indeed.
But none of them works apart from the grace of God.
Nothing works, apart from the gracious influences of the Spirit of God.
Only he makes things grow and keeps things alive.
Let's pray, folks.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Sometimes I try and encourage them to go to a hairdresser.
Pat likes to go to a stylist now, but the kids still prefer me to do their hair.
But I was a bit daunted when Catrin said she wanted me to cut her a fringe.
I resisted for a long time.
She found a video on Youtube showing how to do it.
My resistance weakened.
I found another video.
This morning my resistance crumbled.
So she has a fringe. And she looks fabulous.
Sunday, July 13, 2014
In Bordeaux there are the Firemen's Dances tonight from 8pm to, I think, 3am.
Then tomorrow evening the military parade complete with parachutists and alphajets,
followed by fireworks.
In Pessac there is the 14 juillet extravaganza.
From 16h tomorrow the park opposite our house gets turned into a fair from the year 1900.
Everyone is invited to come dressed up. (I'll wear a cap and braces)
There'll be period burger stands and crepe-mongers.
There'll be a méchoui - a spit-roasted lamb stuffed with cous-cous.
There'll be singing and dancing and giant wooden games.
There'll be fireworks at the end of the evening.
Hmm.. Bordeaux or Pessac?
Saturday, July 12, 2014
Then their celebrations continue at the church in Auros at 4, but we're not going to that.
Auros is about 30 mins by car outside Bordeaux.
We were offered a loan of a car, but by then I'd been asked to preach for the Chinese group.
So at 6 I'll have the joy of preaching for the Chinese.
Last time was on the Trinity.
This time will be on Jesus, his person and his work.
You never know.
All went quiet just after 10.
Then "Mum, come here..."
Then all went quiet again.
Then the silence grew deeper and more ominous...
Catrin had passed all her exams, with
a very respectable 15/20 in Science,
14/20 in Geography and History,
but 11/20 in français écrit
and 10/20 in français oral.
That was the first silence.
The deeper and more ominous silence was as she began to hear from her friends.
Some had got 7. Some had got 5.
7 is bad. 5 is the pits.
Some few had done better.
Still, she's accumulated 20 or 21 points towards her bac next year,
though it seems that some of her fellow students are starting with a negative score.
Friday, July 11, 2014
Thursday, July 10, 2014
1) the charming Italian lady in the office whose English was better than her French, which meant I had to correct her spelling a bit.
2) the sheer glory of our friends' national calendar. It is NOT the Islamic calendar. It is another lunar calendar in which we are in the year 1393. This meant that working out the parents' and siblings' dates of birth was an exercise in complicated mental calculations. I KNEW algebra would be useful one day.
3) the application to join the French health scheme, a thick wedge of documents sealed in a plain brown envelope accompanied by colour photocopied instructions to :
1. take bus 15 direction Les Aubiers,
2. alight at Place de l'Europe,
3. find the tall building in the photograph, indicated on the map, then
4. enter, ascend to the second floor then
5. place the plain brown envelope into the hole in the wall pictured in the further photograph.
We actually laughed, but it was not a joke.
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
Now he's married to a super godly girl, and they have a little boy who is growing up fast. They are looking for a church, which is not so easy when you're in a Chinese city of 10 million people. It was an encouragement to me to work with these Chinese lads.
It's essentially the story of Reformed churches in China (Reformed in this context meaning presbyterian) Bruce Baugus is the editor, with different authors for the different chapter, the book is organised into four parts :
1) The Story of Presbyterian Missions in China
2) Presbyterianism in China today
3) Challenges and opportunities in China today
4) Chinese appropriation of the Reformed faith
I don't know of that sounds all that appetising to you. What if I tell you that along the way you'll read discussions of :
how to conduct overseas mission such that strong indigenous churches result,
how to face up to doctrinal shift in ministerial training,
how to pastor in today's connected mega-cities,
the practical implications of covenant theology in church and family life,
ministry in times of social upheaval
as well as a detailed exegesis of Acts 15 ?
It really is a most stimulating book and I wholeheartedly recommend it. If you care about China, if you care about mission or if you care about the church, this book is for you.
I received the book free of charge from Cross-Focused Media in return for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.
Monday, July 07, 2014
So 7:30 found me haring off to the bus stop for the 7:41 bleary-eyed bus to Bordeaux.
8:25 we were in place. 8:30 the doors opened and we were in line.
Then sat waiting in the reception area.
I fingered the tricolour sitting proudly in the corner by my seat.
Its bold colours were taken up by the reception area -
bright blue doors
bright red desk (this was a bit of an eyesore, frankly).
But it did get the message across. This was not Kansas, either, Toto.
A gentleman came in and called out the name of our friends.
We followed him by a circuitous path to an office where he entered all their details on computer.
Voilà. By 10am I was back home, making and answering phone calls
and sending out an email with details of the meeting
for the little team that is taking over from next week.
Can you imagine it. A trip to the OFII and you don't end up carrying home a bottle!
Sunday, July 06, 2014
No problem - we'll use the amazing, magic, electric barbecue.
Plug it in. It heats up.
POP. The electricity trips.
Unplug it. It still trips.
OK... Let's get the Davey nose on the job.
In the kitchen there's that familiar smell of hot wires...
Unplug the kettle, the coffee machine and the oven.
Turn on the electrics. Fine.
Turn on the barbecue. Fine.
"I think it's the kettle". That's bad news, eh?
So we put the kettle to one side and plug everything back in.
An hour later.
POP. The electricity trips.
Well it isn't the kettle. Get the Davey nose on the job again.
Oh dear. It's the oven...
Still - at least it's not the kettle! Let's get some tea made.
UPDATE : it tripped again, so it isn't the over either. Perhaps it's the coffee machine.
We'll leave the lot unplugged overnight and try it in the morning.
UPDATE : finally tracked it down to the extension lead the kettle and oven were plugged into. :-D
Friday, July 04, 2014
Well the boy done good. He got an average of almost 70%, buoyed up by 100% in his three English exams, but sustained by good marks in Geography, Commerce etc.
He ends up with a Bac Pro Commerce Admis avec Mention Assez Bien.
Bravo, fiston. Tomorrow he starts his summer job at smart togs in Bordeaux.
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
The lady at the OFII was charming. She said, "You'll have to come back next week."
A bit of discussion uncovered the reason why. All the relevant staff were at Paris for meetings.
So there we are. Rendez-vous next Monday, 8h30 at the OFII.