Showing posts from June, 2008

Ben Thomas, mediamegastar, AT LAST !

I cry laughing every time I see this. My mate Ben from Flint was a reporter on a children's news programme on Welsh TV and was doing a piece on rollerskating staff in the huge new Tesco in Cardiff. Diolch yn fawr iawn, Ben. Ardderchog !

Janine Jansen The Lark Ascending ( 1-2 )

This is just lovely. Close your eyes, hold your breath and listen.

Fingers WHERE ?

Some French expressions just make me laugh. To say that something is really easy one can say les doigts dans le nez It beats easy-peasy coughy-sneezy any day.

You probably need to warn your wife first

To illustrate that faith involves connaissance, conviction et confiance, I took a chair and pretended not to know what it was and got the kids to tell me, then to advise me what to do with it and to persuade me that they were right and that it would take my weight. Eventually I sat on it. Pat meanwhile was suspecting dementia and wondering who she should call. Here's something : How much connaissance (knowledge) does it take to come to faith ? Enough to be convinced. How much conviction does it take to come to faith ? Enough to entrust oneself (confiance).

A bit on podcasts from the BBC

1) "From our own correspondent". This is simply a must. 2) "In our time" with Melvyn Bragg. Excellent.

Well done les Griffin !

For further information see Liz Griffin's blog, but les Davey offer their hearty congratulations to les Griffin on their examination success. Liz - 65 % at the Alliance Française Ben - 15.5 / 20 at the DEFLE, with specially high marks for assistance and assiduité. 1° next year ! then - 70 % at the Alliance Française

2375 euros !

I thought I'd show you the price in our local supermarket of a bottle of Petrus Pomerol red. 2375€, that's the price.

I say ! Blog's a bit quiet, what !

Yes I know. It's a bit busy over the next few days. Here's Thursday to Sunday for this week: Thurs eve : Student Bible Study Fri eve : Groupe Rive Gauche (and simultaneously the Soirée de Jeux de Société at student centre) Sat aft : English class Sun morn : Groupe de lycéens (and simultaneously the culte en anglais) Sun aft : preach en français I much prefer times like this though I do get a bit absent-minded and incommunicative ! The "simultaneous" things are being ably handled by Ben Griffin.

Student Bible Study - Luke 18 : 9 - 14

Nice study last night to finish the year, on the parable of the pharisee and the tax-collector. The word collabo is a strong word even for the younger generation.

A nice Aquitaine pattern of summer weather

We've settled into a nice summer pattern. Basically day time the sun roasts you - you get into the mid 30s. Then at night time we have storms. For us it's quite nice, though you have to get into the habit of managing the ventilation of the house. You open all the windows in the morning to let in the cool morning air. Then you close the shutters as the sun starts to shine. For some people it's a problem. The plentiful rain is keeping the drainage ditches full, and the warmth is providing great conditions for the reprodution of ... mosquitos. Big, juicy, fierce ones. We are pretty high up in Pessac, so we don't have drainage ditches and the puddles in the garden are normally gone before the day ends.

Chez le dentiste II

Hah ! I chipped a tooth on Saturday. Just in time, Laura. I am sure it's just coincidence...

A happy busy Sunday

We were 12, I think, for the culte en anglais , and Ben preached from Ephesians 1:15 -> on how to pray for each other like the apostle Paul. Afterwards we ate on the patio and it was a good time of fellowship and discussion. As I sat in the front row under the watchful gaze of the Grommit stuffed toy on the shelf I reflected on how careful I am to shut all the windows before we start and how one week I must leave the windows open and wander down the driveway to find out how loud our singing really is. For the culte en français we were in Matthew 11: 7 - 19, where Sammy preached on the uniqueness of John the Baptist. The church is sailing through choppy waters just now - just a few weeks before we quit the conference centre. Sammy saw a place for sale on Friday, but it wasn't for us. Our numbers are a little down at the moment - we miss some of our students and the exam season takes its toll.

"A place for us to meet"

When we sang the hymn "Create in us, O Lord, a holy fire", I always used to stumble at the line "A place for us to meet...". After all, I was singing it in Wales, land of the closed chapel. There is no shortage of places to meet in Wales. And where you can't get a church building then you can easily hire a community hall. Then I started to get France Mission's prayer news. One feature struck me : all these churches in France struggling to find somewhere to meet. It can't be that hard can it ? Two conversations from this Sunday. Firstly with the pastor of the Malagasy Lutheran Church that shares our room (they use it am, we pm). "Have you found anywhere for after the time when the centre closes ? No ? We haven't either. We look and look but nothing." The second conversation gave an indication of how local politics can mess it up, too. A church in our region was meeting in a rather unsuitable building (a kind of prefab, built to last a coupl

La fête de la musique

Well poor Pat spent today in the car ferrying family members hither and yon : Catrin to troupe de scoutes. Oh - they're not there yet. Gwilym to répé de saxos. Catrin back to troupe de scoutes. They're there now. Alan to tram stop. Gwilym from répé de saxo - a brief respite, then Gwilym to fête d'anniversaire. Go to Catrin's fête de la troupe de scoutes. Gwilym from fête d'anniversaire. Catrin from fête de la troupe de scoutes. Gwilym and Catrin to Centre Ville de Pessac for Gwilym's concert de saxos. As for me my day was quite calm in comparison. It started with preparation for the English Class, then a quick scuttle into town to hear an ensemble de cuivres at the Cour Mably. I arrived as they were packing their instruments away, but I got another chance to look round the Cour Mably, which would be a wonderful venue for a Carol Service. It's a cloistered convent with a fairly good meeting room that belongs now to the city. We need to get this association so

Classique !

Classic !

This weekend

Today poor Pat is driving all day - Gwilym to saxo practice, Catrin to scouts, etc. etc. I have the English class and two orders of service to sort out - an emergency one for the French service (I'm substitute for the scheduled guy who can't do it) and then for the service in English, which I am also leading. Ben's preaching, then the PowerPoint for the French service. We produce leaflets for the English one. For the English class I have four students at varying degrees of proficiency, but all are great to have along and are good contacts. Next week being the last class of the year we may do something special involving scones if people are still around. It's a quiet weekend. It's la fête de la musique , and Gwilym is playing in an ensemble de saxos late tonight at Pessac Centre. I haven't told his teacher yet, but he wants to give up the saxo and rejoin his football club. However, the music school is now offering electric guitar so he's going to sign up for

Hay fever

It's definitely changing. This year I have not taken any anti-histamines at all. I get a bit of sneezing first thing in the morning. I am aware that dust thrown up by the road when driving and the general dust in town is irritating my asthma, but not so that I am having "attacks". And that's all.

Chez le dentiste

Jolly useful ! Thanks Laura !

Gordon Cheng ponders slippery slopes and the authority of the Bible Maybe that first step onto the slope is the decisive one. A small step for a man, it seems at the time, but it turns out to be a giant leap for all mankind. hmm... We are seeing now not just an attack on the truth and the authority of the Bible, but also on its clarity - the perspicuity of Scripture. The attack is phrased something like this : "OK these passages exist, and they are doubtless true and authoritative, but the problem is that we aren't at all sure what they say or what they mean. So we'll go with our culture because the Word of God, living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, is just impossible to understand at this point." Bon. When one says that he has made that big decisive step. A small step, it seems at the time, but a giant leap it is really, to abandon the clear word of Scripture for the changing norm of the shifting sands of culture.

From Embers to a Flame - and Highland Theological College

I mentioned in these august pages ( ! ) some time ago the book by Harry Reeder called 'From Embers to a Flame' about Church revitalisation. Highland Theological College are running a three day conference at Kirkintilloch from 27 - 29 August with Harry Reeder. If you are doing a DMin with Highland /RTS then the conference counts towards yo ur modules.

I am on the hunt for cheap Bibles in English

They have to be in modern standard English - they're for the English classes. If anyone knows a good place to look then do please say !

Funny how things come together

I was talking with someone the other day about how when we are working hard at evangelism so many of our worries, squabbles and preoccupations seem so unimportant that they are forgotten. It was true in the Christian Union so long ago. It is true in churches. Then this morning in Donald MacLeod's "A faith to live by", the chapter on the covenant, I read this: it is a remarkable and solemn thing that the familiar words of the Great Commission in Matthew 28 are cast in the form of an ancient covenant. There is a preamble, "All authority is given to me in heaven and on earth". There is a stipulation, 'Go, teach all the nations." And there is a promise, "I am with you always." What are we being told here ? That the presence of God is covenantal: "I am with you as you go and because you go." If we divorce the promise from the stipulation, there is no presence. The preaching of the Word, the evangelising of the nations, church extension, o

Fête de la musique

The fête de la musique is a really big deal here. This article gives you a bit of background as well as describing the event in one of its local manifestations.

Oh well it's time to change (ii)

I got an email from my mobile phone company, TEN. I ought to explain that I have been on this brilliant contract where for 14 euros a month I get up to 1 hour of calls / up to 120 text messages, plus unlimited internet access, MSN and something else that I can't remember what it is and I have never used. The only problem is that I have an aging phone with a small screen that makes internet access pretty pointless really. And aging eyes ! The one time when it would be useful (checking bus times) it's not much good. I fancied changing phone but I am tied in to this contract till December. Or rather I was. They are stopping my contract. TEN were bought up by Orange and so all the old TEN people have to move across to TEN by Orange or go elsewhere. Since the cheapest TEN by Orange is 40 euros a month I will go elsewhere. Probably to Orange, strangely enough. So I tried to phone them yesterday and got the "All our operators are busy. Please sling your hook." message. This

Oh well, it's time to change

Pat saw the dentist on Monday. He gave her a quotation for what he was going to do and advised her to send it to her mutuelle (health insurance) to ensure they'd cough up. So I went to the office in Pessac. The lady was very helpful and explained that there are two things you can do : 1) stick with the dentist you normally go to and take the chance that he charges more than usual, pay him then claim back whatever the insurance will give you. 2) go to a dentist on their approved list where you only have to pay whatever the health insurance does not cover - all the rest is done automatically. There's one of their dentists within a walk of our house whereas the dentist Pat has been seeing is where we used to live in Villenave. She's minded to switch.

Qu'est-ce que la philosophie ?

Today our sixth-formers are sitting their Bac Philo. The newspapers this morning have handy hints on how to do well, including "It's too late now to revise - except perhaps for learning the definitions of key terms like liberty, work, etc." Meanwhile one teacher has come up with a winning formula - he raps his philo course and has produced an album, philosong, so the kids can learn things effortlessly.

Sunday evening reflections

As water to the thirsty, as beauty to the eyes, as strength that follows weakness, as truth instead of lies, as songtime, and springtime, and summertime to be, so is my Lord, my living Lord, so is my Lord to me. Like calm instead of clamour, like peace that follows pain, like meeting after parting, like sunshine after rain, like moonlight and starlight and sunlight on the sea, so is my Lord, my living Lord, so is my Lord to me. As sleep that follows fever, as gold instead of grey, as freedom after bondage, as sunshine to the day, as home to the traveller, and all he longs to see, so is my Lord, my living Lord, so is my Lord to me. Timothy Dudley-Smith OK, it's not "A debtor to mercy alone", but it does express well the sheer refreshment and satisfaction of faith in Christ. Last night was an unusual experience. Daniel, Samy Foucachon's nephew, ex of Lyon but now living in Moscow, Idaho, married his beloved Lydia. And the marriage was webcast. Daniel and I have never m

A quiet weekend

This weekend we are meeting with the Eglise Libre in the morning which means there's no Service in English, no preparation of order of service, no projection of hymns to do. Nothing except try to ensure people know how to get there and get food ready for eating together afterwards. Today I'm at the student centre and we have the English Class. Gwilym has a rehearsal this morning for the ensemble de saxos at the fête de la musique next week, then he has youth group this afternoon. Because there's no Service in English tomorrow we will try to get the anglophones together this evening and eat together. One of the anglophones is a doctor from India who is in Bordeaux on an Erasmus scheme and will shortly leave for Rome. I asked where in India she's from, because we have friends who have strong links with Delhi, who worked in Maharastra province and speak Marati. She said that she was from the North East, and that her church at home is Welsh Presbyterian. ding-a-ling-a-ling

Claudio Monteverdi - Vespers 1610 - Duo serafim

I'm sure that I have posted this to the blog before but I do it again wholeheartedly simply for its beauty. The text is below. Claudio Monteverdi: Vespro della Beata Vergine (1610). Concerto: Duo Seraphim. (Tribus vocibus) Duo Seraphim clarnabant alter ad alterum: Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Plena est omnis terra gloria eius. Tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in coelo: Pater, Verbum et Spiritus Sanctus. Et hi tres unum sunt. Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Plena est omnis terra gloria eius. Concerto: Duo Seraphim. (For three voices) The two seraphims cried unto each other: "Holy is the Lord of Hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory." There are three that bear witness in Heaven: the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. "Holy is the Lord God of Hosts. The whole earth is full of his glory".

Jerusalem the Golden - Charles Ives - UCLA Wind Ensemble

JERUSALEM the golden, with milk and honey blest, beneath thy contemplation sink heart and voice oppressed: I know not, O I know not what joys await us there, what radiancy of glory, what bliss beyond compare. They stand, those halls of Zion, all jubilant with song, and bright with many an angel, and all the martyr throng; the Prince is ever in them; the daylight is serene; the pastures of the blessèd are decked in glorious sheen. There is the throne of David; and there, from care released, the shout of them that triumph, the song of them that feast; and they, who with their Leader have conquered in the fight, for ever and for ever are clad in robes of white. O sweet and blessèd country, the home of God’s elect! O sweet and blessèd country that eager hearts expect! Jesus, in mercy bring us to that dear land of rest, who art, with God the Father and Spirit, ever blest! Bernard of Cluny, 12th cent.; tr. by John Mason Neale, 1818-66

Readers write ..... "English ?"

Hi Alan Great to hear all the latest news... But one thing confuses me. Why are you starting services in English? Unless I have missed something, I did not realise that there was a large English-speaking community in Bordeaux. Are these English people, or people from elsewhere who use English as a lowest-common-denominator currency? Enlighten me, do... Every blessing Hello Reader ! We have both. Firstly, since Eleanor of Aquitaine married Edward the -3 in the year ought-dot and inadvertently started the 100 years war, England and Bordeaux have had immensely strong trade links. The Bordelais fought for the English against the French during said war. Then modern times have seen two influxes - people passing through with their work and people coming to retire after their working life is over. The former often Americans. The latter almost always Brits. Last but by no means least - the overseas students who come to study in France with not a word of French but with basic

Broken minds

I'm reading 'Broken minds' by Steve and Robyn Bloem at the moment. It's a book about depression that blends testimony and analysis, theological reflection and medical description. It comes highly recommended by such men as John Rawlinson of Banner (a good friend to so many) and published by Kregel. Good pedigree then. It's a somewhat controversial book, mainly because mental illness and depression is so controversial, especially in the USA where there are so many competing and conflicting models and opinions on the subject and where analysis, therapy and so on seems so strong in the culture. I've had the book for quite a while but I've been spurred into reading it by the death of an old friend in North Wales. I am about a third of the way through. I'm just entering the section where they talk about the different treatments. If you have read the book what are your thoughts ?

Faites le plein de poids lourds

Tuesday on the ring road motorway I noticed that there was a sign telling lorries not to take the A63 to Spain. This morning I found out why. The Spanish lorry drivers, protesting at the price of diesel, have blocked the border into Spain and something like 3000 heavy lorries are stuck on the roads of Aquitaine waiting to get into Spain to deliver their goods and / or collect their loads of tomatoes. Meanwhile our car is making an effort to combat rising fuel prices. We usually get about 800 km per tank of diesel, but at the moment we are getting anything between 850 and 900. (Yes, I know it's the warmer weather but it's nice to think of the car doing its bit to help.)

White Horse Inn and Assumed Evangelicalism

I have recommended it before but I have no hesitation in doing so again. The White Horse Inn podcast is the one I stick with. Recently they made a reference to this article I am pretty sure I have talked about this before, too, but it remains topical, vital and as urgent as ever.

In heavenly love abiding

Preached on Eph 1:3-14 in the English service on Sunday. Yesterday I was pondering over it again and this hymn came to mind : IN heavenly love abiding, no change my heart shall fear; and safe is such confiding, for nothing changes here: the storm may roar without me, my heart may low be laid; but God is round about me, and can I be dismayed? Wherever He may guide me, no want shall turn me back; my Shepherd is beside me, and nothing can I lack: His wisdom ever waketh, His sight is never dim; He knows the way He taketh, and I will walk with Him. Green pastures are before me, which yet I have not seen; bright skies will soon be o’er me, where the dark clouds have been: my hope I cannot measure, my path to life is free; my Saviour has my treasure, and He will walk with me. Anna Laetitia Waring, 1823-1910

Today was declaration day

Income tax return, that is. I did my declaration online. If you sent in the forms with the papers you had to get it in for 31 May. Online you had until 24 June. It wasn't that hard. My pay slips total up the amount of income I should declare. Then there were a few other figures to put in. Then press the button to work out your situation. It turns out that the government owes us some money. Not a huge amount, but not to be sneezed at !

Rooftops of Pessac


Une manifestation

This demo is against bullrings.

La mairie de Bordeaux

This is taken from the garden side. People get married from the other side, the courtyard side. Sometimes I take my lunchtime sandwich in this garden. Very nice.

Culte en anglais, puis barbecue, puis culte en français

Well we were 16 for the English service. We need to buy some more folding chairs. The service seemed to go well. Then a barbecue. Thankfully it stayed dry, though it's not very warm for the time of year. After that some dispersed, others went on to the French service where our numbers were somewhat depleted this week. It's been a busy weekend for everyone.

The wedding

We were nice and early at the mairie so together with the Griffins we decided to stroll up to Vincent's flat to see if anyone would emerge. En route we passed a game shop. Well almost... Some weeks ago Vincent had mentioned a great game he'd played once, called Carcassonne. We Daveys, having toyed with buying a big study Bible (too personal a choice) or some daily readings (not special enough) decided that a game would be a great thing to receive as a wedding present. So on Friday while Pat cleaned the student centre I scoured the two toy shops I know in Bordeaux. The first didn't have it and had never stocked it. The second said "Il n'y en a pas" , which I found comically unhelpful. OK. I found it on the internet, so I knew it existed, but now there'd be no possibility of getting it in time for the wedding. Enter the game shop at the end of Vincent's road. A voice called from the heights - a kind of gallery with the manager's office. I asked for C

Today promises to be a ball

Just finished the order of service for the culte en français tomorrow afternoon. Then I need to raid the supermarket for burgers and sausages ( and my MicroHebdo / HebdoMicro ). Then go with the family to Gwilym's collège for the Portes ouvertes where there's something he's done that we have to see. Then this afternoon a proper French wedding at the Mairie de Bordeaux . First occasion to dress up smart in France, and first French wedding ever, except for that one we gate-crashed in St Aubin sur mer years ago. The fact that the couple got married in April in the USA and this French wedding is just the simplest way to satisfy French admin will not spoil our sense of occasion. Oliver and I have pledged to go in berets. I may renege on that §. But I have also got hold of some party trumpets because we will walk from the mairie to the reception hall so we won't be able to honk our car horns. Then this evening a swift supper with the Foucachons. Finish preparation for tom

Downsie quotes the editorial of the Evangelical Magazine of Wales'

The following is from an editorial written for the Evangelical Magazine: “The big theme of the story that follows is the defeat of politics by shopping...Consumerism has shouldered aside other ways of understanding the world—real political visions, organised religion, a pulsating sense of national identity.” So begins Andrew Marr's bestseller A History of Modern Britain . It is this consumer mentality that is bleeding to death Christian service. Tragically much of this has been self-inflicted. No amount of exhortation to passionate, sacrificial service will alter the mess that we are in. In fact no amount of actual serving on camps, overseas mission trips, beach missions, or attending conferences will change it either. Instead it will simply mask over the problem. The real problem is that we have adopted a consumer mentality when it comes to thinking about the Church. There are some threats to the Christian faith that are unsubtle and obvious. You know where you are with books lik

Gary posts Perkins' golden chain.

That's me ! Fashion king !

I have these really nice shoes I bought in that Cheshire Oaks designer outlet village place. They're Vans slip-on canvas shoes and very nice and cool on a hot day, especially if you wear them without socks. The only problem is that they have Chinese-style dragons on them. The Chinese really like them but some other people find images of dragons inappropriate. (We are NOT going to start on the great Welsh flag controversy again, though.) So when I was in Britain I called at that Cheshire Oaks designer outlet village place. I wanted pants and socks from the M&S store (14 pairs of black socks for 30 pence, or something...) And when I looked in the Vans store they had this really nice pair of black leather slip-on shoes with a nice pattern of holes to let air through in hot weather. Perfect. £10 to you, sir. (12€ ) Anyway the other day at church one of the kids noticed my shoes. "Oh, c'est très à la mode, ça !" Well you either got it or you ain't.

The global village

Some time ago I heard about the failure of the Florida orange crop. The USA would have to get its morning juice from Brazil. Shortly afterwards the own-label orange juice disappeared from our supermarket shelves, leaving just the premium brands. We switched to "10 fruit vitamin enriched nectar" and the kids were happy with that. Now the own-label juice is back. There's a worldwide rice shortage, caused by various factors including the rising popularity of meat in Asian countries, biofuels, drought and oil prices. Wheat and other staples, too. In Rome a summit is meeting to try to improve the world's nutrition. We really all do belong to one another. It's not just survival of the fitter.

Closure of the menagerie

I got home this afternoon after a lunchtime appointment to find that our last remaining animal, Gwilym's gerbil, had gently shuffled off. No more animals. Well, not until after the summer, anyway.

A couple of welcome books in French

I had an errand to run in Maison de la Bible on Friday and noticed two new books that are very welcome, published by Editions Clé : Le Dieu qui se révèle : Don Carson. This is volume 1 of "For the Love of God". It's a presentation of McCheyne's Bible reading plan, together with a one page reflection for each day. Very welcome book. L'église intentionelle : Mark Dever and Paul Alexander - "The Deliberate Church". Again very welcome.

You have to love these people

I got a report on the Soirée Anglaise, which went very well. In the end though he had his talk prepared in French, Ben spoke in English. There were a lot of folk there with little or no French, so to do the talk in English made sense. Maxim gave a simultaneous translation - not easy, but he done good. The food was fish and chips, loaded with salt and vinegar and wrapped in newspaper. Yes. Ben said that at one point in the evening he saw two of the French lads leaning against the wall, eating their fish and chips out of the newspaper and he thought 'Just like in England'.

The sun shone !

We drove to Blaye through the rain. At one point it was rather like being in a submarine as the spray from the heavy refrigerated lorries enveloped the car. Anyway we got set up, the service unfolded, a new British couple who live in the Blaye area came for the first time - he phoned me last night - and Samy preached well from Mark 10 - a passage we love from Christianity Explored. When we went out to the pool for the baptism it was to a lovely blue sky with fluffy Aquitaine clouds - a cloud-free sky is rare - and a beautiful view out over the estuary. The pool was cold, apparently - just about 19° - but OK once you were in. The baptism went well and was followed by a slap-up lunch (organised by Mrs Davey ) The new British couple certainly saw us at our best ! A lovely day and we all went home, as Enid would put it, tired but happy.