Showing posts from July, 2009

Don Carson - praying with Paul

Justin offers links to the Gospel Coalition website where you can find mp3 files of Don Carson's talks on Paul's prayers, talks which gave rise eventually to the highly prized "A Call for Spiritual Reformation".

Well the children are on their way to camp

We met Ben Griffin at Bergerac Airport. (There ought to be a word "plane-stop" for an airport which is as small as that. There's toilets but no café.) and waved them off on their way to camp in Tywyn. They fly Bergerac to Luton; then coach Luton to Ipswich; then a lift from Ipswich to Felixstowe; then bus Felixstowe back to Ipswich; then minibus Ipswich to Tywyn. Coming back it's simpler: minibus Tywyn to Ipswich; coach from Ipswich to Helston; helicopter Helston to Keswick; coach Keswick to Luton; fly Luton to Bergerac and we collect them at 10am on the 10th.

Good news

Our student friend who was applying for a flat so his wife and child can join him has been told he has a flat just where he needs to be.

Alain de Botton: A kinder, gentler philosophy of success

at TED. He asks so many good questions and makes so many pertinent and perspicuous observations. And in such an entertaining way.

Sandwich boxes ? C'est quoi, ça ?

The kids are off to camp (yippeee !) in Tywyn (bendigedig !) with Ben Griffin (top hole, what !) and they need sandwich boxes. As I scoured the supermarket shelves I wondered why there were no sandwich boxes anywhere on display. Slowly, too slowly, the image of a French sandwich appeared in my mind's eye. It's about 3 inches in diameter and 12 - 18 inches long, cylindrical and very, very crusty. It's half a baguette, slit and stuffed with ham, cheese or whatever. It is not two slices of Mother's Pride with marg, Spam and brown sauce. They've got freezer boxes. I hope they last the week !

Come on, Bible publishers

in French a perfectly usable paperback Bible (Segond 21 translation) is available for 1€50. The aim - to make a Bible available for the price of a cup of coffee. As a result the Bible has sold like hot cakes and we are able to give away Bibles to students and to others. Why can't we produce a Bible in English for £1.50, or even for £2.00 ? With the greater volumes of production possible, why not at £1 ?

Decision time for one of the students

A housing committee meets today and will consider an application from one of our students to rent a flat so his family can join him here. Your prayers are appreciated !

The Foucachons fly today

Farrewell and bon voyage !

Calvin on the gospel "goes viral"

Without the gospel everything is useless and vain; without the gospel we are not Christians; without the gospel all riches is poverty, all wisdom folly before God; strength is weakness, and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God. But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ, fellow townsmen with the saints, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom the poor are made rich, the weak strong, the fools wise, the sinner justified, the desolate comforted, the doubting sure, and slaves free. It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe. It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone. For, he was sold, to buy us back; captive, to deliver us; condemned, to absolve us; he was made a curse for our blessing, [a] sin offering for our righteousness; marred that we may be made fair; he died for our life; so that by him fury is mad

Bonne amélioration

Président Nicolas Sarkozy is in hospital.

Hmmm. Awkward.

I went to the pharmacy yesterday to get my monthly supply of life-giving herbs and snake-oil. Here in France we have a rather awkwardly worded arrangement of prescriptions "for one month, renewable for 5 months". Does that mean a prescription lasts 5 months or 6 ? You see the issue. I'll tell you, it's 5. This time was my last renewal. Mr prescription has just run out. Anyway last time I saw the medicine woman she say 'before next time you get blood tested, ok, I have results when you come.' The awkward thing is that this means the blood test and doctor's appointment fall in August, and I am away for some time in August. So, I imagine, is the doctor, and it wouldn't surprise me if the blood letting lab were closed for August, too. Awkward, these calendars, no ? I feel some phone calls coming on.

Sécurisez vos réseaux wifi !

If you have not secured your wifi network, and someone else piggy-backs on it and downloads a film or music illegally then you could be liable to a fine of up to 3,750 euros according to the controversial Hadopi law being voted on by the French parliament. So put a password on your wifi network NOW. I think this doesn't exclude the sharing of connections via Fon and Free, though if somebody with a password uses your connection illicitly would you still be liable ? I guess so...

Good news on the apartment renting front

At last. A rental is secured. Dik and Hetty will be renting a flat in Bassens. I assume and hope they will have it in time for 5 August. Voilà, enfin, une location est confirmée. Dik et Hetty ont signé sur un appartement à Bassens. On assume et espère qu'ils auront les clés pour déménager le 5 août !

Wow ! It worked "out of the box", it really did !

I dropped Pat and Catrin at the tram stop then charged into the computer-mongers and came out with my box of wifi card. D-link DWA-510. "Now shall I reinstall and everything", I thought, "nah, let's just take the PC apart, pop in the card and see what happens" And it just worked ! Brilliant ! Hurrah for Ubuntu, Canonical and Mark ! Well that's my little computing project for the university hols ended.

Calvin - Union with Christ - Dr. Lane Tipton (Westminster Video Library - ST)

I hope when in Britain in September to "pop" down to LTS for a day of their Calvin conference. I especially would like to hear Prof Paul Wells' session on Calvin and Union with Christ. Thanks to Michael F Bird for this link.

Oh dear

Holidaymakers, be warned

At La Rochelle they have decided that enough is enough. A change in the law two years ago helps. From now on you can be fined 35 euros on the spot for the deposition of insalubrious liquids in the public highway. You have been warned. ( Source - Sud-ouest )

Church life in July

Lots and lots of people are away on holiday, but we were still 20 at church on Sunday morning and there's a good spirit. Last night at the prayer meeting we left the door open because we needed a bit of air through the room. A small child was riding his bike back and fore outside. A lady came up and looked in as we talked. I waved to her. "C'est évangélique ici? " "Ah oui, c'est une église réformée évangélique." "C'est bien ! Nous on fréquente les tziganes près de la gare et l'Assemblée de Dieu." "Ah bon, on a trouvé une soeur." She didn't come in and pray with us - we were all blokes so in her place I might not have done either. Afterwards one of the chaps said "Il y a énormément de tziganes dans ce quartier." "Bien installé et tout ?" "Eh oui, sédentarisés". I love the way that a word like sédentarisé can just pop up in French!

Ubuntu is GREAT, and Surcouf is pretty good, too,

but I can't get the stupid wifi card to work. I bet it's because it was Géant Casino's own brand (buy one, get one free and 500 bonus points, comes in a paper bag). I may have to cave in and buy a proper D-link card that apparently "works out of the box with Linux" ( you get a box ? ). Meanwhile I had a splendid afternoon yesterday helping a good friend buy a new mini pc. They bought a eeepc 904hd. Surcouf have incredible bargains on "netbooks" at the moment and it isn't easy to choose because they all have 160gb disk, 1gb memory, the same processor etc. etc., so you have to choose because this one is marginally bigger, or because the trackpad is rougher, or whatever. "C'est pas un ordinateur", said the chap in the shop, resplendent in his green Surcouf waistcoat. "C'est quoi, donc ?" quoth I. "C'est un netbook", came the swift riposte. "Mais ça a la même puissance que mon ordinateur d'il y a quatre

Breakfast at Ikea

We hauled the kids out of bed and scuttled off to Ikea for breakfast. It's ACE ! 1 euro for a nice croissant or pain au chocolat, a petit-pain, butter, jam (klingonberry, snoggelwhortle or strawberry) and unlimited tea/coffee/chocolate etc. 3 doughnuts for 2€50. Just 6€50 and a family of four have breakfasted like kings. Not only that but we get a chance to spot the brit (always lots of British people in Ikea, I think because everything's exactly the same here as in Warrington). And we got to size up shelves for our next interim kitchen solution.

Where PCs go to die

Our living room is now the graveyard of dead PCs. We still have the corpse of the PC that was operated on for transplant parts. It needs to go to the dump. Our old codger (10gb disk, 512kb memory) is now running Uuntu 9.04 very happily and I have seen a website with lots of hieroglyphics to type in to a terminal window that should make the wifi work. Of the two PCs that came from the church, one shows no sign of life at all. It awaits a post-mortem examination. The last runs Windows98 from a 10gb disk and "50kb" (REALLY?) of memory. My Ubuntu live CD won't boot in that !

They're not so bad.

OK, the oldest, slowest most pathetic pc is now running very happily on Ubuntu 8.04 - or at least it was, till I decided to update it to the latest version. And that's happily chugging away, telling me how much time it has left. This'll be the first pc under Ubuntu with no dual-boot. It's such a good system. All of a sudden this old codger is crackerjack again. (I mean the pc, not me !)

I can't believe we haven't been to the beach yet !

I have to take my family to the beach soon ! Meanwhile yesterday was a good day, though we were few in the morning and fewer in the evening. But the chap who seemed to be settling with us now seems to have settled with us, and a lady who's been missing for a few weeks returned - she'd been away helping family in Paris. In the evening I thought about how important the church is. We're so lucky. There's nothing else more important in the whole wide world than working to build up the church. Meanwhile no beach today. It is my day off but this morning I'll get the weekly shopping and this afternoon Pat is baby-sitting for our neighbour.

Dik and Hetty Briennen

hope that they have found a good apartment down at La Bastide. It's not far from the church and if all works out well it'll be hunky dory and dinky doo. They move the first week of August. Please pray that it'll go through OK and they'll be able to move on schedule !

Oh I hate computers, I really do !

I spent a happy few hours gutting Samy's old, dead PC and removing any viable organs for transplant, so he has a nice USB disk waiting for him. That went OK. Now I am trying to sort out an old PC for the kids - it has a 10gb disk which I suspect of being the cause for the machine's astonishing slowness - that coupled with XP downloading service pack 3. If I were more brave I'd load Ubuntu on it and put it in the student centre as an internet terminal. After all, the students mostly want to check their mail, check bus and tram timetables, update their facebook accounts, etc. and Ubuntu would be GREAT for that. It'd run faster than XP and we wouldn't have to have kittens fretting about viruses, too. There's another computer task that awaits me - a couple of old PCs stored in the church to sort out and find a future for. I guess in the end as long as one goes to the student centre and one stays here and both are as optimised as possible, then mission accomplished.

Calvin - Treasure in Heaven

Someone loves this quote : We ought then to imitate what people do who determine to migrate to another place, where they have chosen a lasting abode. They send before them all their resources and do not grieve over lacking them for a time, for they deem themselves the happier the more goods they have where they will be for a long time. But if we believe heaven is our country, it is better to transmit our possessions thither than to keep them here where upon our sudden migration they would be lost to us. But how shall we transmit them? Surely by providing for the needs of the poor; whatever is paid out to them, the Lord reckons as given to Himself (MT.25:40). From this comes that notable promise: "He who gives to the poor lends to the Lord" (PROV.19:17). Likewise, "He who sows bountifully shall reap bountifully" (2COR.9:6). For what is devoted to our brothers out of the duty of love is deposited in the Lord's hand. He, as He is a faithful custodian, will one d

Well the storms passed us by

We were on orange alert for violent storms with heavy rain and hail from 7pm last night. What we got was a short period of fairly strong wind, then nothing. Other parts of France got their fields of crops destroyed by amazing hail that some later had to shovel away, and eleven people were injured.

A sick wife

We were on our way into Bordeaux to the cinema this morning when, at the Unitec tram stop, Pat said "I don't feel too well". The next thing the peach she had eaten for breakfast had made a spectacular return on the pavement behind the tram stop. So today has been quieter than anticipated. Pat bounced back and ate a hearty lunch of bacon, egg, black pudding, fried bread, chips, tomatoes, mushrooms and hash browns. OK, not really. She skipped lunch and hasn't eaten all day, but she seems OK. None of the rest of us have been in the least nauseous so I guess it was something she ate. A rogue peach ? At least she threw up before we got to the cinema and even before we got into the tram. So I have caught up on some letters, emails, forms and stuff like that, and read some more of "L'Institution Chrétienne". The new modern French version is actually easier to read than the English !

14 juillet à Bordeaux

        We went to the 14 juillet celebrations at Bordeaux. It begins with a ceremony where the hautes autorités (Maire de Bordeaux, Prefet de la Gironde etc.) arrive, then the assembled troops are reviewed by a general in a jeep while Montaigne looks on.

14 juillet à Bordeaux 2

        Various people are honoured with awards for bravery and service, notably following the devastating storm Klaus in January. ( The kilt ? Well there's always one isn't there )

14 juillet à Bordeaux

        After we all snuggled up to form a corridor running up Quinconces from the river to the Girondins monument and everyone paraded up. Some favourite moments : When the band played "Land of Hope and Glory" When a lady next to me said "On est très fière !" to a woman as she marched by. She beamed. When the police motorbikes came by, blue, then two squadrons of white bikes and everyone applauded.

14 juillet à Bordeaux

        There were two bands on parade and they gave a brief concert after the ceremony. My friend Renaud was in the Air Force band, dressed in white. Then we went down to the riverbank to watch the fireworks barge come upstream and to wait for the fireworks.

The motorbikes

14 juillet à Bordeaux


Washington Post

This band marches and plays at the same time

Truman on sin

"I have a high view of human sin. I know that, left to themselves and placed in the perfect storm of circumstances, anyone is capable of anything." from Downes : Risking the Truth

Emily Loizeau - L'autre Bout Du Monde

A song for 14 juillet. In this song Emily Loizeau is singing about the death of her father, who she imagines is still alive at the other end of the world. (She's Dame Peggy Ashcroft's granddaughter, by the way)

Bon 14 juillet ! Bonnes fêtes !

France is mega-quiet today

It's July holiday time ( on Saturday the roads were REALLY CLOGGED ), tomorrow is Bastille Day ( Hurrah ! ) so today lots and lots of people are doing the bridge, that is taking to day off to have a long weekend. Not only that, but it's nice weather, if a trifle hot ( it's currently 25° in our living room, but if we'd opened the windows it may have cooled down a little. ) Gwilym and Catrin are off to the beach with our neighbour to play with their little nipper, Arthur. Meanwhile Pat is baby-sitting the three-month old and I am stripping a PC for parts ! Tomorrow being Bastille Day there's a military parade at Quinconces ( thinks "what's a défilé in Engish..?" ) followed by a concert which I suspect my prof de trombone will be playing in, followed by fireworks over the Garonne ( 22h30, durée 25 min ). So we'll probably forsake our normal Pessac festivities for Bordeaux town centre. I also want to get the shopping tomorrow because the supermarkets a

A good weekend

Lots of visitors on Sunday morning, including some students visiting from Ireland - one who's lived in France for 20 years, another who's South African. A chap who seems to be settling with us. A couple of Dutch girls camping somewhere nearby, who found us via the blog (very good to meet you). In the evening we were few, but we were quality, including a visitor from Tennessee! Gwilym made his debut as accompanist having learnt "In Christ alone" and "All my days" on the guitar - he played my old 12-string (battered but with a really good action !) We spent the afternoon with friends from church. Their lad, Gwilym's age, is about to start an apprenticeship as a boulanger. He'll work 5 till 10, seven days a week for six weeks out of eight, then be in school for two weeks. They've had to get him a scooter so he can get to work for 5 because there's no buses at that time of the morning. He'll be paid while he's an apprentice - about half t

Please keep praying for Dik and Hetty's house-move

The house they were to have rented has been sold. They're looking once more.

Lycée Saint Vincent de Paul

OK. We hardly slept a wink, but it meant we were all up in plenty of time. We drove sedately to the lycée and found a place to park right outside. The interview seemed to go OK. So the upshot is that Gwilym has a place at the Lycée Saint Vincent de Paul, and we have all the documents necessary. There's a couple of other kids from church in the same place, one in the same class, so it'll be interesting at parents' evenings and who knows what gospel opportunities will be given ! His old school knows he's leaving and the papers have been adjusted, so all should be OK. We'll need to sort out the best way for him to pay for his journeys back and fore to school on the tram, but we have time for that.

Bach - Italian concerto - Glenn Gould

Youtube suggests videos. Nine times out of ten it's stuff I'd never want to watch. Now and again they suggest something quite remarkable.

Lycée St Vincent de Paul

"You'll need to come for an interview and I just made an appointment for 15 July, so it will either be between the 15 and the 17 July, or the last week of August." Roger ! So we have been waiting to get a call to go and meet the principal of the prospective new school for Gwilym. Then they called yesterday and left a message to go along tomorrow at 9am. Oho. OK.

R C Sproul's take on "systematic vs biblical theology"

"In our day there seems to be an ongoing battle between advocates of systematic theology and advocates of biblical theology. We are living in a time of unprecedented antipathy toward rationality and logic. Where systematic theology used to reign supreme in theological seminaries, it has all but vanished, exiled to the perimeter of academic studies. This antipathy toward rationality and logic finds its nadir in the modern allergy against systematic theology, with nothing to fill its place except the expansion of biblical theology. A possible tendency exists in biblical theology to interpret the Bible atomistically without a concern for coherency and unity. This dichotomy between biblical theology and systematic theology is a classic example of the fallacy of the false dilemma, sometimes called the either-or fallacy. If we look to John Calvin, we see a scholar whose mastery of the content of Scripture was unparalleled. Calvin had a passion for the Bible, as well as a monumental kno

A couple more books

"The elegance of the hedgehog" (L'élégance du herisson) by Muriel Barbery. I read this book while in Britain. It was really interesting as a study in bitterness, and how a sense of injustice can rob everything of its pleasure and poison your entire life. Also for its very contemporary philosophy of life - life is worth living for those little moments of beauty, pleasure, joy... I read this one in English while in Britain but now I wish I'd read it in French. "Entre les murs" by François Bégaudeau. I think I've mentioned this before. I am really enjoying this story of a man trying to teach French in a middle school in the Paris sink estates. I'm reading it in French. It'd be a nightmare to translate !

"Continental Sunday" under threat

One of the nice things about France is the way that shops, most supermarkets and even DIY stores shut on Sunday. It means that the towns and cities are peaceful places one day a week and that retail workers can spend time with their families. It also means that attending church does not normally imply conflict with work. But M. Sarkozy is so like Mrs Thatcher. At present Sunday trading is being debated. France is (paradoxically) more conservative than Britain and I would be more surprised to see this passed in France than I was in Britain.

Rain stopped play

Oh well, we had a few minutes to talk as we sheltered from the downpour under the lime trees by the cathedral.

Flaked almonds ( random jottings ! )

Next on the shopping list : flaked almonds. OK. Baking section. Right, there they are: 4€ per 125g. 32€/kg. About £15 a pound. However there are also nuts on the ethnic foods section under Maghreb. There they are 5€ per 500g, or about £4.50 a pound. However there are also nuts by the fruit and veg. Aha ! Same bag of 500g almonds for 4,10€. That's the one to buy !

Don't be silly, dear,

his name can't possibly be "tais-toi" (though I confess that there have been times when this may have been appealing - tais-toi means shut-up). Well tis-toi then. I tried to imagine possible spellings. Tee-bo next door is spelt Thibault or sometimes Thibaud. Maybe Thithois ? Thithoit ? Thithoilt ? Nothing seemed in the least likely, and Google didn't help at all. So next time our little neighbour came round I said "Comment tu t'appelles ? Et comment ça s'écrit ?" It's Titouan . A variant of Antony. Luckily he's JUST old enough to be able to spell his name.

A quick visit to Llanemlyn

        (Saint Emilion)

More St Emilion


St Emilion


Planning September, serving today

The visit to Britain in September is slowly coming together. Soon I must book flights and a hire car ! Last time I had a gorgeous little Fiesta diesel. It was a bit noisy but very comfortable and economical. I am hoping to visit churches where I am known but where I have never presented the work here in Bordeaux. In May, with it just being a fortnight's quick visit, I tried to keep everything within a fairly small area of Britain. I'd like to do he same this time, though I am very tempted to go down to London also for a day of the Calvin Conference at the John Owen Centre at LTS. Meanwhile today we hope to do evangelistic surveys near the student centre - but at present it's emptying down with rain. Hmmm. It may not last all day, though it often does !


Phew - these weekends, you know ! Anyway things seemed ok at church both Sunday morning and evening. We are in holiday mode now, which means the congregation is much reduced. In the afternoon we walked down to the jardin botanique and along the quay of the right bank, where we'd never been before. It was all very pleasant, including a marquee of Americans happily celebrating independence day. We chatted with one who is visiting Bordeaux for the weekend. We had a number of visitors on Sunday. Three guys in the morning and one chap in the evening - a holiday-maker from England on a city break. He'd found us on the internet so we told him about all the restaurants that have been recommended to us over the years, though I reckon that most places in Bordeaux are pretty good. Today began with good news. The Briennens have a house to rent. Just about 200 metres from the church building and it sounds just fine. We also went and looked at a plot of land for building, but it's not bi

Le jardin botanique


Summer in Pessac - Complètement à l'ouest

    4th July

Romance de Weber (Nicolas Moutier)

It's a bit of a haul, this piece, but so well-played here.

Best wishes and congratulations on the 4th of July

Congratulations to all our western friends on this 4th July. Over two hundred years ! That's a very long time, isn't it, and by and large things have gone pretty well with some notable exceptions that we mustn't dwell on today. And best wishes. What better wish could there be than to express my fervent hope that you will soon return to the fold. It's not for nothing that we sing of our gracious Queen, you know, and I am sure the door is still wide open. I know there were problems. There was that issue of representation. Well we could surely take a leaf out of our French friends' book, and incorporate the USA into the UK - the official title would become the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the United States of America. You'd like British Politics ! Fewer balloons but more fancy dress and generous expenses. And you seemed to think at one time that you were not free to pursue happiness. Of course now things are different - so many of you have

This weekend

The first weekend post-Samy. I'm preaching in French in the morning and English in the evening. Different passages though ! Meanwhile the Blaye folk are meeting for a kind of summit to think through a plan for the future. Please pray that God will guide and show the way forward for this community.

School holidays

It's funny to see how the children's life changes as they grow up. Gwilym is now 14 and is far less dependent on us to amuse, entertain or organise him. School broke up last Friday and so far he's been off to the skate-park in Bordeaux with his school chums, off to the pool with another school friend, off to the cinema with his first ever French friend and today a friend from church is taking him to the cinema, together with Catrin. Catrin is not quite so independent, but she's a reader, thankfully. We are thinking through family holidays. The children are off to camp in Britain and we are really glad to be able to send them with Ben Griffin. They're getting to the stage, though, where really they have more fun at home with their friends and so on than on holiday with us ! I remember getting to that stage with my parents.


I recently read "The boy in the striped pyjamas" which I bought while in Britain. I thought it was a splendid book, although I saw the ending coming. Now I'm reading "Entre les murs". It came out about two or three years ago, was very well received and now has been filmed. It's the tale of a newly-qualified teacher in the Paris housing estates.

Well the storm came and the weather broke

Just as well, too. It was ridiculously hot - 36°c in the shade and due to some infelicitous door opening it rose to 30° in the house at one point. Now it is bucketing down with assorted thunder and lightning. But at least we'll be able to think for the prayer meeting this morning.

Well it's been very hot today

36°C outside, apparently, and 29° in the house. I am REALLY looking forward to the prayer meeting this evening because the church is air-conditioned. In fact I just may move my office down there for a little while... And my bed ! The weather forecasters predicted storms but we've had a pretty cloudless sky all day. I'm very thankful for mint tea.

"The Magnificent Seven"

It's hot already but it's time to get MOVING !