Showing posts from August, 2010

Le mal fait-il partie du plan de Dieu / Spectacular sins - Chapitre 1

La souveraineté de Dieu sur le péché de l'homme. Dans ce chapitre John Piper cite trois versets bibliques "difficiles" - c'est-à-dire difficiles à accepter. 2 Chroniques 10:15 Ainsi, le roi n'écouta pas le peuple. Cela fut en effet conduit par Dieu pour que s'accomplisse la parole que l'Eternel avait dite par l'intermédiaire d'Achija de Silo à Jéroboam, le fils de Nebath. (Segond21) 2 Chroniques 18:22 Maintenant, l'Eternel a mis un esprit de mensonge dans la bouche de tes prophètes que voici, mais lui, il a prononcé le malheur contre toi.» 2 Chroniques 25: 20 Mais Amatsia ne l'écouta pas. En effet, Dieu avait décidé de les livrer à l'oppression parce qu'ils avaient recherché les dieux d'Edom. Pourquoi ces trois versets ? Parce-que c'était pendant ses congés annuels en 2007 que John Piper, conduit par ses lectures quotidiennes, a réfléchi et a décidé de traiter ce sujet de Dieu et le mal. Il en tire des pri

Why do we preach like that ?

"How long are the sermons ?" asked the lady. My reply brought a stunned reaction worthy of Hildebrand Glossop on being told that there remained two acts of Figaro to endure.. Why are our sermons as they are ? Why this approximate duration of, say, 25 to 45 minutes ? Why the habit of explaining truth and then explaining practical implications ? Why ? When a thoughtful little poem might be nice, after all. I don't think it is hard to see why. At the time of the writing of the New Testament, i.e. the foundation years of the Christian church, few people could read. Even many wealthy people couldn't read. Some had educated slaves to do their reading for them, just like some wealthy people today employ others to do their sums (accounts).All manuscripts were hand written (manu-scripts). So hardly anyone possessed a book. In fact nobody did, because even books hadn't been invented. People wrote on long scrolls that you rolled up. Even in Reformation times few peop

What wag wrote this headline ?

"Man held over Pakistan cricket betting scam bailed"

Mission week

This is the start of mission week. Tomorrow the team arrives from Mission Vacances (UBM). On the schedule is lots of street evangelism, a Bible exhibition, a talk and discussion and a café théo. It'll be a good start to the year.

She took us for a meal in an American themed restaurant


We took one of our friends to the Dune de Pilat


We miss our lodgers

the house seems so quiet now...

The annexe to the Town Hall in the park at the end of our road

A fine place for marriages

Where are we now ?

At 15:50 our friend was in the shower. At 16:30 she was due to be on the bus outta town leaving from the central station. It's about 25 minutes away. Doable. Just. We hit the ring road at about 16:00. It was blocked with traffic coming from the road from Spain. We quit the ring road and activated our friendly iPhone satnav. It took us through the university. It took us into Talence. Darkest Talence. We recognised Peixotto and started to panic. How did we get here ? How do we get from here to the station ? Left, left, right right right, left left left. "Ah, it says here I should have checked in at 16:00", said our friend. We found ourselves on the boulevard. That's good. We got to the station, to the bus office at 16:40. I parked and waited while Pat and our friend ran into the office. "Jesus is holding up the bus for you. Quickly, Jesus is waiting for you." We zoomed round the roundabout, over the Pont de Guy down to Belcier. We saw the bus fr

Liz was shocked by this !


Looking good !

Term starts next week. Strikes start the week after ! (voir ici)

Le mal fait-il partie du plan de Dieu / Spectacular sins - Introduction

"Le mal fait-il partie du plan de Dieu ?", par John Piper, est publié par la Maison de la Bible pour 14,90€. You can read it online or download it free in English here. Dans son introduction John Piper explique que son livre est né de ses fortes convictions à la fois calvinistes et prémillenaires. Il croit que tout a été crée pour la gloire de Jésus Christ, que tout existe pour glorifier Jésus-Christ. Il croit aussi qu'un temps de grande souffrance viendra bientôt avant le retour de Jésus-Christ. Donc c'est poussé par son désir de témoigner de la gloire de Jésus dans chaque circonstance ET par sa volonté de préparer ses lecteurs pour la plus grande souffrance imaginable qu'il écrit ce livre. Peut-être que vous ne partagiez pas ses convictions. Je ne suis pas du tout convaincu du prémillenialisme ! Mais on ne peut pas imaginer que John Piper néglige la profondeur de la souffrance humaine. Dans ce blog j'espère simplement vous donner les grandes lignes de

Ateliers pour prêcheurs

Seriously hoping to get some workshops for preachers going this year. Please pray that this can happen.

What is the Bible basically about ?

An article from this morning's paper on the depigeonisation of Bordeaux

Distributing posters for the mission

in town yesterday afternoon was hot work. Hot work. At one point I was aware that under my clothes everywhere was damp - even my knees. When your knees are perspiring you know it is hot. Still, it appears that a number of cafés and different shops will have the posters in the windows (posters designed by Liz) .

More of the posters


La Foi Chrétienne en Libre Accès

One of the students suggested it may be good to read some systematic theology together. I think that's a cracking idea ! Of systematic theologies in English I have : Berkhof (which I can't find since moving house), Boice (Foundations), Grudem (which I've loaned to someone) and Reymond. Trouble is this guy is not English first-language, and you need good English to get through Reymond or Boice ! In French I have nothing because there is nothing. Well, there's the Institutes. Grudem is due to be published soon, but it will cost about 50 euros - too much for a student and also too much for me to be able to buy it for him (and also a copy for me !). I also sometimes feel that Grudem is a bit too contemporary, in the sense that it's a systematic for the churches of the 1980s onwards. For me it seems ephemeral, and soon to become dated. I don't want a systematic to be dated. I want it to be timeless. A while ago someone suggested Connaître Dieu (Packer&#

OK ! This time they've gone too far. This time it's war !

Despatched to get cereals (Lion and Crunch) I observed that there was only one size of Lion at the supermarket (2€) but two sizes of Crunch. The first was an eco-pack of 625 grams. The second was a normal pack of 500 grams BUT with 25% extra free, bringing it to 625 grams. You have to guess the prices... The eco-pack of 625 grams - 3,23€. The pack with 25% extra "free" - 3,27€ ! Honestly, they are ALWAYS doing stuff like this. The pack with "extra free" is almost always more expensive than the pack without it. So it is time to write to the supermarket and ask them to explain what they think is the meaning of "free" ! I want an explanation (and it'll be very good for my written French !)

The evidence


The dry run

So we went on a dry run of Gwilym's bus journey to school. He takes the no. 4 almost to the terminus, then walks past the sewage works ( unité des eaux usées - which liaison will you drop ? ) to his school. We were sabotaged at the outset by the mairie not having unlocked the gates to the park, we were a little group of malcontents wanting to get through, two women cyclists opted to aim for the side-gate near the church but we walked back and up to the stop by the Renault garage. Then basically an hour on the bus, right through some of the most interesting bits of Bordeaux. Pessac Stade Aquatique - our local pool. Leonidas "Fresh Belgian Chocolates" ( why is the sign in English ? ) Pessac centre with its cinema, shops, Catrin's collège and its impressive roadworks Ecole de Musique de Verthamon Haut-Brion, possibly the finest in the land Chateaux Haut-Brion and Haut-Brion Mission - very expensive wine. I hope it's worth it ! La Maison des Cakes and the l

Bolivar, by Eric Cook. Played by Csaba Bencze

I especially like the castanets.

Vide grenier 2

I bought 2 books for 50c each

Vide grenier

Biggest and best I've seen in our park.

This weekend

1. Prepare the culte en français. We have a visiting preacher but it's up to me to organise and lead everything else. 2. Prepare the English service, where it is I who preach. 3. Barbecue at our place for sundry folk this evening. Must shop for this, too. 4. Brief visit to the car boot sale in the park at the end of our road.

Back on Murder, by J.Mark Bertrand

J.Mark Bertrand is an American writer and a cyber-friend who I've known for some years now. I can't remember how we first got in touch with each other. He's an author, and the very day that we left for Britain a copy of his book "Back on Murder" appeared in our mail-box, wonderfully wrapped in newspaper such that a random, scary face was gazing at the postman (and at us). So we took it with us in the car and Pat read it aloud to us as we drove. Mark loves good pens and well-bound Bibles, so I imagined how he'd like the thought of his book being read aloud to a family on a 'road trip'. The book's a delight. It's a fairly straightforward American detective novel in the "noir" tradition, and it's an honest book, not a pastiche or a self-conscious clone. The hero is troubled, not too easy to identify with. The plot is complicated and everything is in there - a rather disturbing church, young girls up to who-knows-what, drugs, bent

Sleepless with sciatica

I have this deformity of my spinal column, apparently, which they identified when I was a student. It flares up from time to time, and it's been painful over the past few days. When it flares up you take ibuprofen and you take care to support your back when you get up and down and so on, and you walk taking care not to trip (ouch!) and you wait. It's a lot better today, thankfully !

So what's going on with the travellers in France ?

Oh boy ! Firstly as part of their security / anti-crime measures, and following some disorder from a gang of Romany lads in a town in the Loire, the government are expelling immigrant Romany people who have no work permits or jobs. Secondly there's been a big dispute here in Bordeaux as 250 caravans kicked out of another town arrived here and installed themselves on playing fields. Alain Juppé broke his holidays to negotiate a settlement and the folk are temporarily installed on grass verges up near the lake. People tut and fear a hardening of the line. Remember too that gipsies were deported under the Nazi occupation. However everyone (except the British?) is expected to carry an identity-card in France, presumably the gipsies included, and there have always been periodic roundups of illegal immigrants or sans-papiers. All French towns over a certain size are required to set up a site for travellers' caravans. Very few have done so. Few Roms have actually been flown

Dictionary for trombonists

Alto trombone - n.  A very weak tenor trombone Bass trombone - n. 1-Several mutually exclusive instruments hooked together by an ingenious set of tubes, rotors, levers and valves. Capable of very loud, very rude noises accompanied by a percussive symphony of mechanical clanks, squeaks, squawks and whistles. 2-The lead trumpet of the trombone family. Bass trombonist -n.  The one in the section who couldn't develop any high range whatsoever as a young player and is now getting even by drowning everyone else out whenever he gets a chance. Bass trumpet -n. An instrument that combines all the worst features of the trumpet and the trombone. Conductor - n.  One who has accepted the fact that he cannot play but has NOT accepted the reasons why. Contractor - n.  Someone who cannot play, does not know it, but thinks he knows how OTHER people play. Doodle tongue - n.  A rapid tonguing style that is too weak. Double tongue - n.  A rapid tonguing style that is too st

Les fournitures scolaires, or hunt the leprechaun !

Time to hunt the lutins again. This time I just had Catrin to buy for because Gwilym doesn't have any lists yet. Well, I say that, but we have already sent off cheques for overalls and a tool kit ! I imagine that once he begins classes each teacher will give him a list of things to get. But... it did mean that the whole exercise passed off very smoothly. I also looked at the camping sections of our supermarket and or Decathlon, the sport shop, because we need a folding table for the mission. If I could have found a nice plastic folding table I would have got one. But the standard folding table for camping is one of those glorified cardboard things with an aluinium frame to give some impression of rigidity. That'll never do for us. So back to plan A and a pasting table !

Something to think about !

I was catching up on reading this morning. One of the nice things about this internet thingie is that several authors make their books available for download in mp3 format, notably John Piper, of course, and so it was that I decided to read a little book by C J Mahaney called "Biblical productivity". Well, read is a bit strong. As I get older I get more and more impatient with myself and less and less able to spend time quietly reflecting, so I skim-read it. It seemed to be largely about redeeming the time by dealing with procrastination, by clarifying your roles and setting appropriate goals. Here's a link to where you can download it too. Ironic, then, to read this little reflection from the über-wise Carl Trueman (did anyone ever have a more apt name ?) cited on Gary Brady's blog here . Makes you think, doesn't it. Or at least it would if you could just sit down with a cup of tea and take the time to think ! I hate leaving Bordeaux, but one benefit of

Preparation for the MV Mission

The team arrives soon ! There's much to do ! Meanwhile I want to avoid any significant journeys in the car, at least until my garage man is back from his holidays at the beginning of September !

Back in Bordeaux

It was great to find the house aired and occupied by the inimitable Liz on our return. Then the agenda swiftly became get ready for the weekend. We had sundry folk arriving to visit, too, like the two charming German friends who were about to start the Chemin de Saint Jacques de Compostelle.

Sounds like a good argument for training on the job

by doing part-time training and being an assistant pastor, Richard... read it here.

Radio and TV in Britain

Radio highlights in Britain : Lewis Merthyr Band playing from the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol, and Jamie Cullum live from Marciac The eisteddfod competition is for a concert programme, and the band played an arrangement of Men of harlech that I remember well from all those years ago. (Gordon Langford ?) TV highlights in Britain: Doctor Who, Sherlock, documentary on the Normans. Disappointments : whatever happened to nightly proms broadcasts ? Or did I just not read the radio pages right or something ? Then those awful TV programmes about auctioning celebrities' knick-knacks or about finding a £1/2 million house in Argyllshire ! It's no wonder people are like they are !

To France ? Well, to Dartford

Monday So there we were in this massive queue of traffic approaching the toll booths of the Dartford bridge when - that over-familiar feeling - another cable hits the dust. Phone calls. A tow. A garage. More phone calls. "They can fix it and you can wait in a hotel." Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday... We watched Doctor Who. We found a chippie. And a Co-op. We watched the traffic on the Dartford Bridge. I read Grudem on my iPhone. We ate pizza. And Very Good Breakfasts. Then on Wednesday evening, too late to get the ferry, we heard that the car was ready. Thursday. 9am at garage. Whole clutch assembly replaced. Suggestion that it was not done properly last November. Pay bill and leave with old parts ready to reclaim money from garage / Citroën. Clutch is light ! Amazing ! 10:45 ferry terminal. 11am is full, room on 1pm. Make 4th and final change to ferry booking. 3pm Douce France, tu m'as manqué ! We chatted with a Franco-English family on the ferry. "Vous-êtes Français ?&

Back in France at last !

Our journey has been eventful and has included an unplanned sojourn in Dartford. I'll tell you about it soon.

More Monty in Marciac

Wynton Marsupialis at Marciac

The long trek

Today I'm preaching at Shrewsbury. Rhys is going with me and it will be a joy to talk together. A well-known minister in South Wales always used to ask someone to drive him to where he was going to preach, I think it must have been an excellent way for him to spend good time with the men in his church. Tomorrow we do the UK leg of the long trek home. Tuesday the France section. Tuesday evening we should be home, where Liz will be awaiting us, or she'll be there anyway. We kind of hope she'll be awaiting us because we don't have a key ! We'll be sad to leave our friends in Shotton, but it will be good to be at home again and to get back down to work there.

Fetching the kids from camp

8:30 found us en route for Tywyn to collect the kids. They've had a splendid and "amazing" time. I have a bill to pay at Bethany Books but we arrived back after closing time. I'll have to send them a cheque. Then to buy tea bags, baked beans and gravy granules. I was pleased that although the 240 PG Tips for £3 offer seemed to have finished the till still charged us at £3 a box anyway. The price indicated was £4.29. Quite a difference ! Now a quick visit to a shut-in before returning Rhys and Jane's car to them.

A quick visit to the Carey Family Conference

on Friday. We arrived just in time for the start of the morning meeting - John Edmonds on 1 John 3, identity purpose and worth. Then seminar was an interactive Bible Study on the trials of David - interesting difference of perspective between me and my partner, between "David exemplar to the godly" and "David, anointed of the Lord yet liar, cheat etc..." The afternoon was spent talking with old friends what we have not seen for many long years. Then the evening was a share your encouragements time. They said they had not had a missionary to speak this week so we were graciously shoehorned in and I done the fastest powerpoint on the work in Bordeaux that I have ever done. More talking meant that we got home round midnight.

What ! They went out with the Vikings !

So there we were in Lidl, buying one thing and another. I tried to pay by card. "Not authorised". 'It's a credit card', quoth the lad. I tried my debit card. 'Are you sure it's a debit card ?' he asked. 'Yes, but it's French'. 'We don't take credit cards. We only take cash or debit cards.' 'And cheques I suppose ?' 'Cheques ? Cheques ? They went out with the Vikings !' 'Well the Vikings never told me !'

So I said

"but why does all new worship music have to be in the same genre ? And who decided that this was the genre that everyone has to like and sing and so on ?" Two days later someone completely disconnected with that discussion sends me this :

OK - this plan MAY come together

we walked down to Peter's workshop and collected the car. He'd had fun fitting the clutch cable - he says that it's a two-man job and he works alone, so a mate had had to help him out. His diagnosis ? The clutch diaphragm is heavy and is breaking the cables. He said "I'm confident it'll get you to France but it needs looking at." So I made sure I had the old broken cable so I can show it to M. Plazy when we get back to France and drove the car back to Shotton. Next stop for the car - on the ferry !

Today we spent meeting up and talking with Stuart and Doris Olyott ,

they invited us to a carvery out at Parkgate which was very pleasant. It was good to talk to Stuart about all sorts of things : Wales, France, etc. etc. Afterwards we got the message to go and collect the car.

Reading the book of the month

Another good thing about being in Deeside has been the church's book of the month scheme.  The old books of the month are put in a spinner in the porch for people to borrow them. I happily complied and  read or skimmed : Driscoll : Letters from the cross Dickson : The Christ files, about the historical evidence for Jesus. It was very good. Keller : The prodigal God. Piper : Finally alive (this latter only scanned)

and I'm still waiting

UFM FamConf is good for us in many ways, not least in showing that other missionaries are finite, small and struggle, too. I was particularly struck by the one guy who talked about how he'd had a fall on the ice which had knocked his confidence and put him out of action for some time (he does live in a very icy place!) Good for me to hear. We're still waiting to hear from our mechanic. So here's some music while I wait :


One nice thing about being in Britain is that we can use the BBC's iPlayer, forbidden to us when we try to watch in France. So since today I have been glued to the telephone I've watched an episode of Doctor Who, a documentary about three aussies who cycle the route Hannibal took when he attacked Rome and the start of a documentary on Channel Four about the escape of German prisoners of war from a camp at Bridgend. I've also done some chores that have been waiting for me !

A test of audio blogging using Audioboo


A splendid weekend

So we got the children ready for camp, bought their last-minute toiletries and loaded up the car we borrowed. It's a Seat Leon, 2001, and really nice. Then we set off for Tywyn. The route is easy, basically you turn off the Aber road : Yr Wyddgrug, Rhuthun, Y Bala, Dolgellau ( except we took the Brithdir shortcut ), Talyllyn, campsite. We had forgotten how beautiful North Wales is and how lucky we are to have lived here so many years. At the campsite we said goodbye to Catrin and watched Gwilym playing with his mates, then talked with old friends before returning for chilli at the Ironmongers'. Sunday I was privileged to speak and serve at communion, and to preach at the Carmel fellowship in the evening.