Showing posts from September, 2010

Well I am as ready as I can be

for the funeral this afternoon: I have my notes ready. Mainly readings. My shirt and trousers are ironed. My shoes are OK. All is fine. All I need to do is pray and go. The funeral will take place entirely in the cemetery. This is quite usual for protestant funerals, maybe for catholic ones, too. I don't know. The Frenchman looketh not on the outward appearance - what I mean is that at the last (and first) committal to which I went the pastor officiating was wearing a very dodgy overcoat and didn't look at all ministerial. I shall have on my profoundly ministerial black overcoat, so I don't think anyone will mistake me for anything else... But it's good to know that even for pastors, dress is informal. The goal for me is to be as invisible as possible. You want people to see Jesus Christ as great and good and mighty and powerful and kind, and the pastor as... oh, yes, there was someone wasn't there..

The orange juice isn't working very well...

All the Daveys have colds. Patricia is struggling. Catrin Zeta is coughing. Gwilym Terfel is sneezing. I am still in denial...

What ?

One of the students has a Blackberry mobile phone. Yes ! A Blackberry ! They've produced a low-cost student model. Would you believe it ! The other day Patricia and I were a little early for something or other and we had a few minutes to kill wandering round Pessac town centre. Since Pessac Town centre yields up all its treasures in about 40 seconds we found ourselves first in the épicerie japonaise where we bought some cans of drink - I had an amazingly ghastly can of young coconut milk, which was absolutely disgusting. We then wendered into the new cave - very posh - which has a huge selection of whiskies. Would you believe it ? The French love Scotch ! I was pleased to recognise one that came from Bladnoch where we once tried to camp. The distillery is now a tourist centre and has a campsite behind it - really a tarmac carpark. It was the only camp site that Patricia absolutely refused to stay at. The boarding kennel was OK and the burnt-out chocken farm passed muster but Bl

Excuse me !

R ich Lizard was in the toilet !

How many of our convictions come from

our evangelical culture rather than from our Bibles ? Infarso do we by our traditions make the word of God of no effect ? Here's an interesting reflection from Ahl Mohler.

Le mal fait-it partie du plan de Dieu / Spectacular sins chapitre 3

La chute de Satan et le triomphe de Christ Pourquoi Dieu permet-il au diable d'agir encore ? John Piper tourne son regard vers l'entrée du mal dans ce monde et il constate que la rébellion d'une partie des saints anges de Dieu fait partie de ces péchés les plus terribles jamais commis. La Bible ne nous explique pas comment ou pourquoi cette rébellion a eu lieu, mais elle ne dit pas que Dieu a été surpris ou qu'il a dû revoir ses plans. A la fin du récit de la création Dieu dit que tout est bon. Dieu n'a rien créé de mauvais. Mais au commencement de Genèse 3  on se trouve face à un serpent sournois, trompeur et destructeur. En Jean 8:44 Jésus dit du serpent  qu'il est menteur et meurtrier. Mais c'est qui ? Apocalypse 12 parle de ce serpent 'appelé le diable et Satan, celui qui égare toute la terre.' "Le mauvais", "le prince de ce monde", "Bélzébul, le prince des démons", "le prince de la puissance de l'air&q

A friend's mother has died

This chap was introduced to us by someone who comes to the English service. It's a chap who lived in Pessac with his mother and their background is protestant though neither has attended church for years. She was 91 and I am told that she was quite a lady in her day - a friend of Jacques Ellul, she rescued Jews during the occupation. Well at a time like this he needs a pastor, and I am the one he knows. So it's a privilege to be involved in helping this guy by sorting out funeral arrangements, by officiating and by announcing the hope of the gospel at a time of great sadness.

Revolution in your thinking

Look who was hiding in the hall


Start of year service

The start of year service was held at the chateau in Sat Genès de Blaye and followed by a sumptuous lunch. The day was saddened for me by the news I heard in the evening that a friend's mother has died. A protestant lady who rescued Jews during the occupation, I may be involved in the funeral.

Glad I'm not moody !

I zoom and plummet quite enough between euphoria and despair as it is...


Belles balles bleues ! Beaux globes blancs ! ( répéter dix fois - plus facile si on prononce les "e" à la bordelaise...)


L'anse de l'ange penche. Pense à ranger l'ange et changer l'anse. (répéter 10 fois)

La rentrée littéraire

After renewing Catrin's bus card I popped into the Virginmegastore for a swift browsette. Like the English, most French people have good food, dry homes, good health care and peaceful towns. And the books this year are about ? Les chagrins, broken relationships, families in crisis, dark threatening secrets from the past. It reminds me of a line from a Fauré song : "they do not seem to believe in their own happiness." I did see one book that made me laugh ( see photo ) and another, "absolument débordé", that has become notorious.

Books on the go

Voici les livres que je suis en train de lire jusque là : avec les messieurs de Pessac, "Passerelles"; avec un étudiant, "La Foi Chrétienne en libre accès"; avec un autre , "Une Bible, un café, des disciples"; pour résumer sur le blogue, "Le mal fait-il partie du plan de Dieu?" et "Life in Christ"; pour préparer les ateliers de prédication, "Preaching pure and simple" et "Dig deeper". Il reste des rencontres à organiser, mais jusqu'ici ça va.

A day of marvels

Well we sorted out why we can no longer put journeys on Catrin's tram id-card. It has to be reactivated every year at the office. This is a job for Friday morning. Then we had folks come for lunch. I ask you, how many women do you know who can feed 8 people with three sausages, a bit of cucumber, a melon and a dollop of ice-cream ? I love introducing people to one another (the best is introducing people to Jesus) so it was great to introduce the Harris' from Swansea and Neath and also to introduce them all to Andrew from NornIreland. We talked about France, the gospel, stuff, books, stuff, Andrew's college, Ted Donnelly. You know.  One book we talked about is "The Kingdom in the Republic", which I must order properly from Amazon. Quick break for trombone lesson - Five people and their trombones rehearsing in a large pantry. The Black Hole of Calcutta sprang to mind. ( Imagine the Black Hole of Calcutta with trombones....) Very glad I can still do this this y

Des dieux et des hommes

There's a film out which I knew I'd have to go and see, which kind of touches lots of bases. It's called "Des dieux et des hommes" and it is the story of a little monastery in the Atlas mountains which has been there for generations and seen a village grow up around it. The village and the villagers are Muslim, but the monastery is French Roman Catholic. The villagers are looked after by the monks, who sort out their administration, read and write for some of them, advise them on all sorts of matters and run a dispensary. Then the islamists start their campaign. They slaughter some French people working in a quarry. They kill some local folk who are not conforming to their rules. And they threaten the monastery. I won't say any more, but at the end of the film, which we saw in the little cinema in Pessac, the atmosphere in the cinema was extraordinary. Everyone stood up one by one and walked out in silence. A remarkable film.

Et si on néglige l'application de la parole préchée ?

Quand même, nos auditeurs ne sont pas idiots. Ils savent très bien appliquer la parole à leurs propres vies. Et même si on accepte que c'était la pratique de Jésus et des apôtres, nous on n'est ni Jésus ni apôtres ! On n'a pas cette espèce d'autorité qui peut se mêler des vies des gens. Non, on doit annoncer, discuter, expliquer la parole de Dieu, mais l'appliquer - descendre dans la pratique ... ça, non. Mais si on néglige d'appliquer la parole de Dieu, même quand on est silencieux on parle. En fait, parfois le silence parle plus fort que nos voix. Qu'est-ce qu'on dit si on n'explique pas comment mettre en pratique la parole de Dieu ? On donne l'impression que nous pouvons croire, accepter, professer toute la vérité de la Bible, mais cela n'implique pas forcément un changement de vie. Il est vrai que le mot grec pour la repentance signifie un changement de pensée, penser autrement, mais il est aussi vrai que la Bible nous enseigne de pro

Time to call on the garagiste

There's been deafening silence. No response at all to my letter ( predictable really ) so I have to take my courage in my hands, throw caution to the winds, and call round to see the garagiste.

Orange Juice

We're just passing bugs round the family incessantly now. We decided that a few more weeks of this would be very inconvenient, so we're all on orange juice. And antacids !

Now that IS amazing !

A friend reminded me of two colleagues who have conducted preaching workshops (or similar) and who may have materials available for sharing. The one, Andrew Page, whose excellent sessions can be heard here on the website of the European leadership forum. The other, Mark Troughton from York Evangelical Church, who ministered for some years at Lausanne, then Martigny. The cogs turned slowly. Aha ! Yes, before we came to France Mark sent me a CD with his material adapted from "The Divine Relay". You can read about his work here. But we've moved house twice since then. And CDs are such elusive, timid things. They must be hunted with care. So hunt I did. And I found the CD. Amazing !

Fanfare for an uncommon week

The New Yoyk Philharmonic, augmented by colleagues from Middle-earth, play Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man. Amazing.

Poulenc trio for trumpet, horn and trombone

A bit of culture for a Saturday afternoon :

A heartening volume

I was early at the collège yesterday lunchtime so I popped into a nearby bookshop to browse and saw a heartening volume written by several French geographers and environmental scientists entitled "The sky will not fall on our heads." (Le ciel ne nous tombera pas sur la tête). Francophiles will recognise the allusion to Asterix and the Gaulish belief that one day the sky would fall on their heads. We, of course, have broadened our range of cataclysms - we believe that one day a massive meteor will fall on our heads, that there'll be another ice age, that we'll burn up, that the sea level will rise, that there'll be global warfare because of drought, that... well, you know. These plucky French geographers say no to all that. I didn't buy the book but I did leave the shop thinking that I ought to start reading more broadly again.

Dragon dictation on the iPhone

So what's the big deal ? The big deal is that now I can dictate text messages, emails, twitter/facebook updates or even short blog posts in English or in French as I walk through the park, for example...

Tu as dit, "Appliquer ?"

Quelqu'un m'a posé la question l'autre jour ; "Pourquoi appliquer la parole de Dieu quand on prêche ? Pourquoi descendre dans le détail de la vie pratique ? Pourquoi pas simplement annoncer la vérité de la parole, discuter un peu afin de convaincre, puis laisser au Saint-Esprit le travail d'appliquer la parole aux consciences et vies des auditeurs ?" Comment répondre à une telle question ? On pourrait citer notre tradition. Dans les églises indépendantes on fait ceci, dans nos églises on fait cela. Certains essayeraient d'argumenter. "Mais si on fait ceci, le résultat sera cela..." La réponse chrétienne dépend de la Bible. Evidemment. L'autorité suprême ne repose ni dans nos traditions ni dans notre raisonnement. L'autorité suprême est à Dieu et repose dans la parole de Dieu. D'accord. Mais qu'est-ce que cela veut dire pour notre prédication et pour cette question d'appliquer la parole de Dieu aux consciences et aux

Le mal fait-it partie du plan de Dieu / Spectacular sins chapitre 2

Notre survol de ce livre, interrompu par pas mal de choses (semaine de mission, AG) poursuit son cours avec le deuxième chapitre : Le règne de Christ sur les puissances du mal - toutes choses ont été créées pour lui. John Piper commence ce chapitre par noter que nous ne savons pas tout sur tout. Il y a des choses mystérieuses, c'est-a-dire des choses qui ne sont pas révélées par Dieu. Choses cachées. Mais tout n'est pas caché. Dieu nous a révélé beaucoup de choses. Et particulièrement il nous a révélé la gloire de Jésus Christ, son fils. Une description précise de la gloire de Christ. Pour montrer la gloire de Jésus, John Piper cite la lettre aux Colossiens, chapitre 1, 9 - 20. Il liste 14 vérités de Jésus-Christ révélées ici : 1. En lui nous sommes rachetés, pardonnés de nos péchés (14) 2. Il est l'image du Dieu invisible (15) 3.Il est le premier-né de toute la création (15) 4. C'est en lui que tout à été créé, dans les cieux et sur la terre, les visibl

"Tout reprit son calme."

Les invités sont partis. C'était génial de les avoir avec nous. L'équipe MPEF est une équipe de rêve ! Mais c'est bien aussi de retrouver le rythme normal de la vie de famille It's been great to have lots of people coming and going over the last month - really since the day we got back from Britain.  But now it's good to get the normal rhythm of family life going. However it is a tiring rhythm ! Gwilym starts lycée Tuesday to Friday at 8h15, and his day normally goes in till 17h20. His journey to school take almost an hour by bus so he leaves the house at 7am and gets back and about 18h20. He has Wednesday afternoon off. There was the possibility of staying at school and joining a football team but he decided that he needs that afternoon off. I don't blame him ! he also starts at 10h20 on Mondays, which is a blessing. Catrin's collège is not far away and she only starts at 8am once a week (Friday). Meanwhile activities are starting up gradu

Dragon Dictation for iPhone

At last it's available ! And free ! And you can dictate in English or French ! And it works !

Temple du Hâ

(posted from my phone)

They are demolishing the house at the end of our street


The abandoned car

When we arrived home in August there was this car parked just at the side of our driveway. A Volkswagen Golf mark 3, white, not in bad condition but with one back window open. The last MOT and tax were in 2008. Well by asking round the neighbours we discovered that it appeared at the beginning of July, and that apparently it has been sold to someone who lives in Pessac. Well it's still there. I phoned the Police Municipale and they said they'd send someone down to see. One must assume that they have. and to be fair they didn't say they'd do anything as such. So what next ?

Dengue in France

The first indigenous case of dengue fever has been identified in Nice. For a few years there have been tiger mosquitoes in Provence - the type of mosquito that can spread dengue fever. But no cases have ever been identified that could not have been contracted overseas. But today's case was contracted in France.

It'll be a funny old week this week

We have the Assemblée Générale of our French association on Wednesday morning. This is a very important meeting in French law. All associations have to have an Assemblée Générale with certain items on the agenda. We have to revamp the finance of our association's costs. We also have a certain number of "housekeeping" jobs to do related to the addition of two new missionary families to the association. For the AG les pasteurs Emmanuel are coming down from Brittany,and colleagues  from Savoie and from Carcassonne. It will be good to meet up with these folks. Meanwhile non-student related activities are starting up again. The Pessac guys will meet on Thursday, we hope. I may be able to meet up with my JW friend on Wednesday afternoon. I hope to meet up with one of the Chinese students this week, too, and I'll restart "chapel duty" in Catrin's collège. On Thursday morning there's another meeting related to the formation of the Conseil National Evangéli

Sunday 12th

I wasn't preaching anywhere in the morning so I got to sit next to Pat, Gwilym was working the video projector while Catrin sat with her friends.It was good to be all together for worship, and the message was from 1 Thessalonians 4 about sexual purity. After the service we kidnapped our stagiare, Samuel, and brought him back for lunch, then to the evenings English service, where we were in Luke 24 on the road to Emmaus and really about Jesus and the Old Testament.. Afterwards we drove Samuel back to Cadaujac where Pat and Catrin greeted the old guinea pigs before we wended our weary way home.

Sniff ! Sneeze ! Moan !

For years I've had this tendency to catch a cold if I get over-tired. You can almost put it in the calendar. So after the epic Dover to Bordeaux drive - I caught a cold. And after the team left ... you get it. One thing has changed. I used to get simple streaming colds. Sometimes I'd end up with a nasty cough afterwards but that was it. Now I get sinus pain ! Ouch. I imagine that that's a side-effect of  the furring of the nasal tubes after years of living in cities... So it was that yesterday found me lying in bed, sneezing and moaning quietly to myself. At 6 I went out to the school of music because I'd told them I'd help with people signing up. That all went well - and there's a protocol in France for folk who have a cold - no handshake, no bise... So I dosed myself up with ibuprofen and paracetamol and took a flask of tea with me (that was a stroke of GENIUS !) and all was OK. It's great helping out with the inscriptions because you get to know y

Tout m'étonne, tout m'intéresse !

Recovering our sense of wonder. Amazing !

Au revoir, team, à bientôt !

What strange stupidity prevents me from pulling a door that so obviously refuses to open when I push it ? Whatever it was, it caused me to be trapped within the Bordeaux Ibis car park while the team watched hopelessly from without with their enormous suitcases. Ann rescued us and we proceeded through the maze of Bordeaux's one way streets (text message ; "please turn right I am in a one way street") then the ring road to within 100 yards of the desired Buffalo Grill. We saw the Buffalo Grill. We could even smell the Buffalo Grill. But we could not drive to the Buffalo Grill because they'd blocked up the road that leads to the Buffalo Grill from the south. You can only get to the Buffalo Grill from the north. So we drew the short straw and headed for Courtepaille. The Saucisses de Toulouse were amazing. I thought the green beans were quite startling. By the time we'd all unloaded half our chips on Jonathan his meal was overwhelming and the photograph of t


We fill up the car about once a fortnight with 50 litres of diesel at a cost of about 55 euros and we do 800 km before filling up again. The price varies but everything else stays about the same. Then last time I filled up I saw that they were selling super-diesel with super detergents and all sorts for 5c a litre more. So I thought I'd give it a go. 940 km later on the same tankful I think I'll continue the experiment for a few more weeks !

MV, Easyjet and Ibis

One of the MV team got an email from Easyjet saying that because their flight was cancelled then Easyjet would reimburse reasonable expenses for accommoddattion and meals while awaiting the next flight. Some phone calls, an email exchange, and the team are now lodged in "luxury" at the Ibis in the middle of town. Real beds ! A shower for each room. They fly home tomorrow.

Beethoven in the china factory

Fin de mission, regardons vers l'avenir

Well the mission vacances team time finished last night with grand finale, the Théo'Show Café Theo. It went very well with a near-capacity crowd. The film provoked spirited discussion and folk seemed happy to stay and talk. Now it's time for me to think of the weekend ahead. I think I am preaching at Cenon am in French and pm in English, but I need to check this, and quick ! Meanwhile the team are stuck here in France. Because of a national strike against retirement reforms Easyjet flights out of Bordeaux are cancelled today and the next available flight for Liverpool is on Thursday. We'll meet up this morning for a brief review time and to think of the couple of days ahead as well as next mission week. Incidentally they stop the number 4 bus when there's a strike. I don't know why ! Some other buses are running. But this means that Gwilym can't get to school.

Dans ce monde il faut toujours

prévoir l'imprévisible afin d'éviter l'inévitable ! The Mission Vacances team will be with us a little longer. A strike tomorrow means that their flight is cancelled and the next available is Thursday.

At quartier Saint-Michel




Soularium and booktable


Not amused !


Rentrée at the music school

Steve was keen that the team have some free time, which was great because today was time to sign up the kids for the music school. Basically you have to bagsy the time that suits you best and it's survival of the fitter, it really is. Anyway we succeeded in getting them doing theory of music the same night and their instrument classes at the same time too ! Amazing !

La rentrée ...

Gwilym left at 6;40 to get his bus. He has a sports day today with a prize for the winning team ! Either football or cinema tickets. Things seem OK. He has three mornings when he starts at 8am so has to be on the 7am bus. Catrin left at 7:20 to get her bus. She starts at 8am this morning, too. Not sure how the school of music will work out for folk. Will Gwilym get home in time to do his compulsory theory of music class ? Will Catrin get a suitable spot for her singing (she's dropping flute this year because she wants to do singing.) ? Meanwhile can I carry on with trombone, after price hikes and restructuring of levels and classes. We won't know about trombone till after 14 September, but Pat hopes to get the kids sorted out tomorrow. (Oh, I HATE la rentrée scolaire !)

Mission Vacances day 2

Soularium on campus. Big Soularium and literature table at Cathedral, then down by Sainte Catherine. Expo at FAC still going well. Open air on the quays turned quickly into just contacting folk on the quays - not enough crowds and getting dark too early. Nice contacts. Still hot. 35.5°C in the middle of Bordeaux yesterday. Last team member arrived at 16:05 at Mérignac.

Mission Vacances Day 1

Soularium at Victoire. Big Soularium and litterature table by Cathedral. Expo at FAC going well. Kev at St Michel North African area. Very quiet ( Ramadan ) Church prayer meeting evening. Weather is glorious if a little on the warm side. You get tired quickly and you need your water bottle. But SO MUCH better than rain!

La rentrée 2010

Gwilym starts his lycée at 10:15 today ( 8:15 tomorrow oh la la ! ) Catrin starts at 14:15 today then according to timetable tomorrow. Pat in charge !

The team has landed.

Well the mission team has landed and been installed in the church, upstairs, downstairs but there isn't a lady's chamber. And an excellent team it is, too ! I've written my letter to M Plazy at the garage to complain about having had to fix again the clutch he fixed in November. We'll see what the response is. The only other time I have written to a garage (to E S Jones when it was a Rover garage) the letter worked a treat. Today I hope I can forget about all that mularkey and plunge into the mission activities.