Showing posts from November, 2010

Santi Novoa y Ramón López - Bolivar - E. Cook


It's only taken five years...

In our previous house in Villenave my office was in the garage. It was really cold ! I only had half the garage because half was full of boxes. So I bought some plastic shelves. When we moved here I thought 'these plastic shelves are all well and good but my books are stacked two deep and I can never find anything. I need to get some proper Billy bookshelves.' So this morning we made the pilgrimage to Ikea and bought some nice white Billy bookshelves and I now have Bible commentaries again and loads of useful books - and some not so useful ! And I can sort them out into categories and put the commentaries in order and everything !

Five-year review and personnal panel

Normal missionaries spend four years in their country of service and then one year on "home assignment" in their sending country (furlough). During that year "home" they attend some interviews designed to ensure that they are OK, coping with cross-cultural work, that family life is OK, that they are in an appropriate sphere of service, and that their support is sufficiently strong for them to return overseas. Never let it be said that we are normal. Anyway, France is not that far from Britain and our kids are in French schools, not in UK-style ones. For us to return to Britain for a year would be a mess on all sorts of fronts, normally (though if we hit some kind of crisis then a year in Britain may be helpful. Anyway we came to France in September 2005 so we have been due for our five-year review. We were scheduled to undergo this in July but the car broke down on the way to the interviews so we set it up to be done by Skype last weekend. Thus it was that Pat

It was quite funny, really...

Friday morning I said to a colleague, "so the question is, does Christian worship derive from the temple or the synagogue?"... "Beuh, from the temple, of course !" quoth he. Friday afternoon, sneaking a quick read of "20 controversies that killed a church" : The pattern of New Testament worship is the synagogue. After God's people in the Old Testament returned from Babylon they no longer had the temple worship with its sacrifices. They gathered weekly in the synagogue to worship. Here they sang psalms, prayed, read the Scriptures and heard expositions of the Scriptures. The early church continued this pattern of worship..." (page 201) I've been doing a bit of thinking about orders of service. This follows various things : 1) in my background I've been used to the simple British non-conformist "hymn sandwich" - feeling at liberty to modify this according to need - for example splitting the sermon into three parts ( one of m

Personnel Panel

In the summer because of our car problems we didn't get to spend the week at the UFM Family Conference. This meant that we didn't get to have our 5-year review meetings. They're scheduled for now. Pat has had her one-to-one interview with Doreen the other day. Bryn is due to grill me this evening after the service. Then tomorrow at 15:30 British time, 16:30 France time we should have our panel meeting by Skype. We'd appreciate your prayers for these important meetings.

Saint-Girons is like the Venice of the Pyrenees


At the Synod


At the Synod of Saint-Girons



Martin Downes is the pastor of our home church in North Wales. His little daughter, Kezia, has been ill for some time and yesterday an MRI scan revealed a brain tumour. She's expected to have an operation today.

The weekend ahead

The weekend starts now - with preparation for the Synod of Saint-Girons. I've printed out all the papers and I ought to read them, though I could also read them in the car on the way down. Today we also have the Pessac guys group and the Great English Class this evening. Tomorrow morning will find me joining the others at Cadaujac to scuttle off to Saint-Girons, a small town in the depths of the Ariège, not far from Andorra and Spain. The church there is pastored by Jean-Philippe Bru and it will be great to see the place. This is what wikipedia says about it . The synod is what we call our Regional Council, and it will last till Saturday afternoon, whereupon we scuttle off home again. Synod plus points - seeing the folks, discussing the life of the churches, seeing Saint-Girons Synod minus points - Wot, no Queen ? Sunday evening we have the English Service. Last Sunday there were some new faces and we had three lads under two years of age.

Anglade featured in Haute Gironde

It's not brilliant but you may be able to read if you squint...

Well would you believe it ?

We bank at present with Credit-Agricole Normandie (Britline), this because we could establish the account from the UK before we moved here and so on. Also the folk speak English and don't assume we know everything about how accounts work. We need a second account for our work support money. It's currently paid into our main account with our personal allowance but it has been decided that this needs to be separated off into an account apart - a good idea. So I contacted Britline. "Hum, har, oh dear, well we'll need all the documents you sent us originally" (which was a lot) and so on... The other day I was paying a cheque in at our local Credit-Agricole Aquitaine. How do I set up an account here ? Come and see us with your electric bill. So I did and 37 seconds later the guy said "You'll receive all the forms at your house by post. Bring them here, sign them, I'll activate them and bob's your uncle." Wow ! Quelle efficacité !

On the change

Yesterday was a gorgeous day - bright and sunny and not too cold. That's because the weather is on the change. The torrential rain is over for a while. Now we'll have MUCH COLDER WEATHER. But yesterday was lovely. After a morning potching about (cutting back the buddleia, etc.) we went to the cinema to see the film Red, which was quite good fun. Then a pleasant evening with the children off at solfège and me doing a bit of the necessary on the trombone. A nice day off. Today back to the grind with a meeting with the bank this morning, distribution of leaflets this afternoon and the student Bible study this evening (which I am not leading at all).

In the University of the Wilderness

David Murray reflects here .

The Unknown

As we know, There are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know There are known unknowns. That is to say We know there are some things We do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, The ones we don't know We don't know.

iPad thoughts

Too big ! What's the point of having a funky wifi/3G tablet computer that won't fit in your pocket ? Too expensive ! It's priced like a rich kid's toy. However Archos , a French firm, have brought out a range of Android tablets with screen sized from 2.8"  to 10.1". The small ones make alternatives to iPod Touch. The 7" , at half the price of a iPad, would fit in a jacket or coat pocket and make a great wifi-powered or tethered pad for use in cafés or wherever.

Pat's birthday

Well I put the banners on the window and when Pat woke up the kids gave her her presents and cards and stuff. Then I left for Anglade, Pat and the chidlren were guiding Christian, our visiting preacher, to Cenon. At Anglade we did the service according to the rule book - my first time ever. I had so much paper in front of me that I couldn't find my (one-page) sermon notes, but I'd used them as a bookmark in Matin de Promesse and spotted them just in time. All that was left was to forget my red fleece jacket on the front row. The church here is liturgical. Well, in the broad sense. Up till now that has been completely undetectable but two things have happened, firstly a change of pastor, then the local chairman reminding churches that for the communion service there's a form of service. So I gave it a go. It'd be good to discuss it with someone... Anyway. Went back to Cenon to pick up the family and en route thought how much Pat would appreciate going out for a bir

It's Patricia's birthday today - Samba


An encouraging week

It's been an encouraging week - for several reasons : Firstly, there was the visit of brother Régis from Switzerland. He was in Bordeaux on Tuesday and called round in the afternoon. We went for a walk in the local parks and talked about stuff, as you do. It was a very happy and encouraging time. Secondly, one of the things that has perturbed me a lot here is the attitude to human origins. In a pastorale one of our influential guys asked a speaker "so would you say that it is impossible to be a creationist and honest ?" It wasn't so much the question as the fact that nobody replied from an honest creationist standpoint. So it seemed to me that the descent from the apes was the majority position, if not unanimous. At most pastorales some kind of comment along those lines is made. So it was great to find in back issues of the Revue Réformée articles that came from another perspective. So why don't people speak up in pastorales ? I don't know. I do know there

Overture to Wilhelm Tell


Sometimes I feel so foreign...

A lot of the time You don't really think abotu being foreign or anything. You just function. But sometimes the culture gap is just very big. Like when we rehearsed "Girl Talk" with the big band. Our singer sang the French lyrics. I reproduce below for you the English words, followed by the French words. Girl Talk They like to chat about the dresses they will wear tonight They chew the fat about their tresses and the neighbours' fight Inconsequential things that men don't really care to know Become essential things that women find so apropos But that's a dame They're all the same It's just a game They call it girl talk, girl talk They all me-ouw about the ups and downs of all their friends The who, the how, the why, they dish the dirt, it never ends The weaker sex, the speaker sex, we mortal males behold But though we joke, we wouldn't trade you for a ton of gold So baby stay, and gab away But hear me say That after girl talk

Woohooo ! - La prédication biblique : une prédication « ciblée »

Lisez l'article ici.

Le mal fait-it partie du plan de Dieu / Spectacular sins chapitre 4

La désobéissance d'Adam et l'obéissance de Christ Comment le péché d'Adam a servi à proclamer la suprématie de Christ. la mort a régné depuis Adam jusqu’à Moïse, même sur ceux qui n’avaient pas péché par une transgression semblable à celle d’Adam, lequel est la figure de celui qui devait venir... Si par l’offense d’un seul la mort a régné par lui seul, à plus forte raison ceux qui reçoivent l’abondance de la grâce et du don de la justice régneront–ils dans la vie par Jésus–Christ lui seul. ( Rom 6 : 14,17 ) Piper commence ce chapitre par nous rappeler que son but est de proclamer Jésus-Christ- comme la personne la plus importante de tout l'univers, plus grad que tous les êtres créés de tous les temps...  Il dit aussi que tout ce qui existe, même le mal, "est ordonné par un Dieu infiniment saint et parfaitement sage, et ce dans le but de faire éclater davantage encore la gloire du Christ." Il continue par citer le pasteur Anglais Stephen Charnock : &qu

God and science for French-speakers

Read it here

Swiss visit

A brother from Switzerland was in Bordeaux and we talked while walking round the local parks. Boy, it did me good ! Thanks, Régis !

Medical visit

I'm off to the doctors this morning. Just routine. later : All OK. The doctor said "Hop on the scales... Oh, you'll have to give up the snails !" ... Then she said "Oh, hang on, the scales weren't at zero. Hop on again. Oh that's OK". . Then the doctor said "Could you blow in this tube, please, as hard as you can ?" I said "OK, Doctor, but why?" She said "The pea is stuck in my pea-shooter and I can't get it out."

Vicarious visit

We got together at FAC yesterday afternoon with the new couple in charge of the Anglicans in Bordeaux, Bramwell and Jennifer Bearcroft. It was good to meet them and to get to know them a bit.

Episcopal visit

The president of our region came to visit at the weekend. He's a nice guy who lives up in the Mas d'Azil in deepest Ariège. He has two churches under his charge, both date back to the 16th century and the town was besieged during the wars of religion in the 17th century. He came to eat with us on Saturday evening and then preached in the morning to a decent group. In the evening I preached on Deborah's song from Judges 5 and we had a nice group for the English service. On Saturday night I was bitten by a mosquito just under my eye, and it swelled up nastily. Antihistamines and some after-bite cream have helped and it's almost back to normal.

It's mushroom time

On Wednesday morning we noticed some shaggy ink caps frowing on the pavement by the park. The mushrooms are everywhere and with supermarket prices being astronomical, lots of people take to the woods after girolles, chanterelles or cèpes. Like these folk .

Yesterday was férié - a bank holiday

so the supermarket was giving FIVE TIMES your loyalty points to entice people in. I put off our shopping till yesterday to profit from that, and also because after some allergic reactions recently (cats, perfume, rodents) I have been firing on three cylinders. The supermarket was pretty crowded but because I got there early I got everything done really quickly. Then home, unload and off to the Pessac Memorial Ceremony. In France this consists of bugle calls and speeches. Firstly a bugle call - I forget which one. Then a veteran ( ancien combattant ) reads a letter from the national organisation of anciens combattants, then the maire says his bit, then the local mp says his bit, then we proceed to the silence. The bugle plays Aux morts , the flags are lowered and all chaps who remember (oops !) remove their hats. Some seconds later the town band strikes up the Marseillaise and the ceremony is over and all swarm into the marie for snacks and drinks. Although France is fiercely secula

OK - race against the clock !

Supermarket then War memorial then Pessac Guys Reading Group then FAC sortout then English Class . To fit in between - eating (if reading group is on there's usually pizza) and prep. for English class !

I might write a letter, and I might enjoy it

The children have tomorrow off school for armistice day. This is good news, and especially for Gwilym as he's had a bad week so far. On the way to school on Monday his bus broke down so they had to wait and get on the next. Only 10 minutes later but add that to the chaos that ensues in Bordeaux whenever it rains (and it rains a lot) and the poor lad was actually almost an hour late. Then today he was threatened with detention along with five other lads because on one of her circuits of the class the English teacher noticed that some boy had made a nasty smell. As the culprit refused to confess his act 6 boys were threatened with detention. I told Gwilym that if she does give them detention then I shall write a letter in the most complicated English I can think of asking her to spell out the reason for this punishment and against exactly which stipulation of the school code a boy transgressed... Then today we had to go and get his bus card replaced - it had stopped working

Autumn has hit suddenly

We just went for a quick strollette through the park to inspect the new Picard frozen food shop - and to take a "morning destitutional" - and the first thing that hits the eyes is the redness of our drive. Next door's larch has shed its leaves. Suddenly. Then in the park the leaves have fallen as one man during the storm, so the entire park is carpeted with russet tones. I had forgotten my phone so I couldn't take a picture but I expect to pass through there again in 30 mins time so I'll pop one on then. On the other side of the park the gardeners had the leaf blowers out clearing the pavement so nobody slips under the number 4 bus. Picard looks promising. Among the promised delights are proper big frozen peas, frozen parsnip soup, frozen curries of various kinds, alongside the usual kaleidoscope of parts of duck and pig and steaks of australian wild boar.

Just tell me how much and where to get it !

This would be SO useful.



The storm stopped the trams !

We're in the middle of a series of waves of storms here - thunder, lightning, wind, torrential rain. The trees have suddenly lost the major part of their leaves. The road into Pessac was flooded at several points. And the lightning stopped the trams from running ! Read about that here.

David Murray again

David Murray is Professor of Old Testament at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. His blog is a mine of useful reflection. Here are two articles I was struck by recently :

J.J. Johnson & Kai Winding - It's alright with me

A hymn in French from Grudem

One of the things I like about Grudem is the warmth of the book. It's the same in French. Here's one of the hymns, this from the chapter on the resurrection and the ascension : Entonnons dans ce jour un cantique nouveau, A l'honneur de Jésus, qui sort du tombeau. Il a de notre juge apaisé la colère; Il a fait notre paix avec Dieu notre Père. Pour nous ce Fils de dieu s'est revêtu d'un corps; Pour nous, il entre dans le séjour des morts, Après avoir souffert une peine infinie, Et perdu sur la croix son innocente vie. Publions son triomphe, il est ressuscité; Il règne dans le ciel tout plein de majesté. Les esprits bienheureux qui contemplent sa gloire, Célèbrent ses vertus, ses combats, sa victoire. Ressuscitons, chrétiens, avec notre Sauveur; Suivons ce divin chef, ce glorieux vainqueur; Et détachons nos coeurs des choses de la terre, Dont la gloire et les biens n'ont que l'éclat du verre. Élevons nos esprits vers les biens éternels. S

Le Gendarme A New York la leçon d'anglais

Grudem and the need to pray for pastors in France

The arrival of Grudem raises a point for prayer. I ordered my copy of Théologie Systématique at a pre-publication price. Because books are important and publishing in French is important, it is important to buy things like this to support Christian publishing in France. But one does that at a price. The standard price for Grudem in French will be 64€ (£56). Obviously that's very expensive. There's a launch price of 56€, but that's still a lot of money. Pre-publication it was cheaper again. Meanwhile gives a price of £22.64 for Grudem in English. Even when books exist in print, they're still really expensive, few French pastors are paid as well as British ones, and France has become a very expensive country to live in. So please pray for French pastors.

Danses Polovtsiennes - Part 1

Danses Polovtsiennes - Part 2

Ephésiens 3:20-21

A celui qui peut faire, par la puissance qui agit en nous, infiniment plus que tout ce que nous demandons ou pensons, à lui soit la gloire dans l'Eglise en Jésus- Christ, pour toutes les générations, aux siècles des siècles! Amen!

Well that was a marathon !

We just got back from the Pastorale Nationale of the Union Nationale des Eglises Protestantes Reformées Evangéliques de France (UNEPREF) which was held at Chausse deep in the heart of the Cevennes. We left Pessac at about 3:30 on Sunday afternoon and made good time till we got very near our destination. Sadly the GPS didn't actually have the conference centre in its data, so we had to resort to following the instructions, read by our indomitable navigator. Thankfully the instructions were good and we arrived just in time to be in bed by midnight. 625km door to door. The main sessions were on handling conflict in the church and I found them very helpful. It was also very good to meet up with the guys again. Also to put in motion the process of establishing a protocol between the mission and the union of churches, which would also involve me becoming a non-stipendiary pastor on the churches' list. The conference centre is in the middle of forests of sweet chestnuts. It&