Showing posts from February, 2011

Some good stuff here !

Read here about preaching the gospel from Judges !

A lovely but rather unusual weekend

The Chinese group on Saturday night was a very happy time, if somewhat incomprehensible - almost entirely in Mandarin. We will meet up with the folks asking about baptism next week for the first in a series of sessions. There is an idea doing the rounds that it is by the act of being baptised that one is born again of water and the Spirit, so it was good to be able to reassure everyone that people who are baptised are no more saved than anyone else, and that if they want to wait that's fine. Sunday morning Patricia and I were at Anglade where things seemed to go OK. Numbers were down, I don't know why. End of school hols, perhaps ? This may also account for the absence of almost all the students on Sunday evening. We were encouraged by the visit of four Dutch friends, however, one of whom lived in Aberystwyth for 6 months. Also by the return of our Swedo-Norwegian lad accompanied by his parents and his grandparents. It was a good time.

So the bulk of yesterday was spent translating

the easy English workbook for Christianity Explored into "easy French". My excellent, faithful and aged Canon printer can take A4 sheets and print them out as A5 booklets, so production is easy. The workbook doesn't have a vast amount of text so the translation was feasible. I even dared to do it in Word rather than in my favourite OpenOffice. Word is much harder to use. It had been suggested on Wednesday and since no week will be any more free than this week, and since we need the booklets for 5 March. So it's done.

Organising the books


"Darktown Strutters' Ball" Preview - Lucien Barbarin & Shannon Powell


It's not at all about what you say, it's about what folks HEAR !

Murray has found this article and shares it with us.

Networking at the Carrefour

It was great to meet lots of different people, to find out more about the project of planting a new Reformed Baptist Church in the South-East of France, to be asked about Geraint Lloyd, to meet Donald Cobb for the first time, to get to know the Vos', to talk with various guys from the Faculty, to network. I don't always find networking easy because I am shy and easily overawed, but there we are, I do what I can...

The train from Marseille to Bordeaux was

the longest I'd ever seen. Loads of carriages. I regretted not counting them, but not enough to return far enough to be able to see and count them all. There was no breakfast available on this train, sadly. After the bright skies of Aix and Marseille the dark brooding clouds of Toulouse were a bit menacing, but the clouds cleared a bit by the time we got to Agen.

8 am found me on the train from Aix to Marseille, then Marseille to Bordeaux.


During the Carrefour I stayed with friends of my old friends

Keith and Janice Hoare who used to live just outside Aix. The friends are David and Rachel, and during our conversations I realised that about 10 years ago before one of our France prayer groups I asked Keith if there were any particular matters for prayer and he mentioned a newly arrived American couple who were in their first throes of langage learning. It was our friends the Vos family. Now David preaches regularly in French and he's doing a Masters at the faculté in French. They live about 10 minutes walk from the station, from the faculty, from everywhere.

The Carrefour was on "L'Esprit Saint et l'Expérience Spirituelle"

with sessions on: "The Spirit of Prophecy in Biblical Theology" (Nicolas Farelly), "True and False Prophets" (Ronald Bergey), "The Spirit Intercedes" (Donald Cobb), "The Spirit in the Christian Life" (Florent Varak), "The Holy Spirit and the Psychology of the Believer" (Guillaume Something), "The Spirit and the Renewed Mind" (Paul Wells) and "The Spirit and Ecology" (Yannick Imbert). Some papers were very good, some were ordinary, one was not very good really. All in all a good time. At the end a plaque was unveiled bearing the new name of the Faculté : Faculté Jean Calvin. This involved speeches from all kinds of people. Long speeches.


 I love Aix-en-Provence.. It's a bit posh, but it is still kind of crazy. As I walked from the station to the Faculté Libre de Théologie Réformée I passed a gang of people doing Tai-Chi in the park. I hoped to find a MacDonalds, and there is one somewhere near the Fac but I didn't pass it or any other café that was open. Tough. I got to the Fac, filled my orange-juice bottle with water and waited patiently for the Carrefour to begin.

Marseille to Aix

 The size and relief of Marseille makes the journey to Aix pretty amazing. To someone used ot the Gironde or to Wales, Provence can look like the moon ! It's craggy, dry and weird. There are cacti ! Prickly pears ! People have gardens that are just bare soil. They try hard but it's so dry and dusty that nothing grows. Then in Marseille you spot the most improbably buildings where people live - just tiny little houses popped on top of shops or leaning against industrial looking buildings. Amazing.

The train to Marseille was pretty deserted

I wasn't going to get into Marseille till lunchtime and so I was going to need something to drink and also something for lunch. The vending machines in the station had bottles of water at €1,70 or Orangina at €2,20 but that's a rip-off. When the trolley came down the train I asked the guy what they had. The best thing is the breakfast, he said. "C'est copieux, c'est bon et c'est beaucoup moins cher que ce qu'on vend dans les gares." He was a nice guy and took a real pride in his job - describing the orange juice fully and telling me even what country the fair-trade hot chocolate came from. I didn't really care that much, sadly, and promptly forgot. It was good though. We hurtled through the scraggiest parts of Toulouse (la ville rose = dirty old red brick) and then through the gorgeous Languedoc with it's scrubby landscape and scary dark, sudden hills. I strained to see Carcassonne but I was probably asleep when we passed it.  It's al

To Aix-en-Provence for a Carrefour Théologique

So this morning I got up at 4am to get ready to catch the 5:11 bus from Pessac Alouette to get to the station for the 6:15 train to Aix-en-Provence via Marseille. I was a little concerned in case the bus didn't come but Pat said if there was a problem she'd drive me to the station. Also as I waited for the bus a beat up old Fiat Panda parked opposite the stop and a woman left the car and came and waited for the bus too. It came. I had to change buses at Costedoat (I am not at all sure how that is pronounced !) to get the 11 to the station. However just after the Barrière de Pessac the bus was diverted. Oh no ! I asked the driver what I should do. AT Palais de Justice get the 16, he said. I looked at the timetable for the 16 on my phone. My bus arrived at the Palais at 5:29 and the 16 left there at 5:30. Uncomfortably tight. As we arrived at the Palais I saw a bus at the lights. Squinting revealed that it was the 16. My driver honked. I waved. The 16's driver waite

Could your church have its own iPhone application ?

Yes, it could ! See here .

The five best toys of all time.

Read about the five best toys of all time here.

Town Hall Tour (end)


Town Hall Tour (inc. Staircase)


Town Hall Tour


Ah, the car isn't there !

No, said Patricia, where did you leave it ? Oh no ! On the campus ! So it was that I arrived at the council meeting 20 mins late, having had to take the bus to Pessac Centre then the tram to Unitec to get the car which was parked just where I left it not far from the tram stop. Never mind. Quieter day tomorrow !

I give up I really do

I do TRY and look presentable. Or at least I DID try. Not any more. I give up. Somewhere today, dressed in my smart black cords, I sat in chewing gum. This became clear when I stuck to a chair at the town hall and later in the bus. My smart black cords are presently in the freezer. Tomorrow I shall try to chip off all the forzen chewing gum from the corduroy. What are my chances of success ? Second line, if the freeze technique doesn't work, is to iron over kitchen paper. Apparently a nice hot iron makes the chewing gum get absorbed by the paper. We'll see. Meanwhile I say welcome scruff-dom.

Today's missions (should I choose to accept them)

1. Phone cinema about English class trip tomorrow 2. Continue Theological Questionnaire for UNEPREF - just 3 left - can I finish it all today ? 3. Surveys on campus 4. Guided tour of Town Hall vis OVS 5. Visit of JWs 6. Conseil Phreshbhythéral 7. Prayer meeting OK. Down to it !

So many things do my head in

Here's another for the list : It's a good idea - a website where you can propose all kinds of outings with the goal of getting people together, enabling people to meet up, etc. Outings like - coffee in a café, a walk in the park, a cinema trip, a meal at your place (some people do), some show or other. Alan thought - aha ! I should pop on the café philo. Good plan. However, before you can propose an outing you have to attend one and say beforehand on the website. I have, in fact, attended an event but it was before I was aware of this rule and I did not indicate my intention on the website. In fact I don't think I was even signed up. So I am desperately hunting for an outing I can attend that is not either not at all me ( karate, salsa, an evening of tarot ) or extremely expensive ( a gourmet evening at a charming little resto ) and that is at a time and in a place I can go. Does my head in !

Etude biblique

At present the student Bible studies are, like Gaul, divided into three parts. One part is a chapter by chapter study on 1 Peter. Another is an overview to memorise of Mark's gospel. The third is hints for outreach. This week this latter part falls to me, and I am to give hints and tips on speaking to JWs. Having had my flabber completely gasted by the beliefs of my JW friends last Wednesday ( I am glad that I did not know in advance - or had forgotten - that they believe that their literal 144,000 or thereabouts transmogrify into angels - I was genuinely shocked when they said that and I still am ! And why were they so cagey about Moses ? ) I wonder if I am well-placed to pass on afore-mentioned hints.

School holidays are always good news !

It means that instead of getting up at 6:30 to see Gwilym off for his 7am bus, I can get up at 8. This is good news because at least four weeknight evenings out of 5 I get home some time between 22:30 and 23:30, so you can imagine that as term-time progresses I get tireder and tireder.  I'm pretty uninhibited about sleeping on the bus or tram so that helps, and I haven't yet missed my stop. Well, not because of sleeping. Once or twice because of general stupidity. Anyway, school hols. These school hols we have some visitors coming. Megan arrives from the UK today for a week. She's a friend of Catrin's from camp and she's flying all alone from Britain. Then Pierre arrives next week from Poitier, we think. He's Gwilym's friend from school. And we have another guest, Simon's flat had the electricity cut off - something about inadequate administration - so he's staying here until they're connected up again.

After reading Judges 13 together

"Have you ever heard any other stories like this ?" The folk, "Yes, it's just like Christmas !" (Thinks "Jackpot ! Maybe we should go home now before I say something to spoil it...")

Don't get around much anymore


You go months with no Doctor Who

Then three come along at once on France 4 from 20h35. Docteur Qui, Series 5, Episodes 1 - 3. I hope to record them. If the stupid disk thing in the TV box works this time.

Believing your own propaganda - Carl Trueman ups the ante

I have seen a great evil in this world. It is when pastors believe their own propaganda about themselves. Nightmare ! Carl Trueman has a remedy here.

So is this one a waif or a stray ?

We don't often end up taking in waifs and strays but sometimes... Simon who's here spending his year in France working in the student outreach, phoned to say that the flat he shares with a French friend has no electricity. Apparently no contract was ever set up with EDF so they cut 'em off. That might be copable with in May, but in February in a centrally heated flat it's a bit grim. So we'll have this waif, this stray , Simon with us for a couple of days till current is restored.

"Have you been drinking ?" "No, I always talk like that."

We are quite often stopped now. We didn't used to be. They want to check that you have insurance and that it's your car and that you have a driving licence. The one this evening was a clown. "You live in Pessac ?" "Yes, Pessac Alouette." "Where ?" "At the Alouette" (I do find this hard to pronounce in French - à l'Alouette - alalwet...) "Rue ?" "Peres. It's by Park Cazalet" "Are you sure ?" "Yes, do you know the Alouette ?" "We're the Pessac police, we know Pessac..." "OK." "Have you been drinking ?" "No, I always talk like this." (I thought two can play at that game...) "OK, goodnight !" (Phew - a copper with a sense of humour !)

and the Swingle Singers (sorry !)


"Hey, look, I said in the beginning that we wouldn't do your Bible studies

but that we'd just meet up and read the Bible together !" (Writing out your Bible study verses on a post-it note and sticking it to the page of your Bible does not change that...) So it was that we read in John 3 about the new birth and talked about that very nicely. I took them to Ezekiel 36 but I could tell they weren't very impressed. Then we went swanning off into Jesus' two flocks and then the big and little crowds from Revelation 7 via Daniel 2. Gérard insisted that some are those who were born again and then were turned into angels to go to heaven (!) while the others are the others who weren't, aren't and don't. I insisted that some were Jews and others were Gentiles but both were now integrated into one flock in Jesus Christ. (It does say that, to be fair, so I wasn't being very clever.) Eventually Nicole said "Hang on Gérard, we're going round in circles here !" So I told them about the danger of winning arguments but losin


are very useful here. We show short films, use PowerPoint slide shows for deputation, put questions for discussion on the wall, etc. etc. I've always resisted buying one because 1) churches tend to have one now. 2) they're big and bulky, even the small ones 3) when the lamp goes it costs a fortune to replace 4) when you fly to the UK you either have this heavy thing in your hand luggage, along with your little laptop, camera, trombone, etc. etc., or you have kittens because it's been hurled into the hold... Then the picoprojectors started to appear. These are small low-powered projectors which are much less expensive but need to be used in a darkened room because their led light source is less powerful. Aha ! An inexpensive projector you could put in your pocket ! I watched with interest. Now I'm wondering whether it's time to get one - I am thinking of the Samsung H03, which seems to get good write-ups and seems pretty well suited to the small group stuff we n

And a trombone quartet - the Saint Louis Low Brass


To be officially recognised as a pastor in the union that our church belongs to

I have to fill in an application form and also answer 18 questions of a theological or practical nature (e.g. What does Covenant Theology mean to you ?) Well I have just done question 9. Half-way there ! Wahay ! They do get more ... delicate as they go on, however...

Deux "soirées théos"

Tonight there's two soirées théos - discussion evenings. The first is hosted by Catrin's collège and is on the theme of "Does our society need God", with subsidiary questions like : What are the gods of our society ? What evidence is there that our society feels the need of a God of love ? Does secularism distance our society from God ? We send our pastors to this soirée but this evening Dik can't go. Maybe Samuel the stagiaire can. Otherwise it's up to me. The second is FAC's fortnightly café philo, hosted by us in a café in Bordeaux, on the theme of forgiveness, with questions like : Can anything and everything be forgiven ? What is necessary for forgiveness to happen ? Why should one forgive ? Please pray for these evenings.

Here's the Concertgebouw with John Eliot Gardiner

in the presence of Queen Beatrix, I think, and with authentic instruments. Note the funky sackbutts and trumpets, and the weedy woodwind. They're playing for all they're worth and you can hardly hear them. The fiddles hold their bows differently, too. Everything is lighter and more transparent.

Calm and peace

I had a wonderful experience at the main Pessac Post Office. A new power supply had been sent for a part of the internet setup and they'd tried to deliver it while we were out, so I had to go and collect it. Well the Post Office was like a Zen garden. Hardly anythng moving. To begin with you felt as if there was a strange disconnection between the speed at which you were living and the speed of things in the Post Office. But after a while you slowed down to match and the calm was wonderful, although one lady didn't manage the slowing down thing - she muttered "pas possible" and zoomed out of the door. All afternoon I've had this tremendous sense of calm and of time passing slowly. Brilliant.

Magic Flute week

First here's a modern sumphony orchestra, the Vienna Phil and his harmonica, under the baton of Riccardo Muti. (Sorry about the stupid curtain design - they soon move the camera off it.

Psalm 121 in Mandarin is an action song

Chinese people look cool when singing action songs. How do they do that ?

Psalm 121 in Mandarin

Pastor Kaan preaching


An exciting day

Wednesday was the Chinese New Year and our Chinese group held a New Year outreach today. A Chinese pastor came down from Paris and lots of invitations had been given out. So it was that I met my new friend Pastor Kaan who speaks good English and French, so I was able to find out a bit about him. He belongs to the Christian and Missionary Alliance and there's quite a team of them in France. We exchanged details so that he can help us as we help the Chinese group here. There was another CMA Pastor visiting, too, from the International Church in Toulouse. He had come up to speak to the FEF guys about the possibility of CMA people coming to work in Bordeaux. Exciting times. There was a good number of students there for the meeting and for the Chinese ravioli that followed. Just a couple of crises - the extension cable overloaded but I just needed to indicate the button to press - and the chemical toilet overflowxed. This was less pleasant but Andy and I got it sorted and the day

The Kimyal people receive the New Testament in their own language

The Kimyal People Receive the New Testament from UFM Worldwide on Vimeo .

Increvable !

I think that one would be forced to say that, with certain notable exceptions, none of which come to mind as I type, French cars do not have a good reputation in Britain. Not so in France. "Increvable, une 205". The Peugeot 205 was a well-designed little car which is why they fetch a high price second-hand here. "Increvable, une AX". I asked them to repeat and checked that I had heard right. "eh oui, mais il faut la motorisation essence". Maybe, but it would take a lot to convince most Brits that a Citroën AX is "indestructible" !

This is perhaps 200 yards from where we used to live

Read about it here .

Ligon Duncan's resources on Covenant Theology

can be found here .

Don Carson's summary of the Bible in 240 words

Which I obtained here . God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath. But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects. In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and

Michael Ots on Conversational evangelism from the Evangelical Magazine (of Wales)

One of my fellow students when I was at Bible college was Italian. I’d always had the impression that Italian drivers were quite crazy and the first time I was driven by him I realised my preconceptions had been quite right. I remember one particular journey across Scotland in a minibus that he was driving. All was going well until it was time to use fifth gear. For some reason my Italian friend seemed to have a phobia of fifth gear. He’d rather strain the engine (and our ear drums) in fourth rather than take the risk of changing gear! When he eventually did, after much persuasion, decide to use top gear he gritted his teeth, closed his eyes, stamped on the clutch and slammed it into fifth. After about thirty seconds he was back down into fourth where he felt safe. It struck me that a lot of Christians are like that when it comes to conversation. We’re fairly happy talking about everyday things but when it comes to ‘changing the gear’ of conversation and talking about Christian things

It's kind of quiet on the blog, I know

This is because I am battling with admin somewhat on all fronts. And battling with a cold. And trying to not let these first two things distract from the work.* Anyway one of the little frustrations this morning is the rather wonderful website  It's a website where people can propose various activities - concerts, walks, meals, all sorts - that others may like to attend. An activity that takes place in the church is publicised on OVS and I thought it would be a good idea to publicise the Café Philo. However, you can't propose an activity till you have taken part in an activity. Ha ! So I have to go on something. Soon. But what ? Where ? When ? How ? So I am hunting. Oh well, it's all in a good cause.