les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Monday, January 30, 2012

A day off - with few plans !

It's good to have a quiet day off today. I have little planned. There's a meeting of the bureau of the schhol of music this evening and I have a trombone lesson this afternoon. That's all. Pat is meeting a student for lunch. Catrin and Gwilym are eating at school so I'll have lots of peace and quiet, too.

Yesterday was a marathon worthy of the crazy week that had preceded it : I was preaching am and pm and my preparation had been hurried, superficial and interrupted by events on Saturday. Still things seemed to go OK. I felt sorry for the folk in the evening as we were interrupted a bit by the arrival of the young people returning from Rodez and frankly I was not at my liveliest !

I need to tell you about what's happening in the church at the moment - it's like a fresh wind blowing through. People are praying together, speaking constructively about the future, planning together. Two weeks ago I wondered if it was possible for the church to look forward again. Two weeks later it's like a different church.

Meanwhile a chap who's been visiting a few weeks now said he'd been touched by the preaching last week when our friend Samuel was here, and this week. It's a wonderful time. There's lots to do but we have begun to do it.

Today my throat is a bit swollen and I need to take it slow and easy. Just a few phone calls and Skype calls to make.

Thanks for praying. Don't stop now !

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Thanks for your continued prayers

We heard today from the church in Grenoble that after reflection, discussion and prayer they have decided not to continue discussions about a possible move there as pastor.

Thanks for your prayers over the past months and please don't stop now. We need your prayers in Bordeaux and the church in Grenoble also needs your continued prayers for the future !

That was the week that was

Well phew. Wednesday was nuts. Nuts with a capital N. Thursday wasn't a lot better.

I don't know what it is. It's like some crazed mania strikes the week on Tuesday evening and doesn't subside till Friday lunchtime.

Still, at the end of the week we're all alive and well, and the kids are off to Rodez in the South of France for a Youth Weekend with our friend Stephane Kouyo who's the minister down there. This will leave the house unnaturally quiet for preparation for tomorrow !

After a nutty week the PJB rehearsal is great therapy, especially when some of my fellow trombonists do a kind of instinctive, natural comedy act. Does you good to blast off.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wow ! What a marathon !

It began at 8h30 when we all left the house, well except for Gwilym who leaves at 6:45. We dropped Catrin off at school then Pat went to her meeting near the church and I went to meet with the FAC team to prepare the Passerelles study.

Passerelles is a home-grown French course for introducing the gospel, in the manner of Christianity Explored or Alpha. It has three parts : A video of a vox-pop or scene, then a video of a short Bible talk given in a kind of studio setting, then a Bible study/discussion in groups. We watched, discussed, prayed, redid all the questions and finished at about 1:30.

This was just in time for me to go home, eat a main meal and get out to the church for 3:30 to meet up with Patrick before the church council meeting. I had a nice ham salad with a baked potato and zoomed off happily, trombone in hand just in case.

The council meeting went very well. As you can imagine, we have LOTS to discuss, and we finished at 18:30. This was a pity because I was due back at the FAC flat at 18:30 to prepare the next café philo, but as we say, tant pis. It isn't easy for me to sneak out of church council meetings early at the moment because I am "acting pastor", Dik being in Holland till mid-February and actually on his way to Holland for good. We didn't manage to discuss everything we needed to, even then. Still.

So off to the FACflat for the Passerelles meeting, busily chomping on the sandwich Pat had made me. The meeting went very well, we were about 15 people. Afterwards Pierre kindly gave me a lift back to the church and I hopped in the car and got home about 11.

This morning I am hung over, and running about 2 hours behind ! However I don't think I have any meetings scheduled until this evening. It's like this in Bordeaux at the moment - you have to use the times of calm to recover from and prepare for the times of ... lack of calm.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Essential advice (in French) on how to wash out your nose

Read it here.

So after dinner

we left the studio, which is very near the bus stop for the N° 4 that takes you back to Pessac.

What time's your bus, Alan ?

I don't know. What time is it now ?

It was 11:30 and we watched the 11:30 bus pull away. I couldn't stop it because I didn't have a ticket anyway, or any money. I had to visit the ticket machine at the tram stop.

So I did, then waited for the next bus at 12:11. It was a mild night. Bordeaux goes to bed at midnight, so the cafés and restaurants were closed and there were very few people in the streets. The buildings looked wonderful and my phone was completely dead !

Oh well...

Hopelessly overawed

Two of our student friends invited us for a meal last night. (Poor Patricia was on ferry duty for solfège...) We met up in their studio and were treated to prunes in bacon, little sausage rolls of hotdog sausages, something else delicious that I can't remember, salad with quiche  and savoury cake of crab and salmon (extremely good !), home made mushroom soup and Fiona's banoffee pie. All home-made in a studio on a two-ring baby Belling.

We're going to do a return invitation but we have to admit to being hopelessly outclassed.

Bordeaux is brilliant

A friend works in the probation service, a long way from Bordeaux.

"Well he'd like to come back to this area, but there's no jobs", said his mother.

"Well maybe there's no jobs now, but..."

"No, there's never any jobs, there's just not enough delinquents in Bordeaux."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Un héraut dans le net !

One of the chaps drew my attention to this site. I haven't had time to explore it yet, but it looks interesting.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cleaning the church

Mrs Davey organises the cleaning rota so after a fairly normal Saturday morning with the kids (what about those shoes ? what about ordering Narnia 2 ? what about pocket money ? what about us going bowling with the kids from church ?) we scuttled off to the church where Mrs Davey did the kitchen and the kids room while I did the main church room.

After dusting the benches, rearranging the furniture, getting the heating going again (who turned it off and why?) and washing the floor I measured up the windows for cheap Ikea nets. We aren't allowed to have them long-term, but the architect said "fine" to putting them in the windows short-term just to blur the view in.

Then home via Aldi to get sorted for today. I'm only preaching once today, and that's in English in the evening, but I've been organising the morning service.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Afternoon and Evening

Firstly meeting to prepare the student Bible Study next Friday and to try and find a room.

We've asked a church near the campus if we can use a room there. We also asked the University Maison des Associations, but they held out no hope. There is a nice common room that we could use, though, as long as we bag a table early enough.

Then in the evening the Groupe de Maison Bordeaux-Sud. We were six, I think, at Cadaujac to begin studies in James - this evening an introduction to the book. It seemed to go pretty well.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tant pis

I heard today that the EMW Christian Bookshop in the Hayes is closing down. 
The message said "mid-January" so it may already have closed.

Boy that brings back memories. 
Theological scrapping with Matthew Evans.
Auntie Bessie putting backbone into me. 
(I could do with you just now, Auntie Bessie !)
Mark Finnie claiming he knew I'd been in because nobody else bought the books I bought.

Meanwhile here in Bordeaux our bookshop has become "Associative' - it's now been passed from the Swiss Maison de la Bible organisation into the hands of a committee drawn from the Bordeaux churches with all volunteer staff (including Pat).

We really hope that we can keep the bookshop open in Bordeaux, even without the base of large churches that Cardiff enjoys. A Christian bookshop in a city centre is an important resource for Christians and a centre for outreach - especially in Bordeaux where churches are harder to find.

On moving from iPhone to Android

Well that's over a week now that I have been on Android rather than iPhone. And so far so good.

The good.

A big screen, easy to read.
A led flash and flashlight app useful for finding your slippers in the morning
Micro-SD card slot
It reminds me to do my daily readings !
Almost all the applications I used on iPhone are available on Android (Kindle, Skype, iReal B, Biblereader, etc.)
It's great for your calendar, too - month at a glance that you can read.
Battery life is good - if you remember to switch wifi off when you leave the house !
Easy to switch wifi on and off as well as rotation.
Great for notetaking, etc.
Good camera and movie-making ability.
So much cheaper than iPhone 4S
You can buy Kindle books easily within the Kindle app.

The not so good

It's not as cool.
Gmail doesn't actually delete messages when I tell it to, it just deletes them off the phone.
It's a bit big to fit on the music stand as a tuner / metronome.

I'll say this much for my friend, the JW

he's very gracious...

We were about to start reading from where we left off some weeks ago, in John 6. We finished at this : "celui qui croit en moi a la vie éternelle." I noted before we set off that Jesus says "a", not "aura peut-être".

"Well he will if he fulfills the conditions", was the reply.

Yes, "He who believes in me has eternal life", now, Jesus chose the tense, not me.

But what about those who don't.

Jesus says they do.

But they don't.

Jesus says they do. Maybe the problem is what you define as believe...

So off we go.

By the way, how do we translate notitia, assensus and fiducia into French ?
I used connaissance, accord and confiance and went to my favourite example of the chair.

When you see a chair you have to know what it is, then you have to accept that it is what they say it is and that it is designed to take your weight, but then you have to sit on it.

Some friends have an African chair that is just two planks of wood slotted together, and I have the connaissance that it's a chair because they told me. I am in agreement that what they say is true and that it is designed to sit on. However I have yet to summon up sufficient confiance to entrust my frame to its angle.

Well there we are. Next time John 6.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Don Carson on Acts 18 and Nehemiah 8

SOMETHING IS TO BE GAINED BY bringing today’s two readings, Nehemiah 8 and Acts 18, into juxtaposition.

Much of Acts 18 is devoted to preaching and teaching the Word of God and to the issue of how to understand God’s revelation aright. When Silas and Timothy arrive in Corinth from Macedonia (Acts 18:5), presumably bringing with them some support money, Paul is set free to devote himself “exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ” (Acts 18:5). Eventually the heat of opposition drives him to spend more time with Gentiles. No longer free to use the synagogue, he uses the house of Titius Justus next door. Soon the synagogue ruler himself is converted (Acts 18:8). Some Jews mount a legal challenge against Paul, but the local magistrate perceives that the dispute essentially involves controverted interpretations of Scripture (Acts 18:12-16). The end of the chapter introduces Apollos, learned in the Scriptures and a powerful speaker, but still somewhat ill-informed regarding Jesus. He “knew only the baptism of John” (Acts 18:25). He may well have known enough of John the Baptist’s teaching to announce the coming of Jesus and perhaps even details of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection; but like the “believers” at the beginning of the next chapter, he might not have known of Pentecost and the gift of the Spirit. After all, many Jews from around the empire visited Jerusalem at the time of the feasts and then returned home. If Apollos and others had left Jerusalem after the resurrection but before Pentecost, it was not impossible that years could have elapsed before they became better informed. And information is precisely what Priscilla and Aquila provide Apollos, explaining to him “the way of God more adequately” (Acts 18:26).

In Nehemiah 8, Ezra begins a seven-day Bible conference. He carefully reads “the Law” to the assembled crowd. The Levites join in; they “instructed the people in the Law…. They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read” (Neh. 8:7-8). The expression “making it clear” could be rendered “translating it”; after all, the Law was written in Hebrew, and by this time most of the people spoke Aramaic. The Bible had become a closed book to them. Whether through translation or exposition or both, the people are understanding it again. Joy dawns “because they now understood the words that had been made known to them” (Neh. 8:12).

Whether under the old covenant or the new, nothing is more important for the growth and maturation of God’s people than a heart hungry to read and understand what God says, and people to make it plain. (Italics mine)

The big weekend - Monday morning

By now I had a headache.

Monday morning found me in the tram heading for Saint-Bruno for the meeting to discuss the future months in the student outreach. It was a fine time, and we're very thankful for the situation we find ourselves in.

We have lots of contacts, in fact more contacts than we can really follow up adequately. In addition there is the possibility to start some Evangelistic Bible Studies.

So we plan :

to stop leafleting and surveying on the campus for the moment (this makes us all sad, but we need to do it)
to make the Wednesday evening Bible Study suitable for those with little or no background.
to start a new Friday lunchtime Bible Study on or near the university campus, this aimed at building up believers.

Café Philo and English Classes to continue.

The big weekend - Sunday evening

For the English service we were 22 with some new faces and some regulars missing.

We started talking about Rom 12:2 and the renewing of the mind, and we rounded it off with coffee and left over cake from lunchtime !

The big weekend - Sunday afternoon

Church lunches in France - well you have to see them to believe them. French pizzas are the best, even Italian friends say so, and quiches etc are great.

One family had brought a curry and were worried that it was too hot. For British friends I would rate it at about a Korma... They're so sweet. They don't know what hot means.

Afterwards the big discussion of the way forward. We will meet together regularly to discuss the way ahead and to define our identity as a church and what we hope of a future pastor. It is clear that there's some distance to travel before we could call anyone.

We dispersed at about 4 or 4:30 and we got the room ready for the English Service.

The big weekend - Sunday morning

Sunday morning found us bright and early on the way to church to drop off Pat and the kids so I could go off to preach at Anglade.

It was a lovely day to make the hour's journey through the vineyards to the little church there, where we were 11 gathered.

The message was from Revelation 2 - when the essential is gone - remember, repent and redo. Except in French of course. It's great to think that there is always a way back. Thomas and Charlotte had heard the message the previous week at Cenon, but they didn't seem to mind.

After the service I high-tailed it back to Cenon, arriving at about 1.

The big weekend - Saturday evening

The first of the Chinese arrived at 5 to begin the preparations for the meeting - that is to begin cooking !

I went in a lower room to do a bit of trombone practice in order to clear my head and blow away the cobwebs a little.

Peopel arrived from about 6 and we ate delicious food then sang in Cantonese before handing over for the talk.
We had planned that this would be in French, but a few people had little French so in the end I spoke in Englich with Mandarin interpretation from François Liu. The message was from Mark 7 - on the need for real purity in the heart, not ritual purity from ceremonies or restrictive laws.

I committed a faux-pas when referring to verse 19 - where Jesus declares all foods clean. One girl said "but not blood, right?"
I said ,"All foods clean."
"Yes, but not blood."
I was afterwards told that Chinese churches ban blood-based foods, from Acts 15.
1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14 didn't help. OK.

Still, we learned that these peripheral questions need to be put to the periphery and not discussed in the big group. Pat and the kids came from the youth meeting and so I got to go home in the car rather than bus and tram. Luxury !

The big weekend - Saturday morning

The big weekend started at 10 (or thereabouts) with a BIG committee meeting uniting :

Church Presbyteral Council
Comission Générale de l'Evangélisation
Région Sud-Ouest of UNEPREF

We reviewed the life and activity of the church here with its different outreaches etc.
We talked about the building and the projects for the future.
Then we talked about the financial situation and the practicalities.

The upshot is that the suggestion is that the church pass a year without a new pastor.
At one point during the meeting it seemed likely that I would have to pull out of the student outreach completely and assume the pastoral ministry here, though as we talked together we concluded that such a step would be impossible without a call from the church here.

After the big committee meeting several church folk came to talk with everyone. We dispersed just before 5.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

It's the big weekend!

Two days chock full of Bible teaching, of prayer, of discussion and, please God, of decision. Here's for a BIG MOMENT in the life of the work here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The couple of days ahead

Today is about preparation and also about the Conseil d'Administration of the Maison de la Bible this afternoon at 3.


10:00 till 16:00 - Church Council meets up with the Comission Générale de l'Evangélisation to discuss the way ahead

18:00 - Preaching for the Chinese Group.


10:30 - Preaching in French at Anglade

13:00 - Church lunch followed by discussion and prayer following Saturday

18:00 - English Service

It's a full weekend - I need to have everything together by this evening !


Sometimes people say nice things about my French. On Wednesday some folks said, "how long have you been in France? You don't have much of an accent!" Last night some others got onto discussing language learning and said nice things about my French again.

OK - first thing - when people say nice things about you the first thing you learn is that the people want to be nice to you. That is, their comment says as much about them as it does about you. It's right to take their remark seriously, but not TOO seriously !

Second thing - it does make me feel that all those hours in the tram practicing mouth positions and trying to be aware of the position of my tongue etc. were not totally wasted. I work hard at this language thing.

Third thing - I am an insufferable mimic. It's a nightmare sometimes. I met this Quebequois recently and heard myself adopting his nice vowels.. Aarrrggghhhhh ! Still it's good to know that this atrocious habit does have a good side...

Fourth thing - and really this is the first thing - God gives giftts and aptitudes. None of us has anything that he has not received. We use it badly. We use it well. But it's all a gift.

The wood stove

It was sad.

While I was lighting the stove this morning I spotted a little cricket, sweet little thing. It was fascinated by the burning wood and it advanced into the stove to get nearer the warmth and the carbon dioxide. I tried to provoke it into jumping out, but I couldn't get it out of the stove. Then I saw the spider - the running, jumping, hunting kind - also moving closer and closer to the flames.

Poor beasts. They love the warmth and the CO2. It gets them all excited and lively. Briefly.

Maybe it's better than slowly freezing in the woodpile outside. Maybe.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hurrah for Free !

Our internet is with Free, and I like them very much. They're very geeky, they have lots of gadgetty things (like a remote control for the TV box that works by wifi) and the bill is reasonable. They also support Open-Source software very actively.

The boss of Free announced some time ago that Free wanted to move into the mobile phone market and "Halve the mobile phone bill for French families". It's true that mobile phone bills are REALLY EXPENSIVE in France compared to the UK.

Anyway the legal process is long, but eventually they launched their offers yesterday - 16€ / month for unlimited calls, unlimited SMS etc and 3GB of 3G data - speed reduced after that, and Skype use and mobile tethering all allowed. Also unlimited calls include those to UK landlines.

Well there was a feeding frenzy. It was fun to see friends trying to connect and reporting their frustration.

Didn't work for me either. Firstly I couldn't get into the website. Then I couldn't get it to accept my password. Then it wouldn't accept my bank details. I gave up.

Tried this morning. All fine. Signed up. Yipppeeeee ! Once everyone else is out of contract we can all move across and cut our mobile bill enormously.

Soirée trois - Semaine Universelle de Prière

Last night was evening three and I was to bring the brief message before prayer. I had Romans 12:17 - 21 and Psalm 37 : 1 - 11 set as texts. And the weather was FOUL !

There was fog. Thick fog. The Latresne church is down by the river south of the city so everyone basically has to use the ring-road and then drive through the dampest, soggiest, thickest, foggiest bits of Bordeaux. There were huge tailbacks on the ring-road - apparently SEVEN cars broken down, one after the other. It's the damp. Still that was going in the other direction and with care and a few scares and slowdowns I got to the church in good time.

I wondered who else would brave the soup, but we must have been between 40 and 50 and all went off well. Marc Stefanini, who himself is Corsican (quand même !) teased me about how cold and damp it is in Wales. "Et tu dis qu'il ne fait pas froid et humide ici ?" as we waded through the car-park to our sodden cars.

The highlight for me was talking with the folks from the NEW CHURCH AT MERIGNAC ! It's a church plant from the CMA group of churches in France. Nobody has moved here, but preachers come from Limoges, Toulouse, etc... so there's always a preacher each week. I am so glad to see someone start something in Mérignac. It's a town of 50 000 people and till now the only evangelical witness has been a little Bible Study group started many years ago by a Catholic priest.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Semaine Universelle de Prière - soirée deux

Last night was at the Eglise Evangélique Bordeaux République. The most numerous church in Bordeaux as far as I know, it meets in a really big building, a converted cinema just off the boulevards. I've only ever been to the church for a Mark Experience afternoon, but I have several friends who go there and I know the pastors : Patrick Berthalon and David Renault. It belongs to the Assemblées de Dieu. The speaker last night was Michaël Razzano from the Eglise Baptiste de Caudéran.

Culturally it's very different, with much more lively music, a worship leader (David), times where people sang without words and times where people prayed all at the same time. Although I don't feel any desire to change church culture, I did think that it must be great to be in a big church like that with lots of people. Parking is an issue, though...

Michaël got the best passage to speak from - Psalm 2 - and he did a good job. We talked afterwards about an ex-neighbour who has recently started attending the Caudéran church - very encouraging.

Some friends have blessed us with a washing machine

(it seems that that's how you say that now....)

Looking back, it's hard to believe how well-organised our life was in the UK and what a shambles it is now.

In the UK we had a wonderful plumber. He could plumb anything, anywhere, anyhow. He lived just up the road and he was reliable and cheap. He'd put the heating system in our house and he just knew what was what. Here, too, we have used the plumber who installed the heating in our house, but it just isn't the same. Not at all.

The boiler-servicing man was great, too. I think because it was a small town and the church was a decent size generally you could find the contacts you needed.

Our mechanic. He was great ! I used to tease him because he just loved BMWs, but he still worked on our Toyotas, then Citroens. Obviously Toyotas are better than Citroens, but we spent more on repairs to the Toyotas than we have for our Berlingos. New radiators, all sorts.

We also had this brilliant washing-machine repair man. We looked forward to him coming. He kept our Hotpoint going for a supernaturally long time (certainly over 15 years) and when it was nearing the end of its life he told us plainly to run it till it died then dispose of it decently. Here I called a guy from Yellow Pages. Oh the shame !

Anyway when we came to France we needed a washing machine so we bought a basic model from a big store that gave good after-sales service and all was fine till just before Christmas when the 32 minute wash started to take hours and the programmer knob would go round and round and round. I phoned the guy from Yellow Pages and he charged us 50€ to tell us that it would cost almost 300€ to fix. I am not sure it cost that much to buy... Anyway. Disappointed by the shortevity of our washing machine (6 years is somewhat brief, surely) we considered our options. Pat on Facebook urged the machine to continue till Christmas at least. Apparently the machine uses Facebook. It heeded her plea.

Meanwhile enter certain knights in shining armour who also use Facebook. "How much does a washing machine cost in France? How can we send you money for one?"

French law is pretty tight on trying to stamp out corruption, so any money that comes from your employer with your wages is deemed to be additional wages, taxable etc. This means that it is best now NOT to send additional gifts of money for workers in France via their mission (check with the person / mission beforehand - don't take my word as gospel !)

So this morning a new washing machine was delivered from a local association called Envie. They specialise in  refurbishing second-hand machines and also in obtaining new old stock machines and selling them on. Last week we went in to see what they had, and they had two natty Hotpoints - 9kg load ! (the old one took 5) and 1400 rpm spin speed (the old one did 800). They were new old stock and the price seemed good for what they were (Google is your friend on these things)

Four loads later and the thing is a marvel. It's so quiet. We had to go in and stare at it to make sure it was working. And the fact it takes almost twice the load will cut by half the number of washes we do.

Well Wednesday is unfolding well so far

Stove lit.

Kids off to school (Catrin has been ill the past few days)

Washing machine delivered and working - VERY QUIET !
And whereas the other one took a 5kg load, this one takes 9 !

Preparation for tonight in hand.

If I manage to sign up for Free Mobile, then I'll know the day is going very well indeed....


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's now that you feel a long way away

A grand old dame of the congregation in Deeside has died.

She had a right to, she was 99, but it's a pain that we can't be there with folk, talk with her family, reminisce...

Well I will reminisce here - boy there's so many stories !

A busy time ahead

I'm not blogging much these days, I realise, and I'm sorry about that. I'll explain the reasons.

Firstly it's a fairly busy but routine time. This week is the Evangelical Council's week of prayer and we hosted the prayer meeting last night. When we agreed to do that Dik thought he'd be here but he's in Holland so it fell to me to sort out accompanist, projection of hymns and songs, welcome folk, chair the meeting etc. In fact I didn't have to chair the meeting because our elder was unexpectedly able to be present so I asked him to chair and work the videoprojector so I could help the accompanist. An evening like that is very stressful, but of great benefit. One of the ADD pastors was speaking and he spoke warmly and enthusiastically, though I am not sure now what he said as such. Lots of people prayed.

On Wednesday I have to speak at the prayer meeting, so I need to get my preparation sorted. One of the problems with the week of prayer is that they suggest themes for our reflection and prayer, and you risk getting five messages which all say more or less the same thing about the same subject... We'll see.

Thursday the English Classes restart. Also we have a parents' meeting at Gwilym's school at 17h30, so timing will be of the essence.

This week the outreach on campus restarts, though it's exam time for most of the students. It'll be good to get back out amongst folk and the weather here is very mild.

Sunday I am preaching for the Chinese on Saturday evening (Mark) and then in French at Anglade on Sunday morning and in English in the evening.

Whatever happens it seems that over the next few months I'll be preaching more in French on Sunday mornings and I also hope to do systematic visiting of church folk. This will entail freeing up at least one evening a week and I don't yet know how to do that, though I have one or two ideas that might work. Watch this space... On Sunday mornings I plan a series on Philippians.

We also need special prayer for this weekend - we have a visit from the Comission Générale de l'Evangélisation to discuss the way ahead for the church here in the light of Dik leaving us in June. This will involve the church council meeting with the commission on Saturday, then a church lunch and afternoon prayer and discussion time on Sunday.

Lots of folks are asking us about Grenoble, we haven't heard anything since mid-December. There's been illness in the church there, then Christmas holidays intervened and now David Vaughn is in Burkina Faso teaching pastors there, so I don't expect to hear anything till February. However, as we used to say at Honeywell, "till you see the ticket in your hand you're going nowhere". And there's work to get on with here !

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Lunchtime concert at the Pessac Médiathèque

This was the encore.

Six words

A tip someone once shared on preaching is to give your sermon a title fairly early on in your preparation, and to make this title revolve around a verb in the imperative.

So "Live out your union with Jesus", or "Glorify the goodness and patience of God", or "Pray in the Spirit always" for example.

The goal is to stop you rambling on all around the houses about this and that and not having a point, let alone never getting to the point. You may or you may not announce your title, but hopefully people would realise what your point is !

Well this whole 'six words" things made me wonder whether we coud sum up the point of a message in six words. For example, from Rev 2 to the church in Ephesus it would be Get back to your first love ! or similar...

Again any tip if it helps - it's all grist to the mill !

The washing machine is dead, long live the washing machine

For some time the washing machine has been behaving eccentrically.

Ever the trusting husband, of course I had to test it myself. 
I put it on a 32 minute wash. It took hours. 

After unbelief comes denial. Weeks of denial.

We called a repair man. He came and charged us 50€ to tell us that it would cost 280€ to fix. If we asked him to fix it the 50€ would count as a deposit.

Second cycle of denial for a couple of weeks.

This came to an end yesterday when we went to our local branch of Envie.
Envie is an association that takes second-hand appliances and reconditions them, then sells them on with a one-year guarantee. 
They had some New Old Stock Hotpoint washing machines for a very reasonable price. 1400 revs spin and 9kg load. We saw. I came home and looked for reviews and stuff on the internet. I returned and paid. They're delivering on Wednesday and taking the old washing machine away. I suppose they may recondition it or they may use it for spare parts or something...

Sinclair Ferguson on the Practice of Mortification of Sin.

The Practice of Mortification

by Sinclair Ferguson
The aftermath of a conversation can change the way we later think of its significance.
My friend — a younger minister — sat down with me at the end of a conference in his church and said: “Before we retire tonight, just take me through the steps that are involved in helping someone mortify sin.” We sat talking about this for a little longer and then went to bed, hopefully he was feeling as blessed as I did by our conversation. I still wonder whether he was asking his question as a pastor or simply for himself — or both. 
How would you best answer his question? The first thing to do is: Turn to the Scriptures. Yes, turn to John Owen (never a bad idea!), or to some other counselor dead or alive. But remember that we have not been left only to good human resources in this area. We need to be taught from “the mouth of God” so that the principles we are learning to apply carry with them both the authority of God and the promise of God to make them work. 
Several passages come to mind for study: Romans 8:13Romans 13:8–14 (Augustine’s text); 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1Ephesians 4:17–5:21Colossians 3:1–171 Peter 4:1–111 John 2:28–3:11. Significantly, only two of these passages contain the verb “mortify” (“put to death”). Equally significantly, the context of each of these passages is broader than the single exhortation to put sin to death. As we shall see, this is an observation that turns out to be of considerable importance.
Of these passages, Colossians 3:1–17 is probably the best place for us to begin. 
Here were relatively young Christians. They have had a wonderful experience of conversion to Christ from paganism. They had entered a gloriously new and liberating world of grace. Perhaps — if we may read between the lines — they had felt for a while as if they had been delivered, not only from sin’s penalty but almost from its influence — so marvelous was their new freedom. But then, of course, sin reared its ugly head again. Having experienced the “already” of grace they were now discovering the painful “not yet” of ongoing sanctification. Sounds familiar! 
But as in our evangelical sub-culture of quick fixes for long-term problems, unless the Colossians had a firm grasp of Gospel principles, they were now at risk! For just at this point young Christians can be relatively easy prey to false teachers with new promises of a higher spiritual life. That was what Paul feared (Col. 2:816). Holiness-producing methods were now in vogue (Col. 2:21–22) — and they seemed to be deeply spiritual, just the thing for earnest young believers. But, in fact, “they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” (Col. 2:23). Not new methods, but only an understanding of how the Gospel works, can provide an adequate foundation and pattern for dealing with sin. This is the theme of Colossians 3:1–17.
Paul gives us the pattern and rhythm we need. Like Olympic long jumpers, we will not succeed unless we go back from the point of action to a point from which we can gain energy for the strenuous effort of dealing with sin. How, then, does Paul teach us to do this?
First of all, Paul underlines how important it is for us to be familiar with our new identity in Christ (3:1–4). How often when we fail spiritually we lament that we forgot who we really are — Christ’s. We have a new identity. We are no longer “in Adam,” but “in Christ”; no longer in the flesh, but in the Spirit; no longer dominated by the old creation but living in the new (Rom. 5:12–218:92 Cor. 5:17). Paul takes time to expound this. We have died with Christ (Col. 3:3; we have even been buried with Christ, 2:12); we have been raised with Him (3:1), and our life is hidden with Him (3:3). Indeed, so united to Christ are we that Christ will not appear in glory without us (3:4). 
Failure to deal with the presence of sin can often be traced back to spiritual amnesia, forgetfulness of our new, true, real identity. As a believer I am someone who has been delivered from the dominion of sin and who therefore is free and motivated to fight against the remnants of sin’s army in my heart. 
Principle number one, then, is: Know, rest in, think through, and act upon your new identity — you are in Christ.
Second, Paul goes on to expose the workings of sin in every area of our lives (Col. 3:5–11). If we are to deal with sin biblically, we must not make the mistake of thinking that we can limit our attack to only one area of failure in our lives. All sin must be dealt with. Thus Paul ranges through the manifestation of sin in private life (v. 5), everyday public life (v. 8), and church life (vv. 9–11; “one another,” “here,” that is, in the church fellowship). The challenge in mortification is akin to the challenge in dieting (itself a form of mortification!): once we begin we discover that there are all kinds of reasons we are overweight. We are really dealing with ourselves, not simply with calorie control. I am the problem, not the potato chips! Mortifying sin is a whole-of-life change.
Third, Paul’s exposition provides us with practical guidance for mortifying sin. Sometimes it seems as if Paul gives exhortations (“Put to death…,” 3:5) without giving “practical” help to answer our “how to?” questions. Often today, Christians go to Paul to tell them what to do and then to the local Christian bookstore to discover how to do it! Why this bifurcation? Probably because we do not linger long enough over what Paul is saying. We do not sink our thinking deeply into the Scriptures. For, characteristically, whenever Paul issues an exhortation he surrounds it with hints as to how we are to put it into practice. 
This is certainly true here. Notice how this passage helps to answer our “how to?” questions.
1. Learn to admit sin for what it really is. Call a spade a spade — call it “sexual immorality,” not “I’m being tempted a little”; call it “impurity,” not “I’m struggling with my thought life”; call it “evil desire, which is idolatry,” not “I think I need to order my priorities a bit better.” This pattern runs right through this whole section. How powerfully this unmasks self-deceit — and helps us to unmask sin lurking in the hidden corners of
our hearts!  
2. See sin for what your sin really is in God’s presence. “On account of these the wrath of God is coming” (3:6). The masters of the spiritual life spoke of dragging our lusts (kicking and screaming, though they be) to the cross, to a wrath-bearing Christ. My sin leads to — not lasting pleasure — but holy divine displeasure. See the true nature of your sin in the light of its punishment. Too easily do we think that sin is less serious in Christians than it is in non-believers: “It’s forgiven, isn’t it?” Not if we continue in it (1 John 3:9)! Take a heaven’s-eye view of sin and feel the shame of that in which you once walked (Col. 3:7; see also Rom. 6:21).
3. Recognize the inconsistency of your sin. You put off the “old man,” and have put on the “new man” (3:9–10). You are no longer the “old man.” The identity you had “in Adam” is gone. The old man was “crucified with him [Christ] in order that the body of sin [probably “life in the body dominated by sin”] might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6:6). New men live new lives. Anything less than this is a contradiction of who I am “in Christ.”
4. Put sin to death (Col. 3:5). It is as “simple” as that. Refuse it, starve it, and reject it. You cannot “mortify” sin without the pain of the kill. There is no
other way!
But notice that Paul sets this in a very important, broader context. The negative task of putting sin to death will not be accomplished in isolation from the positive call of the Gospel to “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 13:14). Paul spells this out in Colossians 3:12–17. Sweeping the house clean simply leaves us open to a further invasion of sin. But when we understand the “glorious exchange” principle of the Gospel of grace, then we will begin to make some real advance in holiness. As sinful desires and habits are not only rejected, but exchanged for Christ-like graces (3:12) and actions (3:13); as we are clothed in Christ’s character and His graces are held together by love (v. 14), not only in our private life but also in the church fellowship (vv. 12–16), Christ’s name and glory are manifested and exalted in and among us (3:17).
These are some of the things my friend and I talked about that memorable evening. We did not have an opportunity later to ask each other, “How are you going?” for it was our last conversation. He died some months later. I have often wondered how the months in between went in his life. But the earnest personal and pastoral concern in his question still echoes in my mind. They have a similar effect to the one Charles Simeon said he felt from the eyes of his much-loved portrait of the great Henry Martyn: “Don’t trifle!”

The video Gethin shared, for those as didn't click on his link.

Friday, January 06, 2012

The weekend ahead

Saturday afternoon a training session with an aspiring preacher.

Sunday morning - preaching in French at Cenon.

Sunday afternoon - Preaching in English at Cenon.

Monday evening - hosting CNEF united prayer meeting at Cenon.

What to do if neither you nor your pastor is John Piper...

For all those pastors who are not John Piper, here's a nice angle on preaching - I liked the logos and pathos thing.

For all those whose pastors are not John Piper, here's a nice angle on hearing preaching - I liked especially "The mature worshipper is easily edified."


Come on ! Perk up !

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Reckless or what ?

Despite a very important appointment on 12th May, I have booked my place for this.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

It's difficult to know quite what to post on the blog at the moment

It's a time of planning and preparation and odds and ends :

1) Planning and preparing for the CNEF Universal Week of Prayer next week. I have to host Monday night at the church and speak on Wednesday night at (I think) Lormont.

2) Planning and preparing for the new series of messages on Philippians for the mornings in French. Starting in Acts 16 this week.

3) Planning for the months ahead when there's going to be LOTS to do ! Important meeting this afternoon at 17h30.

4) Sorting out mobile phones. Catrin was given a Blackberry phone by someone some time ago, and her sim card doesn't include Blackberry access, so I sorted that out. Gwilym has been eyeing up my phone, so I've been trying to work out how to pass my phone on to him and move to something else myself. I have an aging iPhone 3GS and I don't want to go iPhone 4 or 4S - too expensive and not enough change to warrant the cost... So that's involved some messing about with phone shops, etc. Not quite over yet.

5) A bit more sorting out to do regarding Gwilym's driving lessons - hopefully he'll be signed up next week if I can find all the documents he'll need !

6) The car is due its next service - this'll be a biggie with discs, pads, diesel filter all needing changing as well as the normal things. We also have a "roture" to replace once the front tyres are worn out. You need to change the tyres and roture at the same time because you have to do the tracking, apparently. Still. The car's running well.

7) On the possible move to Grenoble we wait to hear.

There's paper flying in all directions at present ! Still... Things will settle into their rhythm soon.

I "like" this little cartoon someone found

Monday, January 02, 2012

End of the school hols

Well it's been great while it's lasted, but all good things come to an end.

The best thing for me has just been to spend a little more time with the children and get to know them better. Because I am out most evenings we tend to just cross each other's path during term-time, but these holidays have been different, and although the house has often been full of people, or we've been doing things at church, usually we've been doing things together. We also got the wonderful opportunity to spend a couple of days in sunny Provence visiting friends. This afternoon we went to see the Hugo Cabret film, the best film I've seen in a long time.

Tomorrow it's all over and we hit the road again - this week planning. Next Sunday preaching at Cenon. Next week is the Semaine Universelle de Prière of the Conseil National des Evangéliques de France, we're hosting the Monday evening and I am speaking at the Wednesday evening, so there's lots of stuff to do !

Student activities restart the following week.