Showing posts from January, 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

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.

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 bac

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."

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.

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 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.

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 c

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 il

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

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.

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.

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. Saturday 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. Sunday 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...

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.

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

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 t

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

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

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.... .

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 s

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

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


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 !


Reckless or what ?

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

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 quit

I "like" this little cartoon someone found


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 ! Stud