Showing posts from April, 2012

A wonderful weekend

The weekend was going to be rainy. Who cares ! Saturday morning saw the visit of our friends from near Aix-en-Provence. They work in a sensitive area so I can't name them, but as he's a Westminster PhD I find it simultaneously very reassuring and extremely humbling that we get on very well and spark each other off for animated discussions. This Saturday morning it was the relationship between Biblical and Systematic Theology and the search for Biblical Theology's Grand Unifying Theme. Then a nice lunch of pizzas and buttery almond cake for the 11 of us (they're a big family !) The afternoon was spent in preparation, then preaching for the Chinese group in the evening. Andy said that my messages are short, so I thought, "OK" - and gave myself a bit more free rein than normal. A young man professed faith during the discussion and prayer time following. I had chatted with him before the meeting and he seems a fine young chap. There are often conversions dur

Well, this week it's only rained twice.

Once for four days and once for three days.

A spot of music for a Friday

I don't know if I have ever put this on the blog before, but it merits being put on again even if so !


Leland Ryken of Wheaton College is currently doing a series of blogs here  to encourage Christians to read and think about Albert Camus' book, l'Etranger. You can download the book in pdf format in English or in French. (Google it.) I am supposed to have read this book during my language year, but I didn't. I bought it, but buying a book and reading it are not exactly the same thing. So I decided to go at it, using Prof Ryken's study notes even though it means going slowly, just one (short) chapter a week. So this morning I read chapter 1 in English then in French. It's more fun in French because Camus uses picturesque words that I am not sure you can really capture in translation (for example, a man's trousers were too long and "corkscrewed" around the bottom of his legs). But the English version captures the mood well, of a man who seems aware of everything but understands nothing and is moved by nothing.

Lunch, then a TREK for the bus home

We enjoyed our subway sandwiches, then Pat and Catrin went shopping (oh dear...) while I walked back to the tram stop to get back to the stop for bus 4. The next tram was in 5 minutes so I walked to the bus stop instead. The bus stop was no longer in use, so I walked to the next bus stop instead. And took lots of photos on the way. The conker trees are flowering. They always take me by surprise ! They're so blousy, so exotic ! And I saw that one of Bordeaux' eyesores is being demolished... I like the bus, too, because on the way to town I could read my bible (on my phone) and on the way back read my commentary on Philippians (also on my phone).

A nice morning in Bordeaux

I was meeting up to talk with someone this morning in a café in Bordeaux, so Catrin and I went in by bus. It's great taking the bus from here because we have to walk through the wooded park to the bus stop, listening to the woodpeckers on the way. It's a really nice café, my favourite, called les mots bleus it also sells books and it's easy to find a quiet corner to talk. I didn't take a photo. You can't always, can you... Afterwards I went to the bookshop to meet Pat and Catrin and we went together for a slap-up lunch at Subway.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear

"There's this great seminar in Geneva", they said. "Donald Cobb, John Piper, Don Carson, they're all there", they said. "There's accommodation sorted out in nuclear bunkers", they said. I thought, "Sounds fun ! and whatever it's like, it can't be worse than sleeping in a dormitory at Bala..." Then they sent this video :

"Well yes, that's what we find in Psalm 2."

quoth I to my JW friend. Blank looks. "You do know Psalm 2?" "Well I'm sure I have read it at some time..." "Oh boy, you need to read the psalms ! They're really important ! Psalm 1, 2... 8, 22 talks about the death of Christ, 23 - all Christians know Psalm 23..., Psalm 46...Psalm 72 about the rule of God's King, Psalm 110, Psalm 145...etc.etc."

I like to watch this programme sometimes

and today's was a good 'un. It's the Gers !

Gwilym has left for Poitiers to stay with his friend, Pierre for a few days


I got another birthday present yesterday

A CD of Ahmad Jamal :

A quick word about the presidentials

Yesterday was the exciting first round of the presidential elections. It's always exciting because in this first round you can vote for whoever you fancy, knowing that they won't get in. It's a chance to say how you feel. Thus it was that Marine LePen of the National Front got 18% of the vote. I don't for a moment think that 18% of French people would like to see her as president. The first round is a chance to express how you feel, and 18% feel a certain sympathy for what she says. Of course, sometimes this backfires, as in 2002 where Jean-Marie LePen beat Lionel Jospin in the first round and thus caused a second round where Chirac got an enormous majority and a perceived mandate to do whatever he wanted... Anyway, this year the first round went more or less as expected. Now we take the two front candidates and put them in a head to head. Sarkozy vs Hollande. And meanwhile the wrangling : Hollande blames Sarkozy for the NF vote, for example... Sarkozy demands

Elections présidentielles

Tomorrow is the first round of the Presidential Elections. We don't have the right to vote in national elections, but we do have the right to pray, and we urge you to join us, too, in praying for the candidates and for our French friends and neighbours as they make their will known. The most likely outcome is that the first round will be inconclusive, leading to a second round stand-off between Messieurs Sarkozy and Hollande.

Glen Gray

Pat got me a CD of this chappie's orchestra for my birthday :

Poulenc trio for trumpet, horn and trombone


Such a good idea. They moult.


School hols

Never let me think that school hols are less frantic than term-time ! It's probably the different structure, or the comparative lack of structure, but this week seems to have been just as "charging around in all directions" as ever. Still, highlights have been : Soirée antillaise under the auspices of FAC at the church. Our Haitian friends showed us something of the richness of the caribbean in all sorts of ways. Café philo - again FAC - at Couleur Café - a nice time though a small gathering, possibly after the Soirée antillaise. The theme was "la conscience morale" - the conscience. Last night Soirée contes - one of the church members is a professional story-teller and as there was no English Class Patricia and I were able to go along to the church and be present for the story telling evening. Wednesday was also my birthday. Thanks to all for cards, greetings, best wishes etc ! In the meantime little bush-fires to control or to snuff out, month

Please note the new, professionally built website

for FAC Association here .

The weekend after

So Saturday was a quiet day of getting ready for Sunday after the Colloque. AM I was in Anglade. There's a photo somewhere. PM in the English service. It was good to meet a new couple who seem to be settling with us in Anglade. The group there is small, but on Sunday half of them were under 30. In the evening almost everyone was late, so we started late ! The fun of public transport. It was good to spend an evening service together, though, message from Romans 16 and some discussion of the things we learn from the different people Paul mentions. Now it's school holidays (Hurrah !) so everyone had a lie-in ! Hopefully the chidlren will recharge a little ready to go back to the final term of school - for Catrin including her brevet. Her brevet blanc (mock O'level equivalent) went OK, she was much less stressed than we anticipated, and she's probably done OK.

I THINK my diary's up to date

I use Google calendar for my diary - it synchronises happily with any computer I can use as well as my Android phone so I don't mind the nice people at the Googleplex knowing where I am and with whom. Many of my appointments are arranged by email and this morning I had a minor panic : were all the appointments I have with various people for various reasons noted in my diary : CNEF, church, FAC, Ecole de Musique, individuals, family stuff... So first job this morning was to make sure all was up to date. It is. Phew !

Friday, Colloque then home

Friday morning brought the last of F's and of Charles Nicolas' addresses. One of the amazing things about the Colloque is how the different addresses dovetailed. After a super lunch and prolonged farewells Charles and I took the bus to the centre of town. Charles lives in a small town where you can drive everywhere and park easily so he never takes the bus. I told him I practically live in the buses and trams of Bordeaux. It also means I don't get nauseous from the bouncing around... I had a few hours to kill before my flight so I went to see what Starbucks in France is like. Then off to the Airport and a nice flight home, chatting to an agnostic from a Muslim background who often passes the church. I told him next time he must come in for a coffee, but I doubt if we'll meet again. We'll see.

Thursday at the colloque

Today we had the biographical address from Régis - I forgot to take his photo - and the final address from Don Carson as well as a panel discussion. I took a photo of the panel discussion but I don't want to post it until I can cut out F. Don Carson sat next to me at dinner and we talked about all kinds of stuff - hypercalvinism and revival, the price of books in France, the putting aside of the charismatic question in the gospel alliances in the USA, the number of gospel alliances and how confusing that is for non-Americans, pastoral training and resources becoming available online, books we need to see published and then wonderful pastors we know personally who are no longer walking with Christ (please see below). My third message was on 'abiding in Christ' and I struggled most with this message, I think because it was most important to me and most difficult to give and to hear. And when I struggle with my subject I struggle with my French too. Still, it was probabl

Wednesday at the colloque

I slept better than I have for weeks - I have been waking up at 4am and not getting to sleep again. It seems the colloque had been playing on my mind. Anyway... So Wednesday dawned and I slept just that little bit too late, but got up and ready quickly for the day. The conference centre has these really nice rooms. Mine had a view out over the hill with a little prefabricated plastic shower-room at one end and a TV. Brilliant. Here's the view from the window. Two talks from Don Carson - we all fretted to try and note down all the numered points (did you get point 4 ? yes but what was number 7?) One talk from Charles Nicolas. Good food. Another aftenoon nap - I tried to read and caught myself snoring. I tried to watch Miss Marple on YouTube and caught myself snoring, so I decided that I needed a nap ! Then my second talk, this time on being made alive in Christ, from Ephesians 2. The second day. 

Tuesday - the Colloque

Well that was a week, that was ! Easter Sunday, Maxime preaching at church and ALL THOSE PEOPLE at our place to eat. Wonderful ! Then on Tuesday off to Lyon for the Colloque Biblique Francophone where Don Carson was to give three addresses on the concept of "Son of God" in the Bible, Dr F was speaking twice about Islam, Charles Nicolas was speaking once on ministering to the sick and dying and Régis Berdoulat was giving a biographical address on the French Livingstone, François Coillard. And I would preach three times. Lyon seems to be a major centre for Catholicism (shops full of statues of Mary, Catholic university etc.) and the Colloque was held in a huge conference centre up on a hill just outside the centre. Last year I went by train, which took 9 hours, before taking tube and bus to the ceonferece centre but this year Easyjet came to the rescue and I got to Lyon by 9 am. Which meant I had some hours to kill before going to the conference centre for 3. So

Death, be not proud

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so; For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow, Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me. From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow, And soonest our best men with thee do go, Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery. Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell; And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then? One short sleep past, we wake eternally, And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Easter Sunday evening

A smaller group stayed to worship in English together (and to finish off the cake).

Easter Sunday afternoon

The Easter Morning Service was a very happy occasion and I was especially glad to hear my friend Maxime preach and to meet his wife, Demelza. Afterwards about 50 people converged on our house for a barbecue, our neighbour cooked the vast bulk of the food on her turbo-charged gas plancha until her gas ran out ! Then we switched to our little electric grill. I didn't get everyone in the photos - some people hung around in the living room, little ones were hunting chocolate eggs in the garden and the adolescents spent some time hanging round in bedrooms.

Resurrection morning ! The beginning of the end game !

Everything is going to work out OK thanks to Jesus Christ !

Pessac Jazz Band at the Salle Galet

It was great to be able to play on Saturday with the big band in a hall I'd not been in before, especially since I've missed WEEKS of reheardsals !The hall is probably Pessac's best concert hall, called the Salle Galet because it's built of what looks like sprayed concrete on a large boulder shaped framework. It makes a hall that's quite indescribably ugly from the outside but that functions very well acoustically. We played a nice first set, followed by a group of professionals (our singer and director amongst them) called "Latin Spirit".

Saturday night at the Salle Galet - Pessac Jazz Band (us) and Latin SPpirit


Pour tous celles et ceux qui croient que le français est phonétique

Sortant de l'Abbaye où les poules du couvent couvent, je vis ces vis. Nous portions nos portions, lorsque mes fils ont cassé les fils. Je suis content qu'ils vous content cette histoire. Mons premier fils est de l'est, il est fier et l'on peut s'y fier, ils n'ont pas un caractère violent et ne violent pas leurs promesses, leurs femmes se parent de fleurs pour leurs parents. Elles ne se négligent pas, je suis plus négligent. Elles excellent à composer un excellent repas avec des poissons qui affluent de l'affluent. Il convient qu'elles convient leurs amis, elles expédient une lettre pour les inviter, c'est un bon expédient. Il serait bien que nous éditions cette histoire pour en réaliser de belles éditions. Attentions aux mots de la même orthographe, mais de prononciation différente !

Montre-moi l'aurore...


We're learning - slowly

Largely because of Mrs Davey's back problem the slow-cooker took a tumble from it's resting place on top of the fridge to the hard tiled floor below. Tiled floors are great, but they do mean that anything that falls is broken, including the earthenware crockpot of the inside of the slow-cooker. So we started the hunt for a new, large slow-cooker. It's then you learn how expensive France is and how good Aldi is ! Aldi periodically have reasonably priced electrical goods. You have to accept the brand Quigg, but to be honest with you a slow-cooker is pretty low tech. I still think I could rig one up with a light-bulb except that they've been phased out, too. However the drawback with Aldi is that you have to need a slow-cooker when they have one in stock. Anyway the cheapest I saw advertised was 55€ and the cheapest I saw in the flesh was over 100€ ! And this for a slow-cooker ! to the rescue. A great big Morphy-Richards for £24. Would they deliver to Fr

Good Friday in Bordeaux

Good Friday (Vendredi Saint) is a normal working day and a normal school day in France, even in the Catholic schools. So no morning or afternoon services for us. Instead our Good Friday looks like this : 9:30 - 11:30 - "Clinic" (Permanence) at the church building while the Women's Meeting is on in the lower room. 12:30 - 13:30 - Student Bible Study in the Maison des Associations 20:00 - 21:00 Good Friday service. It has to be pretty late because Friday afternoon traffic is normally very heavy and Monday is a Bank Holiday so it will be heavier still. This evening I'll preach on Barabbas and Jesus, the guilty and the innocent.

Quasthoff for Friday


Quasthoff on Thursday


Le Colloque Biblique Francophone

Next week is a conference for pastors and Christian workers at Lyon, the Colloque Biblique Francophone . Last year was the first time I'd been able to attend and during the conference the organisers asked me if I would consider being stand-in for their evening preacher in 2012. They'd asked Stuart Olyott (now pastor of our church in North Wales) to preach and he had agreed on condition they had someone lined up as a backup. I thought, "Stuart's health is good now. Yes, OK, it's an honour, no problem." The main speaker is Don Carson. That made me laugh. I know there's no league tables for preachers but, well you know what I mean. Not only that but in Bala 2011 I was on the same programme as Don Carson. I was doing the missionary talk and he the main addresses. Anyway, Stuart's health is still good, but Doris his wife is waiting for an operation later this month so I am preaching next week. Poor Don. He'll think there's something going on !

Wednesday Quasthoff


Is this what it looks like when cycles of lean years begin ?

Yesterday I paid my weekly homage to Carrefour. All went so well till I got to the fruit and vegetables. At Asda the Fruit and Veg were right by the door. I hated that. I understand that it gives you the impression that the supermarket is full of colourful, healthy things, but it also gives you squashed tomatoes at the bottom of your trolly. Here in Carrefour and in Géant-Casino the Fruit and Veg are at the end of the food and before the cleaning products. They're well-placed. But not, it would seem, well-stocked. Firstly almost no plastic bags. It meant I had to weigh my bananas free-style and stick the sticker on the bunch. I prefer that anyway. Bananas come wrapped - they don't need additional plastic. But then I got to the tomatoes. REALLY expensive tomatoes with stalks on. Nets of Spanish tomatoes - sorry all gone. Still, there were the loose tomatoes without stalks - I found a broken bag and tied a knot in it so it had a bottom. Then a lady and I spent a few min

Today's Quasthoff


Magic, this stuff

It's washing powder pressed into A5 sheet form. You tear a sheet in half along the perforations and pop it in the machine on top of the clothes. Takes up no space, works fine, clean and easy to use and it's cheaper than the other stuff too. HOWEVER I haven't yet found it at Carrefour, only at Géant-Casino. Do you have it in England yet ?

Sunday at Blaye and Bordeaux

So in the morning we were at Blaye. There isn't a pianist at Blaye so normally we sing unaccompanied, but yesterday instead of me going alone to preach the whole family went and Gwilym and Catrin accompanied on guitar and flute. A Toi la Gloire has guitar chords in, and it all worked very well. The message was not really a Palm Sunday message, rather I preached on the thief on the threshold of paradise. We were not a bad number - perhaps 15. On the way back from Blaye I was SO SLEEPY on the motorway. We arrived home with not a moment to spare ! Home to await our friends Vincent and Jenna and Jenna's sister Charity, together with Luca and Maya. Luca is an adorable little lad who is growing more sensible every time I see him. After lunch of pizzas in the yard we all went to the English Service where Luca behaved impeccably, as did his sister, parents and aunt. Usual hiccups over songs ! I really need to do that 25 selected numbers song book for next year. I made a tactica

Today's Quasthoff

Here he is singing il Commendatore with Bryn Terfel.