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)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Un Pibal, deux Pibaux

I have seen two Pibaux at close quarters this week. This represents 10% of the total number of Pibaux in the world!

The first was just outside Mollat, the bookshop. It was being ridden by a gentleman who was discussing his itinerary with a woman. While he was stopped I took a quick photo and it is this photo that you can see below, with his head cropped to preserve his anonymity and to focus more on the Pibal.

The second was being ridden near the cathedral : we were both waiting to cross the road, I saw it and said "Un Pibal !" The lady riding it was very chatty and said that, yes, it is as good as they say it is, that no, it is light and she happily carries it up steps and so on and yes, the footplate is useful for carrying children and you can still pedal even with a child stood thereupon.

Jolly good !

Here we have a photo of one of the pibaux, plus a vidéo with Philippe Starck

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Hanging gardens of Bordeaux

Sun and shade - sunny means cold

A Pibal ! the Bordeaux Bike by Philippe Starck

Brrr... It's COLD !

Festive traffic !

Festive pedestrians !

Guess where

Today we're meeting up with two students who have asked to interview us as part of their research into the diets of ex-pat-Brits what live in France.

Guess where we're meeting ?

We're in

Cold, but sunny.

There's a friend who calls me in spates, this week was a spate, so on Thursday evening the phone rang, I thought it was him, I picked it up and waited.


I waited some more.

Still nothing.

"Âllo ?"

"Just ringing to say that your application for membership of the International Club of Bordeaux has been approved."

Just in time for us to go to the reading group in a café in the middle of town. (See, this café thing is not just us.)

This month it was "The Stranger's Child" by Alan Hollinghurst. I enjoyed parts of the book, some parts were quite funny. It reconciled me a bit to Ian McEwan. I went off Ian McEwan when his books started to resemble, to me, propaganda on various moral issues of the day - Amsterdam was the most blatant, for me, but Saturday was the same really, and after that I gave up for a while. Anyway perhaps that's what some literature has to be about. Propaganda for one or other view on moral issues.
Warm wraps on the chairs of the café 

We're a varied group of people : Russian, French (in an international kind of way), American, English Public School, Pat and I, and it's interesting watching people take positions, defend them, cede them, negotiate, all in a friendly and warm atmosphere.

And we're members !

As we talked a group of chaps came through in orange woolly hats. Aha ! The Frankfurters !

"Hi!", said one.
"Who won?"
"We did!"
"So ! Happy Frankfurters!"
Outside the cinema in Pessac
Then off to ... another café to meet up with a French friend who's very active in feeding the homeless. He also decides to feed me from time to time in the associative café where lunch is 4€ for main course, dessert, wine and coffee. He's protestant and feels he owes me eternal gratitude because I buried his mother.

Afterwards he tried to get me to go for another coffee somewhere but I had a list of emails to answer as long as your arm, so I had to get home. So instead we walked through the city a little, he showed me the shop Ding Fring where they sell off end of line clothes very cheaply, and I showed him Books and Coffee where I have to meet up with some folk very soon....

On the tram we found ourselves in a group of people with black and white scarves.

"Attend, il y a un truc. Vous êtes qui ?"
"Nous sommes de Francfort"
"And your English is better than your French?"
"So why the black and white scarves and why the orange yesterday ?"
"Black and white are our colours, but have you seen the film a Clockwork Orange?"
"But it's very violent!"
"So are we!" said one grinning, moustached German, looking as violent as a hamster.

Home to emails...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Café crawl

On Thursday we went to check out a restaurant run by some friends of ours - he's French but he's worked in China and she is Chinese. The restaurant is kind of Asian-French-Fusion. It was also a kind of postponed birthday lunch for Pat. So we went off and found Dan, (the restaurant's name).

The meal was exquisite, the restaurant pretty and intimate, the staff small, our friends were manning the kitchen and quickly realized we were there, it was a super time. No coffee, thanks.

Afterwards we had a rendez-vous with visiting dignitaries from one of the UK missions, so we hastened off to the cathedral where we'd said we'd meet them at the base of the bell tower. A happy hour of discussion ensued at the Cheverus, the café where I used to do the advanced English conversation. They had another rendez-vous at 15:30, so we delivered them back to the bell-tower, then Pat and I separated. Hot Chocolate.

I had half an hour to get to Les Mots Bleus, so I dawdled via Mollat, the big bookshop, then panicked when I got a text message saying my student friend was already at les Mots Bleus. We spent a happy couple of hours talking about courtship, engagement, marriage, studies, work and future ministry possibilities, then we parted and I sauntered off to my last café rendez-vous. Coffee.

At Flunch, where this time I didn't get a drink, but my student friend was eating burger and chips, so I thought I could get away with having nothing. We talked, read and prayed together, then it was time for him to go off and teach English and for me to miss my first bus, catch my second and run the gauntlet of excited and well-watered Frankfurt football fans, all wearing orange.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

La Passion dans l'art

Tuesday evening FAC and GBU held a presentation in the public rooms in the centre of town on the depiction of the crucifixion by artists through the ages, with special reference to Michelangelo. It was expertly given by Julie, the GBU Staff Worker. Here's some photos.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

At the hospital

At the A&E for Hands department last Thursday night we met a charming nurse and doctor who said," We'll use a special protocol which involves just covering the wound with a transparent plastic dressing and leaving well alone. It will macerate and it will smell, but you'll see, within quite a short time the flesh will grow to fill the wound and the skin will grow back. It's the best protocol for this kind of wound to avoiding scarring and loss of sensation. But it will mean coming back every week for us to redo the dressing."

So yesterday we went back. Pat's appointment was for 4. There are 36 ways of getting to the hospital from here so I chose one that allowed us 20 minutes to find the department once we got there. It meant the 4 to Barrière de Pessac, then the 11 to the hospital. Champion.

We arrived at the hospital and, with our dim memories of the site on a dark rainy night, quickly found the fire escape style staircase we used to get out of the unit and retraced our steps. 10 to 4 ! Perfect !

Not so fast young man. "Have you got your new feuille de machin?" asked the receptionist. We didn't even know what one of them is. So it meant we had to find the reception area - the place where the zombies roamed that fateful night - and take a number, then get a feuille de machin.

We saw the reception area below, but all the lifts said Strictly reserved for the sick. So we hunted for a stairway. The panic rose. Would we NEVER be able to get down there ? A lady found us huddled in a corner.
"We can't find a stairwell. We need to get down to reception."
"Here's a lift!"
"But it's strictly reserved for the sick"
"C'est pas grave".
We fell on her neck, hugged and kissed her, went down and got our number. 

743. They were currently on 72.
We found a seat.
I got out my book.
Pat got out her book.
Oh! Good!
732. 74. OK. We see how this works.

After about 15 minutes spent happily reading and people-watching (French white coats are unflattering) our number came up and we won guichet C. Pat didn't have her passport but since she's already known to the hospital they didn't ask for it. But her carte vitale was out of date. "Go and update it at the terminal by the door." I did it. It worked. So I did mine, too.

"OK. Here's your feuille de machin." We went up brazenly in the lift strictly reserved for the sick - c'est pas grave - and found our way back to the hands department. The nurse was waiting for us (reading her book).

The doctor told her to remove the dressing. The nurse removed the dressing.

"Oh yes. That's very good. See, it's starting to smell. You could clean a little closer round the edges. I'll take a photo." The nurse wrapped Pat's thumb in plastic, put on a strip of elastoplast to hold it in place and off we went.

From the window of the hands department I was sure I had seen a road quite nearby with what looked like tram wires... We went that way - and found the tram stop after just 50 yards !

This time Tram A to Peychotte and bus 23 to Macedo and home. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sunday night

Several new folk at the Evening Service, which was on 2 Samuel 7, the humungous promise to David. David's prayer has long been a favourite passage.

We were about 23 to 25 - really it isn't easy to see how we could get much bigger in our home. We have 38 chairs if we use them all. We have fitted 30 people in our home, but with chairs in tight rows... It may be preferable to find another venue. We'll see...

Way to go, Jésus

Sunday morning found me and the kids at the Mérignac church plant. It was my third visit. The first time there were 16 folk, last week 12 and this week we must have been about 30.

Todd and Terri and Tim and his wife (name forgotten - Tina ?) were there. Todd led the service and Tim preached. I like them very much. Tim says things like "Ca m'a fait la semaine" and "Way to go, Jésus!"

The chap who preached last week came and gave me a big hug.

Well a small hug. He's a small chap.

Pat stayed at home feeling somewhat dizzy. Time to stop the strong painkillers, she thought...

At the hospital

When I got back from Synode I discovered that Gwilym's foot was "just" sprained and no x-ray, cast or amputation was necessary. Good.

Pat's thumb was not a huge hindrance to life, though it did exempt her from washing-up duty. She didn't seem very distressed at that.

Today we had to go back to the hospital to get the dressing changed. The doctor was very pleased with the wound's progress. "Yes, nice and smelly ! It's doing very well"

Jolly good.


At the synode I fended some surreptitious messages concerning Bordeaux Church's first ever  Thanksgiving Meal.

"I'll be late with the green beans".

"Is it OK for me to come?"

"Can I bring a friend?"

In the end there were about 25 people, some of whom we'd never met before, and it seemed to be a good time. Pat said, "There was no spiritual input, except I read a psalm of thanksgiving and someone prayed."

Well, anyway it was a good time, and on Sunday we ate left-over turkey, mash and sweetcorn.

The Synode of Montauban

So 8:45 found me high-tailing it to the railway station where I hopped on one of our super regional trains to Bordeaux Saint-Jean. I sat in one of the curved sofas and zoomed along above the Pessac streets that sped by below me. Then onto my train for Montauban. Grey skies, sunny orchards, the canal, the coloured stucco of Agen, I was soon trotting through the cold streets of Montauban to the Temple de la Faculté where the Synode would be held.

A fine meal with the Commission Exécutive, then the delegates arrived and the Synode began. Discussions about our international relationships, the ethical challenges of our outreach, finance, of course, the life of the churches, good meals, fun with the delegates, some serious discussions in quiet corners, fin bref, a synode.

Then back with Christophe, Patrick and Harriette in the Harriette-Wagen and restored to the bosom of my family.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Book review - Preaching ? Simple teaching on simply preaching. by Alec Motyer

Quite simply, this is a great book, even a wonderful book. Somehow in very few pages Motyer manages to provide instructions and examples on understanding the text, organizing ones thoughts, presentation, the preacher's devotional life, pastoral care, prayer - it is not easy to think of an area of preaching that he does not address.

Of course, it's a short book, so you won't find a seminary level course on hermeneutics, exegesis, homiletics, historical theology of preaching or whatever. But I dare to think that the seminary that set this book at the beginning or at the end of its pastoral training would be doing something very useful indeed.

Why is the book so good ? Motyer writes with humility. Hurrah ! At last a book written by an acknowledged expert who does not proclaim himself an acknowledged expert ! He confesses his struggles. He does not parade his great learning - after all this is the author of the magisterial commentary on Isaiah. He writes with humour. Sometimes the book is downright funny. He writes with honesty. He addresses issues that are sometimes painful to face. He writes with faithfulness. Hurrah ! At last a man who has nothing to give except the Bible ! And he writes with lots of useful nourishment. The book closes, rather strangely, with some devotionals taken from various places in the Scripture.

Buy the book. Read the book. It's not expensive and for the good it will do you it's very good value indeed. And soon you'll preach a really helpful sermon on Mary Magdalene sitting at the feet of Jesus.

Five stars. If I could I'd give it six!

I received the book free of charge in Kindle format in exchange for reviewing the book. I was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What !!!???

Well the good news is that Catrin thinks her Bac blanc went OK. She says she wrote a lot anyway, and since they mark by weight then that should be OK.


We got a phone call at about 5:15 - Gwilym was on his way home on crutches after hurting first his knee, then his foot playing rugby this morning.

So Pat phoned for a doctor's appointment and he's in for 16:45 tomorrow.

Meanwhile I leave for the Synod of Montauban on the 8:45 train and get back Saturday evening.

And we have the Thanksgiving meal here on Friday evening.

Hey - it's fine ! Hurdles are for jumping, aren't they !

The crust and the core

I couldn't possibly agree more with Kevin DeYoung's blogpost here.

Pat's unusual birthday

Poor girl !

What we imagined was a happy morning at Maison de la Bible, followed by lunch at Dan, a new east-west fusion restaurant owned by some friends here in Bordeaux.

Instead Pat's lying in bed with most of her thumb and I'm making appointments to be seen in weeks to come and making a quick dash to the pharmacy for painkillers.

Still, Pat does like a lie-in, and I will be able to crack on with my reading, so it could be a whole lot worse.


Gwilym phoned 15 and talked to them about Pat's thumb while I looked for different ways to stop bleeding. My favourite - pressure and frozen peas - was near the top of the list, and they told Gwilym that we had to go to urgences.

At Hôpital Pellegrin there's a special department for A&E Hands, so that's where our friend Rhian took us. She dropped us by the sign "Urgences Main" and we followed the arrow. Then the next arrow. Then the next arrow. We found a reception area, deserted apart from a small group of zombies disguised as humans who wandered aimlessly, hopelessly, sightlessly round the entrance door, attracted by the lights, perhaps. 

A guy in a white coat was smoking outside. "You work here?" "No." Perhaps he just likes white coats.

Another guy came along. He was very tall and walked quickly and purposefully. "Can you direct us to Urgences Main?" "You have to go upstairs, look there's a lift, it's upstairs." When he pointed we saw that he had the hand and arm of a gibbon. It augured well. If they can give a man a gibbon's arm they could surely fix Pat's thumb.

We took the lift, by now a bit spooked, and followed the deserted corridors. Urgences Main - 8h30 - 19h30. said the sign. It was 20h00. We were becoming discouraged. The next door said "Urgences Main Sonnez et Attendez". We rang, we waited.

A charming nursing auxiliary unlocked the door, looked round, then hurried us into the department. A nurse came and started filling in the forms and entering us on the computer. It was Pat's third visit to A&E so she was already on the system.

We waited for the doctor. The nurse gave Pat some paracetamol and a tetanus jab. A nursing manager came. He was very charming. Then a junior doctor. He was also very charming. Then the doctor came. She looked at Pat's thumb then charmingly said which protocol would be used, at which the nurse started dressing Pat's thumb with plastic film, followed by a large compression bandage.

"You'll be coming back once a week to get the dressing changed", said the doctor. "The protocol we're using keeps the wound covered, clean and moist. It may smell bad, but it gives the best results in healing and regrowth of skin and tissue, avoiding scarring and loss of sensation."

The nurse showed us a rear exit where we could scuttle down a fire escape stairway and get out of the building without passing all the scary people. Our friends, Xavier and Rhian came and took us home.   

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sunny morning, ghastly afternoon.

The American folk are hosting a Thanksgiving meal at our house on Friday so Pat and I wandered off to Picard to look for a turkey roast. No turkey roast, but we got some turkey. Anyway it was a lovely morning. Here's some photos.

The afternoon was back to rainy greyness.

Then Pat decided to make "tartiflette" for tea, and to slice the potatoes rather than dicing them, using her mandoline. It has a nice handle thing to stop you slicing your thumb. If you use it.

Thus it was that at about 8:30 pm we were in the HANDS A&E waiting for the doctor to come and decide what to do about the wound on the side of Pat's thumb. They are using a special kind of dressing that encourages natural healing of the thumb by keeping it moist under plastic wraps. We'll be back there once a week, probably till Christmas, to get the dressings changed.

How to get the seeds out of a pomegranate (mild bad language alert)

A spot of domestic science

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Prayer time at the Maison de la Bible

Tuesday is Pat's day at the Maison de la Bible. She wanted to be home waiting when Catrin got back from her Bac blanc (mock A level) Science exam so she asked me to take over from about 4. Always keen to get into the city centre, I went in after lunch and explored a little before hieing me to the bookshop and sending Pat on her way.

Catrin's science exam went OK. She said "They must think we're really stupid, the exam was easy."

Meanwhile at the bookshop the supporters and volunteers were gathering for the monthly prayer meeting. To be honest with you I was a bit of a spare part. I held the stepladder for Joel, advised a lady who wanted an ESV, helped select books for the book table at the second-hand fair, etc... Then it was prayer meeting time. Every group has it's own prayer meeting habits. I remember the encouraging grunts of South East England, for example. In the MB prayer meeting one mistunes quietly to the others pray then all give a hearty "Amen" afterwards as one man.

Home via Auchan for the things we can"t get when we shop online. I headed for the self-scan machines. My peppers wouldn't scan. I left them there impatiently.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A walk by the autumn vines

Not far from our house the vines of Château Pape Clément begin, so this morning we took a little stroll up to the second-hand bookshop at Monteil to try and flog some old books of the children's, then came back alongside the vines.

Report on a chilly weekend

Saturday was a sunny but chilly day. The temperature has suddenly fallen here and we are due our first first tonight (thinks, must cover the outside taps today).

Catrin had PILES of homework to do. Apparently the kids have so much work to do at the moment that one girl caught sight of the French teacher in the corridor of the lycée and burst into tears !

So Gwilym went to the youth group on his own and had a good time cycling, wii-ing and studying Psalm 23.

Meanwhile we had a nice visit from one of the retired pastors of the UNEPREF, Maurice Raetz, who was on his way to Cadaujac to stay at the Arragouets and preach ta Cenon on Sunday morning.

Sunday found me on the road to Mérignac to visit the new church that is part of the CMA (or in French AMC). I booked a car to go which cut the journey time from and hour and a half to half an hour. So I put my card against the windscreen.
Ah - perhaps I booked it from 10 and it's not quite 10. After 10 I tried again.
So I got out Mr Smartphone and checked my reservations on the website.
The problem is that when you make a reservation you have to confirm it, and I have lived in DREAD of forgetting to confirm. Now it had happened.
So I quickly reserved the car I was stood by, confirmed, and off I went to Mérignac.

The church meets in a hotel right at the side of the rocade, just 10 minutes down the road from where we live. As I arrived Zach was folding tables and setting chairs in rows. A few people arrived as I did, so we lent a hand. When all was ready we were 12, all the missionaries were away, families were away, but we had music accompaniment of guitar, cello and flute, Pierre led the service and Nathanaël preached helpfully from Psalm 130.

Pat, Gwilym and Catrin meanwhile went to Cenon where the service was to be followed by a meal together then a meeting to discuss the musical accompaniment in the church. Unfortunately Pat and the kids had to leave the meeting early and were brought home by Harriëtte.

Sunday evening we were a nice gang of just under 20, with Judges 1 - does God have the right to judge, my place in God's story, and so on... Vegetable lasagna afterwards. And a bit of a post-mortem on the afternoon meeting.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

International group

After the walk on Thursday we were almost ready to join the international group and so have the right to attend the book group together. We still had to :

Find two members to sponsor us, one a founder member
Fill in our application forms
Read and sign the rules and regulations

So I emailed two members asking for sponsorship and we downloaded the forms and rules, read, completed, signed.

The two members said yes.

OK, we are off. We can send off the forms and await the deliberation of the executive committee.

Meanwhile we are OK to go to the book group in November.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Don Carson - Watch me...

Watch Me! from 10ofthose.com on Vimeo.

A rather unusual day !

This morning I went on a walk round the centre of Bordeaux with the International Club of Bordeaux. The circuit was just 6km and it was scheduled to take 2 hours, but we dillied and dallied, stopped for photos, explored alleys and gazed at hidden houses with roman pillars.

The most surprising thing was the weather ! Gone was the blanket of grey that has smothered Bordeaux' skies for the past week or so. We had fluffy white colds and even some blue skies. Very nice !

At 12 I met Pat at Maison de la Bible and we came home for lunch. Then this afternoon a rendez-vous with one of the Chinese students to talk about things in the Christian scene in Bordeaux. It was a useful meeting which will doubtless feed into our reflections for the future.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A visit to the quack

Off to the quack this morning, for two reasons.

Firstly when I went to see him some months ago we forgot to put ventolin on the prescription. Oops ! And now it's the fungus season I do need it...

Secondly our health people have sent me a thing to get a flu jab.

Que du bonheur, as one says.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Credo Magazine - Quote from an interview with James M. Hamilton Jr.

You note that there have been a variety of reactions to the Enlightenment’s impact on biblical interpretation, and that even many of the conservative responses to these challenges have begun with the same assumptions found in the more liberal camps. You respond by distancing yourself from these reactions, claiming that biblical theology should be a bridge into another world, namely, the world of the biblical writers. Why is it so important for us to cross that bridge and to breathe the air of the biblical writers?
I’m trying to say in different words what John is after in 2 John 9 when he speaks of abiding in the teaching of Jesus Christ: “Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” How do we conceptualize living in the teaching?

The biblical authors are building a symbolic universe in which they intend believers to live. They’re trying to move people into that world, and help them inhabit it. We want to live in the world as conceived by the biblical authors, not the fake-world invented by the evolutionists and secularists and rebels of other stripes.

Read Credo magazine here.

Remembrance Day

The day started with us getting the house back straight after Sunday night, then scuttling off to Pessac centre for the ceremony. On 8 May, 14 July and 11 November the buses have little flags. They're a cheerful sight.

The ceremony went well and started on time.

For eight years I have been baffled by the fact that the Remembrance day service never seemed to start on time. I know we talk about the Bordeaux quarter of an hour, but surely you'd start the Remembrance Day ceremony on time?

Well they have been started on time. I spotted in the Pessac newsletter that the ceremony is announced for 11:15.

Why not 11?

I don't know. Anyway, the Marseillaise was masterfully interpreted by the Société Musicale de Saint-Martin under the baton of Jospeh Clémens. And the rain held off for the ceremony, though many kept their plastic macs on, just in case.

Afterwards some friends came for lunch. Home-made bread, blue and runny cheese, and ham. I had a Skype meeting scheduled with a friend who has recently moved to Cambridge. Our wifi has been playing up, so I did it on my mobile phone and that worked OK, though I haven't dared look at how much data I used!

Then into Bordeaux for a meet-up with one of the students at Subway. We talked, read, walked and prayed together before he went home to prepare for his week and I went home.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A happy Sunday with a happy English Service

Faced with inclement weather we decided to take the easy option and attend the Pessac Baptist Church. It's a traditional, conservative church led by a missionary couple, the Bixbys. The message was focused on James 2:21.

After church we went home and Pat got lunch ready for the return of the kids from the ADD in Lormont. Then a quiet afternoon before getting the place ready for the English Service.

This means :

Clearing the decks - airer must be put away as well as all extraneous papers etc.
Huge plastic table brought in and put end to end with our family table.
Bring in the chairs and sort out the lighting.
Printing out any extra songs we plan to sing that are not in our Christian Hymns books.

We were 23, including our visiting preacher and our visiting preacher's wife. The message was from Joshua 1, and addressed the question of God's will for us, God's promises for us, and so on.

Afterwards Leek and Potato soup and rolls, followed by a "fusion" Asian/English bread and butter pudding with vanilla crème anglaise.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Winter came suddenly

yesterday. It was about a week late. It usually gets cold suddenly on or around the 1st of November.

Oh well, in fear and trembling I turned the heating on last night. And it worked ! :D

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Birth of a family tradition

Well we greatly enjoyed our American pancakes during half-term, but that was then and this is now. Weekday breakfasts in term-time are taken on the run, with a 6am rise and a 7am bus to get to lycée for 8am. Pancakes don't fit that schedule. Nothing sociable fits that schedule.

But Saturday. That's a different matter ! So begins the new habit of Saturday brunch. Pancakes.

(We may even introduce bacon or sausages at some point.)

Friday, November 08, 2013

The Power of the word

"When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master— that's all."

I have been amused to see two blog posts in the past few days, written by two of my favourite prominent presbyterians, both discussing John Piper and both asking the question, "Is John Piper really reformed?"

Kevin De Young's blog post is entitled "Is John Piper Really Reformed?" and it can be read here.

R. Scott Clark's blog post is entitled "Is John Piper Reformed? Or Holding The Coalition Together (Updated)" and it can be read here.

That two prominent presbyterians differ ought not to surprise us, especially in the USA. In Wales the waves of revival and gospel blessing brought a rich miscellany of churches whose buildings remain as testimony to the diversity that flourishes when vibrant Bible Christianity flourishes. In the USA the Three Forms of Unity and, I suppose, the different countries of origin of immigrants, have given rise to a wonderful kaleidoscope of presbyterian denominations.

This came home to me in a different way over the past few days in trying to research the different worldwide groups of presbyterian churches. So far I have found three but I am sure there are others. We have the Worldwide Communion of Reformed Churches, the International Conference of Reformed Churches and the World Reformed Fellowship. If I ever do my doctorate it will be a historical theological comparison of the three groups trying to explain who belongs where and why and noting any anomalies. You can get the man out of taxonomy studies, but you can't get taxonomy studies out of the man.

Anyway, leaving aside John Piper and the fascinating question of whether he is reformed, Reformed, Really Reformed and whether he cares tuppence what anyone thinks, what interests me as a Welshman living in France is the Power of the word.

What does reformed mean? Is that different from Reformed?
What does evangelical mean?
Also what does baptist mean? And Baptist? 
And is reformed baptist a contradiction in terms ? 
What about Reformed Baptist? reformed Baptist? Reformed baptist? 


In the end to argue about words like this is futile. People blindly follow Humpty Dumpty anyway, whatever we say about confessions, definitions, etc. We use words in contexts to mean quite different things. This battery is dead. Communism is dead. My child is dead.

We may, like Humpty, want to be master of the word, but we can't. The word evangelical doesn't belong to me, or to the gospel coalition, the evangelical alliance, the council of evangelicals or to anyone else who might claim the authority to give the word it's final and restrictive definition. The word reformed will mean one thing when linked to baptist, another thing when linked to Church of Hungary and quite another when linked to bank robber.

So who will have the last word over whether John Piper is (Really) Reformed?
Scott Clark? De Young?

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master— that's all."

Sorry, Humpty. When it's you against the power of a word, it's the word that wins.

That's what words are like.


Sunny Montauban

We needed a couple of things - sheets of plastic, paper for school, so I hit the bus 4 and popped into Auchan, then inspected the Christmas Crackers at Hema - They're OK - they come with hats, mottos and a game of "Who am I" where each has a sticker with a name on it. Then to Bradley's bookshop for Remembrance Day poppies (none were in evidence) then Desigual for a spot of colour therapy (Bordeaux gets grey and depressing in the winter) then to the bookshop to transfer the paper etc. to Mrs Davey. Quick cup of coffee and "Ton père va comment?" at the bookshop, then hightail it to the station for a quick MacDonalds before catching the 12:47 to Montauban.

My order was placed in the electronic booth thing at 12:27. That'll be fine. So I was surprised to find myself hurtling along the platform at 12:45 without my Chicken McSandwich. There were HORDES of people, talking to the staff was impossible, it was carnage, carnage I tell you.

Oh well, I'd have time to eat at Montauban. The train was on time, I found my seat, I read and prepared and read and napped.

Montauban was sunny and bright ! As blue and colourful as Bordeaux was grey. I hunted for the kind of place where you can eat lunch at 2:45. In the town centre of Montauban there were restaurants and bistros (you'll be lucky!), kebab places (... um... I'd have to be a LOT more hungry) and boulangeries/patisseries. So it was that I found myself eating a very nice onion quiche followed by a slice of red fruits crumble. A quick visit to Monoprix to find comestibles for the return journey then off to the meeting. I was still pretty early when I spotted a tea room. Oh go on. I was the only punter so over my pot of Ceylon I talked with the owner, a lady from Brittany who had visited Huddersfield in the past.

The meeting of the Commission Executive Sud-Ouest was a happy time discussing the harsh realities of the day together. Then I got a lift to the station.

I got to the station at 19:25 and my train was at 20:40. Hmmm. The Marseille-Bordeaux train was just about to arrive almost an hour late. I asked the ticket office if I could get on that train. "In principle, no, but ask the guard." I asked the guard. "Oh yes!", he said. He was a very cool guard. The train was an InterCity and I occupied a family room - 12 seats, 2 child seats and a play area. I had it to myself.

On my arrival at Bordeaux I went to McDonalds and explained what had happened. "Did you phone ?" "I thought about it but they were already swamped with people." "We'll refund you but next time phone anyway." Bus 11, Bus 4 and restored to the bosom of my family.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Today I take the train again to Montauban

Last time I went it was Sunday, sunny, beautiful, ten days ago.

Now it's wet, rainy, damp, gray and overcast.

Oh well. It'll be good anyway and good to see the chaps of the South West Executive Commission.

I'll get back L A T E tonight.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

A sabbatical from Facebook

I haven't been coping with Facebook ! It's been making me anxious and unhappy, so I have stopped using it.
I haven't deleted my account.
Also things will still appear under my name - from Twitter and from Instagram.
I'll scuttle in like a ninja first thing in the morning to greet the birthday people.
I'll also need to use the Android Facebook Pages application to update the Bordeaux Church page, but that's OK.

Climate change ?

Well we're sat here in our gloomy living room with the doors to the garden open having moved logs from one pile to another ready for winter. Pat is reading Sherlock Holmes and knitting. I am reading Greg Beale and blogging. Catrin is in her room cramming Joseph Conrad passages. Gwilym is in his room crashed out.

But it's November 6th and the doors are open and it's 18° in here. I wonder whether we have moved from a classic four-season system to a new two-fold dry and rainy season climate ? Still, the bird are happily eating the pyracantha berries and for the moment there is a pause in the rain.

Calm contentment !

Mrs Davey tells me that Hema, the new Dutch shop in Bordeaux, has Christmas Crackers !

Yipppeee ! Vive les Dutch !

Is the tram dangerous ? Is it more dangerous than buses ? (in French)

Read the statistics and a comparison here.

For them as doesn't read French it turns out that although 10 people have died in accidents connected with the Bordeaux tram network since its inception in 2003, the trams are as safe as one could expect of a similar network and considerably safer than buses.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Some night-time photos of Bordeaux

Serge The Llama - new mascot of Bordeaux ?

There's a general and public demand that a llama become the new mascot of Bordeaux.

"A llama ?" you cry.

Yes, a llama. Named Serge.

I think it was on Friday night  that five young chaps, little scamps, after an evening that was, as one says here, well-irrigated, spotted a travelling circus up high on the right bank of the city.

After suffering rejection from a zebra, they found a friendly llama who acquiesced in participating in their evening of somewhat unstable frolics. There followed group photographs of the lads and the llama where all seem to be having an super time. Then they stumbled, or staggered, upon the tram.

Serge took the tram.

The trams in Bordeaux are not like the ones at Blackpool, they are very high-tech. They are all under video-surveillance. The driver can see all points in his tram without even leaving his seat.

He observed the group of six lads. All were hairy. One unnaturally so. This individual was also unusually tall and had elongated features.

So he stopped the tram and called the police. The police, with great discrimination, no pun intended, locked the lads in the cells and tied up the llama at the tram stop till the owner could be found and summoned for a joyful reunion.

One of the lads is a waiter in a restaurant, so he phoned his boss to say he'd probably be late for work.

The restaurant owner, a hero in this story, phoned the circus owner to explain what had happened and invite him for a meal at his restaurant.

He came, he ate, waited upon by the lad concerned. It transpired that Serge, another hero in the story, had behaved himself impeccably and done no damage at all of any kind during his wanderings. The circus owner withdrew the complaint he had made to the police and one hopes that all are going on to live happily ever after.

NOTE WELL : would that all tales of student drunkenness ended so positively. Several Bordeaux students last year left nightclubs sozzled and fell in the river to their death. The circus owner himself says that had the lads taken the zebra the evening would have finished badly. 

Oh yes, and Serge the Llama is going to the restaurant on Monday evening.  The restaurant owner has the last word (attention - very free translation) :

It's a funny, surprising story. Everyone can identify with these youngsters. Boys will be boys! It's better than those who have accidents because of drunk-driving, or get into fights or insult the police.

"C'est une histoire drôle, inattendue. Chacun se retrouve dans ces jeunes qui sont retombés en enfance. C'est mieux que ceux qui ont des accidents de voiture ivres au volant, qui commettent des agressions ou insultent les policiers".

Monday, November 04, 2013

and I was inconvenienced

A young woman was killed on the tramline at Victoire today, and I was inconvenienced.

I noticed at Bordeaux 3 when the trams were stopping short of my destination.

She probably didn't notice anything at all.

She was 25 and apparently she was crossing the tramline while talking on the phone when the tram hit her.

I read of her death in a newsflash sent to my phone.

I was late for my meeting. I sent a text message to the person who was waiting for me.

And someone heard her voice stop on the end of the line.

I was late for my meeting, and thankful for the thousand times that I have escaped from danger.

Book review of Boot Camp - Equipping Men with Integrity for Spiritual Warfare, by Jason Hardin

I received a copy of this book free from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.

I really like the idea behind this book - Boot Camp - Initial Training for Men. Something to give to guys to read to help them become disciplined men of God. It's a great idea.

My expectations were hard to fulfill, but the author succeeded pretty well. He covers much of the ground he needs to. He talks about Integrity, Selfishness, Sexual immorality, Idolatry, Jealousy, Anger, Sins of the Tongue, Hypocrisy, about being Strong in the Lord and wearing the Armor of Holiness.

Sometimes the military metaphor works really well. Sometimes less well. "Currahee" may communicate better with a US reader ?

However I don't think this is quite the book I wanted it to be and needed it to be.

There's one main reason - the way the author approaches Scripture is great. He gives it the place it ought to have, it clearly is his authority and his rule.

But sometimes the way he interprets Scripture made me shout at the book. For example (and I'm choosing the first time I started yelling), in the first real chapter he talks about Hebrews 11 and the heroes that have preceded us. Moses, Gideon, Elijah, David... A great cloud of witnesses... He writes a wonderful and beautiful passage ... then concludes "What is it that Jesus saw in Andrew, James and John more than the other fishermen of Galilee ? Why Matthew... What set Peter apart... Nicodemus...


That's the moment when I started yelling, "BY THEIR FAITH! BY THEIR FAITH!"

I think that's a fundamental flaw.

When I am thinking about potential where am I looking ? Why, at me !
When I am thinking about faith, where am I looking ? Why, at Christ, the object of our faith !

So three stars. It's a good book, but it's a flawed book. It did me good, but it also made me yell.

And to give to others, I'd probably go back to old faithfuls like Jerry Bridges and the like.

The week in view

Thus far :

Monday : meeting with two chaps, one on campus then one in town.

Thursday : Commission Executive Sud-Ouest of UNEPREF in Montauban.

Friday : Meeting with a couple hopefully in town.

Other things will get filled in as the week progresses !

Daveys reunited

So after a rough and unpleasant flight, Catrin landed on time at Mérignac to be greeted by her waiting and doting parents. Our girl is back.

Pat had come home from her music training week with an upset tummy - was it Friday's smoked salmon ? Anyway, it meant she could meet Catrin.

Gwilym, after the final session of music training week, had a youth group meeting, so he didn't get home till after 10, by which tile almost all of us were tucked up nicely in bed !

Sunday morning found Pat still feeling rough, two kids exhausted and me struggling with my sinuses, so we stayed home and brunched on pancakes.

Sunday evening's English service we were fewer in number than usual - holiday travelling and the onset of term time, perhaps.

But the theme was good. The Tabernacle - God with us !

An early night for our two offspring, then Gwilym was up at 6 to leave the house at 7 for school.

Catrin got a text message saying her 9am class was cancelled, so she had an hour's extra grace and will leave the house at about 9.

Meanwhile we have wind, rain and two unpleasant drips just where the large sofa sits, often with Pat on it !

Oh well, holidays are over !

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Oh yes - and no mobile phone or internet

It was a very agreeable change to be completely out of touch. The cows wear little bells which make a happy jingling all day long, and the sound calms you down most efficiently.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Content of the pastorale

The main thread of the pastoral was lead by my old colleague here, Samy Fouachon, and by a professor from the faculty at Aix-en-Provence, Yannick Imbert, and centred on two books of Harry Reeder : "From Embers to a Flame" and "The Leadership Dynamic".

Harry Reeder is a PCA minister and I have reviewed the "Embers to a flame" book in the past, so I don't think it's all that useful to go back over that. A search will bring up my thoughts, I'm sure.

Another session gave an overview of the ministry in a Marseille church where a serious decline that threatened to be terminal brought the need for a rethink of the patterns and ministry of the church. It made a good study, both for those things that have worked well (more flexible pastoral accompaniment, focused BIble Study courses rather than institutionalised times and days for this, that and the other, use of social media, etc) and for those things that have not been mastered (financial security by disciplined, principled giving, serious implication of every member, etc...)

Very thought-provoking.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Pastorale UNEPREF à la Bécède

Well my journey to the UNEPREF Pastorale was idyllic. I had a 90 Page paper to read, but the view from the train window to Montauban was too beautiful as we passed vineyards, orchards and the Canal de la Garonne. Then by car to Toulouse, a brief comfort stop, then off to the venue for the pastorale, la Bécède, which is in the mountains of the Cévennes, surrounded by peaks, forests and cows with bells on, which produce a constant jingling sound.

I was in a room to myself and apart from an annoying illuminated sign above the only door which told me it was the fire exit I slept pretty well. A scavenged piece of towel placed over the sign helped.

The food was good, too. Confiture de marrons for breakfast, gratin de poissons avec des moules, lasagnes, roast pork with salsify were among the highlights.

It was good to be with the corps pastoral of the UNEPREF, the papers were good and thought-provoking, it was good to hear about the churches and their life and to share  and pray together.

The journey back was complicated by a trail crash - a car went under a train at a level crossing at Castelsarrasin, so my train from Montauban to Bordeaux was replaced by a bus. Still, I arrived at Bordeaux an hour later than planned and was able to hop on a train for Alouette-France.

The biggest negative point - I caught a cold, probably from the person who sneezed on the back of my neck - you know who you are, though I didn't and still don't ! Still, that's part of sharing, no ?

Some more photos from la Bécède