Showing posts from January, 2014

In case anyone is concerned...

Pessac is up on a hill and if Pessac floods then Bordeaux will have been evacuated long before. So although our garden has several puddles that have been there almost a week, we don't risk any major problem, really. And just now the sun is shining brightly as if it will never rain again.

Kindle Bible footnote

The Kindle versions of the French Bible translations that I have tried are frustrating to use. What you need for a good Kindle version is good table of contents and navigation and it is here that the French Kindle versions are found wanting. When you have your Kindle out, your Version Française open and you need to find Galatians 3 then unless you have table of contents saying Galatians then you have had it. The Segond 21 is the best I've found but even there you find yourself randomly stabbing in order to get to the CONTENU page where you can choose your Bible book. The Kindle versions in English seem to do better. Nothing is as quick as flicking through a pew Bible to find the place.


Well we were doing so well this winter, with mild temperatures, sunny days, it all seemed so idyllic. Then came last weekend and the R A I N. It has rained and rained and rained once more. Further south several towns are flooded and the water levels show no sign of subsiding. Our garden is dotted with puddles that do not soak away. The path through the park is so muddy that it's impassable. From time to time the wind blows just the wrong way and we get a drip - I suspect the flashing round the cooker-hood outlet. Once the dryer weather comes I'll have to get someone up there to look at it. But also there's the problem of the tides, allied to the wind and waves. That's why at Soulac-sur-mer a block of flats called Le Signal that once look rout over 200 metros of sand to the sea beyond has now been evacuated and sealed and is expected to begin to collapse soon. This weekend flooding is forecast in the bastide area of Bordeaux, on the right bank, between us and the C

Café Littéraire

This Thursday, digestive tract permitting, I hope to direct my feet towards the same café I was in last week, but this time for a café littéraire, where some crazed loon will launch a discussion on whether science fiction gives a vision of the future or something. To be honest I doubt if it is possible for me to be less interested in a subject, except that a good debate in French is always a good idea AND... it occurred to me the other day that it would be possible for us in central Bordeaux on an evening at 18h30 to do a series of "Café Biblique" where, for example, Romans is presented to the listening crowds... I must go to the café littéraire, look interested while pondering and praying about how a Café Biblique might look and work.

Gastro !

Matt Francis, the pastor at ChristChurch Deeside, came to visit at the weekend and preached for us at the English Service. I think he's the first elder to have attended a Sunday service at Cenon, too, so it was good for him to see the church. We spent several soggy hours exploring the streets of Bordeaux and talking about the work here. Then on Monday he went home and Gwilym went down with a tummy bug. Then this morning Pat went down with a tummy bug. Ah the joys of family life, eh !


My old Windows laptop was playing up the other day. I think the USB controller is on the blink, so I turned the thing off. BIG mistake. Last night when I came in I found that Gwilym needed the music printing out for the service this morning at Cenon. The excellent programme for doing this is not yet available for Mac, so I had to start up the laptop to do it. OK. I got up and put the kettle on, then went upstairs and turned on the computer. Downstairs and made a cup of tea and my porridge, ate the porridge and drank the tea. Went upstairs. Is the PC ready ? Not yet. OK. Shower time.  Had my shower. Is the PC easy ? Not yet. FORTY MINUTES it took for that wretched thing to get itself into a fit state to print out the music. FORTY MINUTES !

Book Review - Life in Christ - Jeremy Walker

There are various ways of thinking and writing about the Christian's life and lots of useful books are available to help us. For example you can think of the Christian life in a very practical way, thinking of the different activities that people discover. Things like prayer, meditation, worship and so on. Books like this might include D S Whitney's Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life or SDFTCL as it is commonly known. Other approaches include that of Jerry Bridges, whose books on holiness and growth in grace are so very useful. Or Peter Jeffrey's books, like All Things New , that lay a doctrinal foundation but also encourage the development of good Christian habits. One could think of Ted Donnelly's book, Life in Christ , which is a federal theology tour de force, based on sermons preached at a conference. It's a book I know Jeremy appreciates hugely. Or Sinclair Ferguson's books, like The Christian Life, a doctrinal introduction , which are

CNEF council and "Café Spirituel"

Yesterday morning was the committee meeting of the CNEF, and a happy time of planning it proved to be, with : a joint Easter Monday service   We haven't managed to get a big hall in Bordeaux, the big public halls cost in the order of 6000€, so we're using the biggest evangelical church, which has seating for 400 and can add perhaps 150 more. a Training Day on Islam the next pastors' fellowship  In one of the cafés I use as a meeting up place I had noticed a poster for a café spirituel with a debate on whether religions are or are not compatible with human rights. Well, it's good to know what cafés are happy to host, so I went along. I was the youngest person there by about 15 years, and whatever it was it was certainly not a debate. The organiser was sat at a table with his book propped up alongside him generously sharing his knowledge gained from his travels all over the world. Suffice it to say that I said nothing and I don't think I'll be going a

Sébastien Fath reports on World Evangelical Statistics (en français)

One note of caution, if the UK counts 5 million evangelicals, of a population of around 60 million we are still in the area of 8% Evangelicals, or 1 in 12. Is 1 in 12 people in your town or your street an evangelical Christian ? Link here .

Well that was an unusual day

It began with doing the shopping online. Very frustrating, but after a while I had ordered what things the shop had and made a list of the things we'd have to get elsewhere, and booked a delivery for between 5 and 7. Then time to scuttle into Bordeaux to say goodbye to one of the students. We drank coffee and talked about stuff in Bordeaux, then ate a farewell lunch in Café Cheverus We got home and I put the kettle on and turned on the computer to email our weekly prayer update to our church in North Wales, when... "There's someone driving down the driveway..." It was a friend from another city in Southern France who was passing by and wondered if I'd care to go for a drive out to the Dune de Pylat. Why not ? So after a quick email home we set off. The dune was beautiful, the sky was blue, we scuttled to the top of the dune and on the way we attempted to set the world to rights, or France at least, before concluding that the task requires greater wisdo

That awkward phase where you think things will work fine, and then they don't...

We are going through a phase where our planned bus journeys don't work out. After the "meeting in Villenave, no problem I'll go by bus" debacle, where a late bus 44 left me stranded outside Géant-Casino in Pessac five minutes too late for the Villenave bus, we failed to get to church on Sunday. Bus 4 to Pessac Centre, then five minutes to change to bus 35. Easy ! An on a Sunday morning, no problem ! Except that bus 4 was 6 minutes late.  We went home and listened to Don Carson on YouTube.

Toyota Yaris Hybrid

What a super experience ! We picked up the car from its parking place unde the trees at Quinconces and after reading the instructions and eventually working out that I had to use the machine to get the keys that you do not need and do not use to start the car, the car started, it said "READY" and we moved silently out into the traffic. Very easy to drive. Very quiet. Very smooth. Very hi-tech. We zoomed happily up the motorway to Cavignac, where I had one minor hiccup when I decided to park at the side of the road, looked around to ensure no one was coming and then depressed the clutch to manoeuvre. There is no clutch. My left foot had depressed the brake, and we stopped short. A quick explanation to the somewhat perturbed family, we parked and all was well. The return journey was without incident apart from traffic jams, where being in an automatic was just splendid. Thanks, Autocool!

A bit more reflection on the Capetown Opera Chorus

They sang a varied mix of opera choruses, spirituals (I think nowadays you have to say "gospel") and traditional african hymns. The choruses were sung in fairly traditional style, with a small amount of acting and interacting, but basically "straight". The african hymns had associated gestures which were wonderful. Thoroughly enjoyable. The spirituals were kind of staged, so that for "O happy day", for example, the choir bounced around all over the stage and while one splendid lady sang of how Jesus washed her sins, her sins, all her sins away, the chorus interjected "hallelujahs" and "praise God's" and so on. Which was very enjoyable to watch, but which left me non-plussed. Because what was being staged was not a dramatic composition, but we were watching staged worship, simulated worship, where the chorus were pretending to be a lively African church, for our entertainment. Now that raises lots of questions in my mind. For

Cape Town Opera Chorus

This video is a pale reflection of the concert we had this morning. The ladies were in gorgeous matching skirts and contrasting tops and since the stage of the auditorium is quite large they had room to move. And move they did. They told us not to take photos, but someone did anyway and I found it on the internet: The basses are stars, especially one tall gentleman with wonderful jazz hands. Anyway, here's a very sober, Oxford-syle version !

I met up with someone at twilight near Quinconces and as we walked and talked afterwards :


I hope they'll do this (but with a better flutist...)

Normally it's the horn player that lets the side down, but this lady's very good!

I'm very excited!

There's another big Together for the Gospel conference in Geneva in May. That's the one I went to two years ago during which I stayed in the nuclear bunkers built into the hills around Geneva in 27-man bunk beds (and which also contributed to breaking the bank for a while!) Well I can't face the bunkers. I just can't. But there's a gang of folk going from Bordeaux and we plan to share the driving and the cost of the car journey so getting to Geneva would be cheap. But where to stay? Not the bunkers. Not again. I phoned around and hunted on the web. Youth Hostels pushed the price out of our league. No. Not the bunkers. So I emailed the brothers to say that I couldn't go, when one of them replied that he'd found accommodation - all we'd need to do is take sleeping bags, pillow cases and "a small participation". Yippeee! Oh yes, last time it was Henri Blocher, Don Carson and John Piper. This time it's Henri Blocher, Don Carson a

I'm very excited!

Tomorrow Pat, Catrin and I have tickets for a morning concert at Bordeaux's new auditorium. I say new, it's been there a year but I have yet to see the innards of the place. Either tickets are outside our league, or for the free concerts they did to celebrate the opening I was not sufficiently tuned in to get tickets. Anyway the Cape Town Opera are currently in town doing Porgy and Bess - very good, apparently, and they're doing a choral concert at the auditorium which was offered to pupils in the music schools, plus their parents. So we're off. (We also have tickets for Pat and I for a morning concert in March when a wind quintet are doing a quick burst through the history of music for wind quintets. "The Wind Quintet from Haydn to Cage". I'll love that. Pat will hate it, but she chose to come anyway!) Afterwards we're invited to the home of the new President of the Presbyteral Council for lunch. He lives out of the city, so we have reserved a

Ditty of the Day : Boots !

It has rained pretty steadily for several hours. Pessac will be one big quagmire. Catrin's gone to school in boots.

Back again

Tap tap tap on the window behind me. I jumped out of my skin. My JW friend was back with a lady I hadn't met. So we settled down, I got the hot water and tea bags, and suggested we read Philippians... Slowly it emerged that they never read a Bible book through. "Why would we do that ?" So we talked about the structure of Paul's letters and the way the Spirit inspired him to write, and the way there were no chapters and verses and no divisions in the text and how the letter would have been read out in the church and how reading through gives you the big flow of the logic and so on... Anyway, as they left I challenged them to read through Romans and told them not to come back till they've done it.

I studied in the University of Life

Alliance Vita have organized "Université de la Vie", a series of five evenings to discuss issues relating to the sanctity of life. Last night was the first evening, held at the Athenée Municipal in Bordeaux. In theory the addresses were to be given by video-relay from Paris, but they very wisely had recorded films of the speakers as a backup. These were used. I went along to have a good chance to listen to good formal French as well as to see how the issues are addressed in a French context. It was a good evening. One thing struck me as a big cultural difference with the way UK folk addressed these things, at least up until 2005 when we left. The speakers talked of expectant mothers and a stage they go through after discovering they are pregnant when they begin to speak to the child that they are carrying. As if they "adopt" or "appropriate" their own child, accepting the child they are carrying. Before this stage mothers are far more likely to termi

Weekend report

So on Sunday morning we all were at Cenon. Catrin had been on a sleepover with the FACFilles so we met her there. The preacher was Maurice Raetz (it does not rhyme with rats) and he was preaching on Jesus teaching on prayer from Matthew 6. Afterwards we scuttled home while Gwilym scuttled off to lunch with some of his young chums. We had a fair bit of tidying to do before the English Service. At the English Service we were 23 (again we expected smaller numbers at the start of term) and we don't have enough chairs since some of our plastic folding chairs are breaking. We can't really ignore the squeeze any longer, so we've asked folk to consider what they think about a move to a city centre venue and an earlier time of 5pm. We've been offered the use of a little restaurant which is closed on Sundays. Pat and I went to check it out and it has 24 chairs (!) but the owner says we could store folding chairs in the basement. They're very keen for us to be there. Ma

Comme un grand !

Yesterday I was in the Maison de la Bible all alone all morning. Some folk had suggested that they would call in for a chat at about 10, so I made sure to be good and early opening up. I didn't want to be talking to folk while trying to count centîmes! Ah. Problem. How on earth do you do the start of day routine? I couldn't find the book of instructions. Frankly, I was falling at the first hurdle. So I phoned Pat, who couldn't quite remember, so I phoned the manageress, who explained which button to press. At this point I ought to explain that the till is a PC running a deeply complicated system of shop management which is also bilingual French and German. So it's far from obvious sometimes what to push and when... Every sale involves cursor clicks and function keys and at least three screens of info. Anyway I got it done and after that, plain sailing, les doigts dans le nez. We sold so many Bible before Christmas that we don't have much choice any more

Look ! He's going to get eaten !

So much for Carlos and his public transport!

I left the house extra-early to catch the bus for my journey to Villenave and the meeting this afternoon. I was extra-early. My bus was extra-late. So I missed my connection and ended up coming back home, my tail between my legs. Still, I consoled myself by making the last of the Christmas recipes I had planned for - a Chocolate Cheesecake, using mascarpone etc... The digestive biscuits I had bought for my biscuit base had strangely disappeared, so I made a Chocolate Tart instead. More French, really. It's an ill-wind that blows nobody any pud.

It's a long time since we had a ditty


Great! Yes, you don't have the feel, smell, heft, thrill of a book. But you can have LOADS of books on the thing and then slip it in your pocket! You can buy books in English, French, Welsh (some) and Spanish right here in France. Not only that but there's LOTS of free books available, classics as well as Christian books. I know you are supporting the evil beast Amazon which killed off independent booksellers, then killed off the chains and now is killing off everyone else, too. So I am not advocating never buying a book again. The full immersive reading experience does need that smell, the ability to scribble, dog-ears, tears, smudges, etc... But we do find these Kindle things jolly useful. I have tried in my time, and I put in order of preference : Kindle Paperwhite. Nice white screen and good to read in the dark. (The newer one's even better) Kindle app on mobile phone. OK if your screen is big enough. Kindle Fire. Also pretty good, but you can get dis

Carlos II

On Friday afternoon I have to attend a meeting in Villenave d'Ornon. Villenave isn't very far from here, but the best way to get to it is on the rocade, the peripheral motorway. OK. 20 mins and you're there. Except coming back on late Friday afternoon is likely to take MUCH MORE than 20 minutes because of the traditional Friday traffic jams. It's here that public transport comes into it's own. I'll take the bus there and back. It'll take longer, but it'll take the same amount of time both ways because the bus uses a circuitous route through the suburbs. And I can read instead of fretting.

Is it really too much to ask ?

Surely the expression is "to toe the line", not "to tow the line" ? Is it too much to expect that well-respected authors, established publishing houses, qualified and experienced editors should get English expressions right ? If not what hope do the rest of us have ?

Public censorship

The blogosphere and twitface is currently excited about three cases of censorship. 1) Phil Robertson star of Duck Dynasty who was suspended, then reprieved after expressing the view on TV that homosexual acts are sinful. I'm a bit shaky on this because I have no idea what Duck Dynasty is. 2) Dieudonné, a French comedian, whose forthcoming show has been banned in Bordeaux because of the antisemitic views he expresses and popularises. Amongst his "gems" is the neologism Shoananas - a blend of the word Shoah, used in French for the Holocaust, and ananas, a pineapple. He is the popularizer and perhaps the inventor of the quenelle - a sort of half nazi salute, half "up yours" gesture that has recently been exhibited on football fields and in front of the synagogue in Bordeaux. Another of his quotes, this time attacking radio presenter, Patrick Cohen "You know, when the wind turns, I'm not sure he'll have time to pack." "When I hear him sp

Boy, did I misjudge that!

The creative writing group being somewhat undersubscribed yesterday (first day back to school, not easy) we got let out early. I had a lit of things to get from Auchan (hair-brush, dustpan and brush, junk food for school lunches, etc...) so off I trotted. My peregrinations took me past the bakery. "Don't look, don't inhale, don't pause". So it was that I came home with a gorgeous looking muesli loaf and a nice oat flake decorated multi-grain loaf. Just when them as would normally eat such fayre are giving up all calories post-Christmas. OK. I'll try an odd slice or two, then into the freezer they go till a more propitious time.

Oops !

Pat just had the joy of writing a note for Gwilym, who THOUGHT he started at 10 today, but now finds that MAYBE he starts at 9. The note said "Erreur horaire". Easier spelt or telt ?

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside - sometimes, in nice weather...

We in the Gironde have not had the rain what you lot in the west of the UK have had. We have had the tides, though, and in some parts of France the rain has fallen. So there have been severe floods in parts of Brittany - we've seen photos of Quimperle under water. Some folk have been washed away by huge waves. And on the Aquitaine coast there's a serious problem with erosion. Houses, blocks of flats built on sand dunes with a nice view of the sea are now falling into the sea. Adding sand with bulldozers doesn't achieve much. Meanwhile here the river is unusually high, but not dangerously so, and we are scheduled to have warm weather this week, 16°C today.


I am aware of the ticking of the calendar on the Sabbatical. In January and February the schedule is evaluation. March and April: planning. I may post some things here. I intend to use mind-map to structure our report, and to use a new program on the Macintosh (well, new to me) called Scrivener, to write it. Scrivener is designed for writing things that fall into sections, and you can work on different sections at different times more easily than in a classic Word Processor.

Back to school

Well there we are. We have taken a break together as a family - two whole weeks together. We played games. We went to the cinema. We watched films at home. We all went to the same church together twice in a row. We ate out twice - no three times. We have had a nice restful time. Now it's back to school. Meanwhile I had an email from the person in charge of the International Club of Bordeaux' Creative Writing Group, saying, "I see you have a blog. Would you be interested in coming to the Creative Writing Group?" First reaction - I shall take up running. Second reaction - Why not! It meets today. See if you notice a difference !

So tomorrow is back to school day

Poor Catrin is stressed. She has essays, exams, all kinds of stuff going on. Poor Gwilym is going back after a LONG work experience in SuperDry. It will be strange to be back in the classroom. Poor Alan is going to a Creative Writing Group. Yes, I know. To be honest, the best thing he could do for his writing would be to turn off auto-correct. The speling erers I find in this blog, my own blog, drive me NUTS ! Stupid computer. But hey. Why not. That's what I said when someone suggested the group to me. Poor Pat will find the house very quiet tomorrow afternoon. She'll get LOTS of knitting done. We have had a super, restful, family Christmas. We've spent time together and enjoyed each other's company. It's been good, a real blessing.

Premier dimanche avec le Catéchisme de Heidelberg

Paul Wells le présente ici .

Paul Wells nous dirige dans une étude du Catéchisme de Heidelberg

Vous pouvez lire l'introduction ici

Miscellaneous New Year Reflections - Bible Reading Done Differently

OK, this reflection is half-baked, and draws on various threads that are running through my mind. But here we go. Oh, and sorry if it sounds a bit cross... It'll be the burnout coming through, added to the fact that sometimes our folly does make me feel somewhat cross. 1) For years at New Year I have advocated starting one of the plans for reading through the Bible in one year. 2) At the same time it is clear that in a world where many Christians are illiterate and many more don't have a printed Bible in their own language, daily Bible reading is not of the essence of the Christian life. You can be a Christian, grow as a Christian without it. 3) The Christian life is more solitary than ever before in our big cities. People suggest various things as "the answer" : accountability groups, small groups, home groups, growth groups, all kinds of groups. Groups are great, and I have no doubt that they are part of the answer. 4) We exacerbate this solitary tendency with o

Miscellaneous New Year Reflections - Call me Carlos

Well, what's it like living without a car, then? Brilliant! I wish we'd got shot of the thing earlier! Financially it's brilliant. We don't pay insurance or fuel. We already paid out on our bus passes anyway, so it's all just savings. And we don't have the biennial "contrôle technique" scare or the big bills for servicing or the massive bills for repairs. Mentally it's great. Driving the thing had become so stressful. Still, sometimes, when changing gear in the Autocool cars or in hire cars I hear that thunk. Also we don't get stuck in traffic jams. Well, we do sometimes, but it's not our problem! We just carry on reading. Physically it's great. We all walk far more than we used to, even if it's only to the bus stop and back! And it isn't, because sometimes you see that the next bus or tram is in 10 minutes, so you walk a couple of stops. Spiritually it's great. You can read. Yay! You can chat with people on the bu

Miscellaneous New Year Reflections - Burnout

It's a funny thing, this burnout lark. I mean, I'm fine. No, really, I'm fine. I feel happy. I feel joyful. I like jokes, music, books, people. I think I still make sense, a bit. But I can't handle conflict, politics, late nights, procrastination, disorganisation. So I have had to withdraw from certain things that I love, like : Church organization. Strong discussions. The Music School committee. The Big Band. Some conflicts don't leave you in peace, they come to get you, and they have been hard to live with. I think it's a bit like having a broken leg. Physically, otherwise, you're fine. Your other leg, wonderful. Your arms in fine fettle. (Oops) You're fine. But out of action because of that one thing. I am a little more demotivated than usual. I am more anxious than usual. Perhaps that's a normal reaction. Anyway. Whatever bit of my personality handled the things above is broken and slowly mending. Still, it's given unpre

Dieudonné, his one man show, and the call to ban him from coming to Bordeaux

Dieudonné is a French stand-up comic who has become rather controversial politically to the point where a petition is calling for him to be banned from coming to Bordeaux to present his one man show in January. You can read about him here .

Arnaque at the pizzeria

Gwilym and I were despatched to obtain the festive fayre from the pizzeria next to the Renault garage. On the way we chatted about Renault's collaboration during the war and the subsequent confiscation and nationalization of the firm, and wondered how Citroën and Peugeot, Talbot et al escaped collaboration and how come the gestapo always seem to be in Citroën Traction Avant and did they buy them honestly at a Citroën dealer and... It's shut ? But they say they're open 7/7 sauf les jours fériés. New Year's Eve is not yet férié. On the way to Visconti's (pizzeria no 2) we noticed that le Bistrot de l'Alouette was closed, as well as the Quebec Quafé, so we decided to abandon Visconti (a restaurant that does take away) and try pizzeria no 3. Have I ever mentioned how popular pizzas are in Bordeaux ? Pizzeria no 3 was open and filled with 3 young folk busily ordering four giant pizzas, two big bottles of fizzy, 9 cans of fizzy, two pints of Ben and Jerry's an

New Year Greetings - and a New Year Suggestion

Joyeux année ! Blwyddyn Newydd Dda ! Happy New Year ! Motto text : Philippians 3:14  press on towards the goal for  the prize of the upward  call of God in Christ Jesus. Reading through the Bible. :  Justin Taylor gives helpful advice on how to read through the Bible in a year here . For my part I want to suggest something else this year. We continue to see the individualization of evangelical faith - remember that thing I noted a while ago about sermons being a complement to our daily reading. So this year let's work harder at walking together in our church fellowships. Why not use as daily readings the texts the preacher expounded the previous Sunday. Read the verses. Read the context. Try to remember what the preacher said. The points, arguments, application, illustrations. If there were not applications, you think and pray over how the message applies to you. Pray for others in terms of the message. Let's profit more from the preaching we hear.