Showing posts from May, 2014

Some photos of where we were staying - Evangile21


Some photos from Evangile21


Evangile21 - The Gospel Coalition at the Geneva Bible Institute

On Sunday at crack of dawn I got up and off to catch the early buses to Villenave d'Ornon where a group of us were meeting up to go to the conference of the Gospel Coalition at Geneva, Evangile21. The trip to Geneva goes through almost the full range of French inland scenery - the wooded valleys of the Dordogne, the mountains of the Auvergne, Saint-Etienne, the Rhone valley, then the Alps! We were to stay in a ski chalet owned by the family of two of our party, not far from Geneva but over the French border just beyond Annemasse. And it was a very beautiful place, in a lovely green valley with gentle ski slopes higher up - no snow now, of course. The conference was centred on an exposition of almost all of Galatians, with sections taken in turns by the main speakers, Don Carson, Tim Keller and Henri Blocher, and one section taken by Mike Evans, director of the IBG. Then there were sessions on the demands of church planting, from Tim Keller and on the New Perspective, from Don


I played in a big band. I might go back to it, if I can. It was great! Great fun! The folks were friendly. The music was pumping. We were very popular. An evening with the Pessac Jazz Band was a good evening. But sometimes I would look at the music we played - swing, funk, blues, latin - and think, "All of this music dates from about 1940 onwards. It's been around perhaps 70 years at the most, and most of it will not last much longer. Already it's niche, old-fashioned, and soon it will probably be forgotten." It's all so ephemeral! I'd think of my love of classical music. Music of the 1900s (Prokofiev, Messaien, Milhaud, Poulenc). Of the 1800s (Saint-Saens, Mahler, Schubert). Of the 1700s (Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn). Of the 1600s (Purcell, Bach, Handel). We're talking, what, 500 years? Maximum? And it's the year 2014! It's all so ephemeral! Lierature. Dickens. Austen. Shakespeare. Even Chaucer. Even Marcus Aurelius or Aristophanes....

Laser Printer ordered

Since meeting at Dan we make a song-sheet every week. They're great, song sheets, you can put the reading on there and all kinds of information. But they do use a lot of ink cartridges. Not only that, but we've worked out a way of printing out One-to-One booklets on John's gospel to encourage people to use them together and with their friends. They REALLY use up your cartridges. OK. It's time to go laser. So I've ordered one, a Brother. I got some info from the people at Cartridge World and it should be delivered mid-week.

Rain stopped play

Today is fête des voisins. Today you're supposed to get together with your neighbours and celebrate neighbourliness and your neighbourhood and stuff. For YEARS we have thought how cool it would be to invite the neighbours round for fête des voisins, but it's SO SCARY!!! You invite people for a meal, and you have to remember to have bread, and to serve stuff in the right order, including a salad somewhere (between starter and main course) and cheese before dessert. You invite people for an apéritif and you have to have a variety of different kinds of booze, which won't be drunk, and which will then sit in your cupboard gently evaporating, after costing you £50. You see the problem... Anyway one of our neighbours announced a BIG APERO in the street for fête des voisins. We'd all take out our tables and stools and crisps and stuff and have a STREET PARTY, like for the Silver Jubilee in 1977, or for the Investiture of Prince Charles - only I missed that one b

How exciting is this? Very exciting!

Patent wars

Apple vs Google. Apple vs Samsung. What's the point, except to clog up the judicial system and make lots of lawyers richer by adding to the price of everyone's mobile phone... I've been so glad to see the firms settle up and declare a truce.

When your week goes nuts before your very eyes

"This week is so quiet, but I do have that article to write for Peter Milsom..." Then.... SMS - Fancy meeting up? Yes! Email - We could do with a pre-council talk. OK Facebook - What about getting together to pray. Sure! By the end of the day my week is happily nuts. And I still have that article to write for Peter Milsom.

An unusual Sunday

The Cenon church was on retreat in the Lot et Garonne so there was no service at Cenon. So our Sunday started on Saturday evening at the Lormont ADD for their 19:30 service. We were a smidgin late, but there were seats, near the front, and the sermon was about forgiving one another as Christ forgave us. We went from there to McDonalds as none of us had eaten since lunchtime, then walked some of it off again because there were no trams up that branch of the line. Sunday morning lie-in. Well, for the family, not for me, then brunch. I had found bacon. Rashers of bacon. Thin. Horrifically expensive. But recognisable as bacon. So some of us ate bacon and scrambled egg and others had bacon sandwiches. A happy family time. The same excursion had got us some prepared ribs, so we had ribs for a late lunch, just before leaving for the International Service. All our Brits were away (see above) but we were still 13, with two charming visitors from a PCA church in California, cu

Resources for training the keen Chinese lads

OK. So here's the ground rules : 1) Not all speak English, not all speak French, so everything has to be available in French and English minimum. A Chinese translation is a big bonus. 2) Resources need to be at the right level. We are not going to read through the institutes together, desirable though that is, so things need to be written for reading through, not just for reference. 3) Kindle versions are a boon. Here's what I came up with : Packer - Knowing God. Keller - Prodigal God. Packer - God's words. Olyott - The Gospel as it really is (except it's out of print in French). Roberts - God's Big Picture - Panorama de la Bible. I'm hoping the lads will read ahead, because we'll be meeting once a month. I'd also like to think about adding in some Sinclair Ferguson (again published in French by Europresse, but hard to get hold of) and maybe Kevin deYoung on the Heidelberg catechism, but it costs 25€ in French!

Ministry at the meeting-place 2

The Chinese group was especially important yesterday evening because two brothers from Paris were visiting, one was to be preaching. It was good to meet them, they spoke French, and to talk about the Chinese group and the prospects for a Mandarin-speaking worker here in Bordeaux. Here's the upshot : 1) We need to pray for a Mandarin-speaking worker to come. It is far from clear who that could be or where they could come from, and that kind of Christian worker is rare. 2) Meanwhile it's important to work with the leadership of the Chinese group and to invest in training the keen lads is the way to go. OK. Message received and understood. Just the very thing that I am keen to do.

Ministry at the meeting-place

Yesterday was one of those "It's 11 o'clock, so I am in ..." days. It started with the CNEF-FPF joint pastors' fellowship at Eysines. Eysines is one of those awkward places to get to, so I booked an Autocool car and scuttled off to collect it from Pessac centre at 8:30, along with Peiguang, who was coming along, too. The theme was derived from Jeremiah 29:7, and how the different churches and ministries represented were seeking the well-being of the city. People shared about food-banks, kids-clubs, women's outreach, etc. One church in what I assumed would be a fairly well-to-do suburb of the city said that in their food-bank they distribute to 4% of the population of the town. Wow. I shared about ministry at the meeting-place of cultures, communities and languages. Then back home for a spot of lunch and to catch up a little before heading off to the Chinese Group.

Nothing can protect you again your own stupidity, I guess

Well we're ten months on and I am still thrilled with this Macbook Air. It's utterly brilliant. Except I do stress a bit about the storage. It's the base model, with a 128GB SSD. It starts up quick as winking and runs sweet as a nut, but 128GB... I have a GDrive account, Dropbox and OneDrive which together provide LOTS of storage, and my music is all stored on an external disk and in Apple's cloud storage, but 128GB... Anyway I decided yesterday to check how much space was left. Just 20GB. Eeek ! I ran a utility that tells you what's where on your disk, and LOTS of room was taken up by Gmail. I knew it! So I deleted my Gmail account from the Mac - I always use it in a browser anyway - and looked at the free space. Still just 20GB. Eeek ! So I ran the utility again. The Gmail files were still there! I found a way to delete the files, then checked the free space. Still 20GB... Hang on... Now the utility says that 50GB is taken up by "back

Note to self : BOOK EYE-TEST!

When will Esther Rantzen come to our aid?

France still awaits its Esther Rantzen, and the French consumer has yet to rise up and exert their power. This is why shops in France can proudly display signs saying "Big reductions! 5% off!" without attracting crowds of laughing scoffers. It also explains why you have to read the small print . Two examples from yesterday. 1) Mrs Davey in a city centre supermarket sees snacks suitable for the Bordeaux Church apéro. (by the way, since the apéro happens AFTER the service, should we call it a fermo?) Anyway the sign says boldly 1€ ! "That's good", thinks she. Later, another said " 50c ". "Wow!" Then, "hang on, is that a faint aroma of rodent..." The word REDUCTION was printed small below. 2) My favourite shop texted me to tell me that there's a 15% off promotion for loyalty-card holders. "Wow! You'll never get better than that." We need to replace the family computer which has been running on W

Five favourite books

The International Club of Bordeaux asked for five book recommendations for the summer.  Oh boy, what do you recommend?  Do you just put five favourite books? But how many recommendations of Tolkien can they stand?  Do you try to push an agenda? Gwyn Thomas, Dylan Thomas, Richard Llewelyn and the Mabinogion? Do you try to push a different agenda? Tolkien, C S Lewis, John Donne, Bunyan... In the end I tried to be original : 1. Shadow of the Sickle - translation of Cysgod y Cryman By: Islwyn Ffowc-Elis Post-war political aftermath in a rural farm. Beautiful. 2. "Three men in a boat" By: Jerome K Jerome You'll never look at a tin of pineapple the same way again. 3. La Classe de Neige By: Emmanuel Carrère Token representative of the murder mysteries and thrillers that I love to read, and a real page-turner. 4. A Child's Christmas in Wales By: Dylan Thomas The wizard works magic spells with ordinary stories in ordinary words. 5. My family and other ani

Hiring a car

While we were in the UK we hired a car. Our church in North Wales flew us over and also paid for a hire car. Well, hiring a car. What's it like, eh? When I booked the car on the Easyjet website the example "small car" pictured was a VW Up. "That'll do us", thought I, "and I'd quite like to try an Up". I've been in an Up in Cardiff once, and it was surprisingly roomy. When we got to the airport the "small car" was a Fiat 500. Oh dear. I've driven a Fiat 500 and it's good fun, but there's not much room inside. I thought of putting Gwilym behind and Pat in front. That would mean legs everywhere. OK. Pat behind and Gwilym in front. But the risk to her back... "But for £x a day we can change it to a Peugeot 208". I reflected. I agreed. Then the excess waiver. Do I take it or not? This time I did. Sometimes I don't. So the additional price we agreed to at the airport more than doubled wh

Funeral at Blaye

Today there was a conspiracy of road-workmen. They were EVERYWHERE, desperately trying to get me to arrive at Anglade late for the funeral. But by persistence we got there, and by forethought we got there with 20 minutes to spare. The deceased lady's daughters had asked if they could play some music during the service. I agreed, then panicked thinking what HORRORS could be unleashed, (On ira tous au paradis... etc.) They'd set up the computer and speakers. "What pieces have you chosen?" They were innocuous and my mind was put at rest. The funeral director said they'd need a lot of room because she was a very strong lady, so it was a big coffin. And it was. The little church was full and there were lots of people stood outside. The lady was a foster-mother, and so she'd had LOTS of children through her home and some had effectively become her children, part of her family, she was their mother. So the funeral proceeded, with very touching tributes

Pour les francophones parmi vous

JT France 2 : Chrétiens en Kabylie (Algérie) par timkylecx

A wonderful racket with a conductor who conducts by interpretive dance. Crackerjack !

Nothing to see here, but listen to the little moments of silence in this performance. Never be afraid of silence!

Ah ! A funeral !

OK. So I am no longer involved in a pastoral capacity in the life of the Cenon and Blaye churches. But as yet nobody is involved in a pastoral capacity. And someone has died in Blaye, linked with the church years ago. A funeral must be held. A pastor is needed. An opportunity to preach the hope that Jesus gives.

The Bookshop

On Wednesday and Friday morning this week I helped Pat in the bookshop in the heart of Bordeaux. It's great helping people to think through a choice of Bible, finding books for folk and so on. More draining is the odd needy person who comes in and talks and talks and talks and talks, then talks and talks about how they talk too much..... Still! It's an important presence in the heart of Bordeaux.

Ocho de Mayo

Yesterday was the 8th of May when France commemorates VE Day, the capitulation of the forces of Nazism. And it's a Bank Holiday. The children commemorated by going to the beach with the youngsters and getting horribly sunburnt. We commemorated by taking the bus to the jardin public and then going to Nerdy Vera's (Verdenero) for drinks before hightailing it home for pizzas and an accidental viewing of La Rafle.

"Moralistic Therapeutic Deism"! - Chilling!

Read here the three wrong assumptions that Trevin Wax reckons church leaders make. What do you think ?

Chris Barber - Take the A Train - skip to 1:07 if your German is ropey !

Preparation for a ditty for Wednesday

Bordeaux Church @ Dan

We left the house at 15:30 to get to Dan for 16:30 where Jérôme was waiting with basic instructions and with a set of keys. It's a shorter walk than I remember from the Place du Palais tram stop. We left the tables and chairs exactly as they were and distributed the hymn sheets. (We had printed one or two too few). At the end of the service I ducked behind the counter to take a quick photo. You can see that the place isn't crowded, but there's no free seats. We could cram more people in but we'll need some folding chairs for that. So there we are ! We're launched in Bordeaux centre !

B A N G !

As I wrestled with the hymn sheet for Sunday evening and Pat assembled the various articles needed for the post-worship-refreshments all of a sudden... B A N G ! All the windows rattled, the loud report resonated and the silence afterwards had that ominous quality... I wondered what could have gone up. Some hours afterwards we learnt that it was the sound of a jet going through the sound barrier as it raced to assist an airliner that was having radio trouble.

Separation, and church visits

Pat and the children returned to France for the restart of school while I stayed in the UK for a week of church visits. The family had a nice, uneventful journey and got the 24 bus to the Pape Clément vineyards from where a shot walk gets you to our home. Sally had done a sterling job looking after the guinea pige and guarding the house. When the weather was good, I think she really enjoyed her time "in the country", but when it's raining then a flat in the city centre is just as good. My last week was a mixture of ghastly, rainy motorway driving, happy meetings in churches, slow conversations with friends and a final farewell to Bath, all to the obbligato of a persistent irritable and irritating cough !

More interviews

Gwilym, meanwhile, was interviewed for a place as church apprentice in two different churches : one in the South-East of England and one in the South-West. One interview involved a rail trip via London and was a very efficient chat lasting an hour. The other was more like a "meet the gang" taster with a training-day, youth activities, church services, etc, and lasted about six days. Both interviews have resulted in a place being offered so we have set apart Thursday for a family confabulation and for deliberation.

Banner of Truth

From Tuesday to Thursday I went to the Banner of Truth Conference in Leicester. It was a good time when we were fed and watered extremely well, accommodated in super little student rooms, had lectures, sermons and talks that ranged from the gripping and useful to the not so gripping and not so useful, met friends old and new, and heard of those who were ill or indisposed. At Banner they always give you a couple of free books, and this year it was two weighty tomes on the Heidelberg Catechism. I hesitated. Would we get them in our bags?


Shotton is an unconventional choice for holiday, but for weary missionaries it's a wise one. There's a nice park for strolls. There's nice places nearby to visit (though we didn't). There's cheap shops for buying shoes, drawers and socks. Food shops are astonishingly cheap. Everything you really need can be reached on foot. So the family had a good week in Shotton !

Personnel Panel

On Wednesday 16th April we had our Personnel Panel with the mission at Swindon. We got there bright and early and the kids went off exploring the local shops. Matt and Rhys were already there from Deeside. They were called in first for some private discussions to which we were not privy. After some time we were called in and the discussion unfolded. I don't remember much of it, but the future project was approved and off we went.

To Britain: bus, flight and car hire

We left a sunny Pessac for our journey to the UK. Number 48 bus from Pessac centre. The same driver as all the other times I've taken that bus. I wanted to stand and chat with him but the whole family were there and the kids get embarrassed... Then easily through security and into the café. They called our flight. We staggered off to the holding pen. They checked our bags in the gauge. All were fine. Phew ! After an easy flight we went to pick up our hire car, pre booked and prepaid. "OK, you booked a small car and we have a Fiat 500 lined up for you. But we could upgrade you." "To what and for how much?" After pledging a king's ransom in addition to the arm and leg we had already paid, we drove off in a Peugeot 207. We got Pat and Gwilym's phones working, but not their GPS... So we had a circuitous journey to Bath. One day I must learn that route.

Back from long Personnel Panel / Holiday / Banner of Truth Conference / Deputation trip

Reflections will come soon. For now, sleep and get set for the BIG NEW START in DAN this evening!