Showing posts from March, 2015

Publication of the Bible in classy magazine format


Prokofiev second movement


I've been listening to Prokofiev again

Unbelievably moving, sometimes upsetting, this sonata. One movement a day, I hope.

It's a man's life in Bordeaux sometimes!

Saturday started with me haring off to the Maison de la Bible for my morning stint. We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of a plumber, who phoned to say he'd be coming Saturday afternoon. This gave us an immediate problem because the person who does Saturday afternoons normally doesn't come till pretty late, if at all. Leah came to my aid and I was relieved at my post at just before 2, then was given a lift home by Pierre le Grec. Pierre le Grec had come into the shop with my old friend Heber, a student who I used to meet up with years ago. Heber is passing through Bordeaux on the way to visit his beloved in Slovakia, and he brought his customary smile, good humour and a touch of Haitian sunshine to a grey Bordeaux day. The plumber didn't come. At five I left for the long and winding journey to Cenon for the Chinese group. Big mistake. The roads were CLOGGED with cars after a football match and the bus was about 1/2 hour late by the time we got to the tram stop. Stil

Lunch with Didier


Taking Catrin's application to Bordeaux Montaigne

I exited through the wrong door and ended up in this courtyard.


The internet is now working via Free - they took 4 and a half days to connect us and all is, so far, well. Meanwhile Mrs Davey's back is OK. Today she sauntered off to Carrefour to obtain the little essentials that had been left off the list of the megashop I did yesterday, and she is up and about and smiling and saying her back's OK. Meanwhile it has warmed up a little today. It is hard to believe that yesterday, almost at the end of March, we had the stove lit all day. And the plumber phoned and said he'll call tomorrow afternoon.

Pat's back playing up

Pat has a herniated disc, relic of years of nursing, which now and again flares up unpredictably. Sometimes it's a movement that sparks it off. Sometimes it's too much lifting or carrying. We've been doing some gardening, nothing heavy, but I don't know if that was the source of the current flare-up, but it's happened. She's cancelled her stints in the Maison de la Bible and started on ibuprofen. We hope that all will calm down this week so that I can come to the UK with no great worries. If it develops into a big problem then I might have to cancel the trip. Thanks for praying!

Where a phone call achieves nothing, twitter works marvels


Well the internet is back

Bouygues said that the internet software deep in the gubbins somewhere would try and sort itself out every night between 10pm and 6am until April 2nd. If April 2nd dawns and our internet STILL didn't work, then we should call again and a technician would leap into action. And I leave for England on 31st March, and Catrin is studying for her bac, much of which entails the internet... Well, on the way to the Chinese group on Saturday I was charged with getting some eggs and other comestibles. This I did with such panache and speed that I called in at the Free shop and: 1) ascertained that Catrin's mobile phone is on Free with 20GB of 4G (lots of internet connectivity) 2) it is really easy to switch people to Free, so I planned to switch Pat on Monday 3) switching to Free for the fixed line and internet is also quite easy. "It takes between 6 and 15 days." "Normally 6 or normally 15." The guy looked me in the eyes. "Normally 6."  (Ha! We&

First cold in ages

After the longest day came the longest night... somewhat sleepless.. and in typical Alan custom what comes next? Yes. I caught a cold. Still, it's the first in ages!

Internet failure - due to eclipse?

Hi! Our internet connection is down. The technicians say it's a software issue rather than hardware. They do autorecovery procedures overnight, so we try out each morning to see if it's back. The failure coincided with the eclipse, so it may be due to that, or possibly due to hacking by North Korea or terrorists.

The longest day

Well, it won't be too long, but this morning I'm in the Maison de la Bible from 10 till 2, then I have a little wait in town till 5:30 when there is a council meeting in Cenon, probably till about 7:30. I haven't attended a council meeting for some months, but since I am away in April for that council AND for the AGM I will be there this evening. On the bus and tram I chatted with a friendly guy who started the conversation by lamenting the need to travel by bus and tram - "it's restrictive". I told him how liberating I find it and we talked about the various ways of doing the things you can't do by bus - buying furniture, going to the dump, etc. I told him about Citiz/Autocool and Drivy, and he told me about BlueCub, then we reminisced about bizarre French cars of the past. I told him about my Ami 8, and he told me about the Méhari he once had (I was green with envy) and his DS21 (I'd love to try driving one of those one day) and the Fiat 500 (t

A spot of music


The Synode of La Grand'Combe

OK. Here are some highlights. 1) Meeting the Men of Meaux - representatives of a church that dates back to the time of Briçonnet, Farel, and the others of the Circle of Meaux. I ate lunch yesterday with the heirs of the reforming Bishop of Meaux. How awesome is that. The church is currently not attached to any union of churches and so they are seriously considering becoming members of UNEPREF. 2) Meeting Nely Vos, the missionary attached to the Friedland Church in Marseille. I had heard so much about her but it was good to meet her. 3) Meeting my host couple, who lived in Bordeaux years ago, when Yves was pastor of the Eglise Libre. 4) Meeting Arnold, an alarmingly young theologian, Calvin specialist, now working on the Trinity in the OT, who was great fun. 5) Being back in the Cévennes, where the valleys, villages and coal tips remind me of the Rhondda. 6) Seeing some very dramatic restructuring of the church committees and regions achieved peacefully and with rigour.

Off to La Grand'Combe

Hurrah! It's Synode time! So later today we will drive 6 hours to La Grand'Combe, not far from Alès, which isn't far from Nîmes, which is just up the road from Montpellier, in the deepest darkest Cévennes, for the National and General Synod of the Nation Union of the Protestant Reformed Evangelical Churches of France. I'm travelling down with Harriette in the Smitmobile but coming back on Sunday by train. It will mean 7 hours by train. I think. Between then the synod will accomplish marvels. The regions of France are to be abolished. The South-West region will be no more. Neither will Languedoc-Cévennes nor Provence-Ile-de-France. The new denominational structure will be lighter, leaner, slimmer, swifter, more adaptable, quick-thinking and decisive. As a humble pasteur-associé I don't have a vote, but I usually end up counting the votes so ... let's just say that there are ways and means. I will try to add photos and perhaps the odd reflection from Syn

From Auschwitz to Charlie Hebdo: the perils of being Jewish in France

Read the Guardian article here

25 Maps that explain the history of the English Language

can be seen here.


Catrin went off for a youth weekend to the foothills of the Pyrenees where she was to translate for a Surf Pastor who apparently, it turned out, did his theological training in Wrexham, the town where both Gwilym and Catrin were born... Anyway, they all arrived, they ate, they had the first session, they went to settle for the night, then it all began. Catrin just vomited. Others had diarrhoea. All had to use one of those special turkish toilets - a hole for squatting. Que du bonheur! Meanwhile Pat and I took the bus to Pessac Centre and then walked down along the tramline through the woodland where they're building new flats. The stuff they're building is too expensive for us, but it was good to see the kind of thing that's being put up. We had a picnic sat on a bench in the first sunshine of Spring. Then some television together, listen to last week's message from Deeside , and preparation for Sunday. Sunday evening was a happy time. We were a few people fe

Book review : God's Battle-plan for the Mind, The Puritan practice of Biblical Meditation, by David Saxton

It is always fascinating to see how health advice swings around. I knew that if I waited long enough the doctors would recommend the health-giving properties of pizza and dark chocolate! And it has been wonderful recently to see scientific endorsement of the habit of daily prayer. Well, it's not put quite like that. Instead a time of mindfulness is recommended. To turn aside from daily pressures and our usual mindlessness(?) and to focus simply on who and where you are. Previous meditation techniques spoke of emptying the mind. Now we are told to focus the mind, to be fully present. Christians have a third way. (See what I did there?) Instead of emptying the mind, which David Saxton says opens us to the possibility of "spiritual predators, and instead of focusing the mind on me and my circumstances, we can raise the mind higher. Paul would say, in Colossians 3, "set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on th

What's that crazy honking and squeaking?

It is the sound of hundreds of cranes flying overhead on their way north for the summer.

What's that insane beeping noise all over France?

It is the sound of millions of smoke alarms being tested. From 8 March every home in France must be equipped with at least one smoke alarm.

Another half-baked reflection

Some time ago a Welsh clergyperson said during a conference, "While we may be alarmed at the philosophical assumptions of post-moderninism, we don't regret the passing of philosophical modernism. That never did us any favours." I was thinking about this this week in the context of two discussions. The first is a controversy that is smouldering about the work of the Spirit in relation to the Scriptures. The historic evangelical position has been that when the Bible is preached, even if the preacher has done his work impeccably, with reflection, exegesis, analysis, application, illustration, structure, prayer and all, still for that word to have a powerful effect in the lives of the hearers the Holy Spirit must apply what they hear to their mind, heart, conscience, will, etc. It is said that this position is no longer held by the vast majority of British evangelicals, with the watchword being "The power is in the Word". What this means is that the preacher

Gwilym's future

There is some discussion. At present he's doing a church apprenticeship at Freshbrook in Swindon. For next year he is thinking of doing a course in Theology and Music at LST - the London School of Theology, erstwhile London Bible College. Discussion centres around: 1) the suitability of the faculty - it's the only course in music and theology he's found 2) the fees - at £14000 per year including full-board accommodation they are not excessive by British standards. However they still amount to well over half our annual salary. He'll end up with a very large student loan. Some help may be available from trust funds and he can invite help via stewardship services. Could he achieve the same results by doing a non-residential course in theology combined with another training position and music studies at LST by distance learning? 3) the goal. Gwilym wants to reach young people with the gospel. He doesn't have any sense of call to pastoral ministry. Well the

Bac blanc - done

Catrin's bac blanc exams finished on Thursday. She's had her first result already, but from her weakest subject. She's full of dread for her OIB American literature because the teacher has been absent a lot and they spent too much time on poetry. It'll be fine!

A song from the colony


The first day of Spring sunshine

Well what a nice way to spend a Friday! It started with the CNEF33 committee meeting which was to be held at the Caudéran Baptist Church. Caudéran used to be a suburban town, independent of Bordeaux, just like Bègles, Pessac et al,  but it was bought, it was purchased by Bordeaux. So it projects out over the boulevards, the inner ring road that approximately delineates the frontier of the town. It is regarded as being a particularly bourgeois neighbourhood, containing the lovely Parc Bordelais, but it has LOTS of blocks of flats and no tram line. So I booked a pool car and popped the address into Waze. Well that was my first surprise. When I started the programme Waze knew what was in my diary on my phone, and suggested that I wanted to go to Caudéran. I supplied baptiste, and it found the address and plotted a course. Bravo, Waze! Second surprise - instead of directing me to the rocade as I expected, it sent me off through backroads of Mérignac. Now Mérignac is one of the town


French presidential elections take place in two rounds - deux tours. In the first round all the candidates are put forward and if anyone gets over 50% of the vote, then he elected. However it is quite common for nobody to have over 50%, in which case the two front runners of the first round go into the second round, and the winner of that round wins. Nicolas Sarkozy, who I miss greatly, has befuddled the minds of many people by speaking of those who vote for the FNPS - the Front National Parti Socialiste. He has since explained himself, saying that when people vote for the Front National in the first round and give that party a good percentage they provoke a backlash which results in people voting socialist in the second round. I think he is probably right, though he's been perhaps just a bit too creative, cryptic even, in his description as FNPS


One of the folk who occasionally come to Bordeaux Church is a professional photographer. Not a studio, portrait or wedding photographer, but a street photographer. I asked about his work, an he has a photostream on Flickr. Here it is . I thought, "I used to have a photostream on Flickr" and found it. There was good news and bad news. The good news, the photos are still there. More good news. Flickr now gives unlimited storage for photos. Yippee! Now the bad news. Because I hadn't accessed my account for SO LONG I couldn't get into it and couldn't get the password. So I had to start a new one, and not as nicely named.

Zack Eswine in conversation about Spurgeon's Sorrows

Listen here.

The Chinese group

Last time I was at the Chinese group it was Valentine's day and I was asked to talk about marriage - and of course, I was glad to do so. I suggested that perhaps if wished I could speak about relationships, singleness, contentment and so on from 1 Corinthians 7 the next time. So in Sanary my mind turned to this subject, but I was a good boy and didn't go haring off into commentaries while on holiday. So on the Friday when I got a message saying, "Tomorrow in the Chinese group, where in Colossians are we?", I was quite glad. I could bring out one of my favourite messages from Colossians 1 from this year and preach on something a bit easier than 1 Corinthians 7. I want to ask you to pray for the Chinese group. Some years ago there were the bumper years of the triumvirate, or the three wise man. One avuncular older man who saw his mission as to provide a family for all the Chinese students. One new convert, very gifted and a good team man. One older convert, wi

The ongoing saga of the leak

Back before we went away to Sanary we had that leak in the heating system. I phoned our insurance people and they told us the good news. We are covered both for sorting out the leak and for repairing the water damage. The lady and I agreed a sum for sorting out the room and I contacted a friendly ex-pastor who is now working as an odd-job man. He's coming round next week. The lady contacted a plumbing agency to come and fix the leak. They came on the Friday, I put the heating on - no water. But there was a drip from the hot water tank. We can't quite work out why water was flowing from the corner of the room, but it is where the hot water tank is situated, so he adjusted the overflow mechanism (expansion vase) and said, "call me if it still leaks." It still leaked, so I phoned the company and arranged for someone to come back - it would be after our trip to Sanary. When we went away I shut off the power to the hot water tank and turned off the water at the s

Well Catrin survived her first day of bac blanc

with Spanish this morning followed by philosophy this afternoon. We went into Bordeaux for a meeting this afternoon and got in fine, but the bus back was TERRIBLY crowded. But Catrin's bus, perhaps an hour later, was fine. Phew, it's good to get a strike day behind you!

Oh the joys

Today Catrin starts her mock exams (bac blanc), all day Monday to Thursday. And the buses and trams are striking. Bus 4 is running, but less frequently and not as late in the evening.

The Sunday after the week before

Last week was bumper busting full week, with LOTS of visiting Dutch folk and a few others too. This week was quiet week, with many students gone on the GBU skiing weekend and others taking advantage of the school holidays to get away from Bordeaux and the rains of March. Déviations, retards and perturbations Speaking of which yesterday was carnival day and the rain was emptying down. Our bus was diverted so we had to get off two stops before we intended, and the tram was not running, so we had to hoof it through the pouring rain. As we approached the cathedral we could hear the samba drums and soon we saw the carnival floats. First minions, then pirates, then a massive DJ nightclub wagon surrounded by sodden revellers, happily dancing half-naked or in disco-spangled-lycra. By this time I had got separated from the girls, so I sambaed through the crowd and then told them that once they'd passed the disco-float the roads were clear. I don't think anyone was prevented fr

New Morning Mercies

New Morning Mercies from Crossway on Vimeo .