Monday, April 26, 2004

How we spent our Sunday

Good morning to you all. So glad you had a good reunion over the weekend and that no tornadoes touched down near you. You might well regard them as the wrath of God; I think I would too! The only "natural" disaster that I can think of that is more personal than that is being struck by lightning.

I have been meaning to tell you a little something for the past couple of days but keep forgetting so today I am going to start with it, then answer your letter afterwards.

I have been listening to the Psalms a lot lately and have been impressed by a lot of things that I don't remember seeing there before. Lately we have been thinking and praying a lot about RI and Psalm 37 really stuck out from the crowd because it seemed that the author was saying something about inheriting the land over and over again in that psalm.

As I listened to this one and was thinking along those lines I noticed that sometimes what seemed to me like the same thought was expressed in a slightly different way, that is, instead of seeing the word "land" we have the word "earth."

I started thinking about how those words could be interchangeable according to context but wondering if they were. I thought of Jesus quoting "The meek shall inherit the earth" as a quote from Psalm 37. So I checked and found that this thought is expressed 6 times in this psalm (in verses 3, 9, 11, 22, 29, and 34). Three times the word "land" is used and three times the word "earth" is used.

Now comes the surprise: all six occurrences in the Hebrew are exactly the same word (Strong 776)! What about that? In English the word "land" has a slightly different connotation that the word "earth" doesn't it? Try reading those six verses by replacing the word "earth" by "land" and see how you feel. Even better, read the sermon on the mount when Jesus says, "The meek shall inherit the land!" Doesn't that give new impetus to RI? Because when you read that, the obvious question comes to you mind: what land? Praise the Lord.

We got Mike's very professionally-done CV and letter this morning, same time as yours. As I mentioned to him, it was well done and I have nothing particular to suggest he change at all.

Well, our Bible study yesterday was quite different. It was real good up to a point, and from then on it went downhill very fast. From the moment everybody got settled in and this new couple and their daughter were introduced to everyone, we started with a prayer together then just jumped in. 

Raph mentioned a few things he'd seen lately and then everyone else picked things up and were tossing scriptures back and forth and scurrying to find them so as to read them out loud. We just followed the Spirit for about an hour or two mostly concentrating on dropping out, forsaking all, and being separated from the world for the Lord.

Then at an appropriate pause in the discussions Sarah whispered to me that maybe we should ask this fellow if he wanted to speak, since he'd said in advance that that was what he wanted. So I said that if he had a testimony he wanted to give that now was as good a time as any to do it. I believe that was the last word I said till they left.

His wife was the spokesman (no, that's not a typo) for the three of them, but his daughter was a close runner-up. I will spare you the anguish we had to submit to by listening to that drivel but I'll just try to give you a brief summary of the main points, if I can remember any. 

Basically, they are vegetarians, with a vengeance. They have another name for it but I can't remember what it is -- but it denotes a real sold-out vegetarian, one who will not compromise. They told us their whole story (it's what they call their testimony) that went back 25-30 years and all the sicknesses and accidents they had -- or didn't have -- and all the diseases they got -- or didn't get -- just because they ate herbs instead of good meat the way the Lord made it.

It seems they have more accidents and illnesses in one year than we've had over 25 years -- but I didn't tell them that. They advocated the Garden of Eden menu completely forgetting the amendment that Noah received afterwards -- maybe they think we should go naked, too, but I'm glad I didn't ask. They went on about meat quality and the adverse effects of proteins on the human body and pesticides and battery farming and the evils of for-profit husbandry and of cross-breeding for improving the stock (forbidden by God) and the foolishness of doctors, vaccinations, antibiotics, and medicines and the wisdom of always keeping a little jar of clay around the house -- just in case. We couldn't get a word in edge-ways! This was not a Bible study; it was an indoctrination class, and the Bible had nothing to do with it (except to flatly contradict everything they were saying).

The horrors, dear friends, the horrors they felt they had to describe to us: amazing! If Franck & Angela had not been present I would have turfed them out after half an hour at the most. As it was, F&A being as impressionable as they are I just left them rave and prayed it'd be over soon. Once they left (never to return) we spent another hour with F&A alone making sure they were seeing things correctly. Then we went and prayed over the premises, rebuking any evil spirits that might have been left behind accidentally. 

Doctrines of demons; never heard such nonsense, and all in the name of Jesus -- of all people! Anyway, they are SDA (in case you hadn't guessed it) but this was our first run-in with a real live one because the Vs keep a very low denominational profile around us -- in fact, Jean-Claude only got saved last year and we have the witness of the Spirit with him. The Spirit witnesseth with our spirit that we are the sons of God. But this crew was fit to be tied. You said you wished you'd been here: we wished you'd been here, too!

OK enough of that. Your word definitions were gratefully received. To be honest I haven't had time to look them all up yet and I want to, so that they become a part of our common "dictionary" that we are building together. We have gathered a few words too -- I must look them up. Right now I would say the same as you: they are not sufficiently well organized that I could present them to you.

Last night I bought tickets on the night ferry to Portsmouth (leaving from Caen). The boat leaves at 11pm and after your meal you go to bed and wake up in England. It's a nice way to travel that trip. Our return is planned for Tuesday night (same boat, same time, other direction) so since we are only about a couple of hours from the coast we'll be back in plenty of time for Wednesday lunch.

I will probably have much better opportunities to get online so we'll do like we did last time and I'll try to pick up my mail on the road. Please remember to start redirecting mail to Raph (and/or Jonathan) in a couple of days and please include me in a CC for everything. That way I can keep up the Tot-Not archives intact. Besides my Aunt R, we were planning to see R and have been invited to her sister's to stay -- they just live near each other. The R's never married and both were missionaries, one in India, the other in Hong Kong (I have another aunt that was a missionary in Pakistan, so you can see I come from missionary stock :-)).

Anyway, her sister M, is married to a very amiable retired high-school teacher named A. I don't know them quite as well as I know her so I can't remember what their church affiliations are. Now you might say to me, it doesn't matter, but they would probably say to you, ah, but it does! :-) I seem to remember that they are Methodist or something mainline like that. They most certainly consider themselves Christians and would even say 'born-again' but they are not ones to get silly about it, like us. I reckon their favourite Bible verse might be, Let everything be done in moderation. :-)

Are you laughing? I'm fooling around when I should be working so I'd better go. When I reread Raph's famous (around here) "Plan B" letter, it occurred to me that my sense of humour has most certainly been passed on and, in his case, improved. The kids make puns and word games in French and normally you can't do that in French! :-)

Tales of garden lore will have to wait till next letter, sorry to say. Our greenhouse is finally finished (and very hot inside) but it's not a greenhouse yet, if you know what I mean. Still, the girls will doubtless be on it soon.

No, it would not occur to me to say that "the French eat BLT sandwiches" but only for one reason, and that is that, traditionally France is not really the sandwich capital of the world. You can get them, of course, but mostly in the bigger cities or maybe for a quick snack. I don't expect anyone would ever make one at home. Except the Nots. :-))

Lots of love to all of you aspiring Europeans,


PS - Yes, we eat pork. We went through a few years when we didn't, then a few more backsliding years but the conviction was still there so we ate very little before ending up right where we started for lack of real conviction. We don't eat very much of it and we'd always pick something else first, but at the same time we wouldn't balk at it either. 

Few things BBQ quite as nicely as pork chops, don't you think? The only exception might have to be lamb chops. What a wonderful smell grilling meat makes! I've always liked how the Lord calls the burning of a lamb or beef on the altar, a "sweet-smelling savour" in His nostrils. That's nice because spring is really here now and the weather is glorious. 

I promised you some lamb didn't I, when you get over here? Well, we could have a méchoui where we roast an entire lamb whole on a spit over an open fire. 

See you soon!

Sunday, April 25, 2004

My Sunday letter to Tot

Good morning to you all! It is Sunday morning and I'm sitting outside on the terrace in the sun with dozens of birds making a racket all around me and a gentle breeze blowing through the trees. I could wish this kind of weather all year round and it sure beats tornadoes! :-)

We read with much interest your two letters this morning. I especially liked the little study comparing Lot and Noah. I was thinking just recently that, apart from Lot, Noah's day is the one most referred to as characteristic of the last days. There are certainly some striking similarities between events recorded for both men and I think we are wise to look for these similarities. (...)

It is now nearly 3 pm and I must try to get this off to you – I've been interrupted too many times this morning. Franck called last night to say they could not come over this morning but would come at three in the afternoon, instead. Then this morning another couple, the Zs, called to ask if they could come over this afternoon so we said, sure, come at three. I don't know what we'll do exactly but Lilly is going to take the kids down to the island to free the rest of us to get in the word and fellowship together. If I have time I'll write you tonight and let you know how it went.

The Zs are a retired couple with seven kids who belong to the SDA Church in Le Mans. We met them through the Vs and have only met them once, going to their house (not far from here) a couple of months ago. Because all of their kids were there too it was more of a social call and we didn't really get to know them very well at all. It was quite a surprise to have them call us like that this morning.

I need to try to find out tomorrow about yesterday's “coffee-spiller” news. :-) But remember this would – if true – authorize a resident permit, not a work permit. So this might be ideal for you and Penny but might not help the others much. Although it would sure help overall since it would allow you a “foot in the door.” Apparently the mayor of the village has the discretionary power to grant a resident permit (carte de séjour) and that being a property owner is usually sufficient for him – which makes sense. The mayor here owes me one, so I'll try to get in touch with him and see what he says.

We all had to laugh out loud at your question of, “How much used furniture would 15K€ buy?” and the general impression was, More than you will need! Yes, used furniture is relatively easy (and cheap) to find; beds, dressers, wardrobes, tables and chairs can be picked up for a song. You should see the set we got yesterday for 75€! In fact we got two while we were at it and both make into double beds, in case we would need to. They are in very good condition, heavy and seem perfectly solid. What we could do, if we know you're coming, would be to scout around and buy some things, bit by bit, as we run across them.

About the Uplook magazine, I, too, went to their web site ( but it seems out of date to me and I couldn't find the current issue anywhere. I'll give you the rundown on this month's issue as soon as I can find the time. What I meant in my last letter was that I thought that the Brethren were dispensationalists as regards Israel but from this article they seem very close to us in their understanding of the old covenant. The article stopped short though, of really concluding who the Jews are then. Still, I'll try to get you a copy – or tell me if you get one in the mail, ok?

I answered Dominic this morning, just saying, in essence, that, as he knew, we have rejected the clergy/laity system of “sharing” and that therefore, the idea of him coming for a “series of talks” on the condition that there would be no prior discussion was not going to work. He'll like that. :-)

I am going to have to go now so I'll get this off to you.

More later, and much love to all.

Friday, April 09, 2004