Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The last days

These are our last days before the big trip as we live the last days of this year. Tomorrow we close the business at noon and won't be back in this office until January 5. I really feel like we need a break.

Last night we had our Microtec annual dinner. We'd decided to go to Hoo Dong's Asian restaurant, sure that that would be a help to him as well. Everything went very well since Monday is normally his day off so we had the place to ourselves. I presented the girls with a box of chocolates and the men got a wooden crate of Bordeaux and everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves.

Before the desert Christopher and Rebecca came out and performed their Meditations de Thais that they'd been practising so long over the past few months. Christopher is really very good with his violin and manages to put real feeling into his playing.

Yesterday morning I had taken one of the older C3 (from 2002) to the Citroën dealer in Tours to reinstall the back seats. This will be a great blessing to the family from time to time since the poor old 205 has finally yielded up the ghost and is beyond repair.

Tomorrow we plan to leave for Rome for our long-awaited visit to Italy. We've promised the younger ones this trip for some time and it seems that this time it might work - though I worry a little about leaving Grandma for so long. We have lots of plans (Pisa, Florence, Rome, Naples, and Pompei) but we'll see how far we get.

Tomorrow night we plan to sleep in "our" favourite hotel Hôtel des volcans just north of Clermont-Ferrand then on Christmas day we'll get down to Sainte-Maxime to spend the evening with Serge who is lending us his great camping-car for the trip. We plan to go down to his place in the C4 and the C3 and then proceed into Italy with only the C4 and the camper, leaving the little C3 at his place for the return trip. Claire, especially, is very excited about the trip!


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A new little one

Just heard from Michel at noon today that little Jérémie was born to him and Lilly yesterday at 1 pm and that both mother and baby are doing well.

I didn't have the presence of mind to ask him any "important" questions but I'll post the rest when we know it.

Praise the Lord!




Friday, November 07, 2008

Tom & Suzanne

I drove Tom & Suzanne to the station in Le Mans early this morning in the dark and the rain -- the kind of driving conditions I like the least. But they made it in plenty of time and left happy, loaded with some gifts for other families and friends in Darvell. We have had a wonderful visit and we all pray our relationship will grow.

Yesterday Sarah and I took them out to a little restaurant in St Vincent du Lorouer that we've been to before. We had a very leisurely lunch and much time to talk. Both had a lot to say resulting from their personal experiences in child-raising. Tom had some very helpful insights into maintaining obedience in children. As he said, unquestioning obedience is the most important thing you can teach a child while he's young because this will inculcate a receptive attitude to obedience to God that will last all through his life.



Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Laws of nature

In a reflective air, my sister recently wrote, "(I) wonder if now is the time that we ... are going to reap what we have sown in the last 50 odd years of telling God that we “trust” in Him but don’t want Him involved in our lives... It’s a frightening thought."

It's funny but my brother wrote something very similar to me last week when he said, "
please pray that we as a nation would not get "what we deserve"." What makes these things uncanny is that I have never heard either of them talk like that before - not to me, anyway.

How can I pray that a nation -- or anybody -- will not get what they deserve?  How can we wonder if a nation -- or
anybody -- will not reap what they've sown?

What goes up, must come down. The rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full. Be not deceived, God is not mocked.










Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Will you vote on Tuesday?

No, I will not vote on Tuesday. Neither could I, even if I wanted to.

I am not a citizen of the United States. The American dream is not my dream. What is more, I feel no loyalty to America, or any earthly nation, because my loyalty lies elsewhere (with the Kingdom of God) and it would be immoral, unfair and wrong of me to vote someone else into an office I could not possibly, as a follower of Jesus, hold.

No worldly ruler can be a follower of Christ (Matthew 20:25-28).

No earthly country is -- or ever could be -- a "Christian Nation," for although God sets up worldly governments (unconverted rulers to govern the unconverted) his kingdom is of another place and kind (John 18:36).

The idea that one political party is better suited to accomplish God's will on earth than another, is faulty, because God does not depend on politics to accomplish his will. He could accomplish his will just as nicely in Nazi Germany and in the USSR as he as ever accomplished it in America.

It would be as wrong for me to help the world choose its leaders as it would be wrong for the world to choose leaders for the church. It is not my business who holds office among them, and it is not their business who holds office among us. Our realms of operation are absolutely and eternally separated -- all we are doing is temporarily co-existing on earth until Jesus reappears.

Edmund Burke's quote is true, but it does not apply to Christians voting. This American election will fix nothing. No disaster can be averted by either Obama or McCain. The train is already barreling down the track, out of control, with the bridge washed away before it. America and all other countries, with all other leaders, and all societies and peoples of the world are racing full tilt toward destruction. All we are seeing here is a minor, and totally insignificant, switch of personnel.

Do not fool yourself into thinking that by casting one vote this way or that you are making a difference, or "doing something" about it. You are just scampering along with the rest of the lemmings.

The only ones "doing something" today are Jesus' followers who keep themselves absolutely out of the whole mess. Who refuse to take part in what is not of God (as in this immoral campaign that has cost billions upon billions of dollars while a third of the world goes hungry). Who maintain a prophetic witness, who pray, and stand as visible pointers the opposite way.

We "do something" by refusing to fill our minds with the political trash that fills the news.

By refusing to bring politics into the church of Jesus (politics that divide along lines that have nothing to do with the Gospel).

By refusing to take sides while consistently praying for and supporting the governments of the lands in which we live.

By following Jesus who refused to be a judge of worldly matters or take part in violence.

We will "do something" on election day -- the exact "something" that Jesus would do -- by planting potatoes and listening to the kookaburras laughing in the gum trees all around our lovely Tasmanian farm.

Is that enough for you?

Peter





Thank you, Peter, for summing up our thoughts so perfectly! From Tasmania to France, we are one.





Sunday, October 05, 2008

Family organisation

LET ALL THINGS
BE DONE DECENTLY
AND IN ORDER
Not Coercion, but love
Not Ownership, but Stewardship

It seems to me that if any advance is to be made of the present situation – which is bringing almost daily petty conflicts and misunderstandings – we are going to have to all agree upon a few basic principles that must be laid down.
These are principles of of stewardship, responsibility and accountability. Without this, we are spinning our wheels and going nowhere and we'd be better off not pretending that we are.

Recognizing the standards of Jesus as regards our speech and attitude towards each other :
  1. I promise that I will never speak but in love and will do all I can to not be offensive nor be easily offended for Jesus said that it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence comes! (Matthew 18:7)
  1. I will always try to make amends when I realize I have offended someone. I must go quickly and see if the sin can be forgiven and the relationship restored, remembering that a brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city. (Proverbs 18:19) Time is of the essence here; we are even admonished not to let the sun go down on wrath or unforgiven sin.
  1. When a brother asks for my forgiveness I will always give it to him. (Matt 18:21-22) This point is so easy to forget because, in our pride, we enjoy hanging on to each occasion that someone else was wrong and we had been proven right. Let us remember the words of the Lord's Prayer and the importance Jesus himself attached to this duty. Our very salvation is at stake!
  1. I will never spread rumors or speak loosely of guesses as if they were fact. If a thing could not be said in front of the person concerned, consider whether it should be said at all. Let everything be done unto edifying because the end result of your talk will show the fruit of it and what it was made of.
  1. I will make every effort to respect and obey those who are my elders. We all know that leadership is a godly principle and experience and church history teaches us that good leadership is essential. Remember Watchman Nee's personal lesson in this area of his life. If God has put you in a position of close contact with someone who is your elder it is your duty before God to submit.





Saturday, October 04, 2008

Words

"I'd like to help you."

"Words, Bernardo. There was a time when I believed in words."

— (Francesco di Assisi)




Friday, August 08, 2008

The annual Brittany pilgrimage

All this moving about is getting a little bit difficult.  The kids just got back last night, Nat having faithfully put the three of them on the train in Lille.  I got to Le Mans just on time and met them there and they were so glad to be back, but full of stories and impressions of Darvell.

After a nice evening together with Martin & Jenny and their seven children (prepared for us all by Laurent & Raffaëlla) Raph and Camille packed up the Jumper and were off first thing this morning.  The annual Verley pilgrimage to Brittany is on!

God bless Raph & Camille for their love!  We pray for all nine of them, that they have a great time together.  After a mere half an hour gone I happened to be on line and saw Raph's pictures starting to come in from his new Blackberry at flickr.  Check the photo-stream to see them.



Saturday, August 02, 2008

What do I do with this now?


Maybe I'm showing my age now but does anyone else have problems like this? I have this "old" (dates from 1971) reel-to-reel 5" tape that I'd like to listen to. How do I do it? Of course it needs to be digitalized now and rendered to a burnable CDA or maybe a MP3 file format. All that would be child's play if I still had a reel-to-reel tape player.

Let this be a lesson to me.  Hang onto that tape player, record player, or whatever it is.  Once that machine is tossed out all hope of ever reading the media again is lost.

Does anyone reading this know of a company that specializes in this sort of digitalization?



Thursday, July 31, 2008

Exercise for people over 50

Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side.  With a 5 kilo potato sack in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can.

Try to reach a full minute, and then relax.

Each day you'll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer.  After a couple of weeks, move up to 10 kilo potato sacks.

Then try 50 kilo potato sacks and then eventually try to get to where you can lift a 100 kilo potato sack in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute (I'm at this level).

After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each of the sacks.



Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Thinking about death

I found a few little pamphlets among Aunty's books and stuff and one of them caught my eye. It was written by Leith Samuel, former minister at the Church of Christ, Above Bar, Southampton and the first person of that activity that I can ever remember knowing -- even though I was only eight years old I can see him yet.

The booklet is just 20 pages and very sound, but I'm always surprised when I pick up a booklet like this at just how little we know -- even from the Bible -- about the very end of our existence.

I'm not getting morbid but after Aunty leaving us recently I suppose the mind starts to spend a little more time on those kind of things.

In another study recently with Don K. Preston, while talking about something quite different (resurrection) he explained that death is really separation. Maybe that's all it is, in a way. Spiritual death is separation from God. Physical death is separation from our loved ones and friends.

But you'd think that something so basic, so universal, to the human race, would be dealt with a little more thoroughly and a little more clearly that it is, in the Bible. But God knows what he's doing and he gives us what we need.



Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Normandy Invasion

Well, rarely has such a trip been so planned and longed for but we finally did it! After the yearly pilgrimage to Brittany and last year's trip to the snows of Alsace I decided it was time for the younger ones to discover this wonderful country a little better and explore all the history that lies everywhere.

Our plan was to keep things quite simple: we were not interested in war memorials, graveyards, statues of soldiers and tanks, nor the beaches made so famous sixty years ago.

We wanted history that stretched back further than that ... back a thousand years to William the Conqueror.  So my plan was to hit both Falaise and Caen on day one, Bayeux on day two, and the Mont St Michel on the last day, which worked out wonderfully.

Needless to say there was camping every night and hours spent playing at the beach sandwiched between every cultural event.

I guess you know by know that the whole pictorial story is browsable on flickr but let me just give the highlights here. Apples, calvados, camembert, Guillaume, sablés, ...






Monday, July 21, 2008

Darvell

Raph and I have just returned from a flash trip to Darvell. After talking about it and thinking it over for so long we just felt the time was right and what a refreshing trip it was!

I'm going to have to tell you the details later but I just wanted to record the event, first of all.  The Lord is good!

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for the brethren to dwell together in unity!  We have much to learn but this poster found on one of their walls speaks volumes (I hope you can read it):








Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Day 2008

Just a couple of pictures today to record the event which took place—as it should—on the back lawn.

We forgot to take a group shot like we usually do but here is a close-up of Michel cutting the pizzas.



It was nice to have Grandma with us.  But this year was our first without Aunty!



Thursday, June 19, 2008

Aunty has gone

It was only a matter of time, everyone said.  It was inevitable and expected; she couldn't have gone on much longer like she was.  But all these cheap sayings don't seem to help, do they?  She leaves a hole in our hearts.

I was just approaching Paris, by myself, in the C3 on the second leg of the Cisco rework for Source Support.  I'd left on time at 6:30 and been on the road for just two hours when my phone rang.

It was the doctor on duty at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.  He said he was sorry to tell me that Ruth had just died of coronary arrest complicated by pulmonary edema.

I said, when?  He said, at seven (just barely half an hour ago) and that the doctor had not even checked her yet.  He said he'd call the Home.

I thanked him for calling.  It is not a surprise, it is just the end of an era for us all.

I last saw her on Sunday — only three days ago.  She, who planned and organized her life so well, is now at rest.



Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Alsace & Lorraine

OK, let's take a couple of things in order.

1. I'll leave first thing in the morning.  I've already told Mum I'm going; the idea of her coming is new and just a last-minute thought.  I'd like to leave by 5 -- the sooner I leave, the sooner I'll be back.  Nevertheless, I can't do the round trip in one day so I'll need to overnight there. Last time I stayed in a cheap but decent Campanile motel that only cost 65€ I think it was.  I'd do it again then be back Thursday sometime.

Whether Mum comes will be up to her.  Her decision will surely be influenced by Rosemary being here, whether Becky has any tests, and whether Kripper has any more music, etc.  But I'm going regardless and I'll be gone all day tomorrow and return sometime Thursday.

2. More for me than you: TVA is due in this week (Saturday) but I've already made a good crack at it.  I just need to remember to finish it off on Friday.

3. Your trip to Gap: no problem, I'll be back before you go.  Good for a chance to talk; yes, we need more of that.

4. Sometime around next weekend I'll be needing to take Rosemary home.  I'll be gone two days, like last time, so it is not a major absence.  But I'll be gone, yes.

She hasn't decided on which day exactly she wants to be back so I can't say more right now.  But the idea was for her to be here for two weeks.

5. Sallès house, also called "Roo's house" -- I went over there last night for an hour with M. Bardy and Jean-Pierre (the electrician and plumber -- I like him a lot, he seems genuine) and we talked and planned.

The roof is finished except for a couple of little details.  "Roo's bedroom" wall is finished and looks real good!  His ceiling has been completely redone with insulation in it now.  Next things we agreed to be done without further ado:

a) The Bardy boys were working this week doing finishing touches to Roo's room.
b) Bardy said he'd contact M. Simon about a couple of finishing touches in the grenier.
c) Bardy is starting on dropping the ceiling down in the two ground-floor rooms so J-P Hervé can start next Monday to run gaines and cables and plumbing up there.  He is also going to completely strip the present bathroom ready for Bardy.
d) Bardy is going to break up and create a new floor in the present bathroom.  We went over all the details together.

So, the roof is done, Roo's room wall is done, his cupboards torn out and cleaned up.  What we did not agree upon yet was the windows (price).  These can be decided a little later.  I suggest we do Roo's room window and the street level window beneath it first and wait on the others.  Hervé and Bardy are going to work together to create the bathroom on the top floor (Laurent will like that) consisting of a WC, lavabo, and shower.  Jean-Pierre will run wires and put switches and plugs everywhere on that top floor and Roo's room.  The whole ground floor is pending for the moment.

My idea is to get L&R installed in the hotel apartment for 3 or 4 months while we continue.  A great deal of the finishing touches of painting and so on, can probably be done ourselves.  In 3 or 4 months Roo and Debbie will also probably be ready to move in from the caravan.  Maybe Roo should take a month off work and do some real work in his new house?

6. Michel's house. I don't know if he wants it or not.  Lilly says a lot of derogatory things about it but I don't know why.  I love it and if it were up to Mum and I, we'd be moved in already.  The bedroom could be lived in from time to time if they wanted to.

So Bardy is aware of that chantier but I haven't spoken to him about it for awhile since I've been concentrating on Roo's & Laurent's place.  It's not that big a job; somebody just has to take the bull by the horns and get to work.  As soon as I start to see clearly about Laurent's place, I plan to do just that.

7. All this is going to cost money but we still have as much as we ever did when we last talked about it a month or so ago.  All we've "spent" so far is the roof -- and that should be around 12K if I remember (and add a little) correctly.

8. I'm going to have to go now and get planning tomorrow.  But I'm thinking about all this stuff all the time so don't be afraid to bring up the subject with me anytime -- you'll probably find I have a few ideas or thoughts on things.

9. Where to put Laurent's stuff?  Two possibilities spring to mind: the garage at the hotel, with the rest of the stuff, or erect another one single segment of Michel's hanger, completely separate from the other one having done it properly this time.

Second option is probably the best.  I do NOT want anything mixed up with Aunty's stuff in the billiard room and I really don't want any more stuff in the bar -- on the contrary, I'd like Michel to try to remove the little that is left there for the simple reason that I want to write to break our lease on Léon Loiseau and move the bookshop out into new quarters.

Mum and Lilly and Raphaella will also want a school upstairs of the bar, but that will not be a big job since we can do the whole thing ourselves -- it's pretty clean -- painting, cleaning, and so on.  Of course, I need to contact Leroy and see about getting his quote for heating.

Must go. I have to get myself organized.



Monday, June 16, 2008

Rosemary

Went up to Gloucester and picked up Rosemary, who's coming to spend a couple of weeks with us.  This photo was taken at our first stop at my café in Pierrefitte, where we had a coffee.









Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sunday, June 08, 2008

My own tour de France

Just got back last week from driving 2,960 km in four days.  I left with Christopher on Tuesday morning for Rennes and Nantes, then we drove to Bordeaux where we overnighted in a hotel right opposite the train station downtown.

After doing our job there we drove to Toulouse and then on to Marseille, where we spent the night.  Next morning, Thursday, we drove from Marseille, through Lyon, all the way to Strasbourg (eight hours) where we got our third hotel room in a Campagnile place -- very nice.  In the morning, after doing Strasbourg we drove to Metz, did it, got lunch, and drove home -- arriving at around 9.30 pm.

You probably wonder what on earth we did all that for!  Well, we were sub-contracted by a big US firm (Cisco) to handle a maintenance job (rework) on some big servers, everything arranged through a service company called Source Support.

I had to change a hard drive plus the drive cage and a few elementary things like that but in each city we were received at the main Network Maintenance Center (tête de réseau in French) in each city.

They were massive, all fiber optics, television screens, LEDs flashing and miles of cables.  Each was located in a cleanroom that was air conditioned and under high security.  The whole exercise was quite a learning experience for me and you can well imagine Christopher's reaction!

My first operation took almost two hours but the last one, in Metz was done in 37 minutes -- a record.  Meanwhile Kripper had gone from simply holding the screws for me to completely redoing the ventilation units while I worked on the hard drives.

As always, you can catch a few pix I took during the trip by clicking here.

(http://www.flickr.com/photos/courtiron/)


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Important announcement to all


Dear all,

As you know I try to carry out my work in the brocante room because we've never been able to afford getting me a real office like everyone else has. But never mind, I do my best and have even managed to clear myself enough space to get around carefully to the back of the room and I pretend that the little flat space between the book depository and the old electric cords storage is a desk.

However, the time has come when a couple of questions must be asked because yesterday a small halogen light bulb suddenly appeared in that room while I was out. Now of course everyone has a perfect right to deposit old bric-a-brac, broken junk, and other assorted crud in that room, but in this case I am in need of an enlightening explanation, please.

Can anyone answer the following questions for me:

1. Is this light bulb new or used?
2. Does it still work?
3. Where did it come from?
4. Why was it placed next to my pens?
5. I am expected to do something with it, or is it simply to be admired?

For further clarification, I enclose a photo of the offending item (still in place) and would ask the owner to come and claim it any day during "business hours" at the brocante room.


Thank you!

Dad







Wednesday, May 07, 2008

What a terrible poster!

As I drove around England, this was posted many times in the public rest-rooms—I couldn't believe how they could be so brash and bold and mean and cruel!

Money is all that counts for some people no matter whose lives need to be broken up to get it!

"...let it rather be healed" is Jesus response to problem relationships.



Saturday, April 26, 2008

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Mum and Denise ...

... are in Malta.

I drove them to the train station in Le Mans last Friday morning.  We heard from Mum a day or so ago and she was telling us how everything was going so well. Apparently Denise had taken Mum to see many of her friends (after the wedding on Saturday) and they'd not only been well received but Denise had shown herself to be real strong.

Today we were talking to mother and apparently she stayed last night with Ken, Denise's old pastor after a particularly difficult evening.  Please pray for her and them.  We spoke at some length to Mum on the phone today and she seemed encouraged and strengthened.

I told her there is no such thing as a good defeat, nor a bad victory.  We cannot accept defeat.  If Denise can't find love here, where is she going to find it?  We must do anything, be anything, to show everyone that our motivation is real love, the love of God.

Everything is going great back home and I'm planning to drive up to Orly on Friday to pick them both up.  Camille said she'd take the other younger ones to the conservatory in the afternoon, if needed.  I haven't even gotten around to figuring out Friday yet.



Sunday, March 30, 2008

Another baptism


Thank the Lord for commitments. May He help us and give us strength to follow through.



Tuesday, March 25, 2008

You heard it here first

Today Michel and Lilly invited Sarah and I out to eat at noon, saying we needed to talk about a few things and they had some things to share with us.

We went to a new Alsatian restaurant in La Chartre -- very appropriate, Michel said, since the stork is the symbol of Alsace and also of ...

Apparently they have been given the date of November 7th -- we were flabbergasted, of course, since it was the last thing on our mind. But we were also very pleased and very grateful to God.



Monday, March 24, 2008

Resurrection Day

This weekend, being Easter we had it very busy, as you can imagine.  We decided some time ago to celebrate the communion meal once a year at this time and since we do it that way, the preparation turns out to be almost the most important part.

We started after work on Saturday and spent all day Sunday having one-on-one sessions with each other marking the chart that Raph had made as each relationship was refreshed.

Denise had asked for baptism last week and we'd told her that we'd work it into the celebrations of the weekend.  But as it happened we were still going at it on Monday (you must remember that Easter Monday is a holiday here, but not Friday). We were finally ready at the end of the day; tired and quite drained, but happy and unified.

Instead of the evening meal we sat around the table at eight o'clock and shared the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper being assured that the reality, of which these were mere symbols, had been accomplished.



Saturday, March 22, 2008

In orbit

We got a call last night right out of the blue: John!  He said he was "in the area" and heading south for Africa and that could he spend a couple of days with us?

Of course I told him we'd be glad to see him and to come on over.  He was calling from La Fleche (over an hour away) and so, when he hadn't arrived by the time we expected, I decided to drive around a see if I could find him.

One thing led to another and I finally drove all the way out to La Fleche, getting there sometime after ten, turned around and headed back.  Just as I was leaving Le Lude my headlights caught him -- there was no one else on the road anyway.

I finally got him back to his hotel room just before midnight and I left him some sandwiches and told him I'd see him in the morning.

We seem to have several people like John who orbit this little station at varying distances, always moving, always going somewhere else, but always showing up again another day, like some lost planet on an elliptical orbit.



Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday, March 16

I want to catch up a little on our boring news for those of you who check here from time to time to find out that very thing.  Forgive me for not writing more, but there is too much to live to leave much time to write.

Yesterday Raph and I got the Ami 6 running with a little help from our friendly garage-man, who came over with his truck.   The car hadn't run for near on six years, we figured -- since Raph's wedding.

He was quite pleased to get it running again and took it for a little spin.  Camille told me it's hard to believe that none of their children have ever ridden in it, when it used to be their main mode of transport as a younger couple.  Here's a picture of the car, from 1997 -- I must have another, more recent picture but it hasn't changed at all since then.


We bought it second-hand just eleven years ago (it's a 1970 model) and have had a lot of fun with it ever since.

Yesterday was fairly fine, though it started to drizzle toward the end of the day. Today, Sunday, was rainy all day and quite cold.  I was glad to see Jonathan and Nathalie talking and planning for the garden this year.  They used to be quite close and it's nice to see that again.

They spent a couple of hours in the kitchen with charts and diagrams and cups of tea. Later on I saw them and Debbie out in the drizzle digging up plants and planting and singing loudly.  Youth!

Last week Olly came down with some kind of a bug that left him quite tired and listless all day and without much of an appetite.  Today he finally seems to have shaken it and is almost his old self but Claire, Christopher, David, and Christine now seem to have caught it so it was a very slow day today, everyone laying around in front of the fire or reading.

Raph took the service this morning reading from 1 John, which has been a recent favorite of mine.  We dealt very well with the subject of mutual love and all it's implications and importance.

Denise spent a couple of hours with Raph and Camille in the apartment and she looked brighter and more encouraged when she came out.  I had stayed up till past eleven last night listening to Nat.  Every once in awhile everyone needs a little special time to be heard; Lord help us to love and share and find time for everyone.



Friday, March 14, 2008

Magnatune

Today, the fourteenth of March, is almost over. For the past couple of days I've been listening to the most wonderful music I've heard in some time.

It's a CD I bought from magnatune.com and is called " Monks and Metropolitan Choirs of Kiev-Pechersk Lavra: Russian Orthodox Chants. -- but don't let that scare you, it's not really that, it's even better!

Here's the link, for those of you who browse this site from time to time.
http://magnatune.com/artists/albums/monks-orthodox/hifi_play

Isn't that beautiful? I bought the CD.  I was "generous" and gave $12 -- oh, never heard of how magnatune works?  Better find out; it's a give-what-you-think-it's-worth site.  You're also allowed to give away (you read right!) another three copies of any CD you buy.  Anyway, read all about it for yourself, if you don't know the site yet.

I'll tell you about more stuff like this next time. :)



Sunday, March 02, 2008

Friday, February 29, 2008

How Claire is doing now

Well, in the end I went in to see Claire with Becky last night but didn't see much point in staying there since it's only 45 minutes from home and hotels are not cheap.  I told Claire I'd come back in the morning.

This morning I left just after six with Nat and Christopher -- we got there right at seven o'clock as they were preparing to give her breakfast.

Kripper had brought a couple of hard-boiled eggs and two slices of buttered toast, an orange, and another tupperware containing a slice of toast with honey and some of Claire's gulogs.

Then in came her hospital breakfast: they brought around some orange juice, a fruit yoghurt, and a glass of milk.  The girl was surprised, but Claire (who'd fasted all day yesterday) didn't stop until she'd done the whole thing justice!

Here she is, my darling:

She was in bright spirits this morning and much more talkative than she was last night -- I think she was glad to see her brother!

This afternoon Camille and Becky took Olly and Céline (and Suzie, of course) in to see her.  Mum went along too and is staying the night in the parent's home, just next door to the children's hospital.

I saw the doctors this morning and spoke to them a little.  They said she'd cut a nerve (that partially affected sensations in two of her fingers) and a tendon, used to bring her hand forward from the wrist.

As I said to Mum, I don't need to know more right now.  It's really not my expertise and I rest assured that they did the very best they could and that she is getting the best attention she could get.

They said it might take a year before getting full motor control again (in that one area) and longer than that before her tactile sensations are sorted out.  I'm just hoping it won't be too long before she can use it properly.  It's going to be difficult for her: it's her left hand, and she is left-handed.

She'll have a cast on for a month or so and should be out tomorrow.  I thank the Lord Jesus for his mercy in this situation and for bringing it to us: may we learn all that we are to learn from it.



Thursday, February 28, 2008

Claire

Yesterday afternoon Claire, running through the house, put her hand through a glass door pane that shattered and cut her hand and arm up pretty badly.

I took a quick look at it and had Sarah take her over to the local doctor right away who bandaged it and called Clocheville Children's Hospital in Tours to have her admitted.  Once they got there they said she would need to be operated on as they suspected a cut nerve.

They stayed the night and Claire went into the operation around eleven this morning.  They said it was difficult to say how long the operation would take and in the end she didn't come up to her room till three hours later having had a general anaesthetic.

Sarah called me this afternoon and said she was on antibiotics through an intravenous perfusion that would need her to stay there another two nights. Afterwards (presumably, Saturday) she would be able to come home and continue the antibiotics for another two days.

Sarah has just returned.  I said I would go in to Tours and spend the night with Claire so that Sarah can get a better night's sleep tonight as well as some decent food.

Accidents don't happen; they're caused.  We live remarkably accident-free but when something like this does happen it reminds us all of our few general house rules and serves as a lesson for all.



Sunday, February 17, 2008

Saturday, February 09, 2008

A beautiful day

I've just gotten off the phone to Aunty after my nightly call.   She's well and in fairly good spirits.  It's better when I call a little earlier (I had been calling her at 8/7 now I've moved it up to 7/6).

Went down to the hotel to check the Dinan today but it had fallen back nicely to a very reasonable ten and a half bricks.  It looks like the threat of flooding might be over for this year and if so, we got off very well with only a few centimetres for about 24 hours.

It has been another glorious day today with afternoon temperatures touching 18° and a beautiful sun in the sky.



Friday, February 08, 2008

Flooding

Just want to make a note for posterity (me, next year, for example) that the river at the hotel rose to nine and a half bricks on Tuesday and actually flooded the banquet room to about five or ten centimetres but when I went by the next day it had receded and has not risen again to that height.

Today I went by and it was down to a little over ten bricks and very sluggish but the walkway was not flooded.

If you're not familiar with our situation here, just ignore this post.  There are far more entertaining ones here ...



Sunday, February 03, 2008

Under the weather

Corny title, I guess, but that's me, today. If you knew what I'd been up to the past couple of days, you'd understand!

I got back Friday from another flash 24-hour visit to Aunty's and it's taking a toll. Even when everybody else falls, I usually manage to resist but this time I feel rotten.

On Thursday afternoon, while Aunty decided to take a nap, I told her I'd run next door to Tesco and get her the few things she wanted.  Once I got down there I impetuously thought of walking over -- it's not far and the exercise will do me good.

Trouble is, there was a cold wind blowing and all morning it had been lashing rain.  I thought better times were ahead but the heavens opened again while I was going over there.  I wasn't wearing a proper coat for the rain and I'd left my hat at the home so I got a fairly thorough drenching.

On top of that was the return trip waiting for me, carrying the bags.  The rain hadn't let up much and the wind was cold and sharp.

To top it all off, that night I had the boat to myself but, for some reason, couldn't find the blankets anywhere.  I thought little of it and was tired after the day of moving the last carload of junk from Baring Road.

But by morning, I regretted it badly.  The air-conditioning had blown on me all night, it seemed, and after a bad sleep I awoke with my teeth just chattering with cold!

The trip home from Caen is normally two and a half hours and I'm seldom at home any later than ten in the morning.  This time I wasn't home till noon; I kept stopping for half an hour here and half an hour there; not trusting myself to continue.

Friday night I had a hot shower and was in bed by eight-thirty cuddling with Olly while Sarah had Becky and Christopher at music and were not expected back till late.

I slept like a log but was still feeling down yesterday.  Today Mum took things in hand and put me in a chair in front of the fire and I stayed there neither reading nor sleeping most of the morning and through the noon meal.

Everyone went out to have a walk around the lake after lunch (bright and sunny and about four degrees) so Becky got me set up for a "real nap" downstairs in front of the wood stove. I must have slept an hour and a half and I feel quite refreshed, so I thought I'd jot down a little news for you -- but it seems I'm not going to have time to talk of much else.

Never mind, I'll try to write again a little later.



Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Combating depression

Q: I’ve learned to trust God and have seen Him answer some of my prayers, but one thing that prayer doesn’t seem to be able to do for me is help me overcome the bouts of depression that I go through from time to time. Why does God seem so distant when I need Him most?

A: Depression and anxiety are rampant in the world today—even chronic depression, overwhelming depression, to where people completely lose the desire to live.

When depression hits, it’s sometimes hard to know what to do or how to cope. But even if you find that you’ve “made your bed in the middle of Hell itself”—which the world today sometimes resembles—God will be right there with you.

Read it in Psalm 139: “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into Heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Hell, behold, You are there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:7–10). “[Jesus] will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

What can help you more than anything else to stay upbeat and positive and free from the grip of depression, or help you pull out of it if you get sucked down, is keeping a connection with God through reading His Word and seeking Him in prayer. His love is always there for you. Even in the times when you’re down, very discouraged, or depressed, even when you feel He couldn’t possibly love you or care about you, He still does!

One fundamental point to remember is that it’s not God who sends discouragement and depression your way, but the Devil. The Devil’s ultimate goal is to separate you from God, and one of the main tactics he will try to use to that end is telling you that God doesn’t love you personally.

First he gets you depressed over something else—often some little thing that he blows up way out of proportion—and then he tries to get you to doubt or even blame God for not immediately coming to your rescue. He tempts you to doubt God’s love, to stop believing that He cares about you personally, or even to stop believing that He exists.

Whatever you do, don’t believe those lies! Hold on to your faith and trust in God, because when it gets down to the wire, He is your only hope and the only One who can help you make it through your present difficulty and the others that are sure to come your way.

Those who choose to hold on to their faith when difficulties come their way find that it is possible to keep their faith—and God does help them through their difficulties. It may not happen immediately or exactly the way they hoped and prayed for, but in the end God makes things go smoother and turn out better than if they had tried to go it alone by letting go of their faith. They’ve seen that their faith can get them through the rough times. They find that their “faith connection” is their greatest asset when depression strikes.

So when you find yourself besieged by feelings of depression, melancholy, or hopelessness, when you feel that God doesn’t love you, or whatever the source of your depression may be, don’t try to fight it out on your own. Recognize depression as the spiritual attack of the Enemy that it is, and take a stand against it in the spirit.

It often helps to get prayer and encouragement from people who know and love you and understand the spiritual warfare you’re fighting. But even if there is no one around who you can call on for backup, call out to God for His help, and He’ll be there.

You’re not stronger than the Devil, but God is. Ask Him to come to your defence, and He will. He loves you and He is ready and waiting to fight for you!



Putting Things In Perspective

A couple of good quotes to share with you all:

How brief is our span of life compared with the time since You created the universe.  How tiny we are compared with the enormity of Your universe.  How trivial are our concerns compared with the complexity of Your universe.  How stupid we are compared with the genius of Your creation.

Yet during every minute and every second of our lives You are present, within and around us.  You give Your attention to each and every one of us.  Our concerns are Your concerns.  And You are infinitely patient with our stupidity.  I thank You with all my heart, knowing that my thanks are as nothing compared to Your greatness.


—Saint Fulbert of Chartres (960–1028)




Faith in God can move a mighty mountain
Have you prayers that seem to be unanswered?
Anxious moments, trials hard to bear?
Have faith in His promise unfailing.
God will hear; He will answer your prayer.
Are there loved ones yet for whom you’re burdened?
Lonely nights spent bowed in fervent prayer?
God sees ev’ry tear and your heartache,
So just cast upon Him all your care.
Then keep faith, although the way be rugged.
Do not doubt His deep, unfailing love.
Sufficient each day for the trial
Is His promise of grace from above.
Faith in God can move a mighty mountain,
Faith can calm the troubled sea;
Faith can make a desert like a fountain,
Faith can bring the victory.


—John W. Peterson, Alfred E. Smith, and Grace Watkins-Bolton







Monday, January 28, 2008

The need for the MRA

It's funny how often words or concepts seem to jump out at you from unexpected and unrelated sources.  The idea of moral re-armament -- or, a return to a strengthening of morality in a society -- has been impressed on me just lately.

I was reading a little book from 1946 (now long out of print) called, The World That Works and it traced the rising of the Oxford Group movement (and the MRA) of the thirties and in particular as it pertained to India and Burma, which is where this author was at the time.

Moral re-armament seems to have been a real issue at that time that people were ready to stake their lives on.

We know so little of history, really.  The older we get, the more we find out what they didn't tell us.  Here in France, fifty-year-old school notebooks show that each school day started unfailingly with la morale.  But no more.

Elderly people's eyes glisten when they reminisce but it is them -- their generation -- that got rid of it for us.



Sunday, January 27, 2008

I was wondering...

We listened to Disk 1 of David Bercot's new study on Francis of Assisi this morning. Later on in the day I saw this note in my casier, left there by Raph. I thought you might like to read it:


I Was Wondering...

...what would happen if the Lord sent a St Francis into our midst. I mean, if he was born into our family and we grew up with him. Would we be able to see what God was saying to us through him? Or would we have the same reactions as Francis' father?

Would we call him harsh or unloving when he disregarded the family's belongings, its well thought-out functioning, its hard-earned wealth? Call him irresponsible when he gave things to the poor that were still perfectly functional? What about if he didn't care for his appearance; didn't brush his hair, forgot to wash his clothes? Would we laugh and ridicule him? What if he said people had to forsake all and follow the Lord in order to be called his disciples? Call him simple-minded or naive? Would he have a place in our midst or would he bother us too much in our minds and in our habits? Would we kick him out in the end because he was harassing us with his consistency and unrelenting zeal? Would we call her disruptive and divisive? Because she didn't value all our neatly arranged lives, didn't see that we needed our comfort zone.

Not that she would be right about everything. But would that hinder us from accepting that she be right in anything? Would we allow Christ to speak to us through his little brothers and sisters, his poor ones, or would we need some famous and prestigious teacher? Jesus Christ said he would build his church. Is it not our lack of faith that refuses to believe he has chosen the right ones for the job?
— Raph
All I can say is Amen, Lord help us.










Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Living in community (by Peter Hoover)

Pilgrim visitors to Jerusalem from all parts of the known world—came together and established the first Christian community. In a day. With three thousand members.

From this beginning in Jesus (an inner-city community), messengers took the good news far and wide. In Antioch, in the African cities of Alexandria and Carthage, in Philippi (starting with a few women), Thessalonika, Corinth, and Rome little households of faith took shape, grew, and multiplied. It worked. It was what Jesus had in mind.

Tiny communities, springing up like mushrooms -- in a day -- got swept by winds of persecution into the remotest hinterlands of Europe, up the great rivers of Russia, ever deeper into Africa. Anabaptists, fleeing for their lives, spread out a coat, threw their belongings onto it, starting their first community on the run. From there it went fast.

Everywhere believers found one another they set up households (Haushaben) on the back streets of towns that tolerated them. Rented buildings only. Rented shops or fields. Everyone working in trades here and there. Nicely set up today, fleeing, or up in flames tomorrow. Yet even in that precarious state, they accepted ten, twenty, thirty or perhaps as many as sixty thousand “seekers” in about 30 years time.

Community for the first Anabaptists (Hutterites) was a fluid, adaptable, always circumstantial arrangement, suited to whatever the time or setting brought. Community lay in the spirit of things. It lived in people’s hearts, not in their economic of physical establishment.

That is the kind of community we so desperately need today! The world is crying for it . No place needs it more than the United States of America and Europe -- where many old “cut and dried” communities survive, but no longer as the cities of refuge they were meant to be.

Dozens, hundreds, of people here and there, are waking up to the fact that our world stands in need of real live community again. Loving community (not godless communism) as only Jesus could bring it. But WHERE? Where oh where, is the family of Jesus that will receive these “seekers,” be a home to them, and let them grow?

The Hutterite movement (of which I am a part) indeed has many vestigial patterns and blessings to share with the world. But Hutterites have become firmly convinced the only way new communities can start is with years of planning, lots of experienced people, and a million (or several million) dollars.

That is a sad and dreadful mistake. It is also as far from the truth as the south pole is from the north. Had Jakob Hutter and Peter Riedemann entertained any such ideas in the 16th century, not one Hutterite community would ever have gotten established at all!

It is neither right, nor even sensible, for any church to limit its fellowship to people that are physically able to live on its property. All true seekers need to get accommodated or incorporated somehow, if that is their desire. Once our physical or economic system becomes exclusive or restrictive, it is no longer of Christ and needs to be recognized and dealt with as such.

Neither should we think that Hutterites alone have the gift or knowledge necessary to live in community. Falling into a communal mindset, like falling in love, is neither hard nor complicated. It is as EASY as falling off a log! And it is certainly no harder to start a new community than to start a new home. What does it take?

1. It takes two or three willing believers, born of the Spirit, willing to commit themselves to Jesus and one another, for life.

2. It takes a place. Any neighbourhood where work and housing is available can be a good place.

3. It takes stable, committed, leadership. If none is available, or if the leadership question is unclear, new communities do well to locate geographically close to older, established ones that can provide helpful oversight. (Along with a place to worship or school, if necessary.) That, under the blessing and direction of Jesus, is all it takes.

And what does it NOT take?

1. It does not take a lot of experienced people. Sure, it is nice where a believer or two from an established community can help get things set up and going. But deep-seated conviction is worth more than all the experience in the world.

2. It does not take lots of money. Community was designed to help believers get along on little, not with a great load of assets. In fact, the communal lifestyle, if handled correctly, can be the cheapest way of life on earth.

3. Unless you are thinking of beginning a community in some foreign country where legal and employment obligations make it necessary, you should not need a “jump-start” from an older community. Christian community was designed to work for believers anywhere, of all cultures, of all traditions. Leaning on someone else’s old forms and structures may well do you more harm than good.

Good community is never bound to one rigid “this-is-what-takes” mentality. It is always open to new people and ideas, always adjusting itself, always finding its way in the Spirit of Jesus through whatever crisis may come (and many do come!). Sure, it is imperative that we commit ourselves to the “three-legged principles” of a common work, a common purse, and a common table. But where all that is not possible at once, we make the best of what there is. Perhaps in new communities we may all need to work in trades here and there at the beginning. Perhaps we only get to eat one meal a day together. Perhaps our sharing needs to be an arranged sharing until debts get paid or until we have everything in place for that to happen.

There is no exact pattern. No recipe, other than the words of Jesus: “Whoever does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple,” and the instruction of Paul to “esteem others better than ourselves.”

To those of you in Europe and America that seek community but don’t have it, I am forced to say: Don’t wait on any Hutterites to come and help you! Don’t set your hopes on finding a place in a Hutterite colony! You could well find yourself waiting fifty years or forever.

But if you went and parked yourself on their doorstep, so to speak -- if you rented places and got little households going in Minneapolis, or Sioux Falls, or Winnipeg I dare say you would soon have lots of meaningful interaction (good for them, good for you).

And if you are able to do it without that kind of interaction, by all means do what Jesus asks of you in Paris, in Berlin, in Seoul, or Timbuktu! Remember it only takes ONE DAY to start a new community. That is the day two or three believers say, “Let us live together. Let us pool our resources. Let us do on earth what is done in heaven, with Jesus help—and stick with it no matter what comes.”

That is the birth and essence of “family” in Jesus. The body and the blood. The reason for what has come to us through more than two thousand years. All the rest is “nothing but the details.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Thinking about death

I noticed that both my sisters posted something about this being "twenty-five years to the day" that my father died.   It makes one think, but maybe not in the same way as them.  There are two things I don't like about their posts:

1. I don't like the way they address him as if he is up there peering down at us to see if we all remember his death-day properly. "I love you, Dad" is a meaningless thing to say at this point in his life -- or ours.  I don't know but my theology just won't allow it.

2. Now you may think me very persnickety but I hear this kind of sentiment a lot: "I look forward to when we'll all be reunited."   Now, I have problems with that, too. But I know what she means of course.  And who wouldn't want that?   But the unexpressed idea is that the reason we are not united now is simply because some of us are dead.

But since we were not united in our ways or thoughts in life, what do we expect to have changed that will make us united in the afterlife?

Is God going to zap us into shape to make us get along with each other?  And, if not, then are we going to live this kind of a worldly existence all over again trying to get the victory over our passions and lusts and selfishness?

Or is that what we are supposed to be doing right now?



Friday, January 11, 2008

The start of a new year

Well, happy new year everyone!

You who know me know I'm not one who is going to go to any excesses in celebrations of passing from Monday to Tuesday -- it happens often enough -- and there is just a little too much heathenism in the whole thing to attract me.

Still, I'm not a poor sport either, and if people want to have a little fun (I said, a little) why, I won't stand in their way.

So however you saw in the new year, I hope it was in a sober and thoughtful spirit as mine was.  Since it's been almost a couple of weeks since I've last shared, here's our news and activities and a few thoughts, maybe, in whatever order they come to me.

Denise is still here and being a blessing helping with Grandma and in the office. She gets along very well with Nat and is keeping quite well.  It's been especially valuable right now with all the end of the year activities, filing, and inventories to be done.

I've been calling Aunty every evening for the past month or so and she has come to depend on it because if I ever miss a day she wants to know all the reasons why.

Her arm is still giving her pain and she's still got another few days to go on her current treatment of antibiotics which makes her feel rough.  I told her I'm planning a trip this coming weekend with the boys to help and a moving van.  I'll probably take my car as well so I can move easily and see Aunty while Raph or Michel can take the rental truck.

Just this morning Michel said he may be buying one that he saw is due to be sold at auction this Tuesday.  So I'll wait till then before seeing about making a reservation on a truck.

The windy weather, that we had a week or two ago, has subsided into short grey wintry days but for the most part they are staying dry.

Last week we did have a little rain but I reckon there was more upstream of us because we started to notice the tell-tale flooding in the fields between here and La Chartre.

I went down to the hotel just to check water levels and it was up to 9 bricks from the middle strut, or 11 bricks from the corner -- perhaps an easier way to measure it.  So I think that is the highest I've seen it so far this year.  But the water seemed to be still moving fairly nicely.  This news is from the 8th, by the way, at four thirty in the afternoon.

Yesterday the plumber came to replace the downstairs toilet.  We had finally all got completely tired of it and asked him to redo the whole thing.   Michel made a wooden mount to raise it up ten centimetres and now all we need to do is replace the wallpaper in there.

Reading: I've just finished G. K. Chesterton's All Things Considered which I've been reading on and off all last year; it's just not the kind of thing you want to read for long.  But taken in small chapters at a time it is very witty (of course) and very meditative.



Monday, January 07, 2008

Where's Christ in Christian Zionism?

This newsletter came to me today from Harmony Grant, a courageous girl whose position I whole-heartedly support. I'm passing this on to you because I thought it was so very well put.



Three in four adult Americans believes Jesus Christ was born of a virgin. Since so many Americans respect the Bible, I wonder why they aren't more jaws dropping over Christians United for Israel (CUFI) — a "Christian" Zionist group that totally lacks Christian priorities.

The following testimonial is from a Jewish student who attended a CUFI rally:
"The room essentially turned into a mega-Church, with thousands of Christians shouting and praising God, praying for the protection, safety and prosperity of Israel and the Jewish people, and for the destruction of the enemies of America and Israel, while waving American and Israeli flags and listening to the sound of shofars being blasted. And yet the name "Jesus" was not mentioned once the entire night (emphasis mine) "By the end of the night I had met so many people who just were hugging me because I was Jewish, giving me their names and asking me to pray for them (emphasis mine), telling me I was blessed by God."


Hagee's followers believe he preaches a Biblical message toward the Jews. They believe that by sending millions to Israel, they are obeying God's command to "bless" the Jews. It's likely that most of these churchmen and women sincerely believe they're doing the right thing. But they have been so blinded by the platitudes and false premises of Christian Zionism that they can't even recognize Hagee's grave apostasy.

This supposed "Christian leader" believes Jews can be saved without accepting Christ. "I believe that every Jewish person who lives in the light of the Torah, which is the word of God, has a relationship with God and will come to redemption".

In his recent book, In Defence of Israel, Hagee went even farther. In an ad for the book, he says shockingly, "Jesus did not come to earth to be the Messiah."

There was outcry over this heresy. Michael Brown, a Jewish Christian and theologian, says Hagee's book explicitly states the following heresies, "The Jewish people, as a whole, did not reject Jesus as Messiah. Jesus did not come to earth to be the Messiah. Jesus refused by word and deed to be the Messiah. The Jews cannot be blamed for not accepting what was never offered." Brown says "some believers — and even leaders! — are buying into this error hook, line, and sinker, and some have begun to teach and preach it as well."

The Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations responded to Hagee's book with "serious concerns," saying his teachings contradict biblical doctrine, undermine the testimony of Jewish followers of Jesus, and weaken the cause of Christian supporters of the Jewish people.

There was enough controversy over the book that Hagee is releasing a revised edition. He wrote a letter to address the "confusion," saying that while Jesus is the true Messiah, Christians can accept Him as the "suffering Messiah" whereas Jews will not recognize Him until He comes as the "reigning Messiah." We shouldn't judge them for their mistake.

Hagee says he hopes "we can return our focus to what I had anticipated to highlight all along, the fact that we Christians must shift from condemning the Jews for what they missed to thanking them for what they gave."

This emphasis is shared by Hagee's many followers, who increasingly idolize and romanticize Jews and Judaism, exalting Jewish law and Jewish blood perhaps even more than Israeli settlers do!

>If Christians can recognize that Hagee is wrong to say Christ is not the Messiah and that Jews do not need His saving redemption, they should also be suspicious of Christian Zionism's other premises. They should take a closer look at the real situation in Israel.

In mid-December, the Red Cross broke its normally neutral silence to speak out on life in Gaza. The Red Cross said no amount of humanitarian aid can solve the crisis, and pled for political action. "In Gaza the whole Strip is being strangled, economically speaking, life there has become a nightmare," said the director of Mideast operations.

But the United States will do nothing to force Israel to dismantle settlements or stop oppressing Palestinians--not while the Israel lobby can exert so much political pressure on Capitol Hill.

The time is long past since Christians should have started analyzing their role in this lobby. American evangelicals should question their reading of the Bible, and their definition of how to "bless" Jews. Listening to John Hagee, you'd think there was just one easy interpretation of the Bible. That's hardly true.

In December, Christian Leaders from the National Council of Churches in Australia visited Israel. Their organization includes 17 diverse member churches. The leaders reported that they "were distressed to hear Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim, relate the suffering and fear experienced daily by large numbers of their people." The church leaders "saw and heard evidence of systematic harassment, physical and psychological oppression, widespread unemployment, poverty, and economic deprivation, resulting directly or indirectly from Israeli military occupation of the West Bank."

Christians, more than any other people, are obligated to disregard power and convention and seek the truth. Without truth, there can be no justice or mercy. It's high time Christians return to the Biblical truth that no group can be called "God's chosen people" unless they practice the obedience of the father of faith, Abraham.

It is Zionist. There's nothing Christian about it.



Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The D's


Sweden and Malta unite on a frosty new year's morning in central France. We live as one in our life for Christ in each other.