Thursday, July 30, 2009

How Important is it to Forgive and Bless our Enemies?

This short article is from David Wilkerson. I'm posting it here because it is excellent and well said. These are thoughts we don't hear enough and never hear too much. I don't want to take the chance that any of you might have missed it. This is the kind of sentiment that makes real Christianity differ from every other religion in the world — including churchianity. Take a moment to read it through thoughtfully.



Paul writes, “Give place unto wrath” (Romans 12:19). He is saying, “Suffer the wrong. Lay it down and move on. Get a life in the Spirit.” However, if we refuse to forgive the hurts done to us, we have to face these consequences:

1. We’ll become guiltier than the person who inflicted our wound.

2. God’s mercy and grace toward us will be shut off. Then, as things begin to go wrong in our lives, we won’t understand them, because we’ll be in disobedience.

3. Our persecutor’s vexations against us will continue to rob us of peace. He’ll become the victor, succeeding in giving us a permanent wound.

4. Because Satan succeeds in driving us to thoughts of revenge, he’ll be able to lead us into deadlier sins. And we’ll commit transgressions far worse than these.

The writer of Proverbs advises, “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression” (Proverbs 19:11). In other words, we’re to do nothing until our anger has subsided. We’re never to make a decision or follow through with any action while we are still angry.

We bring glory to our heavenly Father whenever we overlook hurts and forgive the sins done to us. To do so builds character in us. When we forgive as God forgives, he brings us into a revelation of favor and blessing we have never known.

Jesus commands us to love those that have made themselves our enemies by doing three things:

1. We are to bless them
2. We are to do good to them
3. We are to pray for them

In Matthew 5:44 Jesus says, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”



Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A couple of nice photos

Camille just brought me in Raffella's camera saying she'd just taken some pictures that we might like to see copies of. I took a look and agreed! Hope you like them.

Here's little Ruben

Ruben with Debbie

A nice shot of Camille with Susanne and David

Allen and Marcelle
Sarah holding Amos



Monday, July 27, 2009

Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord

Tonight at evensong Allen asked if we knew Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord which I didn't. I guess nobody knows them all, but he went over to the piano and played it for us, a lovely thoughtful air, fairly slow and prayerful. As we read the words and sang them through I found myself deeply moved by them.

If you don't know this old hymn, you owe it to yourself to learn it. If you already know it, why not sing along right now and make it your own prayer.

Here are the words courtesy of hymnal.net.

Teach me Thy way, O Lord,
Teach me Thy way;
Thy gracious aid afford,
Teach me Thy way.
Help me to walk aright;
More by faith, less by sight;
Lead me with heav'nly light,
Teach me Thy way.

When doubts and fears arise,
Teach me Thy way;
When storms o'erspread the skies,
Teach me Thy way.
Shine through the cloud and rain,
Through sorrow, toil, and pain;
Make Thou my pathway plain,
Teach me Thy way.

Long as my life shall last,
Teach me Thy way;
Where'er my lot be cast,
Teach me Thy way.
Until the race is run,
Until the journey's done,
Until the crown is won,
Teach me Thy way.




Sunday, July 26, 2009

A happy couple

Yesterday I asked Jonathan and Raph if they wanted to come over to morning watch today since we'd arrived at number twenty-five "Believers' Reactions" and I wanted as many as possible to be there. They both said they'd be there and Allen and Marcelle also said they wanted to come as well.

So, sure enough, this morning right and early everyone was there and we really had a good time together. That is one of the best classes in the book and bears re-reading every year or two just to keep things fresh. When I went to check I noticed that we never got that one translated yet and I think we should.

For the regular morning meeting the Sallès family came, as well as Muriel, and Gérard which made a grand total of 24 though Laurent & Raffaella couldn't stay for dinner since they had a prior engagement.

The rest of us had some real fellowship together with some real great singing — all these things are great on your own but the blessing can't be compared to sharing with others! The Christian life just doesn't seem to be made for hermits and we thank God for community.

Here's a lovely picture of the (most recent) happy couple Becky took out in the backyard. Aren't they a lovely pair?







Saturday, July 25, 2009

A busy day

Well, even a "diary" post is better than no post, isn't it? And some of you have reminded me that I ought to try to keep up. It's not as if nothing is happening, but rather too much!

This morning Roo surprised us at morning watch by walking in from the garden door at six-thiry! He said he'd gone by the greenhouse to check on how it was faring after a week's absence. We confirmed that he'd be back at noon with wife and child — he'd had to return with the Express (the 2-seater van) in order to go back to the clinic with the C3 (a five-seater car with baby seat).

So I went out to the market to get some of our usual paté de compagne, a few rillettes, some bread, and the usual fixings for a cold Saturday lunch and Jonathan confirmed that they'd be there, too. (There is an excellent charcutier who's based out of St Paterne-Racan and who is always at the Saturday market in Château. We really have not found one whose products—all home-made—are so consistently good!)

Anyway, later on this morning a team went over to Port Gautier to tidy up a little bit in preparation for Debbie's arrival and make sure they had what they need initially.

Well, come one o'clock we were just ready to get seated on the terrace when someone cried out "They're here!" as the red C3 pulled into the parking lot and the house disgorged a dozen excitedly shouting children — and a few just-as-excited older ones, too — and there were hugs and kisses all round!


But of course the object of attention was sleeping in the back seat but how we were glad to see him! You forget that babies could be so small!

So we thank the Lord for another gift to us!



Friday, July 24, 2009

No news today

Not a real lot to report today. Allen & Marcelle joined us this morning for our Bible class which was on "Confession and Recompense" — and very good, indeed.

Afterward Allen took a couple of the C3s over to the garage while I tried to finish off the week's work in the office while Sarah took all the children over to the lake for supper and a swim. The nice summer weather is here to stay, it looks like.

It is such a blessing to have them here with us and we're spending as much time as possible sharing together. Tomorrow Jonathan, Debbie, and Ruben should be home and I'll have a picture to show you of little Roo.

Later on that evening Gérard came over while we were eating and said he wanted to talk so we got busy finishing up with the little ones and he and I got around the table around nine-thirty with Nat, Sarah, Allen, and Marcelle. It went very well and we gave him a good witness for two hours with him seeming to understand the position he was in and the way of salvation. We'll see how he follows these things up in the future.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A & M

This morning I got a phone call — Cédric passed it to me in my office and said it was somebody speaking English. Turned out it was J, from a Christian community were share with, to say that the brotherhood had read our letter together last night and were very touched. He said they found it very inspiring and they wanted to do something to help and that they had decided to send us A & M, who we'd spent time together with before!

Tomorrow.

Well, I was staggered and hardly knew what to say! I was filled with gratitude for this expression of their love and compassion and pray God will never let me forget to act with the same mercy that has been showed us. God will bless them mightily.

Only a few minutes later A called to give me their travel plans and said they'd be in Le Mans late afternoon tomorrow. We have much to do in the way of preparation but everyone is simply so relieved and happy, struck by this expression of the love of the brotherhood.

Later on in the day A called again, and as I expected, was extremely excited at this turn of events though we are not unaware of the sacrifice this must represent for him and M. We are expecting good things.

Coupled with this — on another plane completely — the Lord opened up doors to provide us with a good used car for my own use. Details next week but as Nat says, the Lord is certainly showing us His blessing and desire to bless us.

Jonathan is working down near Chinon all week at his customer and spending his free hours based out of the clinic — a pretty nice arrangement, certainly for Debbie! We chat a little every morning by email and apparently the baby — though born at term — was so small as to almost be a premature-weight but is now gaining weight day by day. Debbie, too, is growing stronger and is almost completely autonomous.

All in all, everything is going just as it should and they're eagerly looking forward to seeing us all again. We're going to send a team over to their place on Saturday morning to freshen the place up and make it welcoming for them. This weekend we should be able to post a few more photos of little Ruben for you all!


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On being late

If there's one thing I do all in my power to do, it is to be on time for an appointment that I've agreed to. I'd rather be fifteen minutes early than one minute late. It has become almost a mania with me and I have little patience when waiting for others.

Someone once said that being late for an appointment was the same as stealing because you were taking from someone the most precious thing he has outside of his soul ... and that is his time.

We can't prolong our lifetimes by one single minute. We might well want to live just one more day — but it's not within our control. How can we take someone's time from him so lightly when it can never be returned, repaid, or compensated.

When I give an account for what I have done with my time I will have enough to worry about with that without having to also answer for how I wasted someone else's.

I pray God would impress upon us all the importance of every idle minute which, like every idle word, we must surely someday give an account.



Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday noon pictures

Raph was in a trigger-happy mood today at the table and sends you all a couple of shots. The captions are his ...

Grandma critically sampling the hard apple cider

Amos with Granddad

The verdict




Just because we can...

Roo was showing me the exact location of the clinic where little Ruben and Debbie are. I'd understood it was Chinon but he said it was actually in a little town just outside of it and in a much more rural environment. If you look at it on Google maps you see what a lovely location it really is. It's quite impressive — you have the impression that if Debbie stuck her hand out the window to wave, we'd see it.

The town is called St Benoît la Forêt and the establishment is Clinique Jeanne d'Arc. Have a look here (this will open in a new window for you). You may be thinking, "Why would I want to see a photo of Debbie's clinic from the air?" And the answer is in the title above. :-)

A little further news from Jonathan by email this morning tells us that "Ruby" (that's his nickname) is getting cuter and cuter and Debbie is getting happier and happier — so we thank God for that.

One of his main customers is located just fifteen minutes from Chinon and he was planning to make some major changes for them this week, regardless. So he took his laptop with him yesterday and is spending the daytime hours on-site before coming "home" to Debbie and "Ruby" — not a bad arrangement, all things considered.

If you'd like to give her a call, please feel free to: +33-(0)2.47.93.62.78 and, as always, remember we're on CEST here, Central European Summer Time (GMT+2). A quick call could go a long way to improving morale and feeling loved!


Morning thoughts

As I was meditating this morning these verses from Psalm 22 came to me so I went and looked them up to see the full message from God's word ...



My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me? Why do you remain so distant? Why do you ignore my cries for help? Isn't this often how we feel?

Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief. What do we say when God is silent to our cries?

Yet you are holy. The praises of Israel surround your throne. Our ancestors trusted in you, and you rescued them. You heard their cries for help and saved them. They put their trust in you and were never disappointed. What of our father's testimonies? Where is the good fruit of doing what is right? Where is the recompense of righteousness? Will the evil triumph forever?

But I am a worm and not a man. I am scorned and despised by all! These words are so true: what a despicable person he is; where are the fruits of his good life? Just look at him; who would want to be like that!

Everyone who sees me mocks me. They sneer and shake their heads, saying, "Is this the one who relies on the LORD? Then let the LORD save him! If the LORD loves him so much, let the LORD rescue him!" Who's going to help him now? Ha! He was always such a know-it-all, the one who always had all the answers — just look at him now!

Yet you brought me safely from my mother's womb and led me to trust you when I was a nursing infant. I was thrust upon you at my birth. You have been my God from the moment I was born. It's all very well to lean on your upbringing but where is that going to get you now that the chips are down?

Do not stay so far from me, for trouble is near, and no one else can help me. Dad used to say, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." But what about those that aren't so tough anymore? Who is going to help the helpless? It's a terrible feeling to realize that there is no one who can help.

God help us to be merciful to those who may have been wounded, who may be hurting at this moment of the day. Blessed are the merciful for they will find mercy. Blessed are those who weep and mourn for they shall be comforted. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Words to cherish; words to live by.



Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ruben Vincent


Roo arrived just in time for our Lord's day meeting so we had to wait till afterwards to ply him with questions and get a look at the photos. Here's one he took this morning just before leaving mother and child — doing well, and everyone very happy and very thankful! Praise the Lord!


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Debbie's big day!

Well, one glance at the title above shouldn't leave much to guess! But I need to give a wee bit of background information to help understand the context.

Some time ago, Debbie and Jonathan had decided on a maternity clinic in Chinon that they want to use when their time came. Chinon is a picturesque village on the Loire about an hour and a half from us and the staff at the maternity clinic there were very encouraging in "doing things natural ways" and they felt quite at home there.

So much so that Debbie's been going there throughout her pregnancy for her check-ups. Since it's not very close-by Jonathan has been thinking how he should plan the big day. Finally he decided to throw a mattress in the back of the Express (our small van) as they had done when they went to Sweden thereby providing the possibility of transporting Debbie in a reclining position as well as having emergency sleeping accommodation for himself once they arrived.

As Debbie's due date approached she started feeling more and more sure that Saturday was going to be the day so last night, before he left for home, Jonathan prepared the Express the way he wanted it in case it were needed.

Well, it's just as well he did, for at one o'clock (while his parents were blissfully asleep) he and Debbie left for Chinon. And at ten o'clock he phoned home: Debbie was going to give birth today for sure and the staff expected the baby any time!

A little later we got the much-awaited call telling us that little Ruben Vincent had been born! What a wonderful name to have chosen; we all think it is very noble and nice!

Those of you who know us well know that Jonathan has an enduring nickname of Roo so the jokes haven't taken long to come. "Do we call him Junior or Roo II?" was the first one but Raph got the best one by pointing out that "ben" means "son of" in Hebrew so we should obviously understand the little one as being "Son of Roo". :-)

Everyone here is much excited to see the pictures Roo has promised. He says that both mother and baby are doing well and getting a much-needed rest. I'll post the pictures (and some vital statistics) when I get them — probably tomorrow, now. We thank God for His mercy and His love to us.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Two pictures from Raph

Today's eggs

Our best apricot picker



Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kleines has popped!

A person can't get too sentimental about something as ordinary as a cat, nor should one make too much ado about a new litter of kittens. Except that Kleines is no ordinary cat — she's ours.

Getting rid of her babies is one of the children's pastimes for years for she is very fertile soil and seems to be feeding a new family every six months. Invariably four kittens, invariably back and white, invariably cute. This time she has given us five very differently coloured offspring.


The joke around here now is; after Camille, the buffalo, and Kleines — there's only Debbie left. :-) And she's calling for it this Saturday. Hmm you never know, but we'll soon see!



Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Camille and Amos are home!

Another beautiful sunny day which we all spent relaxing around the house, reading, singing, and just enjoying each other's company since, of course, today is our national holiday.

Raph went down to Tours to pick up Camille just after breakfast as she's coming home today. You can guess the excitement that greeted them on arrival!

Here's a shot of Camille (and Amos, if you can find him!) at evensong just a few minutes ago.


Nat, Becky, Claire, and Christine have gone for a walk in the forest with Gérard, Céline, and Romain to end up the day. Now this entry is done, my day is over, as well!

Good night, all.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Meet Amos Clément

Here's the latest picture from Raph with this note:

We decided on CLEMENT as a second name for Amos !

(For more pictures, see the family web site here.)

http://neve-family.com/family/amos/gallery.html

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Apricots

Raph went up to the vineyard this afternoon to see how the vines were coming along. When he came back he had a basket of lovely ripe apricots and a picture of the tree (we have a row of fruit trees bordering the vineyard). From the taste of the fruit, we're in for a good year — now we'd better learn how to preserve them properly. Who wants to come and help us?

Despite a rude winter this little tree survived and is giving generously!



Bravo Christopher!

Every season of life has a corresponding reward for the successful accomplishment of that level and the passing of that cultural or family rite. Such is the case of fourteen-year-old's scholastic tests that here we call simply the Brevet

I think I mentioned that Christopher has had this looming over his whole school year and has spent the past month sweating things out – more or less to his parent's satisfaction, depending on the days.

Well, the big day is finally here: this weekend the results are published in the local newspaper as hundreds of his fellow classmates will be scanning the columns for their name and grade. And, Christopher is no exception.

He was out the door first thing to go buy a newspaper in the village so he could see his official results. If you click on the image below you can see it too!

His result? (You read it here first): Pass +B. Let me simply try to explain that there are four possible pass results that are published: Reçu (go on to the next class), Reçu avec mention "Assez Bien" (Pass with a "Satisfactory" note), Reçu avec mention "Bien" (Pass with a "Well Done" note), and finally Reçu avec mention "Très Bien" (Pass with a "Very Well Done" note).

Like his brothers before him (Raph and Jonathan both got Pass+B in their day) Christopher has passed his Brevet with a well done note and made his dad quite pleased!

Congratulatins, Kripper!

Can you find his name on the published list?






Saturday, July 11, 2009

The birth day!

Note: If you've already read this log once before today you might want to be sure you refresh your page as it is being updated throughout the day. 1 Thessalonians 5:25



09:00 – This is likely to be Camille's (and Amos') big day so I'll update this entry several times during the day as I get pictures from Raph and as things happen.

Raph came by our room at five-thirty this morning to say that Camille had lost her waters but was feeling fine. They phoned the clinic who told them to come on in so we got our aspiring midwife, Becky, up (who had been promised a seat come the day) and the three of them set off for Tours.

The doula

Debbie told me this morning, as Jonathan and her took me to the market in town, that it was touch-and-go who would have their baby first since she was scheduled to give birth before Camille. She reminded me that the buffalo is also ready to give birth and the cat looks like she's going to pop! I guess this July will be a birth month!



10:00 – Camille phoned a couple of hours later from the park: they said she was dilated 4 cm and that today was the day but they didn't want healthy girls like her using up bed space so the three of them got some breakfast and were strolling around the park waiting for things to move along, as they will in God's time.

Awaiting a special delivery



12:00 – I'd just finished logging the above and when I got back to the house Claire told me the buffalo had given birth — they'd called Raph to tell him. It's funny, he wasn't here for the last baby buffalo birth, either. Here he is — I just went down and got a photo of him for you!

Just an hour old


13:00 – It's one o'clock, we were just at the table and the phone rang: Amos is born! Raph said he sent a photo and here it is for you all.

Here's baby Amos!

(I have to say that it's a better picture of Mummy than baby but I just talked to Camille and she is delighted! It was exceedingly fast — they hadn't even entered the pre-labor room yet. Good thing Becky was there, I say! :-)



14:00 – Lest you think I was taking the mickey out of you with the above shot (I assure you, it's all I had until now) Raph has just sent in this one, much better, of course, which proves that all newborns are not the same, after all!
First proper photo of Amos




15:00 – This photo just in!


Close-up of Amos


16:00 –We've just received this photo of the newcomer with his aunt Rebecca. Also I asked Raph for the vital statistics (several women had asked for them) which are (as you'd expect) height (or do we say length?) is 51 cm and his weight is 3 kilos 850. If I remember correctly that's a decent-sized baby. He sure looks in full bloom. When looking at his first "proper photo" above, Claire said, "Oh yes, I'd forgotten, new-born babies don't have necks." :-)

With Aunt Becky
Just got a note from Raph who's says this must be the most well-documented birth in our family history — that's for sure!
Sarah is loading up the Jumper (our 9-seat mini-bus) with all the little ones and heading out to the clinic to try their chance at getting a glimpse of the little one. Can you imagine the squeals and shrieks of delight as they head off?

18:00 – Camille has been installed in a third floor room of the maternity ward at Tours where things are much more relaxed and she's able to receive visitors and relax with her little one.
Raph tells me her room number is 328 and her private telephone number is 02 47 47 73 09 should anyone wish to give her a quick ring — why not! Just remember, of course, we are located in the European Summer Time zone GMT+2 (take a look at our clock above in the left-hand column) and if you're calling from outside of France you must preceed her number with the country code, which is 33 and drop the first zero of her phone number. Who will be first?
Too late; I just called! Camille is very happy, as you can expect, and so thankful to the Lord for how everything worked out so well! God bless and keep them.
Unless the cat has kittens this evening this may be the last entry of the day. :-) Let's let Camille sleep and we'll see you all tomorrow!

20:00 – Here's one last shot for the day as all the littler ones arrive to see their new brother. Enjoy!
A visit from brothers and sisters



Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Last night from the studio

Here is a very mediocre shot taken with my Palm looking west last night before going in to bed.


Yesterday we had a full day of light and intermittent rain with a few very hard falls that lasted for several minutes but at the end of the day, as the sun set, all was quiet and the sky looked bright auguring for another lovely day today. And that's exactly what we have.

The Lord gave the whole garden, including the grassy areas and flowers, a good watering, refreshing and cleaning everything in its path. Spring rains are like that, and always welcome.



Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Paul Herpe

Yesterday I was surprised to receive an email advertisement from La maison Paul Herpe et fils in Narbonne. Now that name will either leave you completely cold (like it will Becky) or maybe it will ring a bell (as it most surely will with Raph) or maybe you'll be as surprised and pleased as I was (as Sarah will be)!

A bit of history is in order, bear with me. After I was laid off from my job in the cheese packaging plant, quaintly named Cedipam-Cogedis in Trans-en-Provence, when it closed in October of 1984 I had decided to start to get organized to put myself into a business of my own. We were living in a residential campsite for caravans and mobile homes at that time called Camping de la Foux, just outside of Draguignan, and one of our neighbours were a Belgium couple that were probably twenty years older than we were but showed themselves very friendly and eager to share their vision of how we could make money.

His name was Claude and he was full of ideas to change the world and better himself and it was he who first approached me with the idea of the two of us setting up an import-export company dealing in southern French wines to northern countries — being Belgian, he would handle the Benelux and since I was English-speaking, I could attack the UK market.

After finishing my heavy goods vehicle training (which was one of my redundancy perks) in early 1985 I was free and ready to try out the idea. For months Claude and I had visited wineries and vineyards, tasting and discussing with winegrowers the intricacies of their trade, learning all we could about the different grape varieties, the methods of vinification, storing and bottling, and so on. Each time we were sent away with a box or two of half-bottle samples for our own use and to give to potential customers. We were encouraged to sample, drink, and enjoy their wines since they knew that what you like best you sell best.

By early 1985 I was ready to venture up to England to size up the lay of the land. In the end my joint venture with Claude never materialized (he never managed to sell one bottle, he told me later, and he finally shifted to something more lucrative) but by this time I was deep in the UK wine trade and enjoying the traveling, holding stands at expositions, wine fairs, and trade shows all over London, Manchester, and Glasgow and getting myself known, trading under the name of Neve Agencies.

One of the things I soon became aware I'd need was a broader spectrum of suppliers so as to have a representative portfolio of French wines — the classics (Vouvray, Médoc, and Champagne for instance) I already had contracts with as well as some lesser-known appellations (Cairanne, Côtes de Provence, Bandol, etc) that represented good value for money to the English buyer. But above all I needed a good honest table wine — red and white — and luckily I knew exactly where to find one.

Years before we had spent two years in Narbonne, on the south-west coast of the country, just a hundred kilometers up from Spain. Narbonne at the time was a sleepy dusty town that had not yet come out of the 1960s — everything about it was very small-town and otherworldly to our cosmopolitan eyes but we loved the charm and simplicity of it; the markets, the restaurants, and the shuttered windows all reminding us that the war had not finished that long ago.

The biggest negotiant in regional wines in the area for the past eighty years is located right on the canal du midi that runs through the town. This family-run business originally founded in the twenties right after the horrors of the First World War by the grandfather of the present owner: Paul Herpe who in his turn was teaching his son to take over after him.
Besides owning several castles of his own (the Château de Couderc is well-known in the area), Paul Herpe contracted with several local quality winegrowers to buy their production before it became available. This way he had his say in the vinification and storage used and kept his eye on the progress of the wine all the way to bottling. The winegrower didn't have to worry about sales and the commercial angle but was free to concentrate on what he did best. It was a relationship that pleased both parties.

To make a long story shorter, I soon added the Paul Herpe wineries to my portfolio and, besides his good table wines, happily presented his aged Fitou, Corbières, or Minervois to discriminating palates across the United Kingdom. On a personal level, Paul and I had a good working relationship and over the years we became quite good friends — I slept at his home when I was passing through the area on business and he got the royal treatment from me whenever he visited England.

But, like so many things in life, circumstances led our paths in different directions and we'd pretty much lost track of each other for years. Although I have ordered wines from him once or twice since over the past ten years and I always left a friendly word for Paul on the order form, I never heard back from him and was without his personal news.

The advertisement yesterday was offering a package deal of 36 mixed bottles of his summer wines and they were offering free shipping as a come-on. So, on impulse I decided to respond to it and thought perhaps I could establish contact again so I sent it off with a little note again, at the end, sending him my personal greetings.

Well, imagine my surprise when the phone rang this afternoon and Nat passed the call to me, announcing only "a friend" and I heard again his southern accented tones as he said, Derrick? C'est Paul Herpe!

We've always enjoyed the 'vang' for vin and 'beeyang' for bien that characterizes the speech from Languedoc and we had a most enjoyable chat. Turns out he's sixty-three and "semi-retired" until his own son, now thirty-four, fully takes over the business.

After a little catching up on family news we signed off by reciprocally inviting each other over at the next occasion but knowing his—and my—penchant for sunnier climes than I have now to offer, I have little doubt as to who will visit whom first! Matter of fact, it may be time for a little holiday!




Sunday, July 05, 2009

A sunny weekend

Still nice hot sunny weather; the long-awaited rain just never makes it all the way here but no one is complaining — the is summer after all! A couple of days ago the kids asked me if we could have our famous "Sunday breakfast at the lake" which we've been doing for ages during nice weather.

So it was planned for today and with two dozen hard-boiled fresh eggs, a pot of our honey, eight sticks of bread (baquettes) from the bakery, and half a dozen chilled cantaloupe (just called 'melon' here) we were all set. We told Rooby to meet us at our usual spot at 8 am sharp. The water was warm and the kids played for a good hour diving off the slide and swimming. If this weather keeps up all summer, I'm going to have to dig out my swimsuit!

By ten o'clock we were all reassembled in the salon and guitars were being tuned up and hymnbooks readied. Muriel arrived only a few minutes after ten thirty and we had some good singing. After our Bible reading and study (Matthew 18 today) I read an article I had enjoyed last week from David Wilkerson's site called Victory over Your Besetting Sin which was short but very needed.

Muriel is Raphael and Camille's friend from high-school; she called up last night and asked if she could come over to be at our Lord's Day meeting this morning so that was a nice surprise and a good sign of spiritual hunger. She's been here several times and was last here a few weekends ago and stayed overnight but left early before the meeting. This time she came expressly for that reason.

After lunch, Camille went out with Becky, Christopher, Olivier, and Christine to see the brocante market in Beaumont, just near here. (These are like flea markets where you can sometimes pick up some real bargains and are always well attended.) Camille, and usually Sarah, like to go and take a quick look just to be aware of what might be available. With so many little ones around the house we have needs at every age level.

As it happened, Sarah started witnessing to Muriel and giving her testimony right after the meal at the table. So later on, when Camille said she was leaving for the brocante and asked if Muriel wanted to come she heard that, given the choice, Muriel would rather stay and read the Bible with Sarah — which is what they are doing at the stone table right now, under the lime tree.

I'd just picked up my latest book to see about doing a little reading when the phone rang. It was Hu Dong almost in tears asking if we could do something for him. (Hu Dong is a Vietnamese believer who owns an Asian restaurant locally and has often joined us in our meetings.) I told him of course and asked him what he wanted.

It turns out his mother suddenly took sick and he wants our prayer for her. He was calling from the hospital in Le Mans very shook up and saying that she was due for surgery this afternoon. If I understood everything (not always easy because of his accent) she has some kind of kidney failure. Claire and I prayed and I said to call me if he needed anything else.

Raph took little Davy with him to the island to put up the electric fencing around the buffalo paddock so as to avoid any further breakouts of these beasts. A little later Gérard came over with Céline and Romain (who were here for the meeting, since they'd spent the night with the other children) and he joined Raph.

At two o'clock I had gotten a surprise phone call on my cell phone from William, from Québec. The timing was not quite right (we hadn't quite left the table, being a rather laid-back Lord's Day) so I told him I'd call back which I did at four o'clock . He'd called just to share some of his spiritual discoveries and catch up on our news. (He said they've had rain for the past three weeks!)

Apparently he calls Don often to get advice and counsel and he loves the help he gets from him. Lise is working on more translations of Don's stuff — it's a big and seemingly never-ending job. By the end of the call I found I was getting back into québecois; it always takes me awhile and at first I don't seem to recognize a single word of what he says, but then his accent is strong. We had a good talk, though, and he shared a lot with me. He said he and Lise pray for us every morning and I thanked him for that.

Well, the brocante crew are back now and Becky has come in with a handful of old books, one an autobiographical account written by one of Napoleon's soldiers in 1851, a couple of Latin book with Bible stories, another story book in Greek and a few more of the classic French authors that she likes (Molière and Corneille). She loves books and these occasions are always a good time to build up our library — which must be over three thousand books by now.

We all finished the day down on the island where Raph has just finished putting up the electric fence and it seems to be working well. Here we gathered around as Camille brought out our monthly birthday "cake" — this time for David. Though we all commented that with two more babies due with the next ten days, next year Davy will have to share his celebrations three ways! We might have to up the dose from two to three cakes, too!


Left to right in the picture above are Muriel, Céline, David, Christopher, Olivier, Sarah, Grandma (in background), Christine, Claire, and Rebecca.


Well, this has taken too much out of my day already so I must sign off. I hope it proves edifying to someone and at the least helps make us all a part of your day thereby drawing us closer.

Good evening to all and God's peace on you.


Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Judge of all the earth

I have been meditating much lately on great things: of retribution, of final judgment, of the folly of war, of the inhumanity of man toward his fellow creature, of ultimate punishment, of righteousness, of purgatory, of hell.

A part of a phrase from the Bible keeps coming to me about God being the righteous Judge of the whole world — but I can't find it in my Bible software, so it must be my own paraphrase. Computer searches are quite rightly unforgiving in their attention to detail.

Now I've got it — and it wasn't too far off: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? comes from God's friend, Abraham, as he's pleading for Sodom to be spared (Genesis 18). The question, of course, is rhetorical; but of course the Judge of all the earth will do right. What we don't understand is the time factor — when.

The First Century believers and martyrs cried, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? So this must be a fairly natural reaction of the believer when he sees the wicked flourishing without care or thought of God.

David echoed this sentiment often in his songs, How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? and later, O God, how long shall the adversary reproach? shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever? More rhetorical questions of the same type and how often have we wanted to cry the same thing to our Father.

We have no difficulty believing in God, this much we know. What we sometimes find trying our faith is the assurance that God will act. That somehow in my flesh I will see the righteous established and the wicked (or even the careless) will somehow reap the results of a lifetime of neglect, of selfishness, of greed, of lust.

It is in this context that our soul cries out, Arise, O LORD; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight!



Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Five




Are you a merciful person?

I got this last week from David Wilkerson and I thought it was good and wanted to share it with you. True inspiration and edification is always to be seized, irrespective of the source.

David has had a variegated ministry over the years and has often seemed to generate controversy among the self-satisfied. Although I don't share his charismatic viewpoint he knows how to leave that to one side to minister the greater things in much wisdom.




Great are thy tender mercies, O Lord” (Psalm 119:156). “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all; and his tender mercies are over all his works” (145:8–9, my italics).

I want to ask you a question I’ve been asking myself lately: Are you a merciful person? Most of us would answer, “I think I am merciful. To the best of my ability, I sympathize with those who suffer. I feel the pain of my hurting brothers and sisters in Christ, and I try to help them. I do my best to assist my neighbours in need. And when people hurt me, I forgive them and don’t hold a grudge.”

I believe all true Christians have a good measure of mercy for the lost and hurting. I thank God for that. But the sad truth is, God’s Word exposes in many of us deep roots of bias and very limited concepts of mercy.

Most religions that claim to fear God have a creed or doctrine that says, “God’s tender, loving mercies extend to all of humankind.” As followers of Jesus, we talk so much about his tender mercies to the wide world. But here is the truth:

There are many people to whom large numbers of Christians limit God’s mercy. I think of prostitutes who work in godless brothels. I think of people in Africa and other continents dying by the thousands with AIDS. I think of homosexuals who endure endless heart-aches and mental anguish, the trials of their lives, and who drink themselves into oblivion to try to cover their pain.

From what I read in Scripture, I can’t accept that my Saviour would ever turn down the desperate cry of a prostitute, a homosexual, a drug addict or alcoholic who has hit rock bottom. His mercies are unlimited: there is no end to them. Therefore, as his church — Christ’s representative body on the earth — we cannot cut off anyone who cries out for mercy and deliverance.

We may not even be aware of these inner biases until suddenly they’re in our face, confronting us with the truth about our hearts. As you consider this in your own life, I ask you again: Are you a merciful person, tender and loving? I picture many readers saying, “Yes.” Yet, ask those around you — your family, your co-workers, your friends and neighbours, your friends of a different colour — and see how they respond.

— David Wilkerson, June 25, 2009