Life in the fast lane

 Life In The Fast Lane

It’s been quite a while since I posted here – not for lack of wanting to, nor for any lack of ideas, but purely because life is one wild maelstrom since we’ve moved. Don’t get me wrong that’s not an excuse, a complaint or a moan, it’s just the way it is.

And that’s the sort of thing we wanted when we moved, although we didn’t anticipate it to this extent.

So what’s been happening since I last posted (which was a bit of a downer of a post I know but it was a fair reflection of how life was that week)? Well, things have got busier and busier.

The kids all have their own lives, both within the church and outside of it. The boys are now members of the local cub/scout troops, our daughter is extremely busy with college work and they all have their own things going on within the church.

The church. What can I say about that? We’ve been so blessed in finding a great community to be a part of and at a really exciting time as well. We’ve all found our own niches and have our own activities and involvements, and we’re all loving life there. Me, well I’ve gone full circle really and I’m back doing both PA and playing in the worship team – it feels so good and it has been a huge answer to prayer.

Of course, the side effect of having such an active life is that we barely have an evening without something going on and our weekends rapidly fill up. It’s meant that all of a sudden we find ourselves with the realisation that we moved home nearly 8 months ago. It’s such a crazy thought as on the one hand it feels like 5 minutes ago, and on the other hand we feeld so well established and settled that it feels as though we’ve lived here for much longer.

So whilst it may seem like I last blogged and ice-age ago, to me it feels like yesterday. Life in the fast lane… gotta love it!



At Church this week we sang a song by Jules Burt, Paul Oakley and Sam Cox. We were in the middle of a time of worship where I really felt connected to God and then we sang these lyrics:

You’re all I want, You’re all I need
Jesus my love, my everything

All of a sudden I couldn’t actually sing any more. I started praying and my stomach churned as my heart felt ten times heavier. I realised that I couldn’t just sing those lyrics – I had to mean them. The question that was making me feel the way I was was did I really mean them?

Can I honestly stand there and say that Jesus is my everything? Can I really say that He is all I need?

It’s not a simple question when you get to the root of it. Can I really say that I need nothing, and no one, more than Jesus. Above my wife, and above my children. Above the roof over my head and the food on my table.

Each morning I listen to a podcast called “The Daily Audio Bible” which takes you through the Bible in a year – a great way to spend the morning commute and the perfect way for me to start my day. The Old Testament readings this last couple of weeks have been coming from the book of Job and I found myself wondering if I would respond in the same way if, like him, everything was stripped away completely. He lost his wife, his children, his home and his business. Yet still he wouldn’t turn away from God, and he never let go of his trust in God’s judgements and righteousness.

Would I do the same? Surely that’s the ultimate test of those lyrics?

I started typing this immediately as the words were weighing on me, and the worship had moved into a more meditative and prayerful time. When Andrew, one of the leaders of the Church, stood up to speak I stopped to listen and found myself laughing at the way God works. Andrew was saying exactly what I was typing. His words echoed mine as he said “Can we stand there and say that Jesus is our everything? Can we say that He is all we need?”

I ended up singing the lyrics as a prayer and a hearty cry – that I would get to the point where Jesus is all I want and all I need… and where He is my EVERYTHING.

Because, in all honesty, I can’t say that’s where I am right now.

We will now sing Hymn 214 from Hymns Ancient and Prehistoric (1983 edition)

All across the world tomorrow there will be a minimum rebellion and battle of wills when the vicar stands to announced the singing of one particular song.

Mr Davies (3rd seat in on the right hand side, 4th row from the front) will pointedly sing “Redeemer” in a loud deep voice whilst Mr Jones (aisle seat, front row directly looking down the vicars throat) will belt out “Jehovah” ensuring that the lovely stained glass windows rattle to the depth of his baritone voice.
Continue reading “We will now sing Hymn 214 from Hymns Ancient and Prehistoric (1983 edition)”

Lost in translation.

It’s such a famous passage: “They that wait upon The Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31 King James Bible)

I’ve always read it as a call to rest, be quiet, wait… and then the strength will come and I will rise up, run, walk. I’ve always heard it preached that way and never really given it much thought. We all know it, we sing songs based on it, and surely we understand it.

Last night I had an OUCH moment. One of those times when the Word of God hits you in such a way that you wince at the impact of it. It makes you cringe as you reflect the word upon your own life. You squirm at the implications for how you proceed.

I was listening to Pastor Steven Furtick and he turned the verse on it’s head saying that to “wait” doesn’t mean stopping, it means the same thing as a waiter waiting on tables… serving.

“What we call Patience, God often calls Procrastination.” was one soundbite from the sermon.


That hurt. How many times have I “waited on God” before acting? How many times could I have been stepping out in faith, getting on with the job and believing that Gods strength would come, that His wisdom would be known as I too a leap of faith. How many times have I sat on my backside when I could have been seeking God through action.

Now I don’t take such radical shifts in the way the bible is interpreted at face value… so I did some digging into the different translations of this verse to see what they said:

  • “But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength.They will soar high on wings like eagles.They will run and not grow weary.They will walk and not faint.” (New Living Translation)
  • “But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wingsand mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” (Amplified)
  • “But those who trust the Lord will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired.” (Contemporary English Version)
  • “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (New International Version)

Don’t get me wrong, there are times we need to STOP. To wait on God. To refresh and recharge. Even the most enthusiastic and energetic of Christians need to stop sometimes or risk burning out. There are times when God needs to speak to us in the silence and the calm, to ensure He has our full attention and that we aren’t so distracted by DOING that we aren’t LISTENING.

But it’s also been a far too convenient excuse. It’s been so easy to accept that I need to “wait” and not “do”.

I wonder… how much further would I be if I’d mounted up on wings like eagles? if I’d run and trusted that God would provide the strength?

Yes, there’s always grace – but there are also seasons, and I suspect there have been some that I’ve missed because I’ve been sat on my blessed assurance with a holy face on. Hopefully now I might just be a bit more proactive and less procastinatory (is that even a word?!?)

Love, Life and Communion

What a weekend! One couple committing to a new future together, another celebrating a major milestone and a big reminder of the ultimate expression of love.

You may have noticed it’s been a few weeks since my last blog post. You may also have noticed the little counter that is on the right of my homepage has now gone from counting DOWN to my borthers wedding and is now counting the days SINCE the wedding!

Yup, at long last my cute ickle baby bruvver (can’t resist I’m afraid bro!) has gotten married and boy has he managed to punch above his weight finding someone charming, witty, patient and who looked gorgeous in her wedding dress (OK – I promise I’ll stop picking on you now Roo :-D)

With our daughter as a bridesmaid, me as an usher, and plenty of other things happening it was always going to be a huge build up to the big day. What also added to the weekend was the fact that my Mum & Dad celebrated 40 years of marriage! I was priveleged to be asked to do a cake for the event (which Mrs H baked and I decorated, with an additional surprise of some chocolate and some jammy cupcakes for good measure). I was also honoured to be asked to lead communion following my parents renewing their wedding vows.

I guess this would be a good point to Congratulate Mr & Mrs Hartley Jr and also to offer huge respect and congrats to the patriarch and matriarch of the Hartley Clan!

It was really rather odd in some ways as on the one hand Mrs H and I were watching two people embark on a journey that we’ve been travelling for the past 12 years, and then we were looking ahead at an inspirational and great example of what love and marriage should be like after so many years. Reflection and Vision in the space of two days, not a bad thing really (tiredness and hectic arrangements aside!)

Being asked to lead the communion on the Sunday was a great blessing for me, and I found myself being given a clear direction straight away. As much for my own memory as anything (although I do hope that you will be blessed by it) I thought I’d share my communion notes below. They’re not polished or honed particularly but represent the outpouring of what I felt God wanted to convey through the act of sharing the bread and wine.

Communion. The most intimate act we can ever know

Communion in the dictionary is defined as: com·mun·ion [kuh-myoon-yuhn]
association; fellowship.
interchange or sharing of thoughts or emotions; intimate communication
They act of sharing, or holding in common; participation.

If there is one overriding theme this weekend, it’s Love.

With my baby brother getting married yesterday, and my parents celebrating 40 years of marriage today, it’s also a weekend of commitment, of promise, of covenant and relationship. It’s a time of intimacy and the wonder and mystery of two becoming one.

Our relationship with God takes all of this, and far exceeds what we can fully understand. He is our Father. The Holy Spirit is our companion and guide. Christ is our brother, saviour, Lord and lover of our souls. There’s an intimacy between us and Jesus that exceeds that which those of us who are married share with our other halves.

It goes beyond that though as there is even more to our relationship with Him because, as a church, we are to be the bride of Christ.

The relationship that God the Father, Spirit and Son wants to have with us is so close, so intimate, so complete that it encompasses, and is the ultimate version of, every type of positive relationship that we can have on earth.

Communion is one more expression of that complete devotion towards us. Just as a Bride and Groom give to each other fully, so Jesus is giving fully to us through a piece of bread and a sip of wine. It is a symbol of Jesus, the groom, giving himself completely over to his bride.

Through this simple act the all-embracing relationship with the trinity is demonstrated to us.

1 John 4:10 – THIS IS LOVE: not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took some bread. He gave thanks and then he broke it, giving it to the disciples as an act of remembrance. Likewise He took a cup of wine, gave thanks again and passed it to the disciples. The bread to remind us that His body was sacrificed for us, the wine for the blood that was shed as He suffered and died for us all.

That’s love. That’s commitment. That’s intimacy.

As the bread and the cup are brought to you, I pray that you will feel that ultimate and perfect Love coming from heaven. If you don’t feel able to take communion then please let them pass you by – but know that this Love isn’t passing you by and is there for you as much as for anyone.