Detours, disappointment and delays


You’ve heard of twice-baked potatoes and triple-fried French fries, well this is a twice-written blog post.

Each week I set aside a day for writing and I am often working on several blog entries at once.  I work a little on each one and then try to plan the order in which to post them.

As I have meditated on Ephesians 5.15-17 and thought about how to make the most of every opportunity, it occurred to me just how often opportunities come wrapped in disappointments, detours or delays. 


So, I’ve been working on this idea and developing thoughts and words to express it.

And then I had some bad news.

It quickly reminded me just how hard disappointment is and I knew I had to rewrite this post with the authenticity that life handed me.

Defeat, failure and bad news can have tremendous power in our lives.  They have the ability to knock us sideways and derail our thoughts and emotions.

Proverbs 13.12 describes this feeling well when it says, ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.’

Every person knows what that kind of heartsickness feels like.  It is that awful pain in your soul that occurs when things that really matter haven’t turned out how you wanted them to.

I feel all those feelings today.  I feel defeated and discouraged and worn out.   And most of all,  I feel like giving up.

But I have been here before, as the pages of my journal remind me.  I have faced challenging circumstances that were hurtful and hard to understand and I have faced disappointments that were devastating. And every single time, without exception, I was able to eventually see God use it all for good in my life.

It is because I am so deeply loved by God that He intervenes and interferes and gets right in the middle of my business.

Because sometimes my good ideas need to be refined and sometimes my bad ideas need to just fizzle out. Sometimes dreams need to drift away because God has better, more perfect plans.  Other times dreams have to die so God can resurrect them in His timing and for His glory.  Sometimes the direction I am walking in needs a small tweak and sometimes it needs a complete U-turn.


And sometimes I just need to grow roots deep down in God and only difficulties will do that for me.

It is interesting that Proverbs 13.12 says that after the disappointment, when God’s blessings come, the result is a tree of life.

I am wondering today if it is difficulties in my life that produce the roots needed to support times of blessing and growth in the future.   Perhaps it is only in waiting on God and trusting in Him that I am prepared for the increase and abundance that will come.

None of this means it doesn’t hurt.  It just means there is purpose in it.

There are things God is doing that you and I just can’t see yet.  I believe there are solutions and answers that will surprise us and there are new directions we couldn’t have imagined. And, in the midst of loss, when you least expect it, supernatural life can spring up.

And all the while we find ourselves falling deeper in love with God.  His words and His voice become all we want and all we need.  Our roots go deep and our hope is only in Him.

Today is an opportunity for me that is hidden in my disappointment.  I will not waste it.  










Solomon’s Kairos


In the Book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon is having a grey Monday of his own.

As he writes, we can hear his frustration at the brevity of life and the short-lived nature of human achievement.  Poor Solomon.  He had tried it all, owned it all and accomplished it all and it hadn’t really satisfied.  Like a grumpy teenager, he says he hated life and hated all the hard work he had done (Ecclesiastes 2.17,18).  You can just hear him slamming his bedroom door in a huff.

And then in chapter 3, his mood lifts a little.

In verses 1 and also verse 17, Solomon writes that there is a time, season or appointed time for every activity and every purpose on earth.  When you look at the meaning of those words/phrases in a Hebrew Lexicon, they sound very familiar.  They sound like Kairos.  They are God-given, God-appointed moments.

And in verse 11, Solomon connects God’s timing, His heavenly opportunities with purpose.

‘He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds, a divinely implanted sense of purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy.’  Ecclesiastes 3.11a Amplified Bible.

I love the Bible.  I love how truths weave themselves through the Old and New Testaments, as unchanging as the God who breathed them.

Solomon had discovered that the only way to find satisfaction and contentment in life is to live for God’s purposes.  

And we can do that every day, right smack in the middle of ordinary life, by seeing and responding to Holy Spirit-breathed opportunities.

Ephesians 5 and Ecclesiastes 3 show us the wise, fulfilling way to live.  They give us the antidote for restlessness and dissatisfaction in these dark times.  Just do your job, whatever it is.  Serve your family and church.  Enjoy your friends and good food and sunsets and music but make it all about God.  Turn all enjoyment into worship.  Give Him your everyday, ordinary earthly existence and ask Him to make it count for His purposes on earth.  In the  middle of your waking up and your washing up, expect God to show up.

Look for every heavenly moment that comes along and grab it.  Love people and share Jesus.  Forgive and forget.  Take risks for the Kingdom.  Believe His promises.  Pray without ceasing.  Love God with everything you are.

There is beauty in everything God is doing in your life today.  Ask Him for the eyes to see it.  There is purpose hidden in the ordinary.   Ask Him for the faith to believe that.  And there are eternal opportunities from His hand.  Ask God for the supernatural wisdom to redeem every single one.




When Kairos is grey


rainy day windowMonday has arrived in a grey mist.  My bed invites me to stay a little longer and ignore my to-do list.  The thought of some coffee tempts me downstairs but only just long enough to fill my mug.  I sneak back to bed, hoping the caffeine will produce enthusiasm.

Some days the hardest thing to do is what you have to do.

Mundane isn’t much fun.  Treats and dates and vacations are much easier to like.  Special days make you jump out of bed and dance through your chores.

But nothing today feels very special.  There is no music or sparkle or dessert.  It is an ordinary day with ordinary tasks to complete.  For me, there are piles of washing waiting and the grey socks along with the grey skies make my heart feel a little grey.

My restless soul has some ideas to improve the situation.  Perhaps violating my diet with something sweet and sticky would cheer me up.  Or I could shop till I drop, pick up a trinket that would make me smile.

But I remind myself that even today there are heavenly opportunities, Kairos moments from God.

Galatians 6.9 says, ‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’

Faithfulness is like gardening.

I’m not a great gardener because I’m impatient.  Good gardeners understand that beautiful summer flower beds start much earlier in the year.   There is preparation and planting and pruning, often on cold rainy days when summer feels very far away.

It is the same in my life.  Every time I do good, no matter how boring or mundane the task is, I am planting something and the Bible promises there will be a harvest.  

If I really believe that, it redeems my Monday and gives it eternal value.

God is in the business of taking what we have, blessing it and multiplying it.  Whether it is loaves and fishes, bottles of oil or boring to-do lists.  Nothing is too insignificant.  Anything offered to God in faith becomes useful in His hands.  

So there are Kairos opportunities on a grey Monday.  I have the chance to plant good things in my life and all I need is a Kingdom-of-God outlook.  I have to believe that doing good always matters.

Like seeds placed in the soil when the days are still soggy and cool, this kind of planting is an act of faith.  I am agreeing with God that even mundane steps of obedience are eternally significant and that every act of service has value.  I am offering God what I have today, believing that grey April Mondays eventually become summer afternoons and that empty pots eventually become full.

Whatever is hard today, keep going.  Don’t get tired of planting good seeds.  Keep loving the difficult person in your life.  Keep praying for the answer you haven’t received yet.  Keep serving, even when no one notices or appreciates it.   Keep believing God.  Do what needs to be done, however boring or grey that is, and trust God for the supernatural, bountiful harvest that will come.

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The word in Ephesians 5.16 that is translated as ‘time’ or ‘opportunity’ depending on the translation used, comes from the Greek word ‘kairos‘.

Kairos is one of my favourite Bible words.  It is a beautiful word and we don’t really have a good equivalent in English.

There are, in fact, two words used for ‘time’ in the New Testament, chronos and Kairos.  Chronos is the word from which we get our word, chronological.  It means sequential time – seconds that turn in to minutes that turn into hours.  Each of us is given the same amount of chronos each day, 24 hours.

Kairos describes a very different kind of time.  It is a specific time when conditions are right for a certain action.  It is a moment when something special can happen. It is a special opportunity that we don’t want to miss.

All time is precious and it is good to be careful with chronos.  None of us wants to waste any of the hours we have in a day, but it is far more important not to waste Kairos time.

Have you ever thought about the fact that some moments have more value than others?That is why it isn’t enough to just be efficient with my time, I need to be discerning with it.  Living carefully means seeing the potential in a Kairos moment and making the most of it.

Life is very busy.  We all have demands on our time and just working for a living, raising a family, studying a subject or progressing in a career takes up many hours in a day.  Wash has to be done, meals have to be cooked, kids need taxi rides and papers need to be written.  Sometimes the time we are left with doesn’t feel like much.

But Ephesians 5.16 really is the most wonderful promise.  If we can spot God-opportunities and make the most of them, we can redeem our time.  We can buy it back from insignificance and spend it on what really matters.

But how can we recognize Kairos time?  What does it look and feel like?

It feels like a God-interruption.  It feels like heaven’s extraordinary life touching my ordinary one.  Kairos is the eternal bumping into the temporal.

It is the day when a teenager opens up about something they are struggling with as you drive in the car together.  It is when your neighbour asks a question about church as you bring your groceries in.  It is the day you feel an injection of faith to pray for a situation and you just know God is going to answer.  It is that Sunday service when God touches you and you are changed, really changed.

These are times of reaping and multiplication and supernatural provision.  They are moments infused with spiritual potential.  But they are often brief windows of opportunity.  We must seize them before they slip by, unused and wasted.

Let’s ask God for the grace to sense His wonderful, heavenly interruptions and to respond to them with open and obedient hearts.









Slowing Down


Redeeming the time, because the days are evil  Ephesians 5.16

There is just no getting away from it.

Whether it fits my personality and my routine or not, if I want an Ephesians 5  lifestyle, I will just have to slow down a bit sometimes.

The words used in Ephesians 5.16, ‘redeem’ and ‘time’, are translated from the Greek words ‘exagorazo’ and ‘kairos’.

‘Exagorazo’ means ‘to purchase’.  ‘Kairos’ means ‘an important or opportune time’, which is why the NIV translates this phrase as ‘making the most of every opportunity’.

Sounds good, but how can I do that?  How can I make the most of every divine moment I am given?  How can I capitalize on these chances to do life-changing, Kingdom work?

Well, first of all, I have to recognize them.

Living carefully is a lot like driving carefully.  If I drive too fast I can miss things. I can miss dangers, like obstacles on the road.  Or I might miss my turning and have to make a frustrating detour.

If I live frantically I can miss things too.  I can miss opportunities.

I love the story of the Samaritan women in John chapter 4.  Here we find Jesus walking from Judea to Galilee.  He’s been busy in Jerusalem.  He’s been flipping tables in the temple, teaching truth and baptizing His followers.

Then we read in John chapter 4.4, ‘But He needed to go through Samaria.

This was the way to go from Judea to Galilee.  It was the road that took Jesus from his ministry in Jerusalem to more ministry in Cana where many miracles would take place.  But for our Lord, it was more than this.  The road through Samaria was an opportunity.  There was a person to love, a life to transform and a village to impact.

So Jesus stopped at this well and purchased the moment for good.

Every day you and I are going from place to place, task to task, from busy to more busy. In the middle of all that travelling are all kinds of ‘kairos’ opportunities.   Some are really obvious but others can be missed.  If our schedules, our minds or our hearts are too full, it is easy to overlook these Kingdom events in our lives.

You and I pass by wells every day as we live our lives.  If we slow down a little, we can recognise these places as the holy ground that they are.



















The Secret Ingredient

Fried chicken

I don’t know if you read about it in the news, but the UK faced quite a crisis back in February when KFC restaurants actually ran out of chicken.

As the teenage population panicked (and I am not exaggerating!) amateur cooks jumped in action.  Social media was flooded with attempts to find Colonel Sander’s elusive secret recipe.

Have you ever found yourself looking at another Christian and wondering what their ‘secret ingredient’ was?  Have you ever coveted someone’s peace or their victory or wisdom in a particular area?  I have.

As I have studied and meditated on Ephesians 5.15-17, I think the Apostle Paul reveals to us that magical, secret ingredient.

I think it is time.

Paul, the writer of Ephesians, makes it clear here that carefulness and wisdom are inextricably tied to how we use the hours we are given.  We cannot escape the fact, whether we like it or not, that living life well will cost us our time.

Without exception, the Christians I know who live lives of fruitfulness and victory, are people who give regular, intentional time to the things of God.

Think about all the activities that the Bible says are to be part of our normal Christian walk.

Pray without ceasing 1Thessalonians 5.17

Be ready to give an answer I Peter 3.15

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind Romans 12.2

Give to those in need and show hospitality Romans 12.13

Draw near to God Hebrews 10.22

Encourage other Christians Hebrews 10.25

Seek after God’s Kingdom Matthew 6.33

Confess your faults to one another James 5.16

Heal the sick Matthew 10.8

And those are just a fraction, there is so much more.  Verse after verse encourages us to think about, consider, lay hold of, lay aside, put off or put on all sorts of things.  The language used implies a process.  It takes time to really consider something important or to put off a bad habit or start a good one.  Hospitality and ceaseless prayer will not happen if I don’t make time for them.

Jesus’ death has made available to me everything I need for an abundant, godly life (2 Peter 1.3)  His promised helper, the Holy Spirit, empowers me to live this way.

So, if I am not experiencing this abundance, could it be that the missing element is my time?

What if it is just that simple? What if I am just one secret ingredient away from experiencing deep, life-changing, fruit-producing spiritual growth?