One of my favorite lines from a movie is one of the most ridiculous lines ever.  It comes from the animated movie Turbo about a snail who wants to be a racer.  An elderly woman who gets on board with the taco vendor who wants to help the nitro-infused snail race says to him, “You got a plan, Taco Man?”

And it instantly reminds me of George Peppard’s character, Hannibal Smith, on the A-Team, who would always say, “I love it when a plan comes together!”

Parental Plans

Good parents plan for their kids to do good things.  They see a future in which their kids speak kindly, work hard, give generously, and so much more.  They believe in their kids.  They support their kids.  They set their kids up to do good in this world.  They have a plan of what they hope their kids turn out to be.  Maybe not their profession, but their character and their general lifestyle.

And God is the best Parent ever.  God wants you to do good things.  He even expects you to do good things.  And He loves it when a plan comes together.

How do I know?  Because Ephesians 2:10 tells us that God made you a masterpiece so that you can do the good things He planned for you long ago. How long ago?

A Long Time Ago…

A LONG time ago!  Like before you were born…  Like before the world was created…  Like before time was even kickstarted.  Psalm 139:16 tells us, “Every day of [your] life was recorded in [His] book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

These are two of my favorite verses in all of Scripture.  I suppose it’s because they let me know there is a plan that is bigger than what I can come up with, and also because it means that God has created me to succeed at whatever He has planned.  And if I will simply go along with that plan, then I can be assured of success.

But God doesn’t force His plans on us.  He encourages them.  He sets us up to succeed at them.  He has a plan.  It’s a plan that He knows can bring us the greatest fulfillment and make the greatest impact on this world.

– When Noah went along with God’s plan, his family and animals of every kind were rescued.

– When Moses went along with God’s plan, an entire nation was freed from slavery.

– When Gideon went along with God’s plan, an enemy army was defeated & God’s people were protected miraculously.

  • When David went along with God’s plan, Goliath was permanently hushed.
  • When Jeremiah went along with God’s plan, a nation was warned.
  • When Jonah went along with God’s plan, a city was spared from destruction.
  • When Jesus went along with God’s plan, a world of sinners was offered forgiveness.
  • When Paul went along with God’s plan, the Good News spread across the known world.

What Would Happen…?

What would happen tomorrow in the world around you and me if today we determined in our hearts that we would seek to know God so intimately that we could learn His heart and hear His will?

What would happen tomorrow if today we believed that we are each a Divinely-designed masterpiece created for an eternal purpose?

What would happen tomorrow if today we got on-board with God’s plan for us to do the good things He set us up for before time began?

Perhaps human trafficking would be ended.  Perhaps orphans would be adopted into forever families.  Perhaps college scholarships would be funded through new foundations. Perhaps the hungry would be fed.  Perhaps a cure for a disease would be discovered.

What would happen tomorrow…?

Think Like No Other

Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Too often, we are too critical of ourselves for not matching up or keeping up. But the truth of the matter is that God never intended for us to compete to copy others. He designed each of us as one of a kind, really limited edition, unique creations who could bring joy to Him and joy to this world in a way that only we can.

Worship Like No Other

Mark Batterson writes in his book, Chase The Lion, “There never has been and never will be anyone like you. Of course, that isn’t a testimony to you. It’s a testimony to the God who created you. And it means that no one can worship God like you or for you.”

Live Like No Other

So, forget about keeping up with the Joneses, or dressing to impress, or measuring up with some unwritten, unstated standard of compliance this world might try to enforce upon you. Be you! You are spectacular, phenomenal, outstanding, amazing and better at being you than anyone else ever could be. And the God who created you will smile and applaud as your life becomes worship to Him!

Things Did Not Go As Planned

Recently, one of our boys was having a bad night. Well, at least he felt like it was a bad night. Things weren’t going the way he wanted them to, and it was really frustrating him. 

We pushed through “bummerville”, tucked the boys in bed, read the Bible, kissed them goodnight and prayed. And he went to bed thinking that life wasn’t going all that great. He even mentioned that the next day was probably not going to be so great either.


What he didn’t know was that we had already made fun plans for the next day that he was going to really enjoy. We had set activities up to do together as a family that were going to make his day great.
But he had no clue. He was so focused on how bad things looked at the moment that he wasnt thinking about the potential for a better tomorrow. He didn’t know that loving parents were making plans specifically to make his life great.
Not So Different

We’re not so different from sometimes. We forget that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us deeply, who has made plans for us… plans to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). 

All we see is our current situation and how bleak life looks to us at the moment. We can hardly imagine a brighter, better tomorrow. We don’t envision a scenario in which our life goes from what seems difficult to what will be delightful.
Heavenly Setup

Little do we know, our Father has set up activities specifically designed for our joy and pleasure. If we would just stop and ask Him, He might not give us all the details, but He might just tell us to cheer up because we are going to love what He has in store for us tomorrow.
Why not stop right here, right now and ask Him about tomorrow? It might take the edge off whatever has you discouraged today. Try it.
Father, I know You love us and have good things in store for us.  Please help me to remember that even in the most discouraging times You have planned better days ahead for me. I trust You and look forward to what You have waiting. Amen!

There. That’s better. 

Now, when your discouragement from today is swallowed up by the delight of tomorrow, I would love to hear your story!

There is so much to be thankful for in life that I am committing Thursdays on this blog to expressing my heartfelt thanks to the Lord and to others for the many various blessings I enjoy.


God is great — God is good — Let us thank Him for our food.  Amen!

Childhood Sarcasm

As children growing up, many of us who did not want to finish a meal… or who did not necessarily appreciate the menu on the plate set in front of us… would be told by our well-meaning parents that there were starving children around the world who would be thrilled to have the food setting in front of us at that moment.  Sadly, some of us who have the made-up spiritual gift of sarcasm and lacked the actual gift of the Spirit known as self-control, would retort, “Well then, let’s box it up and send it to them!”


Teenage Scavenger

I suppose that my appreciation for food changed as a growing teenage boy who inhaled nearly everything set in front of me.  I didn’t just like food… I LOVED IT!  I can remember eating till I was nearly sick.  And till age 27, I could eat almost anything I wanted without any adverse side effects.


Married Meals

Once married and moved away from home, there was new-found freedom in buying whatever foods we good and well pleased.  Nobody was telling me what veggies I had to eat.  They also weren’t buying that food for me  now, and so I began seeing the value of food a little more.  But even in those early years, we pretty much had plenty of food.

As the years progressed, we arrived at the place where we could buy whatever foods we wanted.  Sure, our tastes have changed.  We’ve discovered the value of whole foods. Now I have to be a little more careful about how much food I eat, as well as what kinds of foods.  But we still have plenty.

Becoming My Parents

Enter the boys.  Formula (wow, that stuff is expensive!), baby food, oatmeal.  Chicken nuggets and burgers.  Asparagus, broccoli, carrots?

And then it happens… As they sometimes struggle to want to eat what is deliciously and painstakingly prepared by their amazing Mama, I hear faint echoes of my parents voices in the back of my mind.  It’s only in those moments I begin to realize how ungrateful I was back then because I simply did not understand how wonderful it is to have good food to eat.



And now there are mornings when I get up before daylight, go into the kitchen to brew some coffee, and I stand in front of a cabinet full of choices.  Sometimes I get frustrated if I can’t decide what I want to eat.  And then I think to myself, “How amazing is it that I have so many choices of what to eat?”

I’m reminded of the story Pastor Denny Duron told at his father Rodney’s funeral about the time he saw his dad crying in the grocery store.  When he asked his dad why he was crying, his dad replied, “Look, son, look at all this food.  The basket is full of food and we have enough money to pay for it all.”

My diet does not consist of a daily ration of rice and beans.  I am not restricted by health to not consume most items.  I have been so well provided for that I have been able to purchase the types of food I want and need to eat… from ice cream to iceberg lettuce.

Soon, any momentary frustration with too many choices turns to gratitude for a loving Heavenly Father who provides so well that David writes in Psalm 37:25 that in all his life he never saw the children of the godly begging for bread.

Today, I am thankful for food to eat.

What are you thankful for?

Fact #4: I Owe A Lot

Not money.  Let’s get that clear right off the bat.  What I’m talking about is the fact that Jesus says in the last part of Luke 12:48, “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.”



A few weeks ago, I was stranded on a stretch of road out in the “sho-nuf” country between two towns.  It was dark.  There was nothing but woods and one cell tower all around me.  It was 10:30 at night, and I was returning home from preaching a youth service when the truck I was driving just quit on me.

Fortunately, the truck was equipped with that system where you can punch a button on the mirror and call for help.  So I did.  And they responded.  And they tried to get a tow truck to bring me, along with the truck back into town.  But they failed.

So they escalated their service to the next level customer service agent who had access to more towing companies.  And I waited.  And waited.

Sadly, the service was unable to get anyone to come tow the truck into town.  So, I called a friend who drove 30 minutes to where I was, nearly an hour to my house, and 30 minutes back home.  That’s a good friend.  That’s a really good friend.  Especially considering he had to go out of town early the next morning.


You too?

Fast forward to this morning when my phone rang and a different friend had their vehicle strand them on their way to work.  Do you think I hesitated to go help?  Do you think I put them off?  Not a bit!  And not because I’m such a stellar friend or such a great disciple of Jesus, but because much had been given to me and I believe that much is required of me, I leapt at the opportunity to help someone else.  I knew what it felt like to the one making that phone call… knew what it felt like to wait for someone to come to my rescue.


But this truth grabs my heart much beyond broken down vehicles.  In my life, I’ve been shown a lot of love, encouragement, grace and hope.  So is it any surprise the Lord has given me the life purpose of loving and encouraging others, offering them grace and hope?  It’s not a struggle for me at all.  I know what it feels like to need those and receive them.  So I gladly give them and don’t feel like it’s a big deal.

What is it in your life which you have received a lot of that you might be required to offer to others?  Is it kindness?  Is it generosity?  Is it forgiveness?  Will you feel like it is too big a deal to give it after having received so much?

Fact #3:  I Like To Keep It Simple

I like strong coffee, crushed peanuts and honest communication.  I like to keep it simple.


Let’s start with coffee, for instance.

When I say, “I like coffee,” I actually mean that I like coffee.  It may be an understatement.  I mean, I typically consume 3-6 cups per day (depending on how tough the day is, ha!).  And I drink it black as midnight.  You can’t make it strong enough or black enough for me.  If the spoon stands up straight in it, it’s almost strong enough.

When traveling in countries like Romania or Israel, the locals try to explain to me that I might not like the typical Turkish-style espresso coffee and that I might want to add a significant amount of milk to offset the strength of it.  My response?  Tip up the cup and drink it down to the fine grounds which finish it off.

I like coffee.

I don’t need a lot of flavors added to it because I actually like the flavor of coffee.  It tastes good to me.  And no slurping or sipping.  I want to drink it.

I also like peanut butter.


Well, actually I should say crushed peanuts.  About a year and a half ago, our family began eating more whole foods and I discovered how many extras were added into my typical name-brand peanut butter of choice.

So I was to delighted to discover that our local Kroger grocery store has a machine where you can grind your own dry roasted peanuts into peanut butter.  No added sugar or fillers.  No preservatives.  No extra oils or anything.  Just… crushed… peanuts.

I can eat it by the spoonfuls.  I eat it on bananas.  I eat it on bread.  I eat it mixed with honey.  I eat it at breakfast.  I eat it at lunch.  I eat it at supper.  I eat it as a snack.  I don’t think there is a wrong way or time to eat that luscious golden food.

Again, I like it just like it is.  It doesn’t have to be transformed by a seasoned chef into some fabulous Food Network creation.  Crushed peanuts.  That’s all.  Plain and simple.  YUM!

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

And you know what, that’s how I go at interacting with others.  I believe in saying what I mean and meaning what I say.  No need to complicate things.  I find that when I’m simply honest, sincere and genuine in what I say when communicating with others, our relationship generally ends up working out better.  It’s the times when one or the other dances around the topic or doesn’t state things clearly that relationships get strained or tensions rise.

If I’m going to have to eat my words, I’d like for them to at least be yummy.  And at least this way, I never have to back-track and remember whether I told someone the exact truth.

I just keep it simple.  Black coffee, crushed peanuts and honest, genuine communication.  Tastes good to me!

What’s your favorite food or beverage?  And how does honest communication make you feel… awkward or awesome?

Fact #2:  I May Go Slow, But I Don’t Give Up


Slow Reader

I’m a slow reader.  I understand perfectly well most books that I read.  It just takes me a long time to read one.  Your basic 200-page Christian living type book could take me between one to three months to read.  Mostly it’s because I process while I read each part rather than simply skimming through the whole thing & trying to grasp the overall point.

And I’ve been mocked.  I’ve been challenged.  Some people have told me I just need to work harder at it.  Others have told me I need to set goals.  And I’ve done those things.  They haven’t produced any difference other than putting me under more pressure and guilt.

But I don’t give up.  I figure that if I’m reading, I’m growing and learning all along the way.  So what if I tackle things in smaller chunks?  The old adage says the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.  (I’ve never tasted elephant and don’t wish to do so. But I do keep reading in little, bite-sized chunks.)

Sometimes, I just have to set a book down that isn’t really hitting me where I’m at in life right now.  I can always come back to it later.  And lots of times when I do that, it is so much more enjoyable and enlightening to me the second chance I give it.


Auditory Learner

Additionally, in the process of discovering that I want to take in as much information as possible to grow as a leader and can’t seem to do more in the area of reading, I discovered that I am more of an auditory learner.  And guess what technology provides for us these days?  Audiobooks!  And on top of that, there are a ton of great podcasts out there with amazing information to be taken in. (Maybe I’ll write a post listing some of the terrific podcasts I subscribe to.)

I say all that to say that I’ve learned I don’t always have to pick up a book to learn or develop or expand my imagination.  There are other methods of learning and growing as a person and as a leader.

Easy Does It

So, since we are going to be friends, I figure that today you should know pretty early on that I typically go at relationships like I do books… slowly… in bite-sized chunks.  And you also need to know that I don’t give up on people.  Ask the students we have ministered to over the years, some of whom are now adults with their own families and just trying to live life well.  Ask the adults we have led who don’t always get everything right.

Even if we hit it off right away, it may take us a little while… like years… to develop a deep relationship.  But you can rest assured, if I won’t give up on a book, I won’t give up on you.

Friendships are not always simple and easy.  They take time, effort and commitment.  They are like one of those books I trudge through.  I enjoy them.  I want to make progress.  But everything doesn’t have to be finished tomorrow for me to feel like we are friends and our friendship is successful.

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Name That Book

So let me ask you, what book would you recommend to me that you have you read… or you are reading (even if you’re reading it slowly)?

And do you think there’s a point when we should give up on a friendship with someone?

I’d love to hear from you. So please comment on this post with your replies.

Fact #1:  I believe we can be friends.

And here’s why I think we can… I have a very eclectic musical taste.  It’s true, quite varied.


The fact is, I believe that you can make significantly more friends to some extent by simply widening your musical preferences.  Music can bridge lots of gaps, bring unlikely folks together and give them something to talk about as they get to know each other and develop a friendship.

And I like to have lots of friends.  (Of course, I can’t hang out with most of them simultaneously because they don’t always appreciate each other’s musical preferences. ha!)

But I believe in stretching myself and in making new friends.  So I keep trying to stretch myself to enjoy more styles… like opera or hip hop. (That one somehow eludes me as I keep coming back to DC Talk, ETW & Mike-E… Not really today’s hip hop.)  I suppose I’m a work in progress. 😉

And so today I share with you my top 8 musical genre (style) preferences in hopes that you and I can be friends.  Here they are in order from least to greatest:

#8: Classical


Basically, just the old, well-known stuff.  I’m not an aficionado, just a guy who is classy enough to appreciate a little Beethoven, Chopin, Handel and Mozart.

To quote Uncle Si of Duck Dynasty fame, “Hey, Jack, I’m a renaissance man.”  And my appreciation for a wonderful orchestra led by a skilled conductor is just proof that I like to “Bach out”.  (See what I did there?)

#7: Jazz / Classic / Big Band


Give me some music from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s.  That era produced some phenomenal vocals and spectacular instrumentation.  It’s fun and emotionally moving music.  It just makes me feel good and you know I like to feel good.

#6:  Christian Adult Contemporary / Inspirational


Who doesn’t love a great radio single?  I have plenty of individual songs and albums both on my phone and on CD from AC/inspirational artists who range from Carman to Mercy Me to Newsboys.  Some of those songs are timeless and have helped me give words to thoughts, prayers and feelings.

#5: Bluegrass


Yep, I said it.  I think it must have something to do with all those vacations in the Smokies.  But I just can’t help myself.

I know that part of it is the incredible instrumentation involved in making it.  I love me some good ol’ dulcimer, steel guitar and stand-up bass.  And I even enjoy those twangy, nasaly vocals.  Probably because that is the genre in which my voice would sound best… in the background… turned wayyyyyyyy down low.

#4: Southern Gospel

I know that some of you will think I just covered that genre in the previous one, but trust me when I say that I speak of two completely different styles of music.

Many of you may only be able to think of one major name synonymous with Southern Gospel in these recent years… None other than Bill Gaither himself.  But there are definitely others…

When I think Southern Gospel, I think of incredible quartets like The Cathedrals, Gold City or The Kingsmen.  I think of trios like The Greenes or Karen Peck and New River.  I think of family groups like The Hoppers or The Perrys.

For some reason, it seems like this style has a knack for connecting Biblical stories and current life situations in a way that just resonates with me.

#3: Worship Music


I remember as a teenager hearing U2 for the first time and thinking to myself, “This is what worship music should sound like in the church.”  So, it’s a pretty cool moment for me nowadays when, on any given Sunday, the guitarist rips off a lick with some distortion that reflects that sound and I feel like I’m about to be raptured.

Quite honestly, I can appreciate and worship to almost everything from old campmeeting hymns of the church to the most modern song by the biggest names out there.  There is just something unique and special about a song that can unite people around & focus our attention on the creative God who loved us enough to give His own Son to be executed for our crimes against Himself.

#2: 1980’s Christian Glam Rock / Arena Rock


Didn’t see that one coming after some of the others, did you?  But it’s true.  I can’t recall the speaker- I think it was either James Dobson or Josh McDowell- but I heard them say at a conference once that our musical preferences are set between the ages of 15-21 years old, and that whatever music we prefer during that period of our lives becomes our default when we just want to relax and enjoy some music throughout the rest of our lives.

Hello, 1980’s Christian rock!  You’re my default.  Most people only know of Stryper & Petra, but my appreciation is much deeper than that… Maybe a post for another time. Right now, I need to go put a cassette tape in the walkman and jam.

#1: Christmas Music


It was a toss-up between this and the 1980’s Christian Glam Rock / Arena Rock genre.  But I think I could listen to Christmas music almost all day, every day of the year.

And I don’t just mean those great anthems like “O Holy Night” or “Away In A Manger.”  I equally enjoy “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas,” the Chipmunks version of “Christmas Don’t Be Late”  and “Jingle Bells”.

Then there are “Winter Wonderland”, “Ave Maria”, “The Christmas Song” (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.. to help out those who are not avid/rabid Christmas music fans) and “Here Comes Santa Claus.”  I love all those classic Christmas tunes, along with a few newer ones I’ve picked up along the way.

It’s just that Christmas is my favorite time of year.  How could it not be?  It’s the most positive, uplifting, inspiring time of each circle around the sun.  It’s when life seems to be more like what an idealistic optimist like myself wants life to be… believes life should be all the time.  And every year, it seems like one Christmas song becomes the one that really makes the season all it should be for me.  And so Christmas music gets top billing this blog.

Are We Friends Yet?

There you have it…  Surely, I named at least one musical genre that you enjoy.  That means we can strike up a friendship.  Which one of these 8 do you enjoy most and why?