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The A-Team

Wisdom in having the right plan for your life

Proverbs 29:18

18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint;
But happy is he who keeps the law.–Proverbs 28:18


If you were around in the early 1980’s, the evening TV lineup was very important, especially if you were a kid. Long before streaming channels, “YouTube,” and social media, one was at the mercy of three major prime-time broadcast networks for quality entertainment. After a day of middle school jungle then riding bikes until mom called you in to dinner, it was time to settle down and watch an episode of your favorite sitcom or private-eye caper. 

But there was one show that was different from the very start. (No, I am not talking about “Murder, She Wrote,” although the grown-ups seemed pretty satisfied.) The show I am talking about always began like this:

“10 years ago a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire…the A-Team.”

*cue the most awesome TV theme-song, ever.

The four main characters of The A-Team consisted of Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith, the group’s leader, played by George Peppard; there was a smooth-talking ladies man, Arthur Templeton "Faceman" Peck, played by Dirk Benedict (of Battlestar Galactica fame). It had a goofy pilot and comic foil, H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock, played by Dwight Schultz; and the most famous of them all: tough guy Bosco Albert "B.A." Baracus, played by none other than Mr. T. 

The A-Team seemed to check all the boxes for a red-blooded American kid: it had army stuff, it had explosions, it had cars crashing into and jumping over things. There were gadgets and government agents, good versus evil, and lots and lots of guns shooting things. Every episode would feature at least one climactic scene with the main characters fired approximately 4,362 machine gun rounds into the cars of the weekly bad guys—and nobody was even hurt! 

This “non-violent violence” earned cautions from network censors, but maintained its ratings, despite your mom clucking her tongue at “such foolishness.” 

Inspired by recent popular military movies like “Rambo” and apocalyptic films like “The Road Warrior,” The A-Team had been written in haste by show writers and producers Frank Lupo and Stephen J. Cannell. In an interview by “Ultimate Classic Rock Magazine (I use only the most quality sources for Deep), Cannell is quoted as saying:

“They needed a script in 12-15 days. It was a real hurry-up job. Frank and I took every character we came up with and twisted it further. The pilot is insane – it has an invisible dog, and they’re on the run from the government."

In 1983 this was a winning combination. The A-Team, produced five seasons of classic, Reagan-era Americana, including the memorable catch-phrase of Mr. T: “I pity the fool!”

Another, equally popular catch-phrase that originated with The A-Team belonged to Colonel Hannibal Smith. At the end of most episodes, with mission accomplished and a job well done, white-haired veteran actor George Peppard would fire up a cigar and with a grin would quip: “I love it when a plan comes together.” 

Over the years I have used this phrase many times over my career. It has decorated office bulletin boards and corporate emails signifying success and good planning. 

Good planning is often on the mind of Solomon as he pens the book of Proverbs. Proverbs 15:2 urges you to seek wise counsel while making life’s plans. Proverbs 21:5 reveals the wisdom of planning diligently and avoiding the foolishness of haste that leads to poverty. And Proverbs 24:27 extols the work ethic of a hardworking farmer who prepares for the future.

In chapter 29, Solomon provides a proverb on planning that has resounded through the Evangelical church. It is one that has been used both for good and bad purpose by pastors and church leaders. Nevertheless, it is important to our understanding:

18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint;
But happy is he who keeps the law.–Proverbs 28:18

In recent decades, many church leaders seeking to craft “vision statements” and instill good planning practices in churches and parachurch organizations have cited this verse. Often, they use only the verse verset in the Old King James Version:

Where there is no vision, the people perish;

This can seem a God-given springboard upon which to launch ministry plans, build a new building, or even plant new churches. All good things when done for God’s glory, but sometimes can allow for abuse. 

When the corporate world is brought into the church, building the Kingdom of God can feel like “leveraging synergy” in the company boardroom. Christ can seem like a shareholder and His people appear as hard-working employees who are less there to worship and more there to improve market share. 

However, planning is a good thing, and there is a destructive foolishness in leading a ministry without thought of how best to present the Gospel to God’s people and the community both today and in the years to come. 

This verse is far more than a corporate buzzword or a motivational poster. It is the Word of God and a call to wisdom. It not only is a call to good planning, it is a call to look to the One who is both the focus of your earthly plan and the author of it: Jesus Christ.

This passage can be tricky and it has most Old Testament commentators split. For some, the Hebrew bazon (בְּאֵ֣ין) can mean “revelation” and usually refers specifically to idea of “prophetic revelation.” For others, the word means “vision” and points more to you “seeing.” One seems to imply the wisdom of receiving instructions from the wise sage (God) or wisely seeing what He requires you to do. 

Both can be correct, but it all hinges on one thing: what, or who, is the plan? For “revelation” the stories and vision of the prophets of the Old Testament point you in one direction: to God, and later the Messiah. For example:

1 Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.–I Samuel 3:1

The vision that is missing in I Samuel is that of God’s people no longer looking to Him for guidance, and so chaos ensued. For in those days Israel had no king, “and everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25)

The prophet Amos warns of the coming of four centuries without word from God…until the Final Word of God will be heard in Jesus:

11 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God,
“That I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine of bread,
Nor a thirst for water,
But of hearing the words of the Lord.–Amos 8:11

It is clear by these passages that wise planning does more than include God’s word as a bullet point on a mission statement. Jesus is more than paid consultant to your plans, He is to be the sole object of its focus—and His Spirit the source of it.

For Jesus is revealed in the New Testament to be that revelation or vision of God in human form. As Paul shows Jesus to be, “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints (Colossians 1:26).”

Your Plan is “Christ”

Solomon is thus showing you that Godly wisdom means that your earthly plans will ultimately be in vain if they are not focused on Him. All of your plans must look to God’s word for instruction and understanding. 

Everything from your family vacation to your retirement plans must be bathed in prayer. And in all things, you must seek to glorify Christ, living sacrificially in this world as a citizen of the next.

This may mean that your plans will be less self-focused and be more concerned with the well-being of others. It will mean bending your will to seek what God desires, and to take into account His providence for good or bad. It will mean being concerned less with what the world thinks or in pleasing others, and more in pleasing God and staying true to His call to holiness. 

With the glory of Christ as your ultimate plan in all you do, you will be equipped to consider plans in these other areas:

Plan for Your church

Your church probably needs a “vision.” Before you pick up one of the many self-help, seven-habits kind of books, pick up God’s word. What is He calling you to do as a member of your church? What is Christ’s plan for His bride? 

Order and foresight is good and necessary. The church needs pastors, officers, and people who follow Paul’s command that, “all things should be done decently and in order” (I Corinthians 14:40), but never at the expense of the Gospel itself. 

Casting a vision for your church takes a lot of time, a lot of patience, and a lot of grace toward one another. Most importantly, it requires a lot of prayer!

Plan for Your Nation

The image of a visionless people falling into chaos seems to be growing more and more real in the west today. It is clear that many of the national leaders and certainly the national vision of western nations has moved far from seeking God’s wisdom and more to seeking man’s. 

Pray for your national, state, and civic leaders to repent and embrace Christ as their plan! This is not “Christian Nationalism” or another such “bugaboo,” it is true wisdom—and one that the west once knew. It is high time for a revival in the land! Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? (Psalm 84:6)

Plan for Your Life 

Lastly, and most important for you today, is seeking God’s vision for your own life. It is easy and often enjoyable to get into the distraction of vision casting for your church, your company, or solving society’s ills at the expense of your own family and your personal relationship with Christ. 

What is Jesus calling you to do? On the most basic level, He is calling you to believe in Him, “that you should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) What barriers have you put up or have allowed the devil and the allure of this life to get in the way of having full trust in Jesus that He will do all that He promises? 

It is clear that in His earthly ministry, Christ moved very methodically as he went about His work. Jesus knew that every miracle, every sermon, every new person who followed Him would mean that He was moving one step closer to the cross. Jesus continually spoke of “His hour” yet to come, meaning His ultimate fulfillment of His Father’s mission of redeeming His people and reconciling you to Him.  

Your earthly plans are build on belief and trust in Christ, and then doing what He asks of you. As Jesus often states:

28 But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”–Luke 11:28

Whatever plans you have for this life, let them begin with these steps and you will be walking in Godly wisdom. As the old hymn My Faith Looks Up To Thee guides you:

My faith looks up to Thee,
Thou Lamb of Calvary,
Savior divine!
Now hear me while I pray,
take all my guilt away;
O let me from this day
be wholly Thine.

While life’s dark maze I tread,
and griefs around me spread,
be Thou my Guide;
bid darkness turn to day,
wipe sorrow’s tears away,
nor let me ever stray
from Thee aside.

The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

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