Joey Sparks
9Jun/090

Principle of the Path (Andy Stanley)

principleofthepathcover

Andy Stanley can do a lot of things REALLY well (lead groups of people, preach, write, etc.). One thing he cannot do is navigate a vehicle with a keen sense of direction. He uses his directional disorientation--and several entertaining examples of it--to demonstrate the power of The Principle of the Path, which is defined as: "Direction--not intention--determines destination." As a principle, it is true for every person in every place in every time. Stanley acknowledges that he is merely verbalizing and illustrating the principle's power.

I am highly impressed by the  message of the book. Though most who read the book will likely agree with Stanley's Christian perspective and his appeal to the Bible, the principle itself applies to those who don't share the same perspective. As one who teaches the Bible to young people on a regular basis, one of the greatest compliments I can give the book is the degree at which I've been incorporating its material into my lessons. From lessons about purity, friendships, and finances, I've been able to effectively apply the truth about the principle.

As a piece of literature, The Principle of the Path may not be as well-written as Communicating for a Change or Visioneering. Though I do recommend both of those titles for church leaders/ministers, I give a higher recommendation to Principle of the Path because of its universal and paradigm-shifting message. Stanley also offers the material in a series of audio sermons (entitled "Destinations") from North Point Community Church outside Atlanta.

Reviewed as part of Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program.

Side Note: I was delighted to see Julie Faires listed as the cover designer for the book; we were members of the same social club in college. Great job, Julie!

15Jun/070

Faithful Fathers (Psalm 23) — Bulletin Article 06.17.2007

As we think about the various roles in which our Fathers serve in the home, we find no greater example of a loving Father than from the Lord himself (Eph. 1:2,3,17). One of the most familiar descriptions of our Spiritual Father is found in Psalm 23. In these beloved six verses, David shows us several pictures of the faithfulness of the Lord. As fathers who follow in the Lord’s steps, we should likewise be faithful to our children. Let’s notice three things important to faithful fathers:

The Presence of Faithful Fathers (vs. 1-3). “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” We know that our Heavenly Father has blessed us with bountiful spiritual blessings, ultimately through Christ (Eph. 1:3) . However, we often forget that one of those blessings is His presence. Our God loves us so much that he longs to be with us as we live for him. This is the reason He’s prepared heaven as our home (John 14:1-6). As Christians, having the Lord present in our lives gives us the courage to do His will (Matt. 28:20).

Fathers who cherish the lives of their children and truly want what’s best for them will be present with them. Although it’s his responsibility to provide physically for the family, it’s also up to him to determine the home’s direction in other areas as well. Making time to spend with children is one of the best ways fathers reinforce proper values in the hearts of their children. We’ve all heard it said before, “Children spell ‘love’ ‘T-I-M-E.’” If we are going to be faithful fathers in the mold of the Father, we must be present with our children. Thanks to all of you dads for your presence.

The Protection of Faithful Fathers (vs. 4-5). “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” There are some things we as God’s children are incapable of handling alone. God’s presence coupled with God’s power gives us ultimate protection from our greatest fears. James tells us in his letter that the “devil will flee” from us if we submit into the presence of God. He flees because of the power of our Father (Jas. 4:6-10). Thanks be to God for His constant protection of our souls.

Likewise, fathers have the responsibility to protect their homes. No father would casually allow an intruder to enter his home, leaving his family to fend for themselves. We as fathers must make sure we are not leaving our children’s souls vulnerable to spiritual intruders. Fathers have the authority (and responsibility, Eph. 6:1-4) to lead the home toward spiritual purity while limiting sinful influences. Thanks to you, fathers, for your spiritual protection of today’s children.

The Promises of Faithful Fathers (vs. 6). “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” At the end of this difficult life, I am thankful for a God who has dreamed great dreams for me, and who has planned and prepared for those to come true. Aren’t you? No matter our fears, loneliness, and insecurities, we have the precious and true promises of God awaiting.

Responsible fathers understand the importance of dreaming dreams for their children, and doing all they can to help their children reach those dreams. There are numerous examples where dads (and moms) have pushed too hard and been unreasonable with their dreams and expectations. Faithful fathers, however, know the importance of looking to the future as they raise their children. They know today’s choices will affect tomorrow’s circumstances. Ultimately, fathers dream for their children to become faithful Christians. We should make sure we’re encouraging them as they make that decision and long after they’ve made it. Thanks to you dads who’ve helped your children lead lives of faithfulness to the Lord.

A faithful father looks forward to the day when he—and his child—dwell with the LORD forever.