Be a Man, Husband, Father Set Apart

•December 20, 2014 • Leave a Comment

My dad (m) with my older brother Billy (r)[God gave me] to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. —Romans 15: 16, NIV

There is an incredible concept that we need to grasp found in the writings of the apostle Paul and elsewhere in the New Testament. Paul calls it the “sanctification of the believer” (see Romans 15:16; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). “Sanctification,” simply means that little by little I become “set apart” from my old way of responding to life by the slow, powerful, determined work of the Holy Spirit in my daily experiences.

Sanctification occurs over a long period of time. You see, the idea is that every day after my baptism I am to let God show me parts of my life that need to be changed from my character to His character. When I see my weaknesses, failures, and sins, I go to Him for empowering grace and forgiveness by confessing and repenting of wrongdoing. I let God put the fruit of Christian character in its place (see Galatians 5:22-23).

Living It Out as Fathers

Fathers, as a man before God you can cooperate with the Holy Spirit as “Supreme Mentor” to your son or daughter. You need to trust that He will give your believing son and daughter insight on a regular basis, both through the Bible and through his or her conscience (see John 14:25-26; 16:12-13). He will cause your son and daughter to ask, “Is it wrong to do this?” “What is the right thing to do?” or “What should my Christian attitude be?” In these instances the Holy Spirit will bring insight — maybe a scripture or a memory of what you, their dad, would say or do — to help lead them down the right path.

Though you and I can be spiritual coaches, it is the Holy Spirit then, and no one else, who will give your son and daughter the power to live a life that’s different and godly. If we teach our children to yield to this process and not ignore the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit, then God will mold them into strong men and women of good character.

The familiar illustration is that of a molder in a foundry who sits by a crucible of molten metal that is not yet fit for use. As the molder watches the crucible, he occasionally removes some of the dross as it bubbles to the surface. He knows the job is done when he can see his own face perfectly reflected on the surface of the molten metal as in a mirror. So it is with the work of the Holy Spirit. God continues to cleanse and change us until He sees the image of Jesus Christ reflected in us, His sons and daughters.

The key is to help our children see the parallels and, likewise, yield to the work of the Holy Spirit (often depicted as a flame) instead of simply exerting their own will over sin. Paul the Apostle knew well the tactics of mere legalists, who were trying to force Christians to abstain from wrongdoing: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” (Colossians 2:21). He knew, however, that “such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom,” but lack any power “in restraining sensual indulgence” (vs. 23).

Discipline as a Tool

Paul likened the Christian life to a race. He talked about disciplining himself much the same way an athlete trained for the Olympic Games in Rome. Teaching your sons and daughters some simple, spiritual disciplines is important. Disciplines like a quiet time, study of the Word, prayer, and fellowship—will help our sons and daughters yield their lives to the heavenly Father on a daily basis so that He can guide and change them.

Richard Foster writes in Celebration of Discipline:

“Picture a narrow ledge with a sheer drop-off on either side. The chasm to the right is the way of moral bankruptcy through human strivings for righteousness…. The chasm to the left is the way of moral bankruptcy through the absence of human strivings…. On the ledge there is a path, the disciplines of the spiritual life. This path leads to the inner transformation and healing for which we seek. We must never veer off to the right or the left, but stay on the path…. As we travel on this path, the blessing of God will come upon us and will reconstruct us into the image of His Son Jesus Christ. We must always remember that the path does not produce the change; it only puts us in the place where the change can occur. This is the way of disciplined grace.1

Remind your children that that surviving the crucible difficulties or trials is the way of disciplined grace.

Put It into Practice:

Invite your son or daughter to go with you to a place of serenity — preferably, outdoors. Have a quiet time together; study God’s Word together; pray together. Help your children understand that you take such discipline seriously as a part of discerning and hearing the “still small voice of the heavenly Father” and better grasping God’s will for your life as a sanctified man of God.

1. Celebration of Discipline (New York, N.Y.: Harper & Row, 1978), p. 7.

Fr. Michael preaching at World Prayer CenterFr. Michael A. O’Donnell, Ph.D., is a best-selling author, researcher, and international lecturer best known for his Adolescent Wellness Research Project. He is a former Professor of Family Studies and Department Chair of Psychology & Behavioral Sciences at Rochester College. And he currently serves as Rector of St. John’s Church in Ogdensburg, N.Y. Michael’s eight books include A Question of Honor and How A Man Prepares His Sons for Life, which was nominated for Christianity Today and Gold Medallion book awards.

D.I.Y. Spiritual Training for Your Kids

•December 20, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Richard and his two boysAre you a do-it-yourself kind of guy? How about when it comes to teaching spiritual lessons to your kids? For some guys, that’s harder than finishing the basement or changing the oil. But sometimes it just takes some good ideas to get started.

Try one or more of these to take a walk through the Bible with your sons and daughters—to drive home some important points while your kids are home for Christmas break. Ask them for 30 minutes or an hour so that you can begin to highlight the following books or passages of Scripture with them. In true D.I.Y., man-of-action style, I’ll keep the list short and sweet.

1. Read a proverb or the whole book of Proverbs, which speaks out against sloth or slack and in favor of being diligent, hardworking, and wise.

2. Read and discuss Paul’s warning in 2 Thessalonians 3:10: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (NIV). How does it apply to you and your kids?

3. Read about the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, which talks about God’s expectations regarding the abilities He has given us. Talk about each of your own abilities, how you’re using them or not, and what you could do to apply them best.

4. Review Paul’s counsel that equates work with serving the Lord, not men (Colossians 3:23-24).

5. Review sins that pertain to the marketplace—pilfering (Titus 2:9-10), slackness (2 Thessalonians 3:11-12), being a man-pleaser (Colossians 3:22). How do these apply to you?

6. Study “the wife of noble character” in Proverbs 31:10-31, who “works with eager hands” and “gets up while it is still dark” and is “clothed with strength and dignity.”

7. Read Genesis 2:2 about God resting after His work. What does this teach us about keeping the Sabbath a day set apart for rest, Sunday worship and family?

Here are a few more starters for thought and discussion.

8. In Stephen Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he provides an entirely new paradigm of delegation, called “Green and Clean.” The idea is to train our sons and daughters to be stewards who are trusted, their own bosses governed by conscience and committed to agreed-upon results. Ask them how will such an approach help prepare your son or daughter for the workplace? How can it apply to them now as students?

9. Ask them what this Indian proverb means: “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” How does it apply to them? How does it apply to you in the task of preparing your son or daughter for the workplace?

10. Covey writes in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “No amount of technical administrative skill in laboring. . . can ever make up for a lack of nobility of personal character. . . . It is at a very essential, one-on-one level that we live the primary laws of love and life.” Ask your kids if they agree and why or why not.

Which action will you start with to engage your kids in spiritual lessons?

photo illustration of Fr MichaelFr. Michael A. O’Donnell, Ph.D., is a best-selling author, researcher, and international lecturer best known for his Adolescent Wellness Research Project. He is a former Professor of Family Studies and Department Chair of Psychology & Behavioral Sciences at Rochester College. And he currently serves as Rector of St. John’s Church in Ogdensburg, N.Y. Michael’s eight books include A Question of Honor and How A Man Prepares His Sons for Life, which was nominated for Christianity Today and Gold Medallion book awards.

Good News!

•August 15, 2014 • Leave a Comment

prayerI didn’t quite believe it until I read it for myself …

Two Amish girls, 6 and 12, who were abducted just outside their home, were returned to their parents in less than 24 hours. Something you rarely, if ever, hear about these days.

I ran to my brother’s room and literally shouted the Good News! We stood there, just hugging and crying for joy, because what had once been lost had now been found by the mercy of God.

So … what just happened, my friends?

A miracle?  Why, Yes. A genuine miracle of when heaven and earth meet. When two hardened hearts, predisposed to do evil, are stymied by the unseen hand of God, and all who witness it are at once transported from this known physical planet called “earth” to the supernatural Kingdom of our Christ. A kingdom where the blessed Trinity reign…

St. John describes it in Revelation 21:10-27, this way:

10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.

11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.

12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.

13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west.

14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls.

16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 1,400 miles in length, and as wide and high as it is long.

17 The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 200 feet thick.

18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass.

19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone….

21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.

24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.

25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.

26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.

27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

And so, we all witnessed a miracle … and for a brief moment, our collective prayers from every conceivable denomination, from Jewish, Protestant, to Catholic, in neighboring towns, boroughs and cities all throughout the North Country rose like incense as a sweet smelling savor into the nostrils of God.

And, the heavens responded, mightily.

You see, a battle was waged against the supernatural forces of wickedness in the heavenly realm, with St. Michael the Archangel leading the charge.

The kidnappers’ plans were cut to the quick.  How dare they conspire to lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed—two darling daughters of God.  No doubt, God used their underestimation of the Amish girls against them and both Fanny and Delila, guided by the Holy Spirit, were able to slip away, alive.

And so, I just had to talk about it.

I knew you’d agree.

To pass it by as some casual event; or worse, merely happenstance would perhaps be a kind of anathema this side of heaven.

And so, I wanted to rejoice with you and celebrate the goodness of God and commend increased unity among Christians and all God-fearing friends. Indeed, a cord of three strands is not easily broken; and, so too, when Jewish, Protestant, and Catholic peoples join forces in prayer.

“How good and pleasant it is,” says our Lord, “when brethren dwell together in unity.” Perhaps this will mark a change; a kind of revival, if you please, in acknowledging what was spoken by God so long ago:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”


About the Author

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The Reverend Michael O’Donnell, Ph.D., OSF,  the Rector at St. John’s parish in New York, is married to Rachel, a principal with The Classical Academy, and they have two grown children—Patrick (married) and Kayla (engaged). They have been married and in love for over 27 years and in 1991 lost an infant daughter, Cara, to a birth defect.  Home from Oz (Word) and The Oz Syndrome(Hillcrest) were books that Michael penned shortly after her death that helped him to process her early passing.  Michael  is also a principal blogger for Faithhappenings.com .

For a view of his parish St. John’s Church, please click: St. John’s Church in Ogdensburg, NY

For a more complete academic bio, please see: Wikipedia Article

Michael O’Donnell, Ph.D., to Blog for FaithHappenings!

•August 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       faith happeningsBrowse for a few minutes to find an event for this weekend, or linger for an hour searching through the latest books, music or videos.

Whatever the reason, FaithHappenings is the first-of-its-kind website that is both a local and national collection of people, places, businesses, resources and services that can encourage and inspire your faith, your marriage, your family and your church.  And, they asked Dr. Michael O’Donnell to put his thoughts together on Fathering and Parenting as well as compose weekly devotionals for moms and dads!

FaithHappenings is just starting out, but they’re already active in 454 areas throughout America.  They’re building a local and national community of faith to encourage your soul and help you to find places to serve others. That’s what someone of the Christian faith is all about, right?

The best part about FaithHappenings is you can tailor it specifically to what you want. By completing the sign-up windows, you can receive in your inbox the events, the resources, the soul care and blogs you don’t want to miss.  Check it out ASAP: http://www.faithhappenings.com

 

Happy Father’s Day 2014

•June 10, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Happy Father's Day 2013

A great time to secure a copy of WHAT A SON NEEDS FROM HIS DAD for your pop! Available in e-book and hard copy on AMAZON! Get your discounted copy today!

Dar El-Thaqafa inks agreement for an Arabic-edition of “What a Son Needs From His Dad”

•April 17, 2013 • Leave a Comment

                            We are pleased to announce that Dar El-Thaqafa Communications House,an organization based in Egypt, has officially signed a contract for an Arabic-language edition of “What a Son Needs From His Dad”!Dar El Thaqafa Communications House

The “Doc” is Still in the Top Ten on Parenting/Fathering on AMAZON!

•February 10, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Pic of Dr. Michael O’Donnell

 
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