Ask Father Paul
Answers to your questions about life, religion and the Bible
Pastors get some of the most interesting questions from people they meet and people in their congregations. Here are some questions that I’ve gotten over the years of my ministry and via email for this column.
Dear Father Paul: I attended a funeral of a dear friend a couple of weeks ago and, during the service, the preacher made reference to a verse in Psalm to the effect that “our days on the earth are numbered by God.” If this is true, and the total number of days each of us have is predetermined by God, then what’s the use of taking good care of our bodies, i.e. exercising, eating wholesome foods and the like ... or things like driving safely, or even praying for someone to be healed since according to this man, we are going to die on a certain date no matter what we do? — Ellen
Dear Ellen: Good question. I’m not sure what passage in Psalm the preacher was referencing, but the Bible definitely does not teach that we are to live out whatever number of days we have unmindful of our health and safety or having no concern for others.
Psalm 90: 12 says, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” And in Psalm 39:4 King David prays to God, “Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.”
These scriptures seem not to indicate that we have only X number of days to live and that’s it. Rather, that life here on earth is fleeting ... it is limited, and the length of our days is known only to God. Because of this, we need to wisely and properly make the best use of the time we have been given.
Job 14:5 says this ... (Job, speaking to God) “Man’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” This means that God, and God alone, knows how long each of us will live, and he limits our months (years) by his word(s). Here are just three examples: Psalm 90:10 says, “The length of our years is threescore and ten (70 years), or fourscore (80 years), if we have the strength.” Also, God told Solomon in I Kings 3:14 “And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” And finally, there is the sixth commandment, found in Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
Bottom line Ellen is this ... God knows the length of each of our lives, but he doesn’t tell us. We should therefore make a good and godly use of every day we have, and live each day as if it were our last.
Dear Father Paul: Are you in favor of prayer in the schools? — Wayne
Dear Wayne: Absolutely not! I don’t want some (potential atheist or non-believing teacher) leading my child or grandchild in a rote prayer made up by a committee of the Georgia State Legislature. Our legislators get very few things right to begin with, can you imagine what kind of “prayer” they’d come up with? And besides, just consider the sarcastic and mocking tone some of the teachers I just mentioned would include in any prayer they were forced to lead. No thanks! Prayers should be said in the home and in church ... and in school (privately) just before an algebra exam.
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Father Paul Massey is pastor of Church of the Holy Cross Charismatic Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Georgia. Church of the Holy Cross is Evangelical, Sacramental and Charismatic ... all three streams of the ancient, historic New Testament Church ... together ... in one church. Visitors are most welcome. More info. service times and directions are at www.