Ask Father Paul 052009

Father Paul Massey's picture

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 a few questions I have received in my years of ministry and via email for this column.

Dear Father Paul:

I am a 49-year-old single man who has just moved to this area. I have been away from church for many years, but I would like to begin attending church again. I’m not really sold on any one denomination or expression of Christianity. That having been said ... in your opinion, what one thing above all others should I look for in a church? — Robert.

Dear Robert: Wow! What an absolutely great question. Different churches emphasize different things, and we have some really wonderful churches in Fayette County, so it is hard to come up with only one primary thing to advise you to look for in a church.

I think I would have to say first of all that it’s not necessarily about us ... what we want, what we’re looking for, etc. It’s all about him! What pleases God!

In our consumer-driven culture, for most of us, whether we are selecting a restaurant or a church, the question becomes, “What’s in it for me? How can I get my needs met? I want a church with a softball team and coffee served during the service.”

Don’t fall into that trap Robert. Lots of churches are packed full today because they entertain the people and put on a really good show. Nothing wrong with entertainment ... but church is for us to worship Him, not be entertained. As a matter of fact the Bible (Jesus himself) says in the Gospel of John 4:23, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.”

So the correct reply to your question is for us to ask God, “Lord, what kind of people do you want to worship you?”

And God would reply, “The kind of people my son spoke of in the Gospel of John ... those who worship me in spirit and truth.”

When we do worship God in spirit and in truth, then he himself actually shows up in the service to comfort, minister, bless and heal us. When he comes among us we can actually “feel” his tender presence moving from person to person meeting needs, strengthening and encouraging us. And his presence among us is 1,000 times better than any entertainment we can cook up.

So look until you find such a church Robert ... where God is worshipped in spirit and in truth. There are lots of them around. Good luck and God bless you.

Dear Father Paul:

Can God ever be persuaded to change his mind once he has decided to do a thing? — Randy

Dear Randy: Yes, absolutely, and there are lots of examples of this in the Bible.

One I particularly like is the story of King Hezekiah who was king of Judah as told in the Old Testament book of II Kings.

In II Kings 18 the Bible tells us that Hezekiah was a godly king. He “trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. He held fast to the Lord and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commandments the Lord had given Moses.”

Yet, we learn in Chapter 20 that later King Hezekiah falls seriously ill and was at the point of death. The prophet of God, Isaiah, visits him and delivers a solemn prophecy from God. He tells the King that God says to “put your house in order, because you are going to die, you will not recover.”

Wow! How’d you like to have those kind of prophetic words spoken over you on your sick bed?

But Hezekiah knew God (that’s a big key to this story) and he knew that the Lord God is a God of compassion and mercy. So the Bible says that he turned his face to the wall and began to pray and weep. He reminded God that he had served him faithfully for his entire life and pleaded for God to change his mind and grant him healing and more years of life.

This is when the story gets really good. Isaiah hadn’t even yet left the palace before God spoke to him again and told him to return to the king and tell him this, “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you ... I will add fifteen years to your life.”

When Isaiah returned to Hezekiah with the good news, the king asked for a “sign” from God that he actually would heal him and give him 15 more years. What God does next will absolutely blow your mind. I’m not going to spoil the ending, but I’ll give you a hint. This is where the saying “move heaven and earth” originated. Look it up and read it for yourself in II Kings 20:1-11.

Do you have a question?

I will try to answer you in the paper. E-mail me at You can also send questions to P.O. Box 510 Fayetteville, Georgia 30214 or call me at 678-457-3050.

Father Paul Massey is pastor of Church of the Holy Cross Charismatic Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Georgia. Church of the Holy Cross is evangelical, charismatic and sacramental ... together ... in one church, and is modeled after the ancient, historic, New Testament Church. Visitors are most welcome. More information is available at

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