Ask Father Paul 123108

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 that I’ve gotten in my ministry over the years and via email for this column.

Dear Father Paul: Do you ever make New Year’s resolutions? Any resolutions for 2009? — David

Dear David: Yes, I make New Year’s resolutions every year. I’ve probably made thousands over my lifetime. Just kidding. New Year’s resolutions can be a very good thing ... if we keep them, which most of us don’t, me included.

New Year’s resolutions are mostly about changing habits and that’s the rub. Psychologists tell us that in order for an old habit to be broken and a new habit formed, we must faithfully not do the old habit and perform the new habit for a minimum of six weeks. Most of us give up on New Year’s resolutions after about two weeks or so ... some of us even less. That’s a real shame. If we could somehow persevere for a little longer, our New Year’s resolutions would become a reality.

As for me, I have resolved to pray every day in 2009 for our new president, his advisors and his cabinet. I can only imagine the heavy burden he must be under taking the leadership of our county in times like these ... a severe economic crisis and two wars, not to mention the threat from terrorists.

I resolve also to pray every day in 2009 for Fayette County ... its people, its churches, governments, businesses, etc. ... as-well-as for my own congregation. Lastly, I resolve every day to remind myself of the short motto that our church has had printed on little magnetized cards and distributed throughout the community ... ”God Is Bigger Than Any Problem I Have.”

If you (or anyone else) would like one of these cards for your refrigerator door in 2009, email me and I will send you one.

Dear Father Paul: I shared an extremely personal and private matter “confidentially” with someone who (I thought) was a close friend. She is the only person I told. The next thing I know, my “secret” is common knowledge among our entire circle of friends. I am mortified and mad as ( ). I’d like to rip all her hair out, one hair at a time. Your thoughts. Advise. — No Name Please.

Dear Friend: What your friend did was very, very wrong and a gross abuse of your friendship. But ... you have to forgive her ... and mean it. I’m serious. If you think that’s going to be tough, guess what, it will be! But, anger, bitterness and unforgiveness will only hurt you, not her. Pray and ask God to soften your heart and give you the strength to forgive her. He will.

Next, invite her to lunch, your treat. Sit at a quiet out-of-the-way table where you can talk and not be overheard. Then sometime during the meal, when the time seems right, share with her in a calm (not angry) voice that you know she has shared your secret with others, because everyone now knows it and she is the only person you told. Tell her (again quietly) that her betrayal has hurt you deeply ... but quickly add that you have already forgiven her and that you want to remain friends ... and, that you will never mention the incident again.

She will react in one of two ways. Either she will express sorrow, remorse and brokenness for her actions. There will probably be tears at this point. Or, she will become defensive and angry. She may even storm out of the restaurant. Either way, you will have done the right and godly thing. In the future, if you have a need to confess, call your pastor or priest.

Special to Caroline: (not her real name) Give Jennifer some slack on that rope you have always kept tightly bound to her. She is almost eighteen now, (a young woman). You have raised her properly and she is a follower of Christ. Trust her. If you continue to try and control her every waking hour, you will end up driving her away.

Do you have a question? I will try my best to answer you in the paper. Email me at or call me at 678-457-3050.

Do you need prayer for an issue that you are dealing with and have no one to pray for you? Email me and I will be glad to pray for your need. I do not need to know your identity.

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