Is he a Hindu hottie, but you're a Catholic cutie? Not sure what to get your friend for her Bat Mitzvah? Wondering about Wicca? Pastor Paul answers all your religion and spirituality questions. Send them to PastorPaul@staff.beliefnet.com.

DearPastor Paul,
My grandfather has cancer and he is really not getting better. My family is having a hard time dealing with it, especially my grandmother. We are using are faith to help us. Could you please give me some advice?

-- Unsigned

Dear Friend,

I'm glad that your family is turning to your faith to help you through this difficult time. All faiths recognize that death is not the end, but is a passage from this life to the next. When your grandfather dies, he won't just disappear, but will live on in a way that we will only fully understand when our own time comes.

Meanwhile, give him the opportunity to experience life to the fullest given his current abilities. Ask him to recall the best times in his life, what his childhood was like, or the time he met your grandmother. Your grandfather is a store of wisdom. Take advantage of your remaining time with him by asking him about situations you are facing in your life. Above all, if he is a person of faith, pray with him and let the grace of peace enter your family.

Dear Pastor Paul,
I'm a Catholic, but I've done a lot of fortune telling with my friends and family for fun, and sometimes I'm able to help people psychologically. Unfortunately, some see me as a grave sinner. Should I stop fortune telling--and is it a grave sin?

-- Kim

Dear Kim,
It sounds like you view fortune telling as nothing more than a fun pastime that gives people peace or confidence. That seems to be an admirable goal and harmless enough.

The Bible, however, does not have much good to say about fortunetellers, mediums or wizards. Leviticus 19:26, as just one example, states: "You shall not practice augury (divination from auspices or omens) or witchcraft." My own belief is that only God knows the future, and that you should be careful in this pursuit.

Dear Pastor Paul,
I used to be very close with God. Then I got really off track. I just moved out of my boyfriend's house because we broke up. We were having sex. I have been using drugs for about 3 months.

I'm so used to living this life I don't feel like I could ever be a Christian again. I did so many disappointing things. I guess when I met my ex-boyfriend I thought I could do it better on my own, instead of living by God's rules. Now I'm just alone and I have no clue how to get God's closeness back. Please give me some advice.

-- Unsigned

Dear Friend,
There is an immediate way to return to the close relationship you had with God--put your hands together, kneel down and pray. Tell God about what has been happening in your life. If you believe in your heart that you did disappointing things, then ask for forgiveness--forgiveness is guaranteed. Psalm 130 states "If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities (sins), Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you will be revered."

You are not the first person to think themselves such a disappointment to God that they could never come back. Think of Mary Magdalene in the Bible. She did many "worse" things--yet she was one of Jesus' most beloved.

To stop using drugs, go to a 12-step meeting today. Look for Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous in the business section of the phone book. At meetings you will encounter people who understand what you've been through and who can help you stop using drugs--one day at a time.

Believe me, it's worth it. You are not alone in your desire to reconnect with God. There are many churches out there that will welcome you. Find a faith community that will nurture you and help you feel God's love in your life.

Pastor Paul has worked with young people in the Twin Cities, Seattle, Sao Paulo, and New York City. He currently is a Chaplain at Columbia University in New York City.
 
 
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