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BST Quick Tips: Focus In.


As you make your way through a Bible reading plan or reading on your own, sometimes you may need to slow down and go a bit deeper. You can do that by focusing in on a few key verses.

Reading the Bible isn’t just a matter of checking something off your list. It’s really about letting God’s Word transform you. As some have said, the Bible reads you as you read it.

While studying, you may find that some verses seem to “pop out” at you. Perhaps this is because of a situation you’re going through or because you’ve heard the verse before. Whatever the reason, make it a point to keep track of the verses that stand out. (Our My Bible makes this easy by keeping track of which verses you highlight or make notes on.)

Later, when you have the chance, pull up the verses that you noted. Read them carefully a few times and note what God may be saying to you through them. Reflect on your own life and how these verses may be calling you to change or how they’re encouraging you. You may even want to memorize one or two of them or write them down on a piece of paper to carry with you.

In other words, let these verses soak in. See how they transform you.

Being Too Angry – When to Seek Professional Help.


We have had much discussion about anger and how it is a normal feeling that people experience.

However, being angry at something or someone is not an isolated case because all people get angry.

But, if your anger becomes too frequent, has turned into rage and is already negatively affecting many aspects of your life, then it is time to assess the situation because maybe your anger has turned into some serious problem.

If you have tried all the methods shared in this guide and perhaps other tips to control your anger, it might be time to consider the help of professionals in order to turn your life around and live normally again. Having anger management problems does not do the person and the people around him or her any good.

Most people are hesitant to admit to themselves that they have a serious anger management problem that needs to be handled by professionals.  At first, there is denial and sometimes it is hard for them to accept that they have turned into a person full of rage.

The first step in handling anger issues is to assess yourself and observe what kind of anger management solution you need to have. Most anger management issues can be dealt with yourself using proper information, self-control, determination, and the help of family and friends. If your anger has become too much to handle, then it is time to seek professional help.

But, what if you aren’t sure if you need the intervention of professionals or not?

Here are some questions to help you assess your situation:

  • Do you often have intense arguments between you and your loved ones or friends?
  • Do you easily lose control of yourself?
  • Do past anger and misunderstandings with other people still haunt you up to now?
  • Do you get angry and frustrated when waiting in line?
  • Do you get annoyed and call people “dumb” or “stupid” when they don’t do things right, are always clumsy, incompetent, or prone to errors?
  • Do you get angry at yourself whenever you do something bad or when you lose control?
  • Do you find it hard to forgive people who have hurt you?
  • Do you find yourself at night lying on your bed just thinking about the things that have upset or caused you pain during the day?
  • Do you get so angry to the point that you have forgotten the details of what had happened like the things you said or said to you?
  • Do you get frustrated a lot?
  • Do you get depressed when things don’t go the way you planned or expected?
  • Do you get mad, upset, or frustrated to the point that you experience headaches, stomachache or become weak?
  • Do you use alcohol or drugs when you are angry?
  • Do people have a tendency to stay away from you or get scared whenever you are angry?
  • Do you say things when you are in a bad temper than you later regret saying?
  • Do you have problems in the workplace because of your anger?
  • Do your family and friends think that you have serious anger management issues?
  • Are your family, social life and other aspects of your life negatively affected due to your rage?
  • Do you often get into trouble because of your bad temper that sometimes it leads to legal problems?
  • Do you have feelings of revenge to those people who have done you wrong?
  • Do you hit people or break things within your reach whenever you are angry?
  • Do you have thoughts of killing somebody you have become so angry with?
  • Do you have thoughts of killing yourself?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, then it is time to seek professional help. Being angry is normal, but being too angry too frequently to the point that it is ruining your life is not at all normal.

If you think that you need help, many anger management coaches or counselors help people with anger problems. You can ask your doctor or research your local community to find reputable professionals that can help you.

During anger management counseling, patients are taught how to control their temper and handle situations wherein they are about to lose control.

Anger management counseling is not something to be ashamed of. Everybody goes through some difficult time in their lives. What’s important is you recognized the problem and are now going to do something about it.

Live happy and be well!

From John Masters.

Can I Enjoy It? My Harry Potter 180.


Asked earlier today, “Can one be a Christian and still enjoy reading/watching the Harry Potter series?” (current tally: 556 Yes, 273 No, 114 Undecided/Don’t Care), I gave the following answer:

I’d argue two things: first, that Christians can perhaps get MORE enjoyment out of this series than can non-believers and pagans (somewhat evidenced by atheists who stuck with the series only to raise their ire at Ms. Rowling for having told them a Christian allegory), and secondly, that one can be a Christian and get something out of just about any story if he or she knows what to look for (there are exceptions; if you want a fantasy story you can really be bugged about, read this one).

With any tale, fiction or non-fiction – including ones a friend or a new acquaintance (or an enemy?) may sit down to tell you in a coffee shop or at the office – there are real issues, real sins, real victories, real hope.

Elements of the ‘Great Story’ waiting to be discerned.

I used to decry the Potter series, but did a U-turn after I was confronted with the immense numbers of Christian readers I respected who were raving about it; surely they must have found something in there, a conclusion I reached since I refused to cop to the highly illogical “well, they’re all just a bunch of self-interested, postmodern compromisers who make me sad for the state of the church and I’m the last bastion defending rightness” excuse.

So, begrudgingly – and prayerfully, I read. The first few books had some positive themes, but that wasn’t enough.

But when I got to books 5, 6, 7, how often did I have to stop reading momentarily because I was laughing or tearing up with joy and utter amazement at a sentence (or even in two cases, an actual Bible verse!) which was an unmistakable parallel to the story of Jesus, our salvation, sacrifice, love, and even why and how God doesn’t always reveal everything to us exactly how we want it?

What’s more, when I read the Bible, I could choose to marvel at the inappropriateness or R-ratedness of some of the stories or themes, and yet, because I know the ending, and because I know a perfect God told his tale despite and through flawed and sinful people whom he loved anyway, I press on joyfully, more aware then that every person’s story I come across from now on is going to be full of those same elements, both good and bad.

And in ‘The End’ – both in our Story and in the Potter books – there is true magic: not witchcraft (ultimately a mere vehicle for power and choice in Potter), but something far greater, far more ancient, far more wonderful and victorious. 

There aren’t many direct references to “God” in Potter, it’s true, but it’s also obvious that there is a “Greater Magician” (my term) above the fray, one who would have designed the rules about such crucial plot points as sacrifice, love, remorse and fulfillment of prophecy.

But what about those Bible verses I mentioned?

I’ll leave that to my friend the Rev. Torey Lightcap to explain:

Rowling’s theology is a bit of a boiled-down feast. For her, life is summed up well in three pieces of Scripture, two of which she chooses to quote in one chapter [of Deathly Hallows] and gloss in the rest of the book; and the last of which simply hovers invisibly over the entire Potter project.
The first two quotations appear on the headstones of long-deceased but plot-essential persons: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21) and “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26). The third, as I say, is an implication, hidden, as it were, in plain sight: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
We must know at some level that these pearls represent choice moments in Rowling’s faith life, that indeed this is her canon-within-the-canon, and nuggets to which she attaches the highest signification.
We know them to be so palpably true for her because they are all over each of the seven books. Taken together, they are a powerful pastiche of Christian theology from the quills of Paul and John and Matthew: death has no dominion; self-sacrifice is the highest good; give to the things that matter, because you will become those things.
Love, indeed, is stronger than death – and we need to believe that if we’re going to practice it; and the more we practice, so all the more will we believe.

So why have we Christans gotten so upset over the years? Why are some users wondering why our site isn’t giving more time to the anti-Potter argument?.

Well, first, I’d suggest the “anti-” argument – while legitimate – isn’t very deep, and therefore doesn’t make for good articles. It’s pretty much one sentence long: “The kids attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft(!) and Wizardry.

Period.

End of story.

” And… that can indeed be the end of the story if you want it to be. No witchcraft — definitely a good idea. It’s why I don’t practice any. Nor is Wicca nor the Occult what we see being used in these stories.

The other reasons for the uproar I believe center around the fact that the stories are first and foremost aimed at kids (and let’s face it, we deeply resent peer pressure and school pressure telling our kids to read something that we either have misgivings about, or lack the time or interest to get to the bottom of), and because of a lot of misinformation, such as the unfounded stories that Rowling is a witch (she’s Church of Scotland, actually), or that the books caused a huge surge in children pursuing Wicca (where’s the data? Or the Post Hoc logic?), or that the story was only 1/7th or 2/7th’s old when we first got all hot and bothered, and those old feelings are hard to shake even when the ending turns out to be quite special.

So… what have I done with my own children regarding this series?.

My son is 8, my daughter nearly 6.

He and I have read the first two books together.

I have let them both watch the first film.

Beyond that, almost by mutual agreement, they’re not ready.

There is wisdom in fairness and moderation and patience most times, I think.

When they are ready, for this series as well as Narnia and Lord of the Rings, I can hardly wait to have discussions with them. In the meantime, I’ll continue to raise them on the True Story of good-over-evil, of the defeat of sin and the devil, of how they can become children of the King… while also steering them away from the parts of THAT story they aren’t quite ready to understand (see: Bathsheba, Lot’s* daughters, Potiphar’s Wife, Sodom, David’s dismemberment of certain Philistine body parts, Saul summoning Samuel’s ghost, the brutality of watching Passion of the Christ, etc.) until they’re a mite older.

Don’t fear what you don’t understand. Be discerning. Speaking of which, there is another spiritual issue the Potter books caused me to muse upon regarding a vein of Christianity in which I was raised, and that is the name-it-claim-it, Word-Faith variety.

I had been taught growing up to fear things like books, any music with a rock-and-roll beat, death, and sickness. I had been taught that prayers must be prayed the right way, at right times, or else you were leaving yourself open for regular attack.

That failure to be completely healthy was a weakness of your own, probably in the faith or wrong-doing department. That there were doctrines regarding our lifespan to be crafted out of verses such as Psalm 90:10, such that if you didn’t live to 70+, there was something wrong with your “magic.

” That God is not sovereign, but instead, will always do what we want if we ask it in precisely the right way. In other words, it’s like we’re the ones in the driver’s seat.

If ever there was a spirit of witchcraft to be avoided, if ever there were “incantations” that must be uttered just right, if ever there was a Voldemort-ian spirit of fearing not being in control or of getting ill or of dying… being raised to believe such was it.

I didn’t need to go to the Harry Potter books to find that brand of fearful wand-waving, though find it I did… in the bad guys of the series.

Reading these books gave me yet another way to think about spiritual misunderstanding and misuse of power, even among those who believe, as well as the fearful loathing of the wrong things that gets us so off track.

UPDATED 7/22. See below additional thoughts written in response to reader comments:

By Shawn McEvoy.

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