I'm stuck! It seems that no matter how hard I try to develop a closer walk with You, I remain on the same level I've been at for the past few years. What am I doing wrong?

Dear Stuck,

      One of the reasons that Christians often "remain on the same level" is that they fail to follow instructions in 2 Corinthians 6:17, "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean and I will receive you."

      What kinds of people have you been hanging around with? What kind of music have you been listening to? What television shows and movies have you been watching? We MUST separate ourselves from those things, which the world accepts as normal. Be ruthless in cutting people, places and things that are not godly out of your life. If we want to live in the "high call of God", we must be like the apostle Paul who said, "this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I PRESS toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13)

       "Pressing" requires effort. Jeremiah 29:13 promises us that if we seek Him and search for Him with all our heart, we will find Him. Where is your heart?

Dear God!

      I have been struggling for many years with anger and rage. It seems that the harder I try to get rid of it, the more frustrated and discouraged I become. I don't like myself when I lose my temper. What can I do? I'm out of ideas.

Dear Out,

      Don't give up! There is hope.

      Several years ago I was talking with a therapist who shared with me that he often used a plastic baseball bat and pillows to help his patients "vent" or "blow off steam". That seemed like a good idea, so I tried it. Unfortunately, this technique only made my own battle with anger grow bigger. Current research has proven that "ventilation" techniques encourage more frequent and aggressive forms of the behavior. When we practice letting angry feelings out, we are less able to control them the next time they surface.

      God's word tells us how to deal with this problem in Proverbs 29:11, "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control." The next time anger begins to rise, or rage hits suddenly at an unexpected moment, back away, keep your mouth closed, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that you have a choice as to how you will respond.

      Make that decision ahead of time, so that when the anger/rage appears, you have already seen yourself (in your mind) responding in a new and healthier way. The more often you do this, the less you will have to deal with the spirit of rage. It will die out and cease to have control over you. You will indeed have become "more than a conqueror"!

Gail Ramsey, an ordained minister, portrayed the role of Susan Moore on the ABC soap opera General Hospital. She had other roles on the TV programs Mike Hammer, Generations and California Dreams. Today, Ramsey leads Semeion Ministries, where readers can write her at P.O. Box 77, Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43063.