Crack Kills

Dear Struggling and Strung Out,

One more hit. Just one more rush. It’ll be your last time, for the last time. For real this time. Just one more intoxicating high and you’re all done. At least that’s what you tell your self… and your friends… and your kids. But before you know it, one hit turns into two and two hits turn into too many tomorrows and suddenly, you see your self years later- still strung out. You tried to let it go, but the lifestyle keeps calling you back. You risk all that you have for the comfort of just one more hit. Hooked, you give in for the last time- again. The hole in your heart cries for mercy, but you cave- yet again, to the false security of empty promises and lust-filled fervor. You’re looking for love in all the wrong places and filling the void with temporary pleasure. Instead of self-improving, you’re self-medicating… diseasing your mind in the process. You want more. You deserve more, but just can’t imagine life without the fantastic lies you’ve grown accustomed to. And so you settle- once again- for a life of loneliness and shame. You settle for a cracked life. No drugs necessary- you are addicted to the stability of your comfort zone. Yes, you’re cracked at the core, filling every crevice of your being with nothingness. No, no drugs necessary. But this crack does kill.

Crack will have you dressed up, stressed out, standing still, lying down, living for lust and dying for love. You’ll find yourself doing things you never thought you would do. Who or what has you open like that? Who’s got you climbing the walls and leaving a piece of your soul in their bed every time? What’s keeping you from your Promised Land? What cracks are in your foundation? I know- you want to do better, but you’re stuck. It’s like the world is turning so fast and you want to get off the ride, but you’ve grown accustomed to the cycle. It’s familiar. Some of the symptoms may be physical, emotional or even financial, but the core issue is spiritual. And unfortunately, withdrawal is short-term when sobriety seems impossible. But take heed to the following and you will overcome your dysfunction once and for all.

1. Acknowledge Your Problem- I know, that seems too simple. But it’s true. If you don’t acknowledge that you’re engaging in self-destructive behavior you’ll never be able to get the help you need. Face it- you’re strung out on him, her, a high-maintenance lifestyle, maybe even the rush of pounding your fist to someone’s face. Your life has become unmanageable. Everyone sees it, and you’ve refused to believe it. Stop making excuses and you’ll start making progress. Crack kills, but it doesn’t have to kill you.

2. Kill it at The Root- When you truly want to be free of something, you eliminate every trace of it. Otherwise, even the smallest seed will begin to grow by simply watering it with your attention. When the children of Israel were preparing to enter the Promised Land, the Lord instructed them

“to destroy their enemies totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.” (Deuteronomy 7:2)

Now, please don’t get it twisted. I am not advising you to kill anyone (besides, our struggle isn’t against flesh and blood but of evil spirits in heavenly places. See Ephesians 6:12). What I recommend is that you destroy all ties to anyone or anything with a poisonous presence in your life. If it’s a person, get rid of their souvenirs (gifts, clothes, etc.). Stop staring at their picture. Delete their number from your phone- it’s only going to remind you of them every time you scroll by. Take their e-mail out of your contacts list. Stop calling them, and stop accepting their calls. No more text messages, DM’s, in-boxing or on-line chats. Defriend and unfollow. They don’t love you and you don’t need them. Love doesn’t live in double lives and secret seductions. It doesn’t dwell between the sheets of manipulation and abuse. And it certainly doesn’t hurt…. Perhaps you have an issue with overspending. Stop carrying the credit cards in your wallet. Discontinue the e-mail reminders for shoe sales and special events. Stop negotiating with the negative forces in your life. You can’t afford to flirt with temptation. Destroy it before it destroys you!

3. Expose The Cracks- Take some time to discover who you really are and how you got to this low place. What cracks are in your foundation? What led you to fill your void with false love? If necessary, seek professional help. The sooner you expose the hurt, the sooner you can mend your brokenness.

4. Seal The Cracks- This is the last vital step to take. You have to seal the cracks. Just ridding yourself of the temptation isn’t good enough. You can get rid of every booty call in your phone book, but if you don’t change your environment, break free from your circle of “friends”, and begin to see yourself as worthy of true love, you’ll find yourself attracting the same parasites all over again. Likewise, you can clean out your entire closet and one day find yourself binge shopping because you never got a healthy dose of self-esteem. You don’t see yourself as more than enough- without all the external clutter. Jesus warns,

“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes several other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.” (Luke 11:25-26).

If you have tried to rid yourself of the temptations in your life only to find that you are worse off than before, it’s probably because you never sealed your cracks. You left your spiritual house unoccupied. The moment the next good-looking person glances your way, you find yourself right back in a compromising position (or two). And so your downward spiral begins- again. You must seal the cracks. Spend time discovering what God says about you and the gifts and talents He has placed inside of you. Allow the Lord to fill all the empty spaces in your life. He has created you for a purpose. When you fully understand what that purpose is, you will begin to walk in victory. And that victory won’t have time to wade in defeat.

God has created each and every one of us with a secret place that only His love can fill…. this is the God Spot. Allow Him to seal your cracks and fill your empty places with His love. I promise you will never be the same again. With His help, you can live a life of abundant joy and peace. Don’t worry about how you’ll get there. Just take it one day at a time and commit to the process. Yes, crack kills, but it doesn’t have to kill you.

Practically Yours,

~The Practical Chick

P.S. If you are dealing with domestic violence, or you have been involved in a pattern of abusive relationships, help is available to you! Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or log onto http://www.thehotline.org. Advocates are available 24/7. Anonymous and confidential.

How Deep is Your Love?

Dear Choosy Lover,

Ever been so enamored with someone that you just can’t imagine your life without them? Before the advent of text messaging and other social media, I can recall a time when two teens in love would chat on the phone in a conversation similar to this:

BOY: I love you.

GIRL: I love you, too.

BOY: I love you three!

GIRL: I love you forever!

And on, and on, and on they would go for hours. Then they’d both fall asleep on the phone because neither one of them wanted to be the first to hang up. Don’t front- you know you did it too! :-D

Remember that? That crazy love? That deep love? The type of love that would have you going to the ends of the earth just to make the other person smile? And then, at some point, something changes. Something goes wrong. The love you once knew doesn’t seem quite the same any more. What happened? Who changed? I bet God is asking the same question about some of you reading this post. How deep is your love for Him?

If you really want to know, you can simply look at your relationship towards the Church. The Church is the Body of Christ, and Christ is the head (Colossians 1:18). How can you truly love the Lord, and not love His Body? How can you accept part of Him and not all of Him? Let’s be honest- you can’t. There seems to be varying degrees of love and commitment to Christ- different relationship statuses, if you will. I have narrowed down these status levels into 4 main categories: Single-Minded, Superficial, Shacking, and Submitted. Let’s examine each, shall we?

Single-Minded

These are the folks who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but aren’t looking for commitment. If they join a church, it’s out of temporary guilt/emotion, rather than a deep longing to grow in the Lord. They’re dating Jesus. They come to church when it’s beneficial for them: when they’re lonely or in need of a pick-me-up, or to receive freebies (counseling, back-to-school supplies, turkey baskets at Thanksgiving, etc). These folks are your spiritual gold-diggers. They take, take, take, and rarely give anything back to God. They have no relationship with Him. Nope. They’re just dating. They enjoy occasional quickies with Jesus. Not looking for anything serious. They just want to “enjoy” Him and “have fun”.

Superficial 

You know them well- they tout the Bible (in a carrying case, of course), shout on cue, blast their favorite Gospel radio station while at work, and share their testimony everywhere they go. They’re members of a local church and some of them are even faithful in returning the tithe. They’re in what I like to call the “loopy” stage (this can last for up 2 years- which is ironically about the same time most folks tend to “fall out of love” with someone. Go figure!). They’re “in love with Jesus”. They’ll do anything for Him- until the feelings wear off or until something goes wrong. Some may call them the “Shallow Saints”. At some point, some stop putting the effort into going to church. It’s no longer a priority. Others are simply ready to jump ship at the first sign of trouble. They say things like, “I just don’t feel the same anymore. I don’t think I’m growing here. I’m not being fed. Something’s changed.” As a result, they go from one church to another (or just stop going to church altogether) until that loving feeling wears off again. Sadly, they don’t see that it’s not the church.  It’s their shady level of commitment when things aren’t going their way. They can easily be mistaken for “Super Saints” but they really just have a superficial relationship with Christ. They soon begin to proclaim,

“I don’t need to go to Church. I have the Church in my heart. I am the Church. That’s why I’m spiritual, not religious.”

(Oh, give me a break!). Their relationship status suddenly changes from “Taken” to “It’s Complicated”.

Shacking

These Saints appear to have it all together. They faithfully return the tithe and attend Service and Bible Study. They enjoy praising the Lord. They also enjoy making it a point to tell everyone else how to live their life. They think they’re doing the church a favor by being a member. They’re kind of, well, self-righteous. Shacking Saints are really good at nagging and complaining about everything in their church, but rarely do anything to contribute spiritually to its growth. Some would consider them “holier than thou”, or “deep Saints”. They’re clothed in pride, draped in judgement, and naked of repentance. Truth be told, they’re just shacking with Jesus. They attend church religiously without relationship. They’ve been playing the role for so long, they’re now comfortably stuck. A higher level of commitment would take them too far out of their comfort zone. Oh sure- they trust God… just not enough to relinquish full control of their life to Him. They’re reaping all of the physical benefits of the relationship, but none of the intimate benefits (spiritual growth). These Shacking Saints aren’t whole in Christ. He’s just their “better half”.

Submitted

These folks are truly souled out for Christ. Their relationship with Jesus extends far beyond Sunday Morning Worship Service. They don’t just follow Christ- they live for Him. They go IN during Praise and Worship. They contribute cheerfully to the expenses of the church and the relief of the poor. They engage in regular spiritual intimacy (prayer). They are true servants and disciples of Christ. They’re ministry involvement is an act of worship. Like a submitted wife to her husband, these Saints willfully submit to Jesus because He gave the ultimate sacrifice for them. Jesus is the center of their joy. Their love runs deep for Him and His anointing overflows on them. They don’t profess to be perfect; they just want God’s perfect will for their life. Fully submitted and fully committed- that’s what they are.

Sacrificed

John 3:16 is a perfect example of God’s love for us: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Now, that’s some deep love! How deep is your love for Him? No need in lying- your track record with church is a pretty good indication, and He already knows where you stand anyway! Give Him the courtesy of keeping it real. Confess your willful disobedience. Submit to a fully committed relationship with Christ. The longer you run from His loving arms, the longer you miss out on the splendor of His Majesty in your life. He knows everything (yes, EVERYTHING) about you, and loves you nonetheless.

You have an ongoing date with Jesus. Will you show up next time? There is a well-balanced spiritual meal prepared for you each week. Your Pastor sets the table and invites you to feast on the Word of God. You can study the Bible on your own all you want, but it’s just not the same as receiving the Word from the Man or Woman of God who has been trained and anointed to give you the spiritual nourishment you need. How could you not partake in the Sacrifice that has been prepared just for you? Don’t you know your own spiritual development is dependent on it?

Jesus gave His all for you. Isn’t it about time you stopped giving Him your leftovers? Allow Him to court you. It’s time for a deeper relationship, don’t you think?

Practically Yours,

~The Practical Chick