Steven Furtick - Breaking Negative Thought Patterns
This is an excerpt from: When The Gift Becomes A Prison
I'm grateful that Jesus will break stuff. Some things I need him to break. There are some chains I've tried to pull myself free from for years that I need Jesus to break. There are even some thought patterns that I need Jesus to break the pattern of my thought. Some of the things I maybe grew up thinking were normal, I need God to break me out of the tradition… Let's talk about tradition for a moment. When my tradition and the truth contradict one another, one has to break. How many of you, if Jesus was doing a casting call for disciples, would try to sign up and be one of the Twelve? Raise your hand.
I was thinking it would have been easy to be a disciple of Jesus, because when I ask what Jesus would do, I have to use my imagination and read all of these words. All I would have to do if I was a disciple and lived 2,000 years ago and had been able to see him in the flesh is follow him and do what he did. But I don't think it would have been that easy, really, especially because everything he would do would contradict everything I had seen done. Disciple. It said Jesus' disciples did something, and then Jesus is defending his disciples. Everybody in here is a disciple. The word disciple just means learner, so everybody in here is a disciple. I want you to write something down. I don't know if we still give out Elevation pens in the time of… No? Yeah, everything has changed. You don't even get Elevation pens anymore. What has the world come to? All right. Just put it in your phone or put it in the chat. Write this in the chat: discipleship by default or design.
See, everybody in here is being discipled. I'll never forget when Holly had to ban the movie Kung Fu Panda from our house because our boys were running around the house kicking everything all the time. She had to put a temporary moratorium on Kung Fu Panda, because they were kicking without Mr. Miyagi to show them how to do it, so they were just running around kicking crap. I did the same thing watching Karate Kid when I was little. I put my foot through a picture window in my mom's house, and she was more worried about the window than my foot at first. I remember her running into the room, "My window"! I'm like, "My bloody ankle! My Achilles"! Anyway, I realized I am a disciple of somebody or something.
Now, what I was trying to get across in the last two weeks… How many of you were following with my messages about Be Careful What You Copy? Then I preached a whole sermon called Copy That. Copy that. Don't copy the dysfunction. Some of us were discipled by dysfunction, and now we have dysfunctional norms in our hearts that have become the default of how we approach life. We were discipled, or taught, in dysfunctional ways. I'm not even talking about blaming your parents or your nursery was painted blue, and you really like green, and to this day it really bothers you because green means "Go" and blue got you thrown off. I'm not talking about some blame game we play. I'm talking about understanding that the patterns that were established in your heart usually started in ways you weren't even aware of at the time.
Some of us were discipled in dysfunction. I thought about this too: some of us had an apprenticeship in anxiety, because we were either in an environment… My mom wrote me a letter, and she was sharing with me some of the things she saw growing up to help me understand some of the things she modeled for me. She was showing me "This is what I saw. These are some things I went through. These are some things that happened to me that I've never told you about because, up until now, I haven't known if it was appropriate to share. But I don't want you to spend your whole life wondering why certain things happen in your heart over and over again when I can expose you to some of the things I saw or some of the atmosphere I was raised in". The fact is we come to church and teach you to worship God, but we only get 90 minutes a week with you. Okay.
Let's be honest about most people's church attendance patterns…90 minutes a month. So, if you were raised in a home of anxiety and we're in here teaching faith and "Trust God" and "By faith the worlds were formed…" But if your life was framed by worry and "What if…"? and scarcity… Many of us have a full apprenticeship in anxiety. I thought about this: some of us had an internship in insecurity. We were taught not to trust God to be enough to meet our needs but to know everything that was wrong with us, because it was repeated over us, and it was insinuated if it wasn't said out loud. So, when you come to church, you have to realize you have been discipled by default, but following Jesus gives me the option… This is what I want you to know. You don't get to decide how you were raised, what you were born into…any of that. Those decisions were made for you. But you get to decide "From this point on…"
What time is it right now? It's 10:28, Eastern Time, August 22, 2021, the year of our Lord, anno Domini. From this moment forward, or whenever you're watching this, you get to decide, "Who do I want to be discipled by"? In the Scripture you have the Pharisees who have been discipled by generation after generation of scribes and teachers of the Law. And the Law was good. God gave the Law. It was a gift from God. God gave them the Sabbath as a gift to reflect and remember. One little known thing about the Sabbath is that God said one time, "I gave you this as a gift to remember when you were slaves in Egypt and I brought you out". Isn't it crazy that a gift God gave them to remember how they were set free from their slavery…? They have now become slaves of the Sabbath. Mark says it really clearly. He says Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath. But by the time Jesus is walking the earth and touching and healing and teaching with power and preaching the kingdom of God and inaugurating a new order of things… By the time the true King has come, they have turned the gift God gave into a prison. Anything can become a prison.
Right now, technology is enabling me to preach this word to somebody who couldn't hear it any other way, and I praise God for the gift of technology. On the other hand, I curse the day our phones ever got smart. I don't have the faith yet, but I bought a flip phone two years ago, and when I get enough faith, I'm going to hook it up, and I'm going to be the only person carrying… They're going to call me "Flip Phone Furtick". Yeah. If you want to talk to me, you're going to have to… I don't have the faith yet. I'm not there yet, because I'm tethered to this right now, but I'm praying for the day where I can have enough faith to be set free from the curse of this. But it's a gift. Welcome our eFam around the world. Somebody is going to get saved off this message, and I'm trying to cast the Devil out of your YouTube feed and your algorithm.
The same feed that is making you crazy is putting the Word of God in your spirit right now, but the same gift that helps me preach the gospel can become a prison. It can put you on so many stupid headlines and half-truths and 10 percent truths and 2 percent truths and conspiracy theories. All of that is contained in the same gift. Same thing with money. God can bless you with income, but then that income can cause you to step out a little too far, a little too fast, and now all of a sudden, you are imprisoned in something you prayed for and God gave you because you didn't know how to manage it. I think I ought to teach you about this. A gift can become a prison. Intimacy is a gift from God…all kinds of intimacy, not just sexual intimacy, but sexual intimacy is a gift from God. You understand how when we talk about the Sabbath, a gift God gave that became twisted to imprison so that the Pharisees are saying, "You're not allowed to eat on the Sabbath…" They had become locked into the law and missed the spirit of the very gift God gave.
That happens all the time in our lives, so an Olympic athlete can say, "This talent that was given to me by God that was such a good thing…it almost broke me"; so that someone who starts to be blessed financially can say, "You know what? When I started getting more money, I stopped trusting God as much". I had a man tell me one time, "I started thinking money was the answer to everything. I started just skipping God in the process when I didn't need to ask him anymore. I basically designed a life for myself that made God unnecessary".
So he thought. The gift became a prison. I could give you more examples, but I think you have your own…things God gave you that you became a slave to. I'm not talking about the Devil. I'm talking about a gift… The Sabbath didn't come from the Devil. It came from God. It's in the book of Genesis. It's God who gave them that rest, but they turned the gift of rest into a weapon. They turned the gift of God into a prison. In fact, just a few verses later, they go from picking on the disciples about eating grain in a field on the Sabbath to telling Jesus he can't heal a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. You mean to tell me Jesus can't give this man his ability to work on this day because you've set it aside as a day not to work? But see how this happens in our lives so subtly, that a gift God gives you can become twisted to the point that the gift that was given to serve you begins to enslave you.