Steven Furtick — The Movie In My Mind
Since we're talking about this thing about anxiety and taking back our minds, I think we not only have to look at that in the deeper sense, but just in the simple everyday ways that life bumps us and bruises us and causes us to be sensitive and touchy. So this passage is kinda interesting for that purpose. Let me read it to you now. Luke 10:38. "As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!' 'Martha, Martha...'" — Look at your neighbor, say their name twice. Martha, Martha. "...the Lord answered, 'You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed — or indeed only One. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'"
In this passage, my favorite character is the one that Jesus corrected. I might as well go on record. I like Martha more than I like Mary. I know I'm not supposed to. I know Jesus uses Mary as the hero of this story who's doing what she's supposed to be doing and sitting at the Lord's feet and listening to His words and soaking in the revelation knowledge of the Savior. But have you ever tried to have Mary on your staff? I might as well come out with it. Sometimes I like the wrong movies and sometimes I like the wrong characters. My favorite character in this story is the one who's getting crap done! I like people who do stuff! Well, you know, Martha had a bad attitude. Yeah, and Mary has a GoFundMe. See, notice what the text said. The text said "A woman named Martha.."., Luke 10:38, "...opened her home to Him".
Martha is paying the mortgage. So before we beat up on Martha for being too busy let's just note if it were up to Mary Jesus would've had to eat at the soup kitchen. I just wanna say that. Before we tear her apart we should really celebrate Martha. I like what that one dude said on Twitter. That actor he said, "If you are not yelling at your kids, you're not around them enough". That's the sign of an absentee parent. I never yell at my children. Mm-hmm. You don't pick 'em up, drop 'em off, or make 'em do anything. They're gonna be in prison one day 'cause you don't yell at your kids. All of us Martha parents we are trying to keep our children off drugs. I heard a man sounded like Martha in here. You like Martha, too. I like Martha. I like Martha 'cause her name means 'master'. That's what her name means. She's probably a widow. There's no mention of her husband. She's managing. But when Jesus rebukes her he's correcting her distracted approach.
Verse 40 is important. Let's read it. "She was distracted.."., not by CandyCrush, not by Instagram, but, "...by all the preparations that had to be made". We know that Jesus wants to eat something. He corrects her for cooking for Him. That's strange to me that He rebukes the responsible one. As I reflected on it I began to see myself in Martha. It's that there was nothing really wrong with her actions. What Jesus was correcting was her attitude. She was distracted, watch this, by all the preparations that had to be made. Somebody had to do it. It wasn't what she was doing. Jesus wasn't mad at Martha because she was busy. In fact, the reason He liked her house is probably because it was clean. The reason it was clean is because she doesn't sit around praying 23 hours and 59 minutes a day. But her attitude in this passage is what I wanna look at.
I wanna give you five things today in a little seminar format that will help those of you who feel distracted. The literal meaning of distraction is pulled apart. What a great picture. Is that inside each mind that is trying to listen to me today is a series of priorities trying to pull you in different directions. That's why I would really say if you don't have to use your phone to write notes in church, don't. If you could write 'em down with your hand, do. Because maybe this can be one place where you don't get pinged and binged and dinged and you're not swiping anything or liking anything. Maybe this can be one place where you don't have to get notified that nothing important is happening. Yet you don't really need your device 'cause you have your divided mind. That's the distraction factory you know? Your mind. Not the person next to you. Not the things that are waiting for you when you get back home. But, He said she was distracted. It wasn't her actions. It was her attitude. I'm gonna stay there so you don't start feeling bad because you're overwhelmed.
You don't start feeling guilty. I think guilt is the root of Martha's bad attitude in this passage and I'll show you that. Because there are five characteristics not of what is happening in the house, but what's happening in Martha's heart and the movie in her mind. The first thing we see here is that Martha goes from managing the situation to manipulating the situation. The first thing that makes a bad movie in my mind is a spirit of manipulation. Manipulation is when I start holding the responsibility that God has given me rightfully too tightly. Manipulation is a subtle shift. When I care about something and instead of caring about it and caring for it or caring about someone, I can easily find myself beginning to try to control something that God has called me to care about. When you care deeply about something it is very easy, without even knowing it, to slip into this Martha mindset where you find yourself doing the right things on the wrong level.
We see that Martha has become manipulative in her approach here because she tells Jesus what to tell her sister. This is classic manipulation. This is a very passive way to try to get her way because some people manipulate with their words, other people manipulate with their silence, but my kids try this trick on me, quite often. Dad will you please tell mom that we need more time for Fortnite? No. As a matter of fact, I will not tell mom that you need more time for Fortnite because that is my wife and we are a team and we stand together and united and we are not a house divided. So don't bring your little manipulative spirit up on me like I'mma choose you over my wife. I can't french kiss you. I can french kiss her. If you think I'm gonna lose points with her, I got my priorities straight. I know where my bread is buttered.
Say it, Furtick. I think Martha is manipulating because she's being manipulated. I think she's being manipulated by something within her that needs everything to be just right. I think Martha had a script in her mind of how Jesus' visit needed to go. In the script in her mind of how Jesus' visit needed to go, you know, the movie in her mind she needs Mary here and Jesus here and the pots here and the pans here and the fish here and the chicken here. Watch this. Jesus rolls with 12 guys up into her home in Bethany, two miles from Jerusalem and somebody has to make sure that something is on the table. Somebody has to manage this. I wanna apologize for preachers who don't know what it's like in the real world. Preachers that don't understand that if you're gonna provide for your family sometimes it's gonna mean that you might not be able to be in church every single weekend. I understand. I understand this is a priority for you, but I understand you're not perfect.
That manipulation that happens sometimes, even religious manipulation, it can make you feel like you're never winning anywhere. I can't be here — One guy said one time — Let me do my country preacher. "Nobody ever said on their deathbed I wish I'd spent more time at work". And the whole church said amen and the whole church felt sufficiently crappy. And the whole church thought simultaneously I'm not on my deathbed yet and right now my kids need braces. So I might not say on my deathbed I wish I had spent more time at work, but when my kids need braces I might need a little money. If I'm gonna get a little money I might need to spend a little time at work. I'm very sorry that I cannot be the emotional provider and the financial provider. See what's happening? I'm getting distracted.
Now I'm getting pulled not between the good and the bad, but between two good things. Guilt will manipulate you and it'll make you somebody that you're not and it'll make you start lashing out and you start feeling you're not really performing over here so now you wanna put your guilt trip on somebody else. Because all the preparations had to be made. This is the second attitude that I see in Martha that I see in me, is the spirit of obligation. It shifts so quickly it's right here in the text if you read it. It says all the preparations that had to be made. Had to be. Had to be. Obligation. I gotta go to work. No, you don't. I'm serious. You don't have to. You don't have to.
Look at your neighbor and say you don't have to. If your neighbor didn't say that to you, say you don't have to. Bunch of disobedient Gentiles. You don't have to! When the worship leader says, you know, lift your hands. You don't have to. You don't have to. That was freedom for me. It was simultaneously challenging and comforting 'cause I was going out the door one Saturday night to preach, I guess my attitude wasn't in the best place and in that moment one kid wanted this and one kid wanted that and they wanted me to see something. I think Graham had built a fort in the woods. But you know a fort in the woods is really cute on Friday, my day off, but on Saturday I got a sermon to preach. Yeah. I think our kids need to see sometimes that they are not the center of the universe. This is not a parenting seminar. Back to the text, Furtick. All the preparations that had to be made. They had to be made. I was going out the door. I said I gotta go preach. I gotta go preach. God arrested me. The Holy Ghost just I don't know how this works for you, but it stopped me in my tracks and God said you don't gotta go. I said really? No, you don't gotta go. Don't show up and see if the world stops spinning.
I want you to do something for me. If you get a minute this week. I know you're busy Martha. But if you get a second this week, write down everything that you gotta do. I mean, make a big old list of responsibilities. Every test you gotta study for. You don't have to study. I'mma tell you as your pastor. I don't know what your parents are telling you. I'mma tell you. You don't have to study. You don't have to pass. You don't have to get a job. You don't have to live indoors when you're an adult and nobody is paying the bills anymore. You don't have to. I think the spirit of obligation is the enemy of joy. What happens naturally is that things that used to feel like a great opportunity start to feel like an obligation. And that's the way the enemy gets Mary to start acting like Martha. I don't think this text is so much about two different women as it is about two different tendencies. I don't know about you, but the text said that Mary and Martha lived in the same house.
Well, in my mind Mary and Martha live in the same heart. Because I find times where I'm like Mary and I know what's important and I'm not gonna be moved and I'm sitting in this moment and I'm taking this opportunity and I'm grateful for what God has given me and then all of a sudden it comes out of nowhere. I don't even see it coming around the corner. This spirit of got to. This spirit of need to. This spirit of have to. But the moment I start feeling the pressure I have to remember the privilege that I don't gotta do it. I get to do it. This is a privilege, people of God. We don't have to be in church. I didn't come to church today 'cause I'll go to Hell if I don't. I came to church today because He's worthy of my praise. I want to worship Him! I want to glorify Him! I want to! In the deep places. In the recesses. In my heart of hearts, I want to give the King of Kings the praise that He deserves!
Please don't ever come to this church 'cause you got to. Don't ever come here 'cause you got to. People trekking from Dansville to get here 'cause they want to. 'Cause I want to. 'Cause I want to. Look at the person next to you. Smile and say I want to. I wanna cook that meal. I wanna scrub those dishes. I wanna wipe those countertops. God gave me the counters to have a top to put on it. So I wanna get to the place. I'm not there, but Martha stay back. I'm having a Mary moment. I'm sitting here because I get to. Don't interrupt me with your have to. I want to. I get to. I'm going to. I'm about to. I'm fixin' to. I get to do it. Now take ten seconds and praise Him like nobody's making you do it. You don't want to you don't have to. But if you're thankful that He called your name.... I'm going. I'm going to preach. I don't got to, but I'm going. I'm going.
After all, why is Martha so upset? It was her idea to host these people in the first place. This is gonna help all of us who have let our sense of obligation, Which really emanates from a place of genuine desire to be responsible, but it's not our responsibility that Jesus rebukes. It's our heart. It's not our hustle. He likes to see you make the most of your day. But don't sit there at your kids' game because somebody else is at all their kids' games. Some of y'all go to too many games. Drop that little mediocre soccer player off and go do something you wanna do. They probably won't score anyway. There's not gonna be anything to video. I'm playing. Martha, Martha. You're running around doing all this stuff. We'd rather you be here. We'd rather you be nice and the food taste bad. We're here to be with you. I don't think we believe that so we gotta do stuff for God. We could never believe that He cares more about us than He does about it. So what happens is we judge others. You ever done this before? You ever done this before?
Now we have a courtroom called social media where we can deliberate all day. She thinks that actually looks good on her? She's too old to be wearing that. Somebody needs to tell her. Tell her. That's what Martha said. Tell her, Jesus! Tell her that dress is too tight. Tell her she's 53, not 15. Tell her. Oh, I know they can't afford to be on vacation. What are you, their accountant? But now, be careful 'cause if you wanna sit in the seat of judge you'll end up the victim of your own judgments. The measure you use it will be measured back to you. Then you might find yourself anxious like others are judging you. But I wonder if you are a victim of your own decisions? Victimization. Tell her to help me. She left me all alone. Mary didn't send the invitation. Look at the text. It says, "A woman named Martha opened her home to Him".
So look at your neighbor. Say, "this was your idea". I don't understand people who come to church and look at their watch the whole time. It was your idea to come. This was your idea. Have you been complaining about the schedule that you made? You said yes to all this stuff. You're the one who over-committed. Then we run around and we want other people to start treating our bad decisions like they're urgent priorities. Martha, Martha. Why did He say it twice? To get her attention. Martha. Everybody say, Martha. I'm talking to the Martha in me. I'm talking to that mindset in me, that victim mentality in me. She starts as the judge and she ends up as the victim. Comparison will always kill contentment. She has no peace and that's what bothers Jesus. Martha I can't wait to taste your Brussels sprouts. You make the best Brussels sprouts in Bethany. I love that bacon that you put in your Brussels sprouts. It's delicious.
Well, Jesus is Jewish. We'll take that bacon part out. But now look. She was distracted, anxious, split, worried, and upset. That's the problem. It's that she is interpreting. This is the fourth one. Interpretation. The movie in my mind is a foreign film. I start interpreting things to mean what I think they mean. I start interpreting the fact that people didn't check on me to mean that they don't care about me. This is what happens to Martha. When you have no margin and when you are operating trying to control things and manipulate things. You have to do it. You just gotta get it done. You no longer get a sense of get to but it's got to. Get to's become got to's. It happens all the time. It happens all the time. It doesn't make you a bad person. It just means Martha needs to sit down.
Martha, the victim, the one who owned the home became a prisoner in her own idea, in her own mind. The movie is in her mind. It's not my life that's making me crazy. It's my movie. I feel the Holy Ghost. I said I feel the Holy Ghost. It's not my life. It's my mind. Look what she says to Jesus. She says "Lord.."., this is verse 4, "...don't you care"? Jesus is like not really. I care about you but I don't care about what you care about right now. You've got too many things on your mind that you think matter. You've got too many things on your list that you think you can't live without so your kids can't go to... What's a grocery store? Give me a grocery store. I heard some bougie people say Whole Foods. Let's use Publix. Now they can't ride to Publix without a DVD. It's 12 minutes and we can't go 12 minutes without a movie in the backseat. Do you know how long I had to ride in silence after the batteries on my walkman died and now you need a movie just to get down the street? The Devil is a liar.
Sit and think about something and pray to Jesus and sing a song. Need too much. I don't care. Say it. I don't care. I don't care about what you care about Jesus said. I don't care. Lord, don't you care? She interprets the fact that he is not doing what she wants him to do as a sign that he does not care about her. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I care more about you Martha than you care about you. That's why I wish you would just be here with me. I feel it. I feel the resistance. 'Cause you're like yeah but like OK traffic, just put my mother in a nursing home, kinda hard. You think they're two different things. I did too. I thought Jesus was contrasting in this passage work and worship. I thought he was saying that worship is better than work. But I read it over and over again because I thought that can't be right. Because all throughout the scripture, like Paul says one time. He says offer yourselves as a living sacrifice in everything that you do. Holy and acceptable to God.
This is your spiritual act of worship. It's not some lipservice thing or some little song or some little section or some little Sunday thing. It's a lifestyle. So if that is the case, what is Jesus contrasting? It's not work and worship. Really, Jesus wants me to get to the place where I can't tell the difference between the two. This does not mean that you go around singing "Breakthrough is Coming" at the bank. That's not what I'm talking about. That's why I like the video Ellie sent. She was interning this summer. She's been in the church forever. But she caught this on video. The interns were serving at our staff advance. And they're getting ready to tear down and the presence of God hit in the auditorium but they weren't in there. They were getting ready to mop floors and sweep floors and move tables and move chairs and rearrange and do all the work stuff. But in the middle of work worship broke out.
There was a monitor and one girl started headbanging. You see her. One dude was on his knees. Somebody else had their hands lifted. A white guy is clapping on the wrong beat. It's a very normal scene but what happened next is what I wanted to tell you. Take it down. Then they went and mopped. Then they went and swept. Then they went and worked after they worshipped. So the strategy is this. God wants me to give but I gotta get filled first. If I don't get filled first I will be ministering and living out of emptiness. When I'm living out of emptiness I'm divided. I'm distracted. I'm needy and I'm living my life at the level of what I expected. That's the final element of this passage that I wanna mention. It's expectation. Because as we think about the movie in our minds and we spell the word movie now with these different attitudes in this passage to realize that it's not what's happening in our lives. A lot of times it's what's happening in our lives compared to the way we scripted it in our minds.
Martha. Martha. I know you expected Mary to help and I know you expected me to make Mary help but don't move Mary. You're in the right place. She's sitting at the Lord's feet doing what? Listening. You can't interpret what God is doing if you never stop talking. And listen. And listen. What does He want to do? Jesus, what do you want? That's what I need to ask. God what are you doing in this moment? What's important right now? The contrast is not between work and worship. The contrast is between many and one. Jesus said Martha you're concerned about many things. You're doing too much. You're being extra right now Martha. Only one thing is needed right now. There is only ever one thing needed in any given point in time and wisdom is discerning that. But to discern that let me show you what you can't do. Bring me my chair. Thank you. Just put it right there on that spot. I wanna show you where Martha was sitting when... Thank you. Appreciate that. I know you didn't have to do it but you wanted to. I appreciate it. 'Cause in Martha's mind she was directing the movie. In reality she was just an extra.
Let me break this down and then we'll go and get distracted and we'll get back in our crazy lives and get back in our crazy minds and worry about stupid stuff. But for just a moment while we're here right now I want us to think about the inclusion of this seemingly insignificant story in the Bible about two women fighting. Woah. Call Hollywood. That's gonna make an original script. No. No. This is just one scene because a little bit later Mary and Martha will call on Jesus to come back to Bethany. You know, the story here doesn't have, like, an ending. 'Cause I would love to see what Martha said back to Jesus. I think that one didn't make the cut. I don't know what it was rated. I don't know what she said back. I can picture Martha. I can picture Martha. Well while you and Mary sit and sing I'ma go back in here and flip these burgers and I'll let y'all know when... But see, Martha didn't learn it right away. We usually don't. Because when Mary and Martha sent for Jesus to come and heal their brother Lazarus, 'cause he was very sick, Jesus didn't show up and deliver his lines according to their script.
So, Martha hears Lazarus sick she's like lights, camera, Jesus. Get here. Jesus like uh uh. I'm not gonna make your casting call today. I'ma show up a little late 'cause I have a different script. In your script you expect me to show up and heal your brother. In your mind, in your movie in your mind, I show up. I heal. I say my line be healed. I say my line you get married by age 23. I say my line. You and your husband are married, happily ever after. I say my line. Everything works out. I say my line. You get the job. I say my line. It works out just like you want it. I say my line. You get the house. I say my line. You finish college. I say my line and your sister is healed. Your brother is healed. But I'm not gonna say my line. I have something else in mind this time. I'm working from a different script. The Bible says that when Jesus finally did get to Bethany that Martha heard, John 11:20, that Jesus was coming.
I love this contrast. She went out to meet him but Mary stayed at home. Her hand was on her hip waiting at the road for this Rabbi who came and ate my food but didn't show up to heal my brother. While her hand was on her hip, Mary's head was on her pillow. Mary's not even out the bed. Mary's still crying. Mary shows up and tells Jesus you're not very good at this. Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died. Didn't you get the script? You were supposed to be here at least four days ago. Here you are now late and I expected you then and you just show up now. But I know, verse 22, that even now God will give you whatever you ask. She's still trying to work Jesus.
You know. Like, Holly when I start taking groceries in she's like you're so strong. How do you carry so many bags? That's amazing. I'm not very smart. It works on me. But Jesus will not be manipulated. Jesus said to her your brother will rise again. Watch her. She's got a script. Yeah, I know. He'll rise again at the resurrection at the last day. I already read that part 'cause I wrote the script 'cause this is my movie. I know what's supposed to happen. This is my life. Mary's supposed to help and you're supposed to heal and I know how this goes. Jesus said to her I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even though they died. So Mary scripted a healing. Martha scripted a healing. Jesus flipped the script and gave them something greater than they could know to expect or request or guess. Y'all aren't happy about it. You aren't happy about the fact that you don't have to direct this movie. You don't have to make the movie. You don't have to figure out how it ends.
You remember when we were watching that Quentin Tarantino movie? The edited version. Holly? And it was looking like it was gonna be a certain ending and you asked me who made this movie again? And when I told you who made it you said oh I know how this ends. 'Cause if I know who made it, if I know who made the movie I know how this ends. I declare in the name of Jesus today, your movie doesn't end like this. Your movie does not end in shame and your movie does not end in disgrace. But Martha, for Jesus to do what he wants to do you're gonna have to stop being the director. You're gonna have to sit like this sometimes. Like Mary. I think there's a Mary in all of us that knows where to sit and knows what's important and that knows how to walk in step with the Holy Spirit. I think there's a Martha in all of us that means well but tries to do too much. To have a heart like Mary in a world like Martha sometimes you have to be misunderstood.
Sometimes you'll have to make decisions about what's important to you that won't align with what seems to be important to this pill poppin' world. Sometimes you'll have to say things about our family and our commitments and things that people will misunderstand. I'd rather be misunderstood like Mary than distracted like Martha. Came to talk to you about the movie in your mind. Your expectations. My expectations of how life is supposed to be. The movie that God is making is way better than the one that you've scripted. I never forget when the Lord spoke to me. If I always met your expectations I would never be able to exceed them. If I always made your movie I couldn't make mine.
So, Lord, I wanna be busy like Martha. 'Cause I need to be about my Father's business. But I really want a heart like Mary that knows when to sit and listen and let you do your job. Martha. Martha. This is not your place. It's not your place to judge others. It's not your place. You're stressing yourself out trying to manage other people's decisions. Just make your own. It's enough. It's enough. I hope this message reached the Martha in every heart today to just say you're doing the right things but you don't have to do 'em this way. You don't have to live in regret even about mistakes you made 'cause this is not your chair. You need a new director. You need a new movie. Somebody who knows how the story ends. Stand to your feet. So we're gonna leave this chair, this role, for the only one who knows how the story ends.
Oh, I gotta show you this. This is so good. By the time we see Martha in her last appearance in scripture look what she's doing. This is John 12:1. Lazarus is up from the dead. Jesus calls him forth. Jesus has a better ending than they could ever have known to script 'cause He always does. God's got His hand on your life too so don't worry so much about it. Be still and know that He is God. Watch what happened. They wanted to throw a little party for Jesus to thank Him for what He did for Lazarus. So six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany where Lazarus lived whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Watch Martha. Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served. She gets it now. She knows her place now. She's now using her gifts in the right way. She's experienced resurrection. She's experienced disappointment. She's submitted her expectations and surrendered her will. I wonder what will happen if we do the same.
Lord, thank you for your presence in this place today and thank you for your Spirit that is always with us resting, ruling, reigning, abiding with us forevermore. I thank you for these people. Lift your hands. All of their burdens before you we bring. Whatever they are carrying it's not too much for you. Nothing is too hard for you. You are the all-sufficient God. Whatever season of their life they currently find themselves in and whatever scene of their life is currently playing out, you have already known the end from the beginning. You are a great God. Here at your feet today we submit and surrender all of our plans, desires, dreams, hopes, disappointments, and we're here to serve you, to worship you.