Several years after I became a Christian, I was pastoring my second church in Australia. Even though I was born again and a pastor and had overcome a life of drug addiction, drug smuggling, and violence, I had an ongoing problem with anger. Anything could set me off, and I would yell and cuss at my wife and child. And one day, when my son was 2 or 3, I got angry and shoved him against the wall. The moment I saw him bounce off the wall, I remembered bouncing off the wall when I was a kid. The words came to me: "Like father, like son." I was behaving just like my father. I was acting out the same things in my family that he did to us.
God had saved me from the drugs, but the underlying anger was still there, the hidden thing nobody knew. This was a family curse that landed on me--as it says in the Scripture, the iniquity of the father is passed down to the third and fourth generation.
Is this different from negative behavior we learn from our parents or from a genetic predisposition?
It's the same thing. Some call these patterns a physical inheritance. I believe that there's a spiritual inheritance from one generation to the next.
We inherit negative patterns just as we inherit red, hair, freckles, and blue eyes. When children are illegitimate, their own children will probably be illegitimate. When inmates get out of prison, 85% of them will be back in three years, and their children and their grandchildren will go to prison too. Drug addicts pass on drug addiction. It's not because they're bad people. It's not because they make a decision to take drugs. There is a transfer in the spirit realm, a spiritual inheritance.
When you read the Scripture, you see it all over. "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." Jesus is talking about the spiritual bondage that's on us without him. You're still yoked to this thing. You can't stop the spirit of the sin from passing to your children.
Oprah writes about this in her magazine, that one of the reasons she didn't want to get married and have children is she saw through her whole family the repeating of negative things from grandmother to mother to daughter.
You mention the Kennedys in your book. Do you believe in the "Kennedy curse"?
Right when I started writing my book "Free At Last," John F. Kennedy Jr. was killed in a plane crash, and every magazine--Time, Newsweek, People--had on its cover "The Kennedy Curse." We wonder why it is that so many people in that family die prematurely or get into trouble? It's not because they're bad people or anything like that. This is a spiritual curse. If I could get to one of the heads of the Kennedy family and they could agree that this is a spiritual transfer and realize that the power of God can break it, this family could be set free forever.
It's not just a Christian thing. Many religions and cultures believe in curses. In Italy you can have a curse put on your family. Australian aborigines, Africa tribes, and Native Americans know you can put a curse on someone. I've been asked by several countries in Africa to come and teach how to break the curse. There can be a curse on a nation. A group of pastors in Ireland have said "This will stop our wars." I've been invited to the Middle East, to Israel in April to teach there. People hate each other and they don't know why.
First, understand that this is in your family. It could be divorce, illegitimacy, suicide. One woman I counseled had five aunts who committed suicide in the last 50 years. The first step is to recognize that the destructive patterns exist.
Then, be aware that you're not a bad person; this is something you've inherited.
Know that God loves you. He isn't mad at you. Say "I come in agreement with you that this negative spirit is broken, and in its place I receive the positive." If there's anger you receive peace; if there's addiction you receive freedom.
When a vessel is empty, it has to be filled up. So many people do things to rid themselves of bad habits. But they don't replace it with God. They don't understand that we're clay vessels that hold the spirit of life. We go to marriage counseling, to smoking programs. We get rid of the bad, but we don't know to now fill it with a positive spirit. That negative spirit sees your vessel is empty, and it comes back in. We end up seven times worse than we were before. It's like losing weight--people gain it all back plus 20 pounds more. Because you need to replace it with peace and joy, and love and belief in your future--all the good things that God's spirit has for you. You have to see yourself the way God sees you.
I pump people up with their possibilities, with their destinies. We look at the problem, rather than the size of the problem. When Israel saw Goliath, they were afraid because of his size. But David wasn't, and he could overcome the giant. Start saying, today is going to be a great day; I'm a winner, not a loser. I know it sounds corny, but to break a curse you're filling your vessel up with what God wants for you.