A Bridge to Nowhere
March 31, 2013
Every relationship takes us in a direction in life. Some relationships take us to great destinations; others lead us places we don’t want to or need to go. The question is, where are your relationships taking you?
In this message, Pastor Ed Young gives us some biblical insight into choosing the right kinds of relationships. And we discover what it takes to have the kind of relationships that avoid the bridge to nowhere.
Welcome! I want to welcome everybody and all our different environments. Today we’re here at our church in South Miami. We have two campuses in Miami, South Miami and Midtown. Wanted to do a big shout out to Fort Worth, I know Lisa is over there at Fort Worth. What’s up honey, how are you doing? I love you, you’re the greatest! Also, I wanted to say hi to everybody in Dallas, Plano, gorgeous Grapevine, Columbia South Carolina all of our online campuses. Wow it’s good to be in church today! It is great, it’s great. Today I want to talk about one of my favorite subjects in the world to discuss. I want to talk to you about the force of friendships, the force of friendships. The title of my message though is A Bridge to Nowhere. Say it with me all the campuses “A Bridge to Nowhere.” You might want to jot these verses down because I’m going to go through these very very quickly and I want you think about the common statement may be the common words in each Scripture. I think you’ll get it after a while.
Mark chapter 5:37 – He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James
Luke 8:51 – When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother.
Luke 9:28 – About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.
Mark 14:32, 33 – They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.
Peter James and John, you got it!
The best friends of Christ!
If Jesus needed an inner circle I think it’s safe to say you need one. And I need one.
Three questions I want you to consider today when it comes to your relationships.
When it comes the relational world your friendships or even those people that you’re talking to or dating.
1) Who are they?
- -Who are they?
- -More than just their name but “who are they?”
2) Whose are they?
- -Who is capturing them or maybe what has captured them.
- -What are they about?
3) Where are they taking you?
- -Where are they taking you?
Are you, when it comes to friendships, are you on a bridge to nowhere?
You’re going to be going, “well I would say we’re like going everywhere!’
If you’re going everywhere you’re going nowhere!
But as you look at your relationships, as you look at your closest connections, your John Peter and James. When you think about that, are you on a bridge to nowhere or are you going somewhere?
God wants our relationship to go somewhere.
And for them to go somewhere we got to be connected, synced up with the right someone.
So if I have the right someone in my life I’m going somewhere!
If you haven’t notice we’re relational creatures.
We really, really are we have this desire, obviously to relate to God that’s the vertical relationship.
Then we have a desire to relate to other people.
We are made in God’s image God is a relational God.
The Bible says that we had defriended God. We’ve chosen not to follow him.
God put it all on the line. God sent Jesus to live a perfect life, die a sacrificial death on the cross to rise again. And we’ve been saying around here, “the cross is a bridge and we have a bridge to cross.” Once we cross the bridge, and the bridge is built from the Devine side to the human side. Once we cross the bridge our souls are power washed. We’re new people, then God gives us the nature of a bridge builder.
The Bible says we can become (are you ready for this?) friends with God.
Friends with God!
I can meet your best friends without even meeting you and I would know what kind of person you are. That’s crazy isn’t it? You could interview my best friends, John James Peter. You talk to them and go “Oh, I know Ed. I know what he’s about. I know his priorities. I know his likes and dislikes. That’s how important friends are.
So, we don’t have incredible friends in a vacuum. They don’t just happen accidentally they happen intentionally and that’s something you might want to write down. Friends, developing quality friendships don’t happen accidentally they happen intentionally. God, the Bible says, has chosen us right… God says “I pick you. You matter to me. He put the friendship stuff on the line! Yet within God’s choice He’s chosen you, He’s chosen me; we have the freedom of choice. I don’t understand that I can’t wrap my little brain around that! God though, has chosen you to be his friend and he did it through Christ through his death burial and resurrection. Now God says you respond to that I’m going to give you the nature of a bridge builder. I want you to go somewhere and hang out with the right someone.
Every time I talk about friends I talk about this. I talk about my friend back in the day named Larry. I went to school with Larry, played basketball with Larry. We practice hours and hours together at the school. Traveled everywhere by car by bus to play basketball. Larry was a good guy came from a good family, had it going on. He was a little bit sketchy in certain areas but you know you thought, “Hey, it’s just Larry”. I knew him well on the court. Knew him well at school but as far as what we would do socially I never really hung out with him. Right before my senior year high school my family moved 1000 miles away and I sort of lost contact with Larry. Years roll by and one day my friend picked up the phone, not Larry another friend. He called me he said, “Ed you won’t believe what I just read in the paper. Larry murdered somebody and he’s in prison!” I said you’ve got to be kidding me! Larry?? Killed somebody?!? My friend goes, “Yes! Cold-blooded murder.”
Months went by and the next time I was in that small city where I grew up I arranged to meet Larry in this prison. I’ll never forget it. I was sitting on a picnic table in a little prison yard and out walked my friend Larry. I can see the embarrassment on his face the hurt, the pain, tears streaming down his face. We embraced and I said, “Larry, what happened man?! What happened? When did the wheels fall off?” And he looked at me and started into his story with four words. He used a four word phrase I’ve heard a lot.
“I had these friends.” “I had these friends.” Do you know how many times I heard that? I talked to someone 13 years old addicted to substance. Set down with him. Hey, tell me when did it start to go south? Every time, “I had these friends.” Talked to someone else in their 60s or 70s who’ve gone through all this drama and trauma in their lives. All of this craziness, this toxicity! I said, “Tell me when did it start?”
“I had these friends.”
I had these friends, I had these friends, I had these friends, I had these friends.
The force of friendship. That power of that personal relationship that you have. that I have with others. Show me your friends, I’ll show you your future!
I had these friends.
Well my prayer today is that a lot of us, tons of us, thousands upon thousands of us who are at different environments or different churches who were watching online. My prayers is that many of us will say you know what, starting today I had these friends were going to move away from friends who drag us down, who trip us up. I don’t mean we’re going to diss them or disrespect them or preach to them. I’m not talking about that but I’m saying we’re going to go from “I had these friends” to “I have these friends”. We’re doing a “friendentory”. We’re thinking about our inner circle.
Do you have a personal Board of Directors? John? James? Peter? The inner circle. Jesus had friends, great friends. He had friends who truly understood what it meant to have the Lord as center of their lives. He also understood and he had friends were far away from God and that’s the holy tension. Whenever you talk about relationships and friendships in the Bible there’s a holy tension. On one hand our best friends should be those who were followers of Christ. The Bible says categorically, unequivocally, highlight it, underline it, the Bible says our best friends must be believers. So 2+2 is four! That means those who are single, the students, those you date ultimately you mate should only be believers.
“I don’t like that Ed.”
I’ll say it again. The Bible says it over and over again. I’ve written about it. I’ve written books about it. I’ve talked about it. I have lectured about this subject around the world and I get the same response every time I say the Bible says that if you’re single, you’re student or maybe of 30 or 40 years old you should only date and only mate with those (when you’re married of course) who are followers of Christ. That’s not a popular verse. Singles don’t stand up and go “Wow I love that!” People don’t go “Wow I love this!” NO! People are like “what?!” Because if you believe that two thirds of the potential candidates are wiped out! Two thirds! That’s a lot isn’t it?
But I want to show you God has your best interests and my best interest in mind. That’s true in a dating relationship. That’s also true when it comes to your best friends and my best friends. And I’m going to say to you right now the best place, the BEST place to meet friends is right here at church! The church is a social entity.
So as were involved in church, involved not just show up. People say, “Oh, I went to church and no one would talk to me. I went to church and no one was friendly to me. I sat by myself, right in the back. No one said a word to me.” You begin to get up. You begin to serve, not swerve. You begin to get involved and look to your left look to your right look to the right look to the left and I’m telling you God will form friendships and they’ll have such a force in your life you won’t believe it! God has in store for you great friends! Isn’t that great! God has in store for me great friends!
So friendship is intentional it’s not accidental. It’s not something you just trip up and fall into. “Yeah we just became friends man.” If you’re not intentional about it…wow!
But the holy tension is, going back to it, my best friend should be believers.
Yes, I hang out with people who are far away from God. One of the things they tagged Jesus with “a friend of sinners”. We should be friends of sinners. However, when we relate to those who are far away from God we should relate in areas that are neutral. Areas that don’t cause us to compromise. Go back to the bridge. Think about your friendships. Think about your best friend. How do you spell relational relief? Are you on a bridge to nowhere going everywhere? Or, are you connected to the right someone because if you are you going somewhere. There are different types of bridges and there are different types of friendships. There are different types of bridges and there are different types of people when it becomes really really obvious that you have this connectivity. A true friend. A friend in your inner circle, the kind of friend the Bible is talking about that sticks closer than a brother.
The kind of friend gives you and gives me wise counsel is a toll bridge friend. A toll bridge friend in other words there a toll brother. Or a toll sister. Are you feeling me? When you go over a bridge, a toll bridge you got to pay the freight. You have to pay someone and because you pay you can drive over the bridge. A toll bridge. You got to pay the price. If someone is going to be in your inner circle or my inner circle they obviously have to passionately pursue the person of the Lord. They’ve got to be committed to the church. I know they are the real deal because they had paid the price and they’re paying the price and their relationship with God in their relationship with others I see them serving I see them sharing I see them stewarding their finances generously and I’m like “wow” that person has paid the price! They’re a toll brother or a toll sister. I want to ask you, do you have those kind of people in your life?
Others are drawbridge friends we got to be a drawbridge and our best friends must be a drawbridge. And I’m talking about an old school drawbridge. the old school drawbridge. You got a castle. You got the castle men and women live inside the castle. You got a moat around it. And in the moat you got sharks you got all these serpents, you got trolls. Remember those trolls? Those little troll dolls? Those scared me. Anyway, when a drawbridge is let down the right people walk across the drawbridge. “Dingdong ding dong dong ding” ring the doorbell. “Oh, it’s you! Wow! Alright. Come on in!” We’ve got to have friendships like that. People who are close to us. People we have affinity with and with affinity emerges accountability. Other people though we see, oh there coming down the street. We got the drawbridge down. “No!” Great friends are drawbridge friends. They’re are drawbridge and you are a drawbridge. We have to build bridges but also build walls. If you don’t have any walls, if you don’t have any boundaries, you’re on a bridge to nowhere. What kind of friend are you? What kind of friends do you have in your life?
Others should be covered bridge friends. If I’m on a covered bridge, a bridge that’s covered actually covers the elements, the materials of the bridge built. A covered bridge friend is someone in your inner circle that someone you can confide in. Someone you can talk about confidential things to. Someone who listens to you. Who goes “I understand!” Someone who is not going to be up in your grill and mean all the time. But, a person who will build bridges and draw lines in the sand. A covered bridge friend.
See great friends have all these qualities and they have another quality. The last quality I want to throw out. A rope bridge friend. Are they a rope bridge friend? You ever been a rope bridge anybody? A rope bridge? (Counting) 2-3-4-5-6-7 maybe some others. Yeah, a rope bridge is scary. Built by ropes. A little bit shaky. A little bit tenuous. A little bit crazy. When the wind blows “aaaaah”, kind of creaks. I want friends who are rope bridge friends. Very few will walk on the rope bridge. But they are with you when when those road winds strike, when all hell is breaking loose when you’re sick, when your betrayed, when someone’s messed you around. They’ve got your back. They’re on that rope they walk the road bridge for you and with you. Those are great friends! Peter James and John. Jesus had an inner circle. If it was good enough for Jesus it’s good enough for you and me.
Who is on your personal Board of Directors? Who?
You’re looking at a guy, and let me brag on myself, really I’m bragging on God. You are looking at a guy right here, “look at me, look at me”, who has made some amazing relational choices. I really have. I’m 52 years old and I have had a great friendship track record. “Oh Ed it must be because you’re so smart!” No. “It must be because…” No. “Well maybe it’s…” No. It’s God and number two it is doing and believing and living out what He said. I have planted myself in His house. Committed to His house. Following His friendship principles. And as I look back over my life the friends I have are absolutely ridiculous. They’re sick! They’re awesome! Unbelievable, over-the-top replenishing, they’re great! I never went through a time in my life were I was like “Oh Ed’s rebellious you know. He’s smoking four pounds of weed a day. He’s walking the streets and…” No. I understand when people talk about that and then “boom” they come to Christ! That’s a great word and we have many people from that background who come to Christ. But what is so exciting about some of us is we walked it our whole lives. Maybe our story isn’t as sexy or as “whooooa” as others. But I would argue it’s more powerful. And what I’ve seen Fellowship Church of the last decade, I’ve seen so many children meet the Lord at a young age. Walk the walk, not perfectly, make great relational choices. Peter James and John choices. Bridge to somewhere choices with the right someone. And I seen a consistency and a trajectory that is un-believable. I think about who’s on our staff. I think about who leads. So students listen to me! Children listen to me! The relational patterns you’re cutting today will be those patterns you follow for the rest of your life. And parents, your kids will be the same kind of friend that you are and they’ll have the same kind of friends that you have. That’s Big! That is a towering responsibility. Who are your friends? Mom? Dad? Single-parent? Whose are your friends? Where are they going? Are you on a bridge to nowhere? You’re going everywhere? Or are you going somewhere because you have the right someone in your life. Many of you are going “I don’t have the right someone in my life. Good for you. They’re here. You commit to Fellowship. You say “okay, come hell or high water I’m in. This is my house. I promise you. I’ll bet you every dime I have. God will bring incredible friends into your life if you do it His way. But here’s what drives church leaders “cray cray”. Here is what drives us absolutely nuts. And in my travels I’ve interviewed and talked to a lot of leaders. Here’s what they say: “Ed, people church hop and shop and bob and shop and hop and hop and shop and bop so much they never ever discover the force of friends! They never hang in there long enough to discover the maturity, the brilliance, the richness, the depth of friends like they should.” If this is your church make it a priority mom and dad. Students, if this is your church make it a priority. Empty-nesters make it a priority. I don’t care who you are where you’re from make this a priority and God will bless your life and show you the foundation and the beauty of friends.
I had these friends.
Some day to make some tough decisions.
I had these friends. They’re dragging you down. They’re missing you around.
I had these friends.
They’re keeping you from being all that God wants you to be.
I had these friends.
It’s one of the favorite places the enemy likes to attack. So, I’m going to be intentional about it God.
Now I have these friends! I have these friends! I have these friends!
The future is awesome! The relationships are so forceful you wouldn’t believe it.
What God wants to do in your life and mine just through our friends is unbelievable. Who are your friends? Who’s your Peter James and John? Who’s your personal Board of Directors? Who? Do it God’s way and no longer will you say “I’m on a bridge to nowhere. But I’m on a bridge to somewhere with the right someone.
Let’s pray together. Every head is bowed and every eye is closed at all of our environments and all of our campuses. You know, we have people packed in Fort Worth right now. Packed into our facility in Dallas. Our beautiful facility in Plano off 75. In our brand-new church in Columbia South Carolina. At Midtown right now in the Magic city of Miami and Grapevine. So many are watching online we had over 100,000 people watch us online. But I know you’re struggling. I know you’re dealing with a lot of stuff when it comes to friendships. And I know the force of friendships. It’s not accidental its intentional. Let me start from God’s perspective. God sent Jesus to live a perfect life. Die a sacrificial death, rise again. We can become friends with God. We can become friends with the Lord Jesus by receiving his friendship. His friendship forever that He has offered us. He chosen you He’s chosen me. Have you chosen Him? You can today by saying Jesus I choose you. I walk across the bridge. Power wash my soul. Forgive me of my sins. Cleanse me. And the moment you cross the bridge. The moment you pray in your spirit with me, let me tell you what God’s doing. He’s giving you a home in heaven. A purpose. Power with weakness. And now he’s giving you a nature of a bridge builder. In other words now you have a nature to go somewhere not only with Him obviously, but also with others. If you prayed the bridge crossing prayer, just pray it. Jesus I crossed the bridge. Others here have prayed that prayer. But as you examine your life as you do a “friendentory” you go, “Man my friends don’t reflect the bridges Ed that you talked about. My friends are not the kind of inner circle that have a passion for God and his house and they’re not serving their swerving. If that’s you, move away from them and say right “now God you bring into my relational sphere the right people. And He will do it. But we’ve got to get up and serve and commit and pray for that and I am telling you it’s going to happen. But many of us are being drug down by our friends. And it can’t be. Friends lift each other up. Friends encourage one another. Friends take you to a holy other level. So Lord we thank you for the Son. We thank you for the force of friends in Jesus name we pray.