May 5, 2013
All bridges have some similar characteristics. They each have certain aspects that allow them to function properly. When those features fail, however, the bridge can easily fall.
In this message, Ed Young parallels the characteristics of bridges with those in our relational world. And as we discover the path and purpose God has for our relationships, we discover what it takes to keep our relational bridges from falling down.
David Hughes: What is up Church by the Glades? Wow, great to see you today. If you’re our guest, welcome. I’m David Hughes, one of the pastors. We’re honored you’re with us. I can’t wait for what’s gonna happen in the next few moments. You’re about to hear a communicator, you’re gonna be so inspired and so moved, and so challenged, and so blessed. But before I tell you about our speaker there’s something cool happening. If you’re a guest, Church by the Glades is one church in two locations. We meet here, of course, at Sawgrass but also at Sample Road. Let’s stop and celebrate the Sample Road campus. The folks watch online. But today there’s a neat thing happening because or guest speaker, he’s the lead pastor of Fellowship Church. Fellowship Church originated in the Dallas area but now it’s one of the largest churches in North America. They have campuses in three states. They are in Dallas/Fort Worth, Grapevine, Plano, all that in Texas. They’re in Columbia, South Carolina. They’re in South Miami and Midtown Miami. And guess what? I’m not sure how all our smart techie guys do stuff like this. We have all these really just young techie guys with pimples and skateboards and they make amazing things happen. But we are linked up right now with the seven campuses of Fellowship Church. So Church by the Glades, let’s welcome Fellowship Church! We are so honored to have you with us. Thank you for sharing your pastor.
And Fellowship Church, it gives us a moment to say thank you. Because I’ve got to tell you. You have imprinted our church in such a big way. My wife, Lisa, and I came to the C3 conference. They host this big conference for church leaders and pastors. We came, gosh, what, 11 years ago? And the Lord just blew our doors with your unleashed creativity and leadership. So you have imprinted us and thousands of churches around the world. I believe Fellowship Church is probably the most influential church in North America. So what an honor it is to have you with us and say thank you. We’re glad to have Fellowship Church with us, and their campuses. But we have a speaker today you’re gonna so enjoy.
Our guest speaker today of course is the highly creative, inspiring pastor Ed Young, Jr. Ed leads Fellowship Church. He leads leaders. He has become a friend and encourager, a mentor. So guess what? Church by the Glades, I want more than that. I want you to do your best. Show them your hospitality! That’s right, Church by the Glades. If you’ll stand to your feet all over the house. Both campuses stand to your feet. Put your hands together, make a little noise. Make a little….
Ed: Whoa! It’s great to be here!
David: Pastor Ed Young in the House!
Ed: What’s up Church by the Glades?!?!
David: That’s a nice shirt, Ed.
Ed: I love this. No perfect people allowed. Wow! Woo-hoo! I’m gonna do this. What’s up Church by the Glades? Also, what’s up Fellowship Church? Well, I’m one of the pastors of Fellowship Church and it’s just a blast to be here. You know, at Fellowship Church we’re about two things. #1, we’re about Jesus. And #2 at Fellowship Church we’re about his … that’s it! Wait a minute. You guys know that, too? I’m kidding.
This is so great to be synched up with Church by the Glades. I want to tell you something real quick. You have the greatest pastor around, David Hughes. And his wife, Lisa, is even superior to David! So, I’m serious. You guys are so, so blessed. And what’s happening here is not normal. This is an abnormal church. The growth, the reach, the creativity. It is absolutely spectacular. So thank you so much for your hospitality and having us. And because of the miracle of technology we can sync up.
Have you ever heard this song before? You might have. “London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down. London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady.” My mother is all about nursery rhymes so I know a lot of different rhymes. I was thinking the other day about some nursery rhyme trivia and I thought, what is the last verse of London Bridge? What’s the last verse? I looked it up, because if you read London Bridge, read the lyrics, it talks about they tried to build it with iron and steel. They tried to rebuild it with certain types of other materials, straw, but the last line says, and I will put it up here, “Build it up with bricks of shore, bricks of shore, bricks of shore. Build it up with bricks of shore… and it will last forever more, ever more, ever more…” That’s the last line of this version of London Bridge. So whenever someone asks you, what’s the last verse, the last line of London Bridge Is Falling Down, you know it. So give yourselves a round of applause. Some nursery rhyme trivia.
I want to ask you a question, a direct question. When it comes to your relationships, is your bridge falling down? When it comes to your connectivity with other people, is your bridge falling down or is it being built up? As you run through the rolodex of people… “London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down. London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady.” Would that be the nursery rhyme that defines your relationship? This is a bridge. I’m gonna talk about a bridge. The bridge. Your bridges and my bridges. I’m gonna talk about London Bridge is falling down.
Now before I do, if you think about the world religions very quickly, all the world religions are basically a colossal human construction project that tries to build the bridge from man’s side to God’s side. All the world religions, all the faith systems, try to build a bridge from man’s side to God’s side. Yet, they all fall miserably short. None of the world religions give us confidence or certainty that we’ll live forever with God. It’s almost like, OK, the bridge doesn’t come close to spanning the gap between sinful man and righteous God. So maybe, just maybe, at the end of my life when I clock out God will wink at me and say, “You know what? You tried. You built a bridge. It wasn’t very big but I’ll make up the gap because I just feel good. Come on into Heaven.” All the major world religions are a colossal construction project from man’s side to the divine side.
Problem: You cannot bridge the chasm. The chasm is too wide. The gorge is too deep. The gap is too great. Christianity is different than all the other major world religions. Whenever you hear someone say, “Well all the world religions are alike,” you’re talking to an igmo. They’re advertising their ignorance. They’re not alike. Christianity is unique from all the other world religions because Christianity builds the bridge, God built the bridge, from the divine to the human side. He bridged the gap. He bridged our junk and funk. He did it by sending Jesus to live a perfect life, to die a sacrificial death on the cross, to rise again. God chose us, thus we can choose God.
Have you chosen God? Have you chosen God through Christ? Because it’s all about the cross. The cross is a bridge and we have a bridge to cross. That’s the great news of Christianity. The bridge has been built, the work has been done. I don’t have to work for it, I just choose it, I just receive it. And once I walk over the bridge I become a follower of Christ. I walk over the bridge and my soul is power-washed. I’m a new creature. I’ll live forever. I’ll have power in the midst of weakness. I’ll have a clean and clear conscience and all the amazing benefits of living the life that Jesus has for us. It’s not easy. I mean, I’m not gonna lie to ya. It’s tough but it’s worth it. It’s an amazing agenda that God has for every person’s life.
Once we cross the bridge something strange happens. We begin to have the nature of a bridge builder. Back in the day, before we crossed the bridge, someone would mess us around, some person would trash-talk us or write this text or post this picture that made us look foolish, and we just man, we wouldn’t really dig it. Well now, all of a sudden, we have this forgiveness bridge, this bridge-building desire to reach out to others.
The #1 desire we have is to have a relationship with God. Some people know it, some people don’t. the second desire we have is to relate to others. A good self esteem is when I see myself the way God sees me, AND when I surround myself with the right friends who give me those props to look back at God for my self esteem. So I get my primary props from God and my secondary props from the right friends. But you can’t have the right friends if your… “London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down.” If your “London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady.”
Samson, the Biblical <whoomp-whoomp-whoomp!> body-builder. The HE-man with the she-weakness. God had an amazing plan for Samson’s life. God said, “Samson, you are gonna help deliver my people from the hands of the Philistines, the arch enemy, those ungodly people.” That’s what Samson was supposed to do. The strongest man to ever walk on the planet. Samson knew it. He also knew that God had told him,
“Hey, Samson. Make sure to build your relational bridges, the deepest relational bridges, the most authentic relational bridges only to the Godly people.” So God, in no uncertain terms, said, “Hey Samson, only have your best friends or those people who you date or ultimately marry, make sure they’re followers of me.” That’s what God said. Samson knew it, but guess what Samson did? Samson did what Samson wanted to do.
Every time I’ve done what I wanted to do I’ve messed up. I’ve screwed up. And I think we would all say, yeah, that’s me too. But have you ever done that? Have you ever said, “God, I’m gonna do relationships my way. I mean, I know you invented relationship, I know you have this amazing agenda for my life, but I’m gonna do it my way.” If we could see the relational agenda that God has for every life here we would be like, what?! What?!? It’s that amazing! It’s that supernatural! It’s that incredible! Again, it’s not easy, but God will give us the strength to be amazing relational creatures when we do it his way. Samson didn’t do it his way. You can almost hear the nursery rhyme… “London Bridge is falling down…” No. “Samson’s bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down. Samson’s bridge is falling down, my fair lady.”
Judges 14:1-2: Here is Samson, who is supposed to be the leader, the man of the hour. He’s leading God’s people. They live in the mountains. They’re Hebrew Hillbillies. The Bible says, in Judges 14:1-2, “Samson went down to Timnah.”
<Ed singing> “I’ve been down … <sound effects>… to that Timnah town.” And he had some timnah-tation there, didn’t he? Samson went down not only geographically but also relationally and spiritually.
Have you ever made that decision before? He stepped down. He built the bridge with the wrong face in the wrong place and messed up his space. And we can all do that.
What is the face of your bridge? Who are the faces of your bridge? What places are you building your bridge? And the spaces? Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. A Philistine filly. Verse 2, when he returned from this ungodly place, Samson, what are you doing there my brother? You’re the man and you’re hanging out in this ungodly land? When he returned he said to his mom and dad, “I’ve seen a Philistine woman in Timnah. Now get her for me as my wife.” Telling his parents what to do.
Kids, don’t tell your parents what to do. You are under their authority. “Well, I just don’t respect them. When I respect them, then I’ll honor them.” Many times we’re not gonna respect authority figures, we’re not gonna respect them. And we don’t really even have to like them, yet the Bible says we’re still to be under their authority. Because too many of us have authority issues. We need to get under what God has put over us so we can get over what God has put under us. So we don’t even have to respect the person but we respect the position. Are you feeling me? Say, “Yeah, Ed! I’m feelin’ ya!” All right. All right.
So, Samson gets engaged to this beautiful girl and again he’s just turning his back on God’s directive. God says, “Samson, I only want you to have as your intimate friends people who follow me. Only date girls who follow me and all that.” But Samson’s like, I’m just gonna do what I’m gonna do.
Check out Judges 14:11. “Right before the wedding party <boom-box-bass sound effect> right before the wedding party, check it out. When the people saw him, these are ungodly Philistines and they’re messing around with a Biblical body builder. When the people saw him they — say they. Say they! Say it in Texas so we can hear it! – they! When they chose… they chose? You’re letting the ‘they’? Samson, you’re letting the wrong ‘they’ have some serious sway in your life? Could it be that I’m talking to someone and you’ve got the wrong ‘they’ in your life? And the wrong ‘they’ have got some funky sway in your life? I don’t care who you are, how long you’ve been a Christ-follower, what you do for a living, whether you’re a surgeon, a pastor, a teacher, a coach, you’re in real estate, technology… if you hang out or if I hang out, if I have intimate friends who are ungodly or the wrong ‘they’ they’ll have some serious sway. So when the people saw him they chose (Samson didn’t), they chose 30 men to be his companions.
Go back to the bridge. The bridge is all about relationship. God has chosen you and me and we have the opportunity to choose him. Once we walk across the bridge we have the nature of a bridge-builder. We choose friends. We’ve gotta be intentional about it. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We don’t just go, “Oh, you’re my friend. I guess I will just start dating you.” No! God has an agenda. We’ve gotta sync up with him, know his voice, and know what to do. But they (say they) had some serious sway.
Give me a T! That stands for teachable. The right ‘they,’ the people you build your relational bridges to need to be teachable. If you’re teachable you’re reachable. If you’re teachable, you’re humble. If you’re teachable you ask the right people the right questions and get the right answers. Teachable.
Give me an H! They’re honest. “Well, he lies a little bit, girl.” “Well, you know, she’s not always accurate. She kind of exaggerates.” WARNING! WARNING! ALIEN APPROACHING! Those little things, I’m telling you! I’m talking about real friendships. I’m talking about Godly friendships. Read Samson’s life. I don’t have time to get into the whole thing. Samson, hanging out with these ungodly people, they lied to him, they messed him around. These women would tell him one thing. They would use all the drama and trauma. <whining voice> “Samson! Please!….” And he would just fall apart. A he-man with a she-weakness. Are you feeling me? Say, “Ed, I’m feelin’ ya.” Yeah.
Give me an E! Stands for encouraging. Encouraging. Don’t go where you’re tolerated, go where you’re celebrated. I want friends in my life, I want friends in my life, I want friends in my life who celebrate the friendship, who encourage me! The word encourage, entheos in the original language, it means ‘in God.’ So when I encourage you I drop courage in your life. And that’s what we need, don’t we? We don’t need these negative people wallowing in the wah-wah.
“Oh, I like Church by the Glades but all the traffic and all these people around, and no one ever talks to me at Church by the Glades or Fellowship Church. And they have all these campuses now. I don’t know… it’s just…”
Give me a Y! That stands for yielded. So see you’re teachable, and your friends are teachable. You’re honest and your friends are honest. You’re encouraging and your friends are encouraging. You’re yielded to God and to his vision and to his house and to your friendships and your friends are also yielded. You’ve got it! The right they! They, they, they, they, they. So build a bridge to the right they.
What type of bridge do we build? Well, we build a relational bridge. You’ve gotta cross the bridge. Your soul is power-washed as I said earlier. Now you have the desire to build bridges toward others. We’ve got to build bridges with the right face. The face should reflect the nature and character of God. We should seek the face of God. The face of our bridge, and every bridge has a face, right? The face of our bridge should be the face of Jesus.
The place. Well think about this bridge is built from Heaven to Earth so we can get from Earth to Heaven, we’ve got to build our bridge in the right place. And then it’s got to span the right space. I think real quickly about the bridge and the place of where it should be. The place? The only institution that Jesus every built. We should revolve our relational world around the church. I am revolving my relational bridges around the church. I am revolving my relational bridges around the church.
“Well…” Yeah, the church!
“How about…” The church!
“Well, I’m not…” The church! Revolve them around the church!
“Well, how do you know who to connect with? And I’m single and how do you know who…” It’s simple!
#1 – Serve. Serve! Serve! And I’m telling you what it means to be a deep Christian. Serve. When I serve I get outside of myself. It’s not about me. I know that’s a shocker but I struggle with that. Right now, it’s not about me. I get outside of myself. I serve within the church. If you’re not serving you’re swerving. We need you to serve at Church by the Glades. We need you to serve at Fellowship Church.
“Yeah, but the churches are so massive!” I know they’re massive! Heaven is gonna be massive. They’re a reflection of Heaven and the more massive a church is the more it needs massive people to undertake massive service. So serve somebody! Look at your neighbor and say, “Somebody serve somebody!” So I serve.
Also, I sow. You want to grow? You sow. See, if it rhymes it’s anointed. I sow. We all have stuff. We have stuff. Matter matters. If matter didn’t matter then God would not have created matter. Money matters. You think about money all the time or you’re lying. You think about it all the time. Making it, keeping it, saving it, giving it. But really we don’t give money, we don’t give jack because we don’t own jack. We’re managers. We bring it. We bring it. We’re to bring, bring, the first 10% of everything we make. These are God’s words. The minimum worship requirement. These are God’s words. Where? To a Christian school? <aaaanh!> To a university? <aaanh!> To a hospital? <aaanh!> To the local church. The carpenter from Nazareth built one institution, the local church. So we’re … we didn’t clap as much for that one. That’s OK, I understand. People get funny when you talk about money.
You’ve got serving. You’ve got sowing.
“How do I have a heart for the church? I want my heart <heartbeat sounds> to beat fast for the church.” Begin to sow and it will. And sharing.
I wrote a song. Did you know I’m a songwriter? I wrote a song years ago for our kids. And one day I’m gonna come out with an album, a kids album, I really am. But here’s the song. The lyrics are kinda complex. I wanted to teach our kids how to share, and that’s the third thing I’m gonna talk about, sharing. I thought, how can I teach them how to share? Because we’re basically selfish. I’m naturally selfish, so are you. So I thought, OK, I will just sing a song called “Share” and if the kids have something that they want to hoard or keep and they’re not willing to keep I will have them to give it to one of their siblings while they’re singing this song. Let me teach it to you. Again, it’s very, very complex.
“Share, share, share. Everyone likes to share. Sha—aaare! Shaaaaaarre!” Let’s sing it together. Parents, this’ll change your life. Single parents, change your parenting! Maybe you want to hold onto that Spiderman figure. You’re son does. “Share, share, share. Everyone likes to share. Sha—aaare! Shaaaaaarre!” Thank you.
So as a follower of Christ, what are we about? “Share, share, share. Everyone wants to share. Sha—aaare! Shaaaaaarre!” So we’re sharing what? With others. We’re sharing about the past, before Jesus, how we met Jesus, what Jesus has done in our lives. We’re sharing and we’re inviting people to church.
Church by the Glades and Fellowship Church, you guys do a great job at this! But think about it. God has put relationships, people in your life that I’ll never know. I know people you’ll never know. And together we can leverage these friendships and relationships to bring more and more and more and more people to Jesus. That’s the intimacy. That’s the reproduction that I talked about.
Well, what did Samson do? Samson burned up decades of his life. A tragedy of what might have been. Finally at the end, though, although his bridge had the wrong face, it was in the wrong place. Finally at the end, yeah he took up space and he messed around God’s grace, finally at the end he did get in on the grace. And you can read the rest of the story but his whole problem… SAMSON!… was a London Bridge problem. His bridge was messed up.
Three types of bridges. The first type of bridge that we need to have, and this is deep here, is the bridge of intimacy. Those people that we’re close to. Those people that have total access, the backstage pass to our lives. We travel here, yeah. And we travel there with certain people. And we meet those people in the House. They’re serving, they’re sowing, they’re sharing, and all we have to do while we’re doing those things is kinda look to the left, look to the right…. Oh wow! You’re serving! You’re sowing! You’re sharing, too! That’s who you hang out with. That’s how you spell relational relief! That’s who you date, and that’s who will be your mate. And those people have full access to your bridge.
Another type of relationships would be those relationships that meet in the middle. It’s a neutral thing. You don’t let them have total access. Samson would have been cool if he’d have just met the people in the ungodly areas, kept them right here, but he didn’t do it. He thought he could drop his guard, he thought he could trust them, he thought he was a Biblical body builder… “I’m too strong. I’m the man of the hour, too sweet to be sour. The tower of Hebrew Hillbilly power!” that’s what Samson thought. But what happened? The relationships took him down to Timnah town.
The third type of bridge, and this is gonna sound harsh, is the bridge (or bridges) we need to burn.
“That doesn’t sound very Christian. My God would never…. My God would never tell me to burn a bridge. Burning a bridge? Are you serious? I sort of like what you’ve said so far. You’ve rhymed and … talked about a bridge. Now you’re saying I should burn bridges?”
YES! I’M SAYING IT!!!! Because the Bible says it. What did Jesus say? When people disrespect you, people turn their back on you, people don’t celebrate you, kick the dust off your shoes! My interpretation: burn the bridges!
When I was in high school back in the 1970’s a popular group, Ohio Players, came out with a song. “Fi-yah! <bom-bom-bom-bom-bom> The way she walk, and talk, really set me off, to a fuller love, child! Yes she does!” OK, thank you. I got some rhythm now. I got some rhythm!
So, we gotta start a Fi-yah! <bom-bom-bom-bom-bom> We gotta burn some bridges. Burn ‘em in our mind. It doesn’t mean you’re mean to them, or yell at them or push them or punch them. You might say, “Hey, how you doing?” Boom. But that’s it. You think to yourself, “Man, I burned that bridge. She messed me around. She betrayed me. I mean, I love you. I don’t like you but I love you.” That’s Biblical. That is Biblical. So many students, children, parents, you’ve gotta burn the bridges. Fi-yah! <bom-bom-bom-bom-bom>
So three types of bridges. You’ve got the bridge where you have total access. You meet those at Church by the Glades or Fellowship Church. And you can’t meet them if you church hop and shop and bop. You ain’t gonna meet ‘em. And singles, you’re the worst at this. I understand because you’re alone and it’s about me-me-me-me-me-me-me-me-me-me-me! ME-ME-ME-ME-ME-ME!!! I understand that. We’ve all been single. Plant yourself in the House. Serve, sow, share, and look around and you’ll meet some great friends. But I’m telling you, guys, here’s how serious this is. This is serious! I can look at my friend, Victoria. I can look at Charlie and I know them. But let’s say I didn’t even know you guys. I can interview right now, Victoria, your best friends, your five friends and I can tell you where you’re gonna be 10 years from now. No doubt. Charlie, same thing. That’s heavy. I don’t care if you’re 70 years old. I can tell you where you’ll be in 10 years. And if you eat healthy you’ll live another 10 years. So, you show me your friends, I will show you your future.
Think about how towering, though, the decision is regarding who you should marry. I have a book that I highly recommend. I’ve not talked about it in years and years. And I think we have it out here, and of course at Fellowship Church, it’s called “Rating Your Dating While Waiting For Mating.” It’s a book that parents and kids need. Because this friendship factor, this being hooked up, yoked together, with believers is massive! Can you imagine? Think about relationships again, being connected with someone where you couldn’t share that which is the most intimate with you? Can you imagine being hooked up with someone who doesn’t have the spirit of reconciliation? Can you imagine – I’ll say it again – being hooked up with someone and you’re building the bridge on one set of plans and they’re building the bridge on the other set of plans… chaos! Chaos. So we’ve gotta have the right friends.
I have a list of friends and I’ve just gotta fly through these. Just give me 90 seconds, OK? You got 90? All right, 90 seconds. Here we go. Here are some different friends that I’ve come up with over the years.
Fellowship friends. The word fellowship means to have in common. Jesus must be the common denominator, face/space/place. You got it and you’ll experience God’s grace. Who are your fellows? Are you on the same ship, rowing in the same direction? We’re following Jesus, we don’t have time to stand up and rock the boat, don’t tip the boat over. No, no. We’re rowing together.
Teachinships is another one. You’re with the right person you’ll learn from them, they’ll learn from you. And parents, we’re always teaching and modeling, modeling and teaching relationships. You’re kids will choose the kind of friends you have and they’ll be the kind of friends you are.
Preachinships. You ever been around somebody who just wants to preach to you? “Let me tell ya something-ah! Something wrooooong wit you! I don’t like it-ah! You need to change your ways baby! If not you’re goin’ ta HELLLL!” Now, I can’t do life with people like that, all judgmental, up in your grill? No, no, burn that bridge.
Another one, one of my favorites, is a leachinship. You know what a leach is? It’s this gross, slimy thing that will suck the blood out of you. I’ve had one on me before and I was with a Marine. This guy was bad to the bone and he had a cigarette and burned this thing off my leg. Too many people are leaches. “Oh, here she comes, she’s a leach! Here he comes, he’s a leach!” they’ll just suck the emotional energy out of you! Some of us have so many leaches on us we can’t relate to the right people, we can’t even see people who are serving and sowing and sharing. Burn ‘em off! Zzzzttt! Zzzzt! Zzzzt! Yeah, I’m talkin’ to YOU!
Also, the last one real quick. And this is a whole message but I just wanna fly through it. It’s kinda the Wikipedia. Breachinships. Again, let me talk about confidentiality. Those people that have full access, total access, to your life know how to keep something confidential. I’m telling you. If you ever hear someone talking about their friends, “Well my friend… yayayayaya-babababakakaka.” They’re talking about you the same way. “Yayayayaya-babababakakaka.”
“London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down. London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady.” Is that your life? “Build it up with bricks of shore, bricks of shore, bricks of shore. Build it up with bricks of shore and it will stand forevermore.”
You’re a brick… house! What’s a brick of shore? It’s clay! The Bible says we’re clay. God’s the potter, take a brick of shore, put it out in the sun, it hardens. It gets tough. You expose your life, I expose my life and my relationships and your relationships to the son (S-O-N), the bridge will stand forever more! I said, the bridge will stand forever more! Do you hear me, Church by the Glades? Do you hear me, Fellowship Church? The bridge will stand forever more!
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]