I began the message talking about how we use reminders in many forms such as sticky notes, reminder app on phone, notepad on phone, alarms, etc. We use these reminders because we simply cannot remember everything. I use them personally for to-do lists, birthdays, important dates, etc. Sometimes we want to remember something, but the memory fades. To illustrate this I showed a picture of the wall of sticky notes we made back in November during the More Than Thankful series. I asked how many could remember everything they wrote to put on the wall. Nobody could remember. Now a lot of the notes have fallen off just like our memories fade over time. In this series we are going to look at some basic things in our faith that we need to be reminded of in order to grow. I read a quote recently by Steven Furtick that says "Our spiritual growth often times has less to do with learning something new or deep, and more about remembering what we already know." Sometimes we think in order to grow deeper in our faith with Jesus we have to discover something new. However we often can grow more by being reminded and challenged by something we already knew.
I shared about how my wife Belinda and I have done some crazy things to show one another our love. One of the greatest things that Belinda did for me was a surprise trip on my 30th birthday. She told me I needed to work ahead on my school work (I was taking 15 hours that semester to graduate from seminary), and that I needed to work ahead on my youth pastor work. Then she told me I needed to be home by 2:00 the next day. She then drove me to the airport and we flew down to Florida to watch the Braves play a couple of Spring Training games. I was blown away by the gesture, and feel an extreme amount of pressure to return the favor for her 30th birthday that is coming up next month. We both have done some crazy things to show each other that we are all in when it comes to this relationship.
We then read Matthew 13:44- the story of the hidden treasure. I asked the students to share what their examples of treasure they would like to find if they were our and stumbled across something amazing. I got some humorous answers: a unicorn, a llamacorn, a McDonalds, and then even a vending machine that dispenses turkey. I explained that during this time there were no banks or safety deposit boxes to put their valuable items in. Often people would bury their treasure for safety during times of war or government upheaval. It was also common for someone to do this and then die while away at war. So in this story that Jesus is telling, He says that the person discovers this treasure, and with joy he goes and sells everything he owns in order to purchase it. I explained that it would be like they went home and their parents tell them that they have sold their car, bed, all extra clothes, video games, iPod, phone, all of their possessions and even their house because they found this amazing treasure that they just had to have. They sold everything they owned in order to have the money to go purchase this amazing treasure. If that happened our response would be "you are crazy" or "you have lost your mind". In this story this would have been the case for him. People would have told him that the had lost his mind. But he was not at all upset, he did it out of joy because this treasure was so valuable to him. It was the best possible investment that he could make. This is the way we are to pursue Jesus with our whole heart. When I think about all of the crazy things my wife and I have done in showing each other our love, I am amazed. But when I look back at my relationship with Jesus, I don't have as many stories about me chasing after Him that way. As followers of Jesus we should have stories of things we did following Him that make others say we are crazy. But usually this is not how we live our lives. It's not that we don't want a relationship with Jesus because we do. Most everyone wants to go to heaven. The truth is that we want Jesus, but we do not want it to cost us anything. We want Him at a discount discount. We want to have a relationship with Jesus, but we do not want to have to give up anything for Him. Jesus is looking for followers who are all-in regarding their commitment to Him.
Some people think that there are two types of Christians. The first being a regular church goer who even gives some money to the church and maybe volunteers to serve in some aspect, but does not give in a way that interferes with their own lives and desires. Then the second being those who give everything. They give up their dreams and desires and pursuits and inconvenience themselves in order to follow Him. However, the truth is that the first type of Christian is not at all what a Christ follower is. We are to be changed by Jesus in a way that we give up our dreams, desires, things we want, the ways we act, think, and talk, etc.
I closed the night in prayer challenging the students to truly seek where they are in the relationship with Jesus. I told them to make sure they were not basing it all simply on the fact that they prayed a prayer at some point in the past. If they never experience true life change then they need to examine where they stand. I challenged them that God is calling them all to do something or to give up something in order to grow in Him and lead others to Him. The question is whether or not they are willing to do what it takes and deny themselves.
It was a great night altogether. I believe it was a great way to kick off this series and I pray that God works in us all. Here is a picture of the backdrop on the stage that is made of sticky notes. Also here is the "Reminder Man- Trailer" that we played a couple weeks ago promoting the series and "Reminder Man- Episode 1" that we showed last night.