I know that many of you who read this already know that last Thursday, Jaron became an official member of the Biggs family when he had his adoption hearing with many family and friends present to celebrate. Of course, Jaron has been a part of our family since he came to us last August, but there was something special about the formal ceremony to make it all official. jenni and I were both sworn in by the court clerk and the judge asked Jenni and I difficult questions like, “Is Jaron over 12 years old?” and “Do you plan to treat Jaron as your own child?”… it was a little touch and go for a while as we tried to figure out the right answers to the questions
But seriously, I was once again reminded of how powerful the adoption process is as a metaphor for our relationship with God. Just as adoptive parents choose to bring a child who does not have parents that can take care of her, so God chooses us to be his children. Paul puts words to this amazing truth in chapter 8 of Romans:
“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
We see throughout scripture that God has such a huge heart for broken people: strangers, aliens, abandoned, and marginalized. He calls them to be his sons and daughters and offers them all the benefits of being is his family. And that is who we are! We are the broken, lost, and aliens of this world; how amazing is it that God has called us to be a part of his family.
And not just in his family, but heirs to his kingdom! As unimpressive as it might be, Jaron is now an heir of our family! Because we have brought him into our family, he has equal right to all the benefits of that, both material and non-material. How much more amazing is it that those of us who have chosen to put our faith in Jesus are now heirs to all the blessings that come with being a part of the kingdom of God: blessings that we can experience in this life and in the life to come! I hope you can take a few minutes this week to let that seek in! God has chosen you to be his son… he has chosen you to be his daughter… he has chosen you to be an heir to the kingdom!
Most of you who are reading this probably already know that we just recently cancelled our Lighthouse Mexico Trip because of concerns over the State Department’s recent Travel Warning for Mexico. I find the irony of writing this blog so thick since the last time I wrote here I was proclaiming my excitement for the trip. One of the hardest things about canceling the trip was having to cancel it so close to the departure date… in less than two weeks we would have been on the road in the church vans, eating fast food and preparing ourselves for a week of ministry in Mexico (because those two things definitely go together). Though still disappointing, it might have been easier to handle this decision if it had been made back in January. To get so close to something and then not have it happen is hard.
This morning I rode my bike to church. Now you need to understand the significance of this feat of strength and endurance! First of all, I live all the way out in South Davis! I have to cross over the freeway to get here (that’s a pretty big hill)! Also, I am not really a guy who enjoys exercise. In fact, I might go so far as to say that I enjoy watching episodes of Gilmore Girls more than I enjoy intense aerobic activity (don’t tell Jenni that I said that). But the beautiful weather and my growing desire to be green called me to the bike today… and so I rode!
Soon after leaving my house I decided that it would be fun to ride out to church on the Davis Bike Loop rather than coming straight out to church through downtown. Never having done this before, it seemed like an adventure… following those markers of green paint… maybe it would even be quicker since I wouldn’t have to stop at any traffic lights…
Well in case you were wondering it wasn’t quicker! As I wandered all over the UC Davis campus, around Putah Creek, and through the Married Student Housing, I soon realized that this bike ride was going to take even longer than normal. On one hand I enjoyed myself, taking a new way of getting here, seeing lots of squirrels and birds along the way. At the same time, the practical part of me kept thinking what a stupid idea this was… if my goal is to get to church, why would I waste my time going a different way if it took longer?
As I was thinking of what to write in the blog today, it dawned on me that there was a lesson to be learned in my bike ride. In a similar way to following the Davis Bike Loop, following Jesus often does not include taking the shortest, straightest path. Often following Jesus is going to take us places that don’t make sense or seem counter-intuiative. Often following Jesus is not going to result in life happening in the timing that we think it should happen. But as followers of Jesus, we are called to trust in the path he leads us on, even if it confuses or frustrates us.
So, let’s bring it back to Mexico… obviously we never would have chosen the path of the last two months. If we were to have decided how things would have happened, we would have decided not to cancel the trip or or we would have decided not to start the preparation process in the first place. That would be the logical and practical path. But following Jesus often does not mean taking the most logical or obvious path. Sometimes when the path gets tricky or windy or goes up a hill or takes us somewhere that is a surprise, we just need to slow down and enjoy the ride!
After taking a year off last year because of safety concerns, I am excited to announce that we are planning to return to Mexico this Spring Break so that we can once again serve alongside our sister churches in Lomas and La Mina! Even though it’s only January, preparations are underway so if you are a 9th – 12th grade student, please start thinking about whether or not you can join us April 2-9 (during the DHS spring break) for Mexico Outreach 2010!
We have an orientation meeting on Sunday, February 14 from 1:00 to 3:00 in the youth center at FBC and everyone who is interested (and their parents) are invited to come to hear more about the trip. Please contact me at 758-7100 ext. 13 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, or if you cannot make it to the first meeting but you want to go on the trip! Also, you can check out the events section of the blog to see when the various training dates for the trip are happening.
We are really excited about this trip for many reasons, but two especially stick out. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to join God in what he is already doing in Mexico and it is an amazing way to give him an opportunity to work in our own lives and community as well. If you want to see God in action through you, around you, and in you, you won’t want to miss this opportunity!
Also, please note that if you are planning to come on the trip and you do not have a passport, then you need to start working on that because they take several weeks to process! Check out this link to the State Department website to find out how you can get started: http://www.travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html.
So I probably should have blogged this a few weeks ago (I still cannot get over the word ‘blog’), but I have never exactly been a timely guy. But I thought that I could write down my Top Ten things Joe is thankful for so that all two of you who read this blog could enjoy it (which brings up a philosophical question… if someone blogs and nobody reads it, did it really happen? hmm…)
Anyway, here it goes… not in any particular order except the last one…
- I am thankful for JJ… I could not ask for a better co-worker in ministry… yeah, sometimes he has food in his beard, but he loves students and he is really cool! And as we found out today, he forgives me when I make stupid mistakes.
- I am thankful for cold weather… I love to go outside when I can use the word ‘crisp’ to describe what it feels like! Davis is just too darn hot, so I am soaking in the cool right now!
- I am thankful for whoever brought those Christmas cookies to the church office today… I think I ate like ten of them and I don’t have a stomach ache!
- I am thankful for my kids… they are so great… sometimes I get impatient with them because they don’t act the way I want them too, but when I stop to think about it, that’s what makes it so darn fun! oh yeah, and Jaron is super cute!
- I am thankful for the fact that the San Francisco Giants have had a 50 plus year story of tragic failure and at times incompetence… being a fan of such a team has molded me into a man of strong character who can deal with unmet expectations…
- I am thankful for mustard because it is the best condiment… no explanation needed.
- I am thankful for my dad, also known as Joe Biggs, because he taught me many things about being a man… including the importance of wearing shorts in cold weather. (And it is his birthday today… happy 64th birthday Dad!)
- I am thankful for my wife Jenni because she is still my best friend and the person that I would most want to spend time with in the whole wide world, and because she makes me laugh all the time, and because she watches “Lost” with me, and because she encourages me to love God more deeply
- I am thankful for free samples at Costco, though I have noticed lately that they don’t serve as many as they used to (is it possible that the samples were just a gimmick to get me there and now that they know that they got me they have stopped???)
- Most of all, I am thankful for Jesus! I know that this is the time of year to say that, but I really am. Jesus is the man! Not ‘the man” in a bad way, as in “stick it to the man.” He continues to surprise me and I look forward to learning how to follow him the rest of my life!
I’ve got a lot to be thankful for… there were many things that I decided not to include on this list because it’s so short. God is good, people! I hope that you can see his goodness all around you!
So you all need to know that I have never been accused of being “too” cool. I know that is hard for many of you to believe, but it is true that I have a sort of dweeby side to me. Recently, my “dweebiness” has been expressed through the art of puzzles. It started as a family hang out time in August. But six puzzles later it seems that I am the only one who is still committed to puzzling as a leisure activity. Jack and Jada have totally lost interest. I think Jaron likes the idea of puzzles, but he seems to lack the fine motor skills required to put them together. Even Jenni has cooled off on puzzles… I saved the last two pieces of the last one for her, so we’ll see if that is exciting enough for her to stay interested in the next one.
Besides being really cool, puzzling has some spiritual insight to it as well. When you first empty a 1000 piece puzzle out on the table (we don’t do 100 piece Scooby Doo puzzles at my house), it can be a little overwhelming… there are times when it seems like you will never find another fit. But after investing some time in a puzzle something cool happens. If you have a couple of hours invested in a puzzle , you can literally walk up to the table, find a piece, and in a few seconds put it where it goes… for puzzlers like me, this is the moment we live for. It was Jenni who compared this phenomenom to spending time with God. There are many times when the idea of our faith seems overwhelming, or we feel so far from God that we wonder if we will ever be to a place where we aren’t plagued with doubt. But if we invest significant amounts of time in being with God, an amazing thing happens… we will start to recognize him more quickly and in strange places… what we once would have called coincidence, we now recognize as God’s grace to us… what once confused us or seemed elusive, now begins to make some sense. At some point when we spend enough time with God, “the pieces begin to fall into place”. It is these moments that can fuel us through spiritual dry times when we have a harder time recognizing God working in our lives.
Oh, and by the way, if you promise not too laugh at me, you can come in my garage and see the puzzles that we’ve/i’ve put together… it pained me too much to take them apart so I glued them together and hung them in the garage. Yes, I know… I’m a major dweeb!
So last weekend was quite a weekend for me. On Sunday, it was great to see a handful of our Lighthouse students participate in Hope Walks in West Davis, to help raise money and awareness for orphaned children in India! It was cool to see our very own Joel Finley have a big role in pulling off the event, and I hope that those of you who went felt encouraged to continue to look for ways to serve Jesus by helping others.
Personally I was so glad that we had to only walk a mile for the event though because I was wiped out! On Saturday night Jenni and I had our 20 year high school reunion in the Bay Area did not get to bed until 3 am. What an interesting event that was! Some people looked familar, some I would never have recognized, a bunch of them called me ‘Joey’, and let’s just say that many of them were feeling the effects of alcohol pretty strongly. I remember wondering soon after I graduated if I would still be following Jesus when I was an adult… going to my class reunion reminded me that I am still following Jesus 20 years later!
The highlight for me (you can talk to Jenni about hers) was talking to an elementary school friend named Rian. Rian and I weren’t really friends by the time we were in high school, but he and his family were the first people to ever invite me to go to church. For some reason, though I had not seen him in 20 years, I felt the need to thank him for reaching out to me like that… it was the beginning of my journey with God. Not knowing if he would be totally wierded out by my out of the blue statement, I was surprised when he said, “I know that I won’t show this to anyone else tonight, but look at this…” and proceeded to pull up his pant leg to show me a huge tatoo of a cross on his calf. “It reminds me of the most important person in my life,” he said. Though I was able to catch up with many old friends that night, I was so encouraged by my short interaction with Rian! We have an amazing God! -Joe