Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Where credit is DUE!

My growth and evolution as a man, and more specifically as a Christian man, has been influenced by many men over the past 40 years.  Today’s blog will be to their credit or their shame, depending on what you think of me!!  There have been just as many influential women in my life, but today, it is about the guys.
At the risk of leaving someone out, which I would never want to do, I am going to run through a few men that have made contributions to moving me forward in my life journey.  Some contributions may have seemed small, but they came at a pivotal time in my life.
Don Harriman, a gentle giant of a guy with a dry (make that very dry) sense of humor was my Sunday School teacher for 3 years while I was in school.  I thought it was 4 years, but Jay Sampson thought it was two, so I settled on 3 years.  Not because three years with the same teacher was normal, but because he was the only one with enough patience to put up with my class of boys at FBC Duncan.  Patience and dry wit are things that I especially thank him for teaching me.

Mike Crook was my youth leader at FBC Duncan for pretty much my whole youth group years.  He showed me how to have fun and be a leader.  He taught me that it is ok to push the envelope on ways to worship God.  His leadership at FBC Duncan speaks for itself.  I can think of at least 6 people in my class or the one behind me that are in full time Christian ministry currently.  Relaxing in Christianity, and not just focusing on the dos and don’ts are things that I like to mix in from his tool chest of teaching.

Gerald Wheeler was my teacher for Trigonometry and Calculus in my Junior and Senior years of high school.  He is a very gentle and kind man.  Among a world of math skills, he taught me that a man can be calm, patient and easy going, and still be an effective leader.

Richard Lane was my organic chemistry professor in college.  I did not know Dr Lane well enough to know the content of his character or the setting of his moral compass, but he was an encourager of me.  He saw potential in me professionally and really encouraged me to apply to medical school and continue my education.  I was in a pharmacy career path and he is one of the main reasons that I went ahead and applied to the OU College of Medicine.  He taught me how a small word of encouragement can make a big difference in someone’s life.

Rick Johnston is Jill’s mother’s 1st cousin.  He is a great Christian man who lives in Chickasha.  He invited me to be his guest on a Walk to Emmaus men’s weekend in September of 2001.  Through this weekend in Hinton 10 years ago, and the men that God has brought into my life via Emmaus, his sponsorship of me on that weekend has made a huge difference in my life.  I often talk with him about issues, both professional and personal, and he always has an answer.  Sometimes the answer is “I’m glad that it is you that is making that decision and not me”, but he always has an answer.  It is not always a “churchy” answer or what I want to hear, but it is always received with gratitude.  He has shown me that investing time into people and being honest with them can make a positive influence for the Kingdom.

All of the positive attributes from the men above are things that they prominently displayed for me.  I would like to think that I employ some of those things in my personality, although, I know that they don’t show through as much as they should.  I am a work in progress.  I am pretty sure that I could take some of the best attributes of the men listed above and the two below, and make a guy that looks a whole lot like Jesus.
Easily, the two men that have had the biggest influence on my life have been my father, Jerry Gregston, and my maternal grandfather (Grampus) Elmer Due.
My dad has been a steady, positive influence in my life as a child, young adult and adult.  I can not remember him ever losing his temper or being unhealthily angry.  He has always been patient with me and with everyone that I have ever seen him interact with.  He has never been too busy for me or for his grandkids.  He has taught me life skills through fishing, coaching baseball, leading at church, fixing cars, showing/raising pigs and working hard.  I have been hot tempered and impatient many times in my life, but some of the patience that my father has taught me has helped me to be successful personally and professionally.  There have been several times that slowly and methodically thinking through a problem, rather than just reacting, has proved to be the right action.  Much of my world view is “inherited” from him.  Warped or not, like it or not, most of my sense of humor comes from him as well.  If I can be ½ the daddy to my kids that he has been to me, I will be a success.

Elmer Louis Due (my Grampus) passed away when I was 16 years old. 
My exposure to him was limited to those 16 years, but he taught me a life’s worth of lessons.  He had a love for people that I would like to emulate.   He too was a very patient man.  Grampus supported me in wrestling.  He spent money that he did not have to buy me wrestling tights.  Seems he could not stand to see his grandson wrestling in girls red leotards!!  We had an old dune buggy, and we would drive it until it broke, then he would have it fixed to go again the next time we came over.  He challenged me intellectually and righted my moral compass on a few occasions.  I wish I had taken more advantage of the time that I had with him.  Taking notes of his wisdom.  Taking notes on his ability to fix anything.  Taking notes on his ability to play any musical instrument.  My cousin Lance Due, once said that our Grampus was “Smarter than an apple computer” and that was before Apple was cool.  His last name is the play on words that we have chosen to use in our Medical Ministry called “Due unto others”.  We would hope to show God’s love in a way that would mirror my grandfather.  Not because we owe it to someone, but because it is what God has called us to.
One definition of Due by Webster is as follows:  satisfying or capable of satisfying a need  adequate <giving the matter due attention>
One of the goals of Due Unto Others, is to give Due attention to a need that God has placed on our hearts, to His glory!
I am really going to try to be more witty and less sappy in future offerings!


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Me a Missionary???

I remember growing up in FBC Duncan and seeing missionaries come to give us updates on their work in foreign countries.  They would tell us about the remote villages that they were serving in and all of the brushes with death that they had lived through (while clicking through 6 trays of slides).  I would think, “man, I am glad that I live in the USA”!  They would tell us how they needed more mission minded people to come help them.  They would tell us of their need while wearing native garb and speaking in some undecipherable language.  To console us for going 30 minutes longer than our usual service time, the missionaries would jokingly talk about the 4 hour church services services in “their country”.  I am not sure if they thought this made being a missionary seem more glamorous, but I was convinced that I would never be “one of those”.
As I got older, got married and continued in my education, I found myself concerned that if I got too close to God, He would send me to be a missionary in the African bush!  I would never let my relationship with Him grow, but rather kept Christ at arm’s length.  Each time I would let my guard down and I would be honest with God, I felt that He would tell me that He did not want to send me to the African bush, but rather, he wanted me to do more where I was.  Boy that was a relief!  I sure did not want to go to Africa and be a missionary.
My growth and maturation as a Christian, has been much slower than it should have been!  Usually due to my own preoccupation with things that are not eternally important.  As my Walk with Christ deepened, I began to feel as though God wanted more from me than what had grown to be my normal.  In the Summer of 2010, Jill and I read a book called Radical, by David Platt.  In this book, David Platt challenged me about how soft we have become as Christians in America.  He challenged his readers to spend one week per year out of their normal context (among a few other things).  After talking with some friends who had been before, Jill and I felt like God was calling us to spend our “one week” in Africa.  Our friends had been to Uganda and spoke of the people and the country that they had grown to love.  I knew that an “OLD” friend of mine from Duncan, Jerome Loughridge, had been on multiple mission trips in the past, so I called him in October of 2010 for advice.  He too had been to Uganda and recommended it highly.  In fact, he was a part of a men’s group from Henderson Hills church in Edmond that was going to Uganda in January of 2011.  He invited me to go and my work schedule “miraculously” opened up to go with this group of guys to scope it out for our family.  I knew from my first day in Uganda, that God had more plans for me there.  When I returned to the US, I asked Jill to start praying about our family possibly going to Uganda for a longer period of time.  Things worked out for our whole family to go to Uganda for 2 weeks in July of 2011.  Jill and the kids too fell in love with Uganda and its people.  Isn’t it strange, as it turns out, God really did want me to be a missionary in Africa.  As I grew closer to him, it became something that I wanted to do, not something that He was forcing me to do.
Many, many things have happened to afford us the opportunity to go to Uganda for 6 months starting in February of 2012.  We will try to fill you in on all of the things that have continued to point us to Uganda over the coming days.  These things have God’s fingerprints all over them.  One of these “God” things that Jill and I are most thankful for is the positive attitudes of Jake, Jared and Jayne as they have been eager and willing to go.   This willingness at a time in their lives when they could easily be more occupied with friends, cars and themselves.
More later,

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My First Post

Welcome to our journey.  We have been out at our ranch over this Thanksgiving holiday.  Earlier this morning, we drove the seven miles into town to what may be one of the only Wal-Marts left in Oklahoma, if not the US, that is not a supercenter. The aisles are only single buggy width. I decided to buy some flour sack dishtowels to take with us to Uganda for dishwashing.  These towels absorb quickly, and are large. You see, the 3 bedroom apartment in which we will be living has many things of comfort and luxury which I was not expecting or intending, as we came to realize our call to spend six months in Uganda.  We leave February 2, 2012.  I honestly was just hoping for a western toilet. (Only 1% of the population in Uganda has one.)  Well, our apartment has three toilets, 3 bedrooms, and even air conditioning.  It looks to be very clean, modern, and comfortable for our family of 5 as we joyfully obey our call to Go! (See Matthew 28: 19-20).  All of these things plus the fact that it is furnished at a cost below what we had budgeted for rent alone has blown us away. The one thing it does not have is a dishwasher. Therefore, in all actuality, it has 5 ;) , all whose name begin with the letter "J". Well, until May when we are blessed to add one more dishwasher to the mix whose name begins with the letter "M".  (More about her in a later post).   We know the Lord directed us to this home, because the best part about it is our new neighbors who will be living above us during this 6 month stay, the Gash family (aka: our twin family).  You may read all about them at http://www.throwingstarfish.com/.  Hopefully, you will come back to read our blog, after reading theirs.  Jim is quite a writer/blogger.  At this point, we have not met the Gash family in person.  We have talked via email, skype, and phone.  We know the Lord has brought our two families together and we are grateful!  More about our similarities soon..Jim explains it best with his post, "Our Twin Family" at the throwing starfish website mentioned above.   Oh, the point about the dishtowels...my mind has been racing since November 2nd with the realization of not having much time left before we depart with holidays and 3 birthdays sprinkled in the mix.  I haven't been the funnest person to be around, just ask my family. I awakened the morning after Thanksgiving at 4am with the first of two dreams.  By 5am I was awake from the second dream, feeling the Lord's grace and presence to the strongest degree since I'd taken on the worry of the details of not only getting ready for Uganda but what our time over there will look like as we follow the Lord at times very blindly.  We are walking by faith step by step as we watch the Lord reveal each step in His perfect timing.  As I sat quietly last night reading God's Word, journaling, praying, and LISTENING to the Lord, my mind caught up to my heart. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God, and the peace of God that surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7) and Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)  I have been intimidated to start blogging and overwhelmed by prioritizing what to get accomplished as we prepare to "GO".  So today is my first blog and at Wal-Mart, I knew we needed to get flour sack towels.  Item one is ready to go into a suitcase. We will continue to journey along our path trusting Him from bread crumb to bread crumb, with the occasional slice and loaf as He chooses to reveal knowing by faith we are right where we are supposed to be.