Sunday, January 22, 2012

Be Bold

I spent yesterday with two words on my mind: “Be Bold”.  As I received those words, yesterday, I realized that two weeks from now, we will be waking up in Uganda to start our 6 month mission there.  With the word “Bold” coming to mind, I had to think of a story.
It started out as a day like any other in the life of a two year old, watching videos, playing with toy cars, chasing his dog, but things were soon to change.  Because it was on this day, that while eating lunch, this two year old child got a piece of sandwich stuck in his throat.  For his mom, the next thirty minutes were a blur of screaming, frantic calls, Heimlich blows, and earnest prayers.  A young mother saw her son’s fear-filled eyes grow dim and there was nothing she could do.
Paramedics took this young boy to Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City.  There his lifeless body was accepted by a cocky young doctor eager to show off some of his recently learned skills.  Despite the young physician’s and staff’s efforts, they could not revive this child. 
When the mom arrived, alone, at the hospital, this doctor had to explain to her the futility of his efforts.  He then stood with tears in his eyes and a hole in his heart as this young mother sat, by herself, and rocked her lifeless child.  Back and forth, back and forth, and back again for what seemed like hours.  The doctor wondered if he could ever stop rocking if this was his child.  He also, despite all of his training, did not know how to help this lady.  This mother seemed to know that when she put down the child and stood up that she would have to “stand alone”.
The physician in this story is me in 1996, as a resident in Oklahoma City.  I regret not being bold in this situation.  Just think of how God could have used me to minister to and witness to this young girl.  I could have offered a kind word of encouragement.  I could have offered a hug of condolence.  I could have rallied a group of ladies from our church to help her through this time.  I could have said a prayer with her asking God to give her wisdom and courage.  Instead, I did nothing.
God did not give us a spirit of fear or timidity, so why do I default to this so easily?  He created us to be “different”.  He called us to be “radical”.  There is a quote from the movie, “What a girl wants”, that says: Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?
I know that God has called our family to go to Uganda and I know that He is telling me to be bold.   I don’t know what He has in store for us there, but I am so excited to find out.  I was prepared to tell you that I am going to “try” to be bold while we are on this Great Adventure.  But I remember the words of the great Jedi philosopher Yoda when he said: “Do or do not.  There is no TRY”

A part of “Jesus Calling”, by Sarah Young, today says “If you believe that I (God) am sovereign over every aspect of your life, it is possible to trust me in all situations.  Don’t waste energy regretting the way things are or thinking about what might have been.  Start at the present moment – accepting things exactly as they are – and search for My way in the midst of those circumstances”.
I plan to be Bold.  I will stand out for Christ!  Where do you need courage today?



Jay ‘s latest blog is a reminder of forgetting, which I appreciate.  I would like to forget how often I walk into a room only to forget the reason I walked in there in the first place.  I am concerned we might forget something we will really wish we would have remembered once we arrive in Uganda for six months.  But this blog will focus on remembering. 
Over the last couple of weeks I am remembering how sweet the Lord is to bring certain remembrances to me.  In fact, at this point, it is hard to write through the flowing of tears of gratitude.  I remember the night when I was 17 and kneeled at the foot of my bed after a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting and gave my life to Christ.  I remember in that same prayer telling, (I love that now, telling) the Lord I was finished looking for the guy He had for me to marry.  I had not been in the best relationship in my dating career and had been hurt on several levels.  Literally, I met Jay within the week. 
I had known of him, we actually had the same Geometry class the year before.  The only way Jay knows this to be true is because later I could tell him who sat where in the class.  But, just a few evenings after that prayer, I found myself sitting, with Jay, on a ride called the Zipper, at the local fair.  Our first official date occurred a few weekends later on September 26, 1987.  By that December, we knew we wanted to get married.  We had several obstacles we knew we had to be overcome for our plan to get married in the summer of 1989.  In the fall of 1988, we began a navigators study called “Growing In Christ”.  That was the first time that I became aware of what the taste of abiding in Christ was truly like. 
I read a book this week, okay, I listened to a book this week, by Timothy Keller called The Prodigal God.   Keller states in this book that we will default to religion if we do not make a conscious choice to set ourselves to Gospel mode.  After that study: college, teaching and life led me to this “religion” default.  I found myself believing that I was too busy for God.  Yet His grace, love and mercy are astounding to me as He waited patiently. 
We had the opportunity to share with First Baptist Duncan on January 1st.  Brad Allen, who was our pastor when I first began attending in 1987, was preaching in this service and I was reminded that he baptized me there in 1988. Jay and I were married in this church July 1, 1989.  Our three children have been baptized there as well.  Jay and I have the privilege of going through the Growing In Christ bible study again, not only with a new, sweet friend but with Jake, Jared and Jayne as well.  My prayer is that not only I, but Jay, Jake, Jared, Jayne, as well as you, will remember to purposefully choose to set our hearts and mind to the Gospel.  “Remain in me, as I also remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”.  John 15: 4-5.  I choose to remember to be a fruit bearer.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I keep forgetting!

While talking with a friend a few days ago, something that they said brought to mind a great topic for a blog post.  Before our conversation ended, I had already written the blog entry in my mind.  Come to think of it, I probably should have been paying more attention to our conversation and less attention to my mental blogging.  Anyway, this was going to be an overwhelmingly informative, charmingly witty and so clear as to be in HD kind of blog.  But then, I completely forgot the topic and I cannot remember any part of the blog.  I have tried for the past three days to remember.  I have even asked my friend and Jill if they could remember what was said that I wanted to blog about, but they can’t recall either……..

I turned 41 last week and I have noticed that I can’t dig into the data files of my brain as easily as I did in the past.  To quote the great American philosopher Michael McDonald circa 1982 “I keep forgettin’ things will never be the same again”.  I have been meaning to worry about how much aspartame that I consume (because of some anecdotal evidence that aspartame can cause memory loss), but I keep forgettin’!

This memory “issue” does remind me of something in our walk with Christ.  In Hebrews 10:16-17 the Holy Spirit says “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord.  I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” 17 Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”  Wow!  Because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and my acceptance of His grace, God remembers my past sins like I remember the phantom blog post!  Even the whopper sins that seem earth shattering and that satan seems to bring up to us when we are feeling weak.

I am sure that as the days move on, I will forget more and more important tidbits of information.  I don’t really think that this “forgetting” will make me more like God, but it will make me want to remember verses like Psalm 139:23-24 23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  I will need Him more and more to remind me of the sins that I need to confess to claim His “Forgetfulness”.

Here are a few things, related to our upcoming trip to Uganda, that I don’t think that I will ever forget.
1.)    The way people worship in Uganda.  Because of a language barrier in some instances, I can’t always understand what they are saying, but I am sure that they are convinced it is right!!
2.)    The smile of a 10 year old girl in Kiranga, Uganda.  We will call her Sabrina.  I still wake up sometimes thinking about her smile that seems to live on the retina of my mind’s eye.  I will write a blog in the next few days about her and a plan to find her and give her a gift of medical care.

3.)    The faces of three little girls in an orphanage in rural Uganda, as I gave them baby dolls that Jayne, my mother, and my Granny made.  They got to hear about Jesus and have something that was officially their own.

4.)     The hand of a young girl that we will call Joy in mine in Jinja, Uganda.  This picture captures much of my heart for Uganda.

When and if the Earth Shattering  blog topic returns to the surface, I will be sure and NOT point it out to you.  Because after I built it up so much, I am sure that I can’t deliver what you would be expecting. 

Less than 3 weeks until we leave for Uganda.


Monday, January 9, 2012


I woke up this am with the topic of “Friends” on my mind.  I guess that this was on my mind because of the awesome time that we spent with some new friends last night.  We met Christian in August as we returned to DFW from a board review course.  Actually, our relationship started out on the wrong foot as we had trouble making connections with him at the airport.  Christian was a member of the hotel staff that was supposed to pick us up from the airport and return us to our car, still parked at the hotel.  He introduced himself to us, and we began to talk to Christian on the way back to our hotel.  My irritation, over the delay, went away quickly as he talked with us.  He is a very personable young man and he was very candid as we talked.  In the few short miles from DFW to the Embassy Suites in Grapevine, Christian had told us that he was originally from Cincinnati, OH.  He had moved to Dallas several years ago because of an “incredible woman” that had moved from OH to TX with her family.  After knowing the reason for his move and the amount of time that they had been dating , we asked him why he had not asked Erin to marry him.  He told us that it was primarily because he did not want to make a mistake.  He was concerned that they would change, over time, and that their relationship would be different.  God had been in our conversations, so I mentioned to Christian, that if he felt that God had meant for them to get married, that as they matured that they would change individually and as a couple.  That “change” would occur for them together.  Their relationship might very well be different, but it could actually be better.  I explained to him that my relationship with Jill is different and far superior to what it was when we got married 22 years ago.

We knew that we would be coming back to the same hotel for the OU-Texas football game in October.  We told Christian that we were going to check with him to see how things had gone and to see if he had proposed to his lovely lady.  When we returned in October, Christian was not working that weekend.  We asked the hotel staff if they could get him a message and give him a gift that we had put together.  Since that time, we have seen Christian when we flew out of DFW to a Missions Conference in Louisville, KY and talked with him on the phone.  He asked us for help in deepening his walk with Christ and we have been able to start a bible study, “Growing in Christ” with him.  We try to meet by phone weekly, and our kids have joined this study as well.

While in Dallas yesterday, we were able to meet Erin and have dinner with these two charming young people.  They informed us that they were engaged and that they would be married on July 7th.   It makes me feel old that young adults would look to me for advice, but I am honored to give it.

Deep, really honest friends are hard to come by, a lot of times, for guys.  We tend to not want to open up enough to share with other guys and we find that time with other guys goes smoother talking about the weather or OUr favorite sports teams.  I have really good friends from growing up, and really good friends from the last few years.  The first group are guys that I went to Falls Creek and on youth mission trips with.  The second group, are guys that I have met through Emmaus, foreign mission trips, church small groups, or through supporting a common friend through hard times. These are guys that I might not have seen for months, but if I called them and told them that I was “sinking”, they would be there with a “life boat” without asking questions.  But there is a space of time in the middle, from high school graduation to residency graduation, that I did not make the time to invest in good friendships.  My Christian walk suffered as a result of this.  Jill invested this time and has many lifelong friends that were made in OKC and Tulsa.

The great Ozarkian philosopher, Capitan Will Cunningham, once told me (over a glass of magic orange juice and while discussing the ousring story of Rindacella) that “every man needs a friend that he can vomit all over, and it not affect their friendship”.  Someone that you can go fishing with and air all of you dirty laundry and that friend not judge you.  Someone that can offer you advice in love but not criticism or guilt.  I would encourage you to look for people that can be that kind of friend.  Then, you will need to invest the time to foster this relationship.  Be vulnerable and God will bless your trust in Him and your trust in your friend.

What does this have to do with our trip to Uganda?  It is through the support of some of our good friends that we felt empowered to go to Uganda on short term mission trips.  It is through even more support and encouragement from our friends that we will be able to go for a longer period of time.

Thank you to my wonderful friends.  I hope that I can return that same caliber of friendship to you.  I also pray that I can foster that same type of friendship and trust with my new friend Christian and other new friends that we will meet in Uganda.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Partners in the Project

As we are just about one month from leaving for Uganda, it is becoming a little more clear as to what God might have in store for us there.  We are volunteering with an organization called Africa Renewal Ministries.  As a part of this team, we will be taking healthcare, health education and the GOspel to underserved areas of rural Uganda.  We will be purchasing a van and stocking it with medical supplies.  Then we will take the van to churches or community centers in remote parts of Uganda.  Our family will be able to work together in these individual projects.

We are looking for people to partner with us in a few ways.

1.) Prayer - We covet your prayers and we would specifically want you to pray that God be glorified in all that we do, while we are representing Him in Uganda.

2.) Join the team - We will have a spot for you in the work that we are doing in Uganda.  If you feel God leading you to missions, come join our work for a week or two.  We could pick you up at the airport and you could stay near our apartment.  No matter if you are a student, teacher, preacher, nurse, doctor, etc, we can find a place for you in our project.

3.) Financial Support - We estimate that we will need $90,000 to purchase, set up and stock our mobile medical unit and then to keep it filled with medical supplies, mosquito nets and medications for the 6 months that we are there.  We have set up an account, through our church, to support the mobile medical clinic.  Again, 100% will go to the people of Uganda. 

We will have a paypal link on our website soon, or you can mail a check that is made out to RawChurch and that has "Uganda" in the memo to:

 1302 N. Highway 81
Duncan, OK 73533


Jay Gregston
1601 Timbercreek Dr
Duncan, OK 73533

Another way to sponsor us is through the purchase of our Due Unto t-shirts.  Wearing these shirts will hopefully remind our partners to pray for us and to let others know of our need for prayer.

Thank you for your support and prayers.