Tag Archives: turkey

Dying Out Loud

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This weekend I picked up a book called “Dying Out Loud: No Guilt in Life, No Fear in Death” about the death of missionary Stan Steward in the Muslim country of Turkey.  Normally I would have flown through an easy read like this, but I ran out of kleenexes and had to slow down.  This book is tearing my heart out!

I’ve written about this family before, and though they insist there is nothing remarkable about them- I am in awe of their strength of commitment to sharing the gospel with the lost.  They determined to live among the remote villages along the ancient Silk Road in the area between the border of Turkey and Iran.  They integrated their lives as completely as possible with the people and they were accepted as one of them.

Photo credit: jessleecuizon / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: jessleecuizon / Foter / CC BY

This alone is admirable.  As a missionary I know what that kind of a decision costs.  I make those small decisions a million times a day- will I chose my own personal comfort or will I empty myself for others?  I’m ashamed to say that too many times I chose my own preferences because I am still working in my own strength and not God’s.  I say, I’m tired.  I don’t want to speak Spanish anymore today.  I just need to get into my house where things are familiar and comfortable and within my control so I can decompress with my family tonight.  I make those choices for myself all the time.  I am convicted.

Not only did they integrate into the culture, but prayed a risky prayer.  They asked God to use them to reach the Turkish people… whatever the cost.  Always a risky prayer.  We talk a lot in our denomination about why the Muslims haven’t responded to the gospel like other groups have.  Many believe that because we revolt from the idea of watering the hard soil with our martyr’s blood, the Muslims have not been won.  We have not counted the cost.  We have not cried for their souls because our fears and hatred mingle too freely with our determination and passion to make any kind of a combustable concoction.  We have watered down the message of the cross to make it more acceptable to the world and this weak message is powerless to save now.  I am challenged.

Photo credit: NYCandre / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: NYCandre / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

So their risky prayer lead them to heart break.  Stan was diagnosed with colon cancer that filled his body in a short amount of time.  Stan and his wife Ann felt the Lord asking them to “Live this dying out loud” in order to show their Muslim brothers and sisters how Christians die with peace and assurance of their salvation.  A Muslim has no such assurance in death.  He can only hope that he’s done enough good to counterbalance the bad in his life.  He only has a sad, dark form of hope to cling to.  God was asking Stan to show them how to live and die in the vibrant, confident hope in Jesus Christ.  It was an intensely difficult price to pay.  I am humbled by their Yes when so often I’ve said No.

It is this story of commitment and sacrifice that is tearing me apart.  I am being challenged and called all over again.  If I had other lives to live and give I would go and replace Stan in Turkey.  I am challenged to pray more.  I see how pathetic my own strength is in comparison with all that God can do when I am completely at his disposal. I am hungry for that kind of love for the lost that says “At Any Cost”.  Have I ever loved like that?  This book is challenging me to the roots of my commitment.  And I am Called all over again.

Lunchmeat vs. God

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Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.  When I was younger, my mom’s whole family would gather at my grandparents’ house for a few days to celebrate together.  It was the only holiday that we all spent together on a regular basis.  I have good memories of Thanksgiving.  Grandma would begin cooking days before and by the time everyone arrived the house was full of tantalizing aromas.  Of course the turkey was the centerpiece of the meal.  I waited all year for that turkey.

When I was in college I noticed that the school cafeteria would begin serving turkey related meals the closer we got to Thanksgiving.  But by the time November rolled around, I already had my eye on the prize… the Turkey Feast, the real deal.  So I spent the month of November actually avoiding the fake turkey in the cafeteria so I could maintain an appetite for the real turkey that I knew Grandma would be making.

Did you know that God wants us to have an appetite, as well?  Maybe not for turkey, but He wants us to be hungry for the things that He’s preparing for us in Heaven.  He wants us to be hungry for more of Him in our lives here on earth.  He wants us to be hungry for the lost, hungry for a move of the Spirit; hungry for the rewards he has planned for us in Heaven.  But I’ve noticed that many Christians don’t have an appetite for the things of God.  They have spoiled their appetite with too much of this earth.  Their appetite is just for this life and they have forgotten that this life is just a sample of what’s to come.  It’s not meant to fill you up; it’s just a foretaste of Heaven.

Think about it like this.  Now, I like Carl Budding Lunchmeat, you know the really thin sliced deli meat.  It’s pretty tasty and makes a nice sandwich, but I would be incredibly disappointed if I showed up at my Grandma’s Thanksgiving Feast and she served us Carl Budding Lunchmeat instead of real turkey.  You see, when you know what the real thing tastes like, you just won’t settle for a substitute.  That’s why I avoided the cafeteria’s fake turkey meals, because I knew that the real deal was just a few days away.  I didn’t want to fill up on the imitation turkey and spoil my appetite for my special feast.  But as Christians, we spoil our appetite for Heaven all the time by filling up with the stuff here on earth that was never meant to satisfy us, was never meant to take the place of our reward in Heaven, was only meant to be a sample of the greater things yet to come. 

Look at your appetites.  Have you settled for the temporary joys of this lunchmeat life while forgetting that the Thanksgiving feast called Heaven is just around the corner?  God is the one who has designed you to be motivated by rewards, and He holds the BEST rewards possible because He knows exactly what will make you excited!  Have you listened to the lie that Heaven is going to be boring and bland or just one big long church service with us sitting on clouds strumming harps?  Have you spoiled your appetite for the things of the Spirit?

Friends, I believe that Jesus is coming back very, very soon.   I believe that we are in the last days of life on this Earth.  Let’s read what Jesus said about the time in which we are living, in:

Matthew 24:4-14 “Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Notice how many times Jesus says “many”.  Many will turn from the faith, many will be deceived, and the love of MOST will grow cold.  I don’t know about you, but I have no intentions of being a part of the majority in this case.  I don’t want my love to grow cold; I want to maintain my appetite for God.  There are a lot of things this world offers to spoil your appetite.  You’ve got to keep your eye on the prize and maintain a healthy appetite for Heaven.  We don’t have much time left, Heaven in very real and very close.  Are you hungry for it?