Archives For faith

  Brenda and Todd

What does a mother do when her prayers to save her son appear to go unanswered?

 How can we continue to serve our God in faith?

This summer around a vacation spot pool, I met a precious mom who is learning those tough lessons...and finding peace in the arms of her Father.

Parents, this side of heaven we will not totally be able to explain why some live....and some die. But we do know that God is a good God and His love in times of loss is unshakeable.

 I hear from many of our Frontline Moms and Dads. We are up against tough experiences in raising our kids. I asked my new friend, Brenda Lurtey, to share her thoughts with us.

I believe her raw candor will strengthen your heart. Maybe you know someone else who needs this also. 

Pass it on.....

Her facebook page is: Remembering Todd Lurtey

 

 “Mom, I might die when I’m young.”

 “Todd, don’t say that! I don’t want you to die when you’re young!”

 “Well, if God wants me, He wants me and there is nothing you can do about it.” With those words, my six-year son Todd turned and walked out of the room.

To this day, I have no idea what prompted Todd to come to me that day, but his words came true just ten years later.

Todd was the second born of my four children. He had always been a happy, active, and healthy child, but in September 2012 his side began to hurt and just a month later he was diagnosed with a malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor.

At first, the doctors seemed hopeful that chemotherapy would be successful, but in just one month and in spite of chemotherapy treatments, the tumor had actually doubled in size. The tumor was invading his right kidney and was wrapped around his vena cava. The situation looked bleak.

Thankfully, after much discussion, our doctors set plans in motion and the day after Thanksgiving, Todd was transported to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC, where the entire football-sized tumor was successfully removed by a transplant team. The surgeon told my husband and me he believed Todd would go on to live a full and healthy life.

I had great hopes that Todd would be able to start the second semester of his ninth grade year and we would be able to put the cancer journey behind us. By January he began to have more pain and scans revealed another tumor had formed in his vena cava. Medically speaking, there was nothing more that could be done for him.

Todd lost his battle with cancer on May 10, 2013 just two months after his sixteenth birthday.

Todd’s cancer journey may seem sad and it may appear that nature just took its course, but I have come to see things from a different point of view. The Lord had a lot to teach me regarding His plans versus my man-made agenda, and it’s been a long and difficult battle.

When Todd died, I was emotionally devastated, but even more so I was spiritually devastated.

I was very disappointed in God. He wasn’t who I thought He was.

Literally thousands of people had prayed for Todd’s healing. I claimed verses that, to me, meant God would heal Todd no matter how bleak the situation seemed. Matthew 8:2 says, “And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him saying, ‘Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.’

I had tried so desperately to do everything in my power to save my son’s life. I wondered how God would receive any glory if Todd just died as, I assumed, everyone thought he would. I thought the only way God would receive any glory would be if He healed Todd. Although I tried to trust that God’s ways were best, I battled dark and sad emotions.

Several months after Todd died, a lifelong friend reminded me that a drowning person couldn’t be saved until they stop flailing. I wondered if that was how God viewed me.

He waited to send me a lifeline until I was ready to stop fighting Him and be still before Him. When I quietly asked Him for answers, He met my needs in a powerful way.

One beautiful morning I plopped down by Todd’s grave and began to cry. “Lord, why did you heal Todd in Charleston if You were just going to take him away?” I felt as though Todd’s brief health recovery had just been a tease.

Although His answer was inaudible, He spoke His answer straight to my heart…“To give you time.”

From that moment on, I began to look back and appreciate the time God had given us and to realize with tremendous gratitude, His love for Todd and for me and for our whole family in all of the circumstances leading up to Todd’s illness and death.

We made precious family memories after Todd’s surgery and up until the day he died. The Lord could have taken him before any of those events took place.

In reading God’s Word, I realized that Todd’s days were numbered before the beginning of time. Psalm 139:16 says, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written every one of them, the days that were formed for me when as yet there were none of them.” That verse showed me Todd was always going to be born on March 4, 1997 and he was always going to die on May 10, 2013. Cancer did not cut Todd’s life short.

I also realized the Lord didn’t have to give him to me at all. I was blessed to be Todd’s mother for sixteen wonderful years. His life was God’s gift to me and one I will always cherish.  

Throughout Todd’s illness I observed an unbelievable peace in his life. It wasn’t a peace Todd mustered up in his own strength. The peace I observed was the peace God promised in Philippians 4:7, which says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

In the days leading up to the actual diagnosis I gave way to despair wondering if Todd had cancer, but when we had the confirmation that Todd actually had cancer, my heart only experienced peace. It was not that I felt no emotion at such a devastating diagnosis, but in the midst of it, God gave me His inexplicable peace and I knew He was in control. I saw His peace in Todd’s life.  

Todd was fifteen years old at the time of his diagnosis. While all of his friends were starting high school and playing soccer, he was lying in a hospital bed with chemo flowing through his veins, yet through it all, his bright smile remained. Only God could have given him that kind of peace.

I also came to realize that God has a Master Plan and whether or not I understand, it must not determine whether or not I trust it.

As we walked with Todd through his cancer journey, one of the main passages of scripture that troubled me was John 11. Why did Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead, yet He did not heal my son when so many people asked God to heal him? Jesus wanted to visibly show the people that He was/is the Resurrection and the Life. At that time, they only knew there was a resurrection to come. They did not yet believe that the Man standing before them truly was the Resurrection and the Life.

I have the written Word of God and everything I need to know and believe about life and death is found in that book. Because Jesus died and rose again, and because Todd accepted His free gift of salvation, Todd lives today.

Death had no victory over Todd. He simply passed from this life into the next. John 11:26 says, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God.” That statement is what the Lord has chosen to reveal to me about Todd’s death. It happened for His glory.

Even if the Lord has chosen to heal Todd of his cancer, he still would have died one day. Death is the curse of sin. I began to wonder if all the while I was trying to spare Todd from death by cancer, the Lord was sparing Todd from far worse things in this lifetime. I thank the Lord all the time that my precious son is now safe from all the evil in this world.

I miss Todd more than I can express, but I do not sorrow as others who have no hope.

I have more than a hope that I will see Todd again. I have a promise from the Creator of the Universe.

1 Thessalonians 4:17 says, “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”   I look forward to that day with all my heart.

Until then, my Savior holds my treasure!


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My kids brought me this article explaining how George Perdikis, one of the founders of the Newsboys Christian Band, recently announced that he is now an atheist. How tragic. And how confusing.

How can it be that the same year we watched the Newsboys on the movie release God's Not Dead we also hear of their original band member's departure from the faith? Is that not ironic?

Atheism does appear to be on the rise.

But I am not one who thinks the trend must continue! As a parent I am committed to learn what I can about the reasons someone leaves their faith....and then do everything in my power to counter these hindering forces before they attack my family and friends!

Here are 9 top reasons I have noted. Can you think of others?

1. They never were really a Christian: Lack of authentic faith in the heart even when appearances are being kept up to fake a Christian identity will eventually show up on the outside.

2. Losing their "First Love": Jesus warned of being tricked into forsaking your first love in Revelation 2:4. All through the Old Testament we read of those who started with God and then fell in love with something else that led them away from Him.

3. Cares, worries, and riches: The seed (which is the Word of God) was choked to death in the parable of the sower by cares, worries, and riches. Matthew 13:1-22. When the Word is snuffed out in a person's heart, faith leaves.

4. Shallow Bible knowledge: Eve was talked out of her obedient faith in God by the snake who simply questioned her belief. "Did God really say?" is being asked in our modern world by an unbelieving and perverse generation. If we do not know how to answer the tough questions of our day using biblical reasoning, we can easily be talked out of faith. (I’ve written about this in our book Not Open).

5. Persecution: Matthew 13: 21 says concerning the seed that fell on the rocky soil, "But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away." We are on the increasing edge of real persecution in this country, so people falling away according to this scripture could be a predicted result.

6. Bitter roots: When bad things happen to good people, everyone wants to know "why." And if we suffer painful loss the enemy of our souls will tempt us to do what Job’s wife told him to do: Curse God and die. (Job 2:9)

Hebrews 12:15 says it this way: See to it that… no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

7. Heretical doctrines: False doctrines are sometimes called false gospels in the Bible. Today we see many false teachings circulating that open the door for an abandonment of true Biblical orthodox Christian faith.

8. Sin: Sin has the power to blind us. If we are not willing to repent quickly of our sin, we are tempted to rewrite what we believe to escape sin's inevitable consequences.

9. Broken family images: When the image of Daddy is painful in this life, some walk away from the One who can heal their broken souls!

 So ....what are you doing in your home to counter these enemies of your Christian faith?

Lisa

Image: MTSOfan “diverge” via Flickr Creative Commons
License: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

 

 

Related External Link: 4 Truths to Combat Atheism's Lie

 

 

 

 

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In an age when most American Christians seem squeamish about sharing their faith, God is raising up brave believers in other lands who are making us look like spiritual wimps!!

 

This video clip of Father Zacharia Botros, a brother in the Lord from Egypt changed my life. It has greatly impacted our whole family.

You won't need my commentary on it. It simply speaks for itself.

Blessings,

Lisa

Related external link: The official website of Fr. Zacharia Botros

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Last week I encouraged you to talk in your family about the Brittany Maynard case of assisted suicide.

One of our Frontline Moms and Dads readers took me seriously in that challenge, and sent me this provocative article. The author shares yet another perspective on whether a person with a terminal brain cancer diagnosis should fight to stay alive.

These issues of death and dying reveal so much about our own views on life and living!

For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21

I appreciate the personal struggle represented  by both of these families’ stories. Will you join me in praying for each family? 

And will you also pray for the body of Christ as we are charged with representing the heart of God on issues of pain and suffering?

Image: Soumyadeep Paul “Alone and Dying” via Flickr Creative Commons
License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

 

 

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My Ladies’ Sunday school class confirmed the obvious:

Most people are feeling worried.

Unless you have been asleep the last few weeks, you probably do not need me to explain why.

Sure, we have faced tough times in our nation in recent years.

But somehow the mixture of ISIS beheadings and blood moon prophecies combined with domestic Ebola cases handled with mysterious mistakes and life-risking errors is seeming to be a little too much!

We want our sweet security back!

As we considered our options, we realized that freaking out about these threats did not seem like a productive plan, so we wisely considered 6 other more constructive responses.

Perhaps you and your family will find these suggestions helpful to take into your new week while watching the international news!

1. Fear not! It’s one of the clearest instructions repeated dozens of times in scriptures. Fear is a paralyzing spiritual force that must be resisted....in Jesus’ name! Let your children see your leadership today as you arrest the force of fear. (See 2 Kings 6:16, Isaiah 41:10 and Matthew 10:28)  

 2. Face facts. David looked honestly at Goliath. Without fear, he noted his size and strength. With courage we can look at facts....but then look at our God!

3. Expect the full range of human reactions going on around you. My ladies and I could recognize a whole range of responses we were observing among our peers:

denial that tried to minimize and scoff at the threat
hysteria that exaggerated and lead to chaos
anger that looked for someone to blame
foolishness that looked for ridiculously irrational answers
fixer-uppers who try hard to find a way out

Once we could identify all the "types" of responses we had already done ourselves :), we were free to make a wiser response.

4. Transfer your trust. I am deeply concerned when I continue to hear in the media a boasting of how strong our health care and military are, and how we would never have a serious threat to our nation.

Uh oh, I keep thinking. Pride goes before a fall! While I am so grateful to be a citizen of our wonderful country....I refuse to place my trust anywhere but in God alone! (Psalm 91)

5. Kindle your faith. This is not the time to be wishy- washy with our faith. This is the time to be feeding our faith with the word of God! (Romans 10:17)

6. Pray! Surely...surely we can see our incredibly important role in our nation right now. I am hearing God's voice beckoning me to pray like never before. He is on His throne ready to receive our requests and give us our instructions. (Hebrews 4:16)

What else would you add to my list of 6?

Image: Nate Steiner “Panic” via Flickr Creative Commons
License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)