What’s the Big Deal About Easter?

It doesn’t get as much splash as other holidays, but it can hold its own!

We need to give Easter a little help.

Bless its heart.

It just doesn’t measure up to Christmas.

Of course, how can you compete with lighted trees surrounded by brightly wrapped gift packages?

If we surveyed everyone in North America, they’d probably place Easter behind Halloween. While Easter gives us a few chocolate bunnies, Halloween gives us entire sack loads of candy. And for those who choose not to participate in the world’s custom of trick-or-treating, churches open their parking lots, malls extend their hours and people can still get all the candy they want without ever having to mutter “Trick or treat.”

And Valentine’s day captures our hearts. It’s the time for romance and the opportunity to share love with friends and family members. The day is filled
with the smell of roses, boxes of chocolate hearts, candy hearts, exquisite cards—all declaring love.

But Easter?

No tree. No parties. Not many decorations.

What do we get at Easter?

A sermon.

And sometimes even that’s a little flat!


A Little Help, Please

So maybe we should spruce Easter up a bit. If we could get some really cool celebrities to get behind it, Easter might mean more. It seems whenever we have a devastating tornado, tsunami or earthquake that takes out a city, the celebrities rush to get involved and make a difference.

So if we could get Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Taylor Swift and a few of their friends to really embrace Easter, we’d be off to a great start. And we’ll recruit some athletes, of course. Serena Williams, Lebron James and Steph Curry can get us started.

Imagine all of the above promoting Easter on television ads!

That would be a great start, but we’d still need a good marketing plan. So maybe we bring the fashion industry into this. Put a few models in some super cool T-shirts that boast “Easter Is Cool,” “Vote Easter Best Holiday,” “Easter Is #1,” “Easter Rocks!”

Yes. If we can get the celebs, the athletes, the models and a creative marketing plan, Easter might have a chance!


Wrong Plan

I’m glad it’s not up to us to make Easter popular.

Easter was never created to be popular.


Because it’s the message of the Cross.

And the Cross is an ugly message.

The Cross means death. And death doesn’t sell well.

You see, even if we could get the celebs to promote Easter . . . if the celebs haven’t experienced and embraced the Cross the way Christ did, what good would it do?

The truth is: God doesn’t need any celebs to take on Easter. He doesn’t need help promoting it. He doesn’t even want help promoting it. He doesn’t want people embracing Easter for the wrong reasons. He wants true followers.

The God of color and rhythm and the Grand Canyon and kangaroos and gravity and Niagara Falls and sound and lightening and donkeys who talk and hyenas that laugh could have created an amazing marketing strategy to promote Easter. But He’s not into marketing. He doesn’t think strategy. He thinks love.


The Truth

The message of the Cross is an invitation to die. “Wanna follow Me?” Jesus asks. “Then pick up your cross. We’re going over there. It’s a hill called Golgotha. We’re going to die.”

How do you market this?

How can you make this sound glamorous?

You don’t. You can’t. If you try . . . you’ll miss the meaning.

But the truth behind Easter is dying with Jesus.

Why would anyone do that? They wouldn’t.

Unless—they’ve experienced first-hand the death of Jesus for their own sins.

You see, once a sinner realizes that Jesus willingly picked up the Cross and died in her place, she’s overcome with joy and love for her Father. She wants to live for Him, obey Him, serve Him, follow Him, die with Him.


A High Price Tag

Jesus told everyone to count the cost before deciding to follow Him. (See Luke 14:25-30.) He reminds us that a contractor doesn’t start to build a house without first counting the cost of all the materials. If he doesn’t do this, he may only build half a house and run out of money.

What does it cost to follow Jesus?

It costs a lot.

It costs everything.

You see, Jesus isn’t looking for half-hearted followers. He’s not interested in being the next big fad. He doesn’t recruit with a polished benefits package. That’s not the way He works. He’d rather have 12 sold-out disciples than an entire world that’s only talk.

So why would anyone want to follow Jesus?

Because of love.

No one loves like He does.

And forgiveness.

No one else has offered to pay for our sins.

And eternal life.

The only way to God (and to live forever in heaven) is through Jesus (see John 10:10).

And peace. And purpose. And meaning. And joy. And real life!


They Don’t Compare

If you stack Jesus against all the other gods, none of them even compare with Him! Think about it: In all other religions, you have to work really hard to reach your god. You have to pray so many times a day, or sacrifice so much, or travel thus far or . . .

All other religions show man reaching up to their god. ONLY Christianity shows God reaching down to man! Wow. Read that again, because it’s mega-powerful. ONLY Christianity shows God reaching down to man!

Christianity is the only religion that offers free salvation. You don’t have to earn it. You can’t pay for it. You’ll never be good enough to deserve it. So God reaches down to YOU by sending His only Son wrapped in human flesh to die an ugly death on the Cross for YOUR sins.

That’s love!

And He invited you to participate.


Make This YOUR Easter

Many of you reading this have already accepted Christ as your Savior. You’ve already asked Him to forgive your sins. (If you haven’t done this, you can do it right now. You can tell Him you’re sorry for disobeying Him, ask Him to forgive you and place your faith in Him.) But many of you reading this right now really want to go deeper in your relationship with Christ. We call this Lordship.

If you desire to give Christ your all, you can pray this prayer. No, it’s not a bunch of magic words. You really have to mean it. And God will know if it’s genuine.

Dear Jesus:

Thank You for forgiving my sins. I’m so grateful that You died for me. I love being a Christian. But I want to go deeper. I want to give You everything! So right now, I’m choosing to die. I’m dying to my will, my dreams, my way, “me first,” my future. I want You to be LORD of every area in my life. I’m moving to the back seat; You’re now in the driver’s seat. You’re in complete control. Please release the power of Your Holy Spirit within me and enable me to live a holy life pleasing to You. I love You, Jesus. Amen.


New Plan

If you prayed that prayer and meant it, this Easter will become something brand-new to you. More than just another holiday, it will be your love response to a God who’s crazy about you. He doesn’t need a few celebs; He needs YOU.

You are His marketing plan.

YOU . . . simply loving one person at a time to Him.

You . . . dying to yourself and coming into new life through Him.

You . . . celebrating His resurrection from death.

You . . . living forever with Him.

This is Easter.






I’m not speaking anywhere this weekend. I’m enjoying soaking in the Truth of Easter in my home church in Bethany, Okla. But next weekend I’ll be speaking in Brookings, OR and would love to have your prayers behind me. Love you all!

Please Push Pause

Sometimes we all need to push life’s pause button.

Check this out:

“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

(Exodus 33:14)


I don’t deny the fact that I need a break.

But you need one, too!

So . . . how about taking one together?


Would you consider getting away with me for six days?


I’ve put a six-day cruise together for the express purpose of spiritual growth, fun, relaxation, great entertainment, recreation, and amazing food.


This six-day cruise through Susie Shellenberger Ministries will happen January 14-21, 2018. We’ll depart from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. and will visit four ports—three in the Bahamas and one in the Dominican Republic.


I’ll be speaking (and I’m bringing another evangelist friend of mine, Billy Huddleston who will also speak, along with some great praise and worship). You’ll be challenged and encouraged spiritually during our times together . . . but you’ll also get to experience all the exciting musical shows that the ship provides.


Did I mention all you can eat . . . anytime you want . . . any THING you want? And if you want to stay in your room, no problem.

Room service is FREE.


All kinds of fun excursions are available for your enjoyment.

But best of all, you’ll get to hear some great messages to challenge you spiritually—and you’ll truly unwind and relax. You’ll come back fired-up and renewed to have a great year in 2018.


If you’d like me to send you the brochure, email me your address. (Please don’t respond to THIS—instead send me an email and give me your complete mailing address—your house address—and I’ll send you a brochure through the postal system.)

Email me at: susieshell@comcast.net


OR . . . you can call my friend Carla Pryor who’s handling all the details because she’s an amazing travel agent and has worked out an incredible deal for us. (She’s getting each room $75 onboard ship credit! You can spend it on ANYTHING!)

Here’s her number: 251-423-0900.


Please know that I love and care for each of you—

and I’m lifting you in prayer. My desire is that you draw intimately close to our Savior . . . and that you truly relax and get renewed!


For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:9-11 NLT).

How Come?

Once in a while, I’m going to use this blog as a way to answer some questions I’ve received. I recently got this one—and maybe you have friends who struggle with this as well:

It doesn’t seem fair that God would send people to hell who have never heard of Him. How can this be?


First of all, does the answer to this question change whether or not Christianity is true?

It doesn’t.

If God exists and has revealed Himself to us, and if Christ is the only way to God, then the question may puzzle us, but it won’t change the truth of the Christian message, will it?

The Bible teaches us that God is holy, just, unchanging and all-loving. This means that God will always do what’s right—even though our finite minds don’t understand. We CAN trust Him to do what’s right.

I like what two passages in the book of Romans tell us:

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities

his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20.)


And “the requirements of the law are written on their hearts” (Romans 2:15).


These passages claim that everyone has an inherent knowledge of God, and this can be clearly known from creation and that everyone also has a God-given moral compass.

Is it true, then, that “those who have never heard,” really have no idea of God’s existence or of their moral responsibilities? Biblically speaking, it’s not true.

“Those who have never heard” have heard something and they do have access to key information about God. They know that God exists, that there’s a moral standard and that they’ve broken this standard.

Check out what 2 Peter 3:9 tells us: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

So we know that God desires everyone come to Him through Christ, but not all will.

We, however, don’t have access to a list of who will respond to God and who won’t.

So early Christianity in the Bible places a huge emphasis on missionary efforts.

Let’s go to Romans 10:13-15 for the importance of Christian evangelism when it comes to reaching those who have never heard: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

In other words, Christians are actively spreading the message of Jesus so that “those who have never heard” will get an opportunity to hear. You may have heard or read various missionary stories about those who have never heard the gospel but who have responded to God’s general revelation (through nature . . . through God’s stirrings in their hearts, etc.) and are later visited by Christian missionaries.

The Bible records just such a story about the guy named Cornelius. He knew about God, but not about Christ. Because of his sincere desire to know God, Cornelius came in direct contact with the Apostle Peter who told Cornelius about Jesus (see Acts 10 for the entire story).

Here’s something interesting to chew on: Two guys (Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson) wrote “Is Hell Real?” and they say this:

“How could it be fair and just for those who have never even had a chance to hear the gospel, which is necessary for salvation, to be condemned to hell? The question sounds powerful, but behind it lie faulty assumptions.”

What are these “faulty assumptions”?

“The first mistaken assumption is that our condemnation is based on a rejection of the gospel. Scripture teaches that our condemnation is based on the fact that we are sinners, not because at some point in time we rejected the gospel . . . Furthermore, God’s wrath is revealed against everyone who suppresses His truth revealed through creation . . . Strictly speaking, the Bible denies that there are persons who have never heard of God.”

Morgan and Peterson go on to explain another faulty assumption, this one having to do with “a confusion of justice and mercy.”

God is merciful in that He has provided a way of salvation through Christ for those who will accept Him. But God is also just in that unrepentance will not go unnoticed.


Let’s remember this: We know that God will deal fairly with those who haven’t received a direct presentation of the gospel, just as He will deal fairly with those who have. But is God’s way too narrow?

No way.

God’s way is wide enough for everyone willing to accept it and receive Christ. The most important question any of us can answer is the one Jesus asked His own disciples, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15; Mark 8:29; Luke 9:20).

Bottom line: God is just. He is fair. And we can trust Him. We don’t have to understand Him to know that we can trust Him.



(I worked at Focus on the Family for almost 20 years, and some of these thoughts have come from materials they shared with us.)


I’m speaking in Lansing, Mich., this weekend. Will you pray that God moves in a mighty way in our services?



God wants to reward you.

He says this in Revelation 2:2: “I know how many good things you are doing. I have watched your hard work. . . .” (The Living Bible)

He knows exactly how many good things you’ve done.

Think about it: Every good thing you do is seen by your heavenly Father. And He’s hugging you for it. He’s applauding you.

He’s affirming and encouraging you because of your good deeds.

It’s easy to think no one notices when we go out of our way.

We tend to think no one cares that we took food to a sick friend,

or used a fourth tank of gas to help someone run errands.

But all these things are extremely important to God.

Why are they important?

It’s certainly not good works that saves us.

We’re saved by His grace.

But works are important to God.

In fact, we’re told in James 2:14-17 that good works are an essential ingredient to our faith. “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (English Standard Version).

The apostle James goes on to say, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (2:26).

Works alone won’t save us. But pretty soon after we become a Christian, God starts talking to us about getting involved in good works. He wants to use us to help those in and outside of the church.

When my dad passed away Feb. 6, I was immensely encouraged by the good works from people in the Body of Christ. Meals, flowers, phone calls, e-mails, cards and thousands of prayers were given in my behalf—and I am STILL being strengthened by those good works.

Let’s commit to involving ourselves in good works so that Christ Himself can be glorified. And know that He will reward you eternally for those works.




I’m speaking at the Dallas District Ladies retreat this Friday and Saturday—and at the Church of the Nazarene in McKinney, TX on Sunday morning. I’d love to know your prayers are behind me.

We Have a Weapon

We hate satan.

And we hate it when he messes with us.

But guess what—God has given you a weapon to rip satan’s strategies to shreds.

We’re told in Ephesians 6:17 that God has gifted us with the sword of the Spirit—which is the Word of God.

The sword referred to in this Scripture, comes from the Greek word machaira, and it was a horrific weapon that would inflict fatal damage. It’s tip was constructed upward, and sometimes it was even twisted. So when it was thrust inside an enemy’s stomach his insides were immediately shredded when the sword was twisted.

But our Scripture in Ephesians says this sword (machaira) is also the Word of God. How do the two relate? The term word here is from the Greek word rhema. It means “a quickened word.”

And what does THAT mean?

You’ve probably experienced it but didn’t recognize it as such.

Maybe you’ve been in a tough situation and God uses His Spirit to suddenly bring a specific Scripture to your mind. That’s rhema. The Word of God is sharp. It quickly defeats satan. That’s why Christ used it as ammunition when He was tempted in the desert.

The next time you’re battling satan, make it a point to immediately draw your machaira and trust God to use His Word to defeat your enemy. This is why it’s so important to read the Bible consistently—the Holy Spirit can’t bring to your mind what you haven’t read. Will you allow this to be a loving reminder to read the Word regularly? Even reading one chapter a day will make a huge difference in your life.




I’m speaking in Independence, KS this weekend and in Pittsfield, IL next week. Please pray for me.

God Holds Us Close

Many of you know that my precious Dad (Elmer B. Shellenberger) passed away a month ago. He was almost 93.

He was my hero.

When I was a little girl, I asked him to build me something:

“Daddy, will you make me one of those things that people stand behind when they speak?”

“You mean . . . a podium?”

“Yeah, that’s it.”

“Honey, why do you want a podium?”

“So I can speak, Daddy.”

I watched as he gathered some old wood and during the next week carefully constructed a little three-foot-podium that I could stand behind in our garage

I gathered all the kids in the neighborhood and they piled themselves between bicycles, basketballs, hula-hoops and skateboards in our garage while I stood behind my little pint-sized podium teaching them the stories of the Bible. Ha!

I have a lot of great memories of my dad (and also my mom who passed away in 2003), and I’m grateful for those.

But in the midst of wonderful stories, the path of grief remains.

Even though both parents are in heaven, I miss them on earth.

Many of you have lost someone through death, and you know first-hand how difficult the path of grief is.

I rejoice that we serve a God of extreme comfort.

He often comforts me through His Word.

He reaches right through the pages and holds me tightly in His arms.

That’s why I’ve attached this illustration today.

I want you to visually SEE what we can FEEL when we literally saturate ourselves in His Word.




I’m speaking in Fortville, IN this weekend.

I’d sure appreciate your prayers.

Outside the Box

One glance at the Grand Canyon, a laughing hyena and Niagara Falls shows that we serve a God of creativity. And because HE is creative, He loves to pour His creativity into His children.

Check out one of my favorite Scriptures from the Message:

“Live creatively, friends.

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.

Don’t be impressed with yourself.

Don’t compare yourself with others.

Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life” (Galatians 6: 1; 4-5).


What happens when we allow God to lead us outside the box?

“Promise Keepers” happens.

“Women of Faith” is launched.

“Passion” conferences” explode.

Hillsong goes global.

Revival sweeps through churches.


If we become spiritually comfortable, we grow stale. In fact, we can get so comfortable that we stop stepping out in faith to take risks that we easily took in earlier days.

God wants to use us!

But if we aren’t living in obedience to Him,

He’ll easily find someone else to do the job.

He’ll find someone who’s willing to step out in faith.

One who believes faith and risk often go hand-in-hand.

He’ll use someone who’s willing to think outside the box that we’ve become trapped in.

Yellow Cab could have created Uber.

Hilton could have created Airbnb.

ESPN could have created Bleacher Report.

Wal-Mart could have created Amazon.

So why didn’t they?

They became comfortable where they were.

And now—those who were willing to think outside of the box—are giving them a run for their money!

Let’s not make the mistake of becoming too comfortable.

“Live creatively, friends. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life” (Galatians).




I’ll be speaking seven times in Leesburg, VA, this weekend and would appreciate your prayers.

Let’s Cry About It

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah






Both were rejected and mistreated.

Though Jeremiah’s story can be depressing,

it CAN encourage us.


He was called a liar, (Jeremiah 43:2) . . .

was left in the mud at the bottom of a well to die . . . (Jeremiah 38:6), his Bible was burned (Jeremiah 36:23) . . .

he received a death sentence (Jeremiah 26:11) . . .

and he was beaten and put in stocks (Jeremiah 20:1-2).


No wonder he was called the “weeping prophet!”

I’d blubber like a baby if I were in his shoes.

But Jeremiah wasn’t weeping for himself!

He was weeping for those who had rejected Christ.

He was broken-hearted for the lost.


When was the last time you wept for someone who doesn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?


Let’s ask God to break our hearts for the lost.

Jeremiah experienced rejection and a lot of suffering.

But he kept preaching to those who refused to listen.

We can, too!





I’m speaking in Naperville, IL this weekend.

Will you pray for me?