MARY Christmas

This year I’ve decided to have a MARY Christmas.
I’ve been thinking about her recently . . . and here are some things
I’m learning that I want to challenge you with, OK?

• Mary trusted God for the impossible.
When the angel announced she’d deliver the Messiah, she didn’t understand it. It seemed ridiculous, but her response was,
“I believe. It is as you say.”

This Christmas will you, too, trust God for the impossible?
Is He calling you to do something that seems ridiculous?

Even though you don’t understand and can’t see what’s ahead,
you have the opportunity—like Mary—to respond in simple faith:
“I believe. It is as You say.”

• Mary was obedient. 
Her obedience to God required her to risk disaster.
In her culture, an unmarried pregnant woman was shunned. And unless the father of the child agreed to marry her, she’d probably remain unmarried for life.

If her own father rejected her, she could be forced into begging or prostitution in order to earn her living.

And with her story about the Holy Spirit impregnating her, she risked being labeled crazy as well. It must have seemed as though everything was against her.

But in spite of the risks, Mary responded in obedience: “I am willing.”

In spite of the possible costs, will you be obedient this Christmas? Will you ask God to help you overlook the risks and simply say yes to His holy will?

When Mary said, “I am willing,” she didn’t know about the tremendous blessing she’d receive. She only knew that God was asking her to serve Him, and she willingly obeyed.

Will you react the same way? Don’t wait to see the bottom line before obeying God. Offer yourself as a wiling servant—even when the results of doing so look disastrous.
• Mary allowed herself to be accountable.
She made herself accountable to her spiritually wise and older cousin, Elizabeth.

I can imagine these two women praying and rejoicing together in their godly obedience. Make it a point to share your deepest questions, needs, requests and victories with another Christian who’s solid enough to ask appropriate questions and who’s willing to pray with you.

• Mary never lost faith that God was in control.

When Caesar Augustus, the Roman emperor, decreed that a census must be taken throughout the nation, it meant that Joseph and a pregnant Mary would have to make the 70-mile trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

Mary knew the trip wouldn’t be easy, and she could’ve easily begun questioning God’s plans. But she trusted that God was in complete control.

Can you trust that God controls ALL of history—even when you don’t understand it?

Because of the degree of Caesar Augustus, Jesus was born in the very town prophesied for His birth (Micah 5:2), even though His parents didn’t live there. God was quietly working behind the scenes, even though Mary and Joseph couldn’t see His hand.

Like Mary, I want to trust, obey, be accountable and remain faithful.

How about you?

 

Thoughts?

 

 

iSLEEP

I mentioned last week that I love the book of Daniel,
and by reading a commentary about him, I discovered
some exciting things.

Last week I shared that I found out Daniel was only 14
when he was captured.
And his three best friends—Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego—
were even younger than he was!

I’m impressed with their strong relationship with God,
and I’m impressed with their backbones of steel.

I sure hope we’re bringing up some Daniels today.
I challenged you last week to grab a student and help him/her become a Daniel by participating on our Susie Shellenberger Ministries missions trip to Haiti June 27 to July 10, 2016.

BUT I gave the wrong address to our Website!

Here’s the correct address if you’d like to get the info:

www.neverthesamemissions.org

I mistakenly put a period after org and you told me you couldn’t connect.
Try it again with this correct address.

OK. Let’s get back to Daniel.

Here’s another amazing thing I’ve discovered.
Most Bible scholars believe Daniel was 87 years old when he was
thrown into the den of lions.

87!!!!

And most Bible scholars also believe that he just slept the entire night.
I know what some of you are thinking.
Some of you are saying, “Susie! When you’re 87, that’s all you do—sleep!”

Maybe.
But I think he slept not simply because he was getting up in years.
I believe he was able to sleep because of his strong relationship with God.

In other words, Daniel’s relationship with Jehovah God was so intimate . . . so secure . . . so strong . . . that he could simply sleep
IN THE MIDST of persecution.

Wow.
That’s what I want.

When I feel as though my world is falling apart, or people make fun of my convictions, I want to be able to simply relax and think,
God has my back.
So I don’t need to worry.
I can just sleep right through this.

Maybe sleeping can become my spiritual gift.
Ha!

iSLEEP

Wouldn’t it be great to actually be so calm during trials or persecution that we could actually just sleep right through it because we know God is in complete charge?

Let’s “dare to be a Daniel” (as the old hymn says).

And let’s reach out to some students and help them become intimate with God. We need more Daniels today.

Will you join me in becoming a Daniel?

He Was How Old???

I love the story of Daniel.
In fact, I love his life so much, I’ve been reading a Bible commentary about him.
I discovered some interesting things. Here’s just one:

• Daniel was only 14 years old when he was taken captive.

I love the fact that even at the young age of 14, he had such a strong relationship with God, that he was able to say no to the things that were set before him.

You know a 14-year-old boy who was hungry and had traveled for miles in captivity, was certainly tempted by the rich and plenteous food and drinks that were offered him.

But he said no.

I hope we’re raising some young Daniels and Danielle’s today.
Maybe you know a 14-year-old.
If he or she were kidnapped by terrorists and thrown into a room with all the latest tech gadgets (iPODS, iPADS, iWATCHES, video games, etc.) would they look around and say, “Ooooh. Amazing. I want it. BUT . . . I’m not sure God is a part of this, so I better say no for now.”

I know some young Daniels and Danieles.
I meet them each summer on the annual two-week missions trip I lead. They’re students who are sold-out to God.
Students who want to make a difference.
Students who give themselves to others.
Students who respond in obedience to God’s leading.

This next summer, we’ll be going to Haiti.
BEFORE the earthquake in 2010, experts say the number of orphans in Haiti was approximately 380,000.

Experts now estimate that the number of orphans has doubled to about 750,000 SINCE the earthquake.

So I need a lot of Daniels.
I need students.
And I need adults—
people who will come alongside me for two weeks to make a difference.

Yes, we’ll work with orphans.
We’ll also get our hands dirty with some work projects.
And, of course, we’ll spread the gospel . . . the students will do this through a 22-minute drama pantomime that’s set to Creole (the Haitian language).

We’ll also set up small one-day medical clinics in a variety of places and offer light medical attention to those who needs it. So, physicians, nurses, P.A.s, and other medical workers are desired.

Would you take the hand of a student and bring him or her on this missions adventure? If so, you’ll both return never the same.

That’s what we’re calling the trip.
Never the Same.

If you’d like more information, we’ve set up a Web site: www.neverthesamemissions.org.

IF you decide to download the application and apply to attend, it’s important that you put MY NAME at the top of it. Just write “Susie told me about this.”

Why?
Because for the past 17 years, I’ve used Big World Ventures (Tulsa, OK) to put the details together for me and to handle all the applications that come in. If they see my name on your application, they’ll speed up the process and will get back with you faster.

Will you dare to be a Daniel?
Will you invest in the life of a student and help him or her become a Daniel?

(If you know a genuine Daniel, please tell me about him/her!)

Next week, I’ll share another exciting fact I’ve learned about Daniel.
But until then, there’s an old, old hymn I want to leave you with:

 

“Dare To Be a Daniel”
Standing by a purpose true,
Heeding God’s command,
Honor them, the faithful few!
All hail to Daniel’s band!
Refrain:
Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
Dare to make it known.

 

I Don’t Pray for Patience

I don’t pray for patience, because I’m afraid I’ll get it.
I’m OK being impatient.

You know I’m kidding.
(Or am I?)

I’ve been up since 3:30 a.m.
My flight was supposed to leave at 5 a.m.
I travel 42 weeks/weekends a year, and I’m learning to discern what some of the pilot’s announcements actually mean.

“Delayed due to mechanical difficulties” really means we forgot to gas up.

“Delayed due to unforeseen problems,” means we can’t find the keys.

Pilot: Got the keys?
Co-Pilot: No. I don’t have the keys. I thought you had them.
Pilot: I don’t have the keys. Where are the keys?

And during the actual flight . . .

“We’re experiencing some unexpected turbulence,” really means the pilot’s son who’s traveling shotgum, got bored doing his homework and pulled a lever, turned a knob or pressed a button.

Pilot to son: “Don’t make me stop this plane. Cuz I’ll do it. I told you to concentrate on your homework!”

So I was supposed to depart at 5 a.m.

3:30 came way too early. I’m thinking on these early flights, maybe I should start calling the airline about an hour ahead of time and just check in with them:

ME: “Did someone gas up the plane? Got the keys? No children in the cockpit for this flight? Are the windshield wipers working OK? Gas pedal and brakes good? Toilet paper in the dollhouse bathroom?”

I finally leave the OKC airport at 8:45 a.m., and of course I’ve missed my connection from Chicago to Flint, MI. Now I’m enjoying a five-and-a-half layover in Chicago. That’s how long it takes to fly from OKC to London. As in England.

London, England!
I could be touring Madam Tussad’s wax museum right now!
Or the Doc Martin four-story headquarters.
Or taking pix with William and Kate and the babies.
Or being issued a restraining order from William and Kate and the babies.
Instead I’m eating an Auntie Ann’s pretzel and picking off the salt.
Almost as good being in London.

I finally arrive in Flint, Mich., at 8 p.m.
The service I was scheduled to speak at started at 7.
It’s over. I  totally missed it.
They turned it into a prayer meeting instead.
And God moved.
Without me.

What a great reminder.
He so does NOT need me.
I’m extremely grateful He has chosen to use me.
But He doesn’t need me.
He could make the rocks cry out, or the podium speak His Word,
or have the carpet sing His praises.

Father, I’m frustrated.
Exhausted.
But thankful for the lesson You’ve taught me today.
It’s not about my schedule, is it?
It’s not about my speaking, is it?

IT. IS. ALWAYS. ABOUT. YOU.

All the time.

Every day.

In every way.

Yes, Lord.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what God uses to get YOUR attention to remind you of this truth.

Never the Same

I’m in Quito, Ecuador.
For the past 17 years I’ve taken students (and adults to help me) on two-week international mission trips.

My friend Steve Goley, with Big World Ventures out of Tulsa, Okla., actually puts the details together for me (flights, ministries, hotel, translators, etc.) so I can simply concentrate on loving and ministering.

My main job is to speak each evening. When everyone comes back to the hotel, we have a hot meal and then an evening service we call  FUAGNEM: Fired Up And Going Nuts Every Minute!

Each summer we see more than a thousand people give their lives to Christ through this ministry. We collect their information and give that to local pastors who want to disciple them and get them involved in their churches.

May I confess something?
I’m exhausted. Just finished speaking at a camp in VA
and barely had time to repack and do laundry before flying overnight to Quito. Part of me is longing to be home.
In my own bed.
With my two dogs, Obie and Amos.

But I’m here because it’s right.
For the past 17 years it’s been right.
It’s my chance to see God move in big ways.

And more than making an impact in another country . . .
the real reason I do a missions trip each year is for our students.

Most teens view their relationship with Christ as a feeling—
and it’s usually how they feel when their hands are in the air
and they’re swaying to praise and worship music.
This is Christianity, they think.
This is what it means to love God.

Sometimes I wish we’d just stop all the music and teach students there are other ways to worship.
Before you condemn me, please hear me out.

When we enter a relationship with God,
It’s something that’s so sacred
so huge
so holy
it transcends our understanding.
It’s BIG.
It can’t be contained in how I feel when my hands are in the air
And I feel the beat of drums swelling in my head.
In fact, it has nothing to do with this.
It’s beyond that!
It’s saying, “I won’t renounce” when the machete is at the throat of an Iraqi Christian.
It’s making time to read the Bible . . . daily . . .
no matter how tired we are or how much we have to do.
And it’s praying constantly.
It’s trusting God for what we can’t see.
It’s weeping before Him and yearning until our hearts feel raw from praying for genuine intimacy with Him.
It has nothing to do with my favorite chorus.
And on these trips . . . I see our students go beyond the music.
I watch them push deeper than the excitement of an overseas trip.
I see the light go on in their eyes as I speak to the group about living in radical obedience to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
And I hear their confession. I see their growth.
And we have revival.

Revival. Not a word we hear much anymore.
Most teens have never heard the word.
And when they experience it, they don’t know how to label it.
They come to me with tears running down their cheeks saying,
“I’m a Christian, but I’ve never been challenged like this.”
“I don’t hear stuff like this in my church back home.”
“I’ve never been challenged like this before.”

And I wonder what IS being preached in many of our churches.
Or if many are simply places to feel good.
And I question if most teens who think they have a relationship with Christ really do have a genuine relationship with Him.

So I do this trip every year.
Because I love revival. And I love introducing teens to revival.
And I love hearing them testify. Many don’t even know what a testimony is. They learn quickly.

And when I watch a teen lead someone to Christ . . . it’s amazing how his confidence soars! Nothing is impossible, if one can lead someone to God! Sharing our faith is a definite confidence booster.

And by the end of the trip, to see how worship has completely changed from feel-good music to truly being in awe of our Creator God . . . to being speechless before Him . . . to grasping even a bit of His power . . .

Well, that’s why I’m here.
And missing my own bed is a very small price to pay.

Share with me your thoughts on how YOU experience genuine revival. And why do you think many churches no longer have revival?

Masterpiece

The paint is still wet on the canvas.

The colors glisten in the sun.

Texture and technique equal vibrancy extraordinaire.

The Artist has created brilliance.

 

But instead of putting down His brush, He waves it over His creation and breathes directly into the painting. The colors receive His breath and begin to move. Rhythm gives birth to shape. Silhouettes become personalities. Life explodes through the canvas.

 

It’s a masterpiece. What the Artist has captured is beyond your imagination. You don’t want to blink for fear of missing something.

As your focus intensifies . . . you’re able to see beyond the kaleidoscope of vivacity . . . and you’re stunned.

You’re looking at you.

 

The Artist has included you in His painting.

It’s hard to swallow.

Your heart is racing.

How is this possible?

 

It may be hard to believe . . .

but breathe a sigh of relief, because it’s true.

 

YOU are inside the greatest painting in the world.

In fact, even before the Artist picked up His brush,

you were on His mind.

 

He knew the color of your hair before He painted it.

He saw your laugh lines before sketching them.

He places so much value in who you are, that He never thought twice about placing you in His creation. In fact, if you look a little closer, you’ll see a resemblance between you and the Artist . . . for He fashioned everything in this masterpiece after His own image.

 

YOU are in the painting.

YOU are part of the masterpiece.

YOU have reason to rejoice.

 

As you study the work before you,

it begins to move . . . and you realize this is not a still painting.

It’s a moving piece of art.

 

Let’s not simply look at the painting or admire it from a distance.

Transformation never comes from simply viewing.

The Artist has extended His hand.

He has issued the invitation.

Will you join Him?

He invites you inside the masterpiece.

 

Go ahead.

Step inside.

Look around. Characters are moving swiftly now.

The Artist Himself is quickening. He’s engaged. He, too, is inside the painting. And He’s moving more rapidly than anything else on the canvas.

 

What’s He doing?

Look around.

Notice every detail.

This is all about you.

 

Soak it in.

The Artist is shifting everything in the painting to get to you.

From His vantage point, it’s you on center stage.

The painting revolves around you.

He’s literally moving heaven and earth to get to you.

He’s chasing you.

He wants you.

He’s calling you by name.

 

Allow yourself to be captured

and

captivated by Him.

 

It’s all about you.

If you were the only one in all the world to paint . . .

He’d still use the richest, most vibrant, all-expensive colors

on you.

 

It’s all about you.

You’re the one for whom He died.

You’re the one for whom He refused to stay in the tomb.

You’re the one for whom He has purchased the new canvas.

 

You’ll meet some fascinating personalities affected by the Artist.

You’ll become part of the story inside the stories the Artist has breathed onto the canvas.

 

Go ahead.

Accept His invitation inside the painting.

Discover your story by learning His.

Along the way, you’ll engage in 18 encounters that prove

it really is

all about

you.

 

(The above is the introduction to my new book Masterpiece: 18 Encounters With Jesus That Prove It’s All About You)

Where’s Your Heart?

God spoke a lot about a man’s heart.

Know it by heart . . .

When you break someone’s heart

He’ll want a heart-to-heart with you.

David was a man after God’s own heart

But he soon had a heavy heart

After breaking God’s heart.

From the bottom of his heart

He had a change of heart.

David crossed his heart

That he would follow God’s heart

With all of his heart.

He did.

And God still refers to him as a man after His own heart.

Cool how God finds it in His heart to forgive, forget and   restore!

 

Did You Know . . .

• Michael J. Fox’s middle name is Andrew.

• My middle name is Sue. (No, it’s not Susie Sue. Susie is my nickname for Sue. I’ve always been called Susie. My first name is Marjorie—after my mother.)

• Twelve percent of all the Coca-Cola in America is drunk at breakfast.

• That God collects your tears (see Psalm 56:8)

• Anthophobia is the fear of flowers. (I’m glad I don’t have anthophobia! I love flowers. My favorites are roses. Around my front porch area, I have several rose bushes in bloom. I’m growing pink, yellow, red, orange, light green, peach, white and even purple.)

• There are some things God can’t do. He can’t go against His nature of holiness. He can’t lie. He can’t sleep. He can’t fail. He can’t lose. He can’t stop thinking about you. And He can’t be blamed if you don’t make it to heaven.

• Summer on Neptune lasts for 40 years! But the temperature is minus 328 degrees Fahrenheit.

• If you’ll read three chapters of the Bible every day, and if you’ll read five chapters every Sunday, in one year you will have read the entire Bible.

 


 

Have you read the Bible in its entirety? Some folks make it a priority to do this every year. I know an evangelist who reads his Bible several times through in a year.

My pastor mentioned in one of his sermons that many Christians don’t read the Bible at all—except for what’s flashed on the screen each Sunday in church.

Where are you with reading the Bible?