Saturday, August 29, 2009

I'm reading in the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy.
I'm intrigued with chapter three.
God has told the children of Israel
(I like to call them "the world's largest backpacking group")
to destroy certain cities, kings and people.
As you know . . .
before Christ came 
and paid for evil 
with His death,
God often dealt with evil
by obliteration.
(Remember the world in Noah's day?
And Sodom and Gomorrah?
God dealt with the evil
by obliterating it
with death.
A clean wipe-out.)

Back to Deuteronomy chapter three.

God is instructing the children of Israel
to deal with those who 
oppose Him
by wiping them out.

"So God, our God, also handed Og king of Bashan
over to us—Og and all his people—
and we utterly crushed them" (Deuteronomy 3:3 The Message).

And we read a little further . . .
"There were also numerous unwalled villages.
We totally destroyed them—a holy destruction" (Deuteronomy 3:4 The Message).

A couple of strong things to notice here:
1. unwalled villages
If a village didn't have a strong wall
to surround it
and protect it,
the city and its people
were an easy target.

We need a strong wall of protection
around our lives!

2. a holy destruction
Are there some things in your life that need
a holy destruction?

Check out Deuteronomy 3:11. 
Catch this description of King Og's bed:
"His bed, made of iron, was over thirteen feet long and six wide."

Why do you suppose
God wanted a description of a king's bed in the Bible?

Maybe God wants us to know
that the quality of stuff we have
doesn't matter—
if it's evil . . .
or if it's causing us to do evil things . . .
He wants to perform

You see, God doesn't want ANYTHING
to come between us and Him.

And if it does?
We need a holy destruction.

I have a few questions for you:
First . . .
about unwalled cities that were easily destroyed.
—Do you have a wall of protection surrounding your life?
If you don't, you'll be an easy target for Satan.
If you do have a wall or protection surrounding 
your life, tell me about it. 

Second . . .
—Is there anything in your life
that needs a holy destruction?
Would you be willing to ask God?

Here's a prayer to get you started:
Dear Jesus,
Is there anything in my life that's not
right with You?
Anything I'm connected with 
that needs a holy destruction?
If so, Jesus,
will You bring it to my mind?
Help me think of it.
When You show it to me,
I'll destroy it
in obedience to You.
In Your name I pray,

How do you know if something
needs to be destroyed?
Well . . .
if that "something" is in disobedience to God
if that "something" is pulling you away from God,
signs that they need to be destroyed.

I'll write more later.
But first I want to hear your answer to these two questions:
—Do you have a wall of protection surrounding your life?
—Is there anything in your life
that needs a holy destruction?

You are loved!

Monday, August 24, 2009

What Does God's Voice Sound Like?

Let's look at 1 Kings 19:11-3. 
The Old Testament prophet Elijah
had just defeated
450 prophets of Baal.
The evil queen Jezebel was after him,
so he fled for his life.

He'd experirenced a great victory,
but now he was hiding in the mountains.

While he was there . . .
God spoke.

"Go out and stand before me on the mountain," the Lord told him.
And as Elijah stood there the Lord passed by,
and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain;
it was such a terrible blast 
that the rocks were torn loose,
the wind.
After the wind,
there was an earthquake,
And after the earthquake,
there was a fire,
And after the fire,
there was the sound of a gentle whisper.
When Elijah heard it,
he wrapped his face in his scarf
and went out
and stood at the entrance of the cave."
(1 Kings 19:11-13 The Living Bible)

Elijah knew God's voice was in the whisper.

It wasn't in the tornado,
the earthquake
or the fire.
It was in the whisper.

How well do you know the voice of God?

Do you know it so well
that above the screams and cheers
at a football game,
you'll hear  His voice
in the whisper
if He chooses to speak to you?

How can I learn God's voice?
By spending time with him.

When your best friend calls,
she doesn't have to identify herself.
You know it's her as soon as you hear the first utterance of her voice.
You've spent enough time with her,
you just know.

It works the same way with God.
The more you talk with Him,
the more time you spend together,
the more you read His letter to you,
the easier it becomes to hear His voice.

As you're heading into school . . .
think about all the times
God may want to speak to you.

It may be in the middle of a teacher's lecture.
Or in a crowded hallway heading to the next class.
Or by your computer as you work on home-school lessons.

When He speaks, will you hear His voice?
Get to know the voice of God!

Love you!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More thoughts on the disciples asking the wrong question
found in Matthew 18:1.

If you've missed a few blogs, please see the past three postings.
Let's do a quick recap on the scripture:

"At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, 'Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?'

"Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said,
'Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.'" (NKJV)

Seems strange, doesn't it?
That Jesus would tell His disciples
they had to be converted?
I mean, they'd already accepted Him
as their Savior.
Their God.
Their reason for living.
Their hope for eternity.

They'd already left everything
to follow Him.

What was He talking about?
It's tied in with what He did.
He called a little child to Him, didn't He?
And He told the disciples to become as a child.

Jesus didn't say "Act like a kid."

To understand what Jesus meant,
we have to step inside the sandals
of the Jews around Him.
We have to see with their eyes.
And hear what Jesus said with their ears.

When Jesus said, "Become as a little child,"
what those around Him heard was:
"Give it all up!"

You see, in Jewish culture—in those days—
children had no rights.
A child was simply a piece of property.

Need more money?
Sell the kid.
Need some work to be done?
Make a kid do it.

Children were expendable.
They had no rights.
They were nothing.

Jesus, You want me to become expendable?
No rights?

That's it!
That's the key.
Unless there's a deep
will . . .
a dying to self . . .
a surrender of the total essence 
of me . . .
Jesus says we're not getting into heaven.

Yes, the disciples had walked away from everything
to follow Him.
But they were still full of themselves.
Each of them wanted a position of greatness 
in God's Kingdom.

Jesus was saying, "It's so not about that, guys.
It's so about emptying yourselves.
Dying to your rights.
Becoming putty in My hands.
Getting yourself off the throne.
Surrendering ALL to me."

And if you're thinking, 
Yeah. That's what I want.
I'm all Yours, Jesus. 
I'll sing for You.
I'll dance for You.
I'll model for You . . .
then you're still not getting it.

You see I can't even be in the picture.
It's not:
I'll do this for You, Jesus.
And I'll do that.
Rather, it's
"Dear God,
where can I bleed
for You?
To whom can I give
who can't give back?"

That's a surrendered life.

I have no rights, Jesus.
It's no longer, "me first."
"I deserve."
"I can . . ."
It's all about YOU.

to whatever.
to anything

 . . . are you getting it?
This deep inner conversion
to self
and talent
and what I want.

It's becoming converted
through dying to self
and becoming totally surrendered to
and totally saturated by
Jesus Christ.

He is Lord.

May we place ourselves
in His hands--
may we say, "Break me, Father.
Remake me in Your holy Image."



Saturday, August 15, 2009

More thoughts 
on asking the right question.
In Matthew 18:1, 
the disciples asked Jesus 
a question:
"Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" (NKJV)

They were assuming the greatest spot
would go to one of them, weren't they?

It's dangerous to assume things
in our relationship with Christ.

But they assumed.
After all, the position of prestige in His kingdom
will surely go to one us,
they must have thought.
I mean, we're the Big 12. 
We're the ones who have left all
to follow Him.

And we're the ones He chose!
We're the DISCIPLES.
We've been with Him for three years.
We've walked with Him.
Listened to Him.
Watched the miracles.
Even duplicated some of His miracles—
healed in His name—
and in His power.

Surely, when Jesus sets up His kingdom, 
one of us will be in a really high position
of authority!

But which one of us will it be?

Peter probably assumed it would be him.
After all, He WAS the president of the group.
A natural-born leader.
He was always the first to speak.
The first to act.
He was impulsive.
An extrovert in every sense of the word.
And Jesus did say,
"On you I will build My church.
You're the ROCK, Peter."

And then at another time, 
Jesus even said to Peter, 
"I'm giving you the keys 
to the kingdom of heaven and hell."

And Peter did walk on water.
Surely, underneath Jesus, 
Peter would be the greatest
in God's kingdom.

But wait a sec.
John must have assumed the
position would go to him.

And that made sense. 
Think about it: Who was closest to Christ?
It was John.

Jesus had 12 disciples.
And out of the 12, He was closest to three:
James. John. Peter.

And out of those three, 
He was even closer to one.

And remember the Last Supper?
Who sat right next to Jesus?
And John was so comfortable
in His presence, 
he leaned over and rested his head
on the shoulder of Christ.

So . . . surely . . . if Christ was going to
put someone in as His "vice-president"
it would be John—the one He was 
closest to, right?

But hold on.
James must have felt pretty important as well.
He was one of the "inner three" closest to Christ.
And remember the Mount of Transfiguration incident?
(Jesus, James, John and Peter on a mountain
being visited by Elijah and Moses.)
James hadn't forgotten that.
He was privileged to be a part of that.
Obviously, Jesus trusted him.
So he's thinking, I'm in the running.

But Matthew was a pretty important guy as well.
He left a lucrative business to follow Jesus.
Surely, Christ saw a lot worth admiring in Matthew
or He wouldn't have chosen him.

And the other disciples?
Actually, they were assuming the same thing:
This position of greatness in His kingdom
will probably go to me.

How do we know?
Because right after Mrs. Zebedee
(James and John's mom)
asked Christ if her sons could be
in the two most important positions
in His kingdom (the right and left)
of His throne . . .
the other disciples heard about it.

And Scripture tells us 
"they were INDIGNANT."

They were indignant.
They were furious.
They were livid.

wanted the position of greatness
in Christ's kingdom.

So what do we have here?
Looks like we have 12 amazing
follow Christ.
But 12 amazing disciples
who are full of themselves.

That's what it's all about.
I deserve.
I have a right to . . .

And how does Jesus handle their question?
Matthew 18:2-3 gives us His solemn answer.

"Then Jesus called a little child to Him,
set him in the midst of them,
and said,
'Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted 
and become as little children,
you will by no means
enter the kingdom of heaven.'" (NKJV)

Unless you are CONVERTED?
Hey! These aren't just any people off the street, Jesus!
These are Your disciples.
They've left everything.
What do You mean . . . converted?

You will by NO MEANS enter
the kingdom of heaven?
If You're saying the disciples may not
make it to heaven . . .
what does that say to me?

OK, Girls.
I'm stopping here for now.
I'll give you more later.
But first . . . 
I want to know your thoughts.

Those are two heavy thoughts:
1. Jesus telling the DISCIPLES they had to be CONVERTED.
2. And if they weren't, they'd by no means enter heaven.

So . . . what are you thinking?

Love you!
Susie Shellenberger

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hi, Girls!

I've enjoyed reading your responses to Christ's question to you.
As you know . . . we've been talking about asking the right question.
(See the past two blog entries if you're just now joining us.)

The Bible gives an amazing example of the disciples asking the
wrong question.

It's found in Matthew 18:1:
"At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, 'Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?'" (NKJV)

I'll share more on this later . . . but first I want to know what YOU'RE thinking. 
Why was this the wrong question to ask?

Susie Shellenberger

Sunday, August 9, 2009

We've been chatting about asking the right question.
And girls, I love the way you're turning your questions
around to make them right!
That's exciting.

(If you've just joined us, read the last blog entry
so you'll be "in the know" and can comment with
us, OK?)

Jesus loves your questions.
But He wants you to ask the right questions.

And sometimes Jesus will ask you a question.
In Matthew 20:29, Jesus asked two blind men a question:
"'What do you want me to do for you?' he asked." (NIV)

The two blind men were specific in their answer.
They told Jesus they'd love to see.
Like the two blind guys, Jesus wants YOU 
to be specific in your conversations 
with Him.

"Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes.
Immediately they received their sight and followed him." 
(Matthew 20:34 NIV)

I like the way The Message paraphrases the above verse:
"Deeply moved, Jesus opened their eyes."

Jesus is deeply moved when you respond
with the right focus.

Jesus asked the question.
The two guys responded specifically.
They became His followers.
Jesus was deeply moved.

Earlier, (in Matthew 20:20), 
Jesus asked Mrs. Zebedee
the same question.
She was the mom of
James and John—
two of Christ's disciples.

Mama Zebedee—
like the two blind guys—
also responded to His question.

But her focus was completely off.

"'What is it you want?' he asked." (NIV)
And Mama Zebedee then asked if 
her boys could have the two top
places of honor in God's kingdom.

"Can Jimmy and Johnnie sit at Your
right- and left-hand spots
when You set up your kingdom?
They'd look great on the right and left
of Your throne. You know . . . 
with You being in the center of course."

Remember the last blog entry?
There's always a question behind the question.
What was she really asking?
"Can You make my boys important? 
Cuz if You can elevate them to positions 
of importance . . . it's gonna make me
feel really good about myself."

It was all about her.
Jesus saw through her question.

She had the same opportunity
the two blind guys had.
The Creator of the universe
walked right up to her and said, 
"What do you want?"

Talk about a loaded question!

If her focus had been right . . .
she would have asked a different question.

It's your turn.

Think about it.
Realize this.
KNOW it.
The King of kings has approached you.

And right now He's asking you a question:
"What do you want Me to do for you?"

What's your response?


Saturday, August 8, 2009

I've been reading a book called
the Question Behind the Question
by John G. Miller.

Though it's really a book for 
corporations and businesses,
I'm fascinated by it
because of the simple fact
that there's usually another question
behind the question we're asking.

Example: In a corporate world, 
an employee might ask,
"Why doesn't our manager give us
enough budget to do a great job?"

The question that should be asked is,
"How can I do the best job possible with
the limited resources I have?"

I've been using this book to help me think
in terms of the girls in our sisterhood.

School is right around the corner,
and you're about to walk back onto your campus.
You may be tempted, after a few days,
to ask, "How come I don't have great friends?"

Let me challenge you to turn that around.
Ask instead, "What can I do to be a great friend to others?"

Instead of asking, "Why do I have such a lousy math teacher?"
Ask instead, "What can I do on my own to better understand the assignment?"

Instead of asking, "How come this jerk sits next to me in history class?"
Ask instead, "What can I do to be a positive light in his life?"

And I've also been thinking about some of the questions 
the disciples asked Christ.

In John 6:16, we read about a storm. 
The disciples were already in the boat.
Jesus  hadn't joined them yet.
Verse 19 tells us, "When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, 
they saw Jesus approaching the boat.
walking on the water; 
and they were terrified."

Jesus told them not to be afraid.
He got into the boat.
they were immediately on the shore!
(Scripture hints that Christ just PUT them
immediately where they needed to be.)

When they got to the shore, the crowds
who had been following Jesus couldn't
believe He was there.

They knew He hadn't rowed there.

In verse 25, some of the followers
asked Him HOW He got there.
WHEN He got there.

Jesus basically told them they 
weren't asking the right questions.

You see, their question really revealed
the question behind it!

They weren't actually interested
in Jesus' ministry on the shore.
Rather, they were into the spectacular.
They wanted to know about the "magic-ness"
of HOW He got there and WHEN it happened.

Their focus was completely off.
And Christ told them.

In the next couple of verses (26-27), He tries
to realign their focus.

As you think about your campus,
your friends,
your part-time job,
your family,
your community,
your future . . .
what questions are you asking?

Jesus LOVES your questions!
But He wants you to be asking the right ones.

Consider the questions you ask.
What's the REAL question behind the question you're asking?

We'll chat more about some off-beat questions
from the Bible.

But first . . . I want to know your thoughts about this.
And I want to know what kind of questions
you've been asking—that you're now beginning to realize
really weren't the right questions at all.

Love you!
Susie Shellenberger

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The give-aways are completed.
If the following will send me an email at:
and LABEL your email with the item
you won,
and give me your complete mailing address,
I'll get your prize to you.
(If I haven't heard from you by the end of
Friday, Aug. 7, your prize goes to someone else.)

I love you, Girls!

-Grace B.
-Allison W.

-Abby F.


-Meg S.
-Rachel from MN

-Alex P.
Olivia W.
Am feeling generous today.
So I'm giving away stuff!

• Cool sunglasses with "I love Jesus" on them. I'll be showcasing these in the "Shopping Section" of the October issue of SUSIE Magazine.

• The NIV Worship Bible

And the following books that I wrote:

Rock Your World: How YOU can make a difference 

• Secret Power for Girls: Identity, Security and Self-Respect in Troubling times

One Year Devotions

Enter a short paragraph right here on the blog. Label your blog with the prize you want to win. Then explain WHY you want to win it. (Remember, short paragraph!)

Love you!
Susie Shellenberger

Monday, August 3, 2009

I'm saying
YES, Lord
to blue skies
and warm sunshine today.
YES, Lord
to friends
and dreams,
good health,
games of racquetball,
praise music in my heart
Your presence so precious and near.
But I'm also saying
YES, Lord
to gray skies . . . maybe tomorrow . . .
and rain that won't stop,
thunder so loud it smells of fear
and being alone.
I'm saying
YES, Lord
to tears
and unfulfilled dreams.
YES, Lord 
when the music has stopped
and You feel more than a universe away.
You are the King of my mountaintops (Oh, thank You for these times)
but You are also
LORD of my valleys (teach me to thank You for these times as well).

"O my soul,
why be so gloomy
and discouraged?
Trust in God!
I shall again praise him for his wondrous help;
he will make me smile again,
for he is my God!"
(Psalm 43:5 The Living Bible)