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What Is Your Cross?

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What does it mean to follow Jesus?  If I am to “take up my cross”, what is my cross?  What is your cross? I have often heard people say that any hardship a person may encounter is that person’s cross to bear.  Whether a person is battling illness, dealing with depression, or going through the end of a relationship, we view any of life’s difficulties as a cross to bear. However, I believe that taking up my cross may entail much more than enduring life’s hardships and difficulties.  In Mark 8:34, Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” Before Jesus died on the cross, he spent his time out in the world.  He didn’t spend his days in church surrounded by people that looked like him, had the exact same religious beliefs as him, and acted like him.  He didn’t choose to spend his time with people that were e…

From Ordinary to Extraordinary

March 21, 2018by Beth Mabe Gianopulos Category: Devotion “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”  At once they left their nets and followed him.” Mark 1:14-18 NIV When I was a teenager, I read this passage in awe.  I could not comprehend why the disciples would just walk away from everything they knew to follow Jesus.   Of course I understood that Jesus was the Son of God, but when I read the passage literally, it sounded like Jesus just walked up to Simon and Andrew and said, “Hi.  Nice to meet you. I am the Savior of the World. Follow me.” I couldn’t understand walking away from the life that I knew because I still thought that I was in …

The Faith Of Our Friends

March 12, 2018by Beth Mabe Gianopulos Category: Devotion “Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” “ Mark 2:3-5 (NIV) This year for Lent, I decided to read the book of Mark slowly and deliberately.  I am trying to read the book with new eyes. Today, when I read Mark 2, I immediately knew the story of the four friends that carried their paralyzed friend on a mat to be healed by Jesus. However, today I was struck by this statement, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’”   I have always struggled to understand how Jesus’ miraculous healings apply to our day to day lives. When I think about faith, I understand how my faith can impact my own life.   I kno…

Faith In The Storm

When my daughter was two years old, we took her to a concert to see a children’s group perform.  While my husband was taking my son to the bathroom, I felt Maria go completely still in my lap.  I looked at her, and she took a shallow breath.  Then, to my horror, she stopped breathing.  I began to shake her in an attempt to wake her.  Her lips were turning blue, and I stood hysterically screaming, “Does anyone know CPR?”  I ran into the hall and found paramedics.  They were able to help her breath again, and I collapsed into a crumpled ball on the floor. We later learned that my daughter had a febrile seizure.  She had an infection, and her fever had spiked so quickly that her body shut down for a few seconds.  In the months that followed, we had to take her to the emergency room for pneumonia.  I was so traumatized and terrified that I could not sleep.  I was afraid to close my eyes for a minute because I was afraid that she would stop breathing.  I somehow believed that if I watched h…

All the Father Has Is Yours

February 28, 2018by Beth Mabe Gianopulos Category: Devotion “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’  ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”Luke 15:28-32 (NIV) When our family plays games, we play with a fierce desire to win.  There have been times that kids (or adults) have refused to finish a game because our strategy is ruined by another player, or we may even “accidentally” knock over the game board, abruptly ending a game. Each year, we enter some of ou…

Be The Sun

A few days ago, my son jumped into the car.  He excitedly showed me the bracelet that he had made in class.  It said, “Be The Sun.”  He told me, “It is just like your key chain!” For a moment, my heart smiled.  Even though he didn’t know what those words meant to me, my son had observed and imitated a phrase that had been a life line to me. Before I carried this phrase on my key chain, I was exhausted.  I spent my days desperately trying to be a good mom, a good wife, a good pastor’s wife, a good attorney, a good friend, and a good person.  As I frantically worked to be good enough, I was plagued by guilt and shoulds: You should spend more time playing with the kids because they are growing up so fast.             You should work more and take on some additional projects.             You should volunteer with that organization.             You should serve in the new ministry at church.             You should cook more, keep a neater house, and keep up with the laundry.             You sho…

What Really Matters

February 22, 2018by Beth Mabe Gianopulos Category: Devotion “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 1:2 NIV The past few months have been all consuming.  Thanksgiving, Christmas and family celebrations filled our social calendar.  At work, I was overwhelmed as I tried to complete matters at year end.   My kids were busy finishing school projects.  As we rushed from activity to activity, I felt overwhelmed, tired, and frustrated.   In the midst of the chaos, I worried about everything - from what I should wear to the office Christmas party to whether we would have time to clean our house to host family celebrations.   Then, in the midst of the busyness, a friend died.  Her death and funeral forced me to step back and re-evaluate what really matters. My husband loved our friend deeply, and he prepared the message for the funeral.  When he spoke about our friend, he did not mention how big her house was, instead, he talked abo…