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Cultivate Love, Cultivate Peace
October 19, 2011

The months have flown and maybe you've even forgotten that you've subscribed to Refresh your Soul. I hope this edition will be an enjoyable surprise and well worth the read. Here's what's inside:
Cultivate devotions
Getaway with God/Stilteweekend
Leaders' Nook

In the next Refresh your Soul:
Further excerpts from 'Cultivate'

devotions on the fruit of the Spirit

I have been commissioned to write a set of devotions for a church in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The church community is being intentional about going deeper with God and has set out this autumn on a nine week journey focusing on the fruit of the Spirit. My role is to write a set of devotions for each fruit. Here are two of them which I hope will be enriching for your own devotional life.

Love Story

The biblical narrative can actually be read as one expansive love story, the epic tale of Yahweh’s covenant love creating, forgiving, wooing, receiving, redeeming, transforming and, finally, perfecting human beings whom he made in his own image.

The book of Hosea depicts this love story quite poignantly as it tells a story of unrequited love. Yahweh’s heartbreak over his people’s betrayal is depicted in the life of the prophet Hosea. At the start of the book Yahweh instructs Hosea to marry an adulterous woman. She constantly turns away to other lovers, representing Israel who constantly turns her allegiance to other gods. Hosea continually brings her back home, a husband who loves her in spite of her unfaithfulness, just as the Lord receives Israel back to himself.

At the height of the book, Yahweh sings a song to his beloved. He is the spurned lover or the heart-sick parent whose heart is torn apart that his countless efforts to win Israel back have been fruitless. Israel has refused to listen, has remained unresponsive. What more can he do?

Turn to Hosea 11 and read it thoughtfully. Hear the longing in Yahweh’s plea, his cry of pain as he longs for Israel to simply respond to his love.

Return to read verses 1-4 and verse 8 again. What do you hear in the Lord’s voice? Linger with a phrase that connects with you. Write it down and ponder it. What does it tell you about God’s love for his people Israel? What does it tell you today about God’s love for you? Say or write a prayer to God in response to what he has spoken to your heart.

The Gift of Peace

Twice during the conversation in the upper room, Jesus promises to give peace to his disciples. The New Living Translation once again opens up Jesus’ words beautifully:

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace
I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
John 14:27

Jesus spoke these words as he headed toward Gethsemane and into the most trouble-filled hours of his life. Did his words help him as he wrestled with his will in the garden, and as he suffered through his arraignment and crucifixion? As for the disciples, they hardly knew what had hit them until after Friday’s horror was past. Peace? How does peace fit in this picture?

Open your Bible and read from John 14:27 to the end of the chapter. Then skip over to chapter 16: 31-33 where Jesus affirms that, though the troubles and sorrows in this world will abound, his peace runs deeper still. Take heart, he tells us, for I have overcome the world.

Last week we pondered Habakkuk’s tenacious commitment to joy. Today Jesus encourages us toward the same kind of tenacity in taking hold of his gift of peace. My thoughts move to a twentieth century martyr, Betsy ten Boom, the sister who so inspired Corrie during their internment at the concentration camp in Ravensbruck. I marvel over her words which are preserved on a scrap of paper in the Ten Boom Museum in Haarlem, The Netherlands “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still." These words propelled Corrie ten Boom to survive the camp and to speak tirelessly a message of perseverance in love and forgiveness until she was silenced by a stroke at age 86.

Christ’s overcoming peace was available in Jerusalem on that first Easter morning. It flowed even in the pit of a Nazi concentration camp. The gift is still given to Jesus’ disciples in whatever unrest, turmoil or anxieties we face. Though trouble abounds, his peace runs deeper still. How will you take heart today?

Deeper Devotion News

Getaway with God / Stilteweekend

Registration is now open for Deeper Devotion's first Getaway with God weekend. This women's retreat will be held at the Arnold Janssen Klooster in Wahlwiller, Limburg on the weekend of 9-11 December.

The weekend will include some training and interaction but, most of all, it will be a true retreat, providing time for rest, reflection and connection with God. My co-leader and I recently returned from a similar weekend refreshed, filled up and very enthused about facilitating this experience for others. If you are in the area (and you're a woman) you are very welcome to join us.

Read about it on the Getaway with God or Stilteweekend pages. It's a lovely opportunity for intentionally 'wasting' some time with God for the good of your soul. There will be a second opportunity to partake next May.

Leaders' Nook

The Leaders' Nook is a new area on my website. It hosts articles and interviews with a variety of leaders around the important subject of the inner life of leaders. I hope it will also stimulate some valuable dialogue between readers. Like many new initiatives, it's gotten off to a bit of a slow start, but my goal is to post an article or interview weekly.

If you're a young, mature or aspiring leader who wants to tend well to your inner life come on over for a visit. With your help, a new Facebook interface will spread the word so that an interesting exchange can develop, so don't hesitate to leave a comment.

Wishing you love, joy and peace in their fullness.

Elizabeth de Smaele
MMus, MDiv, CSD
Amstelveen, The Netherlands

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