VICKY STEPHENSON, contributor for today’s blog

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

An amazing command: “LOVE ONE ANOTHER as I have loved you”.  But HOW?  I cry out to God I am on my knees literally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Obviously I know all the answers: not by your own strength but in God’s strength. “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13.

God pours out his love and fills me so I can share it with the world. But I still ask the Lord- HOW??

running-up-hillThen as I run (very slowly) up a hill in the beautiful morning sunshine with birds singing autumn leaves drifting down in a carpet of dazzling colour a small quiet voice says, “As ever Vicky, you have missed half of it. Love one another as I HAVE LOVED YOU! You are an instrument of my love in this world but that doesn’t mean all the love is for others, some of it is just for you!” Hard to keep running when I began to cry!!

I can only love others when I first allow others to love me; blimey how has it taken me 40 years to learn this lesson.  To begin with we need to accept that God loves us, just for being us. He loved you and me before the beginning of time and will continue to into eternity. He loves us when we are reading our bible and praying and when we are running round like headless chickens screaming at the children (oh maybe that is just my life). Nothing we do can make God love us any more or any less. It pleases God when we obey his commands but through Jesus his love is unconditional if we choose to accept it.  So let’s take a deep breath and let that settle in our hearts.

We have to allow others to love us. “Love one another” means a back and forth in relationship. This is so hard in our “I am an island” individualist world, where “she is an amazing ‘coper’! She doesn’t need any help!” Sometimes we read it as one-sided, not reciprocal. But that doesn’t look like the open connected deep fellowship Jesus encourages. So, we need to encourage one another to accept help, to be honest, show vulnerability and allow others to love us. This is not easy, but we will grow in Christ in this process of loving each other in this way. It is part of God’s plan. We are meant to do life together.

Jesus loved us as he accepted and rested in God the Father’s love for Him.  He loved us sacrificially by laying down his life. He shows us the symbolic everyday example he set for us when he washed the disciples’ feet. This was a beautiful, humble act! Notice though, that he didn’t completely exhaust himself with cooking the dinner and doing the washing up too!! He allowed others to love him by doing these tasks.

So, go out this week and love others but let God and others love you too!





women-encouraging-one-anotherHey girlfriends,

Tonight we are continuing our ONE ANOTHER series: ENCOURAGING ONE ANOTHER. 

It promises to be a fun, insightful and blessed time together as we look at God’s word about this important command.

WHERE: CBC church hall

WHEN: Tonight, 24 OCTOBER, 7:30 pm 


Learning to Encourage Biblically

Kathy Larkman

Kathy Larkman

Hi girlfriends!

How are you all getting on with encouraging the key people in your lives?
A couple of weeks ago I challenged us to evaluate, pray, and apply the THINK acrostic as a practical tool for encouraging with words.

I also promised that I would let you know how I am getting on with “encouraging one another,” in my key relationships as well.  I have to say, I had to bite my tongue on several occasions as I knew the Spirit’s nudging! I sometimes want to speak when it is unnecessary. I don’t know about you, but my sinful nature likes to put in a “truthful jab” when trying to make a point or when “venting.” The truth of the matter is, if left to my self-centred, prideful nature, I wouldn’t be encouraging at all but discouraging!

But because God calls me to encourage others, the answer is not always a matter of keeping silent, but learning to proactively and biblically encourage as I put on the NEW SELF (Eph 4:22-24) everyday. And I have to back up my words with actions. As I have said before, I can’t do this in my own strength and love, but through Christ’s strength and love He has lavished on ME! So, my L plates are still in place as I motor on…

We must encourage one another to  THINK for God’s glory not ours!

think-acrosticT  ‘The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in (wo)men who are truthful.’ Prov 12:22

H  ‘Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.’ Eph 4:29

I    ‘Let us spur one another on toward love and good deeds…’ Heb 10:24

N  ‘When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. ’Prov 10:19

K  ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’ Eph 4:32

I am truly admonished and convicted with these scriptures. Are you? Girlfriends, if this is the case, it is a GOOD thing because the Spirit of God is nudging us towards becoming more like Christ in learning to biblically encourage one another! Yay!

Hope your time with your study buddy is blessed and insightful. Remember, we meet up Monday night, 24 OCTOBER at 7:30 in the church hall.

Praying for us all to  THINK as we encourage one another. Let’s ask ourselves, “Is what I say and do truly encouraging and giving God glory? Be proactive and honest with yourself on this! You will see God’s promises flourish in your relationships if you have an “encourage one another” attitude.

‘And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. THINK about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.’ Philippians 4:8

 Love, Kathy x





Sharon Durant, contributor for today’s blog

“So he [Jesus] got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” John 13:4-5

Jesus washes the disciples’ feet; this is Jesus’ example of how we are to love each other. We are called to love each other in church despite personal flaws and failings. Whether someone’s feet are warty and filthy or perfectly manicured, we are called to love one another. We are called to put aside our own sense of importance and get our           hands dirty practically.

Sometimes I find it easy to love someone in the church practically. I quite like baking or cooking a meal; it’s something I enjoy anyway and I know it will bless someone and make a difference to them.

Some things I find hard to do. I am not a frequent offerer-of-lifts. I know this about myself, so I am trying to be more proactive, put my pride down and offer a lift. It seems such a simple thing to do – after all I have a (clean!) driving licence, a car with up to 7 seats including spare child seats, and I am probably ‘going that way anyway’.

Here’s how I justify my lack of love to myself: If I pick up so-and-so, it will take me out of my way, might make me late (a pet hate of mine), and what about my children?

It’s pretty pathetic, isn’t it? Here is a chance to put love into action and I am hiding behind my pride in being punctual and even using the children as an excuse. ‘What about my children’ – What a load of rubbish! They’d probably love to have more people to chat to in the car!

This is not how God loved me. He went well out of his way, even to the cross. He sacrificed his only Son. Despite the inconvenience, he did it before I even asked. What kind of response is it, then, when I jealously guard my own punctuality, am lazy in loving others and can’t go even a mile out of my way, let alone the ‘extra mile’? Is my heart walking in step with the transforming power of God’s Spirit or pandering to the flesh?

So my challenge to myself this month is to put love into action and look for opportunities to show love in a practical way. As I prayerfully ask God to give me opportunities to love others, I need to then put down my pride and lame excuses. If Jesus could wash the disciples’ feet, I can certainly love my Christian brothers and sisters.

So. Do you need a lift?




When I saw this month’s blog theme my mind went back to when Stuart and I went to Youth with a Mission (YWAM) in Hawaii. It was there that I had my first taste of good, wholesome, loving, Christian affirmations. There were many American brothers and sisters on the YWAM campus. I was amazed to find how this American ministry was so affirming to others in so many different ways. The reason I believe, in part, is due to the American culture.  We Brits usually, if told something lovely about our looks, personality or good deeds, will downplay it or get all coy about it. But I remember saying to Stuart that we should begin to practice affirming others in church, which I did on our return! It took a while but gradually folk began to respond and blossom under genuine praise. I give the glory to God, as we are only what we are because of Him. (Acts 17:28) Sincere compliments are one way to praise and celebrate the work of God’s grace in each other’s lives for His glory.

James 3 v 1-12 is a good scripture for me. In my journaling back in July, I was meditating on this thought: Verse 9 says “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who have been made in God’s likeness.” How true this is and so very harmful and ungodly when we use our tongues to criticize or gossip about others. I realize just how much I need to guard my tongue. I need to yield this little member to the influence of God’s Holy Spirit; to allow Him to take control and use my tongue to edify and build up my brothers and sisters in Christ and those not of the fold as well! A kind, encouraging word can do wonders in leading people to see the love of Jesus in action.

I have learned that having the ability to use our tongue for the good of others is to be filled with the love of God in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. So whenever we open our mouths to speak, words of love and blessing will flow to bathe others in the warmth of God’s love. It is so easy for one small disparaging word which can do a lifetime of damage to a person and cannot easily be undone! The enemy seeks to destroy the very essence of a person by convincing them of their worthlessness. Has this happened to you? God the Father wants you to know that you that you are priceless in His sight.

I am grateful to my dear American friends and their appraisal of my being while in Hawaii. It was a pre cursor for God to do a tremendous work of healing in my inner self that is constant to this day. I want to pass it on reader. Be encouraged, for you are fearfully and wonderfully made! He who has begun a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it in you!

So sisters, let us encourage one another to praise and celebrate the work of God’s grace in each other’s lives for His glory!