New beginnings!

Happy New Year to you all!

Wow, where did 2017 go? My mum used to say as you get older time goes so fast.  Well my husband and I celebrated the big 6 0 last year, life seems to be flying past.  For me, 2017, was a great year.  As I said, I celebrated a big birthday, my two great nieces celebrated their 1st birthdays, just starting out in life, and I had the privilege of spending three weeks in the Rockies in Canada where I witnessed the awesome splendour of God’s creation.

I got my bus pass and it’s time for the bucket list to be drawn up! Time to do all the things that I want to do while I can. A time for new beginnings and new things!

The month of January can be dull. After celebrating Christmas and enjoying fun with family and friends, it seems uneventful.  The weather can be severe, and it feels like our next salary seems to take forever to reach our bank account. For me it’s a special month, I committed my life to Christ 40 years ago on 1 January 1978. Each year I am challenged to look back to see how I have grown as a Christian over those years.

Do you make New Year resolutions? I don’t because I tend not to keep them.  I have a little practical exercise for you, can I challenge you to write some resolutions down, and put them in an envelope, seal it, and open on 1 January 2019.

Here are a few suggestions:

To reach someone who does not know Christ – are we tempted to spend most of our time with fellow Christians? God commands us to be salt and light in the world; that will not happen if we spend all our time with believers.  Reaching out feels scary, but when you take the risk, you will see God work through you in exciting ways.

To become a grateful person – do we awake in the morning thinking of all the things we have to do?  Start meditating on one of God’s character traits the moment you wake.  Think about how awesome God is, and your perspective on the day will change.

To spend more quality time with ???? (maybe husband, friends, family).  Are we too busy to spend time with our families and friends?  For those of you who will become wives and mothers in the future, learn when you are young to nurture relationships. Why don’t we all think of one person who deserves more of our time in 2018? 

To say, ‘NO’ to something – too many demands, choices, too little time.  Be careful how much you get involved with and learn to prioritize.

To pursue Christ with fresh vigour – do you sometimes feel as though your relationship with Christ is stale? I know I do!  When it happens, pray King David’s prayer, ” Restore to me the joy of my salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.  As this new year begins, resolve to recapture that joy.

So those are things we can do, but what about God?

Isaiah 43: 18-19 (The Message) says this, “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new! It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?  There it is!  I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.”

God is always doing a new thing! Our part is to see and hear what God is doing and go with him. The new things God does are always exciting. As I said earlier if you feel a bit stale or mouldy, it’s time to ask God what he’s saying and go for it. Or you may need to get a new perspective on what God’s already doing. One thing is true – God’s timing and all his ways are perfect. If you,  “Come near to God, and he will come near to you.” (James 4:8). And remember, Proverbs 3: 5-6 Pray this over your life – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

So as we all begin this New Year serving God in Girls’ Brigade, let it be a year of hopes and possibilities.  They are yours for the taking.  They are yours for the doing. Are you ready?

Ann Fittis

GBNI Shop Assistant

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Bold as a lion

bold as a lion

  ‘The wicked man flees though no-one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.’ 

Proverbs 28: 1

Lisa Bevere in her book ‘Lioness Arising’ describes the lioness as ‘a magnificent image of strength, passion and beauty…a force to be reckoned with.’ Her book reads, ‘Arise, God did not save you to tame you. Arise to a life of fierce passion, to a dangerous prayer, stunning power and teamed purpose.’

Do you feel unsettled, scared or overwhelmed? When we feel vulnerable like this it seems impossible to imagine ourselves as bold lions. Yet this passage tells us that if we are righteous, if we are faithful to God’s teachings, that we have the ability to be truly fearless! Fearless, not because God tucks us away from danger or because He shields us from failure, but rather we have the ability to be fearless and bold because we know God is in control and because with Him on our side we can achieve more than we imagine! We can be fearless because we know that as daughters of the King we have a place and a purpose in this world.

Danielle McAllister

GBNI Executive Youth Rep & Officer 20th NI Joymount Presbyterian

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Let us not grow weary…….

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I don’t know how long you’ve been involved in Girls’ Brigade – for me it has been nearly 20 years, but I am sure that some people reading this could double or even triple that figure!

When we first begin a project, join a new organisation or set up a new venture we usually do so with great energy, excitement and enthusiasm!  However, as time goes on, no matter how much we love what we do and the organisations we are serving, we can grow weary.  We can lose our vigour and passion for the things we once loved, we can fall into a monotonous routine rather than thinking creatively about how we can grow and develop our ministry, and we can become generally tired and weary.  Phrases such as ‘what’s the point’, ‘sure that will do’ and ‘I’m too old for this’ become part of our regular vocabulary.  We can begin to feel a little disheartened, thinking that all of our efforts over the years have been in vain and that we are having no real impact on the people around us or the girls we lead.

When I am feeling like this I am reminded of one of my favourite verses: ‘Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up!’ Galatians 6 v 9.

There are so many important truths in this verse and such valuable lessons that Paul wanted to reiterate to the people of Galatia:

1) Don’t give in and don’t give up!  The Bible tells us not to grow weary when we are doing good.  That may seem easier said than done but it is so important for us to remember that when we are working or volunteering we are also serving and glorifying God, and as a result we should be putting in 100% effort and giving him our best!

2) God’s timing is perfect.  We’re only human and sometimes it is easy for us to grow impatient or frustrated when we feel like we are labouring tirelessly and not seeing any results.  But this verse tells us that we will see the results and reap the rewards, in due season. God’s timing is always better than what we could plan ourselves.

3) We will reap.  As our Heavenly Father, God doesn’t want to keep anything from us or deprive us of returns on our work.  When we are doing good, when we are loving others in order to serve Him, we will reap from those efforts!

So my encouragement to you for this next season in Girls’ Brigade is simply to keep going!  It is our greatest privilege in life to be able to serve the King of Kings.  Don’t lose heart, don’t give up & keep pressing on!

God Bless,

Chloë Moffatt

GBNI Programme & Admin Officer

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But if not…

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But even if He does not…

I’ve often heard people quote this beautifully worded maxim: pressure creates diamonds and fire refines gold. What a lovely sentiment and a positive outlook to have!  When people say this, they are usually trying to comfort someone who is going through a particularly difficult or stressful time.  They are making the point that sometimes we need to go through tough processes in order for something beautiful to be created at the other end of it.  They are basically saying ‘don’t give up, keep going, because soon it will all have been worth it!’  And often, no matter how many times we are told that, or how deeply we believe that God is always faithful and that He will work the situation out, we struggle with trusting Him in difficult times.

As human beings I feel that it is hard enough to trust that God will answer our prayers the way that we want Him to. But what about trusting that God knows best even if He doesn’t work out a situation the way we expect?  That is a whole new level of faith and trust!  What if the pressure is just going to cause us to crack, and the fire is only going to burn?  For three men in the bible, the latter was a very real possibility!  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were literally, rather than metaphorically, walking through the fire.  In Daniel chapter 3 we find the story of these three heroic young Hebrew men and their unwavering faith in God.  King Nebuchadnezzar had created a golden idol and had ordered that all of his subjects bow down and worship the statue when they heard the sound of horns, flutes and lyres.  When the three friends (deciding that honouring God and His commandments was more important than their own lives) refused to do as he commanded, they faced being thrown into a fiery furnace!  I think that the bravery shown by Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they took their stand for God is inspirational!  But what is even more impressive is their attitude when they were faced with the fire.  Have a look at their response to the King’s judgement:

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3 : 16 – 18

Those six words are just so poignant: But even if He does not.  How amazing of an attitude is that to have?  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had such steadfast faith in the fact that God would deliver them from a blazing furnace, but also were willing to say that even if He did not, He is still good, He still reigns and they would still worship Him.  Wow!

You might not be facing a cruel death, courtesy of a burning oven, but what is the blazing furnace that is in front of you, at the minute?  Is it the pressure of exams and results, or the prospect of a broken family, or the temptations of peer pressure and negative influences?  The typical ‘Christian’ advice for all of these situations is to pray, and I agree that prayer is the most important response!  However, sometimes we are guilty of treating prayer like a vending machine.  We put in a prayer and choose which outcome we would like to be given to us.  We ask for A* grades, and for our parents’ marriage to be mended, and we put in continuous requests but are only happy when the answer is ‘yes’.  If we put in our 70p and ask for a Yorkie, we are not happy when we get a Mars bar!  Sometimes, I think if we are truly honest with ourselves, our love for God is far too often, conditional.  We praise and exalt Him only when we are getting our way.

The challenge for all of us should be – can we apply those six little words to our attitude?  Can we, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, put so much faith in our God, that we allow ourselves to trust His plan over our own?  Can we pray for help in exams and that God would help us to achieve the grades we need but accept that, even if He does not, He is still good?  Can we request the restoration of a marriage, knowing that God is capable of healing any relationship but accept that, even if He does not, He is still sovereign?  Can we pray that God will protect us from the dangers of peer pressure from negative influences but accept that, even if He does not, He is still worthy of our thanks and praise?

It’s not an easy challenge (I am sure that it wasn’t easy for the three young Hebrews either) but it’s such an important one!  We learn our example of love from our heavenly Father, and considering His love is never conditional and never changes based on our actions and choices, don’t we – even more so – owe it to Him to serve and love Him no matter what!

And here’s the amazing news.  It’s not all doom and gloom.  Yes, life is hard and we face pressures, trials and hardships.  Just know, that while God doesn’t always prevent us from facing the furnace, He does walk with us through the fire!

25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”… So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. Daniel 3 : 25 – 27

Our God reigns on high, He is in control of every situation, He knows the greatest outcome for your life and best of all, He has defeated darkness and death!  If you put your trust in Him during the bad times and the good, you could be in no better hands!

Chloe Moffatt

Officer    287th NI Tullylish Parish

 

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Dream Big! Be Bold!

Dream big!  Be bold!

These words seem to be consuming me at the moment, there isn’t a day goes by when they haven’t been at the forefront of my mind at some point, whether I am sitting in meetings in work, planning the year ahead with my GB Officers, discussions in church or chatting with friends about their hopes and dreams.

These aren’t the kind of words I would ever find myself putting into a sentence so why are they in my head all the time?  For a while I ignored the words as they fleeted in and out of my head, then  I started thinking, ‘there’s those words again’, someone is trying to tell me something.  So like it or not, I have had to accept that God is insisting I ‘dream big’ and ‘be bold’.  It sounds so simple, its only 4 words, they aren’t limiting in any way, but why do I find it so difficult?

Psalm 2:8 “Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession”

I have often been heard talking of how my favourite word is ‘challenge’, the dictionary tells us this word means ‘A task or situation that tests someone’s abilities’.  I LOVE this!  I believe being challenged is what makes me a better person.  God has challenged me a lot over the last several years, particularly in my GB life.  It’s rarely easy and is generally something I am not remotely interested in.  God literally drags me along kicking and screaming, but I have learnt as God takes me out of my comfort zone He never leaves me alone, He has surrounded me with amazing people who support and encourage me, He opens up opportunities for me to grow and develop.  A very lovely GB friend recently said to me “Stepping out in faith leads you to being at the centre of God’s will for you – no safer place to be!”

I have realised I am not very obedient to God’s dreams for me, but the bigger I dream and the bolder I am, the more exciting the journey becomes.  I know there are no limits to what God has in store for me, or you.  Put all your trust in God – dream big, be bold!

Ephesians 3:20 “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think”

Deborah McMahon

Captain, 334th NI Downshire Presbyterian

Incoming GBNI Chairperson

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In the storm…

tumblr_lydcnnwenr1qctbino1_500In typical Northern Ireland weather during the past week, I have worn flip flops, rain coats, boots and wellies on far too many occasions to still be sure it is July!  Northern Ireland weather can be typically changeable; especially on the North coast when all four seasons can happen in just one day.

There is the well known saying ‘life isn’t waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain’.  It’s a nice thought, that even when things don’t seem so good, you can always make the most of every situation and look on things positively.

But as a Christian, we don’t need to rely on ourselves to look at things positively.  We have God on our side, to shelter us when the rain comes, to strengthen us when we feel weak and to rejoice with us in our celebrations.  By committing our lives to Christ, we are relying on God’s eternal goodness and graciousness to guide, comfort and when necessary correct and chastise us.

If we look at the life of Daniel and possibly one of the most famous stories in the Bible.  When faced with the den of lions, Daniel knew without a shadow of a doubt that God would protect and shield him.  He refused to stop praying to God and when faced with what must have been a terrifying situation, Daniel stayed calm and secure in the knowledge that God would keep him from harm.

I don’t imagine many of us have faced a den of lions, but when you are faced with challenges and difficult situations, do you pray to God for help and comfort?  God hears all of our prayers and knows the depths of our hearts.  As we pray, give thanks to God for who He is; the forgiving, healing, compassionate, loving, victorious and perfect Saviour.  When faced with difficulty know that faith in God does not promise a life without trials, but rather a life in which through God all things are possible.

 “For with God nothing shall be impossible’. Luke 1:37

So, I pray that each of you will continue to not only thank and praise God but will rely upon Him in times of trouble and worry; when it feels that it is raining, seek shelter under His wings and be secure in the assurance that you are not alone.  God is looking out for you and will surely guide and comfort you always.

Blessings

Emma

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Summer is here – rest in Him!

SUMMER IS HERE… REST IN HIM!

Footprints of woman on the sand on beach

Whatever you get up to this summer, take time to rest in Him

Maybe school and university is finished or the madness of work is finally calming down and the summer is officially here!!!! WOOOHOOOOO!

When you think about the summer months what immediately comes to mind as your favourite things to look forward too?

My top things that I love about the summer are:

FLIP FLOPS – these are the only few months in the year that I get to live in my flip flops. I am such a lover of flip flops that I have 20 pairs, all in different colours, just so they can go with any outfit!

HOLIDAYS – who doesn’t love escaping normal life, going travelling, exploring new countries and trying different foods? I love the heat so sunbathing is a must and taking a dip in the pool just to cool off is bliss! Taking time to relax and recharge the batteries in the sunshine, there is nothing better!

FRIENDS – The summer is the time when we have plenty of time to hang out and catch up! We love to go to the beach up north, go to Bob and Bert’s for coffee and spend many late nights BBQ’ing and having smores in each other’s back garden.

FAMILY – this is the time when everyone is available! My cousins and I have an activity night where we compete Boy’s VS Girl’s for our Cousin’s cup! … Yes we have a cup, LOL but we love our competitions and it is always a great night for a proper catch up. During the year we are all so busy with families, church commitments and work that getting a date to suit everyone is just impossible! With a busy year just past, the summer will be the time for the activity nights to continue and for the girls to win the cup back from the boys!

Last but not least, MY TIME WITH GOD. I have always found the summer to be a very special time in my walk with God. The busyness of the year is done in work and youth. The summer is my time to update my worship playlist, talk and pray with friends, go to conferences/events, listen to talks and serve on Youth Teams. What does your summer look like? How much time do you spend with God, worshipping, praying, spending time in His presence and recharging your spiritual battery?

Finding your down time (from life), to spend more time with God is really important and my summers are always my down time where I can really listen, learn and rest in Him. One of my current favourite worship songs is Kari Jobe Breathe on Us. So as you go in to the summer take a time out at the start to consider what are you doing with your time, how much of it am I giving to God, not only in service (as many of you may have full summer with mission teams etc..) but in rest too. Take the time to listen, to read His word, and worship Him everywhere you go and allow God to refresh you this summer!

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11 : 28

Emma Trueick GBNI Events Officer

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Lists

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’

Deuteronomy 6 v 5 New International Version

 

I love writing lists lol!  I have a list for everything and even lists of what I need to make a list for.   I love the satisfaction of writing the list and then ticking off each item as it has been completed; to be honest it drives my friends and family a bit crazy but you know exactly where you are with a list.  At a glance you can see what has to be done and what still needs to be started.  I even like to colour code them but accept that might a step too far for most people!  Friends despair as I pull out my list when we are planning a trip and a day out but I know they humour me and just go along with it to keep me happy.

 

When I think about the list of things I do in a day, it is filled with chores, tasks and duties – do the dishes, tidy the washing, walk the dogs, make dinner etc.  My lists only seem to include things I need to do; not necessarily want to do (after all who wants to do dishes and washing?!) but how different would my list look if I added everything to it I want to do as well?  Maybe add on a few coffees, quick check on Twitter and Facebook, a couple of Whatsapp messages, watch the next episode of the current favourite series on Netflix, (isn’t it amazing how much time can be wasted doing relatively little?)  Anyway….

 

The thing is, when I make my list, sometimes I don’t always remember to include God on it.  God should be the first thing on my list; He should be right at top before everything else but so often reading my Bible, praying and thanking God can be shoved to the side as we get caught up in all the busyness of everyday life.  God is with us every waking and sleeping hour, He is our ever present and faithful defender, our strength and courage, our corrector and encourager, our Saviour; shouldn’t God be at the top of our list all the time?

 

So my challenge to you today and every day is to write a list (even just in your head) putting God at the top.  Put learning more about His love, spending time reading the Bible to help understand what God is saying to you, thanking God for all He does and all He is right at the top of your list.  Listen to Him, spend time in prayer and truly know that God loves you with a love that surpasses all understanding.

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Blessings

Emma

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Praying like Paul

praying like paul image “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in Him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

1 Corinthians v 4 – 9

I have been challenged, this week, when I’ve been reading and studying First Corinthians.  Paul writes this letter to a messy and broken church. It’s filled with obvious sin that’s being committed by obviously sinful people. As I thought about it, I was shocked. Paul is not only making time for these people; he starts his letter by encouraging them, praying for them, even giving thanks for them! But, verse four is clear.  This is only possible because of what Jesus has done for them.

The more I thought about this, the more I realised that we are still sinful people, struggling with all kinds of sin, today. We might not struggle with the same sins as people in Corinth – which makes it easy for us to judge them – but we can’t escape from considering our own sin. What’s amazing is that we, even though we’re not worthy of it, we are still God’s people because of His incredible grace to us in Jesus. Our own churches may look messy and broken, we might see obvious sin and obviously sinful people, but they are still full of God’s grace and love.

As we think about school friends, family, and our GB friends, we should pray for them in the same way that Paul prays in verse five: that their lives would be enriched by the love of Jesus, shown on the cross, and that all of our speech and knowledge would reflect this amazing love.

We might look around and think that people or things in our churches or GB companies need to change, but verses six and seven remind us that our churches are not lacking in any gift. God gives us everything we need to serve Him. In fact, we’re not even serving Him by our own strength. We’re serving Him with His strength as we are sustained by Him (v8).

So, as I reflect on God’s church and His people, I am reminded of His goodness and faithfulness to us. I am reminded of His love for us even when we or our churches or our GB companies or our Youth Groups seem so harmed by sin. In fact, we are told in verse nine that God is faithful. He has called us to be His followers and to have fellowship with Him.

With all this in mind, let’s be challenged when we’re looking at our fellow Christians: don’t judge, don’t get disheartened, but remember God’s goodness – goodness that was shown to the people in Corinth – is still being shown to them today. Let’s reflect on His faithfulness, goodness and love. Let’s push ourselves to pray for other Christians, to encourage them with God’s love for them in Jesus because that’s how Paul has encouraged the struggling Corinthians.

 

Laura Kelso, GBNI Admin Officer

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What are you waiting for?

925333e455f7fe6f9322cd0174ba6374As we approach the last few weeks of our Scripture course, what is it that you as a GB leader hoped to achieve with your girls? Is it just to reach the end of the course and be content in the fact that they completed the journals?  Or have you been driven to learn more about the Gospel and how you presented it to your girls to encourage them to have a complete relationship with Jesus?

A couple of weeks ago whilst talking with my Brigaders, we started going through the 9th lesson of our Believe course, where we heard about the true sacrifice that Jesus gave for us all. As we approached the end of the lesson I asked the question “What is it that you are waiting for, why are you holding back from knowing Jesus?” In that moment I thought about a dear family member that we lost just a few weeks prior to an eight month battle with cancer.  She was a wonderful, loving lady filled with a zest for life and a willingness to help and show kindness to everyone she met.  She showed such bravery in her fight against cancer and she is sorely missed by all those who love her.  Up until a week before her passing, she never gave an indication to her loved ones that she knew Jesus personally.  In the finally days of her life she recited the Lord’s Prayer and told her family that God was in her heart.  A moment of sheer joy and hope for the family and they now have the assurance that she will be in glory. She passed away two weeks before her 86th birthday.

86 years is a long time to live without having the joy of Jesus in your life. Unfortunately none of us know when our final day will come, it could be today, next month or in 5 years time.  Certainly we all won’t be blessed enough to be on this earth for 86 years.  But here is the thing, God doesn’t want us to waste a second away from Him.  Are we really prepared to risk our eternity, by holding back because we think we can deal with it later?

I can’t help but think about the life our girls could live if they were walking completely with Jesus today, to be equipped daily in God’s word; and how it would differ from a life without Him. Of course, they will still be faced with many seasons, some glorious and some turbulent but by putting Jesus at the helm, they are trusting Him to have full control of their lives.

As GB leaders, we commit ourselves to serve Jesus by sharing the Gospel and teaching our girls to seek Him. If we hold back in our outreach, we are preventing our girls from having that personal relationship with Jesus.  If we want our girls to be followers, then we have to be brave and honest enough to share the Gospel and highlight the importance of knowing Jesus.  Our mission is simple, so let’s be warriors for Jesus and dig deep into the final weeks of the Scripture course and any devotions you may share.

Pray vigilantly for our girls to engage with the truth of the Gospel and to seek Jesus in every aspect of their lives.

Leeanne Railton Officer 282nd NI Woodlands Presbyterian

 

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