The parable of the lost sheep

The parable of the lost sheep

Blogs
Thoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral

The parable of the lost sheep

By Dawne Cooper, Jubilee Church Wirral

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to go away for a few days to Somerset.

We were enjoying coming back from the cricket, along the winding lanes, when suddenly a loose sheep appeared in the middle of the road. Just as we were passing it, the farmer arrived in his jeep to come and rescue this wandering sheep.

It was a timely reminder of the parable of the lost sheep.

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbours, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

Luke 15:1-7 ESV

There’s a few things we can take from this:

  1. God loves you more than you can possibly imagine. You’re so important to Him, that He will leave the other 99 to come and find you. If you leave Him (like this sheep did in Somerset) and choose to live life your own way, He will follow you to the ends of the earth (like the Somerset farmer did.) He’ll stay by your side, no matter what. And quite amazingly, there’s nothing you can do that will stop Him from loving you!
  2. You are always welcome to His kingdom! The second you stop running and turn to Him, He’ll open His arms and celebrate your return. As we watched this wandering sheep on our holiday, we noticed it start to head back towards the direction of the farmer. You could imagine the relief and joy of this farmer as his sheep was coming back to him. If a humble farmer would be feeling like this, how much more joy and celebration would your Father in heaven be feeling when you choose to tun to him?!

The last point I’d like to make on this is that God never gives up on you! Wow! Let me say that again… God never gives up on you! In a world where we’ve become so used to people giving up on us at the slightest inconvenience, this can be difficult to comprehend, but it’s so true. 

All you have to do is turn to Him and ask forgiveness. Here you will find God has mercy on you and this mercy endures forever.

 

I’ve chosen this video to go with the blog because it encapsulates everything that I am saying.

“Who am I that the King of the world would give one single thought about my broken heart?

Who am I that the God of all grace wipes the tears from my face and says, ‘Come as you are’?

You paid the price, You took the cross, You gave Your life and You did it all with me on Your mind”

WOW! Just wow!

Andrew Greenhalgh and Julie Greenhalgh Upton Life Group leaders Jubilee Church Wirral

Dawne Cooper, Jubilee Church Wirral

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Find joy in the everyday

Find joy in the everyday

Blogs
Thoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral

Find joy in the everyday

By Dawne Cooper, Jubilee Church Wirral

I’m sure a lot of you will be aware that I have two dogs that are, shall we say, complete opposites of each other.

Today I want to tell you a bit about little Floki doke and what we can learn from him.

Floki is originally from Macedonia. Unfortunately as a young puppy, he was run over leaving him with very significant injuries, a big one being brain damage. I was asked to foster Floki while his legs were fixed, but it soon became very apparent how special this little boy was, so I adopted him.

Floki’s brain damage affects him in a number of ways. He walks very strangely (think legs going every way except the way they’re meant to). Does this mean he doesn’t want to go on walks? No, quite the opposite! He does a tippy tippy dance waiting to get his splints on and then is raring to go.

Then there’s his lack of depth perception. Does this mean he won’t go up and down stairs? No! He will stand at the bottom of the stairs and after the count of 3 he will run up enthusiastically.

Next we have his poor muscle mass and poor exercise tolerance. Again he doesn’t stop this from letting him enjoy his walks. He comes out in his little truck and will jump in and out as he needs to, or just simply enjoys watching the world go by as he’s pushed around in said truck.

As I thought about Floki and how he lives his life, I was drawn to two verses in particular in the Bible.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,” James 1:2

Floki meets numerous trials on a daily basis, but he doesn’t let this stop him from enjoying life and always being happy. Similarly, we will face various trials and challenges frequently. It’s up to us how we respond to these. Do we let them stop us doing things in the future? Do we let them make us turn bitter? Or do we count it as joy?

The next one is this:

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Again, looking at Floki, he had the roughest start to life and, as you’ve read a small amount about, you can see things can be tough for him. But one thing I’ve noticed is that he is always happy, no matter how rough things are for him. He’s always there with a waggy tail for you, and a snuggle up to you, even if I have taken him to the vet for the umpteenth time.

It is such a big challenge for us to give thanks in ALL circumstances.

When I am struggling with this, I like to remember what the back of any needlework I’m doing looks like, how it looks such a mess. Yet when you turn it over, it’s the most beautiful image. Likewise, we don’t see the bigger picture, just the mess on the back, and this is where trusting God comes in, of how all the troubles, trials and circumstances fit together into His amazing plan.

So, are you going to approach life with Floki doke’s enthusiasm, joy and exuberance?

If you struggle with this, ask God to help you find the joy in the everyday.

Floki Doke. All pictures by Dawne Cooper

Jubilee Church Wirral Life Group leaders Rick and Chantal Robertson

Dawne Cooper of Jubilee Church Wirral

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Take heart

Take heart

Blogs
Thoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral

Take heart

By Dawne Cooper, Jubilee Church Wirral

I don’t know about you, but with everything going on in the world at the moment and even just in the everyday, life can seem overwhelming.

Wars rage, loved ones die, there’s constant power struggles, storms and the damage from them ensue, just to name a few things. You’re probably thinking, wow this is a cheery blog! But don’t worry we’ll get there.

Time after time I’ve been reminded of the verse in John 16:33:

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” 

A few years ago I wrote a song when we were in the midst of the covid pandemic which was inspired by this verse. Have a read through the lyrics to see what this verse inspired in me.

Take Heart

When you see the world around you
And it seems to much to bear
Just lift your eyes to heaven
To see someone who cares.

He hasn’t tired or abandoned
Or left you all alone
He’s standing right beside you
And he cannot be overthrown

Chorus:
So take heart, He’ll lift that weight up off your chest,
Take heart, He holds you in His hands.
In this world there will be trouble, but I have overcome the world,
So take heart, take heart.

It may seem overwhelming
But he’s really in control
He’s the voice that calms the storms
And it’s Him I will extoll

He’s omniscient and omnipresent
He won’t leave you all alone
And knowing he’s omnipotent
Means I know he’s on the throne

So when you feel so tired and helpless
And you don’t know where to start
Take heart knowing that he’s got this
He won’t let you fall apart.

What does the verse inspire in you?

There are so many troubles we face day to day, but we’ve got a God who is greater than this, we’ve got a God who is above it all, and why? Because he’s already overcome it all!

Take heart, these troubles are only momentary. One day they will all be gone and we’ll live with Him in glory. In the meantime He’s got you! Trust in Him to get you through all these battles and uncertain times.

Listen to Take Heart:

Jubilee Church Wirral Life Group leaders Rick and Chantal Robertson

Dawne Cooper of Jubilee Church Wirral

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Visual art as worship

Visual art as worship

Blogs
Thoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral

Visual art as worship

By Dawne Cooper, Jubilee Church Wirral

Worship is an overflow of what’s inside of us, what we desire and love.

We all express ourselves in different ways and as such our worship will reflect that. Be it singing, poetry, dance or art – to name but a few ways.

Visual art can do so much. It can create identity, define space, dramatise parts of worship, shape movement, mark time and even anchor a memory.

Through art, feelings and responses can be expressed in a way which would otherwise be limited by the finite words of the English language. Don’t mishear me here. Singing as a form of worship is certainly a vital aspect of worship, particularly when joining together with fellow believers. But that’s a topic for another time.

Visual art exists predominantly for two outcomes:

– For God to reveal Himself

– For us to glorify God.

Pablo Picasso once said “God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style, He just goes on trying other things.”

You only need to look at creation for the ultimate example of God creatively revealing Himself.

During listening to worship music, or reading God’s word, don’t rush in. Wait for revelation, listen for inspiration, listen for meaning. What is God trying to say? What emotion does it provoke?

The process involves adoration, proclamation, submission and service. So before you start, pray, commit yourself to God and ask Him to speak to you. Be open to Him speaking to you and through you.

Don’t be afraid to try something new. Before my illness, when I began having problems with my breathing, I didn’t do anything like this. It was all sports and fitness. I played football and cricket to a high level and ran for miles. In not being able to do that anymore, I tried a lot of things to find a sense of purpose again. If you have a look at my Facebook page, Crafted From Faith, you will see examples of things that I do.

God revealing himself aids in healing. This is in the process of creating as well as the creation itself. It creates freedom in spirit and expression. Creating visual arts also brings visions and words to life. A permanent reminder of Gods promises in both yours and the lives of others.

So how does visual art work for us to glorify God?

As a young believer, and even before, I used to be confused as to why cathedrals, monasteries and other places of worship were so lavish. Why didn’t they take the money they had invested into these buildings and given it to help the poor, or put it to better use? But then I realised they were doing it to glorify God. To give their very best. To aim to display just what God means to them, but again I digress.

Often, spoken and written word is valued higher than the artistic word. However, you only need to take the briefest of looks at the Bible to see visual art as an expression of faith. In Exodus, we see God calling Bezalel to craftsmanship.

“See, I have called by name Bezalel… And I have filled him with the spirit of God, with ability and intelligence with knowledge in all kinds of crafts, to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.” (Exodus 31:2-5)

World class sculptor Matt Tommey said this: “Before Jesus ever preached a sermon, or did a miracle, He was working as a skilled artisan in the marketplace, honouring God, engaging with clients and making a living from His craft.” As an artisan you’re in good company.

You don’t have to be a skilled artist, either.

In 2 Corinthians 8:12 Paul writes: “For the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable.”  Put simply, God looks at the heart.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look to improve your skills, so practise, strive to improve, enrol on courses, learn from other people.

Because as Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 10,  “Whatever you do, do it for the Glory of God”. If you’re doing it for the glory of God, why wouldn’t you strive to be the best you can be?

So where can you begin? Here are some examples of things you can do – but by no means are you limited to this list:

– Create an art journal

– Create sculpture or jewellery

– Create fabric art

– Turn what you’re learning in the Bible and quiet times into artistic expressions to encourage others, for example bookmarks, coasters, etc.

There’s no right or wrong when you create something. Do what you feel and what you feel led to do. Creativity is a conversation between you and God. God made you unique, so embrace it.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepares beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

So go, enjoy, embrace your uniqueness, use your time to further explore your creativity, and be free in who God intended you to be.

Jubilee Church Wirral Life Group leaders Rick and Chantal Robertson

Dawne Cooper of Jubilee Church Wirral

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Where is God when it hurts?

Where is God when it hurts?

Blogs
Thoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral

Where is God when it hurts?

By Dawne Cooper, Jubilee Church Wirral

Where is God when it hurts?

Everyone goes through a time in their lives when things are really tough and you don’t understand what’s going on.  Relationships break down, we lose loved ones, our health fails us, we lose our jobs, and so much more.  This last year, in particular, has been tough on everyone and I’m no different.

Being a Christian doesn’t make you exempt from such trials. I’m currently sitting here letting the tears flow as I mourn the loss of my precious dog, after nearly 13 years with her. I’ve also struggled to help my parents, trying to support them from a distance as my dad continues his battle with cancer.  These are just a couple of the trials I face at the moment.

Am I telling you this for sympathy? No! I’m sharing this with you to show you I understand.

When we go through trials we have two choices: 1. To roll over and be defeated, or 2. Stand up and say “God, I don’t know what’s going on, or why you’re allowing this to happen, but I trust you.”

God won’t abandon you in the middle of all this. He’s the one constant, the one you can rely on, completely faithful.

I love Psalm 91 which is cram-packed full of God’s promises to protect and fight for us.

“When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue and honour him.” Psalm 91:15.

You may wonder how God will be there when it’s hurting. Well, the short answer is, it’s in the little things. It’s in the phone call or message, just when you need it most. It’s in the offer of support. It’s in the random Bible verse or song that just pops into your head. It’s in the beauty all around us. It’s in the gentle reminder that this too shall pass. It’s in the promise that “in the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

Don’t get me wrong, it won’t be easy, but God makes it possible. Do I have wobbles? Yes. Do I have days where it just doesn’t seem possible? Absolutely. But ultimately I choose joy, I choose peace, I choose to trust even when I don’t understand.

What’s your choice going to be?

Jubilee Church Wirral Life Group leaders Rick and Chantal Robertson

Dawne Cooper with her beloved and much-missed dog Rolo

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We Remember

We Remember

In the month of remembrance, Chris on remembering what Jesus sacrificed for us and how we need to act on it.

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Friends

Friends

Helen on the importance of Friends and what God has to say about them in the Bible.

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Jesus the speaking one

Jesus the speaking one

Dave expands on his Sunday morning message with this week’s blog on Jesus being the speaking one and how we follow his example

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Loss and God’s care

Loss and God’s care

Yvonne on loss and how God has helped her deal with the loss of her mum and the impending departure of her eldest son to his first job

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Sleep

Sleep

Simon on the frustrations of not being able to get to sleep properly, and the Bible verses that help him stand firm against sleeplessness.

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Idle gossip

Idle gossip

Gerry on how easy it is to be drawn into gossip. “If you can’t say anything positive, don’t say anything at all” isn’t just good advice, it’s Biblical wisdom.

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The Power of a Word

The Power of a Word

Chris on the power of our words and how having a relationship with Jesus can give us the power of the right word at the right time.

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Psalms

Psalms

Helen on why Psalms have taken the place of Proverbs as her favourite book of the Bible

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Taking advice

Taking advice

Andrew Greenhalgh on being much better at giving advice than at taking it – and what happens as a result.

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God NEVER changes

God NEVER changes

Chantal Robertson on how God and the gospel of Christ has never changed over time – even though the way we package it has.

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Christ’s Open Reign

Christ’s Open Reign

Dave expands on his Sunday morning message with this week’s blog on Jesus being the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

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Find joy in the everyday

Find joy in the everyday

Dawne challenges us to look at life with the enthusiasm, joy and exuberance of her Macedonian dog Floki and find joy in the everyday.

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Being a Christian isn’t easy…

Being a Christian isn’t easy…

Jen on how taking the Alpha Course because she had nothing better to do on a Tuesday afternoon led to a life-changing wheelchair for her daughter Daisy and many others.

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What is Love?

What is Love?

Gerry on how her ideas of what love truly is have changed over the years, and how love can be so much more than a feeling.

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The Tapestry of Life

The Tapestry of Life

Matt Wilson on how God is weaving a tapestry – and knows what that looks like. He can see the big picture. Our part is to trust him with the threads he has given us.

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New Year, Same Vision

New Year, Same Vision

Dave expands on his Sunday morning message with this week’s blog on Jubilee’s vision and values after 20 years as a church.

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Resolutions

Resolutions

Denise Griffiths on resolutions and why she has resolved not to make the usual New Year’s resolutions such as giving up chocolate, eating healthier or doing more exercise!

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This transitory life

This transitory life

Vernon on the transience of life, and how, through all suffering, God’s steadfast love has the capacity to satisfy us every morning.

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Spreading the word

Spreading the word

Andrew Greenhalgh on how he ended up going to church on Christmas morning for the first time at the age of 11 – and what it has taught him.

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Christmas Preparations

Christmas Preparations

Helen on how preparations for Christmas vary from family to family and country to country. And what happened to Helen’s Lindt advent chocolates?

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The meaning of advent

The meaning of advent

What is advent? Why do we need to be ready for Jesus’ second coming? When will it be happening exactly? Read Dave’s blog to find out more.

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