True Love?

True Love?

Why do we romanticise love in 1 Corinthians 13? It has become traditional to have this chapter as the main reading at weddings – I know I did.

1 Corinthians 13 says, ‘If I speak with tongues of humans and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a sounding bronze, or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I dole out all my goods to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy. Love does not brag, is not proud, does not behave itself inappropriately, does not seek its own way, is not irritable, does not keep a record of wrongs; does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will be done away with. Where there are tongues, they will cease. Where there is knowledge, it will be done away with. For we know in part, and prophecy in part; but when that which is complete has come, that which is partial will be done away with. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become an adult, I have put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known. But now faith, hope, and love remain – these three. The greatest of these is love.‘ (NHEB)

The Greek word used in this passage for the word love is agape – unconditional love. It’s the highest of all the versions of love. In our English language, we only have one word for love, but in other languages, such as Greek, they use various words to describe the different forms of love. So, traditionally, we have romanticised this chapter to explain what type of love the author is describing. But, this is not the case. Of course, agape is a good way to love one’s spouse, but there will likely be other forms of love evident in a loving, faithful, committed, romantic relationship – such as erotic love, for example.

So, we can extend the love described in this chapter to the other people we know too. It’s this same love that we’re encouraged to love our neighbours, enemies and God. Agape is tough to do, we struggle to truly love with agape in our most intimate relationships, so how much harder is it to do so when it comes to our enemies!?!

When I think of my ‘enemies’ I find it really difficult to face the choice laid before me to extend agape to them. It’s a choice I often find myself disobeying. But, I’m determined to work on myself and learn to choose agape more often and for more people. Agape is unconditional, but that doesn’t mean that we should ignore the ‘bad stuff’ that people do. Extending agape is just as difficult as extending forgiveness, but just as worthwhile. It doesn’t let the other person off the hook, it just releases us from the burden of bitterness so that we can focus on healing, recovery and our relationship with Abba-Jesus-Spirit.

It’s a lifelong journey of learning, practising, getting it wrong, and trying again. Full transformation and full ability of complete agape, I believe, are only completed at the time of Jesus’ second coming.

Inclusion

What’s easier? To think of inclusion or exclusion? Or, perhaps a better question: whom do we exclude vs whom do we include?

Within churches, specifically, the question of inclusivity often arises around the interpretation of scripture. We take a look at the Law and from that, we work out what Laws we feel comfortable keeping and which we feel comfortable to break and then we use that as a way to measure other people’s acceptability. Anyone who falls outside of our acceptance is excluded. Everyone else is included. Does that sound true to you?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve fallen into that trap myself over many years. The verses I now use as a plumb line are, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.’ – Romans 8:1-2 (NKJV)

Jesus, from my perspective, is inclusive. He doesn’t exclude anyone. If he did, he would exclude me, and no doubt he would exclude you. But, this is rather liberal theologically speaking, isn’t it?

Perhaps spend some time thinking about who you exclude, and why? Also, think about whether you have been/are excluded because of who you are or what you have done?

Forgiveness

In 2015 I attended a service on forgiveness. During this service I heard a testimony from Renée Napier, the mother of Meagan Napier who was killed, along with her best friend Lisa Dickson, in a car accident in 2002 (they were 20 years old). The driver of the car that hit them, named Eric, was under the influence of alcohol and went to prison for his offence.

Renée’s story was that of the Healing Power of Forgiveness and it was both powerful and inspirational. Her testimony is that she forgave Eric and petitioned the judge to reduce his sentence by half. Eric then became a Christian and they now tour together (and separately) to tell of the power of forgiveness and warn against Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

I knew beforehand that going to this service would be tough and that listening would be even tougher. I knew within myself the reason why. I was bitter, unforgiving and hurting at a very deep level. However, hearing someone’s story is so much more powerful than trying to learn the do’s and don’ts of forgiveness out of a book.

Hearing the process of her forgiveness touched me to my core. I very quickly went through a ‘grieving’ process as I listened e.g. anger, denial, fear etc.

One of the biggest things that I learned was that I needed to ‘stop drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die’ – which was a quote that Renee used during her testimony. She was correct – it was slowly killing me like cancer.

Since 2015, my walk of living an ever-increasing forgiving life has been tumultuous and extremely painful. I’ve learnt a lot about what forgiveness does and doesn’t include. Despite all this learning, I still find it extremely difficult to forgive myself, and others.

I’m going to leave you with a question and action step, before praying for us.

Question: In what ways do you struggle with forgiveness of yourself or others?

Action Step: Journal, or pray, about any of the ways you wish to grow in forgiveness.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for helping us grow as your faithful disciples. Lord, it often feels difficult to navigate the complexity and settle ourselves on tough content. Thank you for always loving us. Where we struggle to forgive ourselves, others, or you please help us. Amen.

If you want to read more about this topic, please join my mailing list so that I can let you know when the book is published.

Acceptance

Acceptance

Acceptance Original Art

This is the first in my collection of faith-based discipleship paintings. I’m painting this collection alongside writing a book on the complexities faced within Christian discipleship.

I painted vertical stripes of different skin tones on top of a blue and orange pattern. Then I painted a red and gold border and added white ‘bubbles’.

I chose this design because I wanted to clearly represent that everyone is accepted by God and He draws us all to Himself – like moths to a flame. The border represents safety. The bubbles represent fluidity and gentleness, fun and freedom.

“Accept that you are accepted, despite the fact that you are unacceptable” – Paul Tillich.

This quote holds a challenge for us, doesn’t it? 

Oftentimes we feel that acceptance is conditional. This stems largely from social norms. For example, I can acceptably wear a bikini to the beach, but wearing a bikini to Tesco would be frowned upon and unacceptable.

t seems to me that this sort of acceptance – accepted even when unacceptable- sets us in good stead for growing in unconditional love and inclusion.

For a really long time, I acted more like a Jewish Pharisee rather than a disciple of Jesus. This is difficult to admit. But, like the apostle Paul I have had quite a dramatic change of heart. One of the chapters in the Bible that helped me with this most is Romans 14.

I have been thinking about this topic for a long while and there seems to be a scale of acceptance. On one end you have radical judgement and on the other, you have radical acceptance. In the middle, you have a neutral position. The reason I mention this scale is that both ends of the scale can cause relational issues, particularly between disciples on opposite ends of the scale.

In Romans 15:7 it says, ‘accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.’

I’m going to leave you with a question and action step, before praying for us.

Question: In what ways do you struggle to accept yourself, or others?

Action Step: Journal, or pray, about any of the ways you wish to grow in acceptance.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for helping us grow as your faithful disciples. Lord, it often feels difficult to navigate the complexity and settle ourselves on tough content. Thank you for always loving us. Where we struggle to accept ourselves, others, or accept that you accept us, please help, guide, and comfort us. Amen.

Pride

Pride

Rainbow stripes with a heart shaped balloon being thrown in the air by a white person - Pride Yours Faithfully Hannah Kirk

Hi there, 

Not very long ago I would have been called a heretic (and that’s probably the politest name I would have been called). Some might still call me that.

There is a risk that comes with being vocal about topics such as these. I’m willing to take that risk. 

We are almost halfway through Pride month. It’s a time of celebration and protest. 

I like to keep my sexuality to myself, so it’s not something that I choose to shout about. For those who are interested, I’m Bi-sexual but not at the exclusion of any gender identity. That means that I am attracted to all genders. I’m also an ally to the rest of the LGBTQAI+ community. 

I’m also a disciple of Jesus. There’s still a thought within faith circles that one can’t be in the LGBTQAI+ community and be a disciple of Jesus. I used to believe that too (I’m ashamed to say!). This was damaging to myself and my faith. it was also damaging to others. For that, I’m sincerely sorry. 

So, how have I reconciled these things? Well, I’ve studied the Bible for myself. I’ve read books on the subject. I’ve been in conversation with other people (both within the community and allies) about this topic. I now wholeheartedly believe that it is not sinful to be part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

To celebrate that fact I have created the artwork to the right of this text. 

I painted several of the Pride Flags and then I ripped Bible passages out of my Bible and stuck them on top with glue. I’m now going to varnish and list it for sale. It also accompanies the chapter on sexuality and gender identity in my upcoming book. The book, as a whole, is about topics of complexity faced by modern-day disciples and how they fit together to form the puzzle of discipleship. 

There are a lot of things that people might not like about this artwork and that they might not like about me. I’m OK with that. However, although I am happy to speak respectfully with people about topics such as these I will not tolerate anything remotely abusive.  

Sexuality, Gender Identity, Faith, and Pride Painting by Yours Faithfully Hannah Kirk

What I want to say very clearly is that I wholeheartedly believe that everyone is loved and accepted by Jesus. That of course includes the LGBTQAI+ community. I do not believe that Jesus excludes anyone! 

In case you are interested, here are the Bible passages I used:

* “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

* “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ appointed it. This is why it says: ‘When he ascended on high he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men'” –  Ephesians 4:1-6

* “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 7: 7-12

* “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139: 13-14

* “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

* “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” – John 3:16-18

* “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” – Ephesians 1: 15-19

* I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise. I will bow down towards your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stout-hearted.” – Psalm 138: 1-3

All of the Bible verses we taken from the New International Version. Although not an inclusive Bible, I hope you will find comfort and hope if you are struggling with this topic, or things in general. You are loved, you are precious, you are worthy, you are accepted, you are needed, you are wanted, you are unique. 

Yours Faithfully, 

Hannah Kirk

 

Choose To Challenge

Choose To Challenge

Hi there,

It would be a bit difficult not to notice that today is International Women’s Day. When the focus is on one group of people it’s very easy to get critical or defensive and say ‘all lives matter’ for example. While it is most certainly true that ‘all lives matter’, that is not the point. The point is that where there is inequality we need to shine the spotlight on it.

Today, the spotlight is on women.

Until very recently women were not allowed to serve as church leaders; they were not allowed to vote; they were not allowed to work in male-dominant roles, such as as pilots or in the army. There is still a rift between genders in the workplace, and indeed other areas of society such as churches.

As hopefully you have already noticed, I’m extremely passionate about inclusion, justice, and equality. That passion, along with my faith in Jesus, forms the foundation of this company.

My mission statement on my website (https://yours-faithfully-hkirk.co.uk) reads, ‘Hannah has a passion for Jesus and a passion for people. The main ways she connects these two passions is through art, photography, and writing. Even though her faith forms a huge part of who she is, and what she does, she is committed to never force her faith on anyone else. Her mission, which shapes this company, is to develop a life of hope, freedom, and recovery through art, photography, and writing. Hannah’s core belief is that every human being should be valued, accepted, and included – that’s why she has tailored her products and services in such a way that everyone should feel welcome here regardless of age, gender identity, sexuality, ethnicity, disability, etc. She has a heart for the marginalised and broken, perhaps because she fits that herself.’

So, for International Women’s Day I #ChooseToChallenge – choose to challenge the stigma that many women face surrounding their bodies and emotions; choose to challenge the inequality that still exists; choose to challenge the ways that women are written about by male authors, etc. These are things that I will continue to challenge going foreword – not just today.

I thought you might also like to know which women most inspire us as a family.
* My youngest daughter says, “I’m inspired by Amy Johnson, because I wouldn’t be able to be a piolet when I grow up if it wasn’t for Amy Johnson”.
* My eldest daughter says, “Emma Watson inspires me because she inspired me to become an actress, she fights for Women’s Rights, and she left books for people to find which is a really kind thing to do.”
* My husband says, “Lari Basilio because she is a very good guitarist. Lori stands out for me because when you often thing of guitarists and rock bands it’s usually men, and she inspires me to play guitar more. She’s also a Christian and recently launched a signature guitar.”
* I am inspired by many women. I think that the modern women that inspire me the most are: Michelle Lloyd, Josephine Owusu, and Menekse Stewart (although I could add more to this list). The women artists that inspire me the most are: Jennifer Mazur, Kristin Rawcliffe, and Lotti Rawle (but there are many more I could mention). I also have so many amazing female friends who inspire me every day. Here are just a few (because the list would run into 100!): Patricia, Karrie, Nikki, Rach, Fi, and Lucy.

Do you also #ChooseToChallenge?

Yours Faithfully,
Hannah Kirk

Christmas Hope?

Christmas Hope?

Hi,

I’m based in Berkshire, England, and we are in Tier 4 which essentially means that all of our plans for Christmas were cancelled on Saturday. I have cried tears, and so have my children. But, this Christmas is not without hope.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)

This is a very familiar verse to many. In other translations, the words alter slightly and it reads, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (NIV)

From my perspective, which I’m sure is shared widely, we have had one disaster after another this year. What then can we make of this verse that claims that the LORD plans good and not disaster. I’ve asked myself that question a lot over the years. I’m not sure I’ve settled on a answer. But, what I do believe wholeheartedly is that we have both a hope and a future found in Jesus. Jesus is the reason that we have Christmas, isn’t it? His birth, life, death, and resurrection give us a hope and a future.

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies.” John 11:25 (NIV) This is the hope we have in Jesus. This is the future that is available freely to us and that future starts now.

We have the first ‘Christmas star’ in 800 years this evening – when Jupiter and Saturn line up in the sky. I’m hoping that the sky clears sufficiently for us to be able to see it.

However, whether I see the star or not, and during  this Christmastime, along with every other day, I can rejoice and worship Jesus – for the hope and future he has given us – just as the wise people did at the time of His birth:

“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:10-11 NKJV)

I pray you find some level of peace and comfort over the Christmas period, even if your plans have had to be changed. I also pray for you as you reflect on what has likely been a very challenging and painful year.

Yours Faithfully,

Hannah Kirk

 

 

What I Believe

This is not a ‘religious’ post. Despite being a faith-based artist I’m not trying to push my faith on you. That wouldn’t be the most loving thing for me to do.

Having said that, my faith in God is the reason for why I create art, take photos, and write. Faith forms the basis of what I do and how I do it. If I didn’t have faith in God I reckon my life and work would look very different. 

I believe that my creativity is an extension of me, that my inside spills out into my art, photography, and writing. I suppose that’s true of everyone, isn’t it? 

On the surface it might look as though I’m doing lots of different things which will appeal to lots of different people. In a way that’s true. Not because I want to please everyone, but rather because I believe that everyone is loved by God and that when I offer a product or service it’s because God knows who it is for, and what His purpose is behind me offering it. I might never know why, and that’s OK. 

Of course there are specific times when God will tell me what to create and who it is for, but if that is the case the recipient will receive it for free – as a gift of grace from Him via me. 

Anyway, that’s all for now. If you have any questions about what I believe or why I do what I do, please get in touch – I’d be glad to hear from you. 

Yours Faithfully,

Hannah Kirk

Welcome!

I’m so happy to have you here. Welcome to my blog where I share snippets of my art, photography, and writing. I will share some of my story, and tell you exciting news of upcoming products and services.

Every week I will write to update you and give you behind-the-scenes of my studio/office, photos of recent works, any important dates and other key information. I’ll aslo spotlight other artists, photographers, and writers that I think you might like. 

Each blog post will be unique. 

For now, you can look through my products and services, via my website, where you can read more about me and see what is currently available.

>>>>  https://yours-faithfully-hkirk.co.uk  <<<<<

I would love to learn more about you and how you heard about me, drop me a message and let me know.

Yours Faithfully,

Hannah Kirk

This is not the start!

In January and February 2018 I spent some time in hospital. While there I discovered that my new found creativity was the most effective part of my recovery. I discovered that writing was a new found love of mine. So, I started a Christian blog called Morning Coffee With Abba. In August 2018, I decided that I’d actually like to sell my artwork and photos too.

I then went on a tumultious journey to get to this point where I have formed ‘Yours Faithfully Hannah Kirk Ltd.’

Although I’m a faith-based (Christian) artist, writer, and photographer, you don’t have to be a Christian in order to be welcome here. I hope that everyone who visits this website feels welcome and benefits and is blessed by my products and/or services.

That’s a little snippet for my first blog post. There will be a new one every week. 

Yours Faithfully,

Hannah Kirk

Yours Faithfully Hannah Kirk Ltd, registered in England and Wales number 11532057