God is Always Good

Sometimes that is difficult to believe. Especially if we think God is responsible for everything that happens. Bad things definitely do happen so by the above premise, God can not always be good.img_4822

However, God wanted us to have free choice so much, so we are able to choose to love Him without manipulation or litigation, that He choose to not control everything that happens.

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When a grandparent holds an infant baby close to them, the two hearts come together. Trust, fellowship and love flows between the two; the two hearts come together. Both very different in experience and knowledge of life but they come together with the bond of love. One can feel the love flowing between the two independent lives- God given lives loving each other.

Mick Hales photo
photo by Mick Hales
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Photo by Mick Hales

America has just gone through a very divisive election which has even further polarized an already divided nation. The two hearts of this nation could not be further apart. There is no love flowing between the two sides and there certainly is no fruit of the Spirit evident from the candidates. The Christian community is pitched, one against the other, claiming one candidate or another was God’s person. We are in a divided house and it will not stand. The winner is divisiveness itself, the fruit of which is division.

Despite this God is still love, and we are still called to love our neighbors as ourselves. The extraordinary thing about democracy is, we are called to accept a change of leadership through love, to have it work we need to accept the change with love. We have to work together as a nation and as a Christian Community, otherwise we fall divided. Hug a baby today to remember what love feels like. God’s love for us will never change, as a parent loves their child.

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Community Thanksgiving Dinner with First Presbyterian Church, Hudson
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Community Thanksgiving, photo by Mick Hales

Fortunately, November also is blessed with Thanksgiving. We have so much to be grateful for in this country that it is good to be still and go through all the blessings we enjoy. This year we were part of a community Thanksgiving hosted by the First Presbyterian Church in Hudson but held at Christ Church Episcopal. Through various circumstances the two churches came together along with a lot of volunteers from different congregations to serve over 150 Thanksgiving meals. We do have so much to be grateful for and there is no better way to celebrate that than in a community of neighbors.

Christine has an exciting month coming up and is opening her new studio in Hudson for three Saturdays in December. God is always working in ways we often do not see coming and God is always good.

We love you and rejoice in your prayers for us and ours for you.

Photo by Mick Hales
Photo by Mick Hales

Michael and Christine          www.Mickhales.com      www.newchristianicons.com 

 

 

“My name is Jesus”

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October is a time of transition. The colors change around us. I, Michael, have been finding a lot of green, red and yellow in my morning prayer sketches, which prophetically speaking stand for- green is phophecy and preparing the ground; red for regal warfare [which includes sin, death and bloodshed]; and yellow for heavenly blessings, enlightenment and Glory.

A brother in Christ, Tyler, and I have been walking the streets of Albany at night, speaking into the air the presence of God. It has led to some wonderful opportunities to pray for people, many of whom are without a place to spend the night. Recently we encountered a man on a park bench trying to keep warm by huddling down into his small jacket with the collar up around his head. We talked for a while about him and his situation for the night. We talked about God and Jesus Christ. He did not believe that Jesus and God could be the same personage of the Lord, it did not stand to reason and it was an impossibility for him to understand. As we left him, Tyler asked, ‘What’s your name, man?’

He replied, ‘Jesus Christ.’img_4834

We believe that first comes the prophetic words into the atmosphere which open the gates, then comes the struggle over the Kingdom and then comes the Glory of God. We are declaring God’s Kingdom knowing His Glory is coming into Albany. That Albany will hold the Kingdom of Light not darkness.img_4836

I had a dream recently where I found I was in an unfamiliar city and did not know where I was going to spend that night. My hands were also joined to several people in prayer for healing for someone, and in my mind I kept wondering is it OK, is it appropriate for me to pray in this group for a place to spend the night. The next day journaling with God, he opened up to me that those thoughts and feelings of not knowing where one was going to spend the night happen to many people every day. Not know what rights they had.

I started to research and found out that there are 44 million displaced people in the world at the moment. That is far beyond my comprehension. Then I researched homeless people in NYC, each night recently there have been 61,430 homeless people seeking shelter- and those are the people who are accounted for, many more are out without being recorded. As our weather gets more cold the situation gets more serious.img_4812

Then I remembered Mathew 8:20, Jesus saying “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”pears,art

With that sentence comes for me the incredible recognition that Jesus went through those emotions and knows what it is like. That he suffered emotionally and physically as a human is hard to always grasp. That the son of God became the son of man so that we could accept his gift and know Him fully, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. More than I can understand but not more than I can believe.

Christine and I want to thank you all for your prayers and support.  We are family in Christ, and your prayers are an important part of what keeps us going.  We love praying for you as well, EVERY day!_mg_4603

Keep in touch and let’s join together in prayer and faith that God’s plans for us are infinitely more than we can imagine.

God bless,

Michael and Christine

www.americanassociationoficonographers.com

www.mickhales.com

The days are getting shorter and the light is getting lower. Even though it can be incredibly beautiful -the change in the leaves and the cold air at night, is the sure sign that winter is on the way. Fortunately we have Autumn to go through first with it’s brilliant colors.

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But there is a feeling of foreboding outside of the seasonal change as we face an extremely important presidential election in the US, which not only will affect America but also the whole world.

A lot depends on where you get news from as to what it reports on the same event. As has just been seen in the recent presidential debate both candidates were hailed as ‘winners’ depending whether you looked at Fox News or the Washington Post.

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The oak trees are dropping their acorns which I find so beautiful. As a child in England I would collect acorns from the oak trees and sell them to a neighboring farmer, the pigs delighted in them. Acorns for me are the symbol of the hope to come, the seed of the future. They look as strong as the trees they will produce. Oaks were referred to in the bible as geographic markers, they were so formidable and long lasting that locations were named by them; oaks of Mamre, oaks of Bashan, oaks of Moreh. The oak trees remind me of the strength and longevity of God’s word. I can hold on to it, be guided by it, receive truth from it and know that it is always there for me. I also know that it is alive through the Holy Spirit and has power and strength for us today.

We are the church.  We know that in theory, but recently we’ve had a chance to think about that in terms of our local village.  Christine and I have been concerned about the young, underserved families living here in Philmont. To some degree it is a transient population, and they are what’s always happened in this village. Children having children, poverty, and now, drugs are too easy for vulnerable young people like these.  Christine felt God suggested she look into getting a parenting class running here in Philmont.  She met with a representative from Cornell Cooperative Extension who is very willing to run a class here, and arranged a meeting with the local library.  Please keep this in prayer, that God would continue to show us the way to move forward with this.  The children in Philmont could benefit so much from this kind of support.

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Christine is also finishing up the large Icons of Saint Isaac Jogues and Saint Kateri Tekakwitha for the Albany Diocese.  They are looking stunning and spiritually light and powerful!_mg_4776

I have been getting the number three often in my prayer times recently and am asking two of the Kingdom School alumnae to join me to make three of us, to pray and declare the Kingdom of God into the streets of Albany. We are really excited to be coming together to do this and look forward to sharing what God is doing. What we believe is that through prayer and declaration the spiritual atmosphere of a place can change and God will come in. Albany needs it and this nation needs it as well.

Please let us know how we can pray for you and keep us in your prayers too.

His delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by the streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not whither. In all that he does he prospers.

We love you all, so much!

Love and Prayers,

Michael and Christine               www.mickhales.com   www.christinehales.com

 

Village Prayers

August is a yellow month, it seems, in native flowering plants and it is a great color, as with this water lily. I always think of yellow as representing the Glory of God when I am doing my praying / finger painting. I find the combination of prayer with the created visual image really connects me to God in a deep way. There is something about releasing our creativity which opens us up to communicating with God in a freer way.

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August is also a great month to Kayak and we keep ours at a local state park for the season. The underwater plants are often hidden below the surface by the flashing reflections of the sun. It reminds me of how important it is to be real about our relationship with Jesus and not put people off when we talk about Him. I spoke at a gathering in our village after several people had been baptized by a local pastor in his swimming pool about how important it is the first time someone hears about Jesus. The ‘law of the first mention’, underscores how important it is the first time something is mentioned in scripture to compare following occurrences with the initial one. Hence when we talk to people about Jesus it has to be done with love whatever the situation. So often it seems that people use the scriptures as a tool for condemnation, rather than a message of God’s love backed up with their own. How the story of Jesus is told is so important, it can turn someone away for ever or open a door to a new life.

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Mandylion Icon by Christine Hales

We had the opportunity to visit a local college’s art museum recently and found ourselves leaving really quickly. A lot of the material on show was literally demonic and focused on the demonic. One of the less offensive pieces was a German video we saw last year at the Venice Biennale. As we are involved with the arts and minister through them we find it very destructive when the arts are purposely being used for the demonic. However, the fact that this is happening in a respected college, which is educating the next generation of intellects, is a time bomb for our culture. This appears to now be the norm.

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Christine is excited to be hearing from God ‘to help alleviate the suffering of the very young children in our village’. A good parenting class could help both the parents and the children so we are starting to see who is working in this arena already and how Kingdom Arts Ministry can help create opportunities for young families. There are many very young adults with children and there is also a heroin problem among the youth, so caring for the small children will be very important over the next few years.

I have the good news that as I continue to pray for the monk who lost the left side of his body through a stroke, God blessed us by moving his toes in our last session.

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So much goes on, not least of all great tomatoes being grown in our garden by Christine and the Artist dinner is still active even through the heat of August.IMG_3856

 

Please pray for us for wisdom and direction and let us know how we can pray for you. How to light a fire and keep it burning- even in the water.

“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers” Thessalonians 1:2

Blessings and love,

Michael and Christine

Mick’s Website    Christine’s Icon website   Christine’s paintings

 

Bless the Lord

Dear Friends and Family:

“O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in Him. ”           Psalm 34:8

_MG_5713Summer in Columbia County, NY, is full of wild flowers and one of my road side favorites is Chicory. In the morning it creates lines of strong blues along the side of the road and through the day the color lightens to almost white- finally closing up at night.

Chicory was introduced to America from Europe and its’ roots were used as a coffee substitute.

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One of the significant aspects of my personal belief in God and my faith when I am praying for healing with someone, is that I do not doubt the power of God. I do not doubt that God is all powerful and more than able to physically heal what ever illness may be present. Also I believe from His ministry through Jesus Christ that it is His will to heal people. Having seen prayers in Jesus name physically heal many people I know that He is all powerful and the visual memory of ‘seeing it happen with my own eyes’, leads me forward to pray.

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“The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry.” PS. 34:15

However, one of my concerns as a Christian today, when Christianity is being marginalized, is that my beliefs do not fade, like chicory from a strong blue to white and then finally close up. That is why it is so important to be around people of strong faith, to be renewed in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Because if you are not seeing much healing when you pray one could easily question if God is still powerful.

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This month I have been blessed to reconnect to some old friends who are still very powerfully walking with the Lord. One is a monk who is recovering from a stroke which paralysed the left side of his body and the other was a gangster from Australia turned powerful evangelist for the Lord. Both men come from very different backgrounds, are now in very different life situations, but they call on the Lord like freight trains of the Holy Spirit. When you are in the presence of someone calling out to the Lord with deep fervor there can be no doubt we have a powerful God.

This nation needs to have powerful people calling out to God for it now. The present situation reminds me of what I think Germany must have been like when extreme rhetoric by Hitler, started to delude the moral compass of that nation. Small steps towards fear and greed are just as dangerous in this nation as anywhere. The devil is happy to do his work in small steps until it is too late to return.

My father was a scout troop youth leader and in that capacity visited Germany before the war and witnessed the ‘Brown Shirts’ start to congregate and stir up hatred. As a child, he told me, how he saw their development grow more radical and violent over the three summers he visited.

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“Innisfree”   photo by Mick Hales

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”  Ps. 34:1

Jesus came that we could love our neighbors as ourselves. It is not an easy road but it is a high road. It is not glamorous, straight forward and often not quantifiable. But it is the road we are called to.

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New Painting by Christine Hales

So I am thankful for powerful intercessors who pray for healing, who pray for justice, who pray for wisdom, who pray for revival in the villages, towns and cities of this country.

Our evangelist friend, that I mentioned above, is still holding revival meetings in tents pitched in fields and changing lives in rural America.

Our monk friend, is starting to move his left arm and leg and I fully believe the left side of his body will be totally restored as we continue to call out for his healing.

We are aware that God is doing something more extraordinary than we can imagine and we are called to ask him in faith, with no doubting, that each one of us can do our part with the gifts that God has given us. With faith we will see the fruit of our prayers.

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God is still with us and all powerful; Thank God.

We send you our love and prayers, and look forward to hearing form you!

Michael and Christine

www.americanassociationoficonographers.com     www.mickhales.com     www.halesart.com    www.christinehales.com    www.newchristianicons.com

 

 

Green trees and blue skies herald in the month of June. There is always something magical about the summer arriving. IMG_3297The trees and gardens are changing so quickly. A shadow of a young fern growing is left on a window curtain, a short moment caught by the camera. Images like this remind me that there are extraordinary things happening all the time but quite often we just are unaware of them. I often think it is similar to how God works; He is doing extraordinary things all the time but we are often unaware of themIMG_3195

 

We have been able to pray for healing for several people this month, outside of a ‘church context’, and it is always wonderful to see how God uses those opportunities. Usually people feel the presence of the Holy Spirit with a peacefulness or sensation of heat on their bodies. We do not always see a healing but we are sure that God is at work.

 

This month I went to Hamilton, Canada, with our great friends and alumni of Kingdom School, Tyler and Audrey Slade for a visit to a revival starting led by Todd Bentley. There were very powerful times of worship and ministry. People had come from all over to gather in the presence of God, including a man driving all the way from Texas.IMG_3272

 

We believe God can change things suddenly if He wants and we are calling out for a change in the Albany area with prayer gatherings in homes.

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This month the Artists Dinner was well attended and we ate out side of the church building. The gathering has reached a point where people are sharing fully what it means to be an artist in our present culture, how they deal with rejection and the reality of difficult financial situations. Christine received an award from the New York State Assembly for organizing the gatherings which have been going for 18 months now.

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Christine also organized a showing of her Icons along with the icon writing students she has been teaching at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Albany. There was an evening of organ music and Icons on display by the Guild she has formed, St Luke’s Guild of Iconographers, which was very well attended by people and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Christine’s ministry through the icon writing, is touching many different people and bringing them into a new understanding of the depth of this prayerful practice.

So, we ask again for your prayers, for all things come from God, and your prayers are the covering that keeps us in His grace. Thank You!!

We pray for you, too, and send our love,

Michael and Christine              www.newchristianicons.com     www.mickhales.com    www.americanassociationoficonographers.com       www.halesart.com

UNDERSTANDING

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NYC

Hello Friends and Family:

Michael has been photographing for a book called ‘City Green’, on NYC parks and gardens, and he came across an art piece by London based artist Martin Creed called ‘Understanding.’ The piece is located in Battery Bridge Park on one of the reclaimed piers now reclaimed for a park. The word ‘Understanding’, spelled out in 10 ft high letters, is lit by red neon lights and rotates on an eye beam at changing speeds.

It is of course begging the question of, ‘Understanding’- what? The artist leaves that to the viewers designation.IMG_2739

In this time of access through the internet to amazing amounts of knowledge it seems as though to have ‘understanding’ is a comfort and necessity for people. People tend to seek to understand God, rather than believe in God. Our rational minds demand understanding before we will allow belief. God, however, is in a spiritual world as well as the physical world we are conscious of through everyday life, he does not call us to understand him but he does call us to believe in him.IMG_2826

Jesus came that we could, through faith in Him, have a relationship with God.

Michael has made a short video which explores these ‘Two Worlds’. Our lives can be so busy that we often forget there is a spiritual world in action all the time and we are participants of that world, whether we are conscious of it or not. The video is intended to open up questions for people about the spiritual world and what Jesus Christ gave to each one of us by his willingness to go to the cross.


Christine led an icon writing retreat at Holy Cross Monastery which was very fulfilling for all the participants. The retreats are full of learning not only about how to write [paint] an icon, the symbolic aspects to the different steps in the ancient process but also to undergo a personal prayer journey while immersed in the creative process. People came considerable distance for the retreat and the monastery was the perfect location to remain in an atmosphere of prayer. photo 2

Here’s a video he made that weekend:

The artists dinner continues to be a wonderful opportunity for artists to share their lives and experiences. Our ministry, Kingdom Arts Ministry, is involved with the creative nature of God and of man, how creativity is part of God’s heart and can open doors for us to be in relationship with him. This month we celebrated the artist dinner with a cake, inscribed ‘We Are Art’. Artists often have to live on the outside of society even though in the truest sense the artist’s role is to reflect or guide culture.IMG_2750

We ask for your prayers for artists and their role in our culture.  We need your prayers and support so much and are so grateful we have that!

Sending you our love,

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Michael and Christine

www.halesart.com

 

April Action

Dear Friends and Family:

This is such a beautiful time of the year with the trees leafing out in chartreuse green.

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Michael has been photographing for a book of NYC public gardens and the tulips are out in force. Such a wonderful array of colors. One can understand how in 1637 Holland underwent tulipomania where a single bulb would go for the equivalent ten times an annual income. The joy of seeing vivid color after the grey colors of winter is especially welcome in the North East.

Christine delivered her two large icons [8 by 3 feet] to the Graymoor Friars of Atonement in Garrison, NY. They depict the founders of Graymoor, Lurana White, SA and Paul Wattson. SA. They will be installed in a new chapel for the friars. Father Richard Vosko , of St Vincent De Paul’s Church, Albany, assisted with liaison for the commission and was there to help with the delivery.

See a short video-  or use this link  


Michael has been working on another  short video about how God sees and is active in cities, especially in New York City. It is good to remember that Jesus’s heart is for all people and He especially enjoys seeing how people use the gifts that He has given them.

I think it must take a lot of courage to take a musical instrument down into the subways and perform on the platforms. The musicians, of all kinds and cultures, step out boldly and perform as a way of earning a living, using the gifts God has given them.

Check the video out and please share it with friends. (Link)


We are also involved with a group for intercession for Albany and the region which is meeting weekly and listening for God’s direction.

Michael has been doing some street praying in connection with that intercession particularly at seven different sites in the city.IMG_2406

Albany is a city without a heart, and it desperately needs it to be restored. Between 1962 and 1964 1,200 houses and other structures were taken by eminent domain and destroyed; leveling 98 acres of the heart of Albany. That was to create the Empire State Plaza which can be described in architectural language as Modernist, Brutalist and International. The great plan put forward by Governor Nelson A. Rockerfeller was completed between 1965 and 1976 costing around two billion dollars, as well as much anguish and back biting.

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Albany is the political center of New York state and sits as the center of a wheel of political strings which go to each corner of the state. New York City being the financial capital of the country and some might argue high on the list for the world, has a push/ pull relationship with Albany. Politics and all that the ‘spirit of politics’ carries is strong in Albany.

 

These are just two of the issues we are finding to pray into to have the Holy Spirit move powerfully in Albany. We believe the Lord is wanting that to happen, so please pray with us that Albany would have a powerful move of God, which would change the state and the nation.

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One of the words Michael got when praying on the ‘God in the City’ video was- ‘pure love is always more powerful than pure hatred.’

Believe it.

And here’s one of my recent prophetic  paintings “New King”IMG_1594

We miss you all and look forward to hearing from you!

Love and prayers,

Christine and Michael      www.mickhales.com    www.christinehales.com

Joseph’s Inspiration

Dear Friends and Family:photo

Spring is valiantly trying to arrive and we send you our love and prayers, waiting for it’s signs to confirm the faith we all share that it will, indeed come! The last few months I’ve been re-reading the story in Genesis of Joseph, Jacob’s son.  Adversity and seemingly hopeless life circumstances repeatedly plagued him, however his faith never left him.  Because of their jealousy, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, but God’s plans for Joseph were for good, and each step of Joseph’s journey, God allowed the tables to be turned. Slavery turned into authority and power, jealousy and competition turned into love and forgiveness, separation turned into reconciliation, all through Joseph’s ability to stay connected with the power of God’s love and the faith that His will for us is for good.

Such a good story to remember at a time when our country is polarized politically, religiously and spiritually.   Our God is the God of unity and by activating our faith in adversity, we release God’s true purpose and destiny into our worlds.

“Ye may have meant it for evil, but God turned it into good.” Genesis 50:20photo

May we help each other to remember the way with, God’s help, through the difficulties and challenges and keep a positive vision for our country.

Michael has been working on some new videos – not finished yet, but beautiful as always.  He’s in Alabama right now photographing a book.  We will be exploring more in April the possibility of finding work in Florida for the winter next year. We will do a bit of traveling and visiting to churches, galleries, and possible clients. Would love your prayers to cover all that!IMG_1053

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I’ve finished the Graymoor Icon commission- two eight foot by 3 foot egg tempera Icons.  Quite a lot of physical and artistic and spiritual work, but it’s what I love to do.  Here are a few photos of the oiling process which is the final sealant and causes the layers of egg tempera to fuse in a jewel like surface.photo

Also I’m excited about my contemporary painting – it is getting closer to being able to express the Divine in a secular language.  I hope to find some new galleries for it soon.

“Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they walk in the light of your presence Lord…You are their glorious strength. Our power is based on your favor.” Psalm 89:15-17

May God continue to bless you with His love and favor.  Let us know how we can pray for you and thank you for your prayers for our ministry of God’s presence through the Arts.

Love and prayers,

Michael and Christine

www.halesart.com      www.mickhales.com    www.newchristianicons.com     www.americanassociationoficonographers.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artist and the Creator

Greetings Friends and Family:

Michael’s latest video called ‘Artist and The Creator,’ explores the ways people come to find God, especially artists.  Here is the link and what Michael has to say about it:


What we have found is the conventional ‘church’ is not the doorway that a lot of people come to know God. In fact there are a lot of people who come to know God through a 12 step recovery program without ever hearing a pastor preach. Perhaps it is the rigorous self honesty of the recovery programs that enables people the opportunity or the desire to seek God. Some might say there is more ‘church’ going on in the rooms of recovery than in “church proper’.

In terms of artists, which is who quite a lot of our ministry opportunities come from, often they are exploring creative gifts they have been given without making a connection that they came from a creator, or God. In our society where every thing points towards self- achievement, as the standard of success, there is little reason to give credit for our abilities to an outside body like God. However, for many artists who are involved with creating and creativity on a daily basis, there is a constant dialogue as to where their creative gifts came from, often on a subconscious level.

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The county we live in, Columbia County, NY, is the third highest county in the USA for people working in the ‘creative economy’. There are a number of reasons for that, but certainly one of them is the incredibly beautiful countryside that we live in and for those who are able to see it, God’s hand is evident in creation all around us. After all this is the area where the Hudson River School of painters in the mid -19th century embodied the romantic vision of creation in their landscape paintings.

So the point is that there are many ways for people to come to know God and certainly He is yearning for us to find Him. Unfortunately, for so many people it stays in the subconscious, not coming to the front burner. Whether it is through a crisis in our lives which pushes us into recovery or the every day work of artists creating, God is there waiting for us to find him and His purpose for our lives.

WOW!  Great video Michael! I hope you all let him know your thoughts about it – I love seeing him grow in film making!

I’m just working everyday on finishing up the wonderful Graymoor Icon commission- Mother Lurana White and Fr. Paul Wattson, here are a working progress snap.  They are eight feet high, so the camera distorts the length here!

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Also the artists potluck dinner is getting better and better and really functioning more as a community all the time.  Thank you all for your prayers- you are faithful companions on the journey and we love being part of yours too.

Let us know how we can best pray for you in the month ahead.

Love and blessings,

Michael and Christine

www.mickhales.com

www.halesart.com

www.newchristianicons.com