Category Archives: Icon Retreats

Kingdom Arts Ministry Blog: November 2018

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Thankfulness Becomes Gratitude.

I will always remember sitting with Christine in church, this Thanksgiving morning, and realizing how profoundly thankful I was to be there. I had a deep resonating gratitude. My thankfulness developed into a well of gratitude which I still draw from weeks later.

New York snow plough
New York snow plough

Part of it came from a safe arrival at 3:30 am that same morning after a 1300 mile cold drive from New York, part of it came from a wonderful sermon on how we are called to be thankful as Christians at all times, but most of it came from being with Christine and worshipping together.

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Icons

Christine has been very busy with icon commissions and has recently completed one on the ‘Harrowing of Hell’ where Jesus is pulling out of death and hell Adam and Eve and the saints who passed before His i resurrection. She has also been working on a large ‘Blessed Mother’  icon for St Patrick’s church near Palm Beach.

Harrowing of Hell Icon by Christine Simoneau Hales
Harrowing of Hell Icon by Christine Simoneau Hales

I have been so grateful to have time to thoroughly read her book, Eyes of Fire, and receive the richness of her experience, strength and hope from it. Her book is a really valuable tool to understand what Icons are, how they relate to contemporary art and their place in our spiritual lives. For those people who are Christians but cannot relate to Icons this is a ‘must read’ to get an understanding of this whole rich spiritual life.

Eyes of Fire Icon Book
Eyes of Fire Icon Book

Thankfulness

There is a song line which says, ‘we do not know what we have till it is gone.’  Sadly, there is a lot of truth in it. Being thankful for what we have, whether relationships, possessions, security or freedom to worship the God of our own choice, is a directive Christ gives us so we can live life in all its fullness. When there is no thanks in our lives ‘for all things’, whether good or not so good, there is a lack and where there is a lack the demonic will try to fill it with something else, perhaps alcohol, food, medications, sex, shopping, watching TV: the list goes on. Each one of these ‘fillers’, when used in a balanced and righteous way are part of a full life, but when they are used to fill a lack or emptiness they can become addictive and destructive, a part of the demonic’s arsenal.

 

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From Thankfulness Turns To Action

Volunteering in a homeless day shelter this week, I got to pray on the street for a lady who was donating some clothes to the shelter and also looking for her brother, whom she had not seen for a year, but she knew he had used the shelter in the past. We prayed in the street that she could be reunited with her brother. She was so grateful for the prayer that she decided to immediately start to volunteer at the shelter. Thankfulness had moved to gratitude and was causing her to take positive Godly action, to donate her time to help those in need.

Parrots at the Sarasota Jungle Garden
Parrots at the Sarasota Jungle Garden

When praying for the sick, most of my prayers are just thanking God. Repeating over and over again, ‘Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus for your presence.’  When we are in a place of gratitude with the Holy Spirit the demonic is pushed out and healing can take place. That is why even when something horrible has happened, if we can stay in a place of gratitude and in contact with God, the demonic is not able to use that horrible event to cause further destruction by attaching unforgiveness, or resentment, anger, envy, hatred, revenge; anything to keep the horror of the event alive and burning in our lives. Anything that keeps us from having peace.

But that is not God’s will, as we read in Colossians 3:

15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Please keep us in prayers as we move into this new season in our lives, that we may always be thankful for what God is doing in our lives.

Also please let us know how we can pray for you.

Love you all,

Mick’s Website    Christine’s Icons 

Click here to Purchase Christine’s Icon Book

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Love, not Fear and Hate

Dear Friends and Family:

Icon Class at Immaculate Conception Seminary
Icon Class at Immaculate Conception Seminary

Christine had a wonderful Icon writing retreat at the former Roman Catholic Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, in Lloyd Harbor, NY.

It was a privilege to be able to spend time in a seminary building which had so many priests pass through its doors for many years. Although no longer a seminary, as such, a lot of retreats and teaching classes continue in the extraordinary building and grounds.

Icon Painting Class with Christine Hales
Icon Painting Class with Christine Hales

Christine was teaching Iconography to a wonderful group of students keen to learn how to write an icon and practice this spiritual discipline over the Columbus Day weekend. The building has an extraordinary collection of religious paintings, stonework, ironwork and all manor of crafts and a deep presence of prayer.

Eyes of Fire Getting Great Reviews!

Christine’s book has been getting wonderful reviews and is #1 new release in spiritual books on Amazon!! If you have not had a chance to order a copy yet please go for it.

Eyes of Fire Icon Book
Eyes of Fire Icon Book

It is wonderful to see how God has worked through her struggle as an artist to come up with a vibrant position to talk to artists as wells Christians. This is a well resourced book for this who are interested in writing Icons, but it is also a deep revelation of her walk and faith in using the gifts God has given her.

Here are two links for you to get a copy.  Book of the Month Club    and   direct link to  Amazon.   Get your copy today!!

 

Our Move is Coming Along!!

We achieved a major move from the Hudson Valley, NY, to Bradenton, FL. It is by no means completed yet but the major part has been done.

Paintings and photographs preparing to move
Paintings and photographs preparing to move

Moving is thought to be one of the five most stressful situations normal life offers. Certainly driving a heavy loaded truck 1400 miles is stressful, let alone all the packing and now unpacking, all the decisions about what should be kept and what should be given away or discarded.

We were Blessed though, we knew where we were going and that people at our destination were glad we were coming.

 

Our thoughts and prayers though go out to the much maligned people who have lost a safe place to live in their homes in Honduras and as best they can are travelling on foot to find a safer life. This is the ‘Caravan’, desperate people fleeing because they no longer have safe homes. They have become a political football for the Trump administration to build fears about immigrants, even though they are still one thousand miles away from the US border travelling by foot, 5200 troops are being sent to ‘guard’ the borders. President Trump has described the coming midterm elections as the ‘Election of the Caravan’. It is alarmist rhetoric which is fueling hatred in our country leading to political and anti semetic violence.

As a Christian I have to say this is not of God. As a Christian I have to say this nation is heading in a hedonistic direction which is contrary to its values of the past.

Attending to homeless in NYC
Attending to homeless in NYC

As a Christian I refer to scripture,

Isaiah 58:6-8 English Standard Version (ESV)

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed[a] go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

Children learning Franklin D Roosevelt's Four Freedoms
Children learning Franklin D Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms

It is worth going back to Franklin D Roosevelt’s speech known as the Four Freedoms made in January 1941, where he talks of the freedom of speech and expression,  that every person can worship God in his own way, freedom from want and freedom from fear. These four freedoms he declared are for everywhere in the world and attainable in our own time and generation. America seems to have turned in on itself and lost the vision of a caring leader of freedom in the world.

This is a time where prayer for this nation, with all of it’s power and wealth, for all of its responsibilities to the world as a whole, would be guided by the Holy Spirit and a heart of love not hatred and fear. Let us all come together and seek before God His wisdom on the direction of this nation in prayer.

Love and Prayers,

Michael and Christine

 

Do Not Be Afraid

Dear Friends and Family:

Here’s Michael:

We have our house in Philmont on the market and  feel the season in Philmont is coming to an end. We will probably  return to the area in the future but there is also a strong calling in Bradenton, Florida, for Michael as a chaplain and for Christine to continue her iconography based from there.

Holy Cross Monastery
Holy Cross Monastery

Icon Writing Retreat in September

Christine has just led another successful Icon writing retreat at Holy Cross Monastery that focused on sacred geometry. The attendees, coming from as far away as Jamaica, Canada, and Washington DC,  completed an icon of St Francis. All the Icons were blessed by Brother Aidan at the Diurnum service.IMG_0687

Christine’s New Book!!

The big news is Christine’s book, ‘Eyes of Fire’, will be published any day now. Here is some of the PR which has been prepared for it, please forward it to anyone who could may have an interest in it. When it is published we will send you a link for it as it will be available free for a short period and we would love you to get a digital copy.Eyes of Fire copy.websmall copy

 

‘Eyes of Fire’ written by Christine Simoneau Hales, is not only a book on the journey of an artist finding her way through the contemporary ‘Art World’, but more importantly, a summation of how God has been mostly neglected and rejected by the ‘Art World’ since the renaissance, but is now being powerfully presented through a grass roots resurgence of Iconography.

Christine Simoneau Hales, is an award winning artist and the founder of the American Institute of Iconographers, she has been a pioneer in the awakening of iconography across gender, laity, denomination and contemporary artists.

Through a close encounter with the Holy Spirit in a nunnery in France, Christine’s life changed, a deep hunger for learning about, writing and eventually teaching iconography developed. She realized at that point that Icons held all the elements of good art as well as being grounded in a deep relationship with God and prayer.

‘Eyes of Fire’, puts a perspective on contemporary art from a Christian’s point of view and points to a revival of the visual image in Holy worship. It will be published on Amazon soon!

 

The phrase ‘do not be afraid’, either in those actual words or with that meaning are in the Bible at least 40 times.

Jesus also uses those words many times in addressing the disciples. I’ve always interpreted them as an instruction or an encouragement. Last week in prayer I received them as a command. A command from God is not to be ignored. ‘Do not be afraid’, is a clear command.  IMG_0633

Do Not Be Afraid!

To receive a command and act on it, we have to accept that it is coming from a higher authority, an authority we are subject to.  When we undertake a command we do so in the context of an assurance from a larger body, as when a soldier carries out an order he knows he is part of a larger army and acts within its mission and protection.

When we give our lives to Jesus Christ we subject ourselves to His authority, mission and protection.

When I got this revelation, I realized God was giving me a wake up call. He was not encouraging me. He was commanding me.

I began to realize I had been afraid all my life. My inner child reminded me of how frightened I had been as a child. I began to write out the things and times I had been afraid throughout my life, from fear of wetting my bed, of people arguing or fighting, of meeting people, or remembering their names, that my father was caught up in the Biafran war and might never come back home, fear of talking and being ridiculed with what I said. The list went on as I reviewed my life, particularly as a freelance photographer never knowing where work would come from for forty five years.

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I found that most of my fears were based on what other people would think about me; Proverbs 29:25 addressed that with, ‘The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe’.

I realized that when I have relied on myself the result inevitably was fear.

So what was the larger teaching God had for me here? 1 John 4:18 answered with, ‘There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.’

Love Not Fear!

God was commanding me to not fear, but to love. When I stepped into God, the result inevitably would be love.IMG_7525

 

1 John 4:8.‘Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.’

 

This command from God was a gift to correct and to equip me. 2 Timothy 1:7, ‘for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control.’

God’s command for me to not be afraid, was to enable me to pick up the power, love and self control God wants us to use.

 

I hope this message touches someone else as well because fear keeps us back from fully loving and walking as God would have us, in power and self control. Often when we loose our self control the root cause is fear. If we can not stop drinking or being drawn to pornography, or any other addiction the root cause can be found in fear.

That is why it is a gift as well as a command. Do not be afraid for God is with us and will always be so. When we are free from fear we can accomplish so much more for the Lord.

Sending you all love and prayers, until next month!

 

Michael and Christine

Mick’s Photos     Christine’s Icons

 

Transition

Our house is on the market, I have no freelance work lined up and I am praying for what God has for me next. This is a time of transition.

Transition, Kingdom Arts Ministry
Transition, Kingdom Arts Ministry

Looking up the word ‘transition’ in the concordances of three different bible translations, I found no listings.  For a while this bothered me because I thought, ‘everyone goes through transitions during their lives, how come I cannot get any direction from the Bible?’ So I followed it up with a search for ‘change’, and came up with the parable of the two sons who changed their actions, doing the opposite to what they had initially said they would do. This bothered me further, because I did not think that applied to me directly, essentially my desire to continue serving God in my life and work has not changed, in fact I want to do it more.

Transition, Kingdom Arts Ministry, Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, NY
Kingdom Arts Ministry, Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, NY

Then I remembered how throughout the Bible God ensures provision for sojourners, or people who are passing through or undergoing a journey. In fact Peter refers to believers as ‘sojourners and exiles’. This state of being ‘in transit’ for believers on the earth, is a normal condition for Christians whose final destination is not earthly any way. We are all on a journey of some kind and sometimes it does not appear to have an, ‘earthly resolution’, perhaps we cannot find work, or do not have a home or even a church we can be comfortable with. The paradigm that, as believers we will be accepted by the world is not biblical, indeed we do not fit. Jesus told us the night before his death that we were not a part of this world, even though we are sent into the world.

Kingdom Arts Ministry, Michael Hales
Kingdom Arts Ministry, Michael Hales

14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.[a] 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.17 Sanctify them[b] in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.   John 17:14-18.

Holy Cross Monastery, Mick Hales, Transition, Kingdom arts Ministry
Holy Cross Monastery, Mick Hales, Transition

So as we pray for our next steps in our journeys with God, the one thing we can rely on is that God him self does not change, He will always love us, it is only our own knowledge and the fullness of our love of God, which is in transition.

Icon Retreat, Holy Cross Monastery, Christine Hales, Byzantine Icons
Icons, Holy Cross Monastery

Christine taught an Icon writing class at Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, NY, and it was incredible to see how nine students went through three days of prayer and icon writing to complete the ‘Good Shepherd’ icon. Each student created the same icon but they were all slightly different, but each one beautiful.  IMG_9457

These students were very accomplished in their lives, as pastors or denominational leaders, but each had come to the haven of the monastery to spend time in prayer and to learn about Icons. Christine is a gifted teacher and also carries a fervent mission to further the knowledge and understanding of icons across the different rivers of Christianity. These classes are extraordinary in their power and everyone involved is very aware that God has them on a journey. We are travellers going through continual change becoming new creations in Christ.

Holy Cross Monastery, Mick Hales, Icon Retreat
Holy Cross Monastery, Mick Hales

Monasteries through the ages have been places where sojourners could go to find shelter, a time away from the world and a place to come closer to God; in fact hospitality is one of monasteries main ministries.  I am making a short video for Holy Cross Monastery, to show what it is like to be a visitor of the monastery, because I believe it is important that we support the continued existence of monasteries as havens of prayer and contemplative lives. Even though the monks are themselves living a stable life in a monastery, God has them on journeys as well, moving closer to Him.

Mick Hales Photography, Icon Retreat
Mick Hales Photography, Icon Retreat

Please pray for us, especially that our house will sell in a timely way, and let us know how we can pray for you.

Sending love and prayers,

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography      Christine’s Icons