Category Archives: icons

The Fullness of God’s Love

In April, Christine held another online icon class that focused on color theory and symbolism while the participants painted [ correct term is wrote] St George and the Dragon. She also completed an icon commission on St John of the Cross and Saint Teresa of Avila for a church in Connecticut, see detail of St Teresa.

St. Teresa of Avila

She has developed an interest in the art of Egypt and is looking into exploring the Old Testament personalities to utilize that style in her iconography. What is wonderful about Christine’s work is, she is always looking for ways to bring the contemporary Western Church into a deeper usage of icons. Her online classes are known for leading the participants into a meaningful prayer time with the Lord while they are painting. This is the wealth of learning iconography in that it draws one intimately into a connection with the Lord.

Michael had trips, the first traveling for photography in over 15 months, to Nappa, CA and Western CT. Photographing gardens in those places, touched the high points of roses in California and tulips in Connecticut. 

At the elderly community where Michael is a Chaplain, people are slowly starting to be more engaged in activities. It is almost as though people need to learn how to be comfortable socializing again, even wearing a mask. Like learning how to ride a bike again. The isolation has left its’ toll. 

Michael has started a prayer table, for people to come to talk in depth about what has happened for them through the pandemic and receive prayer. It is particularly difficult when residents are faced with having to move to assisted living from independent living. Sometimes it separates spouses who have different physical abilities, who possibly lived together 60 or 70 years. On the whole though there is a feeling of optimism, especially that people will be able to visit with family again and a sense of purpose to life is filtering back in. Some who recently were moved to assisted living have been able to attend the Sunday service again, and it means so much to them to take up their places with old friends.

Life is such a gift, even when we lose some functionality, God loves us more than we can understand. We tend to look at our physical situation, where as God is looking at the nature of our hearts. He wants us to keep our eyes on Him, not on ourselves. When we are able to focus on Him; He deals with our inabilities, our fears, our purpose for living. He will enable us to know how loved we are by Him.

California Poppies by Mick Hales

Michael was recently given a dandelion by our four year old granddaughter as he was leaving from a family visit. It was not until he was some miles away, down the road, that he recalled being given some buttercups as he was setting out on a journey by his son, many years before.

How can a child express love, but by offering up a gift, and what could be more perfect than a dandelion or a buttercup? In true love there will be pain. Just as the isolation of this pandemic year caused painful loss, love will rise above it. Because God is love and his love surpasses our understanding. 

Ephesians 3: 17-19

“…that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Please, let us know how we can pray for you or your loved ones.

Michael and Christine.

Mick’s Photos Christine’s Icons

Challenges

He turned to me and said, ‘And don’t talk to me again with your mask on.’ Then he shuffled off with his walker. We had just shared a fifteen minute conversation. I had heard how his wife was ailing and unable to do much more than sleep. She had had a bad fall and then contracted Covid 19 and although this was several months later, he was worried she was loosing ground. I had prayed with him, for which he was grateful, then he finished our talk abruptly. 

Not being able to hear words spoken through a mask, is just the last straw for many elderly, who have seen their lives turned upside down in the pandemic. Loneliness, confusion, gradual loss of sight and hearing; these are just a few of the difficulties they face. Loss of mobility, fear of falling, memory loss and the slow onset of dementia or equally difficult, their spouse’s.

The physical challenges the elderly face slowly force them into an internally lived world. A world shared with themselves. The TV News constantly talks of a world so different from the one they grew up in and spent the best years of their life with. It seems like their value system has no value anymore.

It has gone or it is going. Everywhere they turn or they turn to do, has left or is leaving, has died or is dying. Possibly the hardest challenge for many is holding on to a purpose for living, a purpose for their lives, now.

Well, it has always been that way, one might argue. That is true, except for three areas which may have exasperated this purposelessness the elderly increasingly endure. 

Less and less people are being cared for by their own family members as they age, in fact their children are likely to live busy lives of their own, a plane trip away. No direct family connections leads to loneliness and isolation.

People are living much longer, due to medical advances, so living into your nineties or even hundreds, is becoming the norm. 

But for me, the most significant difference I see, is many elderly are living without a close relationship with God in their lives. 

The church past and present have contributed to this by: in the past, by teaching a theology of a distant judging Father God who expected works for one’s salvation; and in the present, by focusing on discipling the young, who would be more effective at reaching the lost, for more years.

Consequently, the kinds of questions and assurances, that a loving close relationship with Jesus Christ would answer and provide are left as an empty wound, mixed in with the all the other challenges aging brings.

God has led me to work in an elderly community as a Chaplain and I would not have had any awareness of this dynamic and quite frankly any interest either. We have a tendency to expect the state to look after the latter years of peoples lives with ‘meals on wheels’, or other programs. Some families are still able to help an aging relative but as a whole our society has moved away from an extended family life styles.

There is a real need for the spiritual lives of the elderly to be attended to. I am learning on the job and thank God for that opportunity.

We wish you all a very Happy Easter and look forward to hearing how we can best pray for you!

May God bless you and hold you in His favor,

Michael’s Photography Christine’s Icons

Christine and Michael Hales

The Right Place

Spanish Point Chapel, photo by Mick Hales

In the Right Place at the….

Working as a Chaplain in an elderly persons community I find myself asking the question, ‘Is this really where God wants me?’

Then I reason, ‘this is my selfish thinking getting in the way of serving God and my pride is trying to make my ministry expectations more significant than is appropriate.’

OK, so in that case, I am exactly where I should be, and God has not deserted me, but I still  wish I could serve Him more.

A little voice says, ‘What does that have to do with you? It is really up to God how he wants to use you.’ 

I am serving as Chaplain in an old people’s community.   I question it because my ‘Vespers’ services appear so boring that everyone goes to sleep.

Actually, it is just what they need, a chance to sleep, in the presence of the Holy Spirit. In the service this last Sunday, I had to shake awake my violinist, the only source of music we have, for him to play. 

But when you are approaching 80, 90 or your into your 100 years, it is an achievement to make it to the Sunday service in the auditorium. That is a big deal for each of them and if you catch a nap so much the better.

I often ask myself, well what can I really give or teach people who have gone to church for thirty five years before I ever read through the bible.

But there goes my thinking again, placing the burden on myself to be ‘doing the work’, when in fact only God can do it.

Most of my flock can not see to read, they cannot hear even with hearing aids, they do not move without a walker or an electric cart. They have continued as well as they could through the pandemic, trying to keep their thoughts positive, but it has hurt everyone. You can see the sadness in their eyes, as they pull down their masks and ask, ‘How long is this going on for?’

I have the luxury of movement, hearing, seeing and asking myself, ‘am I in the right place?’ 

My flock does not; they are staying where they are. Thankfully they can always ask, ‘God are you still with me, do you still hear me? Are you really as powerful as the Chaplain says you are and do you really love me as much as he says you do?’

That is when God silently answers and his love begins to flow and they are reborn again. Their smiles come back again and they are so glad they were able to make Vespers this week, even if they may have missed a part of it. They were present and so was the gentle Holy Spirit touching each one with wisdom, grace and power, in a very personal way.

God is always in the right place and I just want to be with Him as He ministers, in His presence.

 1 Corinthians 3:7    “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”

Christine’s News

I’ve been finishing the “lamentation” commission and now that has been shipped off to it’s new home! I’m also finishing up a commission for st. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.

I’m preparing for teaching my next online icon painting class, April 13-16. And I’ve successfully submitted my application for post graduate work at the Prince’s Foundation School in London for advanced Iconography research. In the next month or so I should hear the status of that.

Another Church Icon Talk

Tomorrow I’ve been asked to give a talk on my work for the Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Bradenton, Florida. I feel so blessed to be here, working in my studio everyday. The winds are gently blowing, the sun is shining and I have all my icon materials and books all around me. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your goodness and blessings!

Mick Hales Photography

We send you all our love and best wishes for staying healthy and safe. Do be in touch with your prayer requests- it is our joy to pray for you!

Love and prayers,

Christine and Michael Hales

Michael’s Photography Website Christine’s Icon Website

Self Examination

Florida in January!

January 2021 has been a momentous month. The political fervor in the United States had been whipped up to a crescendo, which had its explosion in the storming of the Capital buildings, while Joe Biden’s presidency was being confirmed in congress.

After the event I remember seeing a photo of a man standing, with his head bowed, holding a life sized cross on the mall, with rioting confusion in motion all around him. For me this was one more sad realization of how misdirected parts of the church body had become, when it whole heartedly endorsed a ‘spirit of politics’, rather than work through the Holy Spirit and the example of Jesus Christ. Without a doubt this has been a very painful time for the body of Christ; from those believing they were striving through a prophetic word with all the zeal they could muster, to those who perceived them turning a blind eye to the complete lack of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and consistent lies.

Photo Mick Hales
Photo Mick Hales

However, God can and will turn this situation into a time of self examination, because the whole body of Christ has suffered through these polarities. Jesus always called us to stand together knowing how important that was, he prayed at length in John 17 for our unity.

 ‘Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.’

Jesus prayed that the church could follow in his ways, his teaching and his name. If we are able to move closer together as one church, it will be a healing opportunity. A healing opportunity I recognize I need.

Our News

Christine Hales
Christine Hales

Christine has been working on two icon commissions, one is the last supper and the other depicts St. Teresa of Avila with St John of the Cross. She has also completed another online icon teaching class which was very well attended. Also an application has gone to the Prince’s School in London to pursue doctoral study of contemporary iconography and its place in Western Christianity.

The Last Supper Icon in progress
Photo Mick Hales
Photo Mick Hales

Michael’s work as Chaplain to an elderly community is running another Alpha program in person. He has found people in their 80s, and 90s respond really well to the program and are able to share personal spiritual experiences of their childhood which had formed life long rejection of Christianity. Alpha is available on line [alphausa.org] and is being held all over the world, especially during the present lockdown; for elderly people the challenges they face with the internet requires they use in person programs. Unfortunately sharing a meal, usually enjoying a meal together is a central part of an Alpha evening, we are unable to do that with restrictions.

Photo Mick Hales
Photo Mick Hales

Another initiative has been to set up an ASK [ask, seek, knock] e mail list; where people can share and put out prayer requests. Many of the seniors can handle using e mail rather than social media and this has been getting a lot of use. Having people connect after such a time of forced separations and loneliness is a needed healing for us all.

Photo Mick Hales
Photo Mick Hales

Our prayer in this time is for the church to work together, using all the variety of gifts and view points we have, to build it up; as Paul writes 1 Corinthians 14:26

“What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.”

Let us know how we can pray for you and thank you for your prayers.

Sending Love and prayers,

Michael and Christine

Michael’s Photography Christine’s Icons

Happy New Year!!

Purple flower by Mick Hales
Purple flower by Mick Hales

Christine did a series of four illustrated talks for the Church of the Redeemer on ‘Art in the Church’ up to 1600s. They were mostly viewed on line and You Tube has been carrying them as well. It is a fascinating subject, how Art was affected by the split between the Eastern and Western Churches. The Eastern remained more God centered and mystical utilizing icons where as the West became more humanistic and pointed towards man and his achievements. Christine is very interested in where art’s function is in contemporary Christianity; especially how that relates to the fundamentals of iconography in the American Christian culture today. She has been exploring a post graduate study in this subject, possibly in London.

Christine Hales
Christine Hales

Here are the you tube links for the talks- they are great!!

First Talk: https://youtu.be/Vr3QAYxUdS4 Second Talk: https://youtu.be/Omt6QrIZj-k

Third Talk: https://youtu.be/vm08il91LBo Fourth Talk: https://youtu.be/qcZo2blc0Rg

Mick Hales, Hibiscus
Mick Hales, Hibiscus

Michael’s Ministry

Michael, continues with his chaplaincy work in the local hospital when specific terminal calls come in. The Covid transmission is expanding again and inevitably the deaths are increasing too. Spending even a small amount of time around the nurses and patients on the front line of this pandemic, there is no doubt that to downplay the seriousness of Covid 19 is an arrogant deception, as some news stations have purposely and tragically successfully done. 

Mick Hales shells
Mick Hales shells

Thank God, that within nature we can also be reminded of the creative hand of God. In deed that is so significant at this extremely pressured time to turn our eyes onto what is good, as Philippians 4:8 always reminds us. 

Christine Hales, Sarasota
Christine Hales, Sarasota

‘Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is 

pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.’

Also to seek the truth, not be led by deception away from focusing on Christ but swimming in the spirit of politics, which has surrounded the recent election, as 2 Corinthians 11:3 warns.

‘But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.’

Mick Hales, Christmas
Mick Hales, Christmas

So my prayer is that we keep eyes on God and the Blessings he continues to pour into our lives through this New Year, filled with new opportunities for the church.

Sending you all our love and prayers for a blessed, healthy and Happy New Year!

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography Website Christine’s Icon Website

Advent- The Coming of the Light!

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. John 1:9

Sometimes we encounter Christians, who are sure, they are the holders of ‘the true light’. That they have been given a prophetic word, which must mean that they are following the correct path and them only. Then there are some who hold to a strict tradition which has always and only done things in a certain way, so any broadening of that way, is named heretical.

Annunciation Angel Icon by Christine Hales

The question then becomes, how does one interact with people who are so dogmatic they are unable see the other side of the coin; no matter how much truth the other side of the coin holds. 

As ministers for Christ these are encounters we have all the time.  These are not interactions with non believers but with other Christians.

‘Well, you say, this has been going on since the beginning of the Church, Christ was dealing with these same situations.’ The Christian family, as broad as it is, as diverse as it is, as large as it is, as dogmatic as parts of it are, is still completely loved by God the Father. God is able to continue loving all of it.

The Light which God brought into the world; His Love, is for everyone.

Mick Hales Photography

I cannot claim or assign myself, more lovable by God than any other.

Mick Hales Photography

I also cannot claim my way to worship, or express my creative gifts, as the only way that God would want it practiced. However, I do know He wants me to worship Him and be creative for Him, as He does with everyone.

Mick Hales Photography

This Christmas as we reflect on Christ bringing his true light into the world, I will try to remember that God’s love came into the world for everyone. 

Icons

Christine has been invited to give a series of talks for Advent at Church of the Redeemer, the Episcopal Church that we belong to. The Title of the series is “New Perspectives in Church Art”.

The “New Perspectives in Christian Church Art “Talks she is giving at Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota this month will be aired on their FB page, https://www.facebook.com/RedeemerSarasota and You Tube page, https://www.youtube.com/user/redeemersarasota at 6:30PM Friday evenings, Dec.4, 11, 18, and January 1. Hope you can catch some of them, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it all!

Chaplaincy

Turkeys for those in need

Well, lots has happened in November. Freedom Village collected and donated over 1200 lbs of turkey for Thanksgiving for food challenged families. Christine delivered a commissioned icon of CS Lewis. We had an election which, unreally, was claimed to be a fraud. The in-person Alpha class that I led at Freedom Village was completed with a full house, fully masked.

Yes, we are looking forward to Christmas and time to fully celebrate Christ’s birth. 

We pray you are well and looking forward to it as well.

Ringling Museum Gardens

Alpha at Freedom Village

Dear Friends and Family:

Alpha at Freedom Village

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

One of the wonderful developments this month for me has been re connecting with the Alpha program. Christine and I ran the program ten times at local churches in New York in the mid 90s and it was very foundational to our introduction to the Holy Spirit.

I am now running an in person Alpha program at Freedom Village, which is bringing a lot of fresh thinking about Christianity to the group who are in their 80s and 90s. My two co-leaders are both in their mid nineties and doing a great work.

The elderly community, Freedom Village where I am Chaplain, is getting opened up again with tight restrictions and precautions; I will be running a weekly grief support meeting, Bible study and in person Sunday Vespers, as well as the Alpha course. So we are trying to enable some normalcy but with tight precautions, as the community is so vulnerable to Covid.

Christine’s Icons

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

Christine has led another online teaching class, again with wonderful results, and people are signing up for future classes she is offering in  November, 2020   and  January 2021 . She is breaking new ground with the online classes, but also, her spiritual perspective as she teaches, is also being warmly received.

This last class the icon of   Archangel Raphael,  was written and the next class will be on the Vladimir Madonna in November, 2020 . Click here for more information about her classes.

Remembering Timothy

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

For me, one of the hardest issues was the passing of my brother Timothy, in England, and being unable to attend any of his last months of deteriorating health and funeral. We were able though to have some good phone conversations and prayer times. Grief of lost ones is ongoing and little sparks of memories bubble up at different times pushing themselves without excuse into our daily lives. I remember Tim’s ability to double up in laughter, with great gasps for air, as the pathos of humanity, was celebrated and dissected with humor. We all miss him. I created a short video relating to some of our conversations, ‘God wants you too’.  Click here to view.

 

Continue to Pray For Our Country

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

The many difficulties America faces, can really consume all of our thoughts, if we allow that to happen. I love what Paul says in Philippians 4:8, and especially the translation which uses the word lovely, it seems like such a complete word for how to kindle our thoughts in this season.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Please let Christine and me know how we can pray for you, and please also hold us up in prayers.

Sending lots of love,

Michael and Christine Hales

Michael’s Photography    Christine’s Icons

 

God Loves Diversity

God Loves Diversity

Black and White or color?

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

The older I get the more I realize that there are multiple variations of color and multiple variations of black. I am so glad it is so because it gives us so much more to be creative with.

Christine’s News

Christine had a wonderful on line iconography class with more than 40 students, many of which signed up to do her next class in September. In fact she did such a good teaching method that people have been asking her for advice on how to do on line classes. There was a time when the in person classes in New York and California were getting cancelled because of the virus, now she creatively has found another answer to that.

Michael’s News

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding the answers to our problems during the Covid 19 attack has meant for many of us looking at our lifestyles totally afresh. People are moving away from cities to more rural lifestyles because they are now able to work on line and not trapped to commuting possibilities. We are doing ‘church’ online, mostly participating in Holy Trinity Brompton [HTB.org], which is 3,500 miles away in London, every Sunday. I am preparing online services for my community at Freedom Village every Sunday and doing considerably more preparation than I was when conducting them in person [‘Vespers at Freedom Village’, on You Tube].

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

So the lesson I am getting in this peculiar time is, there are other ways of doing things and thinking about things than just Black and White, right or wrong. God is such a good teacher in His creativity, His endless variety of flower forms, of sunsets, of people and the way they perceive the world. There is no doubt God loves variety through the multitude of ways He expresses that. So that should be a lesson for me as well, to love variety in all people and not think one color is superior to another, particularly not my own. The good Samaritan is a great example of stepping out to help someone different from himself.

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

Luke 10:34-36

34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

 

In September I will be leading an Alpha class for the residents at Freedom Village, we cannot do it on line as it would be too much of a challenge for the residents technically. However, with masks, strict social distancing and no dinner, we will be doing it in person. My main helpers are in their nineties and that is the age for most of the guests. I am hoping Alpha will make as much of an impression on them as it did for me, as an introduction to the nature and workings of the Holy Spirit. I am excited to see how it develops. I am also grateful for Nicky and Pippa Gumble, at HTB, who have brought via Alpha so many into knowing the love of Christ.

We are praying for you and love to hear how you are doing so we know specifically how we can pray for you!  Until next month,

Love and prayers,

Michael and Christine

 

Mick’s Photography Website         Christine’s Icon Website

Worthy to Be Praised

Dear Friends and Family:

Mick Hales Photography 1
Mick Hales Photography 1

A boiling pot of hate and frustration has erupted in the nation due to the consistent unfair treatment of black people. There are 40 million people unemployed and 100,000 dead through Covid 19 and likely many more of both to come. America stands in a perilous place. It is my view that the national leadership has been taken over by the spirit of Jezebel and the evangelistic wing can not recognize the depth of denial they stand in. The country is politically divided with a leader who is prepared to be as divisive and untruthful and do what ever it takes to hold onto his power within the nation. A nation which in the last three years, has lost respect and confidence around the world for retracting into isolation on world issues of climate, health, pollution and food. This is a kind summation of where we are. It does not dive into the pain of the people around us.

Mick Hales Photography 1
Mick Hales Photography 1

But God. But God.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. [Philippians 4:8]

Mick Hales Photography 1
Mick Hales Photography 1

 

On the other hand I do know Jesus Christ is Lord of my life. Thank God, I know that. I also know that Jesus is still healing today, physically, spiritually and emotionally.

In the Chaplaincy work I do, I sometimes hear people talk of how, could there be a God who would allow all this to happen? Or, how God has taken all the good things I ever had?

Mick Hales Photography 1
Mick Hales Photography

I find it hard to find the words to answer their thoughts in a convincing way. But I do know that Jesus Christ is Lord of my life, and I thank God for that. I stand on that knowledge with deep thanks. My job is to try to share that with others so they can receive a real relationship with Jesus.

Chaplaincy

Each week I give my elderly community, prayer slides which get shown one a day on the in house television. They are very simple and broad, with a scripture and a very short prayer, see the ones included.

I also create a video for them for Vespers once a week, here is the link for Pentecost.

https://youtu.be/bEHHen9VG9U

Since the lockdown started 12 people have passed on in my community, not due to the virus but because of the age of the community, none of their families have had a chance for memorial services. So, it seems like the next step will be to create online memorial services.

We live in a changing world, but I thank God I know Jesus Christ. I pray you all do as well and you all stay safe.

Mick Hales Photography 1
Mick Hales Photography 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christine’s News

Christine is experiencing a lull in commissions and teaching – some of her classes have been cancelled due to the virus quarantine.  She is praying and working to understand God’s next steps for her and her beautiful work.

Christine's Studio
Christine’s Studio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, please keep us in your prayers- as you are in ours daily.

May God’s Blessings and real Joy fill all your lives.

Michael and Christine

Michael’s Photography   Michael’s New Print Shop

Christine’s Icons

 

 

 

The Good Shepherd

Greetings Friends and Family:

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

OK, so where did April go? We had Easter, all on line. It was an Easter I will always remember. We have had time to think and pray, to listen to the birds, to catch up with so many things from the back burner. But slowly, slowly we have come to realize we are not living in the same world we were living in January.

We are in a time of a ‘New Normal’. How long the ‘New Normal’ will last, is hard for us to know at this point, but certainly the New Normal has replaced the ‘Old Normal’ in many ways, for good.

The saying, ‘this too shall pass’, is one which my father would encourage me with in difficult times, and of course this pandemic will pass; mostly. However, if we assume after it’s passing we will go back to the Old Normal; no way.

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

This has been a wake up call. It happens to have come in the form of a health and economic attack. It  will come again, with another ‘new virus’. Or it could come as severe weather, with significant climate change which is now close to inevitable. It could also come as food shortages and famines; the united nations reported 10 nations who already have more than a million people each without enough food, which could possibly be joined by another 26 nations in a similar vulnerable position as this pandemic unfolds. With all these major world events the movement of resources and people searching for safety will exasperate our nationalistic phobias. Did we wake up yet?

We are standing on shaky ground all around.

Good Shepherd Icon by Christine Hales
Good Shepherd Icon by Christine Hales

One of the assigned scriptures for this Sunday is Psalm 23. Such an amazingly powerful holy document written by a shepherd boy turned king, David. So powerful that it is very often included in memorial services because it is so uplifting.

David had many challenges, victories, personal failings and dreams, but the most significant thing he had was his complete love and trust in God.  The first line, the first statement is David’s position from which everything else can follow.

The Lord is my Shepherd.

After that statement of belief, the results of that belief unfold. Security, provision, rest, peace, good direction, the ability to start over, how to live a pure rewarding life, helping people turn to Jesus. It also says there will be hard times, there will be death. It is all part of life. Even so we can stand in peace, with closeness to God, his protection and direction, comfort. Despite the fact we are under attack, we still have provision through the Holy Spirit, in fact the Blessings are more than we can handle, our cup overflows. We can be sure of God’s blessings and sure we will be with him in eternity.

That all comes from the first statement. The Lord is my shepherd.

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography, Chaplain duties

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography, Chaplain Duties

Why do we need a wake up call?

Well, like sheep, we get drawn to where ever we think there is green grass. Our heads are down following whatever looks good next, the next good patch of whatever pleases us. Jobs, houses, curtains, deserts, lawn mowers, TV, scandal, ice cream; we are always on the lookout for the next ‘green grass.’

So when we finally get a ‘wake up call’; from a pandemic, famine or drought, hopefully we realize we are a long way off the tracks.

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography, Chaplain Duties

So the question raises up again, where is my shepherd now? Nowhere to be seen, although I know he must be around, I have been so very busy, so totally involved, with—whatever. I am lost, I have just kept looking for the next green thing in my life, loosing track of direction, loosing track of a real purpose. Loosing track of the big picture, why am I here?

Hopefully, we will wake up to realize there is no stable ground around us, that there is nothing safe. Except God.

So our heads have to come out of the sand. We can ask for forgiveness and turn back to the shepherd. In fact, when so many people do that, we realize there is an awakening opening up. So many people are getting called back to Christ that we are now praying deeply for revival. For by His wounds we have been healed. How could we forget that?

Mick Hales Photography
Christine doing ballet class during quarantine

This is why our prayers are so needed at this time. That there will be an awakening to how far we have strayed from our Shepherd. Sheep love to follow. I pray that we could turn to follow God and not our own selfish ways. Because Jesus stands waiting for us to come to him, no matter who we are, no matter how depressed we are, no matter how addicted we are, how lonely we are, how nationalistic we are, how partisan we are or how much we have hated our neighbors. He is still holding out his hand to us in this ‘New Normal’. Thank God, in all things.

Please keep Christine and me in your prayers and ask the Lord how to work for His Kingdoms’ revival.

Lime Tree
Lime Tree

 

 

Love and prayers,

Christine and Michael

Mick’s Photography

 

Christine’s Icons