Category Archives: non denominational ministry

God’s Creation

Dear Family and Friends:

IMG_5604

Christine had another teaching class at Holy Cross Monastery, in West Park, NY, with several returning students. She has a following of students who want to continue to go deeper into the experience of writing icons. Teaching in a monastery which has a daily cycle of five prayer services by the monks makes it even more of a prayerful experience. The retreat coincided with some of the very hot weather which spread across the North East this July.

IMG_7461

Michael continues with the chaplaincy work in the elderly community at Freedom Village and Blake hospital. There are so many end of life situations which people are dealing with. To bring the love of Christ into those critical times is a great privilege and also can be very demanding. One of the constants that has brought him relief is photographing the beauty of creation, in all manner of things.

IMG_7338

It is God’s creativity, which is never endingly astonishing and it is available for all to see, ‘who have eyes to see.’

IMG_6876

Paul writes about creation in Romans 1:19-21, saying that everyone should recognize the extraordinary presence of God by the awesome divine nature of the things that have been made. He says there is no excuse, for not recognizing God’s hand at work, or for not honoring it.

IMG_7167 

19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

IMG_7149 

We are in a time where respect for God’s creation is not a priority for the leadership of America or Brazil [the rain forest is being destroyed at the encouragement of Brazil’s president, our president has turned away from recognizing global warming and the Paris agreement]. The environment is loosing at irrevocable speed to human development and greed.

IMG_7797

The environment is just one arena but now there are many areas where Christians have decided to place their trust and favor in a political spirit, following blindly ‘false Christian’ political leadership away from those things dear to Christ’s heart. Loving our neighbor, has moved to creating walls, division, racism, inequality, lies and squandering truth. Michael thinks we have a responsibility to point out as a Christian, that many are following a political spirit, which will turn whichever way it believes it can gain the most votes. It has no heart for what the consequences are. It is not driven by love but by a bullying greed. It is a political spirit not the Holy Spirit.

Michael grew up in England and his father witnessed how the fascist mentality was allowed to grow in Germany and Italy before the war. The mistake the Christians made in trusting that political spirit, rather than being responsible to the Holy Spirit, were profound.

We are responsible to the Holy Spirit, responsible to the love of Christ, responsible to Glorify God our Father, one person at a time one Christian at a time. Not to place our work and responsibility at the feet ‘fake Christian political figures’.

‘For though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.’

Jesus taught how to separate between the political spirit and the Holy Spirit, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.’

IMG_8804

I pray that we render to God the things which are God’s and gives thanks and honor to all He creates and not turn our responsibilities over to a false spirit.

It is our joy to pray for you all each day.

Love and prayers,

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography     Christine’s Icons

 

 

 

Practice!

Dear Friends and Family:

Confession of St. Peter Icon by Christine Hales
Confession of St. Peter Icon by Christine Hales

Christine completed the large St Peter icon commission and Father Keith Owen collected it by driving down from St Peter’s Church, Lakewood, Ohio. It underwent a quick installation to coincide with the official opening of new buildings for St Peter’s Church on Pentecost.  Now she is working on some smaller icons, St Camillus and the Holy Face of Christ. It is a very different process of icon writing when the size is a lot smaller and she finds that it is always good to have a change.

Christine Hales' Icon Studio
Christine Hales’ Icon Studio

Photography

I had a quick trip to NY and Newport, RI for photography. The Newport job was in an extremely interesting property which has follies, grottoes, fountains et al. All very personal to the owner of the property. He has created all this over the last 20 years. I was fortunate to have just a short hail storm otherwise it was beautifully sunny window in a very wet spring and many beautiful photographs were had!

Hail Storm by Mick Hales
Hail Storm by Mick Hales

 

Chaplaincy

One of the people I visited this week with my Chaplaincy work told me that having a good singing voice takes continued practice, it is not something one keeps unless it is exercised. It was obvious to me once she had said so but I had never thought of that before. I used to sing in a choir at school but now find it hard to carry a tune through the length of a hymn.

There are so many aspects to ministry that one needs to keep on practicing so you do not lose them, which becomes a loss to you personally and also to those you are ministering to.

Hales Icon Studio
Hales Icon Studio

1 Timothy 4:14-16 says this perfectly.

14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them,[c] so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

 

Flowers by Mick Hales
Flowers by Mick Hales

God’s Calling

Yesterday I presided over a memorial service in a Baptist church. It was for a man I had ministered to, prayed with and watched him go through the slow stages of going from life on earth to everlasting life. It was all part of the work I now have as a Chaplain in an old people’s community. I love what I am doing; teaching, praying, visiting, preaching, studying the word and caring for people in the last chapters of their lives. Quite often they have experienced very full lives and been highly trained and educated. I make many mistakes and I so often feel inadequate, but I believe God called me to that work and yet I still often hear God calling me in my head, ‘Michael, Michael I am calling you.’

I reply ‘take me Lord, what are you calling me for?’

It comes again, ’Michael, Michael I am calling you.’

Am I still not engaged as God purposes? Is there more?

Then I realize, of course there is always more. God always has more than we can imagine. What I need to pray into though is to hold fast the gifts God has given me and to keep exercising them. There is a destination to keep my eyes on and not turn around to look at my past; like a ploughman holding steadfast his course exercising his skills till the end of the furrow. God will direct my path if I keep exercising His gifts and loving Him.

Luke 9:62. Jesus said to him, ’No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’IMG_6696

 

So please keep us both in your prayers as God continues to work His will in our lives that we would truly know His purpose and destination for us.

 

With His Love, Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography

Christine’s Icons

 

Be Still…

 

Holy Cross Monastery Mick Hales
Holy Cross Monastery Mick Hales

Christine has had an active month, again with teaching an Icon class at Holy Cross Monastery in the Hudson Valley, which was focused on Sacred Geometry. It was a wonderful class and it is always especially good within the monastic life at Holy Cross to experience these retreats. The spring in New York had been quite wet and all the trees were especially beautiful with the early leaf growth giving a rich chartreuse green to the landscape.

Icon Class Christine Hales
Icon Class Christine Hales

 

Her large icon of St Peter with Christ is practically complete and is due to travel to Ohio next week. The colors are very powerful and the peace in the expression of Christ is captivating. IMG_6009

IMG_6010

There is no doubt that the Holy Spirit moves through these Icons and touches many people.

We are so grateful for the work that Christine has been led to creating and teaching iconography, please keep her in your prayers.

Clouds Mick Hales
Clouds Mick Hales

Be Still and Know that I am God.

 

May has been quite an active month with trips- driving  to New York and flying to Texas.

 

Michael’s Chaplaincy work includes leading a weekly contemplative prayer session. He has been doing it now for a couple of months and the regular attendants know the procedure and are able to become ‘still’. A portion of scripture is read three times and then people are still and quiet for twenty minutes as they allow God to dig them deeper into the relevance of the scripture to them at that time. Afterwards we share with each other what God led us to.

Magnolia Mick Hales
Magnolia Mick Hales

 

It always amazes me that each person is taken down a different path to a personal encounter with God, finding out what God wants to reveal to them individually. We all start with the same scripture passage to ponder and pray into but end up with different results.

It is a reminder how important it is to be still with God.

Jesus did exactly that, rising early in the morning to go by himself to a quiet place where he could talk and listen to God the Father. Through his intimate time with the Father he was able to face the stress of his ministry. In His high priestly prayer recorded in John 17, Jesus prays that we, those who in the future would believe that Jesus was sent from God could have that same love and intimacy that He had with the Father. Such an extraordinary prayer. He also prayed that we could all be as one. Not that we would be identical but we could have a united purpose coming from a united love. That is when things will start to happen, when the body of Christ moves as one. What will it take for the body of Christ to move as one?

Iris Mick Hales
Iris Mick Hales

 

The scripture from Psalm 46 reads,

‘Be still and know that I am God,

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.’

The power of that scripture is far beyond what we can imagine. The news we hear from the nations, including our own, points to a world without God. But the truth is, God is God, and when we are still and focused on Him, his power is released through us and His love is made real in us.

Such a counter culture concept for us today in a world where business and activity are the hallmarks of success. Success for Jesus is being totally intimate with God and for us to have that too.

So, Michael, still has to teach himself, when driving or flying, or just being really busy which happened this month: the real journey is to be still with God that’s when things start to happen.

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

Sending love and prayers,

 

Michael and Christine

Mick’s Photographs            Christine’s Icons

 

 

 

Travel and Revelations

Dear Friends and Family:IMG_5092

Christine had a busy month in March teaching iconography at our home church in Sarasota, Church of the Redeemer and also at the Union Theological Seminary in NYC. She is also getting ready to teach another Icon class at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico next week. She delivered a beautiful icon commissioned by one of her former students in Miami, a wonderful Icon of Mary Magdalen and Christ. Recently there appears to be an understanding within the church body, that the significance of Mary Magdalene and her ministry towards Christ, as well as to the very early church, has not been fully appreciated. [Mark 16: 14] One of our fun days was a visit to the Dali museum in St Petersburg with friends. There was lots to see of course, but one of the outside displays was a Golden Spiral, which is used extensively in iconography and sacred geometry.

IMG_5475

Michael’s News

Michael is slowly finding his way as a Chaplain for a retirement community which has lots of opportunity for praying one on one and also preaching and teaching. He, also, had a quick trip to New York to photograph an apartment which overlooked the Hudson River. The owners were vacating the apartment after  thirty years and wanted a record of it.     IMG_5355

He has a short story about what happened after doing a hospital visitation recently. He finished his hospital visit and returned to his car. Quite close by to where he had parked was a man sitting on a tire barrier under a shade tree. He was talking to someone who appeared to be just someone in passing. After a while he heard what the conversation was about, that the man’s father was in the hospital and apparently deteriorating fast.

After a while he felt God nudge him to go over and see if he could help the man. There was a long conversation, mostly the man talking and Michael just listening. Eventually Michael asked if he could pray for him and did so and then returned home.

IMG_5123

About two hours later, he had a call from the hospital to return at that man’s request. Michael had been wearing a hospital Chaplain’s ID, earlier and they were asking for him specifically. So he returned and went to the room where the man and his father were. He prayed for them both separately and then talked and prayed with his mother and sister who were also at the hospital. Then waited to see how if he might help further. After a while the man came out of the father’s room and asked for Michael’s phone number and said he would be in touch if things developed. He then announced that the whole family was agnostic, but he recently learned his father had begun to pray when traveling to some of his medical appointments.

Hearing From God

Sometimes, it is strange how God works, but now Michael believes that God had heard his prayers while going to those doctors’ visits and somehow God got one of His own family to represent Him at a vital moment in that family’s life.

At the time Michael came away wondering, why was he asked to go back to the hospital if they were all agnostic? Why would they allow him to pray for them, each one separately? Maybe, just maybe, at that late hour, they realized they would be called upon to account for their lives before God.IMG_5117

As indeed we all shall. Whether we are cognizant that there will be an accounting before God or not. Even if we stand proudly as Christian, Agnostic, Republican or Democrat, we shall all be accountable before God.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

Hebrews 4:13

That’s all for now.  Love snd prayers to you all!

Michael and Christine Hales

IMG_5292

 

Please let us know how we can pray for you.

Transitions

Dear Friends and Family:

Flower by Mick Hales
Flower by Mick Hales

Somehow February always comes to an abrupt end, I keep expecting there to be a few more days in the month, so that is my apology for this coming a day later than I had hoped.

IMG_4648

We celebrated their 25thwedding anniversary with a dolphin watching boat trip. Part of the cruise led past Old Cortez village, which apparently is the only surviving active fishing community in Florida.

IMG_E4749

Christine taught an introduction to iconography at St Peter and Paul Apostles Catholic Church to a group of women which is a new venue for her. She has a busy month coming up with teaching in Sarasota, New York City and Ghost Ranch, NM. She also had a flying visit to St Thomas’ Parish, in Upper Marlboro, MD, to deliver and attend the blessing of an icon she had written of Pauli Murray, a former member of that parish, who was an American civil rights advocate, feminist, lawyer and ordained priest. Christine has more commissions coming in which is so exciting and her book Eyes of Fire’, continues to gather great comments and reviews as more people get the opportunity to read it. One of Christine’s recent students just got back to her saying she wished she had read the book before taking the class and she could have had a deeper understanding of how significant iconography is.

IMG_4685

This has been an exciting month with my starting the new position of Chaplain at Freedom Village, in Bradenton. It’s a senior living community close by Blake hospital where I also volunteer as a Chaplain.

IMG_4684

This new job carries a broad job description including preaching and leading Sunday Vespers service, Bible study teaching, coordinating and conducting memorial services, hospital visitations and getting to know a community of about 900 people.

There’s lots of opportunity to pray for people which I enjoy tremendously.

IMG_4887

Sadly, some of the situations people face are heart rendering and all one can do is be present with them in silent prayer. Some of the more emotional experiences are for sons and daughters, faced with decisions about whether it is time to abstain from further medical treatment for their parents and allow them to pass over.

IMG_4832

 

In a senior community many are facing end of life situations and those with a faith in God have so much more peace through the hard times. This community has a great spirit and many live very full and positive lives for many years. Seniors are though, facing very real difficulties as the body slowly or sometimes suddenly start to fail. The fact is getting old is not easy, in fact it can be a very challenging time of life, when we no longer have the physical resources to face challenges, we need the emotional and spiritual strength to do so.

Visit the Elderly

Loneliness is a killer. That is true all through our lives, but it is especially so in old age. Memories of delivering, ‘meals on wheels’ to shut-ins in rural New York gave me the full experience of old people living alone and slowly loosing any contact with the outside world except through the television set which played constantly day or night. As our society has become more mobile the support from extended family in our later days is often not a possibility. The children have moved out of state for work or education and their own families keep them fully occupied.

IMG_4405

It is not a surprise that James talks about the need to not forget the elderly or orphans as we practice our different streams of Godly worship, James 1:27,

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.’

Please let us know how we can pray for you and also hold us up as we go through these transitions in our lives.

We love hearing from you, and look forward to all that God is going to do in this new season in our lives!

Blessings and prayers,

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography    Christine’s Icons

Another Great Icon Delivered

Blessed Mother Icon Delivered to Saint Patrick’s Church, Palm Beach

img_3612

Christine delivered her Blessed Mother Icon to St Patrick’s church in Palm Beach Gardens and also got to see her St Patrick icon now installed in the beautiful church. Father Aidan and associates eagerly unpacked the icon which will be installed on the wall across from St Patrick. Christine continues to be working on four other icons now under commission, one on Mary Magdalene, Thomas Merton, Pauli Murray and the confessions of St Peter. It is such a privilege to watch how these icons come alive through prayer and reading, which Christine enjoys so much, and God has certainly placed it on her heart to bring iconography into contemporary worship.

 

New Job for Michaelimg_4084

 

For Michael it has been a long road waiting for the next placement for him to be consistently engaged for God. His prayer of late has been, ‘Lord, I pray that you would open the doors to the job that YOU want to do through me.’ Finally the doors have been opened and Michael will be embarking on serving as Chaplain for a large senior living community and in the neighboring hospital. This will give him ample opportunity to pray for people, which he loves to do, and also minister to the elderly and sick.

img_3697

It has been a long time waiting for this to fall into place and we have so much thankfulness that God has brought us to this point. There is also a great feeling of relief that Michael will not need to rely so completely on freelance photography income although he will be able to continue when the opportunities arise. Paul writes about the feeling of peace and thanks in Colossians 3:15-17.  ‘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.’

When life changes suddenly what do we have to hold on to?

 As Michael visits the hospital as Chaplain he often asks the patients in bed, ‘How long have you been in here?’ The answers vary from just overnight to several months, but the one thing in common to all of them is their desire to be released. This is no reflection on the hospital but their wish to return to the life they used to have. For some that is never going to be possible again, something happened which cannot be reversed, some aspect of their lives’ foundation has been shattered. It may be as simple as loosing their driving license or as traumatic as loosing a limb. This is where Chaplaincy has a critical role to give meaning and purpose to life for people to hold onto and move towards.img_3988

It is at this point that the foundational belief that God loves us becomes our saving grace, literally. No matter what we have lost physically we can never loose the love God has for us. We can choose to close our availability to know or receive that love, but from God’s position he will never stop loving us. Paul talks at length in Romans 8 [Michael’s favorite bible chapter] about the love of God for us, finishing in verse 38 with the astonishing statement:

 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Finding a Great Church to Worship In.

We are also very thankful to have found a thriving church we feel welcomed in and have joined. The Church of the Redeemer, in Sarasota, has an extraordinary outreach program, full liturgy and renowned musical life. It is good to be a part of a church with good leadership and friendly people.

img_3683

So we are very thankful that Michael has come out of a desert experience and is excited to see what God wants to do through him as a Chaplain.

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

Love you all,

Michael and Christine Hales

Hales Art Website     Mick’s Photography Website      Christine’s Icon Website

 

 

Happy New Year

Dear Friends and Family:

Bromeliad, Mick Hales
Bromeliad, Mick Hales

Happy New Year!

 

For us this is a New Season as well as a New Year. We finally sold our house in New York on December 27th. This has been the culmination of many steps for several years. Although we loved our house and had nearly twenty years of great memories there, it was a strain on our time and resources which we would rather direct towards God’s purposes in our lives.

We are now in Bradenton, Florida, in a modest 1970s low rise condominium complex. There is a wonderful community spirit amongst the residents here which is what attracted us to start with, as well as the semi tropical weather, plant material and life style. IMG_3122

Christine spent a lot of her time in Florida as a child and Michael was in Pakistan and Nigeria, so the weather is quite familiar.     IMG_3203

Icons of Women in the Church

Christine has finished a wonderful Icon commission of Mary. It will be delivered to Palm Beach latter this week for the Church of Saint Patrick. She is now starting on a beautiful  Icon of Mary Magdalene. She has been reading the book, “The Meaning of Mary Magdalene, Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity”, written by Cynthia Bourgeault. Christine takes her commissions very seriously and does a lot of background research as she initiates her drawings.

Blessed Mother Icon by Christine Hales
Blessed Mother Icon by Christine Hales

Chaplaincy for 2019

Michael has been tying up some of the jobs involved with the house move and is excited to be starting to volunteer as a Chaplain at a local hospital.

Michael writes: Thinking of a new season, I am reminded of Jesus visiting Nazareth, where he had grown up and reading in the synagogue from Isaiah a prophecy which all the Jews were familiar with:

Isaiah 61:1

[ The Year of the Lord’s Favor ] The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”

Then boldly declaring to the congregation that they were witnessing the fulfillment of that prophecy. He was declaring a new season, declaring the presence of the Holy Spirit within him and what that would mean in the future. They could expect things to be different, especially for the poor, brokenhearted, sick and downtrodden. It was a declaration of faith, at the start of his ministry as a human being, a new season for Him and for all of us.

As a Christian I ask myself, “do I carry that message in my daily life to people I meet, whether through words or actions”? I know that Jesus came to change our lives and to release us from captivity- in whatever form that might be for us. One way I try to do that is by praying for people wherever I discern a need ,and that brings me to two questions- or more correctly, two prayers.

IMG_3089

Lord, help me know how to pray for people I meet in my daily life.

This is a question that often comes up for me. “How do I pray for the person that is right in front of me, right now?” Often the question which arises before that is, “Lord, how do I ask this person if I can pray for them?”

IMG_3422

How do we bring God into a chance meeting with someone in a natural way, which does not intimidate or push people away?  How comfortable we are in our relationship with Christ will be transmitted in every nuance we have in our voice, words, body language and eyes. The words we choose to suggest prayer to a stranger will be given to us by the Holy Spirit if we recognize it is God’s heart that we request to pray at that time.     IMG_E3221

Every Day Another Opportunity to Pray

Yesterday, while in an auto shop getting a price quote for car work, I got to pray for a mechanic and his wife.  After looking at my car and giving me various estimates, we chatted a little and I noticed a bible amongst the large jumble on top of his desk. Soon he was sharing how his wife had suffered two years of multiple surgeries to fight cancer. As soon as he started sharing that, I knew this was a God appointment for me to pray with him.

fol20911

I find that picking the right time in a conversation to openly declare, ‘I am a Christian and love to pray for people and have seen God heal many people. Would you mind if I pray for you right now?’

That is what I want to get over but those are not necessarily the words to use. Each person gives out leads about themselves and how open they might be to receiving prayer and it is up to us to read those leads correctly and kindly, lovingly, bring God into the picture.

 

This is when we just stand in God’s love ourselves and share it. Quoting many bible versus is not appropriate at this point, showing who God is, as a loving living caring person within you, is. Simple words, lovingly delivered right to the point of the situation, in Jesus Christ name. We are standing in for Jesus. We are representing Jesus directly and inviting Him and the Holy Spirit into this moment and the situation we are praying for.

IMG_E3287

This is not revelatory information, it is nothing new but if for the New Year we stepped out and simply prayed for more people, Jesus would be represented on the streets, super markets, laundries, airports, subways, anywhere we see a need. What happens after that is up to Jesus. Sometimes there is a healing right in front of our eyes, sometimes it is as though we have just been separated from the busy world around us, sometimes we get rejected outright, often we have no idea what God is doing and when. But that is OK, our part is to step up and love the person in front of us and invite Jesus in.

New Year’s Resolution

That is my New Years resolution to move through any fear I might have and pray for more people. Can you imagine what that would be like if all Christians actually stepped out and prayed for people?

IMG_3200

We hope and pray that 2019 is a great new year, with fulfilled hopes and dreams, and that it users in a great and God filled new season for us all.  Let us know how we can pray for you, it is our pleasure to add your prayer requests to our prayer time each day.

Love, Michael and Christine

Mick’s Photography Website      Christine’s Icons

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kingdom Arts Ministry Blog: November 2018

IMG_2167

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.

IMG_3031

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.

 

IMG_2807

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

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.

IMG_0397

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