Category Archives: Uncategorized

April News!

Stations of the Cross walk in Sarasota, 2019
Stations of the Cross walk in Sarasota, 2019

Our hearts go out to Iris Ministries, with Heidi and Roland Baker, as the second Cyclone in a matter of weeks, hits Mozambique very close to their ministry bases. Iris has always ministered to the most needy in one of the poorest countries of the world and have had a powerful presence for the Lord there. They have also been powerful examples to many Christians around the world with their undeniable love for the Lord Jesus and walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. Please lift them up in prayer at this time.

Fr. Robinson addressing the crowd during Stations of the Cross on Good Friday
Fr. Robinson addressing the crowd during Stations of the Cross on Good Friday

No Comparison

We are all called as Christians one way or another. Christ said, ‘As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.’ Finding how and where we are called is an ongoing process and often does not finish where it started. However, we can be sure that God will not waste any of our life’s experiences, if we are willing to use them for Him and that includes the good, the bad and the ugly. There is absolutely no point for me to compare what I am doing to someone else’s ministry, or how one denomination ministers for the Lord compared to another. What I have to search out is, am I really doing what God has purposed for me to do?

From my recent quick photography trip to Italy
From my recent quick photography trip to Italy

The Easter Sunday morning this year was started with about 800 people walking the Stations of the Cross through Sarasota. What had started several years ago as a handful of people walking the stations, now had many churches joining together, to be a witness of our faith. As it happens it is about that number of people who every night are homeless in Sarasota. I found that out by talking with a Sarasota policeman who is part of the police’s outreach task force, especially assigned to the homeless in the community. It got me asking questions about homelessness and spirituality. How they are connected and was there another way that the Christians could be helping the homeless. There were a lot of programs for the homeless from well meaning organizations but were they offering a positive spiritual direction or just focusing on their physical needs? I found a great Wikipedia on Spirituality and Homelessness, which is very interesting, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirituality_and_homelessness.

Christine’s Icons

Christine had a very active month with teaching an Iconography class in New Mexico, at Ghost Ranch. It is a long trip involving many stages and unfortunately the weather was very cold, but despite that the class was a success and the students enjoyed it. She has another class set for Holy Cross monastery at West Park, NY, in May that is now completely full. She has been working on a large Icon of St Peter, which is coming along beautifully. IMG_6039

Chaplaincy

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Michael continues to Chaplain at the retirement complex, Freedom Village, and has been leading the Easter services there. He also loves the Chaplaincy at Blake Hospital which is a trauma center for the area and visiting the ER and Intensive Care areas gives many opportunities to come alongside people in need. He is still doing photography and was excited to have a very quick trip to Italy for a New York magazine photographing an Interior Designer’s home.

Gratitude For All the Lord Has Done!

We are so grateful for where the Lord has led us and the work we are both doing. In terms of our callings, this may not be the whole picture, but we are really grateful to be here now.IMG_8358

This month Michael has articles with his photography in the May, Flower Magazine and Connecticut Cottages and Gardens, also the May issue- in case you’re looking for reading material and want to see some of his work!!

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

Love and prayers,

Michael and Christine

Christine’s Icons         Michael’s Photography

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Travel and Revelations

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?”

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

What Are You Doing Here, America?

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Dear Friends and Family:

We had a wonderful visit from Brother Joseph, a monk from Holy Cross Monastery, which culminated in a prayer time at our local waterfall. Christine has been teaching iconography at Holy Cross Monastery for sometime and will be leading another class in September, 25th– 28th. The time spent at the monastery is always so fulfilling that Michael made a short video about the monastery and what it is like to visit.

Here is the You Tube link

Christine and Brother Joseph at the waterfall
Christine and Brother Joseph at the waterfall

Christine is also working now on several icon commissions coming in from different parts of the country.  IMG_0226

Chaplaincy News for Michael

Michael just went through five days of Critical Incident Stress Management [CISM] training for groups and individuals. The course teaches how to assist, as a chaplain, people who have gone through a traumatic event; like a shooting, hurricane, fire, terrorist attack or suicide. It was held in an Emergency Operations Center, in a new purpose built building ready to survive wind speeds of over 253 miles an hour, where the county 911 dispatch center was located and where the whole counties’ emergency operations could be directed from in a critical incident. The room we were taking the course in had no windows and sometimes it felt a bit like we were hiding in a cave, having tragic scenarios of disasters unfolding constantly through the teaching.

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It may have been similar to how Elijah felt after fleeing from Jezabel’s threats and hiding in a cave. Then having the Lord ask him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ 1st Kings 19:11-13.

And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.[a] 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

I can relate to that feeling of being asked, what are you doing hiding here when all those horrible things are going on around you. Was it meant as an accusing wake up call for Elijah or more of an encouragement to get back into the action? Back into the fight.

Elijah had reasoned he was the last prophet left working for the Lord, but God said no, he had another 7000 in reserve.IMG_0233

 

Sometimes we all need a wake up call to get back in the fight. We live in a country which is under attack from within, that is loosing its’ moral direction by attacking freedom of speech and the press, purposefully disregarding stewardship of the environment, building walls on its borders to control people and trade, and lying whenever it suits the leadership. We can also be sure that we are getting attacked from outside our borders as well in this time of cyber information penetration.

But God. God pulls us back to remember the smaller things he has created, through his sweet small voice, a drop of water on a leaf, a snail finding its way, the amazing gift of blooming flowers. It is through the amalgamation of appreciating the smaller things of God that we comprehend the enormity of his creative hand. There is no other way.IMG_9853

He is not in the wind, earthquake or fire. He is not in the constant military armament, or thousands of miles of border walls, separating children from their parents, or abusing our environment. He is not in the constant quipping, denying, accusing and lying we hear now daily. God is in love, in joy, in creation, in truth and is eternal. He is more powerful in his little things than we can ever be in man’s so called big things.IMG_9919

PRAYER

This morning I got to pray for a man suffering from a bunion on his foot, painful when you are on your feet all day. Just a short prayer of healing in Jesus name. That was one of God’s small things that happened.

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But God. God is also capable of huge things, too. He created heaven and earth and all that is in it. He can also take it away. That is why we need to hear the quiet wake up calls, ‘What are we doing here, America?’ before God lets us fall out of his hands.

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

Love and prayers,

Michael and Christine                   Mick’s Photo Website   Christine’s Icon Website

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SaveSave

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

 

God’s Favor

Dear People We Love:

Flower, Mick Hales Photography
Flower, Mick Hales Photography

June has been a busy month for Christine as she has been very focused on writing a book, “Eyes of Fire,” about her experience as an artist in a secularly oriented art world. For her the Holy Spirit connection to painting is paramount and she delves deeply into her personal journey of discovering and exploring iconography. The book will be terrific for those who have struggled with the contemporary art world and their spiritual journeys.

Christine Hales Writing
Christine Hales Writing

Michael has been busy capturing the June garden season which quite often means visiting Madoo Conservancy,  the house and garden of painter, gardener and writer, Robert Dash. This is one of America’s classic works of art in garden form. As we know gardens are always changing and it is very difficult to maintain the creative intention of the original gardener as plants grow old and die.

Madoo Garden Photograph By Mick Hales
Madoo Garden Photograph By Mick Hales

Sometimes I ponder how God is able to be the same, yesterday, today and forever. Or I consider how can the Creator, God, watch how his creation is being used. How does He decide to favor somebody, prosper and protect them, while not so for someone else.

Boat Photograph by Mick Hales
Boat Photograph by Mick Hales

Certainly Jacob was favored by God and he fathered twelve sons who became the twelve tribes of Israel. He was not,though, the picture of impeccable behavior. His twelve sons were fathered through two wives and two servants, he had stolen his brother’s inheritance twice, and used his family and servants as a human shield in times of danger. Yet he found favor in the eyes of God, Jacob did prosper and was protected, and his neighbors could see that was happening.

Flower photograph by Mick Hales
Flower photograph by Mick Hales

God’s favor is not something we can work for, although it may come through our working for the Lord. It is something we should pray for though. Essentially, God’s favor, is a gift, given by God.

When Paul wanted to minister in Macedonia but was blocked by God from going there, he knew he could not minister without God’s favor and did not try.

Staircase In The Garden,Photograph by Mick Hales
Staircase In The Garden,Photograph by Mick Hales

There is in our calling an aspect of favor. We get good at what God has called us to do. It is because God’s delight is to be in relationship with us, and when we are living that relationship, God’s favor is manifested in our talents, gifts, thoughts and ideas. Resulting in our desire to ‘get up and get it done’.

Skateboarder photograph by Mick Hales
Skateboarder photograph by Mick Hales

So finding our way, in this ever-changing world, is to rely on a relationship with our never changing, loving God. For us that means finding our way through freelance lives and knowing the only thing we can trust in is God’s steadfast love for us.

God has called you. He will not fail you!

As Paul writes in 1st Corinthians 7:17.

 Only let each person lead the life[a] that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.

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

With Love,

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography    Christine’s Icons     Christine’s Fine Art