Category Archives: Uncategorized

We Shall Be Changed

Please watch this short video in conjunction with this article, , called: “We Shall be Changed”. It has its roots in 1 Corinthians 15:50-55, and resonates with where my ministry has taken me, as a Chaplain for the very old. It revolves around hurdles, we all face at one time or another, but as we approach the last stages of life, the final hurdle calls out for something for us, to hold on to. The light at the end of the tunnel.

” I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.  When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

A vision to live on and approach our own mortality with.

Such incredible words. Such incredible force. The inevitability of ‘The change’ or death, we all know is coming to us but also the assurance of spiritual life a Christian holds real.

 Death is swallowed up in Victory

I spend a lot of time around people for whom, those words are soon to be fulfilled. The perishable aspect of our last days is gruesome, there really is no other way of describing it, but the final relief and freedom from the waning body, has to be glorious.

Recently, I spent time with an elderly couple, at an assisted living facility which I have not visited before, who were going through the agony of their failing bodies; he more than she. Right off the start he desperately asked me to get him back to bed because he said he was so exhausted; the nurse would not let him, because he had spent too much time in bed and only just got out. He would have to wait till after lunch. He felt sick to his stomach and could not imagine the act of eating. Sitting in a wheel chair and slumping over a table in the common room, the television was blaring commercials. Nobody seemed to notice the television, as loud as a leaf blower in the room.

The pain this man was experiencing was tangible, but he was caught hostage to the authority and care of the attendant. I prayed with the couple, but felt complete opposition all around. As if there was mockery pouring out at my attempts. Why would I expect to come into a situation, so established, and expect to see relief for my friends. The television was relentless, lunch was not coming, the hopeless pain was too much for me. So I decided to get them both out into a nearby court yard, away from the noise. After wheeling them out, I started praying again, now just in my prayer language and forcibly, holding on to both of their hands.

Finally my man started to relax, the extreme exhaustion started to lift, he lent back into his wheel chair. The hot Floridian air was caught by a breeze that lifted his hair. With open eyes he told me the Holy Spirit was cooling him and he started to see flashes of color in his eyes. Orange, bright, flashes he said, over and over, as they appeared. The pain was gone and a smile was back. He is 96 and she is 94.

They are dedicated to each other but not married, both of their spouses have passed, so they care for each other now. Together with God, they face their hurdles, wondering if this is going to be the final one in this perishable life; knowing, we shall be changed.

Christine has just finished the beautiful Our Lady of Guadalupe Icon and is ready to ship it to California. It is an amazing icon! She will be leading an intergenerational art activity for our church later this month on “The Face of Jesus”. Together we are facilitating a small group also for Church of the Redeemer, that will meet six times this summer. It’s a wonderful effort to help us draw closer to each other in our relationship with God.

Well, that’s all for this month. We hold you all in prayer and ask for your prayers also.

Love and prayers,

Michael and Christine Hales

Michael’s Photography

Hope, Purpose, and Faith

This has been a very difficult article for Michael to write, because in his Chaplaincy work, he encounters many people who have lost all purpose to live and have lost hope. Those who do not have an underpinning of faith that a better life is to come after death, are left in a void where hopelessness focuses them on their physical decline and not their spiritual gain. So often the message of the Gospel has not been opened to them through a loving heart.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.                 Romans 15:4   

Our changing purposes, create changing hopes when supported by a steadfast faith. Without a foundation of faith, we can not maintain hope when our purposes fade.

As our lives evolve and we go through the different seasons of life, the purposes we live for change; it is an inevitable part of growth and pursuing our desires in this extraordinary life, we have been given. Hope is essential to living through each bump or challenge we encounter. Each aspiration or change that comes our way.

Last Saturday, King Charles 111 was crowned with Queen Camilla. The long road which King Charles travelled to his coronation day must have required purpose, hope and faith. From a very different story, on the same day two members of the dissident Russian rock group, Pussy Riot, “Masha” Alyokhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova, received the Woody Guthrie Prize. It was rewarded for speaking for the less able through their music and performance serving as a positive force for social change in Russia. Their protests cost them years in Russian prisons, which again must have required purpose, hope and faith, to survive.

These were two notably different stories which were in the ‘news media’, that day.

There were some 1.4 million people in nursing homes in America and an additional 900,000 in Assisted Living Care, who more than likely saw some of those news reports. For most of those people, television is the only entertainment or company they have for most of the day. If they are fortunate, they may have family who are able to visit, but that may be for only hours in a week or month. The majority of their time is spent alone in a room with a television. To get out of bed to go to the bathroom often requires someone else’s help and can take a long time to happen. These facilities are expensive and can drain a family’s savings very quickly, without some form of government assistance. Boredom, loneliness and the futility of a life lived mostly in bed, with diminishing physical abilities inevitably leads to a dark hopeless mind.

That very large question, what is the purpose of my life? For King Charles 111 and Pussy Riot, they will always have an active purpose for their lives to live; at least until they too, find themselves in the equivalent of a nursing home, bedbound. But for those physically depleted who feel there is no real purpose for their lives any more, they will loose hope, without a spiritual knowledge of God’s salvation plan for them.

The bible talks extensively about the hope which comes from faith in God. That message is only meaningful when given in love, by someone who has received it themselves, through love. It is low on the messages we receive through the television media news, when a coronation or a wild performance is center stage. No, this takes ‘one on one’ visitations and sharing a life of hope to come.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.              Romans 8:18.  

So my prayer is please pray about volunteering in your nearest nursing home or where ever there are shut ins. They need the gospel of hope not television, by default.


Proverbs 23    Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
    but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

Psalm 33:18-19, 22.  Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
    on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death
    and keep them alive in famine.

 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
    even as we hope in you.

Psalm 62:5-7. For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
    my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Psalm 130:5-6. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen for the morning,
    more than watchmen for the morning.

Lamentations 3:22-24.     The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;[b]
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

Romans 5:3-5.  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 8:24-25       24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Romans 15:13      13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

I hope this has been helpful to some of you! Thank you in advance for your prayers, and you are all in ours as we go forward in these challenging times.

Love andprayers,

Michael and Christine

Michael’s Photography Christine’s Icons

No Spirit of Politics Please!

I had a request from a good friend for suggestions as to how to pray for Christians who believe a prominent political figure, indicted by a grand jury to appear during Holy week in court, carries a Messianic mantle.

The Holy Spirit and the Political spirit do not mix: so please, don’t interweave them within a Christian context or confuse others that they should.

The Bible is quite clear about the fruits of the Holy Spirit which are very different qualities than those which emanate from the spirit of Politics. 

1 Kings 21, gives a whole account of the subversion of authority due to greed and acquisition of political power, through the lies and deception of Jezebel. That spirit has time and time again, deceived an individual as well as their populous, to gain leadership and wield authority with no moral purity. We see it playing out again, as we did in the Jan 6th attack on congress. Christians being misled by zealots in pulpits and the media. This is an outright spiritual attack on the unity of the Church, and has no communion with the Holy Spirit.

We often think of the workings of Jezebel and Ahab as a one off affair, except Christ in Revelation 2 calls on the Church of Thyatira to stop being seduced by that spirit. It has seduction, manipulation and misappropriation of righteousness all through it. 

So my prayer for those who believe our former president has a Messianic mantle of some kind, ask how do his actions line up with the fruit of the Holy Spirit as in Galatians 5:22-26?

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

The Gulf Coast

One of the sadder happenings on the Gulf Coast is the occurrences of ‘Red Tide’, which are concentrated blooms of microscopic algae that produce toxins which kill fish. We just had a bad episode in March and many fish were washed onto the beach. It was sad to see all the different kinds of fish randomly lying dead together. Fish have long been a cymbal of Christian believers. As an antidote to seeing so many dead fish we visited MOTE aquarium today and saw many alive, beautifully colored fish, which are protected from the red tide. God has a way of restoring equilibrium, whether in the sea or in the church.

Living in Sarasota is a blessing in so many ways. We do not have to fight to stay warm during the winter months and I remember how much time of the day that would take up. Heating a big old house in the Hudson Valley was a constant demand on our resources. I do miss much about the landscape, seasons and gardens of the North East but the reality is, God has done a huge shift in my life and opened up doors to a very active life of ministry. I had absolutely no intention of ministering to the elderly but that is where God has placed me, at least in this season. For years I prayed for direction to a ministry where I could be used, I thought it would be associated with praying for healing but as it turns out now it is more in the ministry of comfort, and assisting those who, at the end of their lives, want to find Jesus. I still love to pray for healing, but this is a different kind of healing- the healing of a lifetime! 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Please let us know how we can pray for you, Michael and Christine.

Love and Prayers, and Best Wishes for a Joyous Easter!

Christine and Michael

Michael’s Photography. Christine’s Icons. Christine’s Icon Classes

Mary Magdalene in Progress

Lenten Reflections

Christine is in one of those undefined periods of her painting career, where she is exploring thoughts and style, for a possible major work, depicting God’s Creation story. Her innocent symbolistic naive style has been turned towards birds and fish with tropical setting. These preparative paintings are small 12 by 12ins, but they harbor that naivety and wonder which is so captivating within her art. They carry a spiritual presence which although quiet is also powerful.

Her work on the ‘Our Lady of Guadeloupe Icon’ by contrast is large in size and moving forward beautifully.

Recently at the Church of the Redeemer, she led a children’s class on iconography, and had the students color in her drawings of Icons. It was a big success and has involved her in more teaching activities in the future there.

Lent Reflections  

For how much longer will the birds be singing?

For how much longer will I be listening?

One only gets to ask these kinds of questions, when we allow ourselves to sit still and be with our Creator God. The irony of course is, God longs for us to be still with Him, but we seldom allow ourselves the gift of His peace, because we think there is always more ‘to get done’, in the day.

Our lives seem to be a race to accomplish so much, which in hindsight is really insignificant. What could be more important than hearing the birds sing and being still with God?

What kind of world would we live in, if everyone regarded the highest achievement was to be intimate with God?

 Of course the demonic does all it can to prevent that. Whatever it takes to break our relationship with God, the demonic has done it and will do it over again. Kill, steal and destroy, are the obvious attributes through the vessels of lies, boredom, lust, envy, pride, jealousy and neglect; and so many other ‘achievements’.

Now, I realize why my Lenten commitment, to spend more personal time with God, has been as difficult as giving up something; like desert. To put it bluntly, to spend more time with God I have to give up something else. That brings me right back to the real question of, have I given my life to Jesus or am I fooling myself with busy work as a Chaplain, carrying Jesus, but not being completely in Jesus? For me the answer has to be, yes, I am fooling myself. I have just been carrying Jesus but not been totally alive in Him.

One of largest parts of being a Chaplain in an elderly residential community is visiting people. People in hospital, nursing care, assisted living and those suffering from loss or grief of one form or another. The challenge of initiating a caring conversation with someone who has sat alone in their room, most likely with a television blaring, hour after hour, anxious, lonely, bored and often in pain. How to find out, where and what God wants you to pray for, with that individual. I stumble into questions to try to get some idea of who they are; I ask, how long have you been here, are you in pain, do you have any family, or where was home for you when you grew up? Often I have to ask them a second time what their names are, because I forget during our interaction, so I can name them before the Lord and start to pray.

I wish I was better at this.

Then I remember, to spend more time listening to the birds singing with our Creator, God. Just to spend more time with God, one on one, and be alive in Him.

Martha was directed by Jesus to not be annoyed with Mary for staying in His presence, instead of being a busy hostess. “ Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42.

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

Much love,

Christine and Michael

October Challenges

October was a busy and challenging month. Christine had two retreats, one with the Soul Sisters Prayer Group and the other with Sarasota Contemporary Women Artists; she also taught a week’s long Icon Class online and is working on two Icon commissions.

While Christine was on retreat I, Michael, focused on my new website and created a store to buy ‘Fun Photos’, which compliments my first website store of the more serious ‘Garden Prints’. When you have a moment, please check them both out on, they tell a story of what God has been up to in my photography life, and I would love feedback. We also managed a short trip to New York to visit with our children and grandchildren, our first chance to do so since Covid began.

Gustav Klimt

While in New York we had a family visit to the ‘Gustav Klimt: Gold in Motion’, an immersive experience at the Hall des Lumieres. This turned out to be a wonderful engaging visual experience with other illumination performances shown at the same time. Gustav Klimt was a Jewish Austrian artist, who painted before the second world war and as the Nazi’s gained power his paintings were confiscated from prominent Jewish families, when antisemitism grew and became more extreme. The film, Woman in Gold, [2015], staring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds is a wonderful account of when the persecutions slowly became more extreme and the long fight to finally returned the paintings to the relatives of the original Jewish owners in America.

Fears of Today

This last week, I was asked as Chaplain to visit, by one of my community members, who is Jewish. The meeting lasted for about an hour and her deep fear from the rise of anti-semitism which she is experiencing, not only on the national news but within our community, was impressed on me. Someone had mentioned to a friend of hers, that she should not eat dinner with her, because she was Jewish. She emphasized to me the long history of rejection and persecution the Jews have experienced and the violence stirred up against them when extremism rises to the surface. She kept repeating, ‘now I see it happening in America as well with the white supremacists, January 6th, Kyrie Irving and the emerging extreme of the political right wing. How sad that she was fearful for her safety.

This was not a political push from her. This was a living fear she stated emphatically and the fear was back again. The Jews were becoming the scapegoats again and it was shaking her to the core. Her friends were being questioned, “why would you eat with a Jewish person?” Are these the whispers of an approaching storm and how prevalent will it get before we name it for what it is?  Is America sailing blindly towards fascism and autocratic governance?

What would Jesus call for?

If so, will the commandment of Jesus still be shared with LOVE?

 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-30.

Let us cover America in prayer as it goes to the polls. And Let us join together in prayer for God’s love to fill the world and bring peace to all people of good will.

Sending much love,

Michael and Christine


The Blue dot is our location

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,

for in you my soul takes refuge:

in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,

till the storms of destruction pass by. Psalm 57:1

It is thought David wrote this Psalm, when he was being hunted by the jealous King Saul, who despised the peoples’ acclaim that David was a better warrior.

As the long night of Hurricane Ian pounding South West Florida unfolded, very similar prayers were being offered up by thousands of people. For hours I was thanking God for keeping us safe up until that point, not knowing what would come next. I watched in the grey night a live oak tree, with all of it’s limbs gyrate to the demands of the gale, and I thanked God for it’s resilience. It survived hour after hour of relentless fury, but it’s neighboring live oak fell with a split trunk.

Christine and I were very fortunate, our house came through undamaged.

That night there were forces at work which, thankfully, we do not experience often although certainly they will become more frequent. Climate change is a reality, which half of congress has stubbornly denied, even though the evidence has been shouted out for years. Even the FOX NEWS company realized the reality of climate change back in 2008 and made logistical changes to its business locations at that time. It continued though to broadcast an editorial portrayal denying climate change, presumably to uphold its business and political models.

At work I talked with a 97 year old woman, charging her cell phone in a corridor, because there was no power in her apartment. She was saying to me, ‘My mother taught me that lying was a sin. Plain and simple. What has happened to this country, is lying and denying the truth Okay now? Has money and political power become more important than truth?’

People are not often as forthright about their political thoughts, especially in a tight knit community of elderly people, but the storm seemed to give her license. She continued, ‘I know a lot of my friends here are Republicans, but can’t they see what their party has done?’

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26

Studio View

The bible uses the term, ‘dominion over’, which portrays two arms of the same privilege; to have control over, as well as have responsibility for.

I would suggest Saul, had been given dominion over David, but driven by jealousy he just wanted to destroy him. David on the other hand respected the dominion God had placed on Saul, and would not interfere with that privilege even though he clearly had the chance to kill Saul, while he was alone relieving himself in the cave.

Fox News with it’s enormous media power, willfully chose to use it’s editorial muscle and  denied climate change on it’s airwaves. With that amount of power comes an equal amount of responsibility.

Steps which should have been taken years ago, were ridiculed by news pundits and half of congress as recently as six months ago. Now, the generation which has wielded power will hand over to their children a world facing increasing hurricanes, wild fires, flooding, drought, pollution and displaced people. We have taken the pin out of the grenade and given it to our children to hold.

Has the desire for political power in part of the church, the body of Christ, become so strident that it now has earned the name ‘Christian Nationalism’? I do not recognize nationalism as part of Christ’s teaching. Indeed, the spirit of politics and the Holy Spirit come from two very different dominions and can only be corrupted when presented as the same.

Before the storm

In exactly the same place in the hallway where the lady shared her views that lying is a sin, that morning after the Hurricane Ian passed, I spoke with another woman. Her husband died at the height of the storm the night before. He had been bedridden for some time. She knew he was in a better place with Jesus. She knew that because of their faith. It had nothing to do with Christian Nationalism, Fox News, lies, jealousy or hurricanes, but everything to do with faith, love, peace, patience and self control in Jesus.

Lord, please help us to see as You see, direct our thoughts, emotions and actions so that all may be pleasing and honorable to You.

Love and prayers to you all. Please continue your prayers for us as well. We love you!

Michael and Christine

Michael’s Photography Christine’s Icons and Paintings

On the Beach

The big news for Christine and myself was a trip to Boston for a family memorial for Christine’s mother, who passed at the beginning of the year. It was good to visit with Christine’s family, many of whom we have not seen for several years. 

Part of the celebration was to visit the family beach and try the freezing waters of the North East. For some reason going to the beach, seems to be the place, where family can become ‘Family’. The awkwardness of distance and time passed evaporates into the present. The past goes and future is held at bay. The barriers to the basics of life are lifted and everyone is drawn into the present moment. Somehow the beach encourages freedom; even an emotional cleansing.

Christ used the beach setting after his resurrection, to minister to Peter who had denied him three times,  with both forgiveness and commissions. He also sat in boats to preach to crowds on the shore. He was recorded as being found at the beach early in the mornings. The beach is where two worlds meet, that of land and of water. It is a place of restoration and I believe where the Kingdom of God is near and active. Of course God is omnipresent, everywhere, but perhaps I am just more open to His creation at the beach. I know when I first walk on to a beach, I am drawn into prayers of thanksgiving for what God has done in my life, even before my feet touch the water. It is interesting that the first mention of the Holy Spirit in the bible says, ‘And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.’ Genesis 1:3.

I notice when doing memorial services and there is a photo presentation of the past life of a loved one, there are three main locations where time has been captured; beside a Christmas tree, at a family dinner and on a beach. The beach shots seem to be the most honest portraits, less contrived and awkward. 

Recently I have been ministering to a man, who is not a believer in Jesus Christ but says he would like to be, because his wife who recently passed was and he wants to join her when he dies. He finds the story of Jesus very confusing and hard to believe, he tells me, ‘It just does not make sense, it seems to me if there was a God He could make everything go smooth, you know, everyone would believe in the same God or religion, or whatever. You know there just seems to be constant war around the world, and I think most of them have to do with religion.’ 

I’m wondering, if I could get him to the beach, perhaps he could believe in God without needing to understand God first. But the bible says, ‘faith comes through hearing, and hearing the word of Christ.’ Romans 10:17, and there is no mention of needing to be at the beach to preach.

Maybe, just maybe, I need to go to the beach before I preach, if you get my drift.

Really, please pray for my preaching, I have never found it to be a walk on the beach, not yet.

And here’s a link to Christine’s iconography Newsletter– perfect summer reading!

Sending love and prayers to you all!

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography Christine’s Icons Christine’s icon Classes

The Circle

One of Michael’s new responsibilities is to hold a ‘Circle’, twice a week, for two different groups of residents in ‘Assisted Living’. Week by week, the attendance is random and can be comprised of half a dozen people from totally different backgrounds and physical challenges. Their common bond is they are in their nineties and need an activity other than watching TV.

The Circle Represents God. There is no beginning and no End!

As their Chaplain my job is to initiate, support, maintain and gently direct a conversation for about an hour or more. At times I hoist a red flag question, just to see if anyone will be open to it; like, “Did your parents believe in God? Or did they take you to church on Sundays?”

Invariably, the answer is they went to Sunday School, either taken by their parents, one parent, grandparents or a friend. In answer to the question, ‘Was there anyone in particular who affected your spiritual life?’ That question has to be rephrased to ‘your religion,’ to be understood. Ninety years ago people ‘did religion’ as the norm and they held fast to their elected denomination. If I ask them if they are Christian, they answer by stating a denomination. In their childhood, a personal intimate relationship with Jesus Christ was not sought after and unlikely to be preached from the pulpit. More probably a conformist denominational obligation was emphasized, with strong community expectations and a punishing God.

So now as we sit in a circle, I struggle to find common ground, to initiate some kind of meaning or purpose into their daily lives. The world since their childhood, has spun totally out of control.

Their values, once foundational to a strong community, have been totally upended. Now as they are confined to bed or a wheel chair, finding activities worthy of keeping their minds alive is an endless challenge. Every room has a television which is constantly blaring with an image of the culture and place called, The United States of America, which is now totally foreign to them, even though they have lived in it all their long lives. There is a resignation that all is out of their control. A resignation and a retreat. They need help with their bodies, which can no longer look after themselves. They learn to wait and to wait some more.

Talking about their children is always a joy; until they remember, ‘they live so far away and of course they are so busy with their own children and grandchildren, I never see them.’

I come back to that old subject again, Religion, and there is a blankness in their eyes. It is hollow for them. They never experienced a touch of the living breathe of the Holy Spirit. They never knew the closeness of an intimate loving Jesus Christ. Their paradigm was held by an ‘obligation and restriction’ to a God, which they later decided, ‘could not really be real because of all the awful things which  happen to good people.’ Sunday School, never took them past the education about God into a relationship with God.

My heart breaks for people held in that paradigm. The emptiness is resounding. The hope is focused on the material. Faith has settled on humanism and medical advances.

Christianity, so simple in it’s essence, appears to many to have lost it’s essence; God’s love. It looks to many as a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  Even an outdated idea which has been kidnapped into a political weapon.

Christine’s Roseate Spoon Bill , God, and the Environment

The question remains, how do we bring a living relationship with Jesus Christ, to those who never met Him, one on one? By being patient and kind, not boasting or envying, nor arrogant or rude, not insisting on our own way, not being irritable or resentful. In other words, showing the love of Christ, which becomes an invitation for people to meet Him, often for the first time. Of course we can hopefully introduce them to the Holy Spirit in the process, then the love is really flowing.

Such an easy thing for me to write, but so difficult to achieve when divisions are deeply defended. Even within ‘the circle’, of people in their nineties, there is fear to talk freely about politics and religion. The bible has a term which comes to mind, a ‘hardening of the heart.’ Some of the elements in that condition are fear, greed, inaction, resignation, denial, and the inability to change, or realize empathy for others.

Mick Hales Photography- Kay’s Hydrangeas

So this is my prayer, that I would not have a hardening of my heart, but be patient and kind, and keep my eyes on Christ, because He is the only way, the truth and the light.

He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters
    at the boundary between light and darkness.   
    Job 26:10.

Christine’s news is that she is working on a long term project called “The Creation Series”. It includes icons and natural images such as birds and flowers and plants. It’s a vehicle for the searching and experimenting she is doing combining ancient symbolic language of icons with modern abstract and natural imagery to make a statement about God and the environment.

She is almost finished with two identical original Saint Paul icons and will post those images upon completion. She has also realized that her website needs to be completely overhauled and re-generated on a different platform and is dividing her time between that task and her creative work.

WE both are so grateful to be living in a staycation environment and so so happy not to have to move again for awhile!! (Hopefully forever!)

Sending you all lots of love and prayers, and please do keep us in yours!! We need each other!!

Much love, Christine and Michael

Michael’s photography Christine’s Icons

Psalm 143:8

Prayed Up?

Christine’s PBS broadcast has received a lot of attention and great responses, if you missed it here is a link . Indeed last month Christine had an article in Guideposts, the PBS video and she placed a in-house show of icons at the facility where Michael works. It has been wonderful to hear all the different positive reactions to her work and particularly from non believers and those of the evangelistic traditions which tend to be unfamiliar with icons.

She is now being contacted by another television station to possibly do another video which has a very large audience base. The wonderful part behind all of this is that these opportunities came to Christine without her physically seeking them, although praying for new doors to open for Christine have been consistently offered by us for years.
Christine also completed teaching another icon writing class online and has built up a healthy group of students who love to take the classes with her, this class wrote an icon of Mary Magdalene.

Mary Magdalene written by Christine Hales

Michael has taken on a further body of people to minister to, as well as the independent living population, who are all in need of assistant care or active nursing care. One of the hardest realities for people to face in this age group is that of loss. Loss comes in so many ways, loss of memory, loss of driving, loss of hearing or seeing, loss of independence, loss of loved ones; the list varies with each person but the pain of these losses keeps surfacing for them.

One lady recently told me of her home of many years which she had to give up to move into assisted living. Apparently her old Floridian home had a large porch and she would sit out painting water colors and get visited by a wood stork. This had been happening for nearly twenty years and she called the stork, ‘Ugly, because wood storks are.’ She missed that stork so much and she was sure it missed her.

Orchid photo by Mick Hales

Different stories rise to the surface of lives once lived, memories which can not be experienced again except as memories. Bodies become slowly unresponsive, tired and slow, until they can’t do what they could do a month before.

I have come to realize this is a work, a ministry, which can not be done if I am not prayed up. Of course that is so obvious, and yet so easy to fall down on.
Global Awakening always taught us, not to go into any ministry arena, without being totally in touch with God in prayer, and yet somehow I found myself dry praying for others.

I know full well that my prayer life had not been calling to be filled with the Holy Spirit as it now requires. The business of getting myself physically ready for the job had overlooked the more important responsibility of being closely in touch with God. After all it is our responsibility to pray, to open the door, for God to answer that prayer. We have a role to play from which God answers according his sovereign wisdom. At the end of Job, God says to Job’s friends, that Job will pray for them so He will ‘not deal with you according to your folly’. [Job 42:8]

Our role as believers to really focus on prayer and staying close to God is so easily lost, especially when we are in active ministry, but it is the most important role we have. That is the role God has given us to do, with which He will flow into this world.

Please keep us in your prayers, and please pray that Michael and I can focus and go deeper in prayer.


Beautiful Flower Found at RIngling Museum Garden

I had to admit it, my pride had been running my ministry. Actually, my pride had been running me. My pride was evaluating ‘my ministry’, when in reality God is the minister not me.

The Expanded Duties

Two weeks into visitations with a whole different set of residents, those receiving nursing care, short and long term, rehabilitation and memory care, I realized I was coming away exhausted and unhappy about what I judged as ‘my ministry.’ I was having a hard time making a connection with people, let alone a meaningful one. I was opening doors to doubts about myself and why I had requested to expand my Chaplain responsibilities to include these residents. It was clear that the need for a spiritual presence was there, of all the people in the large elderly residential facility, these were the most challenged and by extension, the nurses and staff were as well.

Talking with an independent counselor and Christian, I was able to recognize I was attempting to minister through my own abilities, rather than placing it in God’s hands. It was then the phrase, ‘You have a big spitball of pride,’ was born in my brain and I just had to verbalize it.

Proverbs 16:18 is succinct. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

My counselor had been able to turn my inward thinking, outward. Pride can be a difficult sin to see in oneself, it is inherently so by it’s very nature. It can take a large dose of truth to recognize pride at work.

Sea Shell photo by Mick Hales

What Does Pride Do To Us?

So what happens when pride is set free to operate within a power rich arena, where counseling and criticism are not happening or not allowed? Unfortunately, we see this too often in the workplace, even in the church, we see it in state and national politics, and we are having a text book review of how pride’s deadly consequences are realized, in the Ukraine. Putin’s pride has been working to restore the Soviet Union era’s position that Russia held, no matter what the consequences are for lives of innocent people.

Pride is such a powerful and insidious sin it is placed as first on the fictitious list of ‘seven deadly sins’, since all sins separate us from the love of God, spiritually they are all on a par with each other. However, within the affects they have on other people’s lives in our physical world, some are much more deadly than others.

Photo by Mick Hales

So the question arises, and perhaps it is too vague to be answered. Is pride more prevalent in our highly visible social media lives now, than it was even twenty years ago?

And here is another question, which is not vague at all, is pride trying to lead your life?

Please partner with me over the next month, for God to reveal ways that pride might be getting a foothold in our lives. Let us pray also for God to remove all vestiges of it and replace it with knowledge of our utter dependence on Him, His mercy, and His love. More of You Lord!

Christine’s News

Mary Magdalene Icon in Progress

I’m working on a double commission to paint a new and original icon of Saint Paul- as a young man and as a tentmaker. I’ve spent countless hours researching, drawing, and painting studies. And now I’m ready to start painting! Yay! My favorite part!

I’ll be teaching another online Icon writing class May 24-27 that I am very excited about. The subject is Mary Magdalene. I’ve written a blog about her that you might also want to read. I can’t remember if I shared the link to the Guidepost article about my work, so here it is.

Sending you all lots of love and prayers- and we very much appreciate yours! We can’t do this without each other!

Love and Prayers, Christine and Michael

Michael’s Photography Christine’s Icons