Tag Archives: Christian

September has been a wonderfully busy month. There was another Suicide Awareness walk in Catskill that I was able to attend, as well as a Christian walk down the main street in Hudson. I preached in Rock Road Chapel, Berne, NY and photographed for clients in Texas. I’m also starting to create three different short videos for non profit organizations.IMG_9216

 

The walk through Hudson was a combination of different church groups and has been an annual affair for some time. I take part in it to support the local ministries. It is not as large as the gay pride parade which takes place down the same route and does not have anything like the support which the local politicians or community give to that.  Going down the street with other Christians, I noticed what on lookers there were look surprised and somewhat bemused. As though we were amusingly out of date and a hangover from another era.IMG_9295

 

The bible does warn us to expect to be ridiculed for our beliefs and some slight embarrassment is certainly nothing compared to the real persecution many Christians face around the world. The point is, as Christians, how relevantly do we present ourselves to the people around us so that they are able to relate to us and not reject us out of hand. Paul writes about ‘being all things to all people’ so that he was able to come alongside them long enough for people of all different walks of life, to really understand what the ‘Kingdom of God’ meant.

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I find myself digging deeper into the bible for an understanding of the ‘Kingdom of God’, being here, now. This is what Christ taught us to talk about, that the ‘Kingdom of God was at hand’. How can I witness that in a real way, to people on the street, so they realize that what I want to share with them does come from another world but not from another era? It is as relevant today as it has ever been. Jesus is as completely relevant, completely alive and completely true today as on his day of resurrection.IMG_9289

 

It is up to each one of us to bring that reality to life for whoever is standing in front of us in a way that they can hear it, see it and receive it. For me that is often through praying for healing but there are many ways just as there are many grains of sand on the sea shore. Christine is doing it through prayer and teaching Icon writing. I also do it through creating videos. Every one has a gifting of some form and we all need to use them with the Holy Spirit flowing through us.IMG_9365

 

I look forward to the day that thousands will be drawn to walk for Christ through our local streets witnessing how totally relevant Jesus is today and His Kingdom has come.

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Sending you all love and prayers,

Michael and Christine

Mick’s Photos    Christine’s Icons   Christine’s Icon blog

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Psalm 23

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We hope this summer is going well for you all?  It is a working summer for us- God is blessing us with many opportunities to make our art and share it!  So, it’s crazy busy sometimes but also great fun because we love what we’re doing!  Couldn’t be better!!photo 3

This morning this is the last little baby bird to fly the nest on our front porch!!

Even the sparrow finds a home, and a swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.  Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.” Psalm 84:3-4

I’ve just taught an Icon Workshop at Holy Cross Monastery and that is always a blessing for everyone, praise God.

Also just took a week long painting intensive at Bennington College through my alma mater, Massachusetts College of Art.  During this workshop, I began exploring the boundaries between Icons and religious painting- something I hope to do a lot more of this coming year.  Here is a photo with me and my Saint Joan of Arc painting. photo 7

This from Michael:  “I have been working on a video on Psalm 23 which has been a wonderful project. It has given me a deeper understanding of how close the relationship of King David was with God. The first line states the Lord is my shepherd and right up front assigns authority to God. David declares that God has authority over him and once that has been established the Psalm then states God’s security, leadership, rest, provision, abundance, redemption, direction, love, family and on and on until finally unity with Him for eternity.

This Holy scripture describes so intimately the relationship between God and David and it is all available when David assigns authority over his life to the good shepherd. David having been a shepherd himself before becoming a king, understood the roles of both of those positions. He likens himself to a sheep under the care of a shepherd, a foreshadow of how Jesus became the sacrificial lamb for mankind under the authority of God the Father. The depth of the love voiced in Psalm 23 is a witness to the love Jesus has for us.
Psalm 23 video

Please watch the video and share it with someone who may not know the Psalm at all. When I started to film people for the video, I approached a group of teenagers on a NY subway platform and asked if they would read the psalm 23, none of them knew what a psalm was, never mind the number 23. One young man was willing to try, but a train came in at that point. That experience just increased my desire to make scripture alive to people who do not get to hear it in their daily lives.”

And, for the first time ever, Michael and I had a pop up exhibition together in my studio in Hudson.  It was so much fun, visiting with our friends and being able to talk in depth with them about our work.  Thank you God!!  FullSizeRender 9

Sending you all love and prayers,

Christine and Michael

Mick’s Photography Site

Christine’s Icon Site

Gifts

Watching the spring finally come into our garden this morning I was struck by the abundance of small yellow flowers falling off our Maple trees. Then I was struck by the abundance of azalea blooms which only yesterday were in their prime and now are falling to the ground. God’s abundance and His timing can make me stand up in awe. Indeed, this April, there have been images of the wild flowers in the Californian hills taken from space, and the whole landscape has turns yellow and orange with their Californian poppies. This was an extraordinary wild flower blooming in California, after years of drought finally gave way to soaking rain.

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It is good to remember when we feel like we are in a desert with our walk with God, that He is so abundant with His riches and precise with His timing. The bible reminds us that, [Romans 9:29], ‘For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.’

I hang on to that scripture knowing I have been called and often experiencing His gifts, but still feeling I am not exactly where God wants me to be. So I have been crying out for my life to align with God’s purposes for it.

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Christine led another Icon writing retreat in the final days of Holy week in Miami, which was a very powerful experience for all who took part. One of the wonderful parts to the retreat was using stations of the cross Icons which Christine had created some ten years ago. They were placed in different areas of Morning Star Retreat Center’s garden and everyone took part, including three teenagers who were taking the retreat with their parents.

Miami Icon Retreat
Miami Icon Retreat

 

The retreats Christine has led through lent, have each been different although the same Icon, the face of Christ has been written. The Holy Spirit has a way of opening doors which have been closed for some time and allowing integration and healing to take place. There has been a lot of healing happening in these retreats, both physical, emotional and spiritual.

 

Michael had a new book published, New York Living: Re-Invented, for which he did the majority of the photography. Books take some time to get published, this one two years, so it is always good to see how people react to ones work from a few years previously. The career as a photographer has been Michael’s ‘tent making’, referring to the apostle Paul; often while on photo shoots the chance to pray for someone will come up and it has been wonderful to do that with people, often the clients. When one looks back over a period of time one realizes how God has been working through you.

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Romans 9: 33 and 36, ‘ Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and inscrutable his ways.photo 2

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.’

 

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

Blessings and Love,

Michael and Christine

Michael’s photography Website, Christine’s Art Website A, Christine’s Art Website B, Icon Website,  Icon Classes Website

 

Lent

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In 2015, Pope Francis said the following in his lenten address:

“Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience. God is not indifferent to our world; he so loves it that he gave his Son for our salvation.”

During Lent we like to either give up a bad habit, spend extra time in Church, or with the poor and needy – some personal sacrifice that reminds us of the gift we all have received of salvation through the suffering of Christ.

Earlier in the month we were in a city in Florida which has a considerable amount of homeless and in some areas people were laid out asleep on the streets in daylight, not half a mile from hundreds of luxury yachts. When I remember that these people are just as precious, unique and special to Jesus as any other, it comes again as a wake up call.photo 6 There are so many people in this country who depend on voluntary help from churches and organizations like the Salvation Army. They receive shelter, food and fellowship, from people who give of their time, energy and resources. These helping hands are going to be even more needed in the years to come as the government walks a path away from those in need, towards those who exploit for commerce.

 

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This month Christine has led two icon writing retreats, one at The Church of the Redeemer, Sarasota, FL and the second at Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, NY.

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What extraordinary experiences these retreats have been with people spending time in deep prayer and learning, as they are skillfully led by Christine to write an Icon, for many of the participants this was their first one.photo 1

Writing an icon, it is called writing because the painted image represents the written word, is a truly appropriate spiritual discipline to undertake during lent. All those taking part went through their own inner journey as the Lord brought to mind aspects of their lives for them to pray through.

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The primary icon which Christine was using for their initial work, was the face of Christ. It is wonderful to see the different variations created by the different hands and personalities of the group derived from the same original. It is a reflection of how we are all individuals before God. Each one of us is unique, to and for the Lord. Each one of us has a precious reason for being, we are a special facet of His church.

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This month CIVA, Christians in the Visual Arts   Serious Art, Serious Faith, published a piece written by Christine on Icons and the American Iconography.  It’s worth taking a look at!

The next Icon Retreat Christine will be leading is at MorningStar Retreat Center in Miami Florida.  This will be a Tritium Reteat for Holy week,  with Stations of the Cross on Good Friday in the beautiful outdoor garden at Morningstar. Register now.

This Lent, let’s keep our country, the poor, and the disenfranchised in our prayers.

Father, show us the way to bless those who need your blessings,  Help us to help others.

“Today if only you will hear His voice do not harden your hearts.”  Psalm 95:8

We send you love, joy, and anticipation of Easter!

Christine and Michael

Mick’s Photography website   Christine’s Paintings   Christine’s Icons

Ash Wednesday

As I drink my tea in the morning, my favorite cup reads,
‘Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.’ Hebrews 11:1. But when I go back to my ESV bible the same verse reads, ‘Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’img_6592

Those slight variations in translation can be an opportunity to explore further the nuances of the Holy Scripture or the beginning of misunderstanding and doubt. The whole chapter of Hebrews 11 digs deeper into those faith filled people of the past. But what of today? Who are the people really walking in faith with Jesus?
Our church, the whole body of Christ, seems to be divided as to what truly walking in faith means. Is that because there are so many ways to translate the bible, or so many ways to interpret what it says, or so many ways to make it fit with our own life styles and values; or even political world views? img_6480

Those are all good questions. However the question of real significance is, are Christians truly getting the benefits of walking in faith, believing they are new creations in Christ and receiving fully the power God assigned for that walk? Are we Christians making things happen, which in our own strength could not be possible, because we have faith that the Holy Spirit will back us up? Are we so grounded in our relationship with Jesus that we are sure we are walking in His will not our own? When we are in that intimate relationship, God will do extraordinary things through us, more than we can possibly imagine.img_6549

God calls us to take the first step and believe that He will be there with us when we take the second step and the third. It is our faith that He will be there for us that enables us to move forward. Having God’s path for us, completely set forth from the start to the finish with all the details in place, has never happened in my own experience, as Hebrews 11:1 says, ‘the conviction of things not seen’. I believe He calls us to push forward in ways far beyond what our rational minds can see, but by being guided by the Holy Spirit and having faith, Jesus is with us. We will fulfill His call on our lives. It is in the journey that we share daily with Christ that we receive His promise of life and life more abundantly.img_6582

Christine has been working on an icon of the Archangel Michael which depicts the scene of Revelations 12:7, where there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels and the dragon lost the battle. It is an extraordinary icon and dynamically shows the energy of the fight. The dragon is seen with seven heads and each spitting furiously. It is always a good thing to hold fast in our minds that the dragon and his angels lost. That is a fact we can have faith in as we keep our focus on Jesus and what He is doing through our lives as we walk as new creations in Christ.***  cshportrait

 

Christine is preparing for three Icon Writing Retreats this Lent.  The last one will be at Morningstar Renewal Center in Miami Florida, and will finish with the Stations of the Cross, using her Icons for prayer and meditation.

Another one will be at Holy Cross Monastery, in West Park, NY, March 21, 24.  There is still time to register! Contact Br. Joseph, guesthouse@hcmnet.org

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As we often pray for you, each one, we continue to send our prayers and thoughts for your good health, wisdom, and peace.  I’d like to pray a blessing over you now, that comes from Roy Godwin’s book “The Way of Blessing“:

“I bless you in the name of Jesus, that God may reveal to you everything you need to know to enable you to be fully who you were made to be, and that you receive everything you need, that the fulness of life might be released to you.”

Amen!

Love and prayers,

Michael and Christine

Mick’s Photography Website    Christine’s Painting Website  American Association of Iconographers

 

 

Volunteering

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Some of the fun when volunteering for different organizations is meeting other volunteers and getting to know them. This month Michael has been blessed with the chance of making a short video for an organization called ‘Books for Kids’. This came about when a man spoke from the heart about a charity he had formed for kids who grow up in homes where there are no books available. The consequences are that during the summer months those children fall behind in their literacy skills, compared to children who do have books and parent who read to them. Consequently each year they progressively get left further and further behind in their reading ability. ‘Books for Kids’ is a program which supplies volunteers to go into schools and read books to the kids and then give each child a book to take home, each school month. I volunteered to make a video of what the program does, to help with its promotion to possible volunteers and businesses which could support the program.

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It is wonderful to see how much it means to the kids to get these books and how much it means to the volunteers to have the chance to help. The blessing works both ways. It happens because the leader, Ted, has such a heart to help the kids that it becomes infectious. Michael got the chance to pray with Ted and revealed to him how this was a calling from God and how he was stirring up others to follow through his complete dedication to the work._mg_8047

 

img_5993Twelve years ago John had a stroke which left his right hand curled up and without function. He has difficulty walking and getting up to his first floor apartment. Pretty much every morning he makes his way to his car to drive it into a sunny spot in the car park and just sits there for two or three hours. He likes the warmth of the car. He also loves to have people stop by and chat through the car window- so of course I go and pray with him. It can take him a little while to get the words out but he always tells me how much God loves him and will be coming soon.img_5491

This week I was also blessed to pray for people’s healing in Jiffy Lube, in our launderette and in a food pantry. There is joy in the every day chance meeting when one steps out and offers prayer. Doors get opened, people’s countenance changes as the Holy Spirit moves through them bringing things back to life, in their minds and in their bodies. It is so wonderful to be a part of God working even in the smallest way.

img_5898These are the opportunities which we ‘gently approach’ to bring a living Jesus to people around us. So many people need healing in their bodies but few look to prayer for healing. Sadly many Christians do not pray for healing, or pray without real belief that something will change with their prayer, it is done more as a rote or obligation.

Praying for healing can be one of the most exciting things a Christian can do, Jesus only did what God the Father asked him to do and he healed throughout his active ministry time.

Icon Talk
Christine’s Icon talk at Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota this month

 

Sometimes when praying, we know what Jesus is doing, but often we do not. But I am sure he loves it when we do pray for healing. Then occasionally there is an e mail in your IN box that lets you know.

 

“We wanted to thank you for praying for all of us at the Alive Church. We thought you might have been an angel showing up! I had recently been saying that a lot of us need healing for our backs. I know the Lord answers prayers ♡ We were and are grateful for your humble and obedient spirit. My back hasn’t given me trouble and I am happy for that manifestation.” Mellody C.

So, thank YOU for praying for us, and we continue to pray for you as well!

Love and prayers

Michael and Christine

Mick’s website    Christine’s website    Christine’s Icon website   Icon Blog

Got Home?

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Deer painting by Christine Hales
Little Deer Painting by Christine Hales

As we come to the end of 2016 we breath a sigh of relief that a year filled with contention in the political and spiritual arenas is having a ‘time out’, at least for the time being. We also recognize that we face considerable uncertainty in both of those fields in the year to come. Thank goodness we have a God who loves us unconditionally and always will no matter how we mess up. Which is not to say there are no consequences for how we act, far from it, but that God will always love us. It is God’s love which stands as a stable rock on which we stand in these uncertain times.


Michael has just finished a short video on homelessness after having a dream which challenged him to explore what it is like to not know where you will sleep tonight. The figure is staggering as to how many people are in the world now, who have lost their homes for one reason or another, political or religious; it is 44 million. In NYC alone, 61,000 people look for shelter each night. This is more than we can understand or relate to but it is a reality for many, many people. The video, ‘Got Home?’ questions what we trust in and what is our own security. For me it has to be God’s love. Then the question is how is that love put into action for those of us who call ourselves Christians?img_5247-1

I believe this will be a more and more urgent question for all of us, in both the political and religious arenas next year.  img_5261-1

As a country whose Christian foundation is not only being challenged but often rejected, how do we really stay true to walking out Christ in our daily lives? Where Santa Claus has overtaken Jesus Christ’s birth and Christmas is now a ‘Holiday Season’, the bells are already ringing for Christians to truly live out God’s purpose for each of us. God’s love moving through us without judgement, dogma or fear will be needed even more in the year to come.img_5473-1

The good news is that Jesus Christ is as alive and powerful now as He ever has been. The bomb he set off through His resurrection is more powerful than any nuclear bomb’s destruction except it is not destructive but creative. As Christians we hold that power within us and this next year will need God’s creative nature more than ever.

Christine Hales studio
Christine at Studio opening December 2016

 

 

Christine had open studio days in her studio in Hudson before Christmas and many people saw and loved her recent work.

We send you our love and prayers, and look forward to hearing how we can best pray for you.

Michael and Christine

Mick’s website      Christine’s Icon website

Hello England!

Dear Friends and Family:

We have just – last night- returned from our UK mission and have lots of good news to share.  In Bristol, there were prophetic declarations at the river gate, the exchange of the prayer baton to coincide with the passing of the Olympic torch through Bristol, a Praise bus on College Green playing praise music all afternoon preceding the Olympic Torch, and of course the Arise conference on Pentecost.  

It was really great to see some of our old friends and spend time praying together over the week.  When the Olympic torch came through Bristol we did a lot of prayer, particularly on Hanham Mount – John Wesley’s place of preaching to people of  Bristol.  You could look down across Bristol from there and several of us prayed for breakthrough in Bristol and for re-opening the gates as Wesley had done before us.  This photo is of the New Room- Wesley’s first chapel where the prayer baton was passed and we had worship to commemorate the event.

Over 6000 people and 75 church leaders across the denominations assembled at Ashton Gate Stadium for an afternoon of prayer and declaration over Bristol.  I was asked to give a prophetic workshop for the children to listen to hear God’s word for Bristol.  Some beautiful responses from the children but one in particular showed an arrow pointing forward said,”… the ministers in Bristol have done enough.  Now God is going to do a new thing, and for them to keep going, onward to the “new thing” God has for Bristol”.

Sheena Tranter who was our partner in the House of prayer we had in Bristol was the carrier of the vision for Arise Bristol.  She and her teams of intercessors organized all these events which we know will have lasting effect in the Kingdom for Bristol.

England is preparing for the Queen’s 60th year jubilee this coming Sunday and everywhere there are flags and bunting. Especially in the shops and streets of London where a floatilla will be on the Thames Sunday afternoon. Through the last 60 years there has been incredible change in England. In terms of Christianity there has certainly been a shift to a secular society in that time. There has also been a large influx of ethnic groups bringing in their own forms of religion. At the moment one can see them co existing with toleration on all sides but it does not mean that it will always be the case, especially if Northern Nigeria and the Sudan are examples of what can happen after a tipping point has occurred. So the work for the Kingdom of God that is going on now in England is particularly important and there are many signs that revival is imminent. Certainly what has just happened in Bristol probably could not have happened a year ago. This is being repeated all over the country to some degree or another as the prayer baton precedes the Olympic torch. People are gathering in the streets and gates of cities interceding and declaring. We just pray for more of the presence of God in that nation as the cry to ‘Awake, Awake, Awake’ is beaten into the soil by praying intercessors.

We also heard from our London friends that 16,000 people filled Earl’s Court Stadium to worship God the Friday before Pentecost in London.   

We left Bristol on Monday morning to head up to London to visit with our friend Keong who has a heart for hosting missionaries.

We were so blessed by our visit and particularly want to thank all those who have been praying for us and also have been directly supporting us in this mission.  We remarked every day how blessed we felt and how grateful we were.  We could feel your prayers!

Love you guys!

Here is a link to the Arise Bristol video from Bristolnetworks  :  Arise Bristol and Beyond