Tag Archives: church

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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Prophetic Words

Dear Friends and Family:IMG_2497

To have people pray over you as they are being led by the Holy Spirit is a life giving experience. The words they say often go deep into our hearts and resonate in our minds. Where do the words come from, which just remain with one, as if they dropped out of heaven? That is exactly where they come from. The Holy Spirit is speaking.IMG_2614

That just happened to Michael and the word given was that he would be ‘winsome’ to draw people to the Lord.

He had to find a Merriam-Webster dictionary to define ‘winsome’, it was not a word he was familiar with, as ‘generally pleasing and engaging often because of a childlike charm and innocence,’ some words related to winsome were listed as, ‘hopeful, optimistic, rosy, animated, lively, sprightly, vivacious and beloved.’

He recognizes these are aspects of his personality which he can have when fully activated in a leadership role but quite often take a back seat in day to day life. The child like nature can be a sword that cuts through pride, fear and unbelief and the activation comes through the presence of the Holy Spirit.IMG_2583

 

We all need words of encouragement spoken over us, whether it is a prayer situation or while we wait for a bus. We know the tongue has the power to build up or destroy. What is spoken over us as children can affect us our whole lives. Working with people who are homeless is an opportunity to speak good words into their lives no matter how brief the interaction. Just asking ‘How are you doing today?’ is a recognition of their humanity and a bridge to normality. If they have been sleeping on the streets their priority is food, the chance of a shower and to get their clothes washed. The material provisions we take for granted; a bed, shelter, food, washrooms and clothes are essential for everyone. But just as significant is a good word spoken into their life, a word of encouragement and of joy. After all Jesus Christ called us ‘beloved’, and he was talking to all of us.

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So when you see homeless person put on that ‘childlike innocence’ that can cut through fear and remember they are also the beloved.

We have the perfect example when God spoke over Jesus Christ encouraging words, [Mathew 17:5]

He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”  IMG_2600

Christine has had a busy month giving a talk to the Church of the Redeemer about icons and what is happening with iconography around the world. She has also had a commission to write a large icon of St Patrick for a church near Palm Beach. She had a wonderful meeting with the priest of the church and several members showing initial drawings and discussing aspects of St Patrick’s life and ministry. The Celtic way of evangelism through building relationships with people and inviting them to come alongside the Christian life was modeled by St Patrick. This is a very wonderful commission for Christine and her heart is really in it.IMG_2650

Michael’s new book, City Green: Public Gardens of New York, will be published in March and he is excited to see it out.  IMG_2607

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

Sending you love and prayers,

Christine and Michael

Mick’s Photography site      Christine’s Icons    American Association of Iconographers

Letting Go and Letting God !

Dear Friends and Family:

Mick Hales Florida Photo
Mick Hales Florida Photo

Michael has just finished a wonderful chaplaincy training and has this to say about it:

All trained up- but not utilizing it.     IMG_2305

A question which often goes through my mind is whether the training and education I have had in the past is being utilized as well as it could be and then if not -why not? What is stopping me moving more actively in my gifting? This is not just a personal issue, or even a Christian issue, it is a question many people face.

Of the bachelor degree graduates currently coming out of universities, a quarter of them, can expect to get work below their qualification level, and earn 50% of the wages of their contemporaries being employed in appropriately qualified jobs. That is a lot of people not using their training as they imagined they would.

Similarly, many people are trained up in their churches but never quite get to utilize what they have learned.IMG_2325

So when Michael finished a solid week of classes for training in Chaplaincy by the International Fellowship of Chaplains recently, the question of how can he incorporate this training into his life over the long haul, and not waste it, came up. There are many different chaplaincy fields where one could serve, for example- the fire department, emergency responders, police, the armed forces, in homes for the elderly, schools, universities, hospitals, hospice, jail and prisons, business and industry, and at disaster events like hurricanes or wild fires.  IMG_2295

A chaplain can be defined as a minister in the workplace and their main purpose is to serve the needs of the people. By serving the needs of the people that answers the requirement that the main purpose is secular in nature. Evangelism can not be the primary purpose of a chaplain, however when serving peoples needs a chaplain can share their spiritual beliefs when asked. People came from far and wide to attend the class because it is a way that we can serve God and our communities without a degree in divinity.IMG_2251

The primary difference between a pastor and a chaplain, is that a pastor serves the spiritual needs of a congregation within a church, a chaplain serves the needs of people in the community and when requested can address their spiritual life.

Michael has always had an interest in being a minister in the workplace and often prays for people when on photography assignments. So many people are hungry to receive prayer when it is undertaken in a loving and caring manor.   IMG_2365

So what is it that often stops me from being as active in my gifting as I would like to be? Often it is not having enough time, or being in the right place, or apprehension of how I will be received if I introduce myself as a Christian. So I am praying that I will take this opportunity to become a chaplain and step out in the workplace and really utilize the training I have had over the years.

A Good Servant of Christ Jesus

If you put these things before the brothers,[a] you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.10 For to this end we toil and strive,[b] because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.  1 Timothy 4:6-10

I, Christine, am so happy that Michael has done this training- it brings together so many of his talents in the ministry.  We pray and thank God, that God opens the doors for him, in God’s perfect timing.  IMG_5716

I’m working on a Jonah Icon and after asking God what message does He have for me with this Icon, I heard” When God asks you to do something- DO IT.”!!  So, I’m keeping my ears open too 🙂 .

To see news about my Icon ministry click here.

You are all in our prayers daily, and we thank God for all the ways He is working in your lives.   Be well, and please pray for us also , and by so doing, we become a community through Christ!

Love and Prayers,

Christine and Michael

Michael’s Photography        Christine’s Icons

Grace

Dear Friends and Family:

Happy New Year!IMG_1479

One of our frequent prayers is that we would come into new relationships with people and existing ones would grow deeper.

We have been really blessed to spend the winter in Florida which gives us the chance to explore new places, new churches, new friends and new ways of doing business and ministering.

We have found a liturgical church which is also very active with community ministry.

Christine has started to work with the Altar Guild at Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota which fits well with her understanding of the roots Christianity and the many symbolic aspects of liturgical worship.IMG_1259

Michael has started to volunteer in a homeless shelter the church is involved with, which has people waiting on the streets in the morning to get in for a shower and a bite to eat.     IMG_1657

A bus ride can reveal how many people are living on the edge, struggling with health issues, mental and physical, struggling with real poverty, financial, nutritional and spiritual.

Walking through the quieter suburbs also shows the run down houses, with all the shades or curtains drawn to the street with a fancy car or truck parked in front. It must be so dark inside, one wonders what kind of life are people living, is most of their light coming through the television screen? It seems the appearance of the car is more significant than the home.IMG_1662

The reality that in this country of great wealth, America, there is a level of poverty which is easy to drive by and not see or just disregard. It reminds me of the parable of the Good Samaritan which Jesus told to emphasize what loving our neighbors means.   IMG_1612

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”Luke 10:25-37

On a similar tract Michael has just finished making a video concerning the opioid and heroin crisis which is sweeping our country. It is a horrible epidemic killing young and old, rich and poor. The video was created for a grass roots charity, Columbia County Pathways to Recovery, which was formed by five mothers who had grown up with children in the small affluent community of Chatham, NY. They realized their children and many members of their community were becoming addicted to opioids and heroin and they struggled together to find ways to help them. They did not pass by on the other side but have dived in wholeheartedly to find out how to help those addicted.

Bringing an understanding of the opioid crisis to all people in a community through discussion and sharing experiences is what this video is designed to do. It is designed to stimulate open discussion of people’s thoughts, prejudices , and stigmas towards those under addiction within families and our churches. So please use it – watch the video, show it to your friends- and think about the questions it raises. What kind of prejudices  do you hold towards those who are caught by addiction? What kind of help do we offer as a faith based community?

As we come to the end of 2017 which has been a very divisive year in politics let us not turn our backs on those who are in need but embrace the fact that Jesus came to give us all life and life more abundantly.IMG_1435

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

“Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.”

Ephesians 6: 26

And may you be blessed and healthy in this New Year!

Love, Michael and Christine

Mick’s Photography website     Christine’s Icon website

Testimony and Extraordinary Times

Hello Friends and Family:   IMG_9889

As you know, we are living in extraordinary times in America.

Each day the news gets more and more incredible.

We have gone through many powerful natural disasters, hurricanes and wild fires.

We are currently going through a social expose of the sexual abuse of women by men in power.

There seems to be a growing awareness of the reality that America freely elected a racist president.  _MG_3508

Also that the economic, health and educational resources of the country are being redirected towards the ‘well off’, large corporations and the military.

 

We are also facing an era where news can be fake or not fake. What is true? Who is telling the truth. What is true for some is not true for others. This dilemma has always been present but it is exercised now to such an extent that it is hard to hold onto reality, whose right is right and whose wrong is wrong. By declaring something which we do not like as, ‘fake’, then it’s validity seems to be washed away.

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For those of us who believe that theBible can give us a standard by which we can judge right from wrong, we also realize that it can be twisted and misinterpreted. We see that over the years many wars have been fought over the different interpretation of the meaning and content of the bible. Many lives have fallen through ‘Religious’ wars.

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So where does this lead us?

 

For me it leads me back to digging deeper into who Christ is and how He is working today. It leads me back to a more personal relationship with Him. It leads me back to my testimony of who Christ is and what he has done in my life. A testimony of daily depending on Him and His grace to get through each day and a gratitude that He has asked me to do that.

 

The Bible talks extensively about testimony. It talks about how God gave signs to the exiled Jews as a Testimony of who He was. It talks about Jesus testifying to his relationship to God the father, and it talks about the false testimony of the Pharisees as they wanted to condemn Jesus to death. It talks about how testimony can be true or false.

 

Testimony can raise faith or it can destroy it.

I was able to attend one of Dr. Randy Clarke’s Empowerment conferences at Harvest Time Church in Greenwich, Ct, earlier in the month. Many people were getting healed of physical illness as words of knowledge and prayers were taking place. To help build the atmosphere of faith people were encouraged to clap 15 times when they believed God had healed them at least 80% of an illness.

As the evening went on one could hear throughout the crowd more and more people clapping, a testimony that they had received a healing._MG_3526

For me the extraordinary beauty of the moment when someone realizes that God has just supernaturally touched them personally and given them a healing is something that needs to be shouted out. It deserves to be clapped and stated. Once you have seen God move in this way, one knows that there is a truth of such value and holiness you hold onto it. Someone else may see it as fake news. For me it is real that we have a true God who is very real and His truth can not be washed away, ever.

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It may seem as odd as a pumpkin sitting in the waves of the sea but the truth is, we have a God who will judge us and loves us all as well. Our Father.

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The Lord is My Shepherd Icon by Christine Hales

Paul says it when writing to Timothy from jail, so beautifully.

2 Timothy 1:6-14.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to[a] a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,[b] 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.[c] 13 Follow the pattern of the sound[d] words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

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

Love and prayers, Michael and Christine

Christine’s Icon Blog is here.

Mick’s Photography Site

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

Hope Rocks

Hi Friends and family:

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Perhaps the most profound way in which our own awareness of the vulnerability of life dawns upon us is when suddenly we are surprised with the news that a friend or family member has just passed on.

Even worse than that, is to find out they took their own lives.

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This is however happening more and more often with the opioid epidemic which is ravishing our communities. It is happening within people of all ages, all classes and in all locations. Drug overdoses has become the leading cause of death in America for those under 50, more than are killed by guns and car accidents together.

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Joseph DeFino, a teacher in Saugerties, NY, had lost so many of his students to suicide he felt compelled to try to bring the community together and place a paradigm of HOPE before people and not Despair. He organized a festival, ‘Hope Rocks’  bringing together people and agencies involved with recovery in a festival like situation.   There were four stages with rock music that was being played by different bands. There is no doubt in my mind that this was a breakthrough initiative. A humble beginnings to what could become a portal for awareness for people who suffer from addiction that there is hope. Also for those who are not addicted but have lost family members to this disease for them to receive healing as well.IMG_9081

I was able to attend the festival for two days and met and prayed with many parents who had lost their children through suicide. Even years after the loss the wounds are still deep. Many of the parents now work actively in some of the recovery or suicide prevention organizations. As I talked with I found many needed prayer to be able to forgive themselves. This can be the deepest regret that people were unaware of the nature or presence of addiction in friends or family.IMG_9008

Addiction is a disease and needs to be recognized as a disease by society, not hidden under the carpet as a moral weakness. People do recover from addiction if they are able to get help. There is a huge place for Christians to pick up the role for healing and helping, not only those who are addicted but their family members as well.

Just having an AA meeting in the basement of a church does not go far enough for the church bodies’ responsibility in this area. As a national crisis we all need to be aware of who and how we can be helping. The Holy Spirit is well able to direct healing prayer, especially for forgiveness. Forgiveness is often the key. As God’s representatives we can open the door for forgiveness to happen, and then very often physical healing can follow.

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Forgiveness, as we know is foundational in the prayer Jesus gave us to pray, ‘ Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’. It is also foundational in the twelve step programs of recovery, step eight in AA says, ‘”Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.” That list can often include ourselves and is often the last person we approach after a fall. Certainly it is Jesus will to forgive when we have an honest desire to change. Jesus came that we could live life and live it more abundantly, more than we can imagine ourselves. That paradigm is so opposite from despair. Despair is from the devil, life and hope is from God. For those who are caught up in despair we need to show them the life and love of God in a humble and beautiful way and ask, ‘Can I pray for you?’

That’s all for this month.  Christine and I send our love and prayers to you all.  Be sure to read her Icon blog for her news this month.       IMG_9049

 

Love and prayers,

Michael and Christine

Mick’s photography website    Christine’s Icon Website

 

Psalm 23

Dear Friends and Family:FullSizeRender 10

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

Lent

Greetings Friends and Family:  _MG_9174

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