Tag Archives: God

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

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God is in their Recovery

Dear Friends and Family:IMG_9537

The autumn this year has not been spectacular so far because a lot of the maple leaves went brown without turning red. They dried out before coming to their wonderful yellow-orange and red colors. Fortunately the stag horn sumacs have added the most color on the sides of the roads and there are still the oaks trees in reserve to turn.

It reminds me of Elijah hiding in a cave after running from Jezebel telling God, he was the only prophet left and the word of God gently correcting him to say there were still 7000 faithful in reserve.

Sometimes it feels like nothing is happening but God always has more to give than we can imagine.IMG_9515

This last month I have had the privilege of videoing people who have gone through serious additions to opioids and heroin telling their stories. It is material for a video I am making for Columbia Pathways to Recovery, a grass routes local community organization formed to help those caught up in the currant crisis. Each one of these people eventually coming through these horribly destructive experiences have recognized that it is a spiritual and physical disease. Each one talks about God or their Higher power and how that awakening to a divine presence is the saving foundation from which they can build their lives again. Each ones way to recovery is different and there is no cookie cutter answers to this very complex healing called ‘Recovery’.

One of the sentences that was quoted to me was, ‘ the opposite to addiction is not sobriety, but being in community with others.’ The way of addiction is to isolate people and slowly destroy them through the cravings of what ever drug they have chosen to take their pain away. This slowly makes them withdraw more and more from other people and social interactions.IMG_9607

God created us to be in relationship with each other, the drugs want to take us into isolation. The stigma around addiction shown by society will have to change before there can really be widespread healing for this disease. It is a much larger issue than a moral failing, or a weakness of character as society often view those fall ill with addictions. There are definitely chemical issues in the brain which make this a physical as well as spiritual illness.

There is a real need for the church to take a lead in this awareness that the people who are dying around us from overdoses are not bad people but people who really need healing, just as people need healing from cancer, they deserve to be loved, cared for and treated as other people with a disease.

Artists Potluck Slide Share Dinner in Hudson
Artists Community Potluck Slide Share Dinner in Hudson

Jesus only did what his father asked him to do and he healed everyone who came to him for healing. As a Christian we are called, in this epidemic of opioid and heroin addiction, to help every one we can and be totally informed on what recovery means and how we can use the gifts we have been given to help them. That is more than just allowing an AA group to meet in the church once a week but knowing person to person and congregation to congregation what recovery really is.

I just met God in those people I videoed, they have recovered and they are back in society living a life more abundantly than they could imagine. That is what Jesus came to give us, a life more abundant than we can imagine.IMG_9648

Please pray for all those who find themselves in a trap and for those who help them get free.

We ask your prayers this month for those in recovery from opioids and their families, and for ourselves as we transition into God’s next plan for us!

Blessings and Prayers,

Christine and Michael

Michael’s Photography Site        Christine’s Icon 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

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

How Can I Help?

Dear Friends and Family:

Mick Hales

This month Christine received recognition from New York State for the work she has been doing with the ‘artists dinners’, in Hudson. This a huge achievement as it has been building community for artists who often follow a pretty isolated life. It has also opened many opportunities for artists to share about their lives and what is important to them. People come together and eat, then two or three talk about what they have been doing in their art, their lives and their spiritual walk. Many different relationships have grown out of this monthly event and it has been recognized now by the state of NY.

Christine also led an icon retreat at St James Church in the heart of New York City. It was a wonderful gathering and again many people had the powerful presence of the Lord through the class.

I have done a lot of driving in June and as there is no radio in my car it becomes the perfect place for prayer. One of the revelations I have had this month is a correction in one of my prayers, which has been a prayer of ‘God help me, God help me, God help me, please.’ That was corrected to ‘God how can I help what you are doing? How can I be your helper?’

The difference is I am not asking God to help me with what I am doing but to have help- to help God with what He is doing.

Having prayed this way for a couple of hours on the way to photographing a Greenwich garden, a man approached me out of the blue and asked if I had ever photographed spiritual bodies. This opened up a whole conversation into the spiritual world, Jesus Christ and we ended up in prayer together.

Another revelation from my car time has been the praise and worship of God for His nature as creator. I felt a call to return to worship the wholeness of the Lord, his magnitude and particularly His creative nature, not only for His creation of us as human beings but also the purpose that He has for each one of us. The extent of His creative nature is far beyond our ability to hold or comprehend. To walk in the woods with all the tree leaves now fully formed, I notice each leaf has it’s own place. Each leaf has a particular placement. The bible talks of how God knows all the hairs on our head. He knows each one of us so well. We are a part of His creation, His purposes are deposited in us for us to live out through our lives. As Creator he watches how we unfold what He created in us, as He does in the trees, in the animals and in our nations. The size and magnitude of His creative nature goes unnoticed and undeclared. It is so vast, it remains untold and unrecognized. But God desires our praise and worship and I believe yearns for us to comprehend His love for His creation and for us to discover each element’s purpose.

Consequently we carry a responsibility as stewards of what God has created to allow and enable that purpose to unfold. In His wisdom God has chosen us to work with Him in this world. For us to be in relationship with Jesus, to love Him and to love our neighbors as He does. For us to steward God’s purpose for an unborn child as much as those who may stand before us in need. This is all a part and form of His creative nature and it deserves our praise.

I am also working on a video project on Psalm 23 and find the Lord is taking me deeper and deeper into this Psalm of David. Often thought of as the Psalm read at funerals, it is of course a very powerful prayer which talks of our relationship with God and His with us. I often just get filled by the first line, ‘The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.’

There is such an assigning of authority and declaration of security, I can stay with that for hours.

Please know that you are all inner prayers daily.  And we love hearing from you, with how best to pray.

Until next month, may God bless youth good health, family love, and peace and safety.

Love and prayers,     

Christine and Michael

Mick’s Photography Website                               Christine’s painting website

Icon Blog                                                                            Icon Website

 

 

Cleaning House For Visitors

Greetings Friends and Family:   Our House Mick Hales

Over Memorial weekend we were visited by some of our family and then with short notice some strangers came through.

As we cleaned house it struck me that we keep a pretty orderly, clean, beautiful house, but if I was looking at it for the first time, as through the eyes of a stranger, I would be struck by all the imperfections of an old well worn house. What had become acceptable to me through years of living here would not look good to a first time visitor.

Through the Old Testament the phrase ‘God will surely visit you’, is used as a reminder that God’s righteous eyes will be looking at our lives and seeing how we live and what we worship. What we have become accustomed to and what our society accepts as good and normal, is often not how the bible relays God’s perspective. Of course for us to know what the bible says, we actually have to read it and sometimes the bible seems to be the last thing we want to read. Even for committed Christians there are days when the bible seems to not have the allure it once did when we first found ourselves hungry to read it, to dive in deeper each day.

What I am writing about is how we become dulled by our ongoing day to day lives. We do not notice things we ought to change in ourselves; how we act, how we think and how we pray. The passion of our first love is diluted until we are just going through the motions when we talk to God, not yearning to be so close to Jesus.

Rhododendrons
Rhododendrons by Mick Hales

This is a dangerous place for us to be, but thank goodness, like the sun breaking through the clouds, God will visit us. He will shine his light on us and invite us back to the place of our first love with him. Our hunger for His word will come alive again. We will learn how God sees the lives we are leading and what we need to clean up.

Central Park by Mick Hales
Central Park

How can I say this will happen, because God’s love for us is so deep that he will rescue us time and time again. As the graffiti artist put it, ‘Love is a crazy thing’. We can not get our heads wrapped around the love that God has for us. It is ‘crazy’ that His son was prepared to go to the cross for us, but that is the truth and it will always be the truth.

So for me, the next time I am cleaning house, I will remember how much God loves me, that He is alive in me through the Holy Spirit and I am righteous through His redemption of me.

Christine’s Icon news is in another blog, please read for details!

We always value your prayers, and you are in ours daily.  Please keep in touch,

Blessings and prayers,

Michael and Christine

Michael’s photography     Christine’s Art     Christine’s Icons     Icon Blog