Tag Archives: God

God Loves Diversity

God Loves Diversity

Black and White or color?

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

The older I get the more I realize that there are multiple variations of color and multiple variations of black. I am so glad it is so because it gives us so much more to be creative with.

Christine’s News

Christine had a wonderful on line iconography class with more than 40 students, many of which signed up to do her next class in September. In fact she did such a good teaching method that people have been asking her for advice on how to do on line classes. There was a time when the in person classes in New York and California were getting cancelled because of the virus, now she creatively has found another answer to that.

Michael’s News

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding the answers to our problems during the Covid 19 attack has meant for many of us looking at our lifestyles totally afresh. People are moving away from cities to more rural lifestyles because they are now able to work on line and not trapped to commuting possibilities. We are doing ‘church’ online, mostly participating in Holy Trinity Brompton [HTB.org], which is 3,500 miles away in London, every Sunday. I am preparing online services for my community at Freedom Village every Sunday and doing considerably more preparation than I was when conducting them in person [‘Vespers at Freedom Village’, on You Tube].

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

So the lesson I am getting in this peculiar time is, there are other ways of doing things and thinking about things than just Black and White, right or wrong. God is such a good teacher in His creativity, His endless variety of flower forms, of sunsets, of people and the way they perceive the world. There is no doubt God loves variety through the multitude of ways He expresses that. So that should be a lesson for me as well, to love variety in all people and not think one color is superior to another, particularly not my own. The good Samaritan is a great example of stepping out to help someone different from himself.

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

Luke 10:34-36

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[c] 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?”

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

 

In September I will be leading an Alpha class for the residents at Freedom Village, we cannot do it on line as it would be too much of a challenge for the residents technically. However, with masks, strict social distancing and no dinner, we will be doing it in person. My main helpers are in their nineties and that is the age for most of the guests. I am hoping Alpha will make as much of an impression on them as it did for me, as an introduction to the nature and workings of the Holy Spirit. I am excited to see how it develops. I am also grateful for Nicky and Pippa Gumble, at HTB, who have brought via Alpha so many into knowing the love of Christ.

We are praying for you and love to hear how you are doing so we know specifically how we can pray for you!  Until next month,

Love and prayers,

Michael and Christine

 

Mick’s Photography Website         Christine’s Icon Website

Compassionate Responsibility

Finally, even the President of the United States has decided that wearing face masks should be encouraged, and he may actually have worn one for a couple of photo opportunities. Clearly that change of mind came four months, 150,000 lives and a decimated economy, too late.IMG_8285

I just pray that those who oppose stopping at red lights, wearing seat belts and putting a face mask on in public get the message, that at this stage our country is at war and it is selfish, dangerous and ‘unpatriotic’, not to do so.

I have to admit that when you consider the 58,000 Americans who lost their lives in the Vietnam war, what is happening in America right now, is so much more devastating; soon to be three times the number of deaths.JZJT5830

On top of that we have around 17 million unemployed and millions of families living with uncertainty about the future for themselves and their children’s education.

IMG_7785

We have to realize this is a terrible situation to be facing a critical election, which was manipulated by foreign countries the last time around, and is already being assigned conspiracy  theories about postal ballets, etc. The protest marches for Black Lives Matter have been devalued again, leaving the whole issue of racism unresolved until another incident.

IMG_7913

None of what I just wrote is news to any of us and it can not be just swept under the carpet by partisan views. It is too deadly. It is too horrible. It is too painful for so many people. If we do have compassionate hearts as Christians, we really have to take a long hard look at our responsibility in this time.

IMG_8048

As a Christian I have to challenge other Christians to look honestly at where their opinions are being formed. Is it through the life and teaching of Jesus Christ or is it through the political views of Fox News? I see the spirit of Jezebel is at work here and that is not through Jesus Christ. All I ask is that you read through the account of Jezebel’s ways in Kings and see whether that spirit has usurped legitimate authority for personal political gain in this country.IMG_7789

As Chaplain to an elderly community I am seeing a lot of people question what life is about, as they have to stay in lockdown. There is going to be a huge emotional fall out for the elderly, for children and the unemployed from this pandemic.IMG_8836

Christians with compassion in their hearts is what is called for with the Holy Spirit working through them.

Colossian 3:12-13

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

I so much thank God for his love as we navigate our lives and responsibilities at this time.  We pray for each of you that God keeps you and your loved ones safe and healthy, and we pray also for all medical workers, doctors, nurses, and hourly wage workers that they also will be kept safe and healthy.  In Jesus’ name we pray.

Love and prayers,

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography    Christine’s Icons

The Good Shepherd

Greetings Friends and Family:

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

OK, so where did April go? We had Easter, all on line. It was an Easter I will always remember. We have had time to think and pray, to listen to the birds, to catch up with so many things from the back burner. But slowly, slowly we have come to realize we are not living in the same world we were living in January.

We are in a time of a ‘New Normal’. How long the ‘New Normal’ will last, is hard for us to know at this point, but certainly the New Normal has replaced the ‘Old Normal’ in many ways, for good.

The saying, ‘this too shall pass’, is one which my father would encourage me with in difficult times, and of course this pandemic will pass; mostly. However, if we assume after it’s passing we will go back to the Old Normal; no way.

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

This has been a wake up call. It happens to have come in the form of a health and economic attack. It  will come again, with another ‘new virus’. Or it could come as severe weather, with significant climate change which is now close to inevitable. It could also come as food shortages and famines; the united nations reported 10 nations who already have more than a million people each without enough food, which could possibly be joined by another 26 nations in a similar vulnerable position as this pandemic unfolds. With all these major world events the movement of resources and people searching for safety will exasperate our nationalistic phobias. Did we wake up yet?

We are standing on shaky ground all around.

Good Shepherd Icon by Christine Hales
Good Shepherd Icon by Christine Hales

One of the assigned scriptures for this Sunday is Psalm 23. Such an amazingly powerful holy document written by a shepherd boy turned king, David. So powerful that it is very often included in memorial services because it is so uplifting.

David had many challenges, victories, personal failings and dreams, but the most significant thing he had was his complete love and trust in God.  The first line, the first statement is David’s position from which everything else can follow.

The Lord is my Shepherd.

After that statement of belief, the results of that belief unfold. Security, provision, rest, peace, good direction, the ability to start over, how to live a pure rewarding life, helping people turn to Jesus. It also says there will be hard times, there will be death. It is all part of life. Even so we can stand in peace, with closeness to God, his protection and direction, comfort. Despite the fact we are under attack, we still have provision through the Holy Spirit, in fact the Blessings are more than we can handle, our cup overflows. We can be sure of God’s blessings and sure we will be with him in eternity.

That all comes from the first statement. The Lord is my shepherd.

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography, Chaplain duties
Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography, Chaplain Duties

Why do we need a wake up call?

Well, like sheep, we get drawn to where ever we think there is green grass. Our heads are down following whatever looks good next, the next good patch of whatever pleases us. Jobs, houses, curtains, deserts, lawn mowers, TV, scandal, ice cream; we are always on the lookout for the next ‘green grass.’

So when we finally get a ‘wake up call’; from a pandemic, famine or drought, hopefully we realize we are a long way off the tracks.

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography, Chaplain Duties

So the question raises up again, where is my shepherd now? Nowhere to be seen, although I know he must be around, I have been so very busy, so totally involved, with—whatever. I am lost, I have just kept looking for the next green thing in my life, loosing track of direction, loosing track of a real purpose. Loosing track of the big picture, why am I here?

Hopefully, we will wake up to realize there is no stable ground around us, that there is nothing safe. Except God.

So our heads have to come out of the sand. We can ask for forgiveness and turn back to the shepherd. In fact, when so many people do that, we realize there is an awakening opening up. So many people are getting called back to Christ that we are now praying deeply for revival. For by His wounds we have been healed. How could we forget that?

Mick Hales Photography
Christine doing ballet class during quarantine

This is why our prayers are so needed at this time. That there will be an awakening to how far we have strayed from our Shepherd. Sheep love to follow. I pray that we could turn to follow God and not our own selfish ways. Because Jesus stands waiting for us to come to him, no matter who we are, no matter how depressed we are, no matter how addicted we are, how lonely we are, how nationalistic we are, how partisan we are or how much we have hated our neighbors. He is still holding out his hand to us in this ‘New Normal’. Thank God, in all things.

Please keep Christine and me in your prayers and ask the Lord how to work for His Kingdoms’ revival.

Lime Tree
Lime Tree

 

 

Love and prayers,

Christine and Michael

Mick’s Photography

 

Christine’s Icons

Jesus Never Forgets

Dear Friends and Family:

Ringing Art Museum
Ringing Art Museum

Christine is off to Santa Barbara to teach an iconography class at the monastery of Mount Calvary, Santa Barbara. Mount Calvary is a brother house to Holy Cross Monastery in the Hudson Valley, NY, where she also holds iconography classes. She has a full class of students and has had to turn some away. There is a growing interest in writing icons and how they are a part of Christian life across the different denominations. Christine has been very proactive in widening the appreciation and purpose of icons through the creation of the American Associations Of Iconographers. Her trip is also a reconnection to Brother William who helped Michael in the early stages of developing the book, Monastic Gardens, the instrument through which Christine was first introduced to iconography in a small monastery in France.

Gail Levin, Author with Christine at the Ringling Museum
Gail Levin, Author with Christine at the Ringling Museum

Michael had a quick trip to photograph a house near Great Barrington, MA, and managed to time it with a good snow storm. Taken in small doses snow can be intriguing especially when one has not had to deal with shoveling  and scraping ice for the best part of a year.  Just a short immersion into winter weather was enough to confirm that moving South from New York was a good decision!

Great Barrington, Photo by Mick Hales
Great Barrington, Photo by Mick Hales

 

 

 

It was on that shoot, after a full day’s photography with snow falling, that Michael headed out to his car to drive to his hotel and found he had no notes of his hotel reservation for that night. It had been prepaid so he could not just abandon it for an alternative. It took nearly 20 minutes of searching the web in the snowy driveway to find a familiar hotel photo he thought he recognized, not being able to remember the hotel’s name!

Frozen, photo by Mick Hales
Frozen, photo by Mick Hales

 

Not a big issue perhaps, but it gave another small window into experiencing how it is when our brains are tired and unable to deliver what our bodies need at any given point. As we get older- so it happens more often. Our minds begin to let us down. It is in moments like these that prayer is so essential. When our minds are a void and we cannot recall a common word or name, or why we walked to another part of the house. It is time to call on Jesus because He will never forget us.

Seeing the Light
Seeing the Light

 

Many of our elderly population are dealing with memory loss, dementia and physical limitations much more serious than being unable to remember a hotel’s name. Fear, confusion, memory loss become more prevalent with age. Mental failures are hard to assess when they are happening within someone else’s mind, especially so with loved ones, and can build up tensions within a relationship.
Dealing with Dementia

Michael’s Chaplaincy ministry has had to deal with many older married couples slowly realizing their spouse’s mind is failing. Situations develop which are heart breaking, couples becoming separated after 50 or 60 years of happily married life.  Mothers being unable to recognize or remember their own children. Dementia can create the worst living situations for those suffering from it and those caring for them.

God’s Word

Isaiah 49:15. “Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
Mick Hales photo
Mick Hales photo

The elderly need that reinforcement, that God will never forget them. At one time they may have had very active Christian lives and known that simple truth. But then they loose it along with their minds. They often have been forgotten by their own families or are unable to recognize who their own children are. So our job as Christians is to visit and visit again, letting them know that Jesus will never forget them. Never stop loving them.

James 1:27

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Mick Hales photo
Mick Hales photo

 

Please let us know how we can pray for you and we always need prayer too.

Michael and Christine   Mick’s Photography     Christine’s Icons

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

Icons in Sarasota!

 

Dear Family and Friends:

Christine had a wonderful pop up show of her iconography in downtown Sarasota, hosted in a high end carpet store owned by a Christian friend. It was just for one evening, about 15 icons were on show and a lot of people came. Christine gave a talk part way through about what Icons are, how they are created and what they have meant to her in her life. She was totally involved with her talk and she moved into testimony in a very natural way. The training she had received at Global Awakening started to come through and people’s hearts were getting moved to love and experience God’s Presence.

Icons by Christine Hales
Icons by Christine Hales

 

It is a beautiful thing when the Holy Spirit takes over in a secular situation and people realize something special is happening even if they cannot attribute it to a spiritual incursion.

Hales Icon Exhibit Sarasota
Hales Icon Exhibit Sarasota

Conversely, when a negative spiritual force is breaking into our world and people do not realize we are witnessing a demonic incursion, it is a disastrous thing. As this is being written,  a few minutes ago the senate voted not to hear witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Trump. I perceive that as a huge step towards tyranny in this nation. It would appear that an irrevocable damage has occurred to its compass. The rudder was just taken off the boat and thrown in the water, because people were happy with the direction the wind was blowing, at the moment.

Photo by Mick Hales
Photo by Mick Hales

The senate just lost the ability to hold a course through the troubled waters of democracy and voted for tyranny.  What will bring the country to realize it has stepped into tyranny? It has to be a spiritual awakening.

Photo by Mick Hales
Photo by Mick Hales

 

No matter how depressing I find the direction of the nation, as I call out to God, I hear back, to press in with the gifts that I have been given. As a Christian to engage one on one with people using  the gifts I have. For me they happen to be praying for people’s healing and coming alongside those in times of trial in prayer. Well as I write I have a list of ten people in hospital or nursing care that need visiting, six people who recently lost a loved one and also need visiting. I just left praying for someone with a tumor protruding inches out of his leg. This is how we can push into the spiritual malaise in this nation, by using the gifts we have been given by the Lord for the Lord. When we as Christians rely on a spirit of politics to redeem a spiritual malaise in our country it is a false assumption.

Flower by Mick Hales
Flower by Mick Hales

Many nations have gone through very similar situations and after years have managed to come out again. So my prayer would be that we press into using our gifts for the Lord one on one.

Michael Hales, Chaplain
Michael Hales, Chaplain

 

As Paul writes in Romans 12, 6 ‘Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,[f] with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.’

Hales Icons in Sarasota
Hales Icons in Sarasota

Please let us know how we can pray for you.

Sending love and prayers,

 

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography     Christine’s Icons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God’s Extravangance

“The heavens declare the Glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork .” Psalm 19:1

IMG_9640

The Sheer Extravagance of God

Going through a month’s snaps to find images which represent our lives for the last month, I always have to include some close ups of plants I have noticed and delighted in.

The thought, ‘the sheer extravagance of God’, came to me as I picked one of the blooms from a Floss Silk Tree which flower here in November. The trees become huge masses of pink flowers before their leaves form.  Their trunks have large thorns like medieval armor.

God is extravagant not only in the beauty of what he has created but also in the huge variety. My mind is astounded and gives thanks this Thanksgiving for how God provides for us so well.

IMG_9687

One of the stories this month was of a woman in my bible study class deciding that she wanted to give back a turkey to the homeless. She had as a child received a Thanksgiving turkey because her family was poor and she wanted to give back, now in her seventies, and she could afford it. She asked if I would help her get the turkey and deliver it when the time came. Well she talked to friends about what she was doing and slowly more people came alongside her donating for turkeys.

IMG_0872IMG_0882IMG_0892

Well, the outcome was we bought 565lbs of turkeys and delivered them for Thanksgiving to a charity called Turning Points in Bradenton.  It was God’s extravagance, each time we thought we had fulfilled the money collected, there was still more left over and we returned to the freezer to pick out some more turkeys!

 

IMG_0941

Christine completed a commission of our Lady of Knock, a five by three foot painting for a school library, which was shipped out this month. The story of a vision appearing to a group of people in the Irish town of Knock, is reported by the Roman Catholic Saints website, as:

‘The apparition in County Mayo in Ireland of Our Lady of Knock is reported to have occurred on the evening of August 21, 1879, the vigil of the octave of the feast of the Assumption. Those who witnessed the miracle ranged in age from five years old to seventy-five. IMG_0305

The apparition was described as follows: “Our Lady was wearing a large, brilliant crown and clothed in white garments. On her right was Saint Joseph, his head inclined toward her and on her left Saint John the Evangelist. To the left of Saint John was an altar on which stood a cross and a lamb.” Standing only a few feet off the ground, the Blessed Virgin wore a white cloak and was described by witnesses as being incredibly beautiful. She wore a bright golden crown, and appeared to be praying with her eyes looking toward heaven with her arms bend in front of her with her palms facing inward.’

IMG_8936

For Christine, this commission has been yet another wonderful opportunity to learn more about the different ways God has interacted with His church. The different streams of the church have such a rich history of how God has chosen to make himself known. It is different for all of us and we cannot judge another’s experience, only give thanks again that God cares enough to find different avenues to connect to us, His whole church. I am sure that everyone who reads this blog could give an example of how God has made himself known to them. Perhaps through a vision, or a healing, maybe through the audible word of God, or just that quiet thought which suddenly appears in our minds which we KNOW we have to listen to and act on.

IMG_0292

In November one of the big events is Veterans day. Michael had the role of leading the service which was really well attended. So many people had served America in one of the five services and each one had a photograph of them dressed in their appropriate uniforms many years ago. For Michael it was a lesson to not look at the elderly as they appear today, but remember how active, dynamic and handsome they were when they were younger. We owe a huge debt to those who have gone before us and spent some of their best years fighting for the values that made America great. Now many are truly disheartened by what is happening in this country today and feel helpless as to what to do.

IMG_1377

The only answer I can offer is for there to be an outpouring of prayer for healing in this nation and righteous leadership.

Jesus prayed that the church would not be divided. In many ways the church has been divided and the country is divided and it is ripe for a fall, as Jesus warned in Mathew 12:25.

Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.’

PRAYERS FOR OUR NATION

Let us pray for this nation, without calling on the ‘spirit of politics’, which continues to be an idol against the Holy Spirit. “Make thy face to shine upon thine servant; save me for thy mercies sake.” Psalm 31:16  May God ‘s face shine upon our country and save us for His mercy’s sake.

As Christians we are called to be active Christians, not waiving that assignment to politicians. The spirit of politics may cover itself with the talk of righteousness but not the walk, as is being revealed now.  ” Be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.”  Psalm 31:24

Sending you all our love and prayers,

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography        Christine’s Icons      Christine’s Icon Prints

 

Prayer is All

IMG_9885

Dear Friends and Family:

AS usual, it’s been busy down here!

We both had a trip to San Antonio, TX, in October. It was a mixed purpose trip; Michael gave a talk to a Garden Club there and also did some garden photography. Christine has an October birthday and we were grateful to be able to celebrate that at the same time.

IMG_9261

 

We managed to get some time to visit two of the early Missions there; Los Alamos and Concepcion. Los Alamos was very crowded with visitors but there was definitely a strong sense of national pride in the history of the sacrifices made there. Mission Concepcion, which is still an active parish, had a spiritual presence and simplicity I found reminiscent of a monastery.IMG_9227

An old painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the Mexican Marian visitations, hangs in the vaulted church sanctuary and particularly caught Christine’s eye as an early example of this very famous Catholic image. Christine wrote an icon of that image in the past, which is unusual, as it is mostly seen as a religious painting.

IMG_9381

 

Christine taught an icon class at St Peter and Paul Church in Bradenton which has become a regular location for an annual class.  It was a smaller intimate class which created a real closeness to the Lord as the work is undertaken in deep prayer.

IMG_9691

Michael continues as the Chaplain for Freedom Village and sometimes wonders how God placed him in an elderly and mostly financially secure community as a lot of his past has been with marketplace and street ministry.IMG_9010

 

Then he is reminded that we are all souls, whether rich or poor, secure or in physical danger, we all will have to stand before God and answer for our lives. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, no matter what their circumstances are.IMG_9644

Working with the elderly is certainly a good primer for what we can anticipate of our own lives in the future. In America people are living much longer lives than they used to do and 95 years is becoming more the normal life expectancy than the unusual.IMG_9777

So a question Michael hears over and over again is, ‘what is the purpose of life?’

It becomes an even more pressing question for those who are bed bound, totally dependent on others for meals, using the bathroom, staying washed and shaved, etc. The list of their dependence goes until the elderly become reliant on others for everything, like a babe in arms.

 

We are introduced to this world as infants and we are escorted from the world as senior infants. How much purpose our lives carry at the end of our independent and active years will most likely be a reflection on how much we have a relationship with God. After all, I believe that is the real purpose of our lives; to have a relationship with God.IMG_9280

For those who find themselves not believing there is a God, quite often a purpose for life is found through their children or grandchildren’s lives. Fear, confusion and anger often develops along with a pathos of not knowing why they are still here being a burden to others.

IMG_9334

Seeing a future continuing for one’s family within this worldly context is what we can all ponder on. But Christians are given so much more than that, we are given a future continuing on into eternity of Glory and worship, not only with our blood family but also with our spiritual family. Our spiritual family encompasses not only the living believers but also all those past. Today is ‘All Saints Day’ in the traditional streams of Christianity and it reminds us of the enormity and significance of our family. As a family member, our ‘Father God’ or ‘Papa’, always wants to hear what is on our hearts, we can always talk with Him, even if we are too old or sick to speak out loud, He will hear us. So, we will always have a purpose for our lives and the purpose is prayer. Being in relationship with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ.

For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10.

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

Sending You Our Love and Prayers,

Christine and Michael Hales

Michael’s Photography                   Christine’s Icons                 Christine’s Paintings

Expectations

Dear Friends and Family:

September has been very busy.

Florida sky by Mick Hales
Florida sky by Mick Hales

 

Christine taught an icon class at St Patrick’s church in West Palm Beach. She has done two large Icons for them in the past and this was the first class she has taught there. The students worked on the Archangel Michael icon and in the short time they had turned out really good icons. Christine puts a lot of work into the preparation which enables the students to cover a lot of ground quickly. Of course, the main work involved in writing icons is the actual prayers which go on for the whole time.

Icon Class Saint Patrick's Church
Icon Class Saint Patrick’s Church
Christine Hales Icon Class
Christine Hales Icon Class

 

Christine has been commissioned to paint a large scene of ‘Our Lady of Knock’, which this time will be acrylic and not egg tempera. The scene depicts, Mary with Joseph and John. Knock is an Irish village where an apparition stayed for over two hours and was seen by a congregation of people ranging in age from 5 to 75. During that period the weather deteriorated and it rained heavily but it did not affect the apparition. The painting will be for a school library.

Michael had a fast visit for some photography to Montauk, NY. Our other large achievement was that we moved house in two separate moves, one to empty a storage unit and another to bring the major furniture over to our new home. We still have a lot of unpacking to do but are very relieved the heavy lifting is done.

New House
New House

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael’s Chaplaincy work has taken him to three different charities this month which are involved with helping the homeless in Manatee and Sarasota Counties. One in particular called Harvest Home in Sarasota has been in operation for about 26 years and came directly out of Harvest Church. The church realized that feeding people was not enough and they began to provide buildings and beds for them. Initially the pastor second mortgaged his home to buy the first building. That initial risk has since enabled many people to get clear of homelessness and also restore some of the very run down housing stock in Sarasota.

 

What are you expecting, Michael?

Mick Hales Leaf
Mick Hales Leaf

 

That question kept coming into my mind as I sat in church last Sunday. Each time I answered it in my mind it just came right back up, as though God was saying to me, ‘No, wrong answer. What are you expecting, Michael.’

After a while I realized I was not expecting enough. All of my aspirations and thoughts had been very manageable by my own actions and accountability, flawed as I am. But God was asking me to name a vision far beyond my own ability. I was being remanded by God for not thinking large enough, not pushing into harnessing the power of God.

That afternoon I was preaching on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, how the two men’s situations reversed totally and irrevocably after their death’s. The sermon was based on Jesus’s warning that God really does care what we do with our riches. Riches indeed enable power, if you have the money you can buy good healthcare, good legal help, great clothes, etc, etc, individually; or on a national level, you can build a strong army and really exercise that power.

Power in itself is not evil, as money in itself is not evil. It is how it is used that God cares about.

The command, ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’; really defines God’s care about how we treat others, how we utilize our power or riches for others.

 

Similarly, God really cares if we are not utilizing the power he has given us through the Holy Spirit for His purposes. I think that was what His question to me was about. It certainly has made me search for answers in prayer and to start thinking further into the future.

 

Please keep us both in prayer, especially as we discern our direction for what God is calling us to do- and let us know how we can pray for you.

Love and prayers,

Christine and Michael Hales

Mick’s photography      Christine’s Icons

 

 

 

God’s Creation

Dear Family and Friends:

IMG_5604

Christine had another teaching class at Holy Cross Monastery, in West Park, NY, with several returning students. She has a following of students who want to continue to go deeper into the experience of writing icons. Teaching in a monastery which has a daily cycle of five prayer services by the monks makes it even more of a prayerful experience. The retreat coincided with some of the very hot weather which spread across the North East this July.

IMG_7461

Michael continues with the chaplaincy work in the elderly community at Freedom Village and Blake hospital. There are so many end of life situations which people are dealing with. To bring the love of Christ into those critical times is a great privilege and also can be very demanding. One of the constants that has brought him relief is photographing the beauty of creation, in all manner of things.

IMG_7338

It is God’s creativity, which is never endingly astonishing and it is available for all to see, ‘who have eyes to see.’

IMG_6876

Paul writes about creation in Romans 1:19-21, saying that everyone should recognize the extraordinary presence of God by the awesome divine nature of the things that have been made. He says there is no excuse, for not recognizing God’s hand at work, or for not honoring it.

IMG_7167 

19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

IMG_7149 

We are in a time where respect for God’s creation is not a priority for the leadership of America or Brazil [the rain forest is being destroyed at the encouragement of Brazil’s president, our president has turned away from recognizing global warming and the Paris agreement]. The environment is loosing at irrevocable speed to human development and greed.

IMG_7797

The environment is just one arena but now there are many areas where Christians have decided to place their trust and favor in a political spirit, following blindly ‘false Christian’ political leadership away from those things dear to Christ’s heart. Loving our neighbor, has moved to creating walls, division, racism, inequality, lies and squandering truth. Michael thinks we have a responsibility to point out as a Christian, that many are following a political spirit, which will turn whichever way it believes it can gain the most votes. It has no heart for what the consequences are. It is not driven by love but by a bullying greed. It is a political spirit not the Holy Spirit.

Michael grew up in England and his father witnessed how the fascist mentality was allowed to grow in Germany and Italy before the war. The mistake the Christians made in trusting that political spirit, rather than being responsible to the Holy Spirit, were profound.

We are responsible to the Holy Spirit, responsible to the love of Christ, responsible to Glorify God our Father, one person at a time one Christian at a time. Not to place our work and responsibility at the feet ‘fake Christian political figures’.

‘For though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.’

Jesus taught how to separate between the political spirit and the Holy Spirit, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.’

IMG_8804

I pray that we render to God the things which are God’s and gives thanks and honor to all He creates and not turn our responsibilities over to a false spirit.

It is our joy to pray for you all each day.

Love and prayers,

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography     Christine’s Icons

 

 

 

Be Still…

 

Holy Cross Monastery Mick Hales
Holy Cross Monastery Mick Hales

Christine has had an active month, again with teaching an Icon class at Holy Cross Monastery in the Hudson Valley, which was focused on Sacred Geometry. It was a wonderful class and it is always especially good within the monastic life at Holy Cross to experience these retreats. The spring in New York had been quite wet and all the trees were especially beautiful with the early leaf growth giving a rich chartreuse green to the landscape.

Icon Class Christine Hales
Icon Class Christine Hales

 

Her large icon of St Peter with Christ is practically complete and is due to travel to Ohio next week. The colors are very powerful and the peace in the expression of Christ is captivating. IMG_6009

IMG_6010

There is no doubt that the Holy Spirit moves through these Icons and touches many people.

We are so grateful for the work that Christine has been led to creating and teaching iconography, please keep her in your prayers.

Clouds Mick Hales
Clouds Mick Hales

Be Still and Know that I am God.

 

May has been quite an active month with trips- driving  to New York and flying to Texas.

 

Michael’s Chaplaincy work includes leading a weekly contemplative prayer session. He has been doing it now for a couple of months and the regular attendants know the procedure and are able to become ‘still’. A portion of scripture is read three times and then people are still and quiet for twenty minutes as they allow God to dig them deeper into the relevance of the scripture to them at that time. Afterwards we share with each other what God led us to.

Magnolia Mick Hales
Magnolia Mick Hales

 

It always amazes me that each person is taken down a different path to a personal encounter with God, finding out what God wants to reveal to them individually. We all start with the same scripture passage to ponder and pray into but end up with different results.

It is a reminder how important it is to be still with God.

Jesus did exactly that, rising early in the morning to go by himself to a quiet place where he could talk and listen to God the Father. Through his intimate time with the Father he was able to face the stress of his ministry. In His high priestly prayer recorded in John 17, Jesus prays that we, those who in the future would believe that Jesus was sent from God could have that same love and intimacy that He had with the Father. Such an extraordinary prayer. He also prayed that we could all be as one. Not that we would be identical but we could have a united purpose coming from a united love. That is when things will start to happen, when the body of Christ moves as one. What will it take for the body of Christ to move as one?

Iris Mick Hales
Iris Mick Hales

 

The scripture from Psalm 46 reads,

‘Be still and know that I am God,

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.’

The power of that scripture is far beyond what we can imagine. The news we hear from the nations, including our own, points to a world without God. But the truth is, God is God, and when we are still and focused on Him, his power is released through us and His love is made real in us.

Such a counter culture concept for us today in a world where business and activity are the hallmarks of success. Success for Jesus is being totally intimate with God and for us to have that too.

So, Michael, still has to teach himself, when driving or flying, or just being really busy which happened this month: the real journey is to be still with God that’s when things start to happen.

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

Sending love and prayers,

 

Michael and Christine

Mick’s Photographs            Christine’s Icons