Tag Archives: Hope

Practice!

Dear Friends and Family:

Confession of St. Peter Icon by Christine Hales
Confession of St. Peter Icon by Christine Hales

Christine completed the large St Peter icon commission and Father Keith Owen collected it by driving down from St Peter’s Church, Lakewood, Ohio. It underwent a quick installation to coincide with the official opening of new buildings for St Peter’s Church on Pentecost.  Now she is working on some smaller icons, St Camillus and the Holy Face of Christ. It is a very different process of icon writing when the size is a lot smaller and she finds that it is always good to have a change.

Christine Hales' Icon Studio
Christine Hales’ Icon Studio

Photography

I had a quick trip to NY and Newport, RI for photography. The Newport job was in an extremely interesting property which has follies, grottoes, fountains et al. All very personal to the owner of the property. He has created all this over the last 20 years. I was fortunate to have just a short hail storm otherwise it was beautifully sunny window in a very wet spring and many beautiful photographs were had!

Hail Storm by Mick Hales
Hail Storm by Mick Hales

 

Chaplaincy

One of the people I visited this week with my Chaplaincy work told me that having a good singing voice takes continued practice, it is not something one keeps unless it is exercised. It was obvious to me once she had said so but I had never thought of that before. I used to sing in a choir at school but now find it hard to carry a tune through the length of a hymn.

There are so many aspects to ministry that one needs to keep on practicing so you do not lose them, which becomes a loss to you personally and also to those you are ministering to.

Hales Icon Studio
Hales Icon Studio

1 Timothy 4:14-16 says this perfectly.

14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them,[c] so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

 

Flowers by Mick Hales
Flowers by Mick Hales

God’s Calling

Yesterday I presided over a memorial service in a Baptist church. It was for a man I had ministered to, prayed with and watched him go through the slow stages of going from life on earth to everlasting life. It was all part of the work I now have as a Chaplain in an old people’s community. I love what I am doing; teaching, praying, visiting, preaching, studying the word and caring for people in the last chapters of their lives. Quite often they have experienced very full lives and been highly trained and educated. I make many mistakes and I so often feel inadequate, but I believe God called me to that work and yet I still often hear God calling me in my head, ‘Michael, Michael I am calling you.’

I reply ‘take me Lord, what are you calling me for?’

It comes again, ’Michael, Michael I am calling you.’

Am I still not engaged as God purposes? Is there more?

Then I realize, of course there is always more. God always has more than we can imagine. What I need to pray into though is to hold fast the gifts God has given me and to keep exercising them. There is a destination to keep my eyes on and not turn around to look at my past; like a ploughman holding steadfast his course exercising his skills till the end of the furrow. God will direct my path if I keep exercising His gifts and loving Him.

Luke 9:62. Jesus said to him, ’No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’IMG_6696

 

So please keep us both in your prayers as God continues to work His will in our lives that we would truly know His purpose and destination for us.

 

With His Love, Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography

Christine’s Icons

 

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

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