Tag Archives: Jesus

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

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

 

 

“My name is Jesus”

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October is a time of transition. The colors change around us. I, Michael, have been finding a lot of green, red and yellow in my morning prayer sketches, which prophetically speaking stand for- green is phophecy and preparing the ground; red for regal warfare [which includes sin, death and bloodshed]; and yellow for heavenly blessings, enlightenment and Glory.

A brother in Christ, Tyler, and I have been walking the streets of Albany at night, speaking into the air the presence of God. It has led to some wonderful opportunities to pray for people, many of whom are without a place to spend the night. Recently we encountered a man on a park bench trying to keep warm by huddling down into his small jacket with the collar up around his head. We talked for a while about him and his situation for the night. We talked about God and Jesus Christ. He did not believe that Jesus and God could be the same personage of the Lord, it did not stand to reason and it was an impossibility for him to understand. As we left him, Tyler asked, ‘What’s your name, man?’

He replied, ‘Jesus Christ.’img_4834

We believe that first comes the prophetic words into the atmosphere which open the gates, then comes the struggle over the Kingdom and then comes the Glory of God. We are declaring God’s Kingdom knowing His Glory is coming into Albany. That Albany will hold the Kingdom of Light not darkness.img_4836

I had a dream recently where I found I was in an unfamiliar city and did not know where I was going to spend that night. My hands were also joined to several people in prayer for healing for someone, and in my mind I kept wondering is it OK, is it appropriate for me to pray in this group for a place to spend the night. The next day journaling with God, he opened up to me that those thoughts and feelings of not knowing where one was going to spend the night happen to many people every day. Not know what rights they had.

I started to research and found out that there are 44 million displaced people in the world at the moment. That is far beyond my comprehension. Then I researched homeless people in NYC, each night recently there have been 61,430 homeless people seeking shelter- and those are the people who are accounted for, many more are out without being recorded. As our weather gets more cold the situation gets more serious.img_4812

Then I remembered Mathew 8:20, Jesus saying “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”pears,art

With that sentence comes for me the incredible recognition that Jesus went through those emotions and knows what it is like. That he suffered emotionally and physically as a human is hard to always grasp. That the son of God became the son of man so that we could accept his gift and know Him fully, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. More than I can understand but not more than I can believe.

Christine and I want to thank you all for your prayers and support.  We are family in Christ, and your prayers are an important part of what keeps us going.  We love praying for you as well, EVERY day!_mg_4603

Keep in touch and let’s join together in prayer and faith that God’s plans for us are infinitely more than we can imagine.

God bless,

Michael and Christine

www.americanassociationoficonographers.com

www.mickhales.com