Tag Archives: Mick Hales

The Circle

One of Michael’s new responsibilities is to hold a ‘Circle’, twice a week, for two different groups of residents in ‘Assisted Living’. Week by week, the attendance is random and can be comprised of half a dozen people from totally different backgrounds and physical challenges. Their common bond is they are in their nineties and need an activity other than watching TV.

The Circle Represents God. There is no beginning and no End!

As their Chaplain my job is to initiate, support, maintain and gently direct a conversation for about an hour or more. At times I hoist a red flag question, just to see if anyone will be open to it; like, “Did your parents believe in God? Or did they take you to church on Sundays?”

Invariably, the answer is they went to Sunday School, either taken by their parents, one parent, grandparents or a friend. In answer to the question, ‘Was there anyone in particular who affected your spiritual life?’ That question has to be rephrased to ‘your religion,’ to be understood. Ninety years ago people ‘did religion’ as the norm and they held fast to their elected denomination. If I ask them if they are Christian, they answer by stating a denomination. In their childhood, a personal intimate relationship with Jesus Christ was not sought after and unlikely to be preached from the pulpit. More probably a conformist denominational obligation was emphasized, with strong community expectations and a punishing God.

So now as we sit in a circle, I struggle to find common ground, to initiate some kind of meaning or purpose into their daily lives. The world since their childhood, has spun totally out of control.

Their values, once foundational to a strong community, have been totally upended. Now as they are confined to bed or a wheel chair, finding activities worthy of keeping their minds alive is an endless challenge. Every room has a television which is constantly blaring with an image of the culture and place called, The United States of America, which is now totally foreign to them, even though they have lived in it all their long lives. There is a resignation that all is out of their control. A resignation and a retreat. They need help with their bodies, which can no longer look after themselves. They learn to wait and to wait some more.

Talking about their children is always a joy; until they remember, ‘they live so far away and of course they are so busy with their own children and grandchildren, I never see them.’

I come back to that old subject again, Religion, and there is a blankness in their eyes. It is hollow for them. They never experienced a touch of the living breathe of the Holy Spirit. They never knew the closeness of an intimate loving Jesus Christ. Their paradigm was held by an ‘obligation and restriction’ to a God, which they later decided, ‘could not really be real because of all the awful things which  happen to good people.’ Sunday School, never took them past the education about God into a relationship with God.

My heart breaks for people held in that paradigm. The emptiness is resounding. The hope is focused on the material. Faith has settled on humanism and medical advances.

Christianity, so simple in it’s essence, appears to many to have lost it’s essence; God’s love. It looks to many as a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  Even an outdated idea which has been kidnapped into a political weapon.

Christine’s Roseate Spoon Bill , God, and the Environment

The question remains, how do we bring a living relationship with Jesus Christ, to those who never met Him, one on one? By being patient and kind, not boasting or envying, nor arrogant or rude, not insisting on our own way, not being irritable or resentful. In other words, showing the love of Christ, which becomes an invitation for people to meet Him, often for the first time. Of course we can hopefully introduce them to the Holy Spirit in the process, then the love is really flowing.

Such an easy thing for me to write, but so difficult to achieve when divisions are deeply defended. Even within ‘the circle’, of people in their nineties, there is fear to talk freely about politics and religion. The bible has a term which comes to mind, a ‘hardening of the heart.’ Some of the elements in that condition are fear, greed, inaction, resignation, denial, and the inability to change, or realize empathy for others.

Mick Hales Photography- Kay’s Hydrangeas

So this is my prayer, that I would not have a hardening of my heart, but be patient and kind, and keep my eyes on Christ, because He is the only way, the truth and the light.

He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters
    at the boundary between light and darkness.   
    Job 26:10.

Christine’s news is that she is working on a long term project called “The Creation Series”. It includes icons and natural images such as birds and flowers and plants. It’s a vehicle for the searching and experimenting she is doing combining ancient symbolic language of icons with modern abstract and natural imagery to make a statement about God and the environment.

She is almost finished with two identical original Saint Paul icons and will post those images upon completion. She has also realized that her website needs to be completely overhauled and re-generated on a different platform and is dividing her time between that task and her creative work.

WE both are so grateful to be living in a staycation environment and so so happy not to have to move again for awhile!! (Hopefully forever!)

Sending you all lots of love and prayers, and please do keep us in yours!! We need each other!!

Much love, Christine and Michael

Michael’s photography Christine’s Icons

Psalm 143:8

Prayed Up?

Christine’s PBS broadcast has received a lot of attention and great responses, if you missed it here is a link . Indeed last month Christine had an article in Guideposts, the PBS video and she placed a in-house show of icons at the facility where Michael works. It has been wonderful to hear all the different positive reactions to her work and particularly from non believers and those of the evangelistic traditions which tend to be unfamiliar with icons.

She is now being contacted by another television station to possibly do another video which has a very large audience base. The wonderful part behind all of this is that these opportunities came to Christine without her physically seeking them, although praying for new doors to open for Christine have been consistently offered by us for years.
Christine also completed teaching another icon writing class online and has built up a healthy group of students who love to take the classes with her, this class wrote an icon of Mary Magdalene.

Mary Magdalene written by Christine Hales

Michael has taken on a further body of people to minister to, as well as the independent living population, who are all in need of assistant care or active nursing care. One of the hardest realities for people to face in this age group is that of loss. Loss comes in so many ways, loss of memory, loss of driving, loss of hearing or seeing, loss of independence, loss of loved ones; the list varies with each person but the pain of these losses keeps surfacing for them.

One lady recently told me of her home of many years which she had to give up to move into assisted living. Apparently her old Floridian home had a large porch and she would sit out painting water colors and get visited by a wood stork. This had been happening for nearly twenty years and she called the stork, ‘Ugly, because wood storks are.’ She missed that stork so much and she was sure it missed her.

Orchid photo by Mick Hales

Different stories rise to the surface of lives once lived, memories which can not be experienced again except as memories. Bodies become slowly unresponsive, tired and slow, until they can’t do what they could do a month before.

I have come to realize this is a work, a ministry, which can not be done if I am not prayed up. Of course that is so obvious, and yet so easy to fall down on.
Global Awakening always taught us, not to go into any ministry arena, without being totally in touch with God in prayer, and yet somehow I found myself dry praying for others.

I know full well that my prayer life had not been calling to be filled with the Holy Spirit as it now requires. The business of getting myself physically ready for the job had overlooked the more important responsibility of being closely in touch with God. After all it is our responsibility to pray, to open the door, for God to answer that prayer. We have a role to play from which God answers according his sovereign wisdom. At the end of Job, God says to Job’s friends, that Job will pray for them so He will ‘not deal with you according to your folly’. [Job 42:8]

Our role as believers to really focus on prayer and staying close to God is so easily lost, especially when we are in active ministry, but it is the most important role we have. That is the role God has given us to do, with which He will flow into this world.

Please keep us in your prayers, and please pray that Michael and I can focus and go deeper in prayer.

God’s Hand in Our Lives

Photo from PBS Interview, Courtesy Dalia Colon

Well, the exciting news in March was the filming of Christine in her icon studio by a PBS film crew, for a national spot on ‘Arts Plus.’  As this is being written the editing is underway. We do not know yet when it will be aired, but will be sure to provide a link, when that is available.

God has been at work in all of this from the start!

St. George des Gardes Convent in France where Christine had a God encounter with Icons and Sister Myriam

It is so wonderful to see Christine’s years of work teaching and promoting Contemporary Christian Icons in America, finally get some televised recognition. What is particularly wonderful, is recognition from within the contemporary Art arena, for a Christian medium so often rejected out of hand. Christine has taken the gift assigned to her from a French nun in a monastery in France, to bring iconography into a broader church body in America. She incorporated with that overall commission, her own painting style of innocence, naivety and depth of color, moving away from chiseled hard edges and precise detail, but still heavily leaning on the traditional Russian Icon writing style.

Christine Painting Prophetic Art During Global Awakening Ministry School

Using the visual image, as a bridge, to bring people closer to God, has been in the roots of Kingdom Arts Ministry for many years. It is always wonderful to discover how God wants to direct and develop the gifts God has given us. In Christine’s case, when she went to that meeting with Sister Myriam in France, it was more as an appreciative guest honoring an invitation than the expectation a life changing spiritual encounter.

Mick Hales Photography

We never know what God has waiting for us to do. Often it is associated with a path we have been on; only for us to find ourselves on a similar path we had never thought about, but that we are also gifted in. John 10:10 reminds me, God’s way is much more abundant than a way I would create for myself.

‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.’

March has also been, sadly, heavy with the actions of ‘the Thief’ in Ukraine.  We in America have no concept of the tragedy being endured in Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, the same could be said of most Russian people, even though they are citizens of the aggression.

Mick Hales Photography

For millions in that area, life has been turned upside down. For thousands life is no more. It is even more important now for us to pray for the destructive power wielded by Putin to be bound and replaced by the power to heal and renew. For God’s Holy presence in Ukraine through the Holy Spirit. After all, we have an advocate, Jesus Christ, with God the Father, for such a time as this. Never doubt the power of prayer.

God is With Us

 But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.  John 1:2.

Michael the Adventurer!

MORE NEWS, JUST IN:

Predictably, Michael has been adding so much Holy Spirit to the Chaplaincy he has been working at for the last three years that he has been approved for a program expansion. He will now be able to pray for even more people at the retirement home- and you know how much he loves praying for people! Congratulations Michael!

We love you all and love praying for you! Let us know if there’s anything specific you need prayer for! And thank you for your prayers for us! We can feel them and are so grateful to all of you!

Love and prayers,

Michael and Christine

Michael’s Photography Website Christine’s Icon Website

What is Heaven Really Like?

Bok Garden, Orlando, FL.

Yesterday we watched an old film on TV and to my delight, I recognized one of the actors who was a pupil at school with me in Taunton, England, many decades ago. It was wonderful to see his face making all the facial expressions I could remember from that time. He was a gifted actor.

It made me think, how a random reappearance of a person from my past, so well portrayed on film, how could I forget about him? Then the question became serious when I ask, how could I forget about most of the friends in my past life?  Obviously, I have a terrible memory, and our lives have followed different paths; I now live thousands of miles from Taunton and most likely so does he.  After all, there is only so long one will send a Christmas card to an old friend! That is if he is even still amongst the living.

Bok Garden, photo by Mick Hales

From there, the thought emerged or perhaps it was a question, what will it be like to meet old friends in heaven? What will it be like to meet past loved ones; parents and siblings? Will that even be a valid question because we will be overcome by the presence and glory of God? We will be totally in awe and worship of the lamb of God.

Mick Hales Photo

Sometimes, people have told me, once they get to heaven they will ask a theological question of Elijah or Moses. Of course the one to ask is Jesus, but how close could one get to him and there would always be people ahead of me, probably millions, right?

A loud buzzer goes off with an uuurrr sound, WRONG!!!

There I go again. Trying to place God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit into my logical totally inadequate human brain. I try to formulate what heaven is like and who will be there. From my human context, I attempt a manmade virtual reality, of heaven. Of course my musings have to be wrong or totally inadequate to describe heaven. So lets see what Revelation tells us.

Photo by Mick Hales

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 5:13.

Also from 1:12-16.

 “and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

Photo by Mick Hales

John’s book of Revelation gives me enough to know that thoughts of asking theological questions or looking for old friends, will be long gone, when I come into the full presence of God. All of our experience of God on earth has been veiled, or like smoke in a mirror. The concept of being completely filled by God’s love and to be always in His presence is the beginning of an understanding of eternal life, but really just a peep into heaven.

Living life on earth is really just middle ground for what we have to look forward to after we turn to the Lord. So watching an old movie took my mind back to the past, a past life, and that is what we tend to do as we get older; however, in reality we have something much more wonderful to look forward to and to keep our eyes on, our life to come. As Romans 8:38-39 affirms.

” For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

At this difficult time in our world, let us all join together and pray for peace in the Ukraine and in the world. Let God’s peace cover this world, and bring Godly leaders forward into positions of power. Amen

Love and prayers,

Christine and Michael

Michael’s Photography Christine’s Icons

Seeking The Approval of Man or God?

Icon of the Bridegroom by Christine Hales

One of the visiting teachers who came to Global Awakening School of Supernatural Ministry, while I was a student there, was Pastor Surprise Sithole. God called him out of a family of witchdoctors when he was a boy of fifteen. He was literally called out, by an audible voice of God, awakening him from sleep in his family hut in Mozambique. Consequently, he went on being powerfully led by God to minister in Malawi, Mozambique and throughout Southern Africa, starting countless churches and God is still working through him powerfully.

Pastor Surprise

Photo by Mick Hales

The story of his life is recorded in a book, Voice in the Night, published by Chosen Books and it has been my choice to read and accompany with video scenes of nature, for the elderly community at Freedom Village.  

It is wonderful to relate, through this book, how God can work incredibly powerfully through someone’s life who started with no material wealth, little education but had the willingness to be available to be used by God. His heralding of Jesus is refreshingly direct and wholehearted.

Availablility

Photo by Mick Hales

So much of the Christian walk is about our availability and not our ability. People will measure our usefulness by our abilities, our qualifications, our university degrees. God knows our usefulness depends on our willingness to step out and be available. God wants to work through people’s hearts, not through qualifications. God provides the quality.

This is reflected in Jesus’s choice of his disciples, mostly just regular people, who became willing to follow and eventually to continue God’s purposes after Jesus’ death.

The question of availability has come up for me, Michael, as there may be an opportunity to do a ‘work’, which would require being always available; 24 : 7. There are many professions which require that sought of life style; to be always available, firemen, police, doctors etc.

The hardest part of it is, to be available in one area means your less available in others, that is where discernment and prayer are needed to be sure God is initiating the ‘work’, not our own pride.

10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.  ‘Galatians 1:10’

But as the years add up and our life expectancy diminishes, making certain we are doing what God has called us to, becomes more and more pressing. This last month I took part in a memorial service for a nurse who had died very quickly, after Covid initiated other health issues to kick in. He was young, with a wife and four children, a natural leader and an exceptional care giver. His team were deeply affected by his loss as of course his family was, but they all knew he was doing the work he had been called to do; to lead the night team on the Covid ward.

The question is: What am I available for? Can I make the choices that lead to my being available to hear God’s still, small voice in the night? I hope I can and do!

Christine’s News:

Photo of Christine’s studio by Mick Hales

Christine loves teaching icon writing online! She puts a tremendous amount into preparing her material and delivery but it is so rewarding to her to carry on the tradition and see her students grow in ability and excitement. She will be teaching another class May 24-27 online on Zoom where they will be painting an Icon of Mary Magdalene.

She has two large commissions that are occupying her time and thoughts- one of Saint Paul and the other of Saint James. Such great people to think and pray about and with!

Please do keep us in your prayers- we need them! And let us know how we can pray for you!

May God bless you and keep you healthy,

Until next month,

Michael Hales

Michael’s photography Christine’s icons

Wake Up Call

Driving to the beach on a Sunday morning to take communion by the sea and away from our gathered church family, was sad. However, we had to pass on the way a Covid testing site and the queue of cars extended outside the gates, down the road and around the corner as far as the eye could see.  Omicron has reared its ugly presence in our neighborhood and I just can not risk being in crowds of people, like at church, in case I carry it into my workplace, a community of the elderly. So the two of us, received communion on the beach and it was a real blessing.

Photo by MIck Hales

Looking back over 2021 it seems to have been a year of national shaking and loss. Possibly the biggest loss has been the brazen attempt to under mind democracy, to purposely ferment untruth in news reporting and to drag arms of the church into partisan political activity. The depth of that loss, one can only hope, will not dig itself deeper with the well worn shovel of denial and self interest, in the year to come.  With that as a background context, spiced with the bitter truth of 800,000 dead from Covid and Climate Change we see all around us but are still unable to believe, it would seem we are all due for a wake up call!

Photo by Mick Hales

Perhaps the only question is, what will it take to finally wake us up?

Or maybe, the real question is more personal, and should be why am I looking at the troubles around me and not focusing on Jesus? Just as the disciples did in the boat when the storm hit them on the lake.

24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. [Mathew 8:24-26]

Photo by MIck Hales

I know in a lot of ways in my life, I do fall down, in not looking to Jesus first. I do have the faith that God will carry me through whatever it is we have to deal with in the future and that gives me great peace, but I do not expect Jesus to stand up and irradicate all my problems. I do not expect Jesus to stop me catching Covid because I am a Christian, just as I would not expect him to pay taxes for me if I tithe. I will not hold to a narrative that says one political party owns Jesus or that by not taking a vaccine I am a stronger believer.

Jesus came not Lording it over us, but serving us, even though He is Lord of all.

So looking forward to a new year, I hope I can be better at putting Jesus first in my life, and looking for what service He would have me do. Perhaps my biggest wake up call would start with, being more loving and less judgmental. Does that work for you, too?

Christine’s News:

It is indeed sad not to be able to attend church in person again these days. It is always a highlight of my week, being lifted up by the Liturgy, Communion, and worshipping with friends. We do watch it online, though, and are very grateful for the internet.

Donated quilts

One of my friends donated some beautiful handmade quilts that were made by her sewing circle, to Freedom Village residents who are in an acute care facility and they were very grateful for them.

Next Online Icon Writing Retreat January 25-28, 2022

I am drawing studies for two new icon commissions and a new series of icons God has inspired me to do for this New Year. I’m teaching an online icon writing class at the end of January and I love the community of iconographers that are part of this school. Mostly we start each morning by prayer walking and seeking God’s healing and guidance for all on our prayer list. Please do let us know how we can pray for you!

Until next month,

Love and Prayers,

Michael and Christine

Michael’s Photography Christine’s Icons

Giving Thanks

Heading to Boston

An early morning flight carried Christine and me to Boston for a family visit, the first in two years. Going North at this time of year is counter intuitive, but it was a very wonderful trip and so good to be with family. Of course the planes were packed as many families are finally getting the chance to reconnect after long times of separation and Thanksgiving had some degree of normalcy with people gathering in person.

Freedom Village

For Thanksgiving, Freedom Village residents raised $1050 worth of gift vouchers for food, which went to 52 different families, through Turning Points, a Bradenton mission to the homeless. Buying turkeys in bulk was not an option this year, but the gift vouchers, although not as symbolic as turkeys, were much appreciated. 

Giving Food Vouchers to the Homeless

Veterans Day this year saw 45 veterans over 90 years old, receive a special pinning for their military services. The event is hosted by the Chaplaincy and it had been in planning mode for about six months with many meetings, discussions and options depending on Covid’s activities. Very thankfully, about 150 people could attend and it all came together, as they say ‘in the end.’ Again, that was the first time that many of the community had joined together in nearly two years.

Sadly, in November, I led three memorial services and we now have two more scheduled. One of these losses has hit our community particularly hard as it was one of the staff, a young man who was killed in a motorcycle accident, leaving a four year old son.

One of the hardest aspects of growing old is loosing who we once were and what we once could do. That is the case anyway in our own minds and we tend to imagine it so for those around us. We may not be able to drive any more, walk any more, do the buttons of our shirt up or go to the restroom alone. We may forget the names of our family members or not recognize them when they walk in. Some of these losses can grow slowly or arrive quickly with a stroke. One thing I now know is, and a friend keeps reminding me, ‘Growing old is not for sissies.’  The mental and emotional struggles we go through, as we loose our physical ability to live an active life we previously enjoyed, becomes ‘‘the work’, not for sissies”.

Hannukah Celebration

As our society in America appears to be living longer in years, through medical developments, we may be living through the ‘older years’, for longer. One projection recently on the news, suggested that a child born today, might experience a life expectancy in the 150 years range. I shudder at the thought and wonder if with every thing which appears ‘to be going down the tubes’ in the world, particularly our changing climate, if anyone will be here in 150 years.

The Saving Grace of Getting Older

However, living an elderly life can be especially blessed by actively living a full spiritual life. What starts to lack in the physical can grow and be restored in the spiritual side of our lives. God does not view us as any less, if we are unable to do up our own shirt buttons. God looks for what our hearts are focused on, not on our physical accomplishments. I have had a productive career as a photographer, but I believe God cares much more about how I seek Him and care for others.

The power of a growing elderly population developing their spiritual lives, as their physical abilities decline, is as incredible and formidable as the power of the Holy Spirit and prayer. Far more than we can possibly think or imagine. It is one of the church’s resources not one of it’s burdens. There is a need for a proactive paradigm shift within the church to actively equip and encourage the elderly to develop the gifts of the Spirit. Many elderly have never seen the gifts of the Spirit in action, never seen someone get healed or witnessed a deaf person hear for the first time in their lives. How meaningful and fulfilling it could be for them to be introduced to the power of our living God.

Jesus told the disciples not to leave Jerusalem, before they received the power of the Holy Spirit. The church was never intended to function with out the help of the Holy Spirit and yet many life long church attendees were never discipled to seek out the gifts or the Spirit. They have been dedicated, faithful and sacrificial but sheltered from being proactive with the Holy Spirit.  I would love to see those mature 80 and 90 year olds full and overflowing with God’s loving, living Holy Spirit, as well. After all it is God who does the heavy lifting, He just wants us to join in.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.’ Philippians 1:6.

Please pray that Christine and I can complete the work God has called us to, that all people will be filled with God’s Holy Spirit, and that the work of our hands will lead people to God. And don’t forget to let us know how we can pray for you!

Love and Prayers,

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography Christine’s Icons

What Am I Here For?

‘What am I here for and what happens next?’

An orange plastic band was tied around the trunk of the tree. It really caught my eye because the early morning sun light was hitting the trunk. There are three or four trees in our housing community with those bands on them. They have been ear marked for cutting down. One can see why, there are hardly any leaves on them and they have fallen branches around them. Even so, they will be missed. Fortunately, our community is mindful to replace old trees with saplings.

We all have known since childhood that life is temporary and part of nature’s cycles; birth, life, death, birth and the cycle continues repeating with different hosts. Sometimes it takes an ugly orange band, to remind me, I cannot assume I know how much longer ‘my earth cycle’ is going to run. You see, I am pretty comfortable thinking, if I eat well, exercise well and be a good person, all will be well. But there has to be more to ‘this life cycle’, which we have been GIVEN, than doing it ‘well’ or for some, just surviving endless hardships.

Of course, I am asking those fundamental questions which all generations have done before me. What am I here for and what happens after this?

Recently, I officiated a memorial service for a nurse who had died with Covid, the second from that hospital in a month. The nurses have been living for nearly two years now under such pressure from Covid, working long hours in very stressful situations and limited staff. I was asked to keep the memorial service to less than fifteen minutes, because the nurses’ hands were needed working the wards. It was held outside on a very hot Florida afternoon and probably twenty nurses came. There was closure; a rose bush was planted, but I have to admit I left after all was done, heavy hearted because no one could tell me of that nurses’ spiritual life, no one.

So many of us are so absorbed in the activities of life, in the this case working long hours, that we don’t always get to really answer, ‘What am I here for and what happens next?’ 

For me, the most important part of that question is, ‘what happens next?’  I know in my heart, without a doubt, the truth of the words, Romans 10:13, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  Because I can stand on that knowledge, then I can answer, ‘What am I here for and what happens next?’

But, that is my choice. 

Everyone needs to choose for themselves their spiritual life and destination. My plea would be, be sure you have answered those questions, before the tree crews come by with their chain saws buzzing. The freedom God has given us to choose in our lives, has responsibilities too. In this case, the decisions and choices we live by, are between ourselves and God, only. There is no other party, not a family member, a spouse, a parent, a political affiliation, our choice on vaccines, masks, our belief in climate change actions, not even the government, we can blame. This is just between me and God.

But God does not want us to answer these questions in a cold hearted clinical way. He is a God of love and his desire is to be in relationship with us, which activates love, lives love.

So I want to share a wedding I officiated between a bride of 84 and groom of 98, this last weekend. This was an affirmation of their love for each other, being placed before God, in a humble way. They just wanted the chance to affirm what God had already been doing in their lives; activating love and living lives of love.

So of course we read, 1 Corinthians 13, which ends so beautifully, ‘So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.’ That is a rock I choose to remember.

Christine just finished teaching a four day online icon painting retreat. She has a large following of people all over the world now, who are dedicated to praying, painting, and walking closer to God through their visual prayers. We are so grateful for how God is working in our lives. Thank you all for your prayers, they make a BIG DIFFERENCE!

We pray for you too, and send our very best love,

Michael and Christine Hales

Michael’s Photo Website Christine’s Icons

What Do Jelly Fish Think About?

Jelly Fish

Walking on the beach, there is always something different to look at, from one week to the next. Sometimes there are a slew of jellyfish washed up for some reason.

We had a walk like that recently and the idea came to me as I pondered the stranded jelly, ‘what do they think about?’

It is the kind of thought a child would have, so I thought it was worth pursuing. Fortunately, I did not prod it, as I might have done as a young boy, I simply stared at it in wonder.

Jesus talks about us coming to the Kingdom of God as a child, Mark 10:13-15, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 

Working now in a community of elderly people, this direction could not be more relevant. 

Consider the saying, ‘It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks’. The older we become the harder it is for us to accept change, especially in our world or religious views.

People who have sat in a Baptist church for 80 years have a hard time thinking there may be a different expression of Christianity which is good and right; and that same thought could be switched to any other denomination. Perhaps, ‘thinking like a child’ would prevent our tendency to ownership of a denomination, rather than seeking an active personal relationship with God. Through a parent/child intimacy and trust.

As we grow older we will become more dependent on others and in that sense more child like physically. But how do we get our thinking, our trust, to become more child like, more innocent?

God is not asking for us to become stupid and not think about our beliefs, rather to open doors of a spiritual life which rational thinking closed years ago. Many Cessationist preacher declared the ends of the works of the Holy Spirit with the completion of Holy Scripture. Many sermon denounced seeking the miraculous or the outlined the danger of the supernatural. That theology has left an emptiness in many people’s life with God and kept many others from being interested to begin with.

Many of the elderly I minister with, have had no tangible experience of the presence of the Holy Spirit, even though they have been attending church for 80 or 90 plus years. I think how sad that is. I think again how boring that is. One thing I know is children do not enjoy being sad or bored; so something has gone wrong in the way ‘grown ups’ do ‘Church’ or the Holy Spirit has been received and known.

My prayer is to be ‘child like’ enough myself, that others can know, there are still spiritual doors waiting for them to explore through an intimate innocent trust that the work of the Holy Spirit is kind, caring, healing, loving and very much active today. I hope that is possible before some of us are too old to be children of Jesus; even for the first time or to wonder what jelly fish think.

Christine has had a busy month, preparing for teaching her next online Icon class and finishing up a commission. Her work was recently written about in two glowing articles, here are the links: https://www.einpresswire.com/article/552331066/christine-hales-creates-religious-icons-for-a-young-generation-of-christians

https://russianicon.com/holy-icons-in-the-modern-world-the-art-of-christine-hales/

Please pray with us for an end to the corona virus pandemic, for healing and protection for all, and for world peace.

We love you and pray for you each day,

Love and prayers,

Mick Hales Photography

Michael and Christine

Mick’s Photographs Christine’s Icons

Not Offended

We are just moving into August and the numbers of Covid hospitalized people in Florida is now daily breaking all of the state’s previous numbers. Proudly or shamefully, Florida, sits number one for infections currently in America.

In many ways it all seems unreal, that we would be deep into another wave. For the nurses and doctors that I see when doing visitations in hospital, this is just totally exasperating, tiring and frightening. 

I question in my mind,”have people gone nuts?!” Get vaccinated, it works incredibly well!!

We have vaccines going out of date on the shelf here, while other countries are longing to get hold of them. 

I remember as a child preparing to go to Karachi from England, to travel between countries in those days one had to have an International Certificate of Vaccination, showing your vaccination dates for cholera, small pox and yellow fever. As a child I hated getting injections, but even at a young age I knew why I was doing it; for my own health, for the health of my family and for the people I would meet, anywhere.

Then there is climate change! Again I question in my mind, have people gone nuts; who say there is not enough evidence yet, to suggest climate change is really happening or that human activity has caused it.

 Some of the crisis events, I see around me, are too big for me to question or affect. I can speak my mind on them, but the political positions sent over the various media, have done such a good job of capturing and sealing peoples’ minds, one wonders if anyone is thinking clearly anymore. 

Then a text arrives on the phone, announcing the passing, of a person who attended one of my classes, just four days ago. She seemed alive and well at the time. What happened?

One thing after another starts to stack up, clogging my mind and I realize I do not like what I seem to be focused on. This is not what I want to be doing, this is not what God wants me to be stuck on. 

Mick Hales Photography

This morning, God confirmed that to me in two ways. 

First, I awoke knowing I was submitted to God and felt perfectly at peace.

Second, I had a meeting at my work and before it got started, a blind person, who is part of the meeting, shared how she did not want to be around all the anger and frustrations people were expressing in her life. She only wanted to experience people, as the individuals whom God sees them to be.

Yes; I had been sharing in the anger, the judgement, the isolation habits which seem to be bubbling to the surface within me and many other people. I was off the tracks. Off God’s tracks.

Mick Hales Photography, Christine Hales Painting

Thank goodness God worked through rest and a blind person, to help me see.

Mathew 11:4-6

And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

We often go to the beach for a mind re-set. There we experience the enormity of God’s sky, his clouds, the waters and endless lapping of the waves. We owe so much to the healthy functioning of this planet. Let us join together to pray for healthy climate controls and environmental protection universally.

Lord, we pray for the wild fires in California to cease, we pray for rain where it is needed, for crops to flourish around the world so that the poor and farmers can survive, we pray for our law makers to enact safety precautions to protect our earth and the peoples who depend on it.

Mick Hales Photography

We love you, Lord Jesus, you are our all in all, our savior and King. Please help us.

Amen

Sending you all love and prayers, and do let us know how we can pray for you! We always appreciate your prayers, especially for financial security, health, and blessings of love and friendship.

Christine and Michael

Michael’s Photography Christine’s Icons