Tag Archives: New York

Testimony and Extraordinary Times

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As you know, we are living in extraordinary times in America.

Each day the news gets more and more incredible.

We have gone through many powerful natural disasters, hurricanes and wild fires.

We are currently going through a social expose of the sexual abuse of women by men in power.

There seems to be a growing awareness of the reality that America freely elected a racist president.  _MG_3508

Also that the economic, health and educational resources of the country are being redirected towards the ‘well off’, large corporations and the military.

 

We are also facing an era where news can be fake or not fake. What is true? Who is telling the truth. What is true for some is not true for others. This dilemma has always been present but it is exercised now to such an extent that it is hard to hold onto reality, whose right is right and whose wrong is wrong. By declaring something which we do not like as, ‘fake’, then it’s validity seems to be washed away.

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For those of us who believe that theBible can give us a standard by which we can judge right from wrong, we also realize that it can be twisted and misinterpreted. We see that over the years many wars have been fought over the different interpretation of the meaning and content of the bible. Many lives have fallen through ‘Religious’ wars.

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So where does this lead us?

 

For me it leads me back to digging deeper into who Christ is and how He is working today. It leads me back to a more personal relationship with Him. It leads me back to my testimony of who Christ is and what he has done in my life. A testimony of daily depending on Him and His grace to get through each day and a gratitude that He has asked me to do that.

 

The Bible talks extensively about testimony. It talks about how God gave signs to the exiled Jews as a Testimony of who He was. It talks about Jesus testifying to his relationship to God the father, and it talks about the false testimony of the Pharisees as they wanted to condemn Jesus to death. It talks about how testimony can be true or false.

 

Testimony can raise faith or it can destroy it.

I was able to attend one of Dr. Randy Clarke’s Empowerment conferences at Harvest Time Church in Greenwich, Ct, earlier in the month. Many people were getting healed of physical illness as words of knowledge and prayers were taking place. To help build the atmosphere of faith people were encouraged to clap 15 times when they believed God had healed them at least 80% of an illness.

As the evening went on one could hear throughout the crowd more and more people clapping, a testimony that they had received a healing._MG_3526

For me the extraordinary beauty of the moment when someone realizes that God has just supernaturally touched them personally and given them a healing is something that needs to be shouted out. It deserves to be clapped and stated. Once you have seen God move in this way, one knows that there is a truth of such value and holiness you hold onto it. Someone else may see it as fake news. For me it is real that we have a true God who is very real and His truth can not be washed away, ever.

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It may seem as odd as a pumpkin sitting in the waves of the sea but the truth is, we have a God who will judge us and loves us all as well. Our Father.

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The Lord is My Shepherd Icon by Christine Hales

Paul says it when writing to Timothy from jail, so beautifully.

2 Timothy 1:6-14.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to[a] a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,[b] 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.[c] 13 Follow the pattern of the sound[d] words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

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

Love and prayers, Michael and Christine

Christine’s Icon Blog is here.

Mick’s Photography Site

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God is in their Recovery

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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

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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

 

 

Radical Generosity

Greetings Friends and Family:photo copy 10

While it is sad taking down the sparkly Christmas decorations and all the holiday get togethers are now in the past, it is also exciting to dig in, once again, to WORK!!  We are so blessed to love our work. Work certainly is not easy, but it is stimulating and interesting to research new icons, begin drawings, prepare for the new school semester for iconography and Kingdom School and visiting new clients.

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Last night in Kingdom School, we watched a talk by Bill Johnson from Bethel Church, Redding, CA.  It was one of the most important talks for me in a long while.  In it, he shares about how walking in power attracts rejection.  He talks about how to respond and he also talks about Daniel and his ability to have favor in a very hostile environment.  Radical generosity was demonstrated when God sent His only son to be born in a manger to bless a world full of sinners.  Bill is such an inspiration of one who holds a vision for Revival locally and internationally and who demonstrates the ways of effective and honorable leadership.  We are so thankful to be part of that Apostolic Network and look forward to the day that more of that is alive here in the Albany area.

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God is inspiring me to paint icons the way He is showing me now, and that is allowing me to evolve an individual style.  It is so exciting partnering with God – highly recommended way to go!  This small Christ study and the Saint Benedict icon are on the path to what I’m developing.  I  Can’t tell you how exciting that is to see where He will take it.   I feel the way my little granddaughter must have felt the other day on her first sled ride in Boston!   photo copy 5

I now have an icon blog and will be teaching two additional classes this winter in order to fund a project I have in mind for next winter.  I’ll be giving a demonstration of icon writing in Troy later this month at the Art Center as part of an opening reception for an exhibition of my and my students icons which is part of a larger three gallery show.  I’m looking forward to all the new people to share God’s love with!! Yippee! How different from when I used to have artist openings, BC (Before Christ :)).  I always have had Christ in my life, but being transformed is another story.  As you know.

My wonderful, spirit filled husband is taking three of our students to the Pursuit Conference in PA this month – they will have an amazing time!  He is also working on developing new clients and navigating promotion in the social networking world.  His website is always developing and looking stunning.   mick&christine

Michael’s birthday was Christmas Eve, so we went to the Boston Ballet for the Nutcracker Suite and then on to Trinity Church in Boston for Christmas Eve serve.  Truly a night to remember.

For Christmas we were blessed to share christmas stockings in Boston on christmas morning with our lovely daughter in law, Kristi, brilliant son, Mark and beautiful granddaughter Carwen.  I made Yorkshire puddings in honor of Michael and the UK!   IMG_5698

In ourselves, we are experiencing the value of having had the Global Awakening training with it’s emphasis on healing both inner and physical.  We have studied under the best teachers and are exploring how to bring that to the Albany area next year.  We so much appreciate your prayers for God’s hand to be upon us not only for provision, but guidance and direction and fruitful partnerships.
There’s so much more I’d like to share but give us a call, write or get together with us.  We love you and miss you,

Michael and Christine

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Thanksgiving!

Dear Friends and Family:

As November draws to a close, we have so much to be grateful for.  

Having Thanksgiving in Boston with our son, daughter-in-law and new grand daughter was delightful!  Being able to visit my mother who is recovering well from a broken hip and seeing her smiling, settling in back at our house, seeing old friends and making new friends.

But I wonder if you are experiencing the battles and seemingly unending difficulties that we are?  It’s almost becoming funny, that the moment we solve one huge problem and feel we can relax-BOOM!- another one hits.

And they all seek to distract us from the things that really ARE important.  Like prayer, worship, fellowship with God.  

This is our back garden – can you see the little deer?  There’s a family of them that live back there by the cross.  In a way, our succeeding in all the recent battles secures the safety of their home.   I think that is the way of intercessory prayer, too.  People willingly taking up the battle in prayer wins
peace for many others who are unaware of what it costs.      We are praying with a couple of icons these days -like this detail of Saint Anthony, the father of monasticism.

He was a great intercessor for his time and withstood many temptations and assaults from the demons. In 2 Chronicles 5:13 when Solomon completed the House of the Lord, and brought the Ark of the covenant in, it was the duty of of the trumpeters and singers to praise the Lord saying “For He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.”  I think this is the task – no matter how awful the onslaught is, to sing praise that God is good, He is always good, and His steadfast love endures forever.  When the people praised God with those words, the Glory of the Lord came down and filled the temple.

We are the Temple and what could be  better than being filled with the Presence of the Lord?  This photo is from the blessing of the icons and the iconographers’ hands at Saint Nicholas’ Church where I teach, in Cohoes last month. It was a joy and honor to be there.

We are planning for  a January start for a house Church in our home in Philmont, a small discipleship group, and Michael will be doing some Bible teaching.  We plan to be praying and asking to see if God is calling us to start a Global Awakening satellite school of ministry in this area in September.

Back in Bristol, we are so encouraged by all the prayer efforts that are happening there. It seems that people are uniting across the denominations to pray together – outside and inside churches. Dec 1 there is a UK wide prayer on the streets which some of our friends in Bristol are participating in, and John Mulinde’s World Trumpet Mission is having a strong prayer presence too.  There are many more prayer events and we are really thrilled to hear about each one, and we pray together with each one.   

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We are also seeing a very powerful presence of the Lord in some of the prayer meetings at St. Michael’s Church in Colonie and experienced being held on the floor by His Presence. We have both started prayer walking on the streets and find it a way to hear God’s heartbeat for the village. There was recently a death in this community which has shaken the village as it happened so quickly and it has opened up opportunities for us to pray for people. It has also revealed a strong masonic presence in the village. The words keep coming to my mind as we discern what God is doing here from a prayer session in June, “Build an Ark, in Philmont. A place of my powerful presence.” So we ask for your prayers for this that we would build God’s ark here, it so desperately needs it.

I prayed for a lady in the drug store in Boston the other day for her broken wrist, she literally said before I started to pray for her, ‘I wish someone would come along and bless me and get rid of all these demons attacking me.’ God had it all planned for me to be there. We always need to remember God has so much more for us than we can possibly imagine and when it seems to be so dark we need to hold on to God with all our heart, for He is really all there is and His love endures forever.

We hope you have a Happy Christmas with the true blessings of the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ our savior, born so humbly yet full of so much power in each of our lives today.

PS  We REALLY want and need your prayers!!! It makes a huge difference!!  And we will continue to pray for you too!           Love,            Christine and Michael.