Tag Archives: photography

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.

Pride

Beautiful Flower Found at RIngling Museum Garden

I had to admit it, my pride had been running my ministry. Actually, my pride had been running me. My pride was evaluating ‘my ministry’, when in reality God is the minister not me.

The Expanded Duties

Two weeks into visitations with a whole different set of residents, those receiving nursing care, short and long term, rehabilitation and memory care, I realized I was coming away exhausted and unhappy about what I judged as ‘my ministry.’ I was having a hard time making a connection with people, let alone a meaningful one. I was opening doors to doubts about myself and why I had requested to expand my Chaplain responsibilities to include these residents. It was clear that the need for a spiritual presence was there, of all the people in the large elderly residential facility, these were the most challenged and by extension, the nurses and staff were as well.

Talking with an independent counselor and Christian, I was able to recognize I was attempting to minister through my own abilities, rather than placing it in God’s hands. It was then the phrase, ‘You have a big spitball of pride,’ was born in my brain and I just had to verbalize it.

Proverbs 16:18 is succinct. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

My counselor had been able to turn my inward thinking, outward. Pride can be a difficult sin to see in oneself, it is inherently so by it’s very nature. It can take a large dose of truth to recognize pride at work.

Sea Shell photo by Mick Hales

What Does Pride Do To Us?

So what happens when pride is set free to operate within a power rich arena, where counseling and criticism are not happening or not allowed? Unfortunately, we see this too often in the workplace, even in the church, we see it in state and national politics, and we are having a text book review of how pride’s deadly consequences are realized, in the Ukraine. Putin’s pride has been working to restore the Soviet Union era’s position that Russia held, no matter what the consequences are for lives of innocent people.

Pride is such a powerful and insidious sin it is placed as first on the fictitious list of ‘seven deadly sins’, since all sins separate us from the love of God, spiritually they are all on a par with each other. However, within the affects they have on other people’s lives in our physical world, some are much more deadly than others.

Photo by Mick Hales

So the question arises, and perhaps it is too vague to be answered. Is pride more prevalent in our highly visible social media lives now, than it was even twenty years ago?

And here is another question, which is not vague at all, is pride trying to lead your life?

Please partner with me over the next month, for God to reveal ways that pride might be getting a foothold in our lives. Let us pray also for God to remove all vestiges of it and replace it with knowledge of our utter dependence on Him, His mercy, and His love. More of You Lord!

Christine’s News

Mary Magdalene Icon in Progress

I’m working on a double commission to paint a new and original icon of Saint Paul- as a young man and as a tentmaker. I’ve spent countless hours researching, drawing, and painting studies. And now I’m ready to start painting! Yay! My favorite part!

I’ll be teaching another online Icon writing class May 24-27 that I am very excited about. The subject is Mary Magdalene. I’ve written a blog about her that you might also want to read. I can’t remember if I shared the link to the Guidepost article about my work, so here it is.

Sending you all lots of love and prayers- and we very much appreciate yours! We can’t do this without each other!

Love and Prayers, Christine and Michael

Michael’s Photography Christine’s Icons

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

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

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

Ora et Labora

My old school motto, pray and work, is actually a Benedictine value from the Rule of St Benedict. I had to do some research on my school in England recently which jolted that memory.

Myakka photo by Mick Hales

Looking back over my life I think I may have changed the word order to Labora et Ora. Or working more than praying.

The Benedictine concept was to stop work five times a day for prayer, or an ‘Office’, and then resume working, eating or sleeping. 

So many things in our Christian lives are about getting the right balance between our personal time with God and all the other issues we deal with constantly. Now that I work as a Chaplain, I find my personal time with God, can get squeezed out by time ministering to people.

I need to remember they are different but interdependent.

So, I took a morning to myself recently to visit Myakka Park which is close by and is as wild a landscape as we have; made up of palmettos, palm trees and live oaks all creatively interwoven as only God can manage.

Myakka Photo by Mick Hales

I took my bible with me and when I was deep in green solitude, I started to read Romans 8 out loud. Romans 8 has been transformational for me at different times of my walk with God, but on that day I felt such an oppression, I could not read past; ‘The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs- heirs with God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may be glorified with him.’

My heart seemed to sink deeply and I felt an immense resistance to continue with the reading.

I realized to stand as a child of God there needs to be a strong consistent parental connection, a living relationship, as Jesus pursued with the Father. Children tend to neglect their parents after they have left home. Their lives become full and connecting to their parents grows less rewarding. I had fallen into that trap and was being awakened to my failings. I was not spending quality time with God.

Two things seemed to happen simultaneously at that point. I received a text telling me, one of my flock had just passed away. I had prayed for her, alongside her son, the previous day.  Also, I heard God requesting me to finish reading Romans 8 out loud. 

As the words finally came out of me, ‘No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, 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,’ the awareness of the loving Father was so powerful for me in that wilderness.

God gave me a lesson in undeserved love, by the depths of His Grace. As a parent does to their child. 

Saint Francis by Christine Hales

Please let us know how we can pray for you. Christine Sends her love, too!

Love and prayers,

Christine and Michael Hales Mick’s Photography Christine’s Icons

God Loves Diversity

God Loves Diversity

Black and White or color?

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

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

Christine’s News

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

Michael’s News

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

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

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

Luke 10:34-36

34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

 

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

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

Love and prayers,

Michael and Christine

 

Mick’s Photography Website         Christine’s Icon Website

Compassionate Responsibility

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

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

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

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

IMG_7785

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

IMG_7913

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

IMG_8048

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

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

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

Colossian 3:12-13

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

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

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

Love and prayers,

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography    Christine’s Icons

The Good Shepherd

Greetings Friends and Family:

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

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

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

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

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

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

We are standing on shaky ground all around.

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

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

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

The Lord is my Shepherd.

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

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

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography, Chaplain duties

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography, Chaplain Duties

Why do we need a wake up call?

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

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

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography, Chaplain Duties

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

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

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

Mick Hales Photography
Christine doing ballet class during quarantine

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

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

Lime Tree
Lime Tree

 

 

Love and prayers,

Christine and Michael

Mick’s Photography

 

Christine’s Icons