Tag Archives: religion

God’s Favor

Dear People We Love:

Flower, Mick Hales Photography
Flower, Mick Hales Photography

June has been a busy month for Christine as she has been very focused on writing a book, “Eyes of Fire,” about her experience as an artist in a secularly oriented art world. For her the Holy Spirit connection to painting is paramount and she delves deeply into her personal journey of discovering and exploring iconography. The book will be terrific for those who have struggled with the contemporary art world and their spiritual journeys.

Christine Hales Writing
Christine Hales Writing

Michael has been busy capturing the June garden season which quite often means visiting Madoo Conservancy,  the house and garden of painter, gardener and writer, Robert Dash. This is one of America’s classic works of art in garden form. As we know gardens are always changing and it is very difficult to maintain the creative intention of the original gardener as plants grow old and die.

Madoo Garden Photograph By Mick Hales
Madoo Garden Photograph By Mick Hales

Sometimes I ponder how God is able to be the same, yesterday, today and forever. Or I consider how can the Creator, God, watch how his creation is being used. How does He decide to favor somebody, prosper and protect them, while not so for someone else.

Boat Photograph by Mick Hales
Boat Photograph by Mick Hales

Certainly Jacob was favored by God and he fathered twelve sons who became the twelve tribes of Israel. He was not,though, the picture of impeccable behavior. His twelve sons were fathered through two wives and two servants, he had stolen his brother’s inheritance twice, and used his family and servants as a human shield in times of danger. Yet he found favor in the eyes of God, Jacob did prosper and was protected, and his neighbors could see that was happening.

Flower photograph by Mick Hales
Flower photograph by Mick Hales

God’s favor is not something we can work for, although it may come through our working for the Lord. It is something we should pray for though. Essentially, God’s favor, is a gift, given by God.

When Paul wanted to minister in Macedonia but was blocked by God from going there, he knew he could not minister without God’s favor and did not try.

Staircase In The Garden,Photograph by Mick Hales
Staircase In The Garden,Photograph by Mick Hales

There is in our calling an aspect of favor. We get good at what God has called us to do. It is because God’s delight is to be in relationship with us, and when we are living that relationship, God’s favor is manifested in our talents, gifts, thoughts and ideas. Resulting in our desire to ‘get up and get it done’.

Skateboarder photograph by Mick Hales
Skateboarder photograph by Mick Hales

So finding our way, in this ever-changing world, is to rely on a relationship with our never changing, loving God. For us that means finding our way through freelance lives and knowing the only thing we can trust in is God’s steadfast love for us.

God has called you. He will not fail you!

As Paul writes in 1st Corinthians 7:17.

 Only let each person lead the life[a] that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.

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

With Love,

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography    Christine’s Icons     Christine’s Fine Art

 

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Praise God for His Creation!!

Dear Family and Friends:IMG_7574

This has been quite the month for Christine teaching Iconography at Ghost Ranch, NM, and Holy Cross Monastery, NY and for Michael photographing in TX.

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Ghost Ranch was an extraordinary experience for all the participants who were writing an icon of St Francis with Christine teaching. There was a wonderful sense of the presence of God in the class and a lot of physical and emotional healing occurred.IMG_6781

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The landscape and nature surrounding the ranch was a powerful influence and all who participated could feel the spiritual strength and heritage of the land.

One could understand how Georgia O’Keefe eventually sought the solitude of Ghost Ranch over the energy of the New York artistic scene of her day.

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For Michael there were some wonderful walks through the canyons reminiscent for him of walking over the moors of Dartmoor in Devon. Away from all distractions, when alone in a landscape, the awareness that we live in a world so extraordinary in every way that it has to have been created by God breaks through.

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Watching the daylight move across a vast landscape and then seeing how wildflowers bloom and reproduce through the extreme dessert conditions.

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These are the things we should talk about- how the birds sing, how the morning light shines through the trees, how a plant lives in the dessert, how the hills are formed or how the cows moo calling to their young. Such things are a part of God’s creative nature and these are the type of things we need to wonder, ponder and explore. This is worthy of our attention, to recognize God’s creation so we can praise Him all the more.

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Too much of our lives focus on an untransformed world; a world in active degradation under the orbit of the devil. Our work as Christians is to bring to reality the world of the Creator God, what God created, not what the devil has formed in its’ place. To nurture and love not only our neighbors as our selves but appreciate the whole of God’s creative hand, from the intimate center of a tulip to the vast vista of the canyon, God shows His hand.

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Originally God created paradise for us to live in; all was perfect, all was created by God. There was no demonic, we walked naked in purity amongst the abundance of God’s creation. All was good.

So lets talk about and not loose sight of those things God created, like the birds singing in the morning or how beautifully our bodies have been formed and praise God for them.

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We know we live in a broken world but lets focus on what God’s Kingdom is like, as Paul writes to the Philippians 4:8,

Holy Cross Icon Blessing
Holy Cross Monastery Icon Blessing

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Michael and Christine with author Jane Garmey at book signing for Mick's new book "City Green"
Michael and Christine with author Jane Garmey at book signing for Mick’s new book “City Green”

Please keep us in your prayers and for our house to sell in preparation of our move to Florida where we believe God has called the next chapter of our lives.

Please, let us know how we can pray for you.

Icon from Holy Archangel Michael Monastery, Abiquiu, NM
Icon from Holy Archangel Michael Monastery, Abiquiu, NM

Love and Prayers,

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography     Christine’s Icons   Christine’s Fine Art

The Work of the Holy Spirit in Our World

Greetings Friends and Family:

Christine has been working on a major icon commission of St Patrick for a church near Palm Beach of that name. She has been under a deadline to complete the work before the end of April, and has been working diligently to finish it. So with great joy we delivered it on time last week and to Father Aidan and a group of excited parishioners.

Children of Lir Icon of Saint Patrick by Christine Hales
The Children of Lir and the Coming of Christianity

They love the work Christine has done and it may stand as a definitive icon because it includes twelve depictions of scenes from St Patrick’s life. Part of Christine’s ministry involves deeply researching the subject of the icon she is working on. That involves reading and searching as much as possible about a subject and then through prayer portraying it as she is led by the Holy Spirit.IMG_5082

So for the St Patrick figure which she came up with is younger than often depicted with a wonderful peaceful and confident demeanor.IMG_5034

 

Christine has also been preparing to lead a week’s retreat and icon writing class at Ghost Ranch, in New Mexico, where Georgia O’Keefe had her influential painting studio. Christine’s icon workshops always are very powerful spiritually because the time is spent in a prayerful creative environment. Many people receive deep inner healing through these retreats and a more intimacy with our living God.

Christine Hales and Saint Patrick Icon
Christine Hales and Saint Patrick Icon

 

We both had a powerful ministry evening with a group who had asked us to go further on teaching about the Holy Spirit and our experience with prayer, healing and art. It was a wonderful evening, full of the Holy Spirit touching lives, and we came away realizing we have a lot to offer in this field. So often we do not comprehend how much has been deposited in us and how others need to know more about the Holy Spirit.IMG_4761

 

Taking the bus a lot recently gives me a view of the less fortunate in our society. There are many in this area of Florida who sleep out on the streets, or on the beaches. The bus system is of course one of their main means of transport. Yesterday, out of the blue on the bus a lady started to preach the gospel out loud. She was preaching out of the Great Commission from Mark 16: 15-16.

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15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

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It is such a blessing to see people be filled with the Holy Spirit enough to witness in every day situations. Putting out into the world a word which is so seldom heard in daily life. That is what St Patrick did, evangelized in such a way that people could receive new teaching without being threatened.

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The St Mark’s text talks of ‘proclaiming the gospel to the whole creation.’ It is through creation that God often preaches to us. The extraordinary world that we are surrounded by is for me always a reminder that there is a creative God who has blessed us with the joy of being creative as well. God loves to watch how we are creative in all we do.

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

Love and Prayers,

Michael and Christine

Mick’s Photography      Christine’s Icons

Giving and Receiving

Dear Friends and Family:

Flower photography by Mick Hales
Flower by Mick Hales 1

Our monthly blog is coinciding with Good Friday and Easter this year. For Christians it is the most significant season of the year. Holy week reminds us of the powerful act of redemption that was undertaken by Jesus Christ. This is a gift given by the most powerful divine God in the most humble and humiliating way to you and me. Whether we receive that gift with thanks or reject it, for whatever reason, is the most significant decision we will make, ever.

Leaf photography by Mick Hales
Leaf Close up by Mick Hales

Two interesting conversations this week made me consider the common attributes of giving and receiving. In giving there is an exchange of worth that is facilitated by the Holy Spirit. The giver blesses the receiver in some form; however, there can also be an exchange facilitated by the demonic, where the receiver hurts the other party, as in stealing and abusing. In that case the exchange becomes a curse rather than a blessing.

Plant Photography by Mick Hales
Plant photography by Mick Hales

The Bible is full of different attributes to giving and receiving, a very prominent verse on this subject is from Acts 20:35, where Paul recounts, ‘In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’.’

Red leaf photograph by Mick Hales, nature photographer
Red Leaf Photograph by Mick Hales

How much the giver actually gives needs to be viewed by what it actually cost the giver. Jesus talks to the disciples about this in the passage about the widow’s offering, in Mark 12:43-44.

“Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

IMG_3491 1How we give and how we receive becomes an aspect of our characters and is often formed through our childhood experiences. If we experienced poverty and material insecurity as children we may spend our lives working to get out of poverty and find it very difficult to give to others.  IMG_3603 1Jesus is very clear about the need for us to be lovers, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39. To be able to love requires giving. Love is an exchange that requires giving.

Children of Lir in progress by Iconographer Christine Hales
Children of Lir and the coming of Christianity in progress by Christine Hales

At the last supper when Jesus washed the disciples feet he was giving them an example as to how to give, I expect some of them were uncomfortable receiving that gift.

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The complete message is that Jesus wants us to be both givers and receivers. To able to receive as well as give, for there is an exchange of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit desires to flow and be active.

Lily photograph by Mick Hales flower photographer
Lily Photograph by Mick Hales

If we refuse to receive a gift, it can stop the Holy Spirit flowing. Similarly if we receive without giving thanks that will also stop the Holy Spirit flowing.

This Easter as we consider the gift God gave to us through his Son’s sacrifice on the cross, we really need to receive it completely as an act of God’s love for us individually and enable the Holy Spirit to flow by giving heart felt thanks.

Saint Patrick Icon in progress painted by Christine Hales Iconographer
Saint Patrick Icon painted by Christine Hales in progress

Such an extraordinary gift of love we can receive or reject freely. However, if we choose to reject that gift we can not be givers and lovers as God purposed us to be. It is almost childlike thinking, true. ‘Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Mark 10:15.

Saint Patrick icon by Iconographer Christine Hales in progress
Saint Patrick Icon by Christine Hales in progress

This Easter Christine and I have so much to be grateful for. In our professional lives Christine has been working on a wonderful commission for a large icon of St Patrick, which is just unfolding beautifully on our lanai. I’ve had a book signing and publication launching for the latest book I photographed, City Green; Public Gardens of New York, written by Jane Garmey. Ichael also has the cover for NYC & G April issue for a house in Kinderhook shot in January.

Mick Hales and Jane Garmey at book signing for "City Green"
Mick Hales and Jane Garmey at book signing for “City Green”

However, for both of us, what we celebrate is how Jesus works through our lives to the people around us, through the many gifts he has given us but most importantly through his redemptive gift for paying for our sins and inviting us into His family of brothers and sisters in Christ.

NYCG-April cover by Mick Hales photographer
NYCG-April cover by Mick Hales photographer

This is the gift which cost Jesus everything and has created a family, his church, which is called to give and receive with thanks through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Stations of the Cross Icons, Station 11, by Christine Hales Iconographer
Stations of the Cross Icons, Station 11, by Christine Hales Iconographer

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

 

With great love and thanksgiving,  wishing you truly, a Happy Easter!

Michael and Christine

Mick’s website    Christine’s Icons

 

 

 

 

Prophetic Words

Dear Friends and Family:IMG_2497

To have people pray over you as they are being led by the Holy Spirit is a life giving experience. The words they say often go deep into our hearts and resonate in our minds. Where do the words come from, which just remain with one, as if they dropped out of heaven? That is exactly where they come from. The Holy Spirit is speaking.IMG_2614

That just happened to Michael and the word given was that he would be ‘winsome’ to draw people to the Lord.

He had to find a Merriam-Webster dictionary to define ‘winsome’, it was not a word he was familiar with, as ‘generally pleasing and engaging often because of a childlike charm and innocence,’ some words related to winsome were listed as, ‘hopeful, optimistic, rosy, animated, lively, sprightly, vivacious and beloved.’

He recognizes these are aspects of his personality which he can have when fully activated in a leadership role but quite often take a back seat in day to day life. The child like nature can be a sword that cuts through pride, fear and unbelief and the activation comes through the presence of the Holy Spirit.IMG_2583

 

We all need words of encouragement spoken over us, whether it is a prayer situation or while we wait for a bus. We know the tongue has the power to build up or destroy. What is spoken over us as children can affect us our whole lives. Working with people who are homeless is an opportunity to speak good words into their lives no matter how brief the interaction. Just asking ‘How are you doing today?’ is a recognition of their humanity and a bridge to normality. If they have been sleeping on the streets their priority is food, the chance of a shower and to get their clothes washed. The material provisions we take for granted; a bed, shelter, food, washrooms and clothes are essential for everyone. But just as significant is a good word spoken into their life, a word of encouragement and of joy. After all Jesus Christ called us ‘beloved’, and he was talking to all of us.

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So when you see homeless person put on that ‘childlike innocence’ that can cut through fear and remember they are also the beloved.

We have the perfect example when God spoke over Jesus Christ encouraging words, [Mathew 17:5]

He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”  IMG_2600

Christine has had a busy month giving a talk to the Church of the Redeemer about icons and what is happening with iconography around the world. She has also had a commission to write a large icon of St Patrick for a church near Palm Beach. She had a wonderful meeting with the priest of the church and several members showing initial drawings and discussing aspects of St Patrick’s life and ministry. The Celtic way of evangelism through building relationships with people and inviting them to come alongside the Christian life was modeled by St Patrick. This is a very wonderful commission for Christine and her heart is really in it.IMG_2650

Michael’s new book, City Green: Public Gardens of New York, will be published in March and he is excited to see it out.  IMG_2607

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

Sending you love and prayers,

Christine and Michael

Mick’s Photography site      Christine’s Icons    American Association of Iconographers

Letting Go and Letting God !

Dear Friends and Family:

Mick Hales Florida Photo
Mick Hales Florida Photo

Michael has just finished a wonderful chaplaincy training and has this to say about it:

All trained up- but not utilizing it.     IMG_2305

A question which often goes through my mind is whether the training and education I have had in the past is being utilized as well as it could be and then if not -why not? What is stopping me moving more actively in my gifting? This is not just a personal issue, or even a Christian issue, it is a question many people face.

Of the bachelor degree graduates currently coming out of universities, a quarter of them, can expect to get work below their qualification level, and earn 50% of the wages of their contemporaries being employed in appropriately qualified jobs. That is a lot of people not using their training as they imagined they would.

Similarly, many people are trained up in their churches but never quite get to utilize what they have learned.IMG_2325

So when Michael finished a solid week of classes for training in Chaplaincy by the International Fellowship of Chaplains recently, the question of how can he incorporate this training into his life over the long haul, and not waste it, came up. There are many different chaplaincy fields where one could serve, for example- the fire department, emergency responders, police, the armed forces, in homes for the elderly, schools, universities, hospitals, hospice, jail and prisons, business and industry, and at disaster events like hurricanes or wild fires.  IMG_2295

A chaplain can be defined as a minister in the workplace and their main purpose is to serve the needs of the people. By serving the needs of the people that answers the requirement that the main purpose is secular in nature. Evangelism can not be the primary purpose of a chaplain, however when serving peoples needs a chaplain can share their spiritual beliefs when asked. People came from far and wide to attend the class because it is a way that we can serve God and our communities without a degree in divinity.IMG_2251

The primary difference between a pastor and a chaplain, is that a pastor serves the spiritual needs of a congregation within a church, a chaplain serves the needs of people in the community and when requested can address their spiritual life.

Michael has always had an interest in being a minister in the workplace and often prays for people when on photography assignments. So many people are hungry to receive prayer when it is undertaken in a loving and caring manor.   IMG_2365

So what is it that often stops me from being as active in my gifting as I would like to be? Often it is not having enough time, or being in the right place, or apprehension of how I will be received if I introduce myself as a Christian. So I am praying that I will take this opportunity to become a chaplain and step out in the workplace and really utilize the training I have had over the years.

A Good Servant of Christ Jesus

If you put these things before the brothers,[a] you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.10 For to this end we toil and strive,[b] because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.  1 Timothy 4:6-10

I, Christine, am so happy that Michael has done this training- it brings together so many of his talents in the ministry.  We pray and thank God, that God opens the doors for him, in God’s perfect timing.  IMG_5716

I’m working on a Jonah Icon and after asking God what message does He have for me with this Icon, I heard” When God asks you to do something- DO IT.”!!  So, I’m keeping my ears open too 🙂 .

To see news about my Icon ministry click here.

You are all in our prayers daily, and we thank God for all the ways He is working in your lives.   Be well, and please pray for us also , and by so doing, we become a community through Christ!

Love and Prayers,

Christine and Michael

Michael’s Photography        Christine’s Icons

Grace

Dear Friends and Family:

Happy New Year!IMG_1479

One of our frequent prayers is that we would come into new relationships with people and existing ones would grow deeper.

We have been really blessed to spend the winter in Florida which gives us the chance to explore new places, new churches, new friends and new ways of doing business and ministering.

We have found a liturgical church which is also very active with community ministry.

Christine has started to work with the Altar Guild at Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota which fits well with her understanding of the roots Christianity and the many symbolic aspects of liturgical worship.IMG_1259

Michael has started to volunteer in a homeless shelter the church is involved with, which has people waiting on the streets in the morning to get in for a shower and a bite to eat.     IMG_1657

A bus ride can reveal how many people are living on the edge, struggling with health issues, mental and physical, struggling with real poverty, financial, nutritional and spiritual.

Walking through the quieter suburbs also shows the run down houses, with all the shades or curtains drawn to the street with a fancy car or truck parked in front. It must be so dark inside, one wonders what kind of life are people living, is most of their light coming through the television screen? It seems the appearance of the car is more significant than the home.IMG_1662

The reality that in this country of great wealth, America, there is a level of poverty which is easy to drive by and not see or just disregard. It reminds me of the parable of the Good Samaritan which Jesus told to emphasize what loving our neighbors means.   IMG_1612

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”Luke 10:25-37

On a similar tract Michael has just finished making a video concerning the opioid and heroin crisis which is sweeping our country. It is a horrible epidemic killing young and old, rich and poor. The video was created for a grass roots charity, Columbia County Pathways to Recovery, which was formed by five mothers who had grown up with children in the small affluent community of Chatham, NY. They realized their children and many members of their community were becoming addicted to opioids and heroin and they struggled together to find ways to help them. They did not pass by on the other side but have dived in wholeheartedly to find out how to help those addicted.

Bringing an understanding of the opioid crisis to all people in a community through discussion and sharing experiences is what this video is designed to do. It is designed to stimulate open discussion of people’s thoughts, prejudices , and stigmas towards those under addiction within families and our churches. So please use it – watch the video, show it to your friends- and think about the questions it raises. What kind of prejudices  do you hold towards those who are caught by addiction? What kind of help do we offer as a faith based community?

As we come to the end of 2017 which has been a very divisive year in politics let us not turn our backs on those who are in need but embrace the fact that Jesus came to give us all life and life more abundantly.IMG_1435

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

“Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.”

Ephesians 6: 26

And may you be blessed and healthy in this New Year!

Love, Michael and Christine

Mick’s Photography website     Christine’s Icon website

Testimony and Extraordinary Times

Hello Friends and Family:   IMG_9889

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.

Jesus Icon
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

God is in their Recovery

Dear Friends and Family:IMG_9537

The autumn this year has not been spectacular so far because a lot of the maple leaves went brown without turning red. They dried out before coming to their wonderful yellow-orange and red colors. Fortunately the stag horn sumacs have added the most color on the sides of the roads and there are still the oaks trees in reserve to turn.

It reminds me of Elijah hiding in a cave after running from Jezebel telling God, he was the only prophet left and the word of God gently correcting him to say there were still 7000 faithful in reserve.

Sometimes it feels like nothing is happening but God always has more to give than we can imagine.IMG_9515

This last month I have had the privilege of videoing people who have gone through serious additions to opioids and heroin telling their stories. It is material for a video I am making for Columbia Pathways to Recovery, a grass routes local community organization formed to help those caught up in the currant crisis. Each one of these people eventually coming through these horribly destructive experiences have recognized that it is a spiritual and physical disease. Each one talks about God or their Higher power and how that awakening to a divine presence is the saving foundation from which they can build their lives again. Each ones way to recovery is different and there is no cookie cutter answers to this very complex healing called ‘Recovery’.

One of the sentences that was quoted to me was, ‘ the opposite to addiction is not sobriety, but being in community with others.’ The way of addiction is to isolate people and slowly destroy them through the cravings of what ever drug they have chosen to take their pain away. This slowly makes them withdraw more and more from other people and social interactions.IMG_9607

God created us to be in relationship with each other, the drugs want to take us into isolation. The stigma around addiction shown by society will have to change before there can really be widespread healing for this disease. It is a much larger issue than a moral failing, or a weakness of character as society often view those fall ill with addictions. There are definitely chemical issues in the brain which make this a physical as well as spiritual illness.

There is a real need for the church to take a lead in this awareness that the people who are dying around us from overdoses are not bad people but people who really need healing, just as people need healing from cancer, they deserve to be loved, cared for and treated as other people with a disease.

Artists Potluck Slide Share Dinner in Hudson
Artists Community Potluck Slide Share Dinner in Hudson

Jesus only did what his father asked him to do and he healed everyone who came to him for healing. As a Christian we are called, in this epidemic of opioid and heroin addiction, to help every one we can and be totally informed on what recovery means and how we can use the gifts we have been given to help them. That is more than just allowing an AA group to meet in the church once a week but knowing person to person and congregation to congregation what recovery really is.

I just met God in those people I videoed, they have recovered and they are back in society living a life more abundantly than they could imagine. That is what Jesus came to give us, a life more abundant than we can imagine.IMG_9648

Please pray for all those who find themselves in a trap and for those who help them get free.

We ask your prayers this month for those in recovery from opioids and their families, and for ourselves as we transition into God’s next plan for us!

Blessings and Prayers,

Christine and Michael

Michael’s Photography Site        Christine’s Icon Site

September has been a wonderfully busy month. There was another Suicide Awareness walk in Catskill that I was able to attend, as well as a Christian walk down the main street in Hudson. I preached in Rock Road Chapel, Berne, NY and photographed for clients in Texas. I’m also starting to create three different short videos for non profit organizations.IMG_9216

 

The walk through Hudson was a combination of different church groups and has been an annual affair for some time. I take part in it to support the local ministries. It is not as large as the gay pride parade which takes place down the same route and does not have anything like the support which the local politicians or community give to that.  Going down the street with other Christians, I noticed what on lookers there were look surprised and somewhat bemused. As though we were amusingly out of date and a hangover from another era.IMG_9295

 

The bible does warn us to expect to be ridiculed for our beliefs and some slight embarrassment is certainly nothing compared to the real persecution many Christians face around the world. The point is, as Christians, how relevantly do we present ourselves to the people around us so that they are able to relate to us and not reject us out of hand. Paul writes about ‘being all things to all people’ so that he was able to come alongside them long enough for people of all different walks of life, to really understand what the ‘Kingdom of God’ meant.

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I find myself digging deeper into the bible for an understanding of the ‘Kingdom of God’, being here, now. This is what Christ taught us to talk about, that the ‘Kingdom of God was at hand’. How can I witness that in a real way, to people on the street, so they realize that what I want to share with them does come from another world but not from another era? It is as relevant today as it has ever been. Jesus is as completely relevant, completely alive and completely true today as on his day of resurrection.IMG_9289

 

It is up to each one of us to bring that reality to life for whoever is standing in front of us in a way that they can hear it, see it and receive it. For me that is often through praying for healing but there are many ways just as there are many grains of sand on the sea shore. Christine is doing it through prayer and teaching Icon writing. I also do it through creating videos. Every one has a gifting of some form and we all need to use them with the Holy Spirit flowing through us.IMG_9365

 

I look forward to the day that thousands will be drawn to walk for Christ through our local streets witnessing how totally relevant Jesus is today and His Kingdom has come.

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Sending you all love and prayers,

Michael and Christine

Mick’s Photos    Christine’s Icons   Christine’s Icon blog