Tag Archives: Worship

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

Palm Sunday Video

Getting Ready for Palm Sunday!!

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

They say natural disasters have three stages, the approach, the occurrence and the aftermath.

Writing on April first we are still in the approach stage. We have no idea how devastating April is going to turn out to be, certainly New York is going to be hammered and many other metropolitan areas as well. Then the aftermath is going to extend much further than people can digest at the moment; the loss of life, the loss of work and a depressed economy will be with us for a long, long time. Other things will change, our work habits, our trust in the governmental institutions and how we return to worship in churches or not.

Our VIctory Garden
Our VIctory Garden

Yes, we are looking at a huge shaking approaching, larger and more extensive than we can imagine. Think back one month when there was not an inkling of what was coming along, we were not prepared, individually or as a nation. It is times like this that the reality of how vulnerable our lives are and indeed the strength and stability of America is, even carrying a superpower status. Then we look at countries like India with high densities of population and ask what is going to happen there? Maybe the hot temperatures in the many of the vulnerable countries will lessen the power of the virus; it is destroyed at temperatures over 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, interesting enough, the virus does not like light but survives in cold, dark, damp environment, it is not alive in itself but attaches to human cells, corrupting them to then corrupt and destroy others. One could use that as a good description of the demonic.

So much to pray for. So much arrogance to repent from.

Such an awesome God to pray to.

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography:                                 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mathew 21:21

And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.

 Taking God Seriously

God is calling us all to take Him seriously. To focus on Him and not leave Him on the back burner. Many of us have time now, while we are sheltering in place to focus on God. This is a huge opportunity to turn away from the distractions of the world and return to prayer.

Indeed, God is inviting us to be in prayer. He is directing us to be in prayer.

Christine and I have been working from home. I have not been allowed to do visitations in the hospital or the nursing home attached to Freedom Village. Freedom Village now has highly restricted access, so I have been preparing for them sheets of collected scriptures on different subjects, for the residents to use as starting points for them to pray from. They are being called, ‘Food for Prayer’, and I hope they can open the door to the Holy Spirit to work individually in them. I have also been preparing You Tube Sunday services and will cover the Easter services in the similar way. God has opened a door for me to use my photography in these video’s which I have not been doing since I took up the Chaplain job. Please check out the two services I have already posted through the links below.

 

Christine has been completing a commission of a very beautiful icon of Christ, where He is holding the scripture, ‘I am the light of the world’.  Additionally, she has created an original Icon of Daniel in the Lion’s Den. She has also been taking an online course from an iconographer in London, Ian Knowles,  which meant very early mornings joining with some 99 other iconographers from around the world. She has also been part of a strong bible study online group of women, which always go way over time and brings a lot of revelation and joy.

Daniel in the Lion's Den Icon by Christine Hales
Daniel in the Lion’s Den Icon by Christine Hales
Look For Silver Linings

One of the silver linings in all of this virus situation is that the online methods of communicating can give us an alternative way of getting many things done. But there is no alternative to actually being with someone one on one when they are going through a bad time.

This was brought home to me last week when I was called to visit someone who lost her husband the previous day. She had not been allowed to see him for the last two weeks that he was alive, even though they were less than two hundred yards apart. They had talked frequently on the phone, but to not have been able to touch each other and look into their eyes       was a haunting separation. These are some of the simple things, which really hurt, when we are denied them. That same desire to be close, so close that we see into the hearts of people, is God’s desire for our relationship with Him. That we would seek to touch Him and look deeply into his eyes and know Him. That is the love He has for us and yearns for us to have for him. It has always been that way and it will always remain that way. I pray we wake up to that in this time of opportunity.

Mick Hales Photography
Mick Hales Photography

Let us know how we can pray for you and please keep us in prayer.

 

Do not forget to watch the two videos, one is for Palm Sunday [ZOOE0], I would love to get feed back on them.

Michael’s Video Links- they are great!!

https://youtu.be/I9wyjwZOOE0

https://youtu.be/cXosEs51n7Y

Love and prayers,

Mick Hales photography
Mick Hales photography

Christine and Michael Hales

Christine’s Icon Prints            Michael’s Photography

 

 

 

God’s Extravangance

“The heavens declare the Glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork .” Psalm 19:1

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The Sheer Extravagance of God

Going through a month’s snaps to find images which represent our lives for the last month, I always have to include some close ups of plants I have noticed and delighted in.

The thought, ‘the sheer extravagance of God’, came to me as I picked one of the blooms from a Floss Silk Tree which flower here in November. The trees become huge masses of pink flowers before their leaves form.  Their trunks have large thorns like medieval armor.

God is extravagant not only in the beauty of what he has created but also in the huge variety. My mind is astounded and gives thanks this Thanksgiving for how God provides for us so well.

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One of the stories this month was of a woman in my bible study class deciding that she wanted to give back a turkey to the homeless. She had as a child received a Thanksgiving turkey because her family was poor and she wanted to give back, now in her seventies, and she could afford it. She asked if I would help her get the turkey and deliver it when the time came. Well she talked to friends about what she was doing and slowly more people came alongside her donating for turkeys.

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Well, the outcome was we bought 565lbs of turkeys and delivered them for Thanksgiving to a charity called Turning Points in Bradenton.  It was God’s extravagance, each time we thought we had fulfilled the money collected, there was still more left over and we returned to the freezer to pick out some more turkeys!

 

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Christine completed a commission of our Lady of Knock, a five by three foot painting for a school library, which was shipped out this month. The story of a vision appearing to a group of people in the Irish town of Knock, is reported by the Roman Catholic Saints website, as:

‘The apparition in County Mayo in Ireland of Our Lady of Knock is reported to have occurred on the evening of August 21, 1879, the vigil of the octave of the feast of the Assumption. Those who witnessed the miracle ranged in age from five years old to seventy-five. IMG_0305

The apparition was described as follows: “Our Lady was wearing a large, brilliant crown and clothed in white garments. On her right was Saint Joseph, his head inclined toward her and on her left Saint John the Evangelist. To the left of Saint John was an altar on which stood a cross and a lamb.” Standing only a few feet off the ground, the Blessed Virgin wore a white cloak and was described by witnesses as being incredibly beautiful. She wore a bright golden crown, and appeared to be praying with her eyes looking toward heaven with her arms bend in front of her with her palms facing inward.’

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For Christine, this commission has been yet another wonderful opportunity to learn more about the different ways God has interacted with His church. The different streams of the church have such a rich history of how God has chosen to make himself known. It is different for all of us and we cannot judge another’s experience, only give thanks again that God cares enough to find different avenues to connect to us, His whole church. I am sure that everyone who reads this blog could give an example of how God has made himself known to them. Perhaps through a vision, or a healing, maybe through the audible word of God, or just that quiet thought which suddenly appears in our minds which we KNOW we have to listen to and act on.

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In November one of the big events is Veterans day. Michael had the role of leading the service which was really well attended. So many people had served America in one of the five services and each one had a photograph of them dressed in their appropriate uniforms many years ago. For Michael it was a lesson to not look at the elderly as they appear today, but remember how active, dynamic and handsome they were when they were younger. We owe a huge debt to those who have gone before us and spent some of their best years fighting for the values that made America great. Now many are truly disheartened by what is happening in this country today and feel helpless as to what to do.

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The only answer I can offer is for there to be an outpouring of prayer for healing in this nation and righteous leadership.

Jesus prayed that the church would not be divided. In many ways the church has been divided and the country is divided and it is ripe for a fall, as Jesus warned in Mathew 12:25.

Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.’

PRAYERS FOR OUR NATION

Let us pray for this nation, without calling on the ‘spirit of politics’, which continues to be an idol against the Holy Spirit. “Make thy face to shine upon thine servant; save me for thy mercies sake.” Psalm 31:16  May God ‘s face shine upon our country and save us for His mercy’s sake.

As Christians we are called to be active Christians, not waiving that assignment to politicians. The spirit of politics may cover itself with the talk of righteousness but not the walk, as is being revealed now.  ” Be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.”  Psalm 31:24

Sending you all our love and prayers,

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography        Christine’s Icons      Christine’s Icon Prints

 

Prayer is All

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Dear Friends and Family:

AS usual, it’s been busy down here!

We both had a trip to San Antonio, TX, in October. It was a mixed purpose trip; Michael gave a talk to a Garden Club there and also did some garden photography. Christine has an October birthday and we were grateful to be able to celebrate that at the same time.

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We managed to get some time to visit two of the early Missions there; Los Alamos and Concepcion. Los Alamos was very crowded with visitors but there was definitely a strong sense of national pride in the history of the sacrifices made there. Mission Concepcion, which is still an active parish, had a spiritual presence and simplicity I found reminiscent of a monastery.IMG_9227

An old painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the Mexican Marian visitations, hangs in the vaulted church sanctuary and particularly caught Christine’s eye as an early example of this very famous Catholic image. Christine wrote an icon of that image in the past, which is unusual, as it is mostly seen as a religious painting.

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Christine taught an icon class at St Peter and Paul Church in Bradenton which has become a regular location for an annual class.  It was a smaller intimate class which created a real closeness to the Lord as the work is undertaken in deep prayer.

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Michael continues as the Chaplain for Freedom Village and sometimes wonders how God placed him in an elderly and mostly financially secure community as a lot of his past has been with marketplace and street ministry.IMG_9010

 

Then he is reminded that we are all souls, whether rich or poor, secure or in physical danger, we all will have to stand before God and answer for our lives. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, no matter what their circumstances are.IMG_9644

Working with the elderly is certainly a good primer for what we can anticipate of our own lives in the future. In America people are living much longer lives than they used to do and 95 years is becoming more the normal life expectancy than the unusual.IMG_9777

So a question Michael hears over and over again is, ‘what is the purpose of life?’

It becomes an even more pressing question for those who are bed bound, totally dependent on others for meals, using the bathroom, staying washed and shaved, etc. The list of their dependence goes until the elderly become reliant on others for everything, like a babe in arms.

 

We are introduced to this world as infants and we are escorted from the world as senior infants. How much purpose our lives carry at the end of our independent and active years will most likely be a reflection on how much we have a relationship with God. After all, I believe that is the real purpose of our lives; to have a relationship with God.IMG_9280

For those who find themselves not believing there is a God, quite often a purpose for life is found through their children or grandchildren’s lives. Fear, confusion and anger often develops along with a pathos of not knowing why they are still here being a burden to others.

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Seeing a future continuing for one’s family within this worldly context is what we can all ponder on. But Christians are given so much more than that, we are given a future continuing on into eternity of Glory and worship, not only with our blood family but also with our spiritual family. Our spiritual family encompasses not only the living believers but also all those past. Today is ‘All Saints Day’ in the traditional streams of Christianity and it reminds us of the enormity and significance of our family. As a family member, our ‘Father God’ or ‘Papa’, always wants to hear what is on our hearts, we can always talk with Him, even if we are too old or sick to speak out loud, He will hear us. So, we will always have a purpose for our lives and the purpose is prayer. Being in relationship with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ.

For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10.

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

Sending You Our Love and Prayers,

Christine and Michael Hales

Michael’s Photography                   Christine’s Icons                 Christine’s Paintings

God’s Creation

Dear Family and Friends:

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Christine had another teaching class at Holy Cross Monastery, in West Park, NY, with several returning students. She has a following of students who want to continue to go deeper into the experience of writing icons. Teaching in a monastery which has a daily cycle of five prayer services by the monks makes it even more of a prayerful experience. The retreat coincided with some of the very hot weather which spread across the North East this July.

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Michael continues with the chaplaincy work in the elderly community at Freedom Village and Blake hospital. There are so many end of life situations which people are dealing with. To bring the love of Christ into those critical times is a great privilege and also can be very demanding. One of the constants that has brought him relief is photographing the beauty of creation, in all manner of things.

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It is God’s creativity, which is never endingly astonishing and it is available for all to see, ‘who have eyes to see.’

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Paul writes about creation in Romans 1:19-21, saying that everyone should recognize the extraordinary presence of God by the awesome divine nature of the things that have been made. He says there is no excuse, for not recognizing God’s hand at work, or for not honoring it.

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19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

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We are in a time where respect for God’s creation is not a priority for the leadership of America or Brazil [the rain forest is being destroyed at the encouragement of Brazil’s president, our president has turned away from recognizing global warming and the Paris agreement]. The environment is loosing at irrevocable speed to human development and greed.

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The environment is just one arena but now there are many areas where Christians have decided to place their trust and favor in a political spirit, following blindly ‘false Christian’ political leadership away from those things dear to Christ’s heart. Loving our neighbor, has moved to creating walls, division, racism, inequality, lies and squandering truth. Michael thinks we have a responsibility to point out as a Christian, that many are following a political spirit, which will turn whichever way it believes it can gain the most votes. It has no heart for what the consequences are. It is not driven by love but by a bullying greed. It is a political spirit not the Holy Spirit.

Michael grew up in England and his father witnessed how the fascist mentality was allowed to grow in Germany and Italy before the war. The mistake the Christians made in trusting that political spirit, rather than being responsible to the Holy Spirit, were profound.

We are responsible to the Holy Spirit, responsible to the love of Christ, responsible to Glorify God our Father, one person at a time one Christian at a time. Not to place our work and responsibility at the feet ‘fake Christian political figures’.

‘For though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.’

Jesus taught how to separate between the political spirit and the Holy Spirit, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.’

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I pray that we render to God the things which are God’s and gives thanks and honor to all He creates and not turn our responsibilities over to a false spirit.

It is our joy to pray for you all each day.

Love and prayers,

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography     Christine’s Icons

 

 

 

Be Still…

 

Holy Cross Monastery Mick Hales
Holy Cross Monastery Mick Hales

Christine has had an active month, again with teaching an Icon class at Holy Cross Monastery in the Hudson Valley, which was focused on Sacred Geometry. It was a wonderful class and it is always especially good within the monastic life at Holy Cross to experience these retreats. The spring in New York had been quite wet and all the trees were especially beautiful with the early leaf growth giving a rich chartreuse green to the landscape.

Icon Class Christine Hales
Icon Class Christine Hales

 

Her large icon of St Peter with Christ is practically complete and is due to travel to Ohio next week. The colors are very powerful and the peace in the expression of Christ is captivating. IMG_6009

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There is no doubt that the Holy Spirit moves through these Icons and touches many people.

We are so grateful for the work that Christine has been led to creating and teaching iconography, please keep her in your prayers.

Clouds Mick Hales
Clouds Mick Hales

Be Still and Know that I am God.

 

May has been quite an active month with trips- driving  to New York and flying to Texas.

 

Michael’s Chaplaincy work includes leading a weekly contemplative prayer session. He has been doing it now for a couple of months and the regular attendants know the procedure and are able to become ‘still’. A portion of scripture is read three times and then people are still and quiet for twenty minutes as they allow God to dig them deeper into the relevance of the scripture to them at that time. Afterwards we share with each other what God led us to.

Magnolia Mick Hales
Magnolia Mick Hales

 

It always amazes me that each person is taken down a different path to a personal encounter with God, finding out what God wants to reveal to them individually. We all start with the same scripture passage to ponder and pray into but end up with different results.

It is a reminder how important it is to be still with God.

Jesus did exactly that, rising early in the morning to go by himself to a quiet place where he could talk and listen to God the Father. Through his intimate time with the Father he was able to face the stress of his ministry. In His high priestly prayer recorded in John 17, Jesus prays that we, those who in the future would believe that Jesus was sent from God could have that same love and intimacy that He had with the Father. Such an extraordinary prayer. He also prayed that we could all be as one. Not that we would be identical but we could have a united purpose coming from a united love. That is when things will start to happen, when the body of Christ moves as one. What will it take for the body of Christ to move as one?

Iris Mick Hales
Iris Mick Hales

 

The scripture from Psalm 46 reads,

‘Be still and know that I am God,

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.’

The power of that scripture is far beyond what we can imagine. The news we hear from the nations, including our own, points to a world without God. But the truth is, God is God, and when we are still and focused on Him, his power is released through us and His love is made real in us.

Such a counter culture concept for us today in a world where business and activity are the hallmarks of success. Success for Jesus is being totally intimate with God and for us to have that too.

So, Michael, still has to teach himself, when driving or flying, or just being really busy which happened this month: the real journey is to be still with God that’s when things start to happen.

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

Sending love and prayers,

 

Michael and Christine

Mick’s Photographs            Christine’s Icons

 

 

 

Love, not Fear and Hate

Dear Friends and Family:

Icon Class at Immaculate Conception Seminary
Icon Class at Immaculate Conception Seminary

Christine had a wonderful Icon writing retreat at the former Roman Catholic Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, in Lloyd Harbor, NY.

It was a privilege to be able to spend time in a seminary building which had so many priests pass through its doors for many years. Although no longer a seminary, as such, a lot of retreats and teaching classes continue in the extraordinary building and grounds.

Icon Painting Class with Christine Hales
Icon Painting Class with Christine Hales

Christine was teaching Iconography to a wonderful group of students keen to learn how to write an icon and practice this spiritual discipline over the Columbus Day weekend. The building has an extraordinary collection of religious paintings, stonework, ironwork and all manor of crafts and a deep presence of prayer.

Eyes of Fire Getting Great Reviews!

Christine’s book has been getting wonderful reviews and is #1 new release in spiritual books on Amazon!! If you have not had a chance to order a copy yet please go for it.

Eyes of Fire Icon Book
Eyes of Fire Icon Book

It is wonderful to see how God has worked through her struggle as an artist to come up with a vibrant position to talk to artists as wells Christians. This is a well resourced book for this who are interested in writing Icons, but it is also a deep revelation of her walk and faith in using the gifts God has given her.

Here are two links for you to get a copy.  Book of the Month Club    and   direct link to  Amazon.   Get your copy today!!

 

Our Move is Coming Along!!

We achieved a major move from the Hudson Valley, NY, to Bradenton, FL. It is by no means completed yet but the major part has been done.

Paintings and photographs preparing to move
Paintings and photographs preparing to move

Moving is thought to be one of the five most stressful situations normal life offers. Certainly driving a heavy loaded truck 1400 miles is stressful, let alone all the packing and now unpacking, all the decisions about what should be kept and what should be given away or discarded.

We were Blessed though, we knew where we were going and that people at our destination were glad we were coming.

 

Our thoughts and prayers though go out to the much maligned people who have lost a safe place to live in their homes in Honduras and as best they can are travelling on foot to find a safer life. This is the ‘Caravan’, desperate people fleeing because they no longer have safe homes. They have become a political football for the Trump administration to build fears about immigrants, even though they are still one thousand miles away from the US border travelling by foot, 5200 troops are being sent to ‘guard’ the borders. President Trump has described the coming midterm elections as the ‘Election of the Caravan’. It is alarmist rhetoric which is fueling hatred in our country leading to political and anti semetic violence.

As a Christian I have to say this is not of God. As a Christian I have to say this nation is heading in a hedonistic direction which is contrary to its values of the past.

Attending to homeless in NYC
Attending to homeless in NYC

As a Christian I refer to scripture,

Isaiah 58:6-8 English Standard Version (ESV)

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed[a] go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

Children learning Franklin D Roosevelt's Four Freedoms
Children learning Franklin D Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms

It is worth going back to Franklin D Roosevelt’s speech known as the Four Freedoms made in January 1941, where he talks of the freedom of speech and expression,  that every person can worship God in his own way, freedom from want and freedom from fear. These four freedoms he declared are for everywhere in the world and attainable in our own time and generation. America seems to have turned in on itself and lost the vision of a caring leader of freedom in the world.

This is a time where prayer for this nation, with all of it’s power and wealth, for all of its responsibilities to the world as a whole, would be guided by the Holy Spirit and a heart of love not hatred and fear. Let us all come together and seek before God His wisdom on the direction of this nation in prayer.

Love and Prayers,

Michael and Christine

 

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

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