Tag Archives: Worship

Testimony and Extraordinary Times

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

Each day the news gets more and more incredible.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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So where does this lead us?

 

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

 

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

 

Testimony can raise faith or it can destroy it.

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

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

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

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

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The Lord is My Shepherd Icon by Christine Hales

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

2 Timothy 1:6-14.

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

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

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

Love and prayers, Michael and Christine

Christine’s Icon Blog is here.

Mick’s Photography Site

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God is in their Recovery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings and Prayers,

Christine and Michael

Michael’s Photography Site        Christine’s Icon Site

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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Sending you all love and prayers,

Michael and Christine

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

Psalm 23

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We hope this summer is going well for you all?  It is a working summer for us- God is blessing us with many opportunities to make our art and share it!  So, it’s crazy busy sometimes but also great fun because we love what we’re doing!  Couldn’t be better!!photo 3

This morning this is the last little baby bird to fly the nest on our front porch!!

Even the sparrow finds a home, and a swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.  Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.” Psalm 84:3-4

I’ve just taught an Icon Workshop at Holy Cross Monastery and that is always a blessing for everyone, praise God.

Also just took a week long painting intensive at Bennington College through my alma mater, Massachusetts College of Art.  During this workshop, I began exploring the boundaries between Icons and religious painting- something I hope to do a lot more of this coming year.  Here is a photo with me and my Saint Joan of Arc painting. photo 7

This from Michael:  “I have been working on a video on Psalm 23 which has been a wonderful project. It has given me a deeper understanding of how close the relationship of King David was with God. The first line states the Lord is my shepherd and right up front assigns authority to God. David declares that God has authority over him and once that has been established the Psalm then states God’s security, leadership, rest, provision, abundance, redemption, direction, love, family and on and on until finally unity with Him for eternity.

This Holy scripture describes so intimately the relationship between God and David and it is all available when David assigns authority over his life to the good shepherd. David having been a shepherd himself before becoming a king, understood the roles of both of those positions. He likens himself to a sheep under the care of a shepherd, a foreshadow of how Jesus became the sacrificial lamb for mankind under the authority of God the Father. The depth of the love voiced in Psalm 23 is a witness to the love Jesus has for us.
Psalm 23 video

Please watch the video and share it with someone who may not know the Psalm at all. When I started to film people for the video, I approached a group of teenagers on a NY subway platform and asked if they would read the psalm 23, none of them knew what a psalm was, never mind the number 23. One young man was willing to try, but a train came in at that point. That experience just increased my desire to make scripture alive to people who do not get to hear it in their daily lives.”

And, for the first time ever, Michael and I had a pop up exhibition together in my studio in Hudson.  It was so much fun, visiting with our friends and being able to talk in depth with them about our work.  Thank you God!!  FullSizeRender 9

Sending you all love and prayers,

Christine and Michael

Mick’s Photography Site

Christine’s Icon Site

Gifts

Watching the spring finally come into our garden this morning I was struck by the abundance of small yellow flowers falling off our Maple trees. Then I was struck by the abundance of azalea blooms which only yesterday were in their prime and now are falling to the ground. God’s abundance and His timing can make me stand up in awe. Indeed, this April, there have been images of the wild flowers in the Californian hills taken from space, and the whole landscape has turns yellow and orange with their Californian poppies. This was an extraordinary wild flower blooming in California, after years of drought finally gave way to soaking rain.

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It is good to remember when we feel like we are in a desert with our walk with God, that He is so abundant with His riches and precise with His timing. The bible reminds us that, [Romans 9:29], ‘For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.’

I hang on to that scripture knowing I have been called and often experiencing His gifts, but still feeling I am not exactly where God wants me to be. So I have been crying out for my life to align with God’s purposes for it.

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Christine led another Icon writing retreat in the final days of Holy week in Miami, which was a very powerful experience for all who took part. One of the wonderful parts to the retreat was using stations of the cross Icons which Christine had created some ten years ago. They were placed in different areas of Morning Star Retreat Center’s garden and everyone took part, including three teenagers who were taking the retreat with their parents.

Miami Icon Retreat
Miami Icon Retreat

 

The retreats Christine has led through lent, have each been different although the same Icon, the face of Christ has been written. The Holy Spirit has a way of opening doors which have been closed for some time and allowing integration and healing to take place. There has been a lot of healing happening in these retreats, both physical, emotional and spiritual.

 

Michael had a new book published, New York Living: Re-Invented, for which he did the majority of the photography. Books take some time to get published, this one two years, so it is always good to see how people react to ones work from a few years previously. The career as a photographer has been Michael’s ‘tent making’, referring to the apostle Paul; often while on photo shoots the chance to pray for someone will come up and it has been wonderful to do that with people, often the clients. When one looks back over a period of time one realizes how God has been working through you.

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Romans 9: 33 and 36, ‘ Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and inscrutable his ways.photo 2

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.’

 

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

Blessings and Love,

Michael and Christine

Michael’s photography Website, Christine’s Art Website A, Christine’s Art Website B, Icon Website,  Icon Classes Website

 

Healing Prayer Day in Philmont, NY

Dear Friends and Family:  photo

This past week we had a week’s holiday at the beach – God blessed us so much! We have made some good friends there and feel like we are becoming part of the beach family. Yay!  Now we are back at work, and today I’ve been working since 5:30 am (it’s 5:30pm now), just so you know :).  Seriously, working refreshed is a lot better than working stressed out, praise God!

I’m working on developing my oil painting right now, as well as a new Icon of Saint Brigid that I am excited about.  But this coming Saturday is the Healing Prayer Day in Philmont that Michael is organizing and we want to tell you about it and ask for your prayers to cover it from now right up through the event.

Michael has invited Rick Cecil, one of the team of praying in the streets in Baltimore, MD, to come as well as Stephen Stewart to play guitar for worship.  We will be offering free hamburgers, hot dogs and cotton candy, but the emphasis  will be on healing prayer.

John 10:10 “The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill,  and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.”IMG_5345

We’ve been asking for your prayers for Philmont for some time. There is an epidemic of heroin use and child abuse in the village.  We can’t silently stand by without raising the call for healing and prayer. Will you help us?  If all of you prayed, it would move mountains.  We ask for your prayers especially this week, that all those who need God’s healing will come, and that God would raise up a mighty army that will give His victory to save His children from destruction, poverty, and abuse.

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We pray that  Philmont will be a drug free zone. That workers will rise up to create educational programs for the youth, that Godly employment will be found for them, and small children will be protected from predators of all kinds.IMG_3113

Lord, God, we thank you for protecting us from every form of evil and bringing  us the gift of your divine health. We thank you for breaking the chains of oppression and delivering us from every form of sin, addiction, sickness, disease, and lie of the enemy, and we ask this in the name of Jesus.

We love you all and are so grateful to know that we can count on your prayer support.  And please keep us aware of how we can pray for you!  The gathering is Saturday, August 1, 2-5PM at the Claverack Town Park. Free and open to the public!

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