New heart granted

10 Jun

Stories to Inspire series…

As we grow in God, we realize that He gave us a new heart, we just have to learn to live from our new heart instead of the old patterns of yesterday.  “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (kainos – new species) (II Cor 5:17).  We must be diligent to “get a new mind” (Rms 12:2) and experience “the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5).  

O, it’ll take some time to wean ourselves from the earth-centered consciousness to the upgraded Heaven-based consciousness… but it’s so worth it.  

Below, my buddy Earl shares a story of how God recently gave him a new heart… at least took away all the problems that his old heart used to have.  If you have heart or blood pressure issues, let this testimony be your ticket to a position of faith for your own miracle.  


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New heart granted

About three months ago, I started to have issues with my blood pressure.  When I exercised it would rise instantly to over 180/100 and I would feel pressure in my chest. Just resting I would feel it rise and my head would start to pound.  It was constantly above 150/90 even when resting. I would wake up in the middle of the night with it 165/98. I was feeling fatigued all the time.


Add this with my history of having a quadruple heart bypass surgery 9 years ago; I have been understandably concerned my arteries were getting clogged again.  These were all the same symptoms I had before that last surgery.

Another concern was the VA Doctor has been after me for years to take cholesterol-lowering medications and I refused them.  I could hear them saying “I told you so.”

The first thing I did was give up salt and sugar.  Yes, I salted bacon.  Sylvia, my other Holy Spirit, has been saying I needed to quit the salt for years.  Amazing what you will do when you hear the “shot across the bow.”  That was five weeks ago and my resting blood pressure returned to normal, but I was still having chest pressure and extremely high blood pressure when I exerted any activity.  Going up the stairs twice caused it to spike and my chest to tighten.

At a meeting at Mark Hendrickson’s, I explained to him what was going on with me and asked for prayer sometime during the meeting.  Later there was a time of prayer for those who needed healing… so several gathered around me to pray.  God’s presence was wonderful.  I felt that something had happened but no real outward signs.
Five days later I went for a stress test at the hospital.  I walked and eventually started jogging and continued for 9 minutes.  They got my heart rate up to 125 and my blood pressure rose slowly from 125/76 to 135/80 to 175/88 and then when I rested it immediately came down to 135/65!  No chest pressure at all!!  After that, they put dye in my IV and had me run for another minute.  After nuclear imaging, I was sent home.  At 4 pm I received a call from the doctor’s nurse.  She said there were no issues and no further tests needed.  She said I was at low risk for heart problems.  I have not had a high blood pressure reading since that prayer time.

This gets even better.  I have been taking 12.5mg of Carvedilol for a heart arrhythmia problem.  The VA put a 24-hour heart monitor on me and my heart skipped a beat over 6,000 times during that period.  I have been taking that for 9 years.  I felt the Lord say to stop taking it, so that is what I did.  That was several weeks ago and my heart has not skipped a beat.  I have not had one side effect from the sudden discontinuation of the medication.  I feel like my youth is being renewed according to Psalm 103:5, “Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”  I have quoted this Psalm at least once a week for years.  And to think this is under the older covenant.  What does the New Covenant promise? – EA

Follow-up: “It’s been a month now. All blood pressure and arrhythmia issues are still healthy normal as they should be. But I’ve discovered another blessing… Since I’m off of the meds, my short term memory has dramatically improved. I began noticing a marked improvement… and even my wife and friends have noticed it. Wow!!! Thank You, God!!!”

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget ALL His benefits!!!” – Ps 103:2

Born again, again!

27 May

Over the last few years our ‘above-the-line’ emphasis steadily yields rich and inspiring breakthroughs. Significant new Scriptural building blocks are steadily being added to our belief system which establishes the framework of our expanding faith. And this has led us to making many exciting discoveries in fresh territories of Heavenly possibility.

Expansion… Truly, our spirit and soul were created with this need… to EXPAND. Think of it; everything – plant, animal and human – wants to expand… to conquer… to propagate… to grow. Sadly, if we don’t grow, then something deep inside begins to be agitated. But after a while, if we don’t grow, that agitation begins to subside and inwardly we ‘dumb down’ until we ‘go to sleep’.

Sadly, I think this is the condition of much of humanity… including many believers. If you think about it, this could be one of the applications of Ezekiel’s ‘valley of dry bones’ (Ezk 37). Remember, God asked him, “Can these dry bones live?” Those bones gave evidence of some semblance of life in the past, but there was no fresh life now. Ezekiel had to call the bones together, the sinews and skin on them and the breath of life into them before they could stand up and live again.

God is recreating that same ‘rebirth’ dynamic for many believers all across the world. He’s inviting our soul-man into a Heavenly positioning. And He’s validating our spirit-man as the rightful leader worthy of taking us into the Heavenly realities (under Holy Spirit’s leadership, of course!). This revelatory process is opening up powerful new growth and expansion possibilities. An awakening is happening which is creating new zest and joy for life. It’s an awakening similar to John’s revelatory experience when he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day and he heard a voice say through an open door, “Come on up here” (Rev 4:1).

The invitation, “Come on up here,” is now being heralded across the globe to many hearts that may have been partially dormant but were sincerely hungry for more. In the past, as below-the-line earth-dwellers, it felt like we had ‘maxed out’ the frontiers of formalized religion. We didn’t want to admit it, but we wondered why we felt bored… or why religion didn’t satisfy like it used to. It was because God’s grace was shifting, highlighting yet another of His awe inspiring dreams that He has held until the perfect timing for His people. And now… a large door has been opened granting access to regions ‘above-the-line’… in the Heavenlies.


Jesus said in John 10:9, “He shall go in and out and find pasture.” He made it so easy… and so rewarding. The time has come… the Heavenlies are accessible. With the sentiment of the two faith-filled Promise Land spies, we say, “Let’s possess our inheritance.”

Can you hear the bones rattling together? Can you feel the fresh life of the Heavenlies being breathed into your heart and soul? I can! Honestly, these last few years have been some of the freshest and most inspiring of all of my life! It feels like this is what I was born for. Actually, it’s like I’ve been born again, again. You watch, very soon, many will say like I’ve said many times, “I feel like I came to the Kingdom for such a time as this!”

For more, visit our DPM/ALC YouTube channel

— MLH

Jesus rewrote the story

18 Mar

Stories to Inspire

This story may not be so much different from some other great ministries such as; Sozo, Theophostic, Healing Prayer or Emanuel Prayer…. all of which are methodologies of healing problematic issues in our past.  But in most of those practices, it requires a ‘coach’ to assist you on this journey into our healing.

Isa 2:3 says that He (Himself) will teach us of His ways and we shall learn to walk in His paths AS we learn to ascend to the Mountain of the Lord.   Did you catch that?  We must ascend… that’s UP to to His territory.  Thank God for people who come alongside us to help us into breakthroughs.  We’re very grateful!  But what would it be like if we were led by Jesus Himself?  

I believe this is just one of the many benefits of learning to ascend into the Heavenlies.  And that’s just for starters!!! 

Listen to Karen’s recent story of how Jesus lovingly cared for her as He personally escorted her back in time to a place of a lot of pain for a young 12-year-old girl.  He extracted that pain from her memories.  It reminds us again that He wants to and is very capable of restoring all things in our lives.   

Let’s let Him.

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Jesus rewrote the story

“Recently I was invited to go through the ‘Door’ of heaven (John 10:9).  Here’s my experience.”

“Once I walked through the Door I heard water gushing and I saw a waterfall, high cliffs and beauty all around.”

“Jesus came to me and said, ”Let me love you,” and beckoned me to follow Him.  He led me to a scene in my past where I was recovering from spinal fusion surgery.  I was in a very hot and depressing room in a Children’s Hospital in Nebraska.  My Mom was in the room with me.”

“When Jesus walked into the room it was suddenly filled with beautiful flowers and a lovely fragrance.  He motioned for me (adult Karen) to crawl into the bed with young Karen and hold her.”

“One by one He led me back into many memories in that hospital where I stayed for 3 months.  There were many dark memories that happened in that hospital to myself and others.  I was in that hospital 400 miles away from home at age 12 without my family — except for a couple of visits from them.  Each memory we walked through, He transformed into a fun party.  Every day became a big party in the ward with 30 other girls between the ages of 12-18.  Some days we had our toes painted and some days we had our fingernails painted.  We had angels attending us in a loving and kind way.  There was an atmosphere of great joy in the place.  Jesus rewrote the story… not only for me, but for every girl in that ward.”Jesus rewrote the story

“There is truly a transformation of joy happening inside of me because of this encounter.  I love how Jesus took the memories and experiences and redeemed them as only He can.  As a result, these memories are not holding me as a victim any longer!!  Now, when I remember this season in my childhood I feel a sense of joy instead of dread.” – Karen

— MLH

Ascended Life Community (ALC) School

17 Mar

Dear Friends

You may know by now that many of us have been inspired by some fresh new spiritual frontiers in the last few years.  Actually, these spiritual frontiers are not really new, they’re just being rediscovered.

Have you noticed that much of our Christianity is focused on what’s ‘below the line’ – the ‘line’ between Heaven and earth.  A large part of below-the-line focus has been on behavioral issues and spiritual disciplines, etc—i.e., compliance with the Ten Commandments.   Don’t misunderstand me!!  These are all good… they help keep us out of the ‘ditches’ of life.  But it seems as though Jesus’ desire for us, is for something far more than just staying out of the ditches.  What does He really want?  Try this…

“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me…” – John 17:24

Doesn’t it sound like Heaven is where He wants us to be?  But, is that possible?  Well… this next verse implies that it’s doable for all of us – now!

“No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.” – John 3:13

Did you hear what Jesus said?  He is “in Heaven” AND still in His physical body – AT THE SAME TIME!  Evidently, for us to be with Him in Heaven doesn’t mean that our ‘ticker’ has to stop or that we have to physically leave earth.  We can experience Heaven while still in this physical body. 

That may be a radical new thought for you… or maybe you’ve been experiencing this reality for years, but this revelation is the starting place of a fascinating adventure we’ve been on for the last few years.  Together with some amazing friends, we’ve made crazy cool discoveries about ‘relocating’ to the Heavenlies and we have very tangible stories to show for it.  The truth is, it’s been one of the most exciting times of my Christian walk with God.  And the Ascended Life Community (ALC) would like to share it with you!

So we’re announcing…

ALC school – via Zoom – free!

This Saturday, March 20 we will begin a twice-monthly Saturday 10 AM Zoom (the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month).  We will focus on ‘ascended life’ (Isa 2:2-3) and new creation (II Cor 5:17) realities… and many exciting related topics.  Each time we gather, we’ll 1) share stories 2) focus on an ascended life topic, 3) initiate an activation and 4) debrief.  ALC school is open to all who are interested.  Feel free to send this invitation to others.

Here’s a 10-minute outtake from a recent ALC meeting which gives a brief overview of what our Ascended Life Community is focused on.

What is ALC? A brief overview – https://youtu.be/AqYNXYmt6Og

If you are interested, simply send me an email (below) and I’ll send you the Zoom connection info for this Saturday.

Our love and blessings!!

Mark & Debbie Hendrickson
hendrickson@dpmkc.org
Ascended Life Community (ALC)
in association with 
Dwelling Place Ministries (DPM)

Go back and remake your choice

28 Feb

Stories to Inspire

Have you ever had a regret in your past that you wished you could go back and do it right?  Of course… I think most of us have.  What if there was a way to do just that?

1.  Is it Biblical to go back in time?   Can we have any influence over something so pervasive as TIME?

Paul admonishes us to “redeem the time”.  Most of us probably think that means to just work harder or more diligently.  And I imagine that is good for starters but I’m confident that there is more latitude for interpretation of this verse.  Here are just a few references to changes of time in our Bibles.

“Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” – Eph 5:15-16

“And another king shall rise up… and he will intend to change times and the law…” – Dan 7:25

Sun went backward ten steps for Hezekiah – II Kngs 20:9-11

“So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies.  Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.” – Josh 10:13

2. So how can I change things back in time?  How can I change things that seem buried in my past? 

Well, for starters check out a post on my blog of how a daughter was physically healed without knowing that her mother went back in time andrewrote the script.”

And now, check out Donna’s story as she remakes a choice in an event that happened many decades before.
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Go back and remake your choice

“A few years ago I read Nancy Ravenhill’s story and was impressed with how she prayed for Jesus’ help during some abusive times as a child.  Her story reminded me of something that happened to me when I was a little girl.  I wished I could have asked Jesus for help then, but at the time I didn’t know to do that.  Instead, my experience brought fear into my life.”

“Several months after reading Nancy’s book, I heard Patricia King speak at a conference.  She said that Jesus, as our redeemer, “buys back and reestablishes”.  She said, “If there is an area you have remorse over, go back into the memory with Jesus.  Repent, receive forgiveness.  Then make the right choice.  He can then fix and redeem the situation.””

“I decided to go back to my childhood experience and remake my choice, which I didn’t know how to make when I was young.”

“What happened—more than 50 years ago—was that I “saw” a man in my closet, an old man wearing a suit.  I was afraid of him and afraid to get out of bed.  My mom came, opened the closet, and showed me that no one was there.  But the fear remained throughout my childhood and into adulthood.  Looking back on this incident through the years I always saw that man in the closet.”

“I went back in time in my imagination to the experience with the intention to make a better choice than I made as a little girl.  I told Jesus I was sorry that I didn’t ask for His help back then.  I asked Him to help me and to take care of the man in my closet.  It was that simple.  The next part was not a product of my imagination.  I saw Jesus angrily dropkick that man right out of the house.  Gone for good!  I knew Jesus was not happy about what had happened to me, and that too was healing.  From then till now I see only an empty closet.” – Donna

Informed Prophetic Intercession

15 Feb

Recently my friend Earl Ackley, sent a communique to his followers and he used the term, informed prophetic intercession.  That resonated so deeply with me.  I love that phrase!  It connotes that before someone speaks, they have heard first.  It sounds like our ‘business’ of prayer is maturing.

I believe that intercession is getting a brand new definition in this era.  To me, it used to mean ‘petition loud’… but it’s changing to: ‘declare AFTER hearing‘.

As we know, we can’t truly be prophetic unless we’ve been informed… because true Biblical faith only comes by being informed… “faith comes by hearing“.   And once we’ve heard, then we have a “substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not yet seen”.   We can speak with the assurance and confidence that our words are the same as Heaven’s words.  

I feel the pleasure and smile of our Father upon us all as we mature in our hearing first, and then in our capacity to prophesy as “oracles of God.” (I Pet 4:11)  His dreams are coming true in and through us.  Wow!!  He’s always wanted to “give you the Kingdom”, but we had to grow up first before He handed over the keys. 

Can’t you just see Father calling the angels and Saints around and pointing at us with righteous pride and saying something like, “Look!  Look!  They’re getting it.  My dream for them is coming to pass.  Let’s all throw a party in the Heavenlies!  It won’t be long, they’ll be as comfortable governing earth from Heaven as they used to be when praying beggar prayers from Earth.  They’re gonna love spending more time in their Heavenly realm than the earthly realm.”  (just like Jesus in Jn 3:13)

It’s empowering and transformative to enter into the delight that our Father is feeling about us as we discover and embrace our inheritance.  It gives new meaning to the verse, “Well done, enter into the joy of the Lord.”

And if I can take it a bit further, I’ll bet Father is notifying Creation, which has been groaning in eager expectation for the emerging of the Sons of God upon the earth.  He’s probably giving Creation a ‘heads-up’, “FYI Creation!  You’re eager expectations are about to be fulfilled.  My sons and daughters are on a good track to discovering their true identity and latent DNA.  And that will mean your liberation, also!” (Rms 8:19-23)

Can you feel the jubilation of our Father?

Earl, you’re onto some VERY GOOD!  We’re advancing in maturity.  We’re becoming ‘mature sons’.  That’s good news.

I declare over each of you; Much grace, easy hearing and powerful declarations… followed by many compelling testimonies!!!!

— MLH

Sacred heart angel

10 Feb

Stories to Inspire

Every good father wants his children to begin to learn his heart and his values and his world.  We proudly introduce our children to the places we grew up and to the important people in our lives.  Our hopes are that in so doing that it will help form a paradigm for them to mature well.

And our Heavenly Father is no different.  Jesus said, “It’s the Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom.” – (Lk 12:32)

So how do we become familiar with our Father’s world?  Well, Jesus said that we can’t even get into the Kingdom of Heaven unless we become like a little child.  I think part of becoming like a little child involves learning how to simply recognize our Father’s leading.  If we can learn Father’s voice and respond to it, then we can be assured we’re safe to explore new territories.

Sometimes, I employ a simple activation that usually yields some pretty astounding experiences – sometimes tender tear-filled and powerfully personal… and sometimes hilarious, accompanied with lots of laughter.  God’s ways are way more personal and fun than we ever expected.  This is just one activation that can launch us into a process of wonderful discovery of our Father’s world.
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Sacred heart angel

At The Well – my sister and bro-in-law’s church in the Nashville area – we initiated an activation to become familiar with our angels.  We asked Holy Spirit to put something in our left hand… and with our right hand to take the first name that came to mind.  This would be a child-like ‘first step’ into the discovery of the function and identity of one of our angels.  

My sister Leann, felt like a glass heart was put in her left hand, but then the glass heart turned into a real beating heart.  The first name that came to her mind was ‘Sacred’.  One possible application of those two things is that Leann may have an angel that brings and reveals the Sacred Heart of the Father to her. 

Two days later, Debbie and I gave Leann and Carl their Christmas gifts.  My gift to Leann was a clear 2” glass angel that I brought from KC (see pic).  She gasped in surprise, “Do you know what this is!?”  Honestly, I had no idea of the significance!  She pointed out that the angel is holding a glass heart in its hands and reminded me of what had happened just 2 days before, with her Sacred Heart angel experience.  Then I remembered.  We were both amazed at how God is so good and so personal as He leads us into His world.  He is so fun!!!

— MLH

Prospering while trapped in another country

8 Feb

Stories to Inspire
In a recent post, I asked, “What did you do with 2020?” You’ll love what my friends have done with 2020.
We’ve all had our 2020 hardships, but in March a great friend of mine and his wife had to go to another country in order to get their visas renewed. Their home for the last several years has been in a foreign country where they serve as missionary pastors. But in the day or so that they were out of their home country, Covid restrictions shut everything down. They couldn’t re-cross the border to return home. Now they were stuck in a country where they don’t have any friends… and only a casual contact.


But the cool thing is that after nearly a year of being stuck, they currently have a boatload of God-stories… including housing, finances, connections, ministry, etc. Any normal human response to being trapped in a foreign country would likely be overwhelming discouragement and potentially ‘poisoning’ our future with murmuring and complaining. But true to their norm, they’ve been actively engaged in listening and responding to God… even in this foreign land… even despite Covid.
BTW – Here’s the latest on their living accommodations: “We’re still stuck in ‘xxxxxxx’, and just got a major upgrade in our living situation. We’re apartment sitting. It’s a really nice place. Eighth floor, beautiful view, great location and reduced rent. It keeps on getting better!”
This next story is about a new area that God caused them to prosper. God loves to take what the devil means for evil and our destruction… but with our participation, God turns it around for our good!! This story is a great example of that.
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Prospering while trapped in another country
“I know everyone is sending you cool ‘traveling in the spirit’ testimonies, however, I want to tell you a cool Divine provision testimony.”
“Earlier last year I felt Papa was leading me into a new area of investing. My wife and I had some extra money in savings, which was new for me. As a single missionary guy living on faith for most of my adult life, I was used to having ‘just enough.’ I was always more than grateful for what I received because it was usually the result of some cool God story of how the money came to me. My wife and I began discussing what we should do with the extra money until we needed it.”
“I began praying, researching and felt I should look into investing in some companies on the New York Stock Exchange. I’ve been a Christian most of my life and growing up in the church I had never heard a message or read a book on investing. It was a little unnerving for me, but I remember working on a project in high school where we did some investing with imaginary money and I did quite well… and really enjoyed it. So this gave me some confidence.”
“In the winter of 2019, I had just finished reading Kris Vallotton’s book ‘Poverty, Riches and Wealth.’ I was really inspired by this book, especially by Jesus’ parable of the ten minas (Luke 19:11-27). I began feeling a ‘nudge’ and soft encouragement by Holy Spirit to look into investing. However, there was also the strong feeling to wait until Spring to invest. I did my homework, researched the companies that I wanted to invest in, learned how to invest and was ready to go.”
“But I kept feeling like I was to wait until Spring. I thought, “This must just be fear that’s stopping me from investing.” But the feeling wouldn’t go away. So I waited. Well, as you know, Covid took the world by storm in early March of 2020 and wiped out the stock market. It dropped big time! I knew this would be a golden opportunity, as I had faith to believe the stock market would come back. So I began investing.”


“My initial goal was to make 10% on my investments for the year. I knew the bank would give me less than 3% and I had enough confidence that I could do better than that. The stock market had its ups and downs but ended up recovering throughout 2020. I had some disappointments and some victories. I learned many lessons, took prayerfully calculated risks and exceeded my yearly goal rather significantly. Like I said, my goal was to make 10%. Well, I ended up making almost 100%… or close to doubling my investment. I turned my ‘ten minas’ into another ‘ten minas.'”
“This is not a testimony of how “God made me rich,” nor am I saying if you follow God He’ll make you rich, nor am I saying that if you invest God will tell you what to invest in (at least He didn’t tell me). It’s a testimony of receiving a ‘nudge’, obeying the ‘nudge’, trusting God in a new arena, being faithful with what God has given you and then watching Him bring the multiplication.”
“It was a wild ride and so cool to succeed in a new arena with Papa. I’m a bit cautious about investing in the current market. But I’ll carefully and prayerfully move forward with investing if I feel that little ‘nudge’ again.” – DV
— MLH

Asher’s Amazing Miracle

1 Feb

Stories to Inspire

Here’s a short story video that will likely melt your heart.

April 2, 2018 – Nearly 3 years ago our then 14-month-old grandson Asher, was suddenly stricken with acute flaccid myelitis – an inflammation and swelling of the spinal cord.  He had just taken a 2-hour nap and uncharacteristically woke up crying… and for no apparent reason.  After some homespun testing, John took him to the ER.  That night was a long night.  

Cheryl and I joined John and Asher early the next morning.  After intensive research and extensive tests, the Drs knew what was wrong, they just didn’t know why… and the prognosis they gave us was pretty hopeless.

Despite knowing that this was a serious problem, we immediately reminded our hearts and minds of how our family lives in the favor of the Lord… proven by countless miracles of His goodness.  We determined that we would NOT let our hearts be sucked down into a dark whirlpool of confusion, discouragement or despair.  If every previous trial in our lives has ended up being an amazing trophy testimony, then why would this trial be any different!?!  REALLY!!!  This is the REAL stuff!  If we’re in Christ, we must begin to believe His heart for us and anchor our emotions in this infallible truth.

John stayed in the hospital with Asher for 19 days.  Cheryl traveled back and forth and took care of the other siblings.  At about 19 days, Asher moved one finger 1/4″.  Yay!!!!  Our confidence was already unshakeable but that little 1/4″ movement was the ‘icing on the cake’.  They dismissed him from the hospital saying that was all they could do for him.  But that wasn’t to be the end of the story – THANK YOU, GOD!!!!

Since then, progress has been slow but very steady and remarkable.

Many people around the world have prayed for our little guy.  This tender and innocent toddler has found his way into the hearts of countless caring folks.  Nearly everywhere we go, someone asks how he’s doing.  So, this short video is an overview of the last 3 years to tell the good news and give glory to our awesome God. 

At this point, Asher has recovered most of the motor function and muscle skills in his arms, hands and fingers.  His nerves have evidently established new pathways to transfer the impulses and his muscles have steadily rebuilt.  There is no doubt that he’ll have as much normal function as any other boy within a year or so.  Even now, it might be difficult for a stranger to notice that Asher ever had a problem.

Our hearts are so grateful to our Heavenly Father for His care for us the whole way through.  He has helped us turn another test… into a test-imony!  What we knew to be true about God nearly 3 years ago when things looked so bad, has carried us right into another one of a boatload of trophy God-stories that is power-packed to inspire others.  He’s just that good!

The takeaway: Our God is so much better than we ever thought!!

Click here for a 5:30 mins video story

— MLH

Overview of 70 years of church worship – So where to from here?

26 Jan

I was born in the ’50s.  My father and father-in-law were pastors… so over my years, I’m happy to say that I’ve participated in almost every spiritual movement.  I’ve been in almost all the styles of church services, from high church, liturgical and evangelical to charismatic, pentecostal and fringe.   I’ve observed staid and stoic worship and experienced the wild and bazaar.  At this point in life, I’m pretty much OK with all of it IF people’s hearts are truly engaged with God as they’re worshiping… which is the main point, after all.

There has been an undeniable evolution of worship content and worship experience during my lifetime.  So I’ve used my perspective to create a little graphic to help explain what I’ve observed over the last 65+ years.

Disclaimer: Obviously, there were many exceptions to this… and this is a perspective derived largely from our Western paradigm.

Click on pic for full resolution

Before the 60s we either sang theology intense wordy hymns… or we sang dreamy folksy Gospel songs about going to Heaven someday in the sweet bye and bye.  Our song lyrics magnified the great ‘gulf’ of separation between us and God, but we at least had a genuine longing for Heaven.  Then in the 60s we began to get ‘nearer’ to God in our lyrics and it felt like we had more access to Him.  Some of the strong proponents of this came through the influence of the FGBMFI, Jesus People and Charismatic Renewal movements.  Those were some awesome times of spiritual awakening.  In our awareness of ‘proximity’ to God, it’s almost like we sang ourselves closer to Him.  Of course, in the big picture, it was God who was drawing us up to Himself… but at least we were following.

This progression continued through the Scripture in Song songs in the 70s and the spontaneous ‘spiritual songs’ in the 80s.  We felt so close to God that we changed many of our lyrics from 3rd person to 1st person perspective… e.g. from “He is good” to “You are good.”  This continued through several movements until somewhere around 2000 it seems like we plateaued in our progress into His Presence.  Holy Spirit’s moving in average church meetings became more sparse.  For whatever reasons – maybe insecurity had something to do with it – we began trading into surfacy temporal things.  When we lost the poignancy of Presence in our worship, trendy things may have been an easy antidote or solace for the loss.

A few of the temporal trends and styles we traded into…

Multimedia, lasers, smoke, animated screens
Professional hired musicians
Exact copy the big-name versions / like on the CD
Many of our songs are the same as a YouTube experience
Same rote song format, arrangements/sounds…
Band driven experience yields a concert atmosphere
which creates spectators in the audience
which leads to boredom for everyone
Leaders are pressed to try the trendy ‘next thing’
gotta stay current, you know
Hip hop, ethnic, rap, etc

Note:  I am NOT saying that any of these by themselves is wrong!!  They each can serve a helpful function.  But as a steady diet… and if the net result of employing these ‘trades’, ends up sacrificing His Presence, then… well, you get the idea.

We thank God for some notable torch-bearers in the last 20 years; Hillsong, Bethel Music and IHOP-KC, to name a few.  Then in the last few years, we saw God shine His light on some new Presence seekers; like Housefires, Worship Mob, Upper Room and United Pursuit, etc.  Hungry hearts who wanted Encounter, had a place to go.

Then in 2020, Covid and politics created a huge upset… but God decided to use it as a reset.  Externally, everything went berserk, but God is so masterful that He can trump evil and make it work for good.  We were admonished to do church online… something we were always told would never suffice for ‘real’ church, before.  So the Church got shaken.  But many people found a new reality in personal worship on the very organic level.  Those people began ‘digging new wells’ and thriving through this unstable time.  Sadly, there are some casualties, too.  We must remember that God promised that everything that could be shaken would be shaken (Hag 2:7, Heb 12:27)… and boy, did it get shaken!

Many ‘social’ churches with a shallow worship experience will have serious struggles to survive.  O, there will always be some churches whose worship will thrive, because much of Jesus’ bride is still in those churches.  And He still loves them very dearly, no matter where they are in their growth continuum!

In order to establish a contrast, I’ll quote a popular song heard on a popular Christian Music radio program.  The lyrics are: “I’m begging you please on bended knee to help me.”  Did you notice any distance between the singer and God?  I know it sounds humble, respectable and religiously acceptable… and to be fair, that is the usual starting sentiment for all prodigals.  But as we grow, those lyrics should never come out of the lips of maturing saints, because our understanding of our Father’s magnanimous love for us drives out all fear.  No need to beg for His attention… EVER!  When fear is dispelled, we begin to believe Him when He tells us of our elevated status with Him… that we’re “seated with Him in Heavenly places” (Eph 2:6).  There’s no need to live afar off… we’re “hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:3).  How could we ever have a bad hair day with this kind of reality?!

Shallow worship leaders and shallow worship times will always keep us at a distance from God… which makes us feel the need to beg for everything that is already ours.

So if we’re going to get back into the overall upward trend of the last 60+ years, I think we’ll find that God is inviting us to recommit to Presence Worship and follow His Presence ‘above the line’ into the Heavenlies.  This time, not just in theology or dreamy lyrics, but in experiential reality.  We’re being invited into partnership with God.  No more plaintiff songs/prayers.  No more beggar songs… no more ‘woe is me’ songs.  The Grace of God has worked a wonderfully transformational work in the way we think of and perceive ourselves… and God.  A large door has been opened to discover our true identity and inheritance.

So, no more songs that make us live back in yesterday!  We’re exchanging yesterday’s mindsets that we were just poor humans singing pitiful songs begging a God who was far away, for a morsel or two… we’re trading those songs for songs with lyrics proclaiming confidence in our Father’s love, our Heavenly citizenship (Phil 3:20), our new creation identity (II Cor 5:17), and our co-rulership with Christ (Rms 5:17).

Our worship is beginning to see powerful lyrics that declare Heavenly realities as ours… now!   We won’t have to wait to go to Heaven to experience Heavenly realities.  We’ll sing of our inheritance realized, rather than somewhere afar off in the future.  We will learn how to declare the truth of our status with God rather than begging Him for a breakthrough.  Instead of distance from God, we’ll confidently proclaim our oneness with God (Eph 2:13) and the benefits of it (Ps 103:2).

Wise church fathers have appealed to the prophetic songwriters, “Do you desire for God’s people to live in powerful new revelatory realities five years from now… then give them songs with lyrics that declare that revelation, now.”

So may our new songs be revelatory and equipping… like a Heavenly treasure map.  May our songs be heralds of a new era in God… ‘above the line.’  We call forth songwriters who are like the “Sons of Issachar who knew the times and the seasons and were able to tell Israel what to do” (II Chron 12:32).

Let the new revelatory, new creation, heavenly realities songs come forth!!  Can you feel it?  It’s happening!  We’re moving on up to our High Places. 

–MLH