Tag Archives: above the line
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Good dogs go to Heaven

8 Aug


Stories to Inspire

My friend Sully is a down to earth creative. He loves God as well as anyone, but isn’t exactly your garden variety cookie cutter church go-er. His style is somewhat maverick and very industrious. But God took him by surprise one evening in a group Heavenly experience. There were several great Heavenly encounters that evening, but I think Sully’s impacted me most deeply because Sully wasn’t exactly Sully, when he shared his story. His eyes wouldn’t stop leaking… and his sharing was labored and jerky, between deep waves of emotion. One needed to look no further to be solidly convinced of the powerful nature of Sully’s encounter. He was tearfully happy and a much free-er man than I’ve ever seen. For Sully, Father’s highly personalized Heavenly encounter was unforgettable and life changing.

O Lord, for many more Heavenly encounters!!!

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Good dogs go to Heaven

I was raised to believe that going to Heaven was going to be really cool when it happened.  I was told, “You’ll be with Jesus, the 12 Apostles and all the saints.” Wow that’s cool, is Judas gonna be there, dad?  He was an apostle, right?” Yes he was son; but he got cut from the team, and we made a trade with the Pharisees for Saint Paul”… You’ll be surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, too.” Okay, are they like fluffy clouds or more like stormy clouds?  “No son, the cloud of witnesses is all those who have gone to heaven before you.” Oh, so Grampa will be there? “Yes he will”.  That’s great, I miss him.  What about Teddy (our dog that got killed by a car) and Toots (the turtle whose death was caused by eating beyond his shell capacity)?  No son, only people will be in heaven.  You see son, animals don’t have eternal souls like we do.  Oh…uh….okay.  And so, that was my introduction to Heaven.  Oh, one more thing, you had to be dead to go there.

Fast forward about fifty years and my friend Mark is in my barn with about 20 other people asking all of us if we want to “spirit travel, and go to heaven”. I no longer had a child’s view of Heaven, which was rather unfortunate, because Mark told us that children have a much easier time of spirit traveling because their head doesn’t get in the way of their “golden imagination”.  I didn’t think I’d be going to heaven on Mark’s Spirit bus, with my thick head; but I figured, what the h…eaven, I’ll give it a try.

And so, the journey began, with Mark gently encouraging us to let go of our earthly tethers; and enter through the door… “Jesus is the Door”.  Those were the last words I remember him saying, my mind slipped it’s adult mooring and I was a child of God, wandering in His green and golden Heaven.  I found myself (a much younger me, maybe 13 or so) wandering carefree in what appeared to be an endless green field, on a bright and beautiful sunny day. Suddenly, out of nowhere, my favorite dog, Jedidiah was there with me. He was jumping out of his skin with joy, wagging not just his tail; but wagging his entire body. His excitement was all consuming and as I fell to my knees to hug him, he intensified his affection with sloppy wet face licks for his master. We were having such a joyous reunion, that time seemed to stand still; and all that remained was joy, pure unabashed joy.

I should tell you that I was in my 50’s, not a boy when Jedi was my dog. Also, you should know that Jedi was a ranch dog and didn’t like going to the vet, AT ALL; but when he started acting sluggish we took him anyway. We were heartbroken when our vet delivered the devastating news, our young, ‘wonderboy’ had inoperable cancer. A tumor was growing inside him and the best we could do was to keep him comfortable until it was time to put an end to his suffering.  So when the time came, rather than add to his suffering by taking him to the vet, I took it upon myself to end his life. I’m not a stranger to killing; but putting down my favorite dog was a bitter pill to swallow. 

I’ve been around joy junkies for a while now; and to be honest, I never really trusted them. Haha. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t judge them for their “drunk in Spirit” behavior, I just simply didn’t have a clue as to what the heck they were doing or talking about.  Well, that little trip to heaven really flipped the script on me.  NOW I have an understanding of the joy they are talking about; but I have to say that little 3 letter word is woefully inadequate to describe my experience.  

When Mark asked if anyone wanted to share their experience to the group, I was very reluctant and finally, under the unction of the Holy Spirit, tried to explain what happened. However, I was so saturated by this emersion in God’s bottomless ocean of JOY, that salt water was springing from my eyes! Now, if those tears had letters or words, I’m sure they would tell you about this level of joy a whole lot better than me. I simply cannot find adequate words to describe it; and for 6 months I’ve tried! The closest I can get is “Heavenly Joy”… and I pray you and I get to have some more of it before we get there! – SS

–MLH

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

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