Friday, December 7, 2012

Upcoming House Recording

     There are many moments over these last thirteen years at
"A Place for the Heart," where God's blessings have been so
incredible that it almost feels too good to be true.  One of those
is that my Dad is not only my physical father, but my spiritual
father too.  Over the years he has instilled many core values
into my life.  One in particular that has always pierced my heart
is this: “Home is where we live out what we like to preach about.” 
More than just words, my dad has dared to live it out.

     For the last 5 years Melissa and I have had the privilege of leading
schools and internships.  Out of the many students that have come
here, the Lord has chosen a handful to stay and partner with us.  More
than becoming staff, they have become family.  Four of them make up
our full time band.  They have literally traveled around the globe
with us making music.  This year we decided to take a few weeks in the
winter and record an album with this amazing community.  The unique
approach to this album is we are going to record all the music in our
home.  Our desire is to create more than just another album, in an
over saturated market of music.  We want to capture the beautiful
sound of a community worshiping together.  Richard Foster said "All
good books are written in community."  I think the same is true with
music.  We invited each member of the band to contribute a song.  The
songs that we have chosen are the melodies that have carried us into
the Lord's presence as a community.  For the last few years our staff
has been meeting in the mornings to begin the day with worship.  We
also meet every Tuesday evening in our home to worship and commune
with His presence.  I can honestly say that we have worshiped more in
the secret place than we have on the stages we played on around the
world.  The sounds and songs of this album are truly going to be an
overflow of the rhythms of worship we have cultivated as a community.
We also felt led to capture these songs in the beauty of video.
Youtube has become the radio of this culture, and we want a generation
to taste and see the love of God in these songs.  We want to open a
window and let the world see the remarkable presence of Lord that is
resting here at "A Place for the Heart."

     The core value of my parent’s journey has become the beautiful
foundation of all of us here, whom we affectionately call, “The Farm
Family.”  This place that the Father has carved out for us is where we
are getting to sing the songs of our lives.  I believe that our
ministry is really successful when it looks like family.  Remember the
words of Jesus. "I only do what I see my Father do."  Everything the
Son of God did in his ministry was an overflow of his relationship
with Father.  Please watch our website in 2013 for the release of this
new project.   ––– Jonathan David Helser

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Podcast Series- Abba's Furious Love

     In the next three weeks we are really excited to release a three part podcast called "Abba's Furious Love." We have had so many people ask us "what happens at the 18 inch Journey" This message is a great window into what happens during some of our teaching sessions on the journey. I shared this message on the first week of our school. On the first podcast I am reading a passage from Brennan Manning's book "The Furious Longing of God. " At the close of the first and last podcast you can hear and feel the sound of a generation calling out to the Father in worship. We hope you enjoy these podcasts and encounter more of His furious affections for you.

To Download Podcast from itunes go to this link

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Chord Charts Online

     Thanks to the talented Joel Case (drummer and musician extraordinaire) we have updated all of our chord charts online for your musical pleasure! We have also updated all of our lyrics with powerpoint and word files.  You can download them all for free at this link


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"On the shores" review

     I found this review on itunes about "On the shores." Hope you enjoy it

"I’m aware that commenting on this CD can be construed as oddly self serving. But I don’t care. I adore this record. Which can be considered somewhat narcissitic. But hear me out. I loved where this project was going from the beginning. Only Johnny and Mel could make what this specific album would become. A blend of art and spiritual depth that can only come through steeping in something that cannot be bypassed or faked. Kinda like the passage of time. It’s almost as if all they did was document who they are and what they go through everyday, with the colors of the relationships they had already cultivated. And let me say this, a record like this is not an easy onion to peel. It required tears. And like all albums I work on and love, at some point I hated it. You would too if you listened to the same album for about a year straight. In fact, that is considered a form of torture in some places. But after I’m done with a record, I don’t listen to it for a long while. Call it postpartum depression if you like, but I need time to forget the details of making it to come back a while later and see if I really like what was birthed. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I still hate it, and sometimes it’s a wash.

This is one of the few I adore.

The emotion and genuineness behind “Explode My Soul” and “Redemption Rain” can make me slip out of my musical-jadedness before I realized it happened. The joy behind “On the Shores” and “Wreckingball” is self evident for all the right reasons. “Love Song” is an amazing song, much less ridiculously amazing worship song. {Springsteen fasns will get it} The truth behind “Abba” can prop up the song itself. But even more that that, the overall feeling of the record is one of hope. Which for a worship album is next to impossible to do whilst singing “Empty My Soul,” but yet there is. A real cry of desperation that leaves you more filled than you were before you heard it and somehow you know that a CCLI check had nothing to do with the motivation for writing it! And maybe that’s part of it, I just can not imagine a worship leader in a mega church singing “…let heaven fall, like a wrecking ball, and crush every plan of my enemy” and me not doubling over from nausea-o-pretense.

But with Johnny… I actually believe him. And if that doesn’t spring hope in you, then what will? A couple of fun facts; the opera singer on “Faith is Rising” is a chopped up diddy from the good ole Library of Congress that took six hours to dig up and I still ended up using the melody half backwards to match a melody I heard in my head while playing the song live with Johnny in Dubai. {geez I hope she’s not singing something unbecoming in Italian}

Before you go knocking what sounds like a drum machine loop on “Earth like Heaven” you should know that the loop is actually the mic bleed from the Ooooouuuu background vocalist mc (performed by the lovely Molly Skaggs) who was singing in the same room as the drums during the tracking and ran through a tape delay whilst performing the Rhodes part in real time. Molly, “You’re a monster!” {spoken with the Gingerbread Man’s voice from Shrek}

One tambourine did in fact die in the making of the song “On the Shores” (in terms of longevity, wood tambourines make bad high hat replacements)

The choir for “Just One Drop” was recorded 5 years ago for a benefit album called “Zao Water” You should look it up.

“Threshingfloor” and “Abba” almost didn’t make the album. Heh funny.

There is what some people call “a new sound” coming to worship music. And I will tell you that the “new sound” is defined more by the hearts of the people playing it than the sound itself, but it will indeed create a new sound! And this album is on the shores of it."

The producer

Friday, September 28, 2012

2012 "18 Inch Journey" Video

We have people all over the world ask "What is the 18 inch Journey?" We constantly find our selves stumbling over our words, trying to squeeze into a few sentences, what this amazing journey is. So, we have been working really hard around here to put out some videos that can give you a taste of this beautiful school. This new video about our 2012 school was filmed, edited and created by the amazing John David Gravitt.  John David was a 2010 student and is now running with us on full time staff.  The music for by this video was created by Joel Case and Jake Stevens in our little studio here.  They are both 2009 students and have been on full time staff these last few years and play full time in our band (Joel rocks the drums and Jake rocks his Gretsch Guitar). For more info about the "18 inch Journey" go to

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I Love Ministry

     There are moments traveling, when you meet people that speak your heart language. You come into a place, and immediately feel at home. When you leave that place you feel full in your heart, and you think about how lovely the people were. 

It is true that a city will leave an impression of beauty on your soul, amazing restaurants, incredible coffee shops, the beach, the atmosphere, the smells, the sounds... but really it is the eyes and smiles of the people you sat face to face with that leave the lasting impression. These moments don't always come, but when they do, they remind you that the kingdom of God is alive and growing. You smile internally as you leave that place, in your van full of musicians and interns. You are full. You remember why you love traveling, you breathe deep and thank God for the privilege of ministry. 

This weekend we were at Big House Church in Norfolk, Virginia. It was one of those treasured weekends full of everything I described. I don't always travel with Jonathan, but I wasn't going to miss being with this amazing family. From the first moment we arrived we felt the overwhelming joy and expectancy in the spirit. It kept flowing thru set up, to the pre-service prayer, to the first note we played. And the worship...amazing. 350 people crammed into a room, our band set up in the center. Deep heart felt worship. The beautiful presence of heaven. And then...I found out we were having a double date with Adam (the pastor) and his wife. No kids, a beautiful restaurant, deep conversation. Sweet Jesus I am in heaven! Every mom and dad knows exactly what I am talking about. Three hours of uninterrupted glory! I savored every moment. This morning we walked on the beach with there 4 children drinking in the beauty, laughing, enjoying the gift of growing friendship. I love being in a home where you feel the tangible love of heaven every where. A home that is so well loved, every corner and mantle is delicately placed with things that you know mean something. A home that feels lived in, enjoyed, full. A home where family is celebrated. 

I am thankful for beautiful families doing beautiful life. I am thankful for pastors truly loving people and teaching them the kingdom. I am thankful for building friendship in the midst of ministry. I am refreshed, I am full, I am alive with expectancy of the kingdom of heaven on earth. Thank you Big House for making space for the presence of the Father not just in your meetings but in your lives, it has left a beautiful impact on our farm family. We will change the earth with love. 

                                                                                    -Melissa Helser

           For More about Big House church you can find them online at

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

One take video from Herrnhut, Germany

A few weeks ago I was able to visit Herrnhut, Germany.  I have been dreaming about visiting this place for a long time.  In this little village 24/7 prayer rose for over 100 years and a mission movement was launched that changed history.  I wrote the song "The Reward" after hearing the story of the two first missionaries sent from this town.  They left their homes and families ready to sell there lives into slavery to reach an island of slaves.  As their ship left the shores they cried out "May the lamb that was slain receive the reward of his suffering."  You can still feel their cry resounding in the land. 

On the last day of my visit I was able to get the keys to the prayer tower that over looks the village.  From the top of this tower you can see the Czech Republic, Poland and Germany.  Heaven has touched earth in some amazing ways in this place.  I had a last minute idea, to shoot a one take video of "The Reward" song from the tower.  Click here to see the video we captured from Herrnhut.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Three Pillars of the "18 inch Journey"

This summer we dive into our fifth year of the "18 inch Journey."  The "18 inch Journey" is a 60 school for collage age students to make a journey from their head to their hearts.  The three core pillars of the school are worship, creativity and community.  We have just released a new video to share more about the 3 pillars of the school. 

You can see the video on Vimeo and Youtube

You can learn and see more at

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Hands with Holes

In Exodus 33, during the days of an old covenant,  Moses asked to see the face of God.  God told Moses that no man could see His face and live.  Then God placed His hand over the face of Moses and passed by in all His glory.  Let's fast forward now to the new covenant.  What do the hands of God look like now?  His hands bear the scars and the holes of His sacrifice for us.  What if we dared to ask what Moses asked, to see the face of God.  Could it be that He places His hands over our face and through those holes in His hands we can see the face of God.  Hebrews 10:19-20 says "We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,  by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body."  The nails were driven through the hands of Jesus and that One Man died,  so that all men could see the face of God. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Journey.....The Vision.....The Dream

We are more than just songwriters and musicians, our hearts have been consumed with a dream to see a generation get wrecked by the Love of God.  For the last twelve years we have been co-leading a ministry called "A Place for the Heart" with Ken and Linda Helser (Jonathan's Mom and Dad).

"A Place for the Heart" is a multi generational ministry located in Sophia, NC on 52 acres of land where we host schools and internships centered on creativity, discipleship, and worship.  It is also home to a thriving community who are giving their lives to see a generation liberated by the love go God.  Five years ago we launched a creative worship school called the "18 Inch Journey".  It is an incredible 60 day school where college age kids take the journey from their heads to their hearts and discover who they are by discovering the one who loves them.  We also host year-round internships for students to live in community with us and dive even deeper in the the heart of God.

Everything we have been able to do has come through the incredible provision of God and the support of those who have partnered with us.  Every album we have sold and every gift that has been given has sown into this place where God's heart is colliding with a generation.  We are thankful of where we have been, but we hear the whisper that there is more.  Once I heard the Lord say to me,

"If your dream is not bigger than you, then it is not from me.  What I have called you to do is impossible on your own."

We are looking for those who would like to partner with us to see these dreams become reality.  This spring we are launching a building project to expand our kitchen, dining room, and worship space for the "18 Inch Journey".  Our goal is to raise $140,000.  Thank you for your support of what the Lord is doing here at A Place for the Heart.

For more info or to donate online click here

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Article from the Go Traid

"This Article was taken from the "Go Traid"
 written by Rebecca Warren

This is a story of love and faith, of seasons of sorrow and rejoicing.

It’s the story of Triad couple Jonathan and Melissa Helser’s passionate pursuit of a life lived fully from the heart and the songs that have been born along the way. 
And, mostly, it’s an invitation to join them on the journey.

Seasons of change

“The wealth and value of our life could be easily measured not in what we produce but in the relationships we have built.”

Those are the words penned by Jonathan, 33, and Melissa, 32, that are featured inside the CD jacket of their new album, “On the Shores.”

This is the couple’s first collaborative project, with Melissa writing four of the songs, sharing lead vocals and playing acoustic guitar.

“I really believe her songs are some of the best on the album,” Jonathan said, “and I’m so honored to share this with her.

They spent the past year writing and recording the album, capturing the rhythms and changing seasons of their life. The songs are what have risen from the ashes of tested faith and their trust in God, “giving honor to the desert seasons” though which Melissa said they have walked.
More than a song

Jonathan met Melissa at ministry school in Charlotte in 1998. They married in the spring of 2000. She was 20, and he was 21.

“We met and fell in love really fast,” Jonathan said. “When we met, if you would have told me we would record an album together, I wouldn’t have believed you.”

Jonathan picked up a guitar and started writing songs in his late teens. Melissa also played guitar and sang a little, but a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis at the age of 17 made playing the guitar difficult, if not impossible.

“When I was diagnosed, the doctor said I would never play the guitar,” she said. “Fast-forwarding to now, it’s a miracle I even play and write music and that I can even hold the strings down.”

In 2008, nearly a year after starting on a breakthrough medication that Melissa said has transformed her life, she began gradually to regain strength in her hands. To mark the occasion, Jonathan bought her a 1979 Guild guitar as a gift for their ninth wedding anniversary in 2009.

The first night that she had the guitar, Melissa wrote “Explode My Soul,” one of the songs featured on “On the Shores.”

“It would be hard to separate our journey with my sickness,” she said. “It’s been the most beautiful and most terrible part. A lot of my songs have been written as I’ve walked out of a desert.

“I wrote them to be able to process seven years of a lot of intensity and really wrote these songs to say to the Lord what maybe I couldn’t say and to communicate something that maybe I couldn’t just talk about. Those songs have been my anthem — they’ve become part of me waking up.”

Jonathan said that through those difficult seasons, he and Melissa were often singing themselves into believing.

“Without tension, there is no music,” he said. “Without guitar strings having tension, they can’t sing. There’s tension in circumstances. But in it, he (God) is good, and he will be better than we can imagine.”

Full of rich layers, including piano, hammer dulcimer and multipart vocal harmonies, the songs of “On the Shores” often stray from predictable chord progressions, taking on melodies and moment that feel like an anthem and a prayer.

“I love the artistic side of writing and crafting a song,” Jonathan said, “but I also love the experiential side of stepping into a moment and experiencing the moment in the music.”

Their band, which Jonathan said is not just a band but some of their “best friends in the world,” includes musicians who are living life with the Helsers in Sophia and on the road.
The result is an album that carries the sound of what Jonathan and Melissa call “a family traveling and living together.”
Living from the heart

The threads of family and friends are woven throughout the Helsers’ story, creating a tapestry that reflects years invested in strengthening existing relationships and forming new ones.

Some of those relationships come through traveling around the world to lead worship at camps, church events and ministry schools, but most of them have been built here in the Triad.

On 52 acres set among rolling hills and farmland in Sophia, is A Place for the Heart. Property that was once woods is now dotted with 10 buildings, including a darkroom and art studio. It has been called a farm, a retreat center and a school. But to the Helser family and a handful of full-time staff and interns, it’s home.

It’s where Jonathan grew up, where he and Melissa were married 12 years ago and where they’re raising their 9-year old son, Cadence, and 6-year-old daughter, Haven. Oak from the property is incorporated throughout the house they built five years ago next to Jonathan’s parents’ house.

Each summer, it’s where 24 college students from around the world come to participate in the 18 Inch Journey, a creative worship school founded and led by Jonathan and Melissa. Named for the 18-inch span between the head and the heart, the school is a place where the difference of a life lived from the heart rather than the head is experienced rather than taught and where the difference between knowing facts about God and truly knowing him is explored.

Melissa said that many people ask what exactly it is — if it’s an art or music school. Although it offers classes in music, art and photography, the school is described by Melissa as “a school of the heart.” Classes taught by the Helsers and guest lecturers provide students with opportunities to learn more about who they are and, in the process, awaken their creativity.

“More than anything, we invite them into community” she said. “We really want them to have a heart transformation. We’re inviting them into a safe place to let all the walls of insecurity come down so they can discover who they are without the craziness and chaos.
“Our dream is that a generation will find out who they are.”
Where creativity and hearts intersect

In the course of living life at A Place for the Heart, creativity and hearts often intersect. It’s in those moments, Jonathan said, that the greatest works have been created by poets and artists — creating things beyond what they could ever imagine.

Sharing those moments with students and staff is a gift that the Helsers don’t take for granted. Jonathan describes it as the roots of what they do, with their music being the branches.

“I don’t think we could do what we do in music if we weren’t pouring into the students who come here,” Melissa said.

All of the proceeds from their music go to A Place for the Heart, and they hope eventually to build some new spaces while continuing to use every existing space to the fullest.
In the midst of the ministry and music, family is always first for the Helsers, who are living and loving without reservation.

“Our kids have been a significant part of everything we’ve done,” Melissa said. “Our children are the center of our world. I want my kids to live an extraordinary life. If I can teach them to love people, we’ve done it all.

“It wouldn’t be enough to just stand on a stage. We’re sustained in community and in our family rhythms. To be able to be married and raise kids in the middle of it is awesome. To travel with our kids and for them be able to take part in changing lives is a beautiful gift from the Lord.”

Written by Rebecca Warren at

Monday, February 20, 2012

I didn't know God could be so good

At the beginning of this year, the Lord spoke to my heart and said "This will be a year where you find yourself constantly saying,  I didn't know God could be this good."

A few days later I was on an island in the middle of the Pacific ocean, lost in a moment of worship, with an incredible community called "Fire and Fragrance."   I love those moments in worship, when you transcend into that secret place of His heart.  The place where you are no longer singing, but the Father is singing over you.  Here are the lyrics I heard Him singing over my heart and the heart of a generation.

Look at the nations
I'm gonna do something
Great in your days
You wouldn't believe it
Even if I told you
Watch and be amazed

I want these dreams, Even more than you
Faith is when, you believe that I do

In these days, you will say, I didn't know God could be so good

Go ahead and try Me
You can ask
For anything you want
But I promise
That I am gonna
Give you more than you ever thought

In these days, you will say, I didn't know God could be so good

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Earth Like Heaven- Song Story

In the Autumn of 2010 I was sitting at table in Dublin, Ireland, with some great fathers of the faith.  All these men could talk about was the kingdom of heaven coming to earth.  I felt like one of the hobbits in the presence of Gandalf and Aragorn.  A phrase kept swirling around the table that "We were created to bring the fruitfulness of the garden into the barrenness of the earth."  When we left the table a whisper of more was pulling on my heart and the hope of the age to come was calling me.  Later that evening we gathered with 300 fiery eyed missionaries, the same size as Gideon's army.  We wasted the entire evening worshiping God.  During the night we kept singing this spontaneous song over and over, "We won't be satisfied, till the earth looks just like heaven." I was ruined by that night of worship in Dublin and haven't been the same since.

A few months later we were sitting around my kitchen table telling our friend Elijah some of these stories from Dublin.  As Melissa was sharing a story, the spontaneous song from Dublin began to fill my heart again.  I immediately got up from the table and grabbed my guitar.  I suddenly found myself in one of those incredible moments as a song writer, when you transition beyond just writing a song and shift into receiving a song.  Within a few minutes this song effortlessly came and weeks later we recorded this song titled "Earth like Heaven."

Right now you can preview this song at or you can pre order our new album "On the Shores" with "Earth Like Heaven." 

Here are the lyrics

Earth Like Heaven

The dust that we were made of, is calling us to free them
The earth that we were pulled from, its crying liberate us

We won’t be satisfied till the earth looks just like heaven

Like water cover the sea,
let the earth be filled with your glory
Till the prayers your prayed become reality
and the earth looks just like heaven

Wake up, Sons and Daughters,
we were made for so much more
Wake up, Sons and Daughters,
start singing creations waiting

Your kingdom come, Your will be done,
till the earth looks just like heaven

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Wreckingball- Song Story

I love how kids are not very good at being religious.  A while ago my son Cadence and I were playing in the yard.  Completely out of the blue he says, "Dad, you need to write some new songs, because you other ones are getting old." After my ego got over the shock of being punched in the guts, I laughed and replied, "Well, why don't you ask God to give me some new songs." Without hesitation, Cadence says out loud, "God give daddy some new songs, he really needs some new ones." I really love the confidence that my son has that nothing is impossible.

Later that day, Cadence and I were hanging out in the house, he was playing with his new legos and I was playing with my toy; A Jerry Jones baritone electric guitar.  All of a sudden I felt the Lord say to me, "What does it look in the eyes of your Son for heaven to invade earth."  I love when God speaks one thought and suddenly a whole train of thoughts flash into your mind.  I first thought about the way my son, like most boys, loves explosions.  Then I thought about the time when Jesus said the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force.  Then I started strumming a few chords on the guitar and this phrase just slipped out of my mouth, "Let heaven fall like a wrecking ball and crush every plan of enemy."  As I begin to sing those words, a melody begin to form and suddenly Cadence laid down his legos and we were singing the new song he had just asked God for.

"Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, And a two-edged sword in their hand, To execute vengeance....." Psalm 149:6-7

Right now you can preview the track of "Wreckingball" at or you can pre order our new album "On the Shores" with the track "WreckingBall" on it at

Thursday, February 2, 2012

New Songs

Over the next few weeks as we lead up to the release of "On the Shores" we will be putting two new songs at a time on our website music player.  This week you can check out "Wrecking Ball" and "Explode My Soul".  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

January Support Update

     In the early days of "A Place for the Heart's" history, we had an old, wise prophet give us a visit.  As we showed him around the brand new ministry, we were longing for him to speak God's words over the land.  As the tour passed the prophets lips remained quiet. As his visit came to an end and we were saying our goodbyes, the prophet finally spoke up and  said in his wonderful British accent, "When the root goes deep, the fruit will be sweet"

     This year "A Place for the Heart" will be 27 years old, and the old prophets words are coming to pass.  These last few years I have had the privilege of traveling all over the globe, but the sweetest fruit of my life is what happens on this piece of land in Sophia.  This summer we will host our fifth "18 Inch Journey."  The number of students who come to this school is small,  but the fruit is huge.  This December we ended our third year of internships for "18 Inch Journey" students. The number of interns is even smaller than the students at the school, but the fruit is even greater. Our culture is always looking for big numbers to define success. What if heaven defines success by fruitfulness.  Could one of the most fruitful things that Jesus did while he walked the earth be the three years of relationship he poured into those twelve boys? 

     Roots are hidden from the eyes of men.  They sink themselves into the unseen and find their source in the secret place.  How I wish each of you could see what happens to the hearts of those who come to our schools and internships. Our roots have truly tapped into the deep places of a generations heart and they are being changed forever.  As we launch into our 27th year, our hearts are overflowing with gratitude to those of you who have sown into this place. May the roots go deeper in the days ahead and the fruit become even sweeter....for this is my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit.

If you would like to partner with us you can find out more by clicking here

Friday, January 13, 2012

New album coming so very soon!

We just confirmed the date for the CD release on February, 25th. Stephen Roach and a surprise guest will be opening the night. More details coming next week!