Wow! A pandemic has reached our world, forcing nearly everyone to ‘work at home.’ While being cooped up is nothing new for this Average Joe, it still has stirred up the worry meter. I was a work-at-home employee for 20+ years, and since retirement, volunteer work and writing has made it a permanent way of life. For someone that cannot sit still very long and is highly driven, I had to find ways to burn energy or calm anxiety (and not drive my wife crazy from the vibes). I feel qualified to share some tips and hit a strange one I’ll bet most have never heard before; How to Worship at Home.
My favorite Doctor/Psychiatrist and a phenomenal brain expert Daniel Amen had this to say the other day:I love how Dr. Amen couples ‘prayer or meditation,’ which is a great neutral view of what could also be deemed ‘worship.’ But before one can reach a fully calmed state, one has to take care of the physical aspects too. Let’s first talk about breathing, burning energy, and listening to calming music; My office is set up to deal with all the ups and downs of a long at-the-home-desk day.
At a drop of the hat, I can do pull-ups, full-body hanging stretches, stomach/core crunches, and a variety of stress burners. At times that is a crucial remedy to fighting off outside stressors. I always have music playing in the background. If half asleep in the morning I blast tunes to wake up and motivate me. If stressed out, I put on some mellow tune music and lay on the floor and breathe properly while meditating on positive thoughts to calm my nerves. It is as vital as eating and sleeping. And in this time of an up and down stock market and fears of the sky falling, who doesn’t need anxiety relief?
Our outside property is designed for stress relief. There are no less than seven sitting areas outside. Our large garden is not just for eating organic veggies and berries but to get outside in nature and work out anxiety in what I call my garden of Eden. Walks with the dog are on tap a minimum of twice a day. And we ‘invested’ (at least that’s how I convinced my wife to allow me to buy it) in a nice sound system for occasional concerts and mood swinging music or motivational YouTube videos to meet the need of the moment. Calming sounds fill our airspace all day long, we tap all the sources, and for good reason.
We all not only have a body, but also a soul/heart/mind within the body, and a spirit. Each component needs food, maintenance, rest, and exercise to stay healthy. The spirit is the difficult one and least understood. It is a mystery to many. It is the part that needs as much if not more care than our bodies, especially when worry and anxiety reaches a peak during Pandemonium (yep, not just a pandemic going on here in 2020, it is all-out panic in some areas!). Many remedy unrest in the spirit with spirits from the liquor store, pharmacy, and drug dealers (Not just the illegal ones on the street, good doctors and psychiatrists often pull the prescription pads out for too much). Or for us work-at-home folks there are easy to reach spirit comforters like sweets, caffeine, games, and self-gratification, which create additional problems for our body and brain to overcome. There has to be a better solution?
If you dare to find out a deep secret, read on for what I consider to be the most profound written dialogue penned by this Average Joe. It has impacted my one-on-one relationship with God more than ANYTHING else in my 40-year walk with God. It is all about finding the intimate touch of the presence of God. When found regularly, it will change your life not only in a church building, but when you learn exactly ‘How to Worship at Home’ – anywhere.
If this is your first time visiting Average Joe’s Portico, every post is written in two parts. You have just read the portion challenging the mind, body, and soul. In The Portico, I seek to tap into your spiritual side, but only IF YOU DARE. Tap the Red Line Below to hear the Part 2 Spiritual side of the story. (For additional info – read the ‘Do You Dare’ Tab)
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Several years ago, my understanding of the ‘spiritual realm’ in the church-world changed. Although I had experienced many amazing things that I believe were beyond ‘coincidences,’ none rocked our faith as positively as happened in a crisis with our son. You can read his story from 2016 for the background here. I have written and told a few stories of how God reveals His love to us and has come through for us personally in amazing ways. Coming through means sometimes there are blessings; at other times, we learn how to cope, and find comfort and strength in times of suffering. I know many church-goers who feel distant from God as I did for years. For too many, their ‘relationship’ with God is at best; words on a page or living vicariously through their church leader, church programs, activities, or YouTube teachings.
It took years to learn some practical things few are sharing. Bear with me as I carefully walk you through how I discovered what many are seeking. Afterward, you’ll find a step-by-step process that you can do right in your own home without a music/church leader to show you How to Worship from home.
The phrase ‘worship the Lord’ or ‘feel His presence’ sounds so good as the music is blasting at a church service. The really spiritual folks raise their hands in traditional denominations or roll hysterically on the floor in a Pentecostal one. (sorry, I love both and thus hope the humor is not offensive). So what does it really mean to be in God’s presence?
I learned firsthand in a semi-pentecostal church where the music and freedom to express was longer than normal. But more so I made my own discoveries at a once a month prayer meeting held every 3rd Friday. The 1st one I attended no one showed up, I mean no one, the building was locked, and the Pastor had forgotten about the meeting. I later learned, no one or very few of the regular 150 Sunday attendees ever attended the Friday night prayer meeting. The next month, the Pastor and his wife showed; we sat quietly in the church building for a couple of hours with some soft music playing, no prayer. We had free reign to lay on the chairs or floor or whatever. As the next month approached, I was given my first leadership task (lol) at the new church to head up the once a month prayer service. I should have known being given a key to the building meant no one else cares. Nevertheless, in my times at home, God said, ‘Joe, you have only just begun to see what close to me means, take this role and embrace it and see what happens.’
For the next 18 months, I relished the thought of being in that little building for the monthly ‘worship time’ from 7-11. It took a while, but I learned how to use the sound system and built playlists from YouTube and filled the building with songs of all types. Still, mostly I ‘felt’ an amazing atmosphere where I know God was somehow present willing to communicate deeper with me, of all people. The first time my family attended the service, but afterward, they were finished and questioned my sanity of wanting to go to an empty church building. I soon found that the Friday time would be only the four of us, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and me.
The times from day 1 for me were filled with what I call tremendous downloads (some of which turned into public blog posts, others provided messages to share on Sundays with the congregation) and an overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit. I relished the empty building and atmosphere. Once in a while, some people would show and interrupt our time alone, but no one ever stayed from start to finish (including Pastor and family), so I always had at least an hour or two just with God and I. (note the church sold the building ending the setting but now I established the atmosphere routinely at home)
To set the record straight, most of us know theologically God is everywhere and is not limited to a building or place. I could have gotten the same thing in a barn or on a rock in a field or wherever. I realize it was my expectation of hearing great things that led to great intimacy. The TPT translates Psalm 33:18 very well, stating: “The eyes of the Lord are upon even the weakest worshipers who love Him— those who wait in hope and expectation for the strong, steady love of God.” If you expect God to show up, He will, the promises of ‘seek and you shall find’ are real.
“I realize it was my expectation of hearing great things that led to great intimacy.” If you expect God to show up, He will, the promises of ‘seek and you shall find’ are real.
It is essential to understand what dwelling in the presence of The almighty, and Holy God means. Two posts (from downloads received on those Fridays) explain in layman’s terms the seriousness of God’s power and His Holy standard: ‘A Bird on A Wire‘ and An explanation of God’s standard using the #500. Please use your shut-in time to study up on the topics. It is not to be taken lightly or as something cool to try.
In a nutshell, our human imperfect body, soul, and spirit is unable to dwell in the Holiness of God period. In the old testament, God’s divine presence did dwell inside a building called the temple or previously in a mobile tent called the tabernacle. In order to get to that place, only Levitical priests had access, no one else. In fact, even Jesus, Paul, and Peter and everyone else after the death and resurrection of Christ never entered the portion of the physical temple (See Numbers 3:38) forbidden by God due to His Holiness and power. That temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. It was kept around for a while after Jesus’ death, long enough for the remnant of the old testament Jews to turn to the Highest Priest, who sits on the throne in heaven, Jesus Christ.
In the briefest summary of temple history all changed as explained in Hebrews 6-10; The old Levitical priestly methods required a year’s long process to gain access to the presence. The Jewish people spent their time in – 1. The outer court. Only the The Levite priests could enter the next two rooms, 2 – The Holy place and lastly 3 – The Holy of Holies or Most Holy Place where they were allowed only once a year after a long cleansing period. All that changed with the new covenant delivered by the death and resurrection of Jesus our Messiah. Here we see in Hebrews 10:19-21 a description of our unearned writ of access – “And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. 20 By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. 21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him.“ (NLT version)
An important note, assuming you know Jesus and have received Him as your Lord and Savior, this should all make sense. If you do not, now’s the time to read my personal testimony from 40 years ago, ironically 40 years ago, to this exact month of March 1980. I titled my testimony ‘Is Religion Evil’ Without Jesus, forget about any of this.
What tremendous Good News it is to know that anyone can have a relationship with God. Anyone can have a conversation with Him. This great news was exactly why they wanted Jesus killed after He made the statement in John 7. “37 – Anyone who is thirsty may come to Me! Anyone who believes in Me may come and drink!“ It is what caused an uproar – “43 So the crowd was divided about Him” and later the decision by the elite religious leader to kill Him who thought God was only for them, and no others. Any average Joe or Josephine could talk to God, and He would talk to them. What would that do to their power position if this were true? What would happen to the tithe money they were using to buy their houses and fancy BMW donkeys? This man blasphemes, he lies, he’s possessed, who does he think he is?
Yo, we Christians know this, don’t we? But, why do so few seem able to know what God is saying to them? If you tell someone ‘God told me this or that,’ even Christians look at you like you are a lunatic. Yet it should be as common as drinking water.
Is it because our religious system today relies on some leader to get us there. Is it because no average person is allowed without their similar credentials, their theology degree, their gift of speaking or singing, their time in a seminary or monastery or time in a temple or a mosque – only they have the key to the Holy place? Perhaps there is someone else or your church to blame, but maybe it might just be you feeling you are too far away. And because of unbelief and who knows what else (you DO know, and yes He knows ALL too) we’ve done to have a barrier up, we not only can’t see we can’t hear either.
So to me, an Average Joe, whether you are prepared for a 24-hour prayer and fasting session (and boy do we all need that now amid this panic), or you have just a few minutes to pull yourself out of the pit before a teleconference class/meeting, it all starts with a re-alignment. We take a little or a lot of time to rid ourselves of the muck of the minute, day, week, or however long since we last stopped to get the one Sabbath day of rest (hmm so that is why it is 1 of the 10 commandments to have a day of rest weekly) to spend with God.
So, believe it or not, God asked me to make it easy on you and provide some ready made tools and give you and your family some steps of How to Worship at Home.
Pull up the link below for a play list to take you to the Holy place. There is a shorter tutorial in the description to review if you forget, or want to share with your friends. Here is the no cost, YouTube playlist titled: ‘How to go from out of alignment to the worship room.‘
Let’s start with preparation for how a Christian can go from out of alignment clear to the worship room (aka Holy of Holies) in 30 minutes or less. How do I traverse from a conviction of failures in life/parenting/leadership to not only re-praising God but entering into the deepest point of spiritual peace in ‘The Throne Room.’
Reading the Bible, with an expectation of God speaking to us, is the primary place where God communicates to us.
Some good tips on journaling before hitting the music button. Or, if you have no access to music it is in no way required, being filled with God’s word is vital in preparing your heart/mind/spirit to enter the Holy Place. This is in the Outer Court model if you can picture it:
- First is setting your feet and making an assessment on your state of mind. Perhaps write down how you feel at the moment, good, bad, high, or low, it is where you are at the moment. Be Transparent with God. It is all between you and Him.
- Go to scripture using your method of the day. If you swear by a sequential reading of the Bible from cover-to-cover in the KJ version, do it. If you are in a study plan, or like random hits, topical, whatever, do it.
- Start looking for God to speak, do not merely read. Believe He will pop something off the page into your heart.
- Write or type your thoughts, what is poking you, or motivating you. I do all my Bible reading on an Ipad nowadays. There are 80 versions to choose from Bible Gateway or YouVersion or wherever. I cut and paste the full verses that strike my Spirit, and often it is many, into the free Overnote App. I also add notes of my thoughts, findings, and questions to review later if God’s voice tells me to while I am in the Holy Place.
- Next, go to listen mode. It’s time for listening and praising. With practice, you will know you are prepared for the Holy Place. Through thanksgiving, then praise, then to His Presence is where you’ll sometimes hear what you need to hear. Sometimes emotions and feelings arrive; all depends on you. Sometimes you will be so overwhelmed; you hear what you are sure is God’s small whisper in the cave as Elijah heard it in 1 Kings 19. 19 in Biblical numerology means ‘Faith and Hearing,’ I am a numbers person, God often speaks to me using numbers. For others it could be pictures, colors, visions, dreams, it is not the same for everyone.
- REALITY wise – most Christians know most of the 1-4 above, and at times #5 is reached in time alone or when you go to church, and the leader is great. How often, though? And if your worship team is great, the three song routine often brings the feel good feeling.
The YouTube playlist I have put together allows you to Worship at Home too. I hope it benefits you as much as it has in my home and with groups/classes I have lead. The videos are a sequence of songs, words, tunes, and visuals to walk you through the stages that take you from conviction to the throne room. Create your own later, everyone is unique and how you relate to God will be different than other people, we are all unique, and God knows it, He created us. (p.s. – If you find new songs you like, please email the url to me at Joesportico@gmail.com so I can add them to the list)
It appears this is a slam-bam read the word a bit and straight into the music and praise mode. Honestly NO. If you are a new Christian, God is most likely working on helping you through an addiction or maybe trying to get you to see that robbing banks is not ok. When you see that verse that says, ‘Do not steal,’ He desires to help you with that problem today, and it could take weeks to overcome it before it is time to move to the next topic in your life.
For you pros, He may want you to work on that hidden attitude you have with the guy who sings out of key in the choir. Regardless, you do not have the state of mind to move onto praising until you have cleared the mud or log out of your eye before you think you are rolling in the Holy of Holies. If expecting to hear God tell you to go to Africa to reach the last person in the world, we all have to work out our own issues first.
Most of my time spent with God is applicable to me primarily (not selfishly, we are to ‘work out our salvation with fear and trembling’ Phil 2:12). Once in a while, or if in heavy ministry like I have been lately working at a Help Pregnancy Center, He gives me messages for other people, or a group, or even major ones. Interesting, the more I obey and act upon, the more things He gives me.
Fact Check – Do you realize, we are instructed by Paul to not participate in communion if we have something against someone in our heart?
In 1 Corinthians 11 Paul tells us to get our hearts right in that outer court before communion. 26“For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are symbolically proclaiming the fact of the Lord’s death until He comes again. So then whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in a way that is unworthy of Him will be guilty of profaning and sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But a person must prayerfully examine himself and his relationship to Christ, and only when he has done so should he eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without solemn reverence and heartfelt gratitude for the sacrifice of Christ, eats and drinks a judgment on himself if he does not recognize the body of Christ. 30 That careless and unworthy participation is the reason why many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep in death.”
Ouch, after much editing, I heard God tell me to be careful to not make this just a cool thing to share. While anyone can and should worship at home alone, or with family, and teach their kids; do so with reverence. Even though it IS an amazing gift He has provided us, and technology with the creations of talented people has made it all accessible with a button click – we must be sure we remember Jesus laid His life down for this amazing covenant to have a relationship with the Father. Align your heart first!
Now to the YouTube music videos. The groupings are in sets of 3. Watching 1-3, 4-6, etc.. incorporates music videos that fit well with the actual steps of ‘How to Worship’ as laid out in 1-7 below:
How then do I Worship at Home?
Step 1 – is to enter your courtyard or place of worship in your home. I have several including my bed, but the primary is in our living room on the big screen where I can put the surround sound system on the loud setting. Psalm 22:26 – says, “I will invite the poor and broken, and they will come and eat until satisfied. Bring Yahweh praise and you will find him. Your hearts will overflow with life forever!” For more read all of Psalm 22TPT version. It is the Psalm Jesus sang on the cross – HOW, could He possibly be in worship while being tortured? – With that thought in mind, this worship thing starts with making a human choice to SEEK Him from where we are and we ask for Him to transform our hurt mind and heart to be more like His mind and heart. No matter what our condition or circumstance.
Step 2 – Regardless of our state of mind, if we are seeking Him to get past pain or for whatever reason, we must start with words of THANKSGIVING (typically in our minds but sometimes audible). This may take much time for the brokenhearted. It is why David often had long rants, cries, and/or confessions. Be transparent. This is the pour out your heart stage if things are going horrible, whether it is because of your own mistakes OR from those items brought on from outside sources. Typically those sources are people in our lives, but it can also be finances, the downturn in the stock market, sicknesses, loss, all of what life can hit us with unexpectedly.
It also may be going great! When I was in sales and closed that big deal, I would see that most salespeople dropped their guard and decided now is the time to go celebrate and take a vacation. In actuality, the best time to sell is when you are on a high, and your confidence is booming! When God has brought on blessings and things are going well, it is the BEST time to spend appreciative time with Him. Share the joy and instead of a grudging forced give thanks setting in step 3, it is a 150% positive time. Either way, step 2 is crucial. You may want to rewind the 1st song over again if after reading the word and listening/singing you are still angry, unbroken, or un-repentant.
Step 3 – After the Thanks stage – begin to PRAISE God in your way. Praise is a choice, not a feeling. Song 1 in the playlist is a thanksgiving or remorse like tune. #2 is a move into a praising song, which YOU have to do your part regardless of if you are in a funk.
Step 4 – WORK the praise, sometimes the choice to praise when you don’t feel like it is the strongest praise you can make to God. It says, in spite of how I feel or my circumstances, I choose to praise you. Sing, dance, play an instrument, listen, cry, laugh, pray in the Spirit, do what works for you in the moment.
Praising God is my acknowledgment and gratitude for Who He is and what He does. In difficulties, I acknowledge truth over feelings about what the Bible says He is – Loving, enduring, faithful, forgiving, powerful, caring. Jesus is One who weeps about death and sin, a promise-keeper, and all else the 150 Psalms and 66 books in the Bible say about Him. Stick with the truth and speak not only from the heart but with your lips even if saying thank You and praise You does not come easy. “I’m bursting with joy over what you’ve done for me! My lips are full of perpetual praise.” Psalms 34:1 TPT
Step 5 – God’s promise is to return the gift of praise as you enter into worship. Alignment comes thru steps 1-4. Let Holy Spirit carry you from praise to WORSHIP.
Even in the worst of situations and feelings, He brings peace and amazing overcoming ability. Jesus reciting Psalm 22 and praising God while taking on the sins of the whole world, despite the pain in is his battered and torn apart body, is beyond understanding and caused the roman soldiers to say, ‘Truly, this was the Son of God.‘ -MT 27:38-54. Additionally, we have the description of Stephen as he was being stoned to death praising God and having a vision of Jesus standing in his honor in Acts 7:51-60. These are the most excruciating examples of how God can carry us through ANY circumstance, especially when we are thankful and willing to praise Him in the worst of conditions.
But realize, that did not come from doing it one time. Jesus and Stephen both spent many many days practicing thanksgiving, praise, and finally, in worship in the throne room and Most Holy Pla
ce as in step 6.
Step 6 – Encounter His full PRESENCE in the throne room of worship. Your relationship with Him is unique between you and He, just like a parent with multiple children, each would be specific between the two of you. Enjoy, fly, cry, you will know when you are there.
Jesus not only went through the worst torture known to man, but set an example for us to see that no matter what happens to us on earth, we can not only get through it, but we can do so (via the supernatural power that lives within us) while praising, giving glory to, and honoring God. How? Because God’s gift in return for our choice to praise Him is returning our praise with joy, as stated in Psalm 22:26. It is also from that famous do not worry verse everyone knows in Phil. 4:4-7 that ‘provides peace beyond comprehension.‘
When we are truly in the presence of the Lord it brings peace to wipe out all anxiety, sorrow, guilt, and even sickness to bring self-healing. Often it brings joy from realizing His forgiveness and His love and it at times is overwhelming. It is the place where we learn to hear God’s voice and become familiar with it. After the tears of joy stop flowing, and we calm down, oft times, God will answer those prayers asked in the outer court. The key part is He wants us to learn about ourselves and create a one-to-one relationship with Him. In many cases it is so it can be used in ministering to others.
Step 7 – Remember what you HEAR. Write it down in that journal, even share it with others afterward and give them a piece of your blessing. Your faith and hearing will grow as you do it more often. Keep notes and examples of what your time is like (every time preferably) so you can go back and review if doubt creeps in later. Or when a difficulty arises causing us to forget how much God loves us we have those words He said to you in your worship at home experience.
For some getting from point A (out of alignment) to the throne can happen in minutes, while for others, it takes much training and practice. If you have heard of a runners high it is just like it happens for a runner to reach that euphoria stage the 1st time. But once you find the throne room, you will want to return over and over again.
While God is intent and excited to have a relationship with us, it is not just about us being happy and joyful Christians. If that is all that it is about, He might as well just take us straight to heaven and forget everything else. The key part is He wants us to learn about ourselves and create a one-to-one relationship with Him to guide us and do as Jesus did as He said “I tell the things that I have seen at My Father’s side [in His very presence]; so you also do the things that you heard from your father.” (John 8:38) . In most cases, it is for our benefit and improvements to be more like Christ in all we do. But it is also so we can be a conduit of God’s love and His word(s) in ministering to others.
Everyone is born with the purpose of being a child of God and for relationship with Him. But He’ll never force Himself on anyone. But certainly He will provide lots of opportunities for us to have faith and trust in Him, especially if we desire a stronger bonding. He wants a more intimate relationship with you personally. While it may have started in a church building, He is standing by ready for a daily, or even minute-by-minute closeness with you.
The government has told us to stay home. There is no excuse for not having the time and missing out on His Presence! And now there is extra time to teach your kids how to worship if you have them, and share with others – How to Worship at Home.
Please share your comments, your thoughts may be what others are afraid to say. Anonymous posts are allowed, but subject to good taste.
All photos licensed via Depositphotos.