Part 1 – Crown of Thorns: Enduring Hardship

Andrey Grinkevich – Unsplash

Let me tell you a story about a gift from Father God that released me from my attitude of bondage and set me creatively free. For a long time, I was very ambiguous about life. In fact, at times I didn’t care if I woke up in the morning. I felt that bad.

A series of life experiences had become burdens of futility. What I mean is that it didn’t seem to matter what I would do to buoy myself up; eventually, I would slip back down into a heavy ambiguity. The life experiences that burdened me were a childhood and youth of disruptions in my family-life so much so that I finally lost all sense of peace and safety. Then there were years of burdens from adult life that just simply wore me down. In the end, I was a borderline diabetic and carried an extra 110-pounds of body weight. The overall effect of these experiences was that my desire to grow out of this stuff was wearing down to nothing.

The vision of a solution came in quiet time with the Lord. In meditation in the Spirit, I saw huge thorns. I was surrounded by brambles as if I were in a thicket of them. At first, I interpreted them to be a presentation of my life of prickly challenges and pain. But by zooming back for a broader view, it became apparent that I was staring at a Crown of Thorns. This is the same device that the Roman soldiers used on the Christ to mock Him (Matt 27; Mark 15; John 19) as the “king of the Jews.”

I asked Father, “What’s this got to do with me?” Then I saw a tree with a vertical crotch of two great big limbs. I believe that it was an oak tree because of the bark and leaves I could see. On the left, the limb was gray and dead. On the right, the limb was alive and healthy.

Father said to me, “On the left, you can see your ambiguity toward life and death. On the right, you can see life itself. Choose.” This tree was actually a fork in the road of my life. I had a choice to make.

I looked and asked, “Why do I need to choose? Why can’t I just let things happen as they will? I’ll keep doing my work for however long I can, and if I don’t wake up one morning, then I’ll be free of life’s miseries.”

He showed me that, “The gray limb on the left is death. The green limb on the right is life. You cannot live in an imaginary gray area between the two. You either want death – and that is very likely why you don’t care if you live or die – or you want life. It’s one or the other and is not a mere coin toss. It’s one or the other. Secondly, to live with the presence of death lingering in your life will only bring death. It will kill any and all creative work and relationship that you attempt.”

For me to leave things in this vague state would completely block any work that I wanted to try and do. Death lingering over my shoulder dampened my attitude toward life and would effectively cut off anything that I thought I could do with my life. I hadn’t seen this before. This made sense, and it was as if this indecision diluted everything about living a worthwhile life.

I then realized that I needed to decide deliberately and not leave life and death to a mere celestial coin toss. Something welled up inside of me, maybe it was Father’s love, but I chose life. At that moment I sawed off the dead limb, choosing the whole-life trunk as my path.

At that moment, I suddenly understood the Crown of Thorns that Father had shown me earlier. This was my Crown of Thorns. This was Father’s gift to me to help remind me that life is always going to be peppered with troubles, large and small. The crown also told me that I am a prince of heaven. Lastly, I was reminded that my difficulties are not endured alone. Christ is present and offers to be my strength in the midst of them. For me it’s the knowledge that there is a way out, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I am not alone. I am loved and that is what sustains me.

I now wear my Crown of Thorns whenever I face a challenge, difficulties, or any kind of senseless misery. It’s often difficult, but with Father and my crown, I can make it through the challenges of my life if I will but choose to.

Lew Curtiss is a facilitator and artist with NW Ekklesia. To read more of his story click on the link here;

My Journey into Ekklesia

Ekklesia seems like a new buzz word in the Christian world but, is it really? If you look at the New Testament model, ekklesia has been around for quite a long time. In fact, the word “church” in the Bible is really “ekklesia.” It refers to a gathering of people who are like minded. That can literally happen anywhere – in a home, through video conferencing, in a coffee shop, or other meetings. The key is to build relationship where everyone participates and grows as a community.

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My first real experience with ekklesia came as a junior high schooler. This was during the “Jesus movement” in the 1970’s (yes, I’m dating myself here). People were so excited about getting together to discuss all the new and cool things we were learning about the Christian walk. A group of people in my community started meeting on Friday nights at various homes around town. We called it “Friday Night Fellowship” and people from many local churches came. Most Fridays, there were around 30 people who attended. There was no one leader, everyone participated, we all shared testimonies, we all participated in worship, and we all read scripture together. Now that I look back on it, this was true ekklesia.

Skipping many, many, many years ahead (let’s do the time warp again….) I’m now reminded of those early years where we discovered together how to function as a unit. I meandered around for many years wondering, “Father… what do you have for me? Where do I find like-minded people?” My pastor left the ministry, my church disbanded, and I was left alone to figure out where to go, what to do, and how to do it.  During this time, God began to speak to me about personal maturity and the importance of building relationship – intimacy with Him in a way that I never knew was possible. That’s when things started to change.

Many reading this will recognize the names Ian Clayton, Mike Parsons, Justin Abraham, Dr. O, Grant and Sam Mahoney, and many others. They are forerunners in this “movement” of discovering and living out of intimacy and functioning from the kingdom realms first. It’s when I discovered the importance of developing intimacy with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit that things begin to change. I practiced seeing in the spirit. I practiced being in the presence of God from a heavenly position rather than an earthly one. My focus now on Christ and being IN HIM made all the difference in the world. No longer did I plead with God to do things for me. I learned how to legislate situations in my own life bringing the truth from heaven to earth IN that situation. I began seeing things from that heavenly perspective so that what was going on around me no longer affected my vision of life’s circumstances. No, I don’t always get it right but, it’s getting easier as I practice functioning from that place of intimacy.

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I became a part of NW Ekklesia in the spring of 2016. For me, it was a new chapter for me because being “in ekklesia” helped me mature even more. It wasn’t about me listening to someone preach a great sermon. It was about discovering all that Papa has for us as a group and growing into what we’re each called to do as Sons of God. We each have a part, just like every body has parts that make it work correctly (head, shoulders, knees, and toes, etc.). I also found that all experiences (the good, the bad, and the ugly) leading up to this time of my life had the opportunity of training me into greater revelation and responsibility if I allowed that to happen. Nothing is wasted! God can redeem any situation and circumstance as we use them for maturing tools.

In “ekklesia,” we’re given the opportunity to build relationships with one another to a much deeper level than in most church situations. I believe that’s why many churches have home fellowship groups. When these small groups focus on group participation, you have ekklesia. Fellowship is great in person but it can also be done using our modern system of technology! So, let’s not be limited to “in person” meetings.

When I first began this journey of seeing in the spirit and directly communing with God IN His presence, I had no local people that I met with. I didn’t know anyone who desired a similar journey. For many, “church as usual” was good enough. I wanted more than that. But, I didn’t let the lack of knowing people stop me. As we continue to seek the things of God, by divine methods, He brings people together. I had to learn to function from a place of rest and peace even though it felt like I was flailing about with no direction. What helped was my focus on Jesus and being “In Him” during the process. That’s what the faith walk is all about! We step out without having to know the answers. Our trust and focus directs us into the arms of the Father and from that position, we learn and grow. In and through that, I found ekklesia.

For those who are on this same journey, I encourage you that there really is nothing wrong with feeling like a fish out of water. The question to ask Papa is “What is it you have for me in this?” Grab a journal and start writing what comes to your mind – what you see, sense, hear, and feel.  Ascend into The Presence and function from that position. Then, allow divine connections to be made. As we mature, we each contribute to the health of an ekklesia. It also requires that we understand and believe that we each have a part to play.