We All Have a Story, Here’s Mine

Jesus Pic

For as long as I can remember I was unhappy. No matter what I would do or what I would experience nothing ever seemed to take that empty hopeless feeling away. Which is probably the reason why I turned to drugs and alcohol at such a young age. I had found my place in this world, and that was tucked away, disconnected and simply trying to escape from how much it hurt to simply be alive. I won’t go into all of the details of how my life fell apart, but my addiction and self destruction cost me everything. Once my wife and kids left me I made a decision to handle the situation the only way I knew how. I was going to go on one last insane run and just hope that it killed me so I could just be done with all of the sadness.

I remember when I made that depressing decision. I said a prayer to a God I didn’t know and I told Him I didn’t expect Him to help me. I knew He felt the same way about me that I did. That it was my fault and I didn’t deserve saving. I remember thinking, “Who am I to ask for help, I deserve all of this.”

The days rolled on, chaos overlapping chaos until the pain and despair was all that I could see. I had receded into the shadows with no thought of making a change for the better… I had truly given up on myself and there was nothing stopping me from completing my lifelong run of self destruction.

Then one night like every other night I was driving. I looked in my rear view mirror to the twinkling of flashing red and blue lights. I received a 4th DUI which landed me with a felony on top of everything else that was going on in my life. I had no clue, but when that squad car door slammed shut, I had begun down a road that was going to change everything. That felony left me with two choices; I could do a year in state prison or I could go into some program called Teen Challenge.

Repeating similar patterns I decided to take the easy way out and go into the program. My plan was to do my time, play the part and get my felony taken care of so I could go back to my so called life. A month or so into this year long discipleship I was sitting in a worship service scanning my bible. I was just killing time more than anything else and my eyes focused on a single verse. I stared at it and unintentionally I muttered it outloud, “Be still, and know that I am God.” 

It was such a comforting statement….I just couldn’t understand why.

So I began to pay attention. I began to learn of a God so different from what I had thought I knew. A God not of condemnation but of neverending love and patience for me, for us. Not disgusted or angry with me like I once thought. Being a father myself, the love of a Father on the divine level really intrigued me and drew me in. Not being able to fathom how much God loves us opened my mind to the infinite.

Through that year with everything that I learned I was convinced. This sounds like a strange way of describing it, but I am a skeptical person by nature. The presence of the Holy Spirit was undeniable. But all of the study, teaching and experience that I was exposed to there showed me that our faith is not a fairy tale, that it’s real.

I graduated in 2013 and immediately got plugged into a local church which is my home church today. I joined a small group to get me plugged in, which evolved into me being the facilitator of an ongoing weekly small group so diverse and loving that my faith and love can’t help but continue to grow. In the last several years God had placed me and used me in ways I never would have dared dream.

I love to tell my story because looking back is when my faith is strengthened. When I am reminded that if all of those horrible,….just terrible, painful things didn’t happen to me, I never would have gotten to where I am at today. Each piece of the puzzle fitting perfectly into place. And when I recognize that God’s plans are so far beyond anything I can anticipate, understand or predict, I will be able to to remember…. to have the wisdom, “To simply be still, and know that He is God.”

“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God” Ps.46:10

Written By: Justin Ludwig

Every Response Matters

​I read the comments on Facebook and see Christians spewing hate in response to non believers automatic assumptions that Christians are judgemental hypocrites…..I read these things and my stomach tightens. 

We as believers either cast doubt in the minds of the scoffer or we reinforce their views of Jesus and believers. We cannot let our pride pervert our ministry. 

We are promised that we will be hated because of the name of Christ. So we must expect it and respond with the unexpected, love.

Be the blessing and represent Him well.


Written by: Justin Ludwig

imageI find it so incredible how the Spirit speaks to us. I was walking into work this morning and as I am walking up the stairs, I dropped my keys. As soon as I heard them hit the ground I froze. I heard something, it was an almost audible voice in my head saying,

“You are not immune.”

I kid you not, I stood there for atleast a minute, staring at those keys, mumbling to myself, “I am not immune.”  It didn’t hit me right away, but about an hour into work it clicked and I understood what He was showing me.

For as long as I can remember, every time I would see someone drop something, I would  joke in my head that if I was holding it, I wouldn’t of dropped it. It’s silly I know, but what can I say, I’m weird. And when those keys hit the floor, with that joke as far from my mind as could be, I found myself recognizing that even I couldn’t stop myself from letting those keys drop out of my hand. Which guided my thoughts to a verse.

“Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.” -Psalms 26:2

That’s when I realized that the Spirit was both reminding and warning me about the severity of my condition. The bottom line is that I/we have a sinful, selfish and destructive heart. As a human we were just born with this sinful condition, passed down through Adam, and we will remain that way until we are glorified with Him.

There are so many things deep within me that can throw me off track in my walk with Christ. Selfish, sinful motives….my pride. Dare I say unintentional distortion of God’s word. Perhaps from past hurts or points of view that had been ingrained into me since birth. We all have things like this. If we didn’t then there would be no need for a Savior.

What the Spirit was reminding me was that if I don’t remain vigilant with the knowledge that I am not immune to this sin condition…. That if I am not vigilant in inspecting myself against the word of God daily, then I will surely become one of those Christians who lost their way.

I am not talking about the ones who turned away from God. I am talking about those who still truly believe that they are perfectly in God’s will, but their sin has changed their path. Their pride skewing their perceptions and intentions … and they just can’t see it.

Before we know it, we have become modern day Pharisees, proclaiming God’s greatness for our own glory.

Until we are face to face with Christ we are at war. With the powers of darkness and with the darkness within ourselves, and they both seek to destroy us. We must remain vigilant, humble, and seek His face, always

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Photo from: Google Images

Jesus Will Light Our Way

The Spirit is always speaking to us, and if we are in tune with Him, the seemingly trivial events of our day to day life have the ability to reveal to us His truth. With that said I wanted to share a quick story with all of you.

Almost every morning when I get to work it is the same thing. I lock up my bike, I walk into my building and head to the bathroom to get myself situated to start my day. I open the door to the bathroom and walk in, expecting the motion sensor to see me as I enter and automatically turn the light on, and every morning I walk in, and that stupid light doesn’t turn on. I make it around 4 steps in complete darkness, waiting for something to happen, but nothing does. I guess I assume if I walk a little further or move enough the light will click on. Every morning it is not until either I simply turn towards the sensor, or reach out and almost touch it that the lights turn on and I am able to see.

I always laugh at myself and think,”Damn Justin, how many times are you going to do this? You know what will turn the light on, So just do that fool!” This is the Spirit’s almost daily reminder for me. Pointing out how ridiculous it is for me to stumble around in the darkness trying to figure things out for myself, instead of doing what I know will work, and that is simply to turn to Him to illuminate the way.

I smile every time I turn around and that light clicks on, because I have been guilty of this in my walk with Christ on way more than one occasion. I’m sure all of you can relate. We know what we are supposed to do, but for some reason, even though we know that God will help us and make things clear for us, we still sometimes insist on fumbling around in the dark, hoping the light will just turn on and show us what to do or where to go.

God is always right there, waiting for us to turn to Him, so He can shine in our lives.

Write this truth on the tablet of your heart. Accept His offer of love and guidance and seek Him in everything you do, especially in the trivial, and He will light your way.

 

“But in their distress they turned to the Lord God of Israel, and they sought Him, and He let them find Him.”-2 Chronicles 15:4

“Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually.” -1 Chronicles 16:11

“I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” -Psalm 16:8

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” -James 1:5

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” -Psalm 119:105

 

Written by : Justin Ludwig

I want to Share Your Experiences with God

Recently I have created a Facebook page which has the same mission as my blog, which is to glorify Christ. I wanted to reach more people and I felt this was a way to do it.

It has been a blessing so far knowing I am reaching so many more people to share about the awesomeness of God. If you have a powerful testimony or have a writing that glorifies Christ, inspires hope or even a vulnerable encounter you have had with Him that you feel needs to be heard, I am offering you a chance to be heard by more people. No tricks, you get all credit… I just want to glorify God.

I can’t assure that I will use every one I receive but I want to share other peoples stories and experiences, not just my own. If you want to look up my page before you send me a piece just search “RawDisciple Ministries”

I feel this is an opportunity for you to get your voice heard by more people and help me share about Christ. If you are led, send the link, to rawdiscipleship4u@gmail.com

Justin Ludwig 

Victorious Surrender 

I fought my whole life…. I fought against an enemy that cannot be seen but that most are familiar with. An enemy that whispers into our ear that we are not good enough….. an enemy that won’t let us forget our mistakes…. an enemy that tells us that there is no hope for us. Being completely honest, I was losing this fight in a very real and devastating  way most of my life.

It wasn’t until I stopped fighting and surrendered that these lies lost their power over me and I felt something I had never experienced before…. hope.

Thank You Jesus setting me free! 

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Watch “Teen Challenge Creation Skit” on YouTube

I came across a video from when I was in the Teen Challenge on the Drama Team. We would go to churches and schools, perform and then share of the power of God in our hopeless situations to inspire hope.

Sharing our hope is what we are called to do…. no matter what it may look like.

Teen Challenge 2013 Drama Team- “Creation Skit” (Me)

Justin Ludwig