God is Good, Even When Life Isn’t

You know what I love? Those times in your life when everything is just as it should be. Those awesome times when the Son is shining in your life, lighting your path and you can’t deny feeling God’s hand in everything. You know the times I’m referring to, don’t you? When God’s presence is almost tangible.

These are the times I, as well as a majority of Christians sing God’s praises, and why shouldn’t we? We meditate on scripture like psalm 119:105 and fall in love all over again with God’s intricate tapestry that is our existence. We feel that our faith is unshakeable because we have Yahweh in our corner who loves us so…….

But then you wake up one day and something happens. That marvelous light that was a lamp for your feet and a light for your path suddenly seems to have faded. Things stop going your way …..your prayers seem to stop being answered and worst of all you don’t feel God’s presence anymore. Are you still singing God’s praises when you are deep in that valley?

Is your faith and love as strong when you feel all alone and everything seems to go wrong in your life? When life is awesome or when life seems like a nightmare, God is exactly the same. He loves us, He is just as sovereign and is always good, no matter our circumstance.

My prayer for all of us to continue to grow closer to Christ. That we will continue to develop a level of trust that never waivers regardless of circumstance and that we never doubt God’s hand on us, ESPECIALLY when we don’t feel His presence.

Brothers and sisters, this is faith. Having assurance in the unseen and yes sometimes the unfelt.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” -Heb 11:1

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ” Isaiah 41:10

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”- Heb 13:8

“Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light to my path.”- Ps 119:105

Written by: Justin Ludwig

It’s Not About Us

It was about three weeks into Teen Challenge when I received some news that threw me over the edge. Because of it I had decided to give up. I immediately stopped caring and had decided that I was leaving. I was literally so angry I almost put my head into a window and then a poll. I was ranting, cussing as loud as I could and was trying to pick fights with guys I knew could beat me very badly. I had lost hope in my surroundings and I KNEW that there was nothing there for me……I sincerely had given up.

Amongst my insane rantings a small blonde guy came up to me as calm as could be and asked what was up. I proceeded to rant, panic, scream…..i mean, completely lose it. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “F*** you, did you ever stop and thing that you aren’t here for you but that you’re here for me!?”

This statement/question stopped me dead in my tracks as if someone had shot me with a tranquilizer….it’s not about me. It was the ONLY thing that could have been said to calm me and give me perspective because in my own chaos and insanity all I could see was my own situation. Somehow my freak out reminded him of himself and it was the first time that he didn’t feel alone there……..

Each one of us must remember that we aren’t here for ourselves, we’re here for others

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Dying to Flourish

Lately the passage in John where Jesus is talking about the head of wheat that must die in order to flourish and birth a crop has been coming to mind There is such significance to this parable and I feel it is a crucial passage for anyone who wants to spread the Truth.

Since we are the image of that head of wheat, the message becomes clear that we have two choices; choose ourselves or choose the gospel. If our focus is on ourselves and our own well-being, all we will do is remain an intact head of wheat until we wither away and die. But if we choose to die to ourselves and live each day for Christ, then we become a living picture of the fallen, yet fruitful kernel.

By dying to our selfish ways of thinking, acting and living we instead choose to live for Jesus, which is love, service and grace. Each day we must pray on this passage and ask ourselves what is our priority?

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Birth Days

The brilliance

emerges over unfamiliar fields

Seemingly unmoving, it rises

It’s Beauty tainted

Always by the familiar

Ushering in the repetition

my heart Cries out

How do i know?

When each thought

every feeling

Overlapping in an instant

so fast…..

A blur of Hope, wrapped in frustration

i long for what waits

So wait,

Rising

rising, rising

All the while the melody flows

another and again

Searching for what’s already obtained

Still I sit

still yet frantic

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Maintain Gratitude

One thing i realized while i was away was how much I take for granted. From waking up next to my wife, not having to wear shower shoes, to being able to decide what I will do with my day….it’s an amazing feeling when you get all those little things back.

Everything is a big deal and so greatly enjoyed and appreciated….then time drones on and we get used to things again and we find ourselves not only not grateful but miserable because of what we don’t have.

My prayer is that we all take stock and recognize all of our blessings. Don’t lose things before you appreciate them.

Justin Ludwig

Justin Ludwig

Today is the Day

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In Acts 24:25 Paul is presenting his faith to governor Felix. Here Paul presents not only theological truths but practical applications of his faith, such as righteousness and self control. As he is talking, Felix stops him because “ he had become afraid.” Felix sent Paul away telling him that “when it is convenient for him” he would send for Paul again. The message that Paul was preaching was too overwhelming for Felix to tolerate, so he chose to dismiss it until it was convenient for him.

How many times have we turned away from God’s instruction because it was contrary to what we wanted to do? Whether it be stopping a sinful behavior, forgiving a brother or sister or delaying even coming to Christ because that means we would have to give up our right to do what we want when we want in order to follow Him. I have found it true in my life that saying “someday” is another way of saying never. Someday I will stop cursing,….someday I will quit this horrible habit… Someday I will stop living like this and turn to Christ.
The truth is that we are not promised tomorrow, and the truth is that life moves so fast that if we keep saying, “I’ll do it tomorrow”, then we are running the very real risk of losing our only opportunity. In Hebrews 3:13 it instructs us that we must act now” as long as it is called today”. We must not wait until tomorrow to forgive, to tell our families about Christ or accept Christ ourselves because tomorrow may never come.

We must act now, as long as it is called today
“As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” -Acts 24:25
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” -Hebrew 3:13
“Dear Children let us not love in words or speech but with action and truth.” -1 John 3:18

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Expectations Can Taint Blessings

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How many times have our blessings been cheapened because they didn’t turn out exactly as we envisioned it or hoped it would be?

I was riding my bike down to the beach this afternoon. Since I have started with street ministry I have become very mobile, so I decided to go down and enjoy the sunset. About halfway to the beach my bike got a flat tire which stopped me dead in my tracks. At this point I had about 30 minutes until sunset, so there was no way I was going to make it to the beach in time. I happened to be near my brother’s house (which is also the house I grew up in.) I decided I had come this far so I might as well hang out on the roof of his house and make the best of it.

…..the sunset that followed was such an amazing display of beauty. With the dissipating marine layer, the colors were so brilliant, so beautiful….so perfect.

Lost in the beauty of the heavens exploding, for the briefest of moments nothing else mattered. I smiled and praised God…. All of a sudden I started thinking of how much better it would have been if I had made it to the beach.

In the first moment of brilliance I was consumed by beauty…. But as soon as I began to focus on what didn’t go as planned, it suddenly wasn’t as perfect anymore. It was in this moment when Holy Spirit revealed to me the very truth that inspired this writing.

We must stop looking for what we want to happen and be grateful for what God gives us… We must stop envisioning what God’s plan “should be” and then be upset or disappointed because it went a little differently than we thought it should have.

I am not preaching because I feel like the number one offender when it comes to this ungrateful tendency…. We can’t let the enemy’s lies or even our own plans blind us from the amazing blessings that are right in front of us.

Be blessed and love well my friends

Justin Ludwig

It’s Up to Us to Let Them Know

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It breaks my heart that so many people leave God out of their lives. Whether it be from past pain or from skepticism, the end the result is the same. People become confused wanderers in a dark unfriendly world.

Some are aware of their wandering, others are not. But every single person needs to know the Truth, that they are sincerely loved, by you and more importantly by Jesus.

For so long I was that wanderer, because I simply didn’t know. I never experienced love without judgement or condition….. I didn’t know how much God truly loved me.

Everyday, each one of us has the opportunity to rock someone’s world with the love of God. Someone who may be drowning in their life or who has lost all hope….

Love in action, speak Truth and be the blessing, in Jesus name.

 

Justin Ludwig

 

Fear isn’t Lack of Faith

For the longest time I have viewed my worry and stress as a glaring contradiction to my trust in God….

I trust Him, I truly do…. but I have always felt that the fact that I worry and stress was showing me that my faith isn’t as strong as I thought……i am starting to think that this isn’t the case at all.

I was talking with my pastor about this issue and he pointed out something in the form of a question. He asked me, “Are you turning back because of your fear and worry?” I told him, “No, because I know God has something in-store for me…. I just don’t know how to stop worrying because I feel like when I worry I am telling God I don’t trust Him.”

He told me “Justin, the fact that you are not turning back shows that you are trusting God. He draws us deeper and deeper into the water to prepare us for greater and harder things”

In that moment Holy Spirit whispered in my heart, “It is supposed to scary, that’s why you have Me.”…..

It is not important if we are afraid, what’s important is that we don’t turn back…. God will not give us more than we can handle….

In this life He is going to slowly but surely stretch us. It can be scary but if we make the decision to never turn back He will show up for us time and time again.

In the face of fear, choose faith

Justin Ludwig

How can I get more of You Lord!?


“How can I get more of You Lord!?”

We pray about it, we sing about it and today, I asked Holy Spirit about it.

I was praying and worshipping to some Jesus Culture this morning while walking to work. As I was praying I asked God, “How can I get closer to You?” “How can I be able to more consistently bask in Your presence?… Help me to be able to truly rest in Your promises…..tell me what to do Father.”

As I am praying this my mind immediately flashed a picture of Adam in the garden. It was so vivid and clear which I noticed immediately because I don’t have the best imagination. I have never experienced a vision from the Lord but I feel that is what this was. It almost felt like it was implanted in my brain;

Adam was crouching behind a bush with a look of confusion and fear on his face as God called out to him. His head was darting back and forth as if to be looking for somewhere to run. He had sweat on his brow as his labored breathing was visible. When the Lord called his name, (which I could not audibly hear but I knew/felt Him do it..somehow) Adam ducked his head a little lower and shook his head in frustration and shame….. then picture was gone.

Suddenly Holy Spirit whispered in my heart,” It’s not what you need to do, it’s what you need to stop doing.”

In that moment Holy Spirit revealed to me that I had let the enemy take a stronghold in my relationship with Jesus….. the enemy blinded me until this morning that I have been dodging deeper intimacy with God….because of things I haven’t wanted to face, can anyone relate to this?

In that vision, God made it crystal clear to me that just like then, it is not a matter of Him finding us. It’s a matter of us choosing to let ourselves be exposed to God in the most vulnerable of ways. Yes, He knows everything anyways but in that Adam experience we put up our own barriers between us and God…… at least I did.
We must remember how much He loves us and we must remain honest with ourselves.

The enemy’s non stop goal is to make us forget that Love, to doubt His grace. The devil knows that he can do nothing to take us from the embrace of the Lord. So he subtly and gradually tries to deceive us into choosing to back away from God.

No matter what you have done… no matter how good you feel you are doing. Allow yourself to be laid bare before our King, and trust in His love and grace….and I’ll do the same.

Be blessed and love well my friends

Justin Ludwig

Take a Leap!

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When I came to God it was because I finally let go. It was not because of some epiphany or spiritual moment. I was lying in the burned ashes of my life. I cried out in hopelessness….. and He answered.

It my complete brokenness and uncertainty I had no choice but to trust Him because I couldn’t even trust myself. And with every leap of faith I took my faith grew. I’m not saying every leap ended the way I expected or even hoped. But something was always gained and my faith in His character always grew.

The enemy uses fear and doubt to try and cripple us, keep us from God’s blessing.

Never be afraid to take a leap of faith….. Give God an opportunity to show up for you in amazing ways….just let go and trust Him and you will see.

Be blessed and love well my friends

Justin Ludwig

Cast Doubt in their Doubt

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When a non believer tells me they know they are going heaven because they are a good person my response is always the same.

I ask them, “Compared to who?”

I have seen this simple question make the most cynical of scoffers pause and ponder. That’s what we are called to do. To cast doubt in the non believers disbelief…. Holy Spirit will take care of the rest.

I just wanted to share this with you so when you are presented with this rationalization, you now have an effective response.

Be blessed and love well my friends

Written by Justin Ludwig

Can’t Help But Respond in Love

The difference between the Christian faith and every other religion is one key factor; an obligation to do certain acts or deeds in order to go to heaven. As Christians we know that God loves us so much that He just gave us heaven through Christ’s sacrifice. So a Christian’s acts are not motivated from obligation but rather a response of gratitude and joy.

We are already free! Now let’s love and forgive accordingly

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Eph 4:32

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? n the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds” – James -2:14-18

Be blessed and love well my friends

Justin Ludwig

Bask in the Blessing

How many times have our blessings been cheapened because they didn’t turn out exactly as we envisioned it or hoped it would be?

I was riding my bike down to the beach this afternoon. Since I have started with the street ministry I have become quite mobile, but I just wanted to go down and enjoy the sunset. About halfway to the beach I got a flat tire on my bike which stopped me dead in my tracks. At this point I had about 30 minutes until sunset, so there was no way I was going to make it to the beach in time. I happened to be near my brother’s house, which is also the house I grew up in. I decided I had come this far so I might as well hang out on the roof and make the best of it and watch the sunset anyways.

The sunset that followed was such an amazing display of beauty. With the dissipating marine layer the colors were so brilliant, so beautiful….so perfect.

I praised God in that moment, and then all of a sudden I started thinking how much better it would have been if I had made it to the beach. In the first moment of brilliance I was consumed by beauty. But as soon as I began to focus on this fact all of a sudden it wasn’t as perfect anymore.

It was in this moment when Holy Spirit revealed to me the very truth that I write now. We must stop looking for what we want to happen and be grateful for what God gives us. We must stop envisioning what God’s plan should be and then be upset or disappointed because it went a little differently than we thought it should have.

I am not preaching because I feel like the number one offender of this. Don’t let the enemy’s lies or even your own plans blind you from the amazing blessings that are right in front of you.

Be blessed and love well my friends

Written by: Justin Ludwig

In Your Darkness, God is There


God is right there, in the middle of our hurt and our pain, shouting that He loves us…..can you hear Him?

It was so hard to watch the cancer eat away at my dad. It seemed to be happening so slow, yet so fast at the same time. The range of emotions I experienced I won’t even begin to list. But with everything going on, time and time again, seeing God reaching out to my father was such a faith strengthening and amazing experience.

I found the entire ordeal with my father to be something of a bittersweet experience. Watching him wither away right before my eyes, his body not working, his mind fading fast, and a fear in his eyes that a child never wants to see on their dad’s face… it was just heartbreaking. But in the midst of this sadness, watching God work, by softening my dad’s heart, so I could finally have a relationship with him before the end. My mom drawing close to God because of the pain…. the seemingly random and amazing ways both my wife and I have seen God reaching out to dad, offering His love and salvation… it is just mind blowing. These are just a few of the blessings that have come about because my dad got sick.

This is what we need to recognize and focus on in the midst of the chaos and pain in our lives. If we focus on the pain instead of God, the burden becomes too great. When our focus is on God, the pain is still there, but we are now able to see how God is using the situation for His purpose. And watching Him comfort, love and bless those affected by their trails takes the chaos out of the pain, and that gives us hope.

He is good, always. My prayer for all of us is that we will hold onto that truth and never forget.

Justin Ludwig

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”-Is 41:10

“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you”.-1Peter 5:7

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jer 29:11-13

Justin Ludwig

God’s Love 

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God is not capable of failing us…. He will never grow tired of us and He will never ever leave us….Most importantly, He is absolutely, indescribably head over heels in love with us and there is nothing that we can do to change that. Whether we are serving or sinning He loves us exactly the same……His love never changes. (Ps 136:1-2, Rm 8:37-39)

Justin Ludwig

Motives are Everything

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What is my motivation?……

This question is one that we as followers of Christ must ask ourselves on a continual basis. Throughout scripture it is shown and then reinforced again and again that it is not merely a matter of what we do, but why we do it.

In Mark 12:41-44, Jesus explains why the widow, who gave her only two pennies was far greater in the eyes of God than the rich man who boastfully gave a much large sum of money in the synagogue during its busiest time so everyone would see him. In Matthew 6:1-4, Jesus gives a crystal clear caution to not announce when we do good in the hopes of casting the spotlight on ourselves. We are told to let the world see our good deeds but so God can be glorified, not us,

……humility and sacrifice, in faith. Both birthed and sustained; by with and through Love.

I don’t share this to preach at anyone, because I share this from my own sinful heart, my own experience, vulnerability and brokenness…. none of us are immune to our pride and I will be the first to admit my weakness. But we must remain vigilant when it comes to our motives.

When I write a piece like this or I am feeling led to proclaim something; whether it be in a small group, Jesus Culture concert or to the person sitting right next to me. I have to ask myself;

Do I want God to be heard, or myself?” “Am I writing this piece because I haven’t posted in awhile and needed something, or is Holy Spirit truly pulling at my heart over the importance of sincerity over works to the point where I had to share?”

All God ever wanted…. all He will ever want from us is to love and trust Him….

Try to imagine loving someone with everything that You are. I am talking a love that cannot be put into words. Now imagine if that person was only nice, helpful, respectful and loving towards you when other people were around to see it so people would think good of them?…..
We must search our hearts daily because our hearts are easily deceived by our pride if we are not vigilant. One scripture comes to mind that encapsulates this truth perfectly so I will close with it, 1 Cor 13: 1-7;

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”

Be the blessing; love well, love often and love furiously, in Jesus name.

Written by: Justin Ludwig

God’s Word is Power

We must be fed the Word of God daily, that we may be strong to fight this daily spiritual battle. Just as the Holy Spirit used the Word of God to give us spiritual birth, He uses the Word to give us spiritual strength.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. – Matt 4:4 

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

God’s Timing 

God’s timing can be be frustrating and at times scary, but it is always perfect. 

In those periods of waiting or silence remember, God must work in us before He can work through us. Holy Spirit needs to build our character in order to prepare us to be able to handle what He has planned for each one of us. I am not preaching, but if I was it is as much to myself as anyone else. We must stay the course and trust God, because He is trustworthy. Be blessed and love well my friends.

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Confession of a Dead Man 

I spent my whole life taking…..

I think that harsh truth fuels my urgency to love in action. I spent most of my life serving myself. With a combination of self loathing, whispers from the enemy, and a haze from whatever I happened to be addicted to at the time, I was able to to ignore what I was, a bad person. A man completely consumed by sin.

I lied, cheated and stole indiscriminately. It didn’t matter if it was my mother or a stranger, I would manipulate them for my selfish needs, and when manipulation didn’t work I would just take. I was emotionally and at times physically abusive. I lied constantly, cheated and schemed for a living and I was okay that….. this is the confession of a dead man.

Once Christ came into my life my eyes suddenly were opened to my condition. Suddenly my heart wept over the thoughts of the things I had done…. I still cringe at some of these memories that I used to be okay with… I cringe at the thought that I was even okay with it. I suddenly was unable to bear the sight of my selfishness, my destructiveness….my sinfulness.

These thoughts of my past didn’t and don’t make me feel ashamed, because I am brand new. All of a sudden I had a desire to love…. to go out of my way for strangers and a need to want to make people’s lives better, not worse.

This is what God does to every single heart He touches. God is love, and when He touches us, we can’t help but respond.

Be the blessing and love well, because when we love God is present. God bless

“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
-1 John 4:12

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” -1 John 4:8

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone and the new is here.”- 2 Cor 5:17

Written by: Justin Ludwig

How Can a Good God Let so Many Bad Things Happen?

How can a good God let so many bad things happen?

This is probably one of the most common questions I have heard from not just non believers but believers as well. There is an answer to this question and I wanted to share it in the hopes that it will give someone a response when they are asked… or perhaps you are wondering this yourself. When we as Christians are asked such questions it is important for us to be prepared to defend what we believe with love and respect. (1 Peter 3:15)

The answer is this, God gave us free will because He desires a love relationship with us, that’s it. It says in 1 John 4:8 that “God is love”…. everything God desires for us and from us is all rooted in love.

Without evil, one cannot choose good. To make us incapable of choosing evil, God would have to eliminate free will. If He eliminated the ability to choose then we would be incapable of love….and love is everything God wants from us.

So the question is why could God let this happen…. He wanted us to simply choose to love Him. Our choices as humans have brought us to this point, not God. Men chose evil over love, but they have the choice. This is a hard truth because what this means is that the innocent suffer right along with the evil….so many specific and personal scenarios, it doesnt seem fair. But we have to choose what we believe, God is either good or He isn’t.

Choose love, because it’s the entire point. Choose to trust Him, because He is trustworthy.

Be blessed and love well.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”  Peter 3:15

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” -1 John 4:8


Written by: Justin Ludwig

Only Jesus Satisfies 

I have chased a fix my whole life. From drugs, women to cutting myself, you name it. My whole life I was longing for something…. maybe some of you can relate. I didn’t feel right…  there was something missing and I just couldn’t satisfy that longing….. I didn’t know what it was that was missing, so I searched, and it damn near killed me

On my journey looking to fill an emptiness I didn’t understand, I discovered the Truth. And the truth is what I was longing for was God, and I didn’t even know it. In fact Jesus was the last thing I thought I wanted.

I have lived a crazy life; experienced the spectrum of emotions, highs and lows to a sickening degree and I am here to tell you that there is no better high….no experience greater than being in His presence and feeling His love. I’ve chased every fix and Jesus is the only thing that truly satisfies.

Don’t let the enemy deceive you… don’t let the illusion of worldly satisfaction distract you, it’s all a lie. Chase Jesus with everything you are and you will see for yourself.

He will complete you in ways you didn’t think possible.

“For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” -Ps 107:9

 

Written by: Justin Ludwig

When Opinions Overshadow Compassion

We are not our politics, our social status or our country…. we are human beings.

When tragedy strikes it seems I see and hear countless comments of blame and claim but very little mourning for the lost of the innocent. Being completely real with you I have been guilty of this in the past on more than one occasion, maybe some can relate. When we get swept up in the politics of a tragedy instead of the actual tragedy; ie. arguing a point on gun control or getting upset because of some political move made by a world leader while nothe really focusing on the fact that innocent men, woman and/or children may have died, or worse. All the while overlooking the sheer horror of a situation or event…..

We cannot let our opinions replace the love of Christ in our hearts, we cannot turn a blind eye because it’s uncomfortable and we must always seek compassion and love over all else.

“I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother.” – Ps 35:14

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”- John 4:7-9

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” -Col 3:2


Written by: Justin Ludwig

Photo credit: Rachelwojo.com 

Choose Unity Over Being Right

Pentecostal, Baptist, Lutheran, Protestant and Evangelical. The list goes on and on…..

I don’t know if I am the only one, but my body tightens at the question that I am so commonly asked when meeting other christians. It seems to be the ice breaking question to ask someone what denomination they are.

This question bothers me because I don’t hear someone looking for common ground. I hear someone looking for differences, not necessarily intentionally but they are seeing if I am someone “like them”.

In the body of Christ we are one and when I see this division because of a group’s interpretation of a scripture it just feels wrong to me. It feels like we are saying that my views….my interpretation of the scriptures is more important than being united; one body, one church…..

I hear it all the time, christians talking down about believers of another denomination like they are fools or the enemy some how. It seems some have let their interpretation of the scriptures….. their personal views about the passage that are open to interpretation become more important than the Truth. And the Truth is if anything divides the church…. if anything takes the place of unity, grace and love then we have made ourselves more important than Christ in our own hearts. Because if our interpretation of scripture is dividing us, then our opinion or pride is more important than Christ, period.

In Christ we always find each other.

Choose unity over being right and choose love, always

Written by: Justin Ludwig

It Only Takes a Spark

When we understand that our ministry is about glorifying God and not ourselves, we recognize that the size doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if we touch one heart through a small blog or ten million through a mega church. Through Christ, each heart has the capability to change the world, ignite a revival or inspire hope, with a single spark.

Don’t let the world’s view of success discourage your ministry. It only takes a small spark to ignite a raging fire. Continue to throw out sparks wherever you go and trust that God will ignite a raging fire.

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Free From The Lies


​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 for 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!

Believe and Then You Will See

Sometimes in this life we are looking for signs. Messages from God clearly telling us if we should do something or not. I don’t know about you but I would love for God to give me a burning bush experience or some undeniable sign…. but it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes we have a hard time hearing God’s voice…. perhaps what we are asked to do seems more than we can handle.

So we wait for signs….

What if we simply leaned into our passion without reservation, knowing that God would come through for us?What if the only thing standing in our way is simply our lack of belief in that God is capable and will come through for us?

Think about it, He left the Israelites in the desert simply because they didn’t have faith. The Centurion whose servant was healed from being paralyzed simply because he believed Jesus could…… If we have the faith of a mustard seed we could move mountains….

Don’t let fear dictate your ministry, your path or your life. Learn to lean into your passion knowing that God will show up. And He will show up, because He is faithful. 

Believe and then you will see


Written by : Justin Ludwig

Remember the Love

There always seem to be sad, gut wrenching memories that come to mind at random, but not today. I stand at my door, looking out my screen. My mind drifts to this year’s 4th of July…. I had my daughter with me. We were standing on my neighbor’s balcony and I had her in my arms… jeez her legs are getting so long. We watched the bright colors in the distance and chatted about whatever goes through a 7 year old’s mind…. It was perfect.

I remember recognizing the moment as a moment to really hold onto, to savor and focus on..… I had my daughter in my arms…..How many visits do I have before she stops asking me hold her like the little girl she will always be to me?

I weep at this recollection and so many like it…. but they are mine. An extremely precious gift from God…. No matter how fleeting they are, we must remain grateful and hold onto those moments of perfection. When love is so complete you feel you may burst….. Treasure these gifts, no matter how fleeting.

 

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Remember the Forgotten

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In the body of Christ we are one. From the man in the mansion to the man in the gutter…. from the pulpit to the prison cell, we are all equal in the kingdom of God. This truth is something that needs to be proclaimed and walked out every day of our lives. Hebrews 13:3 says:

“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”

This is why I am reaching out to you. Several months ago I got involved in a ministry called Christian Pen Pal Ministry (CPP). You are connected with people in prison seeking a friendship, and encouragement from other believers. Brothers and sisters in chains who need our love and support. I love this ministry because it is an opportunity to remember the forgotten and shine in the darkness in an impactful way.

If we seek Truth we find Christ, and in Christ we will always find each other. I encourage you to click the link and get involved.

http://www.cppministry.com

Be the blessing and love like Christ

Written by : Justin Ludwig

Exiles of this Age

Holy Spirit impressed something on my heart I wanted to share with all of you. In Mark 5:1-20  Jesus comes across a cursed man. This man was possessed by not one demon, but a legion of demons. The hold that they had on this man was so great that he was written off by society. They exiled him to the tombs, hastily forgotten, helpless…hopeless. The villagers didn’t know what to do with the man. They tried everything they could think of to help him, then they resorted to simply trying to confine him. In their fear and desperation they chained the man down, but his demons were so powerful they snapped the chains like strings. Unable to deal with him, they exiled him to the tombs, to suffer in his torment.

Imagine this man, possessed by such darkness. The scripture says he howled into the night, cutting himself with stones…. The pain of this man… this man who fell victim to a darkness much stronger than himself.

Everyone was terrified of this man, Jesus sought this man out. Everyone wrote him off as a lost cause, Jesus saw a man who needed to be set free.

This is such an inspirational model for every one of us. We cannot turn a blind eye to the exiles of this age. We must not confine our ministry to that of our own comfort.

There is a large world out there, filled with so many people without hope. People broken, lost, hurting and alone. Those outside of our comfort zone that are howling in pain like this possessed man. How will they know the hope we have found unless we tell them?

The homeless man, the convict, the orphan…  Men and women bound and gagged in their sin, their pain or their circumstance.

I am not saying that you should head down some dark alley looking for lost souls. I am just saying that He wants to use you. Don’t be afraid or over think how what you should do. With a single smile or a word said from love, the Holy Spirit is capable of changing the heart and life of a person otherwise hopeless.

Jesus has called us not to stand on the sidelines, but to roll up our sleeves and love the unlovable. It is our responsibility to remember the forgotten and give hope to the hopeless, in Jesus name.

 

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” -Matt 28:19

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Love Never Fails

​Sometimes I feel like I may disappear….

Lost in the shuffle of the same papers since the fall

Accumulation…..

    gain and accomplishment

     again and again

Lost like a whisper in the wind

  Hypothetical memories torn and tattered 

  Like the faded memories on life support in a wallet

  Love…..

   It carries forward 

     A force that cannot be contained 

by the tangible or even the rational 

      …..it the darkness we cry

     In the darkness it screams 

     Love never fails

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

  

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

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I read the comments on Facebook and see Christians spewing hate in response to non believers automatic assumptions that Christians are judgmental 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

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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

Called to Love in Action

“Dear children, let us not love in word or speech, but with action and in truth.” -1 John 3:18

God has called each of us to love. The love that God desires from us is not a feeling or an emotion. It is a call to a action. It is a call to put the needs of others before our own, especially when we don’t feel like it. There is a whole world out there of broken souls who are desperate for hope, for love….for Jesus

We are called to love in action and I just want to be a resource so you can get involved in a ministry.

Below are several links to different organizations that you can get involved with. If you know of any causes that you would like to see added to this list, please contact me and let me know.

This is your call to love like God desires and bring light to this broken world.

 

Baja Bound Ministries -Building Homes for the Working Poor

Teen Challenge – Christian Discipleship for Addiction

Sponsor a Childs Education and Break the Cycle of Poverty

Friends Of Angels -Autism Ministry

Addicts Aren’t Beyond Hope

I went to Teen Challenge in 2012 and my life has never been the same, all glory to Jesus! I was as bad as it gets for most of my life. I was strung out, full of hate and pain. Thanks to this ministry and the grace of God I have been redeemed! It was all God but Teen Challenge gave me the foundation in Christ that I needed to overcome a lifetime of addiction, hurt and brokenness. I tried everything from rehabs, jail and mental wards…. gutters, inpatient and outpatient programs… nothing worked.

I am walking taking proof that no one is too far gone, nobody is beyond redemption, and through Christ everyone has hope.

I encourage you to get involved, however that looks. Be blessed my brothers and sisters.

http://www.teenchallenge.org/

 

Written by: Justin Ludwig

How Can I Serve You?

RawDiscipleMinistries, rawdisciple.com

Below are three links depending on why you would like to reach me. If you would like to contact me regarding something other than these please feel free to email me at rawdiscipleship4u@gmail.com

Prayer is power. I want to pray for you!!!

Speaker- Testimonies (Free)

Fundraising or Donation Letters

Ways to love in Action, Ministries and Service

Can you hear Him?

wp-1507962515119.jpgCan you hear Him?

In the midst of the chaos, He is assuring You that He is in control…..in the middle of our very personal, excruciating pain and sadness, He is screaming how much He loves us…. can you hear Him?

I’d like to say that I always feel completely confident in my faith, but that would be a lie. There are times when the pain is so deafening it seems to distract me from hope and His voice is drowned out…. I begin to feel like I am sinking…. then the doubts begin to whisper. “God has left you”…. “you are just fooling yourself, give up”…. “you are alone and hopeless”….

Unfortunately in our journey with Christ we will not always feel His presence or comfort. We won’t hear His voice and we will feel like we are on our own. Speaking just for myself, this place can be terrifying. When my world seems to be crumbling down around me and God seems to be silent….

It is in these times we must choose to trust. These times can be the hardest for a christian. When everything inside of us is screaming doubt, hopelessness or fear. When we must disregard every fiber of our flesh and rationality and choose to trust that God hasn’t gone anywhere….. that He is working on something. It is in these places that we must choose to believe that He does love us and that no matter how hopeless it seems, He will come through.

We won’t always hear His voice, but I am here to tell you without a doubt that God is right there, in the middle of your agony, screaming His love for you.

Choose to believe and you will be blessed.

Written by: Justin Ludwig

We Need Love

wp-1505536933002.jpg​I am so tired of the anger and hated…..the insane political division and suspicion on every level.

Sometimes I feel like the only one, looking in from the outside, weeping for humanity…. This world so desperately needs love.

Some may scoff at this proclamation but I stand by it with everything that I am. We must choose love. We must look past ourselves to the needs of the one beside us and then act.

This is the only hope we have. We must be the blessing and help change this broken world.

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

So Much Joy, So Much Pain

​My heart weeps over the randomness of my recollections…..

The look on my dad’s face when his mom refused to see him on his death bed….. the look of pride of my father’s face when I hit a home run or did something that pleased him as a child. The look on my kids face that first moment we are reunited after 3 months of longing for each other… that pure excitement and joy! Immediately my mind is pulled to their faces waving goodbye in the rear view mirror driving out of my life……such heartache.

So much pain….. so much joy.

I try to focus on the beauty but the gut wrenching images always seem to taunt them, even if only slightly.

Our lives are a series of blessings, heartaches and adventures. The enemy will draw from our pain and remind us constantly…. I know he does for me. Constantly attempting to rob us of the joy that God has given us and the joy we have experienced through our relationships and our journey.

This is where action meets our faith. God is good…. God is awesome in fact and He will fill us with hope. What we must never forget is at the same time there is a very real enemy who is constantly trying to undo everything that He does. 

This is the reality of spiritual warfare in each of our lives. The devil constantly trying to remind us of the hurt… the times God did not give us what we wanted or when He didn’t answer the prayer that still causes us pain. A lyric comes to mind, “When you didn’t part the waters I wish I could have walked through, still I will trust in You.”

I speak now from a place of attack and sadness. Right this moment I feel the tears welling up because if the hurt and pain….. but we must remember the goodness of God. The blessing upon blessing He has rained down in our life. This is how we fight off these attacks from the enemy. We must not let the enemy rob us of the joy that God has already given us, and has promised to continue to give us.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” -Phil 4:8

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Why do you love Jesus?Please Share Your Hope!

Who is Jesus to you? Jesus asked Peter this question with great passion

This is a question that every single christian needs to know the answer to…. if they don’t, then why are they following Christ in the first place?

Beyond the clichés and the Sunday school lessons…. Dig deep and truly ask yourself, who is Jesus Christ, personally in your life. This is a very personal answer because as you know, the walk with Christ is an intimate, personal one.


I hope and pray that anyone who reads this will comment with their intimate, personal answer to this question. There is no “right” answer and I pray Holy Spirit will inspire you to share your love affair with us…. when we share our story, we share our hope and we grow stronger, together.

For myself, Jesus taught me not only to not hate myself but that I am worthy of love. Jesus is my hero because he changed things in my life that would have been impossible without Him.He completely softened my heart and freed me from a lifetime of self destruction. He showed me that I am loved and showed me how to let go of my past. Jesus is my strength… He gave hope to a man who has been without hope his entire life.

 Be blessed and love furiously.

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Soldier’s for Christ

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When I don’t feel God’s presence it freaks me out a little.The doubts, anxieties and frustrations intensify in these times and sometimes I wonder…..am I kidding myself? In an attack, I begin to doubt and second guess everything. This is a humbling thing to admit this but the truth is the truth. When I find myself either under spiritual attack or simply completely overwhelmed by life I try to think back to a sermon I heard once.

It was a true story about a soldier who was sent on an important assignment. He was a sniper and was going to take out some enemy leader behind enemy lines. This guy planned and studied for this mission for weeks. This planning was deciding the path to take to avoid the enemy’s patrols, exit strategies, his position for the assault and every other possible angle that could or would play a factor. After lengthy preparation the soldier was confident in his mission plan. He was going to crawl several thousand meters through heavily patrolled and fortified enemy territory to a spot he determined the best opportunity for achieving his goal. He knew his plan was not going to be easy. In fact he knew it was going to be painful and a real test of his commitment to the “cause” and his objective.

In the early evening this soldier began his inch by inch slither into position. He was rested, confident and vigilant. As the days of slow, inch by inch creeping wore on he began to weaken as fatigue set in. His stomach cramped, his lips were parched and the constant close calls with the enemy was wearing on his nerves. I would imagine sleep deprivation beginning to take its toll since he was in such a vulnerable position. I would assume he didn’t sleep much….. he was tired. When all of the planning meets the very painful reality of the mission…. this is where this soldier was at.

Then his mind did what I think most if ours would in the same or a similar situation, he began to compromise. He was 450 meters short the position decided upon earlier as their best chance of success….. this man was so tired, facing almost certain death and was convinced that he didn’t have to go the entire way to complete his mission…. he was so depleted feeling and it sounded like a good idea and was sounding better by the second.

Completely exhausted and running desperately low on hope he made the decision to continue on the last 450 meters to the original spot. The way he saw it, he had made this plan in the right state of mind. This plan was formulated after a lot of research, deliberation and thought. He recognized that if that was the conclusion that he decided on when he was in a right state of mind he would have to trust that decision. In his wisdom and training he recognized that he could not trust his own thoughts now that fear, fatigue and a dwindling hope was distorting his thinking.

He decided he would have to ignore every bit of fatigue, fear or exhaustion. He chose to disregard every shout of his mind to give up, that you can’t do it!  His body and mind had turned against him. He had to decide if the mission was more important than all of that pain and discomfort……

When we accepted Christ we had an encounter. Everyone’s story is special, unique and connected at the same time. Something happened that brought us to a decision that we are/we’re going to follow Christ. We saw the Truth and knew exactly what we needed to do….. then the months and years roll by. It seems to be one tragedy after another. Death followed by death… your children go away and you hurt. You lost your job or your entire life seems to be crumbling around you…… these are the times we MUST draw on the wisdom and strength like this soldier did. Every single one of us that made the sincere decision to accept and follow Christ is a soldier. We are soldiers for Christ because we saw the plan, in our sound minded discernment we decided to trust our Leader.

We cannot let the fatigue of our trials, disappointments, and pain lead us into believing the lie….

God is positioning us….He is using us, and if we continue to draw off His strength and persevere, we will succeed. The exciting thing is, we won’t know what that looks like, until we get to where God is calling us.

Trust in your decision to trust Him….. no matter how you feel. God is good and if You seek Him,  you will be reminded of that time and time again.

 

Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. -2 Tim 2:3

 

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

 

Stand fast brothers and Sisters. If you need prayer to help you persevere click the link and let me pray for you.

 

https://rawdiscipleblog.wordpress.com/prayer-requests/

 

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Blessed to be Broken 

In the blink of an eye I am a thirty three year old man. I look over my life and shudder because of some of the choices I’ve made. I spent my whole life destroying myself and I had a bad habit of hurting others in the process.

I look back on my life, before I knew God and remember….I don’t ever want to go back to that place.

I have come to recognize my self destruction as a blessing. By this I mean, when I begin to drift from the path He has called me to, the darkness always comes back, and it comes on in way that I cannot ignore… When I am not seeking Him with all of my heart I begin to listen to tell lies of the enemy and they begin to crush me.

I thank God for my addictions, my depression and my past because it is only because of those things that I will never forget that I am lost without Jesus. Without Jesus I, you, we all are doomed to an eternity alone, without hope and without love.

For some, when they decide to turn away from God, they live a seemingly happy life. Blinded to the fact that just because they turned their back on God, doesn’t change the facts. They are able to ignore their fate because they have the pleasure of the world.

I am blessed, because I am broken

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Grace & Warfare 

wp-1509244780595.jpgGrace…. His love for us is so far beyond our finite comprehension….. To fathom the mind of God is truly a humbling experience. An impossible journey into Something so far beyond us that it truly boggles the mind.

When I think about His love and grace I find myself constrained by my very human thinking, how could I not?…. the depths of His grace and love is so far beyond any of our comprehension…. I always pray that this extremely crucial truth in written on each and every saint’s heart and that every single one of us focuses on this truth deeply and often.

I cannot stress enough that this is not me preaching!!! This is me desperately wanting every person to understand how free, and how loved they are, even if they don’t fully comprehend it. There are Christians still shackled in the illusion that they are not forgiven. They carry around such guilt and shame….. they doubt that God loves them or their very salvation. THIS CAN NOT STAND! We all must understand the reality of what we have been given and share this truth so that no one is fooled by this lie from hell!

A quick glimpse into me, I have always been the hardest on myself. I have a feeling quite a few of you can relate to with me on this. Even when people would forgive me, I couldn’t accept it. I would continue to beat myself up over mistakes, both intentional or not. I never felt I was being adequately punished, (whatever that means) so as a result I carried a lot of guilt.

In hindsight, this inability to forgive myself was one of the more effective chains that satan used to successfully bind me for so many years. I was unaware of the grace of Christ at the time but the self condemnation took me into such darkness that I had no hint of light……I was consumed by the darkness of self hated.

This is a tactic used by the enemy continuously in the hearts and minds of believers and non believers alike. He wants us to forget the fact that we already have victory. He wants us to doubt our salvation….. he is constantly whispering, because he wants us to doubt our worth based on our mistakes.

“Am I really saved?”,”I keep messing up, I must not be saved because I keep sinning.” How many of us have said or at least thought this at some point as a believer?

And for the non believer, “How could God forgive me!? I can’t even forgive myself!!! I deserve punishment, pain and every bad thing. You don’t understand what I have done!! My past is unforgivable!”….. this quote right here was the truth of my condition until Holy Spirit changed my heart, praise God!!

I am going to be real with you, my heart still aches over a time a yelled at my son because he wanted me for something but I was too busy… This random moment, like a million others, randomly come to mind…. Sometimes I shrug them off and other times they take root. The enemy’s whispers have the ability to drag me/you down to a place of darkness. I begin to feel the familiar pull of self loathing, guilt and hatred that I had carried all of my life.

I kid you not y’all, spiritual warfare is for real and we are always vulnerable while on this earth. We have protection and power yes. But the reality is there is an enemy and he is specifically after you and me. And if we don’t hold close to Holy Spirit and other believers, we will not make it!

We must know what we believe and we must know how to stand up against the devil’s schemes, lies and tricks!

This place of self condemnation robs us of basking in the scandalous grace that God has already given us. I can only speak my story, because it’s the only one I know. And for me, these self condemning whispers are a reality for me to this day….the enemy is always pulling at me. Trying to use my very human thinking against me…. and he will do the same to you.

Sometimes the guilt of our mistakes allows the enemy a foothold. We feel we don’t deserve to be forgiven so we condemn ourselves. The beautiful truth is, we don’t deserve it, but we get it anyways! God’s love and grace is so far beyond our comprehension. Be blessed and bask in the freedom of His amazing grace.

Be blessed and bask in the freedom of His amazing grace.


“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”.  Isaiah 41:10

“As far as the east is from the west, so far had He removed our transgressions from us Ps. 103:12

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Our Message 

Why do I write?

For as long as I can remember my head has always gone so fast. Thought after thought and then thinking about those thoughts….. If you ever met me and spoke to me you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that my mind is constantly going… I talk extremely fast….some would say frantic.

I have so much to say and I just can’t seem to properly articulate my thoughts fast enough or eloquently enough to convey my true message. Sometimes my message gets lost in my stuttering….my tendency to talk fast can and does distort my messages from time to time. Other times I simply lose my train of thought. It is very frustrating to never be able to communicate the intricacy of an insight or to properly share an experience I have had with God.

I thank God for giving me the ability to write. I by no means think I am some talented writer. But what I do know is that through Holy Spirit’s help, I am able to clearly and concisely share with the world what Christ had done in my life. And the awesome thing is people seem to respond!

Honestly, I don’t fully get it because my grammar is atrocious and I make the most basic of errors. But through my writing, people are able to see beyond the flawed person that is Justin and are able to hear of a God so good, so powerful and loving. They are able to hear of a God that saved a man so broken…. so lost, through His amazing grace and overwhelming love. They are able to hear what I am actually trying to say and they are able to gain hope because God can be properly glorified because the work He has done in my life is truly a miracle.

I wonder if Paul felt this way? He was not a charismatic speaker… He did not have a commanding presence and he didn’t exude power when he spoke. Not to mention that this guy was most likely not an impressive looking man. He endured so many beatings, flogging and stonings for the sake of Christ that he must have looked very broken, frail and weak.

But when he put the pen to the paper and let Holy Spirit take control… this flawed, “unimpressive man” faded away and all that was left was his message.

Don’t ever let your shortcomings stifle your ministry. If you are not a speaker, then write. If you are not a writer, then pray. If you cannot pray then love. Your message will be heard… just let Him show you how to share it and then boldly and fearlessly do it.

 

“For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.” -2 Cor 10:10

“Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? -Ex 4:10-11

 

Written by: Justin Ludwig

 

Gratitude Now

​We all make mistakes in our lives. Some we learn from, rectify and move on. Others follow us until the day we die. If we take those we love for granted, it will haunt us until the very end. Don’t fool yourself into believing that you deserve what you have been blessed with. Right this second, stop what you are doing, call your children, call your spouse, and tell them. 

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Pause and Bask 

Theology, scriptural understanding and sound doctrinal teaching is so important to our growth as a follower of Christ. But one thing we must never forget to do is stop, look up and just bask in His presence. God is so awesome y’all and the joy of His presence is not something that can be learned…it’s something we simply enjoy.

I hope your walk with Christ is full of grace, passion and scandalous love. Let’s be the blessing and love without hesitation! Please let me know if there is anything I can pray for you about. Prayer is power y’all and I would love to lift you up. Everything sent through this link is for my eyes only and will be prayed for by me with respect, fervor and love

https://rawdisciple.com/prayer-requests/

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Photocredit: https://melaniejeanjuneau.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/fire-of-god-love.jpg?w

Called to Love

Every Christian is called to choose love in every situation. We are called to forgive the unforgivable and to always put the needs of others before our own….. so why is it that so many people recoil when they hear the name of Jesus Christ or hear that I am a christian?

There are many different answers to this question depending on who you ask. Some have experienced a lifetime of unchecked christian hypocrisy. Perhaps they constantly saw Christians who spoke of the love that is God and then in the same breath had the audacity to claim God hates gays. Maybe it was those Christians who say that we need to love everyone and then they turn around to hate on their neighbor because of the color of their skin or because they have a different faith. Others may simply assume that we are going to try and convert them to our “religion.” They get figity and defensive like we are some sales rep at some high pressure time share presentation.

No matter what their reasons may be, we as children of God must recognize each one of these awkward encounters as an amazing opportunity to set the record straight. Not with long drawn out explainations of why you or they should be a christian. But by simply having the heart of Christ in everything we do.

The way I see it, how could anyone be offended at the mention of a faith centered completely around loving EVERYONE equally and forgiving everyone who wrongs us?

The only answer that makes sense is that they have an incorrect view of who Jesus is and what it means to be a christian. They hear christian and immediately they think of judgemental, hateful, two faced bigots who think they are better than the rest of the world.

They simply don’t know that everything that has brought them to such opposition of Christ is a lie. They have been blinded by the hateful and judgemental rantings of people who claim to be christians but turned a message of love into one of hate…. those who stand for judgement, not grace.

The world does not understand that these people do not represent Christ because Christ is love… Christ is unity.

Gay, straight, christian or Muslim, it doesn’t matter, we love. It doesn’t matter if someone wronged us so horribly that we may never recover, we forgive. These are the fundamentals to what it means to be a follower of Christ. And if each one of us lives these truths out, people will see that we stand for love, not hate, because God is love.

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Trust in the Silence 

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We have these periods in our life when our passion for God has ignited in a way that sets us on fire for Him. In these mountain top experiences it seems that every scripture is speaking specifically to us and God’s hand in our lives is so predominant that we cannot help but praise God and bask in the indescribable comfort, peace and hope that comes in these times.

Then there are other times in our walk….there are time when God seems absent….when it seems to be one disappointment after another with no end in sight and no counsel from God, no matter how hard we pray. These two ends of the spectrum are the reality of our walk with Christ.

A lot of people turn away from God when they find themselves in this silent valley period…. and I get it. When it seems like the darkness is consuming you and God seems to have abandoned you when you need Him most….

The question is, has God stopped being good because your life is in a difficult period?

The answer to this question, dispite how you may feel, is No. God never stops being good and never stops using our trials and struggles to bring about something incredible and beautiful in our lives.

This truth can be hard for people to grasp in the middle of their silent darkness, again, I totally understand it. Mainly because I have had my share of long intense valleys.

In these times, when God seems so far away, I focus on the fact that God is our Teacher. He is the best Teacher of all because let’s face it, He is God. And any good teacher wants to equip us. They will spend days, weeks, months or even years touching our lives, speaking truth and helping us in times where we feel  confused or lost. They are there when we need them because that is what they do.

But when test day comes around, the Teacher is silent. He knows that He has given you all the tools and training you need to figure out the solution on your own. If He were to tell you the answer you would never learn how to recognize it on your own….so we struggle. All the time the Teacher is watching, hoping and silently rooting for their student to really understand what they have been taught

When you are in that silent period and God seems to be absent, you must always remember, He is not absent. He is merely silent while you put what you have learned into practice.

Don’t lose hope and never forget that God is incapable of giving up on you. If He is silent,  He wants you to learn something on your own.

Trust Him in the silence, and you will see.

Written by: Justin Ludwig

I Trust, but I Worry

I lived most of my life not walking with God. My life was consumed by addiction and self destruction. The love and faithfulness of God did the impossible and completely changed who I am today. My story really shows that with Christ, nobody is a lost cause.

The things God has done in my life and my heart….the divine appointments, revealed knowledge and being slayed in the Spirit. Speaking in tongues when I didn’t even believe that tongues was for real. Answered prayers and encounters that touched me in ways that cannot be put into words.

I didn’t go looking for God, but He moved in my life in a way that could not be denied.  I can say confidently that I trust God….. so why do I worry so much?

It’s a glaring contradiction in my walk with God that I became aware of over the last several years. It’s something that I have struggled with, I am sure some of you can relate. I trust God, yet I stress over the what ifs. I worry about what’s going to happen or I get bogged down by regret. It is not until recently that Holy Spirit moved inside of me and revealed something to me that couldn’t truly penetrate my heart without His help.

He simply whispered, “Just let go”.

In that moment, It was like I was hearing those words for the first time. In that moment I felt a weight slide off as I made a conscious choice to let go and trust that He will make something beautiful out of this. It somehow made more sense than it did before, it was somehow much clearer.

It can be so hard to let go of our circumstance, whatever it may be, and trust enough to leave it completely up to God…..but He is trustworthy, He is alive and active and will show up for us. We just need to let go and watch Him work.

God bless you guys. If you need any prayer I would love to intercede for you. This link will take you to my prayer page. Be Blessed

https://rawdisciple.com/prayer-requests/

Written by :Justin Ludwig

The Power of Your Testimony

Some people are intimidated when it comes to sharing their journey with God. Some have a fear of speaking perhaps, but it seems many avoid it because they feel their testimony is not exciting enough. They feel that they cannot be effective because they didn’t have some dramatic transformation, so they stay silent. Perhaps they feel embarrassed because they feel their story is no good or boring, I don’t know.

They let their fears blind them from the truth. And the truth is, that everyone’s testimony is effective. It’s just a question of who it will speak to. And the crazy thing is we never know who our words will speak to until we do it. It may not even be anything we say, but somehow by merely approaching someone, God has already spoken to the them through that action and our words are irrelevant. I kid you not, I have experienced this time and time again. It’s awesome 🙂

What needs to be realized is that the most important part of a testimony isn’t how broken we were before Christ saved us. Yes, a dramatic transformation makes for a great story, but the purpose of a testimony is not to tell a great story. The focus of a testimony is telling people how God is working in our life and by doing that we are saying that He can work in their life too, even if you don’t say it.

Your story is unique, your personality is unique and you can reach people that others can’t. We each have our part to play in the great commission and we must not be silent.

It is our personal experience that draws people into being willing to find out for themselves, then God will take it from there.

Be bold, be loving,  be sincere. Above all, be blessed .

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Today’s the Day, Seize It

​Don’t let the time you wasted or the regrets you have cripple your future. 

           It’s not too late! 

You are not too far gone, and your better days are not behind you! You didn’t miss your chance! 

Today is the day… today is YOUR day to make something beautiful out of your life. Seize the moment;  live well, love hard and forgive often. Be the blessing and watch your life flourish.


“Brothers and sisters, I do not considermyself yet to have taken hold it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I  press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” -Phil 3:13-14

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

We are Not Immune, Stay Vigilant

I remember my first serious relationship. About four months into this relationship she told me how happy she was and that it had been the best relationship that she had ever been in. I remember because it was one of the nicest things anyone had ever said to me. What I didn’t realize was that that moment was also the beginning of the end of our relationship. Eight months later she broke up with me because our relationship had tanked.

When I looked back over the relationship I realized that as soon as she told me that and I felt like I had “arrived” at happiness I started to slack. I would flake here or there, perhaps I wouldn’t apologize this time because I felt that it wasn’t needed…. I had stopped giving it my all because I felt I was in such a good place that it wouldn’t matter…and little by little it began to chip away until it was too late.

Why do I share this? I share this because like our walk with Christ, vigilance is the difference between happily ever after and total destruction. The moment we feel like we have arrived… the moment we think we got this thing wired and can begin to slack off is the beginning of the end…

We will never have our sin under control…. we will never be strong enough to stand up against the enemy unless we remain vigilant in our walk and in our faith. No matter how on fire we are for God we are always vulnerable if we are not vigilant. Our pride sneaks up on us, our frustrations take root in our heart and slowly turns us bitter.

We must seek God with everything we are or we will begin to be chipped away…. until it’s too late.

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Hate me if You Want, I Love You

​​I was standing by a wall before work this morning and I saw a woman sitting behind my office building. She was sitting in the dirt putting on her make up and cleaning her wounds. It was obvious that she was strung out on meth and homeless. She was sitting by the door I was going to enter so when I approached the door I turned to her and smiled. I said good morning and offered her my sandwich. She kind of laughed at the offer so I didn’t know how to read her. I couldn’t tell if she was offended or just smoked out, so I started talking with her.

She was tripping on how I had just woken up and was starting my day. She was asking me if I had my huge coffee with 8 shots from starbucks and some babble I couldn’t quite make out. I could tell she was being condescending by the sneer on her face and the tone in her voice but it didn’t phase me one bit. I could tell she just thought I was some yuppie trying to take pity on someone I viewed as less than myself. I laughed and told her no, but I did drink about a gallon of coffee this morning. In that moment I saw a look in her eyes saying, “You yuppie idiot, you don’t have any clue.” I recognized the look because it is the look I had often throughout my years of wandering.

I smiled and told her that I was stuck on meth, booze and anything else I could get my hands on for most of my life and that I had been clean for 4 or 5 years. This statement got her attention and she responded quickly, “Do you have a line!?” I smiled and told her again, “Nah, I’ve been clean and I’m not going back”, and she replied, “Well if you ever change your mind come see me and I will hook you up.” I chuckled again and smiled. I looked into her eyes and said, “that won’t be happening but if you ever want some Jesus or some hope you come back here and see me again. I told her God loved her and told her to be safe and went up to work.

I came back down an hour later to smoke and she was still sitting back there with someone else. I smiled and said hi and then went to my phone to mind my own business while standing next to them. I heard her begin to make comments to her friend about how I loved Jesus. Not in an inspired way, this chick was talking some smack.

They were giggling away making their comments and what I noticed was that it wasn’t bothering me. I am sitting there listening to her but not responding because it would have done nothing but escalate a situation that didn’t need to be escalated and I felt joy. It was so noticeable to me because I don’t do well with being disrespected.

I began thinking with excitement, “they are hating on me for Jesus, this is so awesome!” Then I began to feel so grateful because this persecution was nothing compared to what our brothers and sisters are facing around the globe daily….

I didn’t inspire that girl or have the reaction that is always hoped for when I witness, but I was still blessed because I was obedient. Our conversation could click with her a month down the road, 10 years or never…. that is not for me to know. But I was and am filled with joy because I was obedient therefore loving.

I may not have brought her to Christ but I showed her that not every Christian is what she thought, and I showed her for a moment that there is an end to addiction, there is hope and there is a way out

Don’t worry about the outcome of your witness… focus on your motives.

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Want to Feel God’s Presence?

​”This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.” John 4 10-12

This scripture jumped into my mind last night and something stirred in me. If we want to feel God’s presence…..if we want to be who He wants us to be and be blessed, all we need to do is love on someone who doesn’t deserve it.

God is love, and if His love, which essentially is God, is made complete when we actively love, then He is fully in us while we are loving.

Want to feel God’s presence ?…. love on a stranger.

Be the Blessing

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Jesus Freak and Proud 

​I am a Jesus freak, through and through. What’s that to you ? 

Church, Jesus, Rancid, D.R.I., The Crucified, T.S.O.L., Jesus Culture, etc? Do you got me figured out yet?

Jesus freaks gotta be chumps right? 

Don’t kid yourself!  From the gutter to the gospel, from gritty to grace. I am me, plus love, times grace. If you don’t feel it read it again. I’m as hard and soft as they come. Jesus is Lord and I will tell you again.

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Why do We Love Christ?

​I am sitting at work, doing my thing and all of a sudden I was filled with such an urgency to write about Christ.

There is a conversation Jesus has with Peter;

– Luke 9:18-20 “Once when Jesus was praying in private and His disciples were with Him, He asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”

“But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?”(red letter)

I feel this question is the most important question every believer needs to ask themselves and pray about. We may think we have the “right” answers, or have heard moving or inspiring opinions from others which we have chosen to grab onto and make our own. Some can comb over the scriptures and have books of the bible memorized but have no real understanding of who Jesus truly is to them, in their lives.

How can we truly love Christ, appreciate fully what He has done for us if our faith, and our love is based on clichés? I am not saying that these clichés are wrong, what I am saying is we need to know why we love Him, personally and sincerely.

How can we fully love someone if we don’t know why we personally chose to love Him and to follow Him?

My prayer is that every follower will delve into their faith and ask the question, “Why do I love Him?”

This question will strengthen our faith, dramatically strengthen our witness/testimony and will cause us to fall further and further in love with Jesus.

Be blessed and seek more of Him!

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Seek the Lost and Love Them

Holy Spirit impressed something on my heart I feel I should share with all of you. In Luke 8:26-39, Jesus had come across a cursed man. Possessed not by one demon, but a legion of demons.

The hold that these demons had on this man was so great that he was written off by society. Exiled to the tombs, hastily forgotten, helpless…hopeless. The villagers didn’t know what to do with the man and they tried everything they could think of. In desperation, they chained the man down, but his demons were so powerful they would just snap their chains….unable to deal with him, he was exiled to the tombs to suffer in his torment.

Everyone was terrified of this man….. Jesus sought this man out. Everyone wrote him off as a lost cause. Jesus saw a man who needed to be set free…..

This is such an inspirational model for every one of us. We cannot turn a blind eye to the exiles of this age. We must not confine our ministry to that of our own comfort. There is a large world out there, filled with so many people without hope. Broken, lost, hurting and alone. The people outside of our comfort zone, so different, or dare I say scary to us that are howling in pain like this possessed man.

In so much pain, consumed by their demons…. How will they know what we know, unless we tell them? The homeless man, the convict, the orphan…. Men and women bound and gagged in their sin, their pain or their circumstances.

I am not saying that we should head down some dark alley looking for lost souls. I am just saying that He wants to use us. We don’t need to be afraid or over think how God could possibly use us. With a single smile or a word said from love, Holy Spirit is capable of changing the heart and life of a person otherwise hopeless.
Jesus has called us not to stand on the sidelines, but to roll up our sleeves and love the unlovable. It is our responsibility to remember the forgotten and give hope to the hopeless, in Jesus name.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” -Matt 28:19-20

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Love, in Action 

​When I stare at the rain I cannot help but think of my old life.

Cold, alone, hurting and not a friend in the world. Something about rainy days made it so much more painful.

Sitting behind that dumpster, my head would drift back to days of my youth. Cuddled up next to my parents, safe and secure with the whole world before me…. My mind would drift back to this place of nostalgia and comfort no matter how hard I tried to push it away.

Why did I push away the happy memories you may ask…. it’s because I had lost all hope. 

I had no doubt in my mind that I had carved out my path long before and that I had blown it. My memories were nothing more than a taunting from a God that was giving me everything I deserved…. I knew that not a single soul gave a damn about me and my days of hope and love were long gone…. I had past the point of no return.

I didn’t know that people cared…. I didn’t know that God loved me and that my life was not over… that I had hope.

There is a whole world of people in this exact same prison…. lost in the illusion that not a soul on this planet gives a crap about them.

They need to know they are loved, by God and by us, but they will not know this if we don’t tell them.

I talk about this often because I will never forget that place…. I talk about it often because the smallest gesture, the smallest act of love really can change everything.

We don’t need to worry about what to say to the broken because it really doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that our love is sincere for these people. That love is what they will see and it will speak to their hearts, I promise you that. Even if you don’t get the response you are hoping for, you can know that right in that moment you showed them that they have not been forgotten, that they are loved.

My prayer for all of us is that our eyes will be open, are hearts filled with love and that the Spirit’s voice will be heard.

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

New Years Resolution? Nah, I got Christ

​Resolutions…. I hear them all around me; on television, at work, at the store. It seems like the whole world is jumping at the opportunity for a clean slate…a fresh start. They want to put a year of shortcomings and failures in their rear view mirror as they strive for something better.

I could not relate more with their desires…. for something new, a do over on some of the choices made in the previous days, months or years….but I can’t help but wonder, what’s different than any other day of the year? 

Then I think about the life of a Christian. Every single day… every single moment, we have the opportunity to start fresh.

All year long people are waiting for a pivotal moment, a marker where they feel change is a good idea. The world gets so excited because they feel they have a real chance for a clean slate.

We as believers are blessed beyond any other person on this planet because we know the Truth… the Truth is, every single day, with every single shortcoming, we are given the gift of a clean slate. By knowing the freedom that comes through Christ, every passing moment really is another chance to turn it all around.

We are free from the burdens, the stigmas….the tainting of who we are because of our mistakes. 

We are free to live new everyday…. I don’t know about you, but that truth sets me free in a way that no amount of resolutions ever possibly could or would. 

You are free!… what you do with it is up to you. 

Happy Hew Year Y’all. May you bask in the freedom of the Son.

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Trust Beyond You

​You know, I was just thinking…. I was thinking of a man of faith who isn’t really recognized all that much, and that is Joseph, husband to Mary and step Father to Jesus. This man wasn’t married to Mary yet, they had never slept together and he gets hit with the news that his future bride is pregnant. Not only is she pregnant, but he is told she has been inpregnated by Holy Spirit. 

I don’t know about you, but if I were Joseph, I would have a hard time processing that information. There is no way that he wasn’t even the least bit suspicious that Mary had slept with someone else….. 

How easily Joseph could have bailed on Mary if he was a man without faith. For myself, if I didn’t know how the story played out….if I hadn’t had so many very real experiences with Holy Spirit I honestly don’t think I would have or could have believed what had happened. 

But Joseph chose to believe…. he chose to believe that God was working and that He was more than capable of doing something beyond Joseph’s understanding….. what if Joseph chose to bail? Say he did choose to believe the worst, he leaves her and Mary dies not being able to take care of herself and as a result Christ wasn’t born.

It really is amazing if you think about it. A man who really didn’t play a huge role in the story was in fact crucial to it. If he did not chose to believe God past his own understanding, we could still be living in darkness, waiting for the Messiah that was able to come because Joseph believed. I don’t know about you, but I find that very encouraging.

Don’t be fooled into thinking your role isn’t important. If we chose to trust God beyond what we can explain, understand or feel, then He will use us. 

So I guess my question is, Do you believe? 

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Choose to Trust Him

wp-1508802537930.jpgThe enemy’s lies are always speaking. Whether it be a personal spiritual attack or commercials on television, the voice drones on…..and if we don’t focus on Jesus, if we don’t seek the cross…..we can never be free.

We all have our battles; some feel too much, some not enough. There are Christians who are trying to leave a past behind, while some are desperately searching forward, looking for something.

Wherever you are, the Truth remains the same. Jesus will meet you, right where you’re at. The enemy will try and bombard you with doubts, with fear….with lies.

Never forget, it comes down to a choice. You have to choose to trust God. Anyone can trust God when His presence is thick and the blessings are raining down. But when you are in those dark places, where you feel alone, lost or abandoned…. choose to remember God’s goodness and never let go of the Truth… that He is incapable of failing you.

God is constant, God is love and He is not going to give up on you, hold a grudge or punish you. Remember that!

Take heart y’all, God has not forgotten about you! I know it feels that way sometimes…. when God feels absent, and it seems to come at a time when you feel you need Him most. Don’t let the enemy get you twisted. He will come through for you, just like He does for me, time and time again.

Your hope will be revealed, of this I have zero doubts. Just hang on, pray and love, especially when you don’t feel like it, and you will see. I promise

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”-Romans 8:38-39

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Bitter Sweet Blessings

​I went and visited my kids this week……It was such a blessing getting to see them….. man, they have grown up so much.

This week was filled with so many blessings. The conversations that were had, the countless dances with my princess….the laughter. I think that’s what I miss the most,hearing them laugh. It brought to life all of the love I possess, and it was incredible. This week was also a week filled with regret, tears, indescribable hurt and pain that I would not wish on anyone……

In our walk, in our faith, in this life, we are constantly making choices. This experience for me is one of great difficulty. I have focused on the bad all of my life. I dwell, I complain and can be very cynical.. just ask my wife 

But right now I have a choice…. I can bask is the sweetness of those moments that nobody can take away from me, or I can allow the pain, hurt and fear to rob me of that precious gift from God.

We all have situations like this in our lives. God creates such beautiful things through trials and pain, and though your story is not the same as mine, you have a choice, just like me. Do we bask in the blessings or allow fear and pain to cripple us and rob us of our joy?

Philippians 4:8

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Writteb by: Justin Ludwig

Trust Him, No Matter What 

​I remember the drive up to Teen Challenge, it was July 19th 2012. I was a man at the end of my rope. My addiction and self destruction had taken everything from me. 

Once my wife took my kids and split instead of getting sober, I decided to give up. I dove headfirst into my self destruction until it finally put myself out of my misery….. but I just wouldn’t die.

With the sickening amount of drugs, alcohol and horrible decisions… all that happened was the pain got worse…. I just couldn’t die.

But the pain, oh the pain!! I cannot put into words. I would begin screaming in agony at random because the grief, sorrow and regret was just too intense…. I kid you not.

All around me, my friends were dying, going down for murder…. the life of “partying” was long gone….. but my heart continued to beat.

God showed up in handcuffs, and I didn’t even know it. God saved me by giving me a felony and sent me to a year long discipleship. At the time I had no idea He was working. It wasn’t until the third month did His plan begin to become clear.

Have faith my brothers and sisters. In your pain, in your struggles and your impossible circumstances, God is working on something. Every horrible thing that happened to me was crucial to get me where I am. I speak of what I know, and I know that God can be trusted.

Trust His plan, no matter what

He is trustworthy, I promise. 

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

That Moment

​Closest comparison 

  memories from my past

Youth nostalgia

    friction giving birth 

      Aware or not

 Reaction unseen 

       But undeniably felt 

Unexpected only once 

    It’s power never diminished

superficially a graze

 A slightest touch

   Creating it

      …..it

 futility but infinitely

       searching for the words

Those searching 

         never find

  The search a waste

         A true waste

   I’m overrun by it

      ……so fragile

       so amazing

Written by: Justin Ludwig sometime between 1999-2012 (Mel Inspired)

I escaped my life of darkness, self destruction & addiction. Click here to read my story. http://wp.me/P7v0VX-14

Holy Spirit is A Gentlemen

Holy Spirit is a Gentlemen and His truth is not to be forced upon anyone. (Matt 10:14) 

Some non believers feel they are being bible thumped, which is pushing them further from God. At the same time, some christians think that the great commission requires them to hound and pressure everyone to follow Christ. This is not how Holy Spirit works.

 It is our love that will open their eyes to the Truth. If someone doesn’t want to hear it, move on….don’t bible thump. It is our job to present the Truth, it is not our job to convert, that is God’s job. Love in action, no condemnation or pressure.

Love atheists, muslims and God haters the same way you love christians. That is how people will come to the Truth. Unreserved love, with no agenda.  So come on church, the world is waiting…. and they don’t even know it. 


Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Prayer,Motives and Truth 

​Some Christians say we are to pray in secret. That God values the intimacy and a very personal, private prayer life with us, which is true. They/we believe that prayer should be motivated by nothing other than the sincere longing for His presence and fellowshipping with Him, and I couldn’t agree more. 

What concerns me is, from time to time I have seen people who hold so tightly to specific scriptures, which have led them to go as far as to feel it is a misuse of prayer to proclaim blessings, to make “spectacles”, to lay hands and pray aloud for others.
Matthew 6 5-15 says,

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him..”

This scripture displays the importance of the motivation of our prayer lives. It supports the importance for a private, personal prayer life. Telling us clear as day to be humble in our prayers and to not make it about us by having motives other than the desire for sincere fellowship with Him. Based on this scripture they are absolutely right.

(This next part I wanted to emphasize that I am not trying to preach. I speak boldly because I genuinely love Jesus, His church, and you. Our church is everything to me and I want to strengthen it, so with that said )

As followers of Christ we have to know what we believe! We must be careful not to base our understanding about prayer, grace…. anything for that matter, from one passage, or from one sermon, it is dangerous! Be the good Berean. (Acts 17:11) 

When we are at a church service, if we are going up and pray out loud so everyone can see how “holy” or “Christian” we are…. we would be as bad as the Pharisees…… If we do do this; pray in loud voices, with all the “proper” words for all to hear, in the hopes of impressing others…..we would be choosing our own ego over His desires. Using God in an attempt to make ourselves look good, better… or more “christian”. We would be choosing ourselves over God.

Now, if we see a person hurting, alone or we just feel the Holy Spirit telling us to go pray boldly for someone for no particular reason, it’s about God, it’s about love…..not us. We don’t just write it down and pray for them later in private, we love in action! (1 John 3:18)

When the Spirit moves in our hearts and an outpouring of prayer and/or praise takes place, we must respond…. but it always comes down to motivation.

Just you, and Him…. wherever that may be. 

This scripture’s lessons about humility and the importance of motivation is crucial to a successful prayer life…. but there is more. The more you dig into the scriptures, you learn that there is more to prayer than intimacy…. there is power! 

There is another group of Christians; people motivated and driven by the Holy Spirit, driven to step out in faith and approach people, to pray openly for healing, grace and salvation, led by the Spirit’s love, guidance and power. There are many scriptures that support this truth about actively praying for the world in this way as well. A few include; Matt 5 14-16, Acts 13:3, 5:14-15, (more on request)

Both of these are scripturally accurate….. but just like everything in our walk with Christ, it’s a matter of motivation. We cannot walk in blindness, pride or fear, but with and always by the guidance of Holy Spirit. And when we do that. … Ohh man!!

Holy Spirit I ask that You spark a revival amongst Your children and teach us. Teach us to pray as You desire, to love like You and to lift each other up in prayer and petition from the right heart. Help us to hear Your voice and to be equally bold as well as humble. In Jesus name I pray this, amen

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

We’re Blessed, not Failures 

​At the feet of our Hero, we try hard to learn….. But the lessons are lost sometimes….. because we aren’t perfect……. but we’re blessed to know. Know that You are our Savior….. One I don’t deserve.

 I will always follow…. for where else shall I go. You are my Hero…… for You, my heart burns.

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Scream Love 

​The love and grace of God is my story. I am a follower of Christ and couldn’t be prouder to say that. If you knew my story you would understand why I am so grateful to call myself a christian. 

The topic of Christ is a touchy one for some. I get that, and I can respect it. I recognize there is such a stigma with christianity and it is pushing the non believer further away from christians. Non believers seem to just expect judgment, hypocrisy, hatered, or dare I say, straight ridiculousness right off the bat… and I am sorry to have to admit it, but I can’t blame them… and it’s up to us to change that.

I share often, but only because  it’s so important to me.  There’s a punk song that I think of often, that repeats “I gotta keep screaming,  til my voice is heard.”  And what I, what we as christians are, or should  be screaming, is love, hope and grace. We/I are screaming that if you allow Him…. He will change you from the inside out, and you will be blessed in ways you never dared dream. 

There is nothing I can I say to convince a non believer that there is a God, and I accept that. My heart breaks for those who mock or will never encounter the tangible love of God. To those of you, all I can say, from an honest and sincere heart is…… God is real, and I pray that you will have that encounter with Him.
Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Live in Grace, Today is New 

​Today, is a brand new day. 

A new day to do better than yesterday… it is not a day to beat yourself for not doing better yesterday. I feel someone needed to hear that this morning. Whoever you are, this is for you. 

Your past doesn’t dictate your future, today does, live accordingly. 

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on towardthe goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 3:13-14 

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

We Love You, Right Where You’re At

​Why is it such an uncomfortable topic, Christianity? 

I think through a lifetime of bad experiences, we have all encountered christians that twist our faith into something hateful or full of judgment. 

Time and time again we see christians say one thing, and then do another. Who speak of love and then in the same breathe speak judgment or hate…… I want you to know, there is a whole world of us. Christians who love you, right where you are at. Whether you are an atheist, agnostic, Muslim, democrat or a republican, we love you, truly and sincerely. There is a world full of Christians who know that we are not better than you. We don’t judge you, we don’t look down or condemn you. I am a follower of Jesus Christ, I say this proudly because Christ is love, Christ is unity. And that is a beautiful thing.

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Why God Excites Me 

​People ask me, “Why do I get so excited about God”, I can only smile at what flows through my mind.

I get excited about God for saving me from a life of addiction. From a life of self loathing, hatred and constant pain. I get excited about God because He loves me, every part if me and always will. He has saved me from an eternity of suffering and punishment, from hell on earth and He has saved me from myself….

We read of who He is in the scriptures and we believe. We believe the stories, the prophecies and the promises, but sometimes we can have the tendency to view God as a God of the past, or a God of the future. But the truth is,”God is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Heb 13:8) Which means He is alive and active today, just like in the days of the Apostles and that is an awesome exciting thing!  I am excited because I have experienced His “impossible” works, first hand and I have witnessed things that cannot be denied. 

I get excited because God is real! His power and His presence is real and He not only wants to work in our lives, but He wants to use us to bless others and to change the world through love, one person at a time.

God is hope, God is love, God is good. 

He is alive and active and I love it! 

Written by: Justin Ludwig