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

Passion and Hate

There is a thin line between love and hate….

Love consumes, so does hate

hate festers

Love does also

They both birth joy, fear, hope, safety and protection…..rage.

…..what is the line?

If the mind distorted by hate sees an action as best for the other, then where is the line?

People like me tend to hurt the ones they love, so it isn’t a matter of caring….

What’s the line?

I bet each answer would be different.

I used to believe self sacrifice was the deciding factor…but I’d give my life to take the life of one I hated.

There is a word……a hybrid word that I feel is the only real answer…..passion.

The real question is, what is your passion and why? If we seek that question, perhaps then we will discover the line that is too thin to truly understand alone.

Be blessed and love well my friends

A Call to the Broken

img_20180330_154657_096585537484.jpg
I was suddenly overwhelmed with the need to speak specifically to those of you who are feeling shattered….you know who you are. Whether it be addiction, mental illness, homelessness, hopelessness or the fact that every day you wake up and it feels like a curse… a burden or sick joke….another day. Just trying to maintain to get through to the next day and then the next….. just running out the clock on this life.
This is how I lived my life up until I finally let Christ into my heart and into my life. When I mention Jesus to people a lot of times they will respond just like I used to. When I would hear that name I would either fake interest and tune it out, scoff at these “christian fools” or sometimes react on feelings of flat out contempt, like they were judging me.
I am here to tell you that lie is keeping you bound in your hopelessness, just like it did me. I don’t speak this as some Christian who grew up in the church. In 2012 God saved me from myself….. i destroyed everything. I tried rehab, jail, mental wards, marriage, divorce, a career, homelessness…. the hopelessness was always there. When I finally stop fighting God and let Him in, everything changed. My life is more than I could have dreamed…..
I remember sitting in the alleys praying to a God for a normal life. I am here to tell you life is good on the other side! For some reason we believe the lie that keeps us shackled and bound. Don’t believe it…..please don’t believe it.
I ask that you call on the name of Jesus and let Him show you that I speak the Truth. There is hope brothers and sisters.
No matter what you did, what your struggle or what pain you have. Jesus can and will redeem you and bless you more than you can imagine…. but it’s up to you to choose Him.
If you would like to privately reach out to me if anything spoke to you, you can email me directly at RawDiscipleministries@gmail.com or, https://rawdisciple.com/prayer-requests/

No tricks or gimmicks. I just want you to experience the freedom that was given to me and that is waiting for you.

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

Faith in Not Knowing

The enemy’s voice is always speaking, droning on. And if we don’t seek the voice of the Father we can never be free.

Towards the end of my dad’s life the cancer affected the speech center of his brain. He was there mentally, it was clear that he knew where he was and what He was saying…. it just didn’t make sense to anyone else. It would come out in a stream of random words that formed no seemingly coherent thought. We discovered that if he said one word at a time, very slowly the correct word (s) would come out. This only worked for short sentences because he would get frustrated and give up…. towards the very end even this wasn’t very reliable.

His mind was fading fast and all I could do was smile and nod like I knew what he was talking about…. I just wanted to be with him. When I would tell him I didn’t understand him or ask him to repeat something I would see a very pained look that I never wish on anyone to see in their dad’s face; one of fear and helplessness and very real humanity… so I nodded and smiled.

One afternoon he was talking his nonsense and he stopped. I looked over to him to see why he stopped and he looked at me, pointed to his face and slowly, forcefully said 7 words that still echo in my mind to this day.

He said, “Justin, It, All, Comes, Back, To, You.”

I am not sure what he meant by those words but in that moment my throat seized up….. I’ll never forget the focus, the urgency in his eyes when he said it……

Was he fooled by the enemy into thinking that God was punishing him for all his mistakes?….. Was he trying to pass on his final declaration to me about doing good?…… I will never know, and I have to learn to be ok with that. Some stories we don’t know the outcome this side of heaven and that truth needs to be accepted.

I never knew for sure if my dad accepted Christ before the end. I watched God reach out to my dad throughout that year of sickness and pain and I never knew, cause that’s how my dad was…..

These words echo in my mind because He could have meant two very different things depending on who’s voice he was listening to; God or satan.

….i think about this and I hope and pray that he was speaking life to me and not death on himself. Sometimes we have to be okay not knowing. We just have to trust in the not knowing……knowing that God is good.

Written by: 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

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 

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

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

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 

Silent Reminders

The darkness shouts at me
  do you remember?
….you remember
Tick tick tick
  Another day without you
Another day done
  It’s maddening
Time clicks and everyone adjusts
……but i don’t
 Covered by grace
    This stays raw
it’s renewed at every click
… I don’t know how to stop it
Perhaps I don’t want to
 they are mine
   I am theirs
tick tick tick
 I remember in the silence
   

Written by: Justin Ludwig

The Conflict

The conflict of what could have been

Many landmines missed

        many precious moments too

         So much anger

    So much love

   …..what could have been

the picture perfect idea tattered and faded

   Distant but always with me

It’s not her I miss, it’s the idea

      It’s not the idea I miss, It’s them

An outsider in every circle

    I….

 ….what could have been

this isn’t how it’s supposed to be

   this is how it had to be

It breaks my heart

  yet I am blessed

Written by: Justin Ludwig

A Father’s Visit

​Anticipation, anxiety, excitement 

  A whirlwind, so fast

….so slow

     It’s not like it was

how could it be

     Love overflowing

  Roaring like a river

Rocks of insecurity, regret and hurt cut the flow

…..the precious moments sting

   They are priceless through

In the blink of an eye

   Silence, distance…..waiting 

The love will always grow 

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

A Father’s Heart

​Awakened by my thoughts

   Thoughts of what’s in store

Do they miss me 

   Do they want me

      …..I can’t wait to hold them

So much to say…

   Ends up in babble

So much love…..

   My thoughts keep me awake

Do they know

   …..I do 

 It’s the little things

A quarter in this time is significant 

…..do they know I long for them

Hours until I see them

….. I am afraid 

   Afraid of them not knowing

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Dreams

​I had a dream last night….

I was in a house right at the beach, it was perfect. My wife and I were there, walking through the house, just laughing and basking in the life we had…. I heard it first, a low rumbling, distant but distinct. My whole body got tight as my eyes shot over to my wife. It was clear that she didn’t hear it. I walked over to the window, expecting to see the same beautiful view I had gazed over a thousand times before. 

I walked to the window and I saw it. A tidal wave, a wall of water that stretched higher to the heavens than my eyes could even reach….it was so big. I turned to my wife who was still chatting away, I grabbed her hand and whispered,  “Run.”

We were running so hard, I recognized the path, but at that moment the familiarity was the last thing on my mind. The roaring was causing a vibration that penetrated me to my core. I remember my wife’s hand, that was my focus, well that and the enormous wave promising our complete destruction….. 

“Don’t let go, keep running”, was all I could repeat. I felt the mist of the water lightly kissing my neck, almost taunting me. We crested a hill and stopped, completely exhausted and turned to look. We turned around expecting the wave to slam into us…. 

Strangely I was looking through the same window on my indoor patio that revealed this monster wave in the first place. Somehow my house came with us. I don’t know how, but we were back in that house. Looking out that window, gazing at the blue water that had just destroyed everything in its path…..it was quite, very quite. We both had a puzzled look on our face, looking back from the window, to each other’s eyes, and back to the window again…..silence.

We let out a deep sigh of relief, and as soon as our shoulders relaxed we heard it. It was like freight train, so much louder than the last time. I didn’t look up to the window at first, I already knew…..then it went dark. I looked up and there was another wave, this one was so large it blocked the sky and blotted out the sun. I shot my gaze to my wife, my eyes filled with terror. She asked me, “run?” I grabbed her, pulled her close and said, “We can’t outrun this one. It’s too big, there’s no time.” 

I grabbed my wife, pulled her close and closed my eyes. I told her how much I loved her, I told her it would be over soon….that everything would be ok, we have each other, right here, right now. I held her so tight…… then, darkness.

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Echos of Past Sin

​Second hand experiences

  part time leader….

Echos of past sins

  Intensifies with each bounce 

  A blink…..their gone

Eternity in a moment 

…..so many moments

  Wondering 

     Worrying 

         Helpless 

…..reduced to a by standard 

   the love…..

The beauty replaced with pain

      And so the wheels spin

Spinning, spinning, spinning. 

  Intensification with each reverberation

   then a flash…

Echos cease

   Love abounds

        …….Love 

more than words could muster

    A moment captured 

         Treasured

Refusal to blink 

     Don’t blink!

It can’t end!

   then…. 

 Like a flash 

All too familiar tunnels

      Fears

         Aches of the soul

Echos…… constantly reminding

      Love…. forever driving

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

   

By Grace Alone

​Typical opening

  Laughing

     running

         ……doubt

Typical to the extent of understanding 

typical, becomes branded

   Transformed

Standard to a thumb

  Impressed on my character 

Toeing the line

    ….a flash 

 The dot suddenly in the distance

   Freedom to function 

Functionally dismantling 

Deafening silence…. obstructing the Truth

  Deeper deeper deeper 

Like gazelles 

     Once so free

         Rejoicing in ignorance

Basking in the illusion 

     one by one 

               they fell…..

  Blood stained reality

   Invisible to the sheltered 

     …horrors spoken

Experienced promise

     Monsters 

       …..the whispers 

If you have the ears, you know 

    Bedrock descends

deeper…… deeper 

  Weight is shed

     ….it’s so cold

Starving on only half the story

     Condemned 

          Helpless 

Lost

  Alone

        Confused 

Desperate!!!

  Acceptance…..

deeper and deeper 

      the chasm has no end 

Falling falling falling 

      the depths….

Where deep meets deep

  Sinking

      how far down will I fall 

Down down down 

….. Suddenly 

   Without recognition 

        Down became up! 

I don’t understand…..!

       What!?

            Why!?

                  Me!?

Faster I fall 

  Falling higher 

      Higher and higher

       Blinding light 

Fueling my ascent

Risen from the ashes

  by grace alone 

Written by: Justin Ludwig

I Trust So I Wait 

What do I do

  What do I do?

     What! 

Frantic conflict

 Peaceful…… fear

   Terrified, but with hope 

Letting go …..

    I have to do something!

  ……”wait”

      Waiting

Accomplished only by the determined

  Attacks 

      Lies and pain

 Ensured so endured 

Truest test of faith

 …..waiting 

From my core …. I believe 

…. but he pain does not subside 

What do I do!

   Trust

I do, but……..

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Over Them, I Weep 

​Time is just slipping away….

      Slipping….

Already gone

 In their beds…..where the rain falls often

       Far far away……

    …they grow 

       To my core I weep

I have my hope, but lost my heart 

       I weep….

Shadows of past sins 

  Some never leave

Lessons of vigilance constant

   Always there

 Pain…… sorrow

        I weep

 Sadness over the loss of the present 

       Far far away

Do they know my heart……

 I hope they know

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Unity or Destruction by Division 

I watch what is happening to us, to our country. We are ripping apart at the seams and it has seems to have snowballed to the brink of chaos. I fear the day either Trump or Clinton takes office. But no matter who is in office, IF we as countrymen; black white,christian, muslim, etc. unite, we can dictate the future of our county without the very real fear of what Trump or Clinton will do to this country, while they have is too busy fighting against each other. We are Americans, not government subjects and we need to remember that…  What is it going to take for us to unite together?  There is so much bad blood, so much anger, suspicion and hate in this country….. It’s a never ending cycle it seems, the division. What are we to do? What will it take for us, as a country, as a people to come together? These are the questions that keep me up at night, and make me fear for my kids future. I am watching everyone turn on each other, the media is fueling the fire with bias crap for more ratings, for money from their corporate sponsors airing only what benefits the sponsor and God only knows what other motives, and the public just believes every word. And our government…. despite what your views are in politics you have to admit , there are very serious issues going on and it’s quite apparent that they do not have our best interest at heart anymore.

Uniting is our only hope; you, me, us, “them”, it’s up to each of us.I am not trying to preach but something has to be done….. and I wish I knew what it would take. Black lives matter,  yes absolutely, blue lives matter,  absolutely. The list is all inclusive. In every group we got the d bags; the racist cops, the people responsible for the violence by BLM, christians who spew hate and have blown buildings up, muslim terrorists, the list goes on.

I am not shouting All lives matter to counter BLM….it’s just everyone is desperately struggling to matter these days, everyone is struggling  to want to be treated fairly.  And these things are all things worth fighting for. But I am afraid that while everyone is busy fighting for their own rights, our country as a whole will fracture to the point of no return. Our country is on the brink of something serious, and it really is up to us if we will survive it. United we stand divided we fall.  I stand by each and everyone of you because you matter and you’re worthy of respect. Pass that same respect to every person you see. Every single one of us needs to be the change.

Lord, I invite Your Spirit to take control of this country. Stir in every heart a desire for unity, for peace  and love. Father, expose the corruption, bring about change. Heal the past hurts of each heart  and brings us together. We are falling apart and need Your help Father. Please Lord, unite us, and protect us bring pece to this country’s people. In Jesus name, amen)

When Footholds Dominate 

Despair so malignant

          doomed by those I love

        Responsibility
Selfishness infiltrating

           BLITZKRIEG!!!!!!

Inwardly overrunning an already exhausted defense

Breath labored
.. yet collected

Alternative means
merely seeking
..cryptic solace
Slower demise……
I don’t fucking know
I can’t take much…….more

I close my eyes
……waiting for the tide to come in

Wash me away……


Written by: Justin Ludwig  between 1999-2012.

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


Choose Grace

image

The pressure had been building, my patience strained. So much has happened in the last two years….. Watching my father slowly be destroyed by the cancer that was taking everything from him little by little, until there was nothing left. My children moving 2000 miles away and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t changed me. I find it harder to breath these days. I feel like at any moment everything is going to fall apart and go away…. I find myself frantic, frustrated and trapped. Trapped in a cage of grudges and bad blood. Bound and gagged in the dark corners, festering…. feeding the destruction.

“Don’t let it go, you’re no punk”,  “You see, the betrayal has already begun, get ready”.

Constant whispers, encouraging me to hang on to the anger.

So subtle, so persuasive that I didn’t even realize that I was playing right into the enemy’s hands. Divide and conquer, so he can kill and destroy.

Then one day, BOOM, I recognize what is happening….. but it didn’t change.

I had secured such a grip on my anger, my fear, that recognizing what was happening wasn’t enough for me to just let go. I couldn’t, I wouldn’t…..I didn’t know how.

For months the pressure built, affecting my peace, my marriage, my joy. I’d be praying daily, “Father, take it away, I don’t want to be angry, I want peace! Help me Lord”

No answer,  no relief.

Then a week or so ago I was riding my bike to work and the Spirit spoke to me, “What are you waiting for?”

“For help Father. I can’t do it, I can’t be okay with this, I am not ok with being treated like that, I don’t know how to let it all go, Help me!”

He responded, “No”

Suddenly He brings to mind Exodus 14:13-16

“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.”

Then the Spirit asked me again, “Now what are you waiting for!?”

This time the question pierced me to my very core. It was like God punctured a pin hole in the darkness that had blanketed me, and the light began to shine through, and I saw…

I muttered to myself, “It’s my decision….and I choose grace.”

I kid you not, In that moment it was like a weight slid off of my shoulders and I smiled…. I let go, because I chose to.

Grace is so hard, because nobody deserves it, but we so desperately need it. Yes to receive it, but more importantly we need to choose to live it…decide to give it.

Only then will we be free. Only then will we be able to experience all of what God desires for us, and from us.

Unity, peace, and love can only be obtained by demonstrating the amazing grace that each of us has been shown.

He will help you, but you must choose.

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Photo from: https://sojo.net/sites/default/files/blog/Grace_Dove-change.png

Be Careful What You Wish For

image

All I seem to see are kids…..

Parents complaining about never having free time. Parents yelling at their kids cause they are frustrated from the day to day stresses of raising kids. I watch all of this going on around me and my stomach gets tight…..

How long I wished for a break…. So many times I would fantasize,  if I didn’t  have the kids and could have all of my time for me, for a change…

I wake up today knowing I won’t see my kids faces, other than in pictures that just seem to make me feel worse.

I sit here in the silence thinking to myself,  “I am missing it all” ….. it seems like so long ago since I have gotten to live with my kids….6 years!? Is that right?…..

They come, they go….every goodbye harder than the last.

I get to sit and focus on the fact that someone else is raising my kids. Someone else will be instilling something else in my kids, setting them on a path for the rest of their lives….. and here I sit.  Far far away, knowing that just like every other time in my life, I came to my senses after it was too late.

Here I sit, thinking about the selfishness that drove them away in the first place… I never wanted them to leave…… I just wanted me time.

Now I have all the time in the world……to sit in silence and repeat, “Be careful what you wish for, you may just get more than you hoped for.”

Come hell or high water I will always be there for my kids….I just don’t get to be with them….be careful what you wish for.

The silence,  the “peace” is deafening.

Cherish the insanity of parenthood, because whether it be divorce or simply by the course of time they will be gone. And you will sit and think…man I miss the chaos that drove me so nuts.

Learn from me, the peace,and quite sounds like a dream come true….but it’s a trap….. horrible, devastating, and silent.  

Grab your child right now, hold them close and love them with everything you’ve got, before it’s too late.

Written by: Justin Ludwig 05-13-16

Photo from: http://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/photo.goodreads.com/hostedimages/1380393154i/756862._SY540_.jpg

Integrity

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It’s so easy now a days to get caught up in the material world. It’s only natural, I mean who doesn’t want to be successful,  provide for their family, to have some security.  But too many times that desire drives us to compromise .

A white lie here, a seemingly harmless corner cut there. At the time the ends seem to justify the means. But the reality of the situation is that those people are corrupting their own hearts and are slowly but surely cheapening who they are, and what they supposedly stand for. It’s so easy to let your guard down and to get your priorities twisted without even realizing it.

There is a verse that says “What good is it for a man who gains the entire world but in the end loses his very soul.” ( Matt 16:26)

In the end it doesn’t really matter how far you made it. Nobody really talks about that or remembers those things. It’s what kind of person you were, and what you stood for that will live on. That’s why it’s so important to do the right thing in all situations. Not because you want people to see or for what you can gain. Simply being a good person and doing right because you know it’s the right thing to do. If everyone was able to apply this way of thinking into their everyday lives, how different and amazing would this world become?  Some cynics might even say that that idea is just a fantasy or a pipe dream. But to those people I would simply say, that a world of change begins with one person, being good for the sake of being good. And for myself I chose to be a part of the solution instead of being part of the problem, one compromise at a time.

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Photo from: http://65.media.tumblr.com/11db450f3178968053dd0fb767ddb80ctumblr_mu9e0uB2ZH1rgln54o1_500.jg

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I 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 that way, 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

Justin Ludwig

Photo from: Google Images

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I was on my way to work today and I started to think about the disciples. How incredible it must have been to walk with Jesus, knowing that you were being guided by God Himself. These people gave up everything that they had ever known and held dear to follow Jesus, because they knew without a doubt that this Man was the Messiah. I mean the hope and encouragement that these people must have felt and experienced,  knowing that they were walking, talking and learning from God Himself.  Wow!

Then one night…… He is captured, taken into custody and sentenced to be beaten and crucified. I have know idea what must have been going on inside of the disciples as all of this is going on.

The word tells us how scared they all were; they ran, they hid,  and Peter denied even knowing Him while He was still alive. Personally, I like to think that they still had hope, knowing that He was God., and that they were waiting for something amazing to happen…. but it didn’t.

Before everyone’s eyes Jesus took His last breath and died.

Can you image what they must have felt in that moment?

A tidal wave of hopelessness and fear just engulfing them as they gaze at their conquering hero’s body hanging there beaten, broken and lifeless. Their entire world crashing down around them before their very eyes, with the thrust of a spear.

Little did they know at the time, but God was about to change everything in a way that they never could have predicted or even dared dream.

In your darkest hours…… when all hope seems lost and everything in your life seems to be unraveling and falling apart, don’t lose hope…

God is about to change everything, in a way you never saw coming.

“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

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” -Psalms 27:14

“For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him.” -Ecclesiastes 8:6

Justin Ludwig

Photo from: http://njomuad-thebeloved.blogspot.com/

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I had a problem for several months with my bike tires popping on me. It seemed at least once a week my tire would be flat and I was getting really irritated. I just couldn’t figure out why the damn things kept popping, because  I was so careful.  I never even went over a curb because I don’t want to mess up my only means of transportation, which made it even more frustrating.

Then finally, I realized that it was the path that I was taking to work. On this side of the street apparently there is a certain kind of tree that drops little prickly things that are so sharp. Obviously, now that I figured this out I cross the street and taking the opposite sidewalk, problem solved.

The only problem now is on the way home from work sometimes I am not paying attention and I’ll forget to cross the street, and I’ll continue down the wrong sidewalk. I usually realize 15 feet or so after the intersection, and since the prickly things are further up it is easy enough to turn around and avoid them…..

I kid you not people more times than I care to admit, when I realize that I missed the turn, even though I know what very well could happen, I just keep going straight because I want to get home. So I continue going the wrong way, hoping for the best.

The last time this happened as soon as I realized I missed the turn I remember  thinking “Screw it, I’ve already committed to this way, I’m not turning back now.”

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I find myself beginning to head down the wrong path in my walk with Christ I have the same initial reaction. I know what I should do, but I find myself rationalizing or worse justifying the path that I am on, knowing damn well it’s not heading where I, and more importantly where He wants me to go.

What if after Peter denied Christ he simply continued on the path he was on? Overcome with shame, hurt, fear and who knows how many other emotions. He easily could have let how he felt or what he thought fuel his choice to continue down the path leading to destruction. It seems so clear, so easy of a solution…but it isn’t always.

Speaking for myself, the shift can be so subtle that it isn’t even recognized right away. And once it becomes clear, I feel something pushing me forward, justifying me, telling me I am fine and to just keep going…

We must recognize these thoughts and feelings holding us back and dragging us down as weapon from the enemy and not as truth.

Divide and conquer is his tactic, and it works. We must not continue on….. We must not justify and hope for the best.

Our own head is inexplicably trying to keep us wallowing, keep us down, keep us apart… The reality is that we are in a war, against sin yes, but also against ourselves…. we cannot give up…. we cannot surrender… especially when everything in us justifies the path we somehow ended up on.

I share this with you because with everything going on in my life I had started to veer towards the wrong path and I didn’t even realize it.  The enemy started small, a little corner cut here, a church service skipped there. It appears harmless, at first, but then it snowballs. And just like the frog slowly boiling to death in that pot, we sit, not noticing that we are in serious trouble.

It was brought to my attention by a mighty woman of God who listened to the Spirit’s prompting and was brave enough to act on it. And in doing so God was able to smack me upside my head to show me the truth of my situation.

Without even realizing, I gave the enemy a foothold in the midst of my pain.  I have begun to isolate, then as time went on my old self destruction has started whispering in my ear.

So low key, I didn’t even recognize….

Now I, just like you have a choice. Do I justify and carry on, or do I allow my eyes to be opened to the truth and turn around?

It’s never too late to turn back…. it’s never too much that we should give up…. and we are never strong enough to do it on our own. We need Him, and we need each other.

1 Peter 5:8
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Ecclesiastes 4:12
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Heb 10:23-25
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Philippians 4:8

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”

Justin Ludwig

Photo from: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-christian-path

 

Warfare

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I was thinking, how easy would it be if the devil’s appearance and tactics were as clear as they are in the movies. A person or creature that just exudes evil. That picture we have in our head of this demonic force that wants to destroy you, and rob you of any happiness that you may have, or may some day have.
Wouldn’t our walk with Christ be so much easier if the devil really did just appear in your face, straight out of hell, horns on his head with the stank of sulfur on his breath with an unquenchable appetite for destruction.
So obvious that anyone would be a fool not to run for their lives….. for their souls.
But the devil is much more cunning than that.  He lurks in the shadows…. the dark corners of our minds and hearts telling us exactly what we want to hear. …”Go ahead,”

Instead of bursting into our lives brutally murdering our family and stealing everything we ever held dear, he takes a different approach. He will send a married man “the woman of his dreams” other than his wife as a co worker. He will remind you that if you don’t take care of yourself, nobody will.  He nudges you to look at that person next to you and to judge them…. to judge how they look, what they say, and why we are better than them.
The evil one will remind us that we “deserve” to be happy, and that life is too short to not do what you want to do, when you want to do it, “so go ahead and do it.”

We must learn to see these tactics as weapons against God, His kingdom as well as the body of Christ, and not as truth. If we do not learn to recognize his tactics, we begin to believe them to be truth.
The objective of the enemy is clear and simple. He mission is to kill, steal and destroy, and it is not going to appear to you in a way that is obvious. I kid you not y’all, the devil gets off on pitting us against each other. The devil’s greatest weapon is deception. And he will use fear and doubt to cause strife and turmoil within our lives, and within our relationships with the ultimate goal of separating us from God.

For myself when I am attacked I thank God that I am aware of it. The reason being, when I am being attacked, I begin to doubt everything. My head tells me that I am just kidding myself about God. The self loathing all of a sudden begins to fester in my heart like it used to, when I had no hope. I feel so distant…. in ways that I can’t even begin to describe, or perhaps I just don’t want to.
These feelings are real….so real. The mirage of hopelessness is so thick and if you don’t know where you are going you could get lost.

Seek Jesus…. seek His word. This is the only way to fight the attack. The tripped out thing is, for me, even though I know what I should do and turn to God, everything inside of me will tell me not to do it. .. and it feels so real. I kid you not there have been times I had to force myself to even say the name Jesus…… I did not want to worship, I did not want to open my bible, I didn’t want to talk to God and the last thing I wanted to do was tell somebody how I was feeling……
This is how the devil gets down y’all. If he can isolate us from each other, then he is in a much better position to convince us to begin or continue isolating from God…. and then he’s got us …. or will eventually get us.

We need each other y’all. I tell the truth when I say that spiritual warfare is very real. An battle constantly raging inside of us and all around us. As children of God sealed with the Holy Spirit, we are a target.
This is the reality….. to some this is just a fairy tale or story but I am here to tell you all that this is for real. Our God is real….. the enemy is real and the battle for your soul is a very real one. I have seen and experienced enough things that have shown me that there is a war going on for your soul right now. We desperately, desperately need God, but we also desperately need each other.

We must not let the enemy deceive us in order to divide us, so that he can have us. Stand firm on God’s word and call upon the Holy Spirit and your brothers and sisters when these fears and doubts begin or once they are recognized. Don’t hesitate and talk yourself out of reaching out, because that is him, isolating you. I am telling you, this is for real!!
The enemy is not as powerful as he wants you to believe…. But during the attack if you are not aware of what is happening, the lies seem so true, so real, so final….

Let’s stand fast and stand boldly against the enemy, together.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 says Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken”

2 Cor 2:10-12
Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

Eph 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

John 10:10
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”

James 4:7
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

-Romans 16:17
“I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them”

Justin Ludwig

 

Photo from: http://hopevabeach.org/stand-firm/

 

 

 

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As soon as I come to
The familiar dance
Heavy  dread
Instant review
The deafening silence
Awakening doubt
So overwhelming
….. I don’t dare cry out
What has changed, besides the day
…… Nothing
it’s just his way
Stirring the pot
Every chance
Every opportunity
Whispering so eerily
“No, He’s not”
You’re kidding yourself
I know who you are
They’ll all go away
I told you…..
so far
The suffocating reminder
The sickening fact
You’re all alone
You might  as well turn back
First chance their given
One screw up you’ll do
Pack up your shit
I can’t deal with you.
Thoughts of these things, and so many more
Consuming my hope
Affecting my core
If I didn’t know better
I’d think it was me
Whispering the lie
Who are you kidding, you’ll never be free
A tear rolls down
Feelings of utter defeat
Until He reminds me, just trust Me
And then you’ll see

Justin Ludwig

 

Photo by: Google Images