Unity not Politics

Unity not Politics

I don’t know about you but I dont care about the presidency. Hell I voted for a third party because I just dont like the chaos of two crazy choices every 4 years….. i just ask, please be kind to each other, whatever your political stance.

We the people means we the people, us, not government. Stand united against injustice, division, fear and political pandering. I pray that we the people open our eyes, come together and stop letting anger, fear and resentment fuel our downfall. Whatever your political views, race or sexual preference please know yes I am am Christian, I love you and stand beside you. Not only as an American but a freakin human being… there are many others just like me. Choose love over division and faith over fear. Be the change…be the blessing

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

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

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

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

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

Purpose For Your Pain

20171204_220732272509105.jpg God is not capable of failing us…. God is not capable of making mistakes… and He is absolutely, indescribably in love with us.

When my marriage fell apart, it hurt so bad. The last thing I was thinking was that the pain was the only way for me to become the man I wanted to be…. When my kids moved away from me and my heart was shredded…… the last thing I was thinking was that the excruciating pain of losing my children was exactly what I needed to become the father that I wanted to be…. the father my kids so desperately needed me to be.

And when I gave up all hope, and I finally accepted that I was a lost cause, the last thing I was thinking was that at that moment, God was about to change everything.

Through the love and grace of Christ I have been blessed with the life that I never dared dream. When I look back at my life I cannot help but notice that if every single one of those horrible things didn’t happen to me… If I didn’t experience every mistake, every heartbreak, and ounce of pain, I would not have what I now have. Just like Joseph in Genesis 37, God had amazing plans for this young man, but God is no fool. He will not entrust things to people who are not prepared to handle them.

When your pain seems too strong…… when there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel, trust in His Truth…. He is working, and He will finish the work He has started. He will come through, and in a way we will never see coming.

Our feelings, our fears, and even our thoughts will lie to us. They will tell us that God will not come through, so we need to do it ourselves.

No matter what your situation is, He is working…. No matter how far down you are, He is working…. and no matter how uncertain your future or present seems, He will come through.

I live in California and my kids just moved to Louisiana because their mother is in the military. This is the third time I have had to say goodbye to my children, and, to be totally honest, it only gets harder. It takes courage to trust in God’s timing. But when I find myself completely stressing out because of them being so far away, the what-if’s creep into the back of my mind and before I know it, I am doubting that God will come through for me. It is so subtle how the doubt infiltrates. My faith in God’s goodness, love and truth is so strong, because I know He is good, but I am not immune.

I can shout that I have all the faith in the world, but if I am seeking truth regarding my faith and my walk with Christ, I cannot help but recognize that even though I do trust God down to the marrow in my bones. I cannot ignore the fact that if I am having such fear and anxiety of “what if,” then I am not trusting God like I thought I was.

I share this truth about myself for one reason, and that is that I am not sitting here, on some spiritual mountaintop spouting inspiration. In this season of mourning and loss in my life, God has shown up, inspired and come through for me in ways that I will discuss in future posts.

No matter how terrifying, no matter how hopeless or defeated ….. Seek His face……hear His voice….and no matter what, trust His promises.

Thank You Father for being so perfect… so trustworthy

Written by: Justin Ludwig

 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God -2 Cor 3:4

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you”– ­Deut 31:6

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” ­ -1 Peter 5:7

“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

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

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!

We All Have a Story, Here’s Mine

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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

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

Friends Of Angels -Autism Ministry

Friends of Angels (FOA) is a ministry in the Los Angeles area focused on serving families with children who have autism. This ministry was birthed by a member of Journey South Bay Church who has a child with autism. Once a year, in June, the Friends of Angels Ministry holds a weekend retreat at Pilgrim Pines Camp where the parents and children are invited to enjoy the beautiful and serene mountains of Yucaipa, California. They have a number of prescreened volunteers who will watch over the children throughout the weekend in order to give the parents an opportunity to have a weekend to rest and relax. A number of activities and events are available for both the children and the parents.  From guest speakers to quiet beds to sleep the day away, the choice is yours!

I participated in this ministry as a volunteer back in June of 2015 and since it was such an awesome experience, I will be participating again this year. If you are a parent with a child with autism or know someone who is, I urge you to check this out because it is such an awesome experience for everyone involved.

If you don’t know anyone affected by autism, but you want to get further information on how to volunteer or get involved, please check out the FOA website and see how to get started. If you live in the South Bay area, this ministry is in action every Sunday at my home church, Journey South Bay in Redondo Beach, CA. There is a Sunday school service specifically for autistic children and young adults so the families are able to be blessed by the service while knowing their children or loved ones are well taken care of. Whether a family comes to mind, or you suddenly feel like you want to volunteer, I urge you not to hesitate and reach out through one of these links. Be the blessing and love in action.

http://www.friendsofangels.org/

http://www.journeysouthbay.org/

rawdiscipleship4u@gmail.com

 

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

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

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

I have talked about the power of prayer on so many occasions. In my walk with Christ I have come to recognize and understand prayer as much more than some ritual or something we do to make ourselves feel better when we are out of options. Prayer is a time we are able come before God with boldness, openess and sincerity. We come before God with our hearts laid bare and with hope. Knowing that He hears us, that He loves us and that He can be trusted…. But if we were to pause and ask ourselves, “How much do we truly believe in the effectiveness of our prayers?

If each one of us were to take a fearless look at ourselves and ask, “Down to my core, do I truly trust that He hears me? Do I trust that my faith is for real, that God is absolutely, unequivocally a reality and when I pray it does make an actual difference?

I don’t pose this question to challenge, judge or question anybodys faith. Being completely raw and real I will be the first to admit that there have been times where the doubts have crept in…. I had been deceived by the enemy before, just as I am sure you have.

Prayer is such an intimate and powerful experience….. we cry out to Him in our anguish and we request the desires of our hearts! We sing His praises when He blesses us and we ask for guidance in this confusion we call life.

I am here to remind you that the power of prayer is for real. We are called to pray for each other and to do so often, in private and in action…..

In my journey with the Lord I have seen prayers being answered first hand. I have seen people’s hearts changed over night in dramatic ways. I was able to experience the gift of toungues, which I didn’t even believe in until He spoke trough me, all because my friend was praying for me. I have experienced freedom from unbreakable addictions and afflictions…. I could list countless experiences that have brought me to this firm knowledge that prayer does indeed work; both practically and in ways that cannot be explained by the secular world beyond coincidence.

What we must realize is that the doubts will come from time to time. The enemy is working night and day to mess with our head. To try and cast doubt about God, about ourselves and each other….this punk is an influencer of self destruction and hate and is always trying to fool us into doubting God!

I want everyone to know that prayer the most powerful thing we do. I want each of us to know, down to our core the reality of our faith and the real power prayer has. I want to offer my heart to you. Below is a link to my prayer page which allows you to send a prayer request or praise report.

I keep all prayers is complete confidence and if you put your email I will email you a heartfelt and faith filled prayer so you know how I am praying so you can see God working. No tricks, no advertising…. just love, in action. Please feel free to get specific with your prayers, because when we pray specifically, we will be able to see God work more clearly and our faith will grow!

If you feel Holy Spirit tugging at your heart, don’t hesitate. Let me intercede for you.

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

Written by: Justin Ludwig


He replied l, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there and it will move.. Nothing is impossible for you.” -Matt 17:20

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16.

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

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 

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 

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 

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 

We All Need Prayer

We all need someone to intercede for us. We need someone who loves us and who wants to pray for us and who we can sing His praises to.

Unity and love is key in the body of Christ. If the Spirit is drawing you, click on the link and let me pray for you. I am involved in no marketing whatsoever and I have no ulterior motives. 

I have a sincere enthusiasm to watch the Spirit work, and encourage you to take part 

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

God is Speaking, Are we Listening?

There is a man standing on his roof during a torrential rain and the water is rising so fast. He calls out to God saying “You know I love and follow You, please save me!!”

 Moments later a boat pulls up and they say “come with us, we will save you!” The man on the roof says “No that’s ok, Im waiting for God to save me”. The boat leaves and shortly after that, a helicopter appears overhead saying “Grab the rope, or you going to die!”. The man on the roof replies “No that’s ok, I’m waiting on God to save me” So the helicopter leaves and shortly after that the water engulfed him and he drowns.

 When he got to heaven, he asked God, “Why didn’t you save me? You know I love You!?” And God replys “I sent you a boat and a helicopter, what else did you want Me to do??” 

How many times in our lives are we waiting and waiting to hear from God, but feel like we are not being answered? Everyone would love to get a clear cut answer from a loud booming voice from the sky or a burning bush experience. When in reality God works so much more practically. He speaks into our hearts, through those around us and through situations. My prayer for everyone, myself included is that we stop waiting for God to “speak” to us and just listen to what He is already saying.


Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Brokenness Inspires Hope

Brokenness is beautiful

Inspires hope

An embedded reluctance within

hiding the weakness in fear

dare I expose my truth?

  ….”no!”

     …”strength”!

 

 Compulsions emerge

Masks

Confidence

Smiles…..

     whitewashed leaders taking point

facades of perfection

Incarcerated in secret walls of shame and sin.

Brokenness is leadership

   Vulnerability

  Everyone is broken…..all alone

……..They must know!

          We are one

……. we struggle

Humility, vulnerability, brokeness

Righteousness, aside from Christ, does not give hope, brokenness does.

 

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong”2 Cor 12: 9-11

“Whenever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. “Ps 28:13

“It is better to be humble in Spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.” -Ps. 16:19

   “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.”Ps34:18

God desired authenticity, not an illusion of righteousness.  No matter what your head tells you, it is OK to hurt,  it is okay to doubt, and it’s  impossible not to fail. Share your trials and shortcomings with enthusiasm and I promise the authenticity of your heart will speak volumes more than playing it off like we got it all together or having all the perfect answers.

Keep your witnessing genuine and your love overflowing and watch the Spirit work! This right here is how we can make a difference in this broken world.

 

Written by: Justin Ludwig

The Story of 2 Timothy 

​The writer of 2 Timothy was the apostle Paul.  Paul was a man that gave his everything to God.  Before Christ revealed Himself to Paul, he was known as Saul of Tarsus.  He was born in Tarsus in Cilicia around A.D. 1–5 in a province in the southeastern corner of modern day Tersous, Turkey.  He was of Benjamite lineage and Hebrew ancestry.  He was a pharisee who hunted down, imprisoned, and even murdered Christians.  He participated in the stoning of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, and was possibly the overseer of that execution.  This was a man who would not tolerate any disrespect to God, which is why he hated the Christians in the first place. Saul, with all his murderous hate towards Christians, requested a letter from the high priest to present to all the synagogues in Damascus that any follower of Christ was to be imprisoned in Jerusalem.  On his way to Damascus to present and in force this order, the resurrected Christ appeared to him in a flash from heaven, asking Saul, “Why do you persecute Me?”  Christ in all of His glory revealed Himself to Saul as the Son of God.

    It is a common misconception that God changed Saul’s name to Paul once the conversion took place on that road to Damascus, like when Jesus changed Simon’s name to Cephas, which translates to Peter.  In actuality, all of his life he had the dual names Saul and Paul, which was custom in those days.  The reason for the switch was because before Christ, Saul, being a pharisee and obviously very proud if his Jewish heritage, chose to go by Saul.  Once he began preaching Christ to the Gentiles, he decided to change it to Paul since this was a name that the Gentiles were familiar with.  Paul is an amazing example of the transformation Christ can have in even the hardest of hearts, and that His grace is extended to the worst of the worst.  Once Paul’s eyes were opened to the truth, he dedicated the remainder of his life to preaching the gospel to the world.  Paul was very intentional with his ministry.  In 2 Corinthians 11 for example, before he lists the hardships he has endured for the sake of the gospel, he points out all of his qualifications as a Jew; bringing up his lineage and accomplishments as a pharisee, in order that they will hear what he has to say about Christ.  This is a man who was flogged 5 times, beaten with rods and shipwrecked 3 times, and stoned once.  Paul was the greatest apostle by demonstrating his unwavering devotion to Christ under such extreme opposition.  Not only that, but the grace and power that God blessed him with shows that nobody, not a single soul, is too evil or too far gone to be restored and renewed by Christ’s love, sacrifice and grace.

The letter of 2 TImothy was written approximately A.D. 66 or 67.  Paul was imprisoned yet again in Rome for his preachings of Christ as the Messiah.  This time though, Paul knew that his earthly mission was coming to an end and that he would soon be executed.  This book contains Paul’s final words to his young protege Timothy, essentially passing the torch of leadership on to him.  Timothy’s father was a heathen Greek and his mother was a Jewess named Eunice.  It was Timothy’s mother and grandmother, Lois, who instilled such a strong faith in Timothy.  Timothy heard the gospel from Paul on his first missionary trip in either Lystra or Derbe and believed the Truth.  Based on Acts 14:6, Acts 20:4 and Acts 16:3, it can be inferred that Timothy was a native of Lystra, but that is not definite.  On Paul’s second missionary trip, when he returned to Timothy’s town to preach again, Timothy joined him on his missionary journey.  On this trip, they traveled to Phrygia, Galatia, Mysia, Troas, Neapoils, Philippi, Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessalonica, Berea, and Corinth, which is when Paul wrote the book of Romans.  Timothy’s faithfulness continued through Paul’s earthly ministry and he was the pastor of the church at Ephesus when this letter was written. 

After Paul expressed much love for Timothy in the opening of the letter, he reminded Timothy of the qualities that would be necessary for him to continue a faithful ministry of Jesus Christ: boldness, love and self discipline.  He called Timothy to join his suffering for the gospel for the sake of Christ and to always use his gifts with boldness.  He reminded Timothy to always keep to the truth and to keep his eyes focused on Christ.  Paul challenged him to hold to sound doctrine, to reject error and to correctly handle the word of Truth.  He warned Timothy of the opposition that he and other believers would face in the last days from self-centered people who use the church for their own gain and who will teach false doctrine.  Paul told him to prepare for dealing with these unfaithful people.  He reminded Timothy to follow his example by emulating his way of life, purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions and sufferings.  Paul continued by articulating to Timothy the proper functions of the word of God.  “That all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16-17)

In the final chapter, Paul gave a stirring charge to Timothy to preach the Word, be prepared in every season, and to use God’s word to correct, rebuke and encourage others, with great patience and careful instruction.  He forewarned Timothy that in the later days, people wouldn’t follow sound doctrine.  They would begin searching elsewhere for answers that better suit their selfish desires.  He encouraged Timothy to keep his head up, endure hardship, and to do the work of an evangelist.

In the closing remarks, you can really see Paul’s loneliness being revealed, his feelings of betrayal, and his strong love for his brothers and sisters in Christ.  I have always really liked this letter.  I have a hard time with people.  Since becoming a Christian, honestly I have had a hard time loving the way that God desires of me.  Throughout this letter, Paul expresses and assures Timothy that he is going to encounter extremely hateful, selfish, wicked people who will seek to harm him and his mission.  Paul’s instruction is not to back down, but move forward with love, patience and endurance.  A man who had experienced so much pain and persecution, insists that God will deliver us, so we must love them in the hopes that they will come to the Truth.  I guess I can only speak for myself but this instruction to Timothy might as well have my name in place of him because it feels like Paul is talking directly to me.  When we are confronted by the many haters, perpetrators or instigators of our faith, we must stand firm in Christ’s truth, and always respond with patience and love.

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Bibliography

Got questions.org

http://www.godvine.com/bible/2-timothy/2-18 Albert Barnes’ notes

Zondervan Study bible app

Zondervan Life Application study bible, niv

Podcasts 

http://thebiblestudypodcast.com/bible-studies-book-studies/bible-study-2-timothy/ 

Parallel Resource  

http://www.biblestudytools.com/compare-translations/ 

He is in the Pain, Shouting He loves Us

I said goodbye to my kids yet again recently. After saying all I could say, after about a million hugs and kisses I closed the car door and watched them drive away. As I was watching them leave, all of their little hands popped up in the rear window, waving goodbye to me.

It’s a scene that is way too familiar to me.  The heartbreak of knowing that my kids are going away…and there is absolutely nothing I could do about it.

Countless what if’s swirling in my head, consuming my thoughts. The pain, the fear and sadness… I simply cannot put it into words.

As soon as they were out of sight I went inside, straight into the bathroom and began to cry. As I am sitting there a lyric started in my head that I still can’t get out, and it goes like this,

“My Master told a parable once, that we should pray and not lose heart. When we face the corruption of life,  He says come boldly, and trust Me.”

I kept repeating it over and over again, “Come boldly, and trust Me.” As I’m  singing this lyric over and over again I suddenly stop… I recognized something within myself. A feeling that had no place in that moment of pain, and sorrow…. a feeling of excitement.

I almost didn’t recognize it because of all of the hurt.  As I focused on this feeling lingering beneath the surface I felt the Spirit’s comfort as I realized…. He is going to do something with this.

It wasn’t a pep talk I was giving myself, reminding me to trust Him. It was more of a proclamation, a definite fact being told to me.

And in that moment I felt honored to be the one going through this. I felt humbled that my pain is going to bring about something amazing. It’s a slippery truth to hold onto because I have no idea what He is working on. It could be a blessing for my kids…. for me, or simply others will gain hope because they will see God coming through for me with all of this going on…. and I get to be a part of it.

..by no means am I saying that I am without fear…. I am not saying that this revealed knowledge squelched my pain and now I am great…. because I am not.
What I am saying is, I asked God to use me…. now He is. The question I have to ask myself is, is He going to drag me kicking and screaming or will I stand up and walk with Him, resting in the truth that He is good, always.

Never lose heart people, He is trustworthy

Justin Ludwig

The Gospel is Love

image

The gospel is……

There are many ways to finish this sentence; it is hope, it is truth, it is life, etc. But what the gospel is….is love.

The hope in our secured eternity because He loves us so much that He set us free from our fate, our shackles, ourselves. The truth is that God is love, His truth is that He loves the active satan worshipper as much as He does you. The truth is, we cannot fathom His love for us, because it is more powerful, deep and scandalous than anything we can imagine. We did everything wrong, we blatantly turn our backs on God to do what we want because we want to do it. And He always responds in love.. always, because God is love.

Why do I share this?

From the child molester, to the devil worshipper, to the person who just doesn’t care, we have but one response that we must do if we truly desire to please God, and that is to love them.

Somehow the church has become somewhat of an ostrich with its head in the sand. So concerned about separating itself from evil, from the world. All the while evil, pain and suffering is raging all around us.

This is NOT what God desires from the church. To avoid evil so we can protect ourselves. That is the opposite of the gospel. We are called to go… to go to the darkest corners of the world and love.  Love without judgment….. love without an agenda …. To love without question.

Matt 28:19-20
“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.”

Mark 12:31
“The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”

Romans 13:10
“Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Photo from: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/a7/7a/23/a77a239f2a545a88d1e5cf188f4ec4f8.jpg

Prayer and Action

I say it constantly, that prayer is power, and it is, but too often that is where it stops.

People lift up their troubles and fears with the hopes that God will just suddenly make everything better. What we as Christians need to realize is that a lot of times we must take action in order for our prayers to be answered

If you look through scriptures, this fact is played out time and time again.

In Exodus 17 when the Israelites are battling the Amalekites, Moses must keep the staff of God raised over his head in order for the Israelites to triumph, and when his hands fall, the enemies of God begin to win. In Joshua 6, they are required to march around the city of Jericho seven times and let out a cry of victory before the walls would come crumbling down so God’s promise would be fulfilled. And my personal favorite on this topic is the parting of the Red

“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. -Exodus 14:13-17

I could go on and on with examples but I think y’all get where I am going with this. Prayer is indeed power. The fellowship and council of Jesus Christ is the most powerful weapon that we can wield. But He is not a magic genie that will just magically whisk our problems.

Look, the bottom line is that we serve an all powerful God who wants to bless us beyond measure, but He expects us to take action, and sometimes yes, the action is to wait or do nothing.
If you feel like your prayers aren’t being answered, ask Him what He wants you to do. The hard part is, when He gives you the answer, and He will, you actually have to do it.

He will not solve all of our problems for us. He wants to use us, to bless us

When we put this fact into practice, we are able to be blessed beyond anything we dared dream.

Written by: Justin Ludwig

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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

 

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God is right here, in the middle of our hurt and our pain shouting that He loves us.

 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, and guys, 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 everyone, 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

Photo from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/263460646924388572/

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Without faith how can we ever hope to be blessed to the extent that God desires for us?  Take David for example; God let David know what amazing plans that He had for his life. Then all of a sudden, his life is turned upside down. His path took a drastic turn, much different from what was promised to him. Instead of glory and kingship, he was living in caves and running for his life from the very people he was supposed to rule. How easy it would have been for David to turn his back on God….

What if he had done what so many Christians do now a days and lose hope in the character of God because things are playing out differently than they had envisioned?

As the story plays out we see that all of the chaos, all of the pain and drama was imperative to build David’s character, to prepare him to lead God’s people, God’s way. Simply put, if David had not gone through all of that insanity, he would not have been capable of handling what God wanted to give him. His blessing could have turned on him and become a curse, because he was not ready.

He is working on You, right now…. Right now in your pain, in your boredom, your frustrations and fears, He is working on fulfilling His promises. Don’t lose hope my brothers and sisters, I have seen it and experienced it first hand. He will come through for you. My prayer is that every one of us will never waiver from this truth, and then, and only then can we truly be the followers that He desires instead of just another fan.

“May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” =2 Thess 3:5

Justin Ludwig

 

Photo from: http://www.parkerfordchurch.com/blog/2012/05/02/has-god-been-at-work/

 

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The Holy Spirit impressed something on my heart I feel I should share with all of you. Mark 5:1-20; Jesus has come across a cursed man. 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, exiled 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. Even when in desperation, they chained the man down, but his demons were so powerful and they would 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 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 God could possibly use you. 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 28:19-20

Justin Ludwig

 

Photo from: http://www.reflectionsforliving.com/reflection/248/in-gods-grip/

 

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Lately the Spirit has really been speaking to me through music.  I always find it awesome when the Spirit speaks to me through secular music. When God’s truth is proclaimed to His children in a way that transcends the original intent of the message. I’ve always  loved punk music, and there is a line that has been stuck in my head. It goes something like;

“Get up, get up your voices are needed! Become, become the pulse of the revolution!”

The writer’s intent of these lyrics is referring to a social and political revolution. But by the Spirit’s power, wisdom and pure awesomeness He has spoken a very different message into my heart.

The Spirit screaming into my ears a very real reminder of what He wants in my/our life and in my/our heart…. a revolution.

The revolution that He/I/we speak of is not a revolution against the establishment or against society. I am referring to a revolution much deeper, much more profound and important….

I am referring to a revolution of the Spirit!

This world is overrun by the kingdom of the power of  the air and we have a responsibility to rise up and take our place as warrior of God Almighty and let the world know that there are answers. Let them know that there is hope and that they are loved.
That God, heaven, and eternity are right there waiting for them to embrace His love and freedom. God has empowered us with His Spirit inside of us. The very same power that rose Jesus Christ from the grave is in you!

This is as real as it gets people so remember that You, I, we  need to…. No we must  stand up, speak boldly, and live a life saturated with His presence.

Hearing these lyrics reminds me that every single one of us needs to speak and become the pulse of the revolution. How many are staying silent assuming  others will take up the slack and proclaim God’s truth for them? How many are consumed by their situation and disqualify themselves from speaking His truth because the “don’t feel worthy” or just feel like a hypocrite. I urge you to pray on this next thought.

All of these roadblocks that justify why we don’t proclaim the truth of the Spirit, the fear that keeps our lips sealed, and those voices in the back of our heads accusing us…. “who am I?”, “I am not “qualified to speak God’s truth.” “I don’t know enough about scripture to be an effective witness.” “I can’t get over my own sin, so who am to lift up my brother or sister when I am still such a mess?”

These are boldface lies from the enemy. Every single one of us have the power that rose Christ from the grave, healed those “who could not be healed” The power inside of you was the very same power that healed mine and millions of others broken hearts and broken lives… and changed  everything.

For me, someone told me Jesus loved me, and later I read a single verse
“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God” Ps 46:10.

That was it, that was all the Spirit needed to incite the rebellion in my heart against the the enemies of God.

Every single one of your voices is needed! We have talked about it before, that we all have the responsibility  to play a very crucial role in this war against the flesh, against the devil  and against ourselves.

We all have the same objective, to proclaim to the world of the truth and the indescribable hope we have found.  But the reality is, even though I am on fire for God and am knowledgeable in His word, I cannot effectively witness to everyone because the Spirit uses everyone for a specific reason.

Each person has the ability to reach people that nobody else can. And if we keep our mouths shut, assuming someone else will do it for us,  we have pushed that perishing  person further to the dark side because we didn’t simply tell them what we have found. It is not our job to convert people to the faith. Our job is to stand up and let the world know what we know, and God will work on their hearts and do the rest.

Have faith in the power of the Spirit, rise up and join me!! We cannot do this without you because only you can speak life into your world. Only you can reach those lost souls that won’t listen to anyone else but you!!

I’ve said it before, but speaking  what you know of God, no matter if it is articulate or profound, lives will be changed and souls will be saved.  Just open you’re mouth and sincerely  speak of what you know and just like my punk lyrics, the Spirit will reveal a picture of hope, strength and salvation to the perishing, the hopeless and the lost .

Our God, our salvation and our faith is no fairy tale, this is for real.
Your voices are needed. Dont assume someone else will do it. We are that someone else, and it’s time to stand up, speak out and change the world, for His glory.

Justin Ludwig

 

Photo from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/180073685070830068/

 

 

wp-1462378872425.jpegThere is a Christian heavy metal band that I listen to called Sleeping Giant. A line of one of their songs has been drifting in my head and it goes something like this;

“I can’t see Jesus in this, it pollutes my trust and it fills my heart with hate”

I have always been drawn to these lyrics and many like it because it is so raw, truthful and real about what we face as followers of Christ. And apparently the Spirit wants me to share it with y’all because this is where He is guiding me.

How many christians jump ship just before God’s blessing is unveiled? How many people turn their trials and heartache into hate?  And how many people will spend the rest of their lives wandering the desert because they couldn’t see Jesus working for them… so they curse Him.
I have talked about it before like many others have, how we must look past our circumstances. But far too often that is where the “counsel” stops, leaving some wondering what the hell that even means.

Does it mean I have to just hold on because eventually this issue or situation will pass, then I will get the blessing that I know God has for me?

What if my kids moving so far away from me is the only way for them to be exactly where God wants them to be when He will shower them with blessings?
Who would have thought that all of my suffering was exactly what had to happen for the blessed life and guaranteed eternity I now have.

We can’t trust our truth. You, I, we gotta trust God’s truth, and God’s truth is that He is always working for us in ways we will see in time and a lot of times we will never even recognize it because HE freakin loves us so much!

It is a wonderful thing to look forward to heaven, I do it every day. But when I am looking past my circumstance I am not looking to heaven. I am recognizing that even though I don’t know it, that I may not feel it, I know that everything is happening exactly how He wants it to and I know that that is for good… because our God is so good, always and forever He is good.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Phil 4:6-7

“For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” -John 3:16

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”-1 Cor.4:17

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” -Romans 8:28

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,  because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20

Justin Ludwig

 

Photo from: http://livingthejourney.com/2014/01/06/day-6-just-sit-down-will-you/but-god-ephesians-2/

Stop Doubting the power of God

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I have so much love and devotion to God. The Holy Spirit has blessed me with the eyes to see His hand In my past, present and future. … but that doesn’t always stop my demons and pain from reminding me that the past is not forgotten.
Some days… I wake up overwhelmed by my demons.  Demons whispering in my ear that I am kidding myself. When feelings of cutting myself become such a “perfect solution.” When I desire death with all my heart and am overwhelmed by hate…

Some may ask, where the hell is Jesus in all of this?

When I have the overwhelming urge to drag a blade across my body…. He is there…. When I am convinced I am kidding myself about God, myself and my hope…. He is there…. and when I crave the silence of the grave because all I feel is sadness, pain and anger, He is there.

There is so much pain in this life. We all have our burdens to bear; death, loss, fear, uncertainty, pain, hate, selfishness, addiction, or even the overwhelming desire to destroy ourselves.
I share this raw and honest portrayal of my burdens for one reason……

Stop!!!!!

Stop believing the lie that you are too far gone… Stop pitying yourself because “there is no way anyone understands why it is so hard for me!”

When you  feel so horrible that you feel you cannot take another breath,  and you feel that Jesus may be able to help that other person, but not mu stuff… not me, because my situation is different.  Stop!!!!

These lies not only put God in a box, limiting what You will let Him do for you, with you and most importantly through You.

This “Sunday School” mentality of who people think God is or who He should be must stop….  it as no place in the kingdom of God.

Stop disqualified yourself as the exception and be empowered that God Almighty has your back and won’t leave you hanging.

His ways are so different than what we think they should be.

God has saved so many, so much worse…. so far gone, so hopeless.  Stop thinking or believing that you are different. You are not different, we are all the same…… let Him set You free….. daily.

God comes through, always…. God never lies,  and God will see You through to the very end.

You are not different, we are the same, and He will help you, me and every single person who truly wants His help.

He said “Be still and know that I am God” -Ps 46:10

“But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” -Job 23:10

“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah  43:2

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”-Phil 4:6-7

“He will not let your foot slip-He who watches over you will not slumber -Psalm” 121:3

“For my thoughts are not Your thoughts, neither are Your ways my ways,”declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth,so are My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah:55:8-9

Justin Ludwig

 

Photo from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/299137600220402669/

 

God won’t let go, Trust Him

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Towards the end of my dad’s battle with cancer he lost the ability to walk or even stand up. While I was sitting with him watching TV, I would watch him struggle to lift himself out of his chair, just to plop down 6 inches away to the bed.  I’d tell him, “Dad, just let me help you” But he would always refuse. At first it was his pride that prohibited him from accepting my help to do something that he “should” be able to do on his own.

As the weeks went on his ego seemed to become less and less important to him. His answer eventually changed from, “I want to do it myself”,  to, “No way, you are gonna drop me!”

I’d laugh when he would say this, not because his fear amused me, but more because I didn’t know what else to do. I have never seen my dad so helpless…. so vulnerable.

One evening as he was struggling, he finally asked, “Do you still want to help me?”…. I’ll never forget the look on his face when he said that to me. His face was filled with such defeat…. Such humiliation, embarrassment and frustration pouring out of his eyes. No matter how hard he tried to play it off as nothing, the reality of his pain was like a kick right in my stomach.

I smiled at him, and said “Absolutely pops, I got you.”

As I stood up I heard him take a deep breath and say, “Man, you better not drop me”. I walked over and positioned myself so I was stable. I bent down and wrapped my arms around him…. I had such firm footing…. I had a grip on my father that I would not lose.

As I am lifting him up and all of his weight is under me, we were face to face, in my arms with his eyes locked with mine. Completely panicked, he started pleading, “Please don’t drop me!, Don’t drop me, I’LL fall, I can’t catch myself, don’t drop me!!!”.

The fear in his eyes…… I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

I smiled at him in the midst of his panic, with all of the peace I could muster. In his fear and without a thought…. without hesitation I whispered to him “I’ve got you, trust me… I will not drop you”.

Suddenly the fear melted away as he looked at me…. studying my face for a moment and said, Ok, thanks”

God’s got us in His grip. In the thick of our fears….. when life feels like it is slipping away and all that’s left is helplessness and pain.  His grip on us is so tight…. His footing is unshakeable….

Can you hear Him?

  … “trust Me, I got you”

Just like my dad, we hear these words, but the fear takes hold. The helplessness washes over until it is all we can see.

It is irrelevant how we feel, because it doesn’t change the truth….. He’s got us, and when the fear… or dare I say, the horror consumes us. We must study the face of God, and say “Ok, I’ll trust you”.

“For I am the Lord your God
   who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
   I will help you.” -Isaiah 41:13

“They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.” -Psalm 112:7

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in You” -Psalm 56:3

Justin Ludwig

 

Photo from: http://www.susanltuttle.com/2012/01/his-hand.html

 

 

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

 

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