God is Good, Even When Life Isn’t

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Justin Ludwig

It’s Not About Us

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

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

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

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

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Dying to Flourish

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

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

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

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

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Be the Blessing!

My name is Justin Ludwig and I am a man on fire for God. I came to know Christ back in 2012 after a lifetime of darkness and selfishness. He changed my life in so many ways; He saved me from the bondage of addiction, self destruction and most importantly He saved me from hating myself. (click My Testimony)

Once I finally encountered the amazing love and grace of Christ, I decided I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life to glorifying His name, letting the world know what He has to offer and that there is hope for each one of us, thanks to the grace of God. I started RawDisciple Ministries in 2016 with the purpose of spreading the gospel, serving those in need and showing the world that they are loved,by me and more importantly by God. Through this ministry I reach out to the world however possible. I walk the streets and speak to the broken, the homeless and the addicted. I evangelize online around the world and I travel on missions trips to foreign countries to help bring light to this dark world.

This has nothing to do with me and everything to do with glorifying God. The gospel is simple, getting past ourselves and loving on the person in front of us. We humbly ask for your support through prayers, finances or both. Please know every donation, large or small goes to further the gospel of Jesus Christ and to help those who can’t help themselves. There is no donation that is too small or prayer to big.

If Holy Spirit has put it on your heart to donate to help us love in action you can either give a general donation or we have several ministry choices which are listed below. If you feel that you want to donate to one ministry in particular then please note your preference in the memo section of the check. If there is a specific ministry with greater need at the time it will be indicated with a star to inform you.

Every penny donated will be going to ministry and service. I do not collect any wage so every cent will go to glorifying God and to giving to the needy. I thank you for taking time to read this letter and I pray that God will put it on your heart to support us, whether it be through finances or prayers. We are extremely grateful, God bless.

If you decide to donate you can either click on the “donate” button below and choose exactly where you want your donation to go. Or you can mail a check to PO Box 34, Harbor City CA 90710. Thank you and God bless

CLICK HERE TO DONATE

Miracles Require Faith

I just heard something intriguing that I wanted to share with y’all. In “third world” countries such as Africa, Brazil and India they seem to experience divine miracles almost on a daily basis…..why is it then that the western world, why America doesn’t see these types of miracles take place as commonly? The simple answer is that we have 911.

We have a safety net and when something goes wrong our first instinct is not to turn to God with everything we have, but to pick up the phone and tangibly call someone to help us. These other countries don’t have 911, the only option they have is to turn to God with everything they have. The reason these countries see the divine hand of God working in miraculous ways so often is because He is all they have….He is there only help….He is there only hope.

What if we were able to adopt this thought/faith process? We are so blessed to have 911 but if we were to seek God with everything we are….imagine the movement of the Holy Spirit that would take place in our country, just imagine.

In our lives, in our troubles there is only One who can help us, and He’s the One that took our place! Let’s turn to God first and show this country the reality and the power of God!
Written by: Justin Ludwig

Today is the Day

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

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

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

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Expectations Can Taint Blessings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be blessed and love well my friends

Justin Ludwig

It’s Up to Us to Let Them Know

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

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

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

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

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

 

Justin Ludwig

 

Fear isn’t Lack of Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the face of fear, choose faith

Justin Ludwig

A Call to the Broken

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

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

Justin Ludwig

How can I get more of You Lord!?


“How can I get more of You Lord!?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be blessed and love well my friends

Justin Ludwig

Take a Leap!

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

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

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

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

Be blessed and love well my friends

Justin Ludwig

Cast Doubt in their Doubt

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

I ask them, “Compared to who?”

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

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

Be blessed and love well my friends

Written by Justin Ludwig

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

God’s Love 

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

Justin Ludwig

Motives are Everything

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What is my motivation?……

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Justin Ludwig

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

When Opinions Overshadow Compassion

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

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

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

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

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

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


Written by: Justin Ludwig

Photo credit: Rachelwojo.com 

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 

Believe and Then You Will See

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

So we wait for signs….

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

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

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

Believe and then you will see


Written by : Justin Ludwig

Remember the Love

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

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

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

 

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Exiles of this Age

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Every Response Matters

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

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

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

Be the blessing and represent Him well.


Written by: Justin Ludwig

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

“You are not immune.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Photo from: Google Images

Jesus Will Light Our Way

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Written by : Justin Ludwig

I want to Share Your Experiences with God

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig 

Victorious Surrender 

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

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

Thank You Jesus setting me free! 

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Can you hear Him?

wp-1507962515119.jpgCan you hear Him?

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

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

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

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

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

Choose to believe and you will be blessed.

Written by: Justin Ludwig

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.

So Much Joy, So Much Pain

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

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

So much pain….. so much joy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Why do you love Jesus?Please Share Your Hope!

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

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

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


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

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

 Be blessed and love furiously.

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Soldier’s for Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Blessed to be Broken 

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

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

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

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

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

I am blessed, because I am broken

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Grace & Warfare 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Our Message 

Why do I write?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Written by: Justin Ludwig

 

Trust in the Silence 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trust Him in the silence, and you will see.

Written by: Justin Ludwig

I Trust, but I Worry

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

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

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

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

He simply whispered, “Just let go”.

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

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

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

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

Written by :Justin Ludwig

Silent Reminders

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

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Today’s the Day, Seize It

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

           It’s not too late! 

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

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


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

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Prayer is Power Y’all! I am ready to Pray for You

IF YOU BELIEVE IN PRAYER, PLEASE READ THIS!!

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

If you need prayer, fellowship, and/or need a brother in Christ to lean on, I am here for you.

I don’t just believe, but I know that as Christians, prayer is the most important, most powerful thing we do. To know someone is there, day or night when your heart is breaking that is ready to pray for you, praise with you, or simply be here to listen can and does change everything.

If you are not a Christian, it’s okay. I love you just as much as the Christian, the Muslim or out right haters of God. But wherever you are at, God loves you. I ask that if you feel that twinge in your stomach,  that pull from the Holy Spirit to reach out, don’t hesitate, don’t think, just respond.

Your prayers and/or messages come directly me, I share them with no one I urge you to leave your email address so I can email you my prayer, praise or comment so you know, without a doubt that you are loved, that you are important,  and that you are being prayed for. Your email will not be given to anyone, this is strickly for you, and for me.

Let me love you, let me pray for you.

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

Written by Justin Ludwig

We are Not Immune, Stay Vigilant

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Want to Feel God’s Presence?

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

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

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

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

Be the Blessing

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

A Father’s Visit

​Anticipation, anxiety, excitement 

  A whirlwind, so fast

….so slow

     It’s not like it was

how could it be

     Love overflowing

  Roaring like a river

Rocks of insecurity, regret and hurt cut the flow

…..the precious moments sting

   They are priceless through

In the blink of an eye

   Silence, distance…..waiting 

The love will always grow 

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

A Father’s Heart

​Awakened by my thoughts

   Thoughts of what’s in store

Do they miss me 

   Do they want me

      …..I can’t wait to hold them

So much to say…

   Ends up in babble

So much love…..

   My thoughts keep me awake

Do they know

   …..I do 

 It’s the little things

A quarter in this time is significant 

…..do they know I long for them

Hours until I see them

….. I am afraid 

   Afraid of them not knowing

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Why do We Love Christ?

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

There is a conversation Jesus has with Peter;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be blessed and seek more of Him!

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

I Want to Pray for You, Use Me.

​IF YOU BELIEVE IN PRAYER, PLEASE READ THIS!!

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

If you need prayer, fellowship, and/or need a brother in Christ to lean on, I am here for you. 

I don’t just believe, but I know that as Christians, prayer is the most important, most powerful thing we do. To know someone is there, day or night when your heart is breaking that is ready to pray for you, praise with you, or simply be here to listen can and does change everything.

If you are not a Christian, it’s okay. I love you just as much as the Christian, the Muslim or out right haters of God. But wherever you are at, God loves you. I ask that if you feel that twinge in your stomach,  that pull from the Holy Spirit to reach out, don’t hesitate, don’t think, just respond.

Your prayers and/or messages come directly me, I share them with no one I urge you to leave your email address so I can email you my prayer, praise or comment so you know, without a doubt that you are loved, that you are important,  and that you are being prayed for. Your email will not be given to anyone, this is strickly for you, and for me.

Let me love you, let me pray for you.

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

Written by Justin Ludwig 

In our Wandering, He is There

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The times in our life when we feel like we are wandering in the desert can be the most discouraging. When God’s voice is silent and we have no idea what is going on or what is going to happen. We look back over our faith and wondering how we got to this place….

“Did I take a wrong turn?”, “Did God bail on me?” It is in these times when our faith is tested. When there is no end in sight and all we seem to have is a promise that He will see us through, even though our hope seems to be rapidly dissipating.

If you look in Exodus, you will see a story of God’s people who were promised freedom, a nation and a life beyond anything they dare hope or dream. God told them not to take the familiar route out of Egypt because when things got hard they would be tempted to turn around and head back into slavery….into darkness where it is familiar.(Ex 13:17-18) God knew that the road He had for them was going to be very hard and He wanted them to press on so He could fulfill His promise and bless them like He said He would.

I have come to recognize these times of wandering as a very clear indicator that God is about to do something important in our lives. When He takes us on the unfamiliar path to protect us from our own weakness, fear and doubt. He sends us somewhere where we must rely on Him completely… then boom….it becomes clear.

Have faith, He will see you through, I promise.

Written by: Justin Ludwig

New Years Resolution? Nah, I got Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Trust Beyond You

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I guess my question is, Do you believe? 

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Choose to Trust Him

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Dreams

​I had a dream last night….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

By Grace Alone

​Typical opening

  Laughing

     running

         ……doubt

Typical to the extent of understanding 

typical, becomes branded

   Transformed

Standard to a thumb

  Impressed on my character 

Toeing the line

    ….a flash 

 The dot suddenly in the distance

   Freedom to function 

Functionally dismantling 

Deafening silence…. obstructing the Truth

  Deeper deeper deeper 

Like gazelles 

     Once so free

         Rejoicing in ignorance

Basking in the illusion 

     one by one 

               they fell…..

  Blood stained reality

   Invisible to the sheltered 

     …horrors spoken

Experienced promise

     Monsters 

       …..the whispers 

If you have the ears, you know 

    Bedrock descends

deeper…… deeper 

  Weight is shed

     ….it’s so cold

Starving on only half the story

     Condemned 

          Helpless 

Lost

  Alone

        Confused 

Desperate!!!

  Acceptance…..

deeper and deeper 

      the chasm has no end 

Falling falling falling 

      the depths….

Where deep meets deep

  Sinking

      how far down will I fall 

Down down down 

….. Suddenly 

   Without recognition 

        Down became up! 

I don’t understand…..!

       What!?

            Why!?

                  Me!?

Faster I fall 

  Falling higher 

      Higher and higher

       Blinding light 

Fueling my ascent

Risen from the ashes

  by grace alone 

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Scream Love 

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

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

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

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

I Trust So I Wait 

What do I do

  What do I do?

     What! 

Frantic conflict

 Peaceful…… fear

   Terrified, but with hope 

Letting go …..

    I have to do something!

  ……”wait”

      Waiting

Accomplished only by the determined

  Attacks 

      Lies and pain

 Ensured so endured 

Truest test of faith

 …..waiting 

From my core …. I believe 

…. but he pain does not subside 

What do I do!

   Trust

I do, but……..

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

We Love You, Right Where You’re At

​Why is it such an uncomfortable topic, Christianity? 

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

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

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Why God Excites Me 

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

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

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

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

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

He is alive and active and I love it! 

Written by: Justin Ludwig

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 

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/ 

Trust His Plan

wp-1509728802651.jpgThere is this toddler, he is going about his day and comes across a paperclip. He sees this paperclip and wonders to himself, “What’s the purpose of this,  what can I use it for?” Then like a beacon of light, he notices two holes sitting at the base of the wall. It must seem like such a clear and obvious answer. It fits, so this stick must go into that hole. So he walks over and begins to place this piece of metal into the socket and out of nowhere, his dad runs in and smacks his hand and begins to scold him…..

I don’t know what must be going through that kid’s mind when the smack connected and the yelling started. I bet he wasn’t thinking, “My dad loves me so much, thank you for smacking me and yelling at me.” No, in the confusion and hurt he blames his dad, because he doesn’t understand. “Why would you do that to me!?” I hate you, you are so mean, I thought you loved me!”

This child was completely oblivious to the fatal mistake he was about make. A mistake that there quite possibly was no coming back from. Yet, it made sense to him; it fits, it’s here, this must be what I should do.  In the moment he cannot see that what his father had just done was save his child’s life, saved him from extreme pain…. he saved his child from destroying himself.

There are times in my walk with Christ when I feel like this child. When it feels like I am serving God to the best of my ability, but doors seem to constantly slam shut, my heart gets broken or I feel like God is depriving me from some blessing.

This toddler eventually learns exactly why his father did what he did, and only then can he realize what would have happened if he was able to do what he thought was a good idea.

When God closes the door on your dream job, trust Him. When the love of your life leaves you and you feel like your world is coming to an end, trust Him.

It is so easy when we don’t get what we want, when we want it, how we want it to turn on God. To blame God for withholding our blessings, or to come to the conclusion that He doesn’t love us and that’s why He stopped us from achieving our goal.

Time and time again, when I look back over my life I am amazed at what He saved me from, and I had no clue that I needed saving.

No matter what, trust Him. Because He is trustworthy and one day it will all become clear.

Written by: Justin Ludwig

God Will Cover the Impossible, Just Get Back Up

​It is so easy to become overwhelmed by our situation. It is so easy for the burdens of our trials, the shackles of our shortcomings, or the illusion of hopelessness to blanket us.

  I have seen and experienced many amazing things with and from God. I have been touched by God in ways that changed everything….. I have felt His power. But to be honest,  I still catch myself at times believing that God is not enough.

With the pain of loss, the continuous consequences of past sins crashing over me day after day, year after year, I sometimes find myself feeling defeated. I find myself suddenly feeling out of control. So tired of trying to fight the good fight that I can’t seem to summon the strength, the drive, or desire to even want to stand up again and keep going. These feelings of doubt and defeat well up in me more often than I care to admit. And when they do, I feel heavy, I feel flooded with a hopeless feeling that things won’t work out…. that I am kidding myself and I need to just give up. This morning was one of those mornings, and without asking Him for clarity, He presented me with a passage.

“Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, He asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.” – John 5:1-9

This man was blinded by his situation. This man was consumed by his very real problems and his very real pain. I think it is safe to say we have all tasted a portion of what this man lived up until this encounter at some point in our lives.

“I have wasted my entire life, I don’t know any other way… I can’t change”, “You don’t understand how hard it is for me, there is no happy ending for me, I deserve this!”…., “I just can’t do it. I am tired of hoping, I am tired of fighting… I  give up.”

The Spirit smacked me I’m the face this morning with this truth. When Jesus asks this man, “Do you want to get better”, the invalid could only reply with why he couldn’t get better. All the invalid could see was the hopelessness of his situation. All he could see was the impossibility of his healing, of change in his situation.

In all of this man’s disbelief Jesus met him. In the incredibly painful, hopeless life that this man lived, Jesus has but two words for him, “Get up!”

It doesn’t matter if we cannot see any hope in our situation. In a life broken beyond repair, Jesus doesn’t ask us to fix it, to do better,  or to try harder. He simply wants us to trust Him enough to stand back up, so He can do the impossible for us. 

Don’t lose heart in your situation, just stand back up and keep following Him. And when you do, I promise you, He will come through for You, probably in a way you never saw coming.

He is trustworthy, He is good and He is capable. My prayer is that every one of us will never forget that.

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

Written by: Justin Ludwig

He Has a Purpose for Your Pain

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There is always a motivator, an inspiration that is hidden within our pain, our trials and our burdens.

I remember when my dad died, God’s hand seemed to be in everything. From divine appointments, to the the healing that took place in our broken relationship that would not have happened if this painful ordeal had not taken place. The extreme pain and sadness of watching my dad wither away to nothing in such a tragic and slow way filled me with an urgency to increase my love for others. To watch my dad dying while not knowing Christ opened my eyes even wider to the truth of the importance of my witnessing, my ministry and my service. I found myself on fire for God in a way that I would never have thought as a result of such sadness and hurt.

I suddenly was overwhelmed with the fact of how important it is for me to share, proclaim and pray without hesitation or reservation. To share the love and grace of God now, not later.

God does not put these suffocating experiences, these painful trials in our lives for no reason… there is always a reason.

“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

Knowing this, and believing it with all of my heart to be true, I have been struggling to find my motivator in my present trial. I so desperately want God’s inspiring wisdom on how I can learn and grow from my kids moving so far away from me. My children leaving has left an emptiness in my heart that only a father who so desperately wants his children but cannot have them would understand.

This trial has been a heavy one for me and I have been seeming to sink deeper and deeper into this dark winding road. I have no doubt in God’s faithfulness, in His plan for my life, or His goodness. But I have been feeling thinner as the days of pain wore on with no revealed knowledge on what I am supposed to do with all of this.

I was praying to God the other day ,” I trust You Father, but I can’t see Your hand in this. Please reveal Your purpose for this pain in my life, help me to use it, for Your glory.”

Yesterday I got my answer. I was sitting in IHOP with my wife, overcome with sadness because I was about to fly home again after saying goodbye to my children. As I am sitting there eating my pancakes, the Spirit suddenly brought to mind the book of Hosea.

How God uses the relationship between Hosea and his prostitute wife to show him God’s perspective on how painful it is when you love someone so much, but they constantly cheat on you, leave you, and don’t fully commit themselves to you. Hosea was able to taste a fraction of God’s perspective, how much it grieves our Father when His beloved children don’t stay faithful to Him.

And that’s when it hit me…. this is God’s inspiration in and for my trial.

The extreme heartbreak of watching my children leave me time and time again is almost more than I can bear.  My heart breaks in ways that I simply cannot put into words….. How much more does God weep when we turn from Him?  How much deeper is the heartbreak of a God who loves us an infinite amount more than I am even capable of…. and then the Spirit whispered His response. “Let Me use you to bring them back to Me.”

He has put this pain in my life to remind me of how much He loves us and how desperately He wants His children with Him. He has allowed me to feel such extreme hurt to remind me that I have a job to do. To bring the estranged children of God back to His loving, comforting and saving embrace.

Why do I share this with you? I share this because it is so easy for us to be consumed by our pain and our trials. How easy it is to turn our painful situations into bitterness, anger and hate. How easy it can be to be consumed by hopelessness because God is silent in the midst of our sufferings.

What we as believers must remember is that God has a purpose for every single thing in our lives, especially the painful and hard ones. And if we trust Him in the pain, in the silence and in the hurt no matter what, the Spirit will reveal the purpose of that trial when the time is right and then it will become clear why we had to experience such hurt.

In you pain, loss, chaos or wandering never for a second be fooled into thinking God has forsaken you. He is silent because He is waiting on you to learn what He is trying to teach you.

Never lose hope, because He WILL reveal His purpose, and when He does you will be astonished because you will see that your trials no matter what they are, were imperative so God could bless and use you.

Stay the course my brothers and sisters. He will come through in amazing ways if you trust Him in the darkness and the silence.

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Defending the Faith, Standing Up For Christ

​A conversation with an atheist…

The very statement that you do not believe that the God that I worship to be real, is a contradiction in itself. Let me explain to you what I mean by that. Based on your statement, you recognize that I believe in God. A Being who is perfect in every single way, and that cannot possibly be improved upon. For you to be able to understand of such a Being but do not believe that He exists in reality doesn’t make any sense. Let me break it down for you. If you can understand of the God I speak of. And if you can comprehend the thought of a Being who is absolutely perfect, that cannot be improved upon. Then by the definition of your understanding of God, He must exist in reality, or He would be less than perfect, and could be improved upon. Because if something is perfect but does not exist, it would only be surpassed by perfection in reality. So if you understand the concept of a God that cannot be improved upon, then how is it possible for it not to be real, because that would be an improvement on the understanding you have of God.

To believe that everything in existence came about as a series of random events takes more faith that it does for someone to believe that God is in fact  the creator of everything. Starting with the obvious, I assume that you can understand that it is impossible for something to come from absolutely nothing. With that fact established,  when you push the course of time’s events back far enough, you eventually must come to a beginning. How can nothing, create everything? Then I would think the only rational explanation is that something had to exist before everything, outside of our understanding of time and authority. To believe that everything that has ever existed or ever will exist is the result of a random explosion that birthed everything for no reason, is ludicrous. Okay, say that I can accept that somehow scientifically an explosion would create all things, I would be forced to ask you, “What caused that explosion”. I mean this explosion took place before there was anything… how can that be?  

For a moment, let’s put aside the question of the very beginning of things, and let’s take a look at right now. If you believe that everything around us is the result of completely random events with no purpose or design, then I would like for you to look at a single cell. If you were to put that cell under a powerful microscope you would see what appears to be a little machine. All of the parts and pieces of this “random” thing working so intentionally, with such purpose and function.To look at our most basic of building blocks and to see that it works like a machine. Something that was intentionally constructed for a purpose.  How can random events produce such order? If we were to wait  3 trillion years, do you think it is possible for car engine to be created by nature? If enough random events happen for long enough is it possible for a piece of machinery to just be created?  

How can you explain the  beauty everywhere around us? How are we even able to understand the concept of beauty? Why is it that if you were to look at a painting of a sunset, and an actual sunset, that the real one seems to speak to you on a deeper level somehow. Like something in your soul is rejoicing, just because the earth’s rotation has caused the sun to not be seen for a few hours, just like everyday. But we see these things every day of our life, and they still speak to us, into us. To see such beauty, and for it to speak to you on such a level that cannot be expressed, shows that the world is pointing towards its Creator, Even if those that choose not to believe in God, experience something that they cannot explain, a connection with the world around them, a connection with their Creator.

 Now I would like to talk about us for a second. As humans we all seem to be built with the same sense of right and wrong. Whether an atheist, christian, muslim or scientologist, we all have a very similar understanding of what is right, wrong, good or bad. To murder is bad, but why is it bad? Yes if you get caught you will spend the rest of your life in prison. But what if you knew without a doubt that you would not be caught, would it cease to be bad? No, because deep down inside of us, the thought of a woman or a child being raped or murdered is offensive to everything that we are, why is that? We don’t have to be taught to be repulsed by these things, it is just who we are. To be in such agreement on the very concepts that guide who we are and what we do, that must lead us to realize that there must be a Law Giver who instilled in us the ability to differentiate between the two, otherwise why would we even care? Look at it this way, If there was no authority or law giver in a land or country, that would result in anarchy, correct? For all of us to have the same sense of what is good and what is bad, points without a doubt to one Lawgiver, who made the decision for us, otherwise there wouldn’t be right and wrong, because everybody would would choose differently, and if nobody could agree what what was right, it would cease to be right and it would just be. 
It seems that an atheist’s go to response for why they don’t believe in God, is it takes to much faith. To these people I say, It takes more faith to believe that He doesn’t exist.
Written by: Justin Ludwig

God Will Not Fail You

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 this pain was the only way for me to become the man I wanted to be. When my kids moved away from me, it hurt so bad…. 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, and that 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 at that moment God was about to change everything. 

This is as much a reminder to myself as it is to you… He will come through, and in a way you will never see coming. 

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.

Thank You Father for being so perfect… so trustworthy

“As for God, His way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him” -Ps 18:30

“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

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Your Have the Power, Trust Him

​Every day I listen to Christians. Some speak of love, some speak of judgement. But one thing I have heard time and time again, is this,

“Oh I wish I had the gift of healing, but I am no Todd White or Heidi Baker. I can’t evangelize like Kim Walker or Will Hart. That would be amazing to have such power, to have God use me in such amazing ways, but…..” 

and that’s usually where the statement ends.

Heidi Baker, Darrin Wilson, Todd White, Kim Walker, Will Hart, the list goes on and on. It seems sometimes people put these Christians on a pedestal, viewing them as the “extraordinary christians” who have some exclusive power or gift that we have no hope of receiving, let alone performing.

And with those doubts, we put the power of God in our lives in a box, cutting ourselves off from being used by God for these very same miracles, revivals, and ministries.

We as Christians have to realize that our doubt in the power of God is the only thing standing in our way from the miraculous. Our doubt is the only roadblock stopping us from being used in such a way that will blow minds, heal bodies, cast out demons and glorify God to the extent that He desires, by making the impossible possible so the world can see that this is for real, that He is for real, and that we are loved in such a way that we will never fully comprehend.

You want to know a secret about these “extraordinary christians”,  they are nothing special. Not to say that their faith in God or the things that they are doing are not extraordinary, because they are. What I am saying is that the gift that they received to be able to do these incredible things is the exact same gift that every one of us as believers has been given, the Spirit of God.

It is not Heidi who restores sight to the blind, it is God. It is not Todd who strengthens the legs of those who cannot walk so they are able to stand and walk after years of being crippled, it is the power of God, in him.

Do not limit what God can do through you…because God is limitless.  Let go of all the understanding and logic that this world has embedded in us from birth and know that God’s power is alive and active in you. 

 I cannot emphasis enough that you CAN do these things, if you believe in His power, love and faithfulness.

My prayer is for a revival of the Spirit, let’s step out on faith and get started!!

Written by: Justin Ludwig

His Message Will be Heard

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​I went camping with my wife up in the Sequoias this weekend. I woke up early, I walked away from the site and I sat on a rock overlooking a path. It is so quite, so empty, yet so full. I sit here in complete awe and humility at how incredibly rare and precious I am. At the same time I cannot help but recognize how insignificant I really am….  so I begin to pray, but I cannot. It happens sometimes, when I don’t even know where to begin.

I told the Spirit, “I don’t know what I want, I am drowning Lord. Drowning in my hurt, sorrow., it’s so heavy, Father”….. and I stopped….. “Holy Spirit,  I don’t know… please look deep into my heart, intercede for me.”

Suddenly the Spirit overwhelmed me with the awareness that I needed to just shut up and listen, of what I am never sure.

…so i became silent

As I sit here, still, complete silence all around me. I see a bird fly over head.  I don’t know what kind of bird it was, but it was small. It didn’t make a sound, but I looked up and saw him sitting on the top of a tree. He glanced my direction, then chirped.

His chirp caught me off guard because it echoed in the rocks, off the mountain side and through the trees. It was so loud but not abrasive whatsoever. It really caught my attention because the bird was so small.

Once the echo stopped I heard a response from a different bird.  Many birds seeming to have a response of their own to this lone bird’s cry. These ones sounded like crows or something. It’s caw was so gruff, so negative sounding.  There were so many responding at once, which made it quite loud as well. In the middle of these crows response,  I kid you not, the little bird looked at me again, then let out another single chirp…. immediately the crows squawking stopped…..

The bird stood on that tree top, silent after his two surprisingly loud chirps. Suddenly in the distance I heard a similar chirp, perhaps from the one he was calling…… he glanced my direction and was gone.

….silence.

In the midst of the silence, in the midst of the haters, the negativity or even yourself, listen for the cry of the Spirit. His voice will silence what needs to be silenced and He will say what needs to be said.

The cry of that little bird reminded me that no matter how loud the cackle of the world, or the silence of your trial. His voice will penetrate, if you ask Him to speak. And over all those who oppose you, the message will reach the one it is intended for.

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Trusting in the Valley

IMG_9380.jpgYou know what I love, those mountaintop experiences with Christ. When you are feeling on top of the world, the Son is shining down on you and everything is just as it should be, just like He promised. His presence is so thick in your life that you can almost touch Him. When we are swaddled in the comfort of His embrace, we simply cannot contain our jubilation for the Lord. And we scream from that mountaintop of the goodness of God, and we boast in how good and trustworthy He is.

But what happens when we come crashing down from that peak, and we suddenly find ourselves in that silent valley? What happens when the tangible comfort of the Lord seems to evaporate and is replaced with trial upon trial, burden upon burden… what then?

Has God ceased to be good when everything we hold dear is slipping through our fingers, and there is nothing we can do about it?

A passage came to mind as I was writing this that answers these questions perfectly.

Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray Him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless the Father has enabled them.” From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” –John 6:64-68

I can picture Peter’s reaction, the look on his face after hearing what Jesus had just said to him. I would even dare to say that in that moment,  Peter heard Jesus’ words as foolishness. And with his arms spread wide as if to say, “What!!? Are You kidding me!?

It never occurred to Peter to turn his back on Jesus, because where the hell was he gonna go? He, just like us, found eternal life, and he, just like us, found the Answer to everything. How could he turn his back, just because God didn’t give him the answer he wanted?

God’s answer will not always be the answer we are hoping for…. and that has to be okay. Because where the hell else are we going to go?

Things may not go the way we hoped, and that’s ok. When we stick with God we always know we are on the right track.

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Speak through Love, and the Spirit will Do the Rest

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I recently went down to Ensenada with some members of my church to build homes for the working poor and share the love of Jesus. There are so many things that I want to write about after this amazing week, but the Spirit is guiding me to one thing.

When I was down there, communication was a big hurdle for me since I can’t even pronounce “gracias”correctly. I had no idea what they were saying to me and it was very clear that they had no clue what I was talking about either.

On day two I was standing there, just soaking it all in. As I am doing this I notice a boy standing off to the side, if I had to guess I’d say he was 11 or 12 years old. This boy was looking at me very skeptically, or atleast it appeared to be skepticism. I don’t know if it was my tattoos that caught his eye or what, but it was a look beyond the normal looks I am used to receiving from a child.

I looked at him and smiled, knowing that we had no way of understanding one another, so we both just stood there. We, or atleast I had no idea how to proceed, so we just continued to look at each other.

There was so much that I wanted to say to him, but I couldn’t, because I didn’t know the right words… So I said a breath prayer, “Father, please use me”.

Then I smiled at him again, and this time his face lit up. Like he knew exactly what was in my heart. He ran over to me and we began to play, all day long. And the following day when we pulled up to the neighborhood I say Jorge looking around….. he was looking for me….  Of all of the people there; fluent spanish speakers, people with candy, and so many children his own age….he sought me out. It touched me in a way that brings tears to my eyes even now as I write this.

This week was a very real confirmation for me that it really doesn’t matter what we say in our ministry to the world. All we need is love, His leading and the Holy Spirit really does do the rest.

I share this with you to embolden you with the knowledge that you truly have a divine spark. To remind you that with a single smile you can give hope…. With a single smile, you can express the love and grace that otherwise cannot be put into words. And with a sincere gesture or act of love, the Holy Spirit will shout into the hearts of the broken,the hurt and the lost.

I feel that the biggest roadblock for many Christians not being willing to share the gospel and witness to people about Christ is fear. Fear of not having all the answers. Fear that they don’t know enough scripture to effectively witness. A fear that they may say the wrong thing and appear foolish. People that feel they are not qualified to witness because they are “such a mess” and someone more “together” would be more affective witness….

People, I am gonna drop some truth on you. You do not have the ability to bring someone to Christ. Only the Holy Spirit has the power to reveal the Truth and save that soul. You could have every answer and know every scripture,  but if the Spirit does not reveal the Truth, there is nothing we can do. It simply wasn’t His time. Our job as followers of Christ is to be raw, real, broken and motivated by love.

Then simply open your mouth and speak.

I have experienced this amazing reality countless times. A single random word with no apparent importance or a sneeze that triggered a memory to someone who was being witnessed to. I have seen and experienced amazing things. Watching the Spirit change someone’s heart right before my eyes… things that have strengthened my faith in incredible ways that can never fully be captured by mere words.

I share my experience with you in the hopes that you will read my words and believe. Believe that God will come through for You when you cannot possibly see how. That God Almighty wants to use you, and He will be with you every step of the way.

To the people who are afraid of what to say, Give yourself a break! All you need to do is love and follow the Spirit’s lead.

Don’t worry about saying the right thing. Just love, and watch Him do the rest.

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Photo from :ridgefellowship.files.wordpress.com

God is Beyond our Rational

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As God as my witness, the experience I am about to share is 100 percent true with absolutely no embellishment. Your mind may question my testimony but I cannot emphasis enough that what I speak is true, is real, and it changed how I viewed God, the Spirit and life, forever.

I suddenly had the desire to share an experience that changed me on a profound level. There are many things spoken of in the scriptures that can be hard to wrap our minds around. I feel one of these would be the topic of speaking in tongues.

I will be the first to admit, I did not believe in this act of a divine display of worship.  I am skeptical by nature and though I have faith in what the word tells me, I just couldn’t accept that this was lagit. My skepticism was to the point that I would actually mock my friends who had told me that they had or do speak in the divine language.

Nothing on this earth would change my mind, I did not believe……

Then one day, It was February of 2012, I attended a bi annual revival put on by Teen Challenge called Spiritual Emphasis. An entire weekend filled with worship, the word, fellowship, love and most importantly the Spirit.

It was the second day of the festival and I was enjoying the crap out of myself. God’s presence was so thick you could almost reach out and touch Him. The Spirit was flowing and I found myself underwater in worship, praising Him…… then something began to happen.

It began in my feet, a cold tingling sensation that I noticed but disregarded, assuming my feet were just falling asleep. As I fell deeper into worship I realized that the feeling in my feet began to rise. It was almost like their was a hole in the top of my head and someone was pouring water into me, filling me from the bottom up. It was so cold, yet so exhilarating.

I fell deeper and deeper into the Father’s presence, all the while this cold, shaky sensation continued to rise up from my toes, up through my calves and continued to rise. I had absolutely no idea what I was feeling or what was happening. All I knew is that whatever  it was, had such power, and I had no ability to stop it.

This sensation continued to rise within me, not in the sense of strengthening me, but literally, I felt like a glass of water being filled.

By the time this coldness reached my knees I began to shake. I was having a hard time keeping my balance, yet this filling of my body continued to rise.  Two of my friends noticed that I was starting to wobble, so each one put his arm around me for support, so I wouldn’t collapse.

I continued to worship, and the filling continued.

It rose all the way to the top of my throat and then stopped. It was like the “liquid” hit a barrier and could go no further. No matter how hard I tried, the feeling was trapped right in my throat.  I could barely breath, but I was not afraid.

I was so confused yet filled with a feeling…. Such a feeling that I cannot put into words.

Then I heard it, “Now Speak!”

I didn’t think, I opened my mouth and my throat suddenly released and I began so speak in a language that I did not know….. I couldn’t squelch the words that where pouring out of me.

Like an avalanche of syllables, they began to flow. With tears streaming down my face and my friends supporting my entire body weight, I was in a haze of divine ecstasy that I can only describe as a non sexual orgasm.

Then I collapsed.

Face down, overcome by the Spirit’s power. I felt someone lightly touch my shoulder. He said to me so softly, in a tone that gave me a sense of comfort I have never known.

He said “Thank You Father for filling this man with Your living water. I ask that You never allow him to forget. Never stop the flowing of Your precious water, Your power and Your presence.”

I arose seconds after hearing the voice, tears streaming down my face, and I  see my friend sitting there, waiting for me. Everyone else was gone, apparently I was on the ground much longer than I had thought.

My first words to him was an apology for mocking his experience.  All I could mutter after that was “I had no idea….. “I had no idea……”

I asked him, who was praying over me a second ago? He cocked his head in confusion and asked “When?”.

I said, “While I was face down drowning in His presence, who was praying?”

He searched my face, assuming I was making one of my stupid jokes, and then he said with a stone faced serious response,  “Justin, nobody was praying over you. When you collapsed you were alone up there.”

I experienced something that changed my life. God, in His mercy and grace decided to demonstrate His incredible gift to someone who didn’t even believe it possible.

This night was the night I lost all doubt about our faith, about our God and about His power.

Many are either skeptical of my testimony or think I am lying. To those people I am forced to ask, “What do I have to gain by lying?”

The Spirit is at work today as much as it was back in the days of the Apostles. I share this with you in the hopes that you will recognize that just because you don’t know, don’t believe, or dont understand does not make it any less true.

My story is for real, and my prayer is that you will open your heart fully to the power of God, and watch Him work in ways you never thought possible.

There is a power far beyond our understanding, and I welcome you, to stop trying to understand God by our finite perspective and simply experience Him.

My experience does not make me special,  because I didn’t do anything….. I simply let go and let myself drown in His presence.

Whether you doubt me or not doesn’t matter. It is true, and my prayer is that each and everyone of us, if even only for a second could experience the unexplainable ways of God like I was so blessed to experience. You will be changed, forever.

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,  so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” 1 Cor 2:4-5

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Photo from: Google Images

Rejoicing in my Suffering

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It has been no secret that my kids moving away has been really hard for me. The thought of not getting to see them very often upsets me ways I can’t even begin to put into words. Coupled with the death of my dad a couple months ago I have been feeling like I am suffocating, sinking beneath the surface back down into the darkness.

Today I was pleading with God for strength, wisdom and encouragement. I have been praying this for awhile with no real relief. But this time, the Spirit chose to answer me, with another question.

It was the weirdest thing, I’m in the back smoking and I hear Him, “Why aren’t you grateful?”

I say, “I am Father, You saved me from so much”, and as I begin to continue He stops me….. “I am talking about your dad…. your kids.”

All of a sudden it hit me, this is His mercy… this is His grace. It was inevitable that my father would die, but the Lord kept him around long enough to mend our broken relationship….

With my x wife being in the Navy, I knew it was inevitable that it would take my kids far away, but the Lord kept them here and helped me establish a loving and amazing relationship with my children. A solid foundation that we never had before….

What if these things happened 4 years ago? My pops and I so hateful to each other, my kids remembering a dad that loved them but was so broken he had to go away.

Suddenly the Spirit washes over me and I start to cry and I thank Him for giving me the chance, the time, and the ability to make things right, His way. 

Suddenly the Spirit says, “Now this is rejoicing in your suffering”

I kid you not guys, it was almost audible and it made me laugh as I sniff and took a breath.

It doesn’t make the hurt go away, because it hurts. But the truth the Spirit showed me was how lucky… how blessed I truly am to get the time I had.

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

Romans 5:3-5
“Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

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

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

Justin Ludwig

Writing by: Justin Ludwig

Photo from: http://www.bible-reflections.net/image/original/1856/on-the-road-marked-with-suffering.jpg

Mindblowing Prophecy Within the Names of the First Men in Genesis

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You may or may not know this, but names in the bible hold a lot of significance. It could be a character trait of this person, a plan God may have for them, etc. With that said, I wanted to share something incredible with you. Something so comforting and beyond human reason that the only response I can come up with is “Wow”.

In Genesis 5:3-32 it gives a brief genealogy of the first 10 men on this earth.  There was Adam who gave birth to Seth, to Enosh, to Kenan, to Majalalel, to Jared, to Enoch, to Methuselah, Lamech and then Noah. At first glance this appears to be another boring tedious list of names. But upon further study something absolutely amazing is revealed to us. The meaning of each of these men’s name are as follows…

Adam: man
Seth: appointed
Enosh: Mortal
KENAN :Sorrow
Mahalalel: the blessed God
Jared: Shall come down
Encoch: teaching
Methuselah: his death shall bring
Lamech: the despairing
Noah: Rest or comfort

So the genealogy of the first men on this earth by what their names mean is as follows.

“Man (has) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the Blessed God shall come down Teaching (and ) His death shall bring the despairing comfort”……

I don’t know about you, but this absolutely blows my mind.  Nobody had any idea how Jesus “the Messiah’s” salvation plan would play out. That is what must have been so devastating for the disciples when they saw their conquering Savior bloody beaten and dead…. apparently defeated.

How could they have known that His death was exactly the saving grace that God had planned for us from the beginning. It wasn’t until Jesus rose from the dead and the Holy Spirit was sent to us that it became clear.
And here it is, right from the very beginning, in a book written approximately 1440 B.C. which tells us exactly what God had planned for us from the very beginning.

This awesome truth brings to mind something that one of my professors told me once that really stuck with me. He told me “Justin, be sure you don’t miss it, God is in the measurements”.

Meaning, from something as tedious as the measurements of Noah’s arc to the seemingly endless genealogies, not to mention the mundane day to day routine of our daily lives. God is always speaking to us. If we wait and wait for the miraculous signs or a burning bush, we very well could miss something life changing… something life inspiring that is being whispered right into our ear.
There is no way this is a coincidence or a “setup” as some skeptics could argue, because there is no way Moses had a clue when he wrote this what God’s plan was, nobody did…..

Like I said folks, our faith is no fairy tale, it’s as real and true as it gets…. let’s be sure to live, love and act accordingly

Justin Ludwig

Photo from:http://myfaithnutrition.com/it-is-finished/

Be Careful What You Wish For

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All I seem to see are kids…..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The silence,  the “peace” is deafening.

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

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

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

Written by: Justin Ludwig 05-13-16

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