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

Prayer and Action

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

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

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

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

“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. -Exodus 14:13-17

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

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

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

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

Written by: Justin Ludwig

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

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

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The Holy Spirit impressed something on my heart I feel I should share with all of you. Mark 5:1-20; Jesus has come across a cursed man. Possessed by not one demon, but a legion of demons.  The hold that they had on this man was so great that he was written off by society, exiled to the tombs, hastily forgotten, helpless…hopeless. The villagers didn’t know what to do with the man, they tried everything they could think of. Even when in desperation, they chained the man down, but his demons were so powerful and they would snap their chains. Unable to deal with him, he was exiled to the tombs to suffer in his torment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

I am referring to a revolution of the Spirit!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

 

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

Stop Doubting the power of God

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

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

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

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

Stop!!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

 

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