We All Have a Story, Here’s Mine

Jesus Pic

For as long as I can remember I was unhappy. No matter what I would do or what I would experience nothing ever seemed to take that empty hopeless feeling away. Which is probably the reason why I turned to drugs and alcohol at such a young age. I had found my place in this world, and that was tucked away, disconnected and simply trying to escape from how much it hurt to simply be alive. I won’t go into all of the details of how my life fell apart, but my addiction and self destruction cost me everything. Once my wife and kids left me I made a decision to handle the situation the only way I knew how. I was going to go on one last insane run and just hope that it killed me so I could just be done with all of the sadness.

I remember when I made that depressing decision. I said a prayer to a God I didn’t know and I told Him I didn’t expect Him to help me. I knew He felt the same way about me that I did. That it was my fault and I didn’t deserve saving. I remember thinking, “Who am I to ask for help, I deserve all of this.”

The days rolled on, chaos overlapping chaos until the pain and despair was all that I could see. I had receded into the shadows with no thought of making a change for the better… I had truly given up on myself and there was nothing stopping me from completing my lifelong run of self destruction.

Then one night like every other night I was driving. I looked in my rear view mirror to the twinkling of flashing red and blue lights. I received a 4th DUI which landed me with a felony on top of everything else that was going on in my life. I had no clue, but when that squad car door slammed shut, I had begun down a road that was going to change everything. That felony left me with two choices; I could do a year in state prison or I could go into some program called Teen Challenge.

Repeating similar patterns I decided to take the easy way out and go into the program. My plan was to do my time, play the part and get my felony taken care of so I could go back to my so called life. A month or so into this year long discipleship I was sitting in a worship service scanning my bible. I was just killing time more than anything else and my eyes focused on a single verse. I stared at it and unintentionally I muttered it outloud, “Be still, and know that I am God.” 

It was such a comforting statement….I just couldn’t understand why.

So I began to pay attention. I began to learn of a God so different from what I had thought I knew. A God not of condemnation but of neverending love and patience for me, for us. Not disgusted or angry with me like I once thought. Being a father myself, the love of a Father on the divine level really intrigued me and drew me in. Not being able to fathom how much God loves us opened my mind to the infinite.

Through that year with everything that I learned I was convinced. This sounds like a strange way of describing it, but I am a skeptical person by nature. The presence of the Holy Spirit was undeniable. But all of the study, teaching and experience that I was exposed to there showed me that our faith is not a fairy tale, that it’s real.

I graduated in 2013 and immediately got plugged into a local church which is my home church today. I joined a small group to get me plugged in, which evolved into me being the facilitator of an ongoing weekly small group so diverse and loving that my faith and love can’t help but continue to grow. In the last several years God had placed me and used me in ways I never would have dared dream.

I love to tell my story because looking back is when my faith is strengthened. When I am reminded that if all of those horrible,….just terrible, painful things didn’t happen to me, I never would have gotten to where I am at today. Each piece of the puzzle fitting perfectly into place. And when I recognize that God’s plans are so far beyond anything I can anticipate, understand or predict, I will be able to to remember…. to have the wisdom, “To simply be still, and know that He is God.”

“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God” Ps.46:10

Written By: Justin Ludwig

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 

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 

What Happened

Last call
     Heard from the virgin ears of a lush.    
           Tomorrow
   Somehow became today
            what happened?
         Defecation
    on your dreams
       your life
         your goddamn soul
   what happened?
      fuck poetic phrases
          I blew it
   …..now I wallow
        Not in pity
          In hate
            Self despair
        it’s tough, no fronting
    pointing the finger
… it’s always a suicidal finger
     at least…..
           at least
   I punish myself
I blew it
     …all of it

Written by: Justin Ludwig  between 1999-2012.

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

Running Out of Chances

Running Out of Chances

Soulless

       Soulless!!

           breath
I am dying too slow!!
     …my mind’s going faster….
blap blap
that’s  all I think
Always
               ALWAYS!!
tragedy
I think not
     I had all and every chance
I shit on it
oblivious
self deception
             no more
Mary echos
“you won’t come back one of these times”
It’s terrifying
     Real
          Here
Do I quit
Fuck You, Never

Written by: Justin Ludwig  between 1999-2012.

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

Constant Review

  Gazing the wreckage
            its entirety      
awestricking      Sickening
   amazing
how much I lost on my journey
        …..to right here
bedrock is nowhere left to hide
          the destruction
          easily avoided
looking back
   helpless
      I’ve…
              ……stopped?
           folding the fight
              all remaining
     reality checks
                     never ending
              stifling
humbling
my journey
saved from myself
is just beginning
if……

  
Written by: Justin Ludwig December 9,2011.

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

My Journey into Madness

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I pushed my mind past the brink, this was the journey I took into madness.

I hadn’t slept. Your mind hits a point when you push it too far. It fractures and reality becomes something else. In all of my years of pushing my mind and my body to this point I always said, “As long as you know you are crazy, you’re fine. Its when you think your fine that you’re in trouble .
Another morning, like the countless ones I have experienced. I hadn’t slept in days. I don’t know the time but it was early, I remember because it was dark, but the birds were beginning to chirp. I despised those birds. I am not really sure why, perhaps because it was the sound of a new day…..another day.
I walked into my kitchen and there he was. A man sitting in the corner. Across the kitchen next to the trash can was a man with his knees tucked under his chin. He was in a drab white jumpsuit of sorts. I didn’t know what to think, “You’re tripping Justin, you haven’t slept.
No stranger to hallucinations. When you push your mind past the brink, only then can you truly understand how delicate and fragile the mind is.
I began to cook an egg. I wasn’t hungry but I wasn’t sure the last time I had eaten and I was feeling quite drained.
He just sat there, he didn’t speak. I ate my egg quickly directly off the pan. It burned my hand but I didn’t register it because something was wrong. There was a man on my floor. I walked past him without looking him in the eye. I stepped past him and walked into my room and closed the door.
Unable to process this peculiar turn of events I suddenly realized that there were two people in my room. Females, both of them. I didn’t want them to know that I saw them. At this moment I realized that I was to the brink. At the threshold of losing complete control. I remember thinking, don’t talk to them. If I acknowledge them then that will make them real.

“Keep it together Justin, you haven’t slept .”

I was sitting there cross legged on the floor, listening to what they were saying. Based on their dialog it seemed as if they were nurses. They were studying my behavior, just like the many mental health professionals I had encountered in my life so many times.
Up until this point my experience had kept me just sane enough to know I’ve was tripping. The two women who continued to talk amongst themselves, and then something happened. Something that took a full on break from reality and made it terrifying….. the nurse told me to do something.

To those that don’t know, if you hear voices you are in trouble. If those voices begin telling you what to do, you are in serious trouble.

(This portion of my journey that should go here is unknown to me. It could have been 5 minutes or 2 days, I just can’t remember)

Journey continues…

Such confusion and awareness at the same time. Only six days and it had begun 2 days prior. I walked to the kitchen, God it used to be my home… no more. But this day was a different familiarity. I glance and she’s there, I don’t know who she is but I’ve seen her kind many times… too many times. I ignore her except for the occasional smirk. it can’t be helped, she’s funny. And I feel her fear,I walked away muttering to myself. Unaware that my journey to hell is just beginning. But to this day, I’m still doubting the outcome. Was my mind collapsing or expanding. Flash back to fast forward. I count six. I laugh and when I do I realized again I am talking to myself. FUCK!!! I scold myself I grab the phone feeling betrayed, confused and desperate. Anyone living the life knows that’s a treacherous combo and yet I am numb to it.
My pops gets back to the house and by this time I realize that my head is dropping fast. Not physically, I mean dropping off the grid. I thing since of my experience I got a fighting chance at…. surviving it. Rookie mistake.

My wife called and I started talking. So much pain, happiness, love I felt when that phone rang. I didn’t question it at the time, trying to ignore all the people, all the movement, all the suspicion. All I remember is me pleading to see my kids and “you keep talking”, and “i’ll think about it” were the only responses given. Most of all throughout the entire experience I remember “Bye” no love… no hope.
I glanced at my St. Jude pulsating to different tints and colors. At this point I’m not expecting of my hallucination or rejecting. I am just mesmerized.
In hindsight, this is when I lost control. Things stopped being funny to myself. Looking back they were never funny to begin with. They were me laughing at the wind and my mind breaking. The severity of my condition was exposed. After being convinced my father had brought the mental hospital to the house and ranting to my mother of this fact. I was out back smoking a cigarette and I saw it. A sign on the neighbor’s house. I couldn’t read it clearly but it was clearly there. My last ounce of experience I call my dad, explain somethings wrong and had him look to see if the sign was in fact there or i’ve lost my mind. I walked up to the wall with him slowly. My dad in front of me and as soon as I approached the wall the signs disappeared right before my eyes. I gasped. I then began to stumble back and as I did a couple feet, the sign became as vivid and tangible as life again.
“HOLY SHIT!!!” I laugh to myself. “Something is wrong pops”. I described my visions, inciting incase I lost consciousness to let the medics or whoever know. He yelled I’m not sure what. I can guess though. He did say trip in the room so I went. See weh I’ve lost my mind these 10 to 15 times this year I’m not confrontational… I’m scared and docile. I closed the door to my room and starting talking…They were there… at the time. i say to myself “ Ride it out man”, “ enjoy the trip” Lying to myself cause I was fucking terrified./ But I had to maintain. It got a little foggy and I was off in my delusion. I remember thinking and analyzing as I drifted further away. Not to sleeping, far from it. I was conversing with strangers, families, myself. I remember green highways, but only looking like freeways like the commercials I have seen for Tron.
But I stopped several times and explored.

It’s hard to place them chronologically or even put into words. But they happened then.
I was in a waiting room but it was a smoke screen. I just know there was no way out. Either a black diamond or a fat guy blocking the exit. The only other door led in. I opened it once and there was so much darkness I felt so humiliated when it opened. I didn’t open it again. I went somewhere else. I let go and I was gone. I just be I’m running out of return trips.

The confusion I recall from the first time is now recognized while it’s happening. But I lost control. I felt like I didn’t know who I was and the time bouncing from patient, to inmate to etc. Anybody either with no control or shut down. Horrible things I heard that made me jump from my seat but not wake me from my psychosis. At one point for a brief second I was a catatonic in Alabama or some southern state and a hateful woman was telling me “ She saw me do it, and that I was going to pay” She said that I touched a child and when I felt the gate it made me scream. You see molesters, rapists, to me, they deserve to die more painfully than any murderer. I thought my soul might be set in a mental petophile. I thanked God when my mind raced away again.

Written by: Justin Ludwig October 2011

I escaped my life of darkness, self destruction & addiction. Click here to read my story. http://wp.me/P7v0VX-14
Image from: http://static.tumblr.com/5a84fb5d87ad67ad472547869fa57d3f/fhumo5v/COhn91pu0/tumblr_static_93ieedl00w84g48k0kwggwow4.jpg

07: Living Merely Memories

07: Living Merely Memories

A time
    A time before this
A distant memory
    no longer reasonable
but a faded memory
they turn slowly
just for an instant
    then vanish
only echoes in my head
how could they
    why would they
wish it away
strange feeling
    ashamed… humbled
despair
0f what some ask   
    my life gone wrong
what I call hell
for my kids
    i must prevail

Written by: Justin Ludwig  between 1999-2012.

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

:Nothing Unanswered

Nothing Unanswered

        hurts to breathe

to move is worse

             like a victim of a curse

all alone

no way out

            fuck it all I want to die

Problem is my kids would cry

then ask mommy why did daddy die

He was sick, she would sigh

That’s the reason I can’t die

 Written by: Justin Ludwig  between 1999-2012.

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

Unyieldingly Heartache

: Unyieldingly Heartache

Uncertain

        what’s to come

   paralyzed in the past

               when devil ran rampant

hurt those few

                          the ones I love

…..my eyes  opened just in time to see everything slip away

I’ll never forget……

              they  drove away taking my heart with them

         no one to blame except me……

 

Written by: Justin Ludwig  between 1999-2012.

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

Blinding Hindsight

: Blinding Hindsight

there was a time I had it all

         now when I think, it makes me bawl

                          I had my dream

              I pissed away

              blind until it was too late

              Now all I have is self hate

              how can this have become my fate

                              she was the one

                               I let her slip

                                slip away

 Frozen in time

          ….. in time I cannot forget the pain

                          that painful day

I had to watch her, drive away

 

Written by: Justin Ludwig  between 1999-2012.

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

Solo Mutiny

:Solo Mutiny

Enemy infiltration

a double agent out for blood

               silently

                     methodically

                        it destroys the enemy

          if seen it will be too late

              conniving

                        manipulating

                             consuming with bloodlust

knowledge of his presence

………seen you cannot be stopped

                            cannibalism to a sickening degree

        Welcome to me, a puppet master

                               sadistically pulling the strings

every puppet dances

                   They dance with such shame, remorse and self-loathing

                                             two choices

               cut the strings and run or just dance the dance

Those that dance free…… we envy those few

For we still dance

Just not like you

 

Written by: Justin Ludwig  between 1999-2012, when sin, darkness and addiction consumed me.

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

Purified by Pain

:Purified by Pain

Unwavering conflict

        confusion

birth to a personal enlightenment

    a new perspective

       achieved only in the darkness

hiding in the wasted soul

Obvious

while the devil smirkes

I sit in agony

    FOR he took my life from me

now I remain

           Bound and gagged

Silent

          darkness

this is what I see

everything clear

What was, is or ever will be

all of it means nothing

        I’m helplessly shackled

remain bound

Until I’m not anymore

 

Written by: Justin Ludwig  between 1999-2012, when sin, darkness and addiction consumed me.

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

Delayed Sight Highlighting

    Delayed Sight Highlighting

Until it’s too late

           we the few won’t see

           why the things happen to me

All my gems were sold for free

Again And again

              in a frantic search

for those to blame

a flash

             Suddenly all I feel is shame

     confused at first

Now I, we

      the one to blame

              My God….. its me

 

Written by:  Justin Ludwig sometime between 1999-2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So low key, I didn’t even recognize….

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

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

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

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

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

Philippians 4:8

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

Justin Ludwig

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

 

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http://www.gotquestions.org/

It is important for every Christian to be able to defend what they believe in. Not in an argumentative or prideful way. But in a way that makes non believers doubt their own disbelief by hearing the truth, and strengthen our own faith in the process.

The further I dig into our faith, the more questions I ask, the deeper and more profound my faith and love for God becomes. Be that good Berean (Acts 17:11) and find the answers for yourself.  Know what you believe in

There are answers, I hope you are blessed by this awesome resource

http://www.gotquestions.org/

 

                                         Christian Apologetic & Research Ministry

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https://carm.org/

It is important for every Christian to be able to defend what they believe in. Not in an argumentative or prideful way. But in a way that makes non believers doubt their own disbelief by hearing the truth, and strengthen our own faith in the process.

The further I dig into our faith, the more questions I ask, the deeper and more profound my faith and love for God becomes. Be that good Berean (Acts 17:11) and find the answers for yourself.  Know what you believe in

There are answers, I hope you are blessed by this awesome resource

https://carm.org/

 

 

 

Photos from: carm.org, http://brentstrawsburg.com/making-apologetics-relevant/

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

 

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

 

 

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I was reflecting and praying on what the Holy Spirit was revealing and confirming in my life, and in my heart. I began talking with my wife and just letting out exactly how I was feeling. Why I am afraid and why I feel I am having such a hard time, and then in mid sentence I hear a whisper in my heart, “Remember”.

It was such a distinct voice inside of me that it stopped me in mid sentence. But I continued on with my feelings of being overwhelmed, and I kid you not I heard it again, “Justin, focus, remember”.

This time I stopped and my thoughts began to drift back. They drifted back to a time where the pain, the trials and the loss was all I knew. As I am thinking about this I began to remember how hopeless and fearful I was. I was convinced that there was no happy ending for me. I remembered exactly how it felt back then. I always felt like I was in a tunnel, so dark, so cold with no way out. I was bound and gagged in the darkness, with nothing but the promise of death to comfort me. I had given up on trying to find my way out of that tunnel years before…. I had written myself off as irretrievable.

Little did I know at the time but every single painful experience, every heart broken, and every loved one lost was exactly what I needed to get me where I am today… and all of a sudden I heard it again, “Now don’t forget”.

Then it all clicked, and the Holy Spirit tied everything together…. how I have been feeling, why I am truly afraid…. Suddenly everything just fit into place and I was able to see….. this is my role with God!

I must remember… I must remember that place in my life…. I must remember how all I saw was the hurt and pain, with no way out. Completely unaware that God had already set into motion years before a chain of events that would change everything. That I had to feel the pain of losing my children to be changed into the father that my kids needed and deserved. That I had to experience the hurt, pain, and sorrow of a broken marriage….of a broken life, in order to become the husband and man that I so desperately wished I was but had lost hope I could ever become.

This is realization I have had many times before but this time it slammed into me like I was recognizing this for the first time, and the Spirit washes over me as I remember…… He came through in a way that I never saw coming…..and He will again.

 

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago.” -Psalms 77:11

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” -Prov 3:5-6

“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

Justin Ludwig

Photo from: http://godrulzdownloads.blogspot.com/2009/05/crucified.html

 

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

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

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

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

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

I am referring to a revolution of the Spirit!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

 

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

Stop Doubting the power of God

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

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

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

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

Stop!!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

 

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

 

God won’t let go, Trust Him

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you hear Him?

  … “trust Me, I got you”

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

 

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

 

 

Warfare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

 

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

 

 

 

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

Justin Ludwig

 

Photo by: Google Images

 

 

Declaration of Truth

 

 

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I remember before I knew Jesus, how lost and hurt I felt. I was so desperately looking for answers, but found myself only discovering more questions. I had finally come to the conclusion that I was a lost cause and had no hope. I would hear things like, “You need God in your life” and “You need to put your faith in Jesus,” but those words meant nothing to me. They were hollow, cliché words that people seemed to say to me just because.

Like so many others in this world, I had a tainted view of who God was and what it was to be a Christian. I wanted nothing to do with a God that was going to remind me of how much of a failure I was. I just couldn’t understand how these “holier than thou” people thought embracing a God that I had no ability to obey, or even please, could change anything. Like so many others, I had closed the door on God because I simply didn’t know. I didn’t know that He wasn’t upset with me. I didn’t know how proud He was of me. I simply didn’t know the truth – that the entire reason Christ came is because I was a hopeless failure who couldn’t possibly obey God’s law, and it’s because of this that He died on the cross to save me from myself, simply because He loves me.

You see it everyday, Christians spewing hate in the name of God. The loudest ones seem to be the ones sharing about a God full of hate and vengeance, individuals who push people away from Christ by changing a God of love into a hateful and unloving deity.

This is exactly why it is imperative for us, as believers, to share what we have found. I don’t know if it is shyness or fear of judgment that keeps a believer from sharing about Christ, but it has to stop! The freedom, love, and the incredible hope that God offers is lost on so many people because they don’t understand, or even worse, they think that they understand, but are basing their information on the preaching of the proud, the ignorant, or the downright hateful.

Think about it – right now, this very second, there are countless people hurting, alone, and scared, with absolutely no hope, who want to believe and need God to save them from themselves; but they cannot, nor do they want, to follow this God that they think they know based on the rantings of people who have perverted the message of the unconditional love of God. These people need to know what you know. You don’t need to have scripture memorized or have all of the perfect answers. Just sharing with them the God that you know, the God that you have experienced and felt, the simple story of your life, and of who God is to you, will change lives. I am living proof of that.

Most non believers are firmly against who we are and the God we serve based on inaccurate and twisted information. It is up to each one of us to set the record straight, not by pointing fingers and telling those people they are doing it wrong, or to do it my way, but by simply letting them see firsthand that it is about freedom, not restriction; forgiveness, not condemnation; and, most importantly, that our God is a God of love, not hate.


Justin Ludwig