Passion and Hate

There is a thin line between love and hate….

Love consumes, so does hate

hate festers

Love does also

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

…..what is the line?

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

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

What’s the line?

I bet each answer would be different.

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

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

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

Be blessed and love well my friends

Bask in the Blessing

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

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

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

I praised God in that moment, and then all of a sudden I started thinking how much better it would have been if I had made it to the beach. In the first moment of brilliance I was consumed by beauty. But as soon as I began to focus on this fact all of a sudden it wasn’t as perfect anymore.

It was in this moment when Holy Spirit revealed to me the very truth that I write now. We must stop looking for what we want to happen and be grateful for what God gives us. We must stop envisioning what God’s plan should be and then be upset or disappointed because it went a little differently than we thought it should have.

I am not preaching because I feel like the number one offender of this. Don’t let the enemy’s lies or even your own plans blind you from the amazing blessings that are right in front of you.

Be blessed and love well my friends

Written by: Justin Ludwig

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

We All Have a Story, Here’s Mine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written By: Justin Ludwig

Every Response Matters

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

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

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

Be the blessing and represent Him well.


Written by: Justin Ludwig

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

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

Called to Love

Every Christian is called to choose love in every situation. We are called to forgive the unforgivable and to always put the needs of others before our own….. so why is it that so many people recoil when they hear the name of Jesus Christ or hear that I am a christian?

There are many different answers to this question depending on who you ask. Some have experienced a lifetime of unchecked christian hypocrisy. Perhaps they constantly saw Christians who spoke of the love that is God and then in the same breath had the audacity to claim God hates gays. Maybe it was those Christians who say that we need to love everyone and then they turn around to hate on their neighbor because of the color of their skin or because they have a different faith. Others may simply assume that we are going to try and convert them to our “religion.” They get figity and defensive like we are some sales rep at some high pressure time share presentation.

No matter what their reasons may be, we as children of God must recognize each one of these awkward encounters as an amazing opportunity to set the record straight. Not with long drawn out explainations of why you or they should be a christian. But by simply having the heart of Christ in everything we do.

The way I see it, how could anyone be offended at the mention of a faith centered completely around loving EVERYONE equally and forgiving everyone who wrongs us?

The only answer that makes sense is that they have an incorrect view of who Jesus is and what it means to be a christian. They hear christian and immediately they think of judgemental, hateful, two faced bigots who think they are better than the rest of the world.

They simply don’t know that everything that has brought them to such opposition of Christ is a lie. They have been blinded by the hateful and judgemental rantings of people who claim to be christians but turned a message of love into one of hate…. those who stand for judgement, not grace.

The world does not understand that these people do not represent Christ because Christ is love… Christ is unity.

Gay, straight, christian or Muslim, it doesn’t matter, we love. It doesn’t matter if someone wronged us so horribly that we may never recover, we forgive. These are the fundamentals to what it means to be a follower of Christ. And if each one of us lives these truths out, people will see that we stand for love, not hate, because God is love.

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 

Shame, Heartbreak and Broken

Where’d she go!?
    choking on my heart
Frantic to remove it
 Where’s that knife?
Wait…
    I believe it’s still in my back

NO RELIEF!!!

….. guilt trips
     Woes me!?…..
          NO!!
       I only blame me, same as you
   Rest easy princess
Still punishing myself
Take solace in my devastation
    Your help isn’t needed
   ……do you hate me so?
 did all the love dissolve away?
      leaving only a spiteful residue
    Though it seems you forgot
         Loyalty
     pain
        ME…..
If change was with ease
   I wouldn’t have lost my All
    I can’t help who I am
    I tried for you….
I failed.         
……   you gotta set me free


Written by: Justin Ludwig sometime between 1999-2012

The Conflict

The conflict of what could have been

Many landmines missed

        many precious moments too

         So much anger

    So much love

   …..what could have been

the picture perfect idea tattered and faded

   Distant but always with me

It’s not her I miss, it’s the idea

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

An outsider in every circle

    I….

 ….what could have been

this isn’t how it’s supposed to be

   this is how it had to be

It breaks my heart

  yet I am blessed

Written by: Justin Ludwig

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 

Want to Change a Life?  Here is Your Chance!

Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. I say this proudly and without hesitation to anyone,because He saved me from a living hell. He grabbed ahold of me and changed me…. I truly became a new person. I say it proudly because I am so grateful for what He has done for me, for us.

I write about my faith, my God, and my belief all the time. Right now, I want to put my faith into action and invite you. I want to invite you to make a real difference in this broken world, to affect real change. There are two links below which will take you to two donor letters that I wrote last night. They are for two ministries, one builds homes for the working poor down in Ensenada. I went down there last year and did it, and it was truly amazing, I share about it in the letter. The other ministry is sponsoring children to get their education. They cannot afford to go to school because they are poor, and they are poor because they have no education. It is a tragic cycle and this is also down in Ensenada, the level of poverty is truly heartbreaking.

I am offering you an amazing opportunity to love, in action and change lives. Please click the link and read my letters.

Thank you and God Bless

Baja Educational Initiative. Help End Poverty with Education 

Baja Bound, Building Homes For The Working Poor 

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So low key, I didn’t even recognize….

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

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

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

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

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

Philippians 4:8

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

Justin Ludwig

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

 

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

 

 

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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/

 

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