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

Grace & Warfare 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Today’s the Day, Seize It

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

           It’s not too late! 

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

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


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

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

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

IF YOU BELIEVE IN PRAYER, PLEASE READ THIS!!

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

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

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

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

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

Let me love you, let me pray for you.

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

Written by Justin Ludwig

Hate me if You Want, I Love You

​​I was standing by a wall before work this morning and I saw a woman sitting behind my office building. She was sitting in the dirt putting on her make up and cleaning her wounds. It was obvious that she was strung out on meth and homeless. She was sitting by the door I was going to enter so when I approached the door I turned to her and smiled. I said good morning and offered her my sandwich. She kind of laughed at the offer so I didn’t know how to read her. I couldn’t tell if she was offended or just smoked out, so I started talking with her.

She was tripping on how I had just woken up and was starting my day. She was asking me if I had my huge coffee with 8 shots from starbucks and some babble I couldn’t quite make out. I could tell she was being condescending by the sneer on her face and the tone in her voice but it didn’t phase me one bit. I could tell she just thought I was some yuppie trying to take pity on someone I viewed as less than myself. I laughed and told her no, but I did drink about a gallon of coffee this morning. In that moment I saw a look in her eyes saying, “You yuppie idiot, you don’t have any clue.” I recognized the look because it is the look I had often throughout my years of wandering.

I smiled and told her that I was stuck on meth, booze and anything else I could get my hands on for most of my life and that I had been clean for 4 or 5 years. This statement got her attention and she responded quickly, “Do you have a line!?” I smiled and told her again, “Nah, I’ve been clean and I’m not going back”, and she replied, “Well if you ever change your mind come see me and I will hook you up.” I chuckled again and smiled. I looked into her eyes and said, “that won’t be happening but if you ever want some Jesus or some hope you come back here and see me again. I told her God loved her and told her to be safe and went up to work.

I came back down an hour later to smoke and she was still sitting back there with someone else. I smiled and said hi and then went to my phone to mind my own business while standing next to them. I heard her begin to make comments to her friend about how I loved Jesus. Not in an inspired way, this chick was talking some smack.

They were giggling away making their comments and what I noticed was that it wasn’t bothering me. I am sitting there listening to her but not responding because it would have done nothing but escalate a situation that didn’t need to be escalated and I felt joy. It was so noticeable to me because I don’t do well with being disrespected.

I began thinking with excitement, “they are hating on me for Jesus, this is so awesome!” Then I began to feel so grateful because this persecution was nothing compared to what our brothers and sisters are facing around the globe daily….

I didn’t inspire that girl or have the reaction that is always hoped for when I witness, but I was still blessed because I was obedient. Our conversation could click with her a month down the road, 10 years or never…. that is not for me to know. But I was and am filled with joy because I was obedient therefore loving.

I may not have brought her to Christ but I showed her that not every Christian is what she thought, and I showed her for a moment that there is an end to addiction, there is hope and there is a way out

Don’t worry about the outcome of your witness… focus on your motives.

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Seek the Lost and Love Them

Holy Spirit impressed something on my heart I feel I should share with all of you. In Luke 8:26-39, Jesus had come across a cursed man. Possessed not by one demon, but a legion of demons.

The hold that these demons had on this man was so great that he was written off by society. Exiled to the tombs, hastily forgotten, helpless…hopeless. The villagers didn’t know what to do with the man and they tried everything they could think of. In desperation, they chained the man down, but his demons were so powerful they would just snap their chains….unable to deal with him, he was exiled to the tombs to suffer in his torment.

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

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

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

I am not saying that we should head down some dark alley looking for lost souls. I am just saying that He wants to use us. We don’t need to be afraid or over think how God could possibly use us. With a single smile or a word said from love, Holy Spirit is capable of changing the heart and life of a person otherwise hopeless.
Jesus has called us not to stand on the sidelines, but to roll up our sleeves and love the unlovable. It is our responsibility to remember the forgotten and give hope to the hopeless, in Jesus name.

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

Written by: Justin Ludwig