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

When Footholds Dominate 

Despair so malignant

          doomed by those I love

        Responsibility
Selfishness infiltrating

           BLITZKRIEG!!!!!!

Inwardly overrunning an already exhausted defense

Breath labored
.. yet collected

Alternative means
merely seeking
..cryptic solace
Slower demise……
I don’t fucking know
I can’t take much…….more

I close my eyes
……waiting for the tide to come in

Wash me 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


Choose Grace

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The pressure had been building, my patience strained. So much has happened in the last two years….. Watching my father slowly be destroyed by the cancer that was taking everything from him little by little, until there was nothing left. My children moving 2000 miles away and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t changed me. I find it harder to breath these days. I feel like at any moment everything is going to fall apart and go away…. I find myself frantic, frustrated and trapped. Trapped in a cage of grudges and bad blood. Bound and gagged in the dark corners, festering…. feeding the destruction.

“Don’t let it go, you’re no punk”,  “You see, the betrayal has already begun, get ready”.

Constant whispers, encouraging me to hang on to the anger.

So subtle, so persuasive that I didn’t even realize that I was playing right into the enemy’s hands. Divide and conquer, so he can kill and destroy.

Then one day, BOOM, I recognize what is happening….. but it didn’t change.

I had secured such a grip on my anger, my fear, that recognizing what was happening wasn’t enough for me to just let go. I couldn’t, I wouldn’t…..I didn’t know how.

For months the pressure built, affecting my peace, my marriage, my joy. I’d be praying daily, “Father, take it away, I don’t want to be angry, I want peace! Help me Lord”

No answer,  no relief.

Then a week or so ago I was riding my bike to work and the Spirit spoke to me, “What are you waiting for?”

“For help Father. I can’t do it, I can’t be okay with this, I am not ok with being treated like that, I don’t know how to let it all go, Help me!”

He responded, “No”

Suddenly He brings to mind Exodus 14:13-16

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

Then the Spirit asked me again, “Now what are you waiting for!?”

This time the question pierced me to my very core. It was like God punctured a pin hole in the darkness that had blanketed me, and the light began to shine through, and I saw…

I muttered to myself, “It’s my decision….and I choose grace.”

I kid you not, In that moment it was like a weight slid off of my shoulders and I smiled…. I let go, because I chose to.

Grace is so hard, because nobody deserves it, but we so desperately need it. Yes to receive it, but more importantly we need to choose to live it…decide to give it.

Only then will we be free. Only then will we be able to experience all of what God desires for us, and from us.

Unity, peace, and love can only be obtained by demonstrating the amazing grace that each of us has been shown.

He will help you, but you must choose.

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Photo from: https://sojo.net/sites/default/files/blog/Grace_Dove-change.png

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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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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/