Sometimes in this life we are looking for signs. Messages from God clearly telling us if we should do something or not. I don’t know about you but I would love for God to give me a burning bush experience or some undeniable sign…. but it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes we have a hard time hearing God’s voice…. perhaps what we are asked to do seems more than we can handle.
So we wait for signs….
What if we simply leaned into our passion without reservation, knowing that God would come through for us?What if the only thing standing in our way is simply our lack of belief in that God is capable and will come through for us?
Think about it, He left the Israelites in the desert simply because they didn’t have faith. The Centurion whose servant was healed from being paralyzed simply because he believed Jesus could…… If we have the faith of a mustard seed we could move mountains….
Don’t let fear dictate your ministry, your path or your life. Learn to lean into your passion knowing that God will show up. And He will show up, because He is faithful.
Believe and then you will see
Written by : Justin Ludwig
The Spirit is always speaking to us, and if we are in tune with Him, the seemingly trivial events of our day to day life have the ability to reveal to us His truth. With that said I wanted to share a quick story with all of you.
Almost every morning when I get to work it is the same thing. I lock up my bike, I walk into my building and head to the bathroom to get myself situated to start my day. I open the door to the bathroom and walk in, expecting the motion sensor to see me as I enter and automatically turn the light on, and every morning I walk in, and that stupid light doesn’t turn on. I make it around 4 steps in complete darkness, waiting for something to happen, but nothing does. I guess I assume if I walk a little further or move enough the light will click on. Every morning it is not until either I simply turn towards the sensor, or reach out and almost touch it that the lights turn on and I am able to see.
I always laugh at myself and think,”Damn Justin, how many times are you going to do this? You know what will turn the light on, So just do that fool!” This is the Spirit’s almost daily reminder for me. Pointing out how ridiculous it is for me to stumble around in the darkness trying to figure things out for myself, instead of doing what I know will work, and that is simply to turn to Him to illuminate the way.
I smile every time I turn around and that light clicks on, because I have been guilty of this in my walk with Christ on way more than one occasion. I’m sure all of you can relate. We know what we are supposed to do, but for some reason, even though we know that God will help us and make things clear for us, we still sometimes insist on fumbling around in the dark, hoping the light will just turn on and show us what to do or where to go.
God is always right there, waiting for us to turn to Him, so He can shine in our lives.
Write this truth on the tablet of your heart. Accept His offer of love and guidance and seek Him in everything you do, especially in the trivial, and He will light your way.
“But in their distress they turned to the Lord God of Israel, and they sought Him, and He let them find Him.”-2 Chronicles 15:4
“Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually.” -1 Chronicles 16:11
“I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” -Psalm 16:8
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” -James 1:5
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” -Psalm 119:105
Written by : Justin Ludwig
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
Prayer is power. I want to pray for you!!!
I have talked about the power of prayer on so many occasions. In my walk with Christ I have come to recognize and understand prayer as much more than some ritual or something we do to make ourselves feel better when we are out of options. Prayer is a time we are able come before God with boldness, openess and sincerity. We come before God with our hearts laid bare and with hope. Knowing that He hears us, that He loves us and that He can be trusted…. But if we were to pause and ask ourselves, “How much do we truly believe in the effectiveness of our prayers?
If each one of us were to take a fearless look at ourselves and ask, “Down to my core, do I truly trust that He hears me? Do I trust that my faith is for real, that God is absolutely, unequivocally a reality and when I pray it does make an actual difference?
I don’t pose this question to challenge, judge or question anybodys faith. Being completely raw and real I will be the first to admit that there have been times where the doubts have crept in…. I had been deceived by the enemy before, just as I am sure you have.
Prayer is such an intimate and powerful experience….. we cry out to Him in our anguish and we request the desires of our hearts! We sing His praises when He blesses us and we ask for guidance in this confusion we call life.
I am here to remind you that the power of prayer is for real. We are called to pray for each other and to do so often, in private and in action…..
In my journey with the Lord I have seen prayers being answered first hand. I have seen people’s hearts changed over night in dramatic ways. I was able to experience the gift of toungues, which I didn’t even believe in until He spoke trough me, all because my friend was praying for me. I have experienced freedom from unbreakable addictions and afflictions…. I could list countless experiences that have brought me to this firm knowledge that prayer does indeed work; both practically and in ways that cannot be explained by the secular world beyond coincidence.
What we must realize is that the doubts will come from time to time. The enemy is working night and day to mess with our head. To try and cast doubt about God, about ourselves and each other….this punk is an influencer of self destruction and hate and is always trying to fool us into doubting God!
I want everyone to know that prayer the most powerful thing we do. I want each of us to know, down to our core the reality of our faith and the real power prayer has. I want to offer my heart to you. Below is a link to my prayer page which allows you to send a prayer request or praise report.
I keep all prayers is complete confidence and if you put your email I will email you a heartfelt and faith filled prayer so you know how I am praying so you can see God working. No tricks, no advertising…. just love, in action. Please feel free to get specific with your prayers, because when we pray specifically, we will be able to see God work more clearly and our faith will grow!
If you feel Holy Spirit tugging at your heart, don’t hesitate. Let me intercede for you.
Written by: Justin Ludwig
He replied l, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there and it will move.. Nothing is impossible for you.” -Matt 17:20
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16.
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
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.
Written by: Justin Ludwig
Grace…. 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
We have these periods in our life when our passion for God has ignited in a way that sets us on fire for Him. In these mountain top experiences it seems that every scripture is speaking specifically to us and God’s hand in our lives is so predominant that we cannot help but praise God and bask in the indescribable comfort, peace and hope that comes in these times.
Then there are other times in our walk….there are time when God seems absent….when it seems to be one disappointment after another with no end in sight and no counsel from God, no matter how hard we pray. These two ends of the spectrum are the reality of our walk with Christ.
A lot of people turn away from God when they find themselves in this silent valley period…. and I get it. When it seems like the darkness is consuming you and God seems to have abandoned you when you need Him most….
The question is, has God stopped being good because your life is in a difficult period?
The answer to this question, dispite how you may feel, is No. God never stops being good and never stops using our trials and struggles to bring about something incredible and beautiful in our lives.
This truth can be hard for people to grasp in the middle of their silent darkness, again, I totally understand it. Mainly because I have had my share of long intense valleys.
In these times, when God seems so far away, I focus on the fact that God is our Teacher. He is the best Teacher of all because let’s face it, He is God. And any good teacher wants to equip us. They will spend days, weeks, months or even years touching our lives, speaking truth and helping us in times where we feel confused or lost. They are there when we need them because that is what they do.
But when test day comes around, the Teacher is silent. He knows that He has given you all the tools and training you need to figure out the solution on your own. If He were to tell you the answer you would never learn how to recognize it on your own….so we struggle. All the time the Teacher is watching, hoping and silently rooting for their student to really understand what they have been taught
When you are in that silent period and God seems to be absent, you must always remember, He is not absent. He is merely silent while you put what you have learned into practice.
Don’t lose hope and never forget that God is incapable of giving up on you. If He is silent, He wants you to learn something on your own.
Trust Him in the silence, and you will see.
Written by: Justin Ludwig
I lived most of my life not walking with God. My life was consumed by addiction and self destruction. The love and faithfulness of God did the impossible and completely changed who I am today. My story really shows that with Christ, nobody is a lost cause.
The things God has done in my life and my heart….the divine appointments, revealed knowledge and being slayed in the Spirit. Speaking in tongues when I didn’t even believe that tongues was for real. Answered prayers and encounters that touched me in ways that cannot be put into words.
I didn’t go looking for God, but He moved in my life in a way that could not be denied. I can say confidently that I trust God….. so why do I worry so much?
It’s a glaring contradiction in my walk with God that I became aware of over the last several years. It’s something that I have struggled with, I am sure some of you can relate. I trust God, yet I stress over the what ifs. I worry about what’s going to happen or I get bogged down by regret. It is not until recently that Holy Spirit moved inside of me and revealed something to me that couldn’t truly penetrate my heart without His help.
He simply whispered, “Just let go”.
In that moment, It was like I was hearing those words for the first time. In that moment I felt a weight slide off as I made a conscious choice to let go and trust that He will make something beautiful out of this. It somehow made more sense than it did before, it was somehow much clearer.
It can be so hard to let go of our circumstance, whatever it may be, and trust enough to leave it completely up to God…..but He is trustworthy, He is alive and active and will show up for us. We just need to let go and watch Him work.
God bless you guys. If you need any prayer I would love to intercede for you. This link will take you to my prayer page. Be Blessed
Written by :Justin Ludwig
God believes in you more than you believe in yourself. Trust Him no matter how much you doubt yourself and He will raise you up to the potential He knows you have.
Let go and trust Him
Written by: Justin Ludwig
A pressure in my chest
It’s what gets me the most
As I blink it all shifts
Hopelessness and dread take form
….”this is forever”
To be aware of the lie but under it’s spell can be trying
Choose to trust…..just because
Written by: Justin Ludwig
Awakened by my thoughts
Thoughts of what’s in store
Do they miss me
Do they want me
…..I can’t wait to hold them
So much to say…
Ends up in babble
So much love…..
My thoughts keep me awake
Do they know
It’s the little things
A quarter in this time is significant
…..do they know I long for them
Hours until I see them
….. I am afraid
Afraid of them not knowing
Written by: Justin Ludwig
The times in our life when we feel like we are wandering in the desert can be the most discouraging. When God’s voice is silent and we have no idea what is going on or what is going to happen. We look back over our faith and wondering how we got to this place….
“Did I take a wrong turn?”, “Did God bail on me?” It is in these times when our faith is tested. When there is no end in sight and all we seem to have is a promise that He will see us through, even though our hope seems to be rapidly dissipating.
If you look in Exodus, you will see a story of God’s people who were promised freedom, a nation and a life beyond anything they dare hope or dream. God told them not to take the familiar route out of Egypt because when things got hard they would be tempted to turn around and head back into slavery….into darkness where it is familiar.(Ex 13:17-18) God knew that the road He had for them was going to be very hard and He wanted them to press on so He could fulfill His promise and bless them like He said He would.
I have come to recognize these times of wandering as a very clear indicator that God is about to do something important in our lives. When He takes us on the unfamiliar path to protect us from our own weakness, fear and doubt. He sends us somewhere where we must rely on Him completely… then boom….it becomes clear.
Have faith, He will see you through, I promise.
Written by: Justin Ludwig
You know, I was just thinking…. I was thinking of a man of faith who isn’t really recognized all that much, and that is Joseph, husband to Mary and step Father to Jesus. This man wasn’t married to Mary yet, they had never slept together and he gets hit with the news that his future bride is pregnant. Not only is she pregnant, but he is told she has been inpregnated by Holy Spirit.
I don’t know about you, but if I were Joseph, I would have a hard time processing that information. There is no way that he wasn’t even the least bit suspicious that Mary had slept with someone else…..
How easily Joseph could have bailed on Mary if he was a man without faith. For myself, if I didn’t know how the story played out….if I hadn’t had so many very real experiences with Holy Spirit I honestly don’t think I would have or could have believed what had happened.
But Joseph chose to believe…. he chose to believe that God was working and that He was more than capable of doing something beyond Joseph’s understanding….. what if Joseph chose to bail? Say he did choose to believe the worst, he leaves her and Mary dies not being able to take care of herself and as a result Christ wasn’t born.
It really is amazing if you think about it. A man who really didn’t play a huge role in the story was in fact crucial to it. If he did not chose to believe God past his own understanding, we could still be living in darkness, waiting for the Messiah that was able to come because Joseph believed. I don’t know about you, but I find that very encouraging.
Don’t be fooled into thinking your role isn’t important. If we chose to trust God beyond what we can explain, understand or feel, then He will use us.
So I guess my question is, Do you believe?
Written by: Justin Ludwig
The enemy’s lies are always speaking. Whether it be a personal spiritual attack or commercials on television, the voice drones on…..and if we don’t focus on Jesus, if we don’t seek the cross…..we can never be free.
We all have our battles; some feel too much, some not enough. There are Christians who are trying to leave a past behind, while some are desperately searching forward, looking for something.
Wherever you are, the Truth remains the same. Jesus will meet you, right where you’re at. The enemy will try and bombard you with doubts, with fear….with lies.
Never forget, it comes down to a choice. You have to choose to trust God. Anyone can trust God when His presence is thick and the blessings are raining down. But when you are in those dark places, where you feel alone, lost or abandoned…. choose to remember God’s goodness and never let go of the Truth… that He is incapable of failing you.
God is constant, God is love and He is not going to give up on you, hold a grudge or punish you. Remember that!
Take heart y’all, God has not forgotten about you! I know it feels that way sometimes…. when God feels absent, and it seems to come at a time when you feel you need Him most. Don’t let the enemy get you twisted. He will come through for you, just like He does for me, time and time again.
Your hope will be revealed, of this I have zero doubts. Just hang on, pray and love, especially when you don’t feel like it, and you will see. I promise
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”-Romans 8:38-39
Written by: Justin Ludwig
I remember the drive up to Teen Challenge, it was July 19th 2012. I was a man at the end of my rope. My addiction and self destruction had taken everything from me.
Once my wife took my kids and split instead of getting sober, I decided to give up. I dove headfirst into my self destruction until it finally put myself out of my misery….. but I just wouldn’t die.
With the sickening amount of drugs, alcohol and horrible decisions… all that happened was the pain got worse…. I just couldn’t die.
But the pain, oh the pain!! I cannot put into words. I would begin screaming in agony at random because the grief, sorrow and regret was just too intense…. I kid you not.
All around me, my friends were dying, going down for murder…. the life of “partying” was long gone….. but my heart continued to beat.
God showed up in handcuffs, and I didn’t even know it. God saved me by giving me a felony and sent me to a year long discipleship. At the time I had no idea He was working. It wasn’t until the third month did His plan begin to become clear.
Have faith my brothers and sisters. In your pain, in your struggles and your impossible circumstances, God is working on something. Every horrible thing that happened to me was crucial to get me where I am. I speak of what I know, and I know that God can be trusted.
Trust His plan, no matter what
He is trustworthy, I promise.
Written by: Justin Ludwig
What do I do
What do I do?
Terrified, but with hope
Letting go …..
I have to do something!
Accomplished only by the determined
Lies and pain
Ensured so endured
Truest test of faith
From my core …. I believe
…. but he pain does not subside
What do I do!
I do, but……..
Written by: Justin Ludwig
The writer of 2 Timothy was the apostle Paul. Paul was a man that gave his everything to God. Before Christ revealed Himself to Paul, he was known as Saul of Tarsus. He was born in Tarsus in Cilicia around A.D. 1–5 in a province in the southeastern corner of modern day Tersous, Turkey. He was of Benjamite lineage and Hebrew ancestry. He was a pharisee who hunted down, imprisoned, and even murdered Christians. He participated in the stoning of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, and was possibly the overseer of that execution. This was a man who would not tolerate any disrespect to God, which is why he hated the Christians in the first place. Saul, with all his murderous hate towards Christians, requested a letter from the high priest to present to all the synagogues in Damascus that any follower of Christ was to be imprisoned in Jerusalem. On his way to Damascus to present and in force this order, the resurrected Christ appeared to him in a flash from heaven, asking Saul, “Why do you persecute Me?” Christ in all of His glory revealed Himself to Saul as the Son of God.
It is a common misconception that God changed Saul’s name to Paul once the conversion took place on that road to Damascus, like when Jesus changed Simon’s name to Cephas, which translates to Peter. In actuality, all of his life he had the dual names Saul and Paul, which was custom in those days. The reason for the switch was because before Christ, Saul, being a pharisee and obviously very proud if his Jewish heritage, chose to go by Saul. Once he began preaching Christ to the Gentiles, he decided to change it to Paul since this was a name that the Gentiles were familiar with. Paul is an amazing example of the transformation Christ can have in even the hardest of hearts, and that His grace is extended to the worst of the worst. Once Paul’s eyes were opened to the truth, he dedicated the remainder of his life to preaching the gospel to the world. Paul was very intentional with his ministry. In 2 Corinthians 11 for example, before he lists the hardships he has endured for the sake of the gospel, he points out all of his qualifications as a Jew; bringing up his lineage and accomplishments as a pharisee, in order that they will hear what he has to say about Christ. This is a man who was flogged 5 times, beaten with rods and shipwrecked 3 times, and stoned once. Paul was the greatest apostle by demonstrating his unwavering devotion to Christ under such extreme opposition. Not only that, but the grace and power that God blessed him with shows that nobody, not a single soul, is too evil or too far gone to be restored and renewed by Christ’s love, sacrifice and grace.
The letter of 2 TImothy was written approximately A.D. 66 or 67. Paul was imprisoned yet again in Rome for his preachings of Christ as the Messiah. This time though, Paul knew that his earthly mission was coming to an end and that he would soon be executed. This book contains Paul’s final words to his young protege Timothy, essentially passing the torch of leadership on to him. Timothy’s father was a heathen Greek and his mother was a Jewess named Eunice. It was Timothy’s mother and grandmother, Lois, who instilled such a strong faith in Timothy. Timothy heard the gospel from Paul on his first missionary trip in either Lystra or Derbe and believed the Truth. Based on Acts 14:6, Acts 20:4 and Acts 16:3, it can be inferred that Timothy was a native of Lystra, but that is not definite. On Paul’s second missionary trip, when he returned to Timothy’s town to preach again, Timothy joined him on his missionary journey. On this trip, they traveled to Phrygia, Galatia, Mysia, Troas, Neapoils, Philippi, Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessalonica, Berea, and Corinth, which is when Paul wrote the book of Romans. Timothy’s faithfulness continued through Paul’s earthly ministry and he was the pastor of the church at Ephesus when this letter was written.
After Paul expressed much love for Timothy in the opening of the letter, he reminded Timothy of the qualities that would be necessary for him to continue a faithful ministry of Jesus Christ: boldness, love and self discipline. He called Timothy to join his suffering for the gospel for the sake of Christ and to always use his gifts with boldness. He reminded Timothy to always keep to the truth and to keep his eyes focused on Christ. Paul challenged him to hold to sound doctrine, to reject error and to correctly handle the word of Truth. He warned Timothy of the opposition that he and other believers would face in the last days from self-centered people who use the church for their own gain and who will teach false doctrine. Paul told him to prepare for dealing with these unfaithful people. He reminded Timothy to follow his example by emulating his way of life, purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions and sufferings. Paul continued by articulating to Timothy the proper functions of the word of God. “That all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16-17)
In the final chapter, Paul gave a stirring charge to Timothy to preach the Word, be prepared in every season, and to use God’s word to correct, rebuke and encourage others, with great patience and careful instruction. He forewarned Timothy that in the later days, people wouldn’t follow sound doctrine. They would begin searching elsewhere for answers that better suit their selfish desires. He encouraged Timothy to keep his head up, endure hardship, and to do the work of an evangelist.
In the closing remarks, you can really see Paul’s loneliness being revealed, his feelings of betrayal, and his strong love for his brothers and sisters in Christ. I have always really liked this letter. I have a hard time with people. Since becoming a Christian, honestly I have had a hard time loving the way that God desires of me. Throughout this letter, Paul expresses and assures Timothy that he is going to encounter extremely hateful, selfish, wicked people who will seek to harm him and his mission. Paul’s instruction is not to back down, but move forward with love, patience and endurance. A man who had experienced so much pain and persecution, insists that God will deliver us, so we must love them in the hopes that they will come to the Truth. I guess I can only speak for myself but this instruction to Timothy might as well have my name in place of him because it feels like Paul is talking directly to me. When we are confronted by the many haters, perpetrators or instigators of our faith, we must stand firm in Christ’s truth, and always respond with patience and love.
Written by: Justin Ludwig
http://www.godvine.com/bible/2-timothy/2-18 Albert Barnes’ notes
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There is this toddler, he is going about his day and comes across a paperclip. He sees this paperclip and wonders to himself, “What’s the purpose of this, what can I use it for?” Then like a beacon of light, he notices two holes sitting at the base of the wall. It must seem like such a clear and obvious answer. It fits, so this stick must go into that hole. So he walks over and begins to place this piece of metal into the socket and out of nowhere, his dad runs in and smacks his hand and begins to scold him…..
I don’t know what must be going through that kid’s mind when the smack connected and the yelling started. I bet he wasn’t thinking, “My dad loves me so much, thank you for smacking me and yelling at me.” No, in the confusion and hurt he blames his dad, because he doesn’t understand. “Why would you do that to me!?” I hate you, you are so mean, I thought you loved me!”
This child was completely oblivious to the fatal mistake he was about make. A mistake that there quite possibly was no coming back from. Yet, it made sense to him; it fits, it’s here, this must be what I should do. In the moment he cannot see that what his father had just done was save his child’s life, saved him from extreme pain…. he saved his child from destroying himself.
There are times in my walk with Christ when I feel like this child. When it feels like I am serving God to the best of my ability, but doors seem to constantly slam shut, my heart gets broken or I feel like God is depriving me from some blessing.
This toddler eventually learns exactly why his father did what he did, and only then can he realize what would have happened if he was able to do what he thought was a good idea.
When God closes the door on your dream job, trust Him. When the love of your life leaves you and you feel like your world is coming to an end, trust Him.
It is so easy when we don’t get what we want, when we want it, how we want it to turn on God. To blame God for withholding our blessings, or to come to the conclusion that He doesn’t love us and that’s why He stopped us from achieving our goal.
Time and time again, when I look back over my life I am amazed at what He saved me from, and I had no clue that I needed saving.
No matter what, trust Him. Because He is trustworthy and one day it will all become clear.
Written by: Justin Ludwig
It is so easy to become overwhelmed by our situation. It is so easy for the burdens of our trials, the shackles of our shortcomings, or the illusion of hopelessness to blanket us.
I have seen and experienced many amazing things with and from God. I have been touched by God in ways that changed everything….. I have felt His power. But to be honest, I still catch myself at times believing that God is not enough.
With the pain of loss, the continuous consequences of past sins crashing over me day after day, year after year, I sometimes find myself feeling defeated. I find myself suddenly feeling out of control. So tired of trying to fight the good fight that I can’t seem to summon the strength, the drive, or desire to even want to stand up again and keep going. These feelings of doubt and defeat well up in me more often than I care to admit. And when they do, I feel heavy, I feel flooded with a hopeless feeling that things won’t work out…. that I am kidding myself and I need to just give up. This morning was one of those mornings, and without asking Him for clarity, He presented me with a passage.
“Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, He asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.” – John 5:1-9
This man was blinded by his situation. This man was consumed by his very real problems and his very real pain. I think it is safe to say we have all tasted a portion of what this man lived up until this encounter at some point in our lives.
“I have wasted my entire life, I don’t know any other way… I can’t change”, “You don’t understand how hard it is for me, there is no happy ending for me, I deserve this!”…., “I just can’t do it. I am tired of hoping, I am tired of fighting… I give up.”
The Spirit smacked me I’m the face this morning with this truth. When Jesus asks this man, “Do you want to get better”, the invalid could only reply with why he couldn’t get better. All the invalid could see was the hopelessness of his situation. All he could see was the impossibility of his healing, of change in his situation.
In all of this man’s disbelief Jesus met him. In the incredibly painful, hopeless life that this man lived, Jesus has but two words for him, “Get up!”
It doesn’t matter if we cannot see any hope in our situation. In a life broken beyond repair, Jesus doesn’t ask us to fix it, to do better, or to try harder. He simply wants us to trust Him enough to stand back up, so He can do the impossible for us.
Don’t lose heart in your situation, just stand back up and keep following Him. And when you do, I promise you, He will come through for You, probably in a way you never saw coming.
He is trustworthy, He is good and He is capable. My prayer is that every one of us will never forget that.
“May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” -2 Thess 3:5
Written by: Justin Ludwig
There is always a motivator, an inspiration that is hidden within our pain, our trials and our burdens.
I remember when my dad died, God’s hand seemed to be in everything. From divine appointments, to the the healing that took place in our broken relationship that would not have happened if this painful ordeal had not taken place. The extreme pain and sadness of watching my dad wither away to nothing in such a tragic and slow way filled me with an urgency to increase my love for others. To watch my dad dying while not knowing Christ opened my eyes even wider to the truth of the importance of my witnessing, my ministry and my service. I found myself on fire for God in a way that I would never have thought as a result of such sadness and hurt.
I suddenly was overwhelmed with the fact of how important it is for me to share, proclaim and pray without hesitation or reservation. To share the love and grace of God now, not later.
God does not put these suffocating experiences, these painful trials in our lives for no reason… there is always a reason.
“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
Knowing this, and believing it with all of my heart to be true, I have been struggling to find my motivator in my present trial. I so desperately want God’s inspiring wisdom on how I can learn and grow from my kids moving so far away from me. My children leaving has left an emptiness in my heart that only a father who so desperately wants his children but cannot have them would understand.
This trial has been a heavy one for me and I have been seeming to sink deeper and deeper into this dark winding road. I have no doubt in God’s faithfulness, in His plan for my life, or His goodness. But I have been feeling thinner as the days of pain wore on with no revealed knowledge on what I am supposed to do with all of this.
I was praying to God the other day ,” I trust You Father, but I can’t see Your hand in this. Please reveal Your purpose for this pain in my life, help me to use it, for Your glory.”
Yesterday I got my answer. I was sitting in IHOP with my wife, overcome with sadness because I was about to fly home again after saying goodbye to my children. As I am sitting there eating my pancakes, the Spirit suddenly brought to mind the book of Hosea.
How God uses the relationship between Hosea and his prostitute wife to show him God’s perspective on how painful it is when you love someone so much, but they constantly cheat on you, leave you, and don’t fully commit themselves to you. Hosea was able to taste a fraction of God’s perspective, how much it grieves our Father when His beloved children don’t stay faithful to Him.
And that’s when it hit me…. this is God’s inspiration in and for my trial.
The extreme heartbreak of watching my children leave me time and time again is almost more than I can bear. My heart breaks in ways that I simply cannot put into words….. How much more does God weep when we turn from Him? How much deeper is the heartbreak of a God who loves us an infinite amount more than I am even capable of…. and then the Spirit whispered His response. “Let Me use you to bring them back to Me.”
He has put this pain in my life to remind me of how much He loves us and how desperately He wants His children with Him. He has allowed me to feel such extreme hurt to remind me that I have a job to do. To bring the estranged children of God back to His loving, comforting and saving embrace.
Why do I share this with you? I share this because it is so easy for us to be consumed by our pain and our trials. How easy it is to turn our painful situations into bitterness, anger and hate. How easy it can be to be consumed by hopelessness because God is silent in the midst of our sufferings.
What we as believers must remember is that God has a purpose for every single thing in our lives, especially the painful and hard ones. And if we trust Him in the pain, in the silence and in the hurt no matter what, the Spirit will reveal the purpose of that trial when the time is right and then it will become clear why we had to experience such hurt.
In you pain, loss, chaos or wandering never for a second be fooled into thinking God has forsaken you. He is silent because He is waiting on you to learn what He is trying to teach you.
Never lose hope, because He WILL reveal His purpose, and when He does you will be astonished because you will see that your trials no matter what they are, were imperative so God could bless and use you.
Stay the course my brothers and sisters. He will come through in amazing ways if you trust Him in the darkness and the silence.
Written by: Justin Ludwig
God is not capable of failing us…. God is not capable of making mistakes… and He is absolutely, indescribably in love with us.
When my marriage fell apart it hurt so bad, the last thing I was thinking was that this pain was the only way for me to become the man I wanted to be. When my kids moved away from me, it hurt so bad…. the last thing I was thinking was that the excruciating pain of losing my children was exactly what I needed to become the father that I wanted to be, and that my kids so desperately needed me to be. And when I gave up all hope and I finally accepted that I was a lost cause, the last thing I was thinking was at that moment God was about to change everything.
This is as much a reminder to myself as it is to you… He will come through, and in a way you will never see coming.
No matter what your situation is, He is working…. No matter how far down you are, He is working…. and no matter how uncertain your future or present seems, He will come through.
Thank You Father for being so perfect… so trustworthy
“As for God, His way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him” -Ps 18:30
“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
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7
“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
Written by: Justin Ludwig
You know what I love, those mountaintop experiences with Christ. When you are feeling on top of the world, the Son is shining down on you and everything is just as it should be, just like He promised. His presence is so thick in your life that you can almost touch Him. When we are swaddled in the comfort of His embrace, we simply cannot contain our jubilation for the Lord. And we scream from that mountaintop of the goodness of God, and we boast in how good and trustworthy He is.
But what happens when we come crashing down from that peak, and we suddenly find ourselves in that silent valley? What happens when the tangible comfort of the Lord seems to evaporate and is replaced with trial upon trial, burden upon burden… what then?
Has God ceased to be good when everything we hold dear is slipping through our fingers, and there is nothing we can do about it?
A passage came to mind as I was writing this that answers these questions perfectly.
“Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray Him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless the Father has enabled them.” From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” –John 6:64-68
I can picture Peter’s reaction, the look on his face after hearing what Jesus had just said to him. I would even dare to say that in that moment, Peter heard Jesus’ words as foolishness. And with his arms spread wide as if to say, “What!!? Are You kidding me!?
It never occurred to Peter to turn his back on Jesus, because where the hell was he gonna go? He, just like us, found eternal life, and he, just like us, found the Answer to everything. How could he turn his back, just because God didn’t give him the answer he wanted?
God’s answer will not always be the answer we are hoping for…. and that has to be okay. Because where the hell else are we going to go?
Things may not go the way we hoped, and that’s ok. When we stick with God we always know we are on the right track.
Written by: Justin Ludwig
I recently went down to Ensenada with some members of my church to build homes for the working poor and share the love of Jesus. There are so many things that I want to write about after this amazing week, but the Spirit is guiding me to one thing.
When I was down there, communication was a big hurdle for me since I can’t even pronounce “gracias”correctly. I had no idea what they were saying to me and it was very clear that they had no clue what I was talking about either.
On day two I was standing there, just soaking it all in. As I am doing this I notice a boy standing off to the side, if I had to guess I’d say he was 11 or 12 years old. This boy was looking at me very skeptically, or atleast it appeared to be skepticism. I don’t know if it was my tattoos that caught his eye or what, but it was a look beyond the normal looks I am used to receiving from a child.
I looked at him and smiled, knowing that we had no way of understanding one another, so we both just stood there. We, or atleast I had no idea how to proceed, so we just continued to look at each other.
There was so much that I wanted to say to him, but I couldn’t, because I didn’t know the right words… So I said a breath prayer, “Father, please use me”.
Then I smiled at him again, and this time his face lit up. Like he knew exactly what was in my heart. He ran over to me and we began to play, all day long. And the following day when we pulled up to the neighborhood I say Jorge looking around….. he was looking for me…. Of all of the people there; fluent spanish speakers, people with candy, and so many children his own age….he sought me out. It touched me in a way that brings tears to my eyes even now as I write this.
This week was a very real confirmation for me that it really doesn’t matter what we say in our ministry to the world. All we need is love, His leading and the Holy Spirit really does do the rest.
I share this with you to embolden you with the knowledge that you truly have a divine spark. To remind you that with a single smile you can give hope…. With a single smile, you can express the love and grace that otherwise cannot be put into words. And with a sincere gesture or act of love, the Holy Spirit will shout into the hearts of the broken,the hurt and the lost.
I feel that the biggest roadblock for many Christians not being willing to share the gospel and witness to people about Christ is fear. Fear of not having all the answers. Fear that they don’t know enough scripture to effectively witness. A fear that they may say the wrong thing and appear foolish. People that feel they are not qualified to witness because they are “such a mess” and someone more “together” would be more affective witness….
People, I am gonna drop some truth on you. You do not have the ability to bring someone to Christ. Only the Holy Spirit has the power to reveal the Truth and save that soul. You could have every answer and know every scripture, but if the Spirit does not reveal the Truth, there is nothing we can do. It simply wasn’t His time. Our job as followers of Christ is to be raw, real, broken and motivated by love.
Then simply open your mouth and speak.
I have experienced this amazing reality countless times. A single random word with no apparent importance or a sneeze that triggered a memory to someone who was being witnessed to. I have seen and experienced amazing things. Watching the Spirit change someone’s heart right before my eyes… things that have strengthened my faith in incredible ways that can never fully be captured by mere words.
I share my experience with you in the hopes that you will read my words and believe. Believe that God will come through for You when you cannot possibly see how. That God Almighty wants to use you, and He will be with you every step of the way.
To the people who are afraid of what to say, Give yourself a break! All you need to do is love and follow the Spirit’s lead.
Don’t worry about saying the right thing. Just love, and watch Him do the rest.
Written by: Justin Ludwig
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There is an expression that I have thought and even said on more than one occasion and that is “I don’t want to be an adult today”.
It is a feeling that I think everyone could identify with at least at one point in their life. “I don’t want to be an adult today, because just want to go have some fun.”, “I don’t want to be an adult today, I want to just stay in bed and watch Netflix.”
But the reality of the situation is, when I feel like this, even though I don’t want to be an adult today, it does not change the fact that I am an adult, and that is just the way it is.
There is another expression that comes to mind that I feel is just as common, but rarely said out loud, and that is “I don’t want to be a Christian today.”
I will be the first to admit that I have thought and felt this on more than one occasion “I don’t want to be a Christian today because I wanted to call this person up and tell them exactly why I am pissed”, “I don’t want to be a Christian today so I can do “xyz””, “I don’t want to be a Christian today because I wanted to do what I wanted to do, and it just wasn’t fair!!!”
These feelings are not only understandable but they are a very real sign that we are on the right track. We need to recognize that these desires are not showing how weak our faith is, but they are reminding us that the Holy Spirit is right there with us. Otherwise the thought “I wish I wasn’t a Christian” wouldn’t even occur to us until after we satisfied our want.
People, just like being an adult, being a Christian is simply the fact that we recognize the truth…. and just because we feel a certain way does not change that truth.
I share this with you because our walk with God is not an easy one. In fact, it is damn hard. But you are not alone. Everyone of us has these feelings, and the devil gets off on telling us to keep it to ourselves, isolating us in our struggle, making us weaker.
This topic came to mind because of something I said to my wife the other day. To say we were on overload would be an understatement. It was one of those all too familiar days when I don’t feel God. I just feel the hurt, pain and stress. So many different things all happening at once, I just wanted to collapse. I walked over to her, put my arms around her and closed my eyes, just to catch my breath.
Then without thinking something came out of my mouth, “Being a Christian is so hard, when I don’t wanna be one”….
Those days, when we don’t want to be a Christian, are the moments when we need to cling to God with everything that we’ve got. Some days, all it feels like we are doing is barely hanging on…. and that is a beautiful thing.
Anybody can live for God when the blessings and comfort are just pouring down on them. But when we are under attack, and doubt everything that we have come to believe, we need grab onto God like a child who clutches onto his mother’s leg because he doesn’t want her to leave.
These are the moments we need to recognize as opportunities to strengthen our faith. These are the opportunities to let God show us that He can be trusted. When everything inside of us is telling us that we are justified to act a certain way, when we convince ourselves that God won’t come through for us… that God doesn’t really love us, that I might as well give up…
These feelings and thoughts simply do not change the facts.
Our head will lie to us, our feelings will shift with each passing struggle or blessing….
Sometimes when my head, my pain or my demons are screaming so loud, it is all I can hear, I have to force myself to focus on the truth that everything in me wants to disregard. That God is working, that He is not capable of failing me, and that I truly am loved by Him in such a way that cannot be explained by mere words.
I wanted to share this with you for the simple fact that I don’t want anybody to think that they are the only one. I don’t want anyone to think that when they have to force their faith on those days when we don’t want to be a Christian that they are a fake. Quite the contrary, in those dark times, when life is just too hard, I always remind myself, It is time to put my money where my mouth is, and let God come through for me.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” -Hebrews 11:1
“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
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” -1 John 4:16
“My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge.” -Ps 62:7
Writteb by: Justin Ludwig
I said goodbye to my kids yet again recently. After saying all I could say, after about a million hugs and kisses I closed the car door and watched them drive away. As I was watching them leave, all of their little hands popped up in the rear window, waving goodbye to me.
It’s a scene that is way too familiar to me. The heartbreak of knowing that my kids are going away…and there is absolutely nothing I could do about it.
Countless what if’s swirling in my head, consuming my thoughts. The pain, the fear and sadness… I simply cannot put it into words.
As soon as they were out of sight I went inside, straight into the bathroom and began to cry. As I am sitting there a lyric started in my head that I still can’t get out, and it goes like this,
“My Master told a parable once, that we should pray and not lose heart. When we face the corruption of life, He says come boldly, and trust Me.”
I kept repeating it over and over again, “Come boldly, and trust Me.” As I’m singing this lyric over and over again I suddenly stop… I recognized something within myself. A feeling that had no place in that moment of pain, and sorrow…. a feeling of excitement.
I almost didn’t recognize it because of all of the hurt. As I focused on this feeling lingering beneath the surface I felt the Spirit’s comfort as I realized…. He is going to do something with this.
It wasn’t a pep talk I was giving myself, reminding me to trust Him. It was more of a proclamation, a definite fact being told to me.
And in that moment I felt honored to be the one going through this. I felt humbled that my pain is going to bring about something amazing. It’s a slippery truth to hold onto because I have no idea what He is working on. It could be a blessing for my kids…. for me, or simply others will gain hope because they will see God coming through for me with all of this going on…. and I get to be a part of it.
..by no means am I saying that I am without fear…. I am not saying that this revealed knowledge squelched my pain and now I am great…. because I am not.
What I am saying is, I asked God to use me…. now He is. The question I have to ask myself is, is He going to drag me kicking and screaming or will I stand up and walk with Him, resting in the truth that He is good, always.
Never lose heart people, He is trustworthy
I remember about a month before I was set to graduate from Teen Challenge. Things began to happen for me. I was talking with my x-wife again, and it was looking like I was given an opportunity to get it all back. The wife, my kids, the family. It was everything that I had been praying for since everything had fallen apart several years before.
I recall thinking “This is it! God is awesome, and I love Him for doing this for me.” It was like my eyes had been opened to the grand tapestry that is God’s will. I felt so safe that God really was going to come through for me just like I had been learning about. Then I graduated and come out ready to start the life I had always envisioned, that I had always wanted…..
Needless to say, I was heartbroken when I got out and my dream was over before it had even begun. I remember having to leave the house to pray about that one. The reason for that, is when I am really upset and opening up to God the obscenities start to fly. I began to pray….and rant. I won’t get into the details but pretty much it all came down to one question. “WHY!?”
I wanted closure, I wanted love…. but most importantly I wanted an answer to that question that plagues so many of us. Why?
It’s not until recently that I received my answer. I was looking back over these last few years, not for any real reason. My mind was just wandering, as it tends to do, and I saw it.
It’s what is known as revealed knowledge, when the Holy Spirit makes something click. Something that you knew in your head but it simply couldn’t find it’s way into your heart. I looked around our house, I looked at my new wife, I looked at my kids running around the house playing with my new step daughter…. At that moment I heard God whispering in my ear “Do you see? Can you see it now? This is why.”
Unfortunately so many get stuck on the mindset of, “When I see it, then I will believe it”. But what those people need to realize is that it is the other way around. “When you believe, then you will see”. I urge you to look back and see how God has been working in your life. It really is a trip, several years ago, when my wife left me, I was homeless, jobless, friendless, lifeless. I never in a million years would have realized that all that pain and hurt was God loving me. That it really was the only way to break me, so He could save me. Only when I look back over my life can I see that He was always right there, guiding me to exactly where I needed to be.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”
Proverbs 16:9- “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps”
Written by: Justin Ludwig
Photo from: http://haridevote.com
I say it constantly, that prayer is power, and it is, but too often that is where it stops.
People lift up their troubles and fears with the hopes that God will just suddenly make everything better. What we as Christians need to realize is that a lot of times we must take action in order for our prayers to be answered
If you look through scriptures, this fact is played out time and time again.
In Exodus 17 when the Israelites are battling the Amalekites, Moses must keep the staff of God raised over his head in order for the Israelites to triumph, and when his hands fall, the enemies of God begin to win. In Joshua 6, they are required to march around the city of Jericho seven times and let out a cry of victory before the walls would come crumbling down so God’s promise would be fulfilled. And my personal favorite on this topic is the parting of the Red
“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. -Exodus 14:13-17
I could go on and on with examples but I think y’all get where I am going with this. Prayer is indeed power. The fellowship and council of Jesus Christ is the most powerful weapon that we can wield. But He is not a magic genie that will just magically whisk our problems.
Look, the bottom line is that we serve an all powerful God who wants to bless us beyond measure, but He expects us to take action, and sometimes yes, the action is to wait or do nothing.
If you feel like your prayers aren’t being answered, ask Him what He wants you to do. The hard part is, when He gives you the answer, and He will, you actually have to do it.
He will not solve all of our problems for us. He wants to use us, to bless us
When we put this fact into practice, we are able to be blessed beyond anything we dared dream.
Written by: Justin Ludwig
I was on my way to work today and I started to think about the disciples. How incredible it must have been to walk with Jesus, knowing that you were being guided by God Himself. These people gave up everything that they had ever known and held dear to follow Jesus, because they knew without a doubt that this Man was the Messiah. I mean the hope and encouragement that these people must have felt and experienced, knowing that they were walking, talking and learning from God Himself. Wow!
Then one night…… He is captured, taken into custody and sentenced to be beaten and crucified. I have know idea what must have been going on inside of the disciples as all of this is going on.
The word tells us how scared they all were; they ran, they hid, and Peter denied even knowing Him while He was still alive. Personally, I like to think that they still had hope, knowing that He was God., and that they were waiting for something amazing to happen…. but it didn’t.
Before everyone’s eyes Jesus took His last breath and died.
Can you image what they must have felt in that moment?
A tidal wave of hopelessness and fear just engulfing them as they gaze at their conquering hero’s body hanging there beaten, broken and lifeless. Their entire world crashing down around them before their very eyes, with the thrust of a spear.
Little did they know at the time, but God was about to change everything in a way that they never could have predicted or even dared dream.
In your darkest hours…… when all hope seems lost and everything in your life seems to be unraveling and falling apart, don’t lose hope…
God is about to change everything, in a way you never saw coming.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” -Psalms 27:14
“For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him.” -Ecclesiastes 8:6
Photo from: http://njomuad-thebeloved.blogspot.com/
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.”
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
“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.”
“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”
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.
“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
Photo from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/263460646924388572/
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
Photo from: http://www.parkerfordchurch.com/blog/2012/05/02/has-god-been-at-work/
The Holy Spirit impressed something on my heart I feel I should share with all of you. Mark 5:1-20; Jesus has come across a cursed man. Possessed by not one demon, but a legion of demons. The hold that they had on this man was so great that he was written off by society, exiled to the tombs, hastily forgotten, helpless…hopeless. The villagers didn’t know what to do with the man, they tried everything they could think of. Even when in desperation, they chained the man down, but his demons were so powerful and they would snap their chains. Unable to deal with him, he was exiled to the tombs to suffer in his torment.
Everyone was terrified of this man….. Jesus sought this man out. Everyone wrote him off as a lost cause. Jesus saw a man who needed to be set free…..
This is such an inspirational model for every one of us. We cannot turn a blind eye to the exiles of this age. We must not confine our ministry to that of our own comfort. There is a large world out there, filled with so many people without hope. Broken, lost, hurting and alone. The people outside of our comfort zone, so different or dare I say, scary to us that are howling in pain like this possessed man.
In so much pain, consumed by their demons…. How will they know what we know, unless we tell them? The homeless man, the convict, the orphan… Men and women bound and gagged in their sin, their pain or their circumstance.
I am not saying that you should head down some dark alley looking for lost souls. I am just saying that He wants to use you….don’t be afraid or over think how God could possibly use you. With a single smile or a word said from love, the Holy Spirit is capable of changing the heart and life of a person otherwise hopeless.
Jesus has called us not to stand on the sidelines, but to roll up our sleeves and love the unlovable. It is our responsibility to remember the forgotten and give hope to the hopeless, in Jesus name.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” -Matt 28:19-20
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
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.
Photo from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/180073685070830068/
There 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
Photo from: http://livingthejourney.com/2014/01/06/day-6-just-sit-down-will-you/but-god-ephesians-2/
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 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
Photo from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/299137600220402669/
Towards the end of my dad’s battle with cancer he lost the ability to walk or even stand up. While I was sitting with him watching TV, I would watch him struggle to lift himself out of his chair, just to plop down 6 inches away to the bed. I’d tell him, “Dad, just let me help you” But he would always refuse. At first it was his pride that prohibited him from accepting my help to do something that he “should” be able to do on his own.
As the weeks went on his ego seemed to become less and less important to him. His answer eventually changed from, “I want to do it myself”, to, “No way, you are gonna drop me!”
I’d laugh when he would say this, not because his fear amused me, but more because I didn’t know what else to do. I have never seen my dad so helpless…. so vulnerable.
One evening as he was struggling, he finally asked, “Do you still want to help me?”…. I’ll never forget the look on his face when he said that to me. His face was filled with such defeat…. Such humiliation, embarrassment and frustration pouring out of his eyes. No matter how hard he tried to play it off as nothing, the reality of his pain was like a kick right in my stomach.
I smiled at him, and said “Absolutely pops, I got you.”
As I stood up I heard him take a deep breath and say, “Man, you better not drop me”. I walked over and positioned myself so I was stable. I bent down and wrapped my arms around him…. I had such firm footing…. I had a grip on my father that I would not lose.
As I am lifting him up and all of his weight is under me, we were face to face, in my arms with his eyes locked with mine. Completely panicked, he started pleading, “Please don’t drop me!, Don’t drop me, I’LL fall, I can’t catch myself, don’t drop me!!!”.
The fear in his eyes…… I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
I smiled at him in the midst of his panic, with all of the peace I could muster. In his fear and without a thought…. without hesitation I whispered to him “I’ve got you, trust me… I will not drop you”.
Suddenly the fear melted away as he looked at me…. studying my face for a moment and said, Ok, thanks”
God’s got us in His grip. In the thick of our fears….. when life feels like it is slipping away and all that’s left is helplessness and pain. His grip on us is so tight…. His footing is unshakeable….
Can you hear Him?
… “trust Me, I got you”
Just like my dad, we hear these words, but the fear takes hold. The helplessness washes over until it is all we can see.
It is irrelevant how we feel, because it doesn’t change the truth….. He’s got us, and when the fear… or dare I say, the horror consumes us. We must study the face of God, and say “Ok, I’ll trust you”.
“For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.” -Isaiah 41:13
“They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.” -Psalm 112:7
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in You” -Psalm 56:3
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.
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.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
“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”
Photo from: http://hopevabeach.org/stand-firm/
As soon as I come to
The familiar dance
The deafening silence
….. I don’t dare cry out
What has changed, besides the day
it’s just his way
Stirring the pot
Whispering so eerily
“No, He’s not”
You’re kidding yourself
I know who you are
They’ll all go away
I told you…..
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
Photo by: Google Images
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.