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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So low key, I didn’t even recognize….

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

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

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

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

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

Philippians 4:8

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

Justin Ludwig

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

I am referring to a revolution of the Spirit!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

 

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

Stop Doubting the power of God

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

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

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

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

Stop!!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

 

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

 

God won’t let go, Trust Him

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you hear Him?

  … “trust Me, I got you”

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

 

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

 

 

Warfare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Ludwig

 

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