Only Jesus Satisfies 

I have chased a fix my whole life. From drugs, women to cutting myself, you name it. My whole life I was longing for something…. maybe some of you can relate. I didn’t feel right…  there was something missing and I just couldn’t satisfy that longing….. I didn’t know what it was that was missing, so I searched, and it damn near killed me

On my journey looking to fill an emptiness I didn’t understand, I discovered the Truth. And the truth is what I was longing for was God, and I didn’t even know it. In fact Jesus was the last thing I thought I wanted.

I have lived a crazy life; experienced the spectrum of emotions, highs and lows to a sickening degree and I am here to tell you that there is no better high….no experience greater than being in His presence and feeling His love. I’ve chased every fix and Jesus is the only thing that truly satisfies.

Don’t let the enemy deceive you… don’t let the illusion of worldly satisfaction distract you, it’s all a lie. Chase Jesus with everything you are and you will see for yourself.

He will complete you in ways you didn’t think possible.

“For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” -Ps 107:9

 

Written by: Justin Ludwig

So Much Joy, So Much Pain

​My heart weeps over the randomness of my recollections…..

The look on my dad’s face when his mom refused to see him on his death bed….. the look of pride of my father’s face when I hit a home run or did something that pleased him as a child. The look on my kids face that first moment we are reunited after 3 months of longing for each other… that pure excitement and joy! Immediately my mind is pulled to their faces waving goodbye in the rear view mirror driving out of my life……such heartache.

So much pain….. so much joy.

I try to focus on the beauty but the gut wrenching images always seem to taunt them, even if only slightly.

Our lives are a series of blessings, heartaches and adventures. The enemy will draw from our pain and remind us constantly…. I know he does for me. Constantly attempting to rob us of the joy that God has given us and the joy we have experienced through our relationships and our journey.

This is where action meets our faith. God is good…. God is awesome in fact and He will fill us with hope. What we must never forget is at the same time there is a very real enemy who is constantly trying to undo everything that He does. 

This is the reality of spiritual warfare in each of our lives. The devil constantly trying to remind us of the hurt… the times God did not give us what we wanted or when He didn’t answer the prayer that still causes us pain. A lyric comes to mind, “When you didn’t part the waters I wish I could have walked through, still I will trust in You.”

I speak now from a place of attack and sadness. Right this moment I feel the tears welling up because if the hurt and pain….. but we must remember the goodness of God. The blessing upon blessing He has rained down in our life. This is how we fight off these attacks from the enemy. We must not let the enemy rob us of the joy that God has already given us, and has promised to continue to give us.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” -Phil 4:8

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Soldier’s for Christ

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When I don’t feel God’s presence it freaks me out a little.The doubts, anxieties and frustrations intensify in these times and sometimes I wonder…..am I kidding myself? In an attack, I begin to doubt and second guess everything. This is a humbling thing to admit this but the truth is the truth. When I find myself either under spiritual attack or simply completely overwhelmed by life I try to think back to a sermon I heard once.

It was a true story about a soldier who was sent on an important assignment. He was a sniper and was going to take out some enemy leader behind enemy lines. This guy planned and studied for this mission for weeks. This planning was deciding the path to take to avoid the enemy’s patrols, exit strategies, his position for the assault and every other possible angle that could or would play a factor. After lengthy preparation the soldier was confident in his mission plan. He was going to crawl several thousand meters through heavily patrolled and fortified enemy territory to a spot he determined the best opportunity for achieving his goal. He knew his plan was not going to be easy. In fact he knew it was going to be painful and a real test of his commitment to the “cause” and his objective.

In the early evening this soldier began his inch by inch slither into position. He was rested, confident and vigilant. As the days of slow, inch by inch creeping wore on he began to weaken as fatigue set in. His stomach cramped, his lips were parched and the constant close calls with the enemy was wearing on his nerves. I would imagine sleep deprivation beginning to take its toll since he was in such a vulnerable position. I would assume he didn’t sleep much….. he was tired. When all of the planning meets the very painful reality of the mission…. this is where this soldier was at.

Then his mind did what I think most if ours would in the same or a similar situation, he began to compromise. He was 450 meters short the position decided upon earlier as their best chance of success….. this man was so tired, facing almost certain death and was convinced that he didn’t have to go the entire way to complete his mission…. he was so depleted feeling and it sounded like a good idea and was sounding better by the second.

Completely exhausted and running desperately low on hope he made the decision to continue on the last 450 meters to the original spot. The way he saw it, he had made this plan in the right state of mind. This plan was formulated after a lot of research, deliberation and thought. He recognized that if that was the conclusion that he decided on when he was in a right state of mind he would have to trust that decision. In his wisdom and training he recognized that he could not trust his own thoughts now that fear, fatigue and a dwindling hope was distorting his thinking.

He decided he would have to ignore every bit of fatigue, fear or exhaustion. He chose to disregard every shout of his mind to give up, that you can’t do it!  His body and mind had turned against him. He had to decide if the mission was more important than all of that pain and discomfort……

When we accepted Christ we had an encounter. Everyone’s story is special, unique and connected at the same time. Something happened that brought us to a decision that we are/we’re going to follow Christ. We saw the Truth and knew exactly what we needed to do….. then the months and years roll by. It seems to be one tragedy after another. Death followed by death… your children go away and you hurt. You lost your job or your entire life seems to be crumbling around you…… these are the times we MUST draw on the wisdom and strength like this soldier did. Every single one of us that made the sincere decision to accept and follow Christ is a soldier. We are soldiers for Christ because we saw the plan, in our sound minded discernment we decided to trust our Leader.

We cannot let the fatigue of our trials, disappointments, and pain lead us into believing the lie….

God is positioning us….He is using us, and if we continue to draw off His strength and persevere, we will succeed. The exciting thing is, we won’t know what that looks like, until we get to where God is calling us.

Trust in your decision to trust Him….. no matter how you feel. God is good and if You seek Him,  you will be reminded of that time and time again.

 

Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. -2 Tim 2:3

 

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

 

Stand fast brothers and Sisters. If you need prayer to help you persevere click the link and let me pray for you.

 

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

 

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Blessed to be Broken 

In the blink of an eye I am a thirty three year old man. I look over my life and shudder because of some of the choices I’ve made. I spent my whole life destroying myself and I had a bad habit of hurting others in the process.

I look back on my life, before I knew God and remember….I don’t ever want to go back to that place.

I have come to recognize my self destruction as a blessing. By this I mean, when I begin to drift from the path He has called me to, the darkness always comes back, and it comes on in way that I cannot ignore… When I am not seeking Him with all of my heart I begin to listen to tell lies of the enemy and they begin to crush me.

I thank God for my addictions, my depression and my past because it is only because of those things that I will never forget that I am lost without Jesus. Without Jesus I, you, we all are doomed to an eternity alone, without hope and without love.

For some, when they decide to turn away from God, they live a seemingly happy life. Blinded to the fact that just because they turned their back on God, doesn’t change the facts. They are able to ignore their fate because they have the pleasure of the world.

I am blessed, because I am broken

Written by: Justin Ludwig

Trust in the Silence 

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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

Why do We Love Christ?

​I am sitting at work, doing my thing and all of a sudden I was filled with such an urgency to write about Christ.

There is a conversation Jesus has with Peter;

– Luke 9:18-20 “Once when Jesus was praying in private and His disciples were with Him, He asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”

“But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?”(red letter)

I feel this question is the most important question every believer needs to ask themselves and pray about. We may think we have the “right” answers, or have heard moving or inspiring opinions from others which we have chosen to grab onto and make our own. Some can comb over the scriptures and have books of the bible memorized but have no real understanding of who Jesus truly is to them, in their lives.

How can we truly love Christ, appreciate fully what He has done for us if our faith, and our love is based on clichés? I am not saying that these clichés are wrong, what I am saying is we need to know why we love Him, personally and sincerely.

How can we fully love someone if we don’t know why we personally chose to love Him and to follow Him?

My prayer is that every follower will delve into their faith and ask the question, “Why do I love Him?”

This question will strengthen our faith, dramatically strengthen our witness/testimony and will cause us to fall further and further in love with Jesus.

Be blessed and seek more of Him!

Written by: Justin Ludwig 

Trust Him, No Matter What 

​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