My Characters Reject Me

As I said in my last post, I am focusing on a single story, which I refer to as A Conundrum and Shrapnel. I know I am going to be prone to distraction, so from a variety of stories I saved various warnings to turn away. Any time I try to open one of the Microsoft Word documents containing their story outlines, I will be hit with warning messages from my characters. These are the messages written from the perspective of my characters as they admonish me to focus on A Conundrum and Shrapnel and to avoid distraction by focusing on their different worlds.

From my super hero story

Ayuda Olock and Ardour—the heroes of the city of Aberdeen—commission you to stay out of their story until you do justice to A Conundrum and Shrapnel. With much love, A&A wait atop a brick building still warm from the hot sun of the day, a golden tail taps, claws scratch the brick, a grin and slanted eyes. Forming her brown hair into a ponytail, eyes fixed toward the street and the loud cars.
They’ll be here when you’re finished, God willing.

From my young adult fantasy story with kingdoms in the water

Harrison and Leonard are content knowing you must focus on A Conundrum and Shrapnel. God willing, you will return and explore the worlds in the water and bring the boys’ friendship into fruition. Until then, they wait with the key and look for a good-sized puddle.

From my dark science fiction fantasy story

Mar and her counterpart Maryland cannot proceed through their story until you have finished A Conundrum and Shrapnel. Please return to that steampunk world, and soon, God willing, you will return to this science fiction world and help these girls break out of lethargy and depression.

From my fiction dream world story

With gentle regards from Australia and France, Andy and Ivy request that you return to A Conundrum and Shrapnel as it deserves full attention before it can be finished. Their dreams can wait, God willing, you will return and so will Lola by the end of this story.

From my magical, culture-bound story

Silas has grown fond of wisdom in his old age, and he admonishes you to finish A Conundrum and Shrapnel so that you may serve God in a single, focused way. Silas and Red will wait for you in the Crooked Pass, but keep them waiting by all means. Each world is as large as the last.

From my mysterious, amnesiac fantasy story

Darla is surprised to see you at the bar. She knows you are not to frequent this place as you have business to attend to in A Conundrum and Shrapnel. Darla will wait at the bar with a Madras and sparkle in her dazed eyes. One must be patient while searching for love, you know?

From my imaginary fiction story

Snow and Zach are quite busy with their dancing and singing. Please come and join them after you have served A Conundrum and Shrapnel. They won’t expect you until then. God willing, their story of fear and hope will grow, and you can explore their world of spices and imagination when you’re done.

From my fantasy comedy story

Princes Quark and Berlin will not presently receive you. Please return to Kingdom Xapor when you have completed A Conundrum and Shrapnel. Until then, the twins are very busy with candle-making and chocolate deliveries. There’s no need to rush; Twisted Twine’s is always full of customers.

From my fairy fiction story

Why, you are firmly pursuing A Conundrum and Shrapnel, so your presence here is ill-advised. Please come back and visit Blueberry, Yacy, and Harrid when you have completed A Conundrum and Shrapnel, God willing. They’ll keep their wings folded back until you return, and then they shall be ready to fight for their species’ survival.

From my most recent fantasy dragon story

Hello, you are respectfully tethered and committed to A Conundrum and Shrapnel. Please come back and visit Saksa the bat and her world when you have finished what you started. With much love, God willing, Saska waits with terrible anticipation to explore this world of dragons and aliens.

From my cyperpunk dystopia story

Alex and her sister Florence are willing to wait for their reunion, as they understand you must devote your attention to A Conundrum and Shrapnel. Do not turn back to their cyperpunk world until you have served the steampunk world, and God willing, their story will be told, and they shall break the city’s evil grasps over the poor Sparks roaming about in Copper Press.

This may seem foolish or even amusing, but after writing this, I feel pains of sadness and anxiety in my chest. I know I can’t go back to these stories anymore until I’m finished A Conundrum and Shrapnel. It’s for the best, but it makes me presently miserable. I’ve come to know these worlds intimately; all of these characters are parts of me, but I know I’m just being sensitive. They’re not lost; they’re merely on hold. If I don’t do this and keep going the way I am, none of these precious stories will ever see their end.

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These Spiders

As a writer, I have more than one…too many really…story worlds in my head. Without speaking pridefully, I instead praise God for the gift of creative writing that he has given me, although an active imagination can be a burden to carry as well. For some time I felt spiritual urging to write a fiction story for God. But this was no easy task to choose one story and complete it.
I am, as I like to call, a story prostitute. I jump from one story to another whenever I feel the desire or when boredom comes nipping at my heels. I rather hate to stay on one story at a time because my mind travels through the various story worlds. I have been selfish though in not focusing on one story to the glory of God. I was at one time so torn that I prayed to God that I would dream of a specific animal and then I would know what to write. I chose various animals indicating different stories and options.
That night, I dreamt of a spider dangling from a web, and also I saw my dead grandmother. She wrote to me about an eagle. Both a bird and a spider were animals I chose, and this only further distressed me as they represented two different story worlds.
I gave up, really, and went on my way happily being a story prostitute because I didn’t know what to do. God is perfect in his timing, but I didn’t have an answer yet that I could see.
The truth is I’ve felt a considerable push toward one of my stories; the one represented by the spider, but I have avoided it because of the daunting amount of research involved and crippling self-doubt that I could do such a story justice…especially given my young age. I know so very little. What if my older self could write the story better than I could now? Because surely with age one learns more and becomes a little more wise. So I continued in my tenacious avoidance using this as a primary excuse.
But today, I realize this story prostitution must cease.
I attended church today with one of my room mates. The church was small…not even thirty people were present. I’ve never been to such a small gathering on a Sunday, and I judged the church because of this. My room mate and I normally attended a well-packed church twenty minutes away, but on this Sunday, feeling ill with a cold and pressure to do school work, my room mate said she wanted to attend this new church. New to me really as she attended it regularly two years ago.
The pastor focused on Joshua 23, which is a final speech to the elders of Israel from Joshua. He tells the people to follow God, and he will thus fulfill all his promises and provide for the people, but if the people go over to their enemies and intermarry with them and interact with them, then the Lord will turn away from the people and his wrath will be provoked.
The pastor spoke about distraction in people. How we gravitate toward sin and jump from one task to another without finishing any. I began to apply this message to my writing and felt convicted. The pastor admonished us to love God and serve him. Let our love for him be our motivation to finish a task.
If we are consistently spending time in God’s word because we want to follow his ways, because we love him, we will be exactly where God wants us to be. The pastor emphasized this, and he was right to.
“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.” Proverbs 3:5-6
The process will be long, and distractions will persist just like sin never goes away. Our life’s purpose is to love God and serve him. We must pass on our work and gifts to the next generation to help them mature and bear fruit. The pastor even mentioned the size of the church and how few of us there were. He mentioned that Jesus’s ministry began as small, but it grew into a large fellowship. Perhaps the same will happen to the small church, but either way, a message from God still blesses those who are present.
It is a strange thing to say, but I have often been comforted by the presence of spiders. Tiny little arachnids have followed me for years. I frequently find them in my bedroom or whenever I go outside. They roam around our house; I catch them and take them outside. Jumping spiders, wolf spiders, and tiny yellow or green spiders. I’ve even found them in my book bag at school, twice.
I think God was using them as a reminder to turn back to my one story. Maybe the spiders were there, and I just happened to notice them, but that would be a stretch because of how many I have seen during important moments of my life.
Still, the spiders are a comfort to me, and now I must go back to my steampunk story.
I must stay with her until she is done.

Better Than any Birthday

More precious than any birthday gift is the love Jesus has for me. He has helped me so much, and when I did not have friends, Jesus stood beside me. And when my panic attacks were terrible, and my depression was crushing, my God did not abandon me. I am thankful for him because he does not change, and he has saved my life.
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:17-18

No longer am I consumed with negative, anxious thoughts. I do not have to carry my worries about my health, about breathing, about passing out, about eating, or about physical weakness. I confess my sin of worry, of pride and control, and give these needs to the Lord. Instead of speaking negatively, I now try to only offer comforting, kind, encouraging words to others.

I feel lighter with the absence of depression. I am not perfect, nor cured, nor without fault, but I am able to drive, travel, spend time with others without being consumed with debilitating anxiety over my health or over the possibility of having a panic attack.

I can make plans for the future and live in comfort and peace knowing the Lord will be with me wherever I go, and when troubles come, or when I am in a contented season, the Lord will be my strength and protector. He has delivered me from all my troubles and fears (Psalm 34). He has given me strength and good health, comfort, peace, forgiveness and love. He has so generously given me all things (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
 your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” Psalm 36:5-9

I am still an addict to fantasy, even though I scarcely touch it, because the evil is in my heart. Even if I abstain from fantasy and imaginings, if I relinquished self-control, I would be a whore to my addiction again. The Lord is so good that he has shown me this wickedness and helped me to repent.

I am so grateful for his ever-present help.

England

I will write shorter posts from now on, as I want to say something important but with fewer words. Blogs are supposed to contain posts with shorter word counts anyway, but I did as I pleased.
In fall 2013, I became excited because two of my friends were planning on studying abroad in England at the same university during the same semester. Europe had always gnawed on my heart, some peculiar thing across the Atlantic, but now here was an opportunity to travel with friends. I was elated; fists squeezed and eyes wide open.
It was the perfect plan—I would go with my two friends, and we would have a most splendid semester in England, living together and traveling…it was such a dream. My fingertips were starved coyotes howling for food and digging vigorously into the dirt. This had to happen; I was sure of it.
The plans fell apart, of course, the university we were planning to attend did not have the classes I needed. I was excommunicated from the England trip, such an impossible dream. Gradually, my other two friends revealed they could not go for other reasons—a cousin’s wedding, and a sibling’s high school graduation. Only one of us went to England, and she visited her father’s family and took a Shakespeare class.
I realized something critical in regards to this studying abroad venture. But first, some scripture.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
“The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121

During the spring of 2014 numerous tragedies fell into my life—my health declined, my classes demanded a lot of work, my uncle committed suicide, my sister and I’s flower business was getting started, and my dad had a manic episode that lasted for two weeks.
Spring 2014 semester was supposed to be when I and my two girlfriends were in England. What if that had actually worked, and I went to England? My health would have declined far away from home, and the multiple doctors I needed to visit. I would have most likely needed to dropout because God knows I would have been having panic attacks like nobody’s business being away from home, taking classes, and then having health problems. I would have been away from everyone when I heard the news about my uncle Paul—when I heard such news I wept into my mother’s shoulder. My sister could not have handled the flowers by herself, and my dad’s bipolar disorder? That alone would have been enough for me to dropout and come home.
The Lord guided my thoughts today to reflect on this information. If I had gotten what I wanted, if I had gone to England, I would have been in a hell of a bad place to deal with all of these things. But instead, God had me stay at my current university where I had access to my family, where I was near the hospital and doctors I needed to visit, and where I was present during my dad’s mental health episode.
I had to see a Christian counselor for many weeks, get on an SNRI medication for depression and anxiety, and I had to stay home in relative peace and quiet for many weeks in order to heal from these terrible atrocities. I’m still dealing with trauma symptoms. Now I am in a better place, but that is because the Lord prevented me from going to England.
I am so grateful, Jesus. I am so thankful that I didn’t get what I wanted.

Flashing Lights

I am old enough to recognize normal dreams. Chasing “friends” with blurred faces. Beautiful forests rich with the pallet of autumn. Feral beasts with wings and blue scales. I can remember only a handful of dreams that were unordinary. I had such a dream last night.
Before I describe it, I need to be humbled. For many years I have struggled with an addiction to fantasy. I can listen to music and see full stories unravel in my mind. With a steady beat and haunting voice, I can delve into my imaginary world and create whatever realities I enjoy.
I’ll sit in a car, and with my earbuds humming in my ears, and disappear. It is serious daydreaming as I am often unaware of things occurring around me. I loved to imagine myself as a character usually in cartoons I watched on television. The reboot Cartoon Network series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was my favorite. It sounds like a harmless thing.
As strange as my addiction may sound, it is still an idol. I am tempted to do it even though it’s hurt me before. Even though it caused heart palpitations, vision damage, and euphoric overload of the senses resulting in a terrible headache, which left me shaking and crying, I still went back to it. No matter how much it hurt me, the most important thing is that I sinned against God.
People can become addicted to anything. We may joke about people being addicted to chocolate or drama or attention but sometimes this is actually true. I mean, food? An addiction to food? Who doesn’t love eating? It’s so easy to become unbalanced. It’s no wonder we’re all not addicts. And that makes me wonder if we all are…
Anyway, Peter has a few notes about these things.
“For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for ‘people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.’
“If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and, ‘A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.’” 2 Peter 2:18-22, referencing Proverbs 26:11
Sin feels good for a time. That’s why it lures us, and we lust for it. God knows we will sin, and He’s ready to forgive us when we confess our sins to Him (1 John 1:9). But we need to be humbled and confess our guilt. Repentance is turning away from the sin. If you keep pining after the same wicked behaviors, you’re worshipping another god.
And God said, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Exodus 20:4-5 are specific that we must not make an image of anything on the earth or from anywhere else, and we must not bow down or worship these false idols. Pornography and masturbation can be an idol. Beauty can be an idol. Anger can be an idol. Inactivity and laziness can be idols.
Satan doesn’t discriminate; he scrutinizes our weaknesses and hunts us.
I will describe my dream now.
Daytime, sunny, blue sky, warm outside. I was driving my Ford Focus with the window down, and my arm out the window. I felt the temptation to imagine a story using a song that was playing loudly over the radio. I didn’t recognize the song first, but then it turned into “WOP” by J. Dash and Flo Rida. This is a dance-y song, upbeat and energetic. Unfortunately, these songs are the most toxic for me.
The Holy Spirit spoke to me while I was being tempted. It said don’t do this. I answered back, “I’ll only be a minute.” I imagined the ninja turtles and a cat woman-like character in a black suit. She had a tail and ears and rode a black hover board through a sewer tunnel. She flew through the tunnel and past the turtles thus beginning some kind of adventure they would all embark on.
Earlier, the cat woman character had spoken to the Shredder who is the evil nemesis of the turtles. Something interesting was going to happen. While she was flying on her hover board, there was music playing from a small radio on her belt or on her hover board. A lantern lit the way as she flew as it was dark in the sewer.
This hypnotic beat took me down. I “came back” from my daydream and was driving my dad’s truck via the passenger seat. I tried to pull in the front entrance of our home but couldn’t because the road is usually too busy. I kept driving to make a left turn into the neighborhood and take the back driveway. The brakes were hard to use. I turned left. In my rearview mirror, there was a car and then behind that car was a police officer. His lights flashed blue and red; I felt my body tense up. I put on my warning lights and pulled over beside the playground.
The officer got out of the car and walked up to my window. He told me to stay in the vehicle. He came to the driver’s side window and talked to me, but I couldn’t hear him because of the radio. I frantically pushed the buttons and explained that this was my dad’s car, and I didn’t know how to use all of it. As I pressed the buttons on the radio, the stations switched from the WOP song to a preacher.
The officer told me I drove through a cow and split open its stomach. I also drove over a sidewalk. He said some more, but I couldn’t hear him. He seemed shocked and disgusted. I was in disbelief that this was happening to me. I felt so afraid.
And then I woke up.
For a few years, I have feared that I would have one of these musical daydreams while driving. I zone out pretty bad, and the terrifying thought occurred to me that I could hurt myself or someone else if this ever happened while driving. I’ve expressed this fear to God over the years, but after that dream, I felt thoroughly cautioned by the Holy Spirit.
I’m reading a book called The Prayer that Changes Everything—The Hidden Power of Praising God by Stormie Omartian. In chapter six, Stormie mentions a dream she had fifteen years ago. It had felt so real. Stormie was vague, but she mentioned being tempted into immorality. She hadn’t given into the temptation yet, but she had made the decision that she would give in. She rejected the Holy Spirit by allowing herself to be tempted.
I feel the same sense of wariness about my own dream. It was abnormal. When I woke up, I was surprised to see I’d been dreaming. I thought I was really being pulled over, and that I had done something terrible while driving. What if I had hit someone? What if I endangered someone’s life or my own life?
Dreams are usually nonsensical cocktails of emotions, memories, and desires. God used dreams to communicate to people in the Bible like Samuel and Joseph. I believe God still communicates to us in dreams, but be cautioned that this must be a rare occurrence. After all, the Bible is our guide. God gave us all we needed through that. Everything else must be cross-checked to the Bible because there’s no reason to think that Satan couldn’t deceive people through dreams.
Now that I’m writing this, I question my dream. Satan very well could have used the dream only as a means to frighten me and deceive me that a tragedy like that would happen. I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety, and why wouldn’t he want to make me anxious over something else?
But I don’t know this for sure. I do know that I still struggle with my fantasy addiction, and I want to repent of it. Thank God I am forgiven for all the times I sinned in fantasy, and thank God I am no longer a slave to sin.
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” Colossians 3:5
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:34
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45
“Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:34-36
“So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” Galatians 4:7-9

He’s not one for Sleeping

This is a continuum of my previous post in which I am exploring some of the lies Satan whispers in our thoughts. Do not be deceived; there are thoughts that can enter your mind but that do not come from within you. Some thoughts, in fact, any that do not align with God’s word, are lies from Satan; they are an attack on your mind. Reading scripture and surrendering to Jesus are the only ways to combat Satan. We are weak, but God is our Mighty Strength, and he overcomes the evil one.

I won’t accomplish anything.

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8

Notice that God does not want us to be stagnate. Our walk with Jesus is active and ongoing. God has graciously given us all things, but he is a righteous God. No one can sit around like a sluggard and expect her life to be any different. She must fight for her life to change.

            “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.” Titus 3:4

  “The wicked desires what evil people gain, but the foundation of the righteous is productive.” Proverbs 12:12

           See that life with Jesus is productive; we bear fruit. Apart from God we can do nothing good for God himself is all goodness. Search your heart and your thoughts; do you avoid prayer, church, or fellowship because you believe you can take care of yourself? Do you see yourself as totally self-sufficient and independent? This is not true of Christians, this was not true of Jesus when he was teaching on the earth. We must fully rely on God all the time. We are not meant to fight, strive, and toil without Jesus holding our hands. How do we rely on Jesus exactly?

We must meet the Lord in prayer multiple times a day. When the struggles in your life well up, you must stop and pray right during the moment because otherwise you’re not praying and by refusing to pray, you show pride. You’re saying to Jesus you don’t need him. It may be difficult to break away for prayer depending on your situation, but saying a quick prayer in your mind is perfectly adequate. Even if a prayer is no more than four sentences, that makes an incredible difference!

We must also read scripture to feed our souls with the word of God. Do not be foolish and stubborn because I promise you that if you neglect reading your Bible, praying to Jesus, going to church, and attending fellowship, you will be drained spiritually. Then when Satan attacks, you will be hard pressed and agitated. No one who is in God can be overcome (1 John 5:4), that’s in scripture, but you can be needlessly exposed to Satan when you don’t put on the full armor of God.

            “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.” Matthew 12:33, Luke 6:43

 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete….You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:1-12, 16-17

Anything that you request in prayer and that aligns with God’s word will be given to you. So ask for help! Ask for guidance, wisdom, comfort, joy, relief, strength, peace, anything that is good. Don’t sit in your suffering, but seek Jesus. Pray that Jesus would help you in trusting him, relying on him, and believing in him. Even if you pray about something that seems stupid to you, you’re obeying God’s word by praying and asking for help. Nothing you pray about is stupid. God never sees us as stupid. He doesn’t view our sin or our lives or anything about us as stupid. Sin is wicked and against God, yes, but because of Jesus we are saved from condemnation and judgment only when we confess and ask for forgiveness.

Even if you can’t think of anything to say, talk to God anyway about what your plans are for the day or what you’re thinking about.

Jesus has chosen you. Do not be deceived by Satan. You are loved. You are valuable. You are important. You are a sinner, yes, but you are forgiven. Jesus did not die for nothing. He died for you because he loves you. This is why the Bible is important to us; we need to be refreshed with the promises of God. You are protected. You are strong. You are good. You are forgiven. You are beloved.

Satan is not one for sleeping. He is a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). When he comes for you, and he will, do not be afraid. God says repeatedly in the Bible that we should not fear because God is in control. He will help you. You will not fight any battle alone unless you choose to. And if you choose to fight alone, you will fail.

And Also, He’s a Liar

Satan injects lies into our minds throughout the day. Here I have chosen a few troublesome thoughts and the relevant scripture that dismisses the lies.

I’m losing control.

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Galatians 5:16-18

Satan cannot cause you to want something evil and then be unable to resist it. God gives us the power and strength to resist any sin, and we cannot be cut off from God our Helper. The Holy Spirit will always fight and argue against the flesh and its wickedness. Instead of being blind and subservient to sin, now the Holy Spirit acts as a filtration system for sin; a sentry that blocks intruders from entering the gate. The Holy Spirit cannot be fooled by Satan for the Holy Spirit is in direct communication with God.

““No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20

You know what is right and what is Godly because of Jesus. You know God.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:22-24

God gives you the power to resist Satan and wicked things. Jesus has crucified the flesh so that you are no longer a slave to its desires.

“When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. ‘Sovereign Lord,’ they said, ‘you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them…’” Acts 4:24

Sovereign means above all things; God is above all things. He will not let us down.

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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.’”        Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus has been given all authority so that Satan can only do what God gives him permission to do. And God will not allow us to be overcome.

The Mind is a Battlefield

I’ve suffered a long time in sin. I’ve done the same stupid things over and over again. Come, let me disclose to you a most alarming fact: my mind and your mind are riddled with live landmines. Watch your step. Legs are important, and you’ll need them.

            I’ve begun reading a very important book. It is called Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. Believe me, I’m not one to swoon over a book and give it superfluous praise and endearing compliments. This piece of literature was hidden from me for too long. The information, the revelations, which it contains may at first seem obvious, but after reading you’ll be forced to examine the life you’ve been leading.

            Enter the battlefield.

            Meyer tediously explains that Satan attacks our thoughts. Our thoughts affect our words, our actions, our attitudes, our emotions, and our lives. Negativity and deceit can poison your mind so mightily that you lose control of your life. Meyer is careful to mention on page 60 that “Many people (Christians) will be in heaven because they truly accepted Jesus as their Savior, but many of these same people will never have walked in victory or enjoyed the good plan God had for their lives because they did not get their mind renewed according to his Word.” 

            It is beyond vital that our minds are renewed in Christ Jesus. Meyer offers scripture to support this renewal process. She adds that a renewed mind is not an attached gift to salvation. It must be learned and practiced and sharpened.

            “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

            Indeed, our circumstances are irrelevant. You can say this is the hardest time in your life. You can lament and say it’s beyond imagining. It’s truly the worst you’ve ever been off. I won’t deny you these statements. I believe you.

            But God doesn’t want you to face your enemy with depression, anger, stubbornness, fear, anxiety, or worry. God wants you to have the very best he has to offer. Remember the fruits of the Spirit, for they all belong to you.

            “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:22-24

            If you’re having trouble identifying sin, the Bible can help you do that too. Here are the fruits of the flesh, in other words, the fruits of sin.

            “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21

            Notice how there are far more sins you can commit then there are fruits of the Spirit, but the fruits of the Spirit carry value; the fruits of the flesh have nothing to offer. As Christians, we have all of the goodness of Jesus. Nothing is withheld from the children of God.

            “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32

            “Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” Psalm 34:9-10

            God wants to do more than forgive us. He wants us to have amazing, productive lives. Not too many days ago I wrestled in God with prayer. I had asked him if change is possible. So many people may escape their wicked addictions, but don’t they just backpedal? Doesn’t everyone relapse and go back to that which destroys them?

            I asked God if it was possible that I could change my life and stop being afraid all of the time. So many years I’ve been tormented by fear and worry. I do not exaggerate by using the word “tormented.” Most days I do not have a panic attack; I will only have symptoms of anxiety, which are still hellish. But what’s a panic attack, anyway? They’re harmless physically; it is in the mind that they cause mayhem.

            What is worst, do you think? Being unable to breathe, or spending every single day in perpetual fear of being unable to breathe? Surely both are awful, but it is this obsessive worrying that causes more pain than anything. If you somehow suffocated to death, this event typically takes under five minutes. But then there are the countless days you spent worrying about suffocating. I guarantee these worries have far surpassed the amount of time it actually takes to asphyxiate.

            I cannot explain myself, and why I worry about so many health-related things. I have considered calling myself a hypochondriac, but what sense is in that? My thoughts have been polluted by sin, and I am reaping from it.

            But, I will not live this way anymore. I refuse. God answered many prayers through providing me with Meyer’s book. One of the prayers I mentioned. Change is possible with God.

            “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’” Mark 10:27, Matthew 19:26, Luke 18:27

            Meyer says on page 20, “One of the best aids to freedom is asking God for a lot of help—and asking often. One of your weapons is prayer (asking). You can’t overcome your situation by determination alone. You need to be determined, but determined in the Holy Spirit, not in the effort of your own flesh. The Holy Spirit is your Helper—seek His help. Lean on Him. You can’t make it alone.”

            God provides us with the strength we need to change and lead better Christian lives. He gives us the strength we need to obey his commands and the wisdom to understand his Word. But we make the choice whether to obey God or to rebel.

            There is one last thing I want to mention in regards to Battlefield of the Mind. Sometimes it’s not just sin that binds our minds. Meyer takes note of wicked spirits that she refers to as “Mind-Binding Spirits.” On page 49 Meyer says, “I was miserable (unbelief always produces misery). My mind was sluggish and I felt as if I could not believe God no matter how hard I tried. Two days in a row I heard this phrase coming up out of my spirit: ‘mind-binding spirits.’ The first day I didn’t think much about it. However, the second day, as I began a time of intercession, I heard it again for about the fourth or fifth time: ‘mind-binding spirits.’ Although I was unfamiliar with that phrase, it made sense considering how I felt mentally.”

            “I knew from all the people to whom I had ministered that multitudes of believers have trouble with their minds. I thought the Holy Spirit was leading me to pray for the Body of Christ against a spirit called ‘Mind-Binding.’ So I began to pray and come against mind-binding spirits in Jesus’ name. After only a couple of minutes of praying, I felt a tremendous deliverance come to my own mind.”

            Meyer explains that she had symptoms of a spiritual attack: unbelief, doubt, laziness, confusion, misery, and mental sluggishness. Imagine Satan sticking his hands into your head. Your thoughts become snowy with static and it’s hard to concentrate or understand what is going on with yourself.

            Pray against these spirits because they are real even though you can’t see them. They may come back and mess with you every once in a while or very frequently, so be aware of the symptoms. If you allow Satan to have control in your life, then he will take control. He can’t take away your salvation in Christ, but he can steal your peace, your time, your sleep, your passion and so much more.

            Put on the full armor of Christ because you are in a battlefield, and the enemy is not people.

            “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s 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.”

            “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:10-18

            Just imagine if the apostle Paul, who wrote the scripture above, had allowed Satan to attack his mind. If Paul did not follow God’s plan for his life, then we would have a much smaller New Testament because Paul wrote the majority of its books. I can’t comprehend how many people Paul brought to Christ and how many people went out from Paul and saved others. Paul was a trailblazer.

            Truthfully, God sees us all as trailblazers, and even Satan believes this. This is why he tries to destroy us. Pray to Jesus to rise above the Devil’s schemes and it will be given to you.

I Fell Into Despair the way you Fall Asleep: Slowly, and Then all at Once

The interesting thing about sin is that it grows.

            “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:13-15

            You see? Sin grows. The scripture above makes it sound like a person, but to me, it likens that of a quiet parasite drifting along in your intestines, unnoticed. Unnoticed, that is, until you start having severe pain and come close to fainting, and then the doctor informs you that you’re infested. Imagine that for a moment. An infestation in your body that you cannot see. You see the effects it has on you, but the tormentor itself is hidden. Invisible.

            Sin isn’t all that invisible if you think about it. Sins can be external and internal. For example, everybody sees the deranged rogue who shoots up an audience in a movie theater. But what about the silent sibling who secretly wishes for and meditates on her sister’s bad fortune? No one sees her sin. No one sees the wickedness that is being nurtured and praised inside of her heart.

            God sees all of a person’s ways, and her inmost thoughts.

            “The Lord’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.” Proverbs 20:27

            “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” Proverbs 16:2

             All too often we notice others’ sins. We crinkle our noses in annoyance, but we’re exactly the same. We are wired to pursue that which is bad for us. Tragically, we’re often unaware of the sin incubating behind our ribs, warmed and pressed inside our hearts, feeding on our blood.

            Maybe you’re semi-conscious of its tiny palpitations, but you don’t stop what you’re doing. Why stop lusting for this person? When you fantasize about her, when you imagine her soft hair, the smell of lavender on her neck, the curve of her spine…you burn for her. To consume her. To possess her. Sin feels good when you’re doing it. So why stop imagining her? She only takes off her clothes in your mind, but there’s satisfaction in it.

            Temporary satisfaction, and then like an addiction you keep trying to hit that good feeling again. It doesn’t last long enough though, so of course, you have to keep doing it. You can get stuck real fast, and meanwhile, the Holy Spirit is waging war against your flesh trying to convince you to stop. As a Christian, sins never feel the same as they did before believing. Before Jesus, you could sin in an undivided way. But now, you’re not just flesh, and the Holy Spirit detests what is contrary to God. 

            “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.” 1 Peter 2:11

            “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Galatians 5:17

            The flesh will never be satisfied, but the Holy Spirit is satisfied in Jesus. Jesus gives us contentment, but our sin never will no matter how much Satan tries to deceive you. Sin does not leave you full; it takes from you and takes from you until you’re crying out in distress that you’ve been robbed blind.

            “The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.” Proverbs 19:23

            Don’t be unaware of your sins. Follow David’s example and ask God to reveal the hidden sins in your life. In his perfect timing, God will show you what’s lacking and what to do.

            “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24

            The Bible tells us many times what will happen if you give in unadulterated to sin. A prime example is the parable of the lost son.

 

Luke 15:11-16—

 

             Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

            “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

           

            I’m going to interject here and offer some thoughts. The younger son had everything he needed when he was at home. Not to say that traveling is bad, but the son was not pleased with his means. The Bible encourages us to be content in what we have instead of spiraling into greed and envy (Hebrews 13:5). Still, the younger son took his inheritance and went off alone. You know what I’m thinking about? I bet this younger son didn’t even tell his family where he was going, and when he arrived at some foreign place, he didn’t tell them he was safe. Did he care that his family knew about his welfare?

            It seems that the younger son did not communicate with his family after he left. I am only suggesting this based on the father’s reaction, which you will read next.

            See that the younger son indulges in sin. He has a splendid time until a famine occurs. The famine shows us that our sins have direct consequences. Hardship comes, and the younger son has no means of caring for himself. In his pride, the younger son still does not return home. Instead, he envies the pigs for their food.

            Sin always leads to disasters such as these.

            Let’s go on.

 

Luke 15:17-32—

 

            “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.

            “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

             “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

            “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

            “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

            “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

            “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

           

            As I was saying earlier, sin can be external or internal. The younger son sins externally in that he leaves home and squanders his father’s wealth. The older son sins internally in his anger toward his father and his younger brother.

            Anyway, do you see God in this story? I see him in this human father. He took care of his sons and gave them everything they needed just as God does for us (2 Corinthians 9:8) Even when both of his sons sinned in different ways, the father responded in sincere love. The younger son didn’t even apologize to his father before his father ran to him, embraced him, and kissed him. This is how God is with us. When we are humbled, God just waits for us to return to him. He will always take us back. His love is impossible to understand, but it’s the realest thing we have.

            The older son doesn’t go to his father; the father comes to him and asks what is wrong. Even in stubbornness and pride, the father reasoned with his son and implored him to come and celebrate with them. God always wants the best for us. He couldn’t be any other way. He’s too merciful and loving. He’s not like a person that he’ll harbor selfish anger. He only wants to forgive us, but we must confess our sins.

            “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

            “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

Where is Your God?

This is a mottled creative piece with many supporting verses from Micah. The whole thing about the ibex is fictional and not in the Bible; it’s just a poetic tool. What is true about this story below is God’s wrath is real. It is arrogant, it is blind, it is madness to believe that God will not punish people for their wicked behaviors.

Everyone will confess God is real, and he rules in sovereignty with his Son (Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:11).

So enjoy this silly, fictional tale…only, fiction rings with truth.

 

A planet floats in the blackness. Around the celestial body sits dust and hot stars; the substance of eternity. All rest in unimpeachable silence. They hold their breath in rapture as they wait for the creator. Winding down, coming closer, looking over the tops of spectacles, see there are humans walking along the surface of the planet.

They’re rather marvelous. Sensible sometimes, numerous emotions and the capacity to learn. They socialize and build; they create and advance. But inside of them is an element. It’s a viscous thing, an unnamed thing, some tragic flaw.

The element is invisible. No one can see it, but its effects are abundantly clear. When the sun rises for this planet the people busy themselves with rape. By the afternoon murder is favored. Anger and jealousy, lust and revenge scratch at the people’s heads like rabid mutts.

The element flares inside of them. The people go on and finish the day with orgies, drunkenness, and cursing. Still others fancy lying, maybe some pride here and there or conceitedness. Whatever dark thing is left, the people seek it out. They are like dogs returning to vomit; pigs returning to wallow in the mud (2 Peter 2:22).

When the people seek out the element it is only then that they do these awful things. One would think appeasing the element offers satisfaction, relief even. But this is not so, the element requires people’s obedience, but it rewards them with bitterness.

The world becomes sluggard somehow; even the people drag their feet as if their baggage were taking tangible form. Skeletal feet sweep through the dirt as they waste away. Weary eyes look up to the stars. They know there will be consequences for their actions. The element deceives them, and they do what feels good in exchange for what is good.

This carries on with each minute, strung through each hour, dwindling in each day. People saturate themselves with debauchery. For the briefest moment, about the duration of exhaling a breath, people feel the slightest orgasmic sensation of getting exactly what they want. Abuse continues, addiction matures, and selfishness bursts out of its exoskeleton and takes adult form.

There is much sighing with pleasure, but it lasts for only a second. Constantly a hum can be heard, it is white noise, it is the sound of the world falling out of its good graces. The element reigns over the human race and there is much too much celebrating. No remorse. They do shameful things with their bodies and they encourage each other to do what ought not be done (Romans 1:32).

“The faithful have been swept from the land; not one upright person remains. Everyone lies in wait to shed blood; they hunt each other with nets. Both hands are skilled in doing evil; the ruler demands gifts, the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire—they all conspire together. The best of them is like a brier, the most upright worse than a thorn hedge.” Micah 7:2-4

They fight each other, they despise each other. Gossip is like drops of honey on the tongue (Proverbs 18:8), but when swallowed, it becomes like soured meat full of writhing maggots. Betrayal is a pastime. Judgment is a game. Divorce is a dessert. Greed is a privilege. The element shows people every evil thing under the sun.

And the people realize they have their hands full.

Meanwhile, the world turns purple and becomes inflamed; pus bubbles out of the earth.

“The earth will become desolate because of its inhabitants, as the result of their deeds.” Micah 7:13

In a thousand years, or one day (2 Peter 3:8), the accumulating stench of the people’s wickedness rises up and fills the atmosphere, blocking out the light of the sun.

The one who made the darkness, the stars, the dust, the world and its people becomes aroused. His mighty nostrils flare with disgust as the smoky stench fills his lungs. Eyelids snap open, and the creator stands up in alarm. It is not as if he slept through this disaster, it is merely the state of shock, of disbelief, that his children would rebel like this.

In his wrath, the creator spirals into a vortex and lowers himself to the earth. He calls some of his people by name and asks what happened. The people are frightened and say the world has rejected the creator. He said he left them laws to follow and appointed individuals to lead. What happened to the laws, and where have the leaders gone? Those before him offer no answer.

And the creator’s wrath took form in the shape of an ibex.

His hooves crush the surface of the earth. The people become pulp under his tread.

“My eyes will see her downfall; even now she will be trampled underfoot like mire in the streets.” Micah 7:10

His curving horns rake the mountains. His thrashing rips up the ground and causes earthquakes. His breath sets fire to the trees and boils the ocean. He rams his head repeatedly against the cities until the buildings are destroyed in a cloud of red dust.

“The day God visits you has come, the day your watchmen sound the alarm. Now is the time of your confusion.” Micah 7:4

The people cry out for the destruction to cease. They can’t stand the creator’s wrath. They don’t know what they were doing. Just make him stop his rampage. In panic, the people begin accusing each other for this destruction. They blame each other. They turn on each other.

Their senseless arguing only makes the ibex agitated even more. The creator opens his mouth and bites mouthfuls of the earth, leaving massive craters in the planet’s surface. He consumes the people’s livestock, and he spits on the people’s crops; the grains crackle into dust, the vegetables split open, and the fruit rots.

Suddenly the people forget all their pleasures. The world becomes crippled under the stamping feet of the ibex.

“Nations will see and be ashamed, deprived of all their power. They will put their hands over their mouths and their ears will become deaf. They will lick dust like a snake, like creatures that crawl on the ground. They will come trembling out of their dens; they will turn in fear to the Lord our God and will be afraid of you.” Micah 7:16-17

After a day, or a thousand years, a group of people come to the creator, humbled, and ask for forgiveness. The ibex becomes more and more transparent as the people beg for forgiveness. They sing in worship, they follow the laws and listen to the leaders. The people’s voices become hoarse as they ask the creator for help.

The ibex disappears and the creator goes to his people. They cannot see him, but they hear him say their sins are forgiven. He will remember their wicked actions no more (Isaiah 43:25). The people listen to the creator and live in peace in the land. His people multiply, and their riches grow. They become a mighty nation, untouchable to those surrounding them. Other nations have gone back to their wicked ways because the ibex has gone away. They take it as an opportunity for pleasure and so they backpedal.

“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. You will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago.” Micah 7:18-20

One day passes, or a thousand years pass, and a new generation rises. The element whispers again and in weakness the people respond to its call. Not soon afterward, they fall into some old habits. Murder, anger, fighting, stealing, lust…they heap on the offenses. Some individuals warn them: the creator is real and his wrath is terrible. He will appear again and wreak havoc on the earth, it will be far worse this time. This time he will destroy them all because he sent his Son to save them, and they killed him.

Many people respond in mockery and laughter as they push aside the warnings. They chide those who vouch for the creator. They say there is no consequence. There is no God. There is no Son. It is all made up, passed down gossip, folklore, madness. The people say they will never see any punishment for their ways. There is no God, they say. In order to make a point, the people abuse, slaughter, and chase away those who believe in the creator.

“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” Micah 7:7

Eventually though, just as before, this generation’s wickedness becomes a stench that rises up and fills the atmosphere. The stench fills the lungs of the creator and his eyes snap open.

“…she who said to me, ‘Where is the Lord your God?’ My eyes will see her downfall; even now she will be trampled underfoot like mire in the streets.” Micah 7:10

Only this time, the world is destroyed under the fist of the creator, and he smashes the element to pieces. Those who wanted forgiveness received it. Those who wanted sin received wrath. Whatever people want is what they get in the end.