Lead Us Not Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From Evil

Lead Us Not Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From Evil

By the time we get to the end of the Lord’s Prayer, we begin to realize how needy we are.

Feed us our daily bread, forgive us our wrongs, lead us not into the temptations of the evil one. And if we have prayed the first part of the prayer seriously – that God’s name would be hallowed in the way we live, and that God’s kingdom would come through us, and that God’s will would be done among us—then we have signed up for a battle with evil. We have become part of the struggle of Jesus against the principalities and powers of this dark world. We really do need God to keep us from walking blindly into temptation and to deliver us from the powers that are dead set on destroying us.

Let’s look together at Revelation 17—19, the epitome of the description of evil. It’s as if John is leading us through an art gallery, which has three paintings that graphically depict the situation of the people of God as they face the evil one.

[Read more…]

My Favorite Villain

My Favorite Villain

Flannery O’Connor used to say that any playwright has a problem when they introduce the devil into a script—how to keep him from becoming the main character. In literature, every great story needs an enemy of some sort. Somebody has to play the villain.

Miles Turner used to cast my Christian daughters as the evil characters in his high school dramas. They played murderers in Agatha Christie scripts, heart breakers in romances, and wild women in contemporary plays. When I asked him why, he said it would develop their character reach since everyone knew they were not normally like that—and he could trust them with evil. I think he just wanted to see the local pastor squirm.

I think my favorite villain of all time is Javert in Les Miserables. I know; he was actually a religious character, though quite enslaved to the law. I guess I am mesmerized by him because I see how easy it is to move from self-assured religiosity to evil.

In my favorite movies, books, and plays I am always intrigued by the characters that seem to hold the moral power and use it in ways that diminish people. Whether it is the administration of Mr. Holland’s school (Mr. Holland’s Opus), the administration of Mr. Keating’s boys’ school (Dead Poets Society), or the administration of the prison (Cool Hand Luke), I find misuse of power villainous.

Maybe I am seeing my own dark side in them. Could it be that villains are nothing more than projections of us at our worst? And they have something wise to tell us—if we have ears to listen.

Who is your favorite villain?

Trouble on the Yellow Brick Road

Trouble on the Yellow Brick Road

You stand in front of two doors. Behind Door No. 1 is God in all the splendor, glory, and might described in Scripture—the God of creation, of Abraham, of Israel, of flesh-and-blood Jesus, the God of yesterday, today, forever. This is door No. 1.

Behind Door No. 2 is Satan—the evil one, Beelzebub, Lucifer, the ancient serpent, Father of lies. You’ve always wondered if he’s red, horned, and carrying a pitchfork. Now you have the chance see for yourself. This is Door No. 2.

No one will ever know. No one will ever tell. The choice is yours. Who would you rather see? Which door will you choose?

[Read more…]