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.

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Is Left Behind Movie’s Rapture Biblical?

Is Left Behind Movie’s Rapture Biblical?

Is the rapture biblical?

If the vote were taken in the pews of evangelical churches this Sunday, I’m guessing the majority vote would be a resounding “yes.”

So to be honest right up front, I’m in the minority, which for many, brands me a heretic. But before you gather wood to burn me at the stake of your judgment, may I explain?

There is a single text in all of scripture that seems to depict the popularized idea of a rapture.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

— 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NRSV)

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The One

The One

From childhood we’ve heard the stories of “the one who could”:

Cinderella—the one who could fit into the glass slipper
King Arthur—the one who could remove the sword from the stone
Prince Charming—the one who could wake Sleeping Beauty

Our primal stories all have a hero who fits the moment and arrives to save us as hope is expiring.

But long before belles of the ball fit slippers and swords were withdrawn from stones and kisses woke sleeping beauties, people were longing for the one who could. This is the quest of the human heart in Scripture.

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Letters to Churches

Letters to Churches

A man was stranded alone on a desert island. Years passed before he was rescued. During this time he built three buildings. His rescuers asked what they were. Pointing to the first he said, “That’s my home, where I live.” Pointing to the second, “That’s the church where I worship each Sunday. I’m a religious person.” When asked about the third building, he replied, “That’s the church I used to attend.”

Church—for many the word does not evoke feelings of deep commitment or devotion. Like grocery stores and telephone companies, we will switch in a flash for a better deal.

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The Best Clue on What to Expect

The Best Clue on What to Expect

My wife loves surprises. For my 47th birthday, she planned a surprise. The buildup was spectacular; for months she talked about “the day.” In fact, she was so excited she almost let it slip. Suspense kills her. Not me; I can wait. So I waited for “the day” to come. Denise soared with excitement—on the giddy scale, she registered a 9.9. I knew this would be big. But I also knew that her surprise hadn’t broken the bank. No huge dip in the checking account. No IRA or Fidelity retirement withdrawals. No credit card meltdowns.

Finally, “the day” came. She told me to dress casually, and I started getting ready while she took our youngest daughter to school. I waited and wondered. An hour later she returned. I was blindfolded and led out the back door for the grand revelation. What I saw next was an apocalypse . . .

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Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands:

“I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance. I know that you cannot tolerate evildoers; you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them to be false. I also know that you are enduring patiently and bearing up for the sake of my name, and that you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this is to your credit: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers, I will give permission to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God.

—Revelation 2:1-7

We often laud critical thinking abilities, but they do have a dark side. When we are convinced that “we’re” right and “they’re” wrong, bad things can happen. People are ridiculed. Relationships have litmus tests. Sidewalks are scattered with eggshells. Ostracism becomes a sport, and words become weapons rather than gifts. And something dangerous happens. In pursuing the art of being right, we lose our love.

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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?

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When Hope Sinks

When Hope Sinks

“Don’t get your hopes up.”

That’s what we say to each other as a warning against inflationary expectation. The higher our hopes climb, the harder they fall. It’s dangerous to risk a fall of Humpty Dumpty proportions. Few people specialize in putting shattered hope back together again.

Have you ever heard someone predict the second coming of Jesus? Have you ever read a book that connected the dots between world events and the biblical text of the Revelation of Jesus to John? I suggest that people who interpret the Book of the Revelation as a time line of the end are manipulating our hopes. They tell us:

  • the Antichrist is here
  • the blocks of the new Temple are already cut
  • Armageddon is just around the corner
  • the mark of the beast is a computer chip installed under our skin

They speak of these things as warnings to the unprepared and good news to the ready-to-be-raptured. Yet, for the life of me, these predictions don’t get my hopes up anymore. I guess I’m old enough now to know some history. I know about the failed predictions of the end-of-the-world in the years 999, 1843, 1988, and 2012.

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