My Favorite Quotes from “Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone”

Earlier this year I began and (eagerly) finished the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I loved the books immensely and agree with all the hype. Few have Rowlings ability to grip the reader with every page and bring such a tapestry of rich themes, arcs, and characters to such a satisfying finish.

Here are my favorite quotes without comment from the first of the series, “Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

“I am a what?” gasped Harry. “A wizard! Of course! And a thumping good one I’d say once you’d been trained up a bit.”

“Ah music! A magic beyond all we do here.”

“The happiest man on earth would be able to use the mirror of Erised like a normal mirror that is. He would look into it and see himself exactly as he is…It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts.”

“To the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”

“Humans do have a knack of choosing precisely the things that are the worst for them.”

“The truth?” Dumbledore sighed, “It is a beautiful and terrible thing and should therefore be treated with great caution.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

My Favorite Quotes from “Washington: A Life”

In an effort to try and read more widely, I recently decided to work through one biography on each American President. So, first up, George Washington.

Going off the rave reviews I’ve seen, I chose Ron Chernow’s, “Washington: A Life” and I was not disappointed. Thorough, but never tedious, Chernow did a masterful job shedding light on the incredible man who was later made unreal myth.

The following are my favorite quotes without any comment.

“Simple truth is his best, his greatest eulogy.” Abigail Adams speaking of George Washing after his death.

“He had sound judgment and was a model youth with no tincture of rowdiness in his nature. In certain ways, he was a very old young man.”

“Thomas Jefferson once remarked cynically that Washington ‘has divines (ministers) constantly about him because he thinks it right to keep up appearances but it an unbeliever.’ Jefferson contended that when Washington stepped down as president, a group of clergy-men presented him with a list of requests to bolster public faith in Christianity; they noted he had refrained from public endorsements of the tenants of Christianity and beseeched him to declare openly his beliefs…Bishop William White of Pennsylvania, Washington’s pastor during his presidency in Philadelphia, also stated; ‘I do not believe that any degree of recollection will bring to my mind any fact which would prove General Washington to have been a believer in the Christian revelation.’”

“A stalwart member of two congregations, Washington attended church throughout his life and devoted substantial time to church activities. His major rites of passage – baptism, marriage, burial, – all took place within the fold of the church. What has mystified posterity and puzzled some of his contemporaries was that Washington’s church attendance was irregular; that he recited prayers standing instead of kneeling; that, unlike Martha, he never took communion; and that he almost never referred to Jesus Christ, preferring such vague locutions as ‘Providence,’ ‘Destiny,’ the ‘Author of our Being,’ or simply ‘Heaven.’ Outwardly at least, his Christianity seemed rational, shorn of mysteries and miracle, and nowhere did he directly affirm the divinity of Jesus Christ.”

“He seemed to know that he operated under the overarching guidance of a benign providence. Many of Washington’s eminent contemporaries, ranging from Marshall to Madison, regarded him as a sincere believer in the Christian faith and a truly devout man, as Marshal attested. Some of Washington’s religious style probably reflected an enlightenment discomfort with religious dogma, but it also reflected his low key personal style. He was sober and temperate in all things, distrusted zealotry, and would never have talked of hellfire or damnation. He would have shunned anything, such as communion, that might flaunt his religiosity. He never wanted to make a spectacle of his faith or trade on it as a politician. Simply as a matter of personal style, he would have refrained from the emotional language associated with evangelical Christianity. This cooler more austere religious manner was common place among well-heeled Anglicans in 18th century Virginia. Washington’s pastor at Pohick Church before the war confirmed that he never knew so constant an attendant at church as Washington. His early biographer, Jared Sparks, recorded this comment from Washington’s nephew, George W. Lewis. Mr. Lewis said he accidently witnessed Washington’s private devotions in his library both morning and evening, That on those occasions he had seen him in a kneeling position with a Bible open before him and that he believed such to be his daily practice. General Robert Porterfield recalled that when he delivered an urgent message to Washington during the Revolutionary War, he found him on his knees engaged in his morning’s devotions. When he mentioned this to Washington’s aid, Alexander Hamilton, the latter replied that such was his constant habit. Washington’s adopted granddaughter saw his self-effacing religiosity as consistent with a hatred of pretension. “He was not one of those who act or pray that they may be seen of men.”

“Numerous people left vignettes testifying to Washington’s simple faith. On the other hand, he lacked a speculative bent and was never one to ponder the fine points of theology. One thing that hasn’t aroused dispute is the exemplary nature of Washington’s religious tolerance. He shuttered at the notion of exploiting religion for partisan purposes or showing favoritism for certain denominations. As president, when writing to Jewish, Baptist, Presbyterian, an other congregations – he officially saluted twenty-two major religious groups – he issued eloquent statements on religious tolerance.“

“No man’s sentiments are more opposed to any kind of restraint on religious principles than mine are.”

“The happiness of America is intimately connected to the happiness of all Mankind.” LaFeyette

“Instead of glorying his might, (Washington) feared its terrible weight and potential misuse.”

“His military triumphs had been neither frequent nor epic in scale. He had lost more battles than he had won. Had botched several through strategic blunders and had won at Yorktown only with the indispensable aide of the French army and fleet. But he was a different kind of general fighting a different kind of war. And his military prowess cannot be judged by the usual scorecard of battles won and lost. His fortitude in keeping the impoverished Continental Army intact was a major historical accomplishment. It always stood on the brink of dissolution and Washington was the one figure that kept it together. He was that Great general that was great between battles and not just during them.

“Seldom in history has a General been handicapped by such constantly crippling conditions. There was scarcely a time during the war when Washington didn’t grapple with a crisis that threatened to disband the army and abort the Revolution. The extraordinary, wearisome, nerve-wracking frustration he put up with for nearly nine years is hard to express. He repeated had to exhort congress and the thirteen states to remedy desperate shortages of men, shoes, shirts, blankets, and gunpowder. This meant dealing with selfish apathetic states and bureaucratic incompetence in congress. He labored under a terrible strain that would have destroyed a lesser man. Ennobled by adversity and leading by example, he had been dismayed and depressed, but never defeated…Few people with any choice in the matter would not have persisted in this impossible self-sacrificing situation for so long.”

“When Polly (the wife of Washington’s secretary) died at age 23, Washington honored her with a sort of full dressed funeral that might have bid farewell to a cabinet officer. Deviating from his strict policy of never attending funerals, he led a procession that included Hamilton, Jefferson, Knox, and three Supreme Court Justices as pallbearers. It was the one time that Washington attended a funeral as a President.

“The enterprising Anderson (Washington’s master of estate) devised the concept of taking grain grown at Mt. Vernon and converting it into corn and rye whiskey at a commercial distillery on the estate. For Washington, always rabid on the subject of alcoholism, it was an ironic turn of events to put it mildly. Although the distillery started modestly, by 1799 it had five gleaming copper stills and produced eleven-thousand gallons yearly so it may have ranked as the largest whiskey producer in America.”

“As the Father of his country evolved into a divinity some clergymen wanted to insert his farewell address into the Bible as an epilogue.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

How the Bible is Like & Unlike Every Other Book

Kevin Vanhoozer:

(The Bible) is like every other book because it has human authors.

It is unlike every other book because (1) it has God for its ultimate author; (2) it has God (Jesus Christ) as its ultimate content; (3) it has God (the Holy Spirit) for its ultimate interpreter; and (4) it has the church for its ultimate interpretive community.

(Taken from Christian Dogmatics: Reformed Theology for the Church Catholic, p. 31).

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Life is Impossible Without Faith

Ben Myers:

In North Africa toward the end of the fourth century, Augustine pointed out that life would be impossible without trust. Most of the things we know about the world are really things we believe on the basis of someone else’s word. We can’t verify for ourselves if events in world history have really happened. But we accept testimonies that have come down to us from the past. We can’t visit every location on a map to verify that they all really exist. But we accept the word of others who have been to those places. Closer to home, the family is knit together by trust. I wasn’t there to witness the moment of my own conception. If I want to know who my father is, I will have to take my mother’s word for it. And I gladly accept her word: I would prefer to trust her than to seek independent verification. It would diminish me as a person if I went around trying to verify everything. Only by adopting an attitude of trust am I able to live and flourish as a human being. Without trust, Augustine says, “we would be unable to do anything in this life.”

Obviously not every family is an exemplar of loving trust, and not every parent proves to be trustworthy. But Augustine’s point is that we don’t have the resources to verify everything for ourselves. Social life is woven together by threads of trust. If I really wanted to live without trust I would need to remove myself from society and live in total isolation. But even then, I would need to rely on tools and technologies that I did not invent and that I do not fully understand. I would need to trust the work of others.

The tragic quality of life comes partly from the fact that human beings are not always trustworthy, yet still we cannot live without trust.

The gospel holds out to us the promise of a totally trustworthy God.

Taken from The Apostles’ Creed: A Guide to the Ancient Catechism (Christian Essentials) (Kindle Locations 201-213). Lexham Press. Kindle Edition.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Love Her! Love Her!

If you are a Christian man who is married and in a position of leadership, I encourage you to humbly and carefully listen to this exhortation from John Piper.

Here I am speaking directly to men who are husbands and leaders. Paul said in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives!” Love her! Love her! What does it profit a man if he gains a great following and loses his wife? What have we led people to if they see that it leads us to divorce? What we need today are leaders who are great lovers. Husbands who write poems for their wives and sing songs to their wives and buy flowers for their wives for no reason at all except that they love them. We need leaders who know that they should take a day alone with their wives every now and then; leaders who do not fall into the habit of deriding and putting their wives down, especially with careless little asides in public; leaders who speak well of their wives in public and complement them spontaneously when they are alone; leaders who touch her tenderly at other times besides when they are in bed.

One of the greatest temptations of a busy leader is to begin to treat his wife as a kind of sex object. It starts to manifest itself when the only time he ever kisses her passionately or touches her tenderly is when he’s trying to allure her into bed. It is a tragic thing when a wife becomes a mannequin for masturbation. Learn what her delights are and bring her to the fullest experience of sexual climax. Talk with her and study her desires. Look her in the eye when you talk to her. Put down the paper and turn off the television. Open the door for her. Help her with the dishes. Throw her a party. LOVE HER! LOVE HER! If you don’t, all your success as a leader will very likely explode in failure at home.

(Taken from The Marks of a Spiritual Leader, Kindle Location 288 of 321)

Oh Father, make me this kind of man! Fill your church with men like this: men who love their brides like Jesus does His.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Time I Was Rebuked to Trust Jesus By Reading Harry Potter

I am currently reading through Harry Potter for the first time (and loving it). In The Order of the Pheonix (the book I am currently reading), I was struck by the rebuke that the cranky Phineas Nigellius gave to Harry Potter when Harry complained about Dumbledore’s mysterious and confusing activities. If you haven’t read the book, all you need to know is that no one should question Dumbledore because he is the kindest, wisest, and most righteous wizard around.

Phineas’ rebuke to Harry stuck out to me because it can, almost word-for-word, be used as a rebuke to believers who question the ways Jesus is working in their own lives.

Here is what Phineas says:

You know, this is precisely why I loathed being a teacher! Young people are so infernally convinced that they are absolutely right about everything. Has it not occurred to you, my poor puffed-up popinjay that there might be an excellent reason why the headmaster of Hogwarts is not confiding every tiny detail of his plans to you? Have you never paused, while feeling hard-done-by, to note that following Dumbledore’s orders has never yet lead you into harm? No. No, like all young people, you are quite sure that you alone feel and think, you alone recognise danger, you alone are the only one clever enough to realise what the Dark Lord may be planning

So, believer, taking Phineas’ lead, I ask you:

Has it not occurred to you, my poor puffed-up popinjay that there might be an excellent reason why the (Holy Lord of the Universe) is not confiding every tiny detail of his plans to you? Have you never paused, while feeling hard-done-by, to note that following (Jesus’) orders has never yet lead you into harm?

For readers of Harry Potter, you know questioning Dumbledore is never OK. For readers of the Bible, we should know the same is infinitely more true of Jesus.

Brother and sister, when times get hard, remember who the perfectly good, righteous, wise, and loving one is in your relationship with Christ and allow that to temper how you react to his sometimes mysterious ways.

As Spurgeon said, “God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Why Did My Family Join a Church Plant?

You’re invited to join us if you’re in town!

If you follow any of my social media handles, you probably know my wife and I have recently become members of a church plant in my hometown, San Clemente, California.

Our journey to church planting hasn’t been quick, but the result of countless hours of Bible study, conversation, and prayer. At some point I will write out what that journey looked like, but now, I’d like to spend a few moments answering the question: why plant a church in San Clemente?

Our Reasons for Joining a Church Plant

In no particular order, here are some of our reasons.

We Want to Work Hard in Obeying the Great Commission

Our first Sunday worship gathering on March 11, 2018 at San Clemente High School.

The Great Commission of Jesus does not merely command believers to share the gospel so people become Christians. Instead, it calls us to share the gospel so new Christians are baptized into (Matthew 28:18; 1 Corinthians 12:13) and taught within (Matthew 28:19) a church. Evangelism is designed to lead new believers into the heart of the local church where they’ll be loved, grown, and equipped to join the church to make more disciples within the church. As I will reaffirm below, the city of San Clemente has more citizens than it has churches to evangelize and disciple them. So, wanting to work hard to obey the Great Commission, we want to plant another church among the others to help fulfill the mission Jesus gave us.

San Clemente Needs More Churches

Some may think, “But San Clemente already has a bunch of churches, why add another?” I praise God that San Clemente has not been without gospel witness. There have been numerous churches in San Clemente working hard to reach the Beach Cities with the gospel for decades. However, the population of San Clemente, let alone the Beach Cities area, has far more citizens than it does Bible-believing, Christ-centered, and gospel-proclaiming churches. If every church in San Clemente maxed out their capacity on a Sunday, tens of thousands of people would have to be turned away. There are not enough churches in San Clemente to reach and disciple all San Clemente. The harvest is too plentiful and the workers too few. We want to help!

Fresh Energy Never Hurts

We hope that the presence of Union Church raises up a new team of pastors and church members who are highly energized, united, and motivated to join existing churches to reach more people for Jesus. The addition of fresh, energized, and motivated troops to the battlefield is always a good thing for those in war. We are coming to help!

We Want to Encourage Existing Churches

Union Church is committed to being a blessing to the existing local churches in our community. We hope that churches like Pacific Coast Church, Heritage Christian Fellowship, The Shoreline Church, Cornerstone Community Church, and the others would be blessed by our church. They’ve been preaching some really good news for a long time in this city and we just want to join our voices to their choir. We don’t want to steal your sheep. We have no desire to critique you with furrowed brows or patronize you with condescending tones. We want to join you. We want to help you. We want to bless you so Jesus is glorified in our city and world.

The World Needs More Church-Planting Churches

My daughter Daisy hard at work with other church members getting our gathering room ready.

Missiologist Ed Stetzer said it this way,

“Statistically speaking, if a population just wants to ‘break even,’ it has to plant at least at a three percent level — a denomination of 100 churches has to plant 3 to stay even considering attrition. A five percent increase is needed to grow. Ten percent is needed to thrive.”

Since we want to see the United States have an increased gospel witness in the future, we are committed not only to adding new believers into our church, but also adding new churches into our country. If we want to see the world reached with the gospel, we can only do it through planting more church-planting churches.

We Want to Plant Churches

Our church does not want to just be a church plant, but we want to be a church-planting church! We are already praying, preaching, gathering resources, and raising up leaders in hopes that God would plant many more churches through us. It has been immensely encouraging to hear my pastor frequently and passionately talk about planting churches even before we’ve fully planted our own!

We Want to Encourage All Church to Get Busy Planting Churches

I cannot improve on the exhortation of Ed Stetzer:

Planting a church is like having a baby. There’s never really a good time. There is enough time, money, energy, and space to have one. Childbirth is messy and has a lot of yelling, but in the end, a beautiful life is born, the labor is forgotten, and we often want to have another.

We’ve got a lot of churches on some strong birth control. We need to have a lot more pregnancies. Intended ones. We need to see some beautiful church plants born and then we’ll want to have another one. And another one.

I would exhort some established church pastors to get some skin in the game. Generously give to church planting, yes, but then go and plant a church. Choose not to become a cul-de-sac on the Great Commission Highway.

If you need more encouragement for why established churches should plant churches, read the rest of Stetzer’s post here.

So, there are just a few reasons why my wife and I are excited to be members of Union Church. May God use us for His glory.

If you would like some more information about church planting, begin here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment