Finding Unauthorized Faith in Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone (Page 5) eBook online read

me open eyes and open ears. Guide into my path those you want me to show love to each and every day. Give me the words they need to hear. Give me the patience to listen to them. Give me the strength and perseverance to never give up on loving my neighbors, on being the Good Samaritan in a world full of bad. Help me be the change you want to see in the world. I love you. Amen.

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  Death or Darkness

  “Don’t you understand? If Snape gets hold of the Stone, Voldemort’s coming back! Haven’t you heard what it was like when he was trying to take over? There won’t be any Hogwarts to get expelled from! He’ll flatten it, or turn it into a school for Dark Arts! Losing points doesn’t matter anymore, can’t you see? D’you think he’ll leave you and your families alone if Gryffindor wins the House Cup? If I get caught before I can get the Stone, well, I’ll have to go back to the Dursleys and wait for Voldemort to find me there, it’s only dying a bit later than I would have, because I’m never going over to the Dark Side! I’m going through that trapdoor tonight and nothing you two say is going to stop me!”

  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (p. 270)

  Harry’s entire first year has led up to this proclamation, “I’m never going over to the Dark Side!” Throughout his sorting into a house and picking his friends, Harry has had to choose between two sides: the Dark Side or Dumbledore’s side. At the end of his first year he proclaims his choice, and takes a stand against the Dark Side by choosing to go through the trapdoor. He risks his life to stop evil from prevailing.

  Many people throughout history have chosen to “go through the trapdoor” and risk all they have, their very lives, to stand up to evil. During Hitler’s reign there were those Germans who feared for their own lives and cowered to the Nazi regime, refusing to hide Jews and even turning them over to the Nazis. But others, about whom we still make movies, did not bow down to evil. They risked their lives and the lives of their families to protect the Jews. Because of their sacrifice, people who may have died in the concentration camps survived.

  In Matthew 12:30 (GNT), Jesus says, “Anyone who is not for me is really against me; anyone who does not help me gather is really scattering.”

  Revelation 3:15-16 (NLT) says, “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!”

  We each have trapdoors in our lives. Doors we can ignore and leave to someone else, or doors we can open and go through to conquer. Either way we must choose which side we are on: God’s side or the world’s side. This way, when we face a door, we will know where we stand.

  Question: Where do you stand? Have you chosen to take up your cross and follow Christ or have you decided not to get involved? Are you working for God? What are you doing everyday to help gather seeds, to help spread God’s love and Jesus’ message?

  Challenge: Make a choice. Decide which side you are standing on: God’s or the world’s. If you decide for God, then do what Jesus called us to do: love God, love others, and let those who don’t know about him, know about him.

  Love is a choice. Choose it every time.

  As a symbol of your commitment to help Jesus gather rather than scatter, go to your local nursery or flower shop. Walk around and gather flowers. Wrap them up in a bouquet and put them in a vase at home. Reflect on the beauty of having so many different flowers all come together as one, and how lovely heaven is going to be with all those Christ has gathered. Then, take a picture of these flowers. Post the picture somewhere where you will see it daily. Remember every time you see the photo that you have chosen to be a gatherer. Then go out and gather with Christ.

  Verse: “This is war, and there is no neutral ground. If you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy; if you’re not helping, you’re making things worse.” – Matthew 12:30 (MSG)

  Prayer: Lord, I choose to gather and not to scatter. Please direct my steps, direct my words, direct my actions so that they may be good and pleasing to you and bring honor and glory to your name. Help me live my faith in a way that gathers rather than scatters. Lord, I pray my life will have a world-changing impact for you. Use me for your will. Show me where to go and what to do, and I will go and do. I love you, Lord. Amen.

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  Professor Quirrell

  “I met him [Voldemort] when I traveled around the world. A foolish young man I was then, full of ridiculous ideas about good and evil. Lord Voldemort showed me how wrong I was. There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it.” Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (p. 291)

  When Quirrell, in all his “power,” looks into the Mirror of Erised, he sees what he wants: himself gloriously presenting the stone to Voldemort. But he does not receive what he wants because his desire is evil. Harry, however, sees himself in possession of the stone, not to use it for his own benefit, but to hide it for the benefit of all.

  God looks into our hearts to find greatness, not into our pocket book or on a trophy case. Quirrell lets his desires for power and glory draw him away from the right path and into Voldemort’s clutches, and he loses his soul.

  In 1 Timothy 6:10 (ESV) Paul says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

  Each of us has a different temptation or desire that can draw us away from our faith if we let it. Some of us struggle with addiction, or body image, or infidelity, or excessive spending. The list goes on. The point is we all have at least one area we struggle with that the enemy can use to draw us away from God. The first step to overcoming our weakness is to admit we have a weakness and we need God to get us through.

  1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV) tells us, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you many be able to endure it.”

  God doesn’t take the temptation away, he gives us an evacuation route, but we have to choose to take it.

  Question: What are some of your temptations? Weaknesses? Desires? What are the things that take your focus off of God and place your focus on your own self-gratification?

  Challenge: Make a list of your weaknesses, admit them to God, admit them to someone you trust. Then, come up with a few “evacuation” routes for each weakness. An evacuation route is anything you can do in the moment your weakness presents itself to keep you from giving in.

  For example, I struggle with body image issues. When I’m having a particularly hard day, I run from the mirror to Psalm 139 where I can reflect on how God created me in my mother’s womb and that I am a wonderful creation. I even wrote on my mirror in dry erase marker, “You are a beautiful creation of God.”

  Shut your eyes, hold hands with God, and you’ll find your way through.

  Verse: “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13 (MSG)

  Prayer: Father, I know that when I am weak you are strong. You know my struggles. I admit them to you. Please lead me away from temptation. I reach out my hand to you. Guide me, Father. Pick me up when I fall. I love you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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  Neville’s First Points

  “There are all kinds of courage,” said Dumbledore, smiling. “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom.” ... Neville, white with shock, disappeared under a pile of people hugging him. He had never won so much as a point for Gryffindor before.

  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (p. 306)

  Neville came
into Hogwarts a wimpy kid, scared of his own shadow. However, after Hermione, Ron, and Harry had lost Gryffindor enough points to put them in last place for the House Cup, Neville knew he had to do something. He waited up late and confronted the trio as they attempted to sneak out of the common room after hours. Though Neville was misguided in trying to stop Harry, he still had the courage to stand firm for what he believed. In 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (GNT) Paul says, “Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave, be strong. Do all your work in love.”

  Question: When peer-pressure descends, do you stand firm in faith or cower? Do you stand up to your friends or give in so that they will like you? Are you brave enough to stand up to a friend if you need to?

  Challenge: Make a list of those values and beliefs to which you are committed to holding firm. Next to each write down how you are going to respond when a friend or loved one or total stranger comes up against those beliefs. By having a defense plan, you will already have won half the battle. As Winston Churchill famously said, “He who fails to plan, plans to fail.”

  Commit to staying true to what you believe, no matter the consequence. Commit to God in you. Stand in love. Stand in God.

  Verse: “Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (MSG)

  Prayer: Father, please guide me as I make this list of what I value and what I am committing to stand firm in. Fill this list with things of you, things that are good and pleasing in your eyes. And, as I go, expand and refine this list according to your will in my life. Help me to be strong and courageous and to remember that you are always by my side. I love you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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  Proverbs of Dumbledore: Year 1

  Proverb 1:

  “To one as young as you, I’m sure it seems incredible, but to Nicolas and Perenelle, it really is like going to bed after a very, very long day. After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure. You know, the Stone was really not such a wonderful thing. As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all — the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them.”

  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (p. 297)

  Just before Dumbledore’s reply Harry wonders why the Flamels, who could live forever by drinking the Elixir of Life produced by the Philosopher’s Stone, agreed to allow the stone to be destroyed.

  In Dumbledore’s answer we find two important nuggets. First, death is an adventure to the well-organized mind. Hebrews 2 tells us that Jesus came to conquer death so that those who believe in him do not have to be afraid of death any longer, because we too become conquerors of death by our belief in him. In conquering death through Jesus, we know this life is but a prequel to the great adventure to come.

  However, in Dumbledore’s second nugget of wisdom, he says we have a knack for choosing precisely those things that are worst for us. In our bodies there is a battle between the flesh and the Spirit. The flesh wants to go the least painful perceivable route. However, the flesh can’t see more than a foot away so it often misses the thorns lying a mile down the road. The Spirit, who sees the entire path, often chooses what seems to be the hard route to the flesh but is actually the easier, least painful, and most efficient of the two paths. (Galatians 5:16-26).

  Death seems the painful, least desirable route to Harry. But, to Nicolas and Perenelle, they see that their physical deaths are just a momentary pain for a greater gain for themselves and everyone else. With the destruction of the Philosopher’s Stone, they are keeping this power of prolonged life out of Voldemort’s clutches.

  What makes death so scary is our not knowing what is on the other side of it. But when we know where we are going, death really does become the next great adventure. Once we accept this truth, we can begin to truly live and enjoy the greatest prequel to the greatest adventure there is.

  Question: Do you have peace in knowing death is but a transition from this life to the next? Do you know where you are going when your time here is up?

  Challenge: If your answer is no, I urge you to change that right here, right now. Choose to believe that God loved you so much that he sent his son, Jesus, to conquer death for you so that by believing in him you would have eternal life. Don’t spend one more day not knowing where you are going. Find your home right now.

  Pray the prayer below aloud, with a sincere and humble heart.

  Verse: “Since the children, as he calls them, are people of flesh and blood, Jesus himself became like them and shared their human nature. He did this so that through his death he might destroy the devil, who has the power over death, and in this way set free those who were slaves all their lives because of their fear of death.” – Hebrews 2:14-15 (GNT)

  Prayer: Father, forgive me for doing life my way. Come in and take the wheel. I believe in you. I believe that Jesus is your Son and the he came, died on the cross, and rose again so that I might believe in him and experience the great adventure of everlasting life. I pray for you to come into my heart and be my guide. In the name of my constant guide, my rock, my friend forever, Jesus Christ. Amen.

  Proverb 2:

  “Nevertheless, Harry, while you may only have delayed his return to power, it will merely take someone else who is prepared to fight what seems a losing battle next time — and if he is delayed again, and again, why, he may never return to power.”

  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (p. 298)

  Now that you are in on the Great Adventure—I hope—it is time for the next task: to fight. As Christians we are to fight the good fight. Does this mean we are to throw punches? No. As a Christian we do not fight with swords and fists, we fight with our faith. We keep evil at bay by continuing Christ’s work on earth. What is that work?

  In Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV) Jesus gives us our mission: “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.”

  Simply put, this means that as faith-fighters we are to use the gifts God has given us to lead others to Christ. For example, my gift is writing, so I write for God to help others see Jesus and hopefully welcome him into their hearts. My husband’s gift is organization, especially in the world of finance, so he helps people get their financial lives in order while sharing biblical principles. We don’t all have to be pastors to share our faith. We can use our daily encounters, gifts, and abilities to share Christ with those around us.

  Questions: What are your gifts? Who are some of the people you do life with or around who have not put their faith in Christ? How can you use your gifts to help them?

  Challenge: If you don’t already know what your gifts are, start exploring. Pray for God to reveal your purpose to you. Read books on spiritual gifts. Look deep within and search for that thing or set of things that you do well, that you are passionate about. Don’t stop until you know what it is God wants you to do with your life.

  Second, make a list of ten people you know, that you see on a regular basis, who do not know Christ. Then pray for these people. Pray to God about how to go about approaching them, how to invite them to church, how to let them know God loves them, how to ask them if they would like you to pray for them, and so on. I’m not saying to plop your Bible down on the table and shove Jesus down their throats. I’m saying to gently and lovingly seek God’s way in approaching them. Ask him to open a door, and then wait until he does. God has a perfect time for everything.

  Remember, Jesus often healed before he preached. Use your gifts to help others, and their hearts will be more open to what you have to say. John C. Maxwell said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

  Ver
se: “Fight the good fight of the faith.” – 1 Timothy 6:12 (NIV)

  Prayer: Father, I have no idea what I’m doing here, but I am armed and ready for battle. Guide me, teach me, direct my words and actions so that my life will show the world Christ’s love and inspire the world to bring their hearts to him. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

  Proverb 3:

  “The truth.” Dumbledore sighed. “It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution. However, I shall answer your questions unless I have a very good reason not to, in which case I beg you’ll forgive me. I shall not, of course, lie.”

  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (p. 298)

  Dumbledore says the truth is a beautiful and terrible thing. Why would it be terrible? Because, often we do not want to hear the truth. The truth is hard to swallow when it is not what we want it to be.

  Proverbs 15:12 (MSG) says, “Know-it-alls don’t like being told what to do; they avoid the company of wise men and women.”

  When we are prideful, when we think we know-it-all and relish in our own glory, we shut off our minds and hearts to anyone who tries to speak against what we are doing—especially when they are right. Because if we accept that they are right, we will have to admit we are wrong and change. Change requires humility, which is the opposite of pride.

  Proverbs 11:2 says that with humility comes wisdom. When we are humble we know we don’t know everything and do not feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit it. So, when someone comes to us with a truth that means we will have to change some area of our life, we can accept this truth and change for the good.

  Truth is beautiful. In truth we find trust, which builds respect, which enables love.

  If we can find the strength, the mental fortitude, within ourselves to humble ourselves to accepting God’s truth and the truth he speaks into our lives from those wise in knowledge of him, our lives will change in ways that will bring us to our knees in thankfulness and radiate the glory of God.

  Question: If you had to grade yourself on the pride-o-meter, where would you rank? Do you embrace truth when it is spoken lovingly? Or do you puff up and resist the truth, thinking you know-it-all? Be honest with yourself. We’ve all been on a pride trip at some point.

  Challenge: Make the choice today to be a person of humility. Go to God and ask him to show you what area he thinks you should change. And, when he answers,
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