The Power of Memorizing Quotes & Which One’s Have Helped Me Most

Maybe you’re like me and you’re one of those people who have been blessed with the ability to memorize a bunch of quotes. If this is you then you also know this blessing can be a curse, because everything seems to bring up a quote from the past. Maybe you often recite quotes to people and they think you’re a bit extra. Maybe you’re awful to watch movies with because you’ve memorized literally entire movie scenes (don’t watch Tommy Boy with me trust me).

All kidding aside, I really do think it is extremely helpful to memorize quotes of various types and from varying contexts—movies, songs, sermons, books, speeches, etc. Of course, the Bible is the only inerrant and infallible authority for truth and knowledge, however, God reveals truth to us through the arts and sciences which means there are going to be many quotes we come across throughout our lifetimes from the arts and sciences that will be truthful, helpful, and even inspirational. Below are the quotes which I have memorized that I keep coming back to over and over again in my life, and for the sake of organization I have separated them into 5 categories (quotes from sermons, movies, music, speeches, and things people have said to me in my lifetime). Also, you should know all of these quotes I have memorized and so I may get a word or two off from the original quote since I’m not using any references.

  1. Sermon Quotes:  God speaks to His people in His Word and God also uses the exposition of the Bible to speak through a human agent (a preacher) to bring to bear the truth of His Word contextualized into our context. So, when a preacher is expounding the Bible I have learned to pay close attention. Here are some bits from sermons I have memorized.

John Piper’s sermon against the Prosperity Gospel:  One of the most powerful sermons I’ve ever heard was by John Piper speaking against the Health, Wealth, and Prosperity Gospel which is often preached by many televangelist types. Here is what Piper said, (again it’s from memory so don’t knock me if I’m a little off on the quote) “Do you know what I feel about the health, wealth, and prosperity Gospel? Hatred. It is not the gospel. It is shipping a bill of goods and crap they call “gospel”- like believe this message-your pigs won’t die and your wives won’t have miscarriages. And this is coming out of America! And when was the last time that any African, Asian, American said ‘Jesus is all satisfying,’ because you drove a BMW? NEVER! Here is what makes Jesus look beautiful is when you get in a car wreck and your loved one goes smashing through a windshield and you’re able to say in the deepest and darkest of pain ‘Jesus is all satisfying!’ That makes Jesus look glorious.”

Long quote I know. But, the reason I always come back to Piper’s quote is because it helps me to check all preaching I hear and all preaching I myself do to make sure what I’m preaching is actually the gospel and not some false-gospel or some sort of behavior modification or moralism. When we preach we want to make Jesus look glorious and we want to not make the mistake of elevating gifts above the giver!

David Platt’s sermon on God’s Sovereignty and Missions:  “A high view of God’s sovereignty means a high view of missions.” This one is much shorter, but its application is equally as helpful. Some people have accused Calvinists of not being assertive enough in evangelism, and the claim has been it must be Calvinists have a view of God which makes their use in evangelism as unnecessary. So, these people have claimed that a Calvinist takes a stance which sounds like “Well, God is going to do whatever He is going to do so if He wants you to be saved you’ll be saved and if not then you won’t and so missions and evangelism doesn’t really matter.” Platt’s quote makes the point that all clear thinking reformed Christians and Calvinists actually believe, and that is that God doesn’t merely ordain salvation, but also the means by which that salvation is received:  by the work of the Holy Spirit through the proclaiming of the Word brought through a human agent. If this is what Reformed folks and Calvinists actually believe then that means having a high view of the sovereignty of God doesn’t lead to laziness in missions and evangelism, but it actually leads to the complete opposite!

There are so many more sermon quotes I could recall and recount, and many that I live my life by daily such as Alistair Begg’s “The main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things,” however, I just don’t have the time to explain them all so allow me to move on to the next category keeping in mind that I will limit each category to only 2 quotes.

2. Movie quotes:  I’m a huge movie fan so it’s hard to limit myself here, but I’ll do my best.

Daniel Plainview in “There Will be Blood:”  “I have a Competition in me; I want no one else to succeed. I hate most people.” This is one of those movies you don’t want to watch around me because I’ve memorized wayyy too much of it. This quote out of all of them is one I always come back to, because it shows a clear picture of the sinfulness of the human heart. Calvin called our hearts “Idol making factories.” I know of no movie which shows this truth more than “There Will be Blood.” The movie is about a ruthless oil baron, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, who is willing to do despicable things and go to great lengths to make his riches (kidnapping a child and raising it as his own, ripping off the poor, faking a baptism, and even murdering). At one point he sits peacefully on a beach after having just gone for a swim in the ocean, and in the silence and calmness of the situation he admits to having “The Devil and God raging inside of him (to reference another memorable quote).” This causes him  to constantly be in competition with others and to truly hate almost everyone except for himself.

I’m really tempted to do another “There Will be Blood” quote (“I drink your milkshake; I drink it up.”), but instead let me do a fun one from the Gladiator:  “Are you not entertained?” This quote from Russell Crowe’s character, Maximus, comes up in so many contexts! I’ve even used this quote in a sermon before and got laughed at, because apparently I sounded more like the Arnold than Maximus! Everyone has seen the Gladiator, so you know Maximus says this at a point in his life when he literally has been through so much garbage that he doesn’t really care about the applause of people one bit. He looks at a crowd of people who he sees more as animals, and after he has just fought for his life all for their entertainment he mocks them by yelling “Are you not entertained.” It highlights how simple human-beings truly are.

3. Music quotes:  I’m sorry not sorry, but most of my musical tastes are from Nirvana in 1991 onwards so if you’re a huge fan of music pre Nirvana you might be upset with my choices here-fair warning!

From “At the Bottom” by Brand New:  “Some men die under the mountain just looking for gold-some die looking for a hand to hold.” This is a good lyric to have memorized because it’s true. Because of sin in our world men and women live for false-gods rather than actually the one true God. This lyric highlights there are some whose false-god is money, so they spend their time out digging for money. Then, there are others whose false-god is romance or relationships, so they spend all their time seeking to fill their void with a person.

From “In Exile” by Thrice:  “My heart is filled with songs of forever-a city that endures, where all is made new-I know I don’t belong here, I’ll never-Call this place my home, I’m just passing through.” These lyrics are the words of a true worshiper of Christ with an eternal perspective. His heart’s posture is to eternity with Christ. His eyes are full of hope of the New Jerusalem. His longing are for God’s holiness. He knows not to cling too much to the here and now, because after all, “I’m just passing through.”

4. Speech Quotes:  This is a fairly broad category, but for me there are 2 which stand out over and above the rest.

Franklin Roosevelt:  “December 7th, 1941, a day that will live in infamy. The United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” You may think this is an odd one for me to choose so easily, but that’s because you don’t understand the personal importance of this quote in my own life. This was so important for me in particular because it is the first section of a speech I ever memorized. I memorized the entire first few paragraphs of this speech for my 4th grade social studies class. This may be the first time I actually realized the importance and the value of memorizing quotes, because in this assignment I actually learned so much about Franklin Roosevelt, and World War 2, and history in general. From this one assignment sparked a now life-long pursuit of knowing history so that I can learn from history. Often, it is famous quotes like this one or JFK’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” that actually teach us about the historical contexts in which the original comments were made.

Lou Gehrig:  “Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” The media was reporting on the famous major-leaguer and his disease which would take his life within a couple of years. There was an aroma of sadness in the stadium, but Gehrig stepped to the mic and offered perspective and gratitude. This was a man who truly appreciated what he had experienced in his life, and even though he was facing a terrible disease and an impending death he still offered hope for the audience. This is as emotional of a speech and as powerful as I’ve ever heard.

5. Things people have said to me in my lifetime:  These are things that people have said to me that just stuck and I’ve lived by them ever since. The first one comes from my Dad who said, “If you scored a 100 points and your team didn’t win then you didn’t do enough, but if you scored 0 points and you won then you did enough.”

The context of this quote came one game when I was sulking because I hadn’t played particularly well, so honestly I was being a little jerk. My Dad pulled me aside and that’s when he said this quote to me. This quote has helped me in my life so much because it has shown me the importance of teamwork, and playing a role on a team to accomplish your mission. Truth is that every team you will ever be on in your life will have a goal and your team doesn’t need your ego getting in the way of accomplishing the goal.

Coach Rod Mayo:  “If you ain’t 30 minutes early you’re late.” Rod was a rough guy with some questionable techniques, but one thing is for sure-the guy was a teacher. That guy taught me a number of valuable lessons for the first time, and this one is one that I learned at a young age and it’s never left me. My wife will tell you I’m on time for everything. Promptness isn’t only wise, but it’s also courteous. Whenever I feel like slacking or lagging behind I hear Coach Rod in the back of my mind “If you ain’t 30 minutes early you’re late.”

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