Friday, June 01, 2007

Turn of Phrase

I read a blog post last week (by "gord") reflecting upon Pentecost and language. In it, he noted that language is always evolving and changing.

I notice this particularly in my favorite kind of colloquialisms- the kind my father uses. He uses expressions like:
I haven't seen one of those in a month of Sundays!
Tube steaks and whistle berries (referring to hot dogs and baked beans)
Take the old shoe leather express
Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades
Seeing through rose colored glasses
You let the cat out of the bag!
Strike while the iron is hot
Happier than a pig in mud
Take 40 winks
Uglier than a mud fence
The elevator doesn't go all the way to top
A few sandwiches short of a picnic
Dead as a door nail
There's more than one way to skin a cat

It seems to me that these sorts of expressions are a dying art, which makes me cherish them.

I have also been thinking about the power to remember great one liners. I would really like to add to my lexicon several great theological colloquialisms. I think pastors who are especially gifted at championing vision and mission in a local church tend to have this skill down. They have a set of phrases that repeatedly and effectively express fundamental truths.

So, I am compiling a list of great one-liners that I want to use often. Here goes:
1. God does not call the qualified. God qualifies the called.
2. There is no such thing as a perfect church...b/c churches are full of imperfect people
3. God did not create emotions so we can pretend like we don't have them. (I think that is my only original composition)
4. Grace received and not passed on loses its power (that's John Wesley, except he says "efficacy" instead of power)
5. Our fundamental Christian identity is "I am a baptized child of God"
6. The role of the pastor and leaders is to "equip the saints for the works of ministry" (Eph.4:12)
7. "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness" (2Cor.12:9)
8. There can be no resurrection without death

That is my starting point. I would be interested to hear from others about favorite phrases that encapsulate Christian belief/doctrine/practice into a phrase that's easily heard and understood.


  1. My two favorites Was becoming a Chirstian a schock to your System or did you barely notice? and God wants spiritual fruits not religious nuts.

  2. I really like something that my priest says in times of difficulty, stress, craziness, whatever: "all part of life's rich tapestry."

  3. Here are a few of my favorites from Mother Teresa:

    "God doesn't require us to succeed; he only requires that you try. "

    "I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much. "

    "We can do no great things, only small things with great love."

    "The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved."

  4. The one that always makes me cringe is "God doesn't ever give us something we can't handle".

  5. As to your first list, two of my favorites:

    He's as dumb as a box of hair.
    He's one taco short of a combination plate.

    (Can you tell my relatives live in Texas?)

    On the theological side:

    "The truth shall set you free, but first it will make you miserable."

    "Be kind because everyone is fighting a great battle." (Philo of Alexandria)

    It's not brave unless you're scared." (Not as theological perhaps, but I like it anyway.)


  6. Here are a some my mom always says:
    "We plan, God Laughs"
    " When following God's path remember to take one step at a time."
    "The Light is always there, you just have to open your eyes to see it."

  7. My favorite saying comes from the African American tradition. "God may not come when you want but God is always there on time!"

  8. You can tell what God thinks of money and fame by looking at who has them.

    In God we trust. All others pay cash.

  9. for the first list:
    "Don't let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya."

    for the second:
    "God helps those who help themselves."

    More may come later with caffeine!

  10. For the first one, "He's not the sharpest knife in the drawer" or "not the brightest bulb in the chandelier." How about this one, "happier than a spotted dog under a reg wagon"...I don't know what it means either, but my grampa always said it. For the second one, "Fellowship is more than donuts and coffee." "No meetin' without eatin"" (okay, so it's not all that theological, just churchy. Did anyone mention, "God's plan will not send you where his grace cannot lead you."

  11. I've always liked:

    Never let yesterday use up too much of today.

    Ships in the harbor are safe, but that's not what ships were built for.

    God helps those who cannot help themselves.
    Be patient. God isn't finished with me yet! (alot of grace in that one!!!)

  12. Thanks to all who shared. I really appreciate it!