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phrases

Immanuel

A man begs for change.  Some throw him coins.  Most pass on by.  But imagine a true philanthropist (meaning “lover of man”). He doesn’t just reach into his pocket for some change.  Imagine he stoops down beside the poor man and sits down in the gutter.  Imagine he reaches an arm around the man and […]

Woe is me

What does a spiritual experience look like?  Warm feelings?  Groovy vibes?  Not if you ask Isaiah. In Isaiah chapter 6 the prophet has the ultimate spiritual experience.  He meets the LORD: “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train [i.e. […]

Swords into ploughshares

Bill Hicks used to joke: “A lot of Christians wear crosses around their necks. You think when Jesus comes back he’s gonna want to see a cross?” Hicks wasn’t original of course.  The incongruity has always been there.  A method of extreme torture and humiliating execution has become the most prominent religious symbol in the […]

And it shall come to pass

Here’s a really lovely bit of over-translation from the KJB.  Six English words render a single Hebrew verb.  It’s merely the future 3rd person singular of the verb “to be”.  They might have simply said “It shall be”.  In fact many times they might have left it entirely untranslated (as many modern translations do).  But […]

White as snow

“She’s pure as New York snow” says the song.  That’s to say – not pure at all.  New York snow is quickly sullied by the city’s grit and grime.  But, for the first hour or so, that white blanket covers over a multitude of sins. Isaiah the prophet knew a people whose spiritual condition was […]

My beloved is mine and I am his

The bible begins with a wedding and ends with a wedding.  In the middle Christ comes as Bridegroom to win His bride.  Throughout, the LORD is described as jealous and his people are either “faithful” or “adulterous.” No wonder that when Solomon turns from his exercise in spiritual doubt (Ecclesiastes) to pen the “Song of […]

Two are better than one

You have to pick your wedding encouragements carefully. The story is told of an uncle who could not make it to the happy day and so telegrammed his greeting as a simple bible reference.  It was 1 John 4:18: “Perfect love casteth out fear.” A word in season, as the good book says (Proverbs 15:23).  […]

Of making many books there is no end

In the wake of new forms of electronic media, traditional publishers will be relieved at this verse: “of making many books there is no end” And students can particularly identify with the second half: “and much study is a weariness of the flesh.”  (Ecclesiastes 12:12) Even wise king Solomon sees the weariness of books and […]

Cast thy bread upon the waters

This phrase is both “useful” and “dangerous” says David Crystal in Begat.  And the reason it’s useful and dangerous is one and the same – no-one knows quite what it means! What is “thy bread”?  What are the waters?  And what is the outcome that is promised? “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou […]

A little bird told me

When we use the phrase it’s usually with a wry smile…  “Now what’s this I hear about you and a new lady love…” we tease.  What lady?  “Oh a little bird told me you were out with so-and-so.” It’s all a bit of fun in our modern usage.  It’s a playful way of concealing our […]