A cowboy’s guide to fancy church words.

by Kevin on October 8, 2010

There are words that we have all heard in church our whole lives. You’ve heard the congregation give thunderin’ “amens” when the preacher used them. Admit it, you had no idea what he was talkin’ about and you didn’t think anyone sittin’ there did either. Here is your Cowboy Guide to Fancy Church Words.

1. Sanctify – To set apart as being holy (Hebrews  13:12 – Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.)

If you pay $12,000 for a new head horse and you only make $12,000 a year working on a ranch, you will probably set that horse apart from the rest of the ranch horses.

2. Justify – To be made right with God (Romans 5:9 – Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.)

If the best cowboy on the ranch willingly takes the blame for a mistake that you have made, he has justified you before the ranch owner.

3. Edify – To show the lay of the land so that something might be accomplished (Romans 14:19 – Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.)

The wagon boss will explain how a pasture is laid out and give a strategy for gathering the cattle. He will assign different cowboys to different duties based upon their experience level and skills. He does this so that the goal of gathering all the cattle can be accomplished.

4. Righteous – The result of living a life that God would totally approve of (Romans 3:10 – As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:)

That old cowboy never let a fence get slack, a cow get sick, a horse go unshod, a water trough spill over, a windmill get low on oil, or anything else the entire time he worked on the ranch. He was the most righteous cowboy I ever met when it came to doin’ cowboy work.

5. Repentance – To change your mind about something 100% (Luke 5:32 – I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.)

I used to think that only men could ride a rank bucking horse until a woman won the extreme ranch rodeo bronc competition. I now know that I was wrong in thinking this way and I am not ashamed to admit it.

These simple definitions aren’t meant to be all inclusive. Entire books have been written on some of these words alone. I hope that the next time you hear them, you will have a little bit better understanding of what they mean.

Are there any big fancy church words that you have heard many times and can’t get your mind around?

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  • Big and fancy? Not so much, but how about plain, simple, and ridiculously inexplicable? I got plenty of those and top of the list is “Grace.” As wonderful and amazing as I know Grace is, I still don’t understand it.

    But as far as dual nature Christology according to Nicean Exegesis… I got a wife in seminary to explain that kind of stuff. lol.

    • Kevin

      I have no idea what Nicean Exegesis means, but I would love to hear about it in a parable about mad cows that try to kill you (when you get it figured out).

  • Great job Kevin! Far too often we church folk use these words and alienate the very people we are trying to connect with. I thinks it’s best that these words always be given some type of explanation when used.

  • Don Coyote

    Well, Seiji brought up one. I’ll give the definition of that and one other as told to me by an old time preacher and it helped me get a real good handle on both:

    Grace = getting what you don’t deserve
    Mercy = not getting what you do deserve

    Always worked for me.

  • Don Coyote

    Just a little clarification:

    Grace = getting what you don’t deserve (salvation at the expense of the life and shed blood of God’s own Son)
    Mercy = not getting what you do deserve (which is damnation, rightly credited to our own accounts—you play with fire yer gonna get burned)

    • Kevin

      I thought about both of those also, but I chickened out on putting them in this post. I just couldn’t accurately put how I felt about those into words. I now realize that God wanted you to post them on here. Fantastic job!!

      • Don Coyote

        I can’t remember exactly from who or where I first heard those definitions, but I’m thinkin’ it was Stuart Hamblen on his old Cowboy Church radio program back in the ’60’s.

        Anyway God moves, He’s still a-movin’

  • Becky

    Some other big ones that I sometimes have a hard time with are Grace and Mercy. You hit on most of them!

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