port2A “portmanteau” creates a new term by combining two existing words along with their definitions. For example, “smog” blends “smoke” and “fog” to describe polluted air. “Motel” slurs “motor” and “hotel” to indicate a roadside inn.

Other portmanteaus include brunch (breakfast and lunch), Pictionary (picture and dictionary), chortle (chuckle and snort), Chunnel (channel and tunnel), travelogue (travel and monologue), and imagineer (imagine and engineer.)

Lewis Carroll coined the term in his classic book entitled Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There. Today we better know the fantastical tale as Alice in Wonderland. In the nonsensical poem, Jabberwocky, Carroll created a number of strange new phrases.

In a bizarre linguistic twist, the word “portmanteau” is itself a portmanteau! The Gallic word combines “porter” (to carry) with “manteau” (cloak). The French term describes a large leather suitcase that opens into two hinged compartments. In a similar fashion, portmanteaus “hinge” two words together into a single entity.

Anyone can play the word creation game. Find two words and combine them together for a new meaning. Here’s my list of some portmanteau possibilities.


This common creature can be found primarily in the southern United States; however, sightings have occurred across North America. In our inclusive society, Methodists and Baptists sometimes intermarry. The resulting offspring are called “Methoptists”. Theological doctrine and ecclesiastical dogma are all forgotten when a Southern Baptist belle bats her eyes at a United Methodist beau. Almost every family in our region contains a Methodist and Baptist in its family tree.


The last presidential election featured technicolor maps dividing the country into blue and red states. However, many Americans vote for the individual and not the party. Issues, integrity, and character prove more important than party designations. “Republicrats” often vote for both Republicans and Democrats during the same election. They seek to elect the best candidate regardless of title.


Although my children do not believe me, I recall a day when our family television could only pick up three local stations with its rabbit ears antenna. Today cable and satellite TV offer hundreds of channels. Although my wrist aches from channel-surfing-carpal-tunnel-syndrome, I still find myself saying, “There’s nothing on TV tonight.” The garbage that passes for prime time TV is “telebage.”


Writing a weekly blog can tax one’s imagination and creativity. Writer’s
block leads to blog fatigue.

Join the game! Create your own portmanteau and share it by hitting “Reply.”

A Man’s Guide to Decorating

Contemporary culture obsesses over the topic of home design and décor. Dedicated TV channels broadcast home and garden advice 24/7/365. Hosts of perky personalities give the low-down on the how-to of DYI projects. Magazines fill mailboxes with picture-perfect homes that fit the financial means of anyone owning majority shares in a Fortune 500 company.

home-decoratingColor me confused. I don’t understand the allure of renovating a perfectly good home. However, I possess no sense of fashion or flair. My eyes glaze over whenever someone mentions paint chips, cloth swatches, and lamp styles. Like the majority of the masculine persuasion, I like any color as long as it is off-white.

I am not alone. Men stare in dull-eyed confusion while their significant others wax eloquent about pillow shams, plantation shutters, balloon valances, or distressed wood. As a public service for my fellow sufferers, I offer A Man’s Guide to Decorating Terms and Other Incomprehensible Words.

Paint plays an important role in any home redesign. However, paint now comes in an overwhelming palette of shades and hues. When just the right tint is finally selected, one must then select “flat,” “semi-gloss,” “gloss” and “satin” finishes. These terms describe the dullness or shine of the paint. As a general rule of thumb, ceilings are flat, walls semi-gloss, and trim work satin. Like owning a dozen pair of black high heels, it’s not something the average man needs to understand as long as he can say, “Yes, dear!”

Women place great store in “accessorizing” a room. Most males are satisfied with a table, easy chair, bed, and TV. In contrast, the female of the species treasures bowls, pictures, plates, dollies, mirrors, candles, water features, wall hangings, and floor rugs. The closest male analogy is collecting fishing lures or power tools. Accessories add “punch” to a room and can be quite “whimsical” and “eclectic. However, accessories should never detract from the “statement” made to anyone “reading” the room.

Decorators insist that rooms possess a “focal point.” For most men, a large screen television creates THE perfect focal point for ANY room. However, women set great store in “conversation pieces” that elicit admiration from female guests. The only conversation the pieces inspire in men is the question: “Where’s the TV?”

“Faux” is French for fake. However, fake is fine if it is French. “Weekend projects” last for months. “Low cost” involves an amortization schedule with a seven year balloon payment. “Wall hangings” cover a perfectly good wall. Finally, “We’re finished” is a meaningless statement used to placate husbands until the next project.

Oh, there IS one other phrase women use in the planning and implementation of home projects. They will occasionally turn to their male counterparts and earnestly ask, “What do YOU think?”

Fortunately, no response is expected to the rhetorical question.

And In All Things

essentialsIn essentials, unity. In nonessentials, liberty.               And in all things, charity.

This statement has been attributed to various church leaders, including Saint Augustine and John Wesley. Many believe it outlines a way for Christians to live together, even when we do not always agree.

In essentials, unity.

Core beliefs and practices central to Christianity cannot be conceded without compromising the faith. The issue arises in defining what is “essential.”

For some, the core is quite small. In the midst of the summer heat, one church sign read: Too hot to change sign. God good. Sin bad. Come inside for details!

For others, the core is much larger. Consider the homepage for the Truth Baptist Church in Atwater, Ohio: We are an independent, fundamental, soul winning, premillennial, evangelistic, pretribulation, local church oriented and KJV 1611 believing church. THEN you can go to their doctrinal summary page!

In my opinion, the Apostles Creed concisely states the central tenets of the faith. The two great commandments teach us how to live: Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength;  and Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 28 tells us the mission of the church is  to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

In nonessentials, liberty.

Not everything is of equal importance. Know the difference between essential and nonessential, central and peripheral, foundational and marginal. It can be important to me without it being important to you; and it can be important to you without it being important to be. Sometimes we can agree to disagree.

Other issues can be more contentious and controversial when it comes to politics, social issues, life styles, and more. However, we are constantly called to keep the main thing the main thing and major on the majors and minor on the minors.

In all things, charity.

We cannot always agree on what’s essential. We often argue about what’s nonessential. But let us at least agree on this final principle: LOVE. On his final night with the disciples, Jesus said: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)

Love is like a mustard seed. It doesn’t take much—just a tiny amount to be planted in the soil of our souls. Tend it with time and care, and it will grow unseen. When it blooms, it becomes a home big enough for everyone to live beneath its shade.

If we truly believe what we say we believe, then we’re going to spend eternity together. Maybe we should learn to love one another a little better in the meantime.

Proverbs, Part 2

The book of Proverbs reveals the spiritual principles that undergird our world. Those who follow these laws prosper and succeed. Many of Solomon’s proverbs, however, do not deal with weighty, theological matters. Instead, they address the ordinary, day-to-day living of life.

Proverbs 2Frankly, many of the proverbs are just common sense; but the authors of the book recognize that common sense is not all that common!

Last week I gave an overview of the Old Testament book. Here’s a sampling of some individual proverbs:

  • When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is prudent.
  • Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise, when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent!
  • A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
  • A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.
  • Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
  • One man gives freely and yet grows all the richer. Another withholds what he should give and only suffers wants.
  • He who oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is kind to the needy honors him.
  • Know well the condition of your flocks and give attention to your herds.
  • As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed!
  • Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.
  • Anxiety in a man’s heart weights him down, but a good word makes him glad.
  • He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
  • Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
  • Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.
  • He who blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing!
  • Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

I conclude with a piece of advice shared last week: Life’s tough—but it’s a whole lot tougher if you’re stupid!

Proverbs helps us to learn the wisdom of God. Foolish or wise—the choice is ours.