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Words matter. Understanding the words we use matters even more. I found this to be true while helping coach a team of 8 year-old girls in softball. “I want to bunt. What does that mean?” Or another girl asked me what a “fair ball” was.

Softball players have a language of their own, borrowed from the baseball diamond. A few examples: getting in a pickle, worm-burner, rope, shiner, high cheese, heater, Texas leagueer, and on the list could go. To an outsider, it might be a little intimidating until the basics are mastered.

The same can be true of church. We may find ourselves speaking a language that people disconnected from God may not understand. Newer, more modern versions of the Bible help — they translate the Bible using contemporary language. But no matter how current or contemporary the translation, there will always be words that need to be defined for new listeners.

Rather than abandon words such as redemption, salvation, holiness, righteousness, and others, we need to help people understand what they mean. One of the best ways to do that is not through translations of the Bible alone but through lives that have been transformed. To see redemption in action. To see holiness with flesh on it.

Words do matter. Even more so when they come to life!