When I was a sixth grader, my favorite game was the “Dictionary Game.” My first memory of it was sitting around the kitchen table with friends, both adults and peers, of whom I was close to the youngest. The woman of the house pulled a giant collegiate dictionary off the shelf, and she handed pieces of paper and stubby pencils around the table to each of us. Then she read a ridiculously long English word from the dictionary, carefully spelling it for us, since we’d never heard of it before. Then she told us to write a definition for the word, being careful to make it sound as if a dictionary had actually said it the way we did. We giggled and thought up definitions that would hopefully appear true. Then we folded up our pieces of paper and handed them back to her. Meanwhile, she had copied down the true definition of the word onto her slip of paper, shuffling the true statement in with all the false ones. She proceeded to read them all aloud, and we would vote for any definitions we thoughts were the real definitions. We rarely guessed the correct one!
I always loved that game — still do! Now it goes by the name of Balderdash and is easier to play. No collegiate dictionary required! (I’d link to it on Amazon, but evidently it’s a collectible, going for around $100 used. It would be cheaper to buy a collegiate dictionary!)
The tagline of the board game Balderdash is “the game of twisting truths,” which makes me chuckle. The point was to sound as truthful as possible, but what we were writing down was absolute falsehood.
The dictionary defines balderdash with synonyms like “baloney, blah-blah, blather, drivel, drool, fiddlesticks, folly, garbage, hogwash, hokeypokey, hooey, horsefeathers, nonsense, rot, rubbish, twaddle.” This makes me chuckle, too, because I can remember giving my mother some excuse why I couldn’t do my homework, and her answer would have been one of those words, I’m sure!
The fact is we all fall for some hogwash and baloney now and then, and most of the time, we voted for the things we believe are true. They sound so good! They might even have a little truth mixed in.
But they are just a bunch of hooey.
Our definitions of words affect how we see everything. I’ve been writing a series on “frogs,” which are evil spirits coming out of the mouths of the dragon (paganism), the beast (false Christian religions and humanism), and the false prophet (false religions such as Islam). They speak into our world continuously, spewing lies that look like truths, and we often believe the voices.
So once you’ve given your life to God and decided to be a believer in His Word, how do these voices affect you and those in your church?
Whoa, wait up there!
I used a bunch of balderdash in that sentence. Did you catch it?
“given your life to God”
“believer in His Word”
Okay, I’m passing out the slips of paper now. You have two minutes to write a definition of each of those phrases. Then we’ll pass them back in and take a vote on which one is the best one.
Except that even if we all vote and choose together which one we like best, that doesn’t mean our popular opinion will match the “dictionary” — the Bible.
I could add more words to this list, too. How should we define Torah-observant or Christian? How about the whole counsel of God? I already mentioned the church, or assembly, or fellowship, or congregation. How about sin, or righteousness, or holiness? I could get really sticky and ask for a definition of salvation, heaven, eternity, or hell. Sadly, I think we probably even need to define Bible. Do we even know how to define Messiah or Savior or God?
Yikes. There’s a whole lotta room for blah-blah and horsefeathers here, isn’t there?
I’m not immune to this, and I’m not trying to say I am. If you went to the archives of my blog, wayyyyyyy back to 2005, and started to read all my posts in order, you’d see that my definitions of words have certainly changed over 15 years. Eeeks! It’s true though, because we are all growing and learning. In 2006, I changed dramatically as I put in hundreds and hundreds of hours into intense Bible study. And I keep learning new things. I attend a congregation where we discuss hard things and try to be “iron sharpening iron” (Proverbs 27:17). I have friends who are blunt with me and urge me to consider how I word things, to be more clear and concise and careful. The goal is to match “the dictionary,” or the standard written down for us by our Creator in the Scriptures.
I’m going to start a project of going through my blog and putting biblical definitions of words into a collection of definitions here on this website. Next week I’ll update you on my progress. I hope you’ll be a Berean (Acts 17:11) and check my definitions against the Scriptures. I also hope you’ll check your own definitions. And I’ll try to start linking to my definitions from now on, so that you won’t accidentally think I’m saying twaddle when I mean something else entirely.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).
We only know truth when we carefully compare it to the Only True Standard of Truth.
“The light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
“But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (John 3:19-21).
And here is why we prefer to stay in the world of balderdash. When we come to the light of Scripture, our deeds will indeed be exposed. Gulp.
Are you willing to come to the light? We humans don’t love having anyone else tell us what to do, whether it’s a person or law, but if we’ll just submit ourselves to the light, we would find a clear path. We wouldn’t trip so much. We’d find shalom. (That word means completeness of peace.)
So let’s put away the games. Let’s pull out our Bibles. Let’s define the words, and let’s be willing to be exposed.
Are you with me? Seriously! Leave me a comment to say, “I’m in!”
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture in this blog post taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.