Sunday, March 12, 2006

Inexpensive Resources on Ebay

I know I keep plugging the need for teachers to be well-resourced, that is, to have solid Bible study and research tools at their fingertips. It's because I'm so passionate about responsible preparation and being faithful in our handling of God's word. In earlier posts I've encouraged every Bible study teacher or leader to possess at least the following:
  • a good study Bible (one with cross-references, footnotes, concordance, and maps)
  • an exhaustive concordance (based on the same translation the teacher uses most)
  • a Bible dictionary or Bible handbook
  • multiple translations of the Bible (or a parallel Bible)
  • a topical Bible (like a concordance but arranged by topic or subject)
  • a Bible atlas
And that's just the minimum.

I also know that accumulating this kind of library can be expensive, and I've suggested purchasing softward bundles (less expensive than books overall) or buying books through local discount warehouses or on sale at Christian Bood Distributors or to defray expenses. I've also mentioned several on-line tools available free of charge (see list of "Bible Study Tools" links in sidebar on right; click to your heart's content!).

And in one of my recent posts, I offhandedly mentioned eBay. Little did I know!

Yup. Now that I've entered the eBay underworld (it really has its own subculture), I have to say I'm thoroughly impressed. Every seller with whom I've done business has gone above and beyond the call of duty to get my books to me safely, in good condition, and in a decent amount of time. Ebay is a far greater resource for purchasing inexpensive study tools than I first imagined.

Random searches I did this morning at eBay yielded these finds:
  • an NIV exhaustive concordance (hardback) for 99 cents
  • a leather-bound John MacArthur study Bible for $2.99
  • a hardback NIV study Bible for $1.99
  • a Zondervan Illustrated Bible handbook (new, unused hardback) for $1.99
  • a new Zondervan Nave's topical Bible for 99 cents
  • several various Bibles translations (study Bibles and otherwise) for $2.00 or less
  • complete multi-volume hardcover commentary sets (by solid, reputable authors) from $20 to $130--all new, unused, in publisher's original packaging
If you'd like to see for yourself, go to eBay, and type in what you're looking for in the search box at the top right (search by title or general subject or author...doesn't matter). Some items located in your search will be up for auction (you can see how much time is left to bid) and others are "buy it now" offers (immediate transactions). Either way, you'll find boatloads of tools at reasonable, even less-than-reasonable, prices. You may have to search a bit, but the deals are there.

Having said that, keep these cautions in mind:

1. Check out the sellers' ratings first (before your bid or buy). Ebay's success is largely due to its seller/buyer feedback system (made public to all). Literally every buyer and every seller can leave feedback about their transaction experiences. Avoid those sellers with less-than-ideal ratings (read the comments left by other buyers to see what to expect).

2. Don't get caught up in the last minute bidding rush. Some items' prices skyrocket quickly in the last few minutes of an auction. Remember: if you see your desired item at eBay once, it will be there again. Almost guaranteed. Be patient, and you'll find what you want for the price you need.

3. If you don't want to risk losing the auction to another bidder, you can often find "buy it now" options on identical products offered by other sellers. You may pay a teensy bit more for that option, but some sellers just want to unload their goods.

4. Check the seller's location and shipping costs, too, before you bid or buy. Some offer flat rates; some offer media mail; some only offer more expensive Priority mail. It won't do you any good to get a great deal on the book cost, but then get overcharged on shipping. Most sellers list their shipping fees upfront, but some don't. If your item's seller hasn't listed shipping rates, e-mail the seller to ask about shipping fees before you buy or bid (this is standard protocol). If you're unsure, don't use that seller.

5. Make sure the photo you see in the item listing is of the product you're buying (or that the seller has clearly stated that the photo is only a stock photo and not of the actual product). Again, the seller's feeback ratings will alert you to any problem with misrepesentation, so this shouldn't be an issue.

6. Do your homework: know how much the item you're looking for costs at Amazon or CBD first, then see if you're getting a deal on eBay. Some things that look like deals aren't when you check out the competition. you have several ways to resource your teaching library for a relatively small expense. Think about it: for less than a trip to the movies or a stop at a fast food restaurant, you can purchase some solid Bible study tools to have at your fingertips. If you haven't done so already, start now, and add to your resources one book at a time.

You, and your students, will be better for the investment.

'Til next time,

Saturday, March 04, 2006


Sorry about the last post. Oooops! That was supposed to be published on the web log site I do about living with our three Labrador retrievers (called Lab Tails).

But after rereading what's posted here, though I'll repost it there later, I think there's a lesson in that entry that applies not just to Lab owners, but to Bible study teachers, too. Well two lessons, actually.

Lesson 1: Details, though they aren't everything, can be very important. My Lab Tails blog entry ended up on this blog because I was sending photos and failed to notice the destination link at the top of the page had changed from its norm (my default destination setting is for Lab Tails since I post most photos there). The last time I posted here I sent photos, so I changed the setting, but failed to change it back again. One mouse click was all it would have taken for the blog post to have ended up in the right place: one little detail.

Sometimes, in our hurry to prepare or in our passion to make a point, we skip details for the larger issues. My "oooops" reminds me that it's important to notice details and to think through lessons carefully before I entrust them to my students and group members.

Lesson 2: Teaching, like life with Labs, comes with both the good and the bad. To experience one, we must be willing to accept the other (just like to experience the good of my Labs I have to accept things like muddy paws--it's just part of the territory).

So that's it; those are my two brief lessons learned.

Oh, maybe there's one more lesson here, too: Redemption. Even our mistakes can be redeemed: God is big enough to use it all for His glory and our good.

'Til next time,

We Love to be Outside!

The kids (canine variety) just love the outdoors.

It doesn't matter what time of year, what type of weather, or how cold it is. If they can be outside, that's where they want to be.

The only exception is summer heat, but that's another story for another day.

They especially love to be outside when it's messy: muddy, rainy, icy. Go figure.

Well, Don took Baxter, Elsie, and Ridge for their usual lengthy Saturday morning romp out along the dirty roads and streams near our house. And, you guessed it: they loved splashing in anything they could put their paws into: mud, ice cold water, draining ditches. Silly, muddy, muddy kids.

Thankfully we have a somewhat mess-free backyard. And the kid love to hang out there.
They stay pretty clean, all things considered (not that they care; I care, though, especially when they come inside!).

They stay mud-free just about everywhere in the back yard, except when the visit the lower corner beyond the crabapple tree. That's a mud pit. And, of course, it's right next to where the neighbors come and go, so the dogs hang out there to bark and race back and forth. It figures.

So, we decided it was time to throw some straw in the mud pit to at least tone down the splash factor.

Elsie, Baxter, and Ridge had to help, of course.

And they did.

But even two bales later, we still have a mud pit.

And muddy dogs.

I guess that's just part of living with Labs. :o)

I'll take muddy paws and underbellies with Lab kisses and faithfulness any day.

'Til next time,
Joan Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Right Tools: Finding Good Books for Less

A few weeks ago, when Philly got hit with 18" of snow, we made it through the storm and its aftermath quite comfortably.

Why? Because we had the right tools (like the snowblower in this photo).

Teaching Bible study or leading small groups can feel like a blizzard sometimes: too many thoughts and ideas and theologies and questions swirling in our minds and in the minds of our students/group members.

We can navigate these blizzards safely and comfortably, however, if we have the right tools.

Nearly a year ago (February 18th, 2005, Essential Bible Study Resources post), I provided a list of non-negotiable, absolute-must-have-resources for Bible study teachers and leaders, so I won't repeat the list here.

What I've learned recently is that you don't have to spend a fortune to get these things. Here are a few places on-line you can find Bible study resources inexpensively:

1. eBay (in books, go to the non-fiction, religion, and Christian sub-categories, then search your title)

2. (use the used-book seller option). Take Zondervan's NIV Nave's Topical Bible (hardback) for example. Amazon lists this book for their discount rate of $29.99. BUT new and used booksellers at Amazon list the same book for as low as $9.00. I've used the new and used option for many, many books at Amazon without incident. I highly recommend this avenue for acquiring discounted books.

3. Use You can search by author or title and BookFinder will yield lists of sellers and their prices, many of which are unbelievably low.

Also, beyond the Internet, don't forget about your Public Library's used-book sales, second-hand or thrift shops, discount book warehouses, and other discounters like Ollie's Bargain Outlet
I buy a LOT of my teaching resources at Ollie's, as do many of my teachers and students. Check their web-site store locator to find a store near you.

Whatever you're teaching or leading, having the right tools can make your job easier; they may even help you survive a teaching storm. Some tools you can find on-line (see right-hand margin of this page), and some electronically (see my Thursday, February 16, 2006 post), but I like the printed page.

There's just something about books. And it doesn't have to bankrupt you to add a few good, hard-copy resources to your library.

Happy resource hunting! May you find what you need.

'Til next time,

 Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


I keep a framed picture similar to this one on my desk in my office. A gift from my sister, it sits next to my computer where I see it daily.

In the upper left-hand corner, superimposed over the image, are these words:

"Recognize and develop great people and great ideas...while they are still small."

Then one word captions the photo: "Potential."

Zechariah 4:10 states, "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin" (NLT).

The image of a redwood sapling growing among mature, healthy giants, reminds me that we all begin as saplings with potential (we ourselves, our co-workers, our loved ones, those to whom and with whom we minister). We follow the giants who've gone before us; we lead potential giants coming behind. And God accomplishes the growth of us all.

Sometimes we miss the potential in those around us because we're too focused on the giants looming above. Or we're too impatient to recognize the value of solid, though small, beginnings.

God, give us grace to see the potential You have for us and for those around us. Help us to rejoice, as You rejoice, in seeing your work begin. Fill us with hope-filled eyes that see potential, and make us faithful to nurture growth in whatever saplings you've seen fit to plant in our paths.

'Til next time,