Don’t ever say ‘just’…

One of the regular thrift shops that I visit is a Goodwill store on Taylorsville Road in Louisville.   Last Saturday,  when I picked up a half dozen Bibles, there were four ladies at the cashier station chatting and laughing and playfully teasing each other.  When they stepped aside to let me pay,  the regular cashier recognized me and introduced me to her friends and explained that I was buying Bibles to send overseas.  The ladies were quite impressed and one asked if I was a pastor.  ( The cashier had introduced me as ‘at least a deacon’).   “No,’ I replied, I’m just a guy doing what little he can.

The best dressed of the three customers wagged her finger in my face.  “Don’t ever say ‘just’ when you’re doing God’s work!  You don’t know what else he’s going do with what you do!”

Here are some of the highlighted verses from this week’s ‘finds':

 John 9:4-5  KJV (1611 Translation)

I must worke the works of him that sent me, while it is day; the night commeth when no man can worke.   As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

 2 Timothy 2:15  New Living Translation (NLT)

15 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.

Psalms 118:5-12 New Living Translation (NLT)

In my distress I prayed to the Lord,     and the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear.     What can mere people do to me? Yes, the Lord is for me; he will help me.     I will look in triumph at those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord     than to trust in people. It is better to take refuge in the Lord     than to trust in princes.

10 Though hostile nations surrounded me,     I destroyed them all with the authority of the Lord. 11 Yes, they surrounded and attacked me,     but I destroyed them all with the authority of the Lord. 12 They swarmed around me like bees;     they blazed against me like a crackling fire.     But I destroyed them all with the authority of the Lord.

( highlighted by Ralph Sullivan)

Thanks for reading! If you find anything interesting in the Bibles — like some of the items I feature on the galley pages– send them on!  If you want to help with sending Bibles overseas, click on the Used Book Depository link.   And as our Methodist ministers often pray, “may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable unto Him.”


children praying

“Singing Our Thanks For Jesus” from

Jan – March 1939 Primary Church School Leaflets

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Dedications …

Many of the Bibles I gather  have dedications in the inside cover — many serious, most associated with a confirmation, baptism or other event— but some are just  heartfelt, curious comments:

One from a Thanksgiving present:

“David – Thank you for being my brother.  I wish you a world of good.

The American Indians  celebrated the first Thanksgiving with the early immigrants who landed their large sail boats on the eastern seaboard.  It took one month or more to get here from Europe. This trip was near fatal.  Where are the American Indians now?”

My current favorite was in the inside cover of  the “Bedtime Bible Story Book”, an illustrated, middle school level storybook version.  In the inside cover,  Jose wrote to his 3rd grade ‘good buddy’ Robert:   “I thank God for your friendship and may this book serve you as it has me.”

Or this very wise dedication:

Inscription from September 1965

Inscription from September 1965

Sometimes it takes a great deal of courage, or love, or faith to give someone a Bible.  I know why – you open yourself up to possible rejection, maybe scorn, sharing it.  Would we hesitate to give away gold?

The world is crying out for hope — comfort — acceptance — love.  Some of those crying are crying out for Bibles, from far away, impoverished countries — you can help them. Others are crying but don’t know what for — maybe they need Bibles too.

This blog’s verses are highlighted by Wendi Renee, in a Bible given to her in 1989 by Michael:

Galatians 2:20 (NLT):  My old self has been crucified with Christ.[a] It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

1 Peter 1:3-5 (NLT):  All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

Jeremiah 1:4-8 (NLT)

The Lord gave me this message:

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
    Before you were born I set you apart
    and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

“O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”

The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

 Romans 8:28-29 (NLT)

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

Thanks for reading! If you find anything interesting in the Bibles — like some of the items I feature on the galley pages– send them on!  If you want to help with sending Bibles overseas, click on the Used Book Depository link.   And as our Methodist ministers often pray, “may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable unto Him.”


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November Highlights

Did you ever get a used textbook with sections highlighted in bright yellow marker with arrows and stars around it?  It must be important, but it’s not always clear why.

That’s frequently the case with the Bibles I accumulate — maybe half have verses highlighted or bookmarked with some old bulletin or photos.   You’d probably think that John 3:16 would be most frequently  highlighted, or the 23rd Psalm, but I found  a truly intriguing array of verses, uniquely meaningful  to each owner.

I’ve read the Bible throughout my life, and I know all the Sunday School stories,  but a lot of the words I’ve read didn’t get personal until  I found a specific verse that someone underlined and inadvertently  passed on to me.

It’s like each one of these Bibles has a clue in it, although  the clue may not be for me.

I don’t know if I have a lot of insight to add to these verses –maybe my value is to get people to read it, a bite at a time.  So my challenge is to highlight verses in the Bibles I find until we have covered the entire Bible.  Maybe I’ll add something personal, maybe not, but  I’ll present a  Bible study from hundreds of others who found some comfort, some direction, some treasure in the words they underlined.

So here are highlighted verses for this week:

Revelation 2:2 – 2:4

“I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance.  I know that you cannot tolerate evildoers; you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them to be false.  I also know that you are enduring patiently and bearing up for the sake of my name, and that you have not grown weary.  But I have this against you,  that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.”

John 6:37

“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.   And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”

Psalm 78:24

“He rained down on them manna to eat, and gave them the grain of heaven.  Mortals ate of the bread of angels;  he sent them food in abundance.”

Jesus, Our Friend from Jan - March 1938 Church School Leaflet

Jesus, Our Friend from Jan – March 1938 Church School Leaflet


Thanks for reading –and as our Methodist ministers often pray, “may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable unto Him.”

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From a mustard seed…

With another trip or two to the thrift stores and I filled my first box with 25 Bibles.   Quite pleased, on November 18, 2009 I sent my first shipments up to Cincinnati.  I received the following thank you from Polly:

“Thank you for the Bibles, including the Spanish language, which we unpacked today.  These are our most needed item.

“Recently a correspondent from Cameroon shared that seven people received Christ as Savior through one of the books we sent him.  An e-mail from Nigeria exulted over 38 new Christians through our gift of Bibles.

“2010 will be the 25th year of this ministry; we are grateful every day for the ability to accomplish what we do, and grateful for everyone who has a part in making it happen. We are grateful that we are able, through this ministry of sending Bibles to affirm, encourage and enrich our Christian brothers and sisters in places where they are in the minority, and under stress and persecution.”

In celebrating 25 years, the Used Book Depository provided an amazing chart that traced its history year by year.   Started in March of 1985 with the idea of providing Barclay Study Bibles to visiting ministers attending the Baptist World Congress in Los Angeles, what would become the Used Book Depository began sharing the Word to the World.

In 1986, the UBD sent 7 Bibles overseas; 1987, 33,  surpassing 1,000 in 1997.  Through its 25th anniversary, UBD has sent 110,313 Bibles around the world.   I’m delighted to be part of that—you can be a part too.

You can contact the Used Book Depository, a ministry of Montgomery Community Church, 11251 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati OH 45249; phone 513-489-0892.  Or follow this link:

They can use your Bibles, your contributions and your prayers.

But along with collecting the Bibles, I started to… them….to find some amazing things inside.  Some bulletins, some photos, some prayer cards (see the separate link)–and some very personal messages —



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What fifty cents can buy you (cont’d)

On the Goodwill book shelves I found an assortment of 7 Bibles — I dropped by $3.50 and took them home and stashed them on the unused exercise bench in my basement shop.   A week or so later, I went back by the Goodwill, and was surprised to find another 6 Bibles, which I bought for $3.00 and stacked on the exercise bench next to the first seven.  That weekend, I went by and found 4 more;  pretty consistently people donated Bibles to Goodwill.

I felt better about that exercise bench than I have since I exhausted myself carrying it home from a neighborhood yard sale– it was now holding 17 Bibles, which would have cost me $125 if I had just donated to charity.  But those 17 Bibles weren’t doing much good stuck in my basement.  Now that I had them, what would I do with them?

Googling ‘donate used Bibles’  I found the closest organization that accepted used Bibles for overseas distribution was the Used Book Depository in Cincinnati Ohio.   The director of the project, a delightfully enthusiastic lady named Polly,  filled me in with the Used Book Depository mission (more next post on them) and welcomed whatever Bibles I wanted to send.

Shipping a box of 17 Bibles to Cincinnati would cost more than 9 times what I paid for the Bibles — and I’m trying to get Bibles to Africa and other overseas countries, not just over the Ohio River.   Only an hour and a half away, it would make more sense to just drive a load up to the Depository.   I had 17, but could I really collect enough Bibles to make the trip worthwhile?

I found 17 in about two weeks,  but that seemed really optimistic;   maybe I could do ten a month which might give me a  carload once a year or so.

And maybe, over my lifetime, I could collect 1,000?

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what fifty cents can buy you

Welcome to fifty cent bibles, a diary of collecting used bibles to send to new churches overseas and the enlightening, entertaining and heartwarming things left inside them.

About four years ago, somewhere in a stack of junk mail offering around the world cruises, hair growth products and gym memberships I found a letter from an organization providing bibles for new churches around the world.   Like apple pie and motherhood, it sounded like a request that a decent man couldn’t refuse.  The contents tugged at my heart, building a need to help spread hope and the Good News to a hungry world.   The donation request however, tugged at my wallet.   For $25 a month, I could provide three bibles to brothers and sisters half a world away.  I sent my check, but instead of feeling pride in helping others I felt disappointed knowing that I couldn’t do more.

Not long after, I was killing time in a Goodwill thrift store, scanning through a line of bookshelves stuffed with old college text books, once popular novels, children’s books, etc.  The attraction for me was that any of these books were only 50 cents.  Scooping up an armful of marginally interesting books at a Barnes & Nobles can cost you a hundred bucks easy; but at Goodwill, all the books are just 50 cents, so you can take home another copy of To Kill a Mockingbird and a Perry Mason paperback with a cool retro cover and the latest promise for tighter abs for just a couple bucks.

Or you can buy a couple dozen bibles…..


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