What Plumbing Taught Me About Bible Study Tools

Sometimes God hands you interesting learning opportunities through home repair.

I recently replaced the faucet in our downstairs bathroom. I went to the local big-box home store and picked up a nice replacement kit

My wife was a little concerned that I was starting this project only a few hours before company was coming for dinner — company that would need to use this bathroom!

“Uhm, honey, what if you don’t get this done on time?” she sweetly asked me with eyes that betrayed her anxiety.

“I’ve got a back up plan, dear. Two of those guys coming are really handy, and they can help me out if I run into problems I can’t handle. Besides, the instructions say the whole project will only take 45 minutes.”

(Did I mention that I have a long track record of failed home improvement projects, especially if they involve water, electricity, wood, or paint?)

Step one was to remove the old faucet and pipes underneath the sink. The instructions didn’t tell you how to do that, but craning my head around I could see what had to be unscrewed to get things apart.

I spent almost an hour pathetically trying to detach screws and bolts from the plumbling designed by some spawn-of-Satan with my pliers and wrenches.

So I made a trip to the local hardware store to buy a wrench that worked at a right angle. That got me most of the way through, but then I had to unscrew a 3″ pipe that was stuck. So it was back to the store again for a pipe wrench that was big enough. I had the pipe apart in two minutes. I also snapped one the of the water inlet tubes, so I picked up a replacement tube at the store.

(Did I mention that my sweet wife was checking on me every half hour? These are the times when you just KNOW God’s grace is keeping you in check so you don’t explode.)

OK, I’m almost 3 hours into this 45 minute project and now I can install the new faucet. That took me about another hour and half, because I was looking at the wrong drawing on the instructions.

Fortunately, all the seals were watertight and I was able to get the bathroom cleaned up with minutes to spare before our guests arrived.

The funniest part was when I proudly showed off my replacement to the two guys I had counted on to be able to help me. They looked at it and said they weren’t that brave, and didn’t know much about plumbing.

So what did I learn from this adventure in plumbing repair?

Once I had the right tools, the job was SO MUCH EASIER!

The same is true for Bible study. I believe firmly that 90% of your needs can be met with a simple Bible with cross-references and a small concordance. But that 10% of remaining need is SO MUCH EASIER when you have the right study tools.

You can spend a lot of money on Bible study tools and software, but here are the three investments I think are worthwhile for every Bible teacher:

1. A Thompson’s Chain Reference Bible.

This is the best tool, in my opinion, for helping you to use Scripture to intrepret Scripture. It has stood the test of time.

2. Nave’s Topical Bible

Your best starting point for studying broad topics. You’ll find connections here that a concordance will not lead you to.

3. Expository Dictionary of OT and NT words

A dictionary helps you understand the original meanings of the Hebrew and Greek words, and really rounds out your ability to understand a passage and teach it well. Vine’s dictionary is the classic reference. Today I’m recommending Renn’s Expository Dictionary because it’s more complete.

These three tools will take you very, very far. After that you may want to look at commentaries, atlas books, and an exhaustive concordance.

The right tools for a plumbing job are investments — I can use them again and again in the future. The right reference tools for your Bible study work will last a lifetime — they’re an investment.

Save yourself valuable hours and leverage these excellent reference tools so you can do more to teach the Bible to change lives!