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Help! My Bible Is Alive!: 30 Days of Learning to Love and Understand God's Word

Help! My Bible Is Alive!: 30 Days of Learning to Love and Understand God's Word

by Nicole Unice
Help! My Bible Is Alive!: 30 Days of Learning to Love and Understand God's Word

Help! My Bible Is Alive!: 30 Days of Learning to Love and Understand God's Word

by Nicole Unice


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Do you struggle to connect with God during your Bible reading?
Sometimes reading the Bible can feel dry or uninteresting. What should feel dynamic, important, and alive often feels confusing, boring, or irrelevant. Biblical commentary can be intimidating or uninteresting. And we don’t know where to start on our own.

Pastor and Bible teacher Nicole Unice brings life back to reading the Bible by helping you personally encounter God through His Word. Rather than relying on scholarly commentary, Help! My Bible Is Alive! empowers you to read the Bible on your own with new confidence.

In this comprehensive and clear guide, you’ll find
  • key questions to help you find the meaning in any passage of Scripture
  • interactive lessons that teach you how to break down a verse
  • space to journal your thoughts as you learn
  • special reward cards that motivate you to complete each step
  • questions and prompts to help you think deeply and discuss
  • applications to help you practice diving deeper into the Bible
Take this 30-day challenge to refresh your spirit and experience your Bible like never before.

“This is the book I’ve been needing for the countless people in my church plant who are scared—but hungry—to engage with the Bible.” —Stephen Poore, MDiv, visionary pastor of Center Church

“This book allows anyone to see that the Bible is unsettlingly powerful, scandalously relevant, beautiful beyond belief, and very much alive.” —Rev. Rachel Toone, dean of spiritual formation at Montreat College

“The perfect guide for ordinary people who want to experience God in this extraordinary book!” —Aron Gibson, lead pastor at Lake Forest Church–WestLake

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781641580212
Publisher: The Navigators
Publication date: 10/22/2019
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 659,842
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Nicole Unice is an author, a pastor, and a teaching elder in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. For the past 20 years, Nicole has served the local church through students, developing young leaders and leading discipleship. Her books come to life through her popular video curriculum series found on RightNow Media. She holds degrees from the College of William and Mary and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Nicole lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and three children.

Read an Excerpt


Part 1 Why You Need Your Bible


C'mon, let's be honest. I hear things like ...

The Bible makes people uncomfortable. It's a place where we feel unsure, and most of us hate that feeling. We come to the Bible for answers, but often we only get more questions. We come to the Bible for comfort, but often we are confused about about how to interpret what we read. So it's no wonder that many people give up on looking to the Bible as a place for direction and purpose.

In a recent, completely unscientific study from my home church, out of 1,500 people polled, almost 30 percent said they "rarely" read the Bible, with about 17 percent saying "once or twice a month." This was a survey done by people actually sitting in church — these are the church people! That means that if we line you up with three people at church, one of you hardly reads the Bible at all, and my guess is that more than one of you isn't really applying it to daily life. It also means that we might all be faking it a little bit, when really, we could use some basic help on knowing how to hear from God's chosen form of communication.

But here's the real problem with dusty Bibles on everyone's shelf. If you are human, you have questions that you can't get answered anywhere else. I truly mean that. If you are a human being, walking this earth, with a heart and a mind and a soul, you have questions. You have longings. You look back on your life to things that don't add up. You look forward in your life with hopes and fears. And if you are holding this journal right now, you have an interest in knowing more about God — but perhaps, like most of the people I talk to about the Bible, you haven't (yet) found the Bible to be the place to meet those needs of your heart.

Does this sound like you? Then you are in exactly the right place. Especially if you are a grown-up, because as adults we've often forgotten the fine art of learning. We just know stuff because we already went through school. It's been a long time since we worked an algebra problem or diagrammed a sentence, and frankly, most of us don't want to do either one ever again. But unfortunately, most of us have approached the Bible as if we are already supposed to know how to use it. We come to it with these predisposed notions that if we know how to read, we should know what to do with it. Then, when we actually find the Bible ...

or (fill in the blank below)


... we give up and put it right back on the shelf.

It would be easy at this point to just jump in and start solving the problem. But all change takes time, including change in our hearts. So in this first section, we are going to tackle head-on some of those obstacles that have kept us from Bible study up to this point, and begin to hope again (or hope for the first time) that we can encounter God through his Word in new, relevant, and fresh ways for our lives. Let's get started!


Hurdle #1: But It's So Confusing!

As we get started, don't forget to have your place, your set-aside time, your pen, and your Bible ready!

Breath Prayer

God my Father, Open my eyes to you.

Take a few moments to settle yourself in God's presence. Remember, this is not busywork or another of your endless to-dos. You are entering the incredible and awesome reality that our majestic and holy God invites you into to meet with him. You are grounding yourself in your spirit and asking God to open your mind to the wonders of his presence. Your breath prayer for this week is a simple request for the Spirit of God. Inhale slowly on God my Father, and exhale slowly on open my eyes to you. Continue this practice for as long as it takes for you to settle in and be present with God.

Opening Thought

If you've grown up in church, you've probably vowed to read the Bible all the way through. Like anyone would, you have opened to the beginning and started reading in Genesis. If you got through the first chapter without wondering how all the days add up, you might have stumbled by chapter 3:

Wait a second! I thought God was a loving God! Why is he cursing Adam? Why is he banishing Adam and Eve from the Garden? Where is that Garden anyway? Did the snake actually talk out loud? If the Garden is perfect, how'd the serpent get in there? What is this, Jurassic Park?

When this is our experience with Bible study, it's no wonder we freak out and give up, or return to the comfort of devotionals and sermon podcasts that interpret the Bible for us! If we've stopped and started a few times like this, we begin to believe that the Bible will always be confusing and contradictory. We distance ourselves from the practice of reading God's Word because the confusion brings discomfort, and the world is confusing enough already!

Sound familiar? So let's step back for a minute and get back to the basics. Let's turn a new page and choose a different starting line for our Bible study. Whether you've never set foot in a church or you took your first baby steps between the pews, let's start over together and ask some basic questions of the Bible.

The first question of the day is this: Given that the Bible can be confusing and there are so many resources out there I can use to get some Jesus in my life, why should I work to understand it myself? Here's our first promise for our first obstacle to Bible study:

Promise #1

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 TIMOTHY 3:16-17

First, let's find the promise in that little sentence. It starts after "so." Now underline what comes right after "so that." (I mean it! Actually underline it.)

Okay, servant of God! That's you! The Bible is talking about you! If you are in this journal, seeking the things of God, you are serving him. You could just write your name in right now. Look, I'll make it easy for you.

Write your name into the passage:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that ________ may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 TIMOTHY 3:16-17

Everyone loves personalized items! Your name right there in the book! Now that hits a little closer to home, I bet. So what is the promise? The promise is that you, yes you, will be "thoroughly equipped for every good work." Not kinda equipped. Not dazed and half-equipped. Not intimidated and equipped. Thoroughly. Equipped. Okay, that's a pretty strong promise we are getting up front. So let's look at how that's going to happen.

Back to that verse. (Yep, still looking at the same one!) See that list up there of things the Bible is useful for (the list starts right after "useful")? Underline those words. (Really, go underline them.)

Did you underline them? (Go underline them.)

That wasn't too hard, was it? I know, I know, you are a grown-up, you don't need silly underlines and fill-in-the-blanks — except that you do, because that's what makes stuff stick in our minds. Actively engaging — not just passively receiving — is what we remember. (You can underline that if you want!)

Okay, so you underlined. Now here we go: The promise from 2 Timothy is that we can be totally, completely, thoroughly equipped for this life. And the way God uses is this:

&149; teaching

&149; rebuking

&149; correcting

&149; training

Hopefully you are interested now. Most of us see those words and think, WHOA. Slow down this train, because I'm on board for teaching and maybe some training, but rebuking and correcting? Let me off.

Haha! Do you know what just happened? You got interested in the Bible. You (hopefully) got hooked by a personal promise, but now you've read something that requires interpretation, which is a fancy way of saying, "Now we've got to dig in and see what's here for us." But I'm getting ahead of myself. It's only Day 1!

If we were going to restate the promise of 2 Timothy in our own words, it might sound something like this:

If I want to be equipped as a believer in God to actually live out a God-centered life, I need to use all of Scripture to teach me what's important, turn me around when I'm going the wrong way, adjust my direction as needed, and get me prepped for God-life.

In some ways, that sounds to me like the job of a coach. God explains here that his Word is our coach, that through the Holy Spirit, the Word watches our lives closely and provides vision, direction, and correction.

What we've just done in these minutes together is look closely at one passage and really allow it to sink into our souls. These verses are promises or you and for me. They are bold promises about the power and position the Bible can hold in our lives.

Will it be confusing at first? You bet. Will it be worth it? Absolutely. The question for you is, Are you ready to receive it? Consider this short prayer from Psalm 119:34 as we wrap up Day 1:

* * *

Give me understanding so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Amen!


HURDLE #2: But It's So Irrelevant

Breath Prayer

God my Father, Open my eyes to you.

Don't rush this part! Get to your spot, get your pen and Bible, and settle yourself. If you find yourself distracted by your phone or the garbage truck or your dog deciding now is the time to jump on your lap, embrace the distractions and then let them go. If needed, move your location to get behind a closed door (I wasn't joking about the closet). A few minutes of preparation will yield much more fruit than twenty hurried minutes when you are just trying to "get it done." Prepare yourself to enjoy being with your heavenly Father, who loves you and desires to be with you.

Opening Thought

A few summers ago, I took a trip to England with my oldest son, who was eleven years old at the time. When we landed in England, many things felt the same as America. We could read the signs, we could understand the language (and enjoy the accents!), and we felt confident to embark on our trip together.

But then we got in the rental car. The car felt different. The driver's seat was in a different place. Instead of driving on the right, we were to drive on the left. When I pulled out of the airport garage, we were severely reminded that we were not at home anymore when I almost rammed into a car coming the "wrong" way. Although things appeared similar at first, they were actually quite different, and it took time and effort to assimilate to the culture.

In some ways, our relationship with the Bible is similar. We approach the words and think, I know how to read ... We can read the signs and interpret the language. But in reality, the Bible is a different culture. Although we can read it in our first language, the language and culture it was written in is quite different. It takes time and effort to assimilate to the culture — but it's time worth spending. Bible teacher Beth Moore is often quoted as saying, "You will never waste time in God's Word." When we put our time and effort into understanding the culture that is the Bible, we come another step closer to hearing and understanding God speaking into our lives. Today we are going to spend our fifteen minutes getting comfortable with some Bible basics that will speed your assimilation process — and we'll have some fun doing it!

Got your Bible? (Or Bible app if you don't have your study Bible yet.) Let's go!

Start with Why

Just in case yesterday's promise hasn't stuck, let's review and add on. Remember your first one? Copy the verse here and on the next page, or write it in your own words.

2 Timothy 3:16-17:




That takes us to our next hurdle:

Isn't the Bible just a set of old rules? So much of it doesn't seem to connect to my daily life AT ALL.

Let's examine our next promise and see how it connects.

Promise #2

The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. HEBREWS 4:12

Okay, now let's break down the action in this verse. We know at the beginning that the whole verse is talking about the "Word of God." (Side note: "Word of God" here is a synonym for Scripture or Bible. We'll talk more about how the "Word" is used later.)

I can find six words that describe the characteristics and actions of the Word of God from Hebrews 4:12. I gave you the first letter of each, just in case you need a little more warming up! Complete the list:

1. A _________

2. A _________

3. S _________

4. P _________

5. D _________

6. J _________

Good! ( Want to make sure you got it right? Check the answer key on page 183 in the back of this journal.)

Now go back and look at the verse again. There are four ands in this verse. List the pairs joined by and here:

&149; ______________ and _________________

&149; ______________ and _________________

&149; ______________ and _________________

&149; ______________ and _________________

Go ahead, you can check your answers in the back. Got 'em all right? Here's your star: *

So let's review promise #1 in our own words:

If I want to be equipped as a believer in God to actually live out a God-centered life, I need to use all of Scripture to teach me what's important, turn me around when I'm going the wrong way, adjust my direction as needed, and get me prepped for God-life.

If we were to break down promise #2 in our own words, it might be something like:

The Bible isn't just any book. It's completely unique. It's living and breathing. It reads me deeper than I can read myself, in my thoughts, in my heart, and in my attitudes. It slices right through all the clutter and the confusion with surgical precision.

Okay, this does not directly answer the question of the feeling we have that the Bible isn't relevant to our lives. But the Bible is instructing us about what the Bible is for, and since we are starting fresh together, we are starting with what the Bible actually promises. So far, we know that the Bible is essential to understanding how to order our lives around God's way, and provides this living, active, piercing ability to speak into our souls. That's the promise of what our end result will be from committing to Bible study.

Now let's look together at a passage that illustrates the power of Scripture.

I'm printing it below, but it's better to go find it in your Bible. The reference is Acts 8:29-38.

Public Service Announcement: If you don't know what these words and numbers mean, they are the reference within the Bible, which I explain on the next page. Skip this section if you've learned this already!

Feel free to read Acts 8:29-38 in your own Bible.

I like to underline words or phrases that catch my eye, or questions that I have. You'll find as you begin to grow in understanding your Bible that you may want to use it as a way to mark your spiritual journey. Underlining, highlighting, writing notes in the margin, or capturing important dates when God spoke with you through a verse are some of the ways you begin to build your spiritual life. Okay, enough diversions! Let's get to our study for the day.


I'm going to break down this reference so you know how it works.

&149; Acts. This is the name of the book of the Bible where the passage is located. The Bible is a collection of sixty-six different "books" or pieces of writing. The reference begins with the name of the book. If you don't know where to find the book, you can locate the table of contents at the beginning of your Bible. "Acts" may seem like an odd name for a piece of writing, but it originally had a longer name that has been shortened to one word for ease of use in a reference.

&149; 8. The first number after the name of the book is the chapter number. Each book of the Bible is broken into chapters, and the chapters are broken into verses. The chapter number is to the left of the colon.

&149; 29-38. The number (or set of numbers) after the colon is the verse (or set of verses). If there are two numbers separated by a hyphen (29-38), they refer to all of the verses from 29 to 38. If verses are separated by commas (as in Acts 8:29, 31, 35), then the reference refers to verses 29, 31, and 35 of chapter 8. Sometimes there might be a lowercase "a" or "b" after a verse number (as in Acts 8:26a). This just means the first portion of the verse, rather than the whole verse.

Incidentally, the original Bible manuscripts didn't have chapter and verse numbers. They were added centuries later to help us find our way quickly to specific sentences and paragraphs. That's why a new verse sometimes picks up in the middle of a sentence.

So if you are going to the reference Acts 8:29-38, you'll locate the book of Acts and then follow the notation to this specific passage.

There! You did it! Back to the story!

29 The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it." 30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked.


Excerpted from "Help! My Bible is Alive"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Nicole Unice.
Excerpted by permission of NavPress.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Help! My Bible Is Alive! ix

Part 1 Why You Need Your Bible 1

Day 1 Hurdle #1: But It's So Confusing! 5

Day 2 Hurdle #2: But It's So Irrelevant 10

Day 3 Hurdle #3: But Only SuperChristians & Crazy People Hear from God 20

Day 4 Hurdle #4: God's Too Hard to Figure Out 26

Day 5 Hurdle #5: I Can Only Understand if a Bible Expert Teaches Me 33

Part 2 Understanding What the Bible Is Actually Saying 43

Day 6 Tool #1: Make a List 46

Day 7 Tool #2: The Imagination Station 51

Day 8 Tool #3: Little Words, Big Meaning 58

Day 9 Using Our Tools 65

Day 10 Moving Forward 68

Part 3 Investigating the Backstory 73

Day 11 Investigate Yourself 75

Day 12 Investigation: References 81

Day 13 Investigation: Study Notes 86

Day 14 Investigation: Book Introductions 92

Day 15 The Investigation Wrap-Up 98

Part 4 Moving to What Matters 103

Day 16 Walking into Principles 105

Day 17 Hopping into Principles 111

Day 17 Guided into Principles: Study Notes Revisited 117

Day 19 Bible to Bible 121

Day 20 Application: Practicing Your Principle Moves 127

Part 5 Jesus at the Kitchen Table 131

Day 21 From Ancient to Modern: Getting Personal 134

Day 22 Meeting Our Needs: Encouragement 140

Day 23 Challenging Our Ways: Repentance, Part 1 144

Day 24 Repentance, Part 2 148

Day 25 Getting Personal: Worship 151

Part 6 Weaving It Together 155

Day 26 The Alive Method: Parable 158

Day 27 The Alive Method: Poetry 162

Day 28 The Alive Method: Narrative 166

Day 29 The Alive Method: Wisdom 172

Day 30 The Alive Method: Letters 176

Next Steps 180

Answer Key 183

Notes 188

What People are Saying About This

Rev. Rachel Toone

The frustrations my students (and the rest of us) often experience when trying to understand the Bible can suggest that Scripture is at best boring, at worst irrelevant—and unknowable regardless. What lies these are! And what a gift we have found in Nicole’s book, which allows anyone willing to jump in to see for themselves that the Bible—when faithfully engaged on its own terms—is unsettlingly powerful, scandalously relevant, beautiful beyond belief, and very much alive.

Aron Gibson

Nicole Unice has a gift for teaching the Bible in a way that everyone can understand. Help! My Bible Is Alive! is the perfect guide for ordinary people who want to experience God in this extraordinary book!

Rick James

Nicole brings to bear her remarkable skills as a communicator to address the most fundamental question of Christian living: How can I hear, experience, and understand God through reading the Bible? As you read Help! My Bible Is Alive!, you will think to yourself, Surely some accomplished Bible teacher has already undertaken this crucial project—and you will be wrong, because no one has. It’s odd, but no one thought to tell us, in practical detail, how to meet with God through the Scriptures and how to approach the Bible with a posture of faith-seeking understanding.

Roy L. Peterson

The Bible is not alive if it’s not alive for you! The tool you’re holding in your hand will lead you to a life-transforming relationship with the Bible and its Author. Go for it!

Stephen Poore

Help! My Bible Is Alive! Like a zombie, the once-perceived-dead compilation of Scripture is brought back to life for readers by Nicole’s fun (yes, fun) and practical application for individual reading. No longer is Bible reading for the few: With Nicole’s latest book, it’s for you more than ever. This is the book I’ve been needing for the countless people in my church plant who are scared—but hungry—to engage with this beautiful compilation we call the Bible.

Dave Cartwright

Whether you’ve tried a hundred times to get into a rhythm of reading the Bible or this is your first time picking it up, Help! My Bible Is Alive! will prove to be an invaluable resource in your journey. With charm, levity, wisdom, and all-too-real examples, Nicole Unice will give you the tools and courage that can help you find the fun and life-changing joy of consistently being in God’s Word. I will definitely hand out this book to the people of my church!

Dr. David "Tuck" Knupp

A lifetime in ministry with a passion for helping new believers learn how to grow in Christ has convinced me that there is nothing more important in the life of a Christ follower than time spent regularly in Scripture. Nicole knows how to help Bible readers turn the key. I have personally sat in groups as she taught this material and have witnessed its effectiveness. It is an indispensable tool for those desiring to grow in their relationship with Christ.

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