3. "I just don't get it."
Many of us think of the Bible as a technical manual written in Christian-ese. But there are "biblical help" buttons a reader can push to get some quick guidance:
Translations. Choose an easy-to-read translation, like the New International Reader's Version (nirv; written at a third-grade level) or a paraphrase, like The New Living Translation (NLT) .
Reference tools. Invest in a few basic references, such as a Bible dictionary(an index of biblical-word definitions) a Bible atlas (a collection of maps of biblical lands), and a concordance (a biblical word locator) to bring clarity to the text.
4. "The Bible is so dull."
Not if you enjoy romance (Ruth), adventure (Jonah, Acts), or conflict (Judges). There are tales of conquest and war (Joshua), scandal and suspense (David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel), and deceit and corruption (Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5).
God stocked his library with a variety of genres: narrative, letters, poetry, history, and prophecy. If you naturally gravitate to the biography section in a bookstore, start with the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). If you love poetry, spend some time exploring Psalms or Song of Solomon.
5. "I don't see how the Bible applies to my life."
The Bible offers practical advice on issues we face every day: love (1 Corinthians 13 ), leadership (Nehe-miah), marital bliss (Song of Solomon), courage (Esther), and investments (Matthew 25). It has how-to articles (Proverbs 31) and time-management models (Matthew 13).
Get a topical Bible (a Bible arranged according to subject) and read every passage about an issue that challenges you. Take notes as you read. Become an expert on what the Scriptures say about that particular subject.
6. "I hear Bible readings in church every Sunday. Isn't that enough?"
"The Bible," says Billy Graham, "is the road map for life." When I examine a map, an expert like my pastor can show me the most effective route to take. But I become more familiar with how to navigate the road—life—when I read the map and follow it myself.
7. "The Bible makes me feel uncomfortable."
Many of us associate the Bible with negative experiences. Instead of examining Scripture on its own merits, we plop it onto a "discard pile" along with dry worship, hypocritical congregations, and insensitive Christians from our past. We'd rather label it and put it in a box than face up to what it might be telling us about ourselves.
But conviction is an important and necessary function of Scripture. "For the word of God is living and active," says the writer of Hebrews. "Sharper than any double-edged sword … it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12, NIV).
As we read the Bible we may find we have to face some hard truths about ourselves and our inner motives. Is that worthwhile? Said the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, "The life which is unexamined is not worth living."
Statistics say that 92 percent of all Americans have at least three Bibles in their homes. Perhaps like the South Dakota rancher, yours is secreted away in a closet. And like him, you don't suspect that there's a fortune hidden within its pages.