"God wants me to try harder."
"God blesses me when I'm good and punishes me when I'm bad."
"God is angry with me."
We all have ideas that we tell ourselves about God and how he works in our lives. Some are true—but many are false. James Bryan Smith believes those thoughts determine not only who we are, but how we live. In fact, Smith declares, the most important thing about a person is what they think about God. The path to spiritual transformation begins here.
Turning to the Gospels, Smith invites you to put your ideas to the test to see if they match up with what Jesus himself reveals about God. Once you've discovered the truth in Scripture, Smith leads you through a process of spiritual formation that includes specific activities aimed at making these new narratives real in your body and soul as well as your mind.
At the end of each chapter you'll find an opportunity for soul training, engaging in spiritual practices that reinforce the biblical messages on your mind and heart. Because the best way to make a complete and lasting change is to go through the material in community, small group discussion questions also accompany each chapter. Those who are leading apprentice groups will also find additional help and opportunities to interact with other leaders at the Apprentice website, www.apprenticeofjesus.com.
This deep, loving and transformative book will help you discover the narratives that Jesus lived by—to know the Lord he knew and the kingdom he proclaimed—and to practice spiritual exercises that will help you grow in the knowledge of our good and beautiful God.
"This first book in The Apprentice Series, The Good and Beautiful God, is a treasure. Dr. Smith has thought long and hard about the process of human transformation into the likeness of Jesus. I urge you to buy this book immediately! Read it and apply it. Then live it out in the context of a loving community. You will not regret doing so."
"I know from our long relationship that Jim Smith is a fine and trustworthy man, who authentically knows 'the good and beautiful God.' I can think of no higher compliment than this: I would happily trust the care of my soul to Jim and the good and beautiful God he commends to us."
"The Apprentice Series is the best practice I have seen in Christian spiritual formation."
"I have observed that every individual, whether a new beliver or seasoned veteran, has given testimony of a new joy in their journey as a result of this book. The content is sound, inspiring and enlightening."
Other authors have written extensively on spiritual disciplines and the spiritual life, but few have created a curriculum that is as accessible to the common believer seeking spiritual growth. I exuberantly recommend this book to anyone interested in a practical model of spiritual growth.
"I predict this book, and the two more in the series, will become deeply influential books in evangelical churches that want to deepen spiritual formation."
"If you're looking for books to help patrons rekindle or enhance their relationships with God, buy this one. Highly recommended for small groups interested in deepening their relationships with God."
"Make spiritual mentors, group leaders, youth pastors, Christian educators, and Willard/Foster fans aware of this material."
"Smith challenges those who seek to follow God to examine the stories they already know. . . . [Includes] exercises and questions . . . to deepen their knowledge of God."
How to Get the Most Out of This Book
1. What Are You Seeking?
Soul Training: Sleep
2. God is Good
Soul Training:Silence and Awareness of Creation
3. God is Trustworthy
Soul Training: Counting Your Blessings
4. God is Generous
Soul Training: Praying Psalm 23
5. God is Love
Soul Training: Lectio Divina
6. God is Holy
Soul Training: Margin
7. God is Self-Sacrificing
Soul Training; Reading the Gospel of John
8. God Transforms
Soul Training: Solitude
9. How to Make a Pickle
Soul Training: Slowing Down
Appendix: Small Group Discussion Guide