I have been blessed by experiencing The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love With the God Jesus Knows by James Bryan Smith. This is the first book in The Apprentice Series from Renovare. I first heard about this book from my friends Jimmy Taylor and Ben Simpson who are both involved with the Apprentice team in conferences and development of the series.
This book is designed to help the reader come to love the God whom Jesus knows. Each of the chapters addresses a false narrative about God and fills in the narrative of Jesus’ experience with God. Accompanying these narratives are what Smith refers to as “soul training exercises.” These are simple practices which are designed to undergird the narrative that is discussed in the chapter.
I found the writing to be refreshing and accessible. The small group study guide included in the back of the book was effective for our small group interaction. Most importantly, I found the soul training exercises to be effective in bringing about change in my life. This book was not just one which I read and managed to absorb some content. It was an experience that lead me to practices of the Christian life that continue to be part of my daily and weekly life almost a month after we completed the study.
I am am looking forward to The Good and Beautiful Life: Putting on the Character of Christ and The Good and Beautiful Community. I recommend this book to pastors, local church leaders and all those seeking to experience life change and “fall in love with the God Jesus knows.”
This week I was part of a conversation that was encouraging, informative and exciting.
I was part of a conversation with Ben Simpson, Correy Trupp, Darrell Holtz, Dave Robertson, James Bryan Smith and Jimmy Taylor about The Apprentice Series – a discipleship curriculum. I met Jimmy less than a year ago at Board of Ordained Ministry interviews for Kansas West Annual Conference. At that time, he indicated that he was part of a team that was developing a new curriculum that would be released at a conference in the summer of 2009 and would be interested in sharing more about it. Initially it sounded good, but the time didn’t seem to find that conversation.
Subsequently, Ben let me know that he would be attending The Jesus Way: recovering the lost content of discipleship. This is a conference sponsored by Renovare and was the same conference at which the curriculum would be launched. I told Jimmy or Ben or both about the other, but would not be able to go to the conference myself. They met while they were there.
Just over a month ago, Jimmy sent me a message on Facebook indicating that he and James Smith (author of The Apprentice Series) would be in town in a couple weeks and asked if I would be able to meet. I was excited to finally be able to meet them and invited Ben and some of the discipleship staff at Resurrection.
I was encouraged by hearing the story and background to The Apprentice Series and the approach to forming disciples which is put forward.
I hope to have the opportunity to experience the curriculum with a small group this fall.
I hope continue to build relationships with Jim and Jimmy.
I believe that this curriculum may be a part of the puzzle of renewal within The United Methodist Church and spiritual revival in the state of Kansas.
You can find more at http://www.apprenticeofjesus.org/