changing lives faith ministry

The Good and Beautiful God

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.”

4 replies on “The Good and Beautiful God”

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me” (Isaiah 46:9; see also Malachi 2:10). The God of the Bible is the true God (2 Chronicles 15:3; Jeremiah 10:10). He is distinguished from “other gods” (Exodus 23:13; Judges 2:12; 1 Samuel 8:8; 1 Kings 9:9, etc.) or “foreign gods” (Genesis 35:2, 4; Deuteronomy 32:16; Joshua 24:20, 23; Judges 10:16; 1 Samuel 7:3; 2 Chronicles 14:3; 33:15; Jeremiah 5:19) by the fact that he created heaven and earth (Jeremiah 10:11; 1 Chronicles 16:25-26; Psalm 96:4-5). The true God has power, whereas other so called gods have none.

To know any other god is to know an idol. I’ve always found the best way to get to know someone is to spend quality time with them rather than read about someone elses account of said person. The same applies to God. Read the Bible and pray. Time spent reading of another persons time is time wasted. These books are below the level of the Gospels and other New Testament books. They are unequal and should be treat as such.
The only value a book of this genre has is to help people who have been demonically prevented from reading scripture come to an elementary understand of God.
By the way yesterday you skipped a couple verses during the reading for Adams sermon.

Dillon – I am not suggesting that The Good and Beautiful God is scripture. I did find it to be helpful in making space to connect with God in the ways through scripture, prayer, rest, slowing down and several other ways through the soul training exercises. There are many things that can become idols in our lives and get in the way of our journey of knowing, loving and serving God.

Thanks, Andrew.

Dillon, I have to disagree with you. We have much wisdom to gain from reading other Christian writings, as by faith we have received the same Spirit who leads us to all truth. Sometimes the writings of others profit us in ways an ahistorical Christianity (me, the Bible, and God) would not. I say this knowing you will disagree, but applying your logic consistently also means listening to sermons is a waste of time, for it is taking account of another’s experience of God.

I appreciate the chance to reflect on some of these verses you have listed here.
I completely agree with you on the potential danger of accepting a certain characteristic of God without taking into account God’s entire self.
The interesting part of your criticism here is not that it is wrong; what interests me is clearly you have not read the book Andrew is referring to. Perhaps that is your point, don’t read anything else other than the Bible.
I strongly doubt whether you have gone your entire life without reading a book that helps adumbrate the contours of God’s character. If you’d like to respond, I’d love to hear it. Have you ever in your life read a book besides the Bible?
Books of this genre are helpful in that they point people towards God. I personally have read this book and the Scriptural exegesis is quite engaging.
As far as your comment regarding prayer, this book has a weekly exercise where people are instructed to do certain disciplines to help spur spiritual growth. I understand you want to be critical of something that could potentially serve as an idol. But if you were to actually read it, I think you’d be challenged by the Scripture and weekly exercise.
From the looks of your blog, you seem to struggle with anger. The attack on the book, the final “nail in the coffin” as you remarked “By the way yesterday you skipped a couple verses during the reading for Adams sermon” sounds to me like anger and bitterness.
You’re probably a great guy. And it sounds as if you love the Lord a great deal. Something God is probably pleased by.
But something is clearly welling up within you that Scripture can address. And reading a book like this just may help you as a form of encouragement and accountability along the way.
(I admit, I may have come across a bit punchy here. Perhaps I’m the one who has the issue. Either way, I appreciated your Scripture and the heart of your post.)

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