The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows
by James Bryan Smith
From The Top 10 on our list of The Best Christian Books for Spiritual Growth
Note from Daniel: James Bryan Smith's Apprentice Series is the most helpful material I have ever used with groups. I'm grateful for these books, since they are so influenced by Dallas Willard's work, particularly The Divine Conspiracy, and make the ideas Dallas communicated accessible to a wider audience. (While Dallas' things can be heavy reading, these books are not.) This is the first of three books in the series, which introduces the themes for the series and focuses on Jesus' ideas about God, ideas about God that we often have, and evaluating whether they match. (The other two books, also very highly recommended, are The Good and Beautiful Life and The Good and Beautiful Community.)
"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 like these which 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.
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.