201: James Bryan Smith | The Good & Beautiful Life

James Bryan Smith | The Good and Beautiful Life

James Bryan Smith | The Good & Beautiful Life

James Bryan Smith is the author of the Good and Beautiful Series which includes The Good and Beautiful God, The Good and Beautiful You, The Good and Beautiful Life, and The Good and Beautiful Community.

He earned his MDiv at Yale and his DMin at Fuller and is a theology professor at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas, where he also serves as the director of the Apprentice Institute for Christian Spiritual Formation.

A founding member of Richard J. Foster’s spiritual renewal ministry, Renovaré, Smith is an ordained United Methodist Church minister and has served in various capacities in local churches.

He is the editor of A Spiritual Formation Workbook and Devotional Classics (with Richard Foster), and the author of Embracing the Love of God, Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven, Room of Marvels, The Magnificent Story, and The Magnificent Journey.

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James Bryan Smith and Amber discuss how his friendship with Dallas Willard and Rich Mullins shaped his spiritual life. Then, they dive in to The Good and Beautiful series which encourages the follower of Jesus to live out the Gospel change in our daily lives by understanding who God is, what it means to live in the kingdom of God on earth, as an individual and in community, and who Jesus created you to be.

Questions Discussed During The Good & Beautiful Life:

  1. Your spiritual journey has been influenced greatly by personal friendships with people like Dallas Willard, Richard Foster and Rich Mullins.  Share a bit of your faith journey and how these men helped shape your walk with Jesus.
  2. When you think about the Kingdom of Heaven, how would you describe it?
  3. Like many, God has used Willard’s teachings in a powerful way in both my husband and his best friend Josh’s lives.  One of the questions Josh suggested I ask of you is, “What is your most cherished Dallas Willard memory?”
  4. You’ve written many books, but let’s focus on The Good and Beautiful series, starting with The Good and Beautiful God. You begin with “the path to spiritual transformation begins with what we think about God.”  What are some common false thoughts we have about God and what are truths about God that we see Jesus reveal?
  5. In The Good and Beautiful Life you lay out these false notions of happiness and success that we’ve bought into by replacing them with Jesus’ narratives about life in the kingdom of God. Will you flesh that out a bit for us?
  6. In The Good and Beautiful Community you focus on bringing spiritual formation and community engagement together. What are some spiritual practices that can help us avoid compartmentalizing our life with Jesus and our social justice efforts?
  7. Another question from Josh (along those same lines), How does being virtuous translate to more than “just being nice” or “calm and peaceful”?
  8. And you end the series with The Good and Beautiful You addressing toxic self narratives that hinder our life with Christ. What are some of the toxic narratives you spoke over yourself and how did those come into view as you wrote this book?
  9. Let’s close with a few more questions from my husband’s best friend Josh 🙂
    1. What advice would you give to a young parent who wants to lead their children in the way of Christ?
    2. What advice do you have for pastors or spiritual leaders who are facing burnout?

The Good & Beautiful Life Quotes to Remember:

Kingdom of God: “The simplest way is to say it’s the with God life. It’s God with us….It’s an interactive relationship with God, where God is the king, and we are under that lordship. And that’s why we pray, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done. Because we’re saying I want to live in that interactive relationship with God.”

“And Dallas starts dancing…He turned back and look at me and we just laughed out loud. That moment was spectacular, because he showed me that holiness and hilarity can go together.”

Two Common False God Narratives:

  1. God’s an angry judge who is poised to punish us.
  2. God is a distant deity who doesn’t really interact with us.

“Jesus is the master of understanding what really matters, and what matters is our heart…The Sermon on the Mount really is about…what is it that is happening inside your heart.”

“Anger is unmet expectation and fear.”

“The Kingdom is provision and power and protection…”

“We are designed to be in community, and the Church is still God’s best arrangement for God’s people, but it’s hard. “

“You have a soul and it’s very needy… and all of them can only be met in Christ.”

“Soul care is really restoring union with Christ.”

When facing burnout: “At the end, they hand me this little box, and I opened it up and it’s this mug. It’s got Dallas [Willard] on it. And this this phrase, ‘You Don’t Have To Make It Happen.'”

Scripture References

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And Dallas starts dancing...He turned back and look at me and we just laughed out loud. That moment was spectacular, because he showed me that holiness and hilarity can go together.
Jesus is the master of understanding what really matters, and what matters is our heart...The Sermon on the Mount really is about...what is it that is happening inside your heart

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