The idea behind James Bryan Smith’s The Good and Beautiful God (InterVarsity Press, 2009) is twofold. First, spiritual growth generally requires intentionality and discipline--hence the "soul training" exercises at the end of each chapter. Second, many Christians struggle with loving and growing in God. A common cause of these struggles is "false narratives," misconceptions about God that we may or may not realize we have, but that make a huge difference in our spirituality. ("God wants me to try harder," "God blesses me when I'm good but punishes me when I'm bad," etc.)
Smith works to uncover these narratives and replace them with Jesus' narratives. Living by Kingdom narratives not only encourages healthy spiritual growth, it also inspires greater love and appreciation for God. For me, Smith's method is especially helpful because he convinces my scholarly skeptic side, yet remains surprisingly accessible--without dumbing things down to the point of insulting readers' intelligence. The narratives he addresses are things I've struggled with, myself, and it's so refreshing that he doesn't just give me platitudes, but instead addresses them on a much deeper level.
The InterVarsity Press website offers good info on the book, including the table of contents. The Good and Beautiful God is the first in Smith’s three-part “Apprentice” series. Additional material, including supplementary blog posts, audio files, and even a sample chapter, can be found on the series website: www.apprenticeofjesus.org.