By Apprentice Institute
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The Things Above podcast is a podcast for "mind discipleship." It is for those who want to set their minds on "things above" (Col. 3:2). Each week James Bryan Smith will offer a glorious thought—something good and beautiful and true, something excellent and praiseworthy—to fill your mind with heavenly truths.
||CleanGuilt versus Shame||In this episode, James Bryan Smith explains the difference between guilt and shame. Shame is feeling bad about who we are. Guilt, in contrast, is feeling bad about what we have done. Guilt can be healthy because it allows us to make amends or change our behavior. However, shame is always bad. Smith explains that shame is an act of self-betrayal because we are God’s beloved. The most fundamental thing about our nature is not sin - it is goodness, beauty, and truth. Smith concludes that what prevents us from shame is the fact that we are first and foremost God’s beloved.||2/13/2019||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGreater Than Our Sins||People have a tendency to fear God largely because of our sins. At the heart of our fear lies the narrative that our unfaithfulness to God makes us unlovable by God. This is nothing new for humanity. Ancient Israel struggled with this same fear. In this episode of the Things Above podcast, James Bryan Smith explores this false narrative by unpacking a passage from Isaiah 43 and offers this glorious thought: God’s love is greater than our sins. You see, Israel was afraid their unfaithfulness resulted in exile and captivity, and therefore God didn’t love them. But they were wrong. God speaks to Israel through the prophet Isaiah. The assumption was that God punished them for their many sins. But God reminds them of this important truth: “Do not fear! I made you. I formed you. I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine. You are precious in my sight. You are honored. I love you. I am with you.” Do you need to be reminded of this truth? Experiment with this soul training exercise: “I, _insert your name_, am precious in God’s sight. I, _insert your name_, am honored, and God loves me.” Write this down on an index card or post-it note and repeat this to yourself throughout the week. Jot down your experience with this and share it with your friend or spouse. Key verses include Romans 12:2, Isaiah 43:1-7, Romans 6.||2/6/2019||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThings Above Conversation 5||In this episode, James Bryan Smith has a conversation with author and pastor Greg Boyd about the transformational process of “mind discipleship.” Greg also describes his childhood journey and the struggles he faced at home and at church. Ultimately, this was very healing, as he moved from deep feelings of helplessness and hopelessness to an even deeper understanding of God’s love through the cross. For the first time in his life, Greg was able to see God’s loving, self-giving, and humble character – a discovery that changed the way he lived forever. Greg Boyd has authored several books, including Cross Vision, Letters to a Skeptic and Seeing is Believing. He also hosts his own podcast, called ReKnew.||1/30/2019||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGod’s Beloved||In this episode James Bryan Smith explains this glorious thought: You are God’s beloved even in your worst moments. The world we live in today is based on comparison, Smith explains that when we live into this culture of comparison we begin to reject ourselves. We begin to think that we are not good enough to be God's beloved. In order to believe that we are God's beloved we need a power greater than ourselves, the Holy Spirit. Smith goes on to explain that our belovedness is not based on what we do or what we have earned. It is freely bestowed on us because God’s love is greater than our sin. We are the beloved because of God not because of anything we have done. Key verses include: Luke 3:21-2||1/23/2019||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanBe Mindful||Our daily activity sometimes causes us to miss the best moments in life. We get lost in our thoughts and fail to see God who is in our midst. In this episode of the Things Above podcast, James Bryan Smith shares a heavenly thought: Be mindful that God is with you in all you do. In his book, Discipline and Discovery, Albert Edward Day offers some words about God's presence with us: "Did you ever encounter, on the street, a friend whose physical eyes looked at you without seeing you? You walked right into him before the alien look on his face changed into one of recognition. Then he confessed that he had been so absorbed in thought about some other matters that he had not been aware of you, until your intentional collision with him. You were there, yet he did not see you. Though actually in your presence, he was nevertheless unconscious of you as if you did not exist. That is a persistent failure of the unemancipated consciousness. It can be so preoccupied with lesser realities that it does not sense the presence of the Divine reality surrounding and sustaining it. Something has to happen to end the absorption in other affairs so that it can turn its attention to God.” We can get preoccupied with “things below,” which impacts our relationship with God. We get caught up in the tyranny of an idea or a dream and release the awareness of something greater than the idea or dream, namely God Himself. So what can we do? Jim suggests that we can train ourselves to be aware of all we do and integrate a constant awareness of God by living on two levels. Quaker writer Thomas Kelley wrote about this in “A Testament of Devotion.” On one level, we can go about our daily tasks at hand – working, driving, reading, etc. On another level, we can include our attentiveness to the presence of God in our midst – intimate fellowship with Him. This is what makes life splendid. Have you been aware of God’s goodness, love and holiness lately? Experiment with this today or this week. Jot your experience down in a journal or notebook and reflect on what you observed.||1/16/2019||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanWorry||Have you discovered that worrying is a healthy way to deal with the future? Yah, me neither. Jesus has something better in mind. In this episode of the Things Above podcast, James Bryan Smith tells us that worrying does nothing positive for us. However, it does come with several negative consequences. Jesus teaches us that worrying is something we can live without. In Matthew 6:27, Jesus asks, “And can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Worrying does nothing positive, but it does a lot of bad for us. Worry adversely affects our mental and physical health. So why do we worry? Maybe it’s because worry is superstition and we don’t even know it. The definition of superstition is “a widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event, or a practice based on such a belief.” Black cats, rabbit feet, mirrors and ladders are things we connect to superstition. Superstition and, more importantly, worry has to do with control. We trick ourselves into thinking that our behavior gives us power and control. When we make the mistake of thinking we have all the power and control, we consequently take God out of the equation. So what is the antidote to worry? It’s the realization that (1) worry doesn’t do anything and (2) we live in the strong and unshakable kingdom of God. When we understand that God is out for our good, then we don’t need to worry. Now, this doesn’t mean we can live recklessly or assume that our life will be free of problems. But God is always with us and has the power to bring joy out of sorrow. We can trust and entrust our lives with God. Do not worry. Key verses include Matthew 6:25-34; John 10:10; Romans 8:28.||1/9/2019||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThings Above Conversation 4||In this episode of the Things above podcast, James Bryan Smith chats with author and pastor J.R. Briggs about a glorious thought that changed the trajectory of his life. Briggs offers a two-fold answer. First, it was the present availability of the kingdom of God and eternal living. The second thought centers on what it means to be a missionary in our everyday lives – to be a missionary cleverly disguised as a good neighbor. This has a critical connection to the message and activity of the local church. Briggs believes if Monday through Saturday is not impacted by our Christian living, then we would do well to re-think how we are “doing church” on Sunday and the kind of gospel we’re communicating.||1/2/2019||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanSecond Birth||What is the true meaning of Christmas? In this episode of the Things Above podcast, James Bryan Smith shares about growing up in the Methodist Church and the influence John Wesley had on his life. Interestingly enough, Richard Foster was the one who pointed Jim to Wesley’s writings and sermons. If he were alive today, Jim would ask John Wesley, “What does the incarnation mean for you and, consequently, for all of us?” Jim believes Wesley would say that, first and foremost, the coming of the Christ child means our transformation. In other words, we can be changed. But how? We no longer stand guilty before God. Jesus broke the power of original sin, which allows us to experience peace and freedom. For Wesley, Christmas was about God’s triumph over sin and death. Because of the incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, we can now be people of love, joy, peace and hope. Jim’s favorite movie (not just Christmas movie) is “It’s A Wonderful Life,” which begins in heaven. In that scene, God sends Clarence the angel help George Bailey realize what a wonderful life he has. The movie ends with everyone gathered at George’s house singing, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” – a song written by John’s brother, Charles Wesley.||12/26/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThe Last Word||The events of our world can be troubling - leading to fear, anxiety and panic. In this episode of the Things above podcast, James Bryan Smith asks, “Is our world governed by fear? Is our fate decided by a roll of the dice?” The short answer is no – because we live in the strong and unshakable kingdom of God. Jesuit priest Luis Espinal wrote a mediation that helps us grapple with the events of our world and the hope we have through Jesus. What troubles are you facing? Can you hear the alleluia beyond the wounds of this life? This world is not a roll of the dice. A new world has begun since Christ is risen. And God has the last word.||12/18/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanShame||Is it possible for God to overcome our shame? In this episode of the Things Above podcast, James Bryan Smith tells the story of how the great Christian writer, Simone Weil, came to faith simply by reading a poem written by George Herbert, entitled “Love III.” Jim explains that there are certain ideas that we, as humans, believe about yourselves. Yet there are certain things God says that refute those ideas. For instance, we feel guilty because of sin, yet God still loves us. We feel unworthy before God, yet God determines and affirms our worth. We feel our shame is deserved, yet God’s Son bore our shame on the cross and invites us to experience and enjoy His goodness. So yes, it is possible for God to overcome our shame – when we embrace God’s love, affirmation and goodness.||12/11/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanDesiring God||Many Christians are living into a shrunken, incomplete gospel that leads to sin management. To be sure, our relationship with God was severed by sin. But our sin problem is only a part of the issue. In this episode of the Things Above podcast, James Bryan Smith looks at our sin problem and offers, perhaps more importantly, that we also have a life problem and a longing problem. Even if we never sinned, we would still need God’s grace – God’s action in our lives. Our life problem, Jim believes, can be found in the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:1-7. While we are physically alive, we are spiritually dead without Christ, according to Paul. This leads us to our longing problem, which was articulated in the book “Donald Grant,” written by author and theologian George MacDonald. The main character, Donald Grant, encounters a woman who was having disturbing dreams of damnation. She was ultimately concerned about avoiding hell. Afterwards, Grant wonders, “When our longing after a living God is met with the offer of an escape from hell, how is the creature to live? It is God we want, not heaven. God, not an imputed righteousness. Love, not endurance for the sake of another.” This reminds Jim of those billboards located alongside the highways of America that ask, “If you died tonight, where would you go?” Jim recalls Dallas Willard asking a different, if not more significant, question: “If you wake up tomorrow, how would you live?” The goal of the Christian life is not hell avoidance. It is an interactive, loving and life-giving relationship with God.||12/4/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanChrist is All Around Us||As humans, we all experience problems and trials. Not just the small things, like spilling our coffee or forgetting to reply to our mom’s text message. We experience big problems, such as prolonged illness and career struggles. What trials are you facing right now? Are you in need of protection? In this episode of the Things above podcast, James Bryan Smith shares the little-known story of Saint Patrick, who was taken by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland where Christianity was not present. Following his release and return to his native England, Saint Patrick had a vision from God, who urged him to get ordained and serve as a missionary in Ireland. There, Saint Patrick converted thousands of Irish to Christianity and built several churches. During his time in the mission field, Saint Patrick wrote a prayer of protection that is commonly known as “St. Patrick’s Breastplate.” James Bryan Smith shares his version of that prayer and asks, “Are you in need of protection?” If so, this prayer can be a wonderful soul training exercise to help set your minds on things above.||11/28/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThings Above Conversation 3||How do you understand the kingdom of God, Jesus’ gospel and salvation? In episode 15 of the Things Above podcast, James Bryan Smith sits down for a conversation with pastor and author Brian Zahnd who, many years ago, experienced a growing discontent with the version of Christianity he knew and was living. Then he stumbled across a little book called The Divine Conspiracy, which helped him see the kingdom of God with fresh eyes and reconstructed his faith in a life-changing way. Both Jim and Brian trade stories of how their understanding of the gospel has shifted over time and what was of utmost importance to Jesus. This understanding has also had an enormous influence on how they understand salvation. This episode ends with Jim asking Brian a hypothetical question: If the Apostle Paul walked into an American church in our day and heard the gospel presented strictly as penal substitutionary atonement, how would he respond? You’ll have to listen to hear the answer! Key Scripture passages include Matthew 5.||11/20/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanEpiphanies From a Guitar Part 2||What can a Martin guitar, autographed by music legend Eric Clapton, teach us about God? In this episode of the Things Above podcast, James Bryan Smith continues his story about one of the greatest gifts ever given to him and the epiphanies that came through it. So what can an expensive guitar teach us about God? Well first, that Jesus wants to be the maestro of our life. When we run our little "kingdoms and queendoms" on our own and the music isn’t very good. But when we surrender to Jesus and start living in the Kingdom of God, something wonderful happens. In the hands of the “Great Musician,” our lives are capable of beautiful music. In the second lesson, we learn that God only gives us His very best. And we see that through Jesus’ loving, sacrificial act on the cross. This episode ends with a sampling of a very talented musician playing the now-famous Martin guitar in studio!||11/13/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanEpiphanies From a Guitar Part 1||Is giving truly better than receiving? Most of the time, the answer is yes. But sometimes receiving can be a life-changing experience too. In this episode, James Bryan Smith tells of how the gift of a valuable, limited-edition guitar helped him understand that we are people of sacred worth. When receiving something of great value, we naturally feel the need to take extra special care of that gift. As Jim received the guitar, he immediately felt the need to do everything he could to keep the guitar in perfect condition. He realized that if he cared this much for a guitar, why wouldn’t he do the same for himself? Jim goes on to explain that we are unceasing spiritual beings with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe, a glorious thought that informs us of our sacred worth. Once we begin to embrace this, we will in turn take greater care of ourselves and others.||11/6/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanForgiveness: The Way to Freedom||Forgiving others can be hard. Forgiving ourselves can be harder. Yet forgiveness is the way to freedom.||10/30/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanSeeing Beauty||God’s love is revealed in beauty. Because of that, beauty is a large part of our spiritual journey. In episode 11 of Things Above, James Bryan Smith invites you to rethink how you understand beauty. Drawing from the wisdom of people like Thomas Aquinas, Hans Urs von Balthasar, John O’Donohue and Simone Weil, we discover that beauty has the power to transport us to love. O’Donohue writes, “In order to become attentive to beauty, we need to rediscover the art of reverence. Reverence bestows dignity and it is only in the light of dignity that beauty will become visible. Reverence is also the companion of humility. A sense of reverence opens pathways to beauty that surprise us. The earth is full of thresholds where beauty awaits the wonder of our gaze.” James Bryan Smith closes this episode with a glorious thought that came to him while sitting in the beauty of nature: God sings his love to you in birdsong. God smiles at you in maple trees. God charms you with the color green. He gave you eyes to see sunsets, ears to hear rainfall, a nose to smell a rose. God's massive love appears in small fragments. God is loving you in these moments, even if you do not know it. This week, you are invited to notice beauty. Let God speak love to you. Write what you see in a “Beauty Journal” or take a picture of something that pleases your sense of sight.||10/23/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThings Above Conversation 2||In episode 10 of the Things Above podcast, James Bryan Smith interviews pastor and author John Ortberg about his latest book, “Eternity is Now in Session.” In addition to recalling a humorous story of their first speaking engagement together in 1988, Jim and John discuss the impact that Dallas Willard’s writings and personal friendship had on each of their lives. In particular, they agree on Dallas’s teaching that authentic transformation is possible if we’re willing to arrange our lives around the practices and activities that Jesus engaged in, to be constantly at home with, and receiving life from his Father. John says, at its heart, “Eternity is Now in Session” explores how we can experience a deep, joyful and interactive relationship with God here and now - debunking the idea that eternal life is something we participate in after we die. The book also helps us discover what the Bible truly says about salvation and the Gospel of Jesus. Key verses in this episode include John 17:3, Hebrews 1, and Galatians 2:20.||10/16/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGod’s Love||God is real. And God’s love for us is also real. But how do we really know God loves us? In Episode 09 of the Things Above podcast, James Bryan Smith tells us the only thing that is credible is love. Our faith is not built on an argument or logic, but by what God, in Jesus Christ, has done for us – namely the incarnation (in which he came to be with us) and the cross (in which he reconciled humanity to God). Not only does God love us, but He likes us and delights in us. Smith ends the episode with a glorious thought that could be sketched on a 3x5 card or in your journal: “God loves us first and loves us always and in every moment - with a passionate love because God is for us, God longs to be with us, and God wants what is best for us. And in every moment of every day, He finds us delightful.” Key verses in this episode include 1 John 4:10, 19 and Deuteronomy 7:7.||10/9/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThe Mystery of the Incarnation||The incarnation of God is both a mysterious and wondrous event to ponder. In Episode 08 of the Things Above podcast, James Bryan Smith gives thought to Jesus Christ, who was fully divine and fully human. Have you ever noticed how little was written about Jesus’s childhood in Scripture? What was normal life like for Jesus growing up? What do you think Jesus was like as a kid? Christian music artist Rich Mullins sang a song about these very questions. The mystery of the incarnation is at the heart our faith because, in becoming human in every way, Jesus can offer a full and perfect human life back to the Father. God desires to re-create humanity at the deepest levels, addressing our needs from within our being. Jesus became fully human, took on our humanity and declared it righteous, made it right with God and healed it. Key verses in this episode include Luke 2:41-49 and Colossians 1:15. Note: Permission was given by the Rich Mullins estate to use the music in this podcast.||10/2/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanLiving Godward||By setting our minds on things above, we can live a Godward life and, as the Apostle Paul says, walk in the Spirit. This is a powerful way of living. If someone were to ask you about a passage in Scripture that offers the best depiction of life in the kingdom, what would you say? In Episode 07 of the Things Above podcast, James Bryan Smith slowly walks us through the 23rd Psalm, reveals what he believes is the most important verse in the Bible and shares a story of his childhood pet duck, JB. Key verses from this episode include the entirety of Psalm 23 and Matthew 6:33.||9/25/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanHope||Every one of us has experienced “hope” of some kind. We hope to marry the right person. We hope our kids live long and healthy lives. We hope our favorite baseball team wins the World Series. Yet there is a big difference between worldly hope and Christian hope. Hope is not wishful thinking about the future. Hope is certainty in a good future. In Episode 06 of the Things Above podcast, James Bryan Smith shares what the Apostle Paul considers a “glorious thought” on the topic of hope and how we best experience it.||9/18/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThings Above Conversation 1||In our very first Things Above Conversation, James Bryan Smith interviews Emily P. Freeman about finding God in our everyday lives and the nearness of the kingdom.||9/11/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanEternal Life Now||In our fourth episode, James Bryan Smith explains how eternal life does not begin after you die. It begins in this life and it includes an interactive relationship with God.||9/4/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanForgiven to be Filled||The finality of the cross is only half the story. In this episode, James Bryan Smith shares the rest of the story, which includes the secret to overcoming sin. That is, the power of the resurrected Christ in us and through us.||8/28/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanFinality of the Cross||The post Finality of the Cross appeared first on Apprentice Institute.||8/21/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanEpisode 01||The post Episode 01 appeared first on Apprentice Institute.||8/15/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanEpisode 00||The post Episode 00 appeared first on Apprentice Institute.||8/2/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
Deeply moving and encouraging!
This podcast is where I heard the term “mind discipleship” for the first time and I immediately loved it! Each episode truly lives up to the name of the show: listeners are given thoughts from above, thoughts from a loving God for His beloved Church.
These episodes are the perfect length of time to listen to during my short commute to work :) I am far from a morning person, but listening to James speak such amazing truths definitely helps me to wake up and start the day in a healthy mindset: with thoughts from above!
I really hope you keep doing this, James! Or if you really get bored of making podcasts you should write a book on mind discipleship cause I would definitely buy that.