Monday, May 9, 2016

Book Review: Habits of Grace

Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines. David Mathis. Foreword by John Piper. 2016. Crossway. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I really enjoyed reading David Mathis' Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines. I've read three books on spiritual disciplines this year, and, each one has been good in its own way. I'm a bit surprised by the three different perspectives on spiritual disciplines! Though all three share some things in common: a desire to know and love God more and more.

The book is divided into three sections. The first section is titled "Hear His Voice" and focuses on the Word of God. The second section is titled "Have His Ear" and focuses on prayer. The third section is titled "Belong to His Body" and focuses on fellowship. Though just three main sections, more gets covered in this book than just reading the Bible, praying, and attending church! Every page of this one seems to highlight God's grace and God's glory. It is a book that proclaims a big, big God!!!

It is full of practical tips and advice. For example, here are five tips for scripture meditation: 1) diversify your picks 2) take it with you during the day 3) seek to understand, feel, and apply the text as you memorize 4) turn your text into prayer 5) memorize in the light of the gospel.

I really enjoyed this one. I thought it was well written, well organized, and packed with tips and advice. Not just his own advice, but advice from theologians past and present.

From the foreword by John Piper:
Enjoyment of Jesus is not like icing on the cake; it's like powder in the shell.
From the preface:
Much has been said in terms of duty, and too little said about joy.
From section one:
Without the Bible, we will soon lose the genuine gospel and the real Jesus and the true God. For now, if we are to saturate our lives with the words of life, we must be people of the Book.
The battleground is between our ears. What is it that is capturing your idle thoughts? What fear or frustration is filling your spare moments? Will you just listen to yourself, or will you start talking? Preaching the gospel to ourselves is a habit of grace that is both proactive and reactive.
What we need is not just truth, but the truth, the message of the gospel. What preaching the gospel to ourselves requires is pausing, rehearsing some expression of the Father's and Son's love of and provision of goodness and rescue and joy for us, and consciously seeking to have that truth shape and permeate our reality.
If you feel uncomfortable in the Scriptures and inadequate in the art of Bible reading, the single most important thing you can do is make a regular habit of reading the Bible for yourself. There is no substitute for a few focused minutes each day in the text. You may be surprised how much the little bits add up over the long haul.
It takes both an increasing sense of the big picture of Jesus's rescue of sinners as well as a growing depth in the little pieces that make up that big picture for us to stay fresh in applying the gospel to our lives.
When we get alone with the Bible, we are not alone. God has not left us to ourselves to understand his words and feed our own souls.
We were made to meditate. God designed us with the capacity to pause and ponder. He means for us to not just hear him, not only to read quickly over what he says, but to reflect on what he says and knead it into our hearts.
From section two:
Prayer is not finally about getting things from God, but getting God.
Journaling has the appeal of mingling the motions of our lives with the mind of God.
From section three:
Fellowship may be the often forgotten middle child of the spiritual disciplines, but she may save your life in the dark night of your soul.
Our inability to listen well to others may be symptomatic of a chatty spirit that is droning out the voice of God.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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