I received a free e-copy of Habits of Grace by David Mathis (get it here or here) for the purposes of review. I chose this book because it's something I, along with most believers, struggle with. Even as a pastor, I struggle with personal time in the Word, I struggle with regular times of prayer, and struggle to be authentic in community. This book not only helped me understand why I struggle, but gave simple, practical advice on how to overcome it.
What I Liked
Right from the beginning, Mathis states that his desire to write this book was to help believers to enjoy Christ above all things. This book puts us in the path of God's grace and let's that grace wash over us again and again. Mathis simply reminds believers where grace can be found: in His Word, in prayer, and in community (the three main sections of the book).
What's interesting to me is that Mathis isn't saying anything new. In fact, he's spend much of the book quoting others. While he's adding his voice to others, this a reminder more than it is a new and revolutionary look at what grace is and how it can be found.
What I Didn't Like
I admit, this is me just being picky and inserting my preference, but what I didn't link about this book is that someone made the decision to put the references at the end of each chapter instead of together at the end of the book. I found that I wanted to just keep reading into the next chapter and having the notes right there slowed me down. Especially with the e-version, I could have jumped to the reference as I read, if need be. Like I said, this is a minor flaw that's bent toward my petty preferences.
"The Christian life, from start to finish, is utterly dependent on the grace of God."
"... both reading and study have their place in Bible intake, and we need to periodically remind ourselves to slow down, bore in, and go deep when reading the Bible."
"... meditation bridges the gap between hearing from God and speaking to him."
"... applying God's words to our lives is not only an effect of his grace to us, but also a means to more grace."
"Theology gets us in the ball park; memorized Scripture, into the clubhouse."
"God designed the church to be a community of lifelong learners under the earthly guidance of leaders who are teachers at heart."
"Prayer, for the Christian, is not merely talking to God, but responding to the One who has initiated toward us. He has spoken first. This is not a conversation we start, but a relationship into which we are drawn."
"Private prayer is an important test of whether we are real."
"Prayer is for all of life, and especially for our life together in community."
"Fasting is an exceptional measure, designed to channel and express our desire for God and our holy discontent in a fallen world. It is for those not satisfied with the status quo."
"Journaling is an opportunity to preach the gospel freshly to yourself, beginning where you are, without simply feeding yourself to the canned lines of truth you'll default to without pausing to think it over and write it out."
"Getting away, quiet, and alone, is no special grace on its own. But the goal is to create a context for enhancing our hearing from God in his word and responding back to him in prayer."
"... true fellowship not only labors to win the lost, but serves to keep fellow saints saved."
"While the corporate worship of Jesus by the church universal is an essential element in our great destiny, it the corporate worship of Jesus by the church local that is a vital means of grace in getting us there."
"Few practices will energize and affect your Christian life as much as sitting attentively under faithful preaching."
"Baptism is not only a blessing to us in that one memorable occasion when we were the new believer in the water. It also becomes a rehearsing of the gospel for the observer and a means of grace throughout our Christian lives as we watch, with faith, the baptisms of others and renew in our souls the riches of the reality of our identity in Christ pictured in our baptism."
"... the Lord's Supper is a powerful pathway for deepening and sustaining the Christian life."
"One of the most loving things we can do for each other in the church is tell each other when we're wrong."
"We will only go so deep with Jesus until we start yearning to reach out."
"Generosity is one of the great evidences of truly being a Christian."
"Without scheduling, we will falter at the proactive; without flexibility, we will be unavailable for the reactive."
"The crazy days will come ... But with a little intentionality, and with a modest plan in place, you can learn to navigate these days, and even walk with greater dependance on God, knowing full well that it's not the ideal execution of our morning habits of grace that secures his favor and blessing."
(All quotes taken from the e-book edition of Habits of Grace by David Mathis @2016 published by Crossway.)
I recommend this book to all Christians. This is another in a long series of books that reminds us to take our walk with God seriously. Read this book. Study this book ... together. Apply what it says. Give this book away. Watch what God does in and through you.