Habits for Our Holiness: How the Spiritual Disciplines Grow Us Up, Draw Us Together, and Send Us Out
Moody, 2016. 224pp.
Habits for Our Holiness is a helpful book from Philip Nation for Christian leaders and lay people in studying the spiritual disciplines. I have often thought it would be very difficult to write a book on this topic after the contemporary classics Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster and The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard. And yet Nation has offered us some needed insights not found in those other two books.
The book describes a handful of disciplines but sets them in two contexts: community and mission. This is a helpful corrective to our hyper-individualized culture. We should develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but this relationship only becomes fully animated in community and on mission.
Nation discusses classic disciplines such as worship, scripture reading, prayer and simplicity. But then he also includes chapters on fellowship, rest, service, submission, leadership and discipleship. Nation makes excellent points in these chapters, though I felt they would be better served as part of another book.
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
The context that Nation sets all of this in is a love relationship between the believer and God. He does an excellent job of coming back to this theme throughout the book. Divine and human love provide the energy and purpose of these endeavors.
Nation also has a good critique of many contemporary spiritual formation programs. He says that many of these programs are very heavy on doctrine and personal spiritual fulfillment. But this leads to an imbalance in terms of connecting with the church community and then moving out in mission.
I found the chapters on rest, simplicity and fasting to be very helpful. These disciplines seem to be sorely lacking in discipleship programs in many churches. Most churches emphasize devotional scriptural reading and prayer, but fall short of helping believers understand these other disciplines.
The disciplines are about creating space for God in our lives. Nation helps us greatly in highlighting the need to honor Sabbath, live simple lifestyles, and incorporate fasting into our devotional lives. The simply lifestyle chapter is particularly counter-cultural and is a needed corrective to the rank consumerism that we all contend with.
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By
This Lifeway Pastors review was written by Santosh Ninan.