In Matthew 15:11 Jesus stated, “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Thus, issues of the heart, also termed out affections, are a true gauge of spiritual maturity. Dealing with the often sinful issues of the heart is a daily task as we battle against the urge to follow the desires of the flesh. Since addressing matters of the heart is such a relevant issue for the Body of Christ, it is necessary for this subject to be the topic of sermons that are focused on helping believers deal with these issues from a biblical perspective. Josh Moody and Robin Weeks in their book Burning Hearts: Preaching to the Affections, provide a helpful guide for pastors on how to focus their preaching efforts to this subject matter.
The authors rightly note that “Preaching to the affections means preaching that targets the heart. And the heart in the Bible is not merely our feelings, nor merely our thinking, but both intertwined; the heart is the centre of who we are.” Our response to the world around us should demonstrate godly affections that reveal our desire to love God and to love others. God gave us the capacity to reason and to have a wide range of emotions as a necessary element of relationship, both with Himself and with our fellow man. In a fallen world, our emotions and the accompanying actions often reveal a need for correction given our penchant for getting that element of life incorrect far more than we get it right. Moody and Weeks aptly comment, “Affections then – rightly understood – are part of what it means to be human and are to be increasingly oriented towards godly desires in the Christian.”
One focus of the pastor should be to help equip his flock with the biblical tools by which to increasingly orient their affections towards God and others in a way that reflects righteousness. This equipping is done through preaching. Moody and Weeks define preaching as the “God-ordained means by which He meets with His people through His Word and by His Spirit in such a way that His people’s eyes are opened to see Jesus and be captivated by Him.” This excellent definition sets the stage for their discussion on the need to preach to the affections, specifically the ten salient reasons they provide of why such an approach through the preaching of the Word is so needed.
The authors also provide not just the needed why of preaching to the affections, but also the practical how. Suggestions such as “Look out for the affections in the text”, “Think Christ, live Christ, apply Christ”, “Probe the workings of the heart”, “Preach the pathos as well as the logos of the passage”, “Learn from those who preach to the affections”, “Raise the affections with the truth”, “Prayer: the hour of power”, and “Preach with an awakened heart” are the excellent approach they discuss. These suggestions are fully bible and Christ centered, providing the pastor with the tools to “recapture that sense of preaching being the means by which God draws near to His people, and the time when we meet with Him.”
This timely and helpful book concludes with four examples of what preaching to the affections looks like inaction using examples from the author’s own sermon material and experiences. In each of the examples provided, Moody and Weeks help the reader learn how to approach the text in a way that looks at how God is addressing in that passage how a change of heart and affections should take place. In a book that seeks to assist pastors with learning the why and how of preaching to the affections, providing salient examples of what that looks is a needed element and the authors hit a homerun by sharing their own efforts in this area. Helping the pastor walk through a passage, noting how that passage speaks to matters of the heart makes this book extremely practical and useful and more than just a book with a few helpful hints mixed in here and there.
I highly recommend this book for all pastors. Matters of the heart are daily issues for all believers and something that needs to find more attention from the pulpit. Filled with practical and timely advice from a pastors heart and experience, this book will be of great service to those pastors who recognize the need to shepherd their flocks in dealing with sinful desires, why it is important, and how they can grow in this area in their walk with Christ.
This book is available for purchase from Christian Focus Publications by clicking here.
I received this book for free from Christian Focus Publications for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”