Spiritual Affections and the Transformed Life

In this article we discuss our affections—that is what we love—and how our loves and affections motivate us toward certain behaviors and actions. In essence, we live toward what we love—it is the end game, the teleos or goal of our lives. We work to achieve, and this is for what we want out of life. In essence, what we love. Therefore, love is the great motivator. It is how we form habits, whether good or bad, and it is the spark that sets aflame our imaginations and sets us in motion.

I owe much of what is contained in this article to several men who I would like to give credit. First, James K. A. Smith and his books Desiring the kingdom and You Are What You Love. Dr. Smith has been an inspiration to me and his books were an inspiration giving me greater understanding and helping me put the pieces together for the thesis of this article. Another I would like to credit is Dallas Willard and his book, The Spirit of Disciplines, and for the insights contained in his excellent book. Lastly, I would like to give credit to Thomas Ashbrook for his research on Teresa of Avila and his book, Mansions of the Heart. Each one of these men’s influence on my life and learning concerning spiritual formation and discipleship has been profound and without each this article would not exist. In fact, there are sections of this article that have been directly borrowed from the writer’s books. While you will see an endnote attributing credit to the author in this article, there are sections lacking introduction of the original author. This is to allow for the flow of the material and to reduce the amount interruption for the reader. Truth be said, these men can explain this material much better than I can, so some of it has been borrowed and quoted directly as it appears in the original copy of their books.

Another matter that must be acknowledged before moving forward is the emphasis placed on spiritual affections as the spark that sets aflame transformation in this article. Some have questioned this emphasis noticing that little is said about the Apostle Paul’s admonition to “…be transformed by the renewing of the mind” (Rom 12:2), and Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus, “that the eyes of [their] hearts may be enlightened, so [they] would know what is the hope of His calling…” (Eph 1:18). It is this writer’s intention to place emphasis and focus on spiritual affections in this article. There have been thousands of books focusing on the concept of enlightenment, spiritual mysteries, interpretive issues and theology and this over-abundance of information on these issues is enough to make one’s head spin. With this there is a significant imbalance that has occurred, in my opinion, when it comes to the amount of information on theology when compared to the amount of attention given to spiritual formation and transformation. Therefore, while it is recognized that there are two-parts that contribute toward spiritual growth that is information in the form of Scripture, doctrine and theology, and spiritual disciplines, it has been my preference to focus on spiritual affections in this article to counter this gross imbalance of material.

With Paul, it must be noted that although his admonition is toward renewal of the mind (information and learning), at the very heart and foundation for Paul’s admonition was love. Paul’s love for God and his disciples’ affections for Christ. Without love, Christ would not have died to save mankind and Paul would not have preached and written his epistles. Therefore, spiritual affections served as a foundation and impetus for Paul’s admonitions to the church.

With this said, spiritual affections and information, learning and the renewing of the mind serve as two sides of the same coin contributing toward one’s spiritual formation and spiritual maturity. While one cannot happen without the other, most certainly spiritual formation will not happen at all without both components nourishing and contributing toward the edification of the believer. But the love of God as impetus and the driving factor for transformation is at the heart of spiritual formation.

Kenneth Boa, in his book, Conformed to His Image, talks about what it is to love God more completely. Boa writes,

“Loving God completely involves our whole personality—our intellect, emotion, and will. ‘And you shall love the Lord our God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength’ (Mark 12:30). The better we come to know God…the more we will love Him. And the more we love Him, the greater our willingness to trust and obey Him in the things He calls us to do.”[1]

This statement from Kenneth Boa encapsulates exactly what we’re aiming for in this teaching and ultimately in discipleship altogether. Our affections for God are key to our victory over the flesh, sin and experiencing true spiritual growth. With this understanding the primary Goal of discipleship is to come alongside and assist with the cultivation of the disciple’s affections toward God.

Before we talk about that, though, I’d like to first address something that I believe gets in the way and hinders the cultivation of our affections towards God in the church today, and this is the way we learn and what is truly effectual toward our learning and understanding of God.

With this I’d like to pose the question, “Is information all that is needed to transform our behavior and life? In other words, if an individual had the right information, do you believe they would change their minds and behaviors and turn their life around?

Is Information Really All That Is Needed for Transformation?

I have heard it said on a number of occasions by pastors and others, “What you believe will inevitably lead to how you behave.”[2]  On the surface, this statement sounds fairly reasonable and plausible. With this it is assumed that if we believe something to be true, our actions will follow, and we will make decisions with our lives accordingly. In other words, with this understanding our behavior will be governed by our belief system and our actions will fall into compliance according to what we believe. While this all sounds well and good, practically speaking this logic fails to be proved to be true in real life. In fact, many would say that this simply is not true at all, and this is one of the many untruths that have been postulated and pushed on the masses who continue to struggle with destructive habits and problem emotions.

With this premise the underlying assumption is, “If only I understood what the Scriptures were telling me. If only I had the understanding of what God wanted of me, etc.”

“If I only understood . . .”

One of the great gifts of the Protestant Reformation is the insistence that we should have access to the Bible, in our own language, and be able to understand the clear teachings of Scripture. The Reformers reclaimed the truths of a Christ-centered theology emphasizing salvation by grace through faith. Over the years, new denominations and church groups formed around particular theological perspectives. Emphasis on teaching sermons and Christian education supported this movement.

Although our theology said that we are saved by grace, emphasis on correct understanding often subtly taught that we are saved by what we know, or by “correct theology.” Over the years, authors have written thousands of books trying to help us get it right. The subtle and mythical assumption was that if we only understood, really understood, then our lives would change and spiritual growth would occur.

In so much of the modern spiritual formation literature, there is an underlying assumption that “enlightened understanding” is the key to spiritual growth. If we could just “understand” the truths of Scripture and how to live the Christian life, then our lives would automatically align with God’s will. Although it is certainly true that lack of understanding and misinformed theology can get us into trouble and prevent us from moving in the right direction, the opposite is also not necessarily true.

We are our own best test case to critique the truth or falsehood that correct understanding results in a transformed life. How much of what you know are you able to put into practice? Can you honestly say that inadequacies in your relationship with God are simply a lack of understanding?[3]

If this were true, that our actions follow our beliefs, information and knowledge would be all that would be necessary to solve many of the habitual problems in the world today. For example, while it is widely known and accepted that cigarette smoking is bad for one’s health and leads to cancer, emphysema and a whole host of other medical problems, a sizable number of the population in the United States today still smoke. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “In 2017, fourteen out of every one-hundred adults in the US (14.0%) smoked cigarettes. This means an estimated 34.3 million adults in the United States at the time of the study smoked cigarettes. Moreover, more than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease.”[4] Now, this is not to say that there has not been progress reducing the number of smokers through the dissemination of information, but information alone, clearly has not changed the habits of everyone.

Such statistics concerning tobacco serve as evidence that information and knowledge fail to produce changed behavior with a sizable number of people. Evidence suggests much the same with alcohol use, driving under the influence, as well as dietary restrictions for health reasons such as obesity and diabetes. In each instance, information concerning the risks involved with these habits and behaviors have been widely disseminated in the US, yet while we see some evidence in decreased use, there remains a large percentage who fail to heed the warnings and persist in their behavior. Information simply is not the solution for many people in order to change their habits and behaviors.

Why is it, that after being warned time and again that driving under the influence is dangerous and can lead to risk of life, that some continue to drive while intoxicated?  Why is it that after numerous infomercials and classroom training, that 34.3 million adults in the US continue to smoke cigarettes?  There must be something more—something that we’re missing. Could it be that information simply is not all that is needed to change behavior?

With Paul, our hearts cry, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15, NASB95)

The simple fact is, not all people are moved by the same mechanisms and motivations. Not all people process information in the same fashion and interpret it and apply it to their life in the same way. It is an assumption that if information is disseminated to the public that the public will know what it means and be able to apply it to their situation and circumstances.

With this in mind, pastor Ken Shigematsu in his book, Survival Guide for the Soul: How to Flourish Spiritually in a World that Pressures Us to Achieve, writes about the various types of personalities and how they interpret and cope with various forms of information.

A study of people with different kinds of temperaments (as defined by the Myers-Briggs personality profile) examined each temperament’s preferred spiritual practices, using several historical Catholic teachers to embody various spiritual “languages of love.

The research found that around 40 percent of people in North America are “Ignatian” in their spirituality. This means that their approach to God is similar to Saint Ignatius of Loyola, a sixteenth-century follower of Jesus. Ignatian types are very practical, have a strong sense of responsibility, and love to serve in tangible ways, such as preparing a meal for someone who is ill, or hammering a nail in the frame of the house they are helping to build with a Habitat for Humanity team. These tasks make them feel like they are doing something useful. They like organization and structure. They also tend to prefer a more consistent, ordered approach to God.

Roughly 38 percent of the population is “Franciscan” in their approach to spirituality. Like St. Francis of Assisi, a fourteenth-century lover of God and creation, Franciscan types connect most deeply with God as they walk in nature, enjoy beautiful art or music, listen to inspiring stories, or savor a cup of coffee and good conversation with a friend. Rather than favoring structure, they tend to prefer a more spontaneous approach to God.

About 12 percent of the population is “Augustinian” in their spirituality. They resemble St. Augustine, the brilliant thinker and leader who lived in the fourth and fifth centuries. Augustinian types are philosophical and enjoy contemplating the meaning of God and their lives. Although just over one in ten people have this Augustinian approach to God, they may represent more than 50 percent of those who schedule time to get away on spiritual retreats.

Only 10 percent of the population tends to be “Thomistic” in their approach to God. Their spirituality is similar to St. Thomas Aquinas, a towering theologian from the thirteenth century. Thomistics love to use their minds as a gateway to God. They relish the study of Scripture, theology, and substantive Christian books. A disproportionately high percentage of pastors, in comparison with the general population, are Thomistic in their spirituality. This helps to explain why many pastors frequently stress the importance of Bible study and theological learning as a way for people to grow in their faith.[5]

The implications of Shigematsu’s findings are profound. For example, if a church with a congregation size of one-thousand were holding an apologetics conference and 220 persons attended, they would most likely consider it a success, yet they would have only touched the Augustinians and Thomistics in their congregation while the larger 78 percent representing the Ignatians and Franciscans were virtually left out.

Admittedly, apologetics is not bad, and every church should teach apologetics, but the delivery method of a conference setting simply fails to minister to the Augustinians and Fransiscans in a way where they can assimilate the information.

Many people simply are not moved by mere information because it takes something more moving the information from the cerebral to the visceral parts of their body touching the heart and soul. Franciscans, for example, are moved and touched by music and art more than words.

This reminds me of a story I heard from Timothy Keller about the great Master Conductor, Leonard Bernstein, and how he was converted from a lifetime of atheism to Christianity. Keller writes,

Bernstein, when he was the Master Conductor during the 1950s, he did the Omnibus program. It was kind of an educational program for kids about music. When he was introducing Beethoven’s Fifth, Bernstein essentially said, “Listening to Beethoven’s Fifth, you get the feeling there’s something right with the world, something that checks throughout, something that follows its own laws consistently, something we can trust that will never let us down.” What Bernstein was saying is, at one level, with his brain, he says, “Oh, I don’t believe there’s a God. I think we’re just here by accident. I’m an existentialist.” But when he hears the music, especially Beethoven’s Fifth, he says, “No, I really think there is a plan. There is meaning. There is purpose. There is something or someone behind life. Things aren’t chaotic.” The music gets him in touch with what Paul [the apostle] calls the truth.[6]

Even though I am a biblical counselor, pastor and Bible scholar and have deep convictions about the importance of Bible study, I recognize that there are various ways for people to connect with God. Not all people are driven to be literary types who are informed by reading. There are many intelligent people who are not inclined to read much and do not enjoy reading. Many prefer to watch the evening news on television or listen to talk radio instead of reading the morning or evening paper or Newsweek magazine. These same people may be more Ignatian or Franciscan in their approach to information in that they prefer to experience and engage with concepts differently than others.

This is why educators for the past 30 plus years have moved away from a didactic approach that merely focuses on the transference of knowledge to an Integrative Educational approach that incorporates more of the student’s senses into the lesson plan and classroom to ensure better reception and assimilation of the lesson by the students. An integrative approach allows for greater physical utilization and interaction by the students in the learning environment through responsive engagement, movement and physical encoding and language and behavior that allows students to engage and interact with the material they are learning.[7]

Of course, this speaks to the method of learning but says nothing about their motivations and what motivates the person toward certain behavior. So, the question remains, what motivates people toward certain actions and behaviors?

Behavior is Motivated by Desire More than Information

It is the question of desire and the person’s affections that drives them toward certain action and behaviors. For example, Bernstein loved music and he was willing to listen to it because of his great love.

In the Gospel of John, it is the first question Jesus poses to those who would follow him. When two would-be disciples who are caught up in John the Baptist’s enthusiasm begin to follow, Jesus turns to them and pointedly asks, “What do you want?” (John 1:38).

This is the question that is buried under almost every other question Jesus asks each of us. “Will you come and follow me?” which is another version of “What do you want?” as is the fundamental question Jesus asks of his errant disciple, Peter: “Do you love me?” (John 21:16 NRSV). These are all, essentially, variations of the same question.

Jesus doesn’t encounter Matthew and John—or you and me—and ask, “What do you know?” He doesn’t even ask, “What do you believe?” He asks, “What do you want?” This is the most incisive, piercing question Jesus can ask of us precisely because we are what we want. Our wants and longings and desires are at the core of our identity, the wellspring from which our actions and behavior flow. Our wants reverberate from our heart, the epicenter of the human person. Thus, Scripture counsels,

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”

–Proverbs 4:23

Discipleship, we might say then, is a way to curate our hearts, to be attentive to and intentional about what we love. So, discipleship, then, is more a matter of hungering and thirsting than of knowing and believing. Jesus’s command to follow him is a command to align our loves and longings with his—to want what God wants, to desire what God desires, to hunger and thirst after God and crave a world where he is all in all—a vision encapsulated in what Jesus called, “the kingdom of God.”

Jesus is a teacher who doesn’t just inform our intellect but forms our very loves.

Jesus isn’t content to simply deposit new ideas into your mind; he is after nothing less than our wants, our loves, our longings. His “teaching” doesn’t just touch the calm, cool, collected space of reflection and contemplation; he is a teacher who invades the heated, passionate regions of the heart.

He is the Word who “penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit”; he “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

To follow Jesus is to become a student of the Rabbi who teaches us how to love.

The Apostle John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, knew this to be true. He understood that human motivations may be changed by their affections and what they love. Therefore, the Apostle John warned the church,

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

–1 John 2:15

The love of God is to be supreme over and against all other loves. According to John, any other love in this world is opposed to one’s love of God and is inordinate in its nature as it rivals one’s love of God which must be primary in one’s heart and life.

With this, Jesus said, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matt 10:37). We are to “honor [our] father and mother, and love [our] neighbor as [ourselves]” (Matt 19:19). But one’s love of God is remain supreme as the person’s first love (1 Jn 4:19; Rev 2:4).

We’ve become so used to reading the Bible with Cartesian eyes—seeing the world through Descartes’s “I think, therefore I am” lens—that we see it confirming our intellectualism and thinking. But on a closer reading, when we set aside those uniquely modern blinders, we’ll find a very different model assumed in the Scriptures.

Consider, for example, Paul’s remarkable prayer for the Christians at Philippi in the opening section of his letter to them:

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:9–11).

Notice the sequence of Paul’s prayer here. If you read it too quickly, you might come away with the impression that Paul is primarily concerned about knowledge. Indeed, at a glance, given our habits of mind, you might think Paul is praying that the Christians in Philippi would deepen their knowledge so that they will know what to love. But look again. In fact, Paul’s prayer is the inverse: he prays that their love might abound more and more because, in some sense, love is the condition for knowledge. It’s not that I know in order to love, but rather: I love in order to know. And if we are going to discern “what is best”—what is “excellent,” what really matters, what is of ultimate importance—Paul tells us that the place to start is by attending to our loves.

There is a very different model of the human person at work here. Instead of the rationalist, intellectualist model that implies, “You are what you think,” Paul’s prayer hints at a very different conviction: “You are what you love.”

Becoming a disciple of Jesus is not a Didactic Endeavor

Jesus is not Lecturer-in-Chief; his school of charity is not like a lecture hall where we passively take notes while Jesus spouts facts about himself in a litany of text-heavy PowerPoint slides. And yet we often approach discipleship as primarily a didactic endeavor—as if becoming a disciple of Jesus is largely an intellectual project, a matter of acquiring knowledge. Why is that?

Because every approach to discipleship and spiritual formation assumes an implicit model of what human beings are. While these assumptions usually remain unarticulated, we nonetheless work with some fundamental (though unstated) assumptions about what sorts of creatures we are—and therefore what sorts of learners we are.

If being a disciple is being a learner and follower of Jesus, then a lot hinges on what you think “learning” is. And what you think learning is hinges on what you think human beings are. In other words, your understanding of discipleship will reflect a set of working assumptions about the very nature of human beings, even if you’ve never asked yourself these types of questions.

James K.A. Smith in his book, You Are What You Love, talks about when he first began to realize how the church has allowed herself to adopt a Cartesian view of human anthropology (that is a model based on the philosophy of René Descartes), and how these presuppositions have skewed the way in which the church has tried to convey the gospel to the world. Smith writes,

This hit home for me in a tangible way several years ago. While paging through an issue of a noted Christian magazine, I was struck by a full-color advertisement for a Bible verse memory program. At the center of the ad was a man’s face and emblazoned across his forehead was a startling claim: “YOU ARE WHAT YOU THINK.” That is a very explicit way to state what many of us implicitly assume.

In ways that are more “modern” than biblical, we have been taught to assume that human beings are fundamentally thinking things. While we might never have read—or even heard of—seventeenth-century French philosopher René Descartes, many of us unwittingly share his definition of the essence of the human person as…a “thinking thing.”

Like Descartes, we view our bodies as extraneous, temporary vehicles for trucking around our souls or “minds,” which are where all the real action takes place…It’s the mind that we picture as “mission control” of the human person; it’s thinking that defines who we are. “You are what you think” is a motto that reduces human beings to brains-on-a-stick. Ironically, such thinking-thingism assumes that the “heart” of the person is the mind. “I think, therefore I am,” Descartes said, and most of our approaches to discipleship end up parroting his idea.[8]

This, view, by the way, that the human being is the sum total of what they think assuming that the brain is the seat of all emotion and intellect, could not be further from the truth. Scripture tells us that God breathed into man the spirit of life (Gen 2:7). Moreover, science has proven that the same neurons that are found in the brain may be found in other parts of the body as well.[9] Additionally, the numerous “life after death” accounts from various witnesses who have died on the operating table and come back to life bear witness to rational thought even though medical experts assert the person’s brain had ceased to function.[10]

Such an intellectualist model of the human person—one that reduces us to mere intellect—assumes that learning (and hence discipleship) is primarily a matter of depositing ideas and beliefs into mind-containers. Smith, citing Critical education theorist Bell Hooks, calls this a “banking” model of education: we treat human learners as if they are safe-deposit boxes for knowledge and ideas, mere intellectual receptacles for beliefs. We then think of action as a kind of “withdrawal” from this bank of knowledge, as if our action and behavior were always the outcome of conscious, deliberate, rational reflection that ends with a choice—as if our behavior were basically the conclusion to a little syllogism in our head whereby we think our way through the world. In all of this, we ignore the overwhelming power of habit.[11]

So, we assume that a disciple is a learner who is acquiring more information about God through the Scriptures—that serious discipleship is really discipleship of the mind. And of course, that’s true. Scripture enjoins us to take every thought captive to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5) and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2). A follower of Jesus will be a student of the Word, one “whose delight is in the law of the Lord” (Ps. 1:2).

If you’re serious about following Jesus, you will drink up every opportunity to learn more about God, God’s Word, what he requires of us, and what he desires for his creation. You don’t just show up for worship and the sermon: you’re there for Bible Study and home study groups; you read your Bible every day; you engage through Scripture memorization, and you attend every conference you can.

If “you are what you think,” then filling your brain with Bible verses should translate into Christlike character, right?  If “you are what you think,” then changing what you think should change who you are, right?[12]  We all know it’s just not that easy; hence, this conversation.

Proverbs 23:7

At this point in the conversation I would be remiss if I did not address Proverbs 23:7 which says,

for as he thinks within himself, so he is” (NASB)

NKJV says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” And many in the church have taken this to mean that a man’s opinion of himself, or the ideas and concepts he holds in his heart shape the man.

The NIV84 has taken measures to correct this errant translation (because this is not what the proverb means at all) by translating it as,

“For he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost. Eat and drink, he says to you but his heart is not with you” (NIV84).

The context of the proverb is where an unexpected or uninvited guest sits at a man’s table to eat and the host did not invite him and really does not want him there. With this context, it has nothing to do with one’s ideologies or spiritual formation, so we can remove this proverb as having any bearing on our discussion of discipleship or spiritual formation.

Moving Toward an Integrative Discipleship Model

The human person is not merely a thinking-thing, or a brain, or repository of information, but spirit and soul. I believe this is why Jesus did not emphasize mere knowledge with his disciples, but rather taught in a way that reached deeper into the heart of the person.

It is interesting, Michael Wilkins, in his research on Discipleship in the Ancient World and Matthew’s Gospel, concludes his study with the discovery that Matthew viewed the disciples more as adherents, followers and imitators of Jesus, rather than mere learners of their rabbi teacher. Wilkins writes,

The progression to “adherent” in Hellenism at the time of Christ and the early church made μαθητής(mathētēs) a convenient term to designate the followers of Jesus, because the emphasis in the common use of the term was not upon “learning,” or upon becoming a pupil, but upon adherence to a great master. Hence, a “disciple” of Jesus, designated by the Greek term mathētēs, was one who adhered to his master, and the type of adherence was determined by the master himself.[13]

According to Wilkins, Matthew did not place emphasis in his gospel upon the concept of learning and the disciples being the student of their rabbi, Jesus, but rather the adopting of the life and imitation of Christ Jesus, and therefore, the title “adherents” is a more appropriate term for the disciples.

The disciples were not merely students, according to Wilkins, but rather they were assuming the life of Jesus upon themselves, which is something more personal and radically different than simply become a student of someone and acquiring knowledge from them. This strikes closer to the intimacy involved in the marriage between two people; hence, Jesus, referring to the church as His bride.

I have a number of students and have been blessed to have taught many throughout my lifetime, but there are relatively few of my students who have truly embraced my teaching and continue to stay in touch with me as their mentor or counselor throughout their lifetime. With those students who have maintained a close relationship with me my relationship with them is closer to what Matthew describes in his gospel concerning the disciples of Jesus. As such, being an adherent is a far more radical and deeper relationship than a disciple who is merely a student. The disciples were not merely learners, but they were adherents to Jesus Himself and imitators of His life and what He taught about a relationship with the Father.

Discipleship Throughout Church History

Recognizing the importance of historical theology and how it shapes our learning and informs our views, we will reflect back historically, and discuss how some of the great theologians in the church have dealt with discipleship and transformation.

Renowned church historian Phillip Schaff writes,

How shall we labor with any effect to build up the Church, if we have no thorough knowledge of her history, or fail to apprehend it from the proper point of observation? History is, and must ever continue to be, next to God’s word, the richest fountain of wisdom, and the surest guide to all successful practical activity.

—Philip Schaff[14]

Historical theology and studying the teaching and understanding of the early Christians is important, for in doing so we gain a greater understanding of our roots and the state of the church today. By it we learn from other’s successes as well as their mistakes, and we learn the timeless truths to true spiritual intimacy with God.

St. Augustine

Going all the way back to the early church, the early 4th century, St. Augustine of Hippo, N. Africa, understood the intrinsic tension within human anatomy and captured a holistic picture of the human person early in the life of the church.

Saint Augustine is famous for his Confessions which is probably his most well-known writings. He has very many writings that have survived until today, but most people, I think, [are] most aware of his Confessions. And I recommend his Confessions. If you want to read anything from the ancient church, read The Confessions of Saint Augustine. It is indeed one of the classics of Christian history and of all of Western civilization.

The City of God

But along with his Confessions, another significant book—a little bit harder to get into, and I don’t recommend it first off, but another very significant book—is his City of God.

In his book, City of God, Augustine describes the world as comprised of two communities—two cities, as he says. Now, what are the two cities? On the one hand, you have those who are part of the city of God, and that would be the saints of the ot—in other words, believing people of the ot, like Abraham or David—as well as the Christian saints of the nt, those who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ. And then the angels, because the good angels are also on the side—not the fallen angels but the good angels—are on the side of God. So that, on the one hand, is the city of God. That is to be contrasted with the city of man: the political system that one sees around you, comprised of unsaved people, people who do not belong to God.

What You Love Determines What You Do

And so, what is it that comprises these two cities? What is it that causes each to be what they are? It is what they love. Each city has a different love, has a different focus. The city of God has its love and its affection set on God. The city of man has its affection set on self. And for Augustine, what one loves determines what one does. So, you can understand one’s actions by seeing what you love. The city of God loves God. The city of man loves only self. [15]

St. Augustine captured this holistic picture of the human person early in the life of the church. In the opening paragraph of his Confessions—his spiritual autobiography penned in a mode of prayer—Augustine pinpoints the epicenter of human identity:

“You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.

Packed into this one line is wisdom that should radically change how we approach worship, discipleship, and Christian formation. Several themes can be discerned in this compact insight.

Augustine opens with a design claim, a conviction about what human beings are made for. This is significant for a couple of reasons.

  • First, it recognizes that human beings are made by and for the Creator who is known in Jesus Christ. In other words, to be truly and fully human, we need to “find” ourselves in relationship to the One who made us and for whom we are made. The gospel is the way we learn to be human. As Irenaeus once put it, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”
  • Second, the implicit picture of being human is dynamic. To be human is to be for something, directed toward something, oriented toward something. To be human is to be on the move, pursuing something, after We are like existential sharks: we have to move to live. We are not just static containers for ideas; we are dynamic creatures directed toward some end. In philosophy we have a shorthand term for this: something that is oriented toward an end or telos (a “goal”) is described as “teleological.” Augustine rightly recognizes that human beings are teleological creatures.

A second theme worth noting is Augustine’s locating of the center or “organ” of this teleological orientation in the heart, the seat of our longings and desires. Unfortunately, the language of the “heart” (kardia in Greek) has been hijacked in our culture and enlisted in the soppy sentimentalism of Hallmark and thus equated with a kind of emotivism. This is not what the biblical language of kardia suggests, nor is it what Augustine means. Instead, think of the heart as the fulcrum or axis of your most fundamental longings—a visceral, subconscious orientation to the world.

So, Augustine doesn’t frame this as merely an intellectual quest. He doesn’t say, “You have made us to know you, and our minds are ignorant until they understand you.” The longing that Augustine describes is less like curiosity and more like hunger—less like an intellectual puzzle to be solved and more like a craving for sustenance. Psalm 42:1-2 says,

As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?

–Psalm 42:1–2

Many times we read of holy desire, expressed in longings, hungering and thirsting after God and holiness (see Isa. 26:8; Ps. 27:4; 42:1–2; 63:1–2; 84:1–2).[16]

At night my soul longs for You, Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently….

–Isaiah 26:9

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.

–Psalm 63:1

How lovely are Your dwelling places, O Lord of hosts! My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.

–Psalm 84:1–2

 So, in this picture, the center of gravity of the human person is located not in the intellect but in the heart. Why? Because the heart is the existential chamber of our love, and it is our loves that orient us toward some ultimate end or telos. It’s not just that I “know” some end or “believe” in some telos. More than that, I long for some end. I want something and want it ultimately. It is my desires that define me. In short, you are what you love.

Paul, in Philippians 2:1-2 says, “…if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection (inward part) and compassion, make my joy complete…”

The term “affection” (splagchna) referred to the inner organs of the body, which indicated the seat of human emotions. The concept “compassion” (oiktirmoi) pointed to the outward deeds of mercy and compassion caused by the inner concern. Compassion is the opposite of indifference. Where there is no compassion, there can be no love nor joy (1 John 3:16–18).[17]

Paul expresses metaphorically the concept and experiences of empathy, mercy, and compassion through the use of a word that literally refers to the inner parts and bowels of a human being or animal thereby changing the usage of the term.[18]

In the dynamic relationship between love and knowledge, head and heart, the Scriptures paint a holistic picture of the human person. It’s not only our minds that God redeems, but the whole person: head, heart, hands. Christ takes captive our minds but also our kardia, even what Paul calls our splagchna, our “inner parts” that are the seat of our “affections.”

Contemporary science is starting to catch up to this ancient biblical wisdom about the human person. Scholars at UCLA and McMaster University have been conducting experiments that are shedding light on our “gut feelings.”[19] Their studies point to the way microbes in our stomachs affect the neural activity of the brain. “Your brain is not just another organ,” they report. “It’s … affected by what goes on in the rest of your body.”[20] In fact, Scientific American reports that there is “an often-overlooked network of neurons lining our guts that is so extensive some scientists have nicknamed it our ‘second brain.’ ”[21]

No wonder Jesus invites us to follow him by eating and drinking (John 6:53–58). Discipleship doesn’t touch just our head or even just our heart: it reaches into our gut, our splagchna, our affections.

This teleological aspect of the human person, coupled with the fundamental centrality of love, generates Augustine’s third insight: because we are made to love the One who made and loves us—“we love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19)—we will find “rest” when our loves are rightly ordered to this ultimate end.

But Augustine also notes the alternative: since our hearts are made to find their end in God, we will experience a besetting anxiety and restlessness when we try to love substitutes. To be human is to have a heart. You can’t not love. So, the question isn’t whether you will love something as ultimate; the question is what you will love as ultimate. And you are what you love.

This brief foray into the Scriptures and the ancient wisdom of St. Augustine reveals a very different model of the human person than we typically assume. This model provides a framework for thinking about the task of discipleship, the nature of sanctification, and the role of worship.

Because of Augustine’s understanding of theological anthropology and what it is to be human, his approach to discipleship was more holistic and was comprised of: many small discussion groups over meals, as well as round table discussions. Oversight and assistance with ministry, one-on-one sessions, lectures to larger groups and writing of theological books and articles. Augustine took a very “hands on” approach to discipleship. It has also been noted by church historian Edward Smither that Augustine throughout his lifetime remained a student and disciple himself as he always sought to be teachable and willing to learn.[22]

What Prevents Us from Reaching God’s Plan for Our Lives

Calvin Miller, writing about the difference between what God wants for us and what we ultimately become writes,

The difference between what God wants for us and what we ultimately become rests in how we break the thrall of those appetites that chain us to selfish lifestyles and selfish life goals. The steps to freedom are simple but always demanding.

  • First, our focus needs to be on hungering after what God wants rather than merely trying to quit what he doesn’t want.
  • Second, we must agree to live close to the Great Enabler.
  • Finally, we must live in abundant inwardness until we can see the kind of world God wants to exist and endeavor to become the kind of Christian God wants us to be.

Oswald Chambers felt that most of us do not intentionally renounce God’s vision for our life. We lose the vision through neglect. When we are born again, we seem to catch sight of the significance or our worth to both God and ourselves. We become disobedient to that vision when we begin to live as though it cannot be obtained. We rarely deny the vision or argue with God’s dream for us. “We love the vision by spiritual leakage,”[23] says Oswald Chambers. This is too bad, for we can never know spiritual happiness until we accept God’s vision for our lives.

There is incredible insight in what Miller says. We are driven by our affections, therefore, the key to victory over self, the flesh appetites, and sin is in our affections and cultivating a love for God that surpasses ourselves and the things of the world. This is ancient advice and something the early Christians realized from the beginning.

To be human is to be animated and oriented by some vision of the good life, some picture of what we think counts as “flourishing.” And we want that. We crave it. We desire it. This is why our most fundamental mode of orientation to the world is love. We are oriented by our longings, directed by our desires.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author of The Little Prince, succinctly encapsulates the motive power of such allure: “If you want to build a ship,” he counsels, “don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”[24]

We aren’t really motivated by abstract ideas or pushed by rules and duties. Instead some panoramic tableau of what looks like flourishing has an alluring power that attracts us, drawing us toward it, and we thus live and work toward that goal.

We Live Toward What We Want

We are lovers first and foremost. The heart is like a multifunctional desire device that is part engine and part homing beacon. Operating under the hood of our consciousness, so to speak—our default autopilot—the longings of the heart both point us in the direction of a kingdom and propel us toward it.

There is a resonance between the telos to which we are oriented and the longings and desires that propel us in that direction—like the magnetic power of the pole working on the existential needle of our hearts.

You are what you love because you live toward what you want.

The human heart is a compass, orienting us to some vision of “the kingdom,” our telos.

Augustine gives us another metaphor to understand this dynamic: love is like gravity. Augustine wrote centuries before Newton’s insight, so the language he uses is slightly different. He puts it this way:

A body by its weight tends to move towards its proper place. The weight’s movement is not necessarily downwards, but to its appropriate position: fire tends to move upwards, a stone downwards. They are acted on by their respective weights; they seek their own place. Oil poured under water is drawn up to the surface on top of the water. Water poured on top of oil sinks below the oil. They are acted on by their respective densities, they seek their own place. Things which are not in their intended position are restless. Once they are in their ordered position, they are at rest.[25]

We all know the principle Augustine is talking about. Have you ever played in a swimming pool and tried to hold a beach ball under the surface? Its tendency—you might even say its penchant and desire—is to rise to the surface. It is “restless” when it is held under the water. It keeps trying to sneak up from under your feet or hands, bursting toward the surface. It wants to be floating. Conversely, when I try to placidly float on the surface of the pool, my weight wants to take me to the bottom.

Augustine goes on to unpack the analogy: “My weight is my love,” he says. “Wherever I am carried, my love is carrying me.”

Our orienting loves are like a kind of gravity—carrying us in the direction to which they are weighted. If our loves are absorbed with material things, then our love is a weight that drags us downward to inferior things. But when our loves are animated by the renewing fire of the Spirit, then our weight tends upward. In Augustine’s striking picture,

“By your gift we are set on fire and carried upwards: we grow red hot and ascend. We climb ‘the ascents in our heart’ (Ps. 84:7) and sing ‘the song of steps’ (Ps. 121:1). Lit by your fire, your good fire, we grow red-hot and ascend, as we move upwards ‘to the peace of Jerusalem’” (Ps. 122:6).”[26]

Discipleship should set us on fire, should change the “weight” of our love. Augustine says that “the ‘flame on the altar of the heart’ is the ‘burning fire of love.”

It is not a stretch to say that Augustine’s theology is most essentially a theology of love. He saw God as a persistent lover who pursues us until we finally cannot elude his loving arms. This emerges from his own life experience as a sex addict and fame-seeker; he found out that when he was at his worst, God embraced him with grace and would not let him go. It is no wonder that when Augustine came to write his Confession, he did so as a kind of “love song to God.” It is in prayer form, and it narrates brilliantly the shift in young Augustine’s affections from the sins of the flesh to God himself.

For Augustine, original sin is a problem of “disordered love.” He even, famously, describes the Trinity in terms of love: The Father is the Lover, the Son is the Beloved, and the Holy Spirit is the Love that passes between them.

Chris Armstrong, in his book on Medieval Wisdom asserts, it was Augustine who pioneered the “argument from desire” that we see Lewis (and other modern apologists) making—the idea that we have a “hole in our hearts” that, if we are honest about it, we will realize only God can fill, and that we will, as desiring creatures, run around trying to fill it with other things until we come home to God.[27]

Why aren’t we formed by worship as we ought to be?

There may be many reasons why the thick practices of worship fail to “stick” for many Christians.

Our liturgical practices and worship may not promote spiritual formation so automatically after all, particularly in the absence of conscious engagement happening side by side with action. Smith helpfully mentions other reasons worship may fail to re-form us:

  • ignorance of the secular liturgies that captivate and shape desire,
  • a failure to wisely refrain from some practices promoted by such secular institutions, and
  • a Sunday-only mentality regarding the practices of worship.

In such instances, we are not fully engaged and seeking the Lord with our whole heart, so we receive less impact from our worship practices.

Real spiritual formation cannot be effected by actions that are merely episodic. There must be a rhythm and a regularity to formative practices in order for them to sink in.”

Personally, I find three things affect the degree to which I consciously desire Christ’s kingdom and thereby escape the inertias of world, flesh, and devil:

First, I am attuned both cognitively and affectively to the various parts of public worship so that I’m not simply going through the motions. I think about what I’m singing or reading. I’m not simply mouthing words, but I am fully considering what I am doing while worshiping.

Second, I am praying for the Spirit’s transforming work through his means of grace. I’m aware of needing God to help me, and I am actively asking for help. I must be prayerfully attentive during church service. I take a lot of notes because this way I am fully engaged and thinking about what is being said and taught. If I disagree with the speaker, to be sure, this goes in my notes as well for further consideration or research.

Third, I am engaging regularly in both individual and corporate practices during the week.

  • I engage with my personal devotions through journaling, Scripture memorization and the practice of contemplative silence. Even then, I am fully engaged and listening for the Lord to speak.
  • I’m involved in Scripture reading, personal prayer, honest fellowship with my family and with other believers, and in a mid-week small group Bible study.
  • I have found that I must bake the practice of these spiritual disciplines first priority. Any other study project I take on for teaching must follow later down the list of priorities.

When these three things are happening, then I am focused on the Lord and cultivating my desires toward the kingdom on a consistent basis.

Implications for Counselors and Discipleship

There are a number of implications to our discussion that impact biblical counseling, discipleship and spiritual formation:

  1. Remember why your counselee struggles to change. The issue usually isn’t an information gap, but a desire/practice gap.

Mere insight never changes anyone. People don’t change, not because they lack information but because they lack imagination that leads to action. Their desires are misdirected and stunted.

Recently, a biblically and theologically adept counselee very honestly expressed to me his raw, disordered desires. What helped him? He didn’t need more information. He was quite aware that his attitude was sinful, and he knew why. He could articulate what should be grabbing his heart. He just didn’t want it to!

I encouraged him to engage in the practices he was avoiding—prayer, study of the Word, loving actions toward his wife—and to ask God to grant him a larger vision of kingdom realities in contrast to his temporal, short sighted visions of the “good life.”

You see, because he was not an Augustinian or a Thomistic and he needed a more actively integrative approach to help show him how his relationship with the Lord can be worked out in his life. The physical and active practice of the disciplines do just that.

 I hoped these encounters with the Living God would shift his affections. And they did, slowly but surely.

  1. Attend to “process,” not just “content” as you meet with people.

Biblical counselors rightly delight in bringing Scripture’s truths to bear on counselees’ lives. But have you considered what practices in the midst of the counseling session can actually help form and direct your counselee’s desires and loves toward Christ?

In other words, doing is important, not simply thinking about doing something (or reflecting on something done in the past week).

In marriage counseling this attention to process is paramount. As a counselor you facilitate godly interaction between husband and wife in real time.

Similarly, can you facilitate relationship between the counselee and God in real time during a session?

For me this has included having a counselee pray, sing a hymn, listen to a Christian song, read Scripture aloud, confess sin,

Reading Scripture aloud can be revolutionary for a person if they’ve never tried it because more of the person’s senses are invoked through the exercise.

  1. A corollary follows: pay attention to your counselee’s emotions and experiences in session, as well as thought life.

Both emotions and thoughts/beliefs are windows into a person’s loves and motivations. Desire is not exhaustively described by the content of one’s thoughts. Too often, focusing on thoughts and beliefs can result in a kind of Christianized cognitive therapy that evacuates the here and now moments of their formative power.

— Is your counselee anxious? Angry? Fearful? Bored? Happy? Sad?

— Are you talking about these emotions right now in session?

— How do your counselee’s emotions play out in relation to you? To others? To God?

This pushes us to consider, how do we stir up passion for the living God? It’s not as simple as grabbing hold of something cognitively and then having that propositional content trickle down and out affectively.

I need to understand what moves my counselee and tap into those experiences as a springboard for cultivating deeper engagement with God.

I tell you, whatever is moving them emotionally is their passion, and this can be used to help determine problems as well as find solutions.

  1. Ignite your counselee’s imagination by trafficking in metaphors as you counsel.

We see this throughout Scripture, but most particularly in the Psalms and in the parables of Jesus. Don’t be afraid to use concrete examples, stories from everyday life, illustrations, movies, songs, and pithy quotes from books to vivify biblical themes and gospel realities.

As you do, you will experience what C. S. Lewis discovered, “For me, reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.”

  1. Give attention to the other 167 hours per week in your counselees’ lives.

— What “thick practices” potentially shape their desires during the times when you are not meeting?

— Do you really know what your counselees’ devotional times look like?

— Are they going to church regularly?

— Do they meet with other Christians during the week? To do what?

— What are they reading? Books? Blogs? Nothing?

— How much time do they spend online? Doing what?

— Do they exercise? Over-eat? Under-eat?

— How much are they sleeping? And so on.

We should examine the habitual practices in which we engage day to day. This is one reason why I often ask a counselee to give me a detailed snapshot of his or her week.

Certain patterns emerge and give credence to the idea that thick secular liturgies serve as malevolent shapers of my counselee’s desires.

  1. Remember the critical importance of weekly worship in the local church.

While I highlight the role of personal devotions with spiritual formation, at the same time, I do not want to understate the importance of corporate worship and fellowship with other believers.

At church we sing and worship together. It is doubtful we stand and raise our hands singing to the Lord at home, but we will do it at church with the other saints. All of this is a thick liturgy that has significant impact of our own spiritual formation and growth.

As a church we take communion which is another thick liturgy that has heavy impact on our hearts and lives.

Our Worship Practices Make Real (in a tangible way) what Jesus has done for us.

Something I have in common with Timothy Keller is we both have a love for Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Keller uses a segment from the Lord of the Rings to illustrate the point of how the sacraments we engage in our corporate worship act as a thick liturgy impacting us to our core helping us to be transformed.

There is a scene in the Lord of the Rings where the hobbit Pippin is standing at the gate of the city and in comes the great Witch-king, the demon king. He comes through the gate, and he’s about to destroy the city. All of a sudden off in the distance, horns. The horns of the cavalry, basically. The horns of the Riders of Rohan. They have come, and even though the king of Rohan rides to his death that day, the city is saved.

We’re told for the rest of his life Pippin could never hear a horn off in the distance without bursting into tears. Why? Because every time he heard a horn in the distance, it reawakened the memory of his salvation and the memory of the one who died for him.

How do you listen to a distant horn? What are your distant horns? The sacrament, when you take the Lord’s Supper. Christian friends coming to worship. In the sacrament of communion, we have a visceral way of experiencing the work of the Lord in our life.

We must find ways of making it spiritually real to us. We need to find ways of doing that. This is where the sacraments and spiritual disciplines come in—to awaken and stir the passions of our hearts toward God—to make us aware of His presence in our lives and help move the knowledge of the Lord (informational) to experiential and active in our daily lives.

The aim of our discussion has been two-fold:

  1. To address the need for integrative learning; people don’t all learn the same way; therefore, the way we approach people must be different from person-to-person.
  2. To show you how habits do not form in a vacuum and are motivated by our affections. We do what we love and these are what form our habits and influence our decisions and interests.

If you want to overcome habitual sins of the flesh, cultivate your affections towards God. Cultivating a love for God that surpasses all other loves and interests in the world is key to overcoming the flesh and sin. Since we are what we do, we must find ways of cultivating love for God that involve more of our senses to ensure the greatest impact.

This in turn goes back to the learning and receptivity of the person, are they a Franciscan or an Augustinian?

Do they learn and assimilate information optimally through lecture, or are they a “hands-on” kind of person?

Either way, it is best to incorporate illustrations through stories, graphs, as well as having them engage in their relationship and worship of God through physical (visceral) practices, such as lifting of hands, singing, prayer, fasting, Scripture memorization, reading aloud, etc.

The more of the persons senses that are involved in their devotional worship practices and the more consistent and regular they become the greater the impact toward spiritual formation.

This leads into our next training discussion concerning Spiritual Disciplines and how to incorporate them into our personal devotions and spiritual formation.


References

1. Kenneth Boa, Conformed to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 2001), 45.

2.  Pastor Ted Leavenworth, Sunday Morning Exposition of 1 Thessalonians Chapter 1 (Reliance Church, November 24, 2019).

3. R. Thomas Ashbrook and Eugene H. Peterson, Mansions of the Heart: Exploring the Seven Stages of Spiritual Growth (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2019).

4. “Smoking and Tobacco Use, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed November 24, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/adult_data/cig_smoking/index.htm

5. Ken Shigematsu, Survival Guide for the Soul: How to Flourish Spiritually in a World that Pressures Us to Achieve (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 2018), 97-98.

6. Timothy J. Keller, “The God Who Is: Romans 1:16-25,” The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive (New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2013).

7. See Barbara Clark, Integrative Education: Putting the pieces together in a working model, Transforming Education (Winter, 1988), pg. 44, accessed on December 1, 2019, https://www.context.org/iclib/ic18/clark/

8. James K. A. Smith, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press: A Division of Baker Publishing Group, 2016), 3.

9. Adam Hadhazy, “Think Twice: How the Gut’s “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Well-Being: the emerging and surprising view of how the enteric nervous system in our bellies goes beyond just processing the food we eat,” Scientific American (Feb 12, 2010), http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gut-second-brain/

10. See “More Than My Brain: Exploring the Connection Between the Brain and the Soul” (Faithlife TV), https://www.faithlifetv.com/items/591305  See also Rebecca Gladding M.D. “You Are Not Your Brain: Using the four Steps to Overcome Negative Thoughts and Unhealthy Actions (Psychology Today (June 9, 2011), https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/use-your-mind-change-your-brain/201106/you-are-not-your-brain

11. James K. A. Smith, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press: A Division of Baker Publishing Group, 2016).  See also Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (New York: Random House, 2014).

12. Smith, 5.

13. Michael J. Wilkins, Discipleship in the Ancient World and Matthew’s Gospel, second ed. (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2015), 42.

14. Philip Schaff quoted by Gavin Ortlund, Theological Retrieval for Evangelicals: Why We Need Our Past to Have a Future (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019), 45.

15. Augustine of Hippo, “The City of God,” in St. Augustin’s City of God and Christian Doctrine, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. Marcus Dods, vol. 2, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1887), 282–283.

16. Sam Storms, Signs of the Spirit: An Interpretation of Jonathan Edwards’ Religious Affections (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2007), 48.

17. Robert Gromacki, Stand United in Joy: An Exposition of Philippians, The Gromacki Expository Series (The Woodlands, TX: Kress Christian Publications, 2002), 85.

18. John Frederick, “Mercy and Compassion,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).

19. “Gut Feelings,” McMaster University: Inspiring Innovation and Discovery (Oct 7, 2019), https://fhs.mcmaster.ca/main/news/news_2019/gut_feelings.html  See also, Michelle McQuigge, “Gut plays important role in treating depression, new study suggests,” The Globe and Mall, Canadian Press (Oct 4, 2019), https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-gut-plays-important-role-in-treating-depression-new-study-suggests/

20. “Gut Bacteria Might Guide the Workings of Our Minds,” Shots: Health News from NPR (Nov 18, 2013), http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/11/18/244526773/gut-bacteria-might-guide-the-workings-of-our-minds.

21. Adam Hadhazy, “Think Twice: How the Gut’s “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Well-Being: the emerging and surprising view of how the enteric nervous system in our bellies goes beyond just processing the food we eat,” Scientific American (Feb 12, 2010), http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gut-second-brain/.

22. Edward L. Smither, Augustine as Mentor: A Model for Preparing Spiritual Leaders (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2009).

23. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour & Company Inc., 1963), from the March 11 reading. Calvin Miller, Into the Depths of God: Where Eyes See the Invisible, Ears Hear the Inaudible, and Minds Conceive the Inconceivable (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2000), Kindle, loc 304.

24. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Wisdom of the Sands (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1950).

25. Augustine, Confessions 13.9.10.

26. Ibid. Augustine’s original references were to the Vulgate: Pss. 83:6; 119:1; and 121:6, respectively.

27. Chris Armstrong, Medieval Wisdom for Modern Christians: Finding Authentic Faith in a Forgotten Age with C. S. Lewis (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2016).