Spiritual Formation and Devotional Intimacy - Lesson 3

Full-Bodied Faith (Part 1)

In this lesson, Gary Thomas discusses the societal pressure to conform to a certain physical standard and how this can lead to insecurity and self-doubt. He contrasts this societal view with the Christian view of the body, which holds a respect for the aging process, and acknowledges that our bodies have a purpose because they were created by God and that God incarnated himself in human form in Jesus Christ and how our bodies will also be raised on the last day.
Gary Thomas
Spiritual Formation and Devotional Intimacy
Lesson 3
Watching Now
Full-Bodied Faith (Part 1)

I. Introduction

A. Speaker's background and interests

B. Purpose of the class

II. Obsession with grammar

A. Speaker's self-proclaimed role as "grammar police"

B. Annoyance with improper grammar in signage and advertising

C. Use of the cliche "each and every one of us"

D. Personal story of a trip to Seattle

E. Importance of grammar in communication

III. Society's view of the male body

A. Studies on men's insecurity about their physical appearance

B. Comparison between the old G.I. Joe doll to the modern one

C. Pressure on famous men to conform to a certain standard

IV. The Christian view of the body

A. Belief in God as creator of the body

B. Respect for the aging process

C. Purpose of the body

D. Belief in God incarnating himself in human form in Jesus Christ

E. The belief that our bodies will be raised on the last day

V. Conclusion

A. Summary of main points

B. Encouragement to embrace one's body

C. Final thoughts

  • This lesson focuses on the concept of spiritual formation, which is the process of growing in one's relationship with God and becoming more like Christ. You'll learn about the role of historical figures such as Perpetua and Francis of Assisi in spiritual formation, the importance of more than just belief in doctrine, the need to cooperate with God and surrender to his will, and the challenges and opportunities of spiritual formation.
  • This lesson discusses the distinction between static and dynamic holiness. You will learn about the importance of being available to God and the potential for transformation in one's relationship with him.
  • In this lesson, Gary Thomas discusses the societal pressure to conform to a certain physical standard and how this can lead to insecurity and self-doubt. He contrasts this societal view with the Christian view of the body, which holds a respect for the aging process, and acknowledges that our bodies have a purpose because they were created by God and that God incarnated himself in human form in Jesus Christ and how our bodies will also be raised on the last day.
  • This lesson focuses on the transformation of our physical bodies to become spiritually alive, and the idea that worship is not limited to singing and music, but encompasses all aspects of our lives. An example of Madame Galen Jean, a historical figure who lost her physical beauty but found spiritual depth and wrote books that inspired others, is used to illustrate the idea that surrendering oneself to God can lead to spiritual growth. The class also suggests that individuals can bring Jesus to others by approaching them with love and understanding, and by focusing on bringing Jesus to others rather than personal ambition and people pleasing.
  • The lesson highlights that God desires a personal and intimate relationship with each individual and that different people will have different ways of relating to him. It is emphasized that there is no one right way to connect with God, and that we should be open to exploring different ways that resonate with us personally. Throughout scripture, various forms of worship are celebrated and it's encouraged to find the way that works best for us.

  • The lesson discusses the idea that spiritual growth does not happen by accident and that it requires purposeful and intentional effort. The main focus is on humility and gentleness as two important qualities necessary for spiritual growth. The lesson cites Proverbs 3:34 and James 4:6 as biblical references to the idea that God opposes those who let pride reign in their lives, and that humility is not thinking less of oneself but thinking less about oneself and putting others first, and gentleness is the way of being like a mother caring for her children.
  • This lesson delves into the idea of spiritual formation, discussing three paths through which one can grow: practicing virtues, experiencing difficulty and suffering, and practicing spiritual disciplines. One of the virtues discussed is thankfulness, which is counterintuitive to the way the world thinks, and that maturity in faith is marked by being malleable in God's hands and surrendering our own desires. It is emphasized that when difficult times come in our lives, it is a opportunity to grow spiritually, but it can also be used as an opportunity by Satan to create bitterness and resentment in our souls. The lecture also provides several suggestions for books that can help deepen the understanding and practice of spiritual disciplines in one's life.
  • Marriage can be a powerful tool for spiritual growth and holiness as it can help reveal and work through one's sin and selfishness. However, we need to understand and accept that all people stumble in many ways, and that it's important to adopt God's agenda for our marriages rather than trying to impose our own expectations and desires on it. This way we can have a healthy and fulfilling marriage.
  • In this lesson, it is discussed how marriage and parenting can be used by God as tools for spiritual growth and personal development. It is shown that by putting the needs of others first, as in caring for a spouse when they are sick or teaching and guiding children, individuals can learn to become more like Jesus Christ and grow in their faith. The speaker emphasizes that despite the challenges and mistakes that may come with these roles, they present opportunities for personal and spiritual growth.
  • This lesson covers the historical development of Christian spirituality including the Desert Experience, various forms of prayer, Eastern Orthodox approach and challenges for Western-minded Christians.
  • The lesson covers historical movements in Christianity, including monasticism, Puritanism, and Pentecostal/Charismatic, and their emphasis on asceticism, scripture, and the Holy Spirit.

In this class, you will learn about the process of spiritual formation and the importance of developing a deep devotional intimacy with God. The lesson will explore the biblical foundations of spiritual growth, the role of the Holy Spirit, and the individual's personal responsibility in their own spiritual development. You will also delve into various spiritual disciplines and practices that help foster a closer relationship with God, such as prayer, meditation, Scripture reading, worship, and fellowship. Finally, you will examine common obstacles and challenges faced in the journey of spiritual growth and discover strategies to overcome them.


Dr. Gary Thomas
Spiritual Formation and Devotional Intimacy
Full-Bodied Faith (Part_1)
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:11] We all have different gifts and abilities. Mine have been quite limited in many ways. I've met guys who can look at a plane flying in the air and can tell you that's a Boeing 747 or Airbus, this or that. And that's certainly not me. I've seen guys that can point at the grille of a car and tell you that's a 67 Mustang or a 74 charger. That's that's not me. But I have sort of anointed myself a self-proclaimed grammar police. I know where you put apostrophes and commas. I was an English major and it matters to me. And I used to frustrate my kids when they were younger because when we would be walking around stores, I would often carry a pen with me because I would notice that small stores would often have inappropriate grammar on their signs. And so I would, without charging them, I would fix the comma or the misspelling or whatnot, and they would say, Dad, look, I'm not charging them. You editors get $50 an hour. I'm doing this for free just so their customers can fully understand what they mean. And people who aren't into grammar don't realize how painful it is for those of us who are to live in a world that doesn't care about it as much as we do. When I used to drive my kids to school when they were younger, there was this huge billboard just a block or two from their school, and I said, Come in and see our Honda's apostrophe s. It was talking about they use a possessive where they should have been using a plural. And it just bothered me. They spent all this money for this huge billboard and they've got an inappropriate apostrophe in there.

[00:01:45] I said, Why would I buy a car from somebody who doesn't know the difference between a possessive and a plural? I mean, like, what if they mix the gas pedal in the break? I mean, I knew those things mattered to me that were precise. And to show you how obsessive I can get about this, at times, I'm sort of on a personal crusade. As far as I know, I'm the only one who's joined it. But there is this cliche that has really developed the last five or six years. I hear politicians use it, athletes use it, pastors use it, professors use it. It's each and every one of us. And can I just explain That's redundant. All right. Each means every. Every means each. I'm not being unreasonable. You can be in each person if you want to be in each person, you have my blessing. You can be in every person if you want to be in. Yeah, but we don't have to each. And we're so worried about global warming. Think how much CO2 we would save if we use one word instead of three. Grammar can save the planet, right? If we will just learn to drop that cliche. Well, all of that is explain this date I had with my wife. You can see my obsessive nature. We were our kids were much younger at the time. We're going to spend the weekend down in Seattle. We didn't have a lot of money at the time with small kids. We didn't have a lot of time at the time. And so when you get away for a weekend, you really want everything to go right. You know, you're open for a romantic time and whatnot. We stay in hotels. You are walking down to Pike Street Market.

[00:03:14] If you've been down there in Seattle area, those you haven't. That's the famous place where they throw the fish and catch them. It's where Glory, Hallelujah. The first Starbucks was born. You can go to literally the first Starbucks there. Right. And Pike Street Market. It's a great place. And on our way down to that market, we pass this huge monstrosity of a neon sign that had these words live nudes, live nudes. And it's just not the atmosphere that I was hoping for with my wife as we are going down this market. And look, I got that is so wrong. And life goes. I know I said, you know, they're they're using an adjective as a noun. You know, I knew what I had and then live as opposed to what? Then how can you have such a grammatical monstrosity in a two word description? And my wife, with a little better grasp of reality, said to me, I think there's something worse than poor grammar going on in there. I said, Well, maybe so, but they just get it so wrong, which is two words, but a business that can literally make a profit. Apparently advertising Live news tells us something has gone wrong with the way our North American culture looks at the human body. It's a growing issue in our time. The fact that a place like this shows us the negative affect when the body is looked at, apart from something that God created and something that is being offered back to God in worship and service. C.S. Lewis has a famous passage in one of his books where he talks about, Imagine you're driving down a country road and you see a barn barn lit up from within and you hear some yelling and some clapping.

[00:05:05] And so you you park your vehicle or in his case, maybe you park your walking stick. And walk up to the barn to see what's going on. And there's some slats between the that you can pierce through what's going on inside. And you see this big table set out before you. And there's a chef behind the table with a chef's hat, and he's got all these dishes laid out, but they're all covered. And then he lifts up the lid of one dish and shows a little bit of potatoes, and the men clap, and then he shuts it back down. And then he looks up a little bit over the turkey and shows just a turkey leg. And now the men are yelling and shouting. And he said, if you witnessed this scene, wouldn't that tell you that something has gone seriously wrong with the way these people look at food? And obviously the connection to what's going on in a strip club is just as clear that when we see that those places even exist. Doesn't that tell us that something has gone seriously wrong with the way our culture tries to understand the human body? We live in a day and age. We live in a culture that has a very unhealthy, I believe, superficial attitude toward our bodies. And the point is, if we don't cap recapture the spiritual purpose behind having physical bodies, if we don't recapture the spiritual purpose behind having physical bodies, we'll never fully understand what it means to be humans. We'll never fully understand what it means to be Christians created in the image of God, given the Holy Spirit, to re-energize our bodies into his service. And so when we talk about transformation again, we usually are thinking moral.

[00:06:43] And I want you to look at how the power of the gospel, the presence of Christ in your life changes the way you look at your physical body. I'm assuming moral transformation and not spending a lot of time talking about it. Because when we talk about holiness, that's what most people assume. I'm talking about. What I tried to do in the last session about it means service available for service. And what I want to do in this session is it transformation is much deeper than morality, not discounting the importance of morality, but just saying it goes much, much deeper than that, including the way that we use our physical bodies. Now, this is healing for those of us who are embarrassed by our bodies in many ways, and most of us have parts of our bodies, it can be embarrassing. Mind begins at the very top of my head. The fact that this morning as I was walking and board says, Hi Gary, you haven't changed much. Well, you have a little less hair than the last time I saw you. But other than that, you look about the same. And I wonder, you know, when we're being taped here today, I thought, you know, why couldn't I do this ten years ago when I wouldn't be casting off quite the reflection I am now? And I've often wondered if God called me to this ministry, why couldn't I have television hair? I mean, I've pretty good radio hair, right? But. But doesn't work quite as well for television. I was doing one show and, you know, before you do on those television shows, they put you in front of this mirror and they have the makeup artist doing all their stuff on you. And and it's really humbling because it's early in the morning, the lights are bright so she can do her job.

[00:08:17] I'm looking at it. I'm just like, how come I'm going to go in front of the camera looking like this? And I hear people talking about having bad hair days, but I just kind of laugh when they say that because what they mean is they have a few hairs out of place. But when somebody like me has a bad hair day, that's 25% of my hair. And so I'm looking and it just was not there. I'm just like, I know I'm way past the age of impressing anybody with how I look. I just want to embarrass my wife and kids. Right? So when she got done with the makeup job, I went into a little room they had next door. It was a little washroom. And I saw some hairspray there and a brush and a comb. They had four people who were appearing. I thought, I can't do any damage, right? I mean, I couldn't remember the last time I'd used Hairspray. I'm a guy, but I thought maybe it might help. But I show you how inexperienced I was. I'm looking at it and I'm like, okay, so I think I get my hair, so it might look okay straight, right into my eyes. I completely miss my hair. So and it stings. I don't know if any of you have ever done that. It really stinks. So I'm I'm splashing my face with water and I'm looking up in my eyes are still red. I'm thinking, Oh, great. Now they're going to get it from the camera. They're gonna say, Oh, the Christian author likes to smoke marijuana before he gets on air. So splash and more water trying to clean out my eyes and realize I'm just completely messed up. This whole makeup job, this poor young makeup artist is done.

[00:09:40] And now this is humiliation at this point, right? So I go out and she's putting the lids on the jars and putting the way the brushes. And I'm like, I'm really sorry, but I kind of messed up what you did. I got some hairspray in my eyes because I don't remember using hairspray. And you said, Well, I did. And she goes, and you sprayed it in your eyes. I said, Well, I kind of missed. And I could see her looking at me like, Who is this person we're going to put on front of? You can't operate airs breaking. So she was very gracious. She put me back in the chair and she did it up. Now, some of you never think twice about your hair. You have great hair. But I found that most of us have some aspect of our physical bodies that we wish we could change, but they're not quite as we wish them to be. They're a little bit embarrassing. And and that's even more difficult when we live in a culture that is increasingly obsessed about our bodies to an absurd degree. My daughter, my teenage daughter was in class. She read of a supermodel who had her uterus removed because as she began to mature into a real woman, she didn't want a little bump here when she was in those pictures. So you've got a place where models are literally vandalizing their bodies to maintain some illusion of what spirits or physical beauty should be in their mind, it becomes absurd. And I'm not, in general, a fan of graffiti. This is one time where I think it may have been inspired. There was this huge bust in New York. Have you been to Times Square in New York? You know how that is.

[00:11:18] Long busses so they can have like 20 foot billboards on the side of these busses because the busses are connected? Well, they had one that had a picture of Kate Moss, some you might be familiar with her. She was one of those supermodels who was really famous for bringing in almost a heroin chic thinness that was so destructive, frankly, to so many young girls. I mean, and and she was on this bus almost dressed right. And somebody had spray painted right over her stomach feed me. There's probably a pretty good prophetic statement for for them to make. Now, we've known for a generation that this has been destructive to women. I've heard pastors talk about it. I've heard social commentators talk about it. What a lot of people aren't aware of, as aware of is that now apparently even men are getting to the act, that men are becoming just as obsessed about their physical appearance as women have. There is a trio of researchers from Harvard and Brown University that coined the term the Adonis Complex, the Adonis complex. And what they're saying is that this the standard for the male physique has risen just as the absurdly skinny standard for the female physique rose up. In fact, a study in Psychology Today found that the number of men who are dissatisfied with their physical bodies rose from a mere 15% in 1972 to almost half today. I think that is prior generation. In my father's, 85% of men felt pretty good about how they looked. Now, maybe they were in serious denial. I've seen photos from them and maybe we shouldn't have looked and felt so good about it. But today, if you see two men, likely one of them feels really insecure about how they look.

[00:13:07] In fact, in this study, more men were disturbed by the shape and size of their chest than women. The first time that has ever happened. As one writer noted, American men are starting to act more and more like teenage girls when it comes to handling and looking at their bodies. And here's a perfect case study to understand this. I remember growing up hearing all the sermons about the evils of the Barbie doll. Now, maybe she really is, I don't know. But they talk about how absurd her measurements were and that if she was a real woman, she'd have to be like seven feet tall with about a, I don't know, 18 inch waist or so. I mean, it just it really was absurd how they said she literally couldn't even walk, probably if she was that. Well, they've done the same thing to the G.I. Joe doll. I mean, I remember growing up with the G.I. Joe doll. Right. The action figure, we didn't call them dolls. We called them action figures. But he was the G.I. Joe. And he would have his his his army outfit and whatnot. And I remember him playing with them. And as a boy, he looked just like your average everyday guy. Have you seen a modern G.I. Joe doll? He looks like a genetic mutant who crawled out of a toxic waste dump. It's absurd. The physique that he has, in fact, they've done the same thing. And they said that if the G.I. Joe doll were six feet tall, he'd have a 55 inch chest and 27 inch biceps. I mean, just an absurd standard. And the thing is, even famous men now have to live with this absurd physical standard that we have for our physical bodies.

[00:14:47] How many we heard of George Clooney, the Hollywood actor? He confessed that when he was chosen to have his hands and feet on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, you know, I'm talking about where they go into the cement and they put their hands and their feet, he remembers. I believe it was Clark Gable when he was a young, up and coming actor, completely unknown. He was walking the Hollywood walk. Caffeine and he saw Clark Gable Square and he was surprised at how small Clark Gable's hands and feet were. He put his own feet in there, in his own hands. And and he never wanted 20 or 30 years from now somebody to come by George Clooney's square and think that he had small hands or feet, somehow that would be a thing of shame, I guess. And so he confessed that when he was chosen to have his own square on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, though he normally wears a size 11 pair of shoes, which is perfectly respectable for a middle aged man, he went out and bought a size 14 pair of shoes exclusively for that day so that nobody would think George Clooney might have small feet. Now, that's the absurdity of our culture that values only the physical appearance of our bodies. What I want to say is that as Christians, as believers in Jesus Christ, we have a completely different view of our bodies because of several theological truths. First, because God created our bodies, we have a certain respect for them as they are and as they age. In understanding the aging process of the human body. We have a respect. We don't denigrate that. We don't look down on it because we recognize that not only did God create our bodies, but he ordained that our bodies are strong at a certain period of her life and less strong at a different period of our life.

[00:16:39] He ordained that we would have skin that can look really tight and fresh at a certain point in our life and not so quite tight and fresh at a different period of our life and surrendering to him as our providential Lord and creator. We don't judge his work. We accept that it has a purpose and we acknowledge it. Secondly, we have a different view of the body because we believe that God himself adopted human flesh. Not only did God create our bodies, He inhabited a body in the person of Jesus Christ that gives us a new respect for what a body can be and do. And third, because of the post resurrection Jesus, the Bible is very clear that after Jesus died and rose from the dead, he inhabited some form of a body. Remember when He was with his disciples? Excuse me, They thought he was a ghost. What did he do? He ate a piece of fish. And why did he do that? Because he was hungry. Oh, he wanted to show them he's not a ghost. It didn't just drop through. He had a body and he went to Thomas, who was doubting. What did he say to Thomas? Feel my scars. Put your hand. Where? In my side. Now we don't know what kind of body Jesus inhabits actually, today, but he ascended in a body that had some type of physical form. And and Paul says we will have glorified bodies, but in some ways it must resemble what we have now. So that gives us a respect that God created our bodies, God inhabited our body. God ascended to heaven in a body that has some relation to our own, that heaven isn't going to be a place where we just float as as formless intellectual entities.

[00:18:31] But but somehow there's a full bodied faith that we are to embrace. And that's what I want to talk about in this time. In fact, before Jesus even came, the Old Testament prophets mentioned that when the Messiah comes, our bodies will be made fully alive. They'll become spiritually energized and will finally understand the reason for having physical bodies. Look at Isaiah chapter 32, verse four. Here's what the prophet says. Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed. The ears of those who hear will listen. The mind of the rash will know and understand, and the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear. Isaiah mesmerizes the people of God with the vision. A picture of a new scene, a new hearing, a new understanding says You all have physical bodies that take in self, but they're spiritually dead. Your mind eventually can understand the mysteries of gravity. It can create something so incomprehensible as a cell phone still completely confounds me. How I can speak into a little tiny thing and somebody across the country can hear me. But he's saying even with that physical understanding, those minds can be spiritually dead and tongues that can sing like the angels can be spiritually senseless. But I'm going to send a messiah that's going to reclaim that physical body given. A spiritual purpose and nothing will ever be the same. Now, I say this because Isaiah prophesied it and then Jesus affirmed this when he's announcing early on in his own public ministry, Look at Matthew Chapter 13, verses 13 through 16. Speaking of the Pharisees, Jesus is talking to his disciples, and he says this about the Pharisees. That is basically the problem with the idols of the Old Testament and against what Isaiah said would would happen in consonance with what Isaiah said would happen, but using the Pharisees as a negative example.

[00:20:45] He says this, though seen, they do not see the hearing. They do not hear or understand in them as fulfilled. The prophecy of Isaiah you will be ever hearing, but never understanding you will be ever seeing, but never perceiving. For this, people's heart has become calloused. They hardly hear with their ears and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn. And I would heal them. That's what's true of the Pharisees, is that's that's true of them. They have eyes, but they don't really see. They have ears, but they're closed off to God, who? They have hearts, but they don't feel like they should feel they're calloused. Then he says, And I love this word, but and what a powerful word, because he's saying this is true of them. And he looks at disciples. But here's the hope. But blessed are your eyes. He says to his disciples, because they can see blessed are your ears because they hear Jesus is promising his followers this transformation. You will see things like you've never seen them before. Now that you're my follower, you will hear like you've never heard before because you're my follower. You will think about things like you've never understood things before. You will feel things that your Kausar could never feel apart from me. That's why transformation is about so much more than morality. Again, morality matters. It's important. But Christian transformation, Christmas miracle goes so much deeper that we think differently, We see differently, we hear differently. We feel differently because God has come into our life. I came across this just the other day. It's written by Jonathan Edwards, who's much better mind, much greater authority than my own.

[00:22:56] He wrote this in religious You don't have it here because I just came across it the other day. Those outlines were sent a month ago. So here's what he says. These scriptures show that the gracious influences excuse me, these scriptures show that the gracious influences to which the Saints are subject and the effects of God's spirit, which they experience, are entirely beyond nature or natural qualifications. Catch this They are not just different in degree, they are different in kind. The result is a new kind of inward perception which sanctifies the mind. It is a new way of perceiving, of thinking and of consciousness. It is operated by grace as an entirely new kind of principle, and so that when our hearts are changed and I enter a situation instead of wanting to dominate a person, ridicule a person, shame a person, abuse a person for my own needs or pleasures or agenda, God can give me a heart where I want to serve that person and love that person and build that person up there. When I'm talking with somebody who's just a blowhard, insufferable in his arrogance, and instead of just judging him and ridiculing him and gossiping about him, God might help me see his insecurity and give me a heart that wants to speak a word of encouragement to address his sickness rather than belittle him or her for it. That I look at people as God looks at them, I listen to them as God might listen to them. I think about them as God might think about them. Now, let me stress it to start, because I know this sounds so high minded. I want to remind you of the Scripture repulses. Not that I've already obtained all this. I don't even feel like I'm in kindergarten with this.

[00:25:00] I feel like I'm in preschool, right? I put the notion out in holy available. This is possible. I see it in the scriptures. I can't say I'm even really in first grade. Rain yet. But but I think the truth is there in Scripture that two decades of applying myself to seeking the face of God, to surrendering my body, to be filled by them, to be used by them, I begin to think about people differently. I begin to feel about things differently. I can have not just an improved mind partakers of the divine nature, but God's mind, not just an improved human heart, but God's heart, not just improved sight to see things as they really are, but God's sight. That's what the Bible promises, not inherent in me. But again, the uniting work of the Holy Spirit affects that change in my life.

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