Spiritual Formation and Devotional Intimacy - Lesson 4

Full-Bodied Faith (Part 2)

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.
Gary Thomas
Spiritual Formation and Devotional Intimacy
Lesson 4
Watching Now
Full-Bodied Faith (Part 2)

I. Introduction

A. The concept of spiritual formation

B. The transformation of physical bodies to become spiritually alive and be used by God to represent him to others.

II. Wider Concept of Worship

A. Worship encompasses all aspects of our lives, not just singing and music.

B. Music and worship have become synonyms in church life today, but worship is much broader than that and should encompass all aspects of our lives.

III. The Example of Madame Galen Jean

A. Historical figure who lost her physical beauty but found spiritual depth

B. Wrote books that inspired others, illustrating the point that surrendering oneself to God can lead to spiritual growth

IV. Applying the Concept of Worship to Daily Life

A. Bring Jesus to others by approaching them with love and understanding

B. Focusing on bringing Jesus to others instead of personal ambition and people pleasing

V. Conclusion

A. Worship is about surrendering all aspects of ourselves to become spiritually alive in God's hands, including our physical bodies

B. Our bodies can be used by God to represent him to others.

  • 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_2)
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:10] So this was prophesied by Isaiah that our physical bodies would be transformed. Jesus affirmed it. This is the message the early church taught. Look at Acts chapter 28 versus 26 to 27. I'm not going to read this long passage because it's simply parroting what Isaiah says and what Jesus said to his disciples. I just want to show you I'm not proof texting here. I'm not building a whole teaching off of one isolated scripture. This is woven throughout both testaments predicted and prophesied by Isaiah, and Jeremiah didn't have time to get into that. Affirmed by Jesus, preached by the early church. This is the message that the transformation of the Gospel is so real, so much bigger than we could imagine, that these physical bodies become spiritually alive, to be used by God, to represent God to others. And this is how Paul viewed worship. Look at Romans 12, verse one. I love this passage. Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer what your bodies as living sacrifices wholly and pleasing to God. Let me pause there. Because living in a culture where we are embarrassed by our bodies, are shamed by our bodies, feel like our bodies don't measure up in a couple of areas. Do you know how healing it is for you to realize that your body is not just holy to God, but it's pleasing to God? God looks at your body as something he created. He says it's good. It is pleasing to me. Now, if you look at the culture, as you get older, your body stops being pleasing to the world. Said, I'm not going to turn anybody's head with how I look. Physical appearance wise, but it's pleasing to God. God looks at my body, says, I can use those eyes.

[00:02:22] I can use that tongue. The hair isn't going to impress anybody. But I can use a balding man to take my word to place or to encourage somebody who's discouraged. I can use that heart that was set on things that were not pleasing to me, but they can be pleasing to me. As he surrendered to the Lord, if you don't accept your body, Christianity is the way to get there because you realize your body surrender to God is pleasing to him. And then Paul defines this as This is your spiritual worship. I think one of the great tragedies is too strong. One of the unfortunate aspects of church life today is that music and worship have become synonyms. It's not that I'm against music, but worship is so much bigger than that. It's because in church life we have worship than we have teaching. So we define worship merely as singing. And and, you know, my family gives me a hard time because I have this running battle with worship leaders, in part because as a guest speaker, they always get the microphone first. Right. And pastors will tell me, come in and go, we want to give you a 40 minutes, you know, because we're pleased to have you here. We'll get an expensive ring. You got 40 minutes to give you a sermon and then this worship leader gets inspired. Right? And in case we didn't get the lyrics of Shine Jesus Shine the first 15 times we sang it, we've got to go 16 and 17 times. And then they have this story of the cat that they saved from the tree that taught them about God's love. And now my 40 minutes is down to about 25, and I'm thinking, Well, I'm going to have to cut out that and move this transit.

[00:04:10] You know, I'm rewriting and and so this is a confession. I wish it wasn't, but I see a worship leader when I'm going to speak at a church. And my first thought is, so there's the enemy. You know, I have to size up what I'm going to have to get through before I. That's wrong, right? But biblically, biblically, the Bible says worship singing songs on Sunday morning, giving your tongue to God. That's a tiny little smidgen of what worship is. God wants our worship to be Monday through Saturday. How do I train my mind to think the thoughts of God? How do I give my heart to God so that I care about what He cares about? And I'm not obsessed with fears and cares that don't matter to him. How do I give him my tongue so that when I'm at the water cooler at work, worship is not gossiping, not participating in gossip, but encouraging, bringing redemption into an office that might have a really negative. Attitude. It's giving my body similar. I want to bring the presence of Christ wherever I go. That's your spiritual worship. According to Paul, that's transformation from a biblical perspective. Jesus came in the flesh as a representative of how glorious and powerful a fleshly person can be. Think about it. He spoke words with his tongue. No one had ever heard before. They were dumbfounded by the words he spoke. His hands brought healing, never before seen. He would touch people and things would happen that they had never seen happen before. His seemingly untrained mind confounded the learned wisdom of the Pharisees. He gave his body, his heart cared for people that the Pharisees completely ignored. He was a body fully alive to the presence of God.

[00:06:08] And he showed us in that what we are to become. And this is what can be so healing as we take the gospel to the body as we speak to young people. Because again, if the focus is going back to static holiness and what we don't do. One of the best ways to avoid things we shouldn't do is to be focused on what we can give our body to speak to young women all the time, speak at a lot of college chapels, and a lot of young women will carry a lot of shame. Maybe they've acted out sexually in a way that they're ashamed of and they're not married, or they've given their heart to a guy and they and they keep having their heart broken. And why do I fall for the wrong guys time after time after time? Well, how do you change your heart? And here's what I say to them. Give your heart to God's purpose. Say, I want my worship. I want to focus three months. My worship is going to focus on how do I have a God centered heart so that I care about what God cares about? I value what God values. I'm not concerned about what God isn't concerned about as He as you give your heart to God. You're less likely to be enamored by a guy who's bad for you because your heart will would be repelled by somebody who would abuse you. That way. You won't admire him, you won't be attracted to him. You'll be repelled by him. Or I want to see two guys. You know, if you struggle with your eyes, a lot of young men, that's who struggles with their eyes. I said, What if you were saying, Well, I want to give you my eyes? Not just that I don't focus on not looking at a woman lust, but but how can I see them as God season so that I see other women as my sisters in Christ and I can love them as God loves them and I want to care for them and I want to use my tongue not to break down their defenses, but to build them up, to encourage them.

[00:08:02] And so by giving their body over to worship God, they're not going to have the time to use their bodies to offend God. Their bodies become places of healing and ministry and service instead of instruments of hate and destruction. It's a wonderful thing that anybody can live us. That's that's the hope for young people. There's also hope for old people, because living in a culture that disparages the body in one point of life and worships the body in another point, you know, it's all downhill after our twenties. And yet the gospel gives great hope to those of us who are growing old, gone, ordained that our bodies grow old because he recognizes there is a certain beauty that comes through older bodies that younger bodies can't have in this sense. I remember and this was some time ago, my daughter is now 17. My youngest daughter, she was probably just four or five at the time. We were at this watering hole in Bellingham, Washington. It's got a rock. It's got this big pond that people will swim in in the summer, and it's got this high rocks that you can dive into. So it draws a lot of college students. And we were there and they're probably 100 people enjoying this kind of small pond, but big enough to fit that many people without feeling crowded. And because Bellingham is largely a university town, there are a lot of young kids. And so my young daughter looks around and she said to me, Daddy, do you realize you're the oldest person here? And I looked around the watering hole, Yeah, I guess I am. So that when you were born, nobody else would be here. I mean, you'd be here all by yourself.

[00:09:46] I said, Yeah, I guess that's true, because that must make you feel really old. I said, Know your questions. Make me feel really old. But she's not done, you know, a four or five-year-old, right? She goes, Well, Daddy, are you older than the rocks here? I said, No, honey, the rocks were here when I was born. What about the trees? I bet you're older than the trees. I go, Well, maybe some of them, but I'm sure. Somewhere. Here she is. Well, the ones that were here, they were, like, really short, right? Like my height, Right? That's it. Kelsey, what's your point? You started to wonder, what's it like to be older than a tree? For those of us who know what it's like to be older than a tree, to live in bodies that can be older than a tree. This is a truth that I find so redeeming and refreshing that the older I get that worship is a process of surrendering my body to God so that while my physical appearance may decline, my spiritual vitality is on the ascendancy. I can have a mind that understands the things of God more deeply than I ever have. I can have eyes that I only have one functioning eye, quite frankly, but spiritually, they can be far more perceptive than when I had 2020 vision. In both eyes that don't. My hearing is growing dim. Physically. I can hear people on a new level, and though my heart can't take quite the exercise that it could when I was a 22 year old. It can feel things that I never felt as a young man because God has been working on it now for getting close to five decades. I think of Madame Gillan, who wrote a number of Christian classics experiencing the depths of Jesus Christ, the one most often read today.

[00:11:31] If you're not familiar with her story, she grew up in the court of Louis the 14th. It was a very sexist age, and it was a time when a woman was valued chiefly for two things her beauty and her wit. If you are a beautiful woman and you were funny, you were invited to all the the court functions and she was drop dead gorgeous, very witty, had a great mind. She was at all the major parties and functions of her day. And after having lived in that world for a while, she saw the shallowness of it. She saw how it really wasn't that meaningful, but she kind of liked it. And she became a Christian. And as a Christian, she saw the shallowness even more, apparently. But like many of us, after Christianity began to wear off a little bit, she found herself being sucked right back into that court life. And then God had two experiences. She had a very important conversation with a stranger on a bridge. But the one that really woke her up was that she contracted smallpox, which in this day and age was one of the most feared diseases of the time, because if it didn't kill you, it would mark your appearance like nothing else. They didn't have the medicines, they didn't have the ointments we have today. It would pock your face. And she got smallpox. And she realized after a time that she was going to survive. But when she was strong enough to think then about what her future would hold, she asked one of her servants to bring her a mirror, and when they all recoiled, she knew it wasn't going to be good. So she went to her youngest servant, very forceful voice.

[00:13:06] She said, Bring me a mirror. And again, from the way the young girl trembled as she brought this hand mirror to me. Madame Galen Jean knew this was not going to be pretty. And she looked in the mirror with an understatement. She said, I saw the disease was not without its effect. That beautiful face. It had been her entry into the court of Louis. The 14th was forever changed. She wasn't nearly as welcome there because she was a reminder to what would happen to them. But she saw the loss of her beauty. Far from being a substantial loss, she saw it as being very freeing because now she threw herself more into being beautiful before God to growing in godliness. She left behind 16 volumes of writings, many of which are still read today. Her works inspired great notables like Wesley and Charles Finney and others and people that still read her books today. That that quick wit that was used to tear people down and to make fun of people was used to understand the mysteries of scripture. And and it's very true. She believes that if it were for not if it were not for the loss of her physical beauty, she never would have developed the spiritual depth that God has used to feed his church and generations hence that body face was marked, became a place to bring God to the world. That's what worship is a long process of surrendering each aspect of our physical being to become spiritually alive in God's hands. His focus for me, when I was invited a few years ago to speak in Asia at Singapore and before I left, I was going there with my wife and daughters I had read and another article of something happened, another part of Asia in Thailand, about just an awful reality.

[00:14:58] I'm sure some of you have heard about it. I hate to even mention it because it is as disgusting as it gets, but. But sexual slavery, they call it sexual tourism, where men will come from North America, pay huge amounts of money, travel all the way over to Asia to do things to young people in Thailand. That would be illegal to do in in north. America. I'm not a fan of international travel. My wife loves to travel for me. Body clock changing. Been inside a plane for 16 hours. Being away from it is not something I look forward to at the start of spending 1618 hours to get to Asia, spending the money to get to Asia thinking that I'm going there to do that. It's horrific to me. How hard of a heart do you have to be that? That's why you're going through all of that to get to Asia, Asian, as as reading this fundraising letter, asking people to support this ministry, to rescue these young people from such a horrendous life and reality. I was convicted before God saying, what am I going to Asia to do? What do I want to bring? These men are creating lust in North America, literally exporting their loss into Thailand and bringing destruction and abuse, all kinds of stuff. So what am I going to bring? Not bad, but personal ambition, people pleasing that, trying to make an impression. Great. What am I bring? And then it hit me. Because of this truth, I can bring Jesus to Singapore. And my prayer was, Lord, when I, my first foot, gets off the tarmac from the plane and I'm officially on Asian soil, I want to bring Jesus. I want to look at the people with your eyes when they speak.

[00:16:53] I want to hear them as you hear them. I want to feel about them as you feel about them. Not with prejudice or pride or pity, but learning from them, understanding them, loving them as you love them, whatever you want to do. Whether you brought me to Asia, the change and challenge me, whether you brought me to Asia to change them or whether it's both. I just want to bring Jesus to Singapore. And how cool is that? That there are so many things I would change about my body. But this body can bring Jesus to another country. And you don't have to go to Singapore to do that. You go to work tomorrow. Well, let me make it Monday, right? This is how you go to work on Monday. You walk in the office, you're thought you can bring Jesus with your body. The way you think about people, the way you speak, what you do with your hands, the way you look at people. You can bring the presence of Jesus. What would happen in Christian homes if if a woman, a man before in the evening when they're coming home from work, when they touch that doorknob, instead of bringing the frustration they have with work, the stress from work, the anger they have from work, if they're positive and say, Lord, I want to bring Jesus to my family tonight, I want to represent Jesus to my kids. I want to represent Jesus to my spouse. I want to hear my kids as you hear them. I want to feel for my spouse as you feel for them. I want to think through life like you think through eyes, so that when I walk through the door, it's like I'm bringing Christ.

[00:18:27] And again, I would remind you of that verse. Paul says, Not that I have obtained all this or already taken all it, but this is what I strive for. This is what I think Christian spirituality is becoming. What I describe in the Holy, available as a God oasis, a place where people meet God. It comes from Isaiah 32 two, which is just a few verses before the prophecy we met when it says that each man or we could say each woman will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land because of the presence of God and his activity in a believer's life, we become these oases where God can bring people to meet Him, not to impress them with our intelligence or our showpiece museum holiness, but we can listen to them like maybe they've never been listened to before, that we could speak words maybe they'd never heard before. We can feel about them the way that God feels about them. We become these God oases. That's what I think Christian spirituality is. And so as I get older and I think about all the things I would like to change about my body, the world says I should be doing this and doing that and I can get hair plugs and I can get a new I put in and I can fix it, or I can say, Lord, what I really need is gentleness, compassion, understanding, courage to speak the difficult word when I need to speak, the difficult work that I want this body to worship you by bringing your presence to a world that needs to meet you, that may not go out of its way to meet you, but they'll meet me.

[00:20:14] And if I let myself be transformed, that's an opportunity for them to see you. Let's break.

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