Friday, February 3, 2012

‘Every Body Matters: Strengthening Your Body to Strengthen Your Soul’ by Gary Thomas – Book Review

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When I read the title of Gary Thomas’ latest book, ‘Every Body Matters: Strengthening Your Body to Strengthen Your Soul,’ I wanted to be involved in the blog tour for same. I have been conflicted as to how much time to devote to taking care of this earthen body of ours compared to how much time to spend in the care of our minds.

Here is a synopsis of this book:

A Fresh Perspective on How Physical Fitness Directly Impacts Your Spiritual Growth.
Physical fitness, offered to God, pursued with God, has enormous spiritual, emotional, and physical benefits.
Every Body Matters explores the physical battles and eating and exercise and offers a fresh perspective and renewed motivation for making some major changes. Just as Sacred Marriage has changed the way contemporary church thinks about marriage, so Ever Body Matters will transform the way you look at body care and discipline.
Steering clear of judgment and criticism, author Gary Thomas keeps the focus of this important discussion on the positive impact physical fitness can have on your spiritual and emotional growth. Using the engaging stories of everyday people, Thomas illustrates how becoming physically fit can lead to:
·         increased sensitivity to God’s voice
·         renewed energy for God’s work
·         greater joy for living
·         a fortified soul better able and more willing to serve and love others
The goal in this pursuit is not sculpting thinner or more athletic-looking bodies. The goal is to cultivate stronger, well-nourished bodies that are primed to become, in the words of the apostle Paul, “instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”
By looking at your body as an instrument rather than an ornament, you’ll find new and compelling motivation to embrace the kind of active lifestyle that fortifies your soul.

Here is the book trailer for this book:

Here is the biography of the author:

Gary Thomas is a writer in residence at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, and an adjunct faculty member teaching on spiritual formation at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of several books, including Sacred Marriage, Sacred Pathways, Pure Pleasure, Sacred Parenting, Sacred Influence and the Gold Medallion Award-winning Authentic Faith.

And here is Gary discussing his latest book:

Here are some of the most impactful passages from this book from my perspective:

Christians who don’t take their health seriously don’t take their mission seriously. What we’re saying by our actions is “My life doesn’t really matter.” But because of the ability of God to work powerfully in any repentant sinner’s life, every body does matter. (p. 20)
We don’t own our bodies; they are not ours to abuse or care for according to our own perceived wants or desires. On the contrary, not only did God create us; he paid a high price to redeem us. And when he redeemed us, he didn’t redeem our souls; he redeemed our bodies and claimed them for his use as well. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (p. 47)
In the end, I found that physical fitness offered to God, surrendered to God, pursued in cooperation with God has enormous spiritual, emotional, and physical benefits. It is not an easy battle, but I have found it to be one well worth fighting – even though I know it is a battle I will fight, with varying degrees of success, for the rest of my life. (pp. 62-63)
Laziness is an attitude that puts one’s personal comfort above all else – if I don’t feel like it, why do it? If it’s uncomfortable, why bother? If it’s not fun, what’s the use? Laziness ignores any sense of obligation and defines sin exclusively as something we shouldn’t do (conveniently forgetting that we are commanded to do), and it ends up wasting our lives in spectacular nonscandalous fashion so that we don’t see just how destructive it is. (pp. 101-102)

Mr. Thomas supports his thesis that physical fitness directly impacts our spiritual growth with lots of Bible passages, as well as personal stories from several people (including himself and Kristin Armstrong, Lance Armstrong’s ex-wife).

He closes out his book this way:

As I write this, my race isn’t over. I don’t know how long it will last. Maybe it’ll be finished tomorrow. Maybe next year, or several decades hence. God alone knows. But this much I do know: If you’re reading this, your race isn’t over either. God will restore us and refresh us along the way. He will provide moments of nourishment and rest, but he wants me, he wants you, to continue to run, to be available to do any good work. We need to keep going – even in the rain, no matter how dark it gets – and finish this race.
Christians, keep running. (p. 207)

I found this book to be deeply convicting to me – in a good way! Mr. Thomas exposed some of my thought patterns that I viewed as acceptable in a different light. The human mind does a great job deceiving itself… I thank Gary for bringing this important issue – that is so often neglected in the Christian church – to the forefront, and I pray this book reaches many hearts and minds. Although some sections read harshly, it is only because we as the Body of Christ (not to mention American society in general) have become so soft. That is certainly not how God wants us to live, and I appreciate Gary pointing us back to that important truth.

You can order this book here.

This book was provided by Zondervan Publishers for review purposes.

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