WilLear 09-11-166

Learning to Soar

How to Grow Through Transitions and Trials


Avery T. Willis Jr., and Matt Willis

Penguin Press, 2009, 405 pp.  ISBN 978-1-59420-213-1



Avery Willis is executive director of the International Orality Network.  Matt is his grandson who serves in Asia.  Don’t get stuck in mediocrity.  Leave complacency behind.  Follow the Eagle from birth, through babyhood, adolescence, and young adulthood to maturity.  If you understand and apply the life stages of eagles and allow God to stimulate you through life’s challenges, you can soar in your spiritual journey. In this book you will learn patience as God uses hardships to strengthen your faith and guides you by His Spirit.  A discussion guide for small groups is included at the end.



“God often brings difficult circumstances into our lives in order to prompt us away from complacency and a spiritual plateau.” (26)  “God’s ways have not changed … [but] if you don’t’ know God’s ways, you can misunderstand His actions….”  (27)


The nest provides comfort and security to baby eagles.  But they can’t fly in the nest.  The parents claw out the leaves and fur, exposing the briars and sticks to prod the eaglets up out of the comfort. (30)  God stirs our nests to get us off our agenda and on to his. (31) “It doesn’t matter what your issue is—you must surrender it to God if it is keeping you from being obedient to Him and allowing Him to work abundantly in your life.” (35)


“God is intent on your knowing Him and joining Him in His plan.” (37)  “God is always a purposeful God, even when we can’t fully comprehend His reasons. …it’s always possible that we will misinterpret God’s perfect will as an undesirable situation (See Isaiah 55:8-9).” (37)  “…we need to decide what we want from God: to be comforted or to be conformed to His will.  God may give you both, but which one is your goal?” (39)


The authors provide a list of ways of know when God is stirring and when God is not stirring your nest.  (43-44)


“He may be stirring you because you have been faithful with little, and He wants to make you responsible for more.  God is likely doing something new in your life to make you more complete.” (48)      


“External change is inevitable, but internal change is a choice.  Make the choice to trust God in your adversity.  Don’t seek quick fixes from God; seek Him!” (54) 


“Waiting time is not wasted time for anyone in whose heart God has placed a vision.  Difficult time.  Painful time.  Frustrating time.  But not wasted time.”  (56, quoting Andy Stanley)      


“It is important that we stand in awe of God not only for how personally He cares for us but also for how powerfully He rules the vast universe.” (57)      


“If God takes care of the gigantic universe, can you trust Him to care for you and your problems?” (60)  “He is always doing for you what He knows is best, though your present situation may seem to indicate otherwise.  God does want to bless you, but the process to that end is not always quick or pleasant.” (61)


God leads us from stirring to soaring in four ways.  He stirs our nest to prepare us for change.  He hovers over us during a time of waiting.  He takes us on His wings and teaches us to fly.  He is the wind that carries us. (64)


“Way of God #1: God takes very ordinary things or people and does extraordinary things with them.” (65)  That way He gets the glory.  “When you give God what’s in your hands, He multiplies your potential beyond your wildest dreams.” (67) 


“Way of God #2: God wants you to obey His instructions whether or not they make sense to you.” (68)                                                                                                                                                                                                                 


“Way of God #3: God wants you to be obedient regardless of the results.” (69)

When Moses, in obedience, put his hand in his cloak, it came out with leprosy.  “If you obey God the first time and it doesn’t seem to turn out right, will you have enough faith to do the next thing He tells you?”  (69) 


“Way of God #4: God tells you just enough to know what to do next.” (70)


“Way of God #5: God doesn’t want your excuses and is angered by your disobedience and disbelief.” (71)  “Don’t pray that God will send someone else if He has told you to go.” (72) 


“God wants to develop your faith from experience to experience until you trust Him in every situation.” (78)  God thrust Israel again and again into situations where they had to trust him.  “If you want to learn to fly, messing up is inevitable, but giving up is unacceptable.” (83)  Don’t let failure keep you from victory.


God tests you to humble you, to reveal what is in your heart, to demonstrate that your soul starves apart from him, and to mature your faith. (85)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                


“In the midst of difficult circumstances, there comes a point when you must either believe—and enter a new level of trust and dependency on the Father—or choose not to believe.  This is what we call a crisis of belief.  The situation challenges you to trust God in an unprecedented manner and grow or else stunt your growth by doubting God.  If you turn back at the point of uncertainty, adverse circumstances, or risk, you will miss the blessings of God.  In this case, you cannot remain both comfortable and committed.  God’s blessings come outside of your comfort zone.” (88) 


“Learning to live by faith is not just cranking up your courage, gritting your teeth, and trying to do better.  It is a time when you totally trust the Lord to do what you cannot do.  Yet a crisis of belief also challenges you to act on what you really believe and leave the results to God.” (92) 


“Getting a word from God means that the Holy Spirit reveals a specific scripture to you in your situation and impresses you to claim it and act on it by faith.  It may be a promise, a warning, a prohibition, a rebuke, a correction, or an instruction.  In other words, God speaks personally to you through His Word and its application to your situation, and He challenges you to believe Him.” (95-6)


“No one has ever become a mature disciple who does not spend time in God’s Word and apply it to his or her daily life.” (99)  “I keep a running list of what I need to hear from Him about.  After all these years I am still amazed how He takes my regular daily Bible reading and applies it to my present situation and list of problems through the Spirit’s affirmation.” (100)


“A spiritual marker is a time when you knew that you experienced God and saw Him work in your life.  God gives you spiritual markers so you can see how He has worked mightily in your life.” (103)  “He will help you see how the challenge you face now is in line with past directions.  I have been asked to do many good things that I turned down because they did not line up with my spiritual markers. … His leading will not violate how He has led you in the past.” (103) 


“Although eagles must be willing to try their wings, it is the wind currents that really enable them to soar.”  “One mark of an eagle’s maturity is learning to depend on the wind, and for a disciple it is learning to depend on the Spirit.”  (110)  “Soaring by faith is not asking God’s blessings on your own flights but rather riding His purposes for you as He leads wherever He chooses.” (114) 


“Your greatest opportunity to soar in faith is when the storms of life come—times of uncertainty, fear, and adversity. …as you place your faith in the Lord in the midst of them, the Holy Spirit will strengthen you and lift you above the storms.” (125)


Are you working on such a big vision that it cannot be completed in your lifetime? 



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