“The Flying Horse” from L.Willows, C.S. Lewis; Pastor Tom Holliday (redemption, miraculous living, for Christ, a new creation)

Friends, reviewing these thoughts and teachings offered in October 2019 was an encouragement so I share all again- L.Willows

C.S. Lewis on Transforming a Horse into a Winged Creature

–For mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine.”

“God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. It is not like teaching a horse to jump better and better but like turning a horse into a winged creature. Of course, once it has got its wings, it will soar over fences which could never have been jumped and thus beat the natural horse at its own game.

But there may be a period, while the wings are just beginning to grow, when it cannot do so: and at that stage the lumps on the shoulders — no one could tell by looking at them that they are going to be wings — may even give it an awkward appearance.” ) Mere Christianity.

The Flying Horse from L.Willows

Last week, our Pastor Tom Holliday of Alexandria Presbyterian Church repeated the challenge “Do you want to live like a “Flying Horse”? Really? How are you going to do that?”

I loved the image of a Flying Horse! He told the story of the C.S. Lewis quote weeks before. I was intrigued. He dared us to live like Flying Horses. Could we be challenged to live with radically transformed hearts? In lives that soared beyond and above fences that we had not even dreamed lifted and towards heights far beyond and above what our imagined “ceiling” was?

Are you sensing how it captured my heart? I even turned it into a song. (privately) Enjoy my passion. The image of a flying horse, of being transformed into one – made me thoroughly filled with joy.

We all need to lift off – to grow wings. We need to become Flying Horses.

What does that mean?

The horse in the story is us as we move through spiritual transformation. More, it is about Miraculous Living and how to overcome hindrances by redemption. We can only Fly through the power of Christ in us. His Spirit is the agent of our transformation. His Heavenly Father, our God draws us towards Himself. He sent His son to live amongst us and drew him back to the Heavenly Places, calling us lovingly to rise from the fallen- become the ‘new man’, the redeemed, grow “wings” and answer His Call. 

Lewis speaks about the hindrances within each of us that we face when we try to fly using “other means”. We ask for power to rise above.

We try to be kinder, nicer more pleasant people seeking all means of adapting to fit this world. We “work” at it. We depend on our own ability to improve our status in this world. We keep trying to improve the status of being kinder and continuing to “better ourselves”, gaining ground of status; similar to a horse in a race horizontally. Yet Lewis suggests a better way. Let the horse grow wings.

There is only one way to grow Wings. We become a New Creation.

He describes the awkward stage when the wings are still growing. At this stage, when the wings are just beginning to grow, they are like “lumps on the shoulders”. No one could even tell that one day they will be wings. I get that lumpy shoulder stage. How many can relate to that? Spiritual transformation, breaking through to the “Lift Off” can be experienced in many stages of joy, challenge, quest, trust, hope, effort, trial, and joy again.

2 Corinthians 5:17: “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”

Inevitably, we become witnesses to the old, everything that ‘becomes old’ in ourselves and in our environment- experiencing a form of death. It starts to pass away as we ourselves become a new creation. The work of Christ “works” in us. Our work ceases to “work”. We surrender to Him, our lives surrender and we trust in him, completing the work that He began in us with the gift of Grace.

Trust in God allows Miracles to Take Flight.

When we trust in Christ, we begin to learn to Fly. We become Flying Horses.

We must trust in him to complete the work he began in us as he prepares for the coming day, new creations in a new heaven and earth.

What forms does that trust take? What does it look like?

Trust happens inside of an intimate relationship. It is honest. When your heart is honest before God, it can relate in an intimate and trusting way. It is the ability to form a two-way dynamic. There are many examples of Trusting God in Scripture.

Look for the examples of the prophets in the Old Testaments and the apostles in the New Testament. I love Moses in Exodus. What do you find? Trust in a relationship requires honesty, listening, and humility. Are there more qualities that you notice? Do we need perseverance? How is trust built? What is it built upon?

  • Learn to form an honest dialogue with God. Seek Him out as your most important Consultant and Source of Wisdom and Discernment. He Is.
  • Bring your heart to God and ask Him to search it. Ask for help knowing that you do not have the ability to “see” your own heart. He will answer you. Let Him lead you.
  • Pray. Seek God in prayer as the most important part of your life. It is the most intimate relationship to cultivate in life.
  • Find God in Scripture. Know Him through His Word. He is there. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring it to your heart by praying before reading.
  • Seek God’s guidance and wisdom in all things. Let God lead you in life. Know that He sees the details as well as the whole, the before and the after. Listen.
  • Trust in His Promises (Scripture). Keep them with you all the time.
  • Keep encouragement and Encouragers near to you all the time. Notice that He places this near to you. Recognize it and express gratitude, it can make “a horse fly”, it can change the most ordinary life into one that is extraordinary.

Prayer that was dry becomes vivid with the Presence of God. Hearts that were lost are found. Broken places are healed. Revival becomes a word with new meaning. It starts to shake the foundation of self like a wondrous new birth. Something winged emerges. A joy that cannot be suppressed takes hold even in the midst of challenges. The Longing is like nectar that grows so sweet, life seems dim without it. It, The Promise of His Holy Blessing and Return becomes Hope, a Hope deeper and more glorious than any other.

Fly. Fly. Fly. (still singing)

© 2019 Linda Willows

“How God Will Use Time and Trials to Accomplish His Purpose for You”, by Ray Ortlund, introduction by Randy Alcon

By Ray Ortlund March 16, 2020

This article by Ray Ortlund is thought-provoking and on target. Though his advice focuses on young men in ministry, his message is applicable for every believer of every age and vocation.

Ray writes, “Only men with scars can preach a Savior with scars to sinners with scars. So, in addition to the many insights and skills God will impart to you, he also will wound you. …At some point in your life, God will injure you so extremely that the self-reliance you aren’t even aware of, the self-reliance you’ve been navigating so consistently by that it feels natural and innocent, will collapse under the loss and anguish. You will start realizing, ‘Oh, so this is what it means to trust the Lord.’”

After forty-five years in ministry, I completely agree. I’ve learned we can’t become humble and fully useful to God’s work without experiencing tears and trials. It just doesn’t happen. Notice Paul ties these together when he talks to church leaders: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials” (Acts 20:18-19).

As Nanci and I navigate life with her ongoing battle with cancer, we are not fighting God, but are trusting Him daily and seeing Him at work. Through this trial, as with others, over the course of time, God is accomplishing something very precious. He is making us into deeper and more Christlike people, marked forever by Jesus’ grace, so that He can use us in greater, unexpected ways to impact His kingdom. God tells us, “Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised” (Hebrews 10:36, NLT). I hope you find this article as helpful and ultimately encouraging as I did. —Randy Alcorn

Your Ministry Will Take a Lifetime: My Counsel for Younger Men

By Ray Ortlund

Some of us can read a text like “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day” (Proverbs 4:18) and wonder why our light still feels so dim.

The verse teaches that if you are walking with the Lord, your life is dawning more and more with “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). The passing years of his care are making you more compelling, more relevant, more fruitful — not less. And someday soon your glory will blaze like the noonday sun, never to fade.

This article is for every young man who feels that his glory is taking too long to become obvious. This is for every young man in ministry who feels restless and eager and ambitious (with godly ambition) for more opportunities to make his mark for Christ. Yes, you have mixed motives. Who doesn’t? But your desire to cut a wide swath of gospel harvest is of God.

He did not create you to be a zero. He created you in his image, as royalty, to advance his purposes in this world (Genesis 1:26). You are a man of destiny, and you feel it. So let’s think about your life trajectory — what to expect, how to navigate it well. I offer my thoughts as an older man, who respects how you feel. Let me offer you three words of counsel, prompted by Scripture, for when your ministry seems to be growing too slowly.

Give Yourself Time

First, “Let them also be tested first” (1 Timothy 3:10). The apostle Paul required that of prospective deacons. But a young man being tested, giving him time to prove his readiness for leadership, is implicit in the requirements of an elder too. A future elder must be faithful in marriage, able to teach, manage his own household well, not a recent convert, and well thought of by outsiders (1 Timothy 3:1–7). No one gets there quickly or easily.

You might feel more ready than you really are. Maybe you’ve looked at an older Christian leader in action and thought, “I could do what he’s doing — and maybe better.” But what that man is doing is harder than it looks. When a senior leader is performing well and people are responding and the ministry is flourishing, the reality is this: Hidden deep within that man, nuanced understandings and finely-honed skills and mature disciplines are converging, moment by moment, to make him compelling.

All those inner strengths and assets of his were hard won over many years — and through some failures too. When a pastor, for example, makes the ministry look easy, you can be sure of one thing: it isn’t. He was tested first. He is being tested now. Even in a man’s mature years, ministry is always extremely demanding. Joyful and satisfying, but demanding.

I am not exalting him or diminishing you. I am only saying that a man in his sixties, if he has walked humbly with God and striven to keep growing and growing, is a more profound man than he himself was in his thirties. How could it be otherwise? So, give yourself time. God is faithfully investing in you, more than you can see. He values you. He is preparing you for the final, climactic mission of your life and your death. Don’t resent his maturing process along the way.

His plan, his timing, his methods are well suited to get you ready for the greatest moments of your life still out ahead. But if your pride can’t stoop to being tested first, you are blocking the very future you long for. Humble yourself, be patient, go deep. And don’t forget to enjoy it along the way. The Lord is with you and for you. Obviously, he isn’t in any hurry. Why should you be?

Embrace His Power in Weakness

Second, “My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Here is why this familiar verse is in the Bible. In our foolishness, we all want to be formidable, impressive, noteworthy, with super-powers to “wow” the world. But how can men like that preach Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1–5)? Only men with scars can preach a Savior with scars to sinners with scars. So, in addition to the many insights and skills God will impart to you, he also will wound you. A.W. Tozer wisely said, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.”

At some point in your life, God will injure you so extremely that the self-reliance you aren’t even aware of, the self-reliance you’ve been navigating so consistently by that it feels natural and innocent, will collapse under the loss and anguish. You will start realizing, “Oh, so this is what it means to trust the Lord. I need him now with an urgency, a desperation, a seriousness of purpose deeper than ever before.”

And then God will come through for you. And you will emerge from that suffering a deeper saint. You will be a better preacher and pastor and leader and counselor and teacher and friend, because you will be a better man — more like the wounded Christ himself.

But if you “succeed” early, and crowds of people are flocking to you, and the undiscerned cockiness you grew up with isn’t broken, you may be in danger. I have seen highly gifted young men crash and burn and lose years of fruitful ministry, or even leave the ministry altogether, because their platform exceeded their character.

Don’t envy that “rising star.” He might be more precarious than he appears. You just stay low before the Lord. Humbly receive the buffetings, disappointments, and insults coming your way. Receive them “for the sake of Christ” (2 Corinthians 12:10). They are how his power will come to rest upon you (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Don’t Grope at Your Destiny

Third, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me” (Psalm 138:8). You never have to get pushy, because the Lord has a purpose for you, and that purpose belongs to him. John Burroughs, the poet, was not a Christian. But his poem “Waiting” says a very Christian thing:

Asleep, awake, by night or day,
     The friends I seek are seeking me,
No wind can drive my bark astray
     Nor change the tide of destiny.

Because the Lord is committed to his purpose for you, the friends and the opportunities you seek are seeking you. They are on their way toward you this very moment. Believe it, and rejoice as God tells the story you were born for. The best way to get ready for your future is to walk humbly, fruitfully, and cheerfully with Christ right where you are. Through the years, he will give you a front-row seat for watching him fulfill his purpose for you.

Seek the Lowest Place

Francis Schaeffer, in his prophetic sermon “No Little People, No Little Places,” warned us all,

Jesus commands Christians to seek consciously the lowest room. All of us — pastors, teachers, professional religious workers and non-professional included — are tempted to say, “I will take the larger place, because it will give me more influence for Jesus Christ.” Both individual Christians and Christian organizations fall prey to the temptation of rationalizing this way as we build bigger and bigger empires. But according to the Scripture this is backwards: We should consciously take the lowest place, unless the Lord himself extrudes us into a greater one.

Schaeffer went on to explain that, in a lower, less intense place of ministry, we face fewer distractions away from our own intimacy with God. And it is only in personal quietness before God that we can do anything that is truly spiritual in power. It is only as we remain quiet before him that we contribute to the real battle being fought in our generation.

Settle into the place where you are. Deeply accept your present moment. It is where Jesus is nearest to you. It is where his endless resources open up to you, moment by moment: “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you!” (Psalm 31:19).

This article originally appeared on Desiring God and is used with permission of the author.

Source: Eternal Perspective Ministries

“Christian Courage”, by John Piper (Faithful to Truth, Trusting God, Bold Prayer)

Christian courage is the willingness to say and do the right thing regardless of the earthly cost, because God promises to help you and save you on account of Christ. An act takes courage if it will likely be painful. The pain may be physical, as in war and rescue operations. Or the pain may be mental as in confrontation and controversy.

Courage is indispensable for both spreading and preserving the truth of Christ. Jesus promised that spreading the gospel would meet resistance: “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name” (Matthew 24:9).

And Paul warned that, even in the church, faithfulness to the truth would be embattled: “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30; see also 2 Timothy 4:3-4).

Therefore, true evangelism and true teaching will take courage. Running from resistance in evangelism or teaching dishonors Christ. There is a kind of cowardice that tells only the truths that are safe to tell. Martin Luther put it like this:

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point. (Quoted in Parker T. Williamson, Standing Firm: Reclaiming Christian Faith in Times of Controversy [Springfield, PA: PLC Publications, 1996], p. 5)

Where then shall we get this courage? Consider these pointers.

FROM BEING FORGIVEN AND BEING RIGHTEOUS – “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1). “Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven'” (Matthew 9:2).

FROM TRUSTING GOD AND HOPING IN HIM – “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD” (Psalm 31:24; see also 2 Corinthians 3:12).

FROM BEING FILLED WITH SPIRIT – “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).

FROM GOD’S PROMISE TO BE WITH YOU – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

FROM KNOWING THAT THE ONE WITH YOU IS GREATER THAN THE ADVERSARY: -“Be strong and courageous . . . for the one with us is greater than the one with him. With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:7–8).

FROM BEING SURE THAT GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE BATTLES – “Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; and may the LORD do what is good in His sight” (2 Samuel 10:12).

THROUGH PRAYER – “On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul” (Psalm 138:3; see also Ephesians 6:19-20).

FROM THE EXAMPLE OF OTHERS – “Most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear” (Philippians 1:14).

 (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Source: Desiring God.org