“C.S. Lewis quote: the Horse learns to Fly”, The Flying Horse from L.Willows (redemption, miraculous living, long for Christ)

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

“Niceness” — wholesome, integrated personality — is an excellent thing. We must try by every medical, educational, economic, and political means in our power, to produce a world where as many people as possible grow up “nice”; just as we must try to produce a world where all have plenty to eat. But we must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls.

A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world — and might even be more difficult to save.

–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.” (pp.183-84) Mere Christianity.

The Flying Horse from L.Willows

Last week, our Pastor, Tom Holliday 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.
  • Express and cultivate Joy. Generate Joy in your heart and in your surroundings.

See and become God’s Goodness and God’s Love. Though we fall short of His Glory, we glimpse it.

We are Trustees of His Goodness.

1 Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

Become A Flying Horse. Having glimpsed His Glory – Leap Towards It.

We long for Christ. That longing is one that propels the heart with such a surge, 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

“Is Spiritual Transformation Really Possible? by Thomas A. Tarrants, III, D. Min. (repentance, faith, redemption)

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Is Spiritual Transformation Really Possible?

by Thomas A. Tarrants, III, D.Min.
President Emeritus of the C.S. Lewis Institute

source: From the Fall 2019 issue of Knowing & Doing: C.S. Lewis Institute

My answer to the question above is an emphatic yes! Let me briefly tell you a story that illustrates why.

  In June of this year, I retired as vice president of the C.S. Lewis Institute and director of the Washington Area C.S. Lewis Fellows program, a role I had filled for nine years. Prior to that, I had served for twelve years as president. Before coming to the Institute, I was copastor of an interracial church and, even earlier, was in campus ministry. That profile sounds normal enough.
  But here’s the backstory. I was a white teenager in the deep South who came of age in the early 1960s, just as the civil rights movement was gathering momentum. Society was in turmoil as the federal government implemented court-ordered desegregation plans in the public schools. I became very angry about the changes in my high school and began to read racist, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in literature that was being circulated on campus. Soon I met those who were distributing the material. This led to a process of indoctrination into far-right ideology that would eventually have tragic consequences for me and others.

  My anger grew into hatred for black people, Jews, liberals, and communists — people I saw as enemies of God, America, and the southern way of life. By my early twenties, my hatred had led me to become involved with the most violent right-wing terrorist organization in America at the time, Mississippi’s White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. One night, an accomplice and I were ambushed by a police SWAT team as we attempted to bomb the home of a Jewish businessman. My accomplice was killed, and I was so badly wounded that doctors gave me only forty-five minutes to live.

  Miraculously I survived my injuries and was later tried and sentenced to thirty years in prison. But I had learned nothing from my experiences; about six months after entering prison, I escaped with two other inmates, intending to resume my activities. But a couple of days later, another SWAT team found me and my accomplices, one of whom was killed in the barrage of gunfire. Had the man who was killed not relieved me early from lookout duty, I would have been the one who died.

  Back in prison, I was confined to a six-by-nine-foot cell in the maximum security unit. To escape the boredom of being locked up alone twenty-four hours a day, I began to read almost continuously. At first, it was racist, anti-Semitic books, which reinforced my extremist beliefs. Then, unexpectedly, my interest shifted to classical philosophy — Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics. This led to an intellectual awakening and a search for truth and self-understanding that eventually took me to the New Testament. Through reading the Gospels, I discovered the truth I was seeking in the person of Jesus Christ. I was particularly stuck when I read, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matt.16:26).1 Under conviction of my sins, I was brought to repentance and faith and trusted my life to Christ in wholehearted surrender.

  The next morning, I awoke with three strong desires in my heart: to read the Bible, to pray, and to live for God. As the apostle Paul had said, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). These desires were characteristic of that change. ( : LW )

And so was the love that replaced racial and ethnic hatred in my heart. Hours of daily Bible reading fed these changes and helped fuel the beginnings of spiritual transformation. It also stimulated the desire for a deeper understanding of the Christian faith and an interest in theology and apologetics. It was here that I first encountered the works of C.S. Lewis — books such as Mere Christianity, Miracles, The Problem of Pain, among others. The works of Lewis were formative in my thinking and would continue to be so for many years to come. Other writers also had a major impact on me — Louis Berkhof, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, J.I. Packer, John Stott, Andrew Murray, Thomas à Kempis, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, to name a few. Two years of extensive daily Bible reading and the study of Christian classics helped me develop a solid foundation in the faith.

  Fast forwarding a bit, after serving eight years in prison, a near miraculous set of circumstances opened the door for me to be released from prison to attend the University of Mississippi. At the age of twenty-nine, I was now eager to prepare myself to serve God in some way, and I gave myself to my studies with diligence. I also became part of a good church, where I could experience weekly worship, teaching, and fellowship. This helped accelerate my spiritual growth. Later I moved to the Washington, D.C., area and eventually went to seminary, earning a master’s degree and later a doctoral degree. Along the way, doors opened for me to serve God in campus ministry, then pastoral ministry, and finally at the C.S. Lewis Institute.

  It has been almost fifty years since I met Jesus in that prison cell. Over those years, God has been steadily working in my life, helping me to change — to become more like Jesus. It hasn’t been quick, and it hasn’t always been easy. There have been temptations, trials and tribulations, some of which I overcame and others I failed. There have been ups and downs, twists and turns along the way. And there have been painful sorrows to endure. But through it all, there have been many joys and blessings from God’s generous hand. His grace has truly been sufficient for me. And He has patiently, lovingly kept calling me to “come further up, come further in.” I still have a long way to go, for it is a lifelong journey, but I am thankful for the progress made thus far by God’s grace. That is why I can say without hesitation that spiritual transformation is certainly possible. Not only is it possible; it is unquestionably God’s agenda for each of His children, for He intends that we “be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29).
So in spite of the challenges and difficulties of the transformation process,

we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:17–18)

  Such transformation is not just for the few. It is for everyone who really wants it, even the worst of people, as I once was. History is full of examples of notorious sinners who have been transformed by Jesus Christ. Think of the apostle Paul, a violent religious extremist; Augustine, a pagan philosopher and sex addict; Francis of Assisi, a rich playboy. More recently, C.S. Lewis was a convinced atheist, and Chuck Colson was a ruthless political operative. It is also for ordinary people who have not been saved, including those church people who make professions of faith and believe they are Christians but whose lives have never changed. (This is a major reason throughout history why people don’t believe Christian faith changes people in a positive way.)

  If you long for this — if you really want to become more like Jesus — cry out to God with a sincere heart. He will help you. The first step for everyone is repentance and faith. That is, to recognize and turn from your sins to Jesus Christ and trust Him as your Savior and Lord. He says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30). He is the only way to God: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
If you have been born again, your next step is clear: with gratitude to God for His grace and love, “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1). This means giving yourself to Him wholeheartedly, body and soul, holding back nothing. It is a surrender to God’s love and a commitment to pleasing Him through joyful obedience to His will. This launches the process of transformation, and you will need to reaffirm it daily. The process moves forward as we take the necessary initiative: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). This involves forsaking the values, attitudes, and behaviors of the fallen world and seeking the renewal of our minds through earnest engagement with the Word of God, the Spirit of God and the people of God. Our goal in doing so is to develop the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5–8), our Savior, Lord and great High Priest. And as we walk this path through life with our brothers and sisters in Christ, “we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). 



Notes:
1  Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are English Standard Version.

Tom Tarrants is President Emeritus of the C.S. Lewis Institute. After serving twelve years as president and nine years as vice President, he retired from his position as Vice President for Ministry and Director, Washington Area Fellows Program, with CSLI in June 2019.  Tom holds a Master of Divinity Degree, as well as a Doctor of Ministry Degree in Christian Spirituality. He is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Church Alliance and a member of the Evangelical Theological Society. Going forward, Tom will be spending his time writing, mentoring, consulting and traveling. His life story is told in Consumed by Hate, Redeemed by Love, published by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Recommended Reading:
Thomas A. Tarrants, Consumed by Hate, Redeemed by Love: How a Violent Klansman Became a Champion of Racial Reconciliation (Thomas Nelson, 2019)

From L.Willows: I am so honored to have personally met Dr. Tarrants through his extensive ministry at the C.S. Lewis Institute and beyond. I have witnessed the strength of his faith, the expanse of its impact and the depth of his humility. I look forward to reading this book.

“Lord Have Mercy; a Mother’s Prayer”, a worship poem from L.Willows

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Lord Have Mercy; a Mother’s Prayer

Lord have mercy,
Live on past me.
Come into the hearts of my children, Lord.
Drawn them in to find you and see.

Lord have mercy,
Live on past me.
Come into the lives of my own, those dear-
Born from my start then apart, these hearts;
Oh Lord give them Your adore, this I implore.

Lord have mercy.
Live on past me.
Take them as Yours full into your grasp.
Bind this my all, these my children, I ask.
Come into their hearts with a fullness, all parts.
This, they belong, we all ask, we all grasp.
Lord, please have mercy,
From the first to the last.

© 2019 Linda Willows

Psalm 100:3
Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Isaiah 43:1
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.