Monday, February 1, 2010

‘Learning to Soar: How to Grow Through Transitions and Trials’ by Avery T. Willis Jr. and Matt Willis – Book Review

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The Lord, in the Bible, provides us with many illustrations for how to live a holy and Godly life.  One of the most prolific and profound illustrations from scripture is that of the eagle.  ‘Learning to Soar: How to Grow Through Transitions and Trials’ is a masterful book which provides the Christian with life lessons learned from studying the patterns of the majestic eagle.

One of the most well-known passages is Isaiah 40:31:

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

This book was written by a grandfather and grandson. Avery T. Willis Jr. is an international speaker, teacher and conference leader. According to his website:

He served as pastor of three churches in Oklahoma and Texas for ten years before serving with his wife, Shirley, and their children as missionaries to Indonesia for fourteen years… He then served ten years as Senior Vice President for Overseas Operations of the International Mission Board overseeing the work of 5600 missionaries in 183 countries. He holds a BA degree from Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee, Okla., and the M.Div and Th.D degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas. He has received honorary doctor’s degrees from Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar MO.

Matt Willis also holds a BA degree from Oklahoma Baptist University. He is married and the father to two young children, and is currently serving in ministry in Asia.

Avery Willis and his grandson Matt Willis show us in ‘Learning to Soar’ how God uses hardships in your life to align with His purpose, and the result will allow you to "soar." Just as a mother eagle stirs her nest to encourage her eagles to fly, God "stirs your nest."

The Willises compare our Christian lives to that of the eagle. Matt spent a great deal of time studying the habits of these majestic creatures. They show us the life stages of the eagle, from birth through maturity, and show us how our lives should pass through similar stages of growth.

Just as the parent eagles have to agitate the nest so that their eaglets learn to fly and don’t become too comfortable remaining with them, so too does God have to our nests. The Lord takes the opportunity to stir us in order for us to grow and to soar, as He would like us to do.

Dr. Willis offers this advice for when God is stirring our nest:

“God never forsakes us when He stirs our nests, so the last thing we should do is forsake Him in our adversity. His stirring is the first step to move us through His plan for our lives, which He follows up with His next step – hovering over us. Look up at Him hovering above you and recognize that He can handle your adversity, that He is present, and that He is worthy to be followed” (p. 54).

In the Epilogue, Dr. Willis states:

“Where are you in the stirring-to-soaring process? What is your potential in life? Only God knows, and the only way you can find out is by stepping out in faith and giving yourself to Him and to His purposes for your life” (pp. 140-141).

This book is particularly timely, with the economic turmoil that we have gone through as a country over the last few years. I believe that the Lord is stirring up our nests so that we not only soar, but that we realize what is important and press in to Him more closely and strongly. I appreciate the tools that this book provides.

I gleaned a lot of valuable information on how to soar with the Lord, in His power and might. It is sad how many Christians do not live up to their potential for one reason or another – fear, distrust, shame, etc… I appreciate the work that Avery and Matt put into this book, and plan on referring to it time and time again!

In addition to ‘Learning to Soar,’ Dr. Willis has also written a book and conducts seminars called ‘MasterLife,’ in which he teaches how to master life.

I found ‘Learning to Soar’ to be a beautifully written book which would be wonderful for Christians of all ages and maturity levels. I think it would be a wonderful gift for high school and university graduates. It can also be used for small groups, as there is a Discussion Guide with study questions at the end of the book.

I just learned that Avery is battling leukemia. I will keep him in my prayers that the Great Physician will touch his body.

This book was provided to me by NavPress for review purposes.


Barbara Ellen Brink said...

What a lovely review. Sounds like it would make a great gift book for graduates this coming Spring.

Andrea Schultz said...

Barbara -

Thanks for stopping by! It is indeed a lovely book - and has a message that resonates! And the easier one learns those lessons, the better off they will be. That's what makes me think it will be great for a grad - or perhaps an even younger person!

Blessings -


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Jackie S. said...

Oh wow, have not heard of Avery in quite a while....when I was in Baptist work, one of his books was a "required" book for study course credit. A friend of mine said she loved that book as much as her Bible!! Great writer, and I am sure this one with his son, is fantastic. Please enter me. Thanks!!!

Jackie S. said...

SOrry, just re-read your review and realize this is NOT a giveaway!
I will check into buying my own copy!

Andrea Schultz said...

Jackie -
No problem! Some are; some aren't!
Glad you like it enough to buy it!
That's neat that you know Avery.
Blessings -

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