Summary: Joshua 1:6-9 calls us to be more Courageous 1) At home, 2) At work and school and 3) In the world. (to expand on the themes of the movie "Courageous")
This past Friday, September 30th, the latest Sherwood Baptist movie project, Courageous, opened at area theatres all around St. Louis and across the nation. I received a Facebook message from FBC, Wright City Pastor Chad Hodges about going to the movie on Saturday afternoon. The group they took yesterday from their church was part of a packed house! It will be interesting to see on Monday if Courageous is the number one movie in box office sales. Wouldn’t that be great if it happens? That would be quite an achievement for a Christian-themed movie, something not achieved since Mel Gibson‘s The Passion of Christ”. But it will be truly historic if it does happen because a non-Hollywood produced movie like Courageous with no famous actors starring in the cast has never been even close to the number one spot for the opening weekend. If it does in fact happen, all I can say is, “to God be the glory!”
Sherwood Baptist Church has shown some serious courage over the past several years in the commitment they have made of financial resources and manpower to produce Christian movies. Had they failed in their attempt to produce life-impacting movies, they would have certainly been ridiculed and considered foolish. But because Sherwood Baptist Church took a courageous “out of the box” risk, God has received great glory and His kingdom is being expanded in ways Sherwood Baptist could never have achieved using more conventional means. Hundreds of thousands of unchurched people have seen their movies. And thousands of them have made commitments to Christ and are active in local churches today.
Why did all this happen? Some cynics would say there were lots of “lucky breaks” Sherwood Baptist benefited from. And there were some amazing things that happened to help Sherwood Baptist be successful in their movie launches. But the long and the short of it is that all these God-honoring and kingdom expanding things happened because the Michael Catt, the pastor of Sherwood Baptist and the staff led their church to faithfully and obediently follow a vision from God in a courageous way.
Just like the chorus of the Casting Crowns theme song for the new movie says, we live in a day when we need to realize, “We were made to be Courageous.” We will not see the church in America have the impact for the Lord it is supposed to have unless there are more pastors, churches and individual followers of Christ willing to step out of their comfort zones in a truly Courageous way, attempting something great for God that will only be successful if God shows up and honors their faith. The American church has “played it safe” far too long. In these challenging days in which we live where Christians and churches are under fire like never before in our history, we do not need to retreat, though it is tempting. We do not need to pull back. Though that might seem to many to be wise. Instead, we need to embrace the fact that “We were made to be Courageous”!
In Joshua 1, Moses’ right hand man, Joshua, now finds himself in charge of the vast Jewish nation on the banks of the Jordan ready to reenter into God’s Promised Land. Listen to what God tells Joshua as He personally prepares Joshua to become the conquering general capable of leading Israel into the Promised Land and leading them to reclaim the now occupied Promised Land from the godless Canaanite nations in their walled cities defeating their ruthless, well-armed and battle-seasoned armies by depending on the power of God.
** Read Joshua 1:1-9 **
It is no accident that three times in these nine verses, v6, v7 and v9 God admonishes Joshua with this phrase, “Be strong and courageous”. God knew this conquest would be a challenge. God knew how inexperienced the armies of Israel were. He knew how frightened they would become if they depended on their own skills to defeat the superior Canaanite armies. If God did not go to battle for them Israel would most certainly fail to reclaim the Promised Land. But, if Joshua could lead them to obey the Lord by becoming a strong and courageous God-fearing general/leader, Israel could have unparalleled success in battle and reclaim much of the land promised to Abraham centuries earlier, just like God said they would. And because Joshua trusted the Lord and followed His divine leadership, that is precisely what happened. The Promised Land was largely conquered and the enemies of Israel conquered or annihilated in accordance to the guidance of God. They had great success because Joshua heeded God’s command to “be strong and courageous”.
In many ways, we stand in a similar place today. For over 200 years, I believe America has been God’s modern day Promised Land. Now I know American Christians have no biblical promise they can point to like Israel did. But I think we can all agree that America has been uniquely blessed by God like no other nation on planet earth because our Forefathers established this nation on the Biblical premises found in God’s Word and Christians have tried to faithfully follow that pattern, at least until the last few decades. Because we have been asleep as watchmen on the wall since the 1950s, we have allowed godless forces to occupy our Promised Land. And unless God raises up lots of visionary Christian leaders and churches willing to “be strong and courageous” by trusting in the strength of God in truly courageous ways, I believe the influence of our Christian nation will be lost.