Courageous is a word that came into its own in 2011 because of the movie by the same name. The film, produced by a Georgia Baptist church, captures what happens when tragedy hits home and law enforcement officers grapple with hope, fear, faith and fathering.
"Courageous" very well describes the efforts of law enforcement and fire officials who protect the citizens of our nation daily. It also accurately describes our military personnel who serve internationally to protect not only our freedom, but the freedom of others around the globe. Courageous certainly describes the ministry of many missionaries who work in dangerous areas throughout the world for the cause of Christ.
When Joshua and the Israelites were preparing to cross the Jordan to enter the Promised Land, uncertainty, danger and crisis were ahead. But scripture records God's exhortation in Joshua 1:5b-9: "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous Ö . Haven't I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
As we begin a new year, the fear of yesterday can creep up and paralyze us. The pain of 2011, like a ghostly shadow, appears in front of us and we are afraid to move beyond it.
Many times we falter and fail to move ahead because of the actions of others. We look for help from organizations and decision makers, forgetting that our God is still with us. He is the one who calls us to be courageous, to move forward in faith to do His work and His will. Just as the Lord encouraged Joshua to move forward in conquering the Land of Canaan, let me encourage you to rely on Him as you move forward in whatever mission to which God calls you in 2012.
Individuals and churches alike need to move ahead in the ministry of reconciling this world to our mighty and everlasting God. Let's put our faith in Him this year, not in organizations or others. Hebrews records that our Savior, Jesus, is superior in every way.
My prayer for California Southern Baptists in 2012 is Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight."
Let's be courageous this year in leaning on the Lord to direct us so we might tell 33 million unsaved Californians how they can come to know Him as Lord and Savior.