Fearless and Faithful: The Power of Taking a Stand
By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com Program Director
CBN.com - For the last several years, Pastor Michael Catt has found himself in a very unique position. In addition to leading the vibrant Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, Michael has also had a different sort of role; one that has stretched and challenged him to be extraordinarily faithful and fearless. For you see, he is also the executive producer of acclaimed movies like Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and the soon to be released Courageous (opening this Friday).
It is through this journey that Michael has discovered just how important it is to take a faithful and fearless stand in so many areas of life. In his latest book, Courageous Living, Michael offers a close look at biblical themes and characters that inspired the new film.
CBN.com Program Director Chris Carpenter recently sat down with Michael to discuss people of the Bible who displayed great courage, what it takes to be courageous in our walk of life, and why it is important for Christians to ‘push back’ against the culture.
This is a question straight from the introduction of your book. Why do people need to read this book, and why did you have to write it?
I felt like we're so overwhelmed with fear in our culture. We're afraid of the economy. We're afraid of the future. We're afraid we're not going to have anything for retirement. Healthcare, you name the issue, and the news has so bombarded us with bad news that people are fearful, and how do we as believers stand up and say, “It’s time to draw the line in the sand and say, ‘We’re going to push back. We're not going to let the darkness rule over us. We're going to turn the light on. We're going to go into the culture, and we're going to take a stand in our church, in our home, in our community and do what we can. We may not be able to change everything, but we can change some things.’”
Can anyone be courageous, or do you have to be born with that? Do you need to have that quality inherent in you or in your gene pool?
I think some people have it. They have a boldness about them. They steal all the toys in the church nursery. I think some people have it, but when I look at the Bible I see courageous people. When I look at some of the soldiers that we talk about in wars, whether it's World War I, II, Civil War, or Afghanistan, they're common people. They went to high school. They played ball. They weren't the valedictorians. They're just common people, but a moment came when they said, “I've got to take a stand, here, even if it costs me my life.”
You write about many people from the Bible who are classified as courageous. In reading through the book it seems that you focused in on some of the different heroes, in different chapters. For example, Abraham. Tell me why he is courageous?
If you read archaeologists and understand the time in which Abraham lived, it was a very advanced culture. We talk a lot about Egypt, but the land of Ur was incredibly developed with homes, huge homes, 4,000 to 5,000 square foot homes great advancements in technology, and building and everything else. And out of that God says to a man, “Get up and go. I’m not telling you where.” But he went, not knowing where he was going. You think of the difference. All of our lives are affected by Abraham. God made a covenant with Abraham. He is acknowledged by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. So one guy made a decision that on multiple different levels impacted the world, because he got up and he went. The only time he ever lost courage, he got in trouble. He went to Egypt when he should have depended on the Lord. But the whole picture of Abraham’s life, to me, is a life of courage. If God told you, God told me, take your son, your only son up to an altar and kill him. How many could do that?
Jesus is obviously the most courageous person to ever walk this earth. Could you give me a little insight on why He is courageous?
He laid aside his life to die for us. I look at Jesus, and I see in Him, in his earthly ministry, something that we desperately need in the Church. We need to call dead religion into account. We need to call dead, Pharisaical rules and regulations into account, because most churches are dead or dying. And we need the life of Jesus, that kind of courage to say, “Let's get back to what made the church dynamic in the first century.” Let's get back to Acts Chapter 2. They were closer to reaching the world 100 years after the death of Christ than we are with all the technology we've got. Why? Because they did not fear. And where did that come from? They had walked with Jesus.
When you were writing this book, did you see a common thread in each one of these heroes of the Bible that led them to be courageous?
With some of them, it was always a crisis. I think you don't know you're courageous until you have to be, and whether it's in a battle, in the heat of a battle, or in a tragic event in your family, or whatever it is, it was a crisis moment, and they could decide to shrink back or to step up. And I think crisis shows who we really are. It shows where your faith is, who you're putting your faith in. You know, in the times we live in now with the economic crisis and the fear, what's going to happen to our country? And all these natural disasters and everything else that we have no control over. You know, it's going to show who we're really trusting in. Are we trusting in religion that we've created in our own minds? Or is our faith that Christ is our source and our sufficiency for what we do?
Is there any one thing or common thing that you find in maybe researching this book that can keep someone from becoming courageous? Is there something that can pull you down and never let you go to that place?
I think that one of the things that I see, because I do pastors' conferences, and I do a lot of leadership kind of things, and a common theme is the fear of man. I'm worried about what people are going to think about me, how I'm going to be received. I'm never going to get to the cool kids' table if I take a stand. I could lose my job. You know, they could fire me. I've been fired twice in my ministry, in youth ministry, when I did it for 15 years. And I tell people, "You know, it's not that bad, because in reality, you had enough conviction to stand up for what you believed in." And they were tough. I didn't enjoy it. I wouldn't choose to do it again. But at the end of the day, when we stand before a holy God, are we really going to want to say to Him, "Well, I was afraid of those three guys in my church that told me that they'd give me a hard time," or do we want to speak the truth? Now, you can do it in love, but you've got to speak the truth, because everybody is trying to marginalize the Church. They're trying to push us to the edge. They don't want us to have a voice. They don't want you to speak strongly. They want you to shift with the tide. You know, first, they didn't want us to be on certain moral issues, and now it's other moral issues that they don't want us to speak on. They don't want us to have a say in the culture. And I think if we don't do it now, shame on us.
Changing gears, your church (Sherwood Baptist Church) has produced another movie called Courageous. Facing the Giants and Fireproof were incredibly successful beyond expectation. What are your greatest hopes and dreams for the new movie?
You know, we've done what God told us to do. We've made a movie. We're telling the story. We're asking people to partner with us. We're asking people to believe in the message and to get out on opening weekend on September 30th and to be there. Hollywood judges everything by opening weekend. You want to go to the movie, a teenager wants to go see a movie. I'm hoping that it impacts the next generation. I'm hoping that it makes some dads that are not really where they need to be walk out of that movie theater and say, "You know, I need to apologize to my kids. I need to tell them I'm not going to be a perfect dad, but I'm going to be a better dad than I've been."
After people have read Courageous Living, as an author, what do you want your readers to learn, to take away from the book and apply to their lives?
One of the things I would hope is it would inspire some moms and dads to say, you know, "How do I need to pray for my child to be courageous? I've got a child and because they're—you know, they wear glasses in the first grade, or they're overweight as a middle-schooler, or whatever, they get picked on, so I want to teach them to be like Nehemiah, how to handle their critics. How do you handle critics?" You rise above them. You know, I want my teenagers to hear me say, "As for me and my house, we'll serve the Lord." Now, one of the things I say in the book is Joshua didn't ask his teenagers to vote on that. He just said, "This is what our family is going to be." I want families to wrestle with how do we apply this to our lives? You know, I think they can connect dots that apply to them. I think courage is a real need of this day. I'm seeing that with men in our church. About six or eight years ago, I realized that everybody that was a key leader and influencer was an older man. And I told the staff, if we don't get some younger guys in we’re in trouble. So we became intentional of trying to start training up 20 and 30-year-olds. And now on Sundays, when I give the invitation, it's not uncommon at all that I see a man bring his eight-year-old boy down. I'll see a dad go get his daughter out of the youth group, and they come down to the altar, and they pray. These guys are leading. They're not following. The wives are not doing it while they're standing back there with their arms folded. These men are leading, because I think you draw the man out of them.
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