THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2011
September 19, 2010
theme for 2011 is:
“my God is now my strength!” (Isaiah 49:5)
The significance of the year 2011
The year 2011 is an important milestone in the life and mission
of CFC-FFL. The year encompasses the last six months of our
30th year, and the first six months of the start of our 31st
year. Jesus started his public ministry when he was about
30 years old (Lk 3:23). Everything before that was preparation
for his momentous work of winning salvation for humanity.
in like manner, what we have been through for 30 years (up
to June 2011), with all its ups and downs, including the crisis
and split of 2007, can be considered part of God’s formation
of His instrument, preparing us for the explosive work beyond
Further, CFC started in the Philippines and has spread throughout
the world. It is not a Filipino movement that incidentally
has other nationalities among its members. Rather, it is an
international movement that only incidentally started in the
Philippines. According to the progressive plan of God, He
intended this movement of renewal to encompass many nations,
races, peoples and tongues (Rev 7:9). That has already happened,
but will intensify even more.
selection is a mystery. God chose a slave people in Egypt
to become His very own people. In like manner, God chose the
Philippines to be the birthplace of CFC. He has used Filipinos
to establish and expand CFC in many different countries throughout
the world. Now, according to the progression of God’s
plan, we have brethren of many different nationalities who
have taken up the life and mission of CFC-FFL. God’s
plan for CFC continues to unfold.
Philippines, having been the only Christian nation in Asia
before the emergence of Timor Leste, has been cited as having
a prophetic role to be God’s light in Asia. But with
the increasing secularism in the west and many countries,
with the growth of the Filipino diaspora throughout the world,
with the expansion of CFC-FFL, the role of the Philippines
has been expanded to its being light to the world. All disciples
of Christ are of course called upon to be a light to the world,
and this role is applicable to all nations that profess Christ
and proclaim his good news of salvation. But clearly, the
Philippines has a distinctive role.
also see that the Philippines is one of the last bastions
of faith, family and life. The warfare of the third millennium
centers on the assaults against family and life. Many nations,
including so-called Christian nations, including in fact those
who were missionary nations that spread the faith (mostly
in Europe), have become secular humanist. Most nations today
have legalized abortion and divorce, and are moving forward
with such abominations as same-sex marriage. In this third
millennium, the Philippines will be the concerted target of
these anti-life, anti-family, homosexualist forces.
is in this light that we see the strategic importance of the
Philippines in the overall plan of God. Now Christianity was
established in the Philippine by Spain in March of 1521. In
March of 2021 the Philippines will be celebrating 500 years
of Christianity. That will indeed be a milestone. But what
kind of nation will it be? Would it by then have succumbed
to the attacks of the enemy forces, or would it shine even
more brightly as God’s light to the world?
The decade from 2011 to 2021 will witness intense spiritual
warfare in the Philippines. The enemy will go all out to destroy
this last bastion of family and life. But God will also provide
the grace and the strength of the Holy Spirit that is needed
to withstand the assault and to emerge victorious. This decade
can be a time of abundant grace.
has always been the case throughout salvation history, as
the spiritual warfare between God and Satan is played out
in the heavens and on earth, the result depends on how God’s
people act. Jesus has already won the victory on the cross,
and will ultimately, at the end of time, return as the victorious
King. In the meantime, the war rages. The war has already
been won, but battles can still be lost.
the midst of this intense conflict CFC-FFL finds itself. We
are God’s army. On our work, as well as the work of
other religious groups and movements, depends the outcome
of the battle of this crucial decade in this nation.
Thus we see how important 2011 will be. It inaugurates the
decade of grace leading up to the 500th anniversary of Christianity
in the Philippines. It marks the end of an intense 30-year
formation and preparation for CFC-FFL, and thrusts us decisively
into the final conflict.
The significance of the theme verse from Isaiah
The theme for 2011 is taken from a particular part of a particular
verse, in this case, the last part of verse 5 of chapter 49
of the book of Isaiah. The whole verse itself is instructive.
“For now the Lord has spoken who formed me as his
servant from the womb, that Jacob may be brought back to
him and Israel gathered to him; and I am made glorious in
the sight of the Lord, and my God is now my strength!”
Remember that in June of 2011, we will be looking back on
30 years of life and work, and we will be looking forward
to what comes after.
verse speaks about our experience. First, it is about God’s
eternal plan, to use us as His servant and instrument in order
to accomplish His purposes for the world. Indeed, for 25 years,
God used CFC in the power of His Spirit. Second, it speaks
about the crisis of 2007 and the split, caused by our veering
away and our infidelities. God then raised a remnant, gathering
us and bringing us back to Himself. God has restored the authentic
CFC, now CFC-FFL, living out its authentic charism. Third,
God intends to use us, according to His eternal plan, to do
such glorious work that will greatly help in the accomplishment
of His plan for the life of the world.
The above is reinforced by verse 6.
is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise
up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation
may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Is 49:6)
we have three key words, all staring with the letter R. These
words are raise, restore
God raised CFC in 1981, to become His people and to be His
instruments of renewal. Second, God restored CFC in 2007.
Satan almost succeeded in destroying CFC. But God’s
plan will not be thwarted. He has restored the survivors as
a remnant, now CFC-FFL, according to His original design.
Third, He will use CFC-FFL to reach to the ends of the earth,
His original intent for CFC. We are to proclaim Christ and
the gospel of salvation through a massive work of evangelization
throughout the world.
interesting and meaningful aspect is that the three R’s
are the work of the Trinity. It is God the Father who has
His eternal plan and who raised CFC according to His purpose.
It is Jesus, God the Son, who restores. By his death and resurrection,
thereby winning salvation for all, Jesus restores us to our
relationship with the Father. And it is Jesus, whose name
we carry as CFC-FFL, who restores the authentic charism of
CFC by establishing his holy remnant. Finally, it is God the
Holy Spirit who uses us to reach the ends of the earth. The
Spirit anoints and empower us as we do our mission.
Notice that verses 5 and 6 basically say the same things.
Now wedged right between those two verses is our theme. “My
God is now my strength!” This is the pivot point. This
is the key to God’s plan for CFC-FFL.
The significance of larger context of Isaiah
As we have experienced before, such as in the theme for 2007
coming from the book of Lamentations, or the theme for 2010
coming from the book of Job, God often also desires to teach
us many things that come from the larger context in which
our theme verse is situated.
we will not be looking to the whole of the book of Isaiah,
but to those verses connected with our theme verse. These
are Isaiah 49:1-7.
there is constant referral to God’s plan for us, which
forms our destiny. Verse 1: “The Lord called me from
birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.”
Verse 5: “the Lord .... formed me as his servant from
the womb.” To be given one’s name is to be designated
for a particular purpose or mission. The foundation of our
life and work is God’s purpose and intent for us. We
are just instruments. We need to know who we are and why God
raised us, and then faithfully live out our calling.
God reminds us of what He can do with faithful instruments
acting according to His plan. Verse 2: “He made of me
a sharp-edged sword .... He made me a polished arrow.”
We were, and are, to proclaim the word of God and the gospel
of salvation in the power of the Holy Spirit. We would be
His effective instruments to touch the lives of people in
a profound and radical way, penetrating soul and spirit, joints
and marrow, reflections and thoughts (Heb 4:12).
unfortunately we veered away from God’s plan and became
unfaithful to His call. Thus we became easy prey for Satan,
who desires to destroy us, knowing what God intends to accomplish
through us. He almost succeeded in 2007. But God will not
be thwarted. So out of the crisis and split, He raised a remnant.
He restored CFC to His original plan. Verse 5: “That
Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him.”
Verse 6: “restore the survivors of Israel.”
now that we have been restored, we are called to be a holy
remnant. Verse 7: The Lord is “the redeemer and the
Holy One of Israel.” As God is holy, as Jesus tells
us to follow in his footsteps, so we too are to be holy (1
Pet 1:15-16). If we are to do the work of a holy God, then
we need to take on His image and likeness. If we are to be
witnesses to the ends of the earth, then we need to be like
if we then are able to become the instruments that God can
use, then use us He will. Remember that God is about the work
of redeeming all of humanity, but has decided to use human
instruments to accomplish His purpose. If we are those instruments,
God will certainly use us. Thus according to the plan of God,
He raised CFC in 1981, He restored CFC-FFL in 2007, and He
will use CFC-FFL in the power of His Spirit to bring the gospel
to the ends of the earth. Verse 6: it is not just about raising
and restoring (that is “too little”), but God
intends much greater things. “I will make you a light
to the nations, that my salvation may reach the ends of the
when that happens, then God’s glory will shine forth
through CFC-FFL (and hopefully through the Philippines). Verse
5: God’s eternal plan for CFC and His restoration of
CFC-FFL will make His instrument “glorious in the sight
of the Lord.” How else could it be? If we do God’s
very own work, if we carry the very image of our Lord Jesus,
if we are witnesses in the power of the Spirit, then we reflect
God’s own glory. Verse 3: God uses CFC-FFL as His servant,
“through whom I show my glory.”
Wow! That is quite a calling! It is challenging. It is intimidating.
do we respond?
first, we need to know our place. We have a call to do a great
work, and in doing so, will be glorious in the sight of God,
as well as that of the world. But we never forget that we
are just instruments. Without God we are nothing. Anything
we are able to accomplish for Him is just due to His grace,
empowerment and blessing.
other words, we are mere servants. Verse 3: “You are
my servant.” That is our call. That is what will allow
our destiny to unfold according to God’s intent. Verse
5: God “formed me as his servant from the womb.”
As long as we remain faithful to our call, and become who
we are meant to become, then God will use us powerfully.
we just work as servants, leaving the fruit of our work up
to God (1 Cor 3:6). In this regard, we can endure hardships,
disappointments, seeming setbacks, oppression, persecution,
affliction, pain, suffering. We never lose sight of our divine
calling. We have learned through 30 years that it will not
all be blessings, though there will be lots of that, but that
there will be the pain as well. But in fact, even the suffering
and pain have become blessings, and we can even rejoice in
them. Ultimately, what matters is our eternal reward. It is
the crown of righteousness that awaits us (2 Tim 4:8). Our
reward is eternal life with God in heaven. Verse 4: “Though
I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly,
spent my strength, yet my reward is with the Lord, my recompense
is with my God.” All the pain and disappointments, including
the crisis of 2007, are not for naught. They are all part
of our formation. All our toil, for the sake of Christ, will
never be in vain.
we look to God for our strength.
Now our theme for 2011
“My God is now my strength!”
of course has always been our strength. But NOW (that is,
by 2011), we understand more what this means, honed through
the experience of 30 years. And understanding it better, we
will be better able to live out this fundamental reality.
Jesus says: “without me you can do nothing.” (Jn
15:5). But of course. We are doing God’s work. We are
mere instruments. It is God who makes us effective, who provides
what we need, who defeats Satan whom we on our own cannot
defeat. If we are branches cut off from the vine, we will
simply wither and die.
it is not only the negative aspect of being cut off from the
vine. It is also the positive aspect of becoming fruitful
if we are intimately connected to the vine, drawing life from
Jesus. We will bear much fruit! Our work after all is about
the very salvation of people. It is about the very plan of
God. It is about the very good news of salvation won by Jesus
on the cross. It is about the desire of God to have His people
with Him eternally in heaven. It is about glorious work in
God can accomplish that work. But in the mystery of God’s
plan, we, and all disciples of Jesus, have been entrusted
with that work. God has made Himself dependent upon us!
can we accomplish such divine work? It can only happen if
our God is now our strength.
When we veer away, when we are unfaithful, then we in effect
are acting in our own strength. That is the sure formula for
it is not only such negative things that we do, but also if
we fail to live out the positive things that we are called
to do. We are called to be holy as God is holy, to be perfect
as the heavenly Father is perfect, to deny ourselves and to
take up our crosses, to follow in the footsteps of Jesus,
to be docile to the Holy Spirit, to leave all for God and
to give all to God, to love as Jesus loves.
other words, we can only become God’s truly effective
instruments if we know and live out the reality that our God
is now our strength. It is not about us, it is all about God.
We are nothing, but by God’s mysterious workings, have
become something, the very instruments of God for His purposes.
When we become more and more like God, then His strength becomes
The challenges will certainly continue. In fact, they will
intensify. There will be times where we will be tempted to
give up or to lie low. There will be times when we will become
confused or unsure of God’s call. The enemy will continue
to attack, even more intensely. The world will continue to
lure us, relying on the weakness of our sinful flesh.
These are times when we cling to God even more. And even like
Job, when we cannot understand God’s ways, when we become
prone to complaining, when we become bitter, we just look
to the awesome majesty of God, and the mystery of His having
called and raised us. Then we thank and praise Him, and rejoice
even in affliction. We trust in Jesus. We have the conviction,
born of 30 years, that God will never abandon us. In fact,
He favors us, chooses us, depends on us. We can truly say:
“I have the strength for everything through him who
empowers me.” (Phil 4:13).
Before Jesus finally started his public ministry at about
age 30, he “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him.” (Lk 2:40).
2011, CFC-FFL will be 30 years old. Hopefully we have become
wiser through the years, especially learning the lessons that
come through lamentations and affliction. Hopefully the favor
of God still rests on us, as His holy remnant, living out
the authentic charism, life and mission of CFC. We have gained
strength through the years, only to see ourselves falter and
fall on occasions. But God revives, raises and restores us,
and still intends to use us according to His original intent.
has done all He can for us. Now, as ever, it is up to us to
the past in mind and all the lessons that come with the years,
with the future in sight according to the vision given us,
with the present being lived out in fidelity to our covenant,
may we all enjoy God’s favor, and may God continue to
use us according to His eternal plan, as each and every one
of us exclaims:
God is now my strength!
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