THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2011
PREPARED TO TAKE ON GOD’S STRENGTH
June 20, 2011
Today’s reading: Psalm 33:12-22
is consistent in His prophetic and guiding word. Through the
years from the crisis of 2007, God has spoken to us strongly,
preparing us for the greater work that is to come. Now, on
the eve of our 30th year, in the same way that He summarized
our CFC history through Isaiah 49:1-6, from where we get our
theme for this year, God now summarizes our themes from 2007
to the present in one psalm. This is God showing us how He
knits together the themes during the crucial restoration years
of 2007 to 2011, affirming to us those critical aspects of
our life and mission that He emphasized in these five years,
and assuring us of His continuing and consistent call.
Our themes for 2007, 2008 and 2009 were hope, joy and trust,
taken from the books of Lamentations, Zephaniah and Isaiah,
respectively. Here they are in the psalm.
“For in God our hearts rejoice; in your holy name
we trust. May your kindness, Lord, be upon us; we have put
our hope in you.” (Ps 33:21-22)
These three virtues are crucial to our life and mission. Properly
understood and lived out, they enable us to weather any storm,
withstand any onslaught, and endure through any oppression.
Mind you, there will be plenty of such challenges, especially
as we continue to assault the dominion of the evil one.
2007 we had the crisis and split. Many thought the “future
(was) lost, all that (they) hoped for from the Lord.”
(Lam 3:18). But God gave us the theme of hope. “My portion
is the Lord, says my soul; therefore will I hope in him.”
(Lam 3:24). No matter how bad things are, no matter how hopeless
the situation seems, we learned that “the favors of
the Lord are not exhausted, his mercies are not spent; they
are renewed each morning, so great is his faithfulness.”
(Lam 3:22-23). Thus we simply prayed and hoped: “Lead
us back to you, O Lord, that we may be restored: give us anew
such days as we had of old.” (Lam 5:21). God heard our
prayers and answered. He raised a remnant, the restored CFC,
now called CFC-FFL.
the first half of 2007, our situation was dire. “The
joy of our hearts has ceased, our dance has turned into mourning”
(Lam 5:15). In an instant, in the second half of 2007, the
Lord turned that around. He turned our mourning into dancing,
and planted joy in our hearts.
And so it was that for the next year, 2008, God gave us the
theme of joy. God had restored CFC to its authentic charism,
through a remnant that had been humbled by the crisis and
that earnestly sought His help. “But I will leave as
a remnant in your midst a people humble and lowly, who shall
take refuge in the name of the Lord.” (Zep 3:12). Suddenly,
from despair there was hope. From grief there was joy. From
lamentations it became celebration. “Shout for joy,
O daughter Zion! sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult
with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!” (Zep 3:14).
more amazingly, it was not only we who rejoiced, it was God
Himself who was rejoicing. “He will rejoice over you
with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully
because of you” (Zep 3:17b). Why was God rejoicing?
Because He was back on track with His eternal plan for CFC.
Because the enemy was not able to destroy CFC as he intended.
Because by raising CFC-FFL, He had restored His authentic
work. God forgave any transgressions we might have made, and
removed those who persisted in their infidelities and veering
away. “On that day you need not be ashamed of all your
deeds, your rebellious actions against me; for then will I
remove from your midst the proud braggarts, and you shall
no longer exalt yourself on my holy mountain.” (Zep
have hope because God can turn our mourning into dancing.
And we have joy because our life and mission are in His hands,
and He is about accomplishing His eternal plan. Whatever is
happening in our lives, if we live our lives according to
God’s ways and commands, we can always have joy.
At the core of our work is Jesus the Savior. He has won salvation
for us on the cross, he continues to save us in this life
from all that would bring us down, and finally he will bring
us to eternal salvation. Our work of evangelization is about
proclaiming the good news of salvation in Jesus. We look to
the salvation of souls.
2007, God reminds us of this. “It is good to hope in
silence for the saving help of the Lord.” (Lam 3:26).
In 2008, God reiterates this. “The Lord, your God, is
in your midst, a mighty savior” (Zep 3:17a). In 2009,
God enables us to affirm the reality. “God indeed is
my savior” (Is 12:2a).
if God indeed is our Savior, we are to trust fully in Him.
And so it was that God gave us our theme of trust. “Behold,
God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid”
(Is 12:2a, RSV). Whatever happens in our life and mission,
no matter what affliction we suffer, no matter how adverse
circumstances might be, however low we are brought down by
the slings and arrows of the enemy, we are simply to trust
God. We trust in His eternal call to us, we trust in His saving
help, we trust in His love by which He withholds no good thing
Now we come to 2010. In that year our theme was “The
Almighty: Just and Righteous is He!” (from Job 37:23).
God is the Creator, the Omnipotent One, on whom everything
depends. The years had been building up to this. In 2007 God
asserts that He is in control. “Who commands, so that
it comes to pass, except the Lord ordains it” (Lam 3:37).
In 2008, God stresses His awesome power. “I have destroyed
nations, their battlements are laid waste” (Zep 3:6a).
In 2009, God ordains that His awesome name is to be proclaimed
to all the nations (Is 12:4-6). Now, in 2010, we simply are
called to marvel at His awesome splendor. “From the
North the splendor comes, surrounding God’s awesome
majesty!” (Job 37:22).
2010, we learned the true meaning of worship. That is very
important, because our very proper posture before the King
of kings is what brings us into the throne room of grace and
enables God to truly form us as His people. We also learned
about redemptive suffering, from the story of Job, and we
were led to joyfully embrace the cross of Christ. If Jesus
is the Savior, and he went to the cross and suffered to win
salvation for us, then, if we are to truly follow him as Master
and Lord, we too should deny ourselves and carry our cross.
a proper understanding of redemptive suffering, together with
the virtues of hope, joy and trust, we can never be brought
down by the enemy. In fact, when things get really rough,
that is when we surge on ahead even more strongly.
The 2010 theme is reiterated in today’s psalm.
“By the Lord’s word the heavens were made; by
the breath of his mouth all their host.” (Ps 33:6).
“Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all who dwell
in the world show reverence.” (Ps 33:8). “The
Lord loves justice and right and fills the earth with goodness.”
Finally we come to 2011. Our theme for this year is “My
God is now my strength!” (Is 49:5). This too is reflected
in today’s psalm, by way of reminding us that our life
and work are not to be accomplished through our human strength.
We need to look to the Lord, who in turn is looking upon those
who are just and righteous and who hope in Him.
king is not saved by a mighty army, nor a warrior delivered
by great strength. Useless is the horse for safely; its
great strength, no sure escape. But the Lord’s eyes
are upon the reverent, upon those who hope for his gracious
help” (Ps 33:16-18).
fact, this theme has also been building up through the years.
In 2007, God warns us that He cuts down even His beloved people
as they have relied on their own strength. “He broke
off, in fiery wrath, the horn that was Israel’s whole
strength.” (Lam 2:3a). In 2008, God avers that His power
is greater than those of the nations. “I have destroyed
nations, their battlements are laid waste.” (Zep 3:6a).
In 2009, we learned to look to God for our strength. “My
strength and my courage is the Lord, and he has been my savior.”
(Is 12:2b). In 2010, God Himself speaks about His power and
strength. “Have you an arm like that of God, or can
you thunder with a voice like his?” (Job 40:9). God
affirms that the strength of a war horse (Job 39:19), Behemoth
(Job 40:16) and Leviathan (Job 41:4) only came from Him.
So today, on the eve of our 30th year, God reminds us of what
He has been teaching us over the crucial four years of restoration,
through the themes over five years. We will do well to learn
and re-learn all the lessons, including the lessons of Lamentations
and the lessons of Job.
lessons are meant to form God’s people, who will relate
to Him as Almighty God and Savior. The lessons are intended
to prepare His people for the all-important work of this third
millennium. This is the work of evangelization and mission.
And this work is to proclaim the glory of God.
2007, we acknowledged who God is, the King of kings. “You,
O Lord, are enthroned forever; your throne stands from age
to age.” (Lam 5:19). In 2008, God avers why He raises
up a people to serve Him, “that they all may call upon
the name of the Lord, to serve him with one accord.”
(Zep 3:9b). In 2009, the prophet Isaiah brings these two together,
stating that God’s people proclaim God to the world
so that they will give praise to Him. “Give thanks to
the Lord, acclaim his name; among the nations make known his
deeds, proclaim how exalted is his name. Sing praise to the
Lord for his glorious achievement; let this be known throughout
all the earth.” (Is 12:4-5). In 2010, we were given
the opportunity to look even deeper into who God is, with
the end result that humankind would give Him what is His due.
“The Almighty! we cannot discover him, pre-eminent in
power and judgment; his great justice owes no one an accounting.
Therefore men revere him” (Job 37:23-24a).
Here we are now, in the middle of 2011, with the lessons of
the past hopefully learned (though it is a continuing learning
and growing in God’s wisdom), with the prospects for
the future bright. And God has brought us to our present theme
and its context in a passage from Isaiah.
reiterates the call and the mission. “I will make you
a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the
ends of the earth.” (Is 49:6b). We have been through
a lot, and all we have been through has been part of God’s
formation. God raised CFC in 1981, restored CFC-FFL in 2007,
but that is yet too little (Is 49:6a). We are God’s
servant, and in doing His divine work, His glory will be shown
through us (Is 49:3). When that happens, then we too will
be “made glorious in the sight of the Lord” (Is
learning the lessons God has taught, in understanding and
accepting the call and mission, in living out the virtues
of hope, joy and trust, in looking to awe of God, worship
and redemptive suffering, we are now ready to look to what
is beyond our 30th year. And we can confidently and joyfully
do so, knowing that “(our) God is now (our) strength!”
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