Report of the Presbytery – David Cash
Testimony – Patrick Germain
GOOD MORNING CHURCH. MY NAME IS PATRICK GERMAIN. I WAS BORN IN PORT AU PRINCE HAITI. I AM NOT FROM A CHRISTIAN HOME — MY PARENTS WERE NOT CHRISTIAN, BUT THEY SENT ME TO A SCHOOL RUN BY THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH. THERE I RECEIVED MY BASIC EDUCATION, LEARNED ABOUT JESUS, AND RECEIVED FOUR OUT OF WHAT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH CALLS “THE SEVEN HOLY SACRAMENTS”. THE SACRAMENTS I RECEIVED WERE BAPTISM, CONFIRMATION, HOLY COMMUNION, AND CONFESSION.
I SPENT THE FIRST 19 YEARS OF MY LIFE IN HAITI BEFORE COMING TO THE UNITED STATES IN 1988. I SPENT THE NEXT TEN YEARS LISTENING TO MISSIONARIES FROM DIFFERENT FAITHS SUCH AS MOMMON, JEHOVAH WITNESS, BAPTIST, AND OTHERS.
AROUND 1998 AFTER SPENDING MONTHS DEBATING RELIGION WITH MY COWORKER CHRISTIAN FRIEND GARY, GOD OPENED MY EYES AND MADE ME SEE THAT I NEEDED TO BE BORN AGAIN; IT WAS NOT ENOUGH TO KNOW ABOUT HIM, BUT TO KNOW HIM. SO I NEEDED TO BE SAVED. MY FRIEND LED ME THROUGH A PRAYER OF FAITH IN WHICH I ASKED JESUS INTO MY LIFE AS SAVIOR AND LORD, AND HE THEN PRAYED OVER ME. WITHOUT ANY DELAY, I FOUND A CHURCH HOME, BRIGHT LIGHT BAPTIST CHURCH IN TAKOMA PARK MD WHERE I WAS BAPTIZED THROUGH FULL IMMERSION IN WATER.
SUDDENLY, PEOPLE AROUND ME NOTICED A DIFFERENCE IN ME. MY ANGER ISSUES WERE GONE, AND I BECAME MORE GENTLE, KIND, AND LOVING.
THROUGH THE YEARS I HAVE MOVED WITHIN MARYLAND TO DIFFERENT COUNTIES AND HAVE ALWAYS LOOKED FOR A GOOD BAPTIST CHURCH, SUCH AS REDLAND TO ATTEND AND MAKE MY HOME CHURCH. WITH EVERY DECISION I MAKE, I ATTEMPT TO PUT GOD FIRST IN MY LIFE; MY WIFE AND MY CHILDREN CLEARLY UNDERSTAND.
THIS OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE AS A DEACON, CAME LAST YEAR BUT I DID NOT THINK THAT I WAS READY. HOWEVER, GOD HAS PREPARED ME FOR THIS MINISTRY FOR THE PAST 365 PLUS DAYS. SO I HAVE NO EXCUSES. I AM READY TO SERVE. THERE IS A LOT OF WORK THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE IN OUR COMMUNITY AND IN OUR CHURCH. I AM READY TO SERVE
THANK YOU, MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALL.
Charge to the Candidate – Mark Adams
John 13: 14 – Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.
15 – I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
The motto for policemen—first adopted by the LAPD and then embraced by police forces all over our nation—-is this: “To protect and SERVE.” It’s engraved on badges like this one. I realize there are too many examples in the news these days of policeman who seem to have FORGOTTEN this motto—but a couple years ago I came across the story of an officer who DID live up to what was engraved on his badge. In 2012, on a cold November night in Times Square, NYPD Officer Lawrence DePrimo was working a counterterrorism post when he encountered an older, barefooted homeless man. The police officer, who is normally assigned to different section of New York City, said, “I looked over and someone was laughing at this elderly [homeless] gentleman who had no socks (and) no shoes. You could see the blisters on his feet from a distance. I had two pairs of socks and I was still cold”
So, Officer DePrimo asked the man if he had anything to cover his feet and the man said, “It’s okay, Sir, I’ve never had a pair of shoes, but God bless you.” As the homeless man strolled away, DePrimo caught up to him and asked him his shoe size before walking into a Skechers on W. 42nd St. DiPrimo told a worker, “I’d like to buy a pair of boots, something that will last a while. I don’t care what the price is.” As you can see in this picture, a few minutes later, the kindhearted cop bought a $100 pair of all-weather boots, size 12. A store manager later said, “We were just kind of shocked. Most of us are New Yorkers and we just kind of pass by that kind of thing—especially in this neighborhood.”
The act of kindness would have gone unnoticed and mostly forgotten, had it not been for Jennifer Foster, a tourist from Arizona. Foster said, “The officer expected NOTHING in return and did not know I was watching.” Her snapshot, taken with her cellphone—was posted to the NYPD’s official Facebook pate and it made Officer DePrimo an overnight Internet hero. As of June, 2014, her post had attracted over 600,000 “likes” and more than 48,000 comments—a runaway hit for the NYPD. One of the many people who commented said, that this simple act of kindness has “restored my faith in humanity.” As I said, this policeman definitely lived up to the motto that was on his badge.
I share this story Patrick, because you are being given a red name tag that will identify you as a DEACON—one called to PROTECT the unity of this church as you SERVE its members. And this morning we are charging you to live up to that title—even if you’re not wearing it. Now—please don’t take my comments as critical. In fact, you’ve been chosen to SERVE and PROTECT as a deacon primarily because we already admire your walk with our Lord. And we have every confidence that you will continue to be a great example for us all to follow.
By the way, we should all remember that this expectation of a high standard of behavior for deacons is nothing new. In fact, the very first deacons were chosen precisely because they were known to be good ROLE MODELS. Acts 6:3 tells us that deacons were individuals who were, “…known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.” 1st Timothy 3:8 says they were, “worthy of respect, sincere individuals” — people who were known not to “pursue dishonest gain.”
So deacons have always been expected to set a good example when it comes to spiritual maturity and personal integrity things like that—but as we know here at Redland the MAIN characteristic that should be seen in any deacon is a SERVANT attitude. In fact, this word “deacon” that we transliterate from the Greek, “diakonos” literally means “servant.” So, Patrick you are primarily being commissioned to be an example for all of us in the way you SERVE others.
And the fact is we need servant role models to follow these days because a genuine servant mind set is so very rare in our fallen world. Rick Warren writes, “The world defines greatness in terms of power, possessions, prestige, and position. If you can demand service from others, you’ve arrived. In our self-serving culture with its me-first mentality, acting like a servant is not a popular concept.”
Now the reason being a servant is NOT popular is because it is so contrary to our inborn selfish sinful nature. In our minds we all have the tendency to yearn to be FIRST not LAST. We want to BE served not TO serve. As Bill Hybels says, “In each human heart is a built-in mechanism that craves self-promotion and advancement.” Well, Jesus taught that in His kingdom true greatness is not a measure of self-WILL but rather self-ABANDONMENT. Our Lord said that the more you LOSE the more you GAIN. The last shall be first and the first shall be last. Our Lord taught that the truly great people the people we should admire and emulate are those who humble themselves and serve others. In His kingdom, servanthood is deemed a VIRTUE not a PUNISHMENT. In Matthew 20:26-7 our Lord put it this way, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Patrick this morning I want to briefly cite four very basic characteristics of true Christian servants—-qualities that we expect our deacons to exemplify. And as I review them I want to us all to understand that being a servant is not something that should be limited to people who hold the office of deacon. In Galatians 5:13-14 Paul reminds us that ALL Christians are to “serve one another in love.” He goes on to say, “The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” So I want EVERYONE to listen this morning —not just Patrick. He and all our deacons are to set the example but it is an example is meant to be FOLLOWED! By the way, these characteristics of servants are found in Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose-Driven Life on days 33 and 34—so this will be a review for many of us who have studied that book.
(1) First, genuine Christian servants think of ministry as an OPPORTUNITY more than an OBLIGATION.
They actually ENJOY helping people in Jesus’ name. They obey Psalm 100:2 and “serve the Lord with gladness” because experience has taught them the joy that ministering to others brings. They are like the poverty-stricken Christians in the church in Macedonia who sincerely wanted to give to help the believers in Jerusalem. Remember? In 2nd Corinthians 8:3-4 Paul said,
“I can testify that the Macedonians [gave] because they wanted to, and not because of any nagging on my part. They begged us to take the money so they could share in the joy of helping.” Christlike servants like these Macedonians love to serve—because they know that when they see a need what they are really seeing is a chance to join God in His work—a chance to do things that literally make an eternal difference. So, when they see someone who is hurting or lonely, they seize the moment and work to help that person. In this way they obey the teaching of Galatians 6:10 where it says, “Whenever we have the opportunity, we have to do what is good for everyone, especially for the family of believers.”
In his classic book, A Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster distinguishes between genuine Christ-like service and what he calls “self-righteous service.” He says, “Self-righteous service is temporary. It functions only while the specific acts of service are being performed. Having served it can rest easy. True service is a life-style. It acts from ingrained patterns of living. It springs spontaneously to meet human need.”
And Foster is correct! Genuine Christian servants love to serve so they are ALWAYS on the lookout—always sensitive to need seeing it as an opportunity to further the Kingdom of God.
John Wesley is a good example of this principle. His motto in life was, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.” That’s true greatness—always eagerly looking for opportunities to help others.
So Patrick as you minister to the families that are assigned to you I charge you to follow the teaching of 1st Peter 5:2-3 where it says, “Shepherd the flock among you, not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God, and not for sordid gain but with eagerness; not yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.”
(2) A second basic principle is this: Servants think more about OTHERS than they do about THEMSELVES.
They understand and obey the teaching of Philippians 2 where it says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” In other words, their attitude is to be self-LESS rather than self-ISH. As Andrew Murray once put it, “The humble person is not one who thinks meanly of himself; he simply does not think of himself at all.”
In June of last year Oscar nominated actress Amy Adams was boarding a flight Friday from Detroit to Los Angeles where she was shooting a new movie. Adams noticed an American soldier being seated in coach. She decided to DO something that she’s always just THOUGHT about doing. Jemele Hill, a reporter for ESPN and a fellow first class passenger, witnessed Adams quietly asking the airline crew permission to switch seats with the soldier, whom she didn’t know. Adams moved back to coach, and the surprised soldier, who didn’t know who his benefactor was, moved up to first class. Hill immediately got the word out on Twitter, and after their arrival in L.A. Adams told reporters, “I didn’t do it for attention for myself. I did it for attention for the troops.”
Like Ms. Adams genuine servants are humble in that they are self-forgetful. They understand what it means to “lose their lives” in service to others. Rick Warren puts it this way, “You can’t be a servant if you’re full of yourself. It’s only when we forget ourselves that we do the things that deserve to be remembered.” In other words, Christian servants don’t promote or call attention to themselves. They are more than content to know that only God sees the way they serve others. As Paul put it in Galatians 1:10, “If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Foster says, “Self-righteous service requires external rewards. It needs to know that people see and appreciate the effort. It seeks human applause. True service is not like that. It rests contented in hiddenness. The divine nod of approval is completely sufficient.”
We should all remember that serving in order to be seen—serving to impress people—was the sin of the Pharisees. They turned helping others, giving, and even prayer into a PERFORMANCE. Jesus hated this attitude and warned “When you do good deeds, don’t try to show off. If you do, you won’t get a reward from your Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 6:1) Genuine servants—the kind we should all emulate—know this so they don’t serve for the approval and applause of others. They live for an audience of One.
(3) A third characteristic of Christian servants is this they do EVERY task with EQUAL DEDICATION.
WHEN-ever they serve, HOW-ever they serve, they follow the command in Colossians 3:23 and “do it with ALL their heart.” They work this way because in their way of thinking, the size of the task is irrelevant—so they gladly serve even in MUNDANE ways. And once again they follow the example of the Son of God Himself Who specialized in menial tasks that everyone tried to avoid—washing the dirty feet of His disciples, helping children, fixing breakfast, and serving lepers. Nothing was beneath Jesus Christ God in the flesh the Creator and Redeemer of this world. Foster says, “Self-righteous service is impressed with the ‘big deal.’ It enjoys serving when the service is titanic. But, true service finds it almost impossible to distinguish the small from the large service.”
Patrick, serving your families will often involve small things like sending a birthday card or even hidden things like praying for your families without telling anyone. When you do these things remember that, as Warren writes, “Small tasks often show a big heart. Your servant’s heart is revealed in little acts that others don’t think of doing. Great opportunities often disguise themselves in small tasks.”
(4) Finally, and most importantly, genuine servants base their identity in Christ.
Foster writes, “True service comes from a relationship with the divine Other deep inside. We serve out of His whispered promptings His divine urgings.” And Foster is correct. To be a real servant, you need to settle your identity in Jesus. Your relationship with Him needs to be your source of significance. You see only secure people can serve. As I alluded a moment ago, insecure people are always worrying about how they appear to others. The more insecure you are the more you will want people to serve you and the more you will need their approval. Henri Nouwen said, “In order to be of service to others we have to die to them; that is to say we have to give up measuring our meaning—and value with the yardstick of others only then are we free to be compassionate.”
When you base your identity on your relationship with Christ, you are freed from the expectations of others, and that allows you to serve them best. Bill Hybels refers to this principle of spiritual maturity and says, “God promises, ‘Lose your selfish ambition; I will honor you for loving others. Lose your addiction to things; I will provide for you if you seek Me wholeheartedly. Lose your obsession to be in control; I will give you power as you follow Me. Lose your appetite for thrills; I will startle you with pleasures you could never have found on your own. Lose your life; I will give you eternity.”
So PATRICK to be an example of servanthood you need to constantly work to deepen your relationship with Jesus through Bible study and prayer and corporate worship. You see the better you know Jesus the more you will understand how much He loves you and the more secure you will feel in your service to others.
Responsive Reading – Mark Adams
Declaration of Induction – Mark Adams
And now Patrick, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the authority committed to me as Pastor of this wonderful congregation, I now declare you to be set apart and commissioned for the work of a Deacon, and duly called and installed to that ministry in this church. You may be seated.