And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, {40}  And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. {41}  Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, {42}  He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. Matthew 27:39-42

I started teaching Bible while I was still in Junior High School on the island of Guam. I taught mainly in our church youth group. It wasn’t until I was in High School that Pastor William Rife (this is Francesca Preston’s dad for all my fb friends) would, on occasion, ask me to preach to the entire church from the pulpit.

I remember very well one Sunday Morning service when I preached from the text of Scripture cited above. The sermon centered on the fact that, while the religious leaders wanted Jesus to come down from the cross, Jesus nevertheless stayed on there—and died—to save us. We’re saved…because He stayed. That was the gist of my sermon. And I used it to ask the congregation if we’re staying on the cross, or else, giving in to the religious leaders and coming down from the cross. I guess I could almost preach that sermon here. It was that good, praise God.

I bring this up in my Musings only because of what happened after the sermon. It was something totally unexpected, even unseen, in our little Barrigada church. I gave an altar call and, to my utter surprise, it seemed like the whole church came forward and kneeled at the altar. There were at least three rows deep of folks who came, mostly to rededicate their lives to God. Most touching and heartfelt of all, my mother came to the altar and had her a good talk with God.

It was a life-defining moment for me as I saw the power of a sermon to change lives and make a positive impact or difference in the lives of people. I have to admit it was a good feeling. Almost like a feel-good kind of drug that makes you want to have more. No, I’ve never been after the feeling. I’m not looking for a feeling, as good as the feeling may be. But since that time, I’ve always wanted to preach sermons that touch people’s lives. Sermons that make a difference. Sermons that will be long remembered by the people for what it did for them.

Anyways, back to my Musings, after the last soul got up from the altar and returned to the pews, I closed the service with that ole familiar hymn, Blessed Assurance. What a rousing, anointed closing song that was—both for me and the entire congregation. We sang our hearts out as tears flowed freely from our eyes. God was good that day and we had us a good old-fashioned meeting with God Himself.

Maybe now, in the autumn of my life, God will give me another soul-stirring, life-changing sermon and we’ll have us another chance to sing that familiar refrain…this is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.

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