The Greatest Sermon Ever!

The Greatest Sermon Ever!

He is seventy-nine years old. He could be sitting back playing dominoes or golf or watching television. Instead, he feels like his best days of witness are today and the days ahead. That’s an attitude with which to grow older!

He decided to memorize the Sermon on the Mount. That’s right—three chapters of the Bible in Matthew. I was invited to give the prayer at the Chapel program where all the seventh through twelfth grade students at Alabama Christian Academy met to experience his rendition verbatim from the Sermon on the Mount.

His name is Doug McElvy. He is a Southern Baptist Deacon and an outstanding lawyer. Doesn’t God have a sense of humor? Here is a Methodist preacher giving the prayer for God to bless the hearing and application of a seventy-nine-year-old Baptist lawyer speaking to a huge group of students at a Church of Christ high school. Keep that picture in mind.

How many folks would think that a group of high school students would want to hear a seventy-nine-year-old lawyer speak? They sat on the edge of their seats as they listened intently to the presentation of Jesus in the greatest sermon ever preached. He was flawless in his presentation. He walked around the front of the gym and had some props such as Jesus might have had when he delivered the sermon.

He made it clear that this was not a presentation to demonstrate the talents of the presenter. It was his effort to communicate to those students how much Jesus loved them and how much He wanted them to be a devoted follower of Jesus. He began the presentation and ended it with that challenge to these young people to follow Jesus. They learned a lot—but they also had an opportunity to apply it.

This Chapel program was set up by Greg Glenn, who is the Headmaster at ACA. His vision is to make a difference in the lives of young people. He is helping them develop a world view that sees how much God cares and works with people of all ages, denominations, races, and school loyalties.

Doug McElvy is a leader in the legal community in Alabama, as he has served as the President of the Alabama Bar Association. He is a “go to” guy for many, many lawyers. He is especially recognized as an expert in mediation. (We need him as a mediator in the Methodist Church.)

Following Jay Wolf’s retirement in 2020 as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, they picked Doug to be the chairman of the pulpit search committee. About three years ago, I attended First Baptist for a worship service. It happened to be a special Sunday as Doug McElvy was presenting the pastor search committee’s first report about securing a pastor.  

When Doug saw me in the congregation that Sunday, he told people that the leading candidate for being the new pastor was present in the worship service. My presence scared a lot of Baptists! Doug didn’t call any names, but he knew he had covered himself because the Associate Pastor, Mark Bethea, was present and was later selected as the new Senior Pastor. This selection has proven to be a super excellent choice!

Regardless of your age, what are you doing today to make the Sermon on the Mount come alive in the experiences of people who go to church and people who don’t go to church? Read the Sermon on the Mount. Experience its power. Memorize as much of it as you can.

If you are eight or eighty, God can preach His greatest sermon ever through your life!

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