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Leavell: Living water leads to Kingdom growth

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Those who have experienced the living water of Jesus Christ will share it with a “thirsty” world, said President Emeritus Landrum P. Leavell II at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Addressing a Jan. 28 chapel audience in a message drawn from John 37-38, Leavell said Jesus used a common event at the Feast of the Tabernacles to teach a great truth to his listeners.

On the last day of the feast, a double portion of water was poured out commemorating God’s gift of water to the people of Israel during the Exodus, Leavell said. He noted that as Jesus spoke that day, he might have been standing ankle-deep in water.

“Jesus promised that if we drink from the water that he produced that we would provide living water from our being,” he said. “Living water produces a result. It will mean increased numbers of individuals coming into the Kingdom through their faith in Jesus Christ.”

A God-called minister who is not a personal soul-winner is an oxymoron, Leavell said, noting that those who have drunk from the spiritual water of Jesus will naturally want to share what they know. The type of life that produces living water is marked by passion, which he said is found by praying in the will of God.

“When we are swimming in living water, we come to God in prayer, saying, ‘Not my will, but thy will be done,'” Leavell said. “You have to bring your life in sync with Almighty God.”

To get God’s call clarified in their minds, Leavell counseled the seminarians, “Find a need and fill it.

“When you find a passion about something, that’s God’s answer for you. If your call is not clear and passionate, then step back and let somebody else take your place.”

A daily commitment to devotional Bible study is the first task of any Christian, Leavell said, describing a quiet time as much more important than reading the Bible in order to pass a seminary test.

“Read the Book devotionally, seeking to know the will of God,” Leavell said. “The passion that you have comes for looking up and daily seeking to know and do the will of God.”

Leavell urged the seminarians to cling to their convictions despite internal opposition from church members and to remain true to the Bible despite counter-cultural pressures to be spiritually broad and politically correct.

“Don’t be so desirous of men’s pleasure that you neglect the truth of God,” Leavell exhorted, lamenting that many Baptists don’t have a clear understanding of what they believe. “We must unite around our common belief in the Word of God,” he said.

Because ministers face great challenges, they must be absolutely sure that God has called them to ministry, Leavell said. “That calling is indelible. If God is calling you, that’s for life,” he said.

Ministry is a lifelong calling that requires perseverance in the hard times, he said, warning that ministry is seldom easy and it is not a 40-hour-per-week job. Even when the minister seems to be “caught up,” there is always more that can be done for the Kingdom, he said.

“If God’s called you, you ought to have a sense of purpose,” Leavell said. “You need to stay busy and hang tough. If you think you’re caught up and have nothing to do, get a handful of prospect cards and start sharing Christ with people.”

While acknowledging the amount of time required to do ministry well, Leavell encouraged the ministers not to neglect their families, because times with family and times alone with God are necessary for a fruitful ministry. Jesus, he noted, often withdrew to refocus his attention on the mission.

Perhaps Leavell’s strongest appeal to ministers came in the area of biblical authority. Pastors must seek a message from God in the pages of Scripture, he said, and not on the best-sellers’ list.

“Preach the Word, not what you think, not what you’ve heard,” Leavell said. “Preach the Word; it can stand on its own.”

The chapel service was held in conjunction with the dedication of Leavell College at NOBTS. The school, formerly known as the College of Undergraduate Studies, was renamed in honor of the legacy started by Landrum Leavell’s grandparents, George and Corra Leavell.

The family raised nine boys based on Christian principles. Eight of their nine sons served in often-innovative vocational Christian ministry that shaped the Southern Baptist Convention throughout the 20th century.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: LEAVELL’S LESSONS.

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