FORT WORTH, Texas – As a teenager, Fred Luter met a quiet girl named Elizabeth, as the two were paired together for a Louisiana history class project at their school in the lower ninth ward of New Orleans. The two eventually began dating and sought to get married a few years later, but finances stood in their way.
Fred took a job parking cars yet maintained an upbeat attitude. His humility and friendliness caught the eye of a financial broker whose car he parked regularly.
When Luter lost his job with the parking company, the financial broker offered him a position at the brokerage firm,which supplied the job he needed to support a wife and family. Soon thereafter, Fred and Elizabeth married.
Over time, as Fred worked his way up into a vice president’s position at the firm, he felt God calling him to preach. After working all week, he would spend his weekends preaching the gospel on the New Orleans’ street corners. Soon, though, the burden to preach was too much. He left a lucrative career in the firm to pastor the small, struggling congregation at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans.
BP file photo by Gibbs Frazeur
Fred Luter preaches the convention sermon at the 2001 SBC Annual Meeting in Luter’s hometown of New Orleans. The annual meeting returns to New Orleans in June.
Nearly 30 years later, Luter continues to reflect Christ’s humility as he leads the now megachurch congregation to reach the people of New Orleans as the city rebuilds from the devastating Hurricane Katrina of 2005. He challenged professors, students and guests to model humility and have a renewed mind – the mind of Christ – in his sermon from Phil. 2:5-8 during chapel at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, March 28.
“The only thing that can prevent from reaching your full potential for God in the months and years ahead in the ministry is you,” Luter said.
“There’s not an hour that goes by, not a day that goes by, not a week that goes by when your mind is not being tempted, enticed and lured by the enemy.”
Luter said the attacks of the enemy on the mind of the Christian come regardless of age, marital status, education or level of spiritual maturity.
“None of us are exempt from the attack of the enemy,” Luter said. He added that the only protection against Satan’s schemes is a mind renewed and conformed to the mind of Christ. This renewed mind helps believers think about Christ, their choices, and the cross.
“Jesus did not let His heavenly reputation affect His earthly responsibilities. He made Himself of no reputation,” Luter said.
“Every choice He made in life was to please God the Father, and that’s why we must have the mind of Christ. If you’re going to be victorious in your walk, in your ministry, in your life, in your marriage, you’ve got to make sure that every decision and choice you make pleases your heavenly father. … Every choice you make in life leads to a consequence, and that consequence can either be a blessing or a burden.”
Following Luter’s sermon, Southwestern president Paige Patterson concluded the chapel service by asking for students and faculty to commit to praying for Luter and his family. Patterson explained that Luter will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention in June, and should he be elected, the enemy’s attacks will only increase.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Keith Collier is director of news and information at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.)