many of you know I have just returned from a trip to Shreveport,
Louisiana, to assist in a house build partnering with The
Fuller Center for Housing, and Habitat for Humanity. The
reason I'm here today is my husband, asked me to partner
with he and his father as he started this series on the
23rd Psalm. I don't think it's any coincidence
that my scripture verse was assigned to me a couple of weeks
ago, it just happened to fit in with this project of restoration
and renewal in Shreveport. I really believe that is the
way God works. We think we have it all together and we think
we plan it but in the end, God is the master planner. When
you hear these two verses you will definitely agree with
me. "The Lord leads me beside still waters, He restores
first think about this passage and the way it was written
by the great Psalmist David, and he uses as an example the
way a shepherd leads his sheep to calm waters. You have
a flock of sheep and they're thirsty, they're hungry, and
they need rest. Surely, the shepherd would want them to
rest in calm waters. He would not want them to be led down
the wrong road and end up in the rapid water; they would
surely be swept away. How does that equate to us? Surely,
our shepherd, Jesus Christ, wants to lead us beside still
waters and He does, if we allow Him.
is another thing about leadership. You can try to lead but
if no one follows, then you're not a true leader. So we
have a daily choice, whether or not we want to follow Christ.
spent a lot of time on the water. I grew up at the beach,
both swimming in the water and also boating on the water,
and enjoying all kinds of water activities. When thinking
about calm waters, I was reminded of some times when I actually
put myself into some rather choppy waters. Several years
ago we were in Mexico, in the mid section of Baja, California.
We wanted to go ashore as there are a group of little villages
on the way down to the tip of Baja. We were making our way
ashore in a small dinghy. I think it was a 14 foot dinghy
and it had a little engine on it. So as we started into
shore, at some point I lost my trust in the leader. I decided
that the swell behind us was going to take us over, and
before it did, guess what I did? I went overboard myself.
I said, "I'm out of here. I'm a good swimmer; I'm going
to swim the rest of the way to shore." As I dove overboard,
guess what happened to the dingy and the rest of the people?
The dinghy flipped, and all three of them went into the
ocean. Now there was really no harm done except the fact
is that I created chaos, I created the rough waters, and
it was all in my mind. Had I stayed in the boat, I'm sure
it would have been fine, and especially since I had a great
leader. My husband was the leader or the captain of that
little ship that day. Sometimes, we just get into our own
problems, we make our own chaos, and we create our own rough
waters because we do not seek out still waters, we do not
allow someone to lead us, and we try to do it ourselves.
am also reminded of a time, about a year and a half ago
when we took our family to Israel, the week after Christmas.
On one of the days, our group had arranged a jeep trip into
the Golan Heights. From the Golan Heights you can see the
Sea of Galilee behind you, and what we didn't know is it's
a very, very dangerous trip. As we were driving, the driver
said, "You know there are live landmines all around
here." I thought, "I am thankful that we are with
this guide." Because we followed our guide, he kept
us safe. This is how God works in our lives. He guides us
and He leads us, if we allow Him.
can't help but come back to this last week and my partnership
with all the wonderful people in Shreveport; in actually
an Allendale community of Shreveport, Bossier City Louisiana.
When we first arrived there, a bus picked us up every morning
and as we arrived on the job site, the first day we thought,
"This should be pretty easy." I think most of
us thought, we'll be there and we'll do a little building,
maybe we'll do a little painting, a little bit of supervising,
and perhaps they'll let us hammer once in awhile, because
surely there will be real contractors there. You can imagine
our surprise, yes there were some foremen, and there was
a structural engineer, so surely he knew what he was doing.
There were two other representatives from the other partners
in this project. They gave us direction and instruction
on using the various power tools and pieces of equipment.
One of the problems in having these power tools available
is that there was a false sense of confidence and security
and we would get ahead of the leaders. This made me think
about life in general. When you have a false sense of confidence
in life, when you don't know who you are following, you
make mistakes. Are you going to make mistakes anyway by
following God? Sure you will. But I think it's a great reminder
that God's laws are there to protect us. They are meant
to guide us and keep us safe and keep us on course so that
we don't make huge mistakes.
question for you today is: "who are you following?"
Everybody is following something or someone, and I'd like
to encourage you to let Christ lead you beside still waters.
"He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul."
What does restoration mean? I pulled out the dictionary
to see what it said and one of the definitions is: "to
bring back to the former condition." Another definition
I really like is: "a rebuilding of health."
was recently talking to my brother-in-law before I left
on this trip, and I was telling him I needed to speak today
about restoration. His hobby is restoring cars. He said,
"Let me tell you about restoring cars. I can restore
a 1955 Thunderbird as an example. After that car is restored
it's better then new, and it's also more valuable."
As we were talking I thought, God does the same thing for
us. Once He restores us, once He rebuilds us, He repairs
our cracks and our brokenness and He gives us a new paint
job, so to speak. We are actually better than we were before.
We are not better than everybody else, but we are better
than we were before, and that is what is important.
back to the restoration of Shreveport, I think I mentioned
we were in Allendale Community. At one time, it was the
most dangerous place in all of Shreveport, which is a city
with a population of about 200,000. That's where all the
drug dealers hung out, that's where all the prostitution
was, it was a terrible, terrible area. This place has been
empty for about the last ten years and it is only under
rebuilding through some wonderful people from the local
churches and from the Shreveport Bossier Community Renewal,
this city has started to rebuild. So we were in what was
once a very, very dangerous place. The idea is, or the goal
is to build 60 homes, and I believe ours was the eighth
or the ninth, so you can see they have a lot of work to
do. Their goal is to have these homes built, rebuilt completely.
They are going to rebuild sixty homes. I was doing a little
bit of reading in scripture and I found something in Isaiah,
chapter 61. "He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted,
to comfort all who mourn, and to provide for those who grieve,
to bestow upon them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of
praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called
oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord, for the display
of His splendor. They will renew the ruined cities that
have been devastated, for I the Lord love justice. In My
faithfulness, I will reward them and make an everlasting
covenant with them. Their descendants will be known among
the nations, and their offspring among the peoples. All
who see them will acknowledge that they are a people, the
Lord has blessed."
think the important thing here and something that we didn't
understand before we went down to Louisiana, was that we
were in place to get this started and certainly all the
partnerships with the various groups had a large role in
God's plan and seeing that it came to fruition. But, just
as the scripture says, at some point it switches to their
responsibility as a society. I was so happy to be a part
of this and see that we weren't just giving these people
a hand out but we were truly giving them a hand up. I can
tell you, they have to put in at least 350 what they called
sweat equity hours. We were working side by side with people
that will be getting the next house or the next house after
that. So I just think it's really important if you're thinking
of going down there, if you're thinking of supporting this
project in any way, you need to know that its not a hand
out, it's a hand up, and that's very important.
knew we'd have an impact on this family, but we had no idea
what it would do to us emotionally. We had no idea what
it would do to us spiritually, because we weren't just rebuilding
a community, we weren't just rebuilding a home for these
people, but we realized it was greater than any of us could
have imagined. We were rebuilding the kingdom of God, and
we were showing them that a church from Southern California
cared enough; a group of ladies cared enough to come all
the way to Louisiana to help them rebuild.
family that we are building the house for (Massey Family)
shared their testimony with us. The most important thing
they said is, even in their relatively new stress and hardship
that they've been through, they said and I quote, "God
had a better plan for us. We didn't know it at the time,
but He had a better plan." Neither of them had ever
been out of New Orleans. They'd struggled to get ahead,
these are hardworking people. They struggled to get ahead,
they have been relocated to Shreveport, not on their decision
but somehow God had a better plan.
closing, I want to let you know I really believe Jesus is
in the restoration business. He is the greatest carpenter
who ever lived. I don't know what kind of restoration you
need today. I know there is probably something. I don't
know if you are having financial difficulties. I don't know
if you have had problems with your marriage. Jesus Christ
can rebuild anything, no matter how broken, no matter how
old, no matter how far off your foundation you have fallen.
If you trust in Him, He will ignite your potential. He will
lead you beside still waters, and he will most surely restore
your soul. Let us pray:
you for the opportunity to help others because through helping
others restore their lost and broken parts, we restore ourselves
as well. We believe what you say in the Bible: "if
you give, it will be given back to you, pressed down, shaken
together and overflowing. With what measure you give, it
will be given back to you. Lord, thank you for the opportunities
this Church provide through You, because truly You are the
restorer of all. We love you, Lord. Amen.