Our First Week in Malawi!

Hello again from Malawi, Africa! I am writing this from the couch in our apartment. Our counter-parts, Sam & Amanda left earlier this week so we have officially taken over their car, home and some responsibilities at CAPA. It was wonderful to be able to have a week for Chris to get the official DL about the responsibilities he is taking over for Sam. Chris is eager to get started!

Although we are glad to be getting settled into our own space, we were sad to leave Matt & Brianne Kopp’s house. They have been more than hospitable to us, they have really taken us under their wing and have been so helpful with helping us adjust to the time zone, learn to drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, how to navigate the town, buy produce from street vendors and even how to communicate a little in the local language, Chichewa (very helpful on so many occasions, especially for police stops!). Zikomo kwambili (thank you very much) Matt & Brianne!

We are enjoying our new home! It is bigger than our place in LA (especially the kitchen!) and we are thankful to have most everything we need already provided for us. The compound we are living in is fenced in with guards and gardeners who have already been very kind to us (Sam and Amanda really paved the way for us to have good relationships with the folks here!). I brought some sourdough starter with me from home (dried, of course) and I have sourdough bread in the oven now! Brianne and I made a loaf last week at her house and I’m glad to be able to share and continue my sourdough baking here!


Chris spent most of last week at CAPA. He isn’t teaching yet but he has been sitting in on the week’s intensive Holy Spirit classes. He is so thankful to be observing the class dynamics and see how the CAPA leaders here present material, handle problems and present new material to the men. Next year they will be not only working through the final year of the first MDiv class (where Chris will be teaching Hebrew) but they will also have a new MDiv class starting AND a diploma class! It will be a very busy and exciting year at CAPA! We are so glad to be here and excited to help as we can – it seems that we should have a lot of opportunities! The CAPA team that is here is amazing. We have felt incredibly supported by them all and are so thankful for the opportunity that we have this year to learn from them.

Our anniversary was last Thursday! We celebrated by going to the Wildlife Center in the afternoon, shopping for some home items and out to a fancy dinner. It was a very fun and special day! We have a tradition of picking out a piece of art wherever we are on our anniversary trips and this year we decided to get a carved wood piece at the farmer’s market today! It has the “big five” animals (buffalo, lion, elephant, rhinoceros , and cheetah) on it and is very hefty and African. 🙂

Thank you for your continued prayers for us! These are things that we would like pray for in the upcoming weeks:

  • We are still waiting to receive Chris’ TEP. They will be following up in the next few weeks. Pray it would be approved and not need to be resubmitted!
  • Help as we adjust to life in Malawi. That we wouldn’t get homesick, anxious or irritable as we face inconveniences and difficulties here.
  • That we would be a blessing to the other missionaries here.
  • Preparations for the Hebrew Classes coming up.
  • Patience and wisdom as we learn the things we’re doing here and step into them.
  • We have both been convicted about wanting to grow in prayer. Pray that we would grow in this!

We got here!

Hello from Lilongwe, Malawi! We’re so excited to be here! A few really great things:

-Our flights were mostly on time and quite smooth, including all of the security checks and plane transfers. 

-All of our luggage was at the airport waiting for us when we got through customs. I was concerned about this but it was no issue at all! Praise the Lord!

-We’re staying with Matt & Brianne Kopp this week. They are such a blessing! Their home is comfortable and they & their family are so kind and helpful!

-We got Malawian cell phone numbers! It’s a small step but we’re excited to dive into life here.

-We came early to be able to train with Sam & Amanda before they leave and we’re so thankful to be able to do that!

More details, photos & updates will be coming soon!

Thoughts about Home in the Midst of Life Transitions


Last year we made an enormous move from Spokane to the LA area. In the weeks leading up to moving out of our apartment, staying with family in between and actually getting into our place in Santa Clarita, I didn’t think the transition would be particularly difficult. I was very wrong.

Transition is hard.

I’ve been thinking of that more as we, less than a year later, are in another time of transition. We are the middle of our week in Spokane, enjoying our time with friends and family and excitedly looking forward to our departure without a clear idea of what life will really look like on the other side of our plane ride.

One topic of conversation Chris and I have had recently is about HOME. We love Spokane. Chris grew up here, I became an adult here (you know, that growing up period in your twenties where you mature and become a functioning member of society) and so much of coming back here felt like coming home. Especially on Sunday when we were able to go to Faith Bible Church and hear Dan preach and worship with our church family (not that we dislike Grace but there is something special about being in your home church). But as we’ve wandered around, comparing how things are different from LA (traffic, distance/time to get to places, culture) we’ve both felt that it’s not the same. It’s not home. The realization made both of us ache. If this isn’t home and LA isn’t home, where IS home?

For me, being married to Chris, it’s sweet that our home is wherever we’re together. But even that is not completely satisfactory. As Christians, this world is not our home. We’re experiencing some of the bittersweet longing for home that Hebrews 11 describes that Abraham had:

“and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”

We are exiles in Spokane, we are exiles in Los Angeles and we will be exiles in Malawi. We are seeking a homeland, our heavenly homeland! This knowledge doesn’t make the transition time easier but it gives us hope to persevere through them.

Another transition was not in our plans. In fact, when Malawi came up, facing another transition was a detractor in the decision making process. I don’t like it. But stepping out into discomfort and the potential for pain, we had a tiny bit of faith. “Yes, Lord, we’ll go to Malawi if you send us financially, with the local church behind us and if certain difficulties are removed in the process.” He answered that bit of faith swiftly and powerfully. I mean, who raises $30,000 in two months? How were obstacles removed so easily? It certainly wasn’t because of our magnificent effort. God is at work in this! He is growing our faith and confidence in Him – not just for Malawi but for our entire lives. And the transition, hard as it is, is keeping our eyes set on our heavenly home as our earthly home shifts yet again.

In less than a week we will be in Malawi. On this side of it, it seems impossible and surreal. But it is happening! We can’t wait to update you all with news of our long airplane ride and our first impressions of Africa – our next temporary home on our way to heaven.

Please continue to pray for us – see our Current Prayer Requests for ways to pray this week.


Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

This last Monday we got our latest donation report which indicated that we have hit our support goal of $30,000 (and are actually probably above that goal)! 

The living God from Whom and through Whom and to Whom are all things has stirred up the hearts of many to give and to give generously! We serve a real God and an awesome God Who has done far more abundantly than all that Ashley and I have asked or thought! We did not expect to be fully funded before we left for the year in such a short amount of time, yet the Triune God has glorified Himself by providing for this opportunity for the advancement of the gospel through the training of pastors to rightly handle His Word. 

Ashley and I are truly humbled and feel now more than ever our need to keep trusting in our awesome God for grace to be useful for His service. We do not have the resources or the strength or the wisdom to accomplish the task set before us…but He does! He is a good Father Who gives good gifts to His children, to those Who wait on Him! 

Ashley and I are also very joyful! We rejoice to be used as tools of God and to watch Him do His work! There is truly no greater joy than getting to see the Sovereign God display His glory in amazing ways! 

Thank you dear friends and family for partnering with us in this strategic opportunity! Please continue to partner with us in prayer. Though a tangible hurdle has been overcome, the real battle is spiritual. 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places….praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel Ephesians 6:10-12, 18-19

We desperately need your prayers to our great God over the course of this entire year! Please keep visiting our prayer request page which we will try to keep up to date with our current prayer requests. 

If you desire to still partner financially, please consider donating directly to the Central African Preaching Academy here. Select “Central African Preaching Academy” from the drop-down menu towards the right. To God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever!

So. How are we?

So. How are we?

We’ve been getting that question a lot. It’s a loaded question, of course, how are we doing physically, how are we doing emotionally, how are we doing spiritually, how are we doing with our transitions, how are we doing with packing, how are we doing with raising support?

Well, let me tell you!

Today, for the first time in a week, I left the house. We went to a brunch in the park with a group of seminary families. It was a sweet time and a good chance to get out from our plain walls and our engulfing couch where I’ve reclined for the most of the last week.

Last Thursday Chris finished up all of his work for the semester and I had laparoscopy surgery on Friday. He transitioned directly from working hard for school to working hard to care for me and to pack and move. He has been amazing! I’m healing and generally feeling pretty well but it is still a process and I have to remember to not push myself to do more than I can. It’s difficult with so much to do but God has been gracious to give me the energy that I need to do some things and has provided help to do things that would be too much. For example, seminary and church friends have been bringing us meals for the last week and are signed up to bring us meals this next week! It’s a huge blessing to us that we don’t have to worry about what to eat!

We are currently packing for Malawi (and Boise & Spokane!) AND packing all of our other belongings to store for a year. We are SO thankful that we have a free, clean, dry, safe place to store our belongings while we are away. Here’s a little glimpse of our packing process…

Stuff for Malawi!
 We plan to move the remainder of our belongings that we’re going to store next Thursday so we have less than a week to get everything packed and ready. It’s overwhelming but there is progress! (Pssst: if you’re in Santa Clarita and happen to have a free evening on Thursday, we’d love to have your help!)

Each Monday we are emailed a financial update. Each Monday we’re continuously humbled and thankful for people’s generosity and support! We are over 2/3 of the way to fully supported including both what has been pledged and what has been given for our year in Malawi (almost 50% given and almost 20% pledged). We will continue to fund raise while we are there and will have a visiting team or professor bring the remaining funds to us during the year. If you would like to give before we leave, you can do so on the Grace Church website here. If you would like to give during the time we’re away, please let us know by filling out this form so we know what to expect! Thank you for giving and thank you for praying! Again, it is so humbling to need help and to ask for help. And oddly, even more humbling to see our needs being met. The body of Christ is absolutely incredible! Willing to cook, work, give, serve, pray and love us in ways that we never could have expected (see our current prayer requests for ways you can be praying)! You all seem to ENJOY helping us! It is a blessing and encouragement to us. May we serve CAPA as well as we have been served on our way!

Thank you, also, for continuing to read our posts! We appreciate you keeping up on our journey and look forward to continuing to share our life in this way.

T-Minus 1 Month!

Watch the video below from student Alfred Goliath  to hear how the original languages have helped him to preach (about 2 min in).

For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 2 Corinthians 9:12 

With one month until we board a plane to go to Malawi for a year, we have already experienced the reality of this verse. We have been so blown away and thankful to God for all of you who have been praying for us and have been so generous to help us meet this opportunity head on to train pastors to use Hebrew effectively in their preaching ministries! We give great thanks to God for you all and how the Holy Spirit has stirred your hearts to give towards this endeavor. Many challenges have arisen and many must be overcome, but our great living God has been so faithful to meet those needs and to grow our faith through those challenges (as He always does for His children with life difficulties).  

Financial Update

  • Based on what has been pledged and already given we estimate that we are over 50% of the total costs for the whole year! Thank you so much, and praise God!
  •  We are praying that online giving will be available soon to make things easier!

Prayer Request Update

  • Praise! One of the members of our adult fellowship group at Grace Community Church volunteered space to store our stuff for the year! That is a huge burden lifted!
  • Praise! I finished my last assignments for the semester at the Master’s Seminary in today! I was able to get everything done!
  • Praise! Ashley’s sinus infection seems to be doing better.
  • Pray for my visa to be approved by Malawi it was submitted about two weeks ago, but processing can be slow.
  • Pray for Ashley’s surgery to go well tomorrow (5/12) and for a very speedy recovery. 

What the Next Few Weeks Look Like

  • 5/11-5/29 Pack up and store our stuff. Get vaccines and Malaria medication. Have everything ready to go for 6/11.
  • 5/30-6/3 Drive to Boise area to visit family.
  • 6/4-6/10 Drive to Spokane to present at Faith Bible Church and spend time with family.
  • 6/10 Fly back to LA from Spokane.
  • 6/11 Eat breakfast…Go to church…Grab our luggage…Fly to Malawi.
  • 6/13 Arrive in Malawi! 

The opportunities for impacting souls for the gospel in Africa is tremendous! The student bio pages for the Central African Preaching Academy give us such a desire to go to be a part of what the Lord is doing in Africa!

Praise our great God with us! Pray to Him with us! May God be glorified!

If you want to partner with us financially see the page How to Give!


More Than We Can Handle


Can I be really real with you all right now? The past few months have been really hard. I don’t want to exaggerate the difficulties or even bring attention to them per se but I do want to share some of the things that have been happening. My purpose for sharing is so that you will know how to pray, so that God may be glorified in our endurance with faith and so that others facing trials may be encouraged as well.

To give you some context: I have been struggling with health issues – the drug I’m on for RA makes me prone to sinus infections and I just can’t shake one! I’ve had months of cycles of RA flares and migraines, antibiotics and Excedrin, doctor’s visits and copays, fatigue and pain. Additionally, I was also recently diagnosed with another issue that is going to be surgically treated next Friday.

These things would challenging enough on their own but to also be preparing for Malawi, raising support (about $20,000 left to raise!), figuring out logistics, working full-time, training my replacement at work and planning to move… life is just very challenging right now to say the least! Others, I know, have it far worse. But right now, for me, it’s all actually more than I can handle. I’m struggling, I’m overwhelmed with everything. If you’ve known me very long, you probably know that I do not like admitting that, but it’s true.


I’m not actually here to talk about how hard everything is. I’m here to talk about how great God is.

And God is calling us to go to Malawi. He could have chosen the strongest couple with no health problems, no concerns, and no worries about what is going to happen. But He didn’t. He chose us. Why did He do that? What is He doing in all of this? Why is He allowing all of these things to happen right now? Can I trust Him?

I’m so glad that there are real answers to these questions found in the Word. These are the verses that I am clinging to right now (emphasis my own – all from the ESV):

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

God intentionally called us in our weakness so that as we endure and overcome, HE is glorified!  The passage in 2 Corinthians 12 is often quoted and sounds nice in theory but in practice, none of us want to endure weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, or calamities. Embracing these things is counter-cultural and even offensive to our American sensibilities that crave comfort and stability. I crave comfort and stability. Thank God that He is putting me through weakness and hardship right now! His power WILL be made perfect in my weakness. HE will be glorified in me!

2 Corinthians 2:8-11 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

I love that Paul is writing about his own experience. Life was really hard for them, it was actually too much for them to handle. But even in the midst of that trial, Paul saw God’s purpose – to make him dependent on Him alone. I am thankful that God is showing me the same thing – I cannot rely on my own strength but I MUST rely on God! Also, as Paul requested the Corinthians to do, we request you to do also: “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”

James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Hebrews 13:5-6 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Psalm 86:5-7 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.

I started writing this post for you – our supporters and prayer partners and friends – but searching the Word and seeing what God is doing has actually encouraged ME so much! I can’t wait to see what God is going to do. He will provide for our needs to go to Malawi, He will provide the strength and the grace to complete the task He has called us to. He will Himself be glorified in us as we go. I am thankful that He is intentionally at work even, or rather especially, in the struggles that we’re facing. He is sending us to Malawi IN our weakness so that His strength might be evident in our lives. So if you see strength in us, if you see endurance, power, grace or hope you can know that it comes from God alone! You are witnesses to this. I can’t wait to report how God works in our lives!

As I was processing all of these things, I wrote a poem. I don’t often write poems but at times I can express myself better in poetry than in prose. At the risk of oversharing, here it is:

This is more than I can handle

Why should my days be so fraught
With pain and pressure, loads uneasily
Born. Trials describe my lot.
I stand in the midst. Aware of the pain.
Aware of the remedy.
If it hurt less, I would laugh at the strain
The intentionality, the purposefulness
As trials from all sides arise
God does give more than we can handle.
His plot, His scheme, His grand enterprise
Include this pain, this pressure
That fills the path I foresee
Less terrible than other loads, I know
Yet impossibly thrust on me.
How clearly I see my lack. How clearly I see
My need for HELP.
Weakness is my name. He sees it all.
My needs He has felt.
He sits far above me, my struggle,
My need.  Yet His eyes sees it all.
He sits far above yet is so very near.
He does not, will not, cannot let me fall
Away from His mighty grasp,
More mighty than my trial,
The weight that wants to crush me
HE bears in full without a rile,
Helping me press on and press on.
It’s HIS power that is clearly shown
He is yet at work, He is yet sovereign
Though my future feels bleak, unknown.
He works for my good, He bears all my load
Asking nothing of me in return.
Oh this lesson I have heard before
But still I do not yet learn
Depend fully on Him, is all that I must
Do, not on myself – Myself I know
I am weak, I am nothing, I am made of dust.
He is the one, He made the world!
Full of Glory and Might
He holds me, He holds my future
He gave me spiritual sight
To see that in Him
All the promises are “Yes & Amen”
This pain is for my good.
He’s kept me so far, He’ll keep me again
I can trust Him, lean, depend and abide
He chose me and this life
He gave me to bring glory to God
Amidst all eminent strife.
He will never leave me,
Forsake me or change
In this life, there is trouble,
I should not think it strange.
God gave me more than I can handle
So I would learn to depend on Him alone
Not on myself or on lesser things
So my faith will never be overthrown.
I revel in my weakness, I marvel  that
The width, breadth and length
Of my struggle is no match for
His fantastic strength.
And even if the trial never goes away,
I know He will keep me every single day.

Why is Knowing Hebrew Helpful for Pastors?


I am going to the Central African Preaching Academy to teach pastors how to use Hebrew when preaching God’s Word from the Old Testament. How does that work? Let me see if I can illustrate it for you. Let’s look at Psalm 23:1 in a couple English translations.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. KJV

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. NASB  

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. ESV

There is no difference in these translations. Let’s look at Psalm 23:1 in Hebrew. Keep in mind that Hebrew reads from right-to-left rather than left-to-right.

 מִזְמ֥וֹר לְדָוִ֑ד יְהוָ֥ה רֹ֝עִ֗י לֹ֣א אֶחְסָֽר׃

The first thing to note is that מִזְמ֥וֹר לְדָוִ֑ד is actually what our English Bibles record as the title of the Psalm. The title is actually part of the text; it’s Scripture! Your English Bible might put the title in the same text formatting as the rest of the psalm. A good rendering of מִזְמ֥וֹר לְדָוִ֑ד would be, “A Psalm by David.” Notice I said by instead of of because the לְ in front of David’s name functions to denote authorship. It is an inscripturated fact that David wrote Psalm 23.

Next, all the English translations I quoted above refer to God as “The Lord.” Why is Lord in all capitals? Because it is God’s personal, covenant name that is being used. In the Hebrew text it is יְהוָ֥ה. At some point after the Old Testament was written, Jews began reading the Hebrew equivalent to Lord (master) instead of pronouncing God’s covenant name for fear of taking the Lord’s name in vain, breaking the third commandment (Exodus 20:7). However, this is a hyper-reverencing of God’s name. Taking the Lord’s name in vain means invoking it for worthless things that do not honor Him. His name is Yahweh.

It is important that David is using God’s covenant name in Psalm 23:1. First, God’s name is connected with His absolute being. This is seen when God talks with Moses from the burning bush. 

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. Exodus 3:13-15 

We can see here that God is relating His name Yahweh to His eternal self-existence and independence. The Hebrew root for being/”I am” is connected to the root word of God’s name in Hebrew. You could basically understand God’s name as meaning “He is.” Yahweh has always existed and relies on no one and nothing else for His existence. He doesn’t need anything outside of Himself for His existence.

There’s more to David using God’s covenant name in Psalm 23 though. God not only made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the people of Israel at Mount Sinai through Moses. He made a covenant with David Himself.

Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’ ”2 Samuel 7:8-16

Here, the promise to David is that his kingdom shall exist forever. God had taken the shepherd David to be king over Israel and ultimately to produce a king in the Davidic line to rule forever. Shepherding was a common metaphor for kingship among the regions surrounding Israel. So, when we read “Yahweh is my shepherd,” we have to see the rich backdrop of God’s covenant with David. David is recognizing as Israel’s king that Yahweh is David’s king Who cares for David and has established an amazing covenant impacting the whole world.

What about the last part of Psalm 23:1? The KJV, ESV, and NASB share the same rendering because the 1611 version of the KJV used the wording, “I shall not want.” It has become engrained into English-speaking Christian culture. I grew up reading and memorizing this text. Often I would think that this was my response to God being my shepherd. I shouldn’t be discontent ever, I shouldn’t want anything, because Yahweh is my shepherd. While that is a valid application of the text, that isn’t quite what the text means.

The Hebrew verb has a root idea of lacking or having need. Some of the noun forms of the word have to do with poverty. Older English used “want” in the sense of need more often than we do today. That is why the KJV (and subsequently the NASB and ESV) rendered the verb this way. With the particular conjugation of the verb and the particular negation used, a good rendering would be “I shall never become needful.” The focus is not on David’s contentment per se, but on Yahweh’s supply so that David should never, ever enter into a state of need. It’s not just that David is not needful as he writes this psalm but that he will never even enter into the state of need.

I know what you’re thinking. How in the world can David claim this? In his life, whether fleeing from Saul or dealing with the Philistines or fleeing from his own son Absalom, he always seemed like he was in need. Let’s ramp up the tension even more. This psalm follows on the heals of Psalm 22 in which a king in David’s line suffers the most intense agony and persecution. How can a Davidic king claim to never become needful even in the midst of such suffering and deprivation? Because Yahweh is the everlasting God Who doesn’t need anything Who has made a covenant with David. Yahweh defines what David’s needs are, not David. David is expressing his faith in Yahweh even in the face of suffering and death (Psalm 22).

How does this apply to me as a Christian? Jesus of Nazareth is the ultimate Davidic King Whom the Davidic Covenant promises. God in His grace gives new covenant relationships to not only Israelites but also Gentiles like me through the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel writers intentionally interact with this psalm.

When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass [Psalm 23:2]. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men. Mark 6:34-44, emphasis added.

Jesus is casting Himself as the shepherd of Psalm 23. This means Jesus was claiming to be Yahweh in the feeding of the five thousand. He does it again in John 10.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)

 Jesus has laid down His life for me, and I am one of His sheep. He is Yahweh, the great I AM. I am in covenant relationship with Him. I will experience times of hardship, suffering, and persecution as a Christian. I am promised that, but I will never truly enter a state of need because Yahweh is my Shepherd.  Even death is not a state of need because my Shepherd conquered death itself.

I hope this look at Psalm 23:1 has given you a taste of why knowing Hebrew is so helpful for a preacher of God’s Word! God’s word is so rich and knowing how to use the original language properly can help a preacher give those riches to God’s flock.

As we prepare to leave for Malawi to seek to participate in one component of my Shepherd’s great commission, do we have real physical needs? Absolutely! Do I know that all of those physical needs will be met or that there won’t be hardship or suffering? No. But I do know that I will never lack anything that Yahweh says that I truly need for continued faith and to be able to do glorify Him with my life. There is such an opportunity here to bless the church in Malawi! Will you partner with us by prayer or financially?

 Check out the How to Give! page and consider filling out the form here to help us plan for our trip.

Saying Goodbye to Say Hello

(Ashley’s necklace from PlanetJill)

From Ashley:

New beginnings are funny things. It’s never JUST a restart, it’s always accompanied by saying goodbye to things – often loved things – in order to move to the next thing. For our new beginning to start, the first goodbye is saying goodbye to my job! I told my boss that I was moving to Africa last week and they are already interviewing (awesome, well qualified) candidates.

Leaving a job may not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things but it’s a sad thing for me because I enjoy what I do and, because I work for small companies, I know there is so much room to grow! This job could have turned out to be my career. I am drawn to being successful and earning my own money and seeing the fruit of my labors. Which is not a bad desire! The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 is a hard worker and earns an income from her labors. What set her apart, though, was NOT that she was a successful women but that she was a woman who feared the Lord.

It’s not easy saying goodbye to my job (probably forever), my comfortable apartment, my new friends (for a time) and the life in SoCal that we JUST seemed to adjust to. It’s not easy but the cost is worth it. It’s worth it all for Chris to be able to serve at CAPA training men to be able understand and preach the whole council of God. It’s worth it all for me to be able to use my administrative gifts for CAPA to help them connect with donors and help people get as excited as we are about what they are doing in Malawi for the gospel. It’s worth it all, it’s worth all of our lives, to obey God, to proclaim the Majesty of Christ and to share the treasure of His Word.

It’s a light, momentary affliction that is absolutely worth it (there are others trials happening, too, that I’ll share about later). The goodbyes are hard. But the next adventure that God has for us is breathtakingly worth it.

If you’d like to partner with us in this (financially and spiritually in prayer), check out our How to Give post or sign up here.

(And if you’re looking for a Mother’s day/Father’s Day/Birthday/Anytime gift, check out the companies I work for for the next few weeks: planetjill.com & luckyfeather.com) 🙂

How to Give!

If you desire to partner with us financially we can now accept donations for our trip! All contributions are tax-deductible.* To contribute, make a check out to Grace Ministries International and in the memo line put “Malawi-Chris Mullins.” Mail the check to Grace Ministries International at 13248 Roscoe Boulevard, Sun Valley, CA 91352.

Electronic giving is now available as well! If you would like to make a one-time gift, you can do so at gracechurch.org on their Short-Term Ministries page. Here is a direct link to our page as well. If you would like to give monthly or make a one-time gift at a later time, please let us know by filling out our form here. It will really help us to know if you are planning to give!

So far we have over $20,000 between what has been pledged ($5500) + given ($14500). That is over 2/3 of what we will need! It’s a race of faith that were are running and you all are helping us to run it! 

Thank you for your support and encouragement! It is so encouraging to learn of the people who have given and who plan to give in the future and we know that is the outworking of people praying for us (we need it! See our Current Prayer Requests for how you can pray for us right now!)! To God alone be the glory! We can’t at all do this on our own so we’re so grateful to have you all involved.

 *For the deduction to be allowed, contributions are to be made with the understanding that GMI (a ministry of Grace Community Church) has complete control and administration of the donated funds.