“The Heart of Man Devises His Way…”

“…but Yahweh determines his step” (Prov 16:9). We all make plans. We need to for many things in our lives and especially the most important things. Yet, an inordinate degree of planning can be born out of pride and desire for control over our lives.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:13-17

So, Ashley and I have planned our way. We have computed, received counsel, and prayed, and we desire to take the next step after CAPA and Malawi in a direction to be useful for God’s kingdom and the delight of seeing God expand His glory through Christ over the whole globe. Yet, we await our Lord’s sovereign pleasure in the (re)direction of our plans. We want to share our plans with you so that you can be praying for us as we begin to make our transition from Malawi back to the United States. Let me give you an overview in timeline form.

  • May 17: Board a plane to leave Malawi.
  • May 18: Arrive in the morning at LAX (desperately in need of coffee no doubt).
  • May 18-21 or 22: California fun! Visiting family, friends and Grace Church (we’ll be at Doulos!), hopefully going to the beach and Ikea!
  • May 21 or 22: Packing up our earthly belongings stored in LA in a moving truck.
  • May 23: Leaving LA and driving to Sacramento. We will be having a group dinner with our Sacramento family and friends, if you’re in the area we’d really love to see you!
  • May 24: Travel from Sacramento to Boise. Getting a night to visit with Ashley’s Grandma, sister, and brother-in-law.
  • May 25: Leave Boise and arrive in Spokane.
  • May 25-31st: Spokane week
  • June 1-July 31st (ish): Back to Boise! Chris is doing an internship at a church in the Boise area (Heritage Bible Church) so we will be there for the summer!
  • August 1st (ish): Back to Spokane! Classes at TMS begin at the beginning of August so we will be back in Spokane for me to start classes again.

Many of you already know, but for those who don’t, we are planning on moving back to my hometown of Spokane and my home church of Faith Bible Church which hosts a Master’s Seminary extension campus. There are several reasons that Ashley and I believe that moving back to Spokane is a good fit, but let me give you the top three.

  1. Continued training and mentorship by pastors and elders at FBC. The Lord has really reminded us that the primary qualifications for an elder-pastor are character (1 Tim 3, Titus 1), and we need mature men and women in our lives investing in us as we seek to grow in those character qualities (2 Tim 2:2). God has providentially provided an opportunity in our home church to not only continue mentoring relationships we have from the past but also to be able to continue with top-notch academic training from TMS.
  2. Opportunity to serve our home church. It is our desire to be in a place where we can be useful for Christ’s kingdom. This last year that was in Malawi at CAPA (the Lord really redirected our steps for this one!). This next year, after talking with good friends and leaders at FBC, we believe that we can be useful to our home church even as I continue to train and aim for vocational ministry in the future.
  3. Opportunity to eventually be elder-affirmed from FBC. Since FBC is our home church, we would desire to be affirmed in character and direction for any future full-time ministry the Lord would have us do. Moving back to Spokane affords the opportunity to be under the elder’s scrutiny and shepherding that we desire as we await the direction the Lord was have for us for future ministry.

As we make this transition, there are several things that you can be praying for


  • Safe travel
  • Finding employment back in Spokane
  • Health insurance for Ashley for Rheumatoid arthritis and other health issues
  • Finding a good living situation back in Spokane
  • Wisdom for how to keep partnering with CAPA in the future


  • Continued focus on CAPA and ending well here
  • Being useful and blessings to the CAPA team here
  • Hearts that are not anxious for the future but trusting the Lord’s provision and rejoicing in how He provides
  • Grace to keep encouraging the CAPA team even after being back in the States
  • Serving no matter where we’re at desiring to see Christ’s glory and not our own

 As we near the close of our time serving with CAPA, we can say with a whole heart that CAPA is one of the most exciting ministries that we have witnessed. It is exciting to see how the Lord is using the school to train pastors academically and at the heart level, and we know that that training will trickle down throughout the whole country and quite possibly even farther. It is our constant prayer that God would use CAPA to strengthen the witness of the true gospel of Jesus in this country. On CAPA’s behalf we would like to strongly and prayerfully ask you to consider partnering with CAPA prayerfully and financially. Here are some ways you can be doing both right now.


  • For students. Visit capa.prayformalawi.com to see the student profiles. Also like Central African Preaching Academy’s page on Facebook and see some of the student profiles there. This should give you good prompts for prayer.
  • For recruitment for MDiv students for this coming academic year.
  • For personnel: Beginning Hebrew instructor and administrative assistant.

Financial Needs

  • After we vacate our apartment, CAPA would like to hold it for the next folks who will be coming in August and serving like we did. Giving financially toward this need would be a huge blessing for CAPA. (About a $2000 need).
  • A new campus is being built closer to town that will house International Bible Fellowship and CAPA. Giving toward the building of this facility will provide a great facility for CAPA and IBF, providing a launching pad for much ministry in Lilongwe and Malawi as a whole.

If you are interested in giving to CAPA follow this link, and scroll to the bottom to donate.

Thank you all for your support and prayer! We hope to see many of you soon!

Malawi Needs Highlight: Faithful Translations (Plus a Personal Timeline Update)

Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, who received the word with goodwill, every day examining the Scriptures if these things may be so. Acts 17:11

This verse compares the Jews in Berea with the Jews of Thessalonica, both of whom Paul spoke the message of the Messiah suffering, dying, and rising from the dead realized in the person of Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 17:1-3). The Bereans are commended by God through the inspired pen of Luke for their testing Paul’s message by the Scriptures.  Even Jesus’ special emissary to the nations, the Apostle Paul, was subject to the scrutiny of the Scriptures! How much more the preacher who stands in the pulpit to deliver his message!

At CAPA, this is a key theme that is hammered on again and again. The authority is in the text; the preacher is the faithful herald of what God has said in the Scriptures. Ideally, the situation for the preacher should be just the same as it was for Paul in Berea. The congregation should have the Scriptures in their hands, following and examining whether the points the preacher is making are coming from the text itself.  The preacher can be said to be delivering an authoritative message only if that message is indeed contained in the Scriptures. John Piper puts this well in his book The Supremacy of God in Preaching.

We are simply pulling rank on people when we tell them and don’t show them from the text. This does not honor the Word of God or the work of the Holy Spirit. I urge you to rely on the Holy Spirit by saturating your preaching with the Word that he inspired. (p.47)

A recent incident highlighted the need in Malawi for the work of faithful Bible translations so that the congregation has the opportunity to see the preacher’s message in the pages of Scripture.

Recently, I asked Maya (a 3rd year MDiv student at CAPA, an intern at International Bible Fellowship, and a dear friend) to translate Psalm 90 for me from Chichewa (the most common of the many mother tongues for the various tribes in Malawi) into English. The standard Chichewa Bible available was translated from an English translation around 100 years ago. Above is a picture of the Chichewa Bible….Can you guess what book it’s from? As he translated for me, he not only wrestled to translate into English, but he struggled to understand the Chichewa itself. This incident opened his eyes and mine. He explained to me that this is why many Malawian preachers avoid preaching from the Old Testament, because they cannot understand the Scriptures contained there in their own language because of the poor and old translation work. And if the preacher (often more educated than his congregation) cannot understand the Bible in his mother tongue, what chance does the average Malawian have sitting in the congregation? How can he see that what the preacher is saying is truly God’s Word?

We know that God is in favor of people having the Scriptures in a language that they can clearly understand since the Old Testament in Jesus’ day had been translated into the common language of the day (Greek from the Hebrew and Aramaic), and Jesus and the Apostles often quote that translation as authoritative Scripture, the word of God. The implication for Malawi then is the need for translations, not just in Chichewa, but in many of the other languages that people have as their mother tongue in this country. These translations should come from the original biblical languages of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic into translations that are readable by the common person. Why not just go from the English? Think of a faithful translation like a photocopy. Some aspects of the original will be lost in the translation process to English even though the translation is a faithful one. If now I take that translation (the photocopy) and then translate that into a different language (photocopying the photocopy), I’ve lost more information yet.

This work is not currently in process. But our heart’s desire at CAPA is that some of the fruit of training the men in the biblical languages will be faithful men who will work on this massive project for the sake of their nation. It cannot be simply a work that is done by foreign missionaries either. Our Malawian Dean of Students at CAPA, Gideon, says, the churches of Malawi will have to see the need for such translation work in order for it to be supported and accepted by the church in Malawi at large.

This is just one of the needs that the church in Malawi is facing and that CAPA is either directly or indirectly addressing. Join us in praying for God to use CAPA to address the need for translations for the sake of the church in Malawi!



In other news, we have set our target return date to return to the US. We plan to leave after the end of the CAPA school year (graduation happens on April 20th) the third week of May. This is less than four months away and will result in us being here a little over eleven months total. Please pray for several things:

  1. That we would be “all here” with servant hearts and would be useful to CAPA and the long-term team here.
  2. Pray for my replacement(s) (unknown as yet) to handle administrative, IT, and teaching (Hebrew) work.
  3. Pray for the construction of CAPA’s new campus to go ahead quickly and smoothly. The goal is for it to be ready by the beginning of the new academic year!
  4. Pray for wisdom for the team in discerning what the next steps forward for CAPA as a school should be.
  5. Pray for us as we anticipate facing some reverse culture shock returning to the US.
  6. Pray for the Lord’s leading regarding our future ministry and whether we should seek to do overseas pastoral training center work like this in the long-term.

We greatly appreciate your prayers and hearing from you! Drop us a line or call us up on Skype! You can comment below if you’d like to schedule to Skype with us and we will email you to set that up.


9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I know people quote these verses all the time. I have pointed people and myself to them many a time as well. To embrace and live out their truth though is…painful.

I am convinced that one of the things God wants us to learn from this trip to Malawi is just how weak we are. It feels as though God is determined to expose with the full blazing light of His holiness, our inadequacies. I say “our” but I am most painfully aware of my own inadequacies, and that is what I will share a bit about.

Here are the categories of inadequacies that God has been exposing:


In pride and self-righteousness, I didn’t think I was as bad as I am. A new environment with new stresses and responsibilities and new people to work with and all sorts of gross selfishness, pride, arrogance, self-righteousness, self-reliance, lack of love, and unbelief come out. This junk was already there, but the new circumstances merely exposed what was already there.

Only Christ’s grace through the gospel, trusting that he was crushed under the infinite weight of God’s just wrath for my sin and that His righteousness is my righteousness and that He is the Treasure that is worth slaying the sin which clings so closely, only Christ’s power can overcome this weakness.

Need for Rest

It would be very, very easy to work 80 hours a week here on all that needs to be done and still have more left to do. It is also very, very easy for me to find my meaning and identity in the tasks themselves rather than being driven out of love for Christ. But that is just idolatry/self-reliance coated with a veneer of ministry. I don’t have enough time or energy. That is a reminder of my weakness and finitude and the unneedy, infinitely energetic God. Rest is a time to humble myself and remember that God is God and I am not. The Sabbath, while not a mandate for Christians as it was for those under the Old Covenant, is still a pattern that is a gift to man.

Lack of Knowledge/Skill

I usually like to think that I’m adaptable and can tackle any problem that comes my way….But I’ve never had to be a Hebrew teacher, administrative assistant, IT technician, facilities personnel, etc. before. There’s just a lot of stuff that comes about in a given day that I’ve never done before and don’t know how to do. I’ll I can do is pray for God’s help and try my best, trusting the Lord for the results.

Communicating Complex Material…with a Language Barrier

Hebrew is hard but glorious. What’s the best way to teach it to those who have a different mother tongue and worldview from you? I don’t know. Each lesson is an experiment to try something that will hopefully help them grasp the concepts better. The big question on my mind is “Will they use Hebrew for the future? Will they use it for their sermons? Will they cut straight the Word of God? How can I help them do that?” I need God’s grace and power to give insight.

Working With Others

I’m an American, so I already have a disposition towards being independent and self-reliant. I was homeschooled, so I learned to work independently…a strength and a weakness. I’m more naturally introverted. I could spend all day at home translating Hebrew, not talking to anyone, and I would be happy. But I need others. I need the body of Christ and its members (1 Corinthians 12) to display Christ and seek to build up His global body. I need other people’s strengths and I need them to complement my weaknesses. I need to humble myself under my leaders that God has placed over me.

Because Christ’s power was made known through Paul’s weakness, he said he was well content with weakness and other hard things. WELL CONTENT. To be honest…I’m not there yet. I don’t like being weak. I like to feel strong and capable. But then Chris and not Christ is seen, and that is truly a disaster. It is far better to rejoice in seeing Christ work His power through our weakness.

At the end of Module 1 a couple weeks ago, I was teaching Introduction to Exegesis to our Diploma students. The module was exhausting and very discouraging at times. There was so much to do and it felt like so many things slipped through the cracks or didn’t go smoothly. But then a student came up to me at the end of the last session and told me that based on what he had learned that module, he wanted to go and change a sermon he was going to preach to an expository sermon. God keeps giving sweet glimpses like these to show that He is at work through our weakness for His glory and the spread of His Word through faithful preaching throughout the country of Malawi.

Current Prayer Requests

Flexibility and Weakness

It’s hard to believe we’ve been in Malawi almost a month! We feel as though we’re basically settled though we are learning new things every day. That’s part of the challenge of being here. There’s always some new challenge to overcome. Always unexpected things that come up. Everything takes longer than you expect. You never know when you’re going to lose power or when the Internet will be on the fritz or if your car will break and will have to be jerry-rigged to keep going. 

Because that’s life in Malawi, you can’t be a specialist out here. Of course everyone has strengths in certain areas and you want to play to those strengths, but you must do things you’ve never done before. You must be creative and think outside the box and do stuff that you think is outside of your strengths. Most of all, you must be patient, you must work as a team, and you must be dependent on the God of all grace as He exposes your weakness and inability. 

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

 I think this is the primary thing that God is teaching me right now. I came here to help teach Malawian pastors Hebrew so that they might better preach the Word of God from the Old Testament. But I also have the privilege of helping in other areas that I am not as comfortable with. Part of my job is to help with IT stuff connected with CAPA. I don’t have an IT background. So, I have to try new things, learn new things, be patient, repent when I get frustrated, and be dependent on God to help me navigate new situations and be useful. Yet, even though I am not strong in this area, I see how God in His all-knowing sovereignty has used so many little episodes in my life to enable me to even have a foothold in trying and exploring as I try to repair something. For example, I ended up having to replace a laptop screen for a student. I had never done that before. But one of my hobbies as a kid was taking computer stuff apart. I also loved building a variety of things that required a variety of tools. These things gave me some experience to help replace the screen and epoxy some broken hinges. God used my silly hobbies to help me know. It’s all His grace! 

I also have been able to help a bit with academic administration. I helped enter and process some of the new applicants for the next MDiv and next diploma classes entering this academic year. (CAPA will triple its student body, Lord-willing!) A lot of this process was data entry, hunting online for information regarding students’ schools, and discussions with the other members of the team on how to evaluate and process the applications effectively. There have also been discussions on how to structure courses, what course loads should be, etc., etc. These are not things I have exactly done before, and yet I see how God has even used my time teaching mathematics at Eastern Washington University to help prepare me for now.  

Even though God in His sovereignty has given past experience to help pave the way for being here now, I have been learning that I must renounce self-reliance, depend on God’s strength alone, and give thanks for what He allows us to accomplish. Being here shows me how weak I really am and how needy for God’s grace I am. I am learning that seeing God work through my weakness is the most joyful experience. Prideful self-reliance would rob me of this joy, so God is good to expose that self-reliance so that I might have a humble joy in watching Him work. 

Malawi desperately need’s God’s work through weak vessels! The spiritual landscape is scary as there are many in Malawi’s pulpits who preach false gospels. I was giving one of the CAPA students a ride home from the last class of the last intensive session, and he said that the main problem in the churches of Malawi is that they do not reverence God’s written Word, the Bible. Since being here, we have heard of cases of some Malawian pastors preaching twice a month on giving to the church/pastor but never on the church helping widows. Giving to the church is proclaimed as a way for you to fix all of your financial problems because God will bless your gift. The need in Malawi is for humble and holy pastors who will accurately preach God’s written Word to the people. Only through the accurate proclamation of God’s written Word will the Spirit transform people’s hearts. Only through the genuine humility, personal holiness, and love of shepherd-preachers will the charlatans in the pulpits be unmasked for what they truly are. This is why Ashley and I are serving at CAPA in our own weakness, desperately needy for God’s power to serve here effectively.  

(Please enjoy some photos that we have taken of Malawi the last few weeks below!)


Malawian field mice. A Malawian Treat! Thanks Jim Ayers for this welcoming gift!


Don’t worry…no one fed me here.


Coffin Road in Lilongwe. Coffin shops lie along this road (hence the name), although you can’t see any in this picture.
A variety of potatoes on a bike. This bike is very lightly loaded.
Mulanje Mountain about 6-7 hours south of Lilongwe
Matt Floreen about to run up Mulanje mountain and then back down for a 22km race. Vertical gain was 1.7km. He finished like a champ (I was there for moral support).
A tea estate in front of Mulanje mountain. We passed through the estate before coming to a trailhead to hike up into the mountain a bit.
More of the tea estate and Mulanje.
Our hike into the mountain. The tea estate has its own hydroelectric facility, hence the pipes.
Malawi maintenance at its finest.
Our drive back from Mulanje to Lilongwe.






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!

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!


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.

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.


T-Minus Two Months!

Shuttle launch.png

Today is two months from our launch date for Malawi! Over the past few weeks, the reality of our leaving to go and help train Malawian pastors has become more and more real. We have purchased tickets to leave from Los Angeles on June 11th, and we will (Lord-willing) arrive in Lilongwe, Malawi on June 13th 

We know that it is God’s revealed will that men should be trained for the ministry (2 Timothy 2:2), and we know that it is God’s will that these men should accurately handle all His word including the Old Testament, originally written in Hebrew (2 Timothy 2:15, 3:16-17). The Body of the Church has a need and he has, by His grace, given us an opportunity to fill it. We know that it is God’s revealed will that Christians are to use the gifts given to them by God for the purpose of building up the Church (1 Peter 4:10-11). We know that apart from Jesus we can do nothing (John 15:5). We know that the Great Commission must be gospel partnership between senders and goers. Therefore, we go in faith, trusting that this endeavor is completely in line with God’s revealed will and trusting that God is able to supply the needs to go in His timing and in His way for His glory. It is with this faith in God and His work and His glory that we have gone ahead and bought our tickets and continue to press forward to go to Malawi. 

We are so grateful to those of you who have been partnering with us by prayer and by pledging to give! We are grateful for our church, Grace Community Church and their sending agency, Grace Ministries International (GMI) for sending us out.

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 13248 Roscoe Boulevard, Sun Valley, CA 91352.

Electronic giving will be available later this week! You can still fill out form to pledge to give electronically or monthly here.

Thank you for your support and encouragement! It is so encouraging to hear how many people are praying for us (we need it!) and to have already received pledges for financial support! To God alone be the glory!

 *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.

Why Hebrew in Malawi?

HebScript“So you’re telling me that you’re going to one of the poorest countries in the world in Africa to train pastors how to effectively translate the Old Testament (given to the nation of Israel between 1406 BC to 400 BC) from the original Hebrew?”



That’s a good question. It all starts with Jesus’ mission for the Church:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

There are Christians in Malawi right now because people went and made disciples and immersed them into the family of the Triune God. However, the job doesn’t stop there. There must be teaching them all that Christ commands. That’s where the local church and pastors preaching from the text of the Bible comes in.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:  preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Timothy 3:16-4:2)
In Malawi, there is the need for equipped preachers to teach their people what the Scriptures really say so that they can live in accord with them. Many claim to identify as Christians in order to say that they are not Muslims but their understanding of the gospel of Jesus and His claims on their lives is shallow. In Africa, Jesus is often preached as someone Who will make you healthy and wealthy. That is simply not true and can be countered only by a true knowledge of all that the Scriptures say. God’s design is to have a gifted man empowered by the Holy Spirit preaching the Scriptures accurately.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
There is a right and a wrong way to handle the Scriptures, and each preacher will have to give an account of himself to God for how he did handle them. Thus, the need to train men to handle the Scriptures well.
“Ok, but aren’t translations good enough to preach?”
Yes and no. Since the New Testament writers often quoted the Old Testament (Hebrew) Scriptures in Greek, we have inspired precedent for translations of Scripture carrying the divine authority of the original. Thus, learning, teaching, and preaching from a good translation (one that reflects the original as closely as is reasonably possible) is completely valid.
That being said, lack of widespread knowledge of the original languages is one factor that led to the spiritual darkness of the Middle Ages. Knowing the original languages brings a specificity, so that a pastor can argue for truth and against error with complete conviction. Listen to Mr. Luther on this point:
Without languages we could not have received the gospel.
Languages are the scabbard that contains the sword of the
Spirit; they are the casket which contains the priceless jewels
of antique thought; they are the vessel that holds the wine;
and as the gospel says, they are the baskets in which the loaves
and fishes are kept to feed the multitude.

If we neglect the literature we shall eventually lose the
gospel. . . . No sooner did men cease to cultivate the languages
than Christendom declined, even until it fell under the undisputed dominion of the pope. But no sooner was this torch relighted, than this papal owl fled with a shriek into congenial gloom. . . . In former times the fathers were frequently
mistaken, because they were ignorant of the languages and
in our days there are some who, like the Waldenses, do not
think the languages of any use; but although their doctrine is

good, they have often erred in the real meaning of the sacred
text; they are without arms against error, and I fear much that
their faith will not remain pure.
(Quoted by John Piper in Brother’s We are Not Professionals, 103-104).
“But, why the Old Testament? Isn’t the New Testament good enough?”
Again, yes and no. The New Testament is absolutely sufficient to give true and saving knowledge of Christ and instruction in how to obey Him. But we must recall 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which says all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable. That includes the roughly 75% of your Bible that is the Old Testament. Here is what Jesus has to say about the Old Testament:
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44)
How is a Christian transformed into greater Christlikeness? Beholding the glory of Christ.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Jesus Himself said He is to be seen in the Old Testament. Seeing Him and His glory in the Old Testament and the New Testament changes us. I can attest that over the last few months at The Master’s Seminary, I have seen Christ’s glory in the pages of the Old Testament so clearly that it has changed me. The Bible is true. The Gospel is true. Christ and His Kingdom are true. We are starving ourselves of Christ’s glory if we do not know our Old Testament, and we need pastors who know their Hebrew well to help us see with 4K resolution the glories of God the Son.
This is why I want to go to Malawi. I want to help my fellow Malawian MDiv students to see the glories of Christ in the Old Testament with the kind of precision that knowledge of Hebrew can bring. I plead with you: There is a need in the Church, by God’s grace alone, Ashley and I can help meet it. Would you send us?
Please pray for financial and prayer support we desperately need to go. The time is short. We need around $30,000 before we leave in June. Please pray for us daily and ask the Lord if He would have you partner with us financially for the spread of the gospel in Malawi. Please fill out the form at the end of this link: