All posts by admin

Northwestern Bulgarian Initiative to Secede: A Cry of Despair and a Call to Mission?

map of Northwestern Bulgaria
The Northwestern corner of Bulgaria, from west to east: Vidin, Montana, and Vratza.

We have been serving with the Gospel and mission work in Vidin, the Northwestern city of Bulgaria since 2001, and by moving to serve in the local church in 2009.

Recently people in the region called for the autonomy of the three Northwestern districts in the country — Vratza, Montana, and Vidin. However, the initiative was withdrawn as its leader, a factory worker from Montana, acknowledged that his idea was to point to the devastating economic situation in the region and feeling of despair people who live there feel. Northwestern Bulgaria is the poorest statistically region of the European Union.

The Northwestern voters usually support generally support in the majority the Bulgarian Socialist Party, the former communist during elections. Only the truth of the Gospel can help these desperate people, and this may be a cry for spiritual help with the message of hope in Jesus.

There are churches in the Northwest region, however, they are small and face economic and spiritual hardship. Our perception is that it is the place with least missionaries in the nation.

(NOTE: The articles in Bulgarian may have to be translated with an online translator for general concepts and ideas, as such machine translation is not reliable.)

map BG
Map of Bulgaria and neighboring countries

Answers to Questions in a Worldly, Post-Christian Culture

Open Bible
An open Bible

Who shapes our outlook on this life and the life to come? God and His Word, or the words of the culture around us, dominated by the prince of the air?

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” When we don’t want to listen to the truth of Scripture we have ways of reasoning faith away by simply ignoring the Biblical teaching or by twisting it to mean something different from what it actually means. Christians have an obligation to teach those who accept the Gospel of Christ to obey all that He has commanded (Matt. 28:16-18). The Great Commission mandate is not just to listen to and marvel at the Lord’s teachings, but to instruct the nations to obey these teachings.

No one can teach obedience to Christ’s commandments unless they themselves obey His teachings.

A recent interaction with a long-term friend and supporter prompted me to post the following links which lead to articles and videos addressing issues that our ministry, and most Christians, engage with on a regular basis and issues which are of critical importance of understanding Christ’s teachings in these last days. There are a lot of publications on these subjects thus it is not necessary for me to repeat what others have already written or said on the subjects. The publications behind these links will raise a question or in some — just eyebrows. Yet the truth of the Word of God cannot be reinvented and laden with non-existent but culturally palatable meanings. Only proper reading of Scripture, led by the Holy Spirit will lead us to understand God’s will and to obey the commandments of Christ (which are not that hard: Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor!)

The publications address homosexual imperialism, homeschooling, the authority of women in the church, and the church’s relation to Israel.

The Homosexual Agenda in Our Public Schools

10 Biblical Reasons to Homeschool

What Does It Mean Not to Teach or Have Authority Over Men (1 Timothy 2:11-15)

Marching to Zion (a 1:48 hr documentary on youtube addressing the relationship of the people of God to contemporary Israel in view of the New Testament and the end times).

It is noteworthy that the said links are from and for the American context and cultural scenery. It may seem that the content does not relate to our missionary work. Nothing can be further from the truth. US Christianity has had and still has an influence on the church and missions worldwide. American popular culture, also affecting the American church, popular music, Hollywood movies, technology, and worldview with attached ideologies affect the whole world through the power of the media.

We cannot avoid the changed context of the global culture we live in.

That’s why we must address issues and ideologies geographically removed from us, yet brought home through technology and speed of travel. Christian mission overseas is affected by the state of Christianity in other places and especially in the U.S. to which many Christians and churches look up to.

To illustrate the importance of understanding the spiritual dynamic of today’s global and politicized world we should ponder the imperialistic mandate of the then British prime minister David Cameron, who in 2013 announced to the nations that he wanted to export the whole world the same-sex “marriage” his government had so proudly of introduced into their own legal system. Cameron’s arrogant pronouncement sounds like the Great Commission, just with the opposite moral quality.

The favorite phrase of the superheroes of American comic books and their Hollywood offshoots usually goes like this: “With great power, comes great responsibility.” How we, as the body of Christ, handle the “power” of cultural influences and the power of God’s Word is of great importance to the fulfillment of the Great Commission entrusted to us by the Lord.

Who is Your President?

United States presidential candidates in 2016
The United States presidential candidates in 2016

One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor, states Proverbs 29:23.

With political passions engulfing the globe one must ask if believers should stay away from politics? The answer is negative. Simply our “politics” is different. It is of the Kingdom of God, and not of the kingdoms of this world. When Christ declared to Pilate in John 18 that His kingdom is not of this world He did not mean that He is an escapist. Neither did He want that for His disciples. He  meant that the way He and His followers engage in this world defies its principles of corruption and rebellion. Just the opposite, Jesus’s own mission and the one He gave to the church is one of full engagement with the Gospel with all peoples and worldly powers (Matt 28:16-18)

We also need to remember that regardless of our well-devised political systems, and our preferences of one or the other, it is God who places rulers in place, and he removes them, per His own will. The principle of God’s ultimate sovereignty is well described in Daniel, chapter 4.

The Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes. (Daniel 4:25b).

The whole chapter speaks of the sovereignty of God. It overrides the so-called “sovereignty of the people” and of the sovereignty of a “nation.” Democratic elections are not the ultimate source of kingly appointments. See verse 17.

The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.’

The United States presidential elections of 2016 are a perfect example of these truths. Donald Trump, a man laughed at and vehemently opposed by both the political and media establishments, won the elections. His victory should be a sign to all, especially to Christians, that God’s will is ultimate and He is no respecter of man. The eternal plans of God will override all human plans for life and society.

His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?” (Daniel 4:33-35)

Those who were laughing in arrogance at Donald Trump’s efforts to campaign for the presidency are not laughing anymore. They are crying (WARNING: Inappropriate language used by one of the featured political activists at the end of the video clip. Another one’s implied but soundless.).

Today’s planners of a future without God should learn from king Nebuchadnezzar:

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble. (Daniel 4:7)

Freedom of Speech vs. Free Speech

Holy BibleOne may have the freedom to express oneself and that is a political and legal right in many democratic nations; however, it is the Creator of speech Who eventually has the final say on the matter. Freedom of speech is often wrongly seen as expression free from any moral limitations.

Jesus taught that “the evil man takes out from the evil treasure of his heart evil things; as the good man takes out from the good treasure of his heart good things.” This is true about our speech. Lies and slander about people or about who God is, have effect on our lives, regardless if we believe in that or not.

O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

— Matthew 12:34-37 KJV.

Theological lying and slander against the true God maybe protected legally by the rules of freedom of expression. But freedom of speech is different from free speech. The former usually guarantees one to be able to say whatever they want no matter how wise, stupid, ridiculous or offensive; it is generally designed as a legal right to criticize tyrants and prevent evil ruler and bureaucrats from shutting down those who speak the truth. Yet in a self-centered society this good legal guarantee of expression can be, and has become, a defense of most reprehensible and useless forms of expression. (We will not give any examples here to not promote this kind of expression,  but such are readily available on the net.)

Free speech, on the other hand, is one that is morally and ethically justifiable, and leads to the truth and to the ultimate freedom in Jesus Christ. Hence lying and slandering God, although maybe be protected by “freedom of expression,” but it is not free speech – it is deceptive and destructive. There is no freedom without truth and Jesus clearly taught that freedom is to study and obey His teachings (John 8:32). As the world continues to slip into darkness and chaos, Jesus has called us to be light and salt, and call to repentance all who seek the Truth. This the speech that the world needs to hear. 

Slander and Efficient Christian Ministry

Charles H. Spurgeon
Charles H. Spurgeon

“The more prominent you are in Christ’s service, the more certain are you to be the butt of calumny [slander]. I have long ago said farewell to my character. I lost it in the earlier days of my ministry by being a little more zealous than suited a slumbering age. And I have never been able to regain it except in the sight of Him who judges all the earth, and in the hearts of those who love me for my work’s sake.”

— Charles H. Spurgeon

Quote taken from this article: http://veracityvoice.com/?p=5973

Suprgeon’s thoughts on the close relation between efficient Christian service and ad hominem attacks on the minister are a biblical and sober reminder that the spiritual battle never lets up.

Ministry initiatives at the church and the youth club

These are the latest planned ministry projects of the church outreach and youth club ministries. Please, pray as the Lord puts these works on your heart.

1) Christmas outreach: the youth to visit an orphanage in December (as we did last year) for sharing the gospel message of hope (and telling the kids that they do indeed have a Heavenly Father that loves them), music, games and Christmas presents.

2) Evangelism: Launching a weekly youth/young adult worship night as a means to attract non-church-going youth and young adults. This form of worship will combine music and various art forms to convey the truths of the scriptures. This weekly event will be led by a youth and overseen by the leadership team of the church.

3) Church Enrichment: Monthly men’s and women’s prayer breakfast. These gatherings are intended to deepen the relationships of those already attending the church, as well as providing an opportunity for men and women to invite their non-Christian friends to a light breakfast and short message/talk regarding the Christian walk. Men and women will be challenged to think on the topics raised during the month and put their faith to work on a daily basis.

4) Spring Outreach: A free BBQ open to all who are interested in learning more about Christian living in Vidin. The church will provide a free lunch/BBQ and set up games in the park. Those who attend will be invited to learn more about the city-wide church ( a group of 6 churches working together in Vidin) and the gospel message will be shared. We are hoping to be able to provide some free Christian literature as well.

5) Summer mission’s trip: the youth would like to take a summer mission’s trip within Bulgaria to share their faith and activate that which is already in them. There are opportunities within the country amongst the refugee populations, poor villages, etc. We need to come to a decision on where, but the opportunities are abundant for local mission. This is a great time for youth to take what they have been learning and put it to use and see God’s love, faithfulness and mercy.

Lord or Sir? Borthers or Sisters?

Christ meets Saul on the road to Damascus
Christ meets Saul on the road to Damascus

It is critically important that Bible translations remain true to the original text. The truth will set us free if it is presented…truthfully. Unfortunately, throughout the ages, as well as today, translators play with the cultural perception of the biblical message. Such playfulness often goes beyond the bona fide search for proper and adequate communication of the Word and changes the meaning of certain passages of Scripture. Such changes can confuse the reader or worse — lead to error and apostasy.

For example, this verse, Acts 26:15 has always grabbed my attention and made me ponder on its lack of logic:

And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. (ESV)

To put the verse in context: This is apostle Paul, explaining to high government officials his interaction with the Lord Jesus Christ on the way to Damascus. This is when Paul was still Saul and was severely persecuting Christians, the followers of the Lord. Saul did not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Secondly, the question is illogical since it contains the answer: : “Who are YOU (QUESTION), LORD (ANSWER)?” Why is Saul asking the Lord who He is? Obviously he knows him — calls Him “Lord.” If he did not know him, why why is he calling him “Lord,” then?  Or if actually does not know who he is talking to, Saul is asking an honest question, “Who are you really?” But then the address “Lord” does not make sense. “Lord” is meant to denote one and one only Person in the NT – THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. So is Saul (Paul) being hypocritical here, and all of a sudden acknowledges Jesus Christ as Lord, and still asks him who He is? Or is it the religious hypocrisy of the translators that has played a role in this mix up?

I suggest it is the second. The proper translation of the word “lord” which is capitalized by translators in this passage to give honor to Jesus Christ, Who indeed is speaking to Saul, is “sir.” Yes, the translators know that it is Jesus speaking to Paul, and try to honor His name by capitalizing Saul’s addressing Him. However, Saul seems to  not have an idea of who he is talking to. Saul gets even more confused when the person talking to him states that Saul is persecuting him! It only makes sense that Saul is using the term “lord” or “master” from which we derive today’s word “mister” and “sir” in that very sense. Saul is simply being polite to a stranger who is talking to him. Yes, under very strenuous for Saul and his companions’ circumstance, but still — a stranger.

Only 3 of over 30 translations, however, use the proper translation – “Who are you, sir?” The Complete Jewish Bible, God’s Word Translation, and the New Living Translation. Even the loose interpretive book based on the Bible original — the Message translates Saul’s address wrongly — “Who are You, Master?” The use of “Master” speaks that the author of the Message felt that Saul was aware of Christ’s Lordship, at least to some extent. Thus even the Message asserts the confusing question-answer statement posed by Saul to Jesus.

Following the true translation of Saul’s address to the unknown to him till that moment Jesus Christ, as “Who are you, sir?” then all becomes clear to the reader immediately. The traveler who hates Christians is in shock; he wants to know who is talking to him in such a powerful and authoritative way. However, we imagine in the older times when the view of God was higher and less focused on the human side of the Lord, the translators did not want to offend the divinity and authority of Christ, at the expense of blurring Saul’s words and interaction. Then the rest of the translators followed suit, cementing the confusion. 3 of 33 is not many.

However, no one is without sin. The same NLT, which so well translates the question of the confused persecutor of Christians to the appeared Lord Jesus Christ, does its own “cultural” misinterpretations and bad translating. Under the contemporary push toward “gender equality,” a Marxist and left wing socialist ideology, NLT inserts “sisters” where the actual writer of the New Testament book only writes “brothers.” Thus 1 Timothy 4:6 reads like this in ESV

If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.

The context is that the teachings of apostle Paul must be clearly explained to Christ’s followers. However, this becomes a different verse in NLT, which reads:

If you explain this to the brothers and sisters, you will be doing your duty as a worthy servant of Christ Jesus, one who is fed by the message of faith and the true teaching you have followed.

Given, the NLT editors have put in a footnote that the original only says “brothers.” However, putting words in the mouth and pen of biblical authors is no small offense. It seems that NLT publishers, and those of a number of other new translations  (NCV, NIRV, TNIV, NRS), are quite concerned about the lack of “gender sensitivity” of the biblical authors and in this case — Paul the apostle. Why is it that instead of footnoting their interpretations and musings on biblical interaction with contemporary ideological agendas, these editions change the original and create the platform for a significantly different meaning? Are Christian women so insecure and lacking self-identity that the Bible must be changed so that they feel politically and ecclesiastically accepted? Do Christian women even care about PC and “equality” of the type the world pushes, in which women must be, look, and act like men? (“Gender equality” is a concept dramatically opposed to biblical worldview of genders. Man and woman in the Bible are complementary to each other, not “class enemies” fighting for domination.)

How serious are such offenses, abandoning the original meaning to insert a contemporary overtones of the Bible? Confusion in the case with “sir” and “Lord” as to the meaning of the verse and the interaction. As to the second part, Dr. Luis Marcos has a very interesting position which should be read in full here: I Now Pronounce You Human and Human: How Gender-Neutral Bible Translations Prepared the Way for the Christian Acceptance of Gay Marriage.

Any botched version of the truth, like rewriting the biblical text to fit contemporary mores, becomes breeding ground for error and apostasy. We must not forget the teaching of Revelation 22:18. It should remind us that even in a world and day when people think they can change their gender at will, God’ Word is eternal and any playfulness with it is playing with fire. Eternal one.

Church-State Relations After the Fall of Comminism

Our new volume containing 10 articles from equal number of E. Orthodox and Evangelical authors just came of the press. The articles are based on the conference we held in May last year (2012). The volume addresses the way both evangelicals and Orthodox do and should related to the secular state in post communist era. I had the privelege to be the editor and compiler of this work of renown Bulgarian Orthodox and Protestant (evangelical) thinkers. You can view the promotional web site here and even order a copy but be aware that only three pages are in English – the title page and the table of contents.