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.

 

Viktor’s speech at the Berlin Home Education Conference of 2012

Viktor speaks at Berlin GHEC 2012

Viktor speaks at Berlin GHEC 2012

In November 2012 I participated in the first global home education conference in Berlin. On these links you can both read my statement and listen to the session where I was able to present. Home education is a very important format for Christians training their children in the faith and in proper critical thinking. Therefore it will remain part of our work of spreading the Gospel and doing justice.

http://www.ghec2012.org/cms/sites/default/files/Kostov_Court%20of%20Law.pdf

You may watch the whole session on the Court of Law at the conference here (Viktor is the second speaker at about 11 min).

Berlin GHEC – Court of Law

 

Faith That Works: Worshiping God or Caesar?

manif-9 septI grew up in communist Bulgaria when public false worship of the national false god was mandatory. One of the major roles of the government, and why not the main purpose, was to ensure obedience to the ideology of the ruling cult – the communist party.

The  photograph o the left has recorded a so called “manifestation” of the people in Bulgaria under communism. All schools, universities, factories, and all workers had to show up for these parades and shout worshipful slogans to the communist party, the state and its leaders. The socialist utopia was at its highest frenzy.
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Freedom of religion and conscience in the Bible – Daniel 6

The Scriptures are filled with witness of how the believers’ faith collides with the deception of ungodly leaders in government and society. One such example we find in Daniel 6.

The excellence in Daniel’s work for the king becomes a source of envy for his “co-workers” in ruling the regions of the empire. They realize that they will not be able to catch him in a work-related blunder so they decide that his faith will be the reason for his fall. The anti-religious freedom lobbyists go to the king and ask him to pass a law that will mandate that for 30 days no one will pray to any other god but him, the king. “Not a bad idea,” the ruler thought.
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God is Able – by Hillsong

The new village road

In 2010 I was hired as a legal consultant to represent a mayor of a small viallge in Southern Bulgaria. He was an evangelical Christian whose greatest issue was to have a road built for the people of his viallge. The village was in the mountains separated by 30 km (about 18 miles) from the rest of the world by a dirt road which went through private property; the owner of the property did not allow the villagers to use the path going through his piece of land.
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