The Wide Gate or the Straight Gate

As I write this blog, I am thinking of the burden that the Lord has placed on my heart about training the church leadership in the Eastern Asia Countries.  It began last year when I made a mission trip to china and saw the hunger for the Bible and also saw the lack of training available for the house church pastor and church leadership.  The sacrifice they were willing to make just to attend a bible training meeting was soul searching. 

Then to be invited to speak at a Bible training conference in Japan this year had another impact on me.  As we were preparing for the conference, we visited a shrine and a temple there in Japan.  We were told that the entrance to the shrine or temple is always through a gate such as the one shown here. 

The gate entrance to a shrine.

The purpose of the shrine is that the people have a place to worship and they would go through various exercises in order that the “gods” would bless them.  The gods were somewhat mystical in how they would respond but there was a void in the culture and this was established to fill that void.  It reminded me of Acts 17:23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. Since there is no other God than Jehovah God, to worship another god would be worshiping a false god or Satan and his cohorts.

My thoughts then turned to Mt 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  If this worship is not of the only true God, then it is not a god at all but one of Satan’s haven of refuge that teaches his false doctrines and holds people in bondage.  Simply put it is the entrance to hell.  Jesus promised that the church would storm the gates of hell and they would not stand against the forces of God that He would bring against the forces of darkness This faith is the power and method of Christ working through the church.

We felt this power all through the conference that was attended by leadership of churches from 6 countries.  The conference was presented in three languages, English, Japanese and Chinese.  This may seem odd to some as the Chinese and Japanese have fought each other for a long time, yet about half of the attendees in this Japanese setting, came from China.  The theme of the conference was walking by faith and it extended over 4 days.  One of the features was the session in the evening where those attending the conference would share from their observations, what they had learned from the days events.  The worship sessions were a special blessing as the music was sang in three languages as well.  As we sang and worshiped together there was a unity of spirit that overshadowed all other separations so that we all focused on Christ alone and His presence was especially felt.  The afterglow that followed the day’s events was also a special blessing as it was spent in sharing and counseling as late as midnight and beyond.  This was a tremendous meeting and following it there have been additional results of three additional mission trips, and opened doors to additional possibilities.

This brings me to my burden for a training center in Japan.  I shared it with my pastor who not only endorsed it but also stated that this is where our mission efforts are projected.  He challenged me to write down my vision for such a conference and agreed to work with me in its concepts.  One of the pastors that attended the conference is now moving to Oklahoma to pastor a Chinese church there and we are meeting in December to also pray and plan for this Training Center.  Also, we will be meeting with Dr. Alan Bandy who is the NT professor at Oklahoma Baptist University who I spent a few days with over the Thanksgiving Day holidays.  I have also contacted some other Christian education schools who have also indicated their intentions to work with us on this project.

As my wife and I were returning home on the flight, I was following our progress on the monitor and considering the idea of a training center, I was jolted by what I saw on the monitor.  The route showed a satellite view of the ocean floor and just below the Aleutian Islands and on our route I saw 17:7, below the route and near the center of the picture.  The Aleutian Islands are above the route line and the islands are shown as the white portions.  You can see it also on Google Maps in the satellite view.

The 17:7 is below the route line and nearly centered. The Aleutian Island are shown as white above the route line.

It has been there for thousands of years and was truly put there by God when He created the earth.  It was so plain but what did it mean?  I noted that this is the chapter and verse designation used in the Bible of separating the chapter and verse by a colon.  I began to look at each book that has 17 chapters or more and in the 17th chapter has a 7th verse.  There are 23 such verses in the Bible so which one was intended? 

Of the 23 verses in the Bible that have a 17:7 location, one stands out above all the rest because it is the only one that  references sacrifices offered unto devils and it is found in Leviticus 17:7 And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute forever unto them throughout their generations. 

So I sense that the message is simply this, Go in faith that God intends to deliver those in bondage to false gods so that they may come to know the only true God, Jesus who is the Christ and He will deliver them.  Satan does not have the power to withstand against the church that walks by faith in Christ alone.

Update 11.23.2019

Thank you for praying for me as I have been going through some real struggles.  It is not health for the Lord has been quite gracious to me.  I have lost a few pounds which I needed to do and am feeling fine.  It is not a financial or social or personal problem either.  It has been a spiritual battle within me.  I find myself wasting time on lesser important things and not doing the things that are of eternal value.  One of the things that I have neglected is posting here on the website and I felt that I needed to address it openly and honestly.

It’s not that I haven’t had time, for I get the same allotment that you and everyone else get, 24 hours a day.  Not even a second more or a second less but exactly 24 hours a day.  It is not how much time I have but how I manage it.  Lately, I have been letting it manage me and that was my sin.  Just as you can just sit in a boat on a river and remain in one position, life is constantly moving like the river and either you let it carry you down river or you paddle to go upriver.  If you try to anchor yourself in one position you will eventually sink because the river is constantly changing.  Not only is it always moving but sometimes it has more water and sometimes it has less.  Sometimes the wind blows and sometimes it is at rest.  Also, the seasons are constantly changing and bring various types of debris that affect your travel. 

 Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,  Itis not alike I was doing something that was sinful or immoral.  I wasn’t being productive in my stewardship.  It doesn’t have to be a sinful activity in order for it to be a sin.  Any old weight will do.  Weights are unnecessary activity that consumes your attention and resources so that you are not effective in doing the will of God.   James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. 

I do not offer excuses, but rather, I ask from you forgiveness.  We are all on a journey to eternity and the decisions we make determine not only the journey now but also how we are completed for eternity.