Posts Tagged ‘religion’

The Way of the Christian Samurai: Reflections for Servant-Warriors of Christ [Kindle Edition]

April 21st, 2012

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The Samurai were soldiers of feudal Japan who dedicated their lives entirely to their lords. In fact, the very title of samurai means “one who serves.” Legends of their skill, sacrifice, and service have been passed down for hundreds of years. As Christians, we are called to be both servants and soldiers of Christ. As this book demonstrates, there is much we can learn from the teachings and example of these legendary servant-warriors of Japan. We can respond to the call of our Lord, Jesus Christ, as Christian Samurai.

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Product Details
File Size: 219 KB
Print Length: 116 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0977223469
Publisher: Eternal Revolution; 1 edition (July 14, 2009)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English
ASIN: B002HMCLGA
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
Lending: Enabled

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Unique, Sound, and Very Practical August 22, 2007
By B. S. Copeland
Format:Paperback”If one were to say in a word what the condition of being a samurai is, its basis lies in seriously devoting one’s body and soul to his master…”

This quote, taken from Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, appears on the back cover of WCS. As the quote illustrates, the teachings of the samurai are extremely relevant for Christians, for their single purpose in life was to serve their master and those around them. As the author points our in the book’s introduction, the title “samurai” literally means “one who serves.” The relevance of such a philosophy is obvious for Christians. We are called to deny ourselves and to serve God and our neighbor. However, in our selfish, individualistic culture, the idea of servant hood is entirely foreign to us and we tend to minimize the emphasis on the selfless nature of such servant hood.

The value of this book is in its ability to show us what true servant hood is by examples of the writings of the samurai of old. Of course, we have the perfect example of servant hood in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, it seems like we mythologize his selflessness because of the fact that Jesus is God. Its true that he is God, and that we can’t live up to his perfect display of sacrifice is undeniable. Nonetheless, we are called to live by his example and promised that the trials we face by imitating his self-denial will mature us to be more like him. I’m afraid that we Westerners have trouble living by Christ’s example because the mythological nature that we attach to his servant hood. What would help us is to see examples of people throughout history who lived by the philosophy of being servants who deny themselves on a daily basis to better serve their masters. God has provided us such examples in the samurai of the feudal period of Japan.

In the book, Paul Nowak deals with three main works written by the samurai and shows how their philosophy is practical to Christians. He also shows Scripture passages that parallel these teachings. Amazingly, many of the excerpts from the samurai works are basically rewordings of passages of Scripture. Quickly after I began reading the book I was absolutely amazed by the level of devotion that they aimed to live by. By no means am I more impressed with their example than I am by our Lord’s example. Rather, I was encouraged to see that these men actually displayed the self-denial and loyalty to their master that we are called to do. Keep in mind also, that the samurai were this committed to a fallen human. Our master is the perfect risen King who helps us by sending us his Spirit! How much better should our example of servant hood be? To me, it should be much better. Yet from the examples given in this book, we have a lot of work to do in order to surpass the pagan samurai in our devotion to our master.

After reading it, I have a much better sense of what service and self-denial is. More importantly, it has helped me see more clearly the example that Jesus set, and has encouraged me that I can do much more in imitating it. Also note that this is not one of those lame self-help books. It is thoroughly Christ-centered. It is also a very unique book. I’m pretty sure that it will be a while before I come across a book this unique in content, yet this sound in its message. I suggest this book to everyone but especially to people who are interested in Japanese culture, because it deals a lot with the writings of the legendary samurai who helped make the culture famous.

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Holy Warriors October 25, 2007
By Labarum VINE™ VOICE
Format:PaperbackA lot of people will get nervous about a book that suggests Christians have something to learn from the Samurai about how to serve the Lord. After all, weren’t the Samauri pagans? And doesn’t all of this reek of the sort of syncretism that attempts to equate all religions? It might except for two facts: Not all pagans were monsters and the modern West (including most of the Christians living there) have a lot to learn from the Samauri about the time honored concept of willing servitude.

Paul Nowak attempts to remedy that situation with The Way of the Christian Samurai. Consisting on excerpts from noted samauri masters (the samurai were a class of elite warriors in feudal Japan) with commentary noting applications to the Christian life, the book demonstrates how much modern society has lost in its quest for unrestrained egalitarianism. Certain passages in the New Testament – particularly those showing the deference given by the Apostles and others to Jesus (even before they knew His true nature as the Son of God) – can be misconstrued without understanding the cultural milieu wherein a respected figure was shown honor by those he visited and subservience by his followers. This is at odds with our own tradition on self-reliance to the point of self-centeredness that has led to the highly individualistic form of Christianity that has taken root in America (both on the liberal and conservative ends of the spectrum). The result is the claim of Jesus as Lord without fully grasping the import of claiming someone as Lord.

The samauri may not have been Christian but they did understand concepts that are applicable to the Christian life – often better than we. Integrity, loyalty, honor, service, courage, and self-sacrifice are all things that the samurai were instructed to live. Naturally, many failed in their personal lives but that is as true of Christian clerics as of samurai warriors. The important thing was that they understood the standard for which they strived while in many cases we in the postmodern world are oblivious to the existence of standards.

The excerpts on serving one’s lord are eye-openers for any Christian with a “soft” view of service that rarely goes beyond activities at their local church. The willingness of a warrior to give himself completely to his lord underscores what it means to make oneself part of the “body of Christ”. The Church, in this context, is not an abstract collection of like-minded individuals, but a concrete force sent out to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ a dying world.

To Nowak’s credit, he constantly emphasizes that the Samurai are not in any way Christian and the Samurai way is infinitely inferior to the Way of Christ. The samurai way is at times at odds with the Christian way and in these instances we are to reject the samurai teaching. However, we can learn how we are to serve our lord by the standards the samurai set in serving theirs. It is not a direct application of samurai teachings but one by analogy. It in a sense becomes comparable to how the early Church was able to utilize classical pagan philosopy in systematizing its own theology.

In all this talk of service, one might ask: What about freedom? Indeed, the Christian faith is certainly about freedom. It is about being freed from the bondage of sin but this freedom is found in placing oneself under the headship of Christ. Christians find freedom in becoming part of Christ’s body the Church when we place ourselves in service to Him. This does not at all correlate with the modern idea of freedom that insists we must follow our own desires, but looks back to a time when willingly placing oneself in the service of a great leader was considered a virtue not a vice.

The Way of the Christian Samurai is truly an unusual book among the many published that seek to link Christianity to various Eastern religions or philosophies. It’s uniqueness lies not in any success in doing so, but in its insistence that any such linkage must be judged by the known truths of the Christian faith. Given the limited focus of the book, its acknowledgment of the superiority Biblical teaching, and its usefulness in shedding light on often ignored facets of the Christian way, it is an important book that can be read with profit by those in the Church.

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Christian Century Magazine Subscription

April 10th, 2012

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An ecumenical journal of opinion and news with a broad approach to topics of religion, culture and world affairs.

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Behind the Veils of Yemen How an American Woman Risked Her Life, Family, and Faith to Bring Jesus to Muslim Women by Audra Grace Shelby

February 27th, 2012

Behind the Veils of Yemen: How an American Woman Risked Her Life, Family, and Faith to Bring Jesus to Muslim Women

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Wonderful Book! Must Read!!!

11/30/2011

In Behind the Veils of Yemen, author, Audra Grace Shelby shares her journey as a Christian woman in a culture very different from her own. Audra, her husband and their children uprooted their lives in the U.S. for a life of missions deep in the heart of conservative Islam. This 238 page book details Audra’s journey, struggles and intense doubts while trying to get “behind the veils” of muslim women. Audras’s deep desire to know these women on a personal level and share her love of Jesus Christ with them was truly inspiring. She definitely built some strong relationships and I was very impressed with her level of commitment to uphold their conservative appearance.

I could not put this book down, it was incredibly fascinating to learn more about the Muslim faith and their views on Christianity. Audra doesn’t share a lot about her family in the book and I guess that would be my only complaint, I would love to know how her children felt and coped with being in culture so different and dangerous. As a Christian, I am reminded that God loves people of every religion, background and nation. It’s very easy to not see past our borders, I am in awe of what this woman was committed to doing for the Kingdom of God. I would recommend this book to anyone. I have never been interested in missions but I have a completely different view after reading this. The story flowed very well and was a fast read for me. I LOVED IT!

I received this book from Bethany House publishers review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Format: Paperback, 238 pages Publisher: Baker Pub Group

Publish Date: Sep 2011

ISBN-13: 9780800795184

ISBN-10: 0800795180

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Beautiful Outlaw Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus By John Eldredge

February 27th, 2012

Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus

Format: Hardcover,
225 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Pub

Publish Date: Oct 2011

ISBN-13: 9780892960880

ISBN-10: 0892960884

 

 

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Reading the Gospels without knowing the personality of Jesus is like watching television with the sound turned off. The result is a dry, two-dimensional person doing strange, undecipherable things. Eldredge removes the religious varnish to help readers discover stunning new insights into the humanity of Jesus. 240 pp.

If you view Jesus as boring; read this book
Wow, what a great book. I have read most if not all of Eldredge’s work and in this book the personal and direct Eldredge style shines, but the subject is altogether different from previous works. To see a Jesus not hoovering above but walking among us, in real life is inspiring. John brings a unique view of Christ earthly life that seems to have been lost over the many years since His time on earth. Though we have the writings (Bible) of Jesus’s time here on earth, they seem detached from reality, John brings these lost items back into focus. My thoughts on this text are best summed up by an old Steve Green song, “Oh, I want to You more”.

Simply Stunning!
I laughed…I cried….then I laughed again…really!!! This book, Beautiful Outlaw, takes you through the gamut of emotions. The real Jesus is portrayed here; the playful, cunning, honest, dangerous man who walked this earth. This man healed the sick, rebelled against the corrupt leadership, and shared his faith with his people. He was also a man who kept company with a motley crew of men (the disciples) and found humor in these relationships while guiding them. Many never see this side of Jesus in church and would be rebuked by their peers for even suggesting it. What an eye-opening event to look at the same bible stories with a new perspective! I can imagine this would rock some “religious” folks’ worlds! But in order to have Christ in you, you need to be willing to know and accept the real Jesus. “To know him as he is, is to come home.” What a succinctly stated and beautiful point. I have always loved Jesus, but to know and be able to love the real Jesus now as a result of this book is truly a gift!

 

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Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt

February 1st, 2012

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

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Book Description
Publication Date: May 4, 2010
What is Jesus worth to you?

It’s easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said his followers would actually live, what their new lifestyle would actually look like. They would, he said, leave behind security, money, convenience, even family for him. They would abandon everything for the gospel. They would take up their crosses daily…

But who do you know who lives like that? Do you?

In Radical, David Platt challenges you to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated the gospel to fit our cultural preferences. He shows what Jesus actually said about being his disciple–then invites you to believe and obey what you have heard. And he tells the dramatic story of what is happening as a “successful” suburban church decides to get serious about the gospel according to Jesus.

Finally, he urges you to join in The Radical Experiment–a one-year journey in authentic discipleship that will transform how you live in a world that desperately needs the Good News Jesus came to bring.

Editorial Reviews
Review
Responses to Radical

“In his compelling new book, Radical, David Platt delivers a powerful picture of the church in America today that, on key points, stands in sharp contrast to what the Bible shows us about the person and purpose of Jesus Christ. David challenges Christians to wake up, trade in false values rooted in the American dream, and embrace the notion that each of us is blessed by God for a global purpose—to make Christ’s glory known to all the nations! This is a must-read for every believer!”
—Wess Stafford, president and CEO, Compassion Intl.

“We have moved into a generation of young leaders who have a passion to surrender the American dream if necessary in order to embrace fully, compassionately, and wholeheartedly a bigger dream—the Great Commission. I have never been challenged by an author more than I have by David Platt. Read Radical, be blessed, and be changed.”
—Johnny Hunt, president, Southern Baptist Convention, and pastor, First Baptist Church of Woodstock

“Radical will cause you to bounce on a spectrum between two words: ouch and amen. Tough truths do that. They challenge us to examine our lives and then choose the lasting over the temporary. Read Radical if you’re ready to live differently.”
—Gregg Matte, senior pastor, First Baptist Church of Houston

“David Platt’s book will leave anyone who sincerely engages with his challenge dissatisfied—and faced with a decision: What will authentic faith look like in my life? This book has the potential to revitalize churches today to practice a radical, biblical lifestyle that can transform society and reach a lost world.”
—Jerry Rankin, president, International Mission Board, Southern Baptist Convention

“The church of the Lord Jesus has been seduced by a skilled seductress: the American dream. David Platt exposes this enemy of authentic Christianity and provides a way of escape through a radical faith that leads to a radical obedience. I am not the same after reading it. I trust that will also be true for you.”
—Daniel L. Akin, president, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“It is almost impossible to keep the idols of our own culture from influencing us, whether we want it to happen or not. This is certainly true when it comes to the so-called American dream. We need our eyes opened! We need to be called out! In this challenging and thoughtful book, David Platt shows us the way to live for Someone and something bigger.”
—Darrin Patrick, founding pastor, The Journey, St. Louis

“Sometimes people will commend a book by saying, ‘You won’t want to put it down.’ I can’t say that about this book. You’ll want to put it down, many times. If you’re like me, as you read David Platt’s Radical, you’ll find yourself uncomfortably targeted by the Holy Spirit. You’ll see just how acclimated you are to the American dream. But you’ll find here another Way, one you know to be true, because you’ve heard it before in the words of the Lord Jesus, perhaps most forcefully in the simple call ‘Follow me.’”
—Russell D. Moore, dean, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Through solid examination of the Scriptures and compelling testimonies from believers enduring persecution, my friend David Platt pulls back the curtain on subtle dangers weakening the church in our Western culture. Radical is the urgent call we need to care more about the spiritually lost and physically impoverished people of the world.”
—Ed Stetzer, president, LifeWay Research
About the Author
DAVID PLATT is the pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, a four-thousand-member congregation in Birmingham, Alabama. Widely regarded as an exceptional expositor, David has traveled and taught around the world. He holds two undergraduate and three advanced degrees, including a doctorate from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. David and his wife, Heather, live in Birmingham with their family.
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Product Details
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books; 1 edition (May 4, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601422210
ISBN-13: 978-1601422217
Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight: 5 ounces

Customer Reviews:
This review is from: Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (Paperback)
In Radical, David Platt looks at how Christianity in America has become far too comfortable. He suggests that Americans have become more interested in pursuing the “American dream” than in fulfilling their obligations to Christ. Platt mentions that many Christians will go so far as to twist the Word of God to mean what they desire it to mean. With this in mind, Platt challenges the reader to a year-long journey to make radical changes for the cause of Christ.

Radical is the no-excuse, no-holds-barred work of a pastor who is fed up with what Christianity has become in America. In his passionate way, David Platt shares his burden about a Christian religion that has strayed far from what it is supposed to be. His book teaches and convicts readers. His goal is to help Christians see what they’re missing out on by holding back in their faith.

The book contains stories that will make you weep, as well as those that will shock you. It gives the readers a bold look at where Christians are failing in today’s society and how to bring about a positive change. Platt speaks with no apologies, and his message will undoubtedly raise some eyebrows, especially among the “religious” crowd. However, I found his radical statements to be true and straight down the line of what the Bible teaches.

Say “goodbye” to watered-down theology and “feel good” messages. While Platt’s message may not be popular, I believe it is God-sent.

This review is from: Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (Paperback)
Radical, David Platt’s new book (his first) is a challenge to the American church to take back our faith from the “American Dream.” Platt, the pastor of four-thousand member The Church of Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama, pulls no punches, and somehow manages to disturb without offending.

In nine short and very readable chapters, he makes the case for a radical Christian faith–which SHOULD be the norm. He shows the shameful poverty of our faith amid the affluence of our lifestyles. He advocates a Great Commission mindset far beyond the tidy routines of our comfortable Christianity. He says, for example,

If Jesus is who he said he is, and if his promises are as rewarding as the Bible claims they are, then we may discover that satisfaction in our lives and success in the church are not found in what our culture deems most important but in radical abandonment to Jesus.

If people are dying and going to hell without ever even knowing there is a gospel, then we clearly have no time to waste our lives on an American dream.

Why would we ever want to settle for Christianity according to our ability or settle for church according to our resources?

After eight compelling chapters filled with writing like the above, Radical concludes with The Radical Experiment, a clarion call to “One year to a life lived upside down,” in which the reader is urged to commit to:

Pray for the entire world
Read through the entire Word
Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose
Spend your time in another context
Commit your life to multiplying community

One might expect those challenges to seem like asking too much, particularly in light of some examples he gives. On the contrary, however, it is far more likely that the reader will be champing at the bit to rise to the challenge and respond to the call. In other words, ready to be radical.

This book was provided for review by the publisher, Multnomah Books.

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Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

January 17th, 2012

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

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Book Description
Publication Date: May 1, 2008
God is love. Crazy, relentless, all-powerful love. Have you ever wondered if we’re missing it? It’s crazy, if you think about it. The God of the universe–the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor–loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss. Whether you’ve verbalized it yet or not…we all know somethings wrong. Does something deep inside your heart long to break free from the status quo? Are you hungry for an authentic faith that addresses the problems of our world with tangible, even radical, solutions? God is calling you to a passionate love relationship with Himself. Because the answer to religious complacency isn’t working harder at a list of do’s and don’ts–it’s falling in love with God. And once you encounter His love, as Francis Chan describes it, you will never be the same. Because when you’re wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.

Editorial Reviews
From Publishers Weekly
Chan, senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, Calif., offers a radical call for evangelicals to consider and emulate in this debut guide to living crazy for God. Chan’s own life compels him to live with urgency, and with good reason. His mother died giving birth to him, his stepmother died when he was nine, and his dad when he was 12. As a pastor, Chan says that conducting weekly funerals for people younger than himself has likewise sobered him to life’s unexpectedness and frailty. Chan writes with infectious exuberance, challenging Christians to take the Bible seriously. He describes at length the sorry state of lukewarm Christians who strive for a life characterized by control, safety and an absence of suffering. In stark contrast, the book offers real-life accounts of believers who have given all—time, money, health, even their lives—in obedience to Christ’s call.Chan also recounts his own attempts to live crazy by significantly downsizing his home and giving away his resources to the poor.Earnest Christians will find valuable take-home lessons from Chan’s excellent book. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Francis Chan is founding pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California. He is also the founder of Eternity Bible College and sits on the board of directors of Children’s Hunger Fund and World Impact. Francis spends much of his time speaking to students around the country, committed to teaching directly from the Bible. His passion is to see the church display a much deeper love for Jesus. Francis lives in California with his wife, Lisa, and their four children.

Product Details
Paperback: 205 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; 1st edition edition (May 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434768511
ISBN-13: 978-1434768513
Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches

This review is from: Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God (Paperback)
There are many voices critiquing the North American church today. The voices come from both within and without; from those who love the church and those who hate it. We all know that there is something wrong. But what? In many cases the prescription is the same while the cure varies widely. In his new book Crazy Love, first-time author Francis Chan, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California, regular speaker at Passion conferences and other events, and the guy who recorded that “Just Stop and Think” evangelistic video where he walks for miles holding a surfboard, takes his opportunity to challenge the church. “This book,” he says, “is written for those who want more Jesus. It is for those who are bored with what American Christianity offers. It is for those who don’t want to plateau, who would rather die before their convictions do.” It is a book that is meant to change the way Christians live their lives.

There are two ways of critiquing the church. We can critique out of love or out of disgust. Chan is committed to critiquing the church as an act of love. In a recent interview, when asked about the emergent church, he said this: “As a pastor I hear a lot of emergent leaders talk about what is wrong with the church. It comes across as someone who doesn’t love the church. I’m a pastor first and foremost, and I’m trying to offer a solution or a model of what church should look like. I’m going back to scripture and seeing what the church was in its simplest form and trying to recreate that in my own church. I’m not coming up with anything new. I’m calling people to go back to the way it was. I’m not bashing the church. I’m loving it.” And his love for the church is obvious throughout this book.

The format of Crazy Love is straightforward and effective. Chan dedicates three chapters to renewing our understanding of the character of God and seven chapters calling Christians to examine themselves. Within the book are two ongoing themes that are going to get people talking.

The first theme is that we must painstakingly examine ourselves. We cannot assume we are saved, or to use the biblical metaphor, we cannot assume that we are the good soil. Chan calls the reader to a serious self-inventory through a chapter that provides a profile of the lukewarm. He concludes, “a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there’s no such thing. To put it plainly, churchgoers who are `lukewarm’ are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven.” God wants all or nothing.

The second theme is deeply counter-cultural, going against the stream of both Christian and secular culture. It is this: live your best life later. Chan wants to see Christians living differently–living in a way that is markedly different from those around them. He wants to see Christians forgoing much of what we consider necessary, what we consider our due, in order to focus on treasures that are eternal. He wants us to get outside the realm of what is comfortable to us and focus instead on radical obedience. “God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.”

These two themes and a focus on the Scriptures serve to create a powerful and deeply challenging book. There is a very obvious commitment here to teach Scriptural principles from the Scriptures and to invite the reader to verify what he is writing from those same Scriptures. Not surprisingly, the book’s weakest chapter is the one that depends least on the Bible. It is a chapter providing examples of men and women who have made radical choices to live radically different. At least a couple of examples are of people who are probably not the best examples overall because as they’ve jettisoned their old lives, they’ve also jettisoned too much good theology.

That small critique aside, I found that this is a paradigm-shaking book with a message that Christians desperately need to hear. Too many of us are living too safely and too easily. But for the brief moments we spend at church each week, we are practically indistinguishable from the unbelievers around us. This is not the way it is meant to be. The church could use a loving exhortation and Chan delivers well.