Dec 212013
 

As wonderful as the Christmas season could be, as portrayed by many heart-warming Christmas movies and the powerful celebration of the birth of baby Jesus to bring peace and joy to the world, for many it’s also the time for family dynamics that can stir up a wide range of emotions with family drama, strained relationships, and/or painful loneliness. (confession: yes, I have  my share of ‘em too)

And the timing is just right to get a note from my friend Liz Swanson launching a new blog: In-Law Savvy – bookmark it at inlawsavvy.com - where she actively share her own reflections and insights from the 1,000+ interviews with experts about healthy relationships for the context of growing with the quirkiness of people closest to us and unplanned things that life sometimes brings our way.

inlawsavvy

And the first blog posts show good signs of very interesting reading up ahead in the near year. Look at these salient sound bites of self-reflection:

“… that means I speak as I think instead of thinking before I speak. Being both a reactor and a verbal processor can be a lethal combination.” ~ from I need to vent

“… But my grandmother drove her nuts and apparently my mom was unaware of the fact that we all knew it.” ~ from A fresh perspective on in-laws and control

“… We were so determined to be at our own family celebrations that we actually put our lives in danger to make it work. We’ve learned a lot since then. I know the holidays can be stressful.” ~ from In-Law Stress During the Holidays with 7 Tips for Managing In-Law Stress During the Holiday

“… Looking for the cracks in others produces fertile ground for resentment to grow. Resentment is a private emotion that has little impact on the person it’s directed towards but a very destructive impact on the one who holds it.

For a whole different side of life, stop by Eric Swanson’s blog too (her husband), over at ericjswanson.com. He’s notorious for food photos and drawing grids & quadrants.

Dec 182013
 

Merry Christmas! What better way is there than to worship God in Jesus Christ during Christmas week? This year I’m in the metro Washington DC area with family; and it’s become a family tradition to worship at as many church services as possible during Christmas week. Here’s my working spreadsheet, as I prepare my itinerary. And, for all year round, here’s a list of the most popular (aka: largest) churches in the metro DC area, that would include Maryland and Northern Virginia.

Do you love singing Christmas carols and celebrating this way too? [see my spreadsheet]

best-christmas
And, then after Christmas, I’ll be up in Baltimore for #CMC2013, a Chinese Mission Convention hosted by AFC Inc.

Dec 162013
 

I’m sitting here minding my own business, actually trying to do some work, and my friend Brent Wong (@EpicBdub) asks me about what podcasts I listen to. He also asked how to get more Twitter followers, and I don’t have a good answer, other than to ask you to consider following him: use Follow @EpicBdub.

podcastsRather than just sending him my podcast subscription list (powered by Pocket Casts running on Android) alone, why not share the wealth? So I’ll go ahead and share it with the whole world here on my blog: DJ Chuang’s export.opml (12/16/13).

I’ll get around to putting in the names of the podcasts later; scroll below for the raw output of the OPML converted into HTML. (Sure would save me a ton of time if there was a better OMPL to HTML converter out there; help?!) [did find this OptimalBrowser.com widget to make the list browse-able]

Podcasts on DJ Chuang’s subscription list

  1. [RSS] Crossroads, GetReligion Podcast
  2. [RSS] Marketing Smarts from MarketingProfs
  3. [RSS] NPR Topics: Religion Podcast
  4. [RSS] NPR Topics: Technology Podcast
  5. [RSS] Podcast Answer Man – Cliff J. Ravenscraft
  6. [RSS] Six Pixels of Separation – Marketing and Communications Insights – By Mitch Joel
  7. [RSS] Social Media Marketing Podcast
  8. [RSS] The Moth Podcast
  9. [RSS] The Well: Spoutcast
  10. [RSS] This American Life
  11. [RSS] Timothy Keller Podcast
  12. [RSS] Triangulation
  13. [RSS] On Being
  14. [RSS] TED Talks
  15. [RSS] Charles Lee
  16. [RSS] Social Pros Podcast: Real People Doing Real Work in Social Media
  17. [RSS] Social Media Church podcast
  18. [RSS] How Sound
  19. [RSS] lemUSITA
  20. [RSS] Radiolab from WNYC
  21. [RSS] Manager Tools
  22. [RSS] The Human Business Way
  23. [RSS] The Web Ahead
  24. [RSS] The Leonard Lopate Show from WNYC
  25. [RSS] Evernote Blog » Podcast
  26. [RSS] The Religious Studies Project
  27. [RSS] Recovered Podcast – The Unofficial Alcoholics Anonymous AA Recovery Podcast
  28. [RSS] Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast
  29. [RSS] The Ken Coleman Show
  30. [RSS] NPR: TED Radio Hour Podcast
  31. [RSS] #THINKDIGITAL: Social Media Marketing
  32. [RSS] The Techology Show
  33. [RSS] NPR: Ask Me Another Podcast
  34. [RSS] TED Talks- Society and Culture
  35. [RSS] The Public Speaker’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Improving Your Communication Skills
  36. [RSS] Lexikrat – SAT Words Audio Podcast
  37. [RSS] Webcology
  38. [RSS] DomainSherpa.com
  39. [RSS] Homebrewed Christianity CultureCast
  40. [RSS] In the Loop with Andy Andrews
  41. [RSS] The Splendid Table
  42. [RSS] KCRW’s Good Food
  43. [RSS] On Pop Theology Podcast
  44. [RSS] News in Slow Spanish Podcast
  45. [RSS] Internet Toolbox for Churches
  46. [RSS] What Did They Say Now?
  47. [RSS] Church Tech Weekly
  48. [RSS] ChurchMag Podcast
  49. [RSS] Freakonomics Radio
  50. [RSS] New Yorker: Out Loud
  51. [RSS] The Gospel Coalition
  52. [RSS] Theology Unplugged
  53. [RSS] 5 Minutes in Church History
  54. [RSS] KEXP Presents Music That Matters
  55. [RSS] Rainer on Leadership
  56. [RSS] Jesus Christ Show
  57. [RSS] unSeminary
  58. [RSS] EvFree Fullerton Sermon Podcast
  59. [RSS] The Dinner Party Download
  60. [RSS] Saddleback Church Weekend Messages
  61. [RSS] The Accidental Creative
  62. [RSS] NPR Columns: Sunday Puzzle Podcast
  63. [RSS] On The Page: Screenwriting
  64. [RSS] iMandarinPod.com
  65. [RSS] Soulation
  66. [RSS] The Phil Vischer Podcast
  67. [RSS] Housholder’s Life & Liberty
  68. [RSS] Dan Pink’s Office Hours
  69. [RSS] The Exchange with Ed Stetzer
  70. [RSS] Church Planter Podcast
  71. [RSS] Sexy Marriage Radio
  72. [RSS] Real Truth Real Quick
  73. [RSS] Reformed Pubcast
  74. [RSS] Being Bipolar
  75. [RSS] Tech News Today
  76. [RSS] Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield
  77. [RSS] Frequency.FM
  78. [RSS] The Weekly Firecast with Scott Roberts
  79. [RSS] Pathway Community Church Messages
  80. [RSS] NPR Topics: Food Podcast
  81. [RSS] The Event Tech Podcast
  82. [RSS] Reformed Forum » Christ the Center
  83. [RSS] ReformedCast
  84. [RSS] Sermonsmith
  85. [RSS] NPR Programs: Fresh Air Podcast
  86. [RSS] The God Journey
  87. [RSS] The Hitched Podcast: Perfecting Your Marriage
Dec 102013
 

A new entity called Crowd Companies launched today and what an exciting new future that it’s creating! Kudos to Jeremiah Owyang for taking this bold leap of faith with courage and conviction to reboot the business model of companies and corporations. The one slide from his Le Web 13 presentation that vividly portrays this transformation is this – purposeful brands provide shared value.
leweb13jeremiah
Do you see what I see? Companies of the future have to be more than about profit and value exchange, it’s got to be more about societal development! And for my interest in non-profits and churches, I’d love to have conversations incubate and acceleration on what it’d mean for there to be no difference between employees and customers/constituents!

See Crowd Companies‘ website at crowdcompanies.com for more. Presentation slide deck below.

Dec 092013
 

Listening to the churchm.ag podcast and this quote echoed out to me, “You don’t know your voice until you use it…” (Jon Acuff).. and with recent activities I’ve been thinking on how the perception of Asian Americans have been shaped by stereotypes perpetuated by traditional and mainstream media. (I’m tempted to call this controlled media vs. uncontrolled media splattered across social networks.)

I’ve listed some of the more active bloggers and voices in the Asian American Christian world in the past at: Top church blogs by minority leaders (2010), connecting with multiethnic church bloggers (2011), and women Asian American Christian ministry leaders. Now there’s a comprehensive list over at AsAmChristian Blogroll, compiled by Huan-Zung Hsu aka Ghozt Writer.

Allow me to mention 5 bloggers who are particularly active and engaging during this season that I’m reading:

Peter Chin (peterwchin.com) -peterwchin-headshot1a Korean American pastor who is currently pastoring in a mostly African-American church in the very urban Washington DC. Peter’s very articulate in his blogging craft, and his educational background certainly helps. He’s had media exposure on the likes of Christianity Today, CBS Sunday Morning, NPR, Washington Post. And as a husband of a cancer survivor, Peter had drafted a manuscript to tell the story of his journey alongside of his wife’s battle while pregnant that took 3 years to find a publisher. I know his blogging pace will be competing for his time with urban ministry, family, and a book to write, but I love reading his perspectives.

Kathy Kahng (morethanservingtea.wordpress.com)kathy-khang-1c- InterVarsity’s regional multiethnic ministries director, a contributor to “More Than Serving Tea: Asian American Women on Expectations, Relationships, Leadership and Faith” (InterVarsity Press), got recent media exposure for co-authoring (with Helen LeeAn Open Letter to the Evangelical Church on Cultural Insensitivity and Reconciliation in the Church from Asian American Christians United. Kathy shared the back story at The Open Letter, How We Got Here & Where We Hope to Go. Kathy was also one of the speakers at the Q Focus: Women & Calling event. Kathy blogs with an acquired-taste blend of everyday life and pointing out issues.

J.S. Park (jsparkblog.comjspark3000.tumblr.com)jspark1c- a Korean American pastor in Florida making room for “.. the honesty we all long for and the grace we all need. You have questions: let’s work through the answers.” I love the dialogue he’s fostered. I’m guessing he gets a ton of questions submitted via his tumblr ask page and/or in person. Noticed that he just delivered an entire sermon in spoken word!

Vivian Mabuni (vivianmabuni.com)-vivian a veteran campus ministry leader with Epic Movement and Cru (formerly Campus Crusade) and writing a traditionally-published forthcoming book about her journey as a cancer survivor. It’s already got a title = Warrior In Pink: A Story of Cancer, Community and the God Who Comforts coming April 2014.

Anonymous J Lee (anonymousjlee.wordpress.com) – an Asian American minister who started blogging actively to process his ideas out loud after attending the 2nd National Multiethnic Church Conference hosted by Mosaix Global Network. (I don’t think I got to meet him there, and if I did, I wouldn’t know.) I’ve enjoyed his refreshing candor and honesty to raise questions and perspectives that are rarely ever articulated.asian_guy He’s blogging anonymously for certain reasons, and when/if he’s ready to reveal his identity, that’ll help fill in the gaps in his narrative that is currently only occasionally alluded to. His quote “.. articulating what Asian American Christians bring is hard.. we need some space to figure it out” prompted me to write this blog post (since he doesn’t allow blog comments) — and, yes, we need space, and time, and I believe social media affords us unlimited space to use our voices, if only more of us will. (I realize we all have other responsibilities and day jobs etc etc, and you know what, so do I..)

What other voices have you noticed lately that’s contextualizing an Asian American Christian life? (Notice my use of the word “contextualizing” to denote the bicultural/multicultural perspectives of those who choose to identify with the English-speaking multi-Asian social location, recognizing there are also many Asian American Christians that self-identify with Americans generically or solely with their specific Asian ethnicity.)

Dec 072013
 

I was delighted to meet Jon Ido Warden earlier this year and receive a review copy of his self-published book, “Resisting Grace: Our Avoidance and His Persistence.” I confess that I have only read one-third of it, so what I can write is a book reaction and a first impression of the book overall, so you may consider this book as a resource for your life and/or for someone you know. How the author described the book on its about page:resisting-grace-preview

Writing this book has been a five year process in my life. The book worked on me as much as I worked on it. Resisting Grace is about God working to bring about changes in our lives and we resisting it. It is about understanding what his grace is doing as well as understanding our resistance so as to learn to cooperate and experience greater works of grace. It’s about what is God trying to do in my life. It is about hearing him, being stirred by him, moved by him, stripped by him, filled by him, transformed by him. It’s knowing He wants to change you. It’s knowing change comes from him. It’s knowing it is not in formulas of self-helps techniques but in the dynamic power of grace that only comes from intimacy with a God who works within. It’s knowing why we resist him and how we can start moving with instead of against with such a good work of grace.

What I think is particularly and specifically about this book is the context from which the text emerges. I’ve heard of Jon’s reputation and renown for his ministry and impact among Asian American Christians, a topic that I personally also have great interest, and he’s clocked in over 35 years in ministry both in the church and in clinical settings. Jon draws from insights from the Scriptures and his personal, professional, and ministry life (like most other Christian authors) but his voice is distinctly Asian-American (and there is no one Asian American context, but rather, many Asian American perspectives.) Jon is Japanese-American, grew up in the US, and has experienced first hand the cultural & identity struggles. Thus I find the book to be written from a contemplative and reflective perspective, with occasional allusions to a bicultural context; the majority of the book is written with our shared common humanity in mind and thus accessible to non-Asian-Americans also.

The word grace is a very powerful word, because it points to the power of God, the infinitely powerful God, but it’s kind of lost its meaning because the word grace is used differently by different Christians. We say we want amazing grace, but do we really? Do we recognize grace when it shows up? Jon helps us to see the power of grace at work by taking a closer look at our human tendencies to resist God’s grace, and gently helps readers to remove those hurdles and barriers by raising our awareness and kindly showing our blind spots. I think what’s most valuable is the book’s description of the 5 stages of grace: illuminating, awakening, determining, deconstructing, and empowering. Just as the 5 stages of grief (popularized by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, adapted as 6 stages of grief by Pastor Rick Warren,) has helped so many through the intensive and essential process of working through loss, Jon’s 5 stages of grace gives a useful framework to guide others to experience life change by responding to God’s grace. (Granted, thus, and I’ll say, that, this book is not an easy read, think more Dallas Willard and less Francis Chan.)

Also want to mention that Jon Ido Warden is part of a team blog, the Slanted View, where they share reflections on faith, brokenness, culture and manhood from a Pan-Asian American perspective: “We are a group of men meeting to explore our stuff regarding faith, culture and manhood. We come from several Asian American cultures: Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Philipino, Vietnamese, East Indian, Thai, Taiwanese.

Aside: for those of you that are still reading to this point, I’m going to shift gears and share a personal commentary on my book-reading habits. The printed book is big, 265 pages in a paperback. I get more than my share of printed books to review, in the mail, because of this blog, and I’m no longer able to read nor review most of them, unfortunately. In this season of my life (and I can’t say how long these personal seasons last for me, but I can say that’s my current pace and phase of reading habit), the momentum of my content input is currently predominantly listening to podcasts, scanning social media via tweets and status updates, occasionally skimming blogs, reading ebooks on my Kindle app (either on tablet on smartphone), with printed books at the bottom of the stack. So to get my attention, at least in this season of my life, social media is best, digital media is second, and printed media last. All that could change in an instant. And that’s the nature of digital life in the 21st century. Change happens fast. What a contrast to grace, something that more often does its work slowly over time, with an occasional burst of dramatic transformation.

Dec 032013
 

I’ve switched away from Google Keep and now using the best state-of-the-art note-taking app called Simplenote. With its latest version, Simplenote got a clean & lean rebuilt code base and its new ownership by the makers of WordPress (which runs over 20% of the Internet) signals to me that it’ll be around for a while.

simplenote-banner150

What I was looking for in a notes app was:

  • multi-platform (covering the whole span of web, Android, iOS, Windows, Mac)
  • cloud-synced (everything gets sync’d manually or automatically between all those platforms)
  • useable offline and online
  • fast and lightweight, plain text and searchable essential, tags and design and low-price/free are bonus

Simplenote delivers all of the above most wonderfully! The only other fast multi-platform notes app I had found was Catch, and I had used it for over a year. But that company shutdown end of August 2013.

The next best lightweight notes app was Google Keep, so that’s where I migrated to after Catch’s demise. Unfortunately, Google Keep has had a stagnant code base, and it crashes the Safari and Chrome browsers on iOS, and there’s not an official iOS app. Granted the Google Keep app for Android is great and the web-based version is good, but as I’ve created more notes, it’s gotten more sluggish. The sluggishness might be attributed to its infinite-scrolling user interface, so it’s loading too many notes at once, and maybe that’s why the iOS web browsers crash too.

For the record, I’m also an active user of the ever-popular note-taking app Evernote; and I do pay the annual subscription fee for the extra features and storage that comes with Evernote Premium. But, it’s slow to sync, slow to search, slow to respond on those moment when I need to jot a quick note. What I do use Evernote to store my big archive of documents, caching web pages, and that kind of stuff.