May 072012
 

I’m authoring a book about episodes in my life and thought I’d share the work in progress while it’s in progress. The idea of the book is to honestly share about (some of the) struggles in my life in a transparent and vulnerable way so that people, especially Asian Americans, can know that they’re not alone in their struggles. I also intend for this to be an example of how to come out from hiding behind shame and to finding courage to be vulnerable, getting healing, and helping others.

Though I wasn’t able to list it on Amazon as a free ebook (but I did list my eBook there for easier download), I can post it here as a free download.

For me, it’s about the speed to publish. (so not everything is perfectly formatted; and this also gives me an opportunity for me to experiment and to learn digital publishing on different platforms)

The e-book that’s I’ve just published is a compilation of blog posts from my 12 years of blogging that will serve as the starting point for telling more about my life. I’ve dubbed it a “chronological edition” because the blog posts are ordered chronologically, and the book title is tentative. In the final edition, I think the ebook’s length will more than double in size, as I’ll be expanding on a number of issues, including: depression, bipolar disorder, career choices, and identity formation. As a bunch of blog posts, the ebook is obviously disjointed and not an easy read.

I realize that I don’t have a most sensational life story like some others who’ve  been published, be it a courageous battle with disease, growing up in adverse circumstances, turning from a life of drugs and/or crime, or going from rags to riches. On the one hand, I see myself as an average guy, and yet, I also know I’m terribly unconventional so it’s taken many years to begin to feel comfortable in my own skin.

My thinking about the book is to just tell the story and avoid being prescriptive. In that sense, it won’t be in the genre of self-help nor inspirational. The telling of the story itself is the point. Maybe this is a new genre? But I am eager to hear feedback from you readers as to how I can better shape this ebook to be of more help to people.

In the ebook, I explain more of why I’m writing this ebook and what’s prompted me to author at this stage in my life. So, please do download it, read it, and provide much needed feedback. Your voice matters!

Whether the final edition will be published by a traditional publisher or if I’ll be self-publishing is yet to be determined. Either way, it will be published and not perish.

In the 21st century, what ought to be published is no longer is prohibited by the market. (others who have self published: Ben Franklin, Ezra Pound, Emily Dickinson, Thomas Paine, Jane Austen, Walt Whitman, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Virginia Woolf)  And, I will make the final edition available in digital and print formats.

Mar 162012
 

A timely book arrived in the mail last week and I happen to have some time to read it all in one day. The book? Rhett Smith‘s The Anxious Christian: Can God Use Your Anxiety for Good? What I love about this book is how Rhett vulnerably and honestly reveals his own life story, how anxiety has been a traveling companion throughout much of his life, even how it showed up as stuttering and near-paralysis before public speaking.

All too often well-intentioned Christian ministry leaders / preachers / teachers / people give encouragement with pithy sayings and the quoting the Bible verses, without the demands of genuine compassion that requires entering in and walking alongside someone’s pain and confusion. (cf. Overcoming Anxiety: Dealing with Anxiety and Worry) If you’d not been schooled in the right-of-center flavor of Christianity, the answer to life is always: Jesus, Bible and prayer, not necessarily in that order.

Thank you Rhett for taking a whole different approach, a very personal one at that. By sharing your life and the things you’ve learned along the way, it draws me relationally and I’m freed to know that my own anxiety is not necessarily coming from a place of doubting God and I’m not someone to be fixed per se. And more than that, anxiety can be invitation from God towards a more rewarding faith.

My confession: This book came timely for me as I’d been simmering about anxiety in my life, not in a paralyzing manner from an overwhelming number of choices, but more of an annoying nagging feeling. My anxiety seems to be recurring about performance, and the discomfort of having to evaluate my work, or worse, to have others evaluate it. Whether I success or not, or could do better, or am celebrated for excellence, there’s that thing about performance evaluation that I just plain don’t like. That’s all I got to say about that right now.

[disclosure: I received a complementary review copy]

Nov 242011
 

Gratitude can’t be disconnected. Thanks has to be given to someone. And, I want to give thanks for someone, for a lot of people in my life, the ones who have made the greatest difference and positive impact in my life. As they do in book acknowledgements and acceptance speeches, I want to thank the many people who have help me through what I consider to be turning points in my life. My Dad and Mom. My wife Rachelle. My son Jeremiah. Buggs Bugnon. Paul & Alice Chou. Ray Chang. Bernice Imei Hsu. Dave Travis. Sabastian Huynh. Chuck Fromm. And I thank God for giving me Himself and for Jesus Christ and for the Holy Spirit, for the very breath of life itself and all the days of my life, however many it is that I will be granted – what a gift! (aside #1: some say religion is a crutch, so be it for them. I say I can use all the help I can get, and I’m not too proud or too ashamed to say I need lots of help.)

And THANK YOU for being a regular reader or even a random visitor to my website and blog here at djchuang.com! Thank you Twitter followers and Facebook friends too!

(aside #2: It’s hard to make these lists of people to thank, because I don’t like leaving people out, as a highly-inclusive kind-a-guy… the list above are those that have made the biggest difference, you make a difference too, just not as big as theirs, in my life, yet…)

Nov 192011
 

There’s something ugly about moralism and self-righteousness, the exhausting effort of trying to be good and to do the right thing all the time. Doing good is a good thing. This isn’t to say we give up and give in to our lustful desires and “animal” instincts.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/raftwetjewell/3262032234/in/photostream/
What I’m realizing as I revisit this topic is: the point isn’t to try harder to be moral and to feel more badly when we fail. The point is to be more honest in acknowledging this aspect of our humanity, to humbly confess them to a few trusted others [ed.note: the hardest thing to do!], and to freely choose to depend on God’s spiritual habits to do the slow work of changing the very depths of my heart.

Dr. John Coe has given these spiritual formation talks on numerous occasions, about why we still sin when we know so much. Hearing these talks is so freeing and liberating. During his seminary-level course, he’d take 5 lectures to unpack this thorough understanding of our heart (the core of our being: intellect, will, and desire) and its innate remnant capacity to sin. Here’s several recordings for you. Those who have ears, let them hear.

BiblicalTraining.org has online courses with Dr. John Coe, these two below posted with outlines –

Spiritual Formation Class: Why We Sin When We Know So Much, part 1 of 2 (TH250-3)
What is in our heart determines how we act. There is more going on in our heart than what shows on the surface. In our hidden heart, we often have negative beliefs and desires that affect our actions.


A. Introduction
1. Ephesians 4:22ff
B. The Christian faith is foremost about the heart
1. “Heart” is used for the real or core person.
2. The heart directs our life. What is in the heart determines our whole of life.
3. Principles
C. Why is the heart so impregnable and slow to change?
D. Things to know about a biblical understanding of the hidden heart
1. There is always more going on in the hidden heart than what is on the surface.
2. The degree to which we have a hidden heart of negative beliefs and desires that have not been dealt with is the degree to which we are not in control of that material and it can control us.

Spiritual Formation Class: Why We Sin When We Know So Much, part 2 of 2 (TH250-4)
When we sin, it’s often the result of sin in our heart that has deep relational and historical roots. God wants us to pursue Him so he can transform us from the inside.

D. Things to know about a biblical understanding of the hidden heart (cont)
3. Thus, most Christians do not intend to sin; rather, they just leak.
4. This “leaking” is all about warring beliefs and desires in the heart.
5. Thus, most sins are not intentions of the moment but are merely the tip of the habitual iceberg.
6. Thus, beware of “prayers of magic” or avoidance to have God take away sins.
7. Becoming a Christian can even exacerbate this problem of not knowing your heart.
8. No amount of surface correcting or behavioral change will transform the heart.
9. Self-awareness is a necessary ingredient but by itself will not transform the heart.
10. The process of transformation requires a power strong enough to penetrate into your heart to resolve whatever need at the core is driving you.
E. How does God open the heart and begin the process of change-transformation?
1. Opening the heart in honesty to the Word of God in prayer.
2. Trials and “thorns in the flesh” (2 Cor 2:7-10)
3. Opening to God’s sovereign work of transformation in all circumstances.
4. Fellow believers
5. Prayer and soul work
F. God delights not in sacrifice, but a broken and contrite heart.

Also online as part of the Spiritual Formation Lecture Series [iTunes link] with Dr. John Coe, Biola University — This five-part lecture series featuring Dr. John Coe provides listeners with an in-depth integrative theology of Christian spiritual formation and soul care. Hosted by the First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton and co-sponsored by the Institute for Spiritual Formation and Talbot School of Theology.

Jan 282010
 

For followers of Jesus wanting a more transformational life, more people seem to be engaging in some kind of spiritual formation process. I’m finding a number of different programs and processes that are percolating in the evangelical world at large (though the concept has been around for Catholics for centuries.) Here’s a short list of ones that I’ve heard of, (mostly) in a chronological order of when I first heard of them:
candles (photo credit: ldcross)

It seems to me that a slightly increasing number of church & ministry leaders are going after these spiritual & heart matters to help people be more like Jesus. Well, some of them say it that way. Others might use different language and terms. Each probably have their own “spiritual growth” model.

In my own thinking (at the time of this writing) I think there is overlap between any of these categories: spiritual formation, spiritual direction, personal coaching, mentoring, discipleship, sanctification…

And somewhat like brands of clothing, people may be fiercely loyal to the genre of spiritual formation that’s been most transformative for them. It’s not the kind of thing that people go comparison shopping for, and let’s hope it doesn’t become commoditized that way.

And, to let my own bias show, it’s not really about the content or exercises of a spiritual formation program. It’s about one’s response to the Holy Spirit, and more telling, the person’s willingness to give permission for (a few trusted) others to speak into their lives.

Why I think this to be the case — it’s an idea from Fierce Conversations, “All conversations are with myself, and sometimes they involve other people.” So when a person goes through exercises, even if guided, it’s all too easy to reinforce one’s own perceptions. Until someone else can call out and speak to the matters of the heart, and the blind spots, transformation rarely happens to the degree that it could.

Dec 202009
 

Words have meaning. Overused words lose their meaning. I’m going to sprinkle my blog from time to time with overused words that I notice all too often.

When I hear an overused word, I wonder to myself: have we lost the creative use of our vocabulary? Wouldn’t it be better to use other more descriptive words instead of defaulting to overused ones?
planner
The word of the day is BUSY. In response to the question, “How have you been?” it’s easy to answer, “Busy.” Or, someone reluctantly starts a conversation with, “I know you’re busy…” Then there’s the times when we look at the calendar and say, “It’s going to be a busy week.” Include the sigh. Aside: while composing this blog post, another 187 tweets with the word “busy” got twittered.

The thing is, life is busy. That’s just part of life. We’re not in school any more; we’re thrust into the real world of adult responsibility. (I’m assuming that most blog readers here are older than high school and college age.)

I prefer to say that “I like to live an active lifestyle.” Seems redundant to say that I’m busy; overstating the obvious. Meaningless.

[photo credit: mrmole]

Nov 062009
 

Conflict is something that will always be. It is neither good nor bad, it simply is.” [cf. Sam Chand]

The incident regarding Deadly Viper had set the online world ablaze, and very uncomfortable words of pain festered in the open space [cf. read this summary]. My prayer was that the key leaders at the core of the conflict would resolve it privately, walking through their respective pains together with each other. This direct conversations has since happened offline in private, and an appropriate resolution is in the works. A public statement has been issued. I commend all involved for giving of their time and energy to walk thru this via dolorosa.

There’s already quite a number of thoughtful reflections about this incident posted::

I want to offer a few more ideas in debriefing, with which I’d anticipate some people would disagree with. Conflict in the open was a good thing for 3 reasons [cf. The Necessity of Open Disagreement by Stephen Shields] ::

  • This shows us what conflict resolution can look like. Conflict is not a pretty thing. We’ve all seen how ugly it can get, how destructive it can be, how it can ruin relationships. By being in the open, via social media, we saw how the conflict surfaced and moved towards live offline discussions, apologies, forgiveness, working towards resolution. There is a better way through the conflict. After all, conflict simply is. And I for one am tired of overly-positive spin that’s all too common in evangelical circles; I think the younger generation can smell spin a mile away.
  • We heard new voices open up their heart and soul. While I did not read every single comment in the initial blog posts, a wide range of voices from new names spoke up, both Asian and non-Asian. It is not easy for anyone to share their pains, particularly Asian Americans, for fear of being misunderstood, misrepresented, or shamed. Asians tend to be a little more (or a lot more) sensitive than non-Asians because of its shame-based culture. Social media empowers anyone and everyone to speak out. This helps us to empathize with the offended much more than signing a petition. (Now, not every Asian American finds this publication offensive, granted.)
  • We’ve got a long way to go with racial sensitivities in the church. A loooong way. Conflict that arose up over a relatively minor incident, in the whole scheme of things, shows how little experience we collectively have to just start any discussion about faith and race. And, yeah, these issues are complicated and messy. They don’t sell books nor increase conference attendance nor make churches grow rapidly in size. It doesn’t fit neatly in the systematic theology section.

Continue reading »

Sep 032009
 

Being on vacation, I’ve resisted making plans — I find planning to be drudgery work. So I’ve been quite spontaneous, even though that makes it hard to sync up with others who aren’t able to be spontaneous with me at the same time. Nevertheless…

Got to connect with Mary Beth Stockdale on this wetoku video chat interview today. We talked about her experience in being a part of a community with the LifeChurch.tv online church, and how online relationships are just as real as their offline counterparts.


Continue reading »

Jul 062009
 

Steve Rubel (formerly of Micro Persuasion) is one of those “A-list” bloggers, and he explained “why I am forking my content“. He signed off his main blog with: So Long Blogging, Hello Lifestreaming!

I’ve started to put my content into several different buckets, too, coincidentally. And it happened to happen around the same time.

My upcoming multi-site road trip next weekend triggered my exploration on what to do with my online content. You might call this “content segmentation.” Here’s where my content is now being posted:

djchuang.com – my personal blog here will remain the place where I write out my more lengthy color commentaries on my eclectic thoughts and personal feelings

twitter.com/djchuang@djchuang is my main twitter feed with updates primarily covering the topics of faith and culture, and joining in on related conversations

twitter.com/djchuang247@djchuang247 is my new twitter feed with updates that will be reveal glimpses of my personal everyday life and more extensive commentaries and sound bites during conferences I attend

daily.djchuang.com – this is my tumblr-powered daily blog that’ll mix mostly a photo blog and an audio blog, with occasional deep-dive event live-blogging

facebook.com/djchuang – this connects me to a smaller circle of people. If I instinctively recognize the face or name, I’ll accept a friend request. If not, sorry.

friendfeed.com/djchuang – this will get you everything in my lifestream, including blogs, tweets, yelps, delicious, flickr, youtube, etc.

I also contribute to these blogs as a part of my professional career life:

I’ve heard not everyone wants to read everything I have to write or comment on everything, particularly some of the inane personal things I’m doing at the moment, to which I even say to myself, “so what?” I’ve even had one person _block_ me on Twitter just to make sure he doesn’t get my too-frequent updates — when all he had to do is unfollow me.

All of us have to be selective on what content we’ll subscribe to, filter through, follow, or manage. No offense taken if you choose only a portion of my lifestream.

[photo credit]