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June 09 2018

Can we talk about suicide and mental illness now?

May 26 2018

Where to download a shared custom voice for Waze app

May 02 2018

If Asian Americans struggle with Mental Health in May 2018

April 23 2018

Mental Health Community Gathering on April 29, 2018

April 11 2018

Statements around an elephant in the evangelical room

It’s a painful tragedy, however you look at it. A most influential evangelical pastor resigned yesterday, April 10, 2018. His name was Bill Hybels, who founded the world-renowned Willow Creek Community Church in Chicagoland. There will be many conversations about this in the world of evangelicalism, but significant evangelical pastors and leaders that do participate in online conversations have not weighed in yet.

When nothing is said, people will make up their own stories. This is the elephant in the room du jour.  The mainstream media and social media has said much more.

These are the statements posted by people involved in this situation (whether they were written first-person or by professional PR agents is unknown):

The original Chicago Tribute story, “After years of inquiries, Willow Creek pastor denies misconduct allegations,” that broke it all.

How will this bad situation turn out for good, particular for those who believe God can redeem the worst? It’s a drama that is just beginning to unfold. Stay tuned. Pray hard.

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Statements around an elephant in the evangelical room

March 25 2018

The seduction of celebrity power

Andy Crouch commentary on celebrity power, allegations, and institution-building—insightfully and succinctly written on a Twitter thread of tweets. Posted with permission.


If you’re someone growing in celebrity, your first priority should be to build systems of unimpeachable independence and credibility that can hold you accountable. The problem is that almost no one who tastes celebrity makes this a priority.

And when credible allegations of misconduct come — as has happened in two cases in my circles this week — you are stuck. Even credible allegations can be false. But if you haven’t built a system others can trust to fairly assess those allegations, how can we believe your denials?

This is the great tragedy of two generations’ worth of impatience with institutions (which reached a peak with my GenX cohort). We neglected real institution-building and settled for celebrity power. But that is a house built on sand, and when it falls, how great is its fall.

And culture basically dies if it isn’t transmitted over two generations (think language). Where do emerging adults go to see healthy models of institutions that both increase creative power and limit the capacity for destructive power? It’s very hard for them to imagine.

There are countless glorious exceptions — individuals and institutions. But almost by definition, they don’t partake in the culture of celebrity, and thus they are culturally invisible, or far less visible than they ought to be given their integrity and trustworthiness.

Meanwhile we have to endure the rise and fall of one celebrity after another, who suck all the oxygen out of the room both on the way up and on the way down.

May God have mercy on us all, and give us the grace to “live quietly, mind our own affairs, and work with our hands” today (1 Thess 4:11) — trusting him to bless us, the work of our hands, and the generations to come.

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The seduction of celebrity power

March 13 2018

How much sleep do you need?

If there’s a difference between how many hours you sleep versus how many hours you need to sleep, that’s called sleep deprivation. Many of us have learned how to live with less than optimal sleep because of the demands of life.

The sure way to know how much sleep you need is to sleep until you naturally wake without using an alarm clock. I heard that years ago from an old friend.

I’ve recently had to recalibrate my sleep schedule, also known as sleep hygiene. On average, I’m needing and getting 9 hours of sleep per night. That means I have to do the math based on the time I need to wake up, and get to sleep at the corresponding right time.

But, as it is with my work schedule that occasionally involves travel that crosses time zones, there are nights when I don’t get my optimal hours of sleep. What I’ve wound up doing is to make up for sleep deficit by sleeping extra hours when I do return home to my own bed. That seems to help.

Do you know why you’re not getting enough sleep? When you know the why, you can work on finding a solution. Here’s some more reasons for why people are losing sleep, based on research.

Why are we so sleep deprived, and why does it matter?

File 20180305 146645 8d89su.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1 As many as 70 million Americans may not be getting enough sleep. Men get fewer hours of sleep than women.
Akos Nagy/Shutterstock.com

Michael S. Jaffee, University of Florida

As we prepare to “spring forward” for daylight saving time on March 11, many of us dread the loss of the hour’s sleep we incur by moving our clocks forward. For millions, the loss will be an added insult to the inadequate sleep they experience on a daily basis.

Surveys show that 40 percent of American adults get less than the nightly minimum of seven hours of sleep recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the National Sleep Foundation. The National Institutes for Health estimate that between 50 million and 70 million people do not get enough sleep. These recommendations for minimal sleep are based on a review of many scientific studies evaluating the role of sleep in our bodies and the effects of sleep deprivation on our ability of our body to function at our peak performance level.

I am a neurologist at the University of Florida who has studied the effects of both traumatic brain injury and sleep impairment on the brain. I have seen the effects of sleep impairment and the significant effects it can have.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, American adults currently average 6.9 hours of sleep per night compared with the 1940s, when most American adults were averaging 7.9 hours a night, or one hour more each night. In fact, in 1942, 84 percent of Americans got the recommended seven to nine hours; in 2013, that number had dropped to 59 percent. Participants in that same Gallup poll reported on average they felt they needed 7.3 hours of sleep each night but were not getting enough, causing an average nightly sleep debt of 24 minutes. Fitbit in January 2018 announced results of a study it conducted of 6 billion nights of its customers’ sleep and reported that men actually get even less than women, about 6.5 hours.

Why sleep matters

The problems caused by sleep shortage go beyond tiredness. In recent years, studies have shown that adults who were short sleepers, or those who got less than seven hours in 24 hours, were more likely to report 10 chronic health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma and depression, compared to those who got enough sleep, that is, seven or more hours in a 24-hour period.

There are more challenges for children, as they are thought to have an increased sleep need compared to adults. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep nine to 12 hours a day and teens 13 to 18 should sleep eight to 10 hours daily on a regular basis to promote optimal health.

A Sleep Foundation poll of parents suggested that American children are getting one hour of sleep or more per night less than what their body and brain require.

Researchers have found that sleep deprivation of even a single hour can have a harmful effect on a child’s developing brain. Inadequate sleep can affect synaptic plasticity and memory encoding, and it can result in inattentiveness in the classroom.

Every one of our biological systems is affected by sleep. When we don’t sleep long enough or when we experience poor quality of sleep, there can be serious biological consequences.

When we are sleep deprived, our bodies become more aroused through an enhanced sympathetic nervous system, known as “fight or flight.” There is a greater propensity for increased blood pressure and possible risk of coronary heart disease. Our endocrine system releases more cortisol, a stress hormone. The body has less glucose tolerance and greater insulin resistance, which in the long term can cause an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. Also, sleep deprivation causes a reduction in growth hormone and muscle maintenance.

We also rely on sleep to maintain our metabolism. Sleep deprivation can lead to decreased release of the hormone leptin and increased release of the hormone ghrelin, which can be associated with increased appetite and weight gain.

The human body also relies on sleep to help with our immune system. Sleep deprivation is associated with increased inflammation and decreased antibodies to influenza and decreased resistance to infection.

Inadequate sleep has been associated with a negative effect on mood as well as decreased attention and increased memory difficulty. In addition, someone who is sleep deprived may experience a decrease in pain tolerance and in reaction times. Occupational studies have associated sleep deprivation with decreased performance, increased car accidents, and more days missed from work.

The role of the brain

Researchers have known for a while that brain health is an important aspect of sleep. Notably, sleep is an important part of memory consolidation and learning.

Newer research has suggested another important aspect of sleep for our brain: There is a system for the elimination of possibly harmful proteins such as abnormal variants of amyloid. This waste removal process, using what is known as the glymphatic system, relies on sleep to effectively eliminate these proteins from the brain. These are the same proteins found to be elevated in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show that older adults with less sleep have greater accumulations of these proteins in their brains.

Our sleep-wake cycle is regulated by the circadian system, which helps signal the brain to sleep using the release of the natural hormone melatonin. It turns out that our body’s system for regulating melatonin and our sleep schedule is most powerfully controlled by light.

There are cells in the retina of our eye that communicate directly with the brain’s biological clock regulators located in the hypothalamus and this pathway is most affected by light. These neurons have been found to be most affected by light waves from the blue spectrum or blue light. This is the kind of light most prominent in electronic lights from computers and smartphones. This has become a modern challenge that can adversely affect our natural sleep-wake cycle.

Additional factors that can hamper sleep include pain conditions, medications for other conditions, and the increased demands and connectedness of modern society.

The ConversationAs we prepare for daylight saving time, we can be mindful that many athletes have been including planned sleep extensions (sleeping longer than usual) into their schedule to enhance performance and that many professional sports teams have hired sleep consultants to help assure their athletes have enough sleep. Perhaps we should have a similar game plan as we approach the second Sunday in March.

Michael S. Jaffee, Vice chair, Department of Neurology, University of Florida

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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How much sleep do you need?

March 11 2018

What really is the value of Christian apologetics?

Content of all kinds swirl around the internet and one category has been grouped under Christian apologetics. Apologetics has been around pre-internet and perhaps for many centuries. I was posed this question recently to which I decided to respond:

Q: So do you think there is value in Christian apologetics?

@djchuang’s answer: Yes, I think there is value to Christian apologetics. I don’t think of it having value in the traditional sense of how that term is used; let me briefly describe what I can within the limited time and space I have here.

Christian apologists often refer to 1 Peter 3:15 as the key Bible verse for developing apologetics. That verse says: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Much effort has been made in publishing books and running conferences to circulate Christian apologetic resources. The impetus for creating all of these resources comes from an emphasis on the phrase, “always be prepread to give an answer to everyone.”

However, that’s only half of the sentence. I think the other half is just as important, and perhaps even more important in a pluralistic multi-faith world.

The more important part is: “to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” What are people asking of those who profess to be Christians? Are they asking for hope or something else?

More often than not, I have found, that people are asking Christians to be less hypocritical and less judgmental. Apologetics, when used as a defense to “prove” the rightness of one’s faith, is not helpful for this. And, for those who profess to be Christians that are hypocritical and judgmental, they’re probably not aware of how they are coming across in their zeal to be “faithful.” (Research has shown that unaware people are unaware about their own unawareness.)

Who does apologetics have value for?

I think Christian apologetics has more value for Christians, especially for those who are younger in their faith to gain more cognitive knowledge about their faith. Christians are the ones who are buying apologetics resources and funding to support apologetics ministries. This goes to show that the benefits of apologetics are more for Christians and not for non-Christians.

How non-Christians become Christian?

In my limited experience, I’ve found that a majority of people choose their faith, Christian or otherwise, based on some kind of a personal experience, usually through a relationship. Stories of non-Christian people becoming Christian, typically refer to that person experiencing kindness and love from Christians. I rarely hear of apologetics being the major factor for non-Christians becoming Christians.

Christian apologetics in a multi-faith world

Here’s my take on what kind of apologetics will work better in today’s context—whether it’s called pluralistic and multi-faith, secular humanistic, postmodern, or whatever.

People everywhere of all faiths (or non-faiths, theists, agnostics, atheists) share in the human condition. Knowledge about life and faith is commonly available to all. And yet, different individuals arrive at different conclusions about their spirituality.

For example, 2 children can grow up in the exact same family of origin, in a Christian home. One child grows up to remain a Christian, actively involved in their faith community called church. The other child grows up and rejects Christianity for their own reasons. Same content, different results. What’s going on there?

There are these 5 very hard questions about the human condition: suffering, hypocrisy, inconsistencies, religions, and relevance. People are meaning-finding creatures; people are neurologically compelled to make meaning and to make sense of the world.

Suffering is very often inexplicable, whether it is catastrophic natural disasters, violence, disease, or the inevitability of death.

Hypocrisy exists among those who say they believe something but (some of) their behavior goes against the ethics and morals of the faith they profess to believe. There are both good and bad Christians; there are good and bad Muslims; there are good and bad people that profess faith or non-faith.

Inconsistencies exist in how the various world religions were formed. For those who believe, they have a category of mystery to accommodate that. For those who don’t believe, well, the reality of the human condition, is, that people are inconsistent.

Religions have come and gone throughout human history. Atheism or agnosticism are usually a minority voice. And, there are people who get stuck with so many religious options, they choose to disengage from faith. I’m of the opinion that life would be more meaningful with a commitment of faith than without. (This presupposes that there is a supernatural and immaterial part of life, which most people believe, and there are people who believe that the supernatural doesn’t exist at all.)

Death is the finality of every single person’s life. Some cultures avoid talking about it or dealing with it. But it is unavoidable. With death being certain, it’s a fair question to ask what happens after death. And whatever it is that one believes about that, is the final answer of what one is truly believing by faith.

How you live matters more than what you can explain.

Now that I’ve taken some time to think out loud about what I think about Christian apologetics, I will say this. Christian apologetics for today’s world has to be more than cognitive content about metaphysics and religions.

Could it be possible to recalibrate the scope of apologetics to be more? The other parts that need more emphasis and consideration are: relationally and behaviorally. What matters more is the quality of personal relationships with people of all faiths, demonstrating gentleness and respect with people of all faiths. Actions do speak louder than words.

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What really is the value of Christian apologetics?

February 23 2018

Where Asian American Pastors Can Get Coaching

There are several options available for Asian American pastors to grow their effectiveness as pastors, church leaders, church planters, spiritually, relationally and personally. Here’s the ones I know of; please add a comment or contact with others you know of.

Coaching for Asian American Pastors

ReGenerant Church Planting Cohort – 12-month program, starting in April 2018, for church planters in Southern California

Intentional Coaching – with Pastor Thien Doan. 4-6 months of online meetings.

Healthy Churches Leadership Initiative – peer coaching groups in San Francisco Bay area

Coaching in Academic Settings

There are also valuable programs in an academic setting that have coaching baked into their studies contextualized for Asian American pastors. Here’s that list.

D.Min. Asian American Ministry Track – 3-year academic program at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, with a 2-weeks residency annually

Asian American Center at Fuller Theological Seminary

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Where Asian American Pastors Can Get Coaching

February 13 2018

$20 for your thoughts, Asian American Pastors

Asian American Pastor and Church Survey!
(Around 30 minutes, $20 Amazon gift card)

If you are a lead/senior/solo Asian American pastor of a predominately Asian American congregation (i.e. EM, pan-Asian, multiethnic), fill out this online survey (around 30 minutes) and receive a $20 Amazon gift card.

Please share this with your pastor friends!

This is one of the first surveys of its kind and will help us to understand our community much better. Our churches and pastors are definitely understudied and underresourced.

Here is the link: tinyurl.com/aapcsurvey

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$20 for your thoughts, Asian American Pastors

February 04 2018

Can we talk about shame?

Yes, we have launched a podcast called Erasing Shame where we will have honest talk for healthy living—emotionally, relationally, mentally, and personally. DJ Chuang and Eunice Lee will co-host Season 1 together.

erasing shame

I’m particular grateful for Eunice making time to do this podcast together, because the topic of shame is so big, what resources we have currently isn’t quite enough to alleviate the stigma over issues of mental illness, certain diseases, imperfections, generational and cultural and racial tensions, and many more aspects to be unearthed and revealed to be healed.

Yes it’s a good thing for the likes of Brene Brown popularizing the topic in our mainstream consciousness. Yet the mere knowledge of shame affecting people of every culture has not paved the way for more people to find their way to healing and freedom.

In our pilot episode of Erasing Shame, during our first conversations, we’ve only begun to uncover a couple of those aspects, and realizing there are so many more parts to unpack, untangle, and unlock.

Why are we tackling such a big topic then, if it is so challenging and enormous? I’ll say a little it about that.. this podcast idea is something I’ve been thinking about and incubating for over 5 years. To have freely available and easily accessible content about erasing shame and replacing shame with the ingredients of healthy living, those shameful feelings have to be brought out into the light. It has to come out of hiding.

Another way to say this: you’re only as sick as your secrets.

Of course not everything personal about you has to be broadcast on social media into the public. Maybe we will explore this on a future episode, what is appropriate and what is inappropriate for social media, where there are those who has made it a place of anything goes. That could be called shameless.

Erasing shame is not about being shameless. Erasing shame is about the process of identifying those hurts, habits, and hangups that prevent us from living in a fully healthy and fulfilling way.

Thank you for reading about how we are starting Erasing Shame. And we’d love to hear from you as we together work towards erasing shame.

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Can we talk about shame?

January 21 2018

Talking about Faith and Technology

As much as digital technology has become a part of our everyday life, the thoughtful reflections and conversations about the areas of spirituality and technology seems to be lagging and lacking. Technology develops so much faster than spiritual leaders can keep up with, just like laws too have a hard time keeping up.

That being the case, it was a special and rare occasion to have a breakout session at the Intersection Conference on faith and work. With 4 of us around a table, we had a cozy discussion about how some churches are using current technologies to facilitate ministry through the distribution of Christian content; we also raised questions and concerns about how we as followers of Christ should or should not use technology, not just using it as a means of communications but also thinking about what digital tools do to our humanity and souls.

We recorded the discussion so we can share that piece of content as a potential contribution to the public space of the web, in hopes others will build upon this to make more progress in understanding and discerning. (and, below the audio, books mentioned and others found later, are listed for your reference)

raw audio of our discussion

<!--[if lt IE 9]><script>document.createElement('audio');</script><![endif]--> http://djchuang.com/c/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/DR0000_0104.m4a

(download audio – m4a format)

related books

The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by Andy Crouch

From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology by John Dyer

The Social Church: A Theology of Digital Communication by Justin Wise

Networked Theology: Negotiating Faith in Digital Culture (Engaging Culture) by Heidi Campbell

The post Talking about Faith and Technology appeared first on @djchuang.



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Talking about Faith and Technology

As much as digital technology has become a part of our everyday life, the thoughtful reflections and conversations about the areas of spirituality and technology seems to be lagging and lacking. Technology develops so much faster than spiritual leaders can keep up with, just like laws too have a hard time keeping up.

That being the case, it was a special and rare occasion to have a breakout session at the Intersection Conference on faith and work. With 4 of us around a table, we had a cozy discussion about how some churches are using current technologies to facilitate ministry through the distribution of Christian content; we also raised questions and concerns about how we as followers of Christ should or should not use technology, not just using it as a means of communications but also thinking about what digital tools do to our humanity and souls.

We recorded the discussion so we can share that piece of content as a potential contribution to the public space of the web, in hopes others will build upon this to make more progress in understanding and discerning. (and, below the audio, books mentioned and others found later, are listed for your reference)

raw audio of our discussion

<!--[if lt IE 9]><script>document.createElement('audio');</script><![endif]--> http://djchuang.com/c/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/DR0000_0104.m4a

(download audio – m4a format)

related books

The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by Andy Crouch

From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology by John Dyer

The Social Church: A Theology of Digital Communication by Justin Wise

Networked Theology: Negotiating Faith in Digital Culture (Engaging Culture) by Heidi Campbell

other links

Second Nature – an online journal for critical thinking about technology and new media in light of the Christian tradition.

Blog: Network for New Media, Religion and Digital Culture Studies

Paper: Now the Bible is an App: Digital Media and Changing Patterns of Religious Authority

The post Talking about Faith and Technology appeared first on @djchuang.

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