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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.

January 18 2018

What will suffering do to you?

Life involves moments of boredom and thrills, times of work and play, seasons of joy and seasons of suffering. And, suffering can take many different forms: disease, physical pain, mental illness, tragedy, handicaps, or many others.

Some of you that are regular visitors here at djchuang.com may have noticed the lower frequency and erratic pace of my blog posts last year. You have rightly observed.

When suffering looked like last year

2017 was hard season for me personally. I know it was a hard year for a lot of people with hurricanes, natural disasters, mass shootings; for others, disease or debt or death. I attended more memorial services than ever.

I struggle with a mood disorder, something in that mental illness category. Unfortunately, mental illness still carries with it a stigma in American society. And if there’s that much stigma in America, you can imagine how much more stigma and shame there is for Asian Americans and Asians. This mood disorder used to look like, in my life, a cyclical pattern of 4 weeks of lower-energy moods and then 2 weeks of higher-energy moods. Last year, my mood swings got disrupted; the cards got reshuffled and I was left holding only low cards.

For 6 months, from March to September, I went thru a heavy depression. I couldn’t shake it. I did stay consistent on my self-care. I had to make a conscious effort to do anything and everything, every day and every moment. With all the energy it took to do that so I could still work and be gainfully employed, I had none left to be blogging or read the news or stay connected on social media. I was in survival mode.

I could use all the help I could get: physically, relationally, mentally, medicinally, spiritually, dietary, psychologically, slowing down, getting consistent sleep. Eventually, my doctors found the right mix of medication that got me out of that dark tunnel. And, perhaps, my diligent work of taking care of my body and mind and soul, accumulated enough good points to bring me back to my normal.

Thanks to a bunch of friends in a private Facebook group, I didn’t go thru the struggle alone.

The spiritual part of suffering

During this season of suffering, I thought a lot about suffering. I couldn’t get away from it. That in itself was part of the suffering.

Some people don’t believe in a spiritual part of life and that the material world is all there is.

And other people have other faith traditions with different approaches to dealing with suffering.

Suffering is a shock to our system, our being, our understanding of the world. That jolt either causes someone to reject their faith or to draw strength from their faith. Suffering doesn’t visit without shaking things up.

My suffering drew me closer to God, as I understand Him, as revealed in the Bible; my Christian faith was deepened. For many weeks and months, I would recite the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23 over and over. Those words gave me something good to hold to, something much better than my negative thoughts and feelings.

When I had energy, I would journal to get those things out of my mind so I wouldn’t lose my mind. And, I’m very grateful that I could afford counseling sessions, where I had a safe place to relax and declutter my brain.

I started to learn a way to pray that kept me engaged, that is, by writing and typing. Started a 30-week prayer blog at demystifying.bible so I’d have a place to share my conversations with God, in hopes that it’d help people to demystify praying so they can get more of the help they need and want from a good God.

Empathy for our human condition

I’ll mention one other thing that last year’s suffering impressed upon me. I believe my empathy for all kinds of people has grown. Knowing how weak I was, mentally and emotionally, I could better relate to the challenges that people have of overcoming an addiction, living a humble life, being desperate, feeling frustrated, weeping over losses, trying to bounce back from a setback, hanging on for dear life, lamenting over strained relationships, enduring chronic pains, having to eat yucky foods for medicinal purposes, undergoing surgery for whatever, persisting on that job search, etc etc etc.

What suffering produces

Don’t misunderstand me. Suffering is not a good thing, it’s a painful and terrible thing. Suffering is an inevitable part of living in a broken and imperfect world.

But it’s not the end of the story.

Suffering can be redeemed and it can bring about some good things.

Compassion that truly softens the heart, perhaps, can only come through suffering.

Suffering is also one of the essential ingredients of spiritual growth and spiritual maturity. I’d even say it could be a catalyst or accelerator for maturity. Sure there are good books and courses and resources to help someone develop their spirituality. But they don’t tell you about this: that part of spiritual growth can only come from suffering.

Closing words, from the Bible: Suffering produces perseverance, character, and hope. Count it all joy when you face suffering, trials of all kinds, because when it has done its work, you will be mature and not lacking anything. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

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What will suffering do to you?

January 12 2018

Rev. Thomas Wang, a Chinese Leader in World Missions

Rev. Thomas Yung-Hsin Wang (王永信) was highly regarded as an influential Chinese church leader among the worldwide Chinese Christian population. Rev. Wang had a global vision that included both the Chinese diaspora as well as all nationalities and ethnicities as the Great Commission calls for.

I had met Rev. Wang on a couple of occasions. I was particularly inspired by him, as a Chinese pastor and ministry leader, for his burden and concern for Chinese and non-Chinese, for Chinese-speaking and English-speaking peoples everywhere. That is a rare find.

Rev. Wang did many ministries among the Chinese, including Chinese Christian Mission, Chinese Coordination Center for World Evangelization, and the Great Commission Center International.

Beyond his ministry with the Chinese, he was actively involved in world missions globally—he founded the AD2000 & Beyond Movement and was the International Director of The Second International Congress on World Evangelism in 1989 (Lausanne II).

Rev. Wang also initiated the America Return to God Prayer Movement, editing a book—America, Return to God—with other  efforts, sending 450,000 copies to leaders. About the potential of Chinese Americans, the immigrant first generation immigrants:

Thomas Wang has a deep conviction that Christian immigrants in America, who have been greatly benefited by this nation in areas of education, opportunities, securities, religious freedom etc. should contribute to America’s national and spiritual well-being.

How Pastor Wang Finished Well

Rev. Wang Yongxin died and went to be with the Lord in heaven at the age of 93 on January 4th, 2018, at 9:00am Pacific time. Thomas Wang was born in 1925 into a third-generation Christian family in Beijing, China. In 1953 he became a pastor in Taipei, Taiwan, eventually expanding his ministry to Europe and North America.

There are many more articles about Rev. Wang in Chinese; not so many in English. Here’s one–”Remembering the Life and Ministry of Rev. Wang Yongxin” (ChinaSource, 1/09/18)—

In August 2009, Rev. Wang Yongxin, then 84 years old, personally led the first gathering of the Internet Mission Forum, a movement to promote the gospel in the new media age. … He also learned from the internet missionary Brother Gideon about how to open up and use Internet blogs.

Brother Gideon said, “Rev. Wang was one of the most senior Christian brothers I have ever seen who was willing to learn how to use new media to share the gospel.” For such a highly respected elder to become so interested in new technologies, to still have such a child-like enthusiasm for evangelism, Rev. Wang was a wonderful example and a great encouragement to all of us who co-labor in Internet missions!”

Thank you Rev. Wang for your faithful and fruitful ministry of a lifetime. May the seeds you have planted be ever more fruitful in the years to come for many generations and many tribes.

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Rev. Thomas Wang, a Chinese Leader in World Missions

December 22 2017

Check balance of iTunes card without redeeming it

There is one way to check the balance of an iTunes gift card. The most common way is to redeem it in the iTunes store. But what if you want to just check the balance before you give it as a gift, and you’re not sure what the balance is?

Thanks to dabbara, there is an answer for how to check the balance of an iTunes gift card without redeeming it:

Look up the Support contact # from below link. For US – 1-800-275-2273
http://ift.tt/19qqrY3

Explain the issue, and they will connect you to iTunes support center.
Associate here can look up the value on the card and if it has been activated or not, when you provide the PBHxxxxx or GCAxxxx at the left bottom of the card.

Well, I did contact support by email and provided the GCAxxxx code at the bottom left corner of the iTunes gift card. The reply did not confirm the amount on the gift card, but it did confirm the card was active and redeemable:

I’ve reviewed the code you have provided, and found that your iTunes Gift card is active and ready to be redeemed.

check balance on Apple Store Gift Card

To check Apple Store Gift Card balance, this URL http://ift.tt/2kBXj99 will look it up, after you login with an apple.com or iCloud account. This only checks gift cards for Apple Store and not iTunes.
[ht: binba]

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Check balance of iTunes card without redeeming it

December 17 2017

2017 Best Christmas Gifts on Amazon

Christmas shopping can be so much easier without the pain of trying to find a parking spot and standing in lines. Through amazon.com, and especially if you have Amazon Prime, you can shop online and get the gifts delivered to your friends and family. Plus you get the bonus of not paying for shipping, not packing up the gift, and standing in very long lines at the post office.

Would you believe amazon.com has over 8 million gifts that are considered the best Christmas gifts? Take a look for yourself!

Want some other Christmas gift ideas? Here’s Amazon Gift Ideas, the most popular products ordered as gifts—updated daily.


For someone that doesn’t have Amazon Prime, you can make that their Christmas gift! Even if they already have Amazon Prime or you’re not sure, your gift of Amazon Prime membership will extend their subscription by another year! What a great gift!

2017 Best Christmas Gifts on Amazon

December 15 2017

Grammarly adding extra HTML code?

I want to like Grammarly. I really do. And for the grammar errors that it catches for me, Grammarly is working pretty good.

But the other day, I noticed that the Grammarly extension was adding extra HTML code at the bottom of some of my blog post. I haven’t figured out the pattern yet and I don’t want to put in all kinds of time to troubleshoot.

There’s one that showed up at the bottom of this blog post. To see if it shows up in your blog post, click on the HTML tab of your blog editor. It looks like this:

<div class="grammarly-disable-indicator"></div>

Anyone else notice this? What’s up with that? How do I prevent Grammarly from doing this? Or is this one of those free features that goes away with a paid upgrade?

I’m blogging on WordPress, a self-installed version. And I’m using Safari for Mac browser, with the Safari extension for Grammarly. And this blog post is being composed and posted from my wordpress.com dashboard.

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Grammarly adding extra HTML code?

December 09 2017

When Asian American Christian Youth Go to College

For over 20 years now, ethnic Asian churches have lamented the loss of the next generation of Asian Americans, often the children of Asian parents who remain faithful to the ethnic Asian church, whether that’s Korean, Chinese, or one of the other 30-some Asian ethnicities.

15554567909_f1decc31eb_b

Many church leaders have expressed their concerns over the attrition of Asian American Christians who leave their ethnic Asian church home when they go to college, in quotes like these (emphasis in bold added):

“At an alarming rate, many young believers who have grown up in these Asian congregations are now choosing to leave not only their home churches, but possibly their Christian faith as well.” (Helen Lee, “Silent Exodus: Can the East Asian church in America reverse the flight of its next generation?“, Christianity Today, August 1996.)

Statistics in both America and Korea report that we are losing the majority of the young people who grew up in church.” (Christina & Erin Lee)

We’ve all heard the statistics that suggest about half of youth group graduates fail to stick with faith after high school.” (Mike Park, July 2016)

Recent statistics show more next-generation Korean-Americans are returning to their Korean constituency.” (The Presbyterian Outlook, July 2017)

“… having grown up in an Indian immigrant churches… [a] majority of second generation who are dropping out are not going anywhere at all –  not their parents church nor any local churches. They are in fact falling through the cracks of cultural disparity and getting  dechurched and lost completely.” (Sam George, 2013)

Attrition Rate of Next Generation Faith

Okay. Many feel sad over this situation. We do often hear stories of people losing their faith for all kinds of reasons. But can we see the actual numbers of these statistics?

So I went searching. For hours. Here’s what estimated numbers I could dig up:

Estimates of second generation Koreans leaving the church vary from 55% to 90%, depending on whether you count those who leave Korean-language churches but join Anglo or multiethnic churches, those who still call themselves Christian but don’t act on it, or those who completely leave church and faith behind.” (Joan Huyser-Honig, July 2005)

Korean American second generations attend church following their parents till high school however after entering college over 70% of them are leaving churches…” (Joshua Kang, August 2012)

Now, to be fair, youth going to college and leaving the faith of their home church behind is not only an Asian American phenomena. It’s also a disturbing trend among mainstream Caucasian evangelical millennials.

Brett Kunkle found the statistics for evangelical youth leaving church after entering college to range anywhere from 61% to 88%. (“How Many Youth are Leaving the Church?” – February 2009).

Maybe faith dropout is actually a hiatus?

More recently, like in May 2014, LifeWay Research data shows that about 70% of young adults who indicated they attended church regularly for at least one year in high school do, in fact, drop out—but don’t miss the details. Of those who left, almost two-thirds return and currently attend church.

Back to the Asian American context, there are a few signs indicating that some next generation Asian Americans are returning to their ethnic Asian church home. (cf. The Boomerang Effect: The generation of the ‘silent exodus’ has now started coming back. Christianity Today, October 2014).

Let’s put some numbers to this.

If I’m reading this article correctly, this academically robust analysis of religious research, the authors observed that only 34% of those who grew up Protestant have lost their faith. Read for yourself; here’s the actual words excerpted from that article:

“The need for quantifiable data on religion among Asian Americans is ever more pressing as this population grows more rapidly than the rest of the nation. One of the most rigorous attempts at surveying Asian Americans comes from the Pew 2012 Asian American Survey … With respect to the silent exodus of the second-generation, we can look at the data from two vantage points, the percentage of those who retained their faith from childhood, and the percentage of current affiliates who grew up with that faith. The first number tells us whether religious individuals have remained committed to their faith tradition, while the second tells us whether today’s believers are made up of long-term followers or new converts. …

For the second-generation Protestants, these two figures are surprisingly similar. The data shows us that 66% of those who grew up Protestant were still Protestant at the time they were surveyed. Similarly, about two-thirds of today’s second-generation Asian American Protestant Christians grew up as Protestant. Either way we look at the data, there does not appear to be a mass exodus, if nearly two-thirds who started their faith journey as Protestants are still Protestant.” (Jerry Z. Park and Joshua Tom, May 2014)

Can you help us find more researched statistics? I know people that want to know.

Focusing on Reaching People, not Researching Numbers

Whatever the statistics may be across the overall American landscape, there are regional and local variations. Please don’t let the numbers lull you into complacency or shock you into paralyzing anxiety.

There’s much work to be done for passing along our faith to the next generations. Making disciples like Jesus said to do.

To be continued…

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Silent Exodus: Asian American Christians Leaving Churches

December 04 2017

OC Christmas Tour 2017

One of the family Christmas traditions we started in 2011 is to worship at as many churches as we could during Christmas week. We’re able to go to more churches when there are fewer gatherings with extended family. Not sure what the plans are for this year yet.

Here in Orange County, California, a dozen or so larger churches have extra worship services to accommodate more people (and have the resources to run those extra events.)  And that allows us to visit more churches over several days. This year the festivities start as soon as Tuesday 12/19 and culminates with Christmas Eve on Sunday 12/24.

Here is the overall schedule for Orange County churches with extra Christmas worship services in 2017. A small Christmas gift to the people of Orange County.

Feel free to use the spreadsheet to map out your own Christmas tour. When we have our plans confirmed and you want to do the Christmas tour with us Chuangs, add a comment or contact us so we can coordinate.

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December 03 2017

OC Christmas Tour 2017

November 29 2017

How Fast the Facebook Matching Grant Runs Out on #GivingTuesday

I was wondering how long that $2M matching grant from the Gates Foundation lasted for today’s #givingtuesday on Facebook. With a $50k limit per nonprofit, 40 orgs could have used it all up in the first couple hours starting at 8:00am Eastern Time.

The matching grant won’t likely last all day. Good news is that Facebook will waive all fees for online donations made through Facebook on #givingtuesday all day. That means 100% of your donation goes to the nonprofit, instead of the usual 95%. cf. “Donations to US-based charitable organizations that have been approved to receive donations through Facebook Payments are assessed a 5% fee.

In other words, Facebook donations made on #GivingTuesday get a 5% boost. Do donors care about that? If a donor gave $100, does a donor care if all $100 goes to the cause, or only $95 goes to the cause and $5 goes to administrative costs? Hey, $5 is $5!

hand-heart-card

The announcement about how fast the matching fund ran out was “unprecedented”:

We are so inspired by how the community came together to give back this Giving Tuesday in an unprecedented turnout. The $2M in matching dollars was met quickly by the Facebook community, but every donor and every dollar counts. We will continue to waive all Facebook fees on donations to nonprofits today.

How fast was did it run out? The answer to that question is: somewhere between 7 and 15 minutes (cf. 15 minutes; 10 minutes; the timestamp 6:07am @ Nonprofits on Facebook page). Supposedly last year, the matching fund lasted a couple of hours.

fb-givingtues-info

Want more info? This excerpt from the PND article about #GivingTuesday 2017 gives some details that nonprofit organizations and some donors would want to know:

Facebook has announced that it will again partner with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to match up to $2 million in donations for this year’s #GivingTuesday event on November 28.

Launched in 2012, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving positioned as a “do-good” alternative to the post-Thanksgiving shopping and consumption associated with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Donations made to participating nonprofit organizations through Facebook’s charitable giving tools beginning at 8:00 am EST on November 28 will be matched — up to $50,000 per nonprofit, or $1,000 per fundraiser or donate button — until the matching funds run out. Facebook and the Gates Foundation are contributing $1 million each for the campaign, and all matched funds will be paid out to nonprofits through Network for Good‘s donor-advised fund.

Depending on the size of the nonprofit, getting a match of $1k might be considered a drop in the bucket. Plus, the effort it’d take to mobilize more than 50 raving fans to hit the $50k maximum match might be too much.

Of course, #GivingTuesday is more than trying to get a slice of the matching grant or getting the processing fees waived. It’s a good opportunity to raise awareness and connect more people to your cause.

Want to prepare for 2018? The Nonprofits on Facebook site has lots of info about using Facebook more effectively to connect more people with a nonprofit. And, the page at http://ift.tt/2jtqz0i has info for #GivingTuesday 2017 — not sure if they will keep the same URL for next year.

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November 28 2017

How Fast the Facebook Matching Grant Runs Out on #GivingTuesday
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