Author info: XY Lau was born in Malaysia, raised in China, and is about to start his fourth year studying Public Relations and Strategic Communication at American University in Washington, D.C. Having attended multiple international schools in his lifetime, he has gained a fluency not only in a multitude of languages, but also in a multitude of English accents. The conglomeration of cultures through which he had lived would confuse his senses of ethics and personality, but he finally came to peace with who he was when he found his identity in Christ. He will resume his role as a Chi Alpha small group leader and homeless ministry leader once the Fall semester starts. Oh, and he loves puns and music. You can connect with him on the web and Facebook. 

Showing Up for the Showdowns

As this summer enters into its final phase, I eagerly await my final year of Chi Alpha. My daydreams fill with hope, and my plans are tinged with anticipation. Mulling through all the faces that I miss so dearly, I pray over all the new ones coming in. I am excited, once again, to show up for the showdowns.
 
Throughout my time here, I am becoming ever more aware of where I end and where God begins. I have seen Him soften the hearts of those I couldn’t approach, breaking down longstanding, robust barriers of hurt I couldn’t scratch and instilling a healing, lasting peace for so many longing students who let Him in. His presence has become that firm and steadfast anchor for our souls, His promises interwoven into the very fabric of our community. And with time, His Spirit has continued to mold us, growing us in holy wisdom along the way.

I am becoming ever more aware of where I end and where God begins.

As a Chi Alphan, I now understand that my commission as a Christian does not require me to go on a mission trip every year, but to constantly be on mission every day. The campus has become my mission field, teeming with precious images of God to be won for His Glory. It is in these instances when I see my cause as individual showdowns, each person I meet a new battle to guide them out of darkness and into His marvelous light. Seizing upon the urgency of the times, I ask God to use me in powerful and remarkable ways for His victory. And boy, does He deliver.

As a Christos apostolos, I now understand that I can’t win a showdown with a single act of greatness, but rather with a devotional, often monotonous rhythm of consistency. Sowing seeds within college students could often be frustrating, but at the sight of that timid, quiet freshman raising his hand in worship for the first time, I am willing to do it all again. For that sophomore who left his life of sin to devote it to ministry, I would do it all again. For that junior who became Chi Alpha President despite having almost died less than two years ago, I definitely would do it all again. From this steady rhythm came an outpouring of God’s transforming love, and I just had to be there to witness it all.

The significance of this ministry speaks for itself whenever one of my guys states that he would not know where he would be today had Chi Alpha not been there for him. It speaks for itself in the multitude of Godly relationships that have sprouted from the cracks of this university, from the deepest of brotherhoods and sisterhoods to the most committed of marriages. This is an impenetrable community, built on the rock to be the salt and light to the world. God has made a body of Christ out of our student body, and it continues to grow through the grueling showdowns of our mission.

As an Ambassador of Christ, I now know that God will make the best out of all we give Him— so isn’t it grand that we are called to give Him our all?


Posted on August 7, 2016 • Short Link: http://bit.ly/2aenb7m

Author Info: Blane has served on staff at AU Chi Alpha for several years and became the Director in the Fall of 2014. This New Mexico native is a proud graduate of the University of Alabama but has fallen in love with the big city. He and his wife (Hannah) moved to DC to complete the DC Chi Alpha CMIT Program under Mike & Jen Godzwa. They are parents to a pretty amazing toddler, Jeremiah. You'll find him biking around DC in search of a coffee by day and pouring over a book by night. You can find him at www.blaneyoung.com, and connect with him via our AU Chi Alpha Staff Page.

*Originally published at: https://churchm.ag/in-celebration-of-tedbillion/

(Posted after TEDTalks had 1 Billion total views)

What an incredible milestone! I can’t even began to wrap my mind around the number of servers required to make this happen. As people are being encouraged to tweet their favorite TEDTalks, I thought I would share four incredible ones that you may have not have seen yet.

Susan Caine: The Power of Introverts
Lately, my wife has been trying to convince me that I am an introvert like her. I’m still not sure if that’s true as I tend to be as loud and engaging as a used car salesman at a Christmas party. But the more I read the confessional and heartfelt comments on YouTube, the more I thought I should at least take a look. This talk is inspiring, eye-opening and empowering, whether you are an extrovert or introvert.


David Blaine: How I Held My Breath for 17 Minutes
Where has this guy been? I’ve missed him! Anyways, in this personal talk about one of his biggest failures and accomplishments, we are given the privilege of seeing inside the mind of someone passionate about their craft. He is willing to make history despite the cost and so whether you are a fan or not, you will find this video worthwhile.

J.J. Abrams: The Mystery Box
If you’re like me, you miss LOST and there doesn’t seem to be a fitting replacement in sight. I even tried to get into Revolutions, but alas, it was not for me. I have probably seen this talk a handful of times but I continue to come back to it as I think about the importance of mystery as a communicator and creative.

Malcolm Gladwell: Choice, Happinness & Spaghetti Sauce
Who doesn’t like spaghetti sauce? Okay, there are probably lots of people. However, this talk demonstrates the brilliance of Gladwell and gives us insight into our desires, preferences and tastes.

What is your favorite TED talk? Which of the ones above did you most enjoy?


Originally published on December 1, 2012 • Short Link: http://bit.ly/2a11YKO

Posted
AuthorOther

Author Info: Josh is passionate about studying the Bible and having deep conversations with college students at American University and Georgetown University. In his spare time, he can be found with a book, a video game, or outdoors in a hammock, normally fueled by caffeine. You can connect with him via our AU Chi Alpha Staff Page.

The older I get, the more I realize that I like simple things. 

Simple meals. 
Simple dates. 
Simple technology. 

The last one is big. I love technology. I love being on the forefront of the newest thing, and I love when it is simple to use. Recently I had a conversation with a friend about the new trend towards 3D movies and virtual reality. It is intriguing to me that these things are becoming popular, but that there are many people who stay back from them due to the fact that it is more complicated than we are used to. I don’t want to have to put another set of glasses over my own glasses to watch a movie, or play a video game a specific way. Yes, I know that it is supposed to be more “immersive”, but to me, it is just complicating things that were fine to begin with. I’m only 26, but the older I get, the more I like things to just be simple. 

Simplicity. What is it about simplicity that we tend to be scared of? We live in such a complex world. If you don’t believe me, or if you don’t see it in the news, all you have to do is bring home something from IKEA and try assembling it. 

In his book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster talks about what seems to be this forgotten discipline of simplicity. He states, “The Christian discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward lifestyle.” 

...a lot of times, when we have that much stuff, we begin to let stuff define us instead of letting Christ define us

Moving from a three bedroom house to a studio apartment has taught me a lot about how to live simply. Frankly, there is just a lot of stuff that we do not need. And a lot of times, when we have that much stuff, we begin to let stuff define us instead of letting Christ define us. We are living in a generation that is all about the stuff that we have, and does not find joy in living simply, therefore the identity of this generation is based in what’s new, what’s hot, and what’s not. 

Foster goes on to list ten principles on living simply, and ones that I have found to be very helpful in evaluating the discipline of simplicity in my life. I encourage you to read over these, and implement them in yours. You’d be surprised at how much more refreshing living a simple life can be! (Personally, #5 has had the most impact on me!)

  1. Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status.
  2. Get rid of anything that is producing an addiction in you, anything you can’t do without.
  3. Develop a habit of giving things away.
  4. Refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry.
  5. Learn to enjoy things without owning them.
  6. Develop a deeper appreciation for creation.
  7. Look with a healthy skepticism at all “buy now, pay later” schemes.
  8. Obey Jesus’ instructions about plain, honest speech. (Matt. 5:37)
  9. Reject anything that breeds oppression of others.
  10. Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the Kingdom of God.

Published on August 4, 2016 • Short Link: http://bit.ly/2anStIA

Author info: Blane has served on staff at AU Chi Alpha for several years and became the Director in the Fall of 2014. This New Mexico native is a proud graduate of the University of Alabama but has fallen in love with the big city. He and his wife (Hannah) moved to DC to complete the DC Chi Alpha CMIT Program under Mike & Jen Godzwa. They are parents to a pretty amazing toddler, Jeremiah. You'll find him biking around DC in search of a coffee by day and pouring over a book by night. You can find him at www.blaneyoung.com, and connect with him via our AU Chi Alpha Staff Page.

Originally posted at: https://churchm.ag/how-do-you-define-excellence/

How do you define excellence? 

You’ve heard it before and you’ve probably used the term as you trained volunteers. I know that I have.  At times, it feels like the perfect word to describe the efforts of a well-orchestrated team accomplishing a project but at other times, it feels like a source of frustration as it is ever elusive. But what does it really mean? How do we actually define it?

Sure, I could quote Webster’s or lookup something from Seth Godin but I think my concern over the term being used in the creative arts arena is that it can’t be defined. Or better yet, it can be defined in a multitude of different ways.

It’s not quantifiable and even though spreedsheets aren’t always sexy, they at least provide us objective means of evaluation and feedback. Now, I am in now way going to try and create a system by which we grade our projects and creative endeavors. However, I do want to make an observation.

Everyone has their own working definition of excellence as defined by their experience. For instance, if you asked me about a moment when I witnessed excellence in church communication, I might mention the time that I saw an interactive, multimedia presentation in the middle of a Christmas service. However, you might mention a moment in which you were served communion, while an orchestra played behind a chorus of singing children.

Everyone has their own working definition of excellence as defined by their experience.

I know, the illustration is not perfect but I hope that it illustrates my point. It is difficult to use the term excellence as a goal when the definition is so varied. People will come to believe the project is complete or more than satisfactory while you are scratching your head wondering how in the world they considered the project anywhere near completion. Sound familiar?

Now, I must admit – the term can seem helpful at times. And no, I don’t think we should remove all mystery or idealist values from the creative process. I just think that, for whatever reason, the term can become the proverbial carrot, always out of reach and never grabbed. Or worse, it can wind up being used as an easier to swallow synonym for perfection. If that’s the case, then those around us will be robbed of times of celebration which I believe are crucial to both a team dynamic and a creative individually.

For the majority of us, I don’t think we mean for this to happen. I know I don’t. But I’m just unsure of how to use the term to effectively communicate expectations. Perhaps the solution is to define it and invite others to utilize that definition. I’m not entirely sure. I’m merely asking if there is a better way. A way in which we can facilitate art to a certain standard without every having to critique a piece with the words, “It just doesn’t feel or seem right.”

How do you navigate this? What are ways that you’ve seen the term used?


Originally published on November 29, 2012 • Short Link: http://bit.ly/2arVxoe