COVID-19 and the current state of things

The world has changed.

The new normal is here. The word on the street is that life won’t quite ever be the same as before. What has once felt great about staying at and working from home has now turned into a repetitive reality with no end in sight.

Within some circles that I am part of, fears and anxieties abound. Mistrust deepens, and anger accumulates quietly. Uncertainty of what the future holds for us shapes our minds, visions, and actions. Both Christians and non-Christians alike, folks look for signs of hope — something they can hold on to, invest in, and expect a relatively good return on.

It turns out there are striking similarities between what we face today and what happened a few decades ago. Here’s an eye-opening piece by one of my favorite dudes, C. S. Lewis:

In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.

— “On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays

H/T to the Gospel Coalition for providing this excerpt.

Goodbye 2019, and oh hello 2020

Here we are again; the New Year’s Eve. What a year it has been (again and again). With only a few hours left remaining before the official end of 2019 in Central Standard Time (go Chicago), here is my high-level recap of 2019 in my life:

  1. Health
    A major shout-out to the Giver of Life who kept me in good health all throughout the year. Not only that, I realized how important sleep is to me and made a point to get 7 hours of sleep consistently every day. My gym attendance lagged (yet I haven’t yet cancelled my gym membership, holding out the hope that in the upcoming year I will go more consistently). My last check-up at the doctor’s also tells me that overall I am still doing pretty well. Enjoyed good, ample amount of coffee each and every day. Oh yeah, and I ran a marathon this year.

  2. Work
    Work continued to keep me busy all year around. A major blessing in my life it is as I can confidently say I had a job that is very enjoyable and worked with people who were spectacular human beings. I am super-grateful for my job both in the advertising world and in the church. Getting to lead 2030Conference was once again a blast. No regrets here.

  3. Calling
    This one was tricky. With every step of progress that I felt was getting me closer to getting this figured out, I found a handful of reasons to pause and think. One step forward and two steps setting me back again (maybe the question of “calling” was never meant to be fully answered). If anything, I gave far less attention and obsession to it this year than ever before; instead, I pushed forward to get done what was ahead of me, one day at a time. In hindsight, I do think all of this year has helped me figure out who I am, how I am wired, and where I am headed next: teaching, strategy, and communication.

  4. Study
    I am officially a Master now. I finished my masters program at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) with a focus on theology, cross-cultural work, and leadership development. In less formal settings, I continued to study music and analytics. I read voraciously on issues that related to church planting, missional life, biblical theology, and youth ministry.

  5. Relationships
    Friends, friends, and more friends. Grateful for all the many relationships that have been newly initiated and/or been flourished. Got to go see one of my best friends getting married and caught up with others in Southeast Asia for the first time in my life. Visited my family for a short while and gave myself an opportunity to look back on my relationship with the people closest to me in my life (yet one that I often overlooked). Super grateful for the team spirit developed at work — both Performics and the church. No significant others in my life yet!

Looking to 2020
Where does this all leave me today as I prepare for a new year ahead?
Laser-focus is the word that comes to mind. De-cluttering ruthlessly what is not essential to my life calling so that I can devote fully to what I’ve been called to do. Expecting to be surprised yet preparing faithfully and diligently to the best of my abilities, day in and out. Making sure that I am finding time to sit back, relax, and yes, play more guitar. Eat better, sleep more, drink more, and laugh more.

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
(James 4:13-15)

Running against own limits

Getting up in the morning is tough.
Waking in in the morning to go for a 12-mile run is really tough.
And yet – tens of thousands gather to run 26 miles in one go.

Why the irony?

There is something about running (for a long time) that makes the human brain pause and wonder. Pausing to wonder just how far one can go. First pushing for the first three miles, then one more, and then one more. Running against one’s own limits, the human heart discovers it can do a lot more than what it once thought it could do. It is something. It is a beauty. It is a wonder. It is a miracle.

Wrapping Up 2018

Yes, I know, I know — I am a few days late. We are already in 2019 (yay, happy new year). But better late than never, right?

So here goes my attempt at recapping some of the highlights (and lowlights) of 2018:


Separating with a good friend of mine was probably about the most challenging part of this past year. While it came as a result of an extended period of prayer and dialogue, it was still painful, led me to tears, and kept me up many nights. It hurt. I looked back again and again. Whenever I shared with others about it, it brought me a sense of hesitation, confusion, and shame.

But I learned. As I evaluated the termindated relationship and examined what might have brought it to an end, I began to see my failings, weaknesses, arrogance, and sinfulness once again. I learned that I needed to repent, to grow, and to become a servant — day in and out, every day. I learned that it was okay to be in pain. I learned that things like this take time to pass. I learend to let go.


I found a new job in a new industry. I left my previous employer with whom I had stayed with for a little over six years. I prepared for interviews, went in for interviews, said goodbye to my good colleagues (and now good friends), joined an excitingly cool company, and became that new guy who knew very little to nothing about the work. What a lesson in humility. What a blessing it was to be admitted into a team of folks committed to helping one another and doing excellent work (go Performics).


Entering second year serving on staff with my local church, I never would have expected I would learn this much. God revealed specific areas in my life filled with arrogance, impatience, and selfishness, and led me to grow out of them (actually, I believe this is more still work in progress). Working with a group of God’s sons and daughters who will be the spiritual leaders of our next generation is a blessing and a burden. Watching them and talking to them with the eye and the heart of the Good Father is especially challenging. And yet, despite the failings of my own self and other staff on the team, God still makes a way to let his glory shine. I will continue to fight and resist the temptation to become a celebrity in the church circle; and I will make it a goal for 2019 to intentionally hone my ability to faithfully respond with, “yes” to what I’ve been given (albeit small).


Friends are dear to my heart. And I am grateful that I got to spend so much quality time with many of them over the course of the year. I took a number of road trips to both far and near. I was blessed to be on staff with a group of them to coordinate, plan, and host a nationwide young adult conference over the Thanksgiving holiday, for now the second time in a row. Together we ventured out to a handful of new, existing restaurants for late night meals and celebration of major holidays. We sat around played JackBox TV for hours at a time. Oh, the joy of being single and family-free


Last but not least, there is my family. Not an year of frequent visits at all. The parents and the two sons continue to communicate sporadically via the Internet. To make up for my lack of visit to my parents in the motherland, I took a trip out to Northern Europe to visit my brother instead. What a blast. We drove around all of Northern Europe, visited and climbed (via car) one of the renowned fjords in Norway, spent nights in exotic-yet-affordable hotels in the region, and got a pretty good feel for what living in this part of the world must be light. They could really use more daylight during this time of the year, though.

So there you have it: a very brief recap of my 2018. Thank you for staying in touch with me. I pray for all the best in my and your journey in life in this new year ahead!

via Stockholm, SWEDEN

Marketing Analytics in the Age of Automation

What happens to your job when you wake up tomorrow to realize that all of your daily tasks and responsibilities have been automated?

Are you out of your job?

That’s one way to look at it.

Or as Avinash Kaushik suggests that you look for a way to add value either prior to or after the execution of the now automated tasks.

For a marketing analyst in the future (not so distant), it may mean that he/she would be spending far less time on performing, say, reporting tasks, and far more time on determining which metrics to measure, dimensions to consider, and which channels to track — which would be the “prior to” stage — and “creating a sense of urgency for action … through crafting “human/emotional strategies” as supported by data insights.

The fact is that most analysts today don’t do this at all (read in full here).

So the not so distant future of the automated age is not to be feared at all. Rather, marketing analysts are to rejoice in that they shall be devoting a far greater portion of their work hours to doing things that will likely require human agency and creativity.

Hi Google, Is It Time to Pray Yet?

Google is now helping people become more spiritual. When in doubt, simply ask Google whether it’s time for you to pray. Google might just have you covered.

Perhaps this gives us another reason why we should (and can with far more ease) pray more.

Clearly, this really only applies if you are a follower of a religion that requires that you pray at certain times during the day. If you are a follower of another religion, you might have the greater luxury of choosing to pray whenever you want, wherever you are.

Read in full here.


오늘이 마지막이다.

6년만에 이직이다.
군대 2년보다 길고, 고등학교 3년보다 길고, 대학 4년보다도 2년이나 더 긴 시간이다.

2011년 6월 대학을 졸업하고, 이리저리 불안초조해하며 시작한 첫 직장, 그리고 머지 않아 정말 신기하게 열린 이 기회를 찾아 시카고로 혼자 내 승용차에 짐 가득 싣고 운전해내려오던 날이 기억난다. 정말 엊그제 같다. 벌써 6년하고도 몇달이 지났구나. 여러가지 이유로 지난 몇달간 미루어왔던 직장 이직이 이렇게 눈 앞에 펼쳐지니 참 신기하다. 왠지는 모르겠지만, 본인은 이직하지 않고 살 것처럼 지난 6년을 지내온 것 같다. 수많은 이들이 지난 6년간 오며 갔고, 떠나보낼 때마다 함께 했던 팀식사(Farewell Lunch)가 나를 위하여서도 돌아오니 이제 정말 가는구나 실감이 난다.

모든 상황을 주관하시는 하나님의 손길이 유난히도 분명히 보였던 지난 몇달이었던 것 같다. 내가 나의 의로움과 노력으로 솟아오르려하자 나를 낮아지게 하시고, 내가 아무것도 보이지 않아 그냥 주님~하고 주저 앉아있을 때에 나를 붙잡으시고 주권적으로 이끌어가신 그의 선하심을 다시 본다. 주님이 정말 주님되신다.

지난 6년간 좋든 싫던 매일 아침 걸어오던 출근길, 오후에 졸며 타던 기차, 집으로 돌아가는 길, 이제는 너무도 익숙해져버린 나의 아웃룩 시그니쳐, 같은 팀인지 얄미운 원수인지 어쩔때는 헷갈릴뻔도 했던 일터 동료들, 습관처럼 매일 듣던 생산성 향상을 위한 유투브 음악. 모두 새로웠던 지난 2주였다.

한 사람 한 사람 앉아서 사직에 대하여 나누다보니, 정말 고마울 정도로 기뻐해주는 이들이 많았다. 나도 덩달아 고맙고, 또 미안하다. 이렇게 헤어질 날이 반드시 올 것을 이미 알고 있었으면서 왜 더 따뜻하게 그동안 한 사람 한 사람 대해주지 못했을까. 왜 한 번 더 참고, 한 번 더 웃어주고, 한 번 더 맞장구 쳐주지 못했을까. 뼛속까지 죄로 물든 인간인지라 또 한 번 이렇게 아쉬워하고 미안해하고 후회하는구나. 딛고 일어서 오늘부터는 이 날을 기억하며 더 잘해보자.

졸업하는 느낌이다.
대학 졸업하던 2011년 6월이 생각난다.
드디어 끝이다하며 후련했던 기분 반, 보이지 않아서 담담무서운 기분 반.

오늘까지 나를 이끄신 이가, 내일도 신실하실 것임을 믿는다.

“사람이 마음으로 자기의 길을 계획할지라도 그의 걸음을 인도하시는 이는 여호와시니라”
(잠언 16:9)

Does Technology Always Trump the Past Time?

What are some of your most memorable moments of learning?

With the growing talk of edtech, technology appears to be only a step away from devouring the traditional education sphere. Yet, is there still irreplaceable value in the old school mode of learning?

I seem to think so.

And so does this person who wrote the following:

I truly believe that the most memorable parts of my education have come when a teacher has taken the time to sit down and talk me through an equation, or given an impassioned speech on how sodium and chlorine become salt. The next step for EdTech is to foster and enhance those memorable moments in school, get teens excited to learn, and make students feel invested in their education anew. While I still have qualms about where EdTech is today, I predict that with time, there will only be more technology saturation, more tech-literate kids, and more opportunities to use tech in the classroom.

Tablets and cloud may come and go, but there will always be a place for our good ol’ teachers to sit down with their students.

Read in full here.