Inception – A Must-Have Skill for KM professionals



Inception is a blockbuster science fiction movie starring Leonardo Dicaprio. It is about implanting an idea in someone’s subconscious mind via dreams. It does seem like a novel idea that can never be replicated in the real world. After all if inception is possible, then the person who can perform it will be either revered or reviled, depending on what kind of idea that this person implant to others. But before you dismiss ‘Inception’ as just another interesting science fiction movie, I would like you to think whether the following radical ideas can be implanted to some people:

  1. Be a suicide bomber
  2. Be gracious to someone who raped and killed your relatives
  3. Prostitute yourself for your belief
  4. Rob a bank with a person who kidnapped and tortured you
  5. Iron your daughter’s breasts

Other than the first example – which is clearly a profile of a terrorist, you may think ‘who could do such things?’ and there is no way anyone could influence others to do such drastic actions. It turns out that there are people who can implant such sub-human ideas to others: (2) Marcus Wesson; (3) David Berg, who advocated the practice of Flirty Fishing; (4) Donald DeFreeze of Symbionese Liberation Army; (5) Mothers of 26% of all teenage girl in Cameroon. Okay, these people can’t enter other people’s dreams, but the fact remains that they are capable of implanting (seemingly ridiculous) ideas to others, i.e. changing other people’s mindset.

Here is the scary part: the people mentioned in the above paragraph, are not the exception – there are many people who are capable of such act. And we may know some of them. In fact, depending on whether you are a Christian or not, your pastor can be one of them. Let’s see, is your pastor getting people to believe that a virgin woman gave birth to a baby boy? It seems hard to believe, doesn’t it? especially to the non-Christians. And yet millions of people – the Christians – believe in it wholeheartedly (And yes, I’m a Christian and one of those people who believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ). My point here is: getting people to accept, adopt, and embrace (radical) ideas is not impossible. On the contrary, it can be done (the thought of this gives you chill, doesn’t it?), though it is not easy.

Robert Cialdini, the author of ‘Influence‘, offered six guidelines on how one can influence others: (1) Rule of reciprocity; (2) Commitment and Consistency; (3) Social proof; (4) Authority; (5) Liking; (6) Scarcity. Though the six rules offered some insights on how one can influence others, there are various conditions  - which are usually context-specific situations and thus can’t be explicitly list down – that amplify its effect. One of those conditions is partiality of information. If I proclaim that the world is flat, and the people who listened can’t verify my statement, then by applying some or all Cialdini’s six rules, I have a better chance of implanting ‘the world is flat’ idea to others.

Of course not all ideas are ‘born equal’, some ideas have characteristics that made them more ‘implantable’ than others. Dan and Chip Heath, the authors of ‘Made to Stick’, suggest six principles (SUCCESs) that make an idea ‘sticky’: (1) Simple; (2) Unexpected; (3) Concrete; (4) Credible; (5) Emotional; and (6) Stories. So now you know on how to influence others, and how to make an idea more ‘sticky’ / ‘implantable’. By combining these two ‘how-tos’ and applying appropriate principles at the right context, you are set to perform an ‘inception’.

Clearly this ‘inception’ skill can be dangerous if the bad guys like Osama Bin Laden master it. But for Knowledge Management (KM) professionals, mastering this skill means we can get pass ‘no, I don’t have time’ statement and knowledge-hoarding behaviours, and inculcate knowledge sharing behaviours. Indeed, KM initiatives can’t be implemented successfully without changing people’s behaviors and this means we (the KM professionals) have to influence our colleagues to create, share, and reuse collective knowledge.

Michael Jackson was not revered in City Harvest Church

City Harvest Church (CHC), who believes in engaging culture to bring Christ to the world, did not pray for Michael Jackson (MJ) – the king of pop – on its’ first english service on Saturday, 27 June, 3.30 – 5.30pm. The deputy senior pastor – Tan Ye Peng -  joked about Obama and advised the members of the church not to worry about the pettiness in life, but did not mention about MJ’s death. Perhaps he is not a fan.

I was surprised not because pastor Tan’s indifference, but due to CHC’s failure to sympathize with MJ’s death, given the connection that the church has with the music industry – the founder’s wife (Sun Ho) is a singer based in the U.S. Furthermore, if I recalled correctly, pastor Kong once mentioned that we should rejoice for people who do good things in life even though they are not Christians. For example, pastor Kong urged us to rejoice for Oprah Winfrey.

Rev. Al Sharpton, a friend of MJ, was quoted in CNN saying, “Michael Jackson made culture accept a person of color way before Tiger Woods, way before Oprah Winfrey, way before Barack Obama.” In addition to MJ’s gift in music, he was also a fashion icon. Many of his trademark fashion style was imitated back in the 1980s.

Of course other than renowned for his contribution in culture and fashion – the two things that CHC thrives in – MJ has flaws such as his involvement in child molestations. Whether those allegations are true or not, it’s hard to deny that he has done many good things (charity works). For full listing of his good deeds, please refer here.  Regarding his faults, the bible (John 8:7) said,”Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. Thus, we – the Christians – should not be the one who judges MJ’s wrongdoings.

As a follower of CHC, I would definitely heed pastor tan’s advise about not letting the pettiness of life to affect my devotion to God. I’m still and would always love the god’s church – the City Harvest Church.  However, I hope that the church don’t mind her followers like me prayed for MJ, may God blesses his soul in heaven. R.I.P. the king of pop – Michael Jackson, and thank you for creating wonderful songs such as thriller, black and white, smooth criminal, billie jean, and beat it.

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The Side-Effect of Storytelling in a Complex Domain

Many Knowledge Management (KM) experts have been singing praises on the “forgotten” ancient technique, the storytelling. They argued that stories are able to capture the context of knowledge and thus they are effective medium for storing and transferring knowledge, especially tacit knowledge. They presented their case through evidence from the past when human have not developed writing, knowledge is preserved and distributed from one generation to the next via stories. Due to this reason, there is revival of interest in storytelling to persuade, influence, and inform.

While I agree that storytelling is a powerful KM tool, stories are not born equal and they need to be managed differently if we were to exploit the power of storytelling. There are two categories of stories. First is the story within a clearly defined domain. For example: the story of global warming by a former US vice president – Al Gore, the story of how Obama won the US presidency.

Second, the story within a complex domain. For example: the stories in the Christians’ Holy Bible. Every Christian knows that the Holy Bible is full of stories, from the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis, to the story of the Dragon and the Woman in Revelation. We also know that there are implicit messages (knowledge) behind every story in the bible, and all of them are still applicable today. The stories in the Holy Bible are able to preserve the context of knowledge, which gives us cues to apply the knowledge in today’s situation.

Let’s examine the second point further. In a complex domain like religion, the property of stories that enables them to capture the richness of knowledge in its context, also results in multiple interpretations. While we would want diverse perspectives to encourage innovation and create new knowledge, multiple views could be divisive, creating knowledge silos that compete with one another. This is evident in the various and ever-growing Christians denominations – each with their own understanding of the Holy Bible.

Christianity depicts the side-effect of storytelling in a complex domain, the issue of ‘lost in translation’: as complex stories were told from one person to another, an additional context or interpretation may be added by the storyteller, which either make the story richer or dilute the message. In 325 AD, the first council of Nicaea was convened to attain consensus to create unity of beliefs among Christians, resulting in the Creed of Nicaea. It was basically an attempt to resolve taxonomy issues.

As complex stories were told from one person to another, an additional context or interpretation may be added by the storyteller, which either make the story richer or dilute the message

Much of the debate hinged on the difference between being “born” or “created” and being “begotten”. Arians saw these as the same; followers of Alexander did not. Indeed, the exact meaning of many of the words used in the debates at Nicaea were still unclear to speakers of other languages. Greek words like “essence” (ousia), “substance” (hypostasis), “nature” (physis), “person” (prosopon) bore a variety of meanings drawn from pre-Christian philosophers, which could not but entail misunderstandings until they were cleared up. The word homoousia, in particular, was initially disliked by many bishops because of its associations with Gnostic heretics (who used it in their theology), and because it had been condemned at the 264–268 Synods of Antioch (Source: Wikipedia).

As we probe further into storytelling in Christendom, we find that Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John – each of them can be seen as a storyteller – described Jesus Christ in different manner. It shows that they make sense of the story of Jesus Christ in their own context (understanding), and thus adding additional context into the original story, before they transfer their knowledge either through writings or tutelage.

Much of the debate hinged on the difference between being “born” or “created” and being “begotten”. Arians saw these as the same; followers of Alexander did not

There is a need to point out, however, that the majority of stories in the Holy Bible is opaque – full of symbols, metaphors, and meanings. The complex domain, Christianity, is exacerbated by lost meanings due to the process of language translation, i.e. from greek to other languages and the fact that no living authors to clarify the stories recorded in the Holy Bible. This breeds different, and potentially divisive, interpretations.

It is clear that storytelling in a complex domain needs to be managed through taxonomic interference – one that builds common ground and allows for group sense-making. Failure to do so, may results in knowledge silos – partial knowledge that could potentially misguided the knowledge seeker.

Interestingly, even though the Holy Bible did not offer explicit solution to this issue, we can learn from the existence of the first and second councils of Nicaea. Both councils of Nicaea – attended by the majority of the Bishops on each era – were essentially sense-making activities intended to build common ground, i.e. resolve the differences in the Christian belief understanding. Furthermore, it worth noted that although the Bishops defined a clear boundary on the principles of Christianity, they did not produce stifling guidelines.

The Creed of Nicaea offers a clear, but not too restrictive, taxonomic guidelines that provide sufficient common ground to allow knowledge transfer and act as boundary spanning object to cultivate new insights. It leaves enough space for multiple perspectives, i.e. the major Christians denominations like Presbyterian, Charismatics, 7th Day Adventist, and yet filters teachings that were considered heretics like gnostic teachings. Modern business storytellers could take cues – flexibility and clarity – from the creed of nicaea, and it should guide them when telling stories, especially the ones in a complex domain.

Taken From:

3 Things that Christmas can do for you

20 December 2008. City Harvest Church. Sermon by Rev. Kong Hee

Main Biblical passage: John I : 4 – 5 (NLT)

4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

There are three things that Christmas can do for you:

1. Let Jesus make you a person of Vision. Vision is necessary for successful victorious living. And Vision is given by God. In vision / dreams there are no limitations.

2. Let Jesus make you a person of Value. Diamond looks so glorious because it shines. If we apply this context to man, then we have to shine for God. In other words, we got to up our value all the time. If your value never go up, you’ll never got promoted.

Refer to 2 Corinthians 3:18. (NLT) So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Note: Reflect is the result of shining, while more and more like him means we need to increase our value.

3. Let Jesus make you a person of compassion.

Isaiah 60: 19 (NLT)

19 “No longer will you need the sun to shine by day,
nor the moon to give its light by night,
for the
Lord your God will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.

How to have the light of God?…The answer is in Isaiah 58

Isaiah 58: 7 – 8 (NLT)

7 Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

8 “Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the L
ord will protect you from behind.

Isaiah 58 tells us to reach to the poor, the hunger, the afflicted.

Isaiah 61: 1 (NLT)

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the L
ord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.

Isaiah 61 tells us to comfort the brokenhearted, the lonely.

My Goals for 2009. Name: Roan Yong.    CG: NA

8 Categories of your needs and wants S – Specifically M – Measure A – Action Plan R – Realistic T – Time Frame E – Expectation Management R – Revelation
Spiritual Life Join Cell Group member for at least 2 monts fill-up form in CHC yes 12 months busy work schedule
Family & Friends Make 15 new friends 15 new friends added in Facebook (1)Join Cell-Group; (2)Join Toastmaster; (3)Join Yoga yes 12 months busy work schedule
Health No more than 2 days MC Number of MC (1)Take Vitamins regularly; (2) Eat Fruits regularly yes 12 months unexpected illness
Emotional, Psychological Growth Handle Stress Better Less Time required to recover from unexpected events have time for leisure yes 12 months Job loss
Education, Intellectual, Professional Contract renewed; Attend 80% of training roadmap Contract renewed until 2011; apply new skills in work Exceed my boss expectation; go for the extra miles yes 6 – 7 months working relationship deteriorated
Material Invest in good index fund below fair market value Investment portfolio increase by 20% read financial news; invest in big index fund yes 24 months Market sink into severe depression
Leisure Go for a week holiday an overseas trip thinking of the best place for holiday yes 12 months job loss
Creativity Propose a dozen of marketing / publicity plan 4 working plans learn Adobe CS3; imitate CHC marketing ideas yes 12 months job loss

Christmas Songs:

Silent Night

Joy to the World

We Wish you a Merry Christmas

Recession-Proof Church

6 December 08. City Harvest Church. Sermon by: Rev. Dr. John Avanzini

Brother John mentioned that the purpose of end-time wealth transfer is end-time harvest.

Genesis 47: 6, 27. The best land in Egypt was Goshen. This is how God recession-proof Jacob. Through Joseph, God bring Israel to live in Goshen and the Israelites prosper in the midts of famine throughout the land of Egypt.

Brother John invited the church-goers to shout “We are living in Goshen!”

Genesis 26: 12 – 15 (NLT). Isaac became rich, but he lost it all. He was cast away by Abimelech.
Genesis 26: 19 – 22 (NLT). Isaac had to move and dug well three times in order to succeed. Notice that Isaac puts Vocation first.
Genesis 26: 23 – 25 (NLT). Isaac succeeded in his first attempt to dug well, because he did his priorities right: (1) Then Isaac built an altar there and worshiped the Lord (Isaac putting God first); (2) He set up his camp at that place (Isaac putting his family second); (3) and his servants dug another well. (Isaac putting vocation last)

If we did our priorities right, even our enemies will make peace with us (refer to Genesis 26: 28 – 31), proclaimed brother John.

Brother John also likened the current financial crisis to Goliath. Since Goliath means “The one who tears (or strips)  everything down”

1 Samuel 17:40. David took 5 smooth stone. Brother John asked “Why there are 4 extra stone?” 1 Samuel 17: 50 –> David kills Goliath with one stone. Brother John said it’s because Goliath has 4 relatives.

In 2 Samuel 21:1, we learned that there is another famine, just like in the days of Isaac and Jacob. In 2 Samuel 21:15 – 22, we learned the 4 giants (relative of Goliath) were killed by David’s men.  According to Brother John, this indicates that God will not only bless pastors (prophet of God – like David), but also those who fought together with the pastor.
Brother John invited the church-goers to shout “We are giant-slayers!”
That’s all for the sermon folks. City Harvest Church distributed smooth stone, or talking-stone according to brother John, to the church-goers. This smooth stone, like the one used by David, is the symbol of Giant-slayers (or Recession-slayers).  I would like to invite you to rate this sermon:

Heaven as a Holy City

City Harvest Church’s Asia Conference Session 7 at Expo Hall 8.

21 November 2008, 7.30pm – 10.30pm. Sermon by: Rev. Kong Hee.

I attended the Asia Conference after work, and it is jam packed!. Kudos to CHC securities, ushers, and everyone else who work hard for this event. Here are some photos to illustrate the situation in session 7:

The Conference-goers were immediately entertained with (1) Dance; (2) Fashion Fiesta – a Fashion show session; (3) Interview with Petrina Fung Bo Bo; (4) Music Video of Sun Ho (Rev. Kong Hee’s wife) ; (5) Testimonials of CHC’s humanitarian work.
City Harvest Church (CHC) can’t keep on expanding without reaching pop culture – Rev. Kong Hee
Main Bible passages: (A) Isaiah 60; (B) Revelation 21, and (C) Hebrews 13. These three passages suggest Heaven is a Holy City. The bible begins with Garden (of Eden) and end up with Holy City – Isaiah 60; or New Jerusalem – Rev 21.
All Christians are waiting for revival of the new city, the Holy City, or New Jerusalem.
A. Isaiah 60
verse 6 (NKJV) :  6The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come; they shall bring gold and incense, and they shall show forth the praises of the LORD.
verse 9 (NKJV) : 9Surely the isles shall wait for Me–and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the LORD thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because He hath glorified thee.
verse 13 (NKJV) : 13The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together to beautify the place of My sanctuary; and I will make the place of My feet glorious.
Note: The glory of Lebanon (or cedars of Lebanon) is actually a very expensive wood material.
camels, ships of Tarshish, and glory of Lebanon are symbol of power, and they are also symbol of Pagan worship. But, why did God wants all these?…Let’s look at Isaiah 2
Isaiah 2: 12 – 13 (NKJV):
12For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up–and he shall be brought low”  13and upon all the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan;
The cedars of Lebanon is the symbol of those who are proud and lofty. God judgment will come upon them, and they shall be brought low.
Isaiah 2: 16 – 17 (NKJV):
16and upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant sights. 17And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low; and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day,
ships of Tarshish is a symbol of military might, and this too shall be made low by God.
Notice that camels, ships of Tarshish, and glory of Lebanon all go to the Holy City. Why God wants such Pagan items, such a worldly items?…Here lies the key to understand how God deal with Pagan culture.
When God judge is it judgment of destruction or is it judgmen of construction?…When God sents fire, is it fire of annilihation or is it fire of purification?…
When we go through the fire of God, we will shine as gold! – Rev. Kong Hee.
The Judment is mean to purify and to redeem. God judgment is to destroy the proudness (pagan-ness) of the ships of tarshish or the cedars of Lebanon. Once these items are redeemed, they can be used for God’s work.
B. Revelation 21
Rev 21 (NKJV):
verse 2:  2And I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
verse 5: 5And He that sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said unto me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
Note: verse 5 is the emphasis that our God is a redeemer not a destroyer. His greatest desire is to convert, not to annihilate.
verse 24: 24And the nations of them that are saved shall walk in the light of it, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.
verse 26: 26and they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.
What is glory and honor?…This phase is repeated twice in Rev 21. Glory and honor is all the progress and development in human culture minus its corruption (pride, arrogance, vengeange) that will be carried to eternity. The glory and honor is man-made.
Understanding Heaven as a city has huge implications. We need to actively seeking for God, we must allow the vision of Holy City to captivate our heart.
C. Hebrews 13
verse 11 – 14 (NKJV): 11For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. 12Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13Let us go forth therefore unto Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
Look at verse 11, it is referring to the old testament, where the body of a beast is rejected. While in verse 12, it is referring to the new testament, where Jesus – the Lamb of God – is rejected (suffered outside the gate).
Verse 13 – 14 are invitation for Christians to go outside the 4 walls of the church and become a redeemer. We’ve got to be like Jesus, who are willing to be abused, forsaken to save this world.
Isaiah 58: 10 (NKJV) says 10and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then shall thy light rise in obscurity and thy darkness be as the noonday.
Like Isaiah 58:10, Christians should serve the wounded and the afflicted. Remember:the way to become great is to be a servant. We shine when we satisfy the hungry people. Christians should penetrate every corner of society and make impact for Jesus.
Let Christians be the agent of redemption, agent of reconciliation.

The Secret of Biblical Manifestation: Unusual Response

1 November 08. City Harvest Church. Sermon by Rev. Kong Hee

Faith comes from (active) hearing, if you act on your faith, you can change your life.

Proverbs 13:12 (NKJV)

12Hope deferred maketh the heart sick, but when a desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.

Biblical manifestation in its simplest form when Logos becomes Rhema. Logos is a written word of God, while Rhema is a living word of God.

John 1: 14 (NKJV)

14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.

Biblical manifestation is getting out of the bible and operational in your life

When the word becomes flesh!? Let’s go to Genesis I, the beginning of time:

Verse 3. 3And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. and continued to other verses about “Word become Flesh”

When you come to the first creation of species – be it fish, birds, animals – no more information available, but when you look at the first creation of man, there is too much information because Man is created in the image of God, and there is always not enough information about God.

Rev. Kong Hee also said that he don’t believe in the days of miracles, he believe in God of miracles. Further, according to him glossolalia is not equal to speaking in tongue. Glossolalia is one time event, but speaking in tongue is talent that still with us.

It is immoral to put a creature in an environment contrary to its basic nature. For example: you can’t put birds under water, Fish and sharks on land, and Satan can’t put man into poverty because Man is created in the image of God. The realm of God is abundance, riches, and success.

Rev Kong Hee further emphasized this point by saying Cow don’t care whether it has golden necklace, it can only say “Mooo”. But, Man like riches (for example: Golden Necklace) because we are created in the image of God. Therefore, It is atrocity for you to live in mediocrity.

Rev. Kong Hee shared with the audience, the hidden secret of biblical manifestation: Unusual Response.

Luke 1: 27 – 38. (NKJV).

Notice Mary’s unusual response in verse 38. 38And Mary said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” And the angel departed from her.

This is unusual because Mary knew she will die (look at verse 34, when she said she doesn’t know a man), she will be stoned to death by the ultra-conservatives (The Pharisees) if she gets pregnant without a husband. But she still said YES to the Angel. How Unusual.

For every biblical manifestation throughout the Holy Bible, there is always first an unusual response.

Rev. Kong Hee gave further examples of unusual responses in City Harvest:

  • CHC choose to build church in Jurong West (at the heartland of Singapore), and built it during economic crises, and paid it in cash for $48 million.
  • When Rev. Kong Hee becomes a senior pastor, he didn’t “play it safe”, he preaches about cultural mandate, which can be considered risky preaching from the point of view of conservative denomination.
  • When Rev. Kong Hee becomes a senior pastor, he quit the church payroll and became a businessman, while his wife became a pop star.

If you do what you always do then only common events will happen to you

If you want to have breakthrough in your life – your career, your finance, your family – you need an unusual response. You need to be bold. For instance, how could you believe in supernatural if you don’t practice speak in tongue?…

Note: Breakthrough is a sudden burst of power that takes you past the previous point of resistance.

Three Pillars of City Harvest Church (CHC)

25 October 2008. City Harvest Church (CHC). Sermon by Rev. Kong Hee.

I feel that today’s preach is actually a disguised CHC annual general meeting (AGM). Since Rev. Kong Hee speaks about CHC’s organizational structure, CHC past achievements and the three pillars of CHC (or you could say CHC mission and vision – in terms of organization).  Although, I have nothing against attending CHC annual general meeting, which I think is an important thing because it promotes transparency, I suppose Rev. Kong Hee should be more frank and tell the audience that today’s preach is not a preach but it is an AGM. Rev. Kong Hee should have known that not all the audience are teenagers/students who are unable to distinguish between AGM and sermon.

Anyway, here is the content of today’s “sermon” or should I say AGM Minutes of Meeting:

Three Pillars of City Harvest Church (CHC):

1. Great Commandment

Matthew 22: 36 – 40 (NKJV)

36“Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37Jesus said unto him, “`Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.’ 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it: `Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ 40On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Rev. Kong Hee (RKH) said that CHC sought to love God wholeheartedly (as indicated by vertical beam of a cross), and to love people fervently (as indicated by the horizontal beam of a cross).

Rev. Kong Hee mentioned that according to a research, some of the reasons people don’t want to go to church are: (a) Anti-homosexual – 91%; (b) Judgmental – 87%; (c) Hypocritical – 85%; (d) Sheltered. Therefore, Rev. Kong Hee encouraged CHC to be more tolerant, and not quick to judge others who are different from us.

RKH expressed his disappointment that many Christians condemn Oprah Winfrey, who seems to promote New Age belief. (Personal note: see below video)

RKH said that we should rejoice because Oprah is a good person, she is helping the needy. We should not condemn her, not quick to judge her even though she is nonbeliever. RKH added that he is like Jesus, who never condemn nonbelievers but don’t like the religious person, The Pharisees – who quick to condemn nonbelievers.

To emphasize his point, RKH cited a book by Thorn S. Rainer that revealed non-christians shared Christians’ values. And:

  • 95% unbelievers are open people.
  • 80% will attend church if invited
  • Only 21% active church goers do invite nonbelievers

2. Great Commission

Matthew 28: 18 – 19 (NKJV)

18And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, “All power is given unto Me in Heaven and on earth. 19Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,

This passage suggested that CHC impact should reach all nations, not just Singapore. Rev. Kong Hee informed that one-fifth of CHC funds go to overseas mission; CHC sends average of 6 teams  a week to do missionary work. He estimated that CHC influence in Asia has reach $3.3 million.

3. Cultural Mandate

Matthew 5: 13 – 16 (NKJV)

13“Ye are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men. 14“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. 15Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.

Look at passage 14, “a City that is set on a hill cannot be hid” this is the inspiration for the church’s name: CITY HARVEST CHURCH.

How to impact the society?…According to Kong Hee, CHC can impact the society through excelling in the marketplace (no 3 – 7 of the seven pillars of society).

7 Pillars of Society: (1)Family; (2)Religion; (3) Business; (4) Education; (5) Government; (6) Arts; (7) Media.

Kong Hee further explained that God wants us, humans, to impact society. We should be the shaper of values through pop culture. The list of influential pop culture (in order of impact) was: (1) Advertising; (2) Celebrities; (3) Music; (4) Movies; (5) Television; (6) Fashion; (7) Sports; (8) Arts.

Kong Hee informed the church that he wants CHC to be creative. He further emphasized that creativity requires risk-taking.

  • The most creative work that God did, was when God created the world. When God created Adam –> God is taking risk, since HE fully aware that Adam might fall into sin.
  • God is the one who planted the Tree of Knowledge. Genesis 2: 9 (NKJV):  9And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
  • Should God banned Adam to be near the Tree of Knowledge?….So that Adam will never fall into sin?….Of course NOT. To God innocence is not a virtue, but virtue is innocence that is tested. Rev. Kong Hee cited example from parenting. Should parents lock up their children in a room so that they will never mix with bad company?….Of course NOT because the parents would end up in jail for child abuse. Rev. Kong Hee gave another example when Jesus was tempted, God the father let it happened. Maturity is not about banning a person from doing something, it is about when you give a person choices, that person can say NO to bad choice.

Aaron’s Sins

12 October 2008. Reformed Evangelical Church Singapore (GRII). Sermon by Ev. Hendra Wijaya, MCS.

Main Bible passage: Exodus 32: 1 – 5.

Song of Praise:

Blessed Assurance

One of the main theme in the old testament is “Recognize your God”. While in the new testament is “Love your God, and other human beings like yourself”

In the bible, we can find a lot of story where people who once so devoted to God, suddenly disillusioned and eventually left God. In Exodus 32, we see that Moses was called by God just for 40 days, but the people of Israel has become impatient. This proves that people who promise that he/she wants to know God, may not do so.

Notice at verse 1 (NKJV)

1And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron and said unto him, “Arise, make us gods which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we know not what has become of him.”

The people of Israel is asking Aaron to create gods which they can see.

But, we also know that the wisdom of the crowd often create chaos. Look at what happen to the US Financial Crisis 2008. In Exodus 32, the wisdom of the crowd bring disaster upon the people of Israel.

Look at verse 2 (NKJV)

2And Aaron said unto them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.”

Why did Aaron think of golden earrings?…Aaron did not seek the word of God. Aaron did not pray to God, he straight away ask for golden earrings. The reason is, he was influenced by the Egyptian culture. In ancient Egypt, all the gods are in the form of golden statues.

Inside Aaron’s mind the molten calf is not a sin, he was not wrong. To Aaron, it was just a symbol, just an illustration, nothing more. But we need to ask ourselves: Can God be represented?…Of course NOT!!!! (Aaron thinking was already against God).

Notice what he said next:

4And he received them from their hand, and fashioned it with an engraving tool after he had made it a molten calf; and they said, “These are thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt!

When Aaron linked the molten calf and exodus from Egypt, he remembered what God had done for Israel. But did the molten calf lead Israel out from Egypt?…NO. (Aaron was committing a sin against God).

Notice what he did next:

5And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD.”

He built an altar for the molten calf!!!!, which is a bigger sin in the eyes of the Lord. Abraham was the first person who built an altar, but he has his reasons for doing so: (1) To give thanks to God; (2) Covenant with God. Can these reasons applied to a molten calf?!!!!!!!!!

St.John and his role in Christianity

5 October 08. Reformed Evangelical Church Singapore (GRII). Sermon by Rev. Stephen Tong

Galilea is a simple province. Most of its inhabitant are fisherman, who are not intellectuals. Therefore, Galilea is not seen as a birthplace of great men. But the irony is Jesus Christ choose all twelve of His disciples from Galilea. Voltaire, the French philosopher once said 240 years ago, “Let that Jesus who created His religion with the twelves Galilean people establishes The Christianity, and let me, the only French would destroy them all from the history !.”

Can this happen?….had it happened?…Of course not. What Jesus did is not wrong, Jesus did not choose people like Nicodemus who are so academic. The question is why?….Why did Jesus choose Galilean people?…Did Jesus only choose un-academic people so that they can easily be conned by Him?…Was it because what Jesus did something who is un-academic?…

We know that God’s word cannot be understood by cognitive thinking. So it is not because Galilean people are stupid, and easily cheated. There are something that we need to take note: Those who are chosen by Jesus finally achieve more than even those people with the highest qualifications. Jesus choose people who can OBEY God’s word and has Heaven’s blessing so that they can accept and understand God’s will that come out from the mouth of Jesus.

We also need to think, why did Jesus choose John?…he is just a teenager, he is not matured, he is not highly educated. What’s the use of having John in Jesus’ disciples. The Holy Bible recorded that John is a disciples who most understand God’s will, more than Peter, etc. John is also the youngest disciples. When John wrote his books, Paul and Peter had died for about 22 years. Who can continue God’s work, Who can fight for truth?…At that time, early churches facing 4 big challenges. So only one man can answer that challenges: John, at a ripe age of 90. Why wait only at 90, then write biblical passage?…Isn’t Christianity more or less established everywhere?….Don’t forget that Christians’ enemy also occur everywhere.

Who were churches’ enemy?

1. Abuse from politics. When Jesus still alive, the people of Israel was allowed to call their God, God, and they will not be punished. Before Jesus was born, Rome was only a small country, not an empire. Romulus and Remus found Rome, and it became an empire few decades before Jesus was born. The first roman emperor is Augustus (which actually General Octavian). When he become the first emperor, he change Rome into empire, in this period, Jesus was born. Rome used the mindset: Attack first before attacked. Such mindset cause continuous expansion campaigns, and it also made Rome arrogant. Before long, Rome has build the greatest empire in the whole history of the world. But, Augustus found one nation that is very difficult to be conquered, that is the Jews. For the emperor Augustus, the whole Rome belongs to him; and all its citizen call him god. Only the jews who are not willing to call him god. The Jews said God is Jehovah, the creator of heaven and earth. And for the Jews, emperor Augustus was going to die several decades later, but the Jews’ God live forever. So the emperor decided to found 1 nation 2 system. Therefore, 1 nation 2 system was not invented by Deng Xiaoping, but from Rome.

All strong government is going to be weak. The main weakness is insecurity. When Romans felt insecure, Romans were anxious, and they strengthen their military. The irony is the stronger its military prowess, the more it felt anxious. This is military psychology, political psychology. In all Rome’s territory, the city of Jerusalem has the greatest number of Rome’s soldier (about 180,000 soldiers, especially when Easter). The Romans were afraid that the Jews revolt.

Why did the Romans who initially let the Jews worship their God, suddenly killed so many Christians? Because the Jews changed from calling their invisible god as God, to calling the visible Jesus of Nazaret as God. This is the start of abuse by the Romans.  Especially when they found that Jesus died and rose on third day. Not only did He rose from the dead, His influence is getting bigger. The emperor had released a decree to capture and abuse Christians. If you have the opportunity to visit Rome, don’t forget to visit the Catacombs, which was underground shelter for Christians.

2. Academic World. Philosophers and intellectuals wrote article which insult, humiliate, abuse, and mock Christianity because Christians no longer pay respect to gods. The intellectuals do not believe that the dead can be revived, and the birth of Jesus through virgin Mary. To them, this fact was absurd and impossible.

3. Imposter who wrote gospels and using the disciples names. This is the most dangerous enemy, because they said they are Christians and they wrote the bible’s books. Some of them wrote Barnabas, Mary Magdalene, Judas gospels (many of them written by Gnostic, who didn’t understand God’s wisdom). In present day, this threat comes in the form of people who present themselves as priests, they build churches, they call themselves church of God, they preach, they accept tithe but for themselves. This is Churches’ latent enemy, the enemy seek to deceive Christians with little faith. Unfortunately when this form of enemy appear, Paul and Peter had died. At the closing of first century AD, it is not only the four bible passage that existed, but there are many passages, including false passages. There was only one disciple who still living: John. Therefore, he wrote his books.

4. Unsincere Christians. Their behavior did not reflect Christians faith, and they are hypocrites. John wrote his books also to address this matter.

In new testament, the first four books are as follows: (1)Matthew; (2)Mark; (3)Luke; and (4)John. The book of John was written last, and at that time the danger that threaten early churches already ubiquitous and scary. The fact that John can live that long is God’s will. John is exiled in Patmos island, and he patiently lived in that island. One day, John saw the gate of heaven open, and Jesus was present. The book of John makes the bible complete. The bible is the only book in the history of human beings, the only book above all human religions with the beginning we called it Creation of God and with the ending as the Revelation of God concerning the final days of universe.

What is the difference between the book of John with the previous three?…In school of theology, the first three gospels are called Synoptic gospels, which have similar characteristics. While the gospel of John is a very unique, different – the distinctive gospel. What so special about the gospel of John?…Gospel of Matthew, Mark, and Luke mostly recorded the live of Jesus day by day, and the gist of Jesus’ debate with the Pharisees academically & according to scripture. In addition, the three books cited many miracles performed by Jesus. The gospel of John recorded God’s promises, God’s thoughts, and the gist of Jesus’ words.

When Jesus was still alive, he performed 35 miracles. The gospel who record the least of such miracles is actually the gospel of John. It is not that John do not believe that Jesus can perform miracles. Example: The first miracle performed by Jesus, turning water to wine, was recorded by John. The main uniqueness of the gospel of John is that it tells us Jesus as Son of God.

The gospel of Matthew tells us Jesus is King, that is why it started with Jesus’ family tree. The gospel of Mark tells us Jesus is servant. While the gospel of Luke said that Jesus is True Man (Son of Man). However, as we have discussed above, the gospel of John said that Jesus is the Son of God, and He is God.