As Jesus is the cornerstone upon which the Church is built, so are his teachings the unifying cornerstone of Christian doctrine.

Is the Kingdom of God Like a Weed?

Some call the mustard plant a weed. What some call a weed, others call a herb. It grows from a tiny seed to a three meter household shrub and is still common in Israel. Why did Jesus choose a common plant for his riddle about the mustard seed, rather than a majestic cedar of Lebanon? Perhaps Jesus did not want us looking too far for God's rule, but in or own back yards.

Some Christians travel a long way following famous evangelists. Could it be more profitable to stay at home and grow close to God where we live? To say that God's rule is like a common shrub challenges prejudices and paradigms. When others are looking for an electrifying outward show, does the kingdom of God start like something very small, and eventually become just like a large common plant growing in our back yards? That's what Jesus said.

Criticizing Jesus' Words

Do we hastily misjudge others' words? Some criticize the parable in Mark 4:30-32. Jesus called a mustard seed the smallest of all seeds, which is scientifically inaccurate. There are smaller seeds. But, that's not the point. Jesus was not speaking precisely, but conversationally and symbolically. Many discussions use a great deal of poetic license and are not meant to be rigid, scientific descriptions. We say a similar thing today. "He is the tiniest baby," means conversationally very small. It is not meant to be information from statistical research.

In ancient times a mustard seed symbolized something small. This parable begins with a very small seed which becomes one of the larger common garden shrubs in the Middle East, the mustard plant. The emphasis is on the incredible growth experienced by the kingdom of God. God's rule is like a very small seed becoming a very large plant. That's what Jesus said.

Trinitarian, Binitarian or Unitarian?

Familiar lectures, on the doctrine of the Trinity and other subjects ; delivered at the Unitarian chapel, St. Nicholas street, Ipswich
of the Trinity
Binitarians and unitarians do not believe the Holy Spirit is a Person. Trinitarians believe that the Holy Spirit is a Person. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit has personality:

• He makes determinations or decisions by his will (1 Corinthians 12:11)
• He teaches (John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 2:11-13)
• He guides us into all truth (John 16:13)
• He makes the things of Jesus known to us (John 16:14)
• He convicts the world of sin (John 16:8)
• He can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30)
• He can be blasphemed (Matthew 12:31)
• He possesses a rational mind (Romans 8:26-27)
• He can be lied to (Acts 5:3-4)
• He can be resisted (Acts 7:51)
• He is distinguished from the Father and the Son (Matthew 28:19-20)
• We can have fellowship with him (2 Corinthians 13:14)

    A Harvest Will Come

    Seed to Harvest
    Seed to Harvest
    In the parable of the Growing Seed the farmer is involved in the work at the beginning and at the end. We notice in Mark 4:29 that the patient farmer puts the sickle in. We do have a small part to play, but the bulk of the enterprise is God's doing. Human manipulation does not cause kingdom growth. Obedience to law, works of social justice, apocalyptic predictions and other human efforts are not the main cause of kingdom growth.

    Can we patiently wait for God to cause the seeds to sprout, the sprouts to grow into a stalk, the stalk to become a head, and the head to ripen into a full kernel? If this riddle pictures God's rule in our lives, then is it picturing a long period of apparent inaction? Yet, despite appearances the kingdom of God is growing, and a harvest will come. That's what Jesus said.

    Automatic Seed

    Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners
    Seed to Seed
    In the Parable of the Growing Seed in Mark 4:28 notice that there is a human partnership in this enterprise. But, that is not the riddle. This parable focuses on the actual growth process which is independent of human effort.

    Without visible cause the soil produces a crop. The seed grows automatically. Martin Luther commented about this text, that after he preached his sermon, he would go home, drink a beer and "just let the gospel run its course." The power of Dr. Luther's sermon was not his education, or his eloquence, but the seed sown in a person's heart.

    There is something powerful about the Word of God that changes us. It grows in us, mysteriously and miraculously. The Gospel is powerful. It grows in us. This then is a parable of hope. God's rule is growing night and day whether we sleep or get up. That's what Jesus said.

    Seed Growing Secretly

    The Sower and the Seeds (The Parables)
    Sower & the Seeds
    In Mark 4:27 Jesus continued his riddle about a man scattering seed. Having cast it, the man goes about his daily routine, dissociating himself from the seed, but it grows. Bad teachings in the church often have one thing in common. They focus on human effort and human theories. This parable shows that the real agent of kingdom growth is elsewhere. Yet, we all try to do God's job for him. Our job is to be scatterers of seed. The growth is God's job.

    This has been called appropriately the Parable of the Seed Growing Secretly. We do not know how the seed of the kingdom brings forth results. There is power in a seed. When seeds grow, it is a miracle. So is the rule of God in peoples' lives. Like the man we do not know how it works, but it does, night and day. That's what Jesus said.

    Casting Seed Once

    Faith of Abraham and of Christ, His Seed in the Coming Kingdom of God On Earth, with the Restitution of All Things Which God Hath Spoken ...
    His Seed
    A parable found only in Mark 4:26-29 is about a man who scatters seed. He just throws seed on the ground. We often talk about the need to have a target audience for the gospel, yet this man scattered kingdom seed without a care.

    Weekly altar calls are not wrong, but they are not mandated in the Bible and are relatively recent. They can incite emotional decisions rather than true repentance. They also they have a high failure rate perhaps because they seem to focus a church's attention on quick decisions more than long-term discipleship. Is there a better way?

    Notice that this seed is only cast once. Does this parable infer a more care free use of our energies in the scattering of kingdom seed, rather than being overly anxious? Certainly, the kingdom of God is like a man who cast seed on the ground. That's what Jesus said.

    Why Kingdom and not Democracy of God?

    The Practice of the Presence of God: Best Rule of a Holy LifeJesus often spoke in parables explaining the kingdom of God (Mark 4:26,30). How do we understand kingdom in a modern democracy? Since the signing of the Magna Carta, English speakers have not had much experience living under an absolute monarch. The kingdom of God is an absolute monarchy and not a democracy. Human rulership of any kind ultimately fails because human beings cannot solve human problems. The kingdom of God refers to God's reign or rule. Kingdom parables are concerned with God's rule or God's authority in our lives. God is a perfect king. Nobody can vote him out of office. Yet, we do get to vote whether or not we want him in our lives and he respects that choice. The subject matter of many parables is the kingdom of God, meaning God’s rule.

    How to Preach the Bible without becoming a Total Wacko

    That's the subtitle to my book on preaching which has just been published through Amazon book publishing wing called Create Space.

    Preaching Manual is an updated edition to the free online version available at Knol.

    I'm pretty nervous about this because you know how the public likes to devour and criticize. Oh, well, I just gotta do it anyway. Sigh! :)

    PS: That's my father-in-law's hand in the picture, holding his Bible. It's all in the family.

    Theology? Schmeology!

    Have you ever wondered what theology is all about. Is it just for egg-heads? Is it useless and irrelevant to every day Christian life? Believe it or not, you are probably a theologian. I offer a series of Knols on the topic for those interested in learning more about God.