From this little mustard seed

To help myself understand the significance of the “mustard seed” in Matthew 13…

He plants it in an existing field alongside massive fields and farm machinery and silos and grain elevators and genetically engineered crops.

No, this little seed, Jesus says, is his kingdom. The others will eventually die. Everything else will burn. Nothing else will last. It doesn’t how matter how big their crops are, their buildings are, their money is, how rich their tradition is, how confident their laborers are…

This little seed, these little ones, the least of these, this little flock, this remnant, these little children, these humbled ones, from these, from this little seed the kingdom comes.

“Don’t you want to be married with your husband in heaven?”

We had just moved to Utah. We were living in a basement apartment. My wife was pregnant with our son.

BYU professor David J. Whittaker came to where we lived because our host wanted him to talk to me. I had talked faith/Jesus with her. David was in her ward.

I asked him about Joseph Smith’s polygamy, and he conceded flippantly that Smith had little honeymoons (i.e. trysts) with at least some of his plural wives. We got to talking about “eternal marriage.”

Stacie and I were sitting on the couch together, and he was sitting across from us. He asked Stacie, “Don’t you want to be married with your husband in heaven?” And she said matter-of-factly to him, “No.”

He was dumfounded. Stacie explained what Jesus taught in Matthew 22: there would be no marriage in heaven. We will be as the angels. She will worship Jesus. Jesus has joy in store for us at the resurrection that we haven’t even dreamed of yet. Marriage is an old-Earth reality. We trust Jesus for this.

I felt so deeply in love with Stacie. This was a romantic moment. I knew exactly what she meant. I felt closer to her in her very affirmation of not needing our marriage or even wanting it in heaven.

I love you, Stacie.

“Let those who have wives live as though they had none… For the present form of this world is passing away.” (1 Corinthians 7:29, 31)

“For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” (Matthew 22:30)

The least of these

Contrast:

“I am a special kind of Christian, the elite kind; not like *those* other Christians. I am defined by how I stand out among them, and I have no affection for their weak. I have nothing but embarrassment over them, and I am not eager to be one in mind with them, nor am I willing to be publicly shamed by association with them.”

vs.

“The least of Christians are my equal brothers, coheirs of the same inheritance, better men than I in blind spots of my own, especially to be loved when weak, all the more worth associating with when lowly, to be served with loving wisdom when ignorant, and not characterized by their worst. God distributed gifts to them that I do not have, and I am mutually encouraged by their faith. God chose the poor of the world to be rich in faith, and those are my people, since their savior is my savior, their God my God.”

Four quotes on excellence in the ordinary

“To do a common thing uncommonly well brings success.” (Henry J. Heinz)

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” (Aristotle)

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” (Annie Dillard)

“The strength of a man’s virtue must not be measured by his efforts, but by his ordinary life.” (Blaise Pascal)


Added:

“Do little things as though they were great, because of the majesty of Jesus Christ who does them in us, and who lives our life; and do the greatest things as though they were little and easy, because of His omnipotence.” (Blaise Pascal)
“Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself” (Thomas Watson)

Five thoughts on faith, hope, and love

1. We admire faith, hope, and love in children before they’ve even developed a critical discernment between good parenting and bad parenting. They seem like virtues to be cultivated and protected.

2. Discernment has a place in the maturity of faith, hope, and love: love “rejoices in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6).

3. It is impossible to be neutral with these virtues. We seem either eager to have them or eager to avoid them.

4. Because of #3, we must be resolute in choosing, resolving, intending, and determining to have faith, hope, and love. Or else we default to a *disposition* of cynicism, suspicion, and lovelessness.

5. Resolve isn’t enough to change our deepest desires. We need God to recreate and shepherd our hearts. “I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:25)

Why you should reconsider that MLM

mlm

At the risk of losing some friends, but to the benefit of those vulnerable, let me describe what makes for a good MLM (multi-level marketing business). It:

  • Dignifies hard work. It does not mock daily hard work.
  • Avoids sensational health claims.
  • Doesn’t tap into a dieting fad.
  • Doesn’t exploit the placebo effect.
  • Doesn’t depend on conspiracy theories about the competition.
  • Doesn’t encourage you to sever relationships with dissenters. I have seen this in the body of Christ and it is tragic.
  • Won’t burn bridges with friends and family.
  • Doesn’t sell the idea of being rich.
  • Doesn’t have drama with the FTC.
  • Don’t distract people, especially those in a season of life most common for starting a career, from responsibly developing a marketable skill set or getting a vocational/college education.
  • Doesn’t financially depend on long nested chain of signups / resellers. There is nothing wrong with the manufacturer/distributor/retailer model. But MLMs blow this up and exploit people at the bottom of bigger pyramids.
  • Doesn’t require buying products with a short shelf-life.
  • Doesn’t prey on the struggling or the spiritually empty.
  • Doesn’t over-spiritualize involvement.
  • Doesn’t soil one’s social circles.
  • Isn’t something you would be ashamed to have your children do.
  • Doesn’t depend on people feeling sorry for you.
  • Competes well with getting a “normal” job. A paycheck from an MLM isn’t “success” if you could have earned more responsibly and sustainably elsewhere.
  • Has a good success rate of its participants.
  • Capitalizes on reduced shipping costs.
  • Has synergy with existing needs and social activity. People already need and buy it, and seller becomes distributor of said product. Perhaps it is a fun catalyst for social events that people benefit from regardless of purchase.

I have a seen a few good examples of direct sales (cleaning products, bags, scrapbooking, craft supplies, candles). But the vast majority of MLMs do not pass muster. Most people think their MLM is the exception. Maybe yours is, but the bar is high.

I am not trying to judge you. Good, intelligent people have soiled relationships and wasted thousands of dollars on MLMs. I am trying to help you. Your best friends may feel reluctant to critique your MLM. They love you. They don’t want to lose their relationship with you.

If you need to provide for a family, then responsibly develop a career, cultivate a skill set, get an education, look for an internship, or start an entry-level position. If your family needs supplemental income, then look for part-time or contract work. You probably should not waste your time on MLMs. If you want residual income, then develop a residual skill set lucrative to the marketplace of dignified, daily work. Your family and friends and children and church and local community are cheering you on!

Further reading: