My Parsons Family

The Blog of Chris and Kerry Parsons

My Parsons Family - The Blog of Chris and Kerry Parsons

A Protestant at a Catholic ACTS Men’s Retreat

This past weekend, I attended an ACTS men’s retreat with a Catholic church.

Though I was baptized Catholic, I’m not Catholic and was the only Protestant in attendance.

I was not sure what to expect. I’ve never been on a men’s retreat with any church, Catholic or otherwise, and wasn’t allowed to ask any questions about what we would do, so I really had no idea what I was in store for.

I was given an address and told to show up at 5pm on a Thursday. The only other thing I knew was that it would be over after Mas on Sunday.

I tried to keep myself from creating many expectations. I told myself that I was there to “be blessed and be a blessing”.

I thought it might well be substantially more “be a blessing” than being blessed, as a light in the darkness among these 80 Catholic men (40 retreatants & 40 team members). 

Two of the first men I met seemed to be having some doubt about Christianity. One of them told me he most identified with “Doubting Thomas” from the Bible. My fears seemed to be being confirmed – men who were confident in Catholicism, but not Christ.

We aren’t allowed to give many details about the retreat, but here’s what I stood up and said to everyone towards the end of the retreat:

“As the only Protestant, I had some concerns. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure if I would feel the presence of God at all. But I did feel the Holy Spirit and I was deeply touched by some of the men’s stories. I knew that I was hearing from Godly men. I had some wonderful sharing with you all, especially my roommate.

I’ll tell you all a story.

Over the past couple days I kept hearing guys say it’s your job to help get people to Heaven – your wife, your kids, people you meet. And so when my roommate and I went back to the room at break earlier I told him that I don’t agree with that, that I believe “Once saved always saved” and that God changes people’s hearts – not us.

And even though I know better than to use the Bible this way, I decided to flip it open and find the “proof text” to support my view of Once saved always Saved.

I opened to a random page of my Bible and read a single sentence to get a bearing on where I was. It read, “In later times some will depart from the faith“.


Now I didn’t take this to mean I was wrong, of course (this got lots of laughs)…  Just that it wasn’t as clear cut as I thought it was.

And so I kept looking for my proof text. I start skimming Romans looking for “sheep” keywords as my roommate and I talked. At one point we got into a discussion about the crosses we bear, and I said something about different sizes of those crosses, but that some are weak. 

I looked back at my Bible to find my place, and read “Some are weak in faith, do not quarrel with your brothers.”

So I stopped looking for my proof text. Thanks brothers!”

True story. 

I didn’t really care for some of the super-Catholic events of the retreat, but they were really limited, and actually we talked about Jesus and being Christian – almost never about being “Catholic”, which was very refreshing to me.

All in all, I had an amazing time at the ACTS retreat and I highly recommend it for anyone – Catholic or not.

Before the retreat, I had already come a long ways in my view of Catholicism. I went from truly despising them (though I didn’t specifically say it, I thought Catholicism = Religion) to recognizing that they can be Christian (though still with plenty of doubt about how many of them) to now truly appreciating them.

I still see some issues in the Catholic church, of course. I’m not converting to Catholicism because I don’t personally enjoy the ritualism or the pageantry, but some people love that, and that’s okay. We can and should have different preferences for how we worship.

It may well be that there are parameters which are vital to being a Christian or to going to Heaven, but I can’t define what specifically makes you saved. And since I can’t define it, I’m not going to worry too much about it.

All I’m worried about is the fruit. You deny the Trinity? Well, I’m not sure if that’s real important or not. What does your life look like? Do you have the fruit of the Spirit? If you aren’t producing fruit, it’s time to re-examine your beliefs.

If you have the fruit of the spirit, welcome brother.

Build Your Own Pergola

I got this crazy idea that I would build a pergola onto my house in my backyard. I’ve never built… anything. Luckily, my Dad & brother are both pretty handy so I called ’em up!

It came out AWESOME! I love it! Here it is finished (Instagram style).

Homemade Pergola

In case you get this crazy idea too, I’ll show you exactly how I did it. And how I would do it differently if I were to do it again…

16' lumber, 6' truck bed

16′ lumber, 6′ truck bed

The first thing I would recommend is, if you have to buy 16 ft lumber – have a way to transport it other than a 6 ft truck bed. I had to lay across it to stop it from flying up! It was a very slow, uncomfortable drive home from Home Depot.

And it would also be helpful if you have a blueprint of what you want to do, rather than show up at Home Depot and wander around trying to think of what stuff you might need.

Installing the posts

Installing the posts

We were quite unscientific about setting the two 8×8′ posts. I looked at the house, pointed to the ground where I wanted the pergola to come to, and that’s where we dug a hole and put them in. We just eye-balled squaring them to the house and each other. We cut up a spare board and stationed it to the ground to keep the posts level while we filled around them with quick cement and let it dry.

Installing the main support beams

Installing the main support beams

By night fall, we had installed the two main support beams for the posts. If we had a plan, we could’ve gotten this far in about 3 hours, but because we were figuring out what to do as we went, it took us most of the day.

The next morning my Dad showed up to help with maybe the most challenging task – attaching the pergola to the house.

Hooking the Pergola to the House

Hooking the Pergola to the House

This might be surprising (or not), but until this point we still didn’t know how we were actually going to attach the pergola to the house. Most of the options we considered ended up being overkill, because the fascia ended up being connected to the frame of the house (we checked) – meaning we didn’t need much additional support. We just used metal brackets to hook right onto it.

Installing pergola boards

Installing pergola boards

The next step was spacing and installing the pergola boards. We went back and forth several times to decide which way these should go (parallel or perpendicular), but thought this way looked best. The spacing was more convenience than planning, but I think we ended up putting each board 13 inches apart.

Renting a nail gain was a huge time saver.

Oh and I forgot to mention, I drew the design for the ends out on a piece of cardboard, then used a jigsaw to do each of them by hand. That was tough, but it makes a huge difference to the overall appeal of the pergola. I later took a piece of sandpaper to round the edges off by hand.

By the end of day 2, I was losing my brother and Dad – left to finish the rest by myself.

Finalizing the structure - last beams

Finalizing the structure – last beams

The only piece of lumber we hadn’t bought yet was the 2×2″s. Truth be told, I didn’t know what I was going to do until the last minute.

After all the work I’d done already, I just wanted to be finished and pretend like these weren’t necessary. Especially when I found out that 2×2″s only come 8 ft long, and I needed it to be 13 ft.

I tried throwing some corrugated tin on top because I thought maybe I’d rather a “more functional” patio with a roof than a, well – somewhat useless – pergola.

It looked terrible. Completely took away from the pergola’s aesthetic value. A pergola doesn’t provide much shade, and it doesn’t stop rain. But it frames an area and makes it more beautiful – when you put a roof on it, it loses what it was made for.

So a roof wouldn’t work, but I had a deadline. Elijah’s first birthday party was quickly approaching, and I wanted the backyard to look great.

So I ended up just combining pieces to get to 13ft. Not particularly easy, but not too bad.

After installing the 2×2″ boards I tried putting a solar shade on top to say if that would keep the aesthetic value but add more function, but the way the sun hits my house it didn’t really do much.

Then, once I had the whole thing built, I realized…. y’know, this thing would look A LOT better if it were stained…

Staining an assembled Pergola... Big mistake.

Staining an assembled Pergola… Big mistake.

Man oh’ man. What a terrible mistake. Staining wood is not fun. Staining assembled wood with lots of crevices is really not fun. And staining a pergola, with 3,000 pieces from underneath & then – literally – crawling across the top on my hands and knees is seriously, really, really not fun. Having to do two coats really sucks.

And, because I didn’t have a plan and was just winging it, I of course dripped stain all over my patio, which I then had to pressure wash off. Not. Fun.

So the lesson here kids is plan ahead. Or don’t, but don’t complain about it to me.

After staining the pergola, the final touch was installing a baby swing for Elijah, then a 4 ft porch swing on the other side, and finally stringing some lights along it. And that’s it!

It ended up costing me close to how much one of the basic pre-fab ones cost from Home Depot, but this one was much larger and higher, hooked onto the house – allowing me to hang the swings, and had a level of detail you just can’t get pre-fab. I love it!

Why I’m a Protestant

EDIT: This article is a fair representation of where I was at at the time (September 2013) but was reworked immediately after it was published to be less harsh on Catholics… I’ve since grown much more after attending a Catholic ACT men’s retreat.

Why I’m a Protestant

I was baptized Roman Catholic, then my parents switched to Methodists when I was a kid (I was an atheist though). Now, I’m non-denominational/reformed Presbyterian (that’s Protestant, duh!).

The interplay between Catholicism and Protestantism has always interested me. As an atheist, it seemed like it was just a matter of preference. As a new Protestant, it seemed a matter of salvation. Now… well – let’s explore!

I want to dig into what unites us, what separates us, and what matters.

What Catholics and Protestants AGREE on:

  • We believe in The Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
  • The Bible was divinely inspired.
  • We believe Jesus Chris was born of a virgin and lived a sinless life, then was crucified and resurrected.
  • We believe atonement for sin was made possible through Jesus’ sacrifice.
  • We believe that Jesus is our Lord and Savior.

I mean, that’s pretty big. But of course it’s not the whole story. So let’s briefly explain the history and what happened to cause the split.

History of Church formation until the Protestant Split

  • After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Apostles preached the Gospel, created churches, and wrote letters.
  • By 397 AD (about 200 years after the Apostles wrote the original manuscripts), The Council of Carthage published a list of all the inspired books of the Bible. The Old Testament was based on Jewish tradition, and the books of the New Testament were agreed upon as having been written by the Apostles and inspired by God. At the time, there were many individual churches with limited structured hierarchy.
  • Then Rome seized power, tracing their Pope (one of several at the time) to the Apostle Peter and claiming central authority over the other churches. Whether this was legitimate depends on your perspective – Catholics, of course, believe it was.
    • NOTE: This is when the Catholic (meaning “universal”) Church referred to in Scripture became the Roman Catholic Church. More on that later, but I must note that when I say ‘Catholic Church’ I’m referring to the Roman Catholic Church f0r the sake of brevity.
  • By the 11th Century, the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church had split over the Pope/Roman Church’s authority, as well as theological differences.
  • In 1517, Martin Luther posts The 95 Theses on the church door for discussion to reform the Church. The primary complaint was the Church selling indulgences to reduce time in Purgatory.
  • The Catholic Church disagreed with Luther’s theses and refused any attempt at reformation. Luther went on to challenge many other Catholic teachings, including the authority of the Pope to interpret or confirm interpretation of the Bible. He was excommunicated and the Protestant Reformation was born.

Protestant Disagreements with Catholicism

Protestantism can be summarized by ‘The Five Solae‘ (or Solas)

  • Sola Scriptura – By Scripture Alone
  • Sola Fide – By Faith Alone
  • Sola Gratia – By Grace Alone
  • Solus Christus – Through Christ Alone
  • Soli Deo Gloria – Glory to God Alone.

(I’ve thought about getting a tattoo of this – here’s the sketch I did)

Five Solae Tattoo

*EDIT: The idea of a protestant tattoo seems ridiculously confrontational and silly now.

We are saved by faith alone (not works), through grace alone (not based on anything we do), in Christ alone (not via a Priest), based on Scripture alone (not other writings are divinely inspired), and all glory goes to God (no worship/heavenly praise to Mary, the Saints, Popes, or Statues).

The Catholic response to The Five Solae

By Scripture Alone: The Catholic Church recognizes Holy Scripture as well as Sacred Tradition (including the infallibility of The Pope) as sources of divine authority. Catholics believe Sacred Tradition is necessary, impossible to part from Holy Scripture, and use the time before the New Testament was canonized as proof. Protestants do not reject tradition offhandedly, of course, but believe it is subject to sin and thus should not be held in the same esteem as Scripture.

By Faith Alone: The Catholic Church does not explicitly teach that we are saved by a combination of faith and works, but they do deny you can be saved by faith alone. This, of course, necessarily implies that something else must be required…

By Grace Alone: Catholics agree that we are saved by grace, and that it is a free gift from God. Sort of. The Catholic Church teaches that it dispenses grace through the sacraments, where as Protestants believe God’s grace is a result of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling in us, which does not require an act to obtain or renew.

In Christ Alone: The Catechism teaches that Priests can forgive sins, that the means to salvation lies within the Church, and that we can pray for Saints to pray for us, as opposed to having a direct relationship with Jesus Christ who alone has the power to forgive.

All Glory to God Alone: Catholics believe that by venerating Mary and the Saints, they are giving glory to God in a roundabout way. Further, the Catholic appreciation for images and statues is supposed to be used as a reminder of God’s glory. Protestants skip all the intermediaries.

You’ll notice that on three of the five, both sides could in theory agree to the statement – it’s just the context and understanding of the statement where we differ (By Scripture Alone and By Faith Alone are explicitly denied by the Catholic Church though).

Resulting World View

Before we get into each side’s arguments, let’s look at the primary difference that results from these issues – the view of salvation.

  • Catholics believe that you must continue to work towards your salvation and cannot know if you’ve been saved until after you die (at which point you will suffer in Purgatory).
  • Protestants have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and can feel secure in their salvation, having already occurred, and will be with Jesus in Heaven immediately upon death.

Arguments against Protestantism

Unity and History are the best arguments for Catholicism and against Protestantism, in my opinion. The Protestant Reformation did indeed break the apparent Christian unity in teachings and traditions at the time. Catholics would also argue that this means Protestants are not part of “the church” as described in Scripture.

It seems to me that the underlying Catholic belief is this: God had to ensure a single institution (with lineage from an Apostle) that was the guardian of the truth. The simple logic then is that since the Protestant Reformation created so many different denominations, each disagreeing with each other on any number of issues (which could, it seems, lead some to damnation) that it cannot be correct.

Very valid concerns.

Protestant Defense of Church Unity and History

First, we must recognize that the goal of the Protestant Reformation was not abolishing the Catholic Church or creating a new church – it was to reform the Church to be in line with Scripture and the early church fathers. At the time, the Church strongly resisted this which is why a split occurred.

Secondly, we must recognize the fallen, sinful nature of man and world that we live in. Knowing this, we should expect the teachings of God to be corrupted no matter the church.

  • Is there ever any reference to central governance of the church in the Bible? No.
  • Is there ever any reference to a single individual at the church’s head? Only Christ.
  • What was the original wording used for “the church” and what was its context? The word translated “church” in the English Bible is ekklesia, which means “the called out ones” in Greek. It is not used to refer to a building or establishment, but a body of believers. 

And so we see why, in our own eyes at least, Protestants have not broken the unity or history of the church… because “the church” was not necessarily the visible organization, which has always been filled with wolves and false teachers, but the body of believers. This is also why there can be multiple Protestant denominations – each denomination with slight differences, each a mix of wolves and believers (some have much better ratios than others).

Scriptural Arguments on either Side

Catholics point to James 2:24 Do you see that by works a man is justified; and not by faith only?”, while Protestants point to Romans 3:28 “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” among others.

Though it may seem that Scripture is contradicting itself here, both verses can be (and are) true. I encourage you to read the full passages for yourself.

Protestants are particularly fond of the following verses against Catholicism –

1st Timothy 4:1-3, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods [meat] that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

Matthew 15:9, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

Matthew 8:14, “And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever.”

1st Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

Psalm 118:8 admonishes, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.

Matthew 23:9 “And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.”

Mark 6:3, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.”

Catholics prefer these verses –

Proverbs 3: 5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

John 17:21, That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

Romans 16:17, “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.”

And of course Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Can both Protestants and Catholics be saved?

Some Catholics believe that Protestants, being outside the Roman Catholic Church, cannot be saved. And some Protestants believe that Catholics, belonging to a religion that teaches false doctrine, are not saved (in fact some notable Protestants consider the Popes to be the antichrist!).

But what does the Bible say? Scripture tells us that you can know a Christian by their fruit (Matthew 7:15-20), aka the visible results of their faith. And I know both Catholics and Protestants that display the fruit of the Spirit.

PS: I didn’t even get into Purgatory, the Apocrypha, the Sacraments, or any number of other issues, because I believe they are secondary to the issues discussed here.

Why Christians Should NOT legislate Morality

There are two types of morality: Social Morality and Personal Morality.

Thanks to God’s grace (and imprint of His laws on our hearts), practically all cultures to ever exist have recognized basic communal rights and have Social Morality. This could be summarized by the “Golden Rule”

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

But of course Christianity goes much further than this… Christianity says not only is it wrong to steal and murder, but to covet and hate. It says that there things are absolutely wrong, even when they do not affect other people. This is Personal Morality. Historically, Christians have attempted to create/enforce laws to govern morality according to their moral code (wherever possible), which includes both Social and Personal Morality.

Right vs Wrong

Legislating Personal Morality

Non-Christians, of course, hate this. Why should a non-Christian care that Christians say homosexuality is wrong? Christians shouldn’t try to make others act like Christians. Previously, I came to this conclusion based on two primary factors:

  1. The Bible doesn’t suggest we should do it, and;
  2. It is pointless, since you can’t expect non-Christians to act like Christians (i.e. homosexuality is the sin – not gay marriage).

But now I’ve thought it through more, and I believe that there is a deeper reason that Christians should not vote for or support legislating (Personal) Morality.

**We do not have to purposely support legislating Social Morality, as society will do this on it’s on**

Not only is there no biblical evidence for legislating morality (as in, ZERO) but the real issue is the merging of the culture at large with Christian culture.

In America, Christians (as a group) are practically indistinguishable from the rest of society. Why??? Is that really how it should be???

Because this nation was founded by Christians (much to the chagrin of atheists), most people have underlying Christian ideals – whether they recognize it or not. And over time, as Christians have legislated morality, the general populace has been molded to look and act like Christians in many ways.

But this has troubling implications.

The Merging of Cultures

You know that saying (actually it’s Newton’s 3rd law – not a saying, but anyways…)

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

It applies here. Christian culture has become just as heavily influenced by the Pagan (outside) culture as the influence they have and are exerting.

This is very confusing. Because there is one culture, rather than two distinct cultures, Christians are allowing Pagans to influence their morality.

Society has redefined modesty, love, and a host of other concepts. And Christianity has gone along the same lines, perhaps at a slightly slower pace, but towards the same end.

It is only when we see a discrepancy from the world’s morality (abortion, divorce, homosexuality, etc) to Christianity’s morals (where these should be incredibly rare) that we can recognize the benefits of Christian morality.

This homogeneity, or lack of a distinct difference between Christianity and the world also breeds a lot of “fake Christians.” A study showed 40% of people in London don’t believe in God, but 70% consider themselves Christian. Now how in the world is that possible!? It’s because people identify themselves as having Christian morals, but do not accept the underlying reasons for them. These people are not Christians at all, but they can call themselves that because we can’t tell the difference.

A good argument for legislating morality?

The best argument I’ve heard for legislating morality is that it is out of love – you love others and don’t want them to sin. I say that this is a wasted desire. We are ALL sinners, with nothing but wickedness in us.

Artificially reducing the outward signs of sins merely increases rebellion and reduces natural guilt, thus reducing the chances to recognize sin, the need for a Savior, and repentance.

And so it becomes clear: Legislating morality is actively REDUCING the spread of the Gospel – the exact opposite of our goals as Christians.

PS: There are times when societies fail to recognize communal rights for certain members – like with Jews, Slaves, etc through history. In such cases, I believe that Christians (along with everyone else) should do their best to ensure equal rights for these individuals.

I define the start of life as having a heart beat, and thus see abortion as the modern example of trampling communal rights, which makes stopping abortion an issue of social morality and not a strictly-Christian issue.

My experiences with Supplements & Health Gadgets

I’ve spent entirely too much money on supplements and health products over the past couple years. All of them had “scientific evidence”, were supposed to be amazing, get fantastic results, etc but very few of them were worth the money. What have I tried? Vitamins, Fat burners, Muscle Builders, Cognitive Enhancers, you name it…

    • Multi-vitamins? No noticeable improvement in any area and pretty sure I pissed most of it out. Better to juice with kale, ginger, and nutrient dense vegetables if you want extra vitamin insurance.
    • Fish Oil? Slight improvement at mega-dose levels (I literally took 80 pills/day for a month as an experiment). Omega 3 rich grass-fed meat and grass-fed butter (Kerry Gold brand is my favorite) work much better.
    • Fat Burners? Some improvement, but with side effects. Generally not worth it – although insulin management supplements (particularly PAGG mentioned in 4 Hour Body) can help avoid fat gain.
    • Muscle Builders? The basics (pre-workout supplement, whey protein, & creatine) work without much side effects. No noticable effect from anything else I’ve tried – keep reading though.
    • Testosterone Boosters? I took a stack of Natural Testosterone Booster Stack – Tribulus, Fenugreek, Aspartic Acid, DHEA, etc. Each of these is supposed to result in big increases to free testosterone levels. I took it for 30 straight days and saw no improvement, ended up returning it.
    • Steroid Precursors? aka Prohormones? Tried it. I took Finaflex 1-Alpha + PCT Black. There was a little bit of improvement – by far the most I noticed compared to everything else.
    • Cognitive Enhancers aka “smart drugs”? The best stuff requires a prescription (I’m not referring to adderall – there are better options, like Modafinil). Non-prescription supplements (like nootropics) provide a small bump in performance, but aren’t worth the cost in my opinion unless your diet is already optimized. Bulletproof coffee is a much better option for most people. But, if you’re really interested… I’ve combined Artichoke 500 mg with Forskolin 250mg and caffeine for a nice boost in mental clarity.

My conclusion on supplements: The best stuff is illegal or requires a prescription. (Almost) everything else is best obtained via a proper diet/nutrition.

But… there are some simple things that DO work.

One cool supplement I found this year that works is a powerful antioxidant, Viva Labs Premium Astaxanthin, 5mg, 120 Softgels (#1 Super Antioxidant). Based on my experiments it gives you approximately twice as long in the sun until you get burnt (at 4-6 pills 30 minutes before you go in the sun) and – if you do get burnt – helps you heal about twice as fast with 4-6 pills in the evening.

I also can feel a difference with SOME vitamins – like Vitamin C when I feel a cold coming on (plus lots of D3 – though I prefer to get it from sunlight). I’ve felt good, but very inconsistent, results from probiotics. I haven’t found a good brand for these yet.

Like all guys, I enjoy my gadgets…

A Christmas present from my Dad was a Nightwave Sleep AssistantI am one of those people that struggles to fall asleep because my mind races as I lie in bed. The nightwave emits a pulsing blue light, which you time your breathing to, and helps to slow your heart rate and mind to fall asleep. It actually helps me fall asleep faster. If you have trouble falling asleep, I recommend trying it out.

How do I know that it helps me fall asleep faster? Because I have a device that wraps around my head and records my sleeping patterns – how long it takes to fall asleep, how long I was in REM sleep, times I wake up throughout the night, etc. Yes, I’m a weirdo! It’s called a Zeo Mobile Sleep Manager. This thing is pretty neat, but is only really interesting if you are trying different things to improve your sleep and need to see what’s working.

A Fair Perspective on MLM companies

Are MLM companies becoming more popular? Or is it just a function of the people I’m friends with on Facebook? It seems like everybody is getting in on it…

MLM = Multi-Level Marketing, also known as Network Marketing, or (not affectionately) as “pyramid schemes”.

MLM companies have sales forces that are compensated not only for sales they personally generate, but also for the sales of the other salespeople that they recruit. For example: I start selling MLM ‘Product X’ to my friends/family/co-workers and make 10% for each item I sell. Then one of my customers (a friend) wants to sell it as well, so he sells it to his friends/family/co-workers. He gets 10%, PLUS I get 10%. Then he recruits his buddy to sell it as well, and we all get 10%.

To make good money at MLM, you have to build up the layers of people selling the product beneath you, which is where the ‘pyramid’ metaphor comes in.


Avon and Mary Kay are probably the most famous MLM companies. Lately, these are the MLM companies I’ve personally been seeing more and more of: Advocare, Melaleuca, Juice Plus, and Young Living Essential Oils.

Companies like Rainbow Vacuums, Cutco, and Pampered Chef are also MLM companies but are setup a little differently.

If you look up information on MLM companies online, you will see a lot of “Company X SCAM” sites where they hate any and every MLM company. You will see other sites that rave about the company, along with pretty much every other Network Marketing company.

It’s tough to find a fair perspective.

I don’t have anything against Multi-Level Marketing. It is a legitimate business model. However, it is a business model that has some specific risks associated with it.

  • First and foremost, MLM companies create financial implications in your family and friendships, providing possible ulterior motives in your personal relationships.
  • Secondly, individuals selling MLM products can make unsupportable claims that the business could never make publicly without penalties and lawsuits.
  • Thirdly, the commission structure can sometimes make the products way over-priced.
  • Fourth, from a business perspective, MLM lacks the lotus of control that owning your own business provides because you are totally at the mercy of the parent company.

Kerry and I have had friendships affected by MLM; we’ve heard ridiculous health claims; we’ve seen average products with very high prices (not uncommon outside of MLM either); and we’ve attended MLM-hosted dinner parties where the entire focus was the “business opportunity” and barely cared to mention the product.

Now, that said, it doesn’t make every MLM company bad, or every product poor, or selling it to be a poor business decision.

Kerry and I have used, and continue to use, some MLM products where the price is reasonable and the product is better than what you can get at a store.

There are other MLM products that we won’t use because we don’t feel the product is superior to other alternatives, or isn’t worth the price, which is no different than any other purchasing decision.

If you are selling MLM products, that’s cool – good for you! Feel free to tell me why you enjoy the product and let me know you have some available if I’m interested in trying it (once, maybe twice). And we’re all good!

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