December 30, 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

Charis' 1st Christmas
I trust you all had a fun, but more importantly meaningful Christmas. Most of my family came in to spend it with us. Charis attended her very first church service on Christmas Eve, and it was the first service for her recovering mom in quite a while.

I know you’re all busy during this time, but I wanted to briefly update you on our ministry this past month. I just put another video up on YouTube called “Mormonism—the Grinch that Stole Christmas”. It’s a short 6 minute video of how Mormonism has devalued Christ and thus devalued Christmas. Early this month, I videoed my buddy Aaron Shafovaloff outside Temple Square giving a short talk on how Mormon leaders have rejected the Virgin birth.

Rob at Temple Square
We have continued to witness in front of Temple Square despite how cold it’s been. One day a buddy of mine from Dallas, Drew Shreeve, flew in on a lay-over and I was able to show him all the beautiful Christmas lights at Temple Square, and then we did some witnessing. We talked mostly to an older LDS South Pacific gentleman.

We also had some ministry with Tara’s mom. Tara as well as Maddy got to witness to her about the nature of God, how un-Christian Mormonism truly is, as well as what a pervert Joseph Smith was.

Rob working the snow blower
I also began a new ministry I’ve never done before. I’ve been using our snow blower as a ministry to some of our neighbors!

Matthew 10:8 says, “[F]reely you have received, freely give,” so why not consider freely giving to this ministry? We really need your help now that Tara no longer has an income, and we have a newborn.

As the year is closing, keep our ministry in mind as you’re looking for a year-end tax deduction. Please send in an investment today. The standard way is by writing a check to Courageous Christians United. But we also have secure electronic funds transfers programs available if you are interested in the simplicity of monthly withdrawals without the stamp. Finally, if you are interested in taking advantage of tax-free stock donations (e.g., an IRA rollover to CCU), we can also help you with that. This will help lessen your capital gains taxes. Please see our “Invest” page for more specific information.

Happy New Year!,

Rob Sivulka
President, Courageous Christians United
P.O. Box 1374
West Jordan, UT 84084
(801) 708-4865 (Note the new address and phone number!)
Rob@CourageousChristiansUnited.org
MormonInfo.org
JWInfo.org

****ADDITIONAL PRAYER REQUESTS****

Our board meet briefly this month, and among other things, I shared my goals for this next year. Here are some of them that you can be praying for:

1. To get another ex-Mormon Meetup started.
2. To get Divorce Care program going at our church.
3. To get more speaking engagements.
4. To get more partners who will faithfully invest in this ministry.
5. To finish the first draft of my book.
6. To get lots of reading done.
7. To get MuslimInfo.org started.
8. To begin tracting around our neighborhood.

****MAILBAG****

Thank you, Rob, for this very straightforward and concise video [Mormonism—the Grinch that Stole Christmas]. I pray that it helps our Mormon brothers and sisters recognize who they are missing in their lives, and become disciples of the true Jesus. Merry Christmas!
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Congratulations on the birth of your new baby! How adorable, and how lucky you were to be such an important part of the delivery! What a wonderful family you have. You must be very proud! Hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year! Lots of Love,
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I hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving together! It's fantastic to hear about the new baby and to see some pics in your latest newsletter.

I am hoping to get your counsel on a new matter that has arisen in our church, apparently based on a fear of the possibility of homosexuals being able to sue a church if they are not hired for a pastoral position or are refused a position of service or other leadership position within the church. The elders and pastors are proposing the attached additions to our church bylaws based on the recommendations of a legal foundation, and I am a bit concerned about it. In the attached document, I've identified the wording that troubles me, primarily related to the stated authority to interpret Scripture, but also on what qualifies as a "disruptive person". I think "disruptive" is too broad of a term and it can mean almost anything at a given period of time ... but the "authority to interpret" is what bothers me most.

Elders are commissioned by Scripture to make decisions for the Body in order to protect it, to care for it, etc., and these decisions are made based on their interpretation of Scripture. As the Body submits to their leadership, we are implicitly handing over the authority to interpret Scripture to them ... I'm a little wiry about this, but it fits logically. The congregation ultimately accepts the DECISION the elders make (church function, doctrine, etc.) based on their interpretation, but I believe it is also implicitly understood that their interpretation is no more valid or correct than someone else's simply by virtue of their position. We may disagree with their interpretation, but we have agreed to their DECISION.

The document that I've attached seems to bring the "implicit" out into the realm of the "explicit" and I don't know that Scripture supports that. I asked one of our pastors questions about this in order to have a better understanding of the matter, and he stated plainly and verbally that the interpretations of Scripture rendered by the elders is of GREATER MERIT than one of the congregants. I would agree that their DECISIONS have greater merit, but NOT their interpretations. The pastor said that they removed the word "SOLE" from the recommendations of the ADF, but I told him that I didn't think that really changed anything much. But I could be completely overthinking the issue, too.

Do you have some time in the next few days to share your thoughts on the matter? Thank you!

[I replied:] After reading your note and the document, here are some thoughts:

1. Decisions based on scripture are interpretations. So I wouldn't claim we may disagree with interpretations but agree with their decisions. You may also disagree with the decisions, but still submit to them.

2. We all have decisions as the document stated in reference to the Priesthood of All Believers, but not all are equally valid for running a local church. The authority to interpret with this in view is "finally" (better than "sole") the role of the elders. That's the context or scope of the document.

3. A healthy church in my view need not have the approval of the membership as the document stated. (What if the laity all wants to have an open, non-struggling homosexual as part of the leadership, for example?) But a healthy church should have the elders sincerely listen to the concerns and decisions/interpretations of its membership.

4. "Disruptive" is a broad term, but it's the prerogative of the leadership of a local church to decide the material content for its own health and harmony.

5. The way I think of all this is similar to the relationship of a husband and wife. The former has the "final" say, since the Bible is clear the man is the head. Nonetheless, we are all called to submit to one another in the Lord (Eph. 5:21). So the husband should acknowledge that the Lord has given him a help mate for more than simply the traditional nurturing roles that women are naturally blessed. The wife also has a mind and can make decisions and these need to be valued, especially given how thickheaded and prideful the husband usually is. So most of the time the husband should simply give in to what the wife thinks best, and the marriage obviously experiences harmony. But even in these situations, the buck still stops with the husband.

Now the final say in matters where there is serious disagreement typically should not be shot from the hip as it were. Sometimes it's like the just war criterion of last resort. It should only be done after, among other things, obtaining all the information at one's disposal. This requires sincere listening. The war, so to speak, with the wife may need to be initiated by the husband making a final decision, and it is at this point that the wife is called to submit--whether she agrees with the decision or not.

There's much more to be said here (e.g., at what point is divorce justifiable in both church relations and marital relations), but I think you now have the fundamentals from me to work with.

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Hey Rob, I met a girl at ______ who is going to check out your site today...her name is ____ and she was raised in Utah, Morman and even married in the Temple but her and her husband (who now live here) are no longer practicing but she does continue to think that mormons are christians...Hoping and praying that she can gain some clarity from your site and maybe even make contact with you and Tara! Let me know! I will continue to do my part in following up with her/be-friending her! by the way, Charis is SOO cute!
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Just wanted to send congratulations on the birth of your daughter Charis! I wish the very best for you, your wife, and your daughter, but also for your ministry. She is a very beautiful little girl!

I don't know if you can be of any help to me in this matter or not, but my 14 yr. old is very anti- God inspite of the fact I raised her better than that. We are of the Nazarene faith and have been all our lives. I took her to church from the day she got out of the hospital, as I did her now 18 yr old sister. I don't know who or where she has been getting all the anti-God junk from when she isn't really around many who live that way outside of the school setting. I know her dad isn't teaching her very Christian values and neither are those who are in his church, but she knows better. She use to be the most Christ interested of my children. How do I bring her back to the fold and show her why her atheistic beliefs are wrong? Thanks for anything you can do to assist me in this matter. At least she is staying involved with a teen group/youth minister who comes to reach teens through our church once a month.

I have asked her before about why she doesn't believe in God and she said something like He is just someone that someone just made up and basically said what some of the people back in Christ's days said about His resurection....that He was just a man and someone just hid His body and such. Once in a while however she will show some interest in me reading from the Bible to her and we talk about what we read.

…I appreciate your suggestions and am open to more as you feel led. I vowed before God that I'd do my best to raise her and her sister right for Him and have tried to keep my word the best I know how. Please keep us in prayer that they both (my daughters) will allow God to live within their hearts soon.

If you feel ok with my saying this (and I hope you do) give your beautiful family a hug and God bless you and your continued ministry.

[I replied:] Of course that's what all atheists think and believe. The point though is to challenge her on her beliefs. So ask her, "Since the majority in the history of the world have held to God, why would you think He's just made up?," and "since Jesus taught that He was God, why think that He's either a liar or a nut? Is that really what you believe about Jesus?" Finally, "since the disciples were fishermen, tax collectors, and other plain folk, and not James Bond types, why think that the disciples stole and hid the body of Jesus?" "Why was the tomb empty after being guarded by Roman soldiers, and why did the disciples who supposedly hid the body of Jesus end up dying for this lie?" In challenging her beliefs, the truth will stand up under scrutiny, and she'll begin challenging her dad's beliefs.

I pray that God will guide you all in this process.

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I am curious, to what motive, and why do the Mormons have secret Temple Rituals? I know by the nature of Temple Rituals being secret they are allowed to keep or reserve things for their elite members.

Is there anything or any quote in the Mormon Scriptures or secret Temple Rituals, that authorizes and excuses Mormons not using the truth when speaking to non-members?

[I replied:] There must be something special that the unworthy, non-tithe paying members need to attain if they want to be assured that they'll be an eternal family unit. The secrets are occultic (that's what the term "occult" means), and the temple ceremony is filled with them. This is what Satan offers (he's the father of lies after all). And LDS simply take it on faith that this is what God wants from them... end of story.

"Lying for the Lord" is a famous LDS saying. It's based on their version of God telling Abraham to lie about his wife (Abraham 2:22-25). Watch BYU Robert Millet explain how to obfuscate [here].




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William F. says...
""As the year is closing, keep our ministry in mind as you’re looking for a year-end tax deduction. Please send in an investment today."

RESPONSE: GET A JOB!!!" (12/31/09)