April 10, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

It’s always disheartening for me to hear other Christians smack-down our ministry, especially from friends, and especially when those friends are also involved in professional ministry. Last month, a couple supportive friends brought to my attention that Shawn McCraney, who hosts a local weekly Christian TV program critiquing Mormonism, took an apparent shot at me on the 20th. Around 14 and a half minutes into the program, he began talking about the understandable frustration Christians have toward nailing down what exactly is counted as official Mormon doctrine. As a result, he said that this causes some people to hold up “Joseph Lied” picket signs around Temple Square. Shawn went on to say that for LDS this usually amounts to them saying, “I’m sane, and that guy with the picket sign is insane.” So Shawn concluded “that doesn’t seem to do much or work, and most of the world looks at the picket holder and says that guy’s insane as well.” Then Shawn goes on to talk indirectly about Greg Johnson of Standing Together ministries as another example of this frustration. This ministry can’t handle the conflict with LDS and attempts to reach out to LDS, primarily with their authorities (official or otherwise), by bridge building, and this doesn’t work. Here I’m in agreement with Shawn. No one that we know of has come out of Mormonism and to the Lord via this ministry. In fact, others in ministry have documented supposed Christians joining Mormonism after seeing Greg bring the BYU wolf Bob Millet into the local Christian churches for a show-and-tell program!

An angry NON-LDS confronts Rob at the General Conference
In response, the first thing I’d claim is that even if I’m looked at as “insane,” I’m in good company. Our Lord and His apostle Paul were also accused of being insane (Mk. 3:21 and Acts 26:24).

Second, even if it doesn’t seem to do much, if one person repents from an eternity in hell, isn’t that worth the effort? Here’s just one example. It was certainly effective for her!

Third, why must everyone have a ministry like Shawn’s that reaches out to tons of people? Friendship evangelism may not get the accusations of insanity, but it is certainly worthwhile that most Christians conduct their evangelism by simply praying and sharing with their small circle of friends. Overall, most Christians are blessed when they see just one of their friends, and especially a family member, come to Christ.

Fourth, Shawn currently does reach out to more people than I do. (Keep in mind he’s only been at this relatively recently whereas I’ve been reaching out to LDS for almost 40 years now!) Nonetheless, I still reach out to a lot of people even if I have more people thinking I’m insane (of course Shawn’s got quite a number who think he’s insane too; in case he hasn’t got the memo, televangelists aren’t very well-respected these days). To agree with the enemy and say that my ministry doesn’t “do much or work” is just myopic. JosephLied.com or MormonInfo.org averages around 200 hits per day from all over the globe. Whenever I advertise, I see the stats go up. Take, for example, this past General Conference where I preached. (General Conference this year was on March 31-April 1st, so I’ll go ahead and briefly talk about it in this March newsletter.) The week prior, the stats continued to fall each day, and then during and right after Conference time I had a significant increase.

Bob Pilch with Rob at General Conference
Fifth, others quibble about how insignificant this increase is relative to the huge amount that attended Conference. What these quibblers fail to see is that this increase is significant relative to what I normally see… and it’s generally significant compared to what the Christian quibblers see themselves in their efforts (if they have any) to reach out to LDS. These Monday morning quarterbacks seem to think that if some percentage of LDS is not met by my efforts, then I’m simply doing more harm than good and should stop what I’m doing and do their preferred way to reach out to LDS… if they even do it at all themselves! Again this is myopic, and it’s also micro-managing the Body of Christ. Further, I and two of my buddies from Washington, Bob Pilch and Brian Buchanan, were the only guys out their with MormonInfo.org/JosephLied.com signs. Of course we’re only going to get a fraction of the people who attend Conference to look the site up. We were only 3 people out of 100,000 LDS! Of course more people would go to the site if we had more people helping us out and being strategically placed in various places. So it is effective given what we had to deal with, and it is way more effective than whatever most of these quibblers have to offer. What else would be more effective for this given situation? So when I talk of effectiveness, these quibblers are simply being condescending to think that I’m stupid enough to assume that I’m reaching most of the LDS in a given situation. These quibblers need to exercise a little charity toward their own Christian brother and stop trying to impose their own definition of what would count as “effectiveness.”

Do you have a strategy to reach the masses?
Sixth, of course I’m going to turn off more people than I can reach. Nonetheless, at least I’m going to plant more seeds than those who are content to simply minister to their circle of friends.

Seventh, since God’s called each of us to different ministries, why think I need to reach those who think I am insane? If these Christian quibblers are so worried about those who quickly dismiss me as insane, then they can reach out to them. No one can reach everyone. We are the Body of Christ and we're all called to different people. Let's pray and encourage each other in the work of the kingdom.

Eighth, is it really my responsibility to bring about an awakening in the LDS community? It seems to me that’s God’s business (cf. 1 Cor. 3:5-9), and I’m simply supposed to be faithful with what He’s called me to do--namely, to “endure hardship” and “preach the word” even when they won’t listen as 2 Tim. 4:2-5 says. Keep in mind that Jesus taught that most people will end up in hell despite all our various methods evangelism (Mat. 7:13-4). We are dealing with people who are brainwashed for the most part. They’ve been conditioned to react to anything that goes against their beliefs as “anti-Mormon” or “religious pornography.” So it’s really unrealistic (as well as arrogant) to assume my methods are going to see most of the LDS convert anyway! However, again, I have every reason to believe that my methods are planting many more seeds than those who simply plant with their circle of friends. Seeds take time to germinate, but it’s only the myopic who want to see instantaneous results.

Ninth and finally, as Neil Cavuto, host of “Your World” on Fox News, said, "History proves that those who ignore protesters as idiots with signs end up proving being even bigger idiots themselves, because they didn't see the signs--right or left" (10-19-11). This is probably why Time magazine named “The Protester” as their Person of the Year last year. Yes, I know the context is different in my situation; however I still think the point still stands. Protesters have a very important role to play, and it is very foolish indeed to dismiss them out of hand.

Christian missionaries at Sivulkas
Tenth, and continuing with other news for last month, we hosted a barbecue for the Christian evangelists at General Conference. So we do all sorts of other types of ministries besides street preaching and holding up a sign that says "Joseph Lied."

I also witnessed to a couple Jehovah’s Witnesses going door to door in our neighborhood. Of course they didn’t come to our home (perhaps because of the crosses outside or my JWinfo.org bumper sticker on my car), so I had to go talk to them on the street corner. They simply dismissed the Revelation passages where Jesus is claiming to be the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, the first and the last, and the Almighty, since of course in their minds Jesus is simply the Son of God, and not God. I tried to communicate to them that simply because Jesus is the Son of God doesn’t entail that He is not also God, and to think He is not is to actually devalue Him. Of course they had to go.

Traffic coming out of Hunter H. S.
I also witnessed out front of Hunter High School last month. One Christian parent came over to talk with me, and I did get out a handful of tracts to students. One student drove past me and said, “I’m looking you [your site] up now.” Thank God for Smart phones!

For last month’s Ex-Mormon Meetup, we had a group of around 20, and watched A Mormon President: Joseph Smith and the Mormon Quest for the White House. You can see the pictures here. You can read my review of this film here.

As for site updates, my brother came up with the following picture for us…

A Mormon White House
 

and Maddi put together this idea of mine to respond to the “I’m a Mormon” campaign…



These pictures are meant to go viral as a way to drive people to our site, so please save them and pass them around!

I also edited and put up several testimonies: Roger Faircloth, Anita Boyle, Linda DePeel, and Joey Ferguson.

We not only need your prayers, but we need your financial assistance as well. Your investment is not simply for us, but for the lives of others we reach with the gospel. The standard way to financially invest is by writing a check to Courageous Christians United (CCU). But we also have secure electronic funds transfer programs available if you are interested in the simplicity of monthly withdrawals without the stamp. This also helps us with our monthly budgeting. For more information, please see our "Invest" page. Please also keep in mind that, particularly in this economy, we have no financial guarantees each month. Ministry partners come and go as jobs do. If you’re not a partner, please consider joining our team and let us know soon. We’d love to be your missionaries here in Utah. Many thanks to those of you who hold us up in prayer and in your financial giving!

Be strong and courageous Joshua 1:9!

Rob Sivulka
President, Courageous Christians United
P.O. Box 1374
West Jordan, UT 84084
(801) 738-0539
Rob@CourageousChristiansUnited.org
MormonInfo.org
JWInfo.org
MuslimInfo.org

****ADDITIONAL PRAYER REQUESTS****

1. Health and protection for our whole family
2. Tara’s and Maddi’s families to be saved
3. Wisdom in all our dealings

****MAILBAG****

For several years now God has placed a burden on my heart for the Mormon people. I would love to get involved somehow ministering to them, but I don’t know how or where to start. Could you please give me some advice?

[I replied:] A great intro is to come minister with Christian evangelists from all over the country at the Manti, UT Pageant this June. It would also be great if you could get a team from your church to come out for that or some other week this summer to do a short-term mission trip. If that won't work, then you could start wherever you[‘]r[e] at going to your local ward, developing friendships, and asking lots of disturbing questions. You could also forget the friendships, and hold a sign up (preferably with MormonInfo.org or JosephLied.com written on it) or pass literature out to them outside their ward or temple, if one's close to you. You could also call the ward or Church headquarters in Salt Lake City and tell them you're interested in finding out more about their faith, and would like to speak to the missionaries. You could also spend time replying to LDS blogs and joining various online discussion boards that debate Mormonism.
_____________________

A couple of thoughts about the correspondence with the guy who’s got doubts but hasn’t told his wife yet.

On the Trinity: there isn’t any harm in thinking of “Father”, “Son” and “Spirit” as roles, as long as one doesn’t say that they are merely roles.

On baptism: I’d be tempted to take a “Mere Christianity” approach and say that some churches think water baptism is necessary for salvation in the normal course of things (though not because water is “magic” but because it’s a rite that God has ordained). Catholics, Orthodox and Anglicans believe this, and they aren’t exactly minor groups. Of course we’re not obligated to agree, and I’d note that I didn’t but would note that it’s an area where the church isn’t in unanimity.

From a different correspondence: “God hates unbelievers”. It’s an interesting claim, though I’m not sure I’d buy it. It’s clear that God hates sin and is at times portrayed as furious with sinners, but the straight statement that God hates unbelievers isn’t one that strikes me as a safe conclusion from the overall evidence. One might extrapolate from “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated”, but that passage is generally interpreted by commentators in a non-literal way (e.g. as hyperbole or a reference to relative preference) and is also often taken as a reference to nations and not individuals in any case.

Always interesting reading those mailbags! And congrats again on little one #2 on the way!
__________________

Congrats to you and Tara! If I know you guys, you'll have that kid on the streets witnessing by November!

Great newsletter! Lotsa good stuff. We are certainly continuing to pray for you.

See you in Manti in June!
________________________

I appreciate your desire for "Love Offerings".

Elder Holland explained your statements. You believe in the Nicene god. We believe in the Biblical God.
The God i believe in did not pray to Himself, Stephen did not see one being who was had his right hand tucked under his own thigh. When Jesus was a baby who was running Heaven.
The Bible also teaches that many will claim o have represented him who he will turn away.

[I replied:] The problem is that you guys don't understand the biblical God, and I doubt you've given it a fair hearing. If you want a critique of Holland, see my "Responding to LDS Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland on "Are Mormons Christians?" on my Courageous Christians United blog. And my desire for "Love Offerings" seems a lot more reasonable than a mandatory tithe in this New Testament age if one wants to get to the celestial kingdom, particularly since the Lord loves a cheerful giver as 2 Cor. 9:7 says. If you want my response to the LDS gripe of paid ministry, please see here.

[He replied:] I grew up Lutheran. Based on extensive studies of the Bible I was able to identify what the true church should look like. When I met the LDS missionaries I knew I had found that Church.

The trinity theory that was developed at Nicea is not a Biblical Doctrine. Turning religion into your business is not a Biblical Doctrine. I am sure that you are a very nice guy. And that you are very sincere in what you say. My advice is to shut down your ministry, get a real job and tend to the beam in your own eye. Every thing that we believe in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are found in the scriptures. I pray that one day it will you leading your family into a GC session. Telling some follower of the erroneous trinity theory that you were once there.

But that one say you sincerely read the Book of Mormon with real intent. And that received a witness of its truth. I pray that one day you and your wife will kneel across from each other at the Sacred Altar in the Temple to be sealed from all eternity. You remind me of so many false prophets in the Book of Mormon who became rich by preaching the wrong message. Look within.

My tithing is a Biblical commandment. It is a privilege to help the Stone Cut without hands move forward.

You are my brother. I love you and will pray for you.

[I replied:] So now you are a polytheist, and think that you have the opportunity to have your spirit kids bow down to you and worship you exclusively. That's not biblical, and is in fact against what the Bible teaches. It's blasphemous. If you want to see my reasons for accepting the biblical doctrine of the Trinity as well as the language of the scholars at Nicea, please see my lecture.

If you read the FAQ I gave you on paid ministry, then you'd see how it is biblical. And you'd also see how hypocritical Mormons like yourself are for having paid ministries yourself! (Speaking of taking the beam out of my own eye.) If you claim that tithing is biblical for the New Testament, then I'd like to see the argument. Especially, how it's essential to get into the temple, so you can go onto the celestial kingdom. A verse would be a good starter.

If you want to see further evidence how the LDS Church is not biblical, then see my Home page chart of differences at MormonInfo.org. I have read all the LDS scriptures with real intent, and have prayed about them, and God told me by the power of the Holy Ghost that they are not of Him.

I pray that God will give you eyes to see and ears to hear before it's too late. You've been ripped off by false prophets who would come in the last days as Jesus warned about in Mt. 24:24.


[He replied:] I am saddened by your appalling lack of. Understanding of basic Biblical doctrine. I understand that your ministry is your paycheck so you have to say what it takes to get donations.

May I humbly suggest a more thorough reading of the letters written by the Apostle Paul. What we as LDS believe is all there plain as day. I understand that the "Saved by Grace" thing is a much easier sale. In the Book of Mormon you should read about Nehor. The starts in Alma chapter 1.

I worship the Father in the name of the Son, through the power and influence of the Holy Ghost. "Let US make man in our image". I believe that through faith we can become Joint Heirs with Christ of all the Father hath.

My brother, I can promise you that one day if you diligently seek a testimony of the Restoration of All Things, you will find that the Atonement of our Lord and Savior is the only hope that we have.

The problem with basing your entire belief structure on the 5 verses found in the Saved by Grace tracts, is that the message of the fullness of the Gospel is overlooked. Don't get sucked in by that sham. Search the Scriptures.

I testify that He lives. That both He and the Father appeared to young Joseph in the Sacred Grove. My dear friend I invite you to find The Christ of the New Testament. He is calling you to come unto Him. To put your shoulder to the wheel

Find the peace that can only be found in the Fullness of the Gospel

[I replied:] The same may be said about your mission presidents and general authorities who also receive a modest living allowance. Move beyond the pay and simply deal with the arguments.

Again, I've already told you that I've read the BM and God told me it was false.

If you're really interested in why I believe the things I do, and don't want to waste our time, then please see the following FAQ's I've written: [Gen. 1:26-7, Rom. 8:17 and 32, and James 2:24].

Sorry…, but you've got hoodwinked into a polytheistic pagan fertility cult that uses Christian terms to gain more members.


[He replied:] My Dear Brother,

The living allowance received given to the General Authorities are paid out of the business income of the Church. It is not paid out of the tithing.

To me what you preach is a cult. Since I consider what I believe to be the truth, your brand of Nicene Christianity represents a cult. But I will not dwell on that.

I wish you well. You have to believe what you do because it generates your paycheck.

If you want to know what I believe feel free to read the Bible. The Holy Spirit has testified to me many times of the truth of what I believe. I just hope that no one has been duped by your false teachings into not getting Baptized by one having the Proper Authority.

I invite you to come unto Christ. To take upon yourself his name in the waters of baptism.

I wish you well.

[I replied:] It doesn't matter how the $ is raised. It's still given to them for doing a religious service. Similarly it doesn't matter to me how the $ is raised. It's still given to me for doing a religious service. So don't get on my case for doing the same thing that your GAs, mission presidents, and workers at headquarters do. It's still $ given for performing a religious service, and they have to say what they do since it generates a paycheck. Hypocrite!

It also doesn't matter to me what you call all of traditional Christianity (Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox). The fact is that you haven't given any reasons why I should reject that position and accept your Johnny-come-lately religious views.

I have read the Bible, which teaches only "one true God" (Jn. 17:3) who doesn't know of another God (Isa. 43:10, 44:6-8), and who created the heavens and earth alone, by Himself, in contrast to the weak God of Mormonism who had help getting it all put together (Abraham 4-5). As a result, God has given you a strong delusion so that you'd believe a lie as 2 Thes. 2:11 says.

It's because of facts like these, as well as all the other historical problems of Mormonism (e.g., Joseph Smith having at least 34 wives, 11 of whom were currently married to other living husbands when he took them as wives, as well as marrying 14 and 16 year old girls) that Church Historian Marvin K. Jensen confirmed that LDS are leaving the Church in droves.

_____________________

Hi, My name is… and I want to say something from the bottom of my heart. I'm not a very religious man, but I've tried a few. I've been Christian, Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Mormon, but That isn't what I'm here to talk about. I want to talk about MormonInfo.org.

There is a fine line between telling truths to disprove a religion, and misquoting said religion to turn it on itself. There's only one thing I'd like to say to you. F&^% you, sir. I don't care if you preach your gospel, and other peaceful ways of spreading your word. I believe people can believe what they want. You could worship any false idol you want and I could care less, but when you start working towards degrading another religion to make your's seem better, that is what I cannot stand.

I found your "Missionaries" outside a high school, soliciting Teenagers with Pamphlets and holding up a sign with the name of the website. Now think of this. In Las Vegas many pornography workers hold up signs and pass out pamphlets to Teenagers. "Mormon" Missionaries talk person to person, and leave if asked. Think of that next time you want to hand out those pamphlets.

In Conclusion, please f&^% off. Change the website to something positive about your religion instead of Negative about theirs. Thank you for your time,

[I replied:] Thanks, …, for being so negative about me being negative. I guess if you can do it, it only confirms that I can do it as well. And for you to compare religious truth to porn shows just how much you value religion anyway. You claimed I misquoted Mormonism. Please show me so I can correct it. I'm going to follow my Lord Jesus and act like He did when He was here. People hated Him then, and it's obvious they continue to hate Him now. You need Him to save you. To give you a new life. Allow Him to run your life instead of doing what feels appropriate to yourself.

[He replied:] I'm sorry for my offensive language. I'm just frustrated. All I'm asking is for your 'Messengers' not to solicit my and others' children.

[I replied:] I accept your apology. I see your perspective and understand why you're upset. Please try seeing this from my perspective. I love people and want what I believe is best for them. That is Jesus. And anything that goes against that is ultimately harmful. I think the LDS Church is teaching a false Christ that Jesus Himself warned about in Matthew 24:24. So if I claim to be a follower of His, then part of what I do is going to be warning people... including kids. Now I'm not simply targeting kids, since I'm on a public sidewalk, and many adults, like yourself, see and/or hear my message. But if the high school kids are old enough to talk about various views of government, science, history, literature, sex, and receive all sorts of harmful messages from their teachers as well as peers, then certainly I can give them an alternative view on a public sidewalk.

As a parent, I want to know what my kids are being taught. It provides me an opportunity to give my input and authority to my kids. So in all respect, perhaps you're really upset because now you have to provide answers to your kids that you just don't have. I sympathize with that, since you are part of a culture that has so privatized religion that most people just don't care about it until they are challenged with it. Well as a follower of Christ, I don't simply go along with whatever the culture tells me. My priority is to follow my Lord.

So I'm asking you to relax a little, accept the challenge, and really work through whether what I'm presenting is true or not. If not, then why not? And if you can figure that out, then you'll be in a position to explain that to your kids in a civil and intelligible manner.

____________________

OK, I'll try to come to your meetup on the 14th. The Sunday time doesn't work for me (too active at my church).

I so enjoyed the meet up a couple of weeks ago. I enjoyed talking to Lisa and Joe and Connie across the table from me.

I've started recording Shawn's programs and watched one last night. Either that one was really old, or he's a little behind the times on the exact verbage in the Temple now. No more "Pay, Lay, Ales"; it's now "Oh God, hear the words of my mouth" crap. hahaha I have always believed that J. Smith plagerized the rituals of the Masonic rites and "revealed" them to the Church. I'm sure they weren't from God. One thing I can't figure out is: if he used the Square and the Compass in the Temple Rites, why not also call the "Level" by its true name instead of "the navel mark". What????? If you're gonna plagerize the Masons, why not do a good job of it????! What the heck does "Pay, Lay, Ale" mean anyway?????

I am so critical of the Church, it's a wonder why I continue to go! But I'm pretty enmeshed in it right now. I guess it's the entrigue of it all. I've told my "ex" (who's still totally committed to the Church, its violent and polygamous history, J. Smith, and current prophets) that I'm a TR-holding investigator". I'm definitely not "totally converted" to any of it. I think he's still hoping that he can convert me to the "proper line of thought". hah (He and I are still seeing each other, but more as friends, than lovers).

Ok, enough. Gotta get back to work. Thank you for the work you're doing. It's good talk to some "non-believers" of the LDS Church.

Not sure if I'll ever become the "born-again" Christian you speak of, but I follow the commandments, and love the Lord. If I leave this world tomorrow, I'm not afraid to "meet my Maker". He knows my heart.
____________________

Hello, thanks for all you do! My prayers are with you and your precious family. I very much enjoy coming to your monthly meetings and hearing the stories of others, seeing the power of God working in their lives. It is helpful and inspiring. Thanks for all it takes to make it happen!
____________________

I have loved reading all the crazy things Mormon leaders have said that is found in their own Journal of Discourses. As a Mormon I don't recall ever reading from the Journal and can see why, as the church must really want to make this stuff disappear!!!

I was wondering if the full Journal of Discourses is available online or in print? I would love to read through it, very fascinating stuff...

Thanks,

[I replied:] Yes, I have it on my Links page, but here you go.
_______________

…Thanks for your years of devoted service. I remember our lunches together many years ago before you left to minister to LDS. You have impacted the world for Christ, especially in Utah. …You and your lively family will remain in my prayers. Thank you again for caring for the lost. May our God protect and keep your family in Christ always.

Add Comment