| May 3, 2011
Dear Family and Friends,
The best news from last month was that one of our DivorceCare members committed himself to the Lord. John Angell has been with our group from the beginning of this semester. He has a Catholic and Mormon background. Last month he went out to lunch with our pastor, who closed the deal with him. Here’s an email John sent us, and he gave me permission to share it with you: “Dear Rob and Tara, I just wanted to write a quick note, to thank you again for the wonderful kindness I have received from you both. I am so grateful for your direction and inspiration in opening my eyes and heart to receive Christ and truly be called one of his children. Choosing to walk with Christ is a very special relationship, I am so excited to be on that path. Your examples in how you live your life and testimony of faith changed my heart. The wonderful dinners and genuine fellowship that I have received from everyone in the Divorce Care group has been just outstanding. It has truly been a Wonderful experience of growth and healing for me. I can not sufficiently say, just how grateful I am, that God has worked through you to bring me closer to him.” We just ended our semester. Please be in prayer for more to join us when we start back up in September.
|Sivulkas with John Angell|
The LDS General Conference was at the beginning of last month. I went to preach downtown to the crowds and advertise my web site. While I was there, I walked up and started talking to Pastor Chip Thompson from Ephraim, UT as he sat on the planter right outside the Conference Center and contiguous with the sidewalk. Not long after we began talking, LDS security came out and began to tell Chip, “I realize this is going to sound petty, but we’re asking you to stop sitting on our property.” If he didn’t comply with their “request,” they said they’d have him arrested. So I said, “This sounds a lot like what you did to us in Manti when you wouldn’t let us use the “public” restrooms on your property.” Chip reluctantly left, but told them that this really didn’t make them look good.
There were also a group of Christians out there from a new local church plant that had a silly hugging ministry. Yes, the friendship evangelists were out again to sympathize with the LDS having to put up with the unfriendly street preachers. I’m all for hugging LDS, particularly when they initiate (as has happened a number of times to me), but these friendship evangelists simply hugged without even identifying themselves as Christians! Furthermore, they shouted down a friend of mine, Pastor Timothy Oliver of Think About Eternity Ministries, when he tried to preach. This is especially troubling when you consider that Timothy is a stroke victim, and it really takes a lot for him to preach these days. These huggers acted just like other LDS that have mocked us in the past! As a result of this hugging commotion, a reporter from The Salt Lake City Weekly asked me to respond to a smack-down of confrontational evangelists by the well-known Utah friendship evangelist, Greg Johnson. Here is the story. Keith Walker also wrote an excellent blog response on this issue Here.
|Timothy Oliver, Chip Thompson, and Keith Walker at the Sivulka's bbq|
Tara and I showed our appreciation for many of these confrontational evangelists (some more confrontational than others) by having a barbecue at our home for them after the first night of the conference. It was a great night of fellowship and sharing stories in our very crowded home.
I’m very blessed with a wife who loves to cook and entertain! The next week after General Conference we had another crowded home for our monthly Ex-Mormon Meetup (see pictures Here). Chris and Jamie Hohnbaum shared their testimony. About 2 weeks later, we had another crowded home of mostly unbelievers for Easter. For the meal, I prayed, “Lord Jesus, you said you'd raise from the dead after 3 days, and if you didn't, you'd be a liar and we know you're not a liar. God, if you didn't raise from the dead, then our faith is ultimately worthless. Your resurrection comforts our hearts and satisfies our minds knowing that the best case of history points to the fact that you rose again.
Thank you that the 1st century message has been that the tomb is empty and eyewitnesses have given their lives for experiencing you risen from the dead. Thank you for canceling our debt of sin completely on the cross. Help us to die to ourselves and live for you. Have mercy on us. Thank you for this food, family, and friends. We have so much to be thankful for. In your name, Amen!" Then several days later we had a packed home of Christian high school students from Upland, CA, who were up for a mission trip. We fed them breakfast, then Tara shared her testimony and I gave them a lecture on Mormonism.
|Tara sharing her testimony to the Upland team|
Early last month five of us went to evangelize outside of Taylorsville High School. Afterwards, we went across the street and started talking to a couple of LDS missionaries who were going door to door. This attracted others that we witnessed to. We even had another ex-Mormon-couple from the neighborhood that came out to help us! I got in good conversations with students named Ivin and Eric. The former was right after school and the latter was while Aaron Shafovaloff was sharing with the LDS missionaries. Both Ivin and Eric were just searching out religion, so I shared the gospel and contrasted Mormonism and Christianity for them. Eric initially said he wanted to pray to receive Christ with me, but then unfortunately thought his friends might not like him. We also had another run-in with cops that day. Not long after school got out, two cops came by and talked to Aaron. They told him that they received multiple calls that we were impeding traffic! Of course we weren’t, but nonetheless, the cops needed to check us out.
A news report came out last month claiming that Utah is ranked 9th among all the States for suicide. This goes along with Utah being number 1 in anti-depressant use as well as prescription drug abuse. Utah is a very depressed place, and we need more of a Christian witness here.
We really value your partnership with this ministry. 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. 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. For more information, please see our “Invest” page. Many thanks to those of you who hold us up in prayer and in your financial giving!
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
President, Courageous Christians United
P.O. Box 1374
West Jordan, UT 84084
****ADDITIONAL PRAYER REQUESTS****
1. To get more speaking engagements.
2. To get more partners who will faithfully invest in this ministry
3. Health for our whole family
5. Tara’s and Maddi’s families to be saved
[From another participant in our DivorceCare group:] I really appreciated the time you and Tara took to host the DivorceCare classes. You two are really gifted in that area to minister. I got something out of every meeting and wish they could continue. I'm looking forward to the exciting future the Lord has in mind for me.
Your Charis shows your eyes I think.Great high school contacts-before they will go on missions or maybe decline. I hope Manti is good this year--hope you can use main st still.
Outstanding Newsletter. [We] are bolstered in our witnessing to Mormons each week knowing that so many like you are working to teach of the True God and the True Jesus. Thank you again for all you do. In His Name,
I read the first few paragraphs of the newsletters dated April 6th and I must say that I disagree with your promoting anti Mormonism propaganda while at the same time preaching that God told you the Mormon beliefs are all false in the following sentence.
“He said, ‘You said that I should be a little open-minded and consider both sides. Well, have you considered both sides? Have you read the Book of Mormon?’ I responded, ‘Of course I have. I’ve also read the D&C and the Pearl of Great Price (other LDS scriptures), and God told me they were all false!’”
God may not have told you they were all false in general, however the truth may be that the Mormon beliefs are not true for you anymore and you may have found another church that teaches Christianity in a way that rings true for you at this time. We must all remember to respect all the various churches and their beliefs as we expect them to do the same for us in return. I urge you to stop promoting anti-Mormonism on your website and remember that when you were a member in the past the Mormons were great friends that always helped you in your time of need, and we all need to have some respect for the Mormon church as we want the same respect in return.
[I replied:] I obviously don't share your view. Since I believe Mormonism is evil and leads people to hell, then of course I'm going to warn people about it just like the prophets, Jesus, and His apostles warned of false religions in the Bible (e.g., Matthew 23 & 24:24). I respect people in their right to believe whatever they want, but I don't respect false religions or Satan, and I see no good reason to. Also, I've never been Mormon, but my wife was. Here's her testimony.
[He replied:] I do not find any truth to what your saying about the Mormons, I have been a member with them before and now I choose to worship at a different church as I believe things another way now.
However I have found the Mormon church to be one of the best places I ever attended in my life, the LDS people are friendly, caring respectful of others and they are very pleasant to be around. I am appalled at the things you are saying towards them and I want you to please re-examine yourself and find the forgiveness that Jesus gave to all of us, then ask God to forgive you for saying such negative, false accusations about other believers.
[I replied:] Of course LDS are "friendly, caring respectful of others and they are very pleasant to be around." But that doesn't make one a follower of the Christ of the Bible. Remember that my in-laws are LDS and I love them. Now what was false in claiming LDS are a false religion and those in false religions need to be warned? If you want to see why LDS are teaching a false God and Christ, then please check out the Home page chart of differences on MormonInfo.org. I provide all the documentation for accuracy.
Finally, if you can criticize me in my beliefs, then I certainly can criticize LDS in their beliefs. If you say I can't criticize, then you're being rather hypocritical.
[He replied:] I only ask you to respect the rights of other believers to worship as they choose, and please stop promoting Anti-Mormonism as it won't make anyone happy.
[I replied:] I'm sticking a gun to anyone's head as radical Muslims do. But as a follower of Christ, I have a responsibility to preach the truth of His gospel even if it will put me on a cross like my Lord. Many Ex-LDS are now very happy that some Christian offended them, since now they know the God of the Bible. If you want examples, then spend some time reading on my Testimonies page.
[He replied:] I will pray for you this evening and hope that you will re-examine your feelings of anger
and give all believers the respect to worship as they choose, at the church of their choice.
[I replied:] I'm praying that God will open your eyes to act more like our Lord and to "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). Your thinking will never get you nailed to the cross like our Lord. Your thinking will never cause riots or get you thrown in jail like the apostles of our Lord. I'd rather act like them than the way you'd have me to. Follow Christ, not your good feelings. I have no anger; only love to save those being ripped of by a cult of self-exaltation. Again, since I do respect people, I do allow them the freedom to make their own decisions, even if those decisions are stupid and contrary to the will of God. If you think there's nothing wrong with LDS teaching we can all become gods of our own worlds to receive exclusive worship from our spirit-children just like all other gods, then you obviously don't know the God of the Bible and you obviously don't care about others being deceived by this blasphemy. And if you doubt that's what they in fact teach, then you obviously are misinformed.
[He replied:] Well the truth is, neither you or I need to agree with the beliefs of churches we do not attend or believe in, however we all need to give each other the respect and freedom of religion to practice, attend, and worship whatever and wherever we choose as all people have equal rights. No-one has the right to interfere with anyone's right to worship at a church of their choice.
[I replied:] Amen! Thank God we live in America!
I stumbled across your site the other night. I decided to read on. Real talk, I'm Latter Day Saint, and I'm a convert to the church. I wasn't raised in it, I wasn't preached that gospel from the moment I was born. I was raised Catholic. I'm very grateful for that too. I learned so much. I also was baptist, nondenominational mainly. Well to get to my point. I think what you're doing, preaching to others about Jesus Christ, is Great!!!! I applaud you for it. But I ask that you read my email and take it into consideration. I don't feel that it's nice that to gain more followers for your faith you tear another one down. And it's just not LDS, it's the Muslim faith as well and other faithes. I personally feel that if you've never been a member of that faith you don't fully understand what it has to offer. I understand your wife was a member, and her testimony is her own. But I think it's rude to suede others by criticizing. Jesus Christ didn't criticize. He used his actions and examples to teach the gospel. I just wanted to let you know how I felt. No hard feelings I hope. You have a lovely family and a nice Spirit. My prayer is that one day, when we are all United, that we learn to accept each other and not tear others down, but lead as Jesus Christ did, which is through example. Well I hope that you have a great weekend. May Heavenly Father continue to bless you and your family.
[Tara replied:] Rob forwarded me your email since I've been LDS and have experienced "what the LDS church has to offer". First off let me get this straight. Are you criticizing Rob for the way he criticizes others? Your prayer is that we don't tear each other down, but isn't that EXACTLY what you are doing? Don't you think that is hypocritical? Second of all if you truly have been Catholic and Baptist I'm surprised you don't know that Jesus warned of false prophets and false Christs. Also Jesus warned the Pharisees and he wasn't nice about it either (see Matthew 23). Jesus wasn't crucified for kissing babies and holding little lambs. Also if you really do have the background you say you do then didn't you learn that there is only ONE God (Isaiah 43:10) and not many as the LDS teach? You should know better. If you truly were a follower of Christ, then I find it sad that you would trade that for the weak and pathetic God of Mormonism (who had to grow up to become a God). The LDS Christ is a very different Christ than what traditional Christianity teaches and if you had studied your Bible you would know that. Your church is leading people away from the true Christ and deluding them into thinking they will become Gods someday...WAKE UP!
Praying you leave the cult of Mormonism and trust in the true Christ of the Bible.
If you think my response is harsh, sorry but I feel if you've been exposed to the true Christ and denied Him then you need a serious wake up call. (see Matthew 23)
Why don't you like Mormonism?
[I replied:] For the reasons given on my Home page chart of differences between Mormonism and Christianity on MormonInfo.org. Love Mormons though. Just find their doctrine to be evil.
[She replied:] But why? I accept that you have your opinions, and I respect them, I just don't know if calling them 'evil' is the correct term....If you must say something of that nature, say 'confused' or 'mistaken'. It's a religion focused on Jesus. How can something focused on Jesus be evil? Now. Like I said. I respect your opinion, and as a human, you have rights that allow you to say such things. So I won't argue with you. But Mormons love their religion and are sane people.
[I replied:] LDS have a false Jesus. Again, look at the chart.
[She replied:] I did look at the chart. But remember, faith is faith. It is believing in what you can't see. You can't see that Mormonism is false. You can't see that it is true.
[I replied:] I agree that faith is opposed to physical sight, but it's certainly not opposed to reason. God tells us over and over again to have good reasons for faith (1 Peter 3:15). So because I have good reasons for my faith, then that entails that those things that are opposed to it are false. You can't physically see that my faith is true. My faith is [described by] all those items listed on the right side of that Home page chart, which Mormonism stands against. Since Mormonism teaches a false God, false Christ, false scriptures, and false prophets, then Satan is using it to keep people from the truth. Jesus warned of false Christs and prophets (Matthew 24:24) and the LDS Church certainly has them. And since eternal life is based on knowing the true God (John 17:3), then having a false God won't get you eternal life. Mormonism blasphemes the God of the Bible by making Him into a weak God who's not big enough to create literally everything outside Himself and a God who doesn't save by grace alone. That false idea leads people to hell. It's just that simple.
[She replied:] Well I respect that. But also remember. Just as you have good reasons for your faith, the Mormons do too. So do the Methodists. And the Catholics. And the Lutherans. And the Christians. And all the other denominations out there that are going through the same thought process as you are. We live in a world were people accuse others and judge based on what they think they see. It doesn't have to be this way. The Crusades was religious based. So many people wouldn't have lost their lives if it wasn't for humans judging others. People despise what they cannot understand.
[I replied:] The Methodists, Catholics, and Lutherans all have the same God. I have given reasons for the Bible for their belief, and LDS have distorted the Bible to reason that God is a team of separate Gods, each of whom have been exalted to that position. The problem is: 1) the Bible never says there's more than 1 true God, and 2) Jesus and the rest of the Bible teach there is only 1 true God (e.g., Jn. 17:3). I understand Mormonism quite well thank you, and it's of the devil. "As man is God once was; as God is man may be" is complete blasphemy.
[She replied:] And is that your decision to make? It is up to you to decide who goes to Heaven and Hell? Who is right and who is wrong? You are a sinner. I am a sinner. We are all sinners. Is it up to us to decide? You make decisions like you're God. Like you're Jesus. Like you own every one and everything. Tell me....In the Bible.....Where does Jesus say, "I am God"? Our God is not one of confusion. Yet you turn Him into one. So tell me. Please. I would love to know. Please do not curse me or despise me. I don't curse or despise you. I simply don't agree with your judgmental ways. That is all. Doesn't God say not to judge? I'm not judging you here, I'm just saying what the Bible says. Matthew 7. After all, you've been quoting the Bible through this whole conversation. That's all I'm doing here. Answer these questions for me so I may believe you. If you make a good point, I will stand down. Fair enough for both of us in my opinion.
[I replied:] Are you right about what you're telling me? Well if you can use the mind that God's given you to make these decisions, then so can I. You're being hypocritical here. Again, Jesus commands us to make righteous judgments (John 7:24). You take Mat. 7 out of context when it applies to hypocritical judgment of the Pharisees. & in so doing, you're also hypocritical. You're judging me, so take the beam out of your own eye before you remove the speck in your neighbors.
Jesus says He's God in various places. Here's some in the book of Revelation: (1:7-8, 17-18; and 22:6, 12-20 with Isa. 44:6). Even the title page of the Book of Mormon calls Jesus "the Eternal God."
I've never cursed you, nor will I. I love you, and I warn you because I love you. Mormonism is ripping you off and leading you to hell.
[She replied:] Like everything, it's up to interpretation. Thank you for trying to help and warn people, but in the end, it's up to them to decide. Do you think Jesus would stand in the street with signs attacking other religions?
[I replied:] No, He'd go into the Temple with whips and turn the tables upside down.
[She replied:] Matthew 5:9 and Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. Do you think God and Jesus can destroy the temples?
[I replied:] You're selectively reading. You never read about Jesus doing what I just mentioned? Mk. 11:15-19 He also taught that He didn't come to bring peace, but a sword that would divide even family members (Mat. 10:34-39). He is the Prince of Peace, because in Him, we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1). Why do you think He was crucified? He offended people (Mat. 15:11-14), and as His disciple, I act like my Master.
[She replied:] Answer the question. Do you think God and Jesus could destroy the temples if they wanted to? If they were evil?
[I replied:] God did destroy the Temple in 70 AD, and Jesus predicted it (Mat. 24:1-2). At Jesus' crucifixion, the veil was torn from "top to bottom," symbolizing that God made the way to the Holy of Holies open to all through the death of His Son [see Here]. This is why Jesus said that He was greater than the temple (Mat. 12:6). The temple as well as the whole Old Testament Law were shadows that pointed to the ultimate fulfillment in Jesus as Col. 2:16-17 and Gal. 3:23-26 say.
[She replied:] Ahhhh yes. But that was not the question. He could've destroyed the temple a long time ago. He could of destroyed Joseph Smith. Yet He didn't. I found this verse and though about you..John 13:34
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."
[I replied:] Oh, so you're asking if He could destroy the LDS temple and Mormonism? Of course He will when Jesus comes back. Amen to John 13:34! That's what I'm doing with you. I'm loving you by warning you as Jesus Himself did when He was here.
[She replied:] Yes but I do know that Mormonism isn't evil or bad. When you love someone, you kindly help them. Not stand with signs and tell people that they're going to hell just because they are happy with one faith. When I was littler, I was teased and bullied because I liked Mormonism and went to the church. I tried to commit suicide at the age of 12, all because people would knock the books out of my hand (I carried around the Book of Mormon), refuse to let me hang out with them, write letters about me, and all of that!
[I replied:] Yes, Mormonism is evil in teaching a false God, Jesus, scriptures, and prophets. Read Matthew 23 where Jesus rips on the Jewish leaders/hypocrites. You caricature what I do. I warn people about heading to hell and give reasons for them to repent--regardless of whether they are happy or not with their false religion. I'm very sorry that you got teased and bullied. That should never happen. But you still need to be warned that you're heading to hell for believing such a weak God.
[She replied:] Define 'evil'.
[I replied:] Evil is a perversion of goodness. That's exactly what Mormonism is. Again, the reasons are given in my Home page chart on MormonInfo.org.
[She replied:] So be it. But I warn you Mr. Sivulka. Stop what you are doing. One day, you will regret it. This I know. I am telling you this because I care.
[I replied:] Well when I get emails like the following, I'll never stop taking up my cross and following the Lord: [here].
[She replied:] I have created my own religion (if you will) that combines the faith of many demoninations. The reason I haven't told you is because I'm afraid that you wuld come bashing in with signs.
[I replied:] Well, I'll continue to warn you that you need Jesus alone as the Apostle Paul called Him, "over all, God blessed forever" (Rom. 9:5). He loved you enough to die for you and continues to love you by using people like myself to warn you of false, made-up religion. You can have God's righteousness right now, canceling all your sins (past, present, and future) by simply giving your life to the Jesus of the Bible. You can have that peace with God and not have to worry about whether you're worthy enough. Jesus is our worthiness.
I think you are an ignorant ass who seriously needs to find a hobby. Why you spend so much of your life protesting such a nice church is beyond me. You sir are a true ass and so are all of the lunies who protest the LDS.