June 29, 2010

Dear Family and Friends,

Rob with megaphone
Thank you so much for all the prayers concerning the Manti Pageant. This is truly a special event that we look forward to each year. This year was unique for me in that I was able to use a megaphone. In fact, I’ve never used a megaphone before. Earlier this year, a guy named Sterling Turner saw one of my videos on YouTube and wrote me that I needed a megaphone or I was going to ruin my voice. So he ended up mailing me one. I wasn’t sure I’d ever use it, since I knew Manti had an ordinance against it. The megaphone was sitting in my closet for about a couple months when Rich Berghammer (Saints Alive & Ex-Mormons for Jesus in WA) called to ask if I had any issues to address with the city of Manti. (Rich goes there every year before the pageant to make sure that everyone is on the same page legally speaking.) I asked him to look into getting a permit for using my megaphone after the pageant each evening. To my surprise, Rich called back and said they would be accommodating to me! I then talked to the City Recorder Bill Mickelson, and he was very pleased to issue me the permit for free. The deal was that I would be in a particular spot each night to catch many of the people going back to their cars for no more than 15 minutes. I preached to them about all sorts of topics while I held my MormonInfo.org/JosephLied.com sign. This deal also included Kenny the cop standing by me for protection. He would simply move those along that got in my face.
Rob and Tara waving goodnight to traffic
After those 15 minutes, I would go with my sign in front of the temple to wave good night to those leaving in their cars.

I preached with the megaphone every night minus the last night. The last night I let my buddy Aaron Shafovaloff use it.

For the last couple years, Pastor Chip Thompson from Ephraim (the next town north of Manti) has requested that I not use my sign with my evangelism prior to the pageant, but he encourages me to use it after the pageant. He and his church feel that the sign and my preaching over the fence prior to the pageant makes things too difficult for them to evangelize to their community throughout the year. So I have acquiesced to their wishes. However, they have no problem with huge cross displays. Aaron began using a cross this year and was getting large groups around him, so I began using a cross as well, but I attached 2 scriptures to mine.
One was 1 Cor. 1:18: “The preaching of the cross is foolishness to the perishing, but to the saved it is the power of God” (my paraphrase). The other was Gal. 6:14: “God forbid I should glory except in the cross of our Lord” (my paraphrase).

The blind reactions to these scriptures are truly amazing. Many don’t even get it, or claim that they’d rather focus on the living Christ (even though the same apostle who wrote these verses also affirmed that if Christ never resurrected, then our faith is vain). You see, LDS think Christ suffered for our sins in the garden and that the cross was simply what put Him to death. That’s why LDS don’t wear crosses or have them on any of their churches or temples. Upside down stars and other Masonic, occultic symbols, yes, but definitely no crosses. In fact, I have a YouTube video where I’m asking the crowd where the cross is since the pageant was playing “Onward Christian Soldiers” (“…with the cross of Jesus going on before”), and an LDS lady shouts back, “That’s what killed him!” They are oblivious to Jesus bearing in His own body on the tree (1 Pt. 2:24) the debt transaction that canceled all sin, and the pardon gift being extended to them.

Without my sign, I have found it is way more difficult to get into conversations. Before, many people would come up to me and ask me, “So what did Joseph lie about?” A few days before the pageant ended, I came to the conclusion that I was being a little too nice on the street. Beforehand, I would offer people my tract Beware of False Prophets, even describing it to them as they walked by, but would hardly have any takers. It was only after Chip began telling the Christian workers they needed to be more bold and approach people that I felt I needed to be even more aggressive myself. So after people refused the tract, I started saying, “Oh come on… be a little open-minded and see what someone else believes! You don’t need to be afraid!” It really worked! I guess around 30 to 40% would actually come back and take it! And as a result of this, I obviously got into more conversations.

Rob sharing with James and his friends
There were too many good conversations to tell you about in this report. Every night I was able to get into conversations, but some nights were better than others. There was only 1 night on the streets that I had a huge and intense crowd around me, and I was preaching loud enough for them all to hear. (It’s ironic, as Aaron told me, that I appear angrier when I’m doing this than when I’m preaching with the megaphone! With the latter, my voice is in a normal tone, but it’s loud enough for everyone around to hear it!) The next night, a guy in that crowd named James came up to me and said, “I thought you were a moron last night.” I asked if he still thought I was a moron, and he said yes. He asked why I said that brown people are going to hell (he was brown-skinned). I told him I never said that, and explained the racism in the Book of Mormon where God curses people with dark skin (e.g., Alma 3:6) and as they repent their skins become white (3 Nephi 2:14-6).
Rob sharing with Colton
I also contrasted that with what the Bible teaches in Gal. 2:28, viz., that race isn’t the issue when we are all one in Christ. He was with 3 other guys, and one was a black guy who said that was cool and invited me to bump fists with him! James then said, “Even though I disagree with you, you really forced me to think,” and he thanked me! On another night, after spending about an hour with a guy named Colton, he later came back to thank me for our conversation.

Rob lecturing at the Manti City Building
I was also able to lecture at the morning training sessions in the Manti City Building. On the morning of the second day of the pageant, I talked to the Christian workers about “Understanding the Trinity.” It should be on YouTube soon.

This was the first year that 3 LDS leaders there opened up their church to all the Christian workers in order to have a “get-to-know us” time. They did this on both Saturday afternoons of the pageant. Each leader shared something, and then they invited 3X5 cards with questions to answer. The first week, which I attended, they asked us what hymn we’d like to close with, and we all said, “Amazing Grace.” The pianist wanted to play it for us, but it wasn’t in their hymn book! So we just all sang its 3 verses a cappella and from memory.
Stake President Scott Hintze
The stake president, Scott Hintze, then asked a local ex-Mormon gal, Junelle Jacobsen, to give the closing prayer, and she prayed directly to Jesus (LDS only pray directly to the Father).

In addition to the pageant, we also had a great time of fellowship at the June Ex-Mormon Meetup. We had a barbecue at our home, and 4 people came. It was great to have more ex-LDS there than those who have never been LDS. Typically, it’s the reverse. Further, it was the most ecumenical meetup we’ve had in quite a while.
June Ex-Mormon Meetup
Everyone there either went to a different denomination or none at all.

For more pictures of this past month, please see here.

Please remember our financial needs and send in your investment today. Your investment is not simply for us, but for the lives of others we reach with the gospel. The standard way to invest is by writing a check to Courageous Christians United. 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 detailed information, please see our “Invest” page on any of our sites. Many thanks to those of you who hold us up in prayer and in your financial giving!

Rob Sivulka
President, Courageous Christians United
P.O. Box 1374
West Jordan, UT 84084
(801) 708-4865
Rob@CourageousChristiansUnited.org
MormonInfo.org
JWInfo.org
MuslimInfo.org

****ADDITIONAL PRAYER REQUESTS****

1. To get more speaking engagements.
2. To get more members who will come to our monthly Meetups
3. To get more work done on CourageousChristiansUnited.org, JWinfo.org, and MuslimInfo.org

****MAILBAG****

I was in Manti this past week and was watching you in action and praying for you. Good Job.
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Why are you spending so much time and energy to prove the Mormon Church is wrong.. Who really gives a.... Does it really affect your life if they believe....? I mean really does it?

[I replied:] Hi ____, The reason is because I'm a follower of Christ. I follow His example and His command to go to every nation and teach them to obey everything that He taught them (Matthew 28:19). Because I follow Christ, I love people, and I don't want to see them go to hell. It has nothing to do with how I am affected. I want to see people in heaven with me some day. Love, Rob
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I saw your last video clip of the Manti pageant, and it just really got under my skin.

I'm feeling, as of late, that it is a waste of time talking with any LDS anymore. All they seem to want to is to stay in their nice little "safe" community, "puffing themselves up in the pride of their hearts" with their "righteous works" done in plain view of their local ward members, and wanting to become "gods" more than submit to the truth.

As of late, my eldest son is being seduced with a free college education (well, the next three years anyway - he already has his first year paid for with academic scholarships he's earned) if he chooses to go on a mission, knowing that he doesn't know what he believes. I find this tactic disgusting. His father & co. don't even care what he believes, just that he does his part to perpetuate this belief, proving me "wrong". It's enough for me to throw my hands up, and stop talking.

I know I shouldn't feel that way, but that's where I am today.

I don't know how you do it everyday.

[I replied:] Sorry about this...! Sometime you really need to come see all that goes on at the Manti pageant. It will totally change your whole outlook. Loveya,R
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Wow Rob This is so hard!! I pray for you on your mission not everyone can do this!! They have no defense for what you are saying all they have are personal insults! Praying God will keep giving you the Courage and Strength you need!!
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I just wanted to let you know I just finished reading your newsletter. As always, it was excellent, and thanks especially for the response to the Holland talk about the Book of Mormon. I was curious about that one and had been pondering it myself, but I hadn't thought of what might be a logical response. Your response provided a great deal of new info I didn't know before. Thanks again!
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Just had dinner with all the church. You were the topic of the discussion. Everyone was very pleased. thanks for your care of our small church while we were gone. I know it was not an easy task to wake up early and drive down here.
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Thank you very much for the paper you left on our front door. I wish it could have come a few days earlier. i had Mormon missionaries at my door and I questioned them about some things you mentioned and they denied them. I was a little discouraged after speaking to them because I felt I did not defend my faith very well, but I felt lifted up after reading your paper.
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Thanks for the News Letter Rob. Charis is beautiful and her dedication was very special. I also enjoyed your video on the Trinity. Very powerful. You should start a series called The Temple Chronicals.

May the Lord bless you!
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I'm not even mormon, but your site just shows how jealous you are... did they kick you out of their church and won't let you back in?

Try joining another church and do some real good in the world rather than putting up sites badmouthing what someone else believes?

I'm Catholic, but the mormon people do great things and I encourage them to believe what they believe and they respect that I believe what I believe. You are obviously just a sour, jealous person with no life. There are countless sites just like yours about how awful the Catholic religion is. You can find bad in anything if you are looking for it. I guarantee you that if I put your beliefs under a microscope, I'd find that a majority of it was completely false.

So in summary... get a life, dude.

[I replied:] Actually I've never been Mormon. I also run JWinfo.org and MuslimInfo.org, but that doesn't mean I've ever been a Jehovah's Witness or a Muslim either. I love people and don't want to see them go to hell, so I follow the example of the prophets, my Lord Jesus, as well as His apostles, and I persuade people to follow Jesus before it's too late. And since you don't care about that, then you aren't a very good Catholic.

If you've got a problem with any of my beliefs, then persuade me where I'm wrong. So far I'd rather follow the example of the prophets, Jesus, and His apostles rather than your example.

Best

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The dedication was nice, and it was really great that JP could be there for that!

In the mailbag, you write “As for the Catholicism debate on Sola Scriptura, the assumption is that the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) cannot ever be in error, and that's something as a Protestant I don't share.”

Oy. That’s not what they teach, and I’m a little surprised that you’d say that they do. Only ex cathedra statements by the Pope and the conclusions of certain sorts of councils are taken to be error-free. These have to be in a certain relatively limited domain as well – it’s not just any sort of pronouncement by a Pope or council that can count. Obviously a Protestant need not accept even this more limited claim, but at least the RCC is saying something far more modest than that they “cannot ever be in error”.

The RCC certainly acknowledges the Pope’s fallibility as a man and as a thinker, interpreter, etc., but believes that this can be overcome, solely by God’s grace and for His purposes, in the same way that the Biblical writers were “immunized”. I don’t see how you can have an in-principle objection to that. An in-fact objection to their claim that it happens on occasion (I believe they claim a grand total of 7 papal ex cathedra statements in history; the number of conciliar statements presumed to be infallible is probably much greater), sure, but not in-principle.

[I replied:] Ya, I know about the RCC and Sola Scriptura. I should have qualified... they can't ever be in error when they speak ex-cathedra. That's what they had in mind. When they speak in that way, they can't ever be in error. The context is their position against sola scriptura.

Here's what I just sent that gal I responded to in my newsletter:

“I posted your email to me about _______ without giving your or ______'s names in my latest newsletter. A friend sent the following email to me below. I responded to him that I know about this and should have qualified to you in what sense RCC thinks they can never be in error. It's only when they claim the Pope speaks ex cathedra (from the chair). The RCC position attacks sola scriptura, and they don't have a Protestant Magisterial position on the subject (the Reformed position that gives a lot of weight to tradition in interpreting the Bible, but never claims that any of those interpretations are ever infallible). If infallibility isn't the issue, then there's not much of a difference between the RCC and Reformed positions. The latter certainly is more willing to buck tradition when the individual is convinced by the ultimate (sole) authority. Luther put it this way: 'Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.'”

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Great report, soooo glad God is blessing your Temple Square Ministry. We sure had a GREAT time with Brett and the group from Nebraska. Glad they were able to connect with you as well. Looking forward to a great time at Manti Pageant. God Bless
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"From the newsletter:

"...all he could claim was, 'I’d rather die than deny the feeling I have.'”

"...an LDS lady, who told me a couple weeks ago that all the writers of scripture were men and thus could make mistakes, but there was no way she could have made a mistake about the witness she has!"

I am stunned how easily people dismiss the Bible (even those who call themselves Christian). I am reminded of my niece's comment (who is Mormon) upon receiving my challenge to read the Scriptures for herself - "I don't have to read the Bible".

A fascinating insight into the power of cults and the complete willingness of people to throw away logic and reasoning from the Scriptures in exchange for a "feeling". Their position is one they will no doubt come to bitterly regret.
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Ray Franz died this week as you may have read.His uncle was JW governing body leader over 60 years .However both didnt accept the trinity.

Is Ray lost if he didnt but in his own way trusted Christ?I really wonder-I met with him twice in 93-He left because he felt the flock was not being governed by Christ-like followers and that the organization had gone corrupt of sorts.He wrote Crisis of Conscience and spells it out there.

How dogmatic must we be--if one in their heart turns to Christ that they are or arent one of His?Jesus said that you would die in your sins IF you didnt believe that I am He.Comments?
Take care and will pray for you at Manti. In Christ

[I replied:] Ya, I hold if Franz rejected Jesus as his God, then he's in hell (Jn. 8:24 and 17:3).

[He replied:] Wouldnt you say many accept Christ as a sin bearer without having a clue as to Him being God?However it rays case he had 70yrs to find out.

And then of course we have those multitudes who accepted the real Jesus perhaps before they entered a cult.Does God erase from His Book of Life?(As hinted at end of Revelation)

[I replied:] That's why I said "rejected." I didn't have a well-worked out view of the Deity of Christ and the Trinity when I got saved as a child, but I never rejected it. Those who reject obviously aren't led by the Spirit of God. Yes, Revelation does say He will blot some out of the book of life. The book is real symbolic, so it seems to be a metaphor for those who had a chance for salvation in this life but ended up rejecting it, so God allows them to go where they want to go. Idolaters won't inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9). They must repent. Just because one doesn't reject Christ as who He claimed to be doesn't entail a sufficient condition for salvation. The demons believe in one God, but that doesn't save them either. It's necessary to accept as a child, which entails not rejecting what God offers us. We see who's saved by those who do endure to the end.

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Larry Lenard says... (Reply)
"Judging from the LDS things on the internet, your "Street preaching" is viewed as shouting or contentious talk. (I found some LDS apologists lampooning you when I went to view Kieth's Impossible Gospel youtube.) I hate to think of people seeing you as a protestor rather than a "John the Baptist." They don't see your love, just anger, which is a pity; they truly don't know you. i heard people complaining about the guy with the megaphone, without any comments to the content of your talks. I wonder if Paul would have used a megaphone. Anyway, blessings to you and your family." (7/2/10)