Zoe and CharisNovember 12, 2012
Baby Zoe Joy
God has blessed us with the birth of Zoe Joy Sivulka on October 6th. She’s another beautiful gift from the Lord. Tara amazed us by giving birth without an epidural. As a result, she had a much better recovery this time around. Zoe came in at 7.58 lbs. and 20 inches long. Overall, she’s been very healthy and a good sleeper. We are so thankful that Charis will have a playmate. We are also thankful for all the well-wishes and gifts--not only baby gifts, but meals (although I’ve gained too much weight lately :) )! It was also a huge help to have a couple of my sister-in-laws (from CA and TX) stay with us for several days. Please pray with us that God will protect Zoe, and use her in tremendous ways for His kingdom.
Reflections on the Election
I guess we won’t be seeing this happen anytime soon…
On March 5th, I wrote the following on my Facebook Wall: “Here's my hunch for the upcoming elections... Romney will get the GOP and unfortunately many evangelicals will stay home instead of voting for him. Going up against Obama, Romney's Mormonism will be brought up to invalidate him as a candidate. Not only will Romney lose, but so will evangelicals. They'll be blamed for 4 more years of secular liberalism cloaked in theistic language. However evangelicals will win in piling on and making Mormonism look like the joke it really is.”
More people today are aware of Mormonism’s weirdness due to what’s been called “the Mormon moment.” As I reported the beginning of this year, a Mormon general authority admitted that LDS have been leaving in droves and a big factor in this has been the internet. Up until August, MormonInfo.org was averaging in the 100’s for hits per day. After that point, we’ve been averaging in the 200’s! One individual started posting hidden videos he took of what goes on inside Mormon temples, and one of those videos has gone viral with well over a million views since it was posted just 3 weeks ago! If Romney would have won, this negative attention would have only continued. "Romney’s loss 'may be a blessing for Mormons concerned about further public scrutiny of their faith,' said Utah Valley University administrator Brian Birch. 'A Romney presidency would almost certainly have kept Mormonism under the microscope for many years to come'" (here).
Now for those of you upset with the results of the election, let me remind you that God is still in control. God’s still patient, and not willing that any should perish, but that all may come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). We need to trust Him with the election results knowing that "there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God" (Rom. 13:1). We also need submit to those in authority over us, since that is what He commanded (Ibid. and 1 Pet. 2:13). So God ordained that Obama would continue to be our president!
This reminds me of God’s election of His people. Just as we freely voted our president and other officials into office, but God still chose them, we freely accept or reject Christ even though God still has chosen who will be His children. So if God chose, then how can we be truly free? And if we are truly free, then how can God elect our choice? My own view is that both are true, since that’s what scripture teaches... whether we understand it all or not. On the one hand, we are free (Mat. 23:37) and will be judged for our choices (2 Cor. 5:10), and on the other hand, we are elect of God according to His foreknowledge (1 Pet. 1:2). Nothing, literally nothing, would happen if it wasn't for God. The world wouldn't exist if it wasn't for Him. As such, not even a genuinely free action would happen if God didn't allow it. God could have ordained a world where Obama wasn’t president just as God could have ordained a world where I go to hell. However, in whatever world He chose for His good purposes, it was on the basis of what we freely choose. If you’re interested on more of my thoughts here, I wrote a blog on this topic quite a while ago.
Billy and Franklin Graham were in the news last month when they took out specific references to Mormonism being a cult on their website. Franklin Graham said, "'There’s a lot of differences in various faiths and we all have those differences in doctrine or dogma,' the younger Graham said. 'But what’s important is that we get along and that we co-exist together and we respect one another'" (here).
Let's all get along, so that our family, friends, and others will all go to hell? Very disappointing Franklin! You know better than this, but are simply making politics more important than accurate theological warnings as our Lord Himself did (e.g., Mat. 24:24). I understand, though, groups like BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) or even Utah Christian churches not even mentioning "Mormonism" in a Sunday morning worship service if the point is to let scripture guide by itself and allow Christians to bring their LDS family and friends to hear God's word. This isn't the result, however, of what the Grahams did when LDS become more set in their faith. It is not aiding the cause of Christ when LDS are thinking that the Grahams no longer think they're in a cult (e.g., see here). However, I also understand that Grahams still think LDS are in a cult. LDS are myopic to think otherwise. If the Grahams don’t think LDS are in a cult due to this, then the Grahams also don't think JW's, Moonies, and Scientology are cults, since they were also removed. To think the Grahams think all these groups are no longer cults is just unthinkable. I have tremendous respect for the Grahams, but this move seems to have done more harm than good.
I have continued with the radio ministry on Sunday mornings at 8:15 AM. We have currently been going through a list of all the bad fruit of Mormonism. If you’re in Utah, please tune in to 820 AM and support the show. If you’re outside of Utah, I’m posting the shows here. Please let me know if these shows are blessing you!
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[Concerning our last newsletter…] Wow, scary stuff! Hopefully everyone gets the memo not to include you in any fatwas.
Read your newsletter and watched your video. I thank God and am so blessed and encouraged to have you as a brother in Christ Rob! Hopefully I will see you in Utah next year and we can talk some! I am trying to start a Mormon Missions training outreach here on campus.... Haven't put the bug in anyone's ear yet, but I am planning to soon. Hopefully either early next semester or sometime this semester so that we can send a team to Utah in the summer.
People just like to jump to conclusions. The person that converted form Mormonism stated that he wondered why you were angry with Mormons. Being in America he researched the argument you made. Then he made an decision based on "intellect" and not on "gut feelings". I know that you are NOT there out of hate but with the LOVE of Jesus Christ! One soul saved. The seeding is taking hold!
Sad to hear that you are taking flack for something someone else did. Collectively people in the Middle East do not think in the world as Ameican and Europeans collectively think. Ameicans and Europeans "think" things through, where people the Middle East react with their emotions. So I am totally UNsurprised at their violent reaction the the movie "attacking" Mohammad . I have not seen nor wish to see the movie.
Keep up the good work!
We prayed for you during the news of the film, and to be honest, anybody with any intelligence would know that it was not the cause for the assasinations. So sorry you and family had to endure stress and hardship during the first week. God willing, it is behind you now. Maybe more people will check out your CCU site because of your "notoriety". :) God has a plan for everything.
...May God’s will be worked out in your lives that you would have greater testimony of His love, grace, faithfulness, and care—that you will know Him more. Thank you for your faithfulness in ministry, evangelism, teaching, being light amidst darkness, and being an example for us.
dude just listened to one of your lectures on mormonism, pretty solid stuff man!
I never heard back from you so I can assume you believe in vampires who also rise from the dead. Do you know of anyone who has risen from the dead. Do you really believe that is possible. Spartacus who was also crucified at the same time as Jesus by the Romans(from Rome, Italy which is now the seat of the Holy Father at the Vatican).
If you really believe in this stuff, then that is your right but please, neither God nor Jesus, has performed any miracles that I know of in the past 1,000 years.
When one becomes a missionary for his or faith, do you think they might want to give these heathens a choice of ALL the world's major religions. Why just their religion. Sounds like objurate pride to me.
[I replied:] Of course it's possible if there's more to reality than just matter bumping into more matter. There are all sorts of problems with that view (e.g., free will, moral realism, genuine evil, personal identity through change, etc.). But since I believe it's reasonable to hold to a supernatural dimension to life, and since it's reasonable to hold to a Big Banger, then of course raising someone from the dead is child's play.
Now why Christianity over other religions? Well first, they can't all be equally true, since they all contradict themselves. Perhaps they're all wrong, but they can't all be right. Why is Christianity right? Because it fits with what we know from history, science, and philosophy. If you want more on this, then get a hold of William Lane Craig's "On Guard" or "Reasonable Faith," or J. P. Moreland's "Scaling the Secular City."
[He replied:] I am from Missouri.
I do not believe in writers. Do you believe in Voltaire or any from the Age of Enlightenment. Read Voltiare on his religious views and you be reading from the works of a genius.
Do you understand math. If Jesus was born, lived and died as a Jew- and Christianity is based solely on Jesus- then all Christians are Jews. Jesus NEVER said he was not a Jew.
I think Jesus was a great person- no doubt about it. But use your gray matter and see what your religion is really based upon . I am Methodist but a lapsed one.
I cannot, as a well educated person, understand how anyone can believe that Jesus was the son of God. Let us God is a woman or is neuter.
I see it is pointless to rely on logic with you. Can you understand why many Muslims believe that they will be offered 72 virgins in Paradise. That is what it says in the Koran. My friend, logic prevails. Believe in what you think but do not tell me that Christianity is better than any other religion.
Take a look at many of the Popes like the Borgias. Do you think Jesus would have approved. Doubtful. My advice to you is : Question everything and do not accept things on blind faith. I doubt you have the inclination to do so because
your very livlihood depends upon promoting religion.
If Rev. Franklin Graham has conversations with God and Jesus, then ask him the next time he does, to tape it and play it for the faithful.
[I replied:] Voltaire boasted that within 100 years of his death, the Bible would disappear from the face of the earth. Voltaire died in 1728, but the Bible lives on. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." Jesus fulfilled prophecy and the best case of history demonstrates He rose from the dead. So He didn't lie when He said that He would raise His body up (Jn. 2:19-21). Jesus is worth believing over Voltaire.
Jesus claimed He was the Son of God (Jn. 10:36). Christians follow the Messiah prophesied long ago, and the Jews rejected their Messiah. That is why Christians are called the "Israel of God" (Gal. 6:16). Call Christians Jews if you want. It really doesn't matter what you call them. They believe that Jesus is God the Son and non-Christians don't. That's why everyone who rejects who Jesus claimed to be will die in their sins (Jn. 8:24). And since the Koran contradicts what Jesus taught, then the Koran is damned.
The basic problem with you is that you use the logic God gave you to keep away from Himself, and who He claimed to be, viz., Jesus. As a result, you are acting as your own god. However, I see no good reason to follow you and your beliefs in this regard. I'll stick with Jesus.
[He replied:] I see that you are just brainwashed.
You just won't admit the truth.
The Old Testament came before the New Testament.
Do you know that Jesus rose from the dead. Are you willing to bet your life on it.
Spartacus also rose from the dead and he is alive and well living in Switzerland.
You site too many passages from books written by humans.
You need to broaden your horizons and stop spending your whole life on what is written in books.
Get out of your house and life a little.
By the way, I know that Voltaire rose from the dead as well. Since you are 100% that Jesus rose from the dead, I am 100% certain that both Spartacus and Voltaire rose from the dead. Your word against mine.
I question everything since I am from Missouri.
I also have weekly conversations with God and Jesus.
Read about the Popes and their evil ways- read about the Borgias a little.
They rose from the dead also.
When you discover the cure for cancer, let me know. Otherwise, you can quote scripture all year long and perhaps the books you read will also rise from the dead.
It is Halloween next week, and we will see a lot of monsters who also rose from the dead. You are entitled to believe what you want but where is the proof. Prove it to me. it seems your very essence of your being is tied to the scriptures. Try Playboy or Hustler and you might become more worldly.
Stay thirsty, my friend.
Signed<'The most interesting man in the world.
[I replied:] I see your brainwashed and just won't admit the truth. If you can site from books written by humans (e.g., Voltaire), then so can I. Of course the Old Testament came before the New Testament. Did someone claim otherwise?
Yes, I am betting my life on Jesus being raised from the dead. He turned the world upside, and the eyewitness accounts of His life and teaching were affirmed by those put to death for their testimony. Those accounts were all written well within the first century, and it would have been very easy to disprove the claims by producing the body of Jesus. It would have shut the whole Christian movement down, and we wouldn't be having this argument. No one holds that Spartacus or Voltaire rose from the dead. In fact, we know where Voltaire's tomb is. So you need to read a little more.
The vast majority of New Testament scholars and historians, whether they be liberal and don't even believe in God, or conservative, agree on 4 basic facts of history. Whenever you have such agreement, you can pretty much guarantee the conclusion. 1) Jesus lived and died and was buried in a tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. 2) 3 days after His death, the tomb was empty. 3) The disciples took themselves to have appearances of Jesus after His death. And 4) the lives of the disciples were radically transformed such that they were willing to be martyred for their belief that Jesus actually rose from the dead. An inference to the best explanation isn't that Jesus fainted on the cross and resuscitated in the tomb, or that the disciples had mass hallucinations, or that the fishermen were James Bond types who stole the body. No, the best explanation is that Jesus rose from the dead, and all the world has benefited from it.
Now if you don't care about reading, then you can believe whatever you want. The problem is that you're sticking your head in the sand and not paying attention to the facts. And God will one day judge you for it. If you are somewhat open-minded, then I invite you to read more from the works I already cited for you. But I'm done wasting my time on the village atheist.
[He replied:] I seem to have riled you up.
You miss the entire point. Jesus was born, lived and died as a Jew and nowhere did he renounce it.
Admit you are really a Jew and that your attitude and mindset is one of a zealot who makes a lot references but in the end cannot prove them.
I vote for Voltaire over the dolts that you are quoting.
I think you should stick your head in a bucket of Happy Jack's holy water and and see how long you can keep it there.
While I respect you greatly for the passion you seem to exhibit, allow me to answer your testimony with my own. I don't have your credentials; it's unlikely that I've read the scriptures as much as you; you've probably even studied the history of the church of Jesus Christ more than I. I'm unable to answer many of your doubts--some may even say accusations--concerning the church of which I'm a member. However, I can tell you one thing for certain: no empirical evidence could ever prove the truthfulness of Christ's church to anyone; I'm sure I don't have to tell you that Christ has never relied on science to prove Himself to His followers. Since I doubt this is the first message you've received of this sort, I'll be brief. I know the book of Mormon to be the word of God. Despite your wife's opinion that latter day saints merely rely upon feelings for testimony, I assure you that there exists a clear difference between spiritual promptings or revelation and a good feeling when buying a car. Though you claim to have sincerely prayed concerning the truthfulness of the book, which I certainly don't doubt (you seem an open minded individual), I have to wonder whether or not your study and your entire process of examining the book of Mormon has been sincere and unbiased. Again, I realize I'm probably not the first to have responded to your teachings in this way, but if nothing else I want my testimony to be clear as crystal. I also hope since you're so well aware of the implications should the book of Mormon be false, you've also considered what it's potential truthfulness would mean.
At the end of the day, I don't believe that concerning such an important question as the book of Mormon's truthfulness God would give you and me contrary answers. If you believe you've been completely sincere throughout your investigation then I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree, but in the most humble, loving way I know I want to let you know that I feel that you haven't.
[I replied:] Thanks for writing!
Well I obviously disagree with you about the role of empirical evidence. Why should I believe your claim that "no empirical evidence could ever prove the truthfulness of Christ's church to anyone"? You gave no reason for this. Further, I know all sorts of individuals who prove your statement to be false (e.g., Lee Strobel). And Christ used empirical evidence to persuade people. That was the point of miracles as Jn. 20:30-1 teaches. In that context, Jesus showed Himself to doubting Thomas, who ended up believing. This is why the Bible instructs us to give reasons for our faith (Acts 17 and 1 Pet. 3:15) and to contend earnestly for it (Jude 3). So I just reject your point.
Now in all respect, your spiritual prompting may very well be of God, but as 2 Thes. 2:11 says, that prompting is a strong delusion that is a lie. He's given you a lie to hold, since you really are interested in something other than God's word. Now why would I say that and why would I believe your claim that it's not a strong delusion? I'd claim what I do, since I have to follow and teach everything my Lord taught, and Mormonism flatly contradicts it. All you have done to substantiate that you've got the truth is to imply that I need to pray sincerely. Well you can doubt my sincerity all you want, but I know how sincere I am. Further, damn whatever that leads you away from what Christ taught in His word. He taught there's only 1 true God, who doesn't know of any other God, who created all things by Himself, and who has always been God (Jn. 17:3, Isa. 43:10, 44:6-8, 24, and Ps. 90:2). He taught through His apostle that if we or an angel from heaven give you anything other than what He's already taught, then it's to be damned (Gal. 1:6-9). Mormonism flatly denies God's word by exalting man and devaluing God.
BTW, if the Book of Mormon is true, then Mormonism today is in apostasy, since the former teaches, among other things, that there is no more than only 1 true and living God in Alma 11:26-29 and this God has always been unchangeably God in Moroni 8:18.
[He replied:] Thanks for the timely response, I didn't expect one so soon!
You'll have to forgive me for not addressing every concern you brought up in your message. I mostly want to clarify my empirical evidence claim. I don't doubt the existence/occurrence of miracles or signs, both in ancient times as well as today, but when I say empirical evidence isn't used to prove the truthfulness of the church I'm referring to a long lasting conversion. If scripture and experience have taught me anything it's that those who hope to be converted by facts or miracles will end up waiting in vain, for while ”evidence” can either strengthen or sabotage testimony, it can never be a foundation, and it is in that sense that I believe Christ doesn't rely upon science to prove Himself or His church.
Like I said, I know I haven't answered all of your counter arguments, but hopefully that clarifies my point you've rejected.
Again, well done with the response time, and thanks for writing back.
[I replied:] So what scripture are you thinking that teaches your point of view? Further, how was Thomas waiting in vain when the Lord appeared to him after His resurrection? Also, how does your experience comport to the experience everyone else has with those who have been converted and continue in the faith due to the empirical evidence? And what do you make of John 20:30-1? How is that not foundational to belief? Now I'm open to other means, but why put God in a box and think He can only do things according to your belief system?
One last thing, what makes you so sure you've been properly converted, especially given the 2 Thes. 2:11 passage I gave you, and also, what about the temple ceremony where Adam properly prays in the Lone and Dreary, "Oh God, hear the words of my mouth!" Lucifer answers Adam and tell him that he (Lucifer) is the god of this world. How do you know that hasn't happened to you?
[He replied:] I hope you aren't too disappointed that my intention was never to get into a fierce email back and forth where we refute the other's points. Thanks for responding and I do appreciate what you're doing, because while some may criticize you for targeting latter day saints, I recognize that you've made a concerted effort to understand what we really believe. Some opponents of mormonism make little to no effort at all.
I wish you the best; perhaps our paths will cross again.
[I replied:] No problem...! I like Mitt Romney's statement applied to religion: "In our country, you can oppose someone in politics and make a confident case against their policies without any ill will. And that’s how it is for me" (Mitt Romney: [here] @ 8:41).
This has got to be one of the most astoundingly stupid statements I have ever read [from your last newsletter mailbag];
“YOUR SO TACKY AND WHAT A WASTE OF YOUR LIFE TRYING TO SUPPORT YOUR CHURCH. YOU AREN'T PROVING ANYTHING SO STAY HOME AND AWAY. LEAVE THE LDS ALONE. I DON'T SEE YOU ON THE CATHOLICS DOORSTEP SO THAT MAKES YOU A RACIST AND A SATAN WORSHIPER. DOING EXACTLY WHAT SATAN WANTS YOU TO DO BECAUSE THIS IS THE ONLY CHURCH YOU ARE ATTACKING. DON'T YOU FIND THAT INTERESTING AT ALL? YOU ARE A RACIST.”
Apart from any spiritual decisions which people are afforded the opportunity of making by reading what you do they can also get to learn about how to not think critically.
I once read that a Mormon leader said that thinking that we don't have a physical mother and father in heaven, "Makes reason stare!" I apply that to the above statement.