Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Advent Service Tonight Wed December 17th + Saturday Choir Practice & Christmas Party

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Tonight we gather for our last Advent Wednesday Night Service. We have presented a special series on "Christ Brings"...we have meditated on the Hope, Peace, Joy, and now tonight, the Love He brings. Here are the details:

We meet at:

Concordia University Irvine

1530 Concordia, Irvine, CA

in the Good Shepherd Chapel

 

Directions to Concordia University:

Coming on the 405 from the North (driving South-bound):

  1. Take University Drive, Exit 4, toward Jeffrey Road
  2. Turn right onto University Drive
  3. Turn left onto Ridgeline Drive
  4. Turn right onto Concordia
  5. Good Shepherd Chapel is about 1000 yards to your right as you drive through campus on the main road. Look for the fountain and then the chapel with a white cross on a tower in front of the chapel building.

 

Directions to Concordia University:

 

Coming on the 405 from the South (driving North-bound):

 

  1. Take University Dr./Jeffrey Rd. exit, Exit 4
  2. Turn left onto University Drive
  3. Turn left onto Ridgeline Drive
  4. Turn right onto Concordia
  5. Good Shepherd Chapel is about 1000 yards to your right as you drive through campus on the main road. Look for the fountain and then the chapel with a white cross on a tower in front of the chapel building.

For Saturday, December 20th:

Christmas Eve Choir

Singers! Please consider joining us to sing on Christmas Eve in our 7pm Lessons and Carols service.  We will meet to rehearse on Saturday, Dec 20th from 1-2:30pm at Pastor Al’s home.  Contact Karissa today for more information (klystrup@yahoo.com).

Also for Saturday, December 20th:

Please join us for an evening of fun, fellowship, food and holiday treats at our annual Christmas party.

 

 

When: Saturday, December 20th at 5pm.

 

Where: Light of Christ Lutheran Church, 18182

Culver Dr., Irvine, CA, (same place as last year), fellowship hall.

 

What to bring: There will be sign-up sheets in the café on Sundays to sign up for your favorite holiday casseroles, side dishes, salads/veggies/dips, breads/rolls, deserts/holiday treats, drinks(water, soda, hot cider). Main entrée/meat will be provided.

Please RSVP on the sign-up sheets on how many in your family will be attending.

 

Need your help please: If you can help set up/decorate or take down/clean up, please sign up for that also. Thank you!

 

Questions, please see Bill or Ali Frank (or contact at wizardf616@gmail.com)

 

Hope to see you all there!

Thank you dear Christians. May the Lord bless us as we celebrate our Lord's coming and His birth!

In Your Service and To Christ's Glory,

Pastor

Tomorrow Sunday December 14th 2014: “The Will of God: Three Things” (1st Thessalonians 5:16-18)

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Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11:00 am

Location: Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint's Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School...we worship in the event center/gym)

 

Dear Christians,

As Christmas approaches, we want to be ready and we want everything to be in place. We hope that the will of God is to bless us -- as we see blessing -- in every way. And this is where we can struggle. Just what IS the will of God? Too often it is presented as something very difficult to know.
Tomorrow we will bask in the beauty and simplicity of the will of God. We will receive a sense of relief that it is not about manuevering through a maze and it most certainly does not depend on us. The Lord is in control and for our good and nothing is more His will than that we would know His eternal love and mercy for us in Jesus.
Most importantly we will receive the Body and Blood of Jesus in Holy Communion. The divine service is where the Lord promises His special sacramental presence in Holy Communion. It is where we can find God ready to forgive and to help our faith.
This is why we gather and flowing from this, to love and encourage one another. Tomorrow we also celebrate a holy baptism (for Harper Grace Gilman, grand-daughter to our very own Steve and Sharon Fischer). We will have many guests. Let us reach out to them, share greetings, and be the family of God that the Lord has called us to be sharing His light and His love.
I look forward to serving you tomorrow morning.
An excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

“The Will of God: Three Things” (1st Thessalonians 5:16-18)

For Your Life in Christ the Third Sunday in Advent

December 14th, 2014

Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine, CA (LC-MS)

Pastor Espinosa

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. Knowing God’s will can in some respects seem like a very tricky thing. When I first received my call to serve as pastor to Saint Paul’s in 1996 -- when we were in Laguna Beach -- I was excited when I realized that I was being given the opportunity to serve alongside an exceptional congregational president in John W. Lottes. He was the president of the Art Institute of Southern California and a truly exceptional Christian leader gifted in the realm of administration. I remember my deliberations about the call back in ’96 and while I knew that parish council leaders had limited tenures, I felt strongly that serving with John during the first few years of my new pastorate would represent a powerful start for my new calling. When I accepted the call I was excited to get to work with John. Not long after arriving to Saint Paul’s, however, our congregation was rocked with the news that John was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. I remember living in a state of disbelief: “How could this be?” And the enthusiast in me actually thought surely what I had determined to be the will of God (namely that I would serve with John Lottes) should not be deterred even by cancer. In the early stages of my ministry to John, I prayed for a miracle.

 

In time it became evident that my brother in the Lord John was dying. No, the Lord did not answer my prayer for exceptional healing (as I understood it at the time) – or affirm that what I believed to be His will was in fact His will – but what the Lord did do was generate a different kind of miracle: I saw the Word of Christ permeate John’s heart and he testified to actually growing in his faith during this time. As a matter of fact I witnessed him as becoming radiant in the faith. As weak as his body became, there was no diminishing his spirit. It was amazing to see! His wife Nancy also matured in ways that she did not expect; testifying to the comforting ministry of the church when one of her members is suffering. All her life she had been a giver, but for the first time she allowed others to give and she realized that to accept the love of Christ from others was in itself an invaluable service in the kingdom of God (blessing both those who give and of course the one who receives). God’s will was for a different course, another way…one which at first I did not suspect and did not know. What became apparent was the fundamental lesson about the will of God in individual situations: God always knows what to do and we oftentimes have not a clue.

 

One of my favorite seminary professors Robert Preus once taught us this about prayer:

 

  1. God always answers the prayers of His children.
  2. He usually does not answer them the way we think He should.
  3. But He always answers them in the way that is best for us.

 

So true and the Lord keeps His promise to work all things out

for our good (Romans 8:28).

 

I remember being especially uptight and worried when the first of our eight children was getting ready to go to high school and then later getting ready to go to college. Where should he go? Where would he be safe? Which institution would offer the best environment? What kinds of influences would impact him? What was God’s will? What was God’s will?!!! He ended up attending a very liberal institution in New Haven, Connecticut! I prayed for him. At that liberal institution, he met the most wonderful young woman (couldn’t ask for a better daughter in law; smart as a tack and full of faith in the Lord); and then a few years into his undergraduate studies, my son informed me that he had decided to go to seminary to also become a pastor. God worked through it all even while I had some Christians intimate that we had made the wrong decision sending him to such a liberal environment. But God was in control, not us.

Fast forward and our third child goes to Chicago – and another liberal institution! -- and meets her future husband. Just one interesting caveat: this young man was from Germany and he would return to Germany to continue his studies while preparing to become a pastor in Germany. But the Lord forges us over time: the fact is that I had nothing to worry about. The word for this new situation was our daily prayer to God: “Thy will be done!” And the truth remains: God is in control! My daughter could not be more blessed and I could not have a better son-in-law for her. It was meant to be. God be praised, even if it was not exactly what I had in mind for God and my daughter…but His way is so much better!

 

But be warned dear Christians, some unfortunately take the beautiful teaching of God’s Word and unnecessarily make it complicated beyond words:

 

One book that I don’t recommend to you is entitled, Finding the Will of God in a Crazy Mixed-Up World. Here is a quick summary of the book that I’m not recommending to you, but making you aware of: God’s known will or universal will is different than God’s specific will or individual will and it should be our goal to know both so that we may live in the center of God’s will. To do this you need to follow a specific roadmap. That roadmap includes following 6 commands so that then you can be in a position to know God’s specific will in 3 areas of your life: everything that represents your major decisions, then your moderate decisions, and finally your minor decisions. Now here is where things get really exciting (according to this book): if you practice the 8 additional road signs for making the right decisions about the will of God then you may experience God’s individual will for you at the level of God’s good will, or if you are more successful, God’s acceptable will – or if you do an exceptional job in your spiritual walk – His perfect will in your life. But remember to take into consideration in your preparation to find God’s will the 4 temperaments. Depending on your temperament, you’ll need to make unique adjustments in your pursuit for discovering the will of God in your life.

How ‘bout that? There are many problems with this approach, but one of them is that it raises a terrible anxiety. First it sets us up for failure. It gives us the sense that we can predict outcomes. William Miller predicted that Jesus would come again in 1843. He was wrong. Hal Lindsey predicted 1988. He was wrong. Harold Camping predicted May of 2011 and then October of 2011. He was wrong. Tim LaHaye has predicted on or before 2024. What does all of this do for you and me? It raises fear, not faith. And furthermore, it turns your walk with God not about faith, but about following a program that can be fine-tuned and controlled. But what if you aren’t doing it right? What if you mess up on your calculations? What if? What if? What if? And in the end the spirit is exhausted and the mind is confused…and the poor soul who has completely mistaken the will of God begins to blame God and often abandon faith (or at least their impression of faith).

 

Where will you be in 5 or 10 years?

Where will your kids go to school?

How will your marriage mature?

What will your health be like?

Where will you be living?

 

We all know the answer: we don’t know. But what we do know is that our gracious Lord Jesus Christ is in control and His plan is – always – to bless His children and often in ways that we do not expect.

 

You’ve heard of the K.I.S.S. principle right? It means “Keep It Simple Studious [One].” Don’t follow the mazes and complications of those who only appear to be spiritual and religious. Stick to the Word of Christ! The good news is that God doesn’t expect us to get our heads spinning when it comes to “knowing His will” and trying to peer into the future! His will for us is clear and direct; and it is much more focused on what really counts.

 

The Christians in Thessalonica had some major issues:

  1. They were so in tune to the imminent coming of Jesus Christ that they were worried about what would happen to their loved ones who had died. Christ was coming, but what about those no longer with them? How would they be included in the coming of the Lord?
  2. The second issue was much more practical: because they were so transfixed on the future, they were “checking out” of today, they were losing their focus on their immediate call and vocations; they were forsaking their responsibilities and they were letting go of their daily duties. So St. Paul wrote 1st Thessalonians to lead them to get back on course and in so doing the Lord taught them about His will.

 

Part I: So Let’s Major in Majors When it Comes to the Will of God

  1. What does God really want you to do? Now I know if you’re a Raider fan like I am, this will be hard to believe: But God doesn’t care about whether you root for the Oakland Raiders or the Green Bay Packers; He is actually fine with whatever you decide to have for lunch today; and He really isn’t that worried about your next business move (because if it doesn’t work out, He will still have your back)! He has more fundamental things on His mind when it comes to His will for you. And when we focus on what is really His will, then everything else has a way of panning out!
  2. He calmed the Thessalonians by revealing the simplicity of His will and gave them (and us) three little basic things that flow from our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  3. And here my dear brothers and sisters in Christ is the will of God for your life! [the Greek has no definite article, so this includes God’s will, but is not exhaustive of it]

1st Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

Wednesday December 10th: Advent Service 7 pm at Good Shepherd Chapel Concordia University Irvine

8Dec/14Off

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

You're invited to our mid-week Advent service this Wednesday night, December 10th, at 7:00 pm.

 

We meet at:

Concordia University Irvine

1530 Concordia, Irvine, CA

in the Good Shepherd Chapel

 

Directions to Concordia University:

Coming on the 405 from the North (driving South-bound):

1. Take University Drive, Exit 4, toward Jeffrey Road

2. Turn right onto University Drive

3. Turn left onto Ridgeline Drive

4. Turn right onto Concordia

5. Good Shepherd Chapel is about 1000 yards to your right as you drive through campus on the main road. Look for the fountain and then the chapel with a white cross on a tower in front of the chapel building.

 

Directions to Concordia University:

 

Coming on the 405 from the South (driving North-bound):

 

1. Take University Dr./Jeffrey Rd. exit, Exit 4

2. Turn left onto University Drive

3. Turn left onto Ridgeline Drive

4. Turn right onto Concordia

5. Good Shepherd Chapel is about 1000 yards to your right as you drive through campus on the main road. Look for the fountain and then the chapel with a white cross on a tower in front of the chapel building.

We are enjoying a special Advent Series.

This Wednesday, December 10th: "Christ is Our Joy!"

 

Hope to see you there!

 

Rev. Alfonso O. Espinosa, Ph.D., senior pastor, Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

 

 

Tomorrow Sunday December 7th 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: Prepare The Way Of The Lord, Make His Paths Straight! (Mark 1:1-8)

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Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11:00 am

Location: Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint's Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School...we worship in the event center/gym)

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

When John the Baptist preached he was doing so to prepare people for the coming of Christ. What a golden opportunity this is for us. How do we prepare for Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, the Judge of all people, and the Shepherd of the flock of God? John told us, "make his paths straight." (Mark 1:3)
He elaborated on this through his ministry which was "proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness sins." (Mark 1:4) Even his lifestyle and dress helped convey his message: "Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey." (Mark 1:6)

John's person was a living picture of God's wisdom: "Do not love the world or anything in the world." (1st John 2:15a) Yes, enjoy life's gifts, but don't love them, don't cling to them, don't allow them to define your life. John's dress and diet shouted that he would not be mastered by the world (see St. Paul's thought-line recorded at 1st Corinthians 6:12...he explains that he will not be "mastered" by anything).
This single-mindedness is really concerned about what is most important in life: that we receive the Lord of Life into our lives. The straight path describes the straight path of faith that holds to Jesus...it is the path through which Jesus comes into our lives through faith. But note John's elaboration: in such a faith we are very cognizant of baptism and repentance. We "return" to the significance of our baptisms into Christ: in the eyes of God we were buried with Jesus in baptism (our sins were buried with the One who died for us) and we have been raised with Christ in baptism who conquered death (see Romans 6:3-5).
What does this mean for daily living? We turn from the old things, the worldly priorities that cling to loving the passing things, the things that turn to dust. We may enjoy these things, but we don't depend on these things. We then -- in faith -- turn towards Christ, the Only Lasting One, the Ever-Living God and in Him we not only have all of our needs met, but since He is the One who deals with our sins as they must be dealt with in order for us to be saved, eternity is also given to us...that is, in Christ we get to live forever and even now enjoy His overflowing life; a life of faith, hope, and love.
But how do we attain such a faith and life? Answer: This is why we gather around Christ Word and Sacrament tomorrow morning. Christ is present in His Word and Sacrament to create, sustain and nurture saving faith. Christ is present in the service to keep you connected to the One who works the "straight path" in your heart, keeping you connected to Him, the Savior of the World...YOUR Savior.
This is why we come!
Hope to see you in God's house tomorrow morning.
Special announcement: please rejoice with me: this evening we are conducting a private baptism for Sheryl Kim (wife of Joseph Kim) and the private baptism of their children as well: Caroline and Henry Kim. Presiding elder Mark Kuntz will stand by my side representing our congregation as we conduct these three baptisms! Praise the Lord!
 
Also: We have scheduled our next New Member Sunday for Sunday, December 21st. We will look forward to this blessed day and a reception afterwards in honor of our new members!
 
Also: Please mark on your calendars: our Wednesday Night Advent Service -- this December 10th -- at Concordia University is in the Good Shepherd Chapel. This Wednesday I will proclaim "Christ Brings Joy"...we will mediate on this virtue of the Holy Spirit and how it helps us prepare for Christmas. The service is at 7 pm.
 
Also: Please remember to mark your calendars for our congregational Christmas Party at Light of Christ Lutheran Church in Irvine: Saturday, December 20th at 5 pm. Light of Christ is located at 18182 Culver Dr. in Irvine.
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor
p.s. tomorrow after service Pastor Mueller teaches adult Bible Study and Pastor Espinosa teaches the high school students during the 11:00 am Bible Study/Sunday School hour...come and be equipped in the Word!
May John's call to that first century crowd preparing for the Lord be our call.

Tomorrow Sunday November 30th 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Hosanna!” (Mark 11:1-10) and Advent Devotion #1 for Sunday, November 30th

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Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11:00 am

Location: Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint's Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School...we worship in the event center/gym)

 

Dear Christians,

A brand new Church Year starts tomorrow. The season is called "Advent" that means "coming." It refers to the coming of Christ the Lord. It is the first season of the church year that ushers in Christmas when God was born to save us from sin and death! It is a season of special reflection in preparation for our Coming King!
Tomorrow we will focus on this prayer cry: "Hosanna!" Why is this the perfect word to welcome God's coming? The word itself helps us understand why we need the Lord to come and for what purpose He comes. The meaning strikes at the heart of what threatens our peace and joy; the meaning uncovers the mission of God in Christ that is about a victory; about a winning of war; about an advancement of a kingdom for your benefit...for your good. Come let us worship tomorrow in this theme of "Hosanna!"
ALSO:
This year I intend to send you a daily Advent devotion. The first installment is for tomorrow, November 30th the first day in the Advent season, and I am including it here one day early so that you have it going into day one. Tomorrow I intend to send you the devotion for day two, Monday, December 1st, etc. The devotions are from Lutheran Hour Ministries.
Here is #1 for the first Sunday in Advent, November 30th:
HOMEWARD BOUND
The First Sunday in Advent, November 30, 2014
Read Psalm 122.
I was glad when they said, “Let us go up to the house of the LORD.”
Psalm 122:1
“Come on up for Thanksgiving!” Did you receive a Thanksgiving invitation this year? I guess all of us who regularly have the chance to gather with family and friends for the holidays take it for granted. The wonderful smells of holiday meals, the laughter filling the house, and everybody catching up with events in each other’s lives are what make the day so special.
But today Thanksgiving weekend comes to an end and all those happy get-togethers must break up. Roads are packed with travelers scattering their separate ways. Of course in a few short weeks, we’ll hear a new invitation: “Come on up for Christmas!” Your church is sending out its own invitation this Advent. In the next few weeks many volunteers will be decorating the church, learning their parts for the Christmas program, and practicing their anthems for the choir. Your brothers and sisters in Christ are going to all this effort because they want to invite you to come on up for Christmas as together we go to worship and celebrate our Savior’s coming.
But there is another come-on-up-for-Christmas invitation unlike any other. When you reach this home you won’t find yourself sitting at the little kid’s table or crammed into a crowded pew. And the festival won’t end too soon like Thanksgiving and Christmas always do. The Lord Jesus Himself is inviting you to come up to His heavenly home and stay there with Him—forever.
That’s what Advent is all about, and that’s what these Advent devotions are all about. We will recall why the Lord Jesus came down from heaven so long ago. We will recall that the only way we can call heaven our home was because Jesus took our guilt and sin upon Himself and suffered and died in our place. Then, putting our faith in Christ, we will join our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ in joyful expectation as we journey on together.
So light the first Advent candle, and accept our thrilling invitation: “Let us go up the
house of the Lord!”
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank You for calling us home to share Your eternal celebration through Your Son Jesus Christ. Help us to truly value Your forgiveness in Jesus and our eternal future, which He won for us by His life, death, and resurrection.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
May the Lord bless us as we commence Advent and may we prepare ourselves to receive the Holy Sacrament tomorrow morning.
In Your Service and to Christ's Glory,
Pastor Espinosa

Tonight Wednesday, November 26th, 2014: Thanksgiving Eve at 7:00 pm “Christ Brings Hope” (Deuteronomy 8:1-10)

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Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11:00 am

Location: Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint's Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School...we worship in the event center/gym)

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Let's face it: we're being inundated by the advertisements for "black Friday" which has now spread to today (Wednesday) and the rest of the weekend...where is Thanksgiving along the way? Where is the faith? From the racial tensions sparked by the events in Ferguson, to ongoing terrorism, and to rampant commercialism, we need the Word of the Lord for "man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." (Deut. 8:3)
Let us gather to receive the Word this evening as we enter into Thanksgiving. Tonight is a simple service of the Word, a beautiful Vespers service, some good sacred music, and of course the sermon. I am preaching: "Christ Brings Hope."
I will relate our lives to Deuteronomy 8 and consider what the Lord is actually calling us to be thankful for. There are things in this text that we aren't naturally thankful for: things like being disciplined. Who wants to be thankful for that?! But we're going to back up and reflect: how does the Lord really lead us to know thanksgiving? In Christ we come to know true thanksgiving. He is our hope and in Him we have the true basis for thanksgiving.
Invite a friend. Again, this is a simple and beautiful service of the Word.
We meet at Good Shepherd Chapel at Concordia University Irvine...tell the guard at the gate that you are attending the worship service in the Good Shepherd Chapel at 7:00 pm, 7:00 pm, 7:00 pm.
 
Concordia University is located at 1530 Concordia, Irvine, CA 92612.
May the Lord fill our hearts with thanksgiving for the love and mercy of God that we know in and through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Here is an excerpt from tonight's sermon:

“Christ Brings Hope”

(Deuteronomy 8:1-10)

Pastor Espinosa

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. For the national day of thanksgiving our assigned Old Testament reading is from Deuteronomy. This is a reading that requires some explanation as we try to relate to it. It isn’t easy, but it is most definitely worth the effort. Moses is speaking to God’s people as they have completed their 40 year wilderness wanderings and they are about to enter the Promised Land. It’s true that they have much to be thankful for having finally come to the fruition of God’s great promise to them leading them into a land in which they will “lack nothing (Dt 8:9).” Talk about a blessing: being led to a place where your every need is met! Perhaps such a conviction about a blessed place is not far removed from what the first colonists thought about America as they realized the abundance of this land. In a short time, it wasn’t difficult for many of the Christians who came here to describe America as the new Jerusalem. We aren’t quite so idealistic, but even in the face of so many cultural maladies, it is still easy to count the many blessings the Lord has permitted us in our land. Indeed we have much to be thankful for!

But in order to engage in proper thanksgiving, not only did the Lord point His people in Deuteronomy to look forward, but just as importantly – if not more so – the Lord led them to look back. And this is where the word of explanation becomes necessary in trying to relate to the words of Moses from this last book in the Pentateuch: the proper comparison is not at all in treating our new Jerusalem as the United States of America, but the proper comparison is to treat our Promised Land, our new Jerusalem as our promise of heavenly glory. To begin to relate to these words therefore we need to ask ourselves about where our wilderness wanderings come in. Answer: we’re in them right now. And this is where Deuteronomy, especially becomes helpful to us today. The Lord is recounting reasons to be thankful in Deuteronomy. We are called to be thankful not only for the glory that is to come when we shall lack nothing, but we are called to “look back” but for us the “looking back” is to look at our lives now.

From the perspective of the Israelites their “now” (at the time) included the following:

  • They were humbled as they were tested (verse 2).
  • They were permitted to hunger as they were taught that they did not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (verse 3).
  • They were provided for and in an amazing way their provision did not wear out (verse 4).
  • They were disciplined (verse 5).

Now I don’t know about you, but if I took the time this Thanksgiving to actually count my blessings, I’m not exactly naturally inclined to list those things in my life which have caused humiliation, painful testing, times of hunger (in its various forms), including times of apprehension about  things running out or wearing out, and of course, times of being disciplined. These aren’t the things that I consider – at least at first glance – of those things worthy of thanks. Discipline for example can come upon us in the most unpleasant ways. What some have called “the dark night of the soul” or what Scripture calls “the day of evil,” times when we are tested in ways that we suspect we’re about to die, when we wonder if this is what a nervous break-down feels like, when we believe that we’re experiencing the actual definition of despair and/or depression; when life tastes bitter and when the soul becomes familiar with fear. When these times come, we are tested. In some of these moments, Moses himself was willing for the Lord to take his life.

C.F.W. Walther, the first president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, an amazing theologian, an astounding pastor once wrote these words about his time of discipline: “I may and must now reveal to you that the last half of the previous year has been one of the most difficult times of my life. I was physically incapable of attending to even half the office that I am dignified to carry out among you in unworthy fashion. Even more, the prospect that I would again be capable of the same became gloomier and darker month by month. I owe it to you to be transparent. I was tormented night and day by the thought that through my fault in many different ways, our congregation would withdraw with quick strides from the path of the first love and simplicity. And more than that, my own relationship with my God and Lord filled me with deep aversion and vexation. God placed before me, as never before, my entire past. He let me see my misery as I had never seen it before. I was filled with misery and distress. It appeared to me as though God had cast me away from His countenance. It seemed as though He regarded me as a rejected instrument, as if I were not a worker but a stumbling stone in His vineyard, which He must finally cast aside. It appeared to me as though God desired to take away all the blessings that He had thus far brought about through my witness to His truth, and this through a horrid end of my effectiveness. My only hope was a blessed death.” (Matthew C. Harrison, At Home in the House of My Fathers, Lutheran Legacy: 2009. 143)

But Walther went on: “But what happened? When the distress had reached its greatest intensity, help came.” (Ibid, 143) It’s sometimes hard for us to admit, but we can’t really be thankful nor can we properly handle the blessings we’re permitted to enjoy without having been properly forged through testing. This was why the Lord reviewed the hard times with His people, because they were about to receive rich blessings (because without humility all is lost). Luther taught: “the occasion which prosperity and abundance provide for transgressing the First Commandment. They turn the heart away much more strongly than adversity and want do, as he says in his song (Deut. 32:15): ‘Having become swollen, fat, and thick, he rebelled’; and (Prov. 1:32): ‘The prosperity of the foolish destroys them’; as is said also in the German proverb: ‘You need strong legs to hold up under good days.’ For man endures evil more easily than good, as the poet says, ‘Luxury has invaded as a deadlier foe.’” (Luther’s Works, American Edition Volume 9: 92)

Please come to service tonight for the rest!

In Jesus' Love,
Dr. Espinosa

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: Last Sunday of the Church Year: Matthew 25:31-46

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Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11:00 am

Location: Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint's Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School...we worship in the event center/gym)

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We are very blessed to welcome a special guest tomorrow at Saint Paul's: Rev. George Mather who is an expert in the field of cults and the occult. He will proclaim God's Word in worship and then after worship, he will present a special presentation-study on the Kingdom of the Cults and how to remain faithful to our confession of the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of so much confusion in the world about the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Tomorrow in Divine Service we will also hear the heralding of God's saving Gospel based on the assigned Gospel for the last Sunday of the Church Year: Matthew 25:31-46 on the sheep and the goats.

This Scripture can be very challenging! Isn't it true that we are saved by God's grace through the gift of faith in Jesus Christ apart from the works of the Law? Yes of course! So how come our judgment is described in terms of whether we fed the hungry or gave drink to the thirsty or welcomed the stranger or clothed the naked or visited the sick and those in prison? These are works are they not? Yes of course they are! But this seems contradictory! Tomorrow's proclamation will also teach the crucial distinction -- as well as the inter-relationship -- between who and what you ARE and what people DO. Those on the right of Christ at the last judgment are called "sheep," and this is not a minor detail. WHO you are is the crucial point...once one is in Christ, the rest of living is also in Him!

Most importantly, you will receive the precious body and blood of the Lord Jesus. This is the medicine of grace and the Kingdom of God that keeps you alive and strong in the One whose life fulfilled the Law for you; whose death paid for all of your sin; and whose resurrection gives you life eternal. Come and receive God's gifts; come and be fed; come and be strengthened in the saving faith.

Here is a some information about our special guest, Rev. Mather:

  1. George Mather has become a Nationally recognized authority on cults, World Religions and the occult. Lectured throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and the Caribbean. Interviewed (i.e. 60 Minutes, 20/20, CNN, NBC Nightly News, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, Voice Of America, UPI Radio Network, Time, Newsweek, and People Magazines, The Boston Globe, L. A. Times, Washington Post, New York Times, Chicago Sun, The Boston Herald and numerous others. Invited to appear on The Donahue Show, and The Shirley Show of Canada). Has personally counseled hundred’s of cult members and their families over the years. Some of these cult members and family members were high profile cases like David Karesh and the Branch Davidians, Jeffrey Dahmer, (the cannibal) Son of Sam (David Berkovitz) and Jim Jones’s of People’s Temple. ‎

 

  •        It has been said of him, "George brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience that can make him particularly useful.... He also has the advantage of training in careful research and the maturity to exercise sound judgment." (Rev. Philip Lochhaas, Executive Secretary, The Commission on Organizations, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod). And "I have known Pastor Mather for many years, both as a Theological student and as a researcher at Dr. Walter Martin's Christian Research Institute. He is a man of vision and integrity and can be trusted in his endeavors for the Lord. (Dr. John Warwick Montgomery, Distinguished Professor of Theology, Law and Humanities, University of Bedfordshire, England).

In Jesus' Love,

Pastor Espinosa

 

Tomorrow Sunday November 16th, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “The End is Coming — Don’t be Afraid” (1st Thessalonians 5:1-11)

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Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11:00 am

Location: Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint's Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School...we worship in the event center/gym)

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

You support a ministry that exists to put the salvation and hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ before people who suffer on account of the sin that has entered into the world. Yesterday I received a call from a member of the community who shared with me the heartache her family is going through since the death of her nephew this past summer. As the holidays approach, she is very concerned for her brother (the young man's father) and the rest of the family. They miss their loved one and she wanted to know how -- while they are a family of faith in Jesus -- they can live through the real bereavement they are going through.
The heartache of the Christian I met for the first time on the phone is an indication of the tribulation of the time of the end. St. Paul was teaching the Thessalonians about how to live during these end times. He was dealing with a practical question: "What will happen to our loved ones who have died before the coming of Christ?" [it is comforting to see that St. Paul refers to the death of Christians as a "falling asleep"...they are safe and alive with the Lord and we will see them again!] and St. Paul was dealing with a practical concern: "How do we live in the interim?" [or simply, "How do we live in the face of the end?"]
For the Christian confronted by all of the birth pangs of the end times, the answer is to not live in fear; not to give in to the many temptations for discouragement. The answer lies in Jesus -- the God of the LIVING -- and the answer lies not in living in isolation, but in an active engagement in the words of St. Paul:
"But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation." -- 1st Thessalonians 5:8
This is the life we are called to; this is the life that is already yours through your baptism into Jesus; this is the life already yours as you will be filled with the life of Christ once again as you receive the blessed Sacrament tomorrow morning.
I'm excited! Tomorrow we will be reunited. Pastor Mueller and myself look forward to seeing you, the blessed people of God that the Lord has called us to serve and to love. Come to the feast! Jesus is giving Himself to us tomorrow morning -- giving to us the victory already won; the forgiveness already secured; the eternal life already guaranteed -- and in the face of the end we will experience once again why we have nothing to fear.
May the Lord powerfully bless our worship tomorrow morning!
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor
p.s. Tomorrow:
8:15 am Set up for worship
9:30 am Divine Service
10:45 am Fellowship
11:00 am Adult Bible Study and Sunday School
12:00 pm High School youth will wash our van-bus
3:00 pm Confirmation
p.s.s.
I am hosting our LC-MS regional Vice President tomorrow evening, Rev. Dr. Scott Murray, and I'm hoping he will be able to address our confirmands tomorrow.

Tomorrow November 2nd, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: All Saints and Commemoration of the Faithful Departed Observed + FALL BACK for Daylight Savings Time! + Continuing Collection for Mary’s Shelter

15Nov/14Off

Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11:00 am

Location: Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint's Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School...we worship in the event center/gym)

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Church is more than just those who confess the saving Name of Jesus Christ on earth; it includes the Church triumphant in heaven and in glory! These we especially remember tomorrow in a very special Divine Service.

This world is full of sorrow and tribulation, but the Lord Jesus speaks to all of you saints, "take heart for I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

We take heart even in the face of much trouble and rejoice that once again we will be fed through the Word and Sacrament of Jesus Christ.

The Lord bless us as we gather!

In Jesus' Love,

Pastor

p.s. please remember to continue to bring items for Mary's Shelter

Donations needed for Mary’s Shelter

We need donations for diapers, liquid laundry detergent, Dreft liquid detergent, plastic dishes (bowls, cups & plates), towels (face, hand and body), personal hygiene (shampoo, conditioner, razors, face wash, deodorant, lotion), place mats (8 to 10 for each house), baby wipes, non-perishable food for our emergency supply, Children’s Tylenol, plastic Tupperware with lids, oven mittens, diaper rash cream and cleaning sponges. Robby Flores has a box here this morning in which we are collecting your donations! If you have any questions, please email Robby @floresrobby@gmail.com.

p.s.s.

Gladys Geisler Memorial

A memorial has been established for the future purchase of handbells for the congregation. If you would like to give to this special fund we would ask you to do so by Sunday, November 16th. We have a special opportunity to purchase some previously owned bells that are in excellent condition! Please contribute! 

Sunday, October 26th, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: Reformation + Supplies Needed for Mary’s Shelter + Preparations for Commemoration of The Faithful Departed

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Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11:00 am

Location: Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint's Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School...we worship in the event center/gym)

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I have just gotten caught up with news this evening (Friday, October 24th): deadly shootings in Washington and in California, the Ebola virus in New York, and someone deliberately smashing into the Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma City, etc...and in the midst of this we will CELEBRATE the Reformation this Sunday.
Could anything be more irrelevant -- or, wait a second -- could anything be more relevant?
In the face of the terrible things going on in our world, if there was ever a time for the message of the Reformation to be clear, then that time is now. The visible Church had once -- at least at the popular level -- lost the Gospel of Christ, but you will see red paraments and stole this Sunday to remind us of the Holy Spirit's powerful movement of restoring the Gospel of Christ to His Church during the Reformation. And He did so by restoring the true preaching of the Gospel and the right administration of the Holy Sacraments.
So what? The answer is that the Gospel restored to Christ's Church is the ground for hope in the face of madness; light shed upon darkness; and God's grace in Christ which will not permit death to reign. And as the Holy Spirit moves through Christ's Reformation Word and Sacraments, you -- the people of God -- become as salt and light in this world so inundated with fear. That is the celebration of the Reformation is faith facing the world head on knowing that the Lord is in control; giving life even in the face of death. This is a sure and certain hope; and one which the world desperately needs to know.
Part 2: We live out our faith also by helping those in need. Robby Flores is our congregational representative for the Life Ministry at Concordia University Irvine and he is asking that you bring some supplies this Sunday to donate to Mary's Shelter. Here is the list:
Diapers
Liquid laundry detergent
Dreft liquid detergent (for babies)
Plastic dishes (bowls, cups, plates)
Towels (face, hand and body towels)
Personal hygiene products: shampoo, razors, face wash, deodorant, lotion
Place mats (8 to 10 for each house)
Baby wipes
Non-perishable food for our emergency supply
Children's Tylenol
Plastic Tupperware with lids
Oven mittens
Diaper rash cream
Cleaning sponges
Bring some of these and place in the box that Robby is bringing to church this Sunday! Thank you!!!
Part 3: Sunday, November 2nd is the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed...please fill out the form available THIS Sunday and submit it back to the designated collectors OR send the information directly to me, Pastor Al at my email address: give me the name or names of loved ones and the date of their entry into glory...we will name your loved one in the service and hear the tolling of a bell to symbolize their eternal life in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is an important tradition for us at Saint Paul's and we hope you will participate!
 
May the Lord bless your weekend so that you continue to abide in Christ's faith, hope, and love, rejoicing that in Him not some, not many, not most, but ALL your sins are forgiven through His life, death, and resurrection. Some people say, "Nothing is free!" There is, however, one thing that is: God's love and forgiveness in Jesus! This is His free gift to you...it is true of course that it cost HIM dearly...but as for you, this is God's GIFT to you: life and forgiveness in His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
In His Love,
Pastor Al Espinosa