Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Tomorrow September 14th 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “A Reasonable Question” (Matthew 18:21-35)

13Sep/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,

I recently read from a wise man: "God forgives without limits and without counting." A simple and profound sentence at the same time. I hope to see you in God's house to hear more on this vital message...it is what frees us from bondage; it is what sets us free to be people of God. The evil one desires to keep us tied up with a ball and chain of sin; Christ has come to set us free simply on account of His taking our ball and chain from us: His forgiveness is the key. This is one of those things in the faith that we think we know so well because we hear it -- we think -- all the time, but it just might be the easiest thing in the world to take for granted (and thereby forget; and thereby cease enjoying the release). Come, let us do more than remember...let us receive through Word and Sacrament.
A separate word...
I want to take this opportunity to simply say thanks. It is such a privilege (and pleasure) to serve this congregation, all of you.
Today is my brother's birthday (my brother Larry). He has turned 62. I need to call him today and say, "Happy Birthday." These things strike me at this stage in my life: I have three siblings, one is retired, and two retire this coming year. It makes me think about "what next?" for me...I know the answer (if the Lord permits it). I look forward to service here for as long as He will permit. We have much work to do, good work, and I am glad for the opportunity to do it.
I share this because longevity, stability, and commitment are important. It permits a pastor to "follow" his flock through life. I am mindful of this esp. today. Many years ago I confirmed a young lady in junior high school at the time. Her name is Samantha. Today, I will conduct her wedding. Samantha is now in the U.S. Navy and she will become one with Marcus who serves as a U.S. Marine. It is important to follow people through life...these are the best relationships.
This is what I desire in my service to you: through the ups and through the downs.
This is a portion of this morning's prayer from Lutheran Book of Prayer:
"Keep me steadfast in the awareness of Your protection and in faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, Your Son. Lord, make me mindful of the temptations of sinful care, selfishness, and impure desires, which beset me on every side and from within. Help me in this hour to put on anew the armor of light, that I may be fitted with every weapon of offense and defense against the perils that threaten my spiritual life. Let Your Gospel call me with new sweetness to be reconciled to You; let Your Spirit call me with new power to follow You. Teach me to live this day as though it is my last on earth, knowing that whether I live or whether I die I am present with You. Be my Protector, my Guide, and my Father; for Jesus' sake. Amen."
 
I hope to see you in God's house tomorrow!
 
In Jesus' love,
 
Pastor

Tomorrow Sunday September 7th, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Become Like Children” (St. Matthew 18:1-4)

6Sep/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,

Our sinful nature attacks us with pride, ambition, the yearning for success, and power. The apostles themselves struggled against this as they asked Jesus, "Who is the greatest?" (Matthew 18). We underestimate this spiritual enemy. We seek the world's praise over and above faithfulness. We prove this every time we say what we think will please our neighbor instead of saying -- in love -- what ought to be said. By nature we want approval and sometimes the need to succeed is insatiable. This is rather silly though. In a 100 years who will remember our resumes?
In Christ, however, faithfulness leads to our being remembered by God for eternity. Thank God that Jesus came to save us from our pride! No one has ever been as humble as our Savior, but He wasn't that way to just give us a good example. He made Himself humble while taking our condemnation for sin. That is His humility has saved you and me. These things the sermon will address.
In addition, there's a lot of other things going on tomorrow!
1. The high school youth are sponsoring breakfast. Please consider supporting with an offering.
2. We are starting pictures for our church directory. The Perry's will take your pic if you're comfortable to do so.
3. We are installing our 2014-2015 congregational officers.
4. Confirmation starts back up at 3 pm at my house.
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

“Become Like Children” (St. Matthew 18:1-4)

For Your Life in Christ the Week of the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 7th, 2014

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

Pastor Espinosa

 

Introduction: Sinful Ambition & the Idolatry of Pride

  1. Satan attacked Adam in the Garden; he attacked Christ in the wilderness, and here in Matthew 18, he went after the apostles.
  2. One theologian wrote, “Thus early was the devil of pride raising his ugly head in their midst (Kretzmann 97).”
  3. Notice the prideful concern of the apostles:

 

Matthew 18:1: “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’”

 

Matthew 20:20-21: “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21And he said to her, ‘What do you want?’ She said to him, ‘Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”

 

Luke 22:24: “A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.”

 1. It is sobering to think that to this day even ministers can be driven by selfish ambition. Notice these words from St. Paul:

Philippians 1:17a: “The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely…” = that is, they present the Gospel to gather a following for themselves.

2. The apostles misinterpreted prior events: In Mark 5:37, Jesus did not have all of the apostles go with him to raise up Jairus’s daughter, but only Peter, James, and John; at the transfiguration of our Lord (e.g. Matthew 17:1) Christ led only Peter, James, and John up the mountain; and perhaps most disturbingly to some of them, the Lord had said to Peter that he was blessed in Matthew 16:17 and at Matthew 16:19 Christ said Peter would be given the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and then right before the beginning of today’s Gospel, Jesus seemingly honors Peter above all of them through the miracle of the fish with the sheckel in its mouth given to Peter so that Peter could pay the tax both for Peter and for Jesus.

3. “Now wait just a minute here! What is going on! Why is so-and-so getting all the good stuff? What about me?!” It is easy for us to get worried and upset about our position or lack thereof. We -- like the original apostles -- enter a mindset “fraught with danger because of envy, jealousy, pride, and hatred (Lenski, 679).” “They were headed in the wrong direction with their selfish ambition…The strong double negative [spoken by Christ = “unless you turn…you will never”] means that [if they remain in selfish ambition] they will otherwise not get into the kingdom of heaven at all, let alone have big places in it (Robertson 146).”

 

Part I: Pride and Ambition and the Thirst for Success:

1. Timothy Keller in his book Counterfeit Gods quotes Helen Rubin in the magazine Fast Company:

“Of all the subjects we obsess about…success is the one we lie about the most – that success and its cousin money will make us secure, that success and its cousin power will make us important, that success and its cousin fame will make us happy. It’s time to tell the truth: Why are our generation’s smartest, most talented, most successful people flirting with disaster in record numbers? People are using all their means to get money, power, and glory – and then self-destructing. Maybe they didn’t want it in the first place! Or didn’t like what they saw when they finally achieved it (92).”

2. In sin, we are preoccupied with success and power.

 

Part II: But The Lord Has Not Called Us To “Success” (the World’s Definition), but to Faithfulness and Faith Is Kept in HUMILITY

 1. F. Bruce says that to humble oneself “is the most difficult thing in the world.” We just don’t want to!

2. So Christ cuts to the chase: to turn and to become a child are one and the same act (Lenski 680).

 

Matthew 18:3: “[Jesus said] Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

 3. So proper repentance and the experience of true conversion = is to “become like children.”

4. What is a child like? Jesus illustrated. Now Matthew 18:4 has Christ presenting a child which is the image of innocence and an example of humility (Jerome), but the parallel passage to Matthew 18:4 is Mark 9:36. The illustration is even more powerful here:

Mark 9:36: “And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms…”

  1. This is the picture of a little, helpless child. This is the way Jesus is calling us to be!
  2. It is as if Jesus said to the apostles: “Does this little child look like he’s full of worldly power, status, and might?!”
  3. Turn back to/revert to the simplicity of a child.
  4. Rest in Jesus’ arms & be completely dependent on Him!
  5. So Luther says, “Oh, do not think to be great but to be little.”
  6. To humble yourself in this way means to make yourself low, make no claims, insist on no rights, come with no demands, but bow lowly and humbly under the Lord’s will and Word, yield completely to him. True humility does not hanker after greatness (Lenski 683).

Part III: This Is What We Are Supposed To Be, But Only the Lord Can Give Us This Child-Like Status

[tomorrow I will get into the rest!]
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday August 31st at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “God’s Will, Not Ours” (Matthew 16:21-26)

30Aug/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 Christian,

Every, single day we pray, "Thy will be done." But this must be properly construed. This petition does not happen by then exerting ourselves; making ourselves into good Christians by virtue of our discipline.
Our petition is all about depending on God's grace. If God's will is to be done in our lives, then God must lead us in His will; His working must be exerted in us.
But how? We are so weak, we struggle so much...in spite of our best efforts, we fail.
God must step in.
He does!
This is why we come to Church. God comes to you through the Word of Christ and through the Body and Blood of Christ. He comes and His will happens. He works it; He creates it in us.
Faith grasps the work of God. God forgives, faith holds to this truth; God serves, faith holds to this truth; God saves, faith holds to this truth.
Come in faith and experience God working for His will to be done in your life! We will learn about what it means to be a disciple of lives out, "God's Will, Not Ours."
Here is an excerpt of tomorrow's sermon:

“God’s Will, Not Ours” (Matthew 16:21-26)

For Your Life in Christ the 12th Sunday after Pentecost

August 31st, 2014

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

Pastor Espinosa

 

Introduction: Bonhoeffer Quotes Luther in Discipleship (Luther is writing as if God is speaking to you)

 

“Discipleship is not limited to what you can comprehend – it must transcend all comprehension. Plunge into the deep waters beyond your own comprehension, and I will help you to comprehend even as I do. Bewilderment is the true comprehension. Not to know where you are going is the true knowledge. My comprehension transcends yours. Thus Abraham went forth from his father and not knowing whither he went. He trusted himself to my knowledge, and cared not for his own, and thus he took the right road and came to his journey’s end. Behold, that is the way of the cross. You cannot find it yourself, so you must let me lead you as though you were a blind man. Wherefore it is not you, no man, no living creature, but I myself, who instruct you by my word and Spirit in the way you should go. Not the work which you choose, not the suffering you devise, but the road which is clean contrary to all that you choose or contrive or desire – that is the road you must take. To that I call you and in that you must be my disciple. If you do that, there is the acceptable time and there your master is come.” (The Cost of Discipleship, First Macmillan Paperbacks Edition, 103-104)

  1. On account of our sin, however, we constantly fight against the call to discipleship; we want to hold onto our comprehension instead of trusting in the Lord’s comprehension for us.
  2. Moses, Isaiah, and Jeremiah argued against God’s call to them even though the Lord knew exactly what He was doing.
  3. Moses said, “I can’t speak well enough!”
  4. Isaiah said, “I’m too unclean, not good enough!”
  5. Jeremiah said, “I’m too young!”
  6. God calls us to discipleship too! But what is our excuse? We must remember who we truly are and to whom we truly belong!

Part I: Your New Identity:

  1. We have watered down the word “Christian,” esp. in American culture.
  2. The word literally and actually means “Christ’s” … or in elongated form “one who BELONGS to Christ.”
  3. Notice how this concept is applied to the Church, the body of Christ:

1st Corinthians 6:19: “Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.”

  1. Discipleship begins with this fundamental truth: We do not belong to ourselves, we belong to God.
  2. The Christian, therefore, is a “disciple” – one who is a “hearer” of Christ and therefore (and as a result of hearing the Word of Christ and thereby being drawn to Christ) – is one who FOLLOWS Christ.

Matthew 16:24: “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’”

 

Part II: But In Order For This to Happen We Must Die

  1. Remember that Peter once denied Jesus three times. He said, “I don’t know the man!” That part of us is dead!
  2. We use these words against ourselves! The Christian is confronted with their sinful flesh that says, “I don’t want to follow!” And the Christian’s trained response is, “I don’t know the man!” “The man” = our sinful nature.
  3. You’ve heard the expression when someone is so hurt or ashamed of someone else, they say, “You are dead to me.”

That means the relationship is completely severed; it is over with! This is our daily call: die to yourself; die to your old sinful nature!

Romans 6:11: “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday August 24th, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “The Most Important Question You’ll Be Asked”

23Aug/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 Christian,

"Who do you say Jesus is?"...your answer matters dear Christian! Flowing from the lips of the baptized child of God is the answer revealed by the Heavenly Father. Your answer -- God's answer -- knows Jesus as God reveals Him so that the true answer, the saving answer will always be the foundation and assurance of your forgiveness and eternal life.
Unfortunately, sin, the world, and the evil one try desperately to block this answer; these fight against the Father's saving revelation. As a result too many people remain lost without the answers to sin and death.
This past week in our world we were reminded that we need God's answer, God's hope, and God's life in the face of horrific expressions of sin and death. I was -- I'm sure with you -- mortified by the release of the news -- last Tuesday -- of the horrific execution of American journalist James Foley (I did not attempt to watch the video...and pray that you did not see it either).
These things evidence that the evil one prowls around seeking to devour just as Scripture warns (1st Peter 5:8). We should never take these real-life events for granted...they represent the evil ones' attempt to fill our hearts with fear; to distract from our hope; to make our love cold; and to forget why we are here.
To know Christ -- in accord with who He really is -- is to know however the One who has promised that not even the gates of hell will prevail against His Church...to have Christ is to have life even in the face of death; it is to be assured of the Resurrection no matter the attack upon you (us).
That is, to know Christ is have Christ and to have Christ is to have life!
If this is true -- and it is of course -- then it stands to reason that dark forces would counter by doing everything in their (limited) power to attack the very revelation of Christ...bottom line: sin and the devil don't want you to know Jesus and the full implications of His saving presence!
In response: God has given His Church. Through Christ's Church Christ comes...this is why we come to Church...this is why I hope to see you in the morning!
An excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

“The Most Important Question You’ll Ever Be Asked”

 (Matthew 16:13-18)

For Your Life in Christ the 11th Sunday after Pentecost

August 24th, 2014

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

Pastor Espinosa

 

Introduction: The Great Challenge of Our Time

  1. Alister McGrath in his book Evangelicalism & the Future of Christianity explains that the 18th century Enlightenment established human reason as the highest standard for knowledge and truth, but it gave way to the late 20th century into-the-present worldview called postmodernism (182f).
  2. Once upon a time, we thought we had everything figured out through human reason, but two things happened: 1) we discovered human reason isn’t as accurate as we thought (e.g. we thought that Newton’s physics was fairly seamless, then along came Einstein); 2) the reliance on human reason ushered in horrible atrocities like the Stalinist purges and the Nazi extermination camps. We are now no longer so willing to boast in human reason.
  3. So what are the implications of the new view? We can’t really know anything with certainty and what is true and what is real depends on a person’s personal view. Postmodernism is the age of relativism. Welcome to the present!
  4. Interestingly enough, our post-Christian era is looking a lot like the pre-Christian era. During that era (before the establishment and explosion of the Christian Church), Jesus asked this as recorded Matthew 16:13:

 

Matthew 16:13: “When Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’”

 

  1. Various disciples chimed in to give answer. These are translations of the relativistic answers recorded:
  2. Jesus is a great king who has come to threaten Herod’s rule. That is a political figure, but still a man.
  3. A great herald of Messiah who had returned to continue the work of preparing for the true Messiah, but still a man.
  4. A great prophet who is legend who perhaps had risen from death, but still a man.

 

  1. What do all of these have in common? Jesus = still a man!
  2. As one theologian put it, “They thought well of Him, but not well enough.”
  3. In our sin, we think well of Jesus…just well enough to coax our consciences, but in sin we limit who Jesus is…we do not want to answer to Him as Almighty God, we want His Word to be relative. In our sinful hearts, we don’t believe in truth! Just versions of the truth! We don’t think of Him well enough!
  4. In his book The Case for the Real Jesus, Lee Strobel refutes among other things the popular assertion, “People should be free to pick and choose what to believe about Jesus.”
  5. This is exactly what we do, but here’s the problem:

From Strobel: “…truth is true even if no one knows it, admits it, agrees with it, follows it, or even fully grasps it…The problem is that people can have beliefs that are ‘useful,’ maybe temporarily and for certain ends, but they may be completely false (236).”

 

  1. In today’s Gospel, the Word asserts that there is an authoritative viewpoint: God breaks onto the scene and asks the single most important question you will ever be asked in your life:

 

Matthew 16:15: “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’”

 

Part I: While You Still Live and Breathe, What Do You Say of Jesus?

  1. As for the foolish opinions about Jesus, Jesus didn’t even care to discuss.
  2. There is only one answer Christ commends:

 

Matthew 16:16: “Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’”

 

  1. Jesus praises THIS answer, because it is THE answer!

 

Matthew 16:17: “And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.’”

 

  1. Crucial components of what we’ve just read:
  2. What is that revelation from God? (from vs. 16)
  3. Jesus = “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
  4. Epiphanius the Latin (5th or 6th century): “If Christ is the Son of God, by all means he is also God.” (Ancient Christian Commentary, Ib, 45)
  5. The Venerable Bede (c. 672/673-735): “He calls Him the ‘living’ God by way of distinction from the false gods which heathendom in its various delusions made to itself to worship, either of dead men, or – greater folly still – of insensate matter.” (The Lutheran Study Bible, 1616)
  6. That is, since Jesus the Son of God is God, then He is also the Living God which means that Jesus is the source of life!
  7. Do we believe this? When we doubt and we seek answers for our burdens under every rock and yet all the while refuse to worship Jesus Christ and call on His Name. Instead we rely on “flesh and blood” = “[the] mortal state of weakness and fallibility.” (Lenski, 623)
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Al

Tomorrow Sunday August 17th 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “The Great Thing About Little Dogs” (Matthew 15:21-28)

16Aug/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,

Thank you for taking care of me and my family which includes the vacation time you grant your senior pastor! We had a wonderful family vacation. It was a chance for us to refuel and to grow closer as a family. Traci and myself and our five kids at home (Christina, David, Esbeydi, Bryan, and Katherine) enjoyed our time with extended family in Colorado. Some of the highlights included whitewater rafting in the Arkansas River, going down the Alpine slide in Breckenridge (elevation around 11,000 feet), going over Loveland Pass and standing at the Continental Divide (and after going up some additional steps standing at 12,000 feet), and then relaxing at my father-in-law's home in Castle Rock, CO where we attended the fair and rodeo and enjoyed horses and Oliver the donkey. I worshipped at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church (LC-MS), Castle Rock and received a good sermon and the Holy Sacrament through the lips and hands of Pastor Larry Ziegler. We drove and I've had enough long driving for awhile!
I am eager to be back in the pulpit tomorrow morning. The text is one of my favorite texts. Let's face it, our Great and Gracious Lord can be confusing to us at times. We can easily feel as though He is just ignoring our pleas. But the truth is that His answers to us are always to bless us even when we can't see it at the time. Our Gospel text from Matthew 15 presents this truth through the amazing account of our Lord Jesus and the Cannanite woman who came to the Lord, but from all appearances was quite frankly ignored by Christ...and it appears even insulted by Him...but there is more to the story...come and find out what it is truly about and be lifted up in faith!
Also, we will receive the Holy Sacrament "given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins." Luther: "I certainly love it with all my heart, the precious, blessed Supper of my Lord Jesus Christ, in which He gives me His body and blood to eat and to drink orally, with the mouth of my body, accompanied by the exceedingly sweet and gracious words: Given for you, shed for you." (What Luther Says, 792).
And...we will be blessed with guest musicians who will further beautify our service!
Come lowly sinners...come redeemed saints...yes, I am speaking to you Christian. Come and rejoice in the Lord always and I will say it again rejoice!
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

Sermon

“The Great Thing about Little Dogs” (Matthew 15:21-28)

For Your Life in Christ the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

August 17th, 2014

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

Pastor Espinosa

 

Introduction: No matter how you cut it, this morning’s Gospel is very challenging: There is a woman in desperate need, and there is no question that she has true faith in the Lord (she calls Jesus “Lord” three times), and she is truly an example of faith, love, and humility, and yet this is a rough summary of what happened:

  1. It appears that Jesus completely ignored her first request. She came crying out, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” (22) And then Scripture records, “But he did not answer her a word.” (23)
  2. Then after Jesus’ disciples seemed to have insinuated that the Lord should just help her out and send her on her way, Jesus essentially said that he had not come for this woman (23-24). Jesus answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (24) You see the woman who was begging him was a Cannanite, a race that in the Old Testament Israel was commanded by God to exterminate because of their idol worship (Dt 20:17). The point is that the woman was seemingly rejected a second time!
  3. The Scriptures record what happened next: “But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’” (25) And it was to this that Jesus after seemingly ignoring her and then seemingly avoiding her, finally actually speaks to her, but notice what he actually said to her: “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”Wow! First, the woman is seemingly ignored; then, the woman is seemingly actively avoided; and then, Jesus called her a dog!

 

 

Part I: How Would You Have Reacted?

A. I will never forget the story of what happened with my dad (of blessed memory) when my parent’s first baby – my big brother who I never met – was only three days old and because of the extreme heat and his difficulty breathing, died as an infant. My parents were very young and devastated of course. My dad went out walking and went to find the local pastor. He found the pastor and told the pastor what had happened and asked the pastor if he would conduct the funeral for his baby boy. To which the pastor responded that he couldn’t because he was essentially too busy. Needless to say, that didn’t go over too well with my dad. He had recently been honorably discharged from the U.S. Marines after fighting for our country in World War II. When the pastor said this, my dad basically used some colorful language to tell the pastor what he could do. As my dad walked away, the pastor realized the seriousness of what had just transpired, and he literally went running after my dad. He did the service.

B. This true story has made a deep impression on me. People need their pastor’s to be there for them. I am humbled by my limitations, but I pray that I will always be able to serve you faithfully. If I do not respond to the real needs of my people, not only would I hurt them, but I could hurt their faith in the Lord. But what happens when it seems that THE pastor, the Shepherd of our souls, the true God, the Lord Himself is the One who does not answer us? There are times when God is silent, and there are times when we feel that we are being ignored. And it hurts and it can hurt so much that we are tempted to tell God what he can do as we walk away in anger and confusion. Does this ever happen? It happens more often than we think.

 

II. But Faith Looks Past Appearances:

  1. This Gospel is given to us this morning dear Christians so that we would learn from the Canaanite woman. She did not give up on God even though many people would reason that she should have. That’s the problem with us, we don’t want to live by faith, we want God to do exactly what we think is right when and where we say and we prove ourselves to be sinners, because we are always putting ourselves first.
  2. This woman in our Gospel, however, brings out the truth about God. It has been said about this account from Matthew 15 that it really wasn’t the woman who was looking for Jesus, but it was – all along – Jesus who was looking for the woman.
  3. What we take as ignoring her, Luther has a different take:

“Look how Christ drives her faith deep into her heart that it becomes strong and firm.”

In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday August 3rd, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “How The Lord Feeds You” (St. Matthew 14:13-21)

2Aug/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,

We all need to be fed and in many and various ways. Sunday mornings are about spiritual nutrition without which we will suffer spiritual attrition. The Word and Sacraments are not reduced to information transfer and ritual. They are the very means through which the Holy Spirit works to feed our faith!
Just "knowing" that I love my wife is not enough. I am called to actively love her.
Just "knowing" the content of the Gospel is not enough. I need to receive God's active love and service towards me through His Word and Sacrament. This is why we come to worship and this is why we call our worship "Divine Service": it is where God serves us to keep us spiritually strong.
Tomorrow we consider from Matthew 14 how the Lord feeds us. We will consider what drives Him to you (His great compassion) and under what circumstances He comes (in desolation of your sin) and yet how by His grace, He serves you and feeds you. We will consider how we live in His service (ministry) in three different ways. Come and be equipped!
We will also receive the precious body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Supper is called a "means of grace" because it is through the Supper that we receive God's grace. Here the forgiveness of sins is continually distributed and received over and over again. Jesus is host and He feeds us through this pure Gospel gift of His very body and blood.
Come and be blessed! Come and rejoice!
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's service:

“How the Lord Feeds You” (St. Matthew 14:13-21)

For Your Life in Christ the Week of the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, August 3rd, 2014

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

Pastor Espinosa

 

Introduction: Jesus our Savior had and has compassion!

  1. The word in the original language is splagchnizomai. It means that “his gut moved” or his inward parts poured forth. His heart goes out to you in a deep, personal, and true way. He really, really cares and it always leads to His acting; doing something about it!
  2. Notice how St. Matthew tracks His observations, compassion, and action:

Matthew 4:23: “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.”

 

Matthew 9:36: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

 

Matthew 14:14: “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”

 

  1. These Scriptures describe more than just sympathy (sameness of feeling) or empathy (the ability to share in another’s emotions, thoughts, or feelings). Christ is so deeply moved when He sees His people in real need that He is so internally moved, it causes Him to act and help driven by deep love.
  2. How does He act; what does He do?
  3. He preaches the good news.
  4. He heals disease and sickness (remember what has been promised to us all at the end).
  5. He intervenes for and helps the harassed and helpless.

 

Part I: Where Does This Ministry Take Place?

  1. Matthew 14:13 = “[Jesus] withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place…”; Matthew 14:15 = the disciples say, “This is a desolate place…”.
  2. We too are in a desolate place in the sense that we live in a place impacted by the desolation of sin, the world, and the evil one:
  3. Think of the desolation represented by the Ebola virus and the havoc it is causing in West Africa.
  4. Consider the desolation of continued war, airline disasters, and the nightmare of kids taking the lives of others before taking their own.
  5. Consider your own desolation as you face the daily battle against your sinful nature and the guilt, shame and fear it produces in your heart.
  6. 1st Peter 2:11 calls us “sojourners and exiles”!
  7. The hymn “I’m But a Stranger Here” stanza one: “I’m but a stranger here, Heav’n is my home; Earth is a desert drear, Heav’n is my home. Danger and sorrow stand Round me on ev’ry hand; Heav’n is my fatherland, Heav’n is my home.”
  8. These are indications of desolation. Jesus does not avoid the desolate places, but enters into them. He comes to us.
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Al

Sunday, July 27th, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine

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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 just returned with our contingent of 12 representing our congregation that attended the 2014 Higher Things Conference (LCMS high school conference) in Logan, Utah called "Crucified." It was a fantastic conference. We camped on the way there and on the way back, but in between was the great 3 1/2 day conference at Utah State University. I was given the privilege of conducting two of the break-away sessions: one on Angels & Demons and the other on the Reliability of Holy Scripture. I hope you might enjoy the power-points which I am attaching here. [those reading this on the website, please be patient and we will include these onto our site]
Tomorrow the Lord Jesus will preach to us in our 9:30 am Divine Service. That is we will receive His Word through His Office and the Holy Spirit will once again work powerfully in our lives keeping us in the forgiveness of sins which He won for us through His life, death, and resurrection.
After worship we will have a short voter's assembly meeting to provide an update from our site committee (and other leaders) on our search for our own facilities. This is an important meeting about our vision for the future and I hope you'll take the time to attend.
Also, I am excited to announce that tomorrow my son, David Espinosa, will be confirmed! His confirmation verse is Psalm 23:1, a word we all need to remain mindful about.
In addition, we will offer a special blessing to members of our congregation who will attend the upcoming "Around the World" tour as representatives (students and faculty) of Concordia University Irvine.
Finally, please prayerfully consider attending the Memorial service for our sister in Christ, fellow member of Saint Paul's, Gladys Geisler who fell asleep and went to be with the Lord on July 7th. The Memorial will be in the Good Shepherd Chapel at Concordia University Irvine at 3:00 pm.
May the Lord bless us as we abide in the saving faith and rejoice in the Lord always!
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow July 13th, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Christ Prepares Your Heart for the Word” (St. Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23) & VBS Report

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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,

Tomorrow we study the very first parable our Lord Jesus taught: "The Parable of the Sower." Our Lord thoroughly described sinful reactions against His life-giving seed which creates and nurtures faith. We learn that what is really important is our relationship to His life-giving seed (His Word). When the seed of Christ's Word touches our lives through hearing, understanding, and producing fruit, we experience the fruit of a living faith. This is the Lord's gift to us His people...through HIS fruit born for us...His hearing, His understanding, and His fruit for our forgiveness and salvation!
Come to Divine Service ready to receive the Lord's forgiveness and grace as you continue to live in Christ. Come ready to receive His body and blood...we celebrate the Holy Sacrament which the Lord gave for the life of the world!
Also, I wanted to share some exciting news about the VBS at Crystal Cove State Park (Beach) that we just completed. Consider these three year statistics:
2012: Total number of children served: 22
2013: Total number of children served: 29
2014: Total number of children served: 34
Total number of other participants including nursing students from CUI:
2012: 29
2013: 31
2014: 32
Total number of participants:
2012: 51
2013: 60
2014: 66
We praise the Lord for the opportunity He granted for us to serve more children than ever!
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor

Sunday July 6th, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “I Will Give You Rest” (Matthew 11:25-30)

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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,

 

One of the most comforting Scripture passages is found in this Sunday's Gospel, Matthew 11:25-30! Jesus says, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Jesus calls us to Himself and it is a most loving and gracious invitation indeed. It is one which invites us to receive rest in our lives, rest from the burden and condemnation of sin; rest from the hopelessness of the world; and rest from the bondage of the evil one. This is the rest that leads us to know Jesus' yoke...to be joined to the One who bore all of our sorrows and by whose stripes we are healed. When we have this yoke -- this union with Christ created in Holy Baptism -- then we know the "easy" way; the "light" way...the way of God's peace and the way of God's constant compassion and comfort. This is the rest we all need.

This rest is also received in the Holy Sacrament. For those who share our common confession of the faith (normally established through the rite of holy confirmation in the Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod) and confess the true body and blood of Jesus in, with, and under the bread and wine receive this Holy Sacrament for the forgiveness of sins and do indeed receive Christ's rest.

Let us gather this Sunday for this wonderful rest!

 

Also on Saturday, July 5th: we are having a share and defend the faith seminar with Pastor Mark Jasa at Psator Espinosa's residence, 21986 Mae Circle, Lake Forest, CA at 4:00 pm. Please call Pastor Espinosa at 949-379-0883 if you'd like to come. We would love to have you. Invite a friend!

 

Also, this coming week is VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL at Saint Paul's: July 7th through July 11th from 9 am to 12 noon. We are meeting at Crystal Cove State Park. We are using the Reef Point entrance between Laguna Beach and Corona del Mar. Reef Point entrance is between El Morro School (to the south) and Newport Coast Drive (to the north). When parking at the Reef Point parking lot ($15) walk down to Sandy Beach at Muddy Creek (just below the stair way on the beach). This is where we are setting up!

 

VBS is FREE and Ruby's Diner is providing FREE lunches!

 

We are celebrating "Creation in Christ" and of course the fact that "Jesus Loves You!" Hope to see you at Vacation Bible School.

 

Note: all children must have a registration form filled out & these will also be available on site.

 

In Jesus' Love,

 

Pastor Al Espinosa

Sundays June 22nd and June 29th at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine and VBS July 7th – July 11th!

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To reach us: from the 405 or 5, off at Sand Canyon in Irvine and head northeast towards the hills. Cross Irvine Blvd. and turn right onto Saint's Way. We worship at 12500 Sand Canyon Ave. on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School. Our Divine Service begins at 9:30 am. Bible Study and Sunday School begin at 11:00 am.

 

Dear Christian Friends,

 

We will celebrate the Second Sunday after Pentecost on June 22nd and the Third Sunday after Pentecost on June 29th.

We are extraordinarily blessed to have our assistant pastor, Rev. Dr. Steven P. Mueller, proclaiming God's Word on both these Sundays. Dr. Mueller is the Dean of Christ College at Concordia University Irvine. He is the author of Not a Tame God: Christ in the Writings of C.S. Lewis and the editor of Called To Believe, Teach, And Confess: An Introduction to Doctrinal Theology as well as the abridged version which is widely used Called To Believe: A Brief Introduction to Christian Doctrine. He is an outstanding teacher of the faith and we rejoice in his service in the Kingdom in our midst. He will proclaim the Word of Christ at Saint Paul's on both of these Sundays.

Come! Invite a friend! Receive once again the saving Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and serve a friend who might perhaps receive it for the very first time!

On both Sundays we will celebrate the Lord's Supper. We will receive the true body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. All those who share in a common confession of the true faith with us -- normally established through holy confirmation in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod -- receive this Holy Sacrament to abide in Christ's forgiveness, the strengthening of faith, and in the gift of everlasting life. If you have any questions about the Holy Sacrament, please know that we are eager to serve you in holy catechesis (instruction in the Word of Christ and our Lutheran Confession). We care enough to spend the time necessary for people to receive the Sacrament for their benefit in accord with 1st Corinthians chapter 11.

Also: we are taking registrations for VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL. We will be at Crystal Cove State Beach from Monday, July 7th through Friday, July 11th from 9 to 12 each day. Ruby's Diner is supplying free lunches to all of those participating. We still need children (from 3 to 12) and volunteers to help. There will be puppets, hymns and songs, games, crafts, Bible stories, snacks, and fantastic fellowship! You can register by sending an email to: vbs@saintpaulsirvine.com! Hope to see you there!

 

In Jesus' Love,

 

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