Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Tomorrow Sunday, April 19th, 2015 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Having Sin vs. Committing Sin” (1st John 3:1-7)

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Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study for adults, high school, and Sunday School for junior youth and little children starts at 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,

A really weird circumstance has occurred in modern Christianity regarding sin (or perhaps this self-same problem has just always been there since the beginning): we know that the Scriptures teach that we have sin and we experience our own personal sin every day, but with this we begin to take on this idea of, "Oh well, I'm just a sinner...what else does one expect?" "A leopard can't change its spots...so just go with the flow." If nothing else we can remind ourselves that we sin "in weakness." What comes out of such thinking is laxity towards sin. We just start to accept it, but then we accept it so much that we just give in to the flesh, but this is not the Christian life.
Let's be sure to have a right view about the situation and tomorrow we will do so through a sermon entitled, "Having Sin vs. Committing Sin" (1st John 3:1-7) It's important in that we want to live in our Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ who did not rise from the dead for sin to be our master, but so that through His glorious victory, we would be "under new management" if you will.
Also, tomorrow we have Bible Study and Sunday School at 11:00 am for:
1. Adults: starting a new study tomorrow morning on World Religions with Dr. Russell Dawn.
2. High Schoolers: Ghosts and the Paranormal part 2.
3. Jr. High: with Dr. Mary Hobus.
4. Little Ones: with Traci Espinosa.
Today was a great outing to the 8th Annual Catechism Convocation of the People which was sponsored this year by Grace Lutheran Church, San Diego. I had the honor of being one of two keynote speakers on the Resurrected Savior in connection to the six chief parts of the Small Catechism. The other talk was given by Rev. Dr. John Bombaro. The recordings for these will soon be made available to you.
I hope to see you in God's house tomorrow morning. It is the most important Sunday of our lives...the one we will have "today"!!! Today...let us be served with the Word and Sacrament of our Glorious Lord...today, let us receive forgiveness and eternal life!
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:
Having Sin vs. Committing Sin
(1st John 3:1-7)
Pastor Espinosa
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. Alleluia! Christ is risen! And this dear Christians has put us into a whole new relationship with God and in a whole new relationship with sin. To be in the risen Christ – as your baptism assures you that you absolutely are – means among other things that sin is no longer your master (Romans 6). You have died to sin. Christ died with your sin upon Him...your sin was buried with Him. It is covered and as far as God is concerned, it is gone (which explains why God doesn’t remember it, Is 43:25: “It is I who sweep away your transgressions for My own sake and remember your sins no more.”). And since you are joined to Christ who St. John says in our epistle is righteous, practicing sin is out, practicing righteousness is in.
Didymus the Blind explains: “Just as the person who dwells in virtue and true doctrine does not sin and is not ignorant, so the one who remains in Christ, who is his righteousness and sanctification, does not sin. For how can someone act unrighteously when he is in the company of righteousness, and how can he be content to place corruption alongside holiness?” (Ancient Christian Commentary, New Testament XI, 197)
Does this make you uneasy? I hope so. It’s supposed to. Not as a ploy or a manipulation, but as maintaining what the Holy Spirit is always doing for our own good: generating the terrors of conscience in us so that we would hunger and thirst for God’s grace in Christ over and over again! We cannot rationalize our situation. We are in Christ. Christ is risen! Sin has been defeated. What it produces, namely death, has been defeated. These cannot mark those who are in Christ. Thus, St. John is plain at 1st John 3:6: “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” That’s pretty clear.
John is not denying that the sinful nature clings to us. He does not reject the truth of our original sin; nor does he suggest we are not to confess our sin. How could he when he is the one who also wrote, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves...” and obviously then leads us to confess our sin. (1st John 1:8-9). So again, John is neither denying nor contradicting any of these things.
At the same time, John is defending, teaching, and proclaiming your new identity. He started by saying that God calls you children of God, and then says point blank: “and so we are.” God calls and things come into existence. His Word creates. He spoke over the universe: “let there be light” and there was light; He speaks over you: you are a child of God and behold, that is what you are! In and through Jesus, God has called you His child. Hear it again, that is what you are.
So St. John is saying that since this is what you are, this is what this life looks like...it doesn’t sin. He is grapping our attention and slapping us from falling asleep in Satan’s deception and lies. Dr. Schuchard gives an uncompromising commentary and tells the truth: “John has indicated [instead] that sin is no small matter. Sin is deadly. So the apostle gives no permission in weakness or otherwise to sin, ever. Sin is ever present, corrupting every thought, word, and deed (see 1:8, 10). John extols not to some kind of born-again perfectionism. Neither does he here or elsewhere (see further 3:9) contradict himself. Rather, he exhorts in consistent terms to a concerted pattern, to a tenor, to a way of life that is ever lived in active opposition to sins’ pervasive influence and power, that sin would never be either an indifferent matter or a ‘settled habit.’ In no way does the sinner acquiesce, give up, give in, tolerate, condone, or otherwise ignore sin. In no way does the sinner suggest that the reign of sin is ‘just the way God made me.’” (Bruce G. Schuchard, Concordia Commentary, 1-3 John, 328-329)
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday April 12th, 2015 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “What Now?” (1st John 1:5-2:2)

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Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study for adults, high school, and Sunday School for junior youth and little children starts at 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,

As one having the privilege to serve you as pastor, I am deeply thankful for our congregation. Over the last two amazing Sundays, we averaged over 180 people per Sunday and the Lord truly blessed us for Confirmation Sunday and Easter Sunday.
Yet -- and at the same time -- I am mindful that as wonderful as God's gifts are in the past, the most important Sunday is the one tomorrow morning. This day is the day of salvation; this day is the day to serve God's people -- all of you -- with the precious and powerful Word and Sacrament of Jesus!
Tomorrow the sermon is entitled, "Now What?" We received the Word of Christ on Easter Sunday and heard of the ministry of our Living Lord Jesus to us, but now what? How should we then live? This is what the sermon is about!
Also, tomorrow is an important day for me as it marks my 4-year anniversary since my installation here at Saint Paul's on April 9th, 2011. Thank you for my call to serve! I rejoice in all of you as we celebrate our redemption and fellowship in Christ! I am blessed to serve Saint Paul's!
In addition, tomorrow is another opportunity for Bible Study for adults, high school, and Sunday School children at 11:00 am:
Pastor Mueller is presenting the following adult study:
Worship: The Big Picture. The Divine Service has been used for most of the Church’s history. We follow it in worship every week, using several different musical settings. Our Sunday Morning Bible class, taught by Pastor Mueller, will look at why we use this service and how the pieces fit together to prepare us, aid us in receiving God’s gifts, and help us to respond in faith and gratitude. Bring your bulletin and Bible as we look deeper into the Divine Service.
I am presenting the following high school study:
Ghosts and the Paranormal. Hollywood inundates us with the concept of ghosts, hauntings, and possessions. This is scary stuff! What does God's Word say about these things and how are we to understand these phenomenon? Most importantly in regards to what might be real, how are we protected? Our high school students and adult supporters of the high school youth group are invited to attend. We meet in the conference room.
Sunday School. Dr. Mary Hobus meets with our junior youth and Mrs. Traci Espinosa meets with the little ones.
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow morning's sermon:

“Now What?”

(1st John 1:5-2:2)

Pastor Espinosa

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. Alleluia! Christ is risen! [response: He is risen indeed! Alleluia!]. And He is risen indeed, but...now what?

 

The risen, living Lord Jesus preaches to us, intercedes for us, and works all things for the good of all of you, His children [summary of last week’s conclusion], but while all of these things are true, these descriptors are about His ongoing work. The risen Lord continues to be quite active, but are you confined only to sheer reception? Is that the summary of the Christian life? Is the “what now?” (the way the resurrection of our Lord Jesus impacts our lives today?): “just kick back and relax?” In our first reading from Acts, the answer is an emphatic: “no way, no how!” The fellowship of the first century Christian Church was not only expressed through a common confession of faith, but through a conscientious service to their fellow Christians so that “there was not a needy person among them.” (Acts 4:34) Faith confessed and faith transformed into mercy go hand-in-hand. In the Gospel from John 20, the risen Lord Jesus gives His apostles His peace and the Holy Spirit, but these gifts were not given for the apostles to stare at themselves to say, “what a good boy am I,” but they were given so that the apostles would go forth to actively convey these same gifts to everyone else who would receive them! This was a joyful ministry, but it was also an arduous one. It was hard work. It was God’s work, but it was work. The risen Lord Jesus produces lives that work, faith that works. Thus the Lutheran Confessions teach that good works are necessary; not necessary for salvation, but necessary because faith produces the fruits of faith.

 

Of course we need to take care in our teaching here, because every aspect of our active lives in Christ – in our state of grace – is produced and caused by God’s gift of grace. The point here is that the end result in what we experience is not living as a bump on the log. Christ is living. He gives us a new life. This new life is overflowing. You can’t miss it. It shows Jesus!

 

Francis A. Schaeffer was acutely concerned about the question, “how should we then live?” In his book entitled with this very question, “How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture,” he warned us about the challenges set before us: “the hallmark of the present generation of humanistic thinking” is the acceptance of what Schaeffer referred to as “the dichotomy”. What did he mean by this? He meant that our culture has separated meaning and values from reason. We are making major decisions about how to live – how we want to live – based purely on our base desires without the support of sound reason. Schaeffer wrote prophetically back in the 70’s and we have seen the truth of his words in the 21st century.

 

Dr. Robert George, author, and professor, Princeton University, warns us about the current cultural onslaughts against marriage: marriage is becoming a legal convention to support an emotional union which may or may not be open to children and from the liberal perspective is as right as any other. This is as George puts it “secular orthodoxy.” (Dr. Robert George, presentation: “In Defense of Life and Liberty: Natural Law and Reason,” LCMS Life Conference, January 23rd, 2015) Marriage, however, is more than simply an emotional bond. The Word of God teaches that “the two will become one flesh.” This isn’t just a metaphor, but corresponds to what is. Marriage constitutes a biological union at every level of human existence. Reproduction is a single act, but it isn’t – naturally – performed individually. Male and female become one organically, but the current wave in our culture is to make marriage a matter of personal preference. George warns that secularism wants to totally privatize religion and make secularism itself into the predominant established religion. The break-down in society corresponds to the break-down of marriage...and the break-down of marriage will have a profound effect on our religious freedom.

 

This summer the Supreme Court will issue another ruling on same-sex marriage and it pertains to states’ rights. And the lure from the culture is represented by what actor Brad Pitt has said, “It is each American’s constitutional right to marry the person they love, no matter what state they inhabit. No state should decide who can marry and who cannot.” (LC-MS Reporter April 2015). The Word of God has a different perspective: “[Jesus] answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.’” (Matthew 19:4-6) Rev. Richard Eyer said eloquently as quoted by our LCMS Reporter: “Marriage cannot be whatever a society wants it to be. We as Christians bear witness to the truth, and the dark ages of sin will not change it.”

 

Schaeffer went on to teach that once we become aware of the danger against the faith and against the Church, “as Christians we are not only to know the right world view, the world view that tells us the truth of what is, but consciously to act upon that world view so as to influence society in all its parts and facets across the whole spectrum of life, as much as we can to the extent of our individual and collective ability.” He also warns us. We have to be realistic. If we would live out our faith, it will come at a cost. Again, prophetically, he warned that if we do nothing, then we or our children [and all who profess Christ] will eventually be construed as the enemy of society and the state. (How Should We Then Live, 256)

 

It’s time to get busy – not through our own strength – but by the grace and power of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. And this is why our epistle from 1st John is so invaluable. At 1st John 1:5, St. John writes, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” God is light. Kretzmann: “Light is purity, holiness; He is the Source of all true knowledge, wisdom, happiness, and holiness...As light is the symbol of purity, goodness and perfection, so, on the other hand, darkness symbolizes ignorance, sinfulness, misery, corruption.” (Buls quotes Kretzmann, Exegetical Notes Epistle Texts, Series B, Festival Season Sundays) Bruce adds the insight that light is not only a metaphor for life, but brings out the further aspect of spiritual illumination (F.F. Bruce, The Epistles of John. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970. 41.)

 

This is to say that Christ – Risen from death who has all power and all authority – raises you Christian not only for your complete forgiveness, but also for a new life! And this life refuses to remain in darkness. This life walks in the truth of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ.

I hope to see you in God's house tomorrow morning!
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday April 5th, 2014 The High Feast of the Resurrection of The Lord: “The Sign of Power”

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Divine Service: 9:30 am

There is no Bible Study or Sunday School tomorrow due to our Easter Breakfast and Easter Egg Hunt!

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've been counting through the days of Lent -- living in repentance and faith -- and preparing for Easter. Tomorrow, Easter will be here!
As you know, we've been journeying through the series: "The Sign of the Cross." Tomorrow morning is the last installment: "The Sign of Power." But why continue to speak of the cross of Christ on the day we celebrate His resurrection? The two -- Christ's crucifixion and resurrection -- are more connected than we realize. Tomorrow, we demonstrate that the resurrection is also a sign of the power of our Lord's powerful crucifixion which achieved our salvation and commenced the obliteration of death.
In the morning we will receive the life-giving Word proclaimed and we will receive the restoring and forgiving body and blood of our Savior.
After the service we will enjoy a congregational Easter breakfast and we will offer the children our annual Easter Egg hunt. Please have your children bring Easter baskets!
 
We are so blessed to gather as the family of God, but the gifts of Jesus are not just for us. He calls us to share them with everyone for the Lord has won salvation for all people, so please invite family and friends. We would love to serve them and include them in tomorrow's special service.
I hope to see you in God's house tomorrow morning!
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

“The Sign of Power”

(Last Installment of the Series “The Sign of the Cross”)

The Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ

April 5th, 2015

Pastor Espinosa

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. Alleluia! Christ is Risen! [Reply:] He is risen indeed! Alleluia! We began this series on “the Sign of the Cross” with an important commentary on the distinction between “just” crosses and crucifixes. There’s most definitely a difference. Crosses can mean all kinds of things, and while the crucifix might be misunderstood, it is hard to get around from what they exactly represent: Jesus died on the Cross of Calvary. It happened. This is the stuff of real history. When our Lord was dying on His cross from 9 am to 3 pm on the first Good Friday, something very interesting happened at 12 pm -- high noon -- the Scriptures record “there was darkness over all the land” (Matthew 27:45) and then at 3 pm when our Savior breathed His last, the Scriptures say that there was an earthquake: “the earth shook, and the rocks were split.” (Matthew 27:51) And this is where if Matthew was in on a fabrication, a mythological tale, then this is where he surely blew it...why did he have to go and include all of this other drama, things that people could check into...unless of course what he was recording actually happened. Yes, perhaps this is all about what is real, including Jesus’ really living with us today, right here, right now! As for the darkness and the earthquake. Ancient scholar Julius Africanus (writing around AD 221) referred to Thallus who wrote a history of the Eastern Mediterranean world from the Trojan War to his own time. In a history Thallus wrote around AD 52 (about 20 years after Jesus died on the cross), Thallus also dealt with a cosmic report that occurred during his lifetime in the land of Jesus’ crucifixion:

 

On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness, and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea, and other districts were thrown down. (Gary Habermas, The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for The Life of Christ (Joplin, Missouri: College Press Publishing Company, 1996), 197.)

 

How ‘bout that? Isn’t that a coincidence? No its not. Thallus is describing what the Scriptures also recorded. It happened.

 

But why all of this connected to the crucifixion? Last Sunday among the wonderful 14 confessions of faith of our confirmands, Joshua Bradford compared the power of the Word of God contained in the water of holy baptism to be greater than the force of gravity, greater than a 8.0 magnitude earthquake, and greater than the power of electricity.  Joshua reminded us that the power of the Word of God in holy baptism is the power that created the heavens and the earth! This is the power of the Word of Christ which unites people to Jesus when they are baptized and when this happens they are flooded not merely by water, but flooded by the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life. You the baptized have been flooded with eternal life, because you’re now clothed with the Living Lord Jesus! Yes, the Word is powerful...to put it mildly.

 

These things point to the cross of Jesus therefore as a sign of power. Remember who Jesus was; remember who Jesus is. He is the Word and the Word of God is powerful. He was the One who created the heavens and the earth...it was the Word that went forth to create...Jesus was creating all things!

 

And Jesus – the power of God unto salvation – entered into death. We spoke of it night before last. When Jesus entered death on the cross of Calvary, it was as if a super virus had injected itself into the universal virus called death. A super power beyond all description entered death; death which supposedly had the power to quell all power. Not this time.

 

The sign of the cross of Jesus includes the sign of power and of victory over death. And this is why it is appropriate to speak of the sign of the cross on Easter Sunday. Sometimes we Christians can get confused. It was on the cross that Jesus won our salvation. What could be more important than that? But it is the resurrection that we call the “pivotal event” of the Christian faith. St. Paul proclaims its crucial importance in 1st Cor 15...if Christ is not raised, then we are to be pitied more than all people; if Christ is not raised, then we are still in our sins. So what could be more important than this? So what are we do? The crucifixion seems indispensable, but so does the resurrection! But they are not in competition, they are inextricably linked. They are forged. Because the Lord of Life; the God of Light entered into the darkness of death, there was only result that could occur: death had to give way. Death could not conquer Him, but He conquered death. Result and the sign of power? The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ!

 

But let me remind you that of the most powerful signs, there are signs. Of the sign of the crucifixion, there was darkness...a sign that the very Son of God while on the cross knew separation from His Father who turned away from the Son to accept His taking your curse and sin. And while we are glad that our curse and sin in the eyes of God are gone, at the time, it was a terrible and horrific time...the Father turned from His Son and treated Him as we deserved to be treated. This terrible separation of the Father and the Son was reflected in the agony of the cross and in the darkness. The sign of His death was the earthquake. Something unimaginable had occurred: God enfleshed died...the natural order He created had to react...and His power that invaded death had instantaneous results: death was already disrupted! The creation had to respond. These were the signs of the sign.

In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

Tonight Friday April 3rd 2015, Good Friday: “The Sign of Finality” (John 19:30) at Good Shepherd Chapel at Concordia University Irvine

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Look at a crucifix, the symbol of our Lord on the cross of Calvary. What was happening as He hung there? What was He accomplishing? The answers to those questions reveal why this day is called "good." It is indeed a good Friday, a very good Friday.
Please come to this holy service tonight at 7 pm. I would encourage you to invite a friend and they will hear why all of this happened and how it addresses our most basic threat and fear called death. This is the proclamation of what is truly good and why we are truly blessed.
I hope to see you in God's house tonight at Concordia University Irvine, Good Shepherd Chapel, once again at 7 pm!
In Your Service and To God's Glory,
Pastor Espinosa
Directions to CUI:
Concordia University Irvine

1530 Concordia West, Irvine, CA

in the Good Shepherd Chapel

Service Time: 7:00 pm!

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.

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

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

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.

Tonight Thursday April 2nd, 2015 Maundy Thursday Service at 7 pm at Good Shepherd Chapel Concordia University (also 5:30 pm choir practice)

2Apr/15Off

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We are at the Good Shepherd Chapel at Concordia University Irvine tonight at 7:00 pm.

Concordia University is located at 1530 Concordia West, Irvine, CA...if you're driving north on the 405 get off on Jeffrey/University, turn left onto University, then turn left onto Ridgeline Drive, then turn right onto Concordia...drive through the campus for about 1000 yards on the main road. The chapel will be on your right. Look for the fountain and also the white cross on a tower in front of the chapel.

We are in the most holy week of the Church Year and tonight is the service that commemorates our Lord's last night with His disciples before He was betrayed and then crucified. On this holy night He gave His Holy Supper to His Church and commanded, "Do this in remembrance of me...". In giving us this gift we are always connected to His saving work on the cross of Calvary...through Holy Communion we receive His body and blood given and shed for the forgiveness of sins.
It is a very special service tonight and Pastor Mueller and I look forward to sharing it with you. Please invite a friend to the beautiful chapel.
Right about 7:00 pm the sun starts to go down...it is a beautiful place to be and then to receive the Word and Sacrament of Christ...I genuinely cannot think of a better place to be!
Also, we could use your voice! If you can help out with the choir, please come at 5:30 pm. My daughter Katherine and I plan on being in the choir this year. We would love to have you join us as well.
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor

Tomorrow Sunday March 29th, 2015 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: Confirmation!

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Divine Service: 9:30 am

There is no Bible Study or Sunday School tomorrow due to our Confirmation reception!

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 is one of the most important days at Saint Paul's since our first official restart Sunday on April 10th, 2011. We will witness the confirmation of 14 young confirmands! What an amazing gift from God we will get to witness! The Lord promised, "Whoever confesses me before men, I will confess before my Father in heaven." (Matthew 10:32) They will confess before YOU and we will have the opportunity to be inspired in hearing the faith that we all confess and which prepares us to properly receive the Holy Supper.
This promises to be a very holy, sacred, and joyous occasion.
Your support of our confirmands is very much appreciated. Please pray for them as they prepare to make their good confession:
1. Henry Kim
2. Caroline Kim
3. Shane Perry
4. Joshua Levering
5. Katherine Espinosa
6. Bryan Espinosa
7. Michael Panichi
8. Catherine Loy
9. Doug Cavanaugh
10. Sean Cavanaugh
11. Joshua Bradford
12. Faith Ackley
13. Bethany Dawn
14. Lily Binoya
_________
Also: We need help for our Holy Week and Easter CHOIR!!!! Please help us...all ages may participate!

Our first rehearsal is this coming Thursday evening at 5:30 before the 7 pm Maundy Thursday service at the Good Shepherd Chapel at Concordia University.
That's Thursday, April 2nd at 5:30 pm in the Good Shepherd Chapel...we would love to include YOUR voice.
Please contact our organist/choir director Karissa Lystrup if you have any questions:
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor

Tonight at 7 pm in the Good Shepherd Chapel at Concordia University Irvine: “The Sign of Mystery” (Luke 23:33)

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Dear Christians,

Tonight is the LAST Wednesday night service in the season of Lent. Next week is Holy Week and whereas we will have a Maundy Thursday service and a Good Friday service, our Wednesday nights wrap up tonight. I'm kind of saddened by that...these have been a special blessing. I hope you'll venture out as we continue our sermon series on "The Sign of the Cross." Tonight we meditate on "The Sign of Mystery."
Please invite a friend. I hope to see you at 7 pm tonight.
May the Word of Jesus permeate our hearts this Lententide!
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor
p.s. On Weeknights we meet at:

Concordia University Irvine

1530 Concordia, Irvine, CA

in the Good Shepherd Chapel

Service Time: 7:00 pm!

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.

Sunday March 22nd 2015 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “The Greatest Priest” (Hebrews 5:1-10)

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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,

What a phenomenal blessing we have: we still live in a country where we are free to gather out in the open, in broad day light to worship the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no entrance fee or cover charge. We are welcomed into the household of God and given the saving and powerful Word of Jesus and His precious Sacrament that He Himself gave to His Church. We gather also so that we may encourage one another and share His love. We gather in share in mission and ministry...we are so blessed!

Tomorrow we will focus on a book -- actually a letter (though some designate Hebrews a "sermon") -- which is an amazing portion of God's Word that teaches so much more about our Lord Jesus Christ. In tomorrow's rich text we learn that Jesus our Savior is also our Priest. The word is about the one who "stands in the middle" between God and us. He is our "middle man," he is our High Priest, the Greatest Priest. Let's gather to become more equipped in our understanding as to why this office of Christ is so important!

Invite a friend, or two or three! We want to share the love of Christ and the saving Gospel with all!

Also a few reminders:

  1. We need your help for Choir!

Lend your voice to St. Paul's Choir as we prepare musical offerings for Holy Week!  Contact our Organist and Choir Director, Karissa Lystrup for more info. All ages are welcome! (Email: klystrup@yahoo.com, Cell: (714) 420-0291)

  1. Tomorrow after Bible Study and Sunday School is Confirmation at 3:00 pm. This is our LAST Confirmation class before Confirmation Sunday on March 29th. We need at least one parent present for the first 15 minutes of the class!
  1. TODAY -- Saturday, March 21st -- the high school group gets together at Jim and Vickie Hauter's at 24972 De Salle Street at 4 pm. We are watching the DVD "God's Not Dead" and of course there will be FOOD! Please come! I can't wait to hang out with our awesome high school group!!!

In Jesus' Love,

Pastor Espinosa

Tonight Wednesday March 18th 2015 at Saint Paul’s Gathering at Good Shepherd Chapel Concordia University at 7:00 pm: “The Sign of Decision”

18Mar/15Off

We meet at:

Concordia University Irvine

1530 Concordia, Irvine, CA

in the Good Shepherd Chapel

Service Time: 7:00 pm!

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.

 

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Tonight we continue our sermon series on "The Sign of the Cross," and this evening's focus is the cross of our Savior as "The Sign of Decision." In the face of the cross of Christ, decisions must be made; decisions are made! Come and hear about which decisions lead only to despair and which decisions are the core of our hope and peace.

Please invite a friend, we gather in the Good Shepherd Chapel at Concordia University Irvine at 7:00 pm.

Also, please help us recruit for this year's choir at Saint Paul's. Please contact Karissa if you're able to help!

Here's an announcement from Karissa: Lend your voice to St. Paul's Choir as we prepare musical offerings for Holy Week!  Contact our Organist and Choir Director, Karissa Lystrup for more info. All ages are welcome! (Email: klystrup@yahoo.com, Cell: (714) 420-0291)

In Jesus' Love,

Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow March 15th 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Eternal Life” (John 3:14-21)

14Mar/15Off

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,

God wants you to be certain of the greatest gift He has given to you: ageless life, endless life, overflowing life...eternal life. But...
1) What has moved Him to give you this gift?
AND
2) What guarantees this gift?
And when I say "guarantee" I mean it. The Christian has no need to doubt their eternal life. The Christian has every reason to celebrate their eternal life...even in the face of the most difficult circumstances in this world.
Tomorrow you will hear about the indescribable love that the Father has for you and the powerful assurance you have of His love through the saving work of your bother and Lord Jesus Christ.
Then, to top it off, you will receive the body and blood of Christ to fill you with -- once again -- with this very eternal life.
Invite a friend to hear the saving Gospel tomorrow.
I look forward to seeing you in God's house tomorrow morning!
Here is the manuscript of tomorrow's sermon:

“Eternal Life” (John 3:14-21)

Pastor Espinosa

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who loved you so much that He gave His life to save you, so now you are saved; now you are forgiven no matter what. Amen. My relationship with my father was inextricable. People talk about how easy and common it is for children to idolize their dads (esp. sons towards their dads). Kids do that. He was easy for me to idolize. Though he had only a high school diploma, he made his way through the world in becoming a world-class journeyman mechanic. If it had an engine and wheels, he could fix it. Tractor, big rig, truck, car, motorcycle...it didn’t matter...God really gifted him. He could stand back and examine two things: the sound of an idling engine and the tint of the exhaust...just from these two things, he could diagnose in a way that to this day I find astounding. He had been a U.S. Marine. He was strong; a man’s man. But then we grow up and the idealizing starts to fade right? We all understand, but I have to say that even to this day as I am almost 50 years old, I continue to marvel in the gift that God gave me in my father. The physical strength and endurance; the skill in mechanics are not so much the focal point, however, but now I think more about other things...he worked like crazy to support his family (he quite simply taught me to work hard and not pay a second thought to it), but he was always giving...and he was so fantastically generous; he was gracious. Why? Was it because I was such a great kid? Well actually, no, I wasn’t. Whatever motivated my dad, I am quite sure it was not because I was so well behaved and a poster-child for warming your parent’s heart. I have the unsavory reputation in my immediate family, that I – the youngest child – was for the most part responsible for my parent’s grey hairs. My grandmother called me (in Spanish) “diablo” (I know, way too much information about your pastor), but imagine how funny for some of my family members who know that diablo became a pastor! But my father was always pouring out his love which was way beyond anything I could possibly have earned. That is what amazes me about my father. I still want to be like him.

 

And while I know that he did not actually grasp the Gospel of Christ – in his understanding -- until his later years, I think about how unbeknownst to me I was receiving a living picture of the Gospel itself from my father even from a very young age. He wasn’t afraid to discipline me and that he did, but he never, ever led me to question whether or not he loved me. I’ll never forget when I was so sick that I was delirious as a little boy, and yet I can remember his carrying me into the doctor’s office in the middle of the night as I was burning up with scarlet fever; I’ll never forget our hiking in the mountains when I was still a boy and my tripping and falling and tumbling down...he leaped down and dug his heels into the steep slope and caught me. I’ll never forget being in college and my car breaking down before descending the grape vine and I couldn’t believe how fast he got there...and he was so adept at mechanics, I was able to drive the car home after his make-shift repairs and he really didn’t even get on my case. He “just” loved me. Even when he called me a “knuckle-head,” he was still loving me!

 

I have realized that the Lord gave me a glimpse, just a little tiny glimpse of the Gospel from my other Father, my ultimate Father...and your ultimate Father. Why does He love us so...why? You sin, He still loves you; you rebel, He still loves you; you forget about him; He still loves you; you wander away, He still loves you; you try to ignore Him, He still loves you. Why does He love us so? Why? We can’t give an adequate answer...He just does. He is love (1st John 4:8 & 16). No matter how many times you’ve screwed up, He still loves you. But we need to understand that this isn’t cheap talk. This isn’t “paint God the way you want to paint Him so that you can tell yourself that He loves you (whether or not it’s actually true),” no way. This is absolutely the case. This is a real state of affairs: your Heavenly Father – THE Heavenly Father, Maker of heaven and earth – actually and truly loves you this way. This is an objective fact.

 

How do we know? The “how do we know” is the answer; it is the Gospel, the Good News, the wonderful, wonderful Good News. I’ve been handling, teaching, preaching on John 3:16 for a long time, but I’ve got to tell you that this text from God’s Holy Word NEVER ceases to amaze me. As I prepared for today’s sermon I thought and still think: “No wonder we call this “The Good News,” the saving Gospel. It is beyond sweet to the soul; it is the anchor to our peace; it is our confidence that we will live beyond the portal of physical death; it is our assurance that no matter what, we are loved by the Lord of Life and that therefore we have life that by definition can never cease. You Christian – soak it in – right now as you trust in Jesus Christ, you have in your possession eternal life.

 

The Word of God says at John 3:14 that the Lord Jesus had to be lifted up on the cross. It uses the word “must” and this little word shows the compulsion within the heart of God towards you. He saw that you were in big trouble. He knew it and in-spite of your sin that causes you to want to do your own thing, He made Himself send His Son because He loved and loves you.

 

But is this Gospel really for you? Yes and here again, no need for speculation or guessing. Verse 15 says “That whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” This wording “whoever” is an expression of a universal situation. “Whoever” is another way of saying “everyone” or “anyone”...salvation is extended to all. Are you part of the “all” amongst humanity? Are you human? If you could answer “yes” to either of those questions (hopefully to both those questions, J), then yes, you are included. And as you believe through the power of this Good News that opens hearts and minds and literally brings light into your soul and truth into what you know; then the Scriptures are here teaching: you HAVE eternal life. It’s already yours. This is not a future prospect or potential gift. You’ve got it right now as you believe in Jesus Christ! And when combined with the whole sentence in the original language it means, “that [you] may keep on having eternal life.” And it’s not about how strong or weak your faith is. What matters is in WHOM your faith is in; that is what counts and when the answer is Jesus, then that’s it...through that ONE thing (Jesus!) you HAVE eternal life. That’s a fact. This is your confidence. This is your security. This is your salvation! “Whoever believes in [the Son of God, be it with a strong or with a weak faith,] may have eternal life. [John 3:15] Worthiness does not depend on the greatness or smallness, the weakness or strength of faith. Instead, it depends on Christ’s merit.” [FC SD VII 70-71]

 

God loved you so much that He desired to give you life that never ends and He accomplished that – and proved His love for you – by giving you Jesus. And when you trust in Him, you HAVE – here and now – eternal life. And man is this life something to get excited about! The apostle John makes a huge deal about this wording. In His Gospel he describes this gift to you called “eternal life” about 17 times. This is special life, not just any life...not mere animation, not mere biology, but ageless life; endless life, beginning now and lasting forever life. And this life – this phenomenal gift that is yours – teaches us about the big picture. This life cannot be scathed by physical death, because this life has conquered ALREADY the greater death. You see physical death is just the symptom of a greater death. You know about symptoms. If you’re sneezing, coughing, have a fever...you have the flu. The real problem is not the sneezing, but the real problem is the flu. Physical death is a symptom, the real problem is sin that leads to death that is permanent separation from God...THAT is what the everlasting life of Jesus has already fixed. So someone might say, “Then why do we who believe still have to experience physical death?” Answer: our physical death is a left over from our former condition. Here’s an analogy: the caterpillar has a new life coming, but it must still experience its cocoon before it becomes a butterfly (the cocoon becomes a left-over of the caterpillar life)...don’t be afraid of your “cocoon,” it’s just a “cocoon,”...you haven’t seen anything yet! Your Savior couldn’t be held in that tomb...His cocoon couldn’t hold Him! You’ve only just begun to live. Therefore, Christians despise death. We look down on it, because the evil one tries to distract us by it...he tries to raise fear through it...but this is the truth Christian: when you physically die, you will keep on living...fully you; fully saved; fully secure; full of life because you have received the special life, the ageless life, the eternal life through Jesus Christ!

 

Lenski: “He bestows it, he alone, but does this by kindling faith in us. Thus faith has life, and life is found where faith is. The faith that clasps the Christ uplifted on the cross makes us alive in and through him. A thousand evidences show the change from death to life, namely every motion of that life Godward, Christward, against sin, flesh, world. And this life is ‘eternal,’ it goes on endlessly unaffected by temporal death, except that then this life is transferred into the heavenly world.” (pg 257 in his corresponding commentary on John)

 

But again, how can you know; how can you be sure...because your Father loves you. And nothing compares to this love. We can’t find anything in this world – even in the midst of the most impressive human relationships – that even comes close to this love that the Father has for you.

 

John 3:16 is the only place in John’s entire Gospel where God the Father is said to love the world. (128 Kostenberger) And John 3:16 is where God’s love for you is truly astounding and beyond words. There is this word in the Greek...where in English it reads that God gave His “one and only” Son, that “one and only” is monogenas. This word stresses the greatness of the Father’s gift to you. In addition, whereas verse 17 uses the word “sent”...that God “sent” His Son for you, here in verse 16, the word is that God “gave” His Son for you...put these together. The Father, your Father, our Father...gave as in “gave up” and  sacrificed the love of His life; His Son from His very heart...His monogenas Son, His one-of-a-kind Son; His most cherished possession; His most beloved...He gave up THIS Son so that you would be saved from sin and death. It must have broken His heart...and YET, THAT is how much God loves you. It is astounding love; it is overflowing love; it is logic-defying love.

 

2nd Corinthians 5:19: “that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”

 

Romans 5:8: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

 

The Father sent His “one-of-a-kind” Son to show His miraculous, overflowing love...and Jesus Himself loved you the same way, but the Father also sent His Son out of His great concern for you. He saw your condition in sin. Luther is bold – as always – and completely accurate: “All men are already condemned and imprisoned to be damned eternally, but the Son of God was given to us to redeem us from that judgment.” (AE 22:380) Our Father saw that we were in critical condition. So He acted in the greatest love. I’ve testified about my dad’s love. I was a child. I was burning up with a fever...he acted; it was a critical situation. The Father saw you...you were burning up with a fever designed to keep you in condemnation; to consign you to eternal separation from God; to put you in hell... but on account of His overflowing love, He acted. He sent His Son to “save”...the original word is whole and complete salvation...for your soul and for your body; for all of you. On account of Jesus’ saving you from sin and death, now even your physical body will be completely restored!

 

But inherent in this Good News is an implanted warning: some people reject the life and light of Christ. “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:18) When my dad came to rescue me in my broken down car stuck in the mountains in Gorman, what if he had showed up and I said, “No thanks dad...sorry you made this long trip, but I don’t want your help!” What would you say to such a response to my dad’s loving help? As crazy as this might sound, this is what many people choose to do towards God. And we need to understand, this doesn’t put God in a position to conduct Himself in a vindictive or retaliatory way (so many folks don’t get this)...God still loves the one who even rejects Him...but God doesn’t force His love. Love is something by nature that is freely given and freely received. You can’t force love. If you did, it wouldn’t be love. But people choose to keep themselves apart from God’s overflowing love. They put up a barricade and say, “No thanks!” Lewis wrote, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it.” (The Great Divorce, MacMillan: 1946: 72) God is just, and in this case, He permits what is just, esp. when that is what a person wants.

 

But faith – which God gives through His Word – prevents condemnation. It thrusts a person from death to life. It releases the soul from prison. It removes a person from the pathway to hell. And here, just to use the word “hell” conjures up so many weird images, but fundamentally, it means to go on existing in a such a way that a person’s “replacement god” is what they get for eternity. Here, think of a little snap-shot: the Israelites once received bread from heaven – “manna” as it is called – and they started to treat the manna as more desirable than the Giver of the manna...so they got what they wanted: manna. Manna, manna, manna, endless manna...until they were getting sick over manna...this is a clue about hell. I’m not trying to make light of it. Trust me. It is the endless reception of selfish desire. It is insanity; it is depravity; it is getting sick of the craved thing...it is choosing the things of creation over the Creator. Have you ever realized that when you were a kid you loved to eat certain things, but now you can hardly stand that thing? Well think of that, but infinitely worse.

 

Lewis again gives us an interesting picture of what I’m trying to describe. Napoleon who was transfixed on military might, strategy, and victory had made his god known: his own power. He is pictured in Lewis’ theoretical hell this way: “Walking up and down – up and down all the time – left-right, left-right – never stopping for a moment.” (The Great Divorce p. 20) He is for eternity muttering to himself why he finally lost, blaming others, unable to stop his lust for absolute power, never resting, never content, forever frustrated. The Word of the Lord describes what we call hell this way in the very last verse of the book of Isaiah:

 

“And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” (Isaiah 66:24)

 

What puts a person in this position? One thing: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” (verse 19) And verse 20: “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.”

 

Let me take you through a quick lesson: You may have noticed that the two verses use the word “evil” and “wicked.” We all have sin and when sin breaks out into action, it is sinful or to put it another way, it is “evil” (esp. when it occurs when we know better, thus we pray to the Lord, “deliver us from evil”), but what if evil itself is pursued? What if evil is acted out intentionally, deliberately, as a way of living? Then that is wicked or it is the verification of the investing in a “worthless” life. It is the unrepentant pursuit of evil. It is “active evil.” It is unobstructed. This is an important detail. That is, the wicked person intentionally lives in evil. This person is saying, “Jesus, no thank you, I reject your light and life; and I want to choose instead my way.” And such a life runs from the light of God, not wanting their way exposed for what it is.

 

Have you sinned? Yes, you have. Have you committed evil? Most likely, yes, your sin has surfaced. But are you continuing in that evil with deliberate repetition, unrepentant and pushing away God’s call? Then there is a warning inherent in this powerful section on God’s Gospel. Upon further reflection, St. Augustine put all of this in perspective from the view of the Christian:

 

“He that does truth accuses his evil works in himself, spares not himself, forgives not himself, that God may forgive him: for that which he desires God to forgive, he himself acknowledges, and he comes to the light; to which he is thankful for showing him what he should hate in himself.” (NPNF1 7:86)

 

Dear Christians this is to be of great comfort to you: those who have eternal life are confident of eternal life not on account of themselves – no, how could that be the case when there are too many things within ourselves that we should very much not love, but hate? – but you are confident, rather, in Jesus! The Father’s great love has broken through...you recognize it, confess it, you take true comfort in it: it is a love that gave His very best; His one-of-a-kind Son...it is astounding love; it is overwhelming love and as you believe it, trust it, and hold it...something continues to happen: you receive eternal life, endless life, ageless life, overflowing life...life that will not be impeded by your upcoming little cocoon. You will not only continue to live, but live in the light of God. This light too, however, is also already yours...and it is known through the truth of God’s Word...in light you know what to confess, in light you know who to hold on to; in light you know you’re forgiven, you know what the blood of Christ has done for you...all condemnation is GONE! So John concludes, “But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out by God.” (21) Your “work” is to confess your Savior...this you are even now doing; your “work” is to receive His life...as you continue to do esp. as you receive once again this day His body and blood...your “work” is Christ’s work in you, your faith...no matter how weak, no matter how strong...it is faith in Christ...and this is why you know the greatest love...and this is why – dear Christian – you have eternal life!

In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa