Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Tomorrow Sunday October 27th, 2013 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: Reformation!


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of the Reformation! In the 16th century the Lord led our confession back into alignment with the early, catholic (universal Christian) confession based on God's Word apart from man-made doctrine:
You are saved (rescued from sin, death, and the power of the devil)...
BY GRACE ALONE (by the loving and merciful motivation of our Heavenly Father)...
THROUGH FAITH ALONE (through the Holy Spirit creating faith in you -- through the Word of Christ and Holy Sacraments -- to hold onto and to grasp with a faith)...
IN CHRIST ALONE (the sole object to which saving faith clings...the ONLY ONE who saves through His life, death, and resurrection FOR YOU and revealed to us)...
ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE ALONE (our sole norm, rule and standard for knowing our Gracious Heavenly Father, our Saving Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Comforter/Holy Spirit who is given to us in our holy baptism and who incorporates us in the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ).
1. We receive Word and Sacrament in the Divine Service.
2. We will be blessed through special music via a wonderful choir and instrumentalists (and congregational hymnody of course).
3. We will receive new members to our congregation.
4. After service we will have a short voter's meeting that will highlight the blessings we are receiving in our congregation (a short meeting).
5. And then we go right into our Reformation & Oktoberfest celebration potluck. Bratwurst & hot dogs are being prepared. Remember that all are invited whether you bring something or not, but if you do want to bring something, we're using this approach:
If your last name begins with...
A-G:  Bring a salad or vegetable dish.
H-M: Bring a side dish, hot or cold.
M-Z: Bring a dessert or fruit.
It's a big day for our congregation and we are soooo thankful for the blessings the Lord is pouring out upon us at Saint Paul's. YOU are a vital part of what is happening and we rejoice in our fellowship in the Lord.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God." -- Ephesians 2:8-9
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

“Constant Reformation and Knowing the Truth”

(John 8:32)

Reformation Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Pastor Espinosa


            Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. A highly influential figure in the Church of England, John Henry Newman stunned the Anglican community in 1843 when he left his position as vicar of St. Mary’s, Oxford, to join the Roman Catholic Church. He was an accomplished theologian who desired to identify himself with the truest tradition of the Christian faith. In his mind the question was between the Anglican tradition which took its stand upon Antiquity or Apostolicity vs. the Roman tradition which took its stand upon Catholicity. That is the Anglican Church holds that its true church status comes through their holding to apostolic tradition whereas the Roman Church is confident in her fidelity based on the fact that they view themselves as never having left the original church itself. In the meantime -- in Newman’s mind -- Lutheranism was a Protestant heresy (Newman, Apologia Pro Vita Sua, New York: Dover Publications, 2005: 94).


            It is perhaps somewhat understandable that the Lutheran Church might be viewed this way since we have not bound ourselves so much to the traditions Newman was concerned about per se, as much as our striving to rely on the apostolic tradition and the catholic foundation that both of the other two traditions also claim: the holding to the Word of God. But for us Lutherans we say a little more than the others do: we say “the Word of God alone,” is the basis for our Reformation emphasis also known as sola Scriptura. We believe that nothing is more apostolic since it was this Word that the apostles themselves lived and died for; and nothing else is more catholic (as in representing the universal church) than this Word of God which true Christians throughout all ages have always confessed with their mouths and believed on in their hearts!


              So on April 17th, 1521 Luther was ushered into the Diet of Worms at about 4:00 pm. “He was visibly awed by what he saw. There was Emperor Charles V himself, heir to a 1000-year-old empire. Near him on the raised dais were his advisers and the representatives of Rome. All around were Spanish troops decked out in their parade best. The rest of the hall was filled with the politically powerful of Germany – the seven electors, the bishops and princes of the church, the territorial princes, the representatives of the great cities. In the midst of this impressive assembly there was a table, piled high with books (Kittelson, Luther The Reformer: The Story of the Man and His Career, 160).” Those books were written by Luther and had gotten him into a lot of trouble to the extent that his very life was on the line at Worms. The books contradicted the evolving doctrine of the Roman Church. This was considered an insidious sin so in front of all to hear, Luther’s examiner declared, “you must give a simple, clear, and proper answer to the question, Will you recant or not?” Luther did answer, and it was an answer that, in his words, was without “horns or teeth”:


           “Unless I can be instructed and convinced with evidence from the Holy Scriptures or with open, clear, and distinct grounds and reasoning – and my conscience is captive to the Word of God – then I cannot and will not recant, because it is neither safe nor wise to act against conscience.”


He then added: “Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me! Amen (ibid, p. 161).”


            This is what we know and confess as Lutheran Christians: the Word of God as our source of life and truth because it is that Word which reveals the Lord Jesus Christ our light and our life; and it is only Christ who truly reveals God and His heart towards us which is one of love and mercy leading us to the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life in and through His Son Jesus Christ. If you take away this Word, you take away Christ and if you take away Christ, you take away the only hope for sinners in a Gracious God.


         But my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, what does it mean “to know?” It’s easy to throw these words around. Some folks want to equate knowledge with awareness, but that won’t cut the mustard when it comes to really knowing something. The word “know” is used for example to describe the intimacy between a husband and wife. It would be insulting to a wife for her husband to say that he was “aware” of his wife. Or – as another example – let’s say someone asks you if you “know” how to do something. They are probably seeking out detailed knowledge and expertise. If a person’s car breaks down and you come along to help and then you’re asked if you “know” about fuel injection systems, it should be easy to answer that question. Most people would never say that they know fuel injection systems if they had simply heard of them. We are all to a certain extent, experts in that we know about something that we experience or do on a regular and frequent basis. This is true even of children who could teach many of us about a game or two that we would have no clue on how to play. This is real knowledge; it is intimate in that it is so familiar that it amounts to substantial insight into whatever it is being discussed.


            Well this word “know” is the word Jesus used in our Reformation Gospel today in John 8:31-32: “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”

              Jesus is saying that there is something every disciple; every follower of Jesus just “knows.” And he was not talking about sophisticated theology, but about what is most important to know from the Word of God; that which is the very center of Scripture. Whether that follower of Christ is in high school, is a real estate agent, runs a restaurant, is a professional athlete, works at Cosco, Walmart or Target, is a preacher, a nurse, an attorney, or is a full-time domestic engineer, what all disciples of Christ have in common is this: they KNOW the teaching of Jesus; they know the truth!


            Last Sunday I had an extended discussion with our confirmands that Jesus did not come to be a new law-giver or a new Moses. So many folks think that Jesus came to show us how to live so that in imitating Him we might save ourselves from sin. This is the single most popular and natural concept about Jesus. It is wrong. True disciples rather know the Gospel:


  1. That Jesus lived for us to keep the Law of God in our stead.
  2. That Jesus died for us to cover our sins with His blood.
  3. That Jesus rose for us to have eternal life.
Hope to see you tomorrow!
In Christ,
Pastor Espinosa
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Tomorrow Sunday, October 20th, 2013 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “On Account of God’s Speedy Vindication, We Don’t Lose Heart (Luke 18:1-8).”


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The parable of the unrighteous judge and the persistent widow is completely unique to Luke 18:1-8 in God's Word. This is the only place that we encounter it. It is a very special part of God's holy revelation. It is an amazing teaching.
The widow is a picture of the Church and of every true member in it like you and me. We are helpless and without power and yet the Word and the Spirit leads us to a stubbornness and tenacity marked by a constant crying out to God. We refuse to give up. This is a challenging word for us, because this same widow is forced to wait for "a while," and this is the part that causes us to really struggle. We cry out, "how long O Lord, how long?" Furthermore, we know that we often see the inconsistency and failure of our persistence...we are not as persistent as we ought to be.
We are, however, led to an amazing comparison that our Lord Jesus Himself makes: He compares God to the unrighteous judge. In what way? And how is this comparison used as a startling comfort for us as we strive in the face of our real burdens?
Come to Church and hear the Good News. I think you're going to like it! And it is the Word of Life that will give you hope that is real hope, hope that does not disappoint.
The Gospel text also describes the coming of the Lord as coming "speedily." We will also proclaim how this is true. In knowing this, we are greatly encouraged. In the meantime know that the Lord comes speedily tomorrow morning to feed you with His body and blood so that you are strengthened and given hope even now in the midst of your struggles.
What a joy it is to serve you dear Christian. I look forward to the feast of victory we will celebrate tomorrow morning!
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

“On Account of God’s Speedy Vindication, We Don’t Lose Heart” (Luke 18:1-8)

October 20th, 2013

Pastor Espinosa


            Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. It is so easy to lose heart. I was receiving a prayer request from a Christian friend this past week who told me about his old friend who is going through more than one crisis in his life at this time. My Christian friend tried to encourage his old friend to call on the Lord during the storm (after all it is often the case that people are most willing to seek the Lord when they are going through hard times). But my Christian friend was extremely saddened – and I with him – as he told me how his old friend responded. He said in what sounded like a bitter and hopeless response: “[God] and I are not friends.” Why did he say this? The answer was simple. This man had prayed to God before, but he perceived that his prayer was not answered and so the old friend is acting as if he has lost all hope in God.


            This is a shocking state of affairs, but it is probably more common than we realize because the Lord Himself in our Gospel this morning -- Luke 18:1-8 -- is addressing this very problem. This is the only place in the entire Bible that we see this parable of the unrighteous judge and the persistent widow and the evangelist Saint Luke begins the presentation of our Lord’s parable by stating the purpose of the parable up front: “[Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that [the disciples] ought always to pray and not to lose heart (v 1).”


            This is a staggering and wonderful gift from God in a very simple and straight-forward manner in His precious Word to us: persistence in prayer is the church’s posture until the glorious second coming of Christ (Just, Luke 9:51-24:53, 671); the Lord was teaching that a “constant prayer life is the opposite of growing weary or tired (Buls, Exegetical Notes: Gospel Texts Series C Luke-John Sundays after Pentecost, 71).” The Word of God is also straight-forward in other places about His divine strategy for keeping us in the kingdom: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12).” This constancy in prayer means that prayer in your life Christian is to be regular and frequent and in light of why it is so urgent (as in warding off losing heart) prayer is quite simply presented as a necessity in the life of the disciple of Jesus Christ.


            We need prayer so that we do not become discouraged or give up if our petitions are not answered immediately (Just, 671). True prayer continues to pray in such a way so as to wrestle with God even as Jacob did as recorded in Genesis 32 and insisting unto the Lord, “I will not let you go unless you bless me (v 26).”


             Along these lines of faithful persistence in prayer is the widow in this parable. The scene is absolutely striking (and in a second you’ll see why the word “striking” is so appropriate)! This judge has all the power; and the original audience would have been shocked by this judge’s shamelessness: he did not fear God – he was a real pagan absolutely unmotivated for doing the right thing – and he did not respect man (so he didn’t even care about what others thought about his cold heart). Again, he had all the power, but he was also shameless. What was anyone going to get from this guy? Absolutely nothing!


            To make matters worse is that this wasn’t just anyone asking the judge for vindication, but a widow. In the Hebrew culture this meant that the woman – having lost her husband – had also lost all of her rights; she was powerless; she was a nobody. What chance did this widow have in the face of a shameless judge? The ancient church father Ephrem the Syrian is great at this juncture: “These two were stubborn, but persistent prayer was even more stubborn. The persistence of the widow humiliated both the iniquity that was rebelling against God and the boldness that was behaving arrogantly towards human beings…Persistence transformed these two bitter branches, and they bore sweet fruit that was against their nature (Ancient Christian Commentary New Testament III, 277).” Translation? The persistent widow beat up the unrighteous judge! He could not withstand her; she was too much! The verb here at verse 3 “kept coming” is in the imperfect…she came and she kept coming; she wouldn’t stop!


          “[This widow] is a different kind of widow. She fights back (Concordia Journal, Vol 24, Num 4,  October, 1998: 373).” She was probably widowed as a young woman. She was healthy and strong and would not be complacent in the face of her troubles. Verse 5 uses the words “beat me down”…the Greek concept comes from the world of boxing. This is confirmed by 1st Corinthians 9:27, the only other place in the entire New Testament that uses this same verb. In speaking of what he does to his body to keep it under control while using this verb, Saint Paul’s words in 1st Corinthians 9:27 are translated by the KJV as “I keep under my body and bring it into subjection,” by the NAS as “I buffet my body and make it my slave,” by the Williams translation, “I keep on beating and bruising my body and making it my slave,” and the Beck translation, “I beat my body and make it my slave.”


            In high school I had a friend who came to me explaining that she was being harassed by some scary guys. I told her that she should let me take her to my former Karate dojo. I met up with her one evening and introduced her to my former sensei. She became an amazing student eventually advancing to black belt and became the California state Karate kumite or tournament fighting champion. I was considerably bigger and stronger than my friend, but there was no way I ever wanted to get into a fight with her!


           In this parable the unrighteous judge met up with a widow with a black belt. The Word of God at verse 5 is that the unrighteous judge is concerned that this widow is going to “strike [him] under the eye.” This is the actual original language translation!


            Well, this can be all very exciting and as the Law is always good at doing, you can start to hear the Rocky song “Eye of the Tiger” in your mind as you psych yourself up to be fighting in prayer like this widow (the widow does after all stand for the church and all of her members like you); or to be wrestling in prayer like Jacob, but be careful, because if this is how we leave Luke 18 we are all going to be in a lot of trouble. We’re only half-way there.

[come and receive the most important part, the GOSPEL tomorrow morning!]
Invite a friend!
In Your Service and To Christ's Glory,
p.s. tomorrow during adult Bible Study at 11:00 am I am presenting a power-point study on Individual Confession and Absolution. What in the world is this anyway? Why do Lutheran Christians offer it? What is it for? Come find out. It is a powerful gift of the free Gospel of Christ.
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Tomorrow Sunday October 13th 2013 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “At Jesus’ Feet, Giving Him Thanks” (Luke 17:11-19)


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Tomorrow's Gospel text is a text that is often used for Thanksgiving Day, but we have to recall that long before the national holiday in the United States, this godly theme was given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ 2000 years ago. Recall also that Pentecost elaborates on what it means to live as disciples and this one virtue (and action) -- thanks -- is generated by the Holy Spirit to show the life of Christ.
The benefits of a life lived with thanksgiving is easy to underestimate; it is the Lord's prescription for squashing the complaints of our soul and it is a virtue which guards our minds in the peace of God (see Philippians 4).
However, there is much more to the text as this theme can never be reduced to the theme of a legalistic pep talk. This text depicts the incredible misery of the leper which reduces him to the cry, "Have Mercy!" To truly see Jesus' response is to see the magnificent love and mercy of our Savior. It is amazing; it is overwhelming; and it is a picture of the grace that He has towards us spiritual "lepers."
That is this Gospel shows how thanksgiving is formed. It is not the result of mental manipulation (though this is the popular construction), but it is the result of the is the result of the Lord forming your is the result of what will be given to you through His body and blood tomorrow morning!
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

“At Jesus’ Feet, Giving Him Thanks”

(Luke 17:11-19)

Pastor Espinosa


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. One of the greatest joys and privileges I get to enjoy as your pastor is to make visitations. In my estimation while preparing and then delivering sermons in order to proclaim the life-giving Word of Christ is crucial in the holy ministry, there are certain other tasks which are indispensable for keeping pastors as pastors. If not for visitations, pastors become distant and detached from the people of God. If a pastor does not conduct visitations with his people he loses his identity as a shepherd. Visitations keep the spirit of pastoral ministry alive and I have discovered over the years that no matter how challenging those visitations may be, I am always blessed through them. God’s people bless me when I visit them. You bless me when you permit me to visit you.


It’s an interesting state of affairs, because it’s one of those things that tempts us to say, “Oh, but we’re all just so busy and I don’t want to be a burden!” But the fact of the matter is that when you permit me to visit you; permitting to at least try to answer your questions; and when you allow me to pray with you, to share God’s Word with you while applying it to your unique circumstances, or when you allow me to share God’s holy absolution with you, you bless me; and you help me to remain a pastor and not just someone who stands in front of you on Sunday mornings. I cannot begin to describe how there is really nothing better than spending time with God’s people, esp. from the standpoint that these visitations represent ongoing training to say nothing of living in the Spirit’s love. Think about it: the Holy Spirit who created the heavens and earth and who is the author of the gift of faith lives in His people, He lives in you. So when I see you and we share our faith, the Holy Spirit is molding and training us, refining our faith and making us stronger in Christ. He continues to train me through you.


In our Lutheran Confessions we teach that one of the means of grace – how God comes to us in His Word to feed and strengthen our faith – is through “the mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren (Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord, Smalcald Articles, IV, p 310).” That is, all that I’ve said about my visiting you, is also true when you visit another brother or sister in Christ. How good it is for us to live as God’s people when fellow church members become friends and meet each other in order to encourage and love one another!


This past week was no exception for me. I was seeing Gladys Geisler and once again I was extremely blessed. Without getting into personal details, let me just say that Gladys has not had an easy go of it as of late. She’s battling with some physical ailments and what confronts many people in their 90’s; she has spent a lot of time in bed. But with all of this going on and while having every reason to complain but refusing to do so, after some hymns and receiving the Holy Sacrament, I asked her for her prayer requests that I could take with me as I left the Geisler residence. She thought about it for a second with a smile on her face and then with sincerity and joy she said to me: “Pray that we would be thankful for all the Lord’s gifts to us.” I’m sure Gladys doesn’t realize what an impact her words had on me. What an example! What a shining light of faith! With all of her troubles and with all of her weaknesses, her concern, her prayer, her meditation was and is thanks to God; thanks for all of His gifts; thanks in-spite of all the hardships, thanks. I was blown away and suddenly felt ashamed that I should complain about anything. I was immediately inspired and trained by my mother in Christ, Gladys Geisler. Her prayer request is that we would be thankful!


This leads me to think more carefully about the spiritual battle we face every day, so I challenge you this week dear Christian that when your own sin and the evil one tempts you to complain: think about what you have to be thankful for. If it helps, take a piece of paper and write down ten things that you’re thankful for and rejoice! There is nothing like thanks to squash the complaints that fill our soul. Saint Paul writes in Philippians 4: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (v 8).”


What is more, I learned from Luther that we can even be thankful when the devil himself assaults us. I continue to love this quotation from Luther:


“When the devil accuses us and says: ‘You are a sinner; therefore you are damned,’ then we can answer him and say: ‘Because you say that I am a sinner, therefore I shall be righteous and be saved.’ ‘No,’ says the devil, ‘you will be damned.’ ‘No,’ I say, ‘for I take refuge in Christ, who has given Himself for my sins. Therefore, Satan, you will not prevail against me as you try to frighten me by showing me the magnitude of my sins and to plunge me into anguish, loss of faith, despair, hatred, contempt of God, and blasphemy. In fact, when you say that I am a sinner, you provide me with armor and weapons against yourself, so that I may slit your throat with your own sword and trample you underfoot. You yourself are preaching the glory of God to me; for you are reminding me, a miserable and condemned sinner, of the fatherly love of God, who ‘so loved the world that He gave His only Son, etc.’ (John 3:16). You are reminding me of the blessing of Christ my Redeemer. On His shoulders, not on mine, lie all my sins. For ‘the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all,’ and ‘for the transgressions of His people He was stricken’ (Is. 53:6, 8). Therefore when you say that I am a sinner, you do not frighten me; but you bring me immense consolation’ (Luther, Luther’s Works, AE Volume 26, 36-37).Luther practiced being thankful even when he was reminded of his own sins! That’s the way to live!

Come to be blessed with Jesus' Word! Come to be strengthened by His body and blood!
Invite a friend, invite two friends! The Lord is blessing us!
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa
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Tomorrow Sunday, October 6th, 2013 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Even Faith Like a Grain of Mustard Seed” (Luke 17:1-10)


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

According to our Savior and Lord what we say and what we do not only has a great impact on ourselves, but upon others. Furthermore, Jesus warns that what is typically translated as "temptations," "offenses," or "stumbling blocks" in Luke 17:1 can in fact be faith-killing death-traps! How many people have had their faith in God crumble due to the actions or words of others?
Conversely, the Lord teaches us that our words and actions can have an amazing impact for HELPING our fellow Christians! We are actually called in this Gospel to serve each other through a prescription of words designed to save the souls of those around us through Jesus ministry in and through His people! This call can be daunting! But the apostles knew just how to respond. "The apostles said to the Lord, 'Add to our faith!'" (Luke 17:5)
And in response Jesus gives a fascinating response: "If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed..." (Luke 17:6). This is the same faith that the Lord gave to you in and through your holy baptism; and it is the same faith that our Lord adds to in and through the Sacrament. This is a miraculous faith that shares the Word of Christ leading to the transplanting of people from the kingdom of the world to the kingdom of God!
Tomorrow morning we gain further insight on this faith the size of a grain of mustard seed!
We will also be fed with Holy Communion as Jesus is both host and guest in the Divine Service!
In addition, we will offer a children's message and then continue to serve after Divine Service with Sunday School for the children and Bible Study for all adults! Invite a friend to be blessed in the comforting and liberating Word of Jesus!
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

“Even Faith Like A Grain of Mustard Seed” (Luke 17:1-10)

October 6th, 2013

Pastor Espinosa


            Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. We remain in the season of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit through the Word of Christ also teaches us how to live as disciples of Jesus. We are being reminded that while faith in Jesus alone is our salvation, that such genuine faith is never alone; a real life follows. We pray that the Lord would open our eyes and lead us to live as we are called to live in Christ, through the power of His Word which creates and nourishes faith, and of course through the Holy Spirit given to the Church at Pentecost and given to you personally at your little Pentecost when you were baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus. This morning’s Gospel -- Luke 17:1-10 -- is another place in God’s Word describing your new life. By God’s grace, may these words be more than just words to us; may we live them out!


            The practical concern that Jesus expressed as recorded in Luke 17 is that the Pharisees and the scribes were causing dangerous offense to the people who were inclined to believe in Jesus and who were in fact already coming to faith in Him (Lenski, Interpretation of Luke’s Gospel, 862). These precious “little ones” of Jesus, however, were now being threatened by the false teaching of those attacking Christ. These attacks are variously translated as “temptations,” “stumbling blocks,” or “offenses,” and Jesus said that it is impossible that these would not occur. They do occur and will continue to occur, because of the evil in the world. You must count on this Christian, you must be prepared and you must be on high alert. However, these translations might not be severe enough to get the point across. What was happening here and what still happens to this day is that these “temptations” and “stumbling blocks” are like deathtraps that can destroy another person’s faith.


            Francis Pieper gives a good definition of what the issue is: “Seducing others to sin the Scriptures call ‘giving offense,’…We may define it thus: To give offense means to teach or to do something by which we lead another not to believe or to believe error or to lead a wicked life and thus cause him, as far as we are involved, to perish eternally (Christian Dogmatics, Vol. I, 561).”


                All of this teaches us dear Christians that how we live – what we do and do not do – and how we speak – what we say and do not say is very important indeed. We are not islands unto ourselves. It matters what we do and say. The Christian who says, “What I do is nobody’s business!” is speaking in ignorance. Cain asked God the terribly ignorant and sinful question, “Am I my brother’s keeper (Genesis 4:9)?” Answer: As a matter a fact, yes you are! We are called to encourage each other, not tear each other down; we are called to protect each other, not harm each other. Ask any parent who understands their high responsibility: “Does it matter what your children hear you say? Does it matter what your children see you do?” Answer: absolutely! Does it matter what your children say and do at school since they represent their family, their church, and their Lord? Answer: you betcha! Can our words and actions lead others to sin? Answer: yes! Is it possible for our words and actions to negatively impact someone so much that that other person could lose their faith (a terrifying prospect)?! With fear and trembling, we must admit the truth: the answer is yes.


                 Judas was tempted for possessions and the love of power and it led to his apostasy (Just, Luke 9:51-24:53, 643). I once knew a woman who was so terrified by what a pastor taught in Bible Study about predestination, that she said she would never go back to Bible Study again (thank God that she did come back). But how many people have we heard of who were so hurt and offended in a church, that they have declared that they will never go back?! In 2006, Richard Dawkins released his atrocious bestseller The God Delusion. Afterwards I was watching an episode of 20/20 (if I’m thinking of the right program): There were two Christian pastors -- with cloaked faces and altered voices -- testifying that they had lost their faith from reading this book (the really terrifying thing is that they continued to be pastors)! By the way, Alister McGrath with his wife Joanna wrote an effective Christian apologetic in response to the Dawkins’ book entitled The Dawkins Delusion. Michael Ruse, Professor of Philosophy, Florida State University states on the cover: “The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist, and the McGraths show why.”

I look forward to seeing you in God's house tomorrow morning!
In Your Service and To Christ's Glory,
Pastor Espinosa
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