Friday, 09 December 2022

Opinion

"… An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit." – Matthew 1:20

Put yourself in Joseph's shoes, or better, sandals. Your fiancée is pregnant. You're a moral man; you've not had relations with her. You thought she was a moral woman. But now she's pregnant, probably several months along and starting to show. How do you feel as this news crashes into your inner world like a rock through an earthen vase?

As an engaged man, betrayal would be at the top of Joseph's list of suspicions, I would think.

Certain expectations and promises accompanied engagement in those days, all insured by one's background and social custom.

Mary came from a good family. Tradition gives us the names of her parents, Anne and Joachim. Apparently, she was from the priestly tribe of Levi. Her cousin, Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, was married to Zechariah the priest. Accordingly, one would expect Mary to be a woman of purity and devotion.

Joseph was a man of similar quality but from a different tribe, Judah. His ancestry could be traced back directly to David, Israel's greatest king.

To David it was promised, "I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations." (Ps 89:4)

You might say Joseph was a prince. But the present political reality was that David's dynasty was dead. Rome ruled the world and Herod the murderer, Rome's official agent, sat on David's throne.

So royal descendants like Joseph lived "under the radar," intentionally avoiding any notice by the authorities. Life was short for royals with aspirations. It was safer just to be a carpenter with a common name.

You could think of Joseph and Mary as two ordinary young people whose goals were like anyone else's in their culture. Their fathers had arranged their marriage when both were children, but they'd have grown up knowing all about it.

They'd probably seen each other often. Maybe they even played together. All things being normal, one day they'd get married, have children, live and work in Nazareth, die, and then be forgotten.

But such was not God's plan. Mary and Joseph were to be parents of a king. Officially the only rightful ruler of Judea was Herod. Rome had said so.

Officially, the divine promise that David's throne would be established forever had been suppressed and forgotten. Officially. But God had not forgotten. When God makes a covenant and swears to it, he keeps it.

So, it was that from an obscure family, in an obscure town in Galilee, that God chose a young woman, a virgin named Mary, to bear a child. Born into the house of Joseph, he would be the son of David. Conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, he would be the Son of God.

It was all just as planned by God and predicted by the prophets. The necessary events in history had come to pass. All was in readiness for the new king to be born. He only needed a family; a mother to bear him and a man willing to marry the mother of a child not his. It was this latter condition that was problematic; that would require a truly exceptional man.

And it is that man, Joseph, we will talk about on Sunday, Dec. 2, the beginning of the 2019 church year, the beginning of the season of Advent … preparation for the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus.

Please join us at First Lutheran to hear the whole story of Joseph’s situation and why his dream would change the world.

The service of Holy Communion will begin at 11 a.m. with lunch immediately following. Children’s Sunday School starts at 11:20 a.m.

All are welcome so please, come as you are and bring a friend of two.

Chris DelCol is pastor of First Lutheran Church in Lucerne, Calif. The church is located at 3863 Country Club Drive, telephone 707-274-5572. Email Pastor Chris at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Every year millions of consumers nationwide eagerly anticipate holiday shopping events such as Cyber Monday.

Unlike other holiday shopping days however, Cyber Monday only requires you to have access to a computer and a credit card to complete your purchase.

Despite the convenience, there are still many risks with online purchases and scammers are well prepared to take advantage of consumer’s mistakes.

Although online shopping has many benefits, it’s important to watch out for scams. According to the BBB Risk Index, online purchase scams are the riskiest scam to consumers. In 2017, more than 4,500 online purchase scams were reported to BBB Scam Tracker with the average victim losing over $100.

Additionally, consumers nationwide filed over 19,500 complaints against online retailers with BBB in 2017. Common complaints include paying for items but never receiving them, deceptive “free trial” offers, and issues returning products and receiving refunds.

Check out these BBB tips as you prepare for your Cyber Monday purchases:

1. Do your research. Before buying, look up the business at www.bbb.org and look over their BBB Business Profile to see its rating, complaint history, and customer reviews. Researching a company and reading reviews before making a purchase can save you from making the same mistake others did before you. Consider buying from trustworthy BBB Accredited Businesses that are committed to BBB’s Standards for Trust.

2. Beware of “too good to be true” deals and deceptive ads. Don’t believe every Cyber Monday ad you see. You’ll probably see ads online or receive email offers advertising suspiciously low prices. Make sure the site is professional, and free of spelling and grammatical errors. Better safe than sorry; it’s better to pass up on a “great deal” than pay for a product and either never receive it or realize the advertisement or product details were misleading. Take your time and read the fine print before submitting your order.

3. Beware of phishing. Don’t open any links or attachments from unsolicited emails – even if the advertised Cyber Monday deals seem irresistible. It’s better to type the URL directly in to your search bar, or look up the company on bbb.org and follow the link in its BBB Business Profile. Also, be on the lookout for phishing emails and websites that are impersonating real businesses. Hover over links and examine logos carefully. Remember that impersonation is easy; anyone can take a company’s logo and products and set up a fake website using a legitimate domain. If you suspect you’re being phished, report it to BBB Scam Tracker to help warn others.

4. Be secure. Check the site’s security settings and privacy policy and understand them. Make sure the URL starts with “https://”, where the “s” stands for secure. Also, look for the small closed lock icon in the address bar. Don’t give away any unnecessary personal information, and be certain that you’re giving your payment information through a secure website. If the site shows a BBB Seal, click on it and make sure it links to the correct BBB Business Profile to confirm its authenticity. Protect your computer as well: make sure you have firewall, anti-virus, and anti-spyware software. Run virus scans regularly and make sure your software is up-to-date.

5. Pay with a credit card. A credit card may offer more protection than other payment methods; you can dispute a charge if you don’t receive the item. Additionally, consider it a red flag if the site will only let you use less-traceable payment forms.

6. Document everything. Keep documentation of all confirmation pages, emails and any other records. Print these out to be extra safe.

7. Read the return, cancellation, and refund policies very carefully. Make sure to look at the site’s contact page and FAQ to see what methods of contact are available should an issue arise. Consider it a red flag if they don’t have a toll free phone number and can only be contacted via email.

8. Carefully read the product details. Many people think they’re buying one thing but receive another because they didn’t read the fine print. Make sure you’re getting the size, color and other specifications that you want.

Follow these tips to feel confident shopping online this Cyber Monday. Check out BBB’s Digital IQ to learn more about how to be a savvy consumer on the Internet and test your own Digital IQ. Report online shopping scams to www.bbb.org/scamtracker to help warn others.

Evan Arnold-Gordon is a public relations specialist with the BBB serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern Coastal California.

Deb Baumann enjoying a “Chisum moment” overlooking Clear Lake in Lake County, Calif. Courtesy photo.

Some dismiss “Chisum” (1970) as a run-of-the-mill Hollywood horse opera, but when I saw it as a kid during its initial release, it made a lasting impact. (To this day, whenever I pause my horse on a high spot with beautiful landscape spreading out far below, I think of the iconic image of John Wayne atop his horse at the beginning of this movie... I call these "Chisum moments.")

“Chisum” was written and produced by John Wayne's own company, and encapsulates the classic JW western themes – tapping into a mythology deeply rooted in the American psyche.

Wayne plays a tough rancher overseeing a cattle empire he "carved out of the wilderness" 25 years before. The old days that relied on guns are over, and now civilization, law and order are taking root.

Along with civilization comes vulture capitalism, as personified by L.J. Murphy, an Eastern dude with lots of money and no morals. He starts buying everything in town, crassly putting his name in giant signs atop every business, "throwing a wide loop" as westerners say. He buys the sheriff, too. He is a greedy and corrupt bully, intent on monopolizing the town's commerce and destroying all competition.

John Wayne/Chisum walks into the saloon as an old vaquero, Juan, is being told he can no longer water his cattle at Muddy Creek, according to the land's new owner, Murphy. As Juan dejectedly begins to leave, Chisum says "Juan, you and your compadres can water your herds at my creek" (community sticks together and shares resources, regardless of race or economic status).

Through devious legalities, Murphy obtains the only general store and doubles the prices (monopoly capitalism exploiting the community). The poorer ranchers cannot afford the high prices, so Murphy says his bank will provide loans in return for mortgages on their ranches (mortgage-fraud banksters robbing people of their land). To counter this vulture capitalism, Chisum starts a bank and store of his own, with lower prices and better rates than Murphy's ("in the spirit of healthy competition" he says to Murphy, who is no longer smiling).

Murphy bribes the captain of the nearby fort to buy cattle from him instead of from Chisum, promising that when the captain retires from the Army there is a position waiting for him on Murphy's bank board (corrupt revolving door between private corporation and military industrial complex).

All the while, Chisum is trying to be civilized and counter Murphy's evil moves with legal responses, instead of resorting to the "old ways" of frontier violence. Finally, however, Murphy takes things too far, good people are murdered, and Chisum does what he "would’ve done 25 years ago."

The movie culminates in a giant fisticuff brawl (of course!), between Chisum and Murphy. John Wayne wins, the bad guys are run out of town, and peace and justice are restored to the community. The End.

Lessons I learned growing up on John Wayne movies:

– Live honorably – never lie, cheat or steal. Keep your word, or you are nothing.
– Work hard to earn what you have, don't freeload, but neither be a greed-hog.
– Protect the weak and to be generous to those in need.
– Defend justice and the rule of law. No one is above the law.
– Don't pick fights, but don't back down, either, when right is on your side.
– Although most people are good, there are also bad people in this world, and those bad people must be resisted and not allowed to trample the rights or lives of others. Heading the list of bad people: Nazis. Also bad: braggarts, bigots, bullies and anyone who discriminates against a race or religion. Most JW movies have villains who are bullies, braggarts, bigots or racists, and the Duke puts them in their proper place (usually prone and unconscious).
– Always do the right thing, because it's the right thing to do.
– True worth is an internal quality, one that cannot be bought or measured in dollars. It is shared by all people of good will and good character who work hard and live honorably, regardless of social status, gender, race or religion.
– Take care of your horse before you take care of yourself.

Core values developed in my childhood have not changed. I still aspire for the USA to be a nation that is honorable, fair, just and prosperous, with equality of opportunity for all. These values belong to neither the left nor the right, but to all of us.

Republicans, Democrats and the majority who are neither … We should celebrate what joins us together as one people, one nation, indivisible. A nation of immigrants. A melting pot of many cultures. This is who we are.

We, the people, have far more in common with each other, regardless of race, creed, religion or political party, than any of us have with the wealthy power-abusers who have co-opted our government.

We, the people, can prevail when we work together. The power-abusers know this, and they are afraid of our numbers. To keep their stranglehold on power, they divide us, Red against Blue.

I know where JW/Chisum would stand, in this struggle. He'd be with us, the people, against the power-abusers. He'd be ready to charge hell itself with nothing but a bucket of water, if that's what it takes to restore democracy to the USA.

In “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (1962), John Wayne is the only person the outlaw Liberty Valance fears enough to back down from. James Stewart is the greenhorn lawyer who is robbed and beaten by the sadistic Valence.

Wayne's character can be viewed as the Conservative, Stewart's as the Progressive. Two different points of view, but they are both good people. They are both against lawlessness, against the powerful exploiting the powerless. They both believe in liberty, freedom and fairness. One carries a gun and will not hesitate to use it when necessary. The other rejects violence and believes legal jurisprudence must prevail, even in the wild west.

But again – and this cannot be emphasized enough – they are both good people, and they are on the same side. America's side.

Our nation was like that once, and not that long ago. In my lifetime. We were not divided the same way we are today, wherein power-abusers convince both Democratic and Republican voters to regard each other as enemies, each side believing that "our party" represents Good and "the other party" represents Evil.

Again, We the People have far more in common with each other, than any of us has with the power-abusers.

The power-abusers know that, which is why they invest so much in media propaganda designed to focus our energies against each other. Lost your home? Lost your job? "Blame the others!"

Blame immigrants, blame other religions, blame other races, blame the poor. Blame the powerless. Blame the other party. But whatever you do … Don't. Look. Up.

Don’t blame the corrupt people at the top, the ones who have all the power, and ones who are robbing us blind, sucking the life-blood out of the American economy and stashing it in offshore tax havens. Don't look up!

So.

That's how we got into this mess.

To fix this corrupt, rigged system, to restore democracy and take back our government, We the People must come together, and start a better dialogue with each other.

I wish more of my Democrat friends knew how to enjoy a good John Wayne movie, and I wish my Republican friends could acknowledge how far the Grand Old Party has strayed from what it used to be, back in the day when Republicans like John Wayne made movies like “Chisum,” which show Americans of different races, genders, religions, languages, nations of birth, educations and social class – white collar and blue collar – coming together to fight the Real Enemy: corruption and abuse by wealthy powermongers that believe they can buy anything, including the law itself.

Deb Baumann lives in Upper Lake, Calif.

A classroom at Riviera Elementary School in Kelseyville, Calif., in October 2018. Courtesy photo.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – Our local schools have a responsibility to teach students more than reading, writing and arithmetic.

In today’s complex world, students need to know how to get along with others and translate book learning into practical skills.

At Kelseyville Unified, we are dedicated to helping students become well-rounded individuals.

One of the challenges of any school district is to provide opportunities that appeal to a wide variety of interests. I’m really proud of the programs and offerings at our schools. Whether students are athletes or artists, future farmers or aspiring mechanics, we provide experiences to engage and educate them.

At our elementary schools, our youngest students begin to learn how to get along with others simply by being in a classroom environment. These lessons are reinforced for those who choose to play extracurricular basketball in the fourth and fifth grade.

Being part of a team teaches students important life lessons. Students learn that being a great athlete isn’t enough – to succeed they must work with and depend on others.

They also learn how to handle disappointment. Not everyone’s going to win. That’s life. The question is, how do they respond when they lose?

Teaching students good sportsmanship – how to be graceful winners and losers – helps them enjoy the experience and focus on what matters. Winning is fun, no doubt, but the outcome of the game it not as important as how the game is played.

At the middle school, even more opportunities for life lessons arise. One of the best ways to learn anything is to struggle to figure it out. Working through the discomfort of not knowing an answer and working with others to solve a problem are skills that will help in future schooling and in life.

At Mountain Vista Middle School, the kids who participate in the robotics program are faced with just these sorts of challenges and it’s amazing to watch them overcome them.

Middle schoolers can also challenge themselves with athletics and the arts. It’s one thing to read about the rules of the game or see a musical score. It’s a very different thing to play the game or instrument. Putting book learning into motion helps students gain an appreciation for the hard work required to master a skill.

At the high school, the learning opportunities continue to expand. Our Career Technical Education offerings help students bridge the gap between seeing and doing, between watching a video of a welder, for example, and figuring out how to get two pieces of metal to stay together without burning the place down.

This is one reason I’m so grateful for the community support that allowed us to use bond funding to create a new shop at the high school. Hands-on learning takes students from understanding a concept to being able to apply it in the real world. For anyone who has tried to follow instructions when assembly is required or follow along as an expert on the Internet makes some artistic craft, we know things aren’t always as easy as they look.

By offering classes and extracurricular activities that allow students to discover how much work goes into mastering a skill, or learning the value of collaborating with others, we help prepare them for the real world. By exposing students to experiences that require overcoming disappointment, we help them build resilience. They find out that life goes on if they don’t make the team or get the lead in the play.

For some students, a traditional classroom approach doesn’t work well. For them, we offer an independent study/homeschooling option through the Kelseyville Learning Academy, or KLA.

At KLA, competitive athletes can dedicate the time required to reach their athletic potential, while still getting a great academic education, for example. Basically, no matter what their interests or abilities, students can get what they need at Kelseyville Unified School District.

In today’s society, there’s a huge focus on academics, which is great. However, sometimes, I think we forget about the importance of our skilled tradespeople. Our society would fall apart pretty fast without plumbers, contractors, farmers, and mechanics.

So, whether students join the mountain biking club, play in the mariachi band, run for student government, learn to fix a carburetor or practice planting a vine, they gain skills that will help them become more well-rounded people, people who can work with others and appreciate the contribution of their fellow citizens.

Dave McQueen is superintendent of Kelseyville Unified School District.

How often do we find ourselves prompting our children to say, “Thank you?”

Whenever they’re offered a treat from a friend or an adult helps them out, we find ourselves asking, “Now, what do you say?”

We want our children to be respectful and use good manners, which is why we teach them to say, “Thank you,” but I wonder if in our attempt to produce properly mannered children, we actually overlook the thankfulness within “Thank you.”

Do we bring our children to a place where thankfulness is more than polite, but a recognizable part of their personhood? Are we at a place where thankfulness is a recognizable part of our personhood?

A few years ago, a Peanuts cartoon pictured Charlie Brown bringing out Snoopy’s dinner on Thanksgiving Day. But it was just his usual dog food in a bowl.

Snoopy took one look at the dog food and said, "This isn’t fair. The rest of the world is eating turkey with all the trimmings, and all I get is dog food. Because I’m a dog, all I get is dog food."

He stood there and stared at his dog food for a moment, and said, "I guess it could be worse. I could be a turkey."

There was very little joy in Snoopy’s thankfulness, for his thankfulness was based on a comparison. His thankfulness was based on the fact that he was better off than the turkey.

Therein lies a small lesson in that when we’re down in the dumps and full of complaints because life isn’t fair, we should recognize that there are so many others far worse off than we are.

We should stop complaining, but when it comes to our thankfulness, the basis should never be, “Whew, am I thankful that I’m not her,” or “I am so thankful I don’t have to live like that.”

Thankfulness is so much more than a comparison of our own situation to someone else’s. Thankfulness is so much more than having enough food to eat, a nice, warm home to live in, good health or financial security, because each of those circumstances can be taken from us in an instant.

Thankfulness is a state of being and a way of life, and we usually fail to live in a state of thankfulness because we take it for granted.

We’re like the world traveler who has been everywhere and seen everything and takes for granted the blessing and beauty of all that he has seen. We have become so accustomed to our blessings that they fail to excite us and generate thankfulness, for we take them for granted.

In Luke 17:11-19, he shares with us the account of one leper who was not spoiled. There have been many guesses as to why the other nine didn’t return to thank Jesus, but our focus is not on the nine, but on the one who was thankful, for he provides us with some very important lessons on thankfulness.

We have all experienced “leprosy,” a time where we felt separated and alone, whether it was in the death of a husband, or the loss of a job, or the dissolving of a marriage or the infliction of emotional pain.

We’ve all had circumstances in life where we’ve lived outside the city, where we’ve paused and asked, “God, what did I do to deserve this?”

My understanding and my relationship with God tells me that the leper didn’t deserve it, and the same can be said for each of our own bouts with “leprosy.” But do we share something else in common with the leper; do we also share his thankful attitude?

The leper also teaches us that thankfulness completes healing. I believe the leper maintained a spirit of thankfulness throughout his battle with leprosy. He likely believed that God had heard the sound of his pleadings; his heart trusted in God and that God was his saving refuge.

Thankfulness is an attitude. Thankfulness is a way of life. Thankfulness enables healing to bring wholeness.

Join us Sunday to hear more about being thankful. The service is at 11 a.m. with a hot lunch to follow. We are thankful for you and pray you will be thankful for joining us.

All are welcome so come as you are!

Chris DelCol is pastor of First Lutheran Church in Lucerne, Calif. The church is located at 3863 Country Club Drive, telephone 707-274-5572. Email Pastor Chris at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

After the events of the past few years and especially the recent fires in California, many are saying that the world is about to end!

According to some, the end isn’t just drawing near, it is here. The end is now! Look at all those natural disasters that are making waste to countries and people all over the world: earthquakes, wildfires, tsunamis, floods, drought and hurricanes, just to name a few.

Let us not forget the ongoing wars and rumors of war that flood our senses constantly, almost to the point of completely desensitizing us. We've become so accustomed to hearing of the terrors of war nowadays that many people have all but forgotten that we are a nation at war. War has become our "new normal" apparently and we either get used to it or try to find hope in the ashes, literally!

In 2012, many believed a Mayan calendar that supposedly ended on Dec. 21, 2012, meant it was the end of the world. The Nostradamus predictions apparently coincided with this prediction. Many were convinced the end was going to take place on Dec. 21, 2012. It didn’t. For those who didn’t get gifts at Christmas that year, I am sorry.

Harold Camping, the longtime host of Family Christian Radio, predicted that judgement day was coming on May 21, 2011, and the end of the world on Oct. 21, 2011. He was so successful at convincing his followers that his predictions were true that many sold everything they had and gave it to the church as a way to buy a ticket to heaven. Guess what, Harold is dead, but the world lives on!

What does God have to say about all of this? What exactly was Jesus referring to when He spoke of the very signs of the end of the world in Mark 13:1-13? Was He talking specifically about the end of the world and Judgment Day?

This may surprise you, but Jesus is not speaking here about the end of the world and Judgment Day. He's not! He's talking about the terrible, sinful things that will happen in the days leading up to Judgment Day and make no mistake: He's not referring to any human predictions! He's talking here about "everyday life" as a Christian living in a fallen and sinful world.

That's not to say this conversation doesn't roll into Judgment Day talk. It does.

So, why do you think Jesus told His disciples such terrifying things? Was He teaching them how to have some special apocalyptic foresight? Was He teaching them how to read and interpret these strange and terrible signs so they could prophesy about ominous things to come?

No! He was telling them these things so they wouldn't lose their faith when the going got tough. He was teaching faithfulness, not prophecy. He was giving them a good healthy dose of reality.

"Stay faithful. Trust in Me above all things, not just in the good times when it's easy, but also in the bad times to come – especially in the bad times to come." Stay faithful. Life still went on after the terrifying events of Good Friday, didn't it? Life is still going on now, despite all the calamity and terror we've witnessed in our lives.

The truth is this: Life isn't easy in this world of ours. It's especially difficult when it's a life lived in faith. However, take heart. Nothing has ever overtaken us except that which is common to all people. We have not been singled out. All people are hurting, the same as us. If it seems to us that they have it easy, you are wrong. No one has it easy. The crosses we bear are all custom-made.

Please join us this Sunday, Nov. 18, as we talk further about end times.

As always, lunch will be served following our 11 a.m. worship and for all those in need of nonperishable food items, please join us for our monthly food cupboard from 1 to 2 p.m.

All are welcome so come as you are!

Chris DelCol is pastor of First Lutheran Church in Lucerne, Calif. The church is located at 3863 Country Club Drive, telephone 707-274-5572. Email Pastor Chris at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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