Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Opinion

In the book of James, it is written, “And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

When I read this, especially after talking last week about how our tongues continually bring us grief, I was overwhelmed with the thought, “Why do we do this to one another? Why do we continually avoid peace when it is there for the taking in Jesus’ name and instead go out of our way at times to bring discontent to ourselves, our families, friends, and to others? Why, in an environment where Jesus has guaranteed peace for those who seek it in His name, we are intent on making trouble instead?”

At the end of the service in our church, we have the Benediction, the last part of the service. It is then we ask, by the grace of God, to grant us peace … Amen, may it be so.

Do we really mean that? Are we really willing to go out of our way to bring peace to a situation of turmoil, to a family in trouble, to a church in conflict, to a heart that is troubled, to a friend we have hurt, to a spouse we have degraded, to a child we have beaten, to a co-worker we have slandered, to a church leader we belittled, to a pastor we have lied to about others?

How about to our own selves, unto whom we have violated our very being with sin that remains unforgiven because we are too proud to accept the guilt of it? One can only conclude that peace is not achievable!

James 3:18 states, “And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

The harvest that James is speaking about here, a harvest of peace, will never happen unless we are all willing to make peace.

Have you ever wondered why there is so much hate and discontent in the family, community, county, state, country, continent, and in the world?

It is because Satan has convinced us that it feels a whole lot better to lift ourselves up in the glory of conflict, rather than humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord and give glory to God through the peace offered by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Most of what I have said thus far is law. That is the tough stuff! But there is also Gospel here because in spite of the law, the peace which surpasses all human understanding is staring us in the face at the base of the cross. That’s where we will find peace because it is there where the blood of eternal peace is found.

In our community, we are going through a time where only the power of the peace of God is going to help us recover from the recent disastrous fires. We can no longer point fingers at God for this happening. We need to let Him lead the recovery.

Please stay tuned as First Lutheran Church will soon be implementing a plan to bring relief to the community in Jesus’ name. The time for peace is now … let’s be the example!

Please join us for worship at 11 a.m. this Sunday, Sept. 23, followed by a lunch after service.

Leading worship and preaching this week is Bob Hamilton from Galilee Lutheran Church in Kelseyville.

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..

Greg Dill, Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the Pacific Territories. Courtesy photo.


At a family reunion, my Aunt Abby and Uncle Glen got into a squabble over the best way to get their Medicare benefits.

Uncle Glen is an Original Medicare man, and has been for a decade or so. Aunt Abby prefers Medicare Advantage, which is similar to a health plan she had before enrolling in Medicare.

When they turned to me, asking me to referee and declare which form of Medicare is better, I gave them a big smile and answered, “Well, it depends.”

Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage have different benefits and costs that you should consider based on your personal needs. Medicare open enrollment season runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, and it’s a good idea to know how the two types of Medicare work before you select one.

With Original Medicare, you can choose any doctor, hospital or other health care provider you want, as long as they accept Medicare. When you receive medical services or goods, Medicare pays the provider directly. About 70 percent of all people with Medicare have Original Medicare.

The other way to get your benefits is Medicare Advantage, which is a form of managed care, like an HMO or PPO. Medicare Advantage is provided by private insurance companies approved by Medicare. If you’re in Medicare Advantage, you generally must go to doctors and other providers in the company’s network.

If you go outside the network, you may have to pay more.

On the other hand, Medicare Advantage plans may offer some services – such as dental, hearing, vision, and prescription drug coverage – that Original Medicare doesn’t.

Most people with Original Medicare pay a monthly premium. If you’re in Medicare Advantage, you may have to pay an additional monthly premium to the private insurer that covers you.

With Original Medicare, you or your supplemental insurance must pay deductibles, co-pays, and coinsurance.

To cover these “gaps” in Medicare, some people buy supplemental insurance called Medigap. If you have a Medigap policy, Medicare pays its share of the covered costs, and then your Medigap policy pays its share.

Original Medicare doesn’t cover prescription drugs. If you want drug coverage, you can buy a separate Medicare Part D plan. Such plans are sold through private companies approved by Medicare. You have to pay an additional monthly premium for Part D.

Medicare Advantage companies must cover all of the services that Original Medicare covers. (However, Original Medicare covers hospice care, some new Medicare benefits, and some costs for clinical research studies, even if you’re in a Medicare Advantage plan.) In all types of Medicare Advantage plans, you’re always covered for emergency and urgent care.

You can join a Medicare Advantage plan even if you have a pre‑existing condition -- except for End-Stage Renal Disease. People with ESRD usually are covered through Original Medicare.

Keep in mind that Medicare Advantage plans can charge different out-of-pocket amounts and have different rules for how you get service.

For example, you may need a referral to see a specialist. And you may need to stay in the plan’s provider network, unless you’re willing to pay more to go outside the network.

You should always check with the plan before you get a service to find out whether it’s covered and what your costs may be. If the plan decides to stop participating in Medicare, you’ll have to join another Medicare health plan or return to Original Medicare.

How can you decide whether Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage is better for you?

There’s a good comparison of Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage in the “Medicare & You” handbook. “Medicare & You” is mailed to all Medicare beneficiaries every fall. You can also find it online, at https://www.medicare.gov/pubs/pdf/10050-Medicare-and-You.pdf.

If you have any questions, call Medicare’s toll-free number, 1-800-MEDICARE.

Greg Dill is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii and the Pacific Territories. You can always get answers to your Medicare questions by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

James 2:19 says, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

This passage is the one in Scripture that is most used to justify works righteousness.

Faith without works is dead! You can’t have faith without works. The question we have to face is this, “Is that what James meant when he wrote this under the guidance of the Holy Spirit?”

The answer is no – you don’t have to have works to increase or even obtain faith. When you have faith, good works follow and the key here is that the works do not matter in the mind of the faithful for the works are a subset of being a good and faithful servant.

Works follow faith not faith from works and when James wrote this, he had no intention of giving the readers of his epistle the idea that you can’t have one without the other.

There were a number of books in the Bible that Luther questioned, one being the book of James. He quite frankly didn’t feel this book worthy of being canonized, but he did believe that it was God’s will for the book to be included in the Bible, thus begrudgingly accepted it.

Let’s travel back to the time of Luther and see what might be going through his mind as he responds to this passage.

It is the early 1500s. Martin Luther has gone through a life of hell. He is a monk, a man in brown clothing who is convinced that he is destined to go to hell.

Why? Because the church has convinced him that he will go to hell unless his works were better than the sin he has committed.

He is torn to pieces inside. He beats himself to a pulp. He didn’t need Roman soldiers to torture him, he did it on his own. He was convinced that if he hurt himself enough he wouldn’t even think of anything sinful.

And so, it went on, day after day, night after night. Every time he thought of anything sinful he would beat himself, banging his head against the wall, punching himself, torture in whatever way he could.

I think if he could have crucified himself, hammering those nails into his flesh himself he would have. Just to be perfect. Just to be without sin as the church had told him he had to be.

The church taught him that works meant everything and their position on this passage in James was the proof he needed to continue to inflict as much pain upon himself as he could.

It is believed that Luther died young not because he was unhealthy, but because he inflicted so much pain on himself, he damaged his body beyond repair.

And he did that until God showed him the truth … Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” It was at that point the reformation went into full swing.

Luther took on the church to defend the world against false teaching. Works had nothing to do with salvation. Faith was the key by the grace of God through Christ Jesus. That was it!

That leaves us with a very important question to ask ourselves. Are we living by grace or by works? Let’s hear the whole story on Sunday, Sept. 9.

Worship is at 11 a.m. with a time of fellowship and lunch immediately following the service.

Please bring your friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances, and anyone else you can think of.

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..

Dave McQueen. Courtesy photo.


KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – Welcome back!

This is the first in a series of monthly columns to share what’s happenings at Kelseyville Unified School District.

Let me start by saying how excited we are to have students back in school. Our administrators, teachers and staff are committed to making sure that every student feels safe and welcome in our schools. At Kelseyville Unified School District, we care about kids.

Support for each and every student

Truth is, some students like school and some don’t.

Some enjoy being involved in extracurricular activities, while others have part-time jobs or family responsibilities to attend to.

Whether students like sports, leadership, music, career/technical education, FFA, theater, academic clubs or other endeavors, we want to support them.

Our goal is not to squeeze students into a one-size-fits-all box, but rather to offer a huge variety of activities, electives and support, so students can discover their passions and reach their potential.

Attendance matters

But we can’t do that if they don’t come to school.

Research shows what common sense has already told us: Kids who miss a lot of school often struggle.

Missing 10 percent of school days, just two days each month, is considered “chronic absenteeism” and it can put kids at risk of academic failure.

It all starts in kindergarten. A seven-year study followed a cohort of students from kindergarten through sixth grade.

Students who were chronically absent in kindergarten did not perform as well as their classmates:

– They scored roughly 20 percentage points lower in reading;
– They scored 25 percentage points lower in math;
– They were twice as likely to be retained in grade;
– They were more than twice as likely to be suspended by the end of seventh grade;
– They were likely to continue being chronically absent.

Setting good attendance habits in the first years of school has an enormously positive impact – in school and in life.

When students attend school daily, they form good habits. They can keep up with class material and get the support they need – academically and socially.

We have great teachers and counselors ready to help students in whatever way they need. If you’re a parent who is struggling to get your child to school regularly, reach out to your child’s school. We may be able to help.

Also, if you need care for your elementary student after school, be sure to ask about our ASES program.

Free school meals for all

In addition to a great education, students now get free meals at school – both breakfast and lunch.

Every student, regardless of their family’s income level, is welcome to eat free of charge.

All we need is for Kelseyville Unified families to complete the LCFF form that was sent home with students.

Staying up-to-date with Kelseyville Unified

This year, we’re putting extra effort into updating our website and Facebook pages with school activities and events.

We know parents and community members who would like to participate in school activities, attend events and/or volunteer need time to plan.

Check out our district Web site at www.kusd.lake.k12.ca.us.

New administrators

Finally, to kick off this year, I’d like to introduce our new administrators.

Mike Jones is the new Kelseyville High School principal, with Scott Conrad named as the school’s new vice principal.

Noah Gomez is now vice principal at Mountain Vista Middle School.

Mike and Scott are Kelseyville Unified veterans and Noah is new to our district, but not new to education.

We’re excited to welcome them to their new positions.

Dave McQueen is superintendent of Kelseyville Unified School District.

James 1:19ff says, “Take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry ... if anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”

Someone has said that great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and small minds discuss people. The church that James is writing to was full of small-minded people who gossiped about each other and tore one another apart with their tongues.

Fact is, little has changed. We’re quick to avoid murder, stealing and drunkenness, but we often assassinate fellow believers and leave destruction in our wake by the way we use our tongues.

Husbands have stabbed their wives with words that are as sharp as daggers and wives have lashed out with tongues that cut and pierce. Parents have devastated their kids by repeated blasts of venom. Children have exploded at their parents with volleys that have leveled the family like a bomb. And churches have been wiped out by wagging tongues that have sliced, diced, and chopped people to shreds like a Vega-matic as advertised on TV.

The tongue remains hidden for the most part, but when it does make its presence known it has devastating power.

The tongue can express or repress; release or restrain; enlighten or obscure; adore or abhor; offend or befriend; affirm or alienate; build or belittle; comfort or criticize; delight or destroy; be sincere or sinister.

In James 3:1-12, he uses six different word pictures of the tongue to help us see how small, yet powerful it is; a bit for a horse, a rudder on a ship, a fire in a forest, a dangerous animal being tamed, a spring of water – bitter or sweet, and fruit from a tree.

I think we can all relate to what James is saying here. The small size of a bit, yet with the power to steer a ton of horse. The small rudder can control the direction of a large liner or even an aircraft carrier, so too, the tongue can control our lives.

Then fire – don’t we know about that here in Lake County. A great forest set ablaze by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.

A dangerous animal can be tamed by man but seems few people can tame their tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison, James says. Then the spring of water. It can’t be fresh and bitter at the same time. One or the other. And lastly, fruit … fruit is produced based on what nature defines. We are defined by what the nature of the tongue says.

James is calling us to be consistent. What comes out of our mouths is a reflection of what is in our hearts. And if some of the things I have heard and experienced in my life are an indication of what is in the heart of people, including myself, then we are in deep trouble and need a gracious Savior to pull us out of the mess we continually dig ourselves into!

When all is said and done, our tongues are under the scrutiny of God’s law and judged by the enormity of how that tongue convicts us.

Our escape from the sin of the tongue is a man who gave His life for the loose lips attached to our face. That’s gospel … that’s Jesus … that’s all that needs to be said!

Please join us to hear more about this crazy tongue of ours this Sunday at 11 a.m. for worship, lunch immediately following worship, and our monthly food cupboard from 1 p.m. 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..

One of the last scenes in the movie “Dave” was a bodyguard telling this imposter of the president of the United States that “he would take a bullet for him.”

This was a movie where a man, played by Kevin Kline, was the absolute ringer for the president and he had to assume, in a covert way, the role of president when the real president had a stroke and was in a coma.

He did such a great job as president that the bodyguard, knowing the scam, told Dave he would have given his life for this man. That is how much of an impact Dave made on the body guard.

I will give my life so that you might live. Now, who, in their right mind would do something that silly, that absurd, that sacrificial? How could anyone in their right mind take a bullet for someone else, die for someone else, take upon themselves the burden of another?

It is called the armor of God! And the armor of God isn’t made of metal or ceramic as the armor of old, it is made of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. And He is the one who will take the bullet for you and for me because He is the one who exhibits love for His children that cannot be duplicated.

Ephesians 6:10-20 tells us to put on the armor of God. When we read this passage, we may think of the knights of old. Jolly old England it was … dragons and damsels in distress, knights in shining armor defending the poor and weak and the hopeless … doing everything that was right, protecting their own selves with steel armor, literally! Steel helmet, steel vest, steel gloves, steel shoes, even a steel sword! That’s the image we see with this analogy of putting on the armor of God.

It is interesting to note that that kind of armor didn’t exist at the time of Paul’s writing. But Paul knew what armor was and what it could do to protect the warrior.

And so he likens the protection we need from sin to armor in an effort for people to recognize that the bullets that come at us from the sin of this world are ones that are going to penetrate even the best worldly armor yet the armor of God cannot be penetrated no matter how many bullets are fired, no matter how many sins are committed, no matter how intense the sin may be.

The armor of God will protect the sinful from the onslaught of temptation to sin and the sin that results from armor that is not sufficient to stop it.

The armor of Christ will stop it all. And why is that? The armor of Christ is made not with steel or ceramic, you can’t slip it on and buckle it up, you can’t even see it! The armor of Jesus is made with flesh and blood. He was not wearing armor at all as we understand it.

My friends in Christ, Jesus took the bullet for us and for our sin so what the Father sees when he looks at us is Jesus’ purity. That is the good news of love so profound, a bullet in the form of a cross, would be taken upon His back so that we might live for eternity.

As we recover from the recent fire disaster, the challenges will be numerous, and we will have to do our best to serve our community while not taking advantage of the resources we have at our fingertips. That would be sinful. We need to put on the armor of God right now!

Please join us to hear more about God’s protective shield this Sunday at First Lutheran Church in Lucerne.

This Sunday we will celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

Worship is at 11 a.m. followed by lunch. All are welcome so come as you are and bring your friends and relatives. They will be happy they came.

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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