Tuesday, 28 March 2023


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..

A couple is being married today.

The young man is dressed in a tuxedo, the first time he has ever worn anything like that. It itches and makes him uncomfortable, but all that is immaterial because today his life will change forever (or so he thinks) – and he promises in front of his Lord and Savior to love, honor, cherish his wife to be so help him God.

He hears the music and turns ... down the aisle walks his bride ... beauty like nothing he has ever seen. Her father is at her side and they walk slowly towards him. As they reach the alter, her father gracefully puts her hand in his.

It is her day and she has never been happier ... today she will promise to love, honor, and maybe even obey, so help her God.

As the service ends and the two are now one, they walk out the door to a new life. The clock ticks and five years go by.

For all the marriages that took place that day five years ago, five out of 10 will have already ended in divorce.

It probably doesn’t surprise you that the United States has the highest divorce rate in the world. We live in a country where the word cherish and obey often mean nothing.

You know there will be problems before a marriage is even consummated because the most avoided phrase in wedding ceremonies today are the words, “Love, honor and obey.” The love and honor are still OK, but obey – no way!

Until couples understand how significant that phrase is, the chances are that the marriage will have problems.

Paul writes in Ephesians 5:22ff, “Give thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

And then he says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord … Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”

The problem comes up in marriage vows with this passage because of the words, “obey” and “submit.” Those words do not fair well in a society where equality between male and female remains paramount. No way is he going to be the boss!

So, we drop the word obey from the marriage ceremony. What a shame since what these words mean has nothing to do with either the man or woman being the boss.

If people would take a moment and understand what is being said, they would realize that it is in our best interests to follow the instruction.

In the case of the wedding vows, the term “obey” means that the man is responsible for the spiritual health of the family and must make certain the wife and children are not only instructed in Scripture, following the teaching of Jesus, but it also means that the dad is the one who should be taking, not sending, his family to church, and that they all have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

He is the one who has to say, worship on Sunday is more important that football, or soccer or baseball, or all the other distractions that will prevent the appropriate rearing of a child and family unity in Christ.

Take out the word obey from the wedding vows and you take his responsibility with it and guess what happens? The statistics say everything that needs to be said.

We’ll talk about this more at First Lutheran Church of Lucerne on Sunday, Aug. 26.

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

This week is country Gospel Sunday so please bring your friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances and any one 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..

My emotions have been running amok as I’m sure yours have as we watch the TV set and see another year of absolute destruction and chaos in our community.

And who do we blame for all this?

Too often we blame the Lord for everything this isn’t quite right in our lives. How can I love you Lord when I watch planes crashing into towers, terrorism gone amok, people setting fires everywhere and then the looting, too many wars and not enough peace, seeing the tears, hearing the screams, absolute chaos!

How can I forgive when I don’t know why You would let this happen in the first place? Before I’ll forgive anyone, I want to know why God, why did this happen and what is the truth behind it? What is the truth anyway? And could we handle it if we knew it?

Jesus says in the Gospel of John 8:32, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

The truth setting me free? What truth are you talking about Jesus? Because sometimes the truth hurts so much we just can’t seem to forgive.

The truth is, terrible things happen to good people. The truth is, people, bad people continue to try and destroy us!

The truth is, buildings are terrorized, and people die.

The truth is people convince others they are a god and people die.

The truth is, diseases, terrible diseases, kill people, innocent people, God-fearing people, and we mourn and don’t understand.

The truth is, God calls us to forgive and the truth is we don’t want to because we don’t understand.

The truth is, I want to know why.

The truth is, we need somewhere to go for some Good News and the truth that is the salvation promised without the need to know.

I want to know why!

Let’s face it, we are logical people, right? We don’t need a book and a cross, we need answers don’t we? We need the truth as concrete as it can be. We can handle it God. Give us the facts God, give us the facts.

What if we, representatives of humanity had the chance to put God on trial here just like in the movie “A Few Good Men” … to get at that truth thing … could we handle the truth? Could we accept what God had to say or would we doubt His words even then?

This Sunday, Aug. 5, there will be no services at First Lutheran Church in Lucerne due to the Mendocino Complex.

However, join us at an upcoming service when we will put God on trial for all the hell that goes on in this world. He will be asked some very tough questions. He will have to answer because this is the law.

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..

A number of years ago, while I was on vacation in Canada, I was introduced to my mother’s cat.

Mean is not a strong enough word for this feline version of Satan. Sharp teeth, long claws and an attitude of proportions that are too large to describe.

The one thing about this cat is how enormous it is. She looks like a black and white basketball with legs. This cat will eat constantly if you let her. It walks between your feet, follows you everywhere, and won’t let up unless you feed it.

It is so bad, my mom had to keep all food products out of this cat’s reach or the cat would eat it. And I mean anything. Bread, fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese, literally anything. The cat is so big, it can’t even lay on its side like a normal cat would. It has to rock itself from side to side until gravity allows it to fall onto one side or the other. And when she finally falls over on one side she rolls completely around. And watching her get up is really sad.

I asked my mom why this cat eats so much and she told me that when the cat was born, it had been abandoned by its mother and had almost starved to death. Once the kitten was found, it was fed and never stopped eating.

Psychologically, the cat lives in constant fear of being hungry and will literally eat itself to death if given the opportunity. She will never escape the trauma of almost dying from starvation.

The same can be the case with humans. There is a story of a group of orphans in World War II who were discovered after the US began liberating Europe. They were skin and bones … hadn’t eaten anything of substance for who knows how long.

The Americans fed the children and they were put in an orphanage, but even though they were well fed and recovered from their lack of food, they never could get over being hungry. They could not sleep at night in fear of going hungry the next day.

Finally, in order to get these kids to sleep, they were given a piece of bread and were allowed to take it bed with them but told not to eat it. The mere presence of the next day’s bread in their hands allowed them to sleep in peace.

So, the question we have to answer is this: Can we live a normal life, one free of the fear of starvation of all the aspects of life if we live it without the Living Bread of Life? Can we live in spiritual fullness, without the presence of Jesus in our lives? Is our faith strong enough to believe that Christ’s body and blood are the foundation of His spiritual presence in our lives when we come to the communion table?

In our situation with this current fire disaster, we must address both the physical and spiritual meaning of the Bread of Life. Physical food for the hungry and the spiritual food in Holy Communion.

Both are offered this Sunday at First Lutheran Church as we distribute much needed supplies in our food cupboard and celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion in our worship service.

Please join us to hear more about the Bread of Life. Worship begins at 11 a.m. followed by lunch for all, and then our monthly food cupboard.

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..

Lost? Hopelessly lost?

It could be in the forest, a grocery store, on the sea, maybe even lost in life – marriage problems, depression, laid off from a job, sick, knowing there is no cure for the disease that riddles your frail body.

Or maybe it is even worse: You are lost in a sea of sin, you’ve lost the Lord, and maybe you will never again find Him in the vast loneliness of temporal bliss.

Have you ever been lost? Are you lost today? Are the storms of life so huge that the waves are eating you alive?

You need the sea to be calm, but it just doesn’t seem to happen. You need a hand to reach out to, to settle the soul, but there is nothing but air to be found.

Such is the case with Jesus’ disciples as they face the real fear of dying in a storm. Their boat was small, the storm was large, the fishermen were doing their best to bail the water out of the boat, so it would not sink, and they were afraid.

Their friend Jesus was nowhere to be found. They needed a miracle to make it through this one.

Don’t we feel that way when we are afraid? I need a miracle to get through this! Yet deep down, we know full well that if we have faith, God finds a way. And today, these men are struggling for survival with little faith.

The text of Mark 6:45-56 is all about the storms of life – real challenges, those things that come into our lives and make us wonder if we will ever find peace. They’re the same kinds of stormy seas that Jesus faced.

His own kinfolk turning against him, King Herod putting John the Baptist to death, the fact that the man couldn’t get a day off ever, all the time knowing there was a cross to come soon.

Perhaps the biggest storm Jesus faced was within his own camp. His disciples had so little faith, every time Jesus wanted to demonstrate His Lordship over this world, it was His own followers that gave Him the most grief.

For us, not much has changed. Life is indeed an uphill battle! Family, career, school, relationships, ministry – it is all a daily, living, breathing challenge to keep things under control.

There are many opinions on whether Jesus really walked on water and calmed the sea that day. Some say the water was ankle deep, others believe he was on shore and the fog prevented the disciples from seeing His location because of fog.

But, the Bible says Jesus was in the “middle” of the lake and climbed into the boat, then calmed the storm. If you believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, then those opinions make no sense.

Fact is, this was a real storm in a raging sea, and a real Christ, walking on deep, troubled waters. I submit that if God made those waters in the first place, He could walk on them, or under them, or He could part them and make a dry path through the water.

On this day, He walks on those waters and brings peace to a very fearful situation, just like He does to take away our fears in life.

This was a miracle! Jesus walked on the water. And it tells us something about our own problems with the storms of our life.

We will talk about more our storms in life at First Lutheran Church in Lucerne this Sunday, July 29.

Please join us this very special Sunday. It is a country gospel service with lots of songs and singing.

Bible study starts at 9:30 a.m., worship at 11 a.m. and a time of fellowship with lunch served for all after the service.

Please come as you are and bring your friends, relatives, neighbors and acquaintances.

Everyone is 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..


Upcoming Calendar

03.28.2023 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Board of Supervisors
03.30.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
Middletown Art Center
03.30.2023 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Character Design~Art Class for Teens
04.01.2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
04.01.2023 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Lake County Spring Dance Festival
04.01.2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Lake County Spring Dance Festival
04.03.2023 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Courting The Muse~Mixed Media Art Class
04.06.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
Middletown Art Center
04.06.2023 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Character Design~Art Class for Teens
04.08.2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile

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