Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 10/31/20

Today, we commemorate Reformation Day. Five-hundred-and-three years ago, on October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther took the bold step of nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, beginning a movement whose goal was to restore the New Testament Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. It would take subsequent Reformers to chip away at remaining vestiges of Roman error, but the Holy Spirit used Luther and the other early Reformers in a great way. Most of today’s hipster, megachurch pastors don’t mention the Reformation because it contradicts their watered-down, seeker-friendly, ecumenical messages.

Both conservative and progressive Catholics have been trying to process the October 21st publicization of pope Francis’ radical allowance for civil unions for same-sex couples. Some conservatives (like apologist, Dave Armstrong) continue making excuses for the pope while others are finally crossing over the line and joining with those who already proclaim Francis a “bad pope” and even a heretic.

The Roman Catholic church hasn’t yet officially endorsed the alleged Marian apparitions at Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, although pope Francis did authorize pilgrimages to the site beginning in May, 2019. The Franciscans who advise the alleged visionaries and the local bishop have been at odds since the supposed apparitions began back in 1981. Why? Because remarks attributed to the alleged Marian apparition have been critical of the bishop.

It’s not a widely-followed practice among U.S. Catholics, but in European Catholic countries, on November 2, All Souls’ Day, families attend mass and visit cemeteries to light candles and pray for their deceased loved ones in hopes that they will be “sprung” from purgatory prison. Because of COVID-19, the Vatican has decreed that families can obtain the plenary “get out of jail free card” indulgence for their loved one/s throughout the entire month of November. What about the alleged souls in purgatory who don’t have family to “spring” them? May this type of inane, arbitrary legalism raise questions in the minds of Catholics. It was Catholicism’s anti-Biblical teaching on indulgences that initially prompted Martin Luther to write his 95 theses.

In these secret Vatican-Beijing accords, pope Francis is allowing the Chinese communists to install quisling bishops from its pro-government Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. I’m still not sure what the Vatican gets out of these deals.

Large segments of “evangelicalism” are moving away from the Bible and right doctrine to this Hillsong-ish, hands-in-the-air, religious hystericism and experientialism.

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #46: “It Is Finished”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next installment, the Catholic apologist continues his section on “Catholic Life and Practice” as he responds to Protestants’ objections to Catholicism’s notion of performing penance for sins, when Jesus said on the cross, “It Is Finished.”


Not only does the Roman Catholic church teach its members that they must regularly confess their mortal/major sins to a priest to obtain absolution, it also teaches they must then make amends for their sins by doing one of the three forms of penance – prayers, fasting, or almsgiving.

“Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must ‘make satisfaction for’ or ‘expiate’ his sins. This satisfaction is also called ‘penance.'” – CCC 1459

In contrast, born-again Christians believe, as the Bible states, that Jesus Christ’s salvific work on the cross was complete and sufficient and nothing more can or need be added for those who place their trust in Him as their Savior. Protestants often cite John 19:30 and Jesus’s last words on the cross as their support:

“It is finished.” – John 19:30

Broussard responds with three arguments:

(1) Broussard suggests the possibility that by saying, “It is finished,” Jesus simply meant that His earthly ministry was complete, which would not preclude the obligation of performing penance. A second possibility, according to Broussard, is that Jesus meant “the human race is reunited back to God” by His completed sacrifice and that “saving grace is made available for all humanity” (p. 249). In the confessional, the priest, as alter Christus, “another Christ,” absolves the sinner, thereby remitting the eternal consequences of sin, but penance must still be done to atone for the temporal consequences of sin.

(2) Broussard offers three passages as proof-texts that “the New Testament reveals that penance is a part of Christian life”:

  • Hebrews 12:6,10 (…he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness…)
  • Luke 12:47-48 (…that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating…)
  • Matthew 6:16-18 (…when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites…)

(3) Broussard then presents six passages that he alleges involve penance and sanctification.

First regarding penance:

  • Matthew 6:16-18 (…when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites…)
  • Proverbs 16:6 (By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for.)
  • 1 Peter 4:8 (…love covers a multitude of sins.)

Then regarding sanctification:

  • 2 Corinthians 7:1 (…let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit…),
  • James 1:2-4 (…let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete…)
  • Philippians 2:12 (…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.)

Broussard concludes by arguing that (A) since continuing sanctification is necessary for salvation “after being initially saved by the completed work of Christ on the cross,” and (B) since “penance is one of the ways by which we can be sanctified,” therefore (C) “penance doesn’t undermine the sufficiency of Jesus’ death on the cross.”

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

Because this lengthy (7 pages) chapter deals largely with the penance associated with the sacrament of reconciliation/confession, Broussard would have helped his readers by grouping it with the preceding chapter #26 and chapter #27 that dealt with that topic.

I observe that Broussard covers a lot of Catholic theological territory in this chapter by defending both post-confessional penance and by defending sanctification as a requirement for salvation. The average reader is undoubtedly thoroughly confused by Broussard’s arguments and his accompanying proof texts, so I will attempt to cut to the chase as briefly as possible.

Yes, evangelical Protestants believe that by saying, “It is finished,” Jesus Christ was declaring the completeness of His salvific work on the cross. A supporting passage in Matthew 27:51 states that immediately after Jesus uttered those words and died, the veil of the inner sanctuary of the Jerusalem temple was miraculously torn in two, from top to bottom, indicating mankind now had direct access to God and His salvation through the mediation of Jesus Christ. Jesus had accomplished His earthly mission and His perfect and complete saving sacrifice could not be added to.

Let’s touch upon the two major themes presented by Broussard in this convoluted chapter:

Penance: The RCC teaches that while eternal punishment for mortal/major sin is remitted by the priest in the confessional, the temporal punishment remains and must be atoned for by the supplicant via acts of penance in this life or expiated via the fires of Purgatory in the next. We have already thoroughly examined Catholicism’s false teachings regarding the confession of sins to a priest and Purgatory and there is no need to backtrack. The average Catholic could not explain this notion of temporal punishment and its atonement via penance.

Sanctification: In chapters 12 through 17 of this series we thoroughly examined the irreconcilable differences between Gospel Christianity and Roman Catholicism regarding the roles of justification and sanctification in connection with salvation. Gospel Christians believe, as the Bible teaches, that we are justified and made righteous only by Christ’s perfect righteousness that He imputes to us when we accept Him as our Savior by faith alone. After we are saved, we follow the Lord in obedience (albeit imperfectly) as we become increasingly sanctified in our thoughts and deeds. Ephesians 2:8-10 states the correct relationship between faith and works:

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. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

We are justified only through our faith in Jesus Christ and His imputed perfect righteousness. Our subsequent good works attest to our salvation in Christ, they are not the basis of our salvation.

Roman Catholicism puts the cart before the horse by teaching that sanctification merits salvation. The RCC teaches a person must become subjectively, intrinsically holy enough to merit their salvation. Broussard states the Catholic position, that sanctification, including penance, leads to justification and salvation, but, of course, Gospel Christians disagree. We cannot merit our salvation in any form or fashion. Jesus paid the entire debt for our sin on the cross.

Our bottom line to this convoluted chapter: The RCC’s doctrine of penance, as well as most of its other doctrines, certainly do undermine the sufficiency of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

86 Bible Verses about Jesus Sacrifice Being Sufficient

Throwback Thursday: Why I am NOT a Roman Catholic

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a short post that was originally published back on February 15, 2016 and has been slightly revised.


Why I am not a Roman Catholic: Ten Biblical reasons why I cannot be a Roman Catholic
By Will Graham, Evangelical Focus, February 13, 2016

  1. I’m not a Roman Catholic because I don’t believe in Mariology.
  2. I’m not a Roman Catholic because I don’t believe in the pope.
  3. I’m not a Roman Catholic because I don’t believe in idolatry.
  4. I’m not a Roman Catholic because I don’t believe in purgatory.
  5. I’m not a Roman Catholic because I don’t believe in transubstantiation.
  6. I’m not a Roman Catholic because I don’t believe in the clergy/lay division.
  7. I’m not a Roman Catholic because I don’t believe in the Apocrypha.
  8. I’m not a Roman Catholic because I don’t believe in the seven sacraments.
  9. I’m not a Roman Catholic because I don’t believe in mortal or venial sins.
  10. Most importantly, I’m not a Roman Catholic because I DO believe in the Biblical Gospel!

See the full article via the link below:


Travel (virtually) to Mount Gerizim, where the Samaritans “worshiped” (and their ancestors still do)

Believers are familiar with the Biblical account of the amazing meeting between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well described in John 4:4-42.

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” – John 4:19-24

What was the “mountain” that the woman was referring to in John 4 where the Samaritans worshiped? She was speaking of Mt. Gerizim. With the help of the Google Earth app on your smart phone, you can get an excellent understanding of the geographical context involved in this passage. Jacob’s Well was located not too far from “Har” (Hebrew: “Mount”) Gerizim and Har Ebal. Type “Har Gerizim” into your Google Earth app search box and you’ll get a bird’s-eye-view of both mountains in relation to the location of Jacob’s Well (see photo above). Zoom in on Gerizim and you’ll be able to see the impressive ruins that cover the top of the hill/mountain (photo below). The temple site looks to have been a vast, impressive complex that would have been very visible to Jesus and the Samaritan woman as they conversed at the well. She may have pointed up to the complex with misplaced pride when she referred to it in her conversation. But Jesus dismissed the worship site and the bastardized Samaritan religion. True worship and salvation came through the Jews, through the lineage of King David, and to its ultimate fulfillment in the Savior, Jesus the Messiah.

According to many scholars, archaeological excavations at Mount Gerizim indicate that a Samaritan temple was built there in the first half of the 5th century BC. -from Wikipedia

Mt. Gerizim is mentioned by name four times in the Bible, while Mt. Ebal, to the east, is mentioned five times. Some (including myself, initially) mistakenly assume that the distinctive, octagon-shaped ruins in the photos and video below are the remains of the Samaritan Temple building, but they are actually the remnants of a Byzantine church that was built upon the site at a later period.

A very small remnant of Samaritans still “worship” amidst the ruins atop Mt. Gerizim. There are currently only about 800 Samaritans living in Israel.

What would religious relativists say about the exclusiveness of the Gospel taught by Jesus Christ in this passage? They would certainly claim that the Samaritans were “fine” as long as they were “good” and “sincere” in their religiosity, but that is NOT what Jesus taught.

 Addendum: Our dear sister in the Lord, Mandy, at Blue Collar Theologian provided the following excellent details about Shechem, Mt Gerizim, and Mt Ebal. Thanks, Mandy!

Shechem was located in the valley between Mt Gerizim and Mt Ebal and was the main settlement of the Samaritans. Shechem has a long and important history! In fact, Shechem can trace its history back to Abraham when he first entered Shechem (Canaan) from Haran (Gen 12). In Shechem Jacob’s daughter Dinah was raped and in retribution Simeon and Levi killed all the weak men from circumcision (Gen 34). Joseph’s tomb is also located in close proximity to Jacob’s well. In Deuteronomy 11:29 Moses spoke of this region in that Mt Gerizim and Mt Ebal were the mountains of covenant blessings (Gerizim) and curses (Ebal). Moses also instructed Joshua to build an altar on Mt Ebal with uncut stone when Israel entered the Promised Land (Deut 27; Josh 8). After Israel divided, Jeroboam originally ruled the Northern Kingdom from Shechem and erected the golden calf where the 10 tribes could worship (1 Kings 12; he also erected on in the N at Tel-Dan). Shechem was pretty much abandoned when Assyria destroyed the Northern Kingdom. At this time it turned into a Samaritan city where the Assyrians relocated exiles from other nations to the Northern Kingdom. When Judah returned to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon, the returning Jews did not grant the Samaritans request to help rebuild the temple. Jews felt the Samaritans weren’t authentic Yahweh worshipers. This was a major cause for the hatred between the two, resulting in the Samaritans building their own temple on top of Mt Gerizim. The Samaritans only use(d) the Torah/Pentateuch (aka Samaritan Pentateuch). By the point in time Jesus met the woman at the well, Shechem ceased to exist BUT was a historic location. Today, Mount Gerizim is located in Nablus (Samaria) which is one of the largest Palestinian cities in Israel.

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday sermon series, #55

It’s Two-fer-Tuesday, my friends, which means two new sermons from the brethren down in Arkansas.

First, we have guest speaker, James Taylor, delivering the sermon, “Welcoming Sinners” at Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana.

Next, we have Pastor Cody Andrews of Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City preaching from Luke 10:25-37 on “Who Is My Neighbor, Anyway?”

Both of these sermons were delivered on Sunday, September 11th.

James Taylor – Welcoming Sinners

Pastor Cody Andrews – Who Is My Neighbor, Anyway?

Argh! What have they done to my favorite grape pie from Naples, N.Y.?

Did you ever have grape pie? It’s an annual tradition at our house. Just about every year (we missed last year), at the peak of the Fall foliage colors, my wife and I make the one-hour trek from Rochester to the village of Naples (pop. 2500) at the southern tip of Canandaigua Lake to buy a few grape pies. Wine-making is a big industry in the Finger Lakes region because of the clement “lake effect” upon the weather and there are many, many vineyards situated on the hills between the long lakes. Folks in Naples gained some notoriety for their picturesque community by taking some of those Concord grapes and making pies with them. Many Rochesterians make the trip to Naples in the Fall for the scenery and the grape pies.

On Saturday, October 17th, my wife and I began our journey southward to Naples. It was a sunny day and the farther south we drove, the more pronounced were the flaming red, yellow, and orange colors on the trees. The high hills of the region were awash with the bright colors. Stunningly beautiful!

Above: Fall foliage and one of the Finger Lakes

As we pulled into Naples, I contemplated which one of the many vendors we would purchase our grape pies from. We had always bought our grape pies at Cindy’s Grape Pies on Academy Street, but a couple of years ago, we saw on the Rochester news that owner, Cindy Trzeciak, was retiring and closing the business. I drove down Academy street for nostalgia sake, but was surprised to see a line of people in front of Cindy’s. Huh? We parked the car and eagerly stood in line for our two grape pies, so happy that the bakery hadn’t closed after all.

After securing our pies, we had a nice, leisurely lunch at the Redwood Restaurant down the road. Nothing fancy at the Redwood, just good, simple food. I chose a jalapeno burger and fries while my wife had sliced roast beef on kimmelweck, a Western New York favorite.

Full and content, we drove back towards Rochester with the beautiful Fall foliage once again gracing our way. We stopped at the Wegman’s grocery in Canandaigua for our favorite toppings to go along with our grape pies; whipped cream for my wife and vanilla ice cream for me.

We finally made it home and immediately served ourselves a generous helping of grape pie. Huh? Uh oh! With the first bite we both noticed that something was terribly wrong. One of the best features of Cindy’s grape pie was the thick and very flaky crust. But, the crust on this pie was very thin and soggy. Smelling a rat, I googled “Cindy’s Pies” and discovered that Cindy T. had sold the business to new owners back in September 2019 (see here). Hmph. The new owners had promised “not to change a thing,” of course, but that obviously was not the case. My wife and I were very disappointed. The second pie was exactly the same way. Next year, my wife and I will have to try the other prime, grape pie-seller in Naples, Monica’s Pies.

We thank and praise God for His beautiful creation and for good food and for good cooks who know how to prepare it.

Postscript #1: In case you’re curious, grape pie tastes somewhat similar to blueberry pie.

Postscript #2: When there’s not a pandemic going on, Naples hosts its annual Grape Festival the last week of September. See here.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 10/24/20

We’re just ten days away from the U.S. presidential election. Amongst the sea of political yard signs in our area, I recently spotted the “Jesus 2020” yard sign pictured above. It’s kind of irksome to see Jesus’ name being dragged into the profane political process, BUT it may also get passing motorists thinking about the Name above all names (Philippians 2:9) and the choice that will affect their eternity.

The Roman Catholic church claims that it’s Semper eadum, “Always the same,” but it has changed its position on many secondary teachings, especially after Vatican II. The RC church historically taught that suicide was a mortal sin and mandated that those who killed themselves could not receive church funeral services or be buried in a Catholic cemetery. However, the 1983 edition of the Code of Canon Law lifted the restrictions stipulated in the 1917 edition. Which was right? The 1983 magisterium or the 1917 magisterium?

Some traditionally-Catholic European countries, such as Ireland, Poland, and Italy, still have crucifixes and Catholic religious classes in tax-supported public schools. Some American evangelicals continue to clamor for the return of conscripted prayer in public schools (banned by the SCOTUS, Engel v. Vitale, 1962), but they’re not thinking it through.

The Catholic priest population was in steep decline even prior to the abuse and cover-up scandals and COVID-19. The shortage will eventually force the RCC to lift the mandatory clerical celibacy rule.

Looks like the prime “reform” being pursued by the German Catholic “Synodal Path” initiative is intercommunion between Catholics and Protestants. Germany is divided, with Catholics generally in the South and (mostly nominal) “Protestants” in the North and plenty of intermarriage. Hard to understand why intercommunion is such a difficult issue for Catholic cardinals when they concede that people of all religions and even atheists are able to merit their salvation.

Murder as a career move? Sixty-years ago, such a concept was acceptable only in the Mafia. Believers should think twice before putting celebrities on a pedestal.

Conservative Catholics eagerly look forward to the end of progressive Francis’s tenure, while the pope is busy making sure his successor is another progressive by “stacking the deck” with like-minded cardinal electors.

Three congregants of John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church have contracted COVID-19. Classifying this development as an “outbreak” is a bit sensationalistic, but the news does warrant alarm. I would not venture into any public gathering where health safety precautions were not being encouraged/mandated and followed.

The biggest headline this past week, by far, was pope Francis’ approval of same-sex civil unions, which I posted about here. Conservative Catholic clerics are already denouncing Francis in very strong terms and opposition to the pope is mounting on a daily basis. Stay tuned.

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #45: “Call No Man Father”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next installment, the Catholic apologist continues his section on matters of “Catholic Life and Practice” as he responds to the Biblical injunction to “Call No Man Father.”


Roman Catholics are directed to address their priests as “father.” The head of the RC church is, of course, the pope, which means “father” in Latin (Papa). The most frequently used title for the pope is “Holy Father” (Sancta Papa). Protestants object to these titles and cite the injunction of Jesus Christ in Matthew 23:9:

“And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.”

Broussard replies to Protestants’ objection with three arguments:

(1) Broussard argues that the Bible elsewhere approvingly uses the word “father” for individuals other than God. Among many other examples, he cites Ephesians 6:2, where Paul quotes the Fifth Commandment (Catholics number it as their fourth commandment), to “Honor your father and mother.” Clearly, the Bible approves of using the title, “father,” in referring to biological fathers. Paul also applies the term, “father,” to himself in the sense of a spiritual father/mentor:

“For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” – 1 Corinthians 4:15

Broussard presents many other examples where Paul referred to believers as his “child” or “children” (e.g., 1 Timothy 1:2).

Broussard argues that (A) since the Bible elsewhere favorably approves of using “father” to refer to biological dads and to spiritual leaders, then (B) “there must be something else going on” with Jesus’s injunction in Matthew 23:9.

(2) Broussard notes that along with His injunction against using “father,” within the wider context of Matthew 23:1-12 Jesus also instructed his disciples not to take the titles of rabbi/teacher or instructor/master. However, as with “father,” Broussard notes that Scripture favorably uses those terms in other applications (e.g., 1 Timothy 2:7)

(3) Broussard suggests that in Matthew 23, Jesus was not forbidding the use of “father” or those other terms in an absolute sense, but was “using hyperbole to indict the scribes and Pharisees for their pride” and misuse of authority (p. 245). Those men had elevated their traditions and authority above the authority of God and His Word and proudly reveled in their positions of leadership [the irony of Broussard’s argument here is palpable – more on that below]. Read all of Matthew 23 for Jesus’s blistering condemnation of the scribes’ and Pharisees’ religious hypocrisy.

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

I absolutely agree with Broussard’s first two arguments. Jesus was not forbidding the use of “father” and “teacher” in an absolute sense. However, in regards to Broussard’s third argument, he’s so spiritually blind that he doesn’t recognize that the attitudes and behaviors of the scribes and Pharisees condemned by Jesus in Matthew 23 foreshadowed the attitudes and behaviors of Catholic priests and prelates who elevate themselves over Jesus Christ as mediators of salvation – priests as “Alter Christus” and the pope as the “Vicar of Christ.” Holy Father? Such a title is sheer blasphemy. Matthew 23 is a damning indictment of the Roman Catholic clergy, but Broussard is absolutely oblivious. He criticizes the scribes and Pharisees for the exact same practices and attitudes of his beloved Catholic clergy. Catholic clerics weigh souls down with the impossible burden of meriting their salvation. They love the privileges, perquisites, and veneration accorded to them. They love the place of honor at religious ceremonies and public gatherings and the reverential greetings in the marketplaces and being called “Father” (priests) or “Your Excellency” (bishops) or “Your Holiness” (pope). Every born-again, ex-Catholic who reads Matthew 23 is reminded of the Roman Catholic clergy. However, as evil and hypocritical as the scribes and Pharisees were, even they would have been revolted by the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s quest for power, control, and wealth through the centuries.

Did Jesus mean that we should never refer to our earthly father as “father” (Matthew 23:9)?

Next: “It Is Finished”

Conservative Catholic clerics begin to react to pope Francis’ approval of same-sex civil unions: “We have a bad pope.”

The conservative Catholic backlash to pope Francis’ call for civil unions for same-sex couples is just beginning to percolate. Watch this 7-minute video as a visibly emotional Catholic priest tells his congregation “we have a bad pope” (3:05 mark). The priest continues by saying he doesn’t know “what vanity, or dark spirits, or fallen inclinations” are guiding the pope.

A “bad pope”?

The foundation of Roman Catholicism is the pope, the alleged “Vicar of Christ.” What does it mean if the pope is a “bad pope” and is not to be followed? The foundation of Roman Catholicism crumbles.

There is another way, a better way. Jesus Christ declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6

Church membership doesn’t save. Trying to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) doesn’t save. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church that teaches the uncompromised Gospel.

Catholic vs Christian | “I am a Catholic. Why should I consider becoming a Christian?”

Throwback Thursday: Spiritual lessons from raking leaves

Welcome to this week’s Throwback Thursday installment! Yes, it’s THAT time of the year once again! The leaf-raking season is officially underway here in Western New York, so it’s time to revisit this perennial acorn…er…I mean, chestnut, that was originally published back in November 22, 2017 and has been slightly revised each year.


After a very tumultuous period in our marriage, the Lord miraculously brought my wife and I back together in 2002. We then lived in an apartment for a couple of years and in 2004 we were looking for a new home. We were both in our late-forties at the time. Our two sons were adults and on their own and after having a house and a yard for twenty-two years, I was thinking in terms of a condominium. But my wife and her realtor sister went looking at houses “just for grins” and called me at work one day, saying to come quick and check out the “dream house” they had found. I pulled into the driveway and gulped hard. Argh! The wood-shingled house was on a heavily-wooded lot (13 mature oaks and 3 locust trees) with a long, double-wide driveway. All that meant A LOT of outdoors work ahead for myself at a point when I was contemplating a future living situation with NO outside work. My wife was so enthusiastic about the house and property that I knew I was forever going to be the “big jerk” if I said no. But at age 48, I reasoned that I still had many years of physical energy left in the tank to deal with the house painting and yardwork ahead.

Sixteen years later, my wife and I still joke about the day after we moved into the house. Everything was fine on our moving-in day, but when I woke up the next morning and looked out the window, I saw that the oak trees had released many of their leaves en masse overnight and the entire backyard was covered. Oy!  Welcoming an opportunity for a little exercise (gulp!), I got out my trusty rake and went to work. And work. And more work. If you’re familiar with oak trees then you know the leaves are big and as sturdy as shoe leather. As I dripped with sweat after hours of raking, our next door neighbor shouted out with playful sarcasm, “Welcome to the neighborhood!” Argh!

I raked those leaves from the last week of October to the first week of December for the next 12 years. The raking was hard enough, but I also had to transfer the mounds of leaves I had collected onto a tarp and then drag the tarp to the front yard and deposit the leaves along the curb where our towns’ highway department collected them. With our own oak trees plus the neighbors’ oaks that leaned over our property, I ended up collecting and hauling 60+ tarp-loads of leaves (yes, 60!) to the curb every year. Condo anyone? Every year, my wife suggested I buy a heavy-duty, gas-powered leaf blower, but I couldn’t justify spending $300+ dollars when I was getting all of that good exercise! Plus, I was proud that I was able to handle all those leaves with only me and a rake in my hands. All of our pitiful neighbor menfolk either had powerful blowers or hired a leaf removal service. Ha!!!

Well, it was hard to admit, but age caught up with me in 2016 and I finally broke down and bought a gas-powered leaf blower (photo below). My boss at work had already done all the research and pointed me in the right direction as far as a good model and dealer. We’ve had 3 of the oaks and all 3 of the locust trees removed over the years because they were either too close to the house or were dying, so between that and the leaf blower, I’m still able to contend with the leaves even at my ripe old age.

“So what?,” you ask? Maybe you’re thinking, ♫”You’ve got your troubles, I’ve got mi-ine”♫, as my old friend, Jimmy, used to say? Or how about, “Would you like some cheese and crackers with that ‘whine?’”

Well, I do thank the Lord for all those leaves over the years. They got me outside to enjoy the fresh air and provided plenty of exercise. When I finished the leaves every season, I had the satisfaction of completing a difficult job. Now I can praise the Lord for the leaf blower and the great assistance that it provides. By comparison, what used to take many hours of very strenuous raking now takes about one hour with the leaf blower each session with minimal physical effort.

The heavy lawn work is full of spiritual lessons as well. We needn’t bear life’s circumstances and burdens alone. Christians have the indwelling Holy Spirit. We have God’s Word to guide us and the constant opportunity to commune with the Lord in prayer. We have the church and fellow believers. We also have good books, Bible study resources, and podcasts from faithful scholars and pastors.

There’s times when we’re plowing for the Lord and starting to feel fatigued (like after tarp # 43). But the Lord provides helpful “tools” to see us through. Are you too proud to seek the Lord’s help as you sojourn through this life?

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

“Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!” – Psalm 30:10

25 Encouraging Bible Verses About Burdens

Postscript: Raking leaves for hours on end also brings to mind another spiritual lesson. Those leaves started out as little buds back in the Spring, were full bloom in Summer to catch all the sunshine, and withered and died in the Fall. We were born into this world through corruptible seed, but through Christ we look forward to eternal life!

“Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” – 1 Peter 1:23

Above: Tarp #1 of the 2019 Leaf Campaign about to be dumped curbside on Friday, October 25th. Approximately 60 more tarp-loads to go before the six-week campaign is over.
We had a bad rain and wind storm in Rochester on Oct.31-Nov.1, 2019 which resulted in many oak leaves coming down early and allowing me to get a significant jump on the 2019 Leaf Campaign. Above, tarp #25 is about to be dumped on the growing leaf pile on Saturday, Nov. 2. Only 35 more tarps to go!