Exciting Ice Fishing (But not on Sunday!)

Mom and Dad, though, insisted that Sunday was always for church. I grumbled somewhat but went along with them and Laverne to Central Methodist Church on South Cass Street [in Traverse City]. From the top of the steps it was possible to see the bay [Grand Traverse] though, and one Sunday as we came out I noticed the ice out there doing strange things. I convinced Dad that we should walk over to check on our shanty.

While the bay was still frozen, an extremely strong north wind was blowing toward Traverse City. Far up the bay, the ice had broken up and waves were actually rolling under the remaining ice coating. Oddly, it had not yet broken up at the south end but was bending and groaning under the unusual stresses being exerted against it.

It was obvious the bay was about to break up. As we stood there glumly watching, a lad came by. ‘I’ll go out and get your shanty for a dollar,’ he offered. Dad declined, saying he wouldn’t risk anyone’s life like that for any price.

Sadly, we watched as one after another of the cluster of shanties tipped and fell into open water that soon appeared as the ice gradually gave way. Not wanting to see our beloved casket box [his dad worked as a wooden casket maker] meet a similar fate, we turned and walked on home.

Next day, I just had to get back there to see if anything could be seen of our little fishing structure. I was shocked and delighted to find it still sitting jauntily on the ice that was, once again, firmly joined together by an unusually low temperature during the night.

When Dad got home from work, the two of us walked out to get our shanty. We found we had, unknowingly, put it on one of the thickest pieces of drift ice in the bay and that is what saved it.

Dad, however, had other ideas to explain the salvation of our beloved fish shanty. ‘See what happens when you go to church on Sundays’? he commented.

boy-bike-buster-charles-1995Taken from a new book I found (at a thrift store) and am reading about a boy growing up in Traverse City, Michigan in the 1930s. That lad is Gordon Charles, longtime outdoor editor of the Traverse City Record-Eagle and winner of over twenty writing awards. The book is titled A Boy, a Bike, and Buster: (his dog) Fishing and Hunting in Michigan’s Good Old Days and was published in 1995 by Traverse Outdoor Press. It’s a nice, easy read with lost of fishing and hinting tales – a good end-of-the-day read. I found this section of chapter 2 interesting, also reflecting the age in which he lived, when Sunday keeping was the norm, no matter what one’s church affiliation was.

Published in: on March 6, 2020 at 10:09 PM  Leave a Comment  

“This is why I gave them my Sabbaths.”

No more beautiful, inspiring, or pleasing idea can be repeated on this subject [of the sabbath] than the one that Ursinus expressed in the Heidelberg Catechism: ‘That all the days of my life I turn from my wicked ways, allow the Lord God to work in me by his Spirit, and thus begin the eternal Sabbath already in this life.’

Accordingly, the Sabbath is based (1) on the work of God the Father and our creation, (2) on the work of God the Son and our salvation, and (3) on the work of God the Holy Spirit and our sanctification. Its fullness is captured in this threefold summary. For life here on earth, the shadow of the three-in-one Trinitarian God falls across the Sabbath.

Consequently, it needs to offer you rest from the pressures of this world. That’s first. In the name of God you need to be properly able to stop the workday activity of this world every seventh day. …You need to restore the strength you have lost. And you need to receive from God once again the resources you need for your daily work and efforts….

Then it also needs to offer you rest from the attacks of the Devil. That’s second. In the name of God you need to be equipped to escape bondage to the works of the Devil. That’s when you enter the Year of Jubilee, your year of liberation by the atoning work of your Surety and Redeemer.

And also, it needs to offer you rest from the powerful urges of your own heart as well. That’s in the third place. In the name of God you need to be equipped to give up bondage to your own evil heart. You need to abandon the empty way of living that serves no useful purpose. You need to pull back from drinking from springs that never provide pure water. You need to enter that blessed, completely glorious rest that consists of letting go of self so that God’s work may be completed in you through his Holy Spirit.

This in the full sense of the word is the Sabbath of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This is what he who stood calling meant by Sabbath when he said, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.’

Oh, may you never forget that it is not you who create this kind of Sabbath in order to glorify God, but it is a gift of God to you in his grace that you may share in his riches.

That kind of Sabbath comes only as the fruit of grace and prayer!

honey from the rock-ak-2018Taken from the new translation by James A. De Jong of Abraham Kuyper’s Honey from the Rock (Lexham Press, 2018), pp.180-82.

This particular meditation (#58 of Volume 1) is titled “This Is Why I Gave Them My Sabbaths” and is based on Ezekiel 20:12, “Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.”

Pentecost 2019: In the Spirit on the Lord’s Day – A. Kuyper


Like him [the apostle John], we must be caught up in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.

…With the exertion of all their strength in their divine calling, but at the same time being diligent in their calling in this world while simultaneously being ‘in the Spirit,’ are two things that are mutually exclusive. The most we can ordinarily achieve is that in the context of our daily work and all our troubles is that the Spirit of God supports us and guards us, maintains and warns us, stimulates and inspires us, and protects us from destruction.

But to realize something greater and higher as our basic condition all day long, and not just during the moments we pray, so that everything working together serves that purpose, we need the Sabbath, the Lord’s Day. This means that we need a day when the Lord works in a special way and when we are still. To that end, two things are true simultaneously. First, the Sabbath serves to bring us into the Spirit. Next, being in the Spirit is the only thing that makes the Sabbath a reality for the Christian.

When those converge and complement one another, the Sabbath encircles us with a quiet freedom, and we find ourselves in the Spirit. That’s when we hear behind us that voice that sounds like a loud trumpet. It is clear and penetrating. Then our soul experiences a blessed fellowship as he lays his right hand on us and tenderly says: ‘Don’t be afraid, for behold, I was also once dead but am now alive. Yes, I live eternally, and no one else but I holds the keys of death and hell.’

This is when there is Sabbath in us and around us!

This is to receive the eternal Sabbath already in this life.

The prayer rising from the hearts of God’s children is that that Sabbath might increase in their lives.

honey from the rock-ak-2018Taken from the new translation by James A. De Jong of Abraham Kuyper’s Honey from the Rock (Lexham Press, 2018), pp.376-78.

This particular meditation (#11 of Volume 2) is titled “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” and is based on Revelation 1:10  – “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.”

Set Free on the Sabbath – A. Kuyper


According to Jesus’ own words, mustn’t the Sabbath be a day for ‘breaking the bonds’?

…For what is the reality of daily life for thousands and thousands of people except one continuous, entangled bondage? It amounts to being bound in many ways and to various degrees. This causes the wings of our souls to flap first in this direction and then in that, and it severely restricts the free and exhilarating spreading of our wings of faith.

…That’s exactly why there is a Sabbath to which God calls his people, saying: ‘Shake off your dust; rise up; sit on your thrones, O Jerusalem! Free yourself from the chains around your neck!’ (Isa 52:2). That’s when the bonds are loosened. These can be the bonds of daily labor that can choke and oppress us. They can be the bonds of busy and turbulent living. Or they can be the bonds of being upset and restless. That’s when those who can bring praises bring them. That’s when those who know the way to God make their way to the ‘appointed place of their salvation’ That’s when those unfettered from their bonds rejoice. That’s when they feel tremendously exalted, regal, and liberated. It’s on the Sabbath!

At least that’s what happens when they give God all the glory on the Sabbath. That’s what happens when they turn out for it in righteousness. I can’t turn Sunday into a Sabbath by doing nothing. I can’t do it by behaving properly. I can’t do it by doing my duty. I can’t even do it by simply praying and meditating. The Sabbath is a gift from God. I always only succeed in making my bonds tighter, but he’s the only one who can loosen them. My determined efforts and attempts to turn Sunday into a Sabbath only produce a hollow day that is nothing more than pretense and empty forms. The Sabbath only comes alive when he’s pleased to hear our humble prayers. That’s when divine abundance pours into our empty lives. That’s when he blows warmth and a glow back into the cold coals of my heart.

And if this is what happens in your experience, sisters and brothers, then the loosening of the bonds of your daily labor becomes the glorious prophecy of an entirely different loosening. It indicates that your Sunday is definitely a day of resurrection. It signifies that your Savior has loosened the shackles of death and hell and that shattered Satan’s work.

What a glorious experience, then, to be transported far beyond yourself in sacred joy.

honey from the rock-ak-2018Taken from the new translation by James A. De Jong of Abraham Kuyper’s Honey from the Rock (Lexham Press, 2018), pp.30-32.

This particular meditation (#10) is based on Luke 13:16, part of the account of Jesus’ miracle of healing the woman who had a spirit of infirmity for 18 years, a miracle that occurred on the Sabbath in a synagogue.

Rhythms of Piety – Jon D. Payne on the Importance of the Weekly Sabbath

It should be no surprise, then, that God designed the Christian life to possess rhythms of piety. These rhythms of piety include the weekly cadence of the Lord’s Day, as well as regular (even daily) times of private and family devotion (Westminster Confession of Faith 21.6).

The Lord’s Day has fallen on hard times. We need to recover the day that God Himself established to be a spiritual blessing to His church—a weekly occurrence of rest from our ordinary activities for the purpose of God-centered worship, renewal, and fellowship (Gen. 2:1–3; Ex. 20:8–11; Mark 2:27). Our loving heavenly Father set apart an entire day of the week for us to cease from our hectic schedules, to “be still, and know that [He is] God,” and to abide in Christ through the soul-nourishing means of grace (Ps. 46:10; Acts 2:42; WCF 21.5).

The weekly observance of the Sabbath— especially in the gathering of the church for morning and evening worship—is intended to be a primary rhythm of Christian discipleship in order that our faith might grow and mature (Ps. 92:1–2). It’s no wonder that Matthew Henry wrote, “The streams of religion run deep or shallow, according as the banks of the Sabbath are kept up or neglected.”

The rhythms of piety are not limited to the Lord’s Day, however. We also seek God during the week through regular Bible reading and prayer. A consistent rhythm of private and family devotions, in addition to weekly Lord’s Day observance, helps to foster a consistent and growing walk with the Lord (Deut. 6:7–9; Ps. 63; Mark 1:35; Eph. 6:4).

To neglect these rhythms of piety can leave one vulnerable to the attacks of Satan, the seductive temptations of the world, and the sinful wanderings of our own hearts. The disciplines of grace are means by which we daily put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10–20).

Dear Christian believer, perhaps it’s time to renew your commitment to the rhythms of piety.

Drawn from the weekend Tabletalk devotional for Oct.20-21 (cf. link below). After describing how God has designed and built the “beautiful and instructive rhythms of nature” into the creation, Dr. J. Payne writes about the “rhythms of piety” God has also designed and built into the Christian life.

Good food for thought as we begin this new week and seek ” a consistent and growing walk with the Lord.” Fellow believers, shall we renew our commitment to God’s “rhythms of piety”?

Source: Rhythms of Piety – October 2018

The Lord’s Day: “A beachhead for the transformation of our whole lives.” – M. Horton


The Lord’s Day is not another treadmill, but a day of resting from our works as we bask in his marvelous provision for our salvation and temporal needs (Heb 4:1-5). After all, ‘the earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof’ (Ps 24:1). On this holy day, we rest in God’s care for our temporal welfare. But even more than that, we rest in him alone for everlasting life. It is the opportunity to receive a kingdom rather than to build one; to be beneficiaries rather than benefactors; to be heirs rather than employees; to be on the receiving end once again of ‘the Son of Man [who] came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Matt 20:28). We can be still and know that Yahweh is God (Ps 46:10.

This rest is not a cessation from all activity, however. It’s joining our Lord in his conquest over death and hell, receiving and dispensing the spoils of his victory. It’s opening the windows to the beams radiating from the age to come, where Christ reigns in grace, anticipating together that day when he returns in glory. Filled with the intensity of such sovereign grace, the Lord’s Day becomes a beachhead for the transformation of our whole lives, so that every day is warmed by its light.

‘God rested on the seventh day from all his works’ (Heb 4:4). Yet Israel, like Adam, failed the test and therefore forfeited the Sabbath rest. As Paul says in Romans 10, ironically, Israel pursued it by works but didn’t attain it, while those who didn’t pursue it by works but received it by faith did attain it. Unlike all of the high priests of the old covenant, ‘we have a great high priest who passed who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God’ (Heb 4:14). Taking his throne at the Father’s right hand, he has claimed it as our throne together with him in everlasting glory. ‘Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in times of need (4:16).

So again there is another ‘today’: the space in history to enter the everlasting Sabbath day with God by resting from our works because Christ has fulfilled all of our daily labors on our behalf. He calls us not to toil for that rest by our guarding, subduing, and keeping, but simply to enter his rest through faith behind the conquering King.

Taken from chapter ten, “Stop Dreaming and Love Your Neighbor,” (and its section “Entering God’s Rest”) of Michael Horton’s Or-di-nar-y: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World (Zondervan, 2014), pp.199-200.

Strength for the Weary: The Blessedness of the Sabbath – Derek Thomas

Recently I received a new title from Reformation Trust (publishing arm of Ligonier Ministries), which website gives this summary of the book:

In Strength for the Weary, Dr. Derek W.H. Thomas explores the final chapters of Isaiah, laying out the remarkable promises that God makes to His people. In these pages, there is consolation in the struggles of this life and encouragement for the road ahead. The God of Comfort has promised to be with His people always.

I have appreciated and been blessed by Derek Thomas’ writing in the past and tonight I began to read in it, jumping ahead to chapter 6, “A Well-Watered Garden,” an exposition of Isaiah 58, which includes promises concerning God’s sabbath. Concerning these Thomas has some fine thoughts about how we ought to approach the sabbath as NT Christians.

First, he deals with the general question, “What obligation do Christians have to law keeping?” In part he says this:

Are Christians obligated to keep the moral law? A negative answer here will find us on the wrong side of something that Jesus makes very clear [Here he quotes John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”]

We are obligated to obey everything God commands. And obedience results in joy. That is what Isaiah is insisting in this chapter. There is an essential delight about walking in the paths that God has established.. Lawbreaking never ultimately satisfies. [And here he quotes from Psalm 19:7-11.], p.95

But, then, second, the author gets specifically at the sabbath question, putting it in proper biblical perspective for us:

The Sabbath is, after all, a creation ordinance. It is part of the created rhythm of the cycle of the first week. Work is followed by a day of rest. In the new covenant, and following perhaps a gospel logic, the order is reversed: rest is followed by work.

To approach this issue of Sabbath keeping from the perspective of ‘What is God forbidding me to do on the Sabbath?’ is essentially wrongheaded. It is a bit like Satan’s suggestion in the original temptation in Eden. If God prohibits eating from one tree, He might as well prohibit from all trees. Hence Satan’s statement to Eve that all trees were out of bounds (Gen.3:1). The very form of the question suggests God doesn’t really want His creatures to experience any real joy at all. The additional restrictions Satan imposed revealed him to be a legalist at heart.

And legalists never experience joy.

Do we ever think of the Sabbath (Lord’s Day) as ‘a delight’?

And it is not the Sabbath itself that is the ultimate delight but the God whom we meet in worship on the Sabbath. He is our chief delight. The Sabbath brings us near to Him and He to us. And there can be no greater joy than that.

It is God’s gift to ensure our liberty from the slavery of the unrelenting demands of work. The gift of the Sabbath is the gift of a day given to worship and rest and the blessings that flow from it. It is the greatest gift imaginable. To doubt it suggests we have never really known the blessings of God-centered worship and the freedom and joy that it brings.

The Sabbath is designed as help for the weary. It provides a taste of gospel rest and a foretaste of eternal rest. [pp.96-97]

Is that what we experienced today? Did we delight in God’s appointed day of rest? And did we enjoy its great blessings then? Good things to think about as we end the sabbath.

Source: Strength for the Weary: Derek Thomas – Hardcover, Book | Ligonier Ministries Store

God’s “greenbelt”, the Sabbath


The practice of worshiping on the day Jesus rose from the dead – the first day of the week – goes back to the time of the apostles (Matt 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1; John 20:1; Acts 20:7; i Cor 16:2; Rev 1:10). However, practicing the Lord’s Day is extremely difficult in our society today. Few neighbors treat it as a ‘greenbelt’ in time. Many, including Christians, look bewildered when you decline an invitation to a soccer game during morning or evening worship. In fact, many church activities on Sunday have less to do with inculcating the faith than with providing ‘safe’ things for kids to do.

…Setting aside the ordinary callings and pastimes of the week, our calling on the Lord’s Day is to share, together with our coheirs, in the powers of the age to come. It is not by simply emptying the day with a list of rules, but by filling it with treasure hunting, that the Christian Sabbath orients us, our families, and our fellow saints to our heavenly citizenship. However, everyone around you sees it as the ideal day for a trip to the mall, sports, and other entertainments. Whatever fills our Sundays fills our hearts throughout the week. The Lord’s Day is not a prison but a palace. It is a wonderful gift to turn off the devices that interrupt our daily schedules and to push our roots down into the fertile soil that produces trees in God’s garden. It is a delight to set aside our normal associations with friends and coworkers – even non-Christian family members – in order to commiserate with fellow heirs of the kingdom concerning the news we’ve heard about the age to come.

ordinary-MHorton-2014Taken from chapter 9,  “God’s ecosystem,” of Michael Horton’s Or-di-nar-y: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World (Zondervan, 2014), which I continue to read with rich profit.

In this chapter, Horton teaches and applies the beautiful organic idea of the church (especially as God’s living, growing garden) found throughout the Word of God. In this particular section he brings in “the Sabbath as God’s greenbelt.” The paragraphs I have quoted are found on pp.176-77.

Labor for the Rest – H. Hoeksema

Yea, let us labor.

Oh, to be sure, the realization of that rest is certain and depends not on our labor, but solely on the amazing toil of the restgiver, who shed his lifeblood for us. Never vainly and proudly imagine that your labor adds at all to his merit and to the infinite value of his toil.

But has it not been given us in the cause of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to battle and to suffer with him?

Is it not his own good pleasure that for a short time we should be in the world to the praise of his glory?

The way to the final rest for all the children of God must be a way of struggle and labor, of toil even unto death.

It cannot be otherwise.

For as we enter into God’s rest by faith and partake of his liberty, we become estranged from the world, cease from its evil works, and are children of light. These things are inseparably connected. No one is able to profess that he has entered into God’s rest unless he is also actually translated out of darkness into God’s marvelous light and begins to show forth the praises of him who called him. For no one can serve two masters, God and mammon, and no one can consistently seek two cities, the earthly and the heavenly. If we have become partakers of the rest of God in Christ Jesus and have been made citizens of the heavenly city, we have also become strangers in the world and condemn its evil works. For that reason the prince of this world and all his host are opposed to us. They will impede our progress to the heavenly city. They will attempt to seduce us from the way. And they are powerful masters of many means. Now they sow doubt and unbelief by vain philosophy; now they blind the eyes and captivate the heart by the glitters of treasures and the attraction of pleasures; now they intimidate by threats and menaces of sufferings and persecutions.

And a powerful ally they have in our own evil hearts, so easily induced to believe the lie, to seek the pleasures and avoid the sufferings and persecutions of the world.

Let us labor, therefore, to enter into that rest.

Let us diligently endeavor, let us put forth all our effort, let us faithfully struggle, that we may attain to the heavenly city.

How necessary is the admonition!

PeaceForTheTroubledHeartHHTaken from the meditation of Herman Hoeksema, “Labor for the Rest” based on Heb.4:11, originally written for the Standard Bearer, then republished in Peace for the Troubled Heart, edited by David J. Engelsma (Reformed Free Publishing Association – rfpa.org, 2010), pp.251-52.

Reset: Take Time to Rest

Reset-DMurray-2017We have been calling attention to a new book from local author David Murray (Puritan Reformed Seminary) published by Crossway – Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture (2017). It is written with men especially in view, men in danger of burnout, as the title hints.

After chapters on doing a “reality check” (repair bay 1) and performing a “review” of our lives (repair bay 2), Murray takes us into repair bay 3, where he points us to the need for “rest.” And the rest he has in mind in chapter 3 is that of sleep – real, physical, lasting, fulfilling sleep. Which is deeply spiritual at the same time.

For as Murray points out, there is a “sermon we preach in our sleep,” and “few things are as theological as sleep” (p.54). To demonstrate this, he states that if we are boasting about being able to get by on five hours of sleep a night, for example, we are proclaiming the following five point “sermon”:

  1. I don’t trust God with my work, my church, or my family.
  2. I don’t respect how my Creator has made me.
  3. I don’t believe that the soul and body are linked.
  4. I don’t need to demonstrate my rest in Christ.
  5. I worship idols [p.55].

If you are a busy man who is sleep-deprived (self-induced, that is!), that theology of sleep hurts. Because the truth always hurts. And those five points convict us of what is going on in our souls while we are depriving our bodies of the rest we need and were created for.

But Murray carefully eases the pain by directing us to the benefits of longer sleep (physical, intellectual, emotional, financial, moral, and spiritual, etc.) and providing some helpful “sleeping pills” (discipline, routine, exercise, contentment, faith, humility, napping [that’s one of my favs – the “power nap” after supper!].

And he ends where he started, with “sleep theology.” Here, I will quote the author more extensively, for this too we (I!) need to hear:

Ultimately, sleep, like everything else, should lead us to the gospel and the Savior. First, it prompts us to think about death, that we all shall close our eyes in sleep, and wake up in another world (1 Thess.4:14).

It also teaches us about our Savior. The fact that Jesus slept (Mark 4:38) is as profound as “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). It reminds us of Christ’s full humanity, that the Son of God became so frail, so weak, so human that he needed to sleep. What humility! What love! What an example! What a comfort! What a sleeping pill!

It illustrates salvation. How much are we doing when we sleep? Nothing! That’s why Jesus used rest as an illustration of his salvation. ‘Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matt.11:28).

It points us toward heaven. There remains a rest for the people of God (Heb.4:9). That doesn’t mean heaven is going to be one long lie-in. It means it will be a place of renewal, refreshment, comfort, and perfect peace [p.70].

Isn’t this a much-needed tonic for us as we end this week? After a busy week and a beautiful spring day today in which I again tried to cram too much in, my body – and soul! – are crying for rest. Yes, I did have my power nap. But I need more. More sleep and physical rest. But also, more of the theology of sleep. I need the gospel of grace. I need Jesus. I need His rest. I need heaven. What about you?

Which reminds us that tomorrow is God’s wonderful rest day. The Lord’s Day! Precious, wonderful rest is waiting for us in Christ. A glimpse of glory.  A foretaste of our forever with the Lord. Will we enter into it by faith and receive and rejoice in its benefits?

It will help us to spend tonight in sweet sleep.

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2