Never On Sunday…

Mine has been the blessing of having been served by many good bishops over my lifetime. These have been true pastors, watching over the ninety and nine and rescuing the one, which has at times been me. Their deeds were that of men of God, doing the things which the Lord would have them do without earthly reward or monetary compensation, simply for love and gratitude sake. I have found the greatest blessings I received by their hands came from the things they taught, not only with their lips, but by the examples they set in their quiet actions, and how they lived before, throughout, and even after their generous and humble service to the Lord in the bishop’s chair.

One of many good bishops who I could name as true pastors in Christ-like service for my life was Bishop Don Severin. (I noted his kind 1974 service to my family in “I Call It Zion…,” posted January 30, 2022.) His example of quiet dignity and humble service has never been lost on me. He was not a man of great sophistication, nor poetic in his speech, but from his tongue he spoke no guile, and with his big workingman‘s hands he did no harm. From the perspective of the small boy I was when I first met him, he was a giant, but I do not think I have ever known a more tender heart and soft spiritual touch than his. He was truly the epitome of quiet and humble Christ-like service. He knew our Savior and followed Him accordingly.

Sanger Ward Bishop Donald Severin

I never recall a sermon that he gave addressing the Ten Commandments. Of course I was very young during his service to our congregation, but I do not think there was such an address that he made, at least not verbally. Bishop Severin was a man who you could follow because of his example, not just from the hearing of eloquent words or commanding proclamations from pulpit’s edge. You knew what kind of man he was by his actions, by the signs he put in place as a good man living the word of God. You could tell how he felt about the laws of God in his actions, even in how he named his boat.

As youth we spent many wonderful hours on skis or inner-tubes pulled behind that little boat. It was not a big showy boat to impress passersby on the lake. It was quite small and as I recall only seated maybe 4 to 6 people, and that was tight. As big a man as Bishop Severin was that little boat road pretty low in the water, did not make a lot of noise, did not go very fast, but for us it was the most fun we could ever have. Even as low as it was on the water you could always read, for that matter, everybody in the lake could always read the writing, the name of that boat: “Never On Sunday.”

Bishop Don Severin, youth and the Never On Sunday probably at Shaver Lake in the 1970s.

The backstory of the “Never On Sunday” I do not know, but the example that was set, the way this honest man lived his life, everyone knew in that simple declaration, “Never On Sunday.” That was one boat you never saw on the lake during the Sabbath. Now, I tell you this not to be preachy, because Bishop Severin was not preachy. I just want to share with you the story of a man who put God first in his life, who placed no other gods before Him, who did not follow man-made idols, but followed the Lord his God first and foremost.

The first four of the Ten Commandments declared by God to Moses and the children of Israel from Mount Sinai are about our relationship with God, and how we should give love, honor and respect, how we should place Him first in our lives. They were written and eventually translated to English as follows:

  1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
  2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
  3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
  4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:3-11)
“Moses and the Tablets” by Jerry Harston.

The remainder of the Commandments more relate to how we deal with our fellow man. The first four are about how we show our love for God, and the final six, how we show love to our fellow man. It is perfectly consistent that Christ declares, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).

We show our love to Heavenly Father by keeping His commandments. Since none of us have perfect love, live perfect lives, God has shown His love for us by giving His Only Begotten Son, that if we follow Jesus, and repent of those wrongs that we commit, our love for God can be made perfect and we can return to Him. Through the process of working to keep God’s commandments, and repenting of those things in which we fall short, a mighty change of heart becomes us and we through Grace can truly be made perfect in Him.

It must become us to place no other gods before God; to put away things that draw our hearts away from Him; to speak His name only in reverence and love; and to keep His day, which He made for us, holy and dedicated to Him.

In 1976 President Spencer W. Kimball taught of the importance of setting idols aside in our lives and focusing on the Lord. “Idolatry is among the most serious of sins. …Modern idols or false gods can take such forms as clothes, homes, businesses, machines, automobiles, pleasure boats, and numerous other material deflectors from the path to godhood. Intangible things make just as ready gods. Degrees and letters and titles can become idols. …Many people build and furnish a home and buy the automobile first—and then find they ‘cannot afford’ to pay tithing. Whom do they worship? Certainly not the Lord of heaven and earth. …Many worship the hunt, the fishing trip, the vacation, the weekend picnics and outings. Others have as their idols the games of sport, baseball, football, the bullfight, or golf. …Still another image men worship is that of power and prestige. …These gods of power, wealth, and influence are most demanding and are quite as real as the golden calves of the children of Israel in the wilderness.”

These gods of power, wealth, and influence are most demanding and are quite as real as the golden calves of the children of Israel in the wilderness.”

President Spencer W. Kimball

It is not in any way to say that owning and taking care of possessions, enjoying sports or vacationing, even to dedicate time and effort to business, hobbies or positions of prestige, are somehow wrong and a distraction from keeping God’s commandments and placing Him first in our lives. It is only when we put those things ahead of our love and service to God that we cross the line and those things become idols. The Lord expects us to have joy in life, to enjoy the works of our hands with which we have been blessed, to dedicate ourselves to supporting our families, and helping the poor and needy, to lead in righteousness, so long as we do not forget Him and push Him aside for our own ends. If we do our ends will truly become desperate.

I own a very nice iPad. I use it for work to support my family, to help clients reach the audiences they are seeking to serve, to provide farmers with information to help them succeed. I also use it to read the scriptures, to research, to explore family history, and communicate with friends and family. I occasionally use it to watch a good film, or to listen to good music. It can even wake me up in the morning for use as an alarm clock. I am using it right now to write this message. It is a wonderful tool for which I am very grateful.

Oh, how easy it could be, for this marvel of technology with which I can do so much good, to become a tool for evil and an idol, even a false god in my hands. We must guard ourselves and make sure that we do not use the tools with which we have been blessed, our homes and automobiles, the money for which we labor, to serve selfish and ungodly interests. When that happens we have placed other gods before Him, and we need to repent, even unto a mighty change of heart.

It takes time. Old habits are hard to break. How is a man lead to put “Never on Sunday,” on his boat? As I said before, I do not know the backstory, but if I were to guess, knowing the non-judgmental man he was, such a declaration would likely be a self-imposed reminder to place no other gods before Him, to serve no idol, to speak only honor to His name, and to remember the Sabbath Day, the Lord’s day, to keep it holy. I am grateful for and have followed good Bishop Severin’s example and have never taken my boat out on Sunday.

I have been blessed in bounteous ways with many things created by the hands of men, and I am grateful to God as I use them for joy, to share, and most importantly to build His kingdom. God has placed us on earth that we might have joy and thanksgiving in all His blessings. Let us be grateful using well and with wisdom those things with which we have been blessed, that they turn not to idols, but be used for goodness sake, in service and love for He and all of His children. May we love and honor Him in all things, even in the joy of children’s laughter from behind a boat dedicated to His service. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Daniel Malcolm is an entrepreneur, journalist, photographer, husband to Monica and father of twelve. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is a witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.