The Stove Pipe

Saturday, June 11, 2016
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Matthew 23:25-26 – Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. (NIV)

This spring, we were able to install a Toyo stove — a small oil furnace — in our home. This new addition meant that during the shoulder seasons, spring and fall, instead of trying to regulate the wood stove, as the temperatures vary so greatly throughout the days and nights, we could keep the house at a steady temperature. So far, it has been great.

Running the Toyo also presented me with the opportunity to give the wood stove a much needed inspection and cleaning. Emptying the ash, checking the bricks, the damper, and the seal, scrubbing its glass-fronted door of layers of soot was a rewarding experience. The stove looked so neat and tidy when I was finished, ready for another cold winter. And yet, the one most important thing was not yet done: cleaning the stove pipe. If the pipe is not cleaned of the deadly and unseen creosote which builds up as the fire burns, a devastating chimney fire can be ignited and bring about the loss of life and home. Remembering this, I let my local chimney sweep know that I needed his services.

The Pharisees in today's Scripture needed to clean their stove pipes too. Wrong views concerning religious tradition and ritual had caused their lives to accumulate layers of sinful attitudes, thoughts, and actions, which kept people from God instead of drawing them to Him.

The Pharisees saw themselves as better than others. They prided themselves on their clean lives. They had forgotten and neglected that which truly mattered:

Matthew 5:44-45 – But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (NIV)

How about us today as God's people? Are our lives congruent inside and out? Have they been swept clean by the ultimate chimney sweep of our souls, or like the Pharisees, do we appear pious on the outside with our clean lives while our unclean spiritual attitudes and behaviours drive people away instead of drawing them toward a loving heavenly Father? Perhaps it is time for a reality check.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we want to do what is right in Your sight. We want to burn brightly for Christ and the kingdom. Come today and sweep us clean of ungodly thoughts, attitudes, and ways, that we might indeed lead lives of holy congruency inside and out. In the wonderful name of Christ, we ask. Amen.

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About the author:

Lynne Phipps <>
Atlin, British Columbia, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Lynne – Thank you another enriching story and application.

    Another good one Lynne.
    Keep writing!

    Right on, Lynne!….exactamente!…Exactly my thoughts!

    Thanks Lynne for reminding us to keep our spiritual stove pipes clean. Blessings.

    Hi Lynne, another good one! Thanks for your parallel thoughts on cleaning pipes and all.
    Blessings on you.

    Lynne. You are so right. I dislike cleaning the soot on the wood stove glass but even more the stove pipe. It can get so bad a chimney fire can be caused by neglected stove pipes. That’s a pretty good picture of our hearts left uncared for. We seem to have kindred spirits in living life and loving the Lord. God bless.

    Memories of us on a farm in Southern Ontario. There were no chimney sweeps. We lived in a small and we had 2 wood stoves my father would go up and clean out the chimney but my mother had to clean out the stove pipes. I remember one day she had the pipes apart and was cleaning them she and likely us kids helping all black wearing our very oldest clothes because if you get that soot on the clothes it is hard to get out. WELL in the midst of this just guess drives down our lane-way but the minister (yes, in those days ministers did house calls. Anyway my mother says we cannot let anybody see us like this we all were to hide until he gave up and left.

    Great devotional – do keep writing! (and keep your stove pipes clean!!)

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