Monday, June 18, 2012

OnFire #281 Pumping the Bilge

OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #281 Pumping the Bilge

Hi Folks:

It has been a good few weeks. I met with our incoming senior pastor and was very encouraged by this. The boys finished their exams. And Ian found a summer job just around the corner. That was an answer to prayer. In the middle of his exam schedule he went around the industrial park delivering resumes and had an interview on the spot at a local parts distributor. They called the next day with a job for him.

This coming week is especially exciting. This is grad week for Ian. Prom is Tuesday, and the graduation ceremony is Thursday. Many of our families are coming and we managed 10 tickets for the ceremony. We are very proud of both boys, and especially proud of Ian this week.

Blessings for your week.


“I can’t believe you’ve seen our bilge.”

My aunt said these words one day last week as we worked on their sailboat to prepare it for the season. The bilge is the lowest point inside the boat where liquids collect so that they may be pumped overboard. I say liquids, because we’re not only talking about sea water. Even the most conscientious boater sometimes spills a little oil or fuel, which also finds its way to the bilge along with other dirt. Take that mix, let it sit around in the dark for a while, and voila! We have bilge water, a particularly foul substance which some suspect may actually be a form of hostile alien life.

All boats take on water and so the bilge must be pumped regularly. Many boats have automatic electric pumps to take care of this important task, with manual pumps for backup. In addition, the bilge must be kept clear of things like plastic bags which may easily damage or block the pump.

No one likes to show off the bilge. Usually it is hidden under a pretty hatch cover designed to match the deck. That’s why my aunt commented that I has seen the bilge. Here I was, looking in at the boat at its worst. I’m family, I’ve been aboard many times, and even helped with this part in the past. But it is a view not normally granted to outsiders.

We share a lot of similarities with a bilge. Only those closest to us actually see us for who we really are.  We are constantly at risk of taking on “water,” the worst of the culture which may sink us. And, we need to pay regular attention to critical areas of our soul in order to stay afloat.

We’re talking about holiness. Holiness is about cleaning out the bilge, allowing our hearts to be pumped clear of all that threatens the soul - negative character traits, worry, fear and anxiety, sin.

The apostle Peter talked about this. “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled...  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” ( 1 Peter 1:13-16*)

I hope this helps. Be on fire.


OnFire is a bi-weekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. Troy is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. This letter published June 18, 2012. Scripture taken from New International Version, 1984. To subscribe or reply, email Archives are located at Blog located at

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