Great Expectations

My name is Mark Smith. I'm a guy who loves Jesus, His Word, and His Church. I am filled with Great Expectations for what the future will ultimately bring - Matthew 24:14.

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Location: Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

My favourite verse is Psalm 16:11, my other favourite verse is Acts 20:24, my other favourite verse is Habakkuk 3:17-19, and my other favourite verse is Matthew 24:14.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Terrell Owens Suicide Attempt

Good post here on it. If you know who Owens is it is true it sounds way too familiar....

Desiring God National Conference

I will be going to the Desiring God National Conference this weekend!

This reminds me of how last year's Desiring God National Conference on Suffering and the Sovereignty of God had me all stoked last year around this time and I wasn't even there! I was just lovin' the live blogging by Tim Challies. That was probably the very thing that got me interested in blogs.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Wesley and Spurgeon

Reading through Jim Cymbala's book, Fresh Faith, this interesting paragraph stood out to me:

"I love what the great John Wesley, catalyst of the Methodist awakening, said in the 1700's: 'Would to God that all party names, and unscriptural phrases and forms which have divided the Christian world, were forgot.... I should rejoice...if the very name [Methodist] might never be mentioned more, but be buried in eternal oblivion.' A century later, the equally great Charles Spurgeon, prince of Baptist preachers, said from the pulpit, 'I say of the Baptist name, let it perish, but let Christ's name last for ever. I look forward with pleasure to the day when there will not be a Baptist living.'" - Jim Cymbala, Fresh Faith, 1999, 70.

Now, of course, names and terms are helpful to explain positions, etc. (For example, the term "Calvinist" is helpful in describing that theological's much easier to say "I'm a 5-point Calvinist" than it is to say "I believe in the sovereignty of God over all things including salvation and I believe that once you are truly saved you cannot lose your salvation and I believe that Christ's death definitely secured the salvation of the elect, etc, etc." ) But I do not want to be known as a "Baptist" or as a "Piperite" or as a "Calvinist" or anything else like that. Plus, none of those categories totally fit my personal exact views anyways, so when real discussion begins, the helpful terms aren't so helpful anymore!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

John Piper Is...Bad!

Listen to Piper confess right here.

From Foolishblog.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

kerux noemata: Things You Never Read...

This is a great post. It even got a comment from the Michael Haykin.

It has to do with the recently upset Muslim world and says, you never read things in the news like:

Christians around the world were deeply offended today by the insensitive remarks of Sheik Abu Hamza al-Bazri made at a meeting of top clerics in Iran. “Christians are infidels and dogs. They are not to be tolerated. Their goal is to pollute our countries with their filth. We must speak boldly against Jesus – for although a prophet, the words attributed to him in the Bible cannot be trusted! Cursed be the Christians!”

Such a powerful statement was met with outcries across the globe.

Christians in Norway chanted, “Down with Muslims!” as they paraded through the streets.

In Mexico City, Christian fundamentalists set the local mosque on fire after battering it with stones and debris.

In a shocking development, Canadian Christians organized a massive rally that included armed vigilantes that took the local Muslim Centre by storm. Authorities there are still trying to negotiate a settlement.

American Christians have been threatening to hijack some of their own military aircraft in order to take vengeance on al-Bazri and his protective compound, prompting United Nations Head Kofi Annan, to urge Christians to back down. Anan called their current reactions, “an unfortunate, but not surprising development.”

Rev. Billy Graham, speaking from his North Carolina home, said, “The time has come, really, for all Christians around the world to unite and fight against these Muslims and the rotten things they say about us. We can only take so much.”

Story developing.

Paul goes on to say:

I hope the point is obvious. Christianity and Islam are very different religions. Imagine if we paraded through Toronto with signs that read, "Butcher those who mock Christianity" or "Behead those who insult the Christian faith" or "Iran is the cancer, Islam is the answer" or "Tehran, prepare for your 9/11." These are direct quotes of signs paraded through a recent "Religion of Peace Demonstration" in London, England. Others have noted the irony, but I think it bears repeating. This is peace?

No doubt there have been abberations in Christian history when men have trusted the sword to do the work of the Spirit. But I would argue they have been few and far between. And if they occured today, Christians would be the first to condemn it. Such as the Christian outcry against the nut cases who started shooting abortionists. That don't jive with Romans 13!

Regardless of history, right is right. And I await the Muslim cleric who will finally say that forced conversions (like of those poor Fox News reporters) and vengeance are the tools of evil. Until then, Islam continues to demonstrate by its fruit that it is a false religion. For it is nothing like the God of the Bible.

kerux noemata: Things You Never Read...

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Pope's Comments

I've read on various news sites and various people's blogs some comments about the Pope's comments and thought I'd link to Tim Chailles' post and make a few of my own comments that I had been thinking about already when I read Chailles.

Basically what myself and Tim and others are asking is if the Islamic world wants to show that the Pope's comments about Islam being violent is wrong, shouldn't they react non-violently?

Instead we read things like:

"Palestinians used guns, firebombs and lighter fluid to attack four Christian churches in the West Bank town of Nablus. Gunmen opened fire on a fifth church in Gaza."


"The Mujahedeen Shura Council, an umbrella organization of Sunni Arab extremist groups that includes al-Qaeda in Iraq, issued a statement on a Web forum vowing to continue its holy war against the West. The authenticity of the statement could not be independently verified.

The group said Muslims would be victorious and addressed the pope as "the worshipper of the cross" saying "you and the West are doomed as you can see from the defeat in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and elsewhere. ... We will break up the cross, spill the liquor and impose head tax, then the only thing acceptable is a conversion (to Islam) or (killed by) the sword."


"The protests and violence have stirred up memories of the fury over cartoons that were published in a Danish newspaper of the Prophet Muhammad. Angry demonstrations took place in many countries, and some of the violence was directed at Western targets and Christian churches."

See Tim's "Who's Reinforcing Negative Stereotypes?" for a more complete and balanced post. I don't feel like re-writing everything when he has already posted a good post about this topic. I'd link to another post as well but I forget where I read it.

How It All Went Down Part 2

At the risk of sounding defensive I will begin by saying:

I wouldn't say that I made any accusations right away - I just assumed that the most likely person to have taken it was the kids that ran off. So going to Misty's house I did not accuse but rather asked her if they had taken the iPod, assuring her that I was not upset or anything like that. (Maybe that just sounds like semantics but there was a real difference in my mind and attitude....)

Also, I did not have Chris' room searched. His mother did that without me even knowing. I never met his mother until the next day when she told me she had searched his room.

(Also, the iPod was in no way "beat up". It was just old but it worked like new other than the re-charging thing...but clearly that is outside of the main point here.)

In seeking to get it back, I simply asked nicely and assured Chris that I wasn't upset or going to call the cops (which was suggested to me...) or anything like that.

I hope that my effort to be nice and to re-assure them that I was not upset was a little different than the average person in the world that this kid may have stolen from before....


But now, having said that, I certainly did act out of emotion that night because though I never was upset I certainly was very disappointed. It was no fun at all to think of going from being able to play 60 different CDs in my car to going back to my 8 old tapes and the radio. I'm still disappointed. I don't think I've ever had something stolen from me before but I'm finding it's a strange feeling...I feel like I have been defrauded....

That night I was not able to recall Matthew 5:38-42 though obviously I know those verses well when I'm just sitting in my Sunday-best. Sad. Rather than thinking of them, I thought more along the lines of, "I shouldn't just leave it be because these kids need to learn that they can't just steal from people and get away with it lest they steal more and steal bigger things as they grow up." Is there some legitimacy to that thought? Yes, I think there is some. Maybe only some, but maybe at least you think? That is the same thought that I get in my head when I think of offering a free re-charge. Part of me thinks, "Don't do that - you can't reward him for stealing or he will get the wrong message!" Maybe some truth to that think?

Let's look at what Jesus said:

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you."

I did get stolen from, but I think that verse 40 is referring not to just getting ripped-off, but to actually legitimately losing something in court. Young's Literal Translation says, "and whoever is willing to take thee to law, and thy coat to take -- suffer to him also the cloak" (emphasis mine). D.A. Carson points out, "At stake here is a principle: even those things which we regard as our rights by law we must be prepared to abandon." In that case, my right by law could be to charge Chris like someone suggested to me but I have certainly abandoned that idea. Perhaps my other right would be to go and ask for it back. I failed to abandon that right - indeed, I could not think clearly enough to even consider it at the time.

So as I've begun processing this and realizing that I did not act in the best way, I think of Proverbs 27:6, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend." It is a wound - feels like a bit of a slap - to be called out by a couple people in my blog - but Margaret is certainly my friend and is seeking to help, and though I don't know who "Anonymous" is I assume that he/she is friend too because he/she is certainly trying to help me do the right thing. And so the wounds are faithful and I thank you for them.

I don't think that I could give a free re-charge because I don't know where the iPod is and doubt that even if Chris had it he would trust me to re-charge it and give it back since it takes hours to re-charge and I doubt he has much experience of people keeping their word.

Perhaps what I can do now is go back to Chris' house and though I cannot offer a free re-charge, I could offer him a free CD of some Jesus music and offer some friendship and remind him that I'm not upset and remind him of the Kid's Club at church on Wednesday Night and invite him out once again.

Please comment on this post if you have some thoughts - and pray for Chris. And pray for me too. Exactley how rightly and how wrongly I acted on Tuesday Night I am still unsure of (wound me again if you think I should realize that I was totally wrong) - but for sure I don't always act rightly (in fact I think I never act fully rightly)...I feel just like Jim Elliot when he looked at himself and wrote in his journal, "what a rebel yet resides within."

Friday, September 15, 2006

kerux noemata: Jim Elliott on Starting High School

kerux noemata: Jim Elliott on Starting High School

kerux noemata: How Can We Not Weep...

kerux noemata: How Can We Not Weep...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Between Two Worlds: The Ambiguously Cured Soul

Justin Taylor's post really intrigued me and I think that everyone would do well to have a look at it. Especially if you have any sort of interest in Biblical Christian Counseling or in psychology. Or if you have any sort of past that is less than perfect. Okay, that includes everyone so check it out!

The quote that really stuck out to me is:

"Knowledge of a person’s history may be important for many reasons: compassion on sufferers, sympathetic understanding, locating the present within an unfolding story, knowledge of characteristic temptations, and so forth. But it never determines the heart’s proclivities and inclinations."

Between Two Worlds: The Ambiguously Cured Soul

How It All Went Down

So my iPod got stolen. Out of the back of the church. (Actually it is the church's old iPod that Tim Cressman used to use but I have been using it since finding it in his old office.) I brought it and hooked it up to my computer speakers to play some music after Tuesday Night Bible Study while we all hung out in the foyer. I had a playlist with some Kirk Franklin, Relient K, Cross Movement, and other good diverse stuff set up. But three kids, Michaela, Misty, and Chris, wandered into the church. I introduced myself to them, found out their ages, and told them that they were the age group that should come back on Wednesday Night for the Kid's Club. Then they left but they came back and were sitting on the stairs. I asked them what they were doing and Chris said that they wanted to listen to the music. I told them that if they wanted to listen to music they needed to come into the sanctuary. So they came in but a few minutes later they left and this time did not return. When I went out in the foyer later, my iPod was gone. Aaron knew where Misty lived so we went to her house a stone's throw from the church. She said Chris stole it and took us to Chris' house. Chris denied it and his older siblings that were smoking and stuff on the couch watching TV didn't help me out at all. The next day I called Michaela because I had her number since she had filled it out to get a free copy of Revolution In World Missions. Michaela confirmed that Chris stole my iPod but said that he traded it to another guy for a knife. (Gotta love friends who trade knives.) So I went back to Chris' house and this time got to talk to his mother and she was helpful but said that she searched his room and could not find it. I told her I had heard he traded it for a knife and she said she did find and knife and confronted her kid who had lied to all of us all along who finally admitted to stealing it but said he had traded it away. Chris' Mom took down my number to call me if Chris was able to get it back. Then today Aaron Gatza told me that he knew the kid who had traded to get the iPod but that the kid had sold it to someone else. So who knows where it is now....

The iPod can only be re-charged on my computer for some strange reason (Bill and Randy can attest to the fact that they could not get it to re-charge) so when it runs out of batteries it will be no good to anyone but me. So I can't even be consoled thinking that maybe the kid who ends up with it will start rolling through town listening to my Jesus music. He will probably throw it out. Unless he beats up the kid that sold it to him or something.... Maybe it will find it's way back to Chris and then Chris' mother will call me. Maybe not.

That's okay, it is still well with my soul either way. My heart goes out to these kids that steal and trade knives though. It is not well with their soul. I hope that they change (ie. meet Jesus) before it's too late and that they realize that their history and upbringing so far is not determinative but rather is simply the context from which they will have to work from.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Hunger For God

A Hunger For God by John Piper

I read this book a while back wanted to just put a few quotes up here from it for anyone to read, because like he says on page 183, "Sometimes a passing comment can have as much impact on us as a whole chapter or book."

Read slowly.

"The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but he prime-time dribble of triviality we drink every night. For all the ill that Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of his love, it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen, and a wife (Luke 14:18-20). The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of either. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable." – Page 14

"Fasting reveals the measure of food's mastery over us – or television or computers [which are other things to possibly fast from] or whatever we submit to again and again to conceal the weakness of our hunger for God." Page 20

"Spontaneously we take risks and don't worry that the long-term effects may be small. Love does not calculate that way. The Good Samaritan did not say, "One interrupted day will make very little difference to the problem of chronic violence in this region." He saw this one need and did something." – Page 144.

Surrendering Rights

I was talking with a friend the other day about surrendering rights to roomates. We talked about how Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6 that when it comes to small things, instead, "Why not rather suffer wrong?" We also talked about how when it is something more important, we must know how to make a stand for what is right. You can make up your own examples. I'm sure you know what I mean.

In my Piper devo book the other day I read "Surrendering and Demanding Rights: Two Kinds of Love" He has three sum up points and you should check out the whole thing, but the second concluding point really stood out to me:

The more personal and private a matter is, the more likely surrendering rights will be the loving way. But the more communal and public a matter is, the more likely demanding rights will be the loving way. The reason for this is that, in public, demanding rights can be seen as a way of caring for others, not just yourself; but in private a demanded right will almost surely communicate self-aggrandizement, and a failure to treasure Christ above all.

If that doesn't make sense to you, I guess you'll have to read the whole article. :)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

Last month I re-read one of the top 3 books I have ever read: Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. The book is the story of how God worked in the Brooklyn Tabernacle to take it from a dying church of 30 people to a thriving church of 10,000 that has planted many other churches as well. The way God did this was by calling Jim Cymbala to call the church to...pray.

Here are some of my favourite quotes:

“One day I told the Lord that I would rather die than merely tread water throughout my career in the ministry…always preaching about the power of the Word and the Spirit, but never seeing it. I abhorred the thought of just having more church services. I hungered for God to break through in our lives and ministry.” – pg 23

“Early in the service I said, “Brothers and sisters, I really feel that I’ve heard from God about the future of our church…. It’s not fancy or profound or spectacular. But I want to say with all the seriousness I can muster: From this day on, the prayer meeting will be the barometer of our church. What happens on Tuesday night will be the gauge by which we will judge success or failure because that will be the measure by which God blesses us.”
“If we call on the Lord, he has promised in his Word to answer, to bring the unsaved to himself, to pour out his Spirit among us. If we don’t call upon the Lord, he has promised nothing – nothing at all.” – pg 27

“I knew that a lot of churches gave lip service to the idea that God can do anything. But we needed to have real faith that anyone who walked in could become a trophy of God’s grace.” – pg 33

“By the time we grew to 150 or 175 on Sunday morning, the prayer meeting was up to 100.” – pg 34

“The honest truth is that I have seen God do more in people’s lives during ten minutes of real prayer than in ten of my sermons.” – pg 71

“Only turning God’s house into a house of fervent prayer will reverse the power of evil so evident in the world today.” – pg 83

“David’s weaponry was ridiculous: a sling and five stones. It didn’t matter. God still uses foolish tools in the hands of weak people to build his kingdom. Back by prayer and his power, we can accomplish the unthinkable.” – pg 98

“The same people who want sixty-minute worship services rent two-hour videos and watch NBA and NFL games that run even longer. The issue is not length, but appetite. Why the misplaced desire?” – pg 133

“God will manifest himself in direct proportion to our passion for him. The principle he laid down long ago is still true: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer 29:13). Oh God, split the heavens and come down! Manifest yourself somehow. Do what only you can do.” – pg 153

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Between Two Worlds: Free

This is real! Check it out! Between Two Worlds: Free

Monday, September 04, 2006

Appearance of Evil

The 19th President of the USA (Rutherford B. Hayes) once said, "In avoiding the appearance of evil, I am not sure but I have sometimes unnecessarily deprived myself and others of innocent enjoyments."

Why then would he bother avoiding the appearance of evil? "Because the Bible says so!" No, actually the Bible does not say to avoid the appearance of evil. I just realized this recently when I had been thinking about it all day and then read Mark Driscoll at night explain how the phrase "avoid every appearance of evil" is from the King James Version of the Bible and is a blatant mistranslation of what 1 Thessalonians 5:22 really says. Neither 1 Thessalonians 5:22 nor any other verse in the Bible instructs us to avoid the appearance of evil. I started to wonder about it when I thought about Jesus hanging out with sinners and tax collectors and prostitutes, et cetera, and how he was not really avoiding the appearance of evil whatsoever. He was right in the mix seeking to save evil people like a doctor hangs around sick people to try to heal them. So if we follow Christ's example then we're going to have to hang with some people and probably in some places where some legalistic Christian might think that we are appearing to do something evil. Interesting.... What we must do is what 1 Thessalonians 5:22 really says, which is, "Abstain from every form of evil." We need to avoid actual evil. Not some false appearance. This doesn't mean we can put ourselves in situations where temptation to evil will be too much for us. Certainly wisdom and discernment is desperately needed here. But let's not fall into the pharisaical trap of putting extra rules out there (like avoid the appearance of evil) for the sake of keeping the real rule (avoid actual forms of evil).

I heard my pastor mention one time about a guy in a former church of his who was pround of having lived his whole life avoiding every apperance of evil. The example he was most proud of was the fact that he had never had his non-Christian neighbour inside his house for anything. What a shame! Perhaps he could have saved that neighbour if he had realized that his zeal was completely misplaced. If he had been as zealous about 1 Corinthians 9:18-23 as he was about his mistranslation of 1 Thessalonians 5:22 who knows if his neighbour would be in Heaven right now....

I guess this is another reason to be constantly searching the Scriptures to find out how to live and not to be relying on tradition. Like Jim Cymbala once said, there is some good meat in tradition...but a lot of bones in it too.

The Bible, on the other hand, is all pure meat so let's dig in.

Friday, September 01, 2006


I'm so happy!!!!!!!!!! This is better than Christmas!! YES!!!!!!!!!! WAAAHAAAHAHAHAH!!

The new DESIRINGGOD.ORG website is out and amazing!!!!!!!!!! I can't even begin to describe it!! I'm at home eating lunch and when I started looking at it I literally screamed out in joy!!!!!!

Thanks you Jesus, for!