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.

My Photo
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.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Pleasures Evermore

I'm reading the book right now called Pleasures Evermore by Sam Storms. I first heard of it from Desiring God's Recommended Books and bought it at the Desiring God National Conference a month ago.

It is awesome.

Here are a couple quotes so far that I have highlighted extra clearly:

"We say Yes to sin because we believe its promise of more pleasure than God gives. This leads me to the simple conclusion that the only way for us to successfully resist sin is by maximizing our pleasure in God." - page 27

"Simply put, pleasure is the measure of our treasure." - page 39.

"You will never devote yourself to understanding God and one day say: "Well, that's all there is." No. There's always more! But neither will you ever say: "Well, that's enough." Why? Because God satisfies in a way that always creates a deeper dissatisfaction.
"When you drink water to quench your thirst, there comes a point when water ceases to be appealing to you. Although you were desperately thirsty, there comes a point when you say "Enough!" There comes a point where you couldn't take anymore; you're filled; you're satiated. It would actually be painful to take more. You're on the verge of regurgitating. All of us revel in the physical joy of satisfying our hunger with food. But once full, food loses its appeal....
"But God is the only being in the universe who, when received, when spiritually ingested, has the infinite capacity both to fill and to satisfy without leading you to say, "Stop! Enough!"...God enjoys bringing us virtually to the point of saturation where we think we've seen it all heard it all, tasted it all, felt it all. Yet, precisely when we say, "Enough's enough; it's time to move on to something new and fresh and more exciting," He shows us something never before seen, something unexpected, a fresh taste, a new sound, something about Him yet more glorious and thrilling than we could ever have imagined." - pg 56-57

That last quote reminds me of the great Steven Curtis Chapman song, "Only Getting Started":

I was just a little kid when
I heard about you for the first time
And all I really, really knew for sure
Is you were God I wanted to know you
And now the years have come and gone
I’m still singing that same song
You might think by now I would have reached the end
But the truth is

I am only just beginning
I am only getting
Started to know you now
I’m only getting started
And when I start thinking I’m getting
Close to the end, you just smile at me and say
Hey kid, you ain’t seen nothing yet
I’m only getting started
I’m only getting started now

Now your love it is an ocean
Deeper than my deepest notion
Your grace it is the sky above
It just keeps going forever
And with every new sunrise
You come and open up my eyes
And show me just a little more of you
And again I see that

I am only just beginning
I am only getting
Started to know you now
I’m only getting started
And when I start thinking I’m getting
Close to the end, you just smile at me and say
Hey kid, you ain’t seen nothing yet
I’m only getting started

I am only just beginning
I am only getting
Started to know you now
I’m only getting started
And when I start thinking I’m getting
Close to the end, you just smile at me and say
Hey kid, you ain’t seen nothing yet
I’m only getting started
I’m only getting started now

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Starting to know you now
Getting started
And when I start thinking I’m getting
Close to the end, you just smile at me and say

Monday, October 23, 2006

4 Questions

Last night I posted the poem and a link to Reilly's blog entry "Why I'm Not a Secularist". Here are some more reasons that I'm not a secularist, based on Voddie Baucham's message from The Desiring God National Conference. What follows is basically copied and pasted from Tim Challies live blog of Voddie's Message. However, I've taken the liberty of making a few changes just make things more clear.

Christian theism views ethics as absolute while secular humanism views them as cultural and negotiable. What is ethical in one culture is not necessarily what is ethical in another. Each culture and each period of history negotiates its own ethics.

There are four basic questions that every person asks, no matter the time or place a person lives: Who am I? Why am I here? What is wrong with the world? How can what is wrong be made right? We may not all ask them in that form, but it is in the soul of each person to wrestle with these issues. Voddie answered these questions first from the perspective of our culture and then turned to Colossians 1 to answer them from Scripture.

Secular Humanist Perspective

Who am I? You are nothing! You are an accident, a mistake. You are a glorified ape and that is all you are. You are the result of random evolutionary processes. There is no rhyme, no reason, and no purpose.

Why am I here? To consume and enjoy. No amount is ever enough as we always want a little bit more. All that matters is power. The answers to the first two questions bring about the social Darwinism that has caused such harm to the world.

What is wrong with the world? People are either insufficiently educated or insufficiently governed. People either don't know enough or they aren't being watched enough.

How can what is wrong be made right? More education and more government. Teach people more stuff. The problem is that if you take a sinful human being and teach him more, you create a person with greater ability to destroy. Then we govern them more, but who governs the governors?

Biblical Perspective

How, then, do we respond as Christians? Colossians chapter 1 shows how the Bible responds to the same questions.

Who am I? Colossians 1:15-20 - the text doesn't answer the question because it doesn't start with me. The text starts with Christ because of the supremacy of Christ. The text begins with Christ as the creator of all things. Who am I begins with who Jesus is, for He is God. So who am I? I am the crowning glory of the creation of God. I am not an accident! I have inherent dignity and worth and value. Christian theism cannot comprehend racism, classism and eugenics. "Christian theism looks at the black man and the not-so-black man (you categorize the world the way you want to, I'll categorize it the way I want to). But it's okay that you're not black like me. God loves you just the way you are!" Here is the lingering and hovering question: within the confines of Christian theism there is no room for racism and other issues, yet we know of Christian cultures that embraced racism and slavery. Narrative is not normative. Just because it happened doesn't mean it's right. The more important question is what made it stop. What was the underlying worldview that rose up and showed the dissonance? It was wrong by the standard of the supremacy of Christ.

Why am I here? Colossians 1:15-16 - Christian theism teaches that all things were created to bring God glory and honor so He might have the supremacy in all things. This is why we all exist. He is to have supremacy and preeminence in all things. "God is not against us having things, but against things having us." So much of what we do, what we study, what jobs we have, are based on our desire to consume and enjoy rather than to pursue the supremacy of Christ. We look for prestige rather than Christ.

What is wrong with the world? Colossians 1:21 - We are what is wrong with the world! We are God's crowning creation and yet are hostile towards the one by whom and for whom we were created. The question is not "if God is good why do bad things happen?" but "how on earth can a holy and righteous God know what I did and thought and said yesterday and not kill me in my sleep last night?" Until we ask the question that way, we believe that the problem is "out there." We believe that we are part of the solution rather than the problem. The problem with the world is me. The problem is the fact that I do not acknowledge the supremacy of Christ. I start with me as the measure of all things. The problem is that I judge God based by how well He carries out my agenda for the world, and I believe in the supremacy of me.

How can what is wrong be made right? Colossians 1:22-23 - We see two things in this last set of statements. First, what is wrong can be made wrong by the penal substitutionary death of Christ and second that it cannot be made right any other way. We see the supremacy of Christ in His exclusivity. There is no other way in which men can be justified. Every other religion basically teaches that we need to ensure we do more good than bad and hope for the best. Three problems: I can't be good because I am totally, radically depraved; What about all the things I did before my religious experience?; Where is my assurance? The answer to all of this is the supremacy of Christ. What is wrong can be made right by the blood of Jesus. "Christ paid a debt He did not owe on behalf of a people who could not pay Him back."

Concluding Thoughts....

We are the crowing creation of God, here to bring glory to Christ. We are what is wrong with the world, living as we do in pursuit of the supremacy of self, but all that is wrong can be made right through the atoning death of Christ and through repentance and faith on the part of sinners. When you juxtapose these worldviews, on the one hand you are left empty and hopeless. Man is left worthless, left to pursue his own satisfaction. On the other, you are precious, you have a purpose but you are powerless. This is okay, though, because you were purchased. This is the supremacy of Christ in truth in a postmodern world. As we walk through the highways and byways and look into the lifeless eyes of those who have bought this lie, let us rest assured that we possess the answer and are possessed by the answer. The answer is Christ. Let us rest assured that those who walk aimlessly through life will never be satisfied by the answers of culture and the further we have run from Christ's supremacy, the further we have run from the only thing that will ever satisfy and will ever suffice. Let us rest assured that the supremacy of Christ in truth also means the sufficiency of Christ in truth. Let us embrace this, and proclaim it passionately, confidently and relentlessly for after all, that is why we are here.
Thank you Voddie, for the message!
Thank you Tim, for the blog!

Thank You Jesus, for purpose and meaning and value and rescue!

Winnie the Pooh Quotes

"Pooh," said Rabbit kindly, "you haven't any brain."
"I know," said Pooh humbly.
"And we must all bring Provisions."
"Bring what?"
"Things to eat."
"Oh!" said Pooh happily. "I thought you said Provisions. I'll go and tell them." And he stumped off.
"One can't complain. I have my friends. Someone spoke to me only yesterday." - Eeyore
Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."
"Spelling isn't everything. There are days when spelling Tuesday simply doesn't count." - Rabbit
"The atmospheric conditions have been very unfavourable lately," said Owl.
"The what?"
"It has been raining," explained Owl.
"Yes," said Christopher Robin. "It has."
"The flood-level has reached an unprecedented height."
"The who?"
"There's a lot of water about," explained Owl.
"When stuck in the river, it is best to dive and swim to the bank yourself before someone drops a large stone on your chest in an attempt to hoosh you there." - Eeyore

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Why I'm Not a Secularist

I don't read Rielly's blog all that often but usually when I do I'm glad I did. He posted this poem in his last post and I thought I'd share it here as well as link to his entire post with his own thoughts before the poem. The link to his post is here.

The first time I heard this poem (that I can remember) was from Ravi Zacharias - which makes it even greater because whenever I read it I have his awesome voice in my head!



Steve Turner

We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin.
We believe everything is OK
As long as you don’t hurt anyone,
to your best definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before, during, and after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy’s OK.
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything’s getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated
and you can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there’s something in horoscopes,
UFO’s and bent spoons;
Jesus was a good man just like Buddha,
Mohammad, and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher although we think
his good morals were bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same –
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of creation,
sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

We believe that after death comes the Nothing
Because when you ask the dead what happens
They say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied, then it’s
compulsory heaven for all
excepting perhaps
Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Khan.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between warfare and
Americans should beat their guns into tractors
and the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It’s only his behavior that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth that
is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will read just.
History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth
that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds,
and the flowering of individual thought.

In his post script titled “Chance” he writes,

If chance be
the Father of all flesh,
disaster is his rainbow in the sky,
and when you hear

State of Emergency!
Sniper Kills Ten!
Troops on Rampage!
Whites go Looting!
Bomb Blasts School!

It is but the sound of man
worshipping his maker.

What About Them?

Good lyrics. "What About Them?" by John Reuben.

Puff the magic Jesus
Floats around the universe
The United States is His favorite place on the whole entire earth
So sing your songs and wave your flag
And thank the Lord for all you have
But what about them?
Did you forget about them?

We came we conquered never speak of this again life
Must go on let’s not think of them
Things are comfortable now the pioneers have settled in
A perfect blend of progress and pale skin
For our sake and those to come
We’ll rewrite the text so you can forget where you came from
Tell it in a way that will build your self esteem
Repackage the product and sell the American dream


History is best forgotten and even better rewritten
And since there’s no forgetting let’s remember it different
Commit to it so strongly till you believe it
The truth is there but you aren’t able to receive it
You need to know you’re safe here
Hide your face here cuz you found your faith here
But four walls with no windows doesn’t mean you’re it
Four walls with no windows doesn’t mean they don’t exist


What a prosperous, wondrous place
Remember to say grace before we scrape our plates
And ignore the crying outside the door sure
You’ll pray for their burdens but you don’t want to make it yours
Thin lines divide but there’s a world of difference
So crawl back into your happy existence and feel the bliss of ignorance keep you warm
Blessed are those who mourn but it’s so foreign
The more you have the less you care
The less you care the more you become unaware
And sure life’s not fair but it favors us apparently
And how are we to interpret this excess
Is it God’s favor ill-behavior or simply man’s modern progress
God bless us as we sweep this mess under the rug
Don’t want to walk barefoot on the tile and step in the mud
Out of sight out of mind and pushed to the side
Left for someone else to rationalize and justify


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The 23rd Channel

My last post reminded me of this poem:

THE 23rd CHANNEL (Author Unknown)

The TV set is my shepherd. My spiritual growth shall want.
It makes me to sit down and do nothing for His name's sake
because it requireth all of my spare time.
It keepeth me from doing my duty as a Christian
because it presenteth so many good shows that I must see.
It restoreth my knowledge of the things of the world,
and keepeth me from the study of God's word.
It leadeth me in the paths of failing to attend the evening worship services
and doing nothing in the kingdom of God.
Yea, though I live to be 100,
I shall keep on viewing television as long as it will work.
For it is my closest companion.
Its sound and its picture, they comfort me.
It presenteth entertainment before me,
and keepeth me from doing important things with my family.
It fills my head with ideas, which differ from those set forth in the Word of God.
Surely, no good things will come of my life
because my television offereth me no good time to do the will of God.
Thus I will dwell crownless in the house of the Lord forever.

And of this poem:

The 23rd Channel (Author Unknown)

THE TV is my shepherd I shall not want,
It makes me lie down on the sofa,
It leads me away from the scriptures,
It damages my soul.

It leads me in the path of sex and
violence for the sponsor's sake,
Yea, though I walk in the shadow of
my Christian responsibilities, there will be
no interruption for the TV is with me,
It's cable and remote control,
they comfort me,
It prepares a commercial before me in
the presence of my worldliness.

It anoints my head with humanism,
my coveting runneth over,
Surely laziness and ignorance shall
follow me all the days of my life,
And, I shall dwell in my house
watching TV forever, Amen.

Television Viewing and Autism . . . a Link?

This is an intereseting article by Al Mohler:

Television Viewing and Autism . . . a Link?

Near the end he writes:

"The experience of watching television is passive rather than active. The child's imagination is not required to provide the images -- the screen does that for them. Television does not encourage active thought nor does it develop the attention span. Many researchers suggest that the experience of viewing television can affect the cognitive and neurological development of the child."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Discerning Reader

I like to read some book reviews from the Discerning Reader. The exception is when I read the reviews about books that talk about charismatic spiritual gifts. Since the cessationist position seems biblically indefensible to me, I can't stand reading a glowing review of Charismatic Chaos by John MacArthur and a less than glowing review of Convergence by Sam Storms.

However, other than that, I like the website. Since I recently read and thought very highly of With One Voice by Alex Chediak, I found it interesting to read the list of books that have influenced Alex the most.

8 Reasons Why I Don't Share My Faith

From time to time I like to check out The Rebelution - a blog and website by Joshua Harris' younger brothers. This video on it is great and I hope to show it one Tuesday Night once we get the Internet working again in the main church building.

Eight Reasons Why I Don’t Share My Faith

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

kerux noemata: What should a pastor do when everything is going wrong?

Good post here. Good thoughts for Pastors and for all of us who love Christ and love people. Good things to do both now and when everything is going wrong. Check it.
kerux noemata: What should a pastor do when everything is going wrong?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Top 50 Books.

No, I'm not about to list my top 50 books. That would be interesting

I want to draw your attention to this article in Christianity Today: The Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals. Very interesting. The #1 book is ridiculous because hardly anyone on the blogs I read have even heard of it. But many of the other books are interesting to look at. By no means are they the BEST books - just the ones that have influenced evangelicals the most.

I would be interested to know which ones on the list those of you who read my blog have read and found noticeably influential in your own life?

I think I have read 10 books on the list (a couple of those 10 I just skimmed in the library but did not really read properly) and the ones that stick out as having really influenced me are Desiring God by John Piper and This Present Darkness by Frank E. Peretti. Celebration of Disciple has influenced me a fair bit too, but not as much as Piper and Peretti. I don't necessarily complete agree with everything in Peretti's book but it sure has influenced me.

(HT Justin Taylor)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Some More Conference Pictures

More Conference Pictures

Here are some more of my favourite pictures I took. I love digital cameras!!!

Conference Pictures

Here are some of my favourite pictures that I took during the conference.

Just inside the Conference Center doors

Joe and I (with Piper in the background)

Speaker Interview

Outside the Conference Center

Ynze and John and Me (John and I are on a first-name basis now lol)

Above All Earthly Powers

Some reflections on the Desiring God National Conference...

It was awesome.

The best messages in my opinion were the ones by Tim Keller and John Piper, but they were all great messages. And the speaker interviews were awesome too.

All the online audio can be found here for free.

During Piper's fantasic message he asked himself, "What Would Mark Driscoll Do?" and made us all laugh and also made his point clear and memorable. You can listen to the excerpt right here - I like listening to it because I can pretty much hear myself laughing since I was in the middle of the front row of Convention Center for this message! (Which was pretty cool - I did not expect to get that seat considering there were 3,100 people there!)

As for post-conference internet blog talk, of interest is this post by Mark Driscoll that includes a couple of emails that he and John Piper exchanged after the conferece.

One of the other awesome things about the conference was the discounted books in the HUGE bookstore. I bought 4 and recieved 3 for free.

The books I bought were:

With One Voice: Singleness, Dating, and Marriage to the Glory of God by Alex Chediak

Pleasures Forevermore by Sam Storms

One Thing: Developing a Passion for the Beauty of God by Sam Storms

Convergence: Spiritual Journeys of a Charismatic Calvinist by Sam Storms

The books I got for free are:

Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris

Above All Earthly Pow'rs: Christ in a Postmodern World by David Wells

No Place for Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? by David Wells

As time goes on I will hopefully post the best quotes out of all those books. So far I have only read the first one and I highly highly recommend it. It is the best "relationship book" I have ever read. Yes, even better than Boy Meets Girl! lol

The conference was fantastic. The atmosphere of worship was heavenly. I had very little voice because of my cold but I will never forget singing We Will Dance right before the final message by John Piper. Powerful. The drive there and back was great fun with Pastor Jack and Deedee and Ynze and Joe. Lots of fun and fellowship and listening to good music and Piper sermons.

Personal highlights (in no particular order) were:

Hearing D.A. Carson emotionally cry as he answered the question during the speaker interviews of how he would encourage Pastors of smaller churches. You can read the transcript of that here.

Piper's message. Powerful and emotional....listen to it online.

Meeting John Piper and Mark Driscoll and shaking their hands and thanking them for their ministries. They were both very nice guys who took time to talk for a couple minutes.

Listening to Tim Keller's lecture. Wow.

Having fun with Ryan and Joe and with Jack and Deedee.

Listening to the speaker interview with John Piper and Mark Driscoll and Timothy Keller - they we so personal and funny and meaningful.