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.

Friday, December 29, 2006


"Let me illustrate some the paradoxes of the Christian life by simply quoting the apostle Paul. He described his own life in 2 Corinthians 6:8-10 like this:

... as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

This is what I mean by the paradoxes of the Christian life. Paul says he is "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." How can you be always rejoicing if you are sometimes sorrowful? There must be some kind of "sorrowful joy" and "joyful sorrow." Indeed, there is—that is one of the deep paradoxes of life for those who rest in a sovereign God and live in a sinful world." - John Piper, Urgency and Gratitude

"There is no unadulterated joy in this world for people who care about others. The Bible describes Christ’s servants like this: “[We are] sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” (2 Corinthians 6:10).

“Sorrowful yet always rejoicing.” How can that be? It can be because Christ is supreme over all things forever, but suffering and death remain for a while. Life is not simple. There is pleasure, and there is pain. There is sweetness, and there is bitter suffering. There is joy, and there is misery. There is life and health, and there is disease and death. And therefore emotions are not simple. For those who love others, and not just their own comforts, this complexity means that we will rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). And there is always someone we know who is weeping, and someone we know who is rejoicing. And therefore we will learn the secret of “sorrowful yet always rejoicing”—and joyful yet always sorrowing. Those amazing words that describe the Christian soul—“sorrowful yet always rejoicing”—mean that suffering remains for a while in this world, but Christ is supreme now and forever." - John Piper, The Supremacy of Christ in an Age of Terror

"May God grant us the grace to know and experience what Paul described as his own life in 2 Corinthians 6:10, "sorrowful yet always rejoicing."" - John Piper, Sweet Sorrow: The Root of Holy Living

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas 2006

What a great Christmas. I love my family and it was awesome to get to spend time with them and with Averil all at once....

Averil and I celebrated Christmas with my family - going to Welland from Thursday until Tuesday. What a wonderful time. Great laughs around the dinner table, great fun reminiscing, great times playing board games like "Bible" Taboo, Wizard, Apples to Apples, Scategories, Upwords, Poker, Boggle, and probably some other ones that I'm forgetting. So much fun. And great laughs and great fun and great times watching a couple good movies too - especially watching Home Alone. I will never forget that time. Averil and I also went to visit Niagara Falls on Christmas Eve Day - it was sunny and nice out and we got a great view of the Falls. Here are some of my favourite pictures from Christmas. Click here to see the rest of the pictures I took.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Jesus Muzik

I really like some of Lecrae's stuff. Anyone on The Cross Movement Records is worth listening to.

Christmas/New Year's Questions

I think that these questions from Don Whitney are really great questions to go through with close friends and/or your family and/or your church.

Check out Justin Taylor's blog right here to get to them.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Pilgrim's Progress II

I will put my very favourite part of the book into this post because this post is a special one for me - it is my 100th blog! I don't know if I ever thought I'd make it to 100 when I first started this blog but now here I am 10 months later. (I'm no mathematician but this would apparently mean that I average 10 blogs a month.)

My favourite part was once again a part that I was alerted to ahead of time - this time by John Piper on page 120 of When I Don't Desire God.

Piper writes:

One of the greatest scenes in The Pilgrim's Progress is when Christian recalls in the dungeon of Doubting-Castle that he has a key to the door. Very significant is not only that the key is, but where it is:

'What a fool I have been to lie like this in a stinking dungeon, when I could have just as well walked free. In my chest pocket I have a key called Promise that will, I am thoroughly persuaded, open any lock in Doubting-Castle.'

'Then,' said Hopeful, 'that is good news. My good brother, do immediately take it out of your chest pocket and try it.'

Then Christian took the key from his chest and began to try the lock of the dungeon door; and as he turned the key, the bolt unlocked and the door flew open with ease, so that Christian and hopeful immediately came out.

Three times Bunyan says that the key out of Doubting-Castle was in Christian's 'chest-pocket' or simply his 'chest.' I take this to mean that Christian had hidden God's promise in his heart by memorization and that it was now accessible in the prison for precisely this reason."

Pilgrim's Progress

I recently finished reading Pilgrim's Progress. I'd been wanting to read it for a long time but it never became quite high enough of a priority. After all, I had read Little Pilgrim's Progress to my campers at Galilean several times so I didn't know if I was missing much. But at the encouragement of something I read by J.I. Packer on Justin Taylor's blog and the encouragement from Averil (which came in the form of her handing me her copy of the book - in the original english that Bunyan wrote in! :o) I decided to read it. I'm happy that I read it. One of the parts that stuck out to me the most was the part that I read on Julian's blog in the summer.

Go to Julian's blog yourself to read his intro to this scene - especially if you don't know anything about who Pilgrim is and who Prudence is. Thanks, Julian, for alerting me to this scene ahead of time so that it hit me again when I read it.
PRUDENCE: Do you not think sometimes of the country from whence you came?

CHRISTIAN: Yea, but with much shame and detestation. Truly, if I had been mindful of that country from whence I came out, I might have had opportunity to have returned; but now I desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one (Heb. 11:15,16).

PRUDENCE: Do you not yet bear away with you some of the things that then you were conversant withal?

CHRISTIAN: Yes, but greatly against my will; especially my inward and carnal cogitations, with which all my countrymen, as well as myself, were delighted. But now all those things are my grief; and might I but choose mine own things, I would choose never to think of those things more: but when I would be a doing that which is best, that which is worst is with me (Rom. 7:15, 21).

PRUDENCE: Do you not find sometimes as if those things were vanquished, which at other times are your perplexity?

CHRISTIAN: Yes, but that is but seldom; but they are to me golden hours in which such things happen to me.

PRUDENCE: Can you remember by what means you find your annoyances at times as if they were vanquished?

when I think what I saw at the cross, that will do it; and when I look upon my broidered coat, that will do it; and when I look into the roll that I carry in my bosom, that will do it; and when my thoughts wax warm about whither I am going, that will do it.

PRUDENCE: And what is it that makes you so desirous to go to Mount Zion?

CHRISTIAN: Why, there I hope to see Him alive that did hang dead on the cross; and there I hope to be rid of all those things that to this day are in me an annoyance to me: there they say there is no death, (Isa. 25:8; Rev. 21:4) and there I shall dwell with such company as I like best. For, to tell you the truth, I love Him because I was by Him eased of my burden; and I am weary of my inward sickness. I would fain be where I shall die no more, and with the company that shall continually cry, 'Holy, holy, holy.'

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Call for Coronary Christians

I wasn't falling asleep very quickly last night so I read an article by John Piper that I had read a while back but forgotten about. It is called A Call for Coronary Christians and begins like this:

Having recently celebrated back-to-back days that cry for justice, I summon Bethlehem to be coronary, not adrenal, Christians in the cause of racial harmony and human life. I have in mind National Sanctity of Human Life Day (as President Bush proclaimed Sunday, January 20), and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 21.

I am glad for adrenaline; I suspect it gets me through lots of Sundays. But it doesn't do much for Mondays. I am more thankful for my heart. It just keeps on serving – during good days and bad days, happy and sad, high and low, appreciated and unappreciated. It never lets me down. It never says, "I don't like your attitude, Piper, I'm taking a day off." It just keeps humbly lubb-dubbing along.

Coronary Christians are like the heart in the causes they serve. Adrenal Christians are like adrenaline – a spurt of energy and then fatigue. What we need in the cause of racial justice and justice for the unborn is coronary Christians. Marathoners, not just sprinters. People who find the pace to finish the (life-long) race.

O, for coronary Christians! Christians committed to great Causes, not great comforts. I pleaded with you to dream a dream bigger than you and your families and your churches. I tried to un-deify the American family and say that our children are not our cause; they are given to us to train for the great causes of mercy and justice in a prejudiced, pain-filled, and perishing world.

You can read the whole article online right here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Word On The Street

I think that the Internet reads my email because when I had a conversation about Bible Translations, it posted a link at the top to The Word On The Street Bible paraphrase by Rob Lacey. The website says, " This is not THE Bible (capital B) … but it might just get you reaching for one."

King James Version:
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Word on the Street:
Day one: Then God's voice booms out, "Lights!" and, from nowhere, light floods the skies and "night" is swept off the scene. God gives it the big thumbs up, calls it "day".

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

70 Resolutions

This morning I was looking back over Jonathan Edwards' 70 Resolutions to help with a post on The 832 Blog about cultivating faithfulness (Psalm 37:3). I thought I'd share some of my favourite resolutions on here, as well as link to where you can read them all.

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.

52. I frequently hear persons in old age, say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age.

63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time.

67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what am I the better for them, and what I might have got by them.

These are weighty and hard. I'm glad Edwards wrote them down so that we can learn from them. Oh that I could put but one of them fully into practice!

For a full list of the Resolutions, go here or here or here or here or type it into google yourself! :p

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Friday, December 08, 2006

When I Don't Desire God Quotes

I recently re-read When I Don’t Desire God: How To Fight For Joy by John Piper. Here are some quotes that I'd like to share from it.

“Provided the thing is in itself right, the more one likes it and the less one has to 'try to be good,' the better. A perfect man would never act from a sense of duty; he’d always want the right thing more than the wrong one. Duty is only a substitute for love (of God and of other people), like a crutch, which is a substitute for a leg. Most of us need the crutch at times, but of course it’s idiotic to use the crutch when our own legs (or own loves, tastes, habits, etc.) can do the journey on their own! – C.S. Lewis, page 18

“There is enough in God to furnish us with matter of joy in the worst circumstances on earth….” – Matthew Henry, page 48

“The baits and pleasures of sin are taken all of them out of the world…. If the heart be filled with the cross of Christ, it casts death and undesirableness upon them all; it leaves no seeming beauty, no appearing pleasure in them.” – John Owen, page 95

“Knowing God is the key to being happy in God.” – page 118

“One of my first questions in dealing with a joyless saint is, “Are you in a small group of believers who care for each other and pray for each other and ‘consider how to stir one another up to love’”? Usually the answer is no.” – page 130

“Praying for joy is not the emotional pampering of joyless people. It is preparation for sacrifice.” Page 140

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Re: Andrew's Question

Andrew! So good to hear from an old, long lost, much respected friend on my blog. I have great memories from the ping pong table at Heritage. Given the big open space and the quality and attitude of those of us who played (and the fact that we sometimes garnered an audience!), I think that those were my favourite times I've ever had playing ping pong.

In response to the question, "In regards to your most recent post on Blue Like you think there is a point where attempting and striving to understand God from our limited perspective is actually a hindrance to ones life and/or faith?"

I would say that I'm very hesitant to ever suggest that we should stop striving to understand God as much as possible. I just think that we need to understand that part of understanding God is understanding that the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God are inscrutable.

But being hard to fathom does not mean that we shouldn't strive to fathom. I think that loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength means (in part) using our minds to get to know/understand God. I think we were created to know and enjoy God and that part of knowing Him is wading deep into the ocean of knowledge that is God and grasping all that we can....then I think the more we grasp/understand, the better off our life/faith will be - as long as we are intentional about not just accumulating head-knowledge to be puffed up with.
Augustine tells of a vision of seeing a little boy at a beach scooping up the ocean thimbleful by thimbleful and emptying it out on the sand. Then he sees an angel who tells him that this boy will have emptied out the entire ocean long before Augustine has exhausted what can be said about God.