Check out

How entrepreneurs come up with great ideas
Start by looking at what’s bugging you.

We are a deeply needy people
Timmy Brister: “The diversity of spiritual gifts reveals the incredible depth of our need.”

Preparing College Students for Graduation
Kevin DeYoung with the ABC’s of preparing students for the real world.

5 Ways to Grow as a Homemaker
Plus 97 resources!

Why the doctrine of the atonement matters to the poor
Mez: “There can be a misapprehension in some circles about how we minister to the poor effectively. I was at a conference recently and the discussion centred around handing out food and other necessities.”

A prayer about the law becoming sweeter than honey
Beautiful balance.


A Center-of-the-Gospel Book for the Gospel-Centered

Anthony Carter. Blood Work: How the Blood of Christ Accomplishes our Salvation. Orlando: Reformation Trust, 2013. 139 pp. $15.00.

The gospel-centered movement has helped innumerable churches and Christians to aim at the right target. Turning away from the easier targets of moralism, legalism, and activism, many are now taking aim at the more difficult—though more rewarding—target of the gospel.

Multiple books, conferences, sermons, blog posts, and songs have rained a shower of arrows towards this newly popular target. However, not so many hit the gospel bulls-eye of the blood of Christ. To be sure, there are vast quantities of arrows in the second ring, justification, and that’s wonderful. As we move outward, we also find many arrows in the election ring, the adoption ring, the regeneration ring, the sanctification ring, the discipleship ring, and the worship ring.

But for all our hitting the gospel target in general, we’re not hitting the red bulls-eye as often as we ought. The bulls-eye is the atonement, the blood of Christ, which is too often simply assumed, spoken of in shallow clichés, or left largely undeveloped. Perhaps it’s even a bit embarrassing? Yes, there are a few days around Easter when the doctrine of the atonement is brushed off and the suffering and dying of Jesus is mentioned more often. But even then, we often speak in hackneyed terms, repeating mantras and stock phrases without really plunging into its depths.

Double Quiver

Enter Anthony Carter with a double quiver full of arrows, laser-targeted on the blood of Christ and all that it means. I don’t think he mentions “gospel-centered” in the book and yet he perhaps gets us closer to the center of the good news than some other books in that genre.

Yes, Carter discusses election, justification, redemption, and sanctification, but always in connection with Christ’s blood. In fact, I was surprised by how many Scripture references there are to this precious blood—nearly three times as many as Christ’s “cross” and five times as many as his “death.” But I was doubly surprised by how Carter highlighted the way every major doctrine in Scripture is connected to Christ’s blood: propitiation, justification, redemption, reconciliation, sanctification, election, and so forth.

Moreover, I appreciated Carter’s clarity when it came to the typological role of the sacrificial system in helping Old Testament believers look “through” the animal sacrifices to the ultimate Sacrifice: “When Abel came with the offering of blood he was believing God and was looking forward to the provision of a deliverer” (8). Again, in connection with the Passover: “Israel always longed for an unblemished male lamb who would take away sin once and for all” (12). No mixture of law, grace, and general theism here, but simply saving faith in the coming Christ.

Blood Work brims with memorable facts, illustrations, and quotations that bring out one or more dimensions of the blood of Jesus and all it accomplishes for us. Carter calls the book “a celebration of the life-giving, soul-blessing, power-enduing blood of Jesus.” That’s certainly the tone, as it beautifully interweaves theology with doxology. I was amazed by the number of songs that, he points out, celebrate Christ’s blood.

This is also a practical book, demonstrating how the Bible presents the blood of Jesus not just as our source of pardon but also our source of purity. It cleanses not just our consciences but also our hearts, shaping our relationship with God and with others.

And the practical power of Christ’s blood isn’t just in the removal of sin and guilt, but in the positive realities of peace, freedom, and spiritual growth. It doesn’t simply take away death, it imparts and maintains life. We need the atonement not just to save our souls initially but also to nourish and grow them in the long run.

The Big Question

As I read and reread the book, one question kept challenging me: Why is the blood-red center of the gospel so often on the periphery of our thoughts, words, and ministries?

Is it a fear of being associated with crude and superstitious uses of “blood” terminology? I’ve certainly been in some circles where “the blood of Christ” was employed more like a magic spell, with little theological content. Carter helps us avoid this pitfall, as he observes: “It’s not the red liquid so much as what it represents—the last act in the tragedy of Christ life.”

Is it fear or shame? We live in sophisticated and cultured times. Do we really want to be talking about a blood-bought salvation among such educated and refined people? Has the Devil blinded us to the centrality and vitality of Christ’s atonement? At times I’ve realized many months have passed since I preached on the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Is it a failure to connect doctrine to the person of Christ? It’s easy to preach a series on justification, sanctification, or election and hardly mention the bruised and bloodied Christ that makes the doctrines possible.

Is our neglect simply ignorance? We simply don’t realize what width, depth, and length there is to the atonement. We stay in the simple shallows of the usual clichés and stock phrases, failing to explore its undiscovered scriptural depths.

Often we just assume everybody knows and so we move on to “higher” things. But there’s nothing higher and not everybody knows. And as even those who do know need reminding, God instituted a specific sacrament—the Lord’s Supper.

Whatever the reason for our neglect of Jesus’ blood, Carter gives us 13 chapters of reasons to refocus our aim on this gospel bulls-eye. Although a relatively short book, Blood Work opens up many dimensions of Christ’s atonement for further and deeper exploration. This is a center-of-the-gospel book for the gospel-centered.

This review was first published at The Gospel Coalition Book Reviews Website.


Check out

A pastor’s role in evangelism
See also Brian’s new book on Jonathan Edwards’ prayer life. All proceeds of this book’s sales will go to the medical bills of Brian’s mother-in-law who is now terminally ill.

The George Whitefield Principle
“One of Whitefield’s keys to connection was simple: he preached without notes.”

The truth about how much workaholics actually work
About 20% less than they say, apparently.

5 Books on a subject your probably scared to look at
The subject is “The Millennium” and Aaron has some good picks here.

Sexual lines no pastor should cross
Seven negatives and seven positives.

Getting through a preaching slump
This is excellent holistic advice.


10 Pictures of Faith in Jesus

Why does God give us so many pictures of believing in Jesus? Why not just some philosophical treatise on faith, or some systematic theology of faith? Why illustrations? And why so many?

First, because faith is so hard. Unbelief comes naturally to us; faith is unnatural. Faith is so hard, it has to be given us by God. And He gives it to us partly by multiplying the pictures of faith to maximize our understanding and exercising of it.

Second, because people are so different. Because of our different backgrounds, personalities, needs, etc., if God had only given us one picture of faith, it might not have suited everyone. He gave us ten (more than ten, in fact) to ensure that everyone could have a picture of faith that would suit them.

Third, because God’s desire for faith is so strong. Take these ten pictures as a vivid expression of Christ’s passionate yearning for us to believe in Him. Read these ten pictures of faith and try to still believe that He really doesn’t want you to believe in him!

1. Believing in Jesus (Acts 16:31): Instead of being pessimistic cynics who doubt and question Jesus and His Word, we become optimistic believers who put full confidence in Him and all that He says.

2. Coming to Jesus (Matt. 11:28): Instead of hiding from Jesus like outlaws trying to evade the Sherrif, we move towards Him as friends to our BFF.

3. Trusting in Jesus (Prov. 3:5): Instead of fearing Jesus as our Judge and trembling to even think of Him, we put all our confidence in Him as our Savior.

4. Looking to Jesus (Isa. 45:22): Instead of shutting our eyes to Jesus, we see Him and His beauty in and through His Word.

5. Resting in Jesus (Heb. 4:10,11): Instead of laboring and sweating to build our own little shack, we give up all our trying and doing, and walk through the open door of the palace of salvation He has already built and there relax in perfect peace.

6. Receiving Jesus (John 1:12): Instead of trying to give Jesus our best efforts, we become a receiver of His perfect work.

7. Calling upon Jesus (Rom. 10:13): Instead of ignoring or refusing to pick up His call (or perhaps even cursing on the line), we start calling upon His Name for everything.

8. Turning to Jesus ( 1 Thess. 1:9): Instead of following our own GPS over the cliff of idolatry, we turn in the opposite direction and start following His GPS.

9. Obeying Jesus (2 Thess. 1:8): Instead of fighting against Jesus and His Gospel, we run up the white flag of surrender, hand over our weapons of rebellion, and say “YES” to the Gospel.

10. Eating and drinking Jesus (John 6:44-58): Instead of feasting on the world’s sinful pleasures, we feed with deep satisfaction on Jesus by thinking about Him and communing with Him.

I dare you to still believe that He doesn’t want you to believe!


Check out

Preach the Old Testament as if Jesus was risen
If you think the Gospel started in Matthew. You only missed it by 39 books.

The Messiah in the Old Testament
“This book transformed my view of the Old Testament and just might be one of the most important books I have ever read.”

5 Challenges to Preaching from the Decalogue
A follow up to 5 Advantages to Preaching from the Decalogue.

How Good is God for the Soul
A beautiful article from Dr Eric Johnson, one of my favorite thinkers, on how to use God’s attributes in counseling.

Sorting out the physical and the spiritual
Dr. Michael Emlet gives CCEF‘s take on the physical/spiritual connection in mental/mood disorders.

How not to say the wrong thing
I don’t agree with everything in this article, but the core principle is a pretty good rule for avoiding saying something wrong in a crisis situation.


Children’s Bible Reading Plan

This week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

If you want to start at the beginning, this is the first year of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

Jason Henry, a missionary in Mongolia, has very kindly collated and produced the second year of morning and evening readings in Word and pdf.

And here’s the first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

Here’s an explanation of the plan.

And here are the daily Bible Studies gathered into individual Bible books. Further explanation of that here.

Old Testament

New Testament

May God bless you and your children as you study the Word of life.