A Modern Parable of the Talents [Video]

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I love what Rick DeVos is doing at Start Garden in Grand Rapids. Basically Rick has put together a $15 million dollar fund that invests $5,000 in two business ideas every week. One is chosen by Start Garden and the other is the one with the most endorsements from the general public.

Each $5,000 idea has about two months to do something constructive with the investment. Then they return to give an update at a public event, where a decision is made about whether to invest a further $20,000 in the business. If that goes well, then further investments of up to $100,000 are possible! And all this comes with advice and guidance from experienced business leaders.

A friend of mine has managed to get to the second stage with his G-RAPS idea. This would never have made it to market without Rik’s investment and encouragement. Wouldn’t it be great to see more wealthy business leaders not just multiplying their own “talents,” but helping others to do the same (Matthew 25:14-30).

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How Mollie Hemingway introduced the nation to Kermit Gosnell
Trevin Wax traces the amazing impact of one Christian journalist in calling national interest to a story most mainstream media outlets were trying to ignore.

Mental illness and the church
There may be a few phrases that could be tweaked in this article, but it’s good to see such an influential website dealing so carefully with this issue.

Belief in angry God associated with poor mental health
With the usual qualifier of “this does not explain every case of mental illness.” (HT: Joel Miller)

Cultivate Gospel Conversations by Listening
A much neglected area of Christian discipleship.

Babies and Bathtubs (2)
My wife, Shona, continues her humorous series on being pregnant in America. Today she look at some of the “trendy questions” she’s been asked.

Why pastors quit
Jason tries to slow the quit rate with some biblical encouragements.

Education and the Digital Revolution

All schools and colleges are wrestling with the impact of the digital revolution on both the delivery of education and on the learning styles of our students. Online education is growing at 19% per  year, online enrollment now represents 25% of all higher education enrollments, and demand for online courses is now greater than demand for corresponding face-to-face courses.

As the dust settles (I hope) we are faced with four main options for delivering education:

1. The Traditional Lecture: Mainly a monologue where information is delivered orally from one teacher to many students at a set time each week.

2. Distance/Online Learning: Individual students are given the course materials and assignments to work through on their own and at their own pace. Usually a solitary learning experience, with little student/teacher interaction and no student/student interaction. High dropout rate.

3. Flipped Classroom: Instead of lectures in the class and assignments at home, the class is “flipped” so that students watch/listen to the lecture at home in their own time, and come to class to work though problems, assignments, application of lessons together with the teacher and other students.

4. Blended Learning: This tries to combine the best of the previous three methods. Most (though not all) lectures are delivered online. Classroom time is given to working on assignments, testing learning, applying knowledge, discussion, and also to special lectures. In addition, technology is used to facilitate collaborative (student-to-student) learning via forums, etc.

Here’s a paper with a synopsis of some of the most significant online articles that have been written on the evolving educational scene over the past year or so. The research is increasingly showing that the Blended Learning model is the way of the future for many (though not all) subjects. The advantages, in summary, are:


  1. It costs the school less (30-50% less) and should therefore either reduce student costs or increase educational value.
  2. Reduced tuition increases accessibility of education to poorer individuals and communities.
  3. It saves time because the video lessons are prepared once and used (with some updating) thereafter. It also saves the student time because he/she does not need to be travelling to/from so many lectures.
  4. Research shows that students tend to complete the courses faster.
  5. The learning outcomes are equal to or better than traditional lectures.
  6. Class time used for practical application of knowledge.
  7. Emphasis not just on what you know, but can you use what you know. Not just the transmission/reception of information or ideas, but how to use them.
  8. More time for one-to-one mentoring, modeling, relationship building.
  9. Moves away from seat-time (credit hours) to competency.
  10. Tends to produce more creative and accurate assessment methods than traditional major paper plus end-of-semester exam.
  11. Plays to strengths of digital generation and provides means for constant student interaction and student-to-student teaching/learning.
  12. Reduces the need for new buildings.
  13. Increases personalization of education, customizing courses to individual learning styles, speeds, and needs.


  • What do you think of these trends?
  • Should seminaries just stick with the traditional methods?
  • What’s your experience of these different methods?
  • What are the best ways to make blended courses work?
  • Are there any subjects that should always be taught by traditional lecture?
  • Should schools offer different methods to suit different kinds of learners?
  • What should be a professor’s role? Do we need professors dedicated to online teaching?

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Bannerman’s Church of Christ (Outlined & Abridged)
Ryan McGraw has done the church a great service in providing an abridgment of James Bannerman’s magnum opus. Even if you’re not a Presbyterian, you will learn a lot of practical ecclesiology from this book.  And for a few more days, IT’S FREE!

Tear-stained words of a mother
YES! Many of my spiritual heroes are Christians who suffer with the deepest depressions and yet hang on to God by the fingernails of their faith and refuse to let go even when they have no inner our outer encouragements to persevere.

Babies and Bathtubs
Shona talks about the amusing experience of having an “American” baby.

Covenant Eyes Mac Filter is here
At looooong last! Thank YOU!!

Captivated: Free Online Premiere next week
This is something for all church bulletins this Sunday.

Psalter and Heidelberg Catechism for mobile devices
1. Go to iBooks section
2. Open the link on your iPad (ignore any error message and tap on Download)
3. At download completed tap on “open in iBooks” ( it may take up to a minute the first time)
4. The same instructions apply to the epub version.
The epub version is meant for use on the iPhone, or other smartphones and tablets,

Positive Faith: A New Microblog

If you’re sharp-eyed, you may have noticed a new button on the blog’s navigation bar. Right beside the Blog button, you’ll notice one that says Microblog. If you click on it, you’ll arrive at my Tumblr blog, which has been customized to integrate with the HeadHeartHand website.

So, why would I want to start another blog? Well, I’ve often wanted a place where I can post smaller pieces, photos, quotations, video clips, etc., that I come across in the course of my study, as well as some personal news from time to time. I didn’t want to post all of these items on the HeadHeartHand blog because that would just clog up that main stream with smaller pieces and distract from the regular daily postings.

Tumblr also makes it really quick and easy to post things from a browser or phone; hence why a lot of young people are hanging out there.

I’ve called it Positive Faith because I want the microblog to be an enjoyable source of encouragement and inspiration for Christians in an often negative and pessimistic world.

If you subscribe to the HeadHeartHand blog by RSS or email, the Positive Faith posts should now be showing up in your RSS reader or your daily HeadHeartHand email. If you subscribe by email, you’ll also have noticed an improvement in the format, as I’ve switched from Feedburner to Mailchimp.

If you don’t already subscribe by email, why not start today. Just fill out your email in the box on the right of the blog, and you’ll ensure a daily dose for your Head, your Heart, and your Hand! Going forward, there will also be special offers from time to time for email subscribers.

Once again, I owe a huge debt of thanks to Cameron Morgan and Ray, his assistant, for their design and technical skills that made this possible. If you ever want design or technical work done on your website or blog, Cameron’s your man. I can’t recommend him highly enough. You can reach him on Twitter or via his website.

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Facebook friends and sin
“How am I supposed to respond to my so-called friends who promote sin on their wall?”

The Digital World of Teens
While we’re at it, here’s an Infographic revealing how entrenched teens are in technology and the digital world.

Death and Resurrection: The Typological Structure of Old Testament Redemptive History
“Throughout redemptive history a number of typological death and resurrection acts were revealed in Scripture to prepare us for the ultimate death and resurrection of the coming Redeemer.”

9 Things you should know about women’s body image issues
The most stunning stat here? “Only two percent of women globally consider themselves beautiful.”

Ligonier Academy now accepting D.Min applications
This is a wonderful program for pastors wanting to continue their education under some of the best teachers in the world.

When the bombs exploded in Boston
Tony Reinke walks us through our Boston thoughts and feelings.