Monday, October 27, 2014

Dear Professor Imes

A few days ago I shared the happy news that I have been asked to teach a course on the Gospels and Acts at Multnomah University in the Spring. {insert happy dance} One way to tell that you're doing what you were born to do is that you completely lose track of time while doing it. Last night I stayed up far past my normal bedtime, devouring the stack of books that arrived yesterday from Zondervan. Publishers are eager to share their latest publications with professors, in hopes that they will require students to buy and read their books. (I've already received several emails addressed to "Dear Professor Imes" -- music to my ears!) Here are the latest additions to my library, complements of Zondervan, InterVarsity, and Bible Places:

Since I've focused almost entirely on the Old Testament for the past 3 years at Wheaton, my New Testament library is a bit thin. This will go a long way toward equipping me to equip students with the tools they need to understand the Gospels and Acts.

I can hardly wait to get started teaching. But first I need to craft a syllabus, which entails choosing which books will be most helpful to my students. That means I must spend many happy hours reading. {insert long, satisfied sigh}

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

spiritual disciplines for busy moms

Have you struggled with having consistent time with God? Most people do, and it's especially tricky for parents with kids at home. My dear friend, Heather, is publishing a series of guest posts on her blog about spiritual disciplines for moms. I thought this was a fabulous idea -- we all have so much we can learn from each other! Heather invited me to write the first post for the series. Here's how it begins -
It’s 6:56 a.m.  There’s a scramble as lunch bags are filled, zipped shut, and piled by the front door with coats and backpacks. Chairs slide across the dining room floor and I hear my husband’s footsteps on the stairs. In a moment we are all gathered around the breakfast table, getting settled and filling our plates.
 “May I start the chapter now?” Our 13-year-old checks to see if we’re all ready. We are, so she goes to the computer and clicks the play button. We eat silently, listening as the current chapter of Proverbs is read.

When it’s over, my husband asks, “Did anybody notice anything in particular this morning? Any questions or comments?” For a few minutes we comment on the text we’ve heard. Often the kids ask what a certain word means. Sometimes there’s a prayer request.

Then I announce, “Okay, we’re having five minutes of quiet now. I’ll call you back when it’s over.” This is a family favorite. The kids are free to sit at the table and keep eating or move to an adjoining room to spend five minutes praying, reflecting, journaling, drawing, or reading the Bible. Five minutes isn’t much, but we hope it’s habit-forming. These are precious moments to collect our thoughts, to tune our hearts to His, and to take a deep breath before the day begins. 

To keep reading, visit Unending Mercies. Thanks for reading. And thanks, Heather, for taking the initiative to help us all think through this important issue.

Austin, Heather, and David visited us
in our new home this summer!

Friday, October 17, 2014

full to bursting

Has your heart ever been so full you think it might burst?

I remember the moment as if it was last month. I think it was the fall of 1999. The trees were golden yellow. The air was sharp and crisp. The sun's angle cast a glow on the fluttering leaves, the well-trimmed hedges throwing long shadows. I walked down the campus path, drawing a deep breath of autumn. It was the same path I had walked dozens of times, past aging buildings toward home, but that day everything swelled with rightness. 

I had just finished teaching a "lab" section of Advanced Bible Study Methods to upperclassmen at Multnomah Bible College. My heart swelled with gratitude for the opportunity to guide students on their quest to understand the Scriptures. I was doing what I was born to do. As I walked home under the bright canopy of leaves, with joy welling up inside, a seed of hope was born.

I didn't know how or when. But I knew that I wanted to return someday, not as a lab instructor, but as a professor. I belonged here. Teaching. Multnomah didn't hire women as Bible Professors back then. I had it on good authority that they probably never would. But I didn't let that stop me from dreaming. I watered that seed of hope with hours and days and weeks and years of graduate-level education. Maybe someday . . .

Multnomah has not had an easy road these past few years. President Dan Lockwood died of cancer just one year ago, in the midst of financial challenges and unhappy lay-offs. But then our road has not been easy either. Multnomah may not be not the same place it was that fall day 15 years ago. Neither am I. But God is up to something wonderful.

Dr. G. Craig Williford,
5th President of Multnomah University
Fast forward to this afternoon. Danny and I had the privilege of witnessing the inauguration of Multnomah's 5th president, Dr. Craig Williford. The faculty -- men and women who have profoundly shaped who we have become -- paraded by in full regalia to the sound of bagpipes. Retired Professor David Needham prayed, transporting us directly to the throne room, as he did countless times as we sat under his teaching. Luis Palau spoke. Surrounded by beloved faculty and staff, it was hard not to smile. But I had another reason to celebrate, too, because the man who took office today is not just leading my alma mater. In a few short months he will also be my boss.

Are you sitting down? This Spring you'll find me on campus twice a week teaching a Freshmen class on the Gospels and Acts. I keep pinching myself. I have spent the past 19 years getting ready for this moment. Now it's suddenly here and I'm full to bursting. What a joy to begin this stage of my teaching career at the very place it all began!


(No, I'm not finished with my dissertation yet. Revisions will take the better part of this year, at least. But I have the feeling that this experience will give it wings to fly. It has me!)



Thursday, October 16, 2014

leap of faith

"Leap of Faith" by Jasmine May
This is the third of three watercolors that Jasmine May shared with me — and I'm delighted to have permission to share it with you. It grapples with another dimension of faith. "Falling Into His Hands" portrayed the strong hands of God that are ready to catch us whenever we let go of control. This painting — "Leap of Faith" — depicts the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to do what is far beyond our natural abilities. In this phase of Jasmine's walk with Jesus he was asking her not to sit back and watch Him work on her behalf, but to step out and take action on others' behalf with no guarantee of success. Jasmine explains,
"When we sensed God telling us to start an aftercare home for sex-trafficking survivors, it seemed impossible. God was saying, 'Jump off that cliff.' I asked Him, " ... so are You going to catch me?' But He answered, 'No. I gave you everything you need to fly. The wings are the Holy Spirit. The only way to experience how to fly by My Spirit is to jump!'"
The rhythm of our life with God includes both kinds of trust -- both quiet waiting and taking action. Is God prompting you to take a leap of faith? Is there an impossible task that awaits you? If God is asking you to do it, He has already supplied you with everything you need.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

falling into his hands

"Falling into His Hands" by Jasmine May
Today I wanted to share another of Jasmine May's stunning watercolors (with her permission). Describing this scene, Jasmine says, "Many times, in order to trust God, you have to let go of what you are holding onto. Trusting God often feels like falling into chaos and storm and losing solid ground. But only when you let go, do you find God's strong hands."

Take a few moments to think about your own life. Where is God asking you to trust Him? Does it feel like to trust you'll have to let go of everything comfortable and familiar and enter into a season of chaos?

Last fall I let go of the rope. In the chaos that ensued I felt God's strong hands cradling me, protecting me. Had I clung to the rope, trying to maintain control of my situation, I would have missed out on some priceless gifts.

Trust is easy when all is well, but it also isn't very impressive. Life's greatest difficulties are the true test of our faith in God. At the precise moment when life feels most out of control, God is inviting us to fall back into His hands. It would be easy to let go if we already felt the strength of His hands beneath us. But we can't. And that's where trust comes in — believing that He will be there to catch us, even when we can't see or hear him.

As Peter puts it, "Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold— gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away— and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:7 New English Translation)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

the BIG story of the Bible in a nutshell

I just heard about a great new resource developed by a college friend, Tim Mackie, and his roommate, Jon Collins. Check out their latest video here. In just a few minutes it weaves the story line of the entire Bible together, centered on the Messiah. They're working on videos introducing the big themes of every book of the Bible as well as a collection of theme-based videos. What I've seen so far is excellent.

If you've seen my favorite children's Bible, The Big Picture Story Bible, then you've had a taste of what drives this video project. They have a lot in common. This will be a great resource for teachers, small group leaders, parents, and anyone who wants to understand the Bible's overall message.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

after the storm

Art speaks powerfully. The artistry of Israel's tabernacle captured a sense of God's majesty with its gold overlays, fine fabrics, rich colors, and sparkling gemstones. Images of cherubim, lush fruits, and verdant trees evoked memories of the Garden. Aaron's fabulous clothes illustrated his role as intercessor for the nation. The design of the tabernacle and its furnishings was important enough to God that he gave Moses detailed plans to follow and set apart two men uniquely gifted in the arts to carry out the work (Exodus 30:1–11).

In a recent web article, Christian leadership guru Michael Hyatt claimed,
"Art has the power to point us to the divine, to the ultimate Artist. It doesn’t answer all the questions, but it can shine a light on questions we didn’t even know we had."

My friend, Jasmine May, author of Deep Waters, has graciously agreed to let me share some of her beautiful artwork with you. Like the artistry of the tabernacle, Jasmine's art speaks. While our journeys have been vastly different, we've both experienced pain and brokenness as well as healing.

"After the Storm" by Jasmine May
Her painting so stunningly portrays the state of my soul. The worst of the storm is over and the sun has begun streaming down from the clouds. The tree is surprised to look down and discover that she has not been destroyed. In fact, the power of the storm has stirred up deeper beauty. Her joy unfolds like a flower. Jasmine explains, "As the wind blows the leaves, it carries the seeds of the tree's beauty to the world at large, spreading life."

Thanks, Jasmine, for sharing this gift with the world and lifting our eyes to look to God!