Monday, March 23, 2020

Bill and Lena's Peru Update - March 2020 -- The Corona Virus Edition

We are doing well and (thankfully) do not appear to have the Corona Virus. Nevertheless, like the rest of Peru, we have been in quarantine for the last 8 days and will continue to stay inside for at least another week. That said, it has provided an opportunity to send out an update. Please find, below, some lovely photos of our latest newsletter. If you'd like to read it as a printable PDF, please click here.

Bill and Lena's Peru Update - November, 2019

In responses to the Corona Virus Quarantine, it seemed like a good time to catch up on some old news. Here's our update from November, 2019. To read it as a printable PDF, please click here.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Bill and Lena's fancy slideshow update from October, 2017

The past six months have been some of the most challenging and most fruitful of our lives. We have seen more salvations, baptisms in the Holy Spirit and disasters than I can remember. We want to thank you for being partners with us in it all. The new disciples that are being made and the hungry mouths that are being fed will thank you, with us, when we meet in heaven. Please click the big picture, below, for a quick rundown of all that has taken place or for an impressive array of photos that will amaze you! If the picture doesn't click, try here.

The Shraders in Peru

Monday, May 01, 2017

Make Every Day a Norma-l Day

I am NOT super kind.

But I AM afraid of being the rich man in the story of Lazarus the beggar, who died and suffered eternally for being a selfish man.

That is why I didn’t send Norma away on her first visit to my house. Not long into our conversation, I realized that Norma probably had some learning issues. She was about my age, stocky, and badly in need of some dental work, which I later related to her great love of sweets.

It was a sunny, hot afternoon about two months ago when Norma first came to my door. Our conversation went like this:

“Hi. There was an older lady who lives here who told me that I could come and get a piece of cake this afternoon. Can I talk to her?”

Me: “I’m the lady of the house here, and there isn’t one older than me.”

Norma: “Well, she told me I could have a piece of cake.”

Me: “I don’t have a piece of cake.”

Norma: “Do you have something to eat?”

The conversation (or better said, barrage of requests) continued on…..Norma wanted to be certain that she asked for all her favorite things. She asked me for something sweet to drink, for jewelry, for purses (she LOVES purses), desserts, jello, cookies for her son. She has also had two birthdays in the short time I have known her. 😊 Norma began to visit me regularly…every other day, sometimes every afternoon. I put a stop to the daily visits, as I realized that soon I would have to budget Norma into my grocery trips if I didn’t. I told her she could come once a week, which she MOSTLY abides by.

Norma has impacted my life in the strongest of ways, and probably not in the way you might think. All of you mercy people out there are thinking about all the nice things you might do for Norma, and assume that it is kindness that motivates me. Don’t be deceived. I usually know from her persistent ring that she is at my door, and it is not mercy that makes me answer. I just give her what she wants because I am obliged to care for the poor and because if I don’t, she will continue to pester me anyway. The real thing about Norma that speaks to me is that she NEVER STOPS ASKING FOR STUFF!  She is one of the most persistent people I have ever met. If an entrepreneur went after business opportunities the way Norma does with jello, they would be a millionaire.  I HATE asking for things, and Norma reminds me every week that he who does not ask does not get.

I am in a season where I am forging new territory with ministry to university students. I have to ASK---pastors, university officials, prospective student leaders. Over and over again. After the third try, I want to give up. But then there is Norma in my mind, asking for gelatin. And I knock again. Norma is God’s way of telling me that if I would just keep pushing, I would get more of what I want! The woman with the unjust judge cries out until he gives her what she wants, not because he likes her or even cares for her needs, or about justice. He does it because she is driving him nuts. I relate.

One day, I didn’t have any food for her. She was sorely disappointed. She kept running through her list. Nothing. I was ready to send her on her way with a pack of cookies and a drink of water (sometimes I get stubborn about the sweet drinks issue, thinking it is better to give her water). Then like a light going off, she asked for flan. I realized I had the remains of a HUGE flan in the fridge that my flan-loving husband wouldn’t finish because of his travels. I told her that, yes, I actually DID have flan! She literally jumped up and down with excitement. She had hit the jackpot! I was flabbergasted that she had just happened to ask for something that was in my house, that usually wasn’t. It was almost like an angel playing a joke on me had dropped it into her mind.

One day, it’s going to be my flan day. A door will open on a campus that looked impenetrable a day before, or someone will decide to become a disciple of Jesus because I listened to the Holy Spirit. I'll risk crossing the line of making a bother of myself.  I will put on a little bit of Norma-tude, and a huge portion of Holy Spirit-gifted flan will fall in my lap. I may even do a Norma dance. And then I'll do it again!

Friday, September 09, 2016

Hosea 3 and God’s unfolding revelation

Hosea 3 and God’s unfolding revelation

I recently had a brief conversation on Facebook with some XA disciples, in which one of them referenced my teachings on how to interpret the Bible. He quoted my teachings, saying, “It can never mean what it never meant.” It was gratifying to know that someone was listening and that he still remembers! But, it also revealed my own growth as a biblical scholar and theologian, since I no longer agree with what I used to teach! (This enables me to give grace to politicians who change their views – though I have no plans to extend that grace to anyone who is currently running for office!)

The quote was saying that, when one is interpreting the Bible, the meaning of the text for the original audience is THE meaning. So, when Jesus told the parable of the lost coin, he was talking about a lost coin and not about Syrian refugees or Taylor Swift's latest boyfriend. Whatever the text meant to the original audience is still, by far, the best place to start in interpreting the Bible. BUT, the conversation doesn’t end there. As such, I feel the need to write my old friends back and explain that I don't hold as strongly to that as I used to. The reason is that I’ve grown in my understanding of Biblical Theology and the firm belief that the later books in the Bible reveal and explain God’s plan, intentionally, with greater clarity than the earlier books. So, even though we can see salvation by grace in Genesis, we see it much clearer in Ephesians. And once we’ve read Ephesians, we will forever see Genesis in a different light. The amazing aspect of this is that God knew, all along, that the day would come when Ephesians would influence what I see in Genesis. He knew that! In fact, when Jesus preached, he knew that his audience was made up of first century farmers and fishermen – but he also knew that I would one day read the same sermon. God was preaching to them in their time and to me in this time at the same time. Therefore, limiting the text to the incomplete perspective of the original audience unnecessarily limits God's "unfolding revelation."

I realized early on (even as I was teaching the limited methodology) that such a limited perspective of interpretation completely negated the possibility of prophecy. So, I changed the quote to say, “It can never mean what it never meant … except for prophecy.” Unfortunately, that limits God, too, for the entire Bible is prophecy. It's like when movies or video games put in "Easter eggs." Those are fun little clues that reveal that there is a unified author often telling apparently disconnected stories. Pixar movies are full of references to other Pixar movies; e.g., in the dentist’s office of Finding Nemo, there is a Buzz Lightyear doll on the floor and a little boy is reading an “Incredibles” comic book. Also, in nearly every Pixar movie, the same Toyota Pizza truck can be seen and the number A113 is in all of them. In a similar way, God has put parts of the N.T. in the O.T. -- not to mention that Jesus is the subject of all of it.

With that in mind, we come to my own devotional reading from a couple of days ago. It is Hosea 3:1-5: "The Lord said to me, “Go, show love to your wife again, even though she loves another man and continually commits adultery.  Likewise, the Lord loves the Israelites although they turn to other gods and love to offer raisin cakes to idols.” 3:2 So I paid fifteen shekels of silver and about seven bushels of barley to purchase her. 3:3 Then I told her, “You must live with me many days; you must not commit adultery or have sexual intercourse with another man, and I also will wait for you.” 3:4 For the Israelites must live many days without a king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred fertility pillar, without ephod or idols. 3:5 Afterward, the Israelites will turn and seek the Lord their God and their Davidic king. Then they will submit to the Lord in fear and receive his blessings in the future. (NET)"

From my N.T. perspective, I see 3 things:
1.       V 1-2: Hosea had to pay a "redemption" price to get his wife back. Somehow, in her sin and idolatry, she got into debt (perhaps to a pimp or maybe she was in jail for a DUI -- it's easy to get into debt when you live without boundaries) and Hosea had to pay the price to set her free. How difficult it must have been for him to have to pay for her, knowing full well that she was guilty. This makes me think of Jesus, paying the price for us, out of his love for us, knowing full well what shameful harlots we are. You could say that Jesus isn’t in the text, but I would beg to differ. God commanded Hosea to return to his unfaithful wife as an example of God’s love for His people. God planned this out intentionally. It is not coincidental that Hosea had to pay a redemption price for his unfaithful wife and we cannot overlook that God paid a very costly redemption price for us. He who orchestrated this story did so as a prequel to the even more tragic story to come.
2.       V 3-4: Hosea withheld having times of intimacy with his wife as an illustration that a time would come when God's presence would not be with His people. They would not have a King or a priest--before a Davidic King would come. I look at this and see the 400 years without prophecy, before Jesus (the Davidic king and Priest in the order of Melchizedek) came. It would be very unlikely that the original audience would have had the same interpretation, since they lacked the information that we currently have.
3.       V 5: After this long time without God's intimate presence, there would come a new time of intimacy in which the previous rebellious people would become God seekers. A Davidic King will reign over them and they will willingly submit to the Lord. This is clearly (from my N.T. perspective) referring to Jesus and the character transforming ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is, again, unlikely that the original audience could have foreseen this fulfillment. What is very likely is that the original audience could only see the general outline that God would not reject them forever and that the Davidic dynasty would not be wiped out. All of that is true, but we now know how it came to be fulfilled.

So, proper biblical interpretation recognizes the interpretation of the original audience (as much as we can surmise it) and also brings clarity to it with an awareness of, and insights from, God's unfolding revelation.

2 Samuel 23 - The Waste of Worship (Sermon starts at 17:00 minutes)