re:ligious tuxedos

so much more

the funny thing is that the picture is both wrong and right on a number of different levels.  BUT the way in which it is MOST wrong is the statement,i want to be formal.”

nothing could be further from the truth.

so i found this pic while thinking through the Word this morning… Matthew 5 where Jesus is talking about religious people’s tendency to “lay down smoke screens of pious talk” in order to cover up their own sinful hypocricy. Jesus, the guy pictured up above with the 40 oz barley pop and sneakers, said in His early sermon on the mount, “in making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true.“[E.Pete’s Message Mt. 5.35-40]

if Jesus, THE revelation from the God of the universe, wanted to be anything, it was not formal.

Jesus was intentionally, by the design of God, not formal: born to an unwed mom, a supposed bastard.  born in a cattle stable, in a feed trough.  raised by a blue collar dad, and learned the trade.  chose blue collar and sinful dudes to become His disciples.  hung out with the poor and sinners, to the point that the religious people called Him a drunk and a glutton.  was homeless and rejected regularly as He preached the Word of God.  he dressed and spoke and preached in the style and language of the street, when all the religious people dressed in religious robes and spoke in ‘higher’ languages…

Jesus does not want to be formal-  He wants to be known by you, real-ly.

that’s right – God is the God of the REAL.  He wants you to have a REAL life in Him – not a facade of religious words and acts used to impress others and hopefully God.  so don’t feel the need to wear your tuxedo tshirt to impress God, or your tuxedo language to talk to Him either.  He’s interested in you, and me – just as you are.

and that’s the other part of the picture above that’s a bit off key – he’s not here for a cheap beer-buzz,  per se … He’s here for YOU.  and once you get sorted out in Him, the real party of grace can begin…

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re:Vusi

so the boys and i met a guy named Vusi last August in Manzini.

a good guy, Vusi is a widower and the dad of 3 boys.  not a perfect guy, he’s really happy to have met Jesus and have his sin forgiven as he trusts in Him as his Savior.  when we met Vusi that first time, he had asked us if there was any way that we could help provide some food for his boys.  the 4 of us talked, [lad, squire, wyatt, and crusoe] and we decided we could help Vusi feed his kids.

it was a good decision for us, and especially the boys, being their first time in actively choosing to give some of their money to help someone.  we’ve been in touch with Vusi every couple weeks or so, usually by random enounter in Manzini, helpingh out as we can.  and i hope our relationship has been good for Vusi too.

like so many of us here in Swaziland, Vusi is HIV+.  what makes Vusi different is that he speaks clearly about his HIV status, and just as clearly about his sexual behavior that got him infected.  he deeply grieves the death of his wife, as he articulated to me a couple times through tears; specifically that he was the one who ‘killed her with his sinful lifestyle.’

when men sob, it hurts just to hear it.

in early April ’09 i spent some time with Vusi, and to be honest, i did not think i would see him again in my life on earth.  barring a miracle healing, his time was clearly brief.  we prayed together, and i gave him every cent i had, and we said goodbye.

so when Vusi arrived at my door last night i was quite surprised.  we sat together in the driveway, talking and praying, asking God to heal and comfort Vusi according to His will.  We had 25 people over for dinner, and Vusi did not want to join us, primarily because he felt so sick, but also becuase he feels so ashamed of his appearance – a dying HIV+ beggar. [he told me this]

my friend Ben and I, as we prayed with Vusi before I left to take him home, with some food and $ to take care of him for a while. Vusi told us that he NEVER dreamed that he would have to beg – to look like this – to be so sick he could not take care of himself – that he could not work.  people move to the other side of the street when they see him – they avoid him – they know he is sick – they assume he needs help, and want to get away.

I was excited to take Vusi home, because he has never let me come to his house before.  as i dropped him off at his rented flat [$10/month] in the slum, i hugged him as i briefly prayed again and said goodbye.  He began crying again, and said, “nobody hugs me Themba [that’s my Swazi name] – nobody even touches me.  Do you know the last person who hugged me?” “No” i said.  “it was you, Themba, last month on the street…”  and with that we basically said good night…

so tomorrow the boys and i will go visit Vusi at his home and see what we can do, even if it simply to say hi and encourage him.  thanks for praying with us for Vusi, and i’d encourage you to ask God to bring a Vusi into your life as well.  i’m sure that you can be a help to them, and it’ll do wonders to your heart as you seek God and ask Him to teach you to love.

re:iknowanything

So today i decided that 4 years is the perfect age.

Crusoe on 4th Bday

Crusoe on 4th Bday

i love all my boys – they are my favorites. [crystal is my Favorite favorite, but they are all my favorites]  But having had 3 different 4 year old boys at this point, i’ve decided that 4 is the perfect age.  Still innocent, run and play and get hurt and shake it off,  pretty much go to the toilet on their own, and still need to snuggle with you and love every word you say, take God at his word and talk to Him with childlike faith …  4 is perfect.

So today i was running some errands with Crusoe, our 4 year old, in the afternoon, and we had the greatest conversation – it went like this:

Crusoe:  “Dad, I know anything.” [meaning ‘everything’]

Lad: ” Really – are you sure?”

C: “Yep – “I know anything!” […except the obvious use of the word ‘anything’:) ]

L:  ” Are you sure, Crus?  Do you know what it is like to be 5?”

C:   In straight faced reply, “Yep.”

L:  “Do you even know what it is like to be 10?”

C:   Without a blink, “Yep.”

L:  “Do you know what it is like to be a girl?”

C: “Yep.”

L:  “Do you know what it is like to be a daddy?”

C: “Yep.”

L:  “Do you know what it is like to be an animal – like a fish?”

C: “Yep.”

[and this was really quite humorous for me and went on for a long while… until i tried to trick him with one final question…]

L:  “Do you know what it is like to not know everything ?”

C: And without hesitation he said, “Nope.  You got me Dad – you figured out the one thing i don’t know.”

and i’m still laughing about it!  Truth is, that little cat is pretty smart, and in his little 4 year old crusoe-centric world, he does know everything – and i love him for it.

re: Cupdate May 09

DSC06605Mbeklewweni is Cup’s newest CarePoint site, a peri-urban [edge of the city] area just northeast of Manzini, where we live.  This is the same area that we hold all of our camps in, and will become the future site for a church plant and Cup’s Center for Intern Training and Development.

Crystal and I are the appointed missionaries over this newest CarePoint for now, and we love it.  Nestled in between beautiful mountains, it’s a great location with a great group of kids.

We have really been enjoying this season of ministry as a family, as Parker has gotten a bit older, we’ve been able to be at CarePoints serving together.  Squire, Wyatt, and Crusoe have really adjusted to the mobs of kids all the CarePoints, and are pretty at home while playing or serving there for an hour or so.  So we’ve had the opportunity to be at Madonsa and Mbekleweni a bit more as a team, and it’s been good.

Through your generosity we’ve been able to put a number of kids and a Bible college student through school this year, and we’re excited to see that they are all doing pretty well and staying involved at their churches and Carepoints.  Thanks again for the great honor!

The teachers Lad works with are doing really well as they have been developing their skills as Bible teachers to kids.  We’ve got many teachers who teach the Bible really well – to adults.  But with kids you have to get on their level and speak their language – almost like a ‘missionary’ to a foreign culture.  we’ve been focusing on the language of kids, which we learned is primarily based on: Fun, and Story.  If you don’t have fun and good story telling in the equation, they can’t hear you – no matter how true it is.   SO our teachers have been growing and doing great, and we pray that the Word is coming alive to them like never before.

We’d love to hear from you and for you to follow us – here’s a few places you can keep up with us, if you’re into it:
https://the6chapmans.wordpress.com
http://twitter.com/ladchapman
FaceBook@
lad chapman
crystal chapman

the Best wat:re

Crystal and Mbekleweni KidsCrystal had the great opportunity to tell our kids @ Mbekleweni last month about her mom, Florence Best, and the story of God’s grace in her life.  Florence not only left a legacy of God’s grace in Crystal’s life [and the five of us boys], but now in the people of Mbekleweni as well.

In her memory, Florence was able to give the gift of the “Best Water” in Mbeklweweni – not only to the CarePoint, but to the entire community.  The pump/borehole that Crystal repaired [she is seated on the water tower] will provide water for hundreds of people every day, including the feeding/washing/training/ and Bibleteaching of over 100 kids daily at the CarePoint there.

Florence was an amazing woman and mom, daughter and aunt, friend and mentor to many people.  We miss her and are so glad that she raised Crystal, our amazing wife and mommy!

re:birth

so i’m thinking abut birth today, ‘cos it’s my littlest sister’s bday – she’s 20! today, i can’t believe it.  lexi’s an adult woman now, and is marrying a great guy [john] later this year…. happy day lex!

so people have birthdays all the time i suppose, but today i’m set off thinking.  crystal said, looking at parker this am – can you believe we’ve had him for almost  year now?  and while time does fly by, i can’t really remember life without him.  parker is now in my world, and whatever existence i had before him – it is gone – my re:birth as a daddy to 4 little men is a sealed deal.  i am re:born

this one's for Pa!

isn’t that the mystery of re:birth in Christ – “old things are gone, and new life has come”?  crystal and i have been re:born in marriage over the last few years – almost to the extent that we’d love to have another wedding.  the event, the fancy clothes, the celebration with family and friends … sans gifts, but not without the dancing!

they say that it takes at least 9-14 years to learn to love a spouse selflessly – to go from ‘Me’ to ‘We’ love.  as cj mahaney says, ‘our sinful tendency is to relate to our wives [spouses] selfishly rather than serving them for the glory of God.’  in other words, “i love how you feel in my life [based on emotions, house style, food, looks, sex, kid-raising, etc…].  translation – I love how you fit into my life as an asset to where i’m going/who i want to be/ how i want to feel.  when you break it down that far it really does sound straight up manipulative … and i guess it is.

in some ways it feels like i just learned to love crystal in the last couple years … not that i didn’t ‘think’ i loved her before … but we’re in a new space  as we’re 14 years into this marriage thing, actually learning to love each other.  so i guess i’m on the slow route to maturity, but we all knew that anyway….

and i look forward to being re:born again into the good things God has for me.  thanks Lord for grace as i stumble towards you.

re:writer’s.block

so the last 6 mos have been pretty dry in desire and ability to put pen to paper about our life and work here in swaziland.  my heart is mostly curious and concerned about the “why?”, rather than the failure to produce…  is it that i am i grieving mom’s death still?  is there too much life and work to narrow down to simple stories?  is it just pure laziness and lack of motivation?

as i attempt to open up the dam of ink again, i think it boils down to this for me:  i find myself caught between what i need to/ought to write, and the Real …. the real being too real, and the ‘ought to’ stuff lacking enough ‘real’ to feel honest.

selah.