Tag Archives: Religion and Spirituality

Book Review | “The Bishop of Rwanda”

bishop-of-rwanda
DISCLAIMER: While I understand that this is one man’s retelling of the events, I will engage and comment based on the good faith effort of the author to represent the events he related.

There are few times that I can remember when I have read a book and been moved by its content. The Bishop of Rwanda by Bishop John Rucyahana is one of those books. It truly is not for the faint of heart. The gut wrenching, horrific events described (sometimes in graphic detail) are terrible to imagine and even more tormenting to the heart to know that other human beings endured. With the precision of a historian and the compassion of a pastor, Bishop John diagnoses the multiple streams that led to the murder of close to 800,000 of the nearly 1.2 million total Tutsis killed. Think of it for just a moment. The following description helps to put in perspective what that means.

“The typhoon of madness that swept through the country between April 7 and the third week of May accounted for 80 percent of the victims of the genocide. That means about eight hundred thousand people were murdered during those six weeks, making the daily killing rate at least five times that of the Nazi death camps.” [Kindle Location 1626]

The shear horror that was endured by the Tutsis and those who stood for and with them could not even be portrayed in film, described on paper or evoked through words. There is simply no way of understanding the full fledged depravity of the genocide. I would read descriptions of what happened and catch myself shaking my head at what I had just read. I know that we are almost two decades removed from the events Bishop John described, but there is a freshness to it all.

There are two aspects of the book that were particularly poignant. The first was the historical overview of what took place in Rwanda on a national-political level. The picture painted of the “imperialist” and colonial nations of Belgium and France are so unflattering as to be caricatures. The problem is that the truth will many times be unflattering and down right scathing. If even a portion of what was done by outside nations was done to Rwanda it reveals the tendency of the Western, first world nations to attempt to get away with whatever they can. The misconduct of the international community in the events leading up the genocide are not only deplorable, they are reprehensible. The intellectuals of the west failed to see the barbarism that was being unleashed in a small African country. The western world needs to look in the mirror and stop acting in such a duplicitous manner.

The second aspect of the book that stood out was the reality that what took place in the hearts and minds of the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity was of a spiritual nature first. Bishop John is quick to recognize the demonic currents underlying what took place among the general population. Even if those who killed were not motivated by hatred, to be carried along with the wave requires a kind of acquiescence to the spiritual forces at work. There is no doubt in Bishop John’s mind that the reason the effects of the propaganda and fear was so far reaching was because there was not true conversion among many who claimed to be Christian. The most disgusting of the acts enacted, and that go to the heart of my identity as a clergy person, were those of the religious leaders who became accomplices to the murders, sometimes even participating in them. It just doesn’t make sense!

As I finished the book and read of the changes that have come to Rwanda I was shocked to see that reconciliation was at the heart of the healing process. The programs and efforts by those who suffered and those who caused the suffering to reunite the nation were impressive and awe inspiring. Over and over again the reality of repentance and of forgiveness were put on display. Probably the greatest lesson that I will take away from reading The Bishop of Rwanda will be that forgiveness is a power designed by God himself. I leave you with the following insight forged in the crucible of suffering and pain.

“Forgiving something does not make the forgiven act less horrible, but it does break the power that act holds over you. The truth is that those who don’t forgive are dying from their unforgiveness. The bitterness eats them up. When you forgive, you are healthier and more alive.” [Kindle Location 2262]

Sermon Sketch | “Love is the Support Structure for our Faith in Jesus”

Love is the Support Structure for our Faith in Jesus

1 Corinthians 13
(Esp. vv. 1-3)

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Three Consequences for Living without Love.

  1. Without Love our TALENTS are USELESS.
  2. Without love our FAITH is MEANINGLESS.
  3. Without love our SERVICE is POINTLESS.

Five Ways God’s Love Affects our lives.

  1. God’s love CLARIFIES the way we THINK.
  2. God’s love TRANSFORMS the way we LIVE.
  3. God’s love CHANGES the way we SEE.
  4. God’s love CONSTRAINS the way we BEHAVE.
  5. God’s love ALTERS the way we HEAR.

Book Review | Our Last Great Hope

Summary

I’ve been reading Our Last Great Hope: Awakening the Great Commission by Ronnie Floyd. The author was given the task of leading the task force for the Southern Baptist Convention to revitalize and re-imagine the evangelistic efforts of the Convention. The book chronicles Floyd’s own journey of discovery as he thought deeply and more intentionally on the last thing that Jesus left for the church to do.  As Dr. Floyd led the Great Commission Resurgence movement within the Southern Baptist Convention he discovered that he, nor his denomination, had thought deeply enough about the Great Commission even though they were known for their evangelism efforts.

The book is a wonderful reminder that our passion and desire to be a part of God’s work can never be too much. Our love of Jesus and his love for us should provide us who follow him with only motivation we could ever need.

My Thoughts

The book has many ideas that are not new. But, from the outset the way that Floyd framed the motivation that we should all have for evangelism and the Great Commission in particular was thought provoking. The author said that there are three tough questions that we all should be asking ourselves.

  1. Do I know Jesus Intimately?
  2. Do I love Jesus Passionately?
  3. Do I share Jesus Constantly?

Each one of these questions caused me to think more intentionally about my own faith journey. It is not enough to just show up and think that that will be enough. We have to realize that what God is calling us to is far more than many of us is really ready to give. The last word of each question is where the “rubber meets the road.” It’s not just do I know, love and share Jesus. It HOW do I do these things? What Jesus is asking of us is total obedience and surrender.

I found this book to be both enlightening and simple to follow. I found myself agreeing with Floyd’s insistence that the great commission must be the center of our understanding of life and faith. If you are looking for another perspective, another way of looking at what it means to live out the great commission.

Word to the Wise | “Jesus Loves Me”

I have always been human.  I do not know how it feels to live in any other way.  My flaws and weaknesses are unavoidable.  There is nothing I can do to change my nature.  It is what it is.  If someone asked me if I would consider living as a fish, a mosquito, or a rat, I would simply say: HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND?

Jesus, on the other hand, existed from eternity as a spiritual Being.  He had never experienced limitations of any kind.  He was the Creator.  He was never the creature.  But one day, solely motivated by love, He left His perfect and eternal habitation and He “humbled Himself” (as Paul the Apostle tells us) and He became a man.  But this is not all.  Out of love He subjected Himself to the humiliation of rejection and finally to an unjust and dirty execution.  Why did He do it?  I now.  I now.  He was motivated by love.  But, what kind of love is this that chooses to sacrifice Himself for people that reject Him?  It is this kind of love shown by Savior that for the rest of eternity would remain incomprehensible to me.  I can say the words: Jesus loves me, but I cannot comprehend the depth of their meaning: Jesus really loves me.  Say it to yourself: Jesus loves me.  What an awesome love!

Pastor Luis Scott
Ambassadors of Christ Fellowship
(03/23/09)