Confessions of St Augustine, Book Four

This fourth book of the Confessions took me FOREVER to get through. I’m not quite sure why it took so long for me to finish listening to this section, as it was interesting. The main themes dealt with are deception and heresy, death and loss, and the origin and substance of love.

I will share just a few quotes with you:

“For good it is to confess unto Thee, and to say, “Be merciful unto me, heal my soul, for I have sinned against Thee;” and not to abuse Thy goodness for a license to sin, but to remember the words of the Lord, “Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” All of which salutary advice they endeavour to destroy when they say, “The cause of thy sin is inevitably determined in heaven;” and, “This did Venus, or Saturn, or Mars;” in order that man, forsooth, flesh and blood, and proud corruption, may be blameless, while the Creator and Ordainer of heaven and stars is to bear the blame. And who is this but Thee, our God, the sweetness and well-spring of righteousness, who renderest “to every man according to his deeds,”and despisest not “a broken and a contrite heart!””

And, speaking of the death of his closest friend, during the time when his view of God was skewed by a mystical and fairytale-like form of heresy:

“At this sorrow my heart was utterly darkened, and whatever I looked upon was death. My native country was a torture to me, and my father’s house a wondrous unhappiness; and whatsoever I had participated in with him, wanting him, turned into a frightful torture. Mine eyes sought him everywhere, but he was not granted them; and I hated all places because he was not in them; nor could they now say to me, “Behold; he is coming,” as they did when he was alive and absent. I became a great puzzle to myself, and asked my soul why she was so sad, and why she so exceedingly disquieted me; but she knew not what to answer me. And if I said, “Hope thou in God,” she very properly obeyed me not; because that most dear friend whom she had lost was, being man, both truer and better than that phantasm she was bid to hope in. Naught but tears were sweet to me, and they succeeded my friend in the dearest of my affections.”

And then, he seeks of his search to define beauty and fitness, outside of a full knowledge of the nature and being of God.

But not yet did I perceive the hinge on which this impotent matter turned in Thy wisdom, O Thou Omnipotent, “who alone doest great wonders;” and my mind ranged through corporeal forms, and I defined and distinguished as “fair,” that which is so in itself, and “fit,” that which is beautiful as it corresponds to some other thing; and this I supported by corporeal examples. And I turned my attention to the nature of the mind, but the false opinions which I entertained of spiritual things prevented me from seeing the truth. Yet the very power of truth forced itself on my gaze, and I turned away my throbbing soul from incorporeal substance, to lineaments, and colours, and bulky magnitudes. And not being able to perceive these in the mind, I thought I could not perceive my mind. And whereas in virtue I loved peace, and in viciousness I hated discord, in the former I distinguished unity, but in the latter a kind of division. And in that unity I conceived the rational soul and the nature of truth and of the chief good to consist. But in this division I, unfortunate one, imagined there was I know not what substance of irrational life, and the nature of the chief evil, which should not be a substance only, but real life also, and yet not emanating from Thee, O my God, from whom are all things. And yet the first I called a Monad, as if it had been a soul without sex,  but the other a Duad,-anger in deeds of violence, in deeds of passion, lust,-not knowing of what I talked. For I had not known or learned that neither was evil a substance, nor our soul that chief and unchangeable good.”

 

Advertisement

Conscious and intentional falsehood

I found this utterly fascinating! Click the underlined words to see the full Hebrew/Greek definitions.

Rom 1:25 for that they exchanged the truth (what is true in any matter under consideration) of God for a lie (conscious and intentional falsehood), and worshipped (to fear, be afraid, to honour religiously, to worship) and served (to serve for hire) the creature (anything created or the sum or aggregate of things created or even the ACT of creating) rather than the Creator, ( The One who completely changes or transforms, forms and shapes) who is blessed for ever. Amen.

What can man do to me?

This morning I had a thought while I was showering. Most people kinda edge around the book of Job, mainly because we don’t really understand why God would be so “unfair” as to let all that stuff happen to him.

But then I realized- that is the point of it all. It wasn’t some kind of weird test- God was just showing Job- and all of us- that Satan really couldn’t touch anything that really “mattered”. And you think… wait a sec, Satan messed with everything in Job’s life!

Well, did he? He couldn’t take away Job’s relationship with God, which was the only thing that would have more than a temporary effect, in the view of eternity. That is what Satan was really after, and God was saying, “See? You can never mess with My relationship with My kids and you can’t do any lasting harm.”

The only person who can jeopardize our relationship with God is us ourselves.

So, therefore, we really don’t have anything in the whole world to be afraid of.

I never really understood that scripture that says, “The Lord is with me, I’m not afraid. What can man do to me?” I was always like, “Dude. There are TONS of things man can do to me! Are you flippin’ kidding??”

But really, there isn’t anything that people or the devil can do to us. Not that has permanent consequences.

I mean, kill me? I go to heaven.

Torture me? I experience the presence of God like never before.

Hate me? Give me a chance to love, like I have never had before.

Keep me from sleeping? I stay up and pray.

Plant strife between family members? Give me a chance to overcome and discover a deeper level of relationship.

Five Year Old’s Advice For Christmas

 

A letter to the current me from my five-year old self:

 

Merry Christmas!

Don’t you know that this is the very best time of year?

Make sure to enjoy every moment of Christmas! Rip into all your presents with gusto! Let your eyes sparkle with all the lights and colors! Eat plenty of cookies, and don’t forget to hug EVERYONE.

Sing Christmas carols all the time, whether you are alone or in public. Make sure all the people you meet know that it is Jesus’ birthday.

Wonder over every nativity set you see and imagine that you were there, that wonderful night.

Try to fall asleep Christmas Eve, even though you are SOOO excited… you don’t wanna be grouchy on Christmas!

Most important, make sure all your family and friends know how much you love them.

After all, love is what Christmas is about.

I Am Yours, Save Me

The other day, I found myself watching, or rather, re-watching, the movie “Luther“. I must say, it truly inspired me in my faith and made me think about some things I have not thought about for quite some time.

In one scene, Martin Luther is being tormented by his own doubts and fears, as well as the accusation of the Devil. He cries out from his despair, with desire for a God who is merciful, a God who loves, and who he can love. His spiritual father places a cross in Martin’s hands and says “Bind yourself to Christ and you will know God‘s love. Say to Him, I am Yours, save me.” From that point forward, Luther’s life revolved around that very thought. In the darkest times of his journey, when all the world seemed to hate him, he turned to the One he knew would always love him.

As I watched and tears welled up in my eyes, I heard these verses ringing through the corners of my memory:

Ephesians 2 

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

and  

Hebrews 4 

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[f] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

I hope that this will encourage someone else out there. Seek Him, He will not fail you.