A reference book for journey to God’s grace

I prayed to the Lord that I could be more discerning in the spirit and I would like to know how to worship Him like the way many people of faith do. I have recently watched the testimonies of individuals living a life of worship, for example, Heidi Baker. I was convicted that I do not really know much about worshiping God. My life has been full of activities. Even when I come before God I do the talking (praying) and hardly listening. The truth of my spiritual life opens me to wanting to move into another realm, the realm of true worship in spirit and in truth.

After I have been praying for lessons for worship, I have been led during the past few days:

  1. read psalms as I worship;
  2. pray in the Spirit and sing in the Spirit when I walk on my treadmill;
  3. read of testimonies of others who spent their lives praying and listening to God.This book of Augustine popped out when I was spring cleaning. It was a brand new little paperback hidden in the midst of a bundle of dusty forgotten A4 papers (photocopies of something). It was a gift to me 1-2 years ago. I put it somewhere and lost it during a previous spring cleaning effort.

When I flipped through this little book, I realized this is part of the answer to my request! Augustine wrote of his own conversation with God most of the time. It was an autobiography and yet it was interspersed with his frank interaction with God.

I have started using it to help me look inside too and let words of worship come forth. I pray you may use it to find your own journey to see God!

Some of the gems I found in this book:

How have You loved us, good Father? You spared not Your only Son.

Victor and Victim, and so Victor because Victim.

Priest and Sacrifice, and so Priest because Sacrifice.

You call us to understand the Word, God with God, Word spoken eternally.

By the eternal Word were all things spoken eternally.

For what was spoken was not sound after sound.

There was no consecutive march of noises, from sound concluded to the next voice.

No, all things were spoken together.

All things were spoken eternally.

To us, the future will come and go. To You it is as much now as this moment.

You surely do not change from now to then.

Your years are one day.

Your day is only today.

Your today makes no room for a tomorrow.

It does not replace any yesterdays.

Your today is eternity.

__________________________________

The confessions of St. Augustine (written 398-400)

Modern English Version

225 pages (This is a modernized and abridged version. )

Back Cover: “The Confessions is one of the most moving diaries ever recorded of a man’s journey to the fountain of God’s grace. Writing as a sinner, not a saint, Augustine shares his innermost thoughts and conversion experiences and wrestles with the spiritual questions that have stirred the hearts of the thoughtful since time began.

Starting with his childhood and continuing through his youth and early adulthood, this book shows Augustine as a human being, a fellow traveler on the road to salvation.

Join him on his journey. Listen in as he worships God.

If you are fighting changes in your life, struggling to know God more, or staggering around roadblocks in your faith, Augustine’s confessions will stretch your mind and enrich your soul.”

____________________excerpts from Wiki:

The work outlines Augustine’s sinful youth and his conversion to Christianity. It is widely seen as the first Western autobiography ever written, and was an influential model for Christian writers throughout the following 1,000 years of the Middle Ages. It is not a complete autobiography, as it was written in his early 40s, and he lived long afterwards, producing another important work (City of God). It does, nonetheless, provide an unbroken record of his development of thought and is the most complete record of any single person from the 4th and 5th centuries. It is a significant theological work, featuring spiritual meditations and insights.

In the work St. Augustine writes about how much he regrets having led a sinful and immoral life. He discusses his regrets for following the Manichaean religion and believing in astrology. He writes about Nebridius’s role in helping to persuade him that astrology was not only incorrect but evil, and St. Ambrose’s role in his conversion to Christianity. The first nine books are autobiographical and the last four are commentary. He shows intense sorrow for his sexual sins, and writes on the importance of sexual morality.

The books were written as prayers to God, thus the title, based on the Psalms of David; and it begins with “For Thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee.” The work is thought to be divisible into books which symbolize various aspects of the Trinity and trinitarian belief.

Outline (by Book)

  1. His infancy and boyhood up to age 14. He speaks of his inability to remember the sins he almost certainly committed during this time. Children serve as insight into what man would be if it weren’t for being socialized into waiting one’s turn. God teaches us to think of others before we think of ourselves, unlike children who cry until they are fed.
  2. Augustine finds himself amongst bad companions, which leads him to commit theft and succumb to lust. Augustine comes from a good family and has never wanted for food. In this chapter, he explores the question of why he and his friends stole pears when he had many better pears of his own. He explains the feelings he experienced as he ate the pears and threw the rest away to the pigs. Augustine argues that he most likely would not have stolen anything had he not been in the company of others who could share in his sin. Some insight into group mentality is given.
  3. His studies at Carthage, his conversion to Manichaeism and continued indulgences in lust between 16 and 19.
  4. His loss of a friend and his studies in Aristotle and the fit and the fair between 20 and 29. Augustine is overcome with grief after his friend dies in his absence. Things he used to love become hateful to him because everything reminds him of what was lost. He concludes that any time one loves something not in God, one is bound to feel such loss. Augustine then suggests that he began to love his life of sorrow more than his fallen friend.
  5. His movement away from Manichaeism under the influence of St. Ambrose in Milan at 29. Augustine begins to understand that things said simply can be true, while things put eloquently may be lacking in substance. He is unimpressed with the substance of Manichaeism, but has not yet found something to replace it. He feels a sense of resigned acceptance to these fables as he has not yet formed a spiritual core to prove their falsity.
  6. His movement towards Christianity under the influence of St. Ambrose at 30. He is taken aback by Ambrose’s kindness but still does not understand the substance of his teachings.
  7. His rejection of Manichee dualism and the Neoplatonist view of God at 31. He struggles to understand the Christian God.
  8. His continued inner turmoil on whether to convert to Christianity at 32. Two of his friends, Simplicianus and Ponticianus, tell Augustine stories about others converting. While reflecting in a garden, he hears a child’s voice chanting “take and read.” Augustine picks up a Bible and reads the passage it opens to, Romans 13:13-14. His friend Alypius follows his example. Finally, Augustine decides to convert to Christianity.
  9. His baptism done by Ambrose at 33, the death of his mother Monica, the death of his friends Nebridius and Vecundus, and his abandonment of his studies of rhetoric.
  10. Continued reflections on the values of confessions and on the workings of memory, as related to the five senses.
  11. Reflections on Genesis and searching for the meaning of time.
  12. Continued reflections on the book of Genesis. Augustine especially focuses on the language used to tell the creation story.
  13. Exploration of the meaning of Genesis and the Trinity.

confessions of St. Augustine

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