Saint Augustine and Me

I’m hanging out with Saint Augustine on this beautiful Monday. We’ve been sitting on my deck since 9:30 this morning. Saint Augustine has been doing the talking and I’ve been doing the listening. I love that old saint. It was six years ago this month that an encounter with Augustine provided me with a new spiritual direction and drew the “come with me” out of my heart.

Two weeks ago when Peri and I were in Scottsdale, Arizona, we went into a Borders Bookstore to get some coffee — of course Peri and I cannot enter a bookstore without leaving with a few books. I bought a new translation of Augustine’s Confessions. Since Augustine wrote in Latin, I need a translation, and a new translation can help you see something in a fresh way.

I was particularly moved by Augustine’s account of the conversion of his friend Ponticianus. Ponticianus’ conversion brought Augustine under conviction and contributed to his own conversion a short time later. Here is how Augustine relates the story of Ponticianus’ conversion (the year was 386, Augustine was 31 years old):

Ponticianus began to say that he and three other comrades — I know not when — at Treves when the emperor was busy with circus chariot races, went walking in the gardens near the city walls; and it so happened that they separated into two groups, one walking with him and the other two going off by themselves. But as these two were wandering up and down, they stumbled upon a certain house where dwelt some humble Christians, and they found there a book in which was written the Life of Anthony. Ponticianus began to read it, to marvel and be inflamed, and while reading to ponder his own living of such a life and forsaking his military pursuits and serving God. For these two men were both officials in the emperor’s civil service. Then suddenly filled with holy love, and a sober shame, angry with himself, he looked at his friend and said: “Tell me, I beg you, for what post of honor are we striving with all our labors? Can our hopes in court rise higher than to become the emperor’s friends? And is not such a place insecure and full of danger? And how long will it take to get there? But if I want, I can be the friend of God now, this moment.” He said this, and, perplexed in the labor of a new life to which he was giving birth, he looked again at the book. He read on and was inwardly changed. He said to his friend, “Now I have torn myself from those hopes of ours, and have decided to serve God; and this — from this moment in this place I shall undertake. If you are unwilling to imitate me, do not dissuade me.”

And thus Ponticianus became a Christian, and shortly thereafter Augustine joined his friend in following Jesus.

I love to read of how people become followers of Jesus.


The Confessions of Pastor Brian

Sometimes I look at other servants of the Lord and find myself wishing I could be more like them or have what they have.

Today I heard the Lord say this: “Do you think, perhaps, I have prepared you to be something else?”

When Peter observed how Jesus dealt with John and Peter questioned Jesus about John, Jesus said this:

“What is that to you? You follow Me.”