Looking back on 2021

Hey everyone! How’s it going? Been a long time. I bet you all thought I was gone. Nope! Just taking one of those long breaks that no plans because life gets in the way. I’m sitting here on about my 30th flight in just 3 months thinking about how this year has gone. In the second half of this year, my life just kinda took off in a way I didn’t expect. At the beginning of 2021 I had a bunch of goals for the content I produce. I’m sad to say that I didn’t make any of them, but admittedly blog writing, video production, and doing some streaming are all just hobbies. But in July of this year, everything changed. I took a job that was in the career field I wanted to move into, it more than doubled my salary, and it got me out of an environment that was particularly draining upon my very soul. The downside is that it meant that I have had to move from the state of Indiana to the state of Texas. Unfortunately my family is still in Indiana (hence all these dang flights) but we hope to be moving, permanently, soon. I have been blessed to have friends that have offered me a place to stay while my family is making this transition, so I haven’t had to pay both a mortgage and rent.

But as I sit here and watch the city fall away beneath me, and deal with the craziness of turbulence rocking me back and forth, I’m thinking about those plans. The plans that I made and got so excited about. The plans that I hoped would bring about some peace during a turbulent and stressful time. I wanted to reach up and grab something that was completely out of my reach and unlike anything I’ve ever done before. Yeah, you could find the very first post on this blog and say, “Come’on Preston! You’ve been blogging for the last 6 years. What do you mean you’ve never done?!” But honestly, I haven’t put the work into this space that it needs. I thought I’d have the time while I’ve been in transition and that hasn’t worked out either. I begin to wonder, is it even worth making plans? I have no clue what the future holds, but God does, and sometimes what happens in the future isn’t what we thought it would be.

No, I didn’t accomplish the goals that I wrote down. Yet I still accomplished some inherent goals that even I didn’t know I had. I’ve been able to take my family on an exciting new adventure as we try to figure out the new normal of our lives across the country. I’ve been able to reconnect with old friends, and I’ve been able to expand the realm of possibility in my life.

Yet there’s something that’s been gnawing at me. I think I have made myself so busy and stretch so thin, that I’ve completely stepped out of my relationship with God. I know he’s still there waiting on me to accept his first move. I wouldn’t say that I’ve been a bad Christian, cause honestly I don’t even think those exist. But I have kinda become a non-practicing one. I still believe and try to live my life like I do. But when was the last time I actually studied Scripture? When was the last time I prayed or fasted for any reason other than losing a few pounds? How come I don’t seek out ways of being charitable? Why can’t I seem to make the opportunity to gather with my brothers and sisters and share in the sacraments while worshiping? I have no idea. I know these things are important, and I can certainly place blame on a whole cadre of reasons. But I feel empty.

I’m in this liminal space between who I was and who I’m becoming and I’m not sure I like all the pieces that have come with it. I feel like my relationship to life is a little like me on this airplane. I can see everything below me, but I am so disconnected from it, that there is no way I can touch it. I’m frustrated a lot with the world around me. Maybe I need to speak up more and provide my voice. No one will no my opinions if I don’t share them. I can’t affect the world if I stay outside of it. I miss the things I was when I had spiritual guides to help me a long, but I’ve been without the Church for so long, I’m not sure I would know what to do when I attend again. Please pray for me brothers and sisters. There is a lot changing all around me and I don’t know how to handle most of it. I trust that God has it handled, but I certainly haven’t done much to feel it.

Plus, who knows. Maybe I’ll accomplish some goals in 2022!

Things Got Busy!

This morning I finally have a little bit of breathing room to consider a few things. I definitely had a lot of excitement going into the summer season to produce a lot of new content. For those of you who don’t know, I did also start a Youtube channel where I share my hobby of games with the world. I started a podcast at the end of May that has only had 2 episodes. With all of this going on, I was looking for a new full time position. Now things are going to get even crazier for me. I have accepted a new job, but it requires my family and me to move from Indiana to Texas. The stress of that alone is causing me to sacrifice content, but I am also starting a Masters of Theological Studies program in a couple of weeks. I appreciate all your love and support as I make all of these transitions all at once. I will get back to writing and content production soon. I am still seeking how to be a man after God’s own heart. This isn’t the first time this blog has gone on hiatus, but I hope it will be the last!

What is deconstruction?

Somewhat recently I was asked this question on TikTok. I responded that largely deconstruction is people trying to understand that various parts of their faith in order to, ultimately, rebuild one that is far stronger and deeper than the one they had when they started. While I think the answer I gave was sufficient for a bare-bones understanding, I thought I should take the time to really explore what deconstruction is, and what it means for people of faith today.

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The Possibility of Prayer: Finding Stillness with God in a Restless World

One thing that I really like reading is anything to do with spiritual formation or practices. I think the reason for this is because I really like not just understanding the practices fellow Christians have adopted, but seeing how they have been transformed by the practice. Yet, I haven’t really read too many books on any particular practice. Most often these books come as a long-winded version of “just do it.” However, I now have a few books sitting on my shelf that dive into the practice of prayer. I think I’ve been shying away from these books because prayer is just simply a practice that I’ve not been very good with; not because I don’t believe in it, but because it’s not usually my go-to move throughout my day. So I decided it was time to change all that and picked up The Possibility of Prayer by John Starke. This book was published in February of 2020 by InterVarsity Press. Starke is the pastor of Apostles Church Uptown in New York City. While I was certainly apprehensive about starting this book, it ended up not being the same, flat, “how-to” sort of book that I’ve read many times before.

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What is Christian Doctrine?

As I talked about last week,  I think that we have done ourselves a disservice by not connecting with the Christians of the past to understand why we believe what we do today. I believe that this is a malformation because of our culture today. Far too often we are looking at the next, newest, best thing to help improve our lives. We have a progressive idea that tells us the past does not hold any relevance for us today, the future is where it is at. The truth is, the only way we have ever been able to learn is by looking to the past to understand the world around us. Math works because of the work of the mathematicians of the past to make discoveries so we can understand Algebra. All the fields of science look to the past experiments of scientists to understand the field and how to move forward. Why is it that we do not do this when it comes to our theology? We like to look to people who are our contemporaries and trust that they have all the answers. We need to be able to have an understanding of the beliefs of our predecessors in order for us fully understand what we believe today.

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What Do You Think?

Yesterday I had two seperate things happen that lead to the same conclusion. First, I read this article from the New Yorker. The author points out that the Evangelical church has moved away from people thinking and considering issues of faith in favor of charasmatic leaders that emphasize “saving souls” over living with a worldview that makes sense. Of course that’s painting with a wide brush, but it makes sense. The second event was someone speaking to me about how they have never heard from a Christian to consider whether or not something was true. The combination of these two events have lead me to consider how I feel about the Church, especially the popular Evangelical and/or Non-denominational Church. I just want to get these ideas out before they fade away.

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The Heart Man Podcast

Hey everyone! I wanted to let you know that I have now launched The Heart Man Blog Podcast. You can listen to it on Spotify or below. Subscribe to get future episodes. I’m super excited to do this and can’t wait to share with you all that I’m working on.

Below are all the platforms you can find the podcast:

Chrysostom’s Devil: Demons, the Will, and Virtue in Patristic Soteriology

Ok. Of all the books that I’ve gotten and all the books I’ve read, I don’t think I’ve ever been quite as excited as I was to get this book. When I went back to school to finish my undergraduate education, on a whim I took Introduction to Spiritual Formation. The professor of that class was Dr Samantha L Miller. Over time I took more classes with her and she introduced me to “new” ways of thinking about my faith as I learned Church history and Patristic theology. Once I learned that she had a book coming out I knew I needed to get it for review. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a good time to read it. So it sat on my shelf for a year until now, as it is the book I am reviewing this month. Chrysostom’s Devil was published by InterVarsity Press on March 17, 2020, and is part of the New Explorations in Theology series. Miller seeks to teach John Chrysostom’s theology, especially reguarding his demonology and soteriology and finishes by showing just how relevant this late 4th century theologian is to us today. I did my best to approach this book as I do others, but I quickly found myself feeling like I was back in the classroom.

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What is Spiritual Formation?

I’ve written on this before, but the question is coming up again. Simply put, spiritual formation is a new buzzword and perspective on the one thing the Church has been doing since the very beginning, discipleship. However, this new perspective (some may even argue an old perspective) is not the kind of discipleship that you may find in many mainline churches. The discipleship programs that I see most often involve getting you to commit to attending church weekly, go to Sunday school or join a small group, tithe (can’t forget to get our money!), and commit to personal Bible study. To me, this feels a lot like the “Gospel of Sin Management” that Dallas Willard talks about in The Divine Conspiracy. True discipleship is not about ticking the right boxes and saying “I am a disciple of Jesus.” Rather there is something different that is called for. Enter the perspective of spiritual formation.

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I Think I Made A Mistake

So the other day I was scrolling around Twitter, which I do quite a bit. I came across a tweet that I thought would be a great way to have conversation with some well meaning people.

Now I don’t hold many controversial opinions. For the most part, I think I fit in pretty well with most churches. I simply ask that people not have a blind faith, and question everything. Any way, I chose to respond to this by being open and honest because I’ve learned that I am not incredibly open about my actual beliefs. My response was

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