Archives For Spiritual Formation

For those who have been following my publishing journey, you may have been wondering when, if ever, my book was actually going to get published.  I got an agent back in Fall 2015 and I thought it’d be a pretty quick process from there.  Little did I know what the future held…

After interviewing a lot of authors on my podcast who have struggled with the ups and downs of the publishing industry, I now have firsthand knowledge.  The #1 reason I am indie-publishing (besides the fact that it has taken forever to try to get a big publisher) is because of the damage the process has done to my soul.  The way Christian publishing works nowadays is you need a “platform” in order to get published.  For some authors, their platform exists in the books they published before the “platform” / social media era took over.  For others, being the head of a large organization or pastoring a megachurch is the platform.  For someone trying to get his first book published and who does not pastor a megachurch, my platform lies in how many people read my blog, my podcast listens, follow me on Twitter, etc.  In essence, my statistics prove if I am worthwhile to a publisher or not.  Continue Reading…

As I was growing up in my public school and my Baptist church in suburban Ohio, “Lent” was always a curious time of year for me.  Never talked about at my church, I always wondered why on Fridays many of my friends had to eat fish and weren’t allowed to have meat.  I wondered even more about this when I discovered this had some connection to Jesus! Continue Reading…

An abbreviated version of this article was published on the Transforming Center’s website: What does transforming leadership look like for Pastor Noah Filipiak?  Here is the full version:

 

I love seminary.

 

I have one seminary degree and look forward to going back for more.

 

With that said, my experience in a Transforming Community has been the most important ministry leadership training I have ever received.  It’s not that it’s a competition between the type of things you learn in seminary and the type of things learned through the Transforming Community, it’s just very noticeable which ones are more emphasized in the Church today (and in my own ministry leadership life up to this point).  Noticeable due to the amount of pain and personal struggle I and so many other ministry leaders have endured in our untransformed selves.

 

I’ve seen the same concept true at the gym.  You often see people at the gym, usually fellow men, who are incredibly muscular.  Muscles on top of muscles and they are straining to build even more muscles.  I often wonder if these are NFL players or ditch diggers or some other occupation where this sort of strength would be beneficial.  Obviously the strength isn’t there for pragmatic reasons.  Meanwhile, as a former college track and cross country runner myself, I rarely see these muscle-bound titans hop on the treadmill or exercise bike.  Lots of muscle is great, but if it’s the only thing that’s ever focused on, a person can spend all that time in the gym and still be a very ineffective athlete.  After all, it’s pretty hard to be athletic if you can’t breathe!  There’s nothing wrong with being a bodybuilder or doing a lot of strength training, it’s just caused me to notice an interesting parallel to ministry training.

Continue Reading…

b33c14a2-d822-4703-872e-1a2dffb300b0@2xNoah Filipiak interviews 2016 Christianity Today Book of the Year (in the Category of The Church/Pastoral Leadership) award winner Dr. Zack Eswine.  In addition to the award-winning The Imperfect Pastor: Discovering Joy in Our Limitations through a Daily Apprenticeship with Jesus, Zack is also the author of Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression, Preaching to a Post-Everything World: Crafting Biblical Sermons that Connect with our Culture, Recovering Eden: The Gospel According to Ecclesiastes and Kindled Fire: How the methods of CH Spurgeon can help your preachingZack pastors at Riverside Church in Webster Groves, MO and is the Director of Homiletics at Covenant Seminary.

Like the themes in Zack’s writing, this interview is essential listening for pastors who struggle with burnout, significance and self-striving.  So much of what has become normative in church culture for pastors is the opposite of what Jesus taught and modeled for his followers.  Zack exposes these things with such grace, experience, and wisdom, offering the rest of us the hope from the hamster wheel of ministry he has found in Jesus.

You can follow Zack on Twitter and Facebook.  His website and blog can be found at www.ZackEswine.com

You can listen to Noah’s interview with Zack Eswine below via the Podbean Player or you can subscribe to all “Behind the Curtain” Ministry Podcast episodes on iTunes (if you like what you hear, leave some feedback!)

 

What does the Bible say about the Sabbath?

Why did God institute the Sabbath on the 7th day of his creation?  Was he tired?  Did he need a nap after all that creating?  Of course not.  So why in Genesis 2:2-3 does God rest from all of his work, blessing the day and making it holy?

And yes, there are Sabbath commands in the old covenant, the Old Testament law, including the 10 Commandments and then given much more detail later.  And no, we don’t have to follow the old covenant, we follow the new covenant in Christ.  Which means we don’t have to follow the much stricter regulations to the Sabbath commanded in the law, but does the existence or non-existence of the law do anything to change what God put into the very fabric of creation as holy and blessed?  Again: of course not.

What’s unique about Genesis 1-2 is they are the only chapters of the Bible completely unstained by sin.  They are the world as it was always supposed to be.  If you are looking for a design for humanity, go to Genesis 1-2.  God created a Sabbath day of rest as part of the design of every single human being that he has created.

Jesus never canceled the Sabbath.  Far from it!  He said he was Lord of the Sabbath, the master of it (Mark 2:28).  He said that the Sabbath is his, that he owns it, not that it doesn’t exist anymore.

What Jesus did is remove all of the non-Sabbathy parts of the Sabbath, all the legalisms that the Pharisees had added over the years that had completely contradicted the purpose of the Sabbath in the first place: which was to delight and rest in God!  Jesus removed everything from the Sabbath that was non-Jesusy and pointed it back to himself.

Do you know who the Sabbath was first given to?  As in, do you know who Genesis and Exodus were written to?  These books were written to the just-freed Hebrew slaves.  The ones who had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years.  Do slaves get a day of rest?  Of course not!  The idea of Sabbath would have been so radical to the Israelites when they first heard about it.  It would have been such a gift, so freeing, so refreshing.  Just like it’s meant to be for us today.  Jesus says in Mark 2:27 that the Sabbath was made for man.  Sabbath is a gift for man.  Just like bread is a gift for someone who is starving.  He goes on to say in that same verse: not man for the Sabbath.  This means man is not meant to be a slave to the Sabbath, which is what things had turned in to in the 1st century thanks to the religious leaders’ legalism.  The Sabbath was never canceled, it regained its designed function.

The irony of all this is we are slaves in 2016.  While not on the same level as the African American slaves who were dehumanized and abused to found our country’s economy, or the Hebrew slaves of Exodus who were dehumanized and abused to found ancient Egypt’s economy, but we are slaves nonetheless.  Slaves to the treadmill of “you are what you produce.”  Slaves who go, go, go, go and do, do, do, do and work, work, work, work and achieve, achieve, achieve, achieve and who can’t stop to rest if their lives depended on it.  Slaves who think the world can’t go on if we take a day to rest.  Slaves who think God needs us.  This is a very real form of slavery as well.

Our emancipator is a weekly Sabbath rest centered on delighting in Christ.  It’s in the blueprint of creation in Genesis 2 and carried on by Jesus in Mark 2.  To ignore this is to willingly keep the chains of slavery bound tight, and to willingly disobey our loving God’s plan for us.

Just like a car is designed to have its oil changed every ~3000 miles, we are designed to rest every 7 days.  It’s obvious what happens when a car’s oil service is neglected, and it’s no less obvious when it comes the command and the gift given to us to delight in Sabbath once per week.

Audio:

 

Video:

4.17.16 Sabbath from Lansing Crossroads Church on Vimeo.