My Journey to Multi-Site / Guest Blog by Emily Roebuck

Emily is part of the Core Team at the Massillon Campus and serves on the Worship Team:

This week God asked me to take a drive to Massillon, totally unplanned, just felt the urge to go. I had recently started reading, A Multi-Site Church Road Trip, Exploring the New Normal By Geoff Surratt, Greg Ligon, and Warren Bird. So I thought, why not put what the authors are talking about into practice and take a road trip of my own?

As I drove past places I remembered from my childhood, God was speaking to me. When I was a child I wasn't aware that there were reasons that something couldn't be done, I didn't care that something had always been a certain way and I wasn't worried about failing. I also wasn't aware of what a legacy was or how important it is.

Continuing on my drive, I headed up Lincoln Way and kept my eyes and ears open.....waiting, watching and listening for what God was trying to show me.

I wasn't even a mile up the road from the campus when I slowed and turned onto Hess Boulevard. There was a young couple standing on the corner. The woman looked to be about my age and she was holding a sign that read “Broke and Hungry.”

I turned up the street and drove back down to the side they were standing on so I could give them some cash. Reaching out my passenger window, I gave them what I had, but I wanted to give them so much more. I wanted to tell them that there is a church just up the road where they can come in, get a cup of coffee, and sit and talk with someone. In that moment, I felt God showing me that being called to Living Water Massillon is more than the school pride or a location for a multi-site campus, He is sending us to Massillon for the people.

I am completely amazed and thankful for everything God has done over the past two years. God has given a building, a campus pastor, teams for welcoming and creating connection with people, student & children's ministry, worship, and we are preparing to launch – but all the best laid plans in the world are just a dream without the funds to make them a reality.

I can see the work being done by the Massillon campus at its core to start bringing up new leaders for the next generation, making sure that the same seed that started Living Water in Dalton is continued on. The church is ready to grow in new ways even further into the future with generations of sites to come.

Birthing a new campus allows the first generation to rethink how they do things. The process revitalizes us and opens us up to new ideas.

We serve God as one church in multiple locations, casting the same vision, ready to take ownership of it in faith, making disciples and sharing the Gospel. Everything we do is about bringing people to a place where they will know Christ in a real way. 

Being obedient to God brings change. When I make a sacrifice or am stretched in some way, He honors it. My life is for Him. I'm only two years in and already I feel a deeper connection with God. My life has been drastically changed and I can't wait to see what God is going to do next.

When I first felt called to Massillon, I didn't know exactly what a multi-site was. What I did know, and can see even more clearly now, is that there are people in Massillon who need to be reached. People who are ready to find new life in Jesus Christ, ready for more. This is the time for us to come together and be a part of birthing a new campus. If you feel called to go or serve, just do it! This is the time to continue the legacy of God's love for people and share the good works being done in your own life.

- Emily Roebuck

 

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

The Pain of Christmas

The Christmas season seems to go by faster every year. The songs, dinners, parties and get-togethers seem to blend into a blur of Christmas lights, cookies, and traveling. It is a time for friends and a time for family. As a pastor, even I can be distracted by all of these very good things- missing the most important thing about Christmas: The birth of hope. 

 

When I take the time between the cookies and shopping to think about Christmas, my mind is not drawn to Mary and Joseph in a manger immediately. I am reminded first of a different couple: Adam and Eve. You see, Adam and Eve were all that we could have been as humanity. Perfect and limitless from a human perspective, Adam and Eve had everything going for them in Genesis 3. God walked with them in paradise and they reflected His glory. God had one rule to protect them from pain and suffering: Do not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It wasn’t a rule from a dictator to control Adam and Eve; it was a plea of a loving father to protect them. They chose to ignore God’s plan and Adam and Eve ate from the fruit. In that moment, their eyes were opened to brokenness and pain and suffering. They suffered from knowledge of evil and it broke them.

 

You may ask, “Why is my mind drawn to such a sad and depressing part of our history during Christmas, one of the happiest times of the year?” We all understand pain and evil in the world. Suffering and death are in the news and in our lives every day. Why would I dwell on these things during one of the happiest times of the year? I think on this story of brokenness because despite the pain, God had a plan to restore what Adam lost for us: perfection. God had a plan to rescue us from pain and suffering. He would restore all of us to paradise. In Genesis, right after Adam and Eve made a choice that meant pain and suffering for hundreds of generations, God promised a solution: Jesus. 

 

You may have heard Jesus is the reason for the season. This is true because we celebrate Jesus’ birth on December 25th, but what we really celebrate is hope. In Christ, we have hope that our lives will not always be hampered by disability, baggage, frustration, pain, and death. In Christ, we have hope that we will be restored to what we could have been if Adam and Eve hadn’t made their choice. 

 

So at Christmas, I think of Adam and Eve first. Like them, I am blessed but I choose my own way, and I ignore the plan that God has for me. When I choose my way, I disregard my God and friend and open the way for brokenness and pain in my life. Christmas is about being rescued and restored with the birth of hope, knowing God won’t leave us. He sent hope into the world for me and for you.

4 Ways to Bring New Life Into Church Worship

Transient

Recently I have came across a few articles that focus heavily on "Why church worship is not as engaging as it used to be." To say these blogs were disheartening would be an understatement. Why? Because worship is my lifeline to God's heart, and for me Sunday worship means so much more than singing a few songs and hearing a message. It is a time to gather with friends and family. A grand celebration, a holy time. So I had a choice in that moment after reading these blogs: 

  • Feed the negativity
  • Do something that breeds life

As a result, here is my blog post on "4 Ways to Bring New Life Into Church Worship" *subtitled* Written by a recovering analytical, critical, and judgmental worship leader.  

1. Pre-Game: The Bible says to enter God's gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. This means you might have to do some pre-game worship before you even enter into a corporate worship setting. 

(This could be listening to some worship jams on your way to church or arriving early, opening up your bible, and meditating on God's Word) 

2. Don't Be A SpectatorWe are so inclined to wait...before we join in. This is not just with worship. We wait and talk about ideas and concepts until we feel safe to execute them or until someone has blazed the trail first. Let's walk into a worship service (contemporary or traditional - whatever style) and start engaging in what God has for us. Begin to pray for the day, share a word of encouragement with someone, write down something you are thankful for, sing, clap, dance, meditate, and maybe even smile.

3. Be Loud:  While I don’t believe that music at church must always be loud, there is Scriptural support for the idea that it often should be. Here is why: Psalm 33:3 , Psalm 150:3–6Ex. 15:19–21Acts 16:25Rev. 19:1–3. We gather together to celebrate and proclaim our salvation through the work of Jesus Christ. This is good reason to celebrate! Far to often our church services feel like a funeral or a place of death than a place of hope and new life. After all, He is alive! 

4. Posture: Our non-verbals say a lot about our worship. For example, in a time of war when an army is defeated, they would raise a white flag of surrender or throw up their hands to say, "I give up!" We do the same in our worship settings. We say to God, "I Surrender!" But unlike my war example, God offers freedom instead of defeat. When you are at a big game and an amazing play happens, you stand to your feet with joy and excitement applauding your team. I know, sometimes our churches are not 10,000+ people at an arena, but are we excited about what God is doing in our lives?  There are many postures in worship...here are just three examples for you to try next time you enter into a corporate worship setting:  

1. Bowing - Psalm 95:6 says, "Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker."
2. Standing - Psalm 119:120 says, "My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws." 
3. Dancing - Psalm 149:3 says, "Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp." 

If you engage in any of these things during your next church service, I guarantee it will bring something refreshing and new to your worship and your church. 

Lastly, I want to make something abundantly clear: 

I love the Church! I love the church that sings hymns, I love the church that sings 90s classics, I love the church that is writing all new music. I love the organ and I love the guitar. I love wearing a suit and I love wearing jeans. I love responsive readings and the people who are with me during those moments, because I love the Church. I don't just love the church that plays all my favorite tunes or does things the way I like them. I love the Bride of Christ. It's a messy, broken collective that is bent on bringing the hope of Jesus to the world. 

White Elephant Gifts that are just awesome

With the holiday season right around the corner many of us will be attending some sort of party in the month to follow.  Hopefully you will have the rare change to be part of a white elephant party. If no one has invited you to one yet then you should host one! Either way attender or host here is my list of white elephant gifts that are sure to be the prize of any gift exchange. (Some you might even want) 

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*if you are viewing this post on a phone, turn your phone so you can view photo descriptions* 

By clicking the picture you will be directed to where you can buy item. Have any other suggestions leave a comment.  

A typical fall weekend

LW Massillon group at Trunk or Treat on Sunday, October 26.

LW Massillon group at Trunk or Treat on Sunday, October 26.

Last week was the Massillon week of community at Living Water church. It was a beautiful seven days of excitement starting Sunday morning where I was able to share Living Water’s heart to honor our communities. It was followed that afternoon with Trunk or Treat with two trunks (or should I say a hay wagon and a ATV in mid-launch).

Later that week we passed out flyers for the tailgate. Friday night, twenty crazy people jumped on that same hay wagon as we hosted a float in the "Beat McKinley" parade. The rain did not stop the energy from the volunteers spilling over to the attendees! Twenty more people showed up to help for the Living Water Tailgate the next day. Oh, and Wayne Harrold was painting the ceiling of the campus during the tailgate! It was a beautiful and exhausting week. I am spent in the best way possible. Ray Jeske, co-owner of ESPN 990 played a huge role in instigating this crazy week and he wrote about his side of the experience: 


 Living Water did something crazy and beautiful. Living Water built a float, and joined the Massillon Tigers parade -- a float on which there were actual grills with actual fire in them while rolling. Actual fire to cook actual hot dogs.  Hot dogs given out on the parade route -- to Tigers.

I saw the set-up, the hard work, the sacrifice necessary to make it happen, not only in the Friday parade but also in the ambitious tailgate party Living Water hosted the next morning, despite the difficult cold and rainy weather they had to endure. Free hot dogs, donuts, cookies, snack foods, coffee, soft drinks, music and joy were all on the menu.  

 

And I saw something really instructive for all of us. I saw pastors leading by example, with the hardest working, earliest to arrive and last to leave - being pastors Mark and Nathan. Dealing with the stress. Fighting through the challenges. Leading by example. Showing what it looks like. Working their butts (to use the biblical term) off.And I saw what love looks like.

Years ago a Chinese geography professor coined a term: Topophilia. The term describes the affectionate bond people have for a place. The people of Massilllon have topophilia for their town, for their Tiger town. Hence the beautiful craziness.

The people of Living Water have affection for Dalton, where they live. But they also have a growing affection for Massillon, a place where others live. A place where Jesus is calling them. But how do you explain loving a town you do not live in?

For God had so much topophilia for the world, including Ohio's towns, that he sent his only begotten son, that whosoever believed in Him, would have eternal life.

Every town is crazy and beautiful in its own way. The town in which you live, and some towns where you and your church do not yet live, are towns of God's topophilia.  

And the leadership and love needed to bring Jesus to them will look like the same thing: it will look like a church, a church marked by sacrifice and joyful hard work. It will look like -- in its own unique way -- Living Water.

Thank you Mark, John, Nathan and everyone at Living Water for showing us what it looks like to be the Gospel in a place, and in a new place. You are an inspiration.


I couldn’t have said it better. We have topophilia for Massillon and WE showed it this week. We will continue to invest in this great community because we live here and we will learn to REDEEM our communities by first HONORING our communities.

I wanted to thank over 50 different volunteers that helped this week. You know who you are and you rock! I love that we get to be the church together. A big thank you to ESPN 990, Starbucks, Buehlers, Shearers, and Sugar Mama’s for donating and making these events awesome.

You can read Ray’s full letter HERE

5 Questions to Resolve Conflict

Conflict has the potential to destroy relationships, but it also has the potential to make them stronger. The result of conflict depends on whether or not we have unpacked the situation.

A conflict arises out of a disagreement or disconnect of some kind. Out of this disconnect, we develop offenses toward the person we are in conflict with. We start to tell ourselves stories about these people based on these offenses. These stories warp and distort our view of that person so much that we forget who they really are. We create a new false reality of that person in our minds based off of the lies we have believed about them. Before we know it, we are far away from having healthy interactions with this person. Each conversation, story, and interaction is tainted by offense and the wedge between us widens. This is what happens when we don't sort through conflict. 

When we encounter conflict and take a step back to unpack what is really going on in the situation, relationships can grow stronger.  This happens by identifying the disconnect, working through offenses, owning how we can grow through the conflict, remembering our true heart for the other person, and actively mending the relationship. Here are five questions you can ask to unpack conflict and grow stronger through it. 


1. When and where did the disconnect between you start?

2. What offenses have you developed toward the other person since the disconnect happened?

3. What can you own in this situation? How can you grow through this? 

4. What is your true heart for the other person?  

5. What can you do to mend the relationship? 


FOMO

I have a problem... It's not that I am dependent, or on a drug, or have anger issues, or depressed, I have... FOMO. I didn't know I had it until a friend told me what it was... and just like that - something appeared in my life that started following me around, haunting me, and constantly speaking over me.

For some, you know where I'm going with this because you know what FOMO is, but for others you are still in the dark just like I was.  Let me explain a bit further... I should have started off saying "I had a problem."  I was in the dark about my FOMO. My buddy who told me what it was didn't know I had it. What he did was shine the light on an area of my life I was not looking at. When he did this, it was a big ugly problem. I wanted to turn back off the light and ignore my FOMO.  

 

What is FOMO?

Fear Of Missing Out 

Transient

Do you have it? If you are an extrovert like me, I can almost guarantee you have it. So you may ask, "why is this a problem?" The actual acronym "FOMO" I have no quarrel with, it is fun to add randomly at the end of a txt or tweet. #beingreal #bestblogever #FOMO

The problem was before I was introduced to this new lingo and started tweeting and talking in abbreviations, I had a real fear of missing out on the next big thing. I started to realize that God commands us over and over again in Scripture to "Fear Not", to "Have Joy/Peace". (Bunny trail: You will find the "fear not" command and its variations in the Scripture nearly 150 times. This must be important then, eh?) 

But even still I never want to miss out on: parties, hangouts, church, a good laugh (I hate being the guy who missed the inside joke), campfires, concerts, and the list goes on.  

It time to say NO Mo 2 FOMO - ok that was kind of lame - let's just live with out fear ok?

Here is why:

1. FOMO will always leave you wanting more 

There is never going to be an end to the next big thing or party. Enjoy the ones you can when you are there. 

2. FOMO will never let you enjoy the "right now" moments

Be present in the moments you are in now, even if it's work or play.

3. FOMO will always lie to you 

Fear will always tell you the lie "You were not there so... You don't have value." 

4. FOMO will always leave you questioning 

Fear will always make you question if your life is exciting enough and has purpose. 

 

I can think of so many things FOMO can lead to but maybe that's for another blog. Let's live with out the fear! Let's try to bring peace and joy to the circumstances we are in this day, hour, minute.

 

  

One Conversation Changed My Life...

We had our first worship service at the Massillon Campus last week. It was an amazing opportunity to do some clean up in the parking lot and worship for the first time on the Massillon campus. It felt like a momentous moment and achievement, so much work has already gone into the campus. To have a location and a start date was a big piece of launching strong and I spoke about two other things we can do to help us as we close in on the first gathering. The first was about sharing social media. Sharing blogs, posts, statuses, and pictures helps to raise awareness of what is going on at Living Water. We can spread the great news to all our extended networks by sharing. The second was the most important thing we can do moving forward - having "One Conversation" every week about the Massillon Campus. Talking to a neighbor, co-worker, friend, or stranger can make all the difference in the world in their lives and the success of our launch. It is as simple as saying “I love what is going on in my church”, or “I am excited about how my church is moving forward!” Emily Roebuck, our Worship Leader for the campus, wrote to us about an experience she had this week:

 

When someone tells you that your reputation precedes you it may be good, it may be bad, but it definitely means that people know about you (and more than likely, they are talking about you). When it comes to our reputation as a church, the type of community we create for people, whether they are coming for the first time or the hundredth time, means everything. Recently, a woman I see almost every morning when I drop my son off and pick him up from daycare, shared with me that the reputation for Living Water is preceding us at our new campus in Massillon. Alice is part of the amazing group of people who take care of my son most days while I'm at work and we often talk about God, church and just life in general whenever I'm there in the mornings or at the end of the day. Earlier this year, she shared with me that she enjoyed watching Living Water's church services online (the video of our Easter service). Watching our video was how she celebrated, since she wasn't able to go to church that day. This week Alice told me she has a close friend who is brand new in her faith. She told her friend that she should start going to Living Water Massillon on Sundays because it will be a place where people will really talk to her and encourage her. She asked me when the Sunday services will be starting up and told me that her friend lives just up the road from our new campus. Knowing that people are already speaking about Living Water Massillon as a place that will be great for new believers is awesome! I felt excited, energized. I started praying for her friend on the drive home and couldn't wait to share with others the way that God is working.

Whether someone is a new believer, a long-time church goer, someone who doesn't believe God exists or someone who wants to make Him the center of their life, we all have reputations out there that we are expected to live up to. My desire is to be part of a church that makes everyone feel welcome and loved, no matter what their “reputation” may be, a place that gives love and life. Living Water Massillon already has a reputation in this world, and I'm excited to have the privilege of striving to live up to it."

-Emily Roebuck 

       Emily singing at LW Dalton

       Emily singing at LW Dalton

We have one example of the impact of conversations on our reputation. We have a responsibility to live up to our reputation as well as sharing about Living Water so people know we are coming. Have "One Conversation" this week with a friend neighbor coworker, or stranger about Living Water and the Massillon campus, and you will help us launch strong! It may be scary or hard but the impact you could have is worth it! I’ll leave you with the scripture we considered Tuesday night.

 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.  2 Timothy 1:7

 Have "One Conversation" this week!

5 Ways to Grow Your Character

Transient

One of the defining characteristics of my generation is the desire to dream big. We've been told we can do great things: write books, reach the world through social media, become famous overnight, launch an idea that makes millions, travel the world, and do whatever makes us come alive.

In a word, we've been invited into adventure. I love this invitation. It's what caused me to devote over ten years of my life to student ministry where I trained heroes by hearing, knowing, and loving young people who had limitless potential. I wholeheartedly believe in helping people reach their potential, but in order to do that, we need a good dose of reality. 

When we are told our entire lives that we have what it takes to change the world, we are served a plate of confidence with a side of entitlement. Think about it. If we consistently hear that we can have what we want when we want it, the result is feeling entitled to those things promised to us. This explains why so many students collide with a full-body reality check when they move from High School to adulthood. It's a lot harder than they expected.  

What should someone do when they wake up after an entitlement reality check?  Instead of expecting everything we want on a silver platter, we must be willing to step into the crucible of character training before we can realize our dreams. 

Extracted from the following Scripture, here are five ways to step into the ring and grow your character...

“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God”
— Phillippians 1:9-11


1. Overflow with Love

Since God is love (1 John 4:8), whenever you live out of love, you live out God's character. Whenever you live God's character, you strengthen your own. The key here is to marinate your motives in love. This Scripture says love "overflows" which means it is in such rich supply within you that it spills out of you uncontrollably. You can't help but love everyone you are around. This kind of love starts at the root of your heart. Do you truly love people from deep within your soul?

2. Grow in Wisdom

Be intentional about growing in knowledge and understanding. Don't chase facts or academic pursuits to boost your ego, pursue knowledge tempered by understanding. In other words, search for truth with a heartbeat, truth that works in real human experience. When you grow in these ways, you will grow in wisdom. Character is refined when guided by wisdom. Who is someone wise that you can meet with on a consistent basis to help you grow in wisdom?

3. Establish Your Priorities

When you say yes to everything, you say no to the most important things. One of the biggest hurdles of this generation is knowing when to say, "No!" We are so busy trying to do everything that we do few things whole-heartedly. It is impossible to do all we do with excellence. The reason we are this way is because we have failed to establish our priorities. I want to ask you to do something radical. Sit down and make a list of the ten most important people and activities in your life. Do the hard work to reshape your life around these ten priorities. Cut out whatever is left. Do this and your kids will thank you for it some day. 

4. Live Resolute

To live resolute means to be admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering. When you live resolute, you live a pure and blameless life so on purpose that people admire you. You are so determined to get where you are going that you are unwavering as you enjoy the journey each step. Refusing to be distracted by things that would derail your destiny, you have a razor sharp focus on what God has called you to do with your life. Where do you need to be more resolute in your life?

5. Produce Results

The more you work out what God worked in you when He saved you, the more fruit you will see in your character. This is the source of your effectiveness. God has filled the tank of your soul with the fuel of His Spirit. If you draw your strength from God's Spirit within you, you will always produce results. You may not see them until you reach Heaven, but they are there. Your strength will run dry but God's strength never will. When you live from this God Reservoir within you, you won't steal credit from God because He is the source. Instead, people will glorify and praise God when they see the life you live.  Where are you relying on your strength more than God's? What do you need to do to draw your strength from God?

Character is the cornerstone of your life. If you grow it intentionally, you will build a foundation strong enough to hold the huge dreams God has in store for you. When you grow your character, you position yourself for God to make those dreams come true. 



Witnessing History

Last night was my first experience at a Massillon Football game…an utterly and totally wowing experience. I left the house at 6:30pm with a feeling of anticipation that I was going to experience something completely different. We arrived at 6:45pm so that we could purchase tickets and find our seats with plenty of time to see the pre-game festivities. As Brett Fogle and I approached the mammoth stadium, I was struck at how beautiful the building was in the setting sun. It was 70 degrees outside and as clear as it could be! As we joined the crowds of people making their way to the game, the anticipation began to grow. We purchased our tickets and found our seats four rows up from the field on the 50-yard line. We sat in eager anticipation with choice seats to experience the game.

If you haven’t been to a home Massillon game, you need to go! The pre-game pageantry rivals many college football games and the night has the feel of an OSU game with its rich tradition and meticulous planning. The swing band marched onto the field and played the fight song.  The football team ran out of the mouth of a 40 foot long, 15 foot tall Tiger Mouth tunnel, barreling past the towering 30 foot tall inflatable tiger, past the live tiger cub (yeah…a live tiger), through a paper banner and into the middle of the band. The adoring fans yelled and clapped and cheered. It was truly an experience. It cannot be relayed with words, pictures, or video. It must be lived to be understood.


The game itself was fun as well. Only the fireworks that went off after every touchdown rivaled the experience of watching the live replay of great plays on the beautiful scoreboard. I don’t have the time to relay all the experiences and beauty of the stadium and the feeling of community. But all of those moments paled in comparison to something truly amazing to behold: history.

We were playing very well. The Tigers were destroying the other team but in one of the few times they didn’t convert a third down, they were near the 50-yard line. Now Massillon has a talented kicker and so they sent the kicking team onto the field. This young man lined up for a field goal that would have been difficult for any college kicker. With fierce determination he charged the ball and kicked. The crowd stilled.  The ball soared through the air, crossing the distance between the kicker and the goal posts. The anticipation was palpable, the hope was growing as it moved closer and closer. The ball sailed through the uprights cleanly and the crowd jumped to their feet as the kicker jumped and pumped his fist around his teammates. The celebration was full of joy! The kicker had set a school record and a state record for the longest field goal kicked in a game at a whopping 58 yards.

History happened! It was experienced as a community. It was truly a “you had to be there moment”. This is what is happening in Massillon on the Living Water campus. We are launching a campus and it isn’t just a building, it is a community and it is part of a plan. God’s plan is do his work in Massillon! God is going to make history in people's lives. There will be lives that are on a one-way journey to destruction and death. In a moment, God will reach down into their lives and radically and supernaturally turn it around. People will be healed physically and spiritually, they will be encouraged, and they will grow. Joy will live in the community! The question is “Will you be there to witness it?”

You have to be present to witness. Being a part of Massillon campus by committing to a year of attendance, volunteering during the clean up and construction, serving during our first gatherings will position you to experience history, to be a witness to the power of God. Experiencing the field goal kick through word of mouth or picture or even video will never compare to being present to witness it. We will all celebrate as Living Water Church when God moves in Massillon. But those of us who are there physically will witness history. We will all celebrate as a church, but those who witness it will say “You had to be there!”

The next Massillon Team meeting is Tuesday September 23rd at 6:30pm and the next workday is Saturday September 27ths from 8am-2pm. Contact Nathan@lwchurch.com to find out more about Massillon.

5 ways to increase your JOY

Joy is something God wants for us! Jesus said what he said and did what he did so we could have his joy. He wants our joy to be full and overflowing (see John 15:11). In fact, Joy is a result (fruit) of the Holy Spirit alive in us. Joy literally changes our thought patterns and responses to our life circumstances, which in turn change the circumstances in which we find ourselves! So, if Jesus wants to give joy and I want to have it, what is the issue?

Everyday life steals our joy...  it just does. Whether it is our attitudes, others' actions, or just the crappy results of a broken world, joy is drained away. When joy decreases, many of the undesired things in our life increase.     

So let's make the decision to create the environment for joy. Here are 5 ways to increase joy: 

1) Practice gratitude: Thank everyone every chance you get, give people the benefit of the doubt, and think about a couple of things for which you are deeply thankful.  Ask people each day what they are thankful for and share yours. This works great over a meal! 

2) Slow down: Joy does not come in isolation, it comes in relationship. Take moments in each day to slow down and make the time to interact with people and with God. You can do this in the midst of a busy schedule! 

3) Eliminate the drama: Create drama-free zones. Don't let others steal your joy by sucking you into their ridiculous reactions to life. Take a stand! While you can't control many environments around you, you can control your home. Make your home your castle and set the parameters!  

4) Dwell on the promises: You need to deal with the circumstances all around you and you need to do that well.  But as you do, dwell on what you know to be true, right, noble and... Philippians 4:8 - memorize it! 

5) LAUGH as often as possible

I'm not one to make guarantees, but I guarantee this one - these 5 things will increase Joy in your life. 

 

 

Something is Bugging Me

Something is Bugging Me.

My wife hates mosquitos. I hate mosquitos too. I mean, mosquito bites (or I guess puncture wounds is more accurate) are so annoying. But I don’t react to mosquito bites like my wife. When she gets bit they are twice as big, hurt twice as much, and last twice as long. I really feel for her.

Mosquitos for me are first heard then experienced. What I mean is that I rarely see them first. I hear this high-pitched whine or buzz like a zzzzzzippp or bzzzzsss. Like a mini kamikaze bomber, these flying annoy-machines zip around my head signifying great discomfort to come if I do not remove myself from the area or destroy the demon spawn.

Recently, I have had a nagging question on my mind that has been plaguing me like a mosquito. It buzzes in and out of my consciousness during conversations with people in Massillon, with people at church, and even at Taco Bell. This idea distracts me when I hear a stray conversation in line at Wal-Mart. I hear it when I hear people discuss the role of the church. I am terrified I will suffer ill effects if I don’t destroy it or escape it’s relentless pursuit. It just won’t go away.

What does it mean to live life abundantly? This is the question that is relentlessly bugging me.

I know the good Christian answer to this question: To be full of happiness, peace, and joy and all that good stuff. But, what is life abundant? 

John 10:10 | The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

What was John thinking when he wrote this scripture and used this word ‘abundantly’? When He quoted Jesus, he could have ended the verse at ‘life’ but he continued with ‘and have it abundantly’. I mean Jesus had thwarted the thief and saved our lives. Why go farther? Looking into the word used in the original language I found it synonymous with excessive, advantageous, or exceptional. Another way to say it ‘is more than usual’. So God came so that I would have life but he wants me to have it in greater abundance. He wants more of ‘it’ for me.

I am learning that Christ wants for us to not just survive but thrive. Thriving means “to be in a vigorous state; to flourish, to be in one’s prime, to prosper”

John 10:10 is saying to me that Jesus didn’t just save us from death and destruction but saved us for something: to thrive. He saved us for something greater than what we could achieve on our own in life. This isn’t being happy for happiness sake though. God doesn’t want us to be merely happy, he wants us to be joyfully useful! We have a role to play in this grand story and when we become useful we have a deep joy! The abundant life isn’t having everything you could desire, it is becoming an individual that lives into all that God had designed for you. It is growing and contributing to those around you.

So why does this question bug me? Because I am not sure I am seeing thriving as clearly as I want to. I see it getting twisted into a worship of our own happiness where everything is about my emotional state and my wants and desires. Or I see a resigned dourness and a spirituality of boring on the other side.  If thriving is why God sent his son Jesus to die, I want to see it everywhere. I want those who know Christ to have more life than any other group of people and understand it enough to speak it to everyone.

Here is where I do see thriving…

I see it in a man who struggles with debt and consumerism becoming a faithful steward, who produces a service that contributes to the good of his community. He gives with a generous heart out of his abundance. This is thriving economically.

I see it in men and women who no longer want to give away their bodies to person after person in pursuit of belonging and fleeting happiness, but desire to find their joy in God. This is thriving spiritually.

I see it in young people who are learning to speak the truth and have character, even when others aren’t looking. Young people who are willing to do what is right, no matter the cost. This is moral thriving.

I see it when Christians pray for each other, step in and help a family stand on their own two feet when everyone counts them out. I see it when we celebrate a lost son who was far from his family coming home. This is the family thriving.

I have celebrated the goodness of God and when I see thriving I begin to feel a deep joy inside. A joy that is born out of my community living as if they have been rescued and rescued for a purpose: to thrive.

The mosquito is still buzzing in my ear because I believe God wants this for our workplaces and our communities, our schools and our sports. He wants our society to thrive through Christ. God is calling us to move beyond the church. And this promise of abundant life is more than a feeling, it is a truth he wants to realize in me and you and us.

This desire of God for us to thrive wont go away and it still zips in and out of my mind all day…maybe now, it will bug you too.

The Art of Celebration

This month our church sets out on a journey back to JOY. Somewhere along this ride called life, we got beat up and tossed around a bit too much and now we hide behind seriousness: jobs, lives, cars, speech, and our own faces (just to name a few). When is the last time you laughed so hard you couldn't breath? Let your hair down? Took a dive in a pool? Danced in the rain? Life has a way of making us calloused toward the joy in us, and so we as a church are taking a stand to say, "No longer will this world kill our joy!" We will find our strength and hope in Christ alone. 


"And it’s for the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross. That kind of joy mystifies us and draws us in. We can’t help but want to taste it, to chase it, to cultivate God’s living presence in our lives.
We, as the church, want to be known by our love and by our joy in impossible circumstances.
It’s in this calling we hope to seek. We want to celebrate life with a fierceness that points the world the heart of Jesus!  We hope you’ll join us in our fight for joy!" 
- Rend Collective 

Take time to watch this video with a group of friends or your family and then talk about some of your thoughts afterwards. 

Questions to respond to: 

What gives you joy? 

What defenses have you put up in your walk with Christ and others?

What does it mean when scripture tells us that the Joy of the Lord is our strength?

Did you know that they had automobiles in Jesus’ time?

Yes, the Bible says that the disciples were all of one Accord.
 

Something Awesome Happened!

Something awesome happened this week for Living Water. Something exciting! I will get to that in a moment but first a story…

It is in the end of February this last year and it is cold. I mean cold like my eyeballs feel like they are going to freeze into a jelly-like substance. I am driving out to Massillon to ask God to show me if I should apply for a campus pastor position at a church called Living Water. I am going out to visit the proposed campus location near Home Depot on the East side of town. I am full of hope and excitement as my wife and some close friends are praying for God to clearly speak to me about making a potentially risky decision.

There are moments you will never forget where you decided something important and this drive was one of them for me. I made it to the proposed site near Home Depot on the East side of Massillon. As I parked and I walked up and down the strip, I had such a profound peace about the decision to come to Massillon. God was speaking clearly to me in the way that He does.  A song came on my iPhone called Nothing is Wasted by Elevation Worship. I thought it was odd that it came on right when I arrived at the proposed location but more on that later...

I knew in that moment God was calling me to be a part of Living Water and no matter what happened to me or my family, God was going to use it for His glory. He knew my need and my gifts, and He was calling me to Massillon. I applied and came on staff (it wasn’t quite that quick!). Shortly after joining Living Water Church, we announced at the Easter Gathering that the Massillon Campus would be launching in the Fall at the Home Depot location. I felt such a wave of sureness because everything was going according to plan. And then it fell through… The company we were working with backed out of the negotiations. It felt like the tracks had been ripped out from under a train.

In previous years, this setback would have had me questioning whether I had made the right choice in taking this job. But God had prepared me that cold night in February by reminding me of something important to following God’s call. Faith is following God’s call and trusting in Him to bring the power and change! We are called to be obedient! In life, this can look like a lifestyle change, a job change, volunteering our time in ministry, going home to be with the kids, moving to a different state. We do this because we believe that God has called us to do these things and for His glory. This is faith, but sometimes we let circumstances dictate our faith.

For me, I had a choice when I found out we didn’t have a location anymore. I could doubt and get overly frustrated and become distressed or I could choose to remember that with God….

Nothing is Wasted.

There is nothing too hard for our God. Nothing in your life, whether mistakes or set-backs, is wasted. God uses it for His glory! We step out in faith and seek God’s guidance and then we go! Set-backs happen. Life is hard. We have a choice to look at set-backs as indicators that we lack faith of that we didn’t really hear from God or we can look for HOW GOD WILL USE IT! God will use it for His glory!

Which leads me to the big something! We have a campus now! It is at Lincoln Way (1135 Lincoln Way East) and Wales in the middle of Massillon off the main drag. God has us there for a reason and I know that He didn’t allow us to go through with the other location because He wants something greater for us. Nothing is wasted and I will continue to look for how God will use every setback for His glory. I know something else too: If you seek God’s will and act in faith, He will use everything in your life for His glory. Look for it!

Artful Devotion

Staff praying for what God impressed on us as we took in the beauty of this painting. 

Staff praying for what God impressed on us as we took in the beauty of this painting. 

A few weeks ago, Living Water had an artist come in during our services and paint the above piece. During our staff meeting, we broke out the painting and asked the question, "What do you see?"  

- angel  

- spring of water  

- new life  

- fruit on wings  

What do you see?  

Do you see your own life as a masterpiece?  

Why is it so easy to see the beauty in this painting but not in our own lives?  

Ephesians 2:10 | For we are God's masterpiece he has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do good things he planned for us long ago. 

 

Current Series: "The Choice"

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For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Eph 2:10


Q. What would change if we fully embraced the truth of this very straightforward and powerful verse?  

A. Everything!
    

This Weekend we start a new series called "The Choice". To kickoff the series we have something planned that is different than anything I have experienced before at Living Water. You will want to see this live! Th truth behind the series is based on the life of Joshua and I challenge you to read that book of the Bible this month. For Sunday we will actually start at the end of his life...  Check out Joshua 24 for a head start.  

The start of a new series is always a great time to invite a friend.  Message someone with an invitation right now.    
 

I look forward  to seeing you on Sunday

Mark

Elevation worship

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This weekend I get the chance to go see @elevationworship with some key leaders @livingwaterfmc . I love going to an awesome concert especially one that brings honor to God. It seems to me that most of my life changing moments are accompanied by some awesome tunes. For example I can remember the song that was playing when I decided to step into ministry "give us clean hands" by Chris Tomlin.

Do you remember any stand out songs in your life?  

A first dance?  

A resolution moment?  

A cry your face off moment?  

Its amazing how music can impact us, and that is why I am looking forward to this concert.  

Comment on your favorite music moments? 

LW at the Movies

There has been lots of response to "LW at the Movies" this month. So let me follow up by asking, "What media have you consumed in the past month?"

  • News? 
  • Movies? 
  • Music? 
  • Viral videos? 
  • Cartoons?   

 

Have you engaged your mind in the practice of critical thinking or do you simply take it all in? Media has a tremendous impact in our lives and it is our responsibility to filter through what we see and hear. Here is what I shared in week 1 of our series and what I use daily. When I engage media I choose to...     

 

RECEIVE the clear truths of God that line up with Scripture...  And focus on them.

REJECT what interferes in my journey with Christ...  And turn it off.

REDEEM concepts and activities for Christ’s purposes... And learn how to relate truth to our culture.

 

Remember, God's story is found in every story.

-Mark