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Overboard Blog

Living the extraordinary life of faith!

4 years later: time for another presidential prediction.

Joseph Castaneda

[This post was originally written in 2012. I’ve tweaked just a few words, but it’s just as true today as it was 4 years ago!]

 

I already know the results of tomorrow’s election. Call it divine clarity. Call it a spiritual gift of prophetic vision. I actually don’t care what you call it, but the fact remains: I know the outcome of the election, and I know I’m right.

 

Here it is: Wednesday morning, millions of Americans will wake up fearful, sad and even angry.

 

Of course, if you have been engaged with year’s election at all (and it’s been hard to avoid it!), you know how contentious things have been. In my 42 years of living, spanning 13 presidential elections (including eight that I remember, seven that I remember moderately well) I have never seen one being so filled with animosity. The anger, condemnation and verbal beatings exchanged online, in businesses and over office water coolers has been unprecedented. And because of that, I’m confident of this: The “losing” team will not be happy come Wednesday morning.

Image from call-levels.com blog on presidential preference

Image from call-levels.com blog on presidential preference

 

So what are we supposed to do Wednesday morning? Here are a few commitments each of us should make, regardless of our party affiliations.

 

  1. Pray for your leaders: Nothing is simpler, yet has more power to create change, than praying for leaders. For some reason we only employ this tactic when our candidate doesn’t win, basically praying prayers for God to remove the other guy at the next election. Paul reminds us that prayers are to be offered for everyone in authority, all the time: “our guy (or gal!)” or not! On Wednesday, whatever the outcome, commit to pray. “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone -- for kings and all those in authority...” (1 Timothy 2:1).
  2. Respect those in leadership: It’s Peter that reminds us to “show proper respect to everyone” (1 Peter 2:17), yet I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read something like this on facebook: “I know I’m supposed to respect the president, but....” But? There is no “but” clause in 1 Peter 2:17, or in Romans 13:7 where we are commanded to respect and honor those in authority. The point is this: Don’t “but” your way out of obedience. President Trump or President Clinton, it doesn’t matter, we owe them respect and honor. You don’t have to like their politics or policies, but you don’t have permission to badmouth them to coworkers, social media audiences or family members. Show respect to your leaders for the position they hold, even if you didn’t vote them there. I think we have a duty to fight for the right leaders (see also: #1 above), to converse (strongly), debate (graciously) and vote our conscience in light of Scripture. We don’t have the right to tear down God-appointed leaders. You don’t have to like him (or her), but you do have to respect them.
  3. Live for Jesus, not for a political party: I sometimes worry that believers on both sides of the political spectrum put more faith in the political process than they do the life-changing process of Christ. Your party may have won the White House this week, but only Jesus can win/change the hearts of people. (Romans 2:29, 6:17, Ephesians 1:18) Don’t get lost in celebrating or mourning Tuesday’s election results, believing that hearts will move toward (or away!) from God and His standard because of who is sitting in the Oval Office. Yes, some politicians and policies can create an environment that frees or loosens the public expression of the Gospel, but none of them can contain, limit or strengthen the work of God! Live for Jesus and promote the Gospel, don’t live for your politics to promote a party unless it allows you a better position to share Jesus.
  4. Make joy your daily habit: If your party wins on Tuesday, joy will be a whole easier on Wednesday. But it shouldn’t be. Joy should be your daily habit, whether your guy or gal is president or not. Why? Because Jesus is your king! Paul told us to “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4) Win or lose on Tuesday, make joy your response on Wednesday. And Thursday. And Friday... Jesus will still be king. In the midst of the political storms, joy could be your greatest witnessing tool.

 

Will you make these four commitments on Wednesday morning? Will you continue them on Thursday, regardless of the outcome of this year’s election? Politics is serious business, and the election (appointment) of the president of the United Sates (or whatever country/official rules in your home land) is not to be taken lightly. I'm voting my conscience tomorrow on a number of offices and issues, and I hope you are, too. But I'm putting my trust in the God who changes hearts whether my candidate wins or loses.

 

Put your name in the comments if you will commit to prayer, respect, life and joy.

 

So go ahead, take the plunge, life–including politics–is always better on the water!

What to do...

Joseph Castaneda

The other day I was lamenting that I didn’t know exactly what to do next. Sure, I had a general idea about the progress that needed to be made, but I had no certainty about what needed to be done that day to see any steps toward that goal. The lack of certainty created a little paralysis and after a day of shuffling papers, sending emails and questioning whether or not a Netflix binge would be considered progress, I went to bed frustrated.

 

Have you ever felt like you were facing that dilemma? You know the general direction you are moving, but you aren’t certain about the next move nor do you have any clarity about the timing of what’s next. That tension between progress (the way you want to move) and movement (making steps towards that end) can be paralyzing. And when you’re in that tension, it’s easy to watch mindless hours turn into days, and days soon become weeks and months, and before long you feel like the path you started on is more uncertain than ever.

 

After a restless night of sleep, I woke up and thought about my situation: What do you do, when you don’t know what to do? Do what you know to do.

 

What?

 

So you don’t know exactly what to do next? Start by doing the things you know to do–the actions that are always right no matter what the circumstances. Do the right things when you don’t know what to do, and use that as an opportunity to wait for the path to open up clearly before you.

 

Don’t know exactly what to do? Here are a few things to do to help you while you wait for clarity:

 

Be thankful: Paul says to be thankful in all circumstances, so use your down time to practice gratitude. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

 

Pray: In the same passage in 1 Thessalonians 5 where Paul tells us to be thankful, He also tells us to pray frequently. How frequently? Always. (1 Thessalonians 5:16)

 

Surrender worry to the Lord: Times of uncertainty can lead to massive bouts of worry and anxiety. Give those to the Lord. (Philippians 4:6-8, Mathew 6:25-34)

 

Serve others: When we feel a little lost or uncertain of our path, it can be easy to turn our focus inward. The best plan to get it back on the Lord? Follow our Lord’s advice and serve others! (John 13:12-15)

 

Be generous: Feel like things are snug during your uncertainty? Trust me, we know the feeling! To help keep your focus off of the scarcity that can develop, be generous with your resources and trust God even more for His provision and guidance. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)

 

Read the book: No matter what else is happening, it is always right to spend time reading and memorizing God’s Word. (Psalm 119:9-11). As a side note, this past season I’ve been able to read through the Bible twice in the past year, and I’ve memorized huge sections of Scripture. Reading the Bible is always a good thing.

 

Love your spouse (family/friends): Again, the inward focus that can arise because of frustration and uncertainty can create relational problems if you aren’t intentional with your community. Create opportunities to intentionally love your spouse or love your children or your friends or your coworkers or the old lady that lives next door. By thinking of practical ways to love others, you are doing the right thing, and moving yourself forward even if it doesn’t feel like it.

 

There are many more of those good and right actions to take, but these seven should give you a good jump on things. It’s ok to feel stuck and uncertain, but even then, do what you know to do, until you know what to do next.

 

Go ahead and take plunge, life–even in uncertainty–is always better on the water!

Watch your mouth

Joseph Castaneda

Last August my family and I spent a week hanging with friends in Baltimore, and then took a few days to tour DC. We had a great time visiting our nation’s capital and touring so many great (and free!) museums. If you haven’t ever taken a vacation in DC, be sure to put it on the calendar for the family, it will be worth it!

Traci taking a quick selfie with AJ, Bethany and the Washington Monument.

Traci taking a quick selfie with AJ, Bethany and the Washington Monument.

 

One night we left our hotel to pick up some late-night snacks for everyone. We found a grocery store about a mile from where we were staying and shopped the aisles looking for each family member’s favorite treat. After everyone was satisfied with their choices, we headed to the check out and found the only register open at that hour.

 

While our items were being scanned, Celina looked up at the African American lady who was our checker, and without any kind of prompting said, “Wow, I love your hair!” The lady stopped, looked over at CJ and the biggest smile came across her face. She said, “Why thank you honey, you are so sweet!”

 

Celina had never seen hair extensions like the ones this lady was wearing, and she was enamored by them. The grocer asked Celina if she wanted to touch them to which CJ enthusiastically responded with a “Yes.” The lady talked to our daughter for several minutes about hair, beauty and how much her words meant to her that night. As we walked out of the grocery store, the lady and her fellow employee (a woman who bagged our groceries) were talking, smiling, laughing and had a totally different outlook on life.

 

All because a ten year old girl said, “Wow, I love your hair!”

 

Just as a careless word can destroy a person, a compliment is a powerful tool when wielded by expert lips. But like any professional in any trade, you become an expert by practicing with the tools of the trade. Are you practicing with your words? I love Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

 

My little girl showed me an incredible example of helpful speech that builds up others, so that even a second teller who was just “listening” to our conversation was encouraged by what she said. Such a little compliment changed the outcome of the night for two grocery store employees and who knows how far that one blessing traveled. I’m sure the one lady told her daughters at home, about the kind words of a little Mexican girl at her store, at 8:30pm that night. I feel certain the two tellers continued to talk about CJ after we left, it really had that much impact.

 

What are you doing with your words? Who is being blessed by your speech? Are you becoming a professional compliment giver and word encourager? Living the Overboard Life requires each of us to use our words according to God’s standards for speech, and the only way to get better is to practice daily. Who can you encourage and compliment today?

 

Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!

"No Thru Traffic" and the shortness of life.

Joseph Castaneda

I try to walk three to four times a week, partly to keep active and healthy, and partly to keep strengthening my knee after this past summer’s surgery. When I don’t walk with Traci, I often spend my time memorizing verses, praying or just thinking through the challenges and opportunities we’re currently facing. It seems like several blogs have emerged as a result of my walks.

 

On my walk this morning I decided to take a detour through our local cemetery. I chuckled (darkly) as I entered thru the main gate due to the sign that read, “No Thru Traffic.” Indeed, the traffic headed to the cemetery is generally not headed out. And that’s when my stroll turned somber, as I snapped a few pictures, read a few names and tombstones and was reminded of the reality that life is short.

 

Each tombstone in the cemetery represents a life, a story of someone who lived on this earth and engaged others. With their last names listed boldly for others to see, I began to wonder what these people had been like during their living years. Jackson, Walter, Titus, Campbell, Winter Thornburg, Hansen, Olsen, Eherhardt, Sherwood, White, Kies, Brown...on and on the names emerged from gravesite after gravesite. Some were adorned with freshly cut flowers, others hadn’t been visited in years.

 

There is something very sobering about a cemetery and the certainty of death. Two years ago I wrote a series of blogs about being at the statistical half-way point of life. Now, as days turn into weeks, and as years roll by, the reality is that one day I too will be in a vehicle that will pass thru the iron gate baring the sign, “No Thru Traffic” and some other walker or jogger will pass by my tombstone and wonder what I was like, and be curious about the kind of life I had lived.

 

Living the Overboard Life isn’t about fame, fortune, prosperity or comfort. Instead, the Overboard Life is a commitment to follow the Lord, whenever He calls, into any situation He has prepared for us. It’s about living life out of the overflow of God’s abundance, touching the heart of others with the life changing message of a relationship with God and living according to the design with which He has created in everyone of us.

 

Thanks to Jesus, I don’t fear death, but I fear living a small life because I let fear, anxiety and hardship define me more than the truth of who God made me to be. I fear that one day someone will see my headstone, and if they explored my story they would discover a man who let the worries and stress of this life block out the big picture that “could have been” had he grabbed the hand of His creator and lived out Ephesians 3:20: “God can do anything you know, far more than you can ever imagine, guess or request in your wildest dreams!”

 

I left the cemetery today (thankfully!) oddly encouraged to keep pursuing the Overboard Life. Right now life seems hard but only when I lose sight of the one whom I follow. When I keep focused on Him, I can grab the sides of the boat, jump out on the water and live the remarkable life to which I have been called.

 

What about you? Are you going through the motions? Are you defining yourself by the past or letting fear and anxiety cripple your future? Find real freedom by focusing yourself on the one who calls you out of the boat, and out on the water where He is doing His Kingdom work. That life will leave an extraordinary mark behind a tombstone some jogger will find on a quiet fall day, on a detour through the cemetery.

 

Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!

Scoffing at a million dollars

joeacast

My son AJ and I were talking about the million dollar give-a-way at McDonalds and he was a little incensed that McD's would give away one million dollars without paying the taxes for the winner. After all, a multi-billion dollar organization could probably afford to pay the taxes, too, right? His perspective made me look inward about how I view gifts given to me. Would you scoff at a million dollars?

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Happy Titanic-a-versary

joeacast

April 15th is a date most Americans don't like—it's the day income taxes for the previous year are filed. But April 15th has a history of bad memories, as it's the day Lincoln died and in 1912, it was the day the Titanic sank. There's a lot of debate about how the Titanic sank as fast as she did, but discoveries in the past 20 years have given us a clearer picture of her demise and there a few lessons to be learned from the disaster that gripped nations around the world.

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How to be first to the South Pole (part 2)

joeacast

Back when the South Pole was one of the last explored places on earth, two mean, representing two countries and two very distinct styles of exploration, raced for historical immortality as each sought to plant his country's flag first, at the true South Pole. There's a lot to learn from how these men  pursued their goal. (Part 2 of 2)

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How to be first to the South Pole

joeacast

Back when the South Pole was one of the last explored places on earth, two mean, representing two countries and two very distinct styles of exploration, raced for historical immortality as each sought to plant his country's flag first, at the true South Pole. There's a lot to learn from how these men  pursued their goal. (Part 1 of 2)

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Easter reflections: consoling a terminal patient

joeacast

All of us have known people—or maybe you've been that person—who received the terrible news that their life expectancy was going to be shortened significantly. Maybe it was because of cancer, a heart-condition or a freak accident, but whatever the reason, this person will start measuring their life in months, weeks or days. Here are two perspectives about the end of life, and each one makes a world of difference even in the face of death!

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Taxes and the Electric Cheetah

joeacast

Life can truly feel out-of-control at times. Ever had an unexpected tax bill or doctor's fee come your way? Ever get one of those calls that you wish hadn't come? While we can't always control the things life throw at us, we have a lot of influence over how we respond

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Why are Baptists against pre-marital sex?

joeacast

I'm very proud  and thankful for my Baptist heritage and conservative upbringing. God has used that foundation in my life, time and time again. Thanks to my appreciation for that upbringing, I can also enjoy a few good jokes at the expense of my Baptist friends!

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What kind of friend are you?

joeacast

Over the past 14 months, our family has been on a crazy journey that would have been impossible without so many great friends who helped out along the way. As I've reflected on those friendships, I've come up with seven types of people who have been an extraordinary blessing to us along the way...so what kind of friend, are you?

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