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Overboard Blog

Living the extraordinary life of faith!

Filtering by Tag: Danny Ray

Whatever You Do...

Joseph Castaneda

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Commit to the Lord

Thinking back to when Traci and I moved our family to Michigan five years ago, it must seem funny to God what plans we had made. We knew we were following His lead, and without a shadow of doubt we know that everything that transpired was because of His perfect planning, but we thought we knew the details of His work. We thought we had grasped the precision with which He orchestrates life events and we were trusting our understanding as much as we were trusting His leading.

When everything hit the fan, we understood the difference between what we know, and what He knows; between our planning and His. As created finite beings, we can only work with what's within our realm of knowledge and understanding, but with God, He sees the first from the last, the start from the finish and He sees all of it for everyone at any given moment.

These words of Solomon (put together by my good friend, Danny Ray), remind us to commit our work to the Lord, while leaving the setting of plans and course to Him. Yes, we must make plans and prayerful pursue the works/paths/passions/love that God has put in our hearts, but ultimately we must do so with an openness for the Almighty Creator God of the universe to intervene in order to give us what's best according to His limitless knowledge!

I hope you are committing your ways to the Lord, but leaving room for Him to establish the path. Then, no matter how difficult the journey, you know you are exactly where He wants you to be.

Best. Thanksgiving. Ever.

joeacast

Today is day 6 of the 7-day Blog-hop on Thanksgiving. 7 days. 7 bloggers. 7 blogs, all on thankfulness. Number six comes from Danny Ray, a man who has become one of my dearest friends. His passion for God, his wife and family and his magic is truly inspiring!

I invite you to read his blog on how to make this the best Thanksgiving ever, and then follow him and his ministry in the future -- he's got some big things coming up, and it will be fun to be on the journey with him!

http://dannyray.tv/2014/11/26/3-ways-to-make-this-thanksgiving-the-best-one-ever/

20141126-130716-47236293.jpg

"My life has no meaning."

joeacast

“Thank you...now my life has no meaning.” “What the h*** am I supposed to do now?”

“Life officially sucks.”

I read these statements in regard to a recent national tragedy. Which one? The financial crisis? The execution of Americans oversees? The Iraqi war? No, none of those. This was the event that devastated our entire country earlier this week: the Netflix blackout of 2014.

Seriously.

Netflix outage

And there were more. Like this man who wrote, “This is B*** S*** Netflix, I just started my free trial and I better get credit for this loss of time.” Or this was written by a woman, “The kids are gone, [name] is away and now I have nothing to do while I’m home alone.”

I know some of the responses were tongue and cheek, but I also know far too many of them were far too serious. In the first hour of the black out, there were over 10,000 posted comments on the one site I visited. Many of those people were angry, hurt and -- yes, I’m saying it -- despondent over the loss of Netflix.

Coincidentally, I picked up a magazine two days ago that featured some of TVs hottest shows. In one article, the author did a comparison of the amount of time it takes to watch an entire series on DVD or Netflix (or Hulu or Amazon Prime etc...) versus other activities. It caught my eye immediately, because one of my favorite shows, NCIS, was listed in the top-5.

I was enjoying the piece until I read this line in the article: In the time it takes to watch all 11 seasons of NCIS, you could earn your airline pilot’s license. Seriously? I could be a licensed pilot today if I had taken those 44-minute blocks and studied to fly instead of watching Gibbs smack Dinozzo on the back of the head?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big advocate of down-time, and taking intentional time to rest. I don’t have a problem with watching a show, enjoying a movie or reading a book or taking a nap. Rest is important. What I do work on in my own life, is making sure that “taking a rest” or “having down time” doesn’t become the thrust of my life. In other words, when Netflix goes down, I want my life to still have meaning, I want to still have a plan for what I’m going to do, and I surely don’t want the suckiness of life to hinge on whether or not I can see if Ducky’s most recent autopsy solves the crime or not.

But more importantly, this Netflix outage begs the question: What are you doing with your spare time? How are you and I investing the precious hours God has given us?

Every September I like to take time to recalibrate my life. I take the 30-days of the month to refocus on a number of areas including my health, my spiritual growth, my professional growth and, especially, how I manage my time. I usually attack the month with a pretty sharp laser-like focus and eliminate a lot of mental clutter, in order to tackle projects/dreams/goals/ideas with a little extra intentionality. Like running, I usually dread the oncoming month, but -- like running -- I’m always thankful for the results when I’m finished.

This September is no different. I’m gearing up for 30 days of extra focus and I’m eliminating some things that hinder my effort. Look for my detailed list to emerge in this blog before the end of August, and I would love your feedback. What about you? Could you use a little more intentionality in your life? What would it look like for you to shave a little time here or there, in order to achieve something significant?

My friend Danny Ray has always heralded a 15-minute time-management plan. Work on something for 15 minutes at a time and see what you can get done. Rotate between projects and tasks and see what you can accomplish, 15 minutes at a time. In the book, The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy states that in 20 minutes a day, you can become an expert at a task in just a couple of years. (Imagine moving from 20 minutes a day to 60 minutes a day...your mastery increases at a rapid pace!) Basically, taking advantage of our time, in bite-sized chunks, is crucial to developing influence in the world around us.

I’ve started working on a few pretty simple card tricks. Danny Ray, a world-class illusionist, recommended a book for beginners like me, and I’ve started chipping away at it, 20-minutes a night. After a couple of months I’ve learned how to do a pretty impressive shuffle, three fairly decent card tricks and I’ve found another way to connect with the people for whom I speak at camp each week. No, I’m not working on becoming a world-class magician, but by harnessing just 20 minutes out of my daily schedule, I’m learning a new skill and enjoying a hobby.

How could you fine-tune the minutes of your life to learn something new? Let’s take it a step further -- how could you harness 20 minutes a day in order to make a bigger impact in the world around you? Most full-length TV shows are between 42-44 minutes long, so what would it look like for you to take those minutes each day, and direct them towards something more productive like...Writing a letter? Learning a skill? Reading your Bible? Preparing a meal for someone else? Visiting the elderly or those in a hospital? Exercising? Writing a book? (If you wrote for 20-minutes a day, you could easily write a book in six months!)

Let’s harness our time to make the most out of the life that God has given us. If you want to join me on your own 30-day journey in September, please do! And please let me know so that I can encourage you (and you can encourage me!) throughout the month. The effectiveness of the Overboard Life will be multiplied when you capture the loose minutes of your day and make them even more valuable. Then you can enjoy things like Netflix in the proper place, and if there is another service blackout...your life will still have great meaning!

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

Where it all began

joeacast

A lot of people ask me about how Overboard Ministries started. I have a great 3-minute speech that summarize about two years worth of events to explain how this little venture began. Today I want to share with you the first-ever, Overboard blog post. It’s a little lengthy, but you might find a gem or two throughout the read to help you as you embrace the Overboard Life.  

 

July 18, 2011:

-----

Why Matthew 14? The power of convergence.

 

How did Overboard Ministries begin? I’ll never forget the night this ministry launched. It was as if God Himself spoke. The midnight sky was shimmering in darkness-piercing starlight. The moon was not yet on the horizon and the universe was unfurled above me. The air was hot and still and only the occasional coyote howl or cricket chirp could be heard. I had been praying and fasting for three days, asking God to show me His will for a future ministry. As I looked heavenward, it was almost like the night sky parted, the stars formed letters and words and God revealed Overboard Ministries to me. It was amazing. And of course, this story is a bunch of poo-poo.

 

I know God can reveal His will however He chooses. For me and Overboard, it was a long, two-year period through which God mapped out a course using some new relationships and some out-of-the-box thinking that helped this ministry take shape. I’m confident God’s work is just beginning but how Overboard started has  everything to do with where God takes it next. This story is a little long, but the process by which God brought all the pieces together are interesting (at least to me) and if you can endure the story, I think there’s a good take-home at the conclusion. If nothing else, there are some helpful links within the story that will expand your resource toolbox!

 

Back in the winter of 2009, I was starting to feel that God was opening up new doors of ministry and influence beyond what Traci and I had been enjoying since moving to Salem in 2001. This wasn’t necessarily a discontent with what we had, but certainly was a discontent with the scope of influence we had -- and a yearning for something bigger (not better, but bigger). I think I agree with Bill Hybels who was one of the first people I heard say that in order to change to something different, we must first start to dislike something about our current condition so we can fully embrace the greatness of the vision that lies before us. Whether you’re talking about moving yourself, or a business or a church -- there must be a certain disdain for your present condition in order to encourage and promote growth for a new one.

overboard

 

My wife Traci was the first to start to sense that God was moving us in a new direction but soon others were confirming His work. It was in August of 2009 that my dear friend and mentor Richard Muntz went home to be with the Lord. That man poured his life into me and I was blessed to know him and to be influenced by him through our weekly meetings. Our weekly meetings stirred in me something bigger for my life and his departure left me longing for more and was the beginning of God’s Work. Later, in the winter of 2009 and spring of 2010 God connected me with a life-coach by the name of Kevin Flierl who would grow that longing even further. More on that in a moment.

 

About a year before the time Kevin and I met, our youth group hosted a large outreach event with one of the world’s top up-close illusionists, Danny Ray (founder of Upright Illusions which later changed its name to Captivators). Danny and I really connected during his one-night event in October of 2008 and when he returned in October of 2009 (two months after Richard has passed away) he shared his heart for starting an on-line daily devotional for people to “connect with God”. Tenthdotministries has a great story, and Danny longed for that devotional site to grow into a community of believers world wide, each sharing in the Word, and in their personal experiences together. I was moved by his passion.

 

At that time, I had been doing a little bit of writing for a denominational youth worker’s magazine and had been activelyish* (if this blog is about nothing else, it will be about the creation of new words that the English language desperately needs!) looking for ways to expand my audience. My first blog died when I abandoned it for a year (odd!) but when I heard what Danny was doing, I knew this was chance to expand my opportunity to write to a broader audience. So I offered Danny my extensive writing services.

 

He said “no thanks.”

 

15 years of youth ministry has taught me some very valuable lessons and one of them is this: God isn’t always looking for the most talented writers, orators, guitar players or administrators -- He is however, actively pursuing men and women with a heart for Him who are willing to face rejection to pursue the path He has laid before them. I often wonder how many things haven’t been accomplished for the Kingdom simply because someone said “no” and someone else thought that meant “no”. I’m often too ignorant, too arrogant or too confident in my faith to know those boundaries and so I rejected Danny’s answer and sent him a devotional for his site anyway. Two weeks later he asked me to write another one and two weeks after that I was officially welcomed as Tenthdot Ministries second author, because Danny saw -- not my amazing writing talent -- my heart for the Lord.

 

And now Kevin Flierl reenters our saga. Kevin and I met while sharing the pulpit for a small gathering of youth workers in 2009. This group of 35-40 adults were meeting as their youth organization was finishing it’s work on the West Coast and pulling the plug on the system they had come to know and love. Pete Steele, a 20 year veteran of youth ministry, had invited Kevin and I to come and share with these people, that we might encourage them to press on even in the shadow of great discouragement. We met that night and God forged a great friendship.

 

As Kevin and I enjoyed the Tillamook Cheese Pepper Bacon Burger from Burgerville every other week at our meetings, God was using him to expand my view of what was possible if I kept pursuing God’s will. Kevin was teaching, challenging, pushing and prodding me towards something Traci and Richard had already seen; something to which I had been reticent to accept. Tenthdot Ministries had opened some new doors of friendship and ministry, my summer speaking schedule was filling up and God was burdening my heart for something more. Finally the summer of 2010 came around and by then everything was in motion and God was already launching Overboard Ministries. I just didn’t know I was leading that charge for Him!

 

From July 1 through December 21 God gave me seven different speaking engagements, including five different weeks of camp during the summer and a two-week span of teaching in South Africa with friend and fellow youth minister, Josh Ausfahl. It was during this season of external church ministry to groups that my eyes were opened to accepting how God gifted me and how He could use me for a broader influence on the Kingdom. It was scary and humbling; exhilarating and fulfilling; joyful and even alarming. But it was a great summer.

 

Towards the end of it, my family and I took some vacation with my eldest brother in Southern, CA. We had received free passes to Disneyland for having made and donated blankets to children undergoing cancer treatment. While we rested and played we made a three day excursion to stay with my friend and fellow devotional writer, Danny Ray. Besides being an amazing illusionist, Danny is an entrepreneur and visionary. He doesn’t just think outside the box, he lives outside the box. For three days we enjoyed rich fellowship between our families and truly a life-long friendship was forged between Traci and I, and Danny and his wife Kimberly and our families. It was an awesome experience.

 

Danny pressed me hard and helped me unpack God’s work in my life. He built off what Kevin Flierl had been doing, which was largely influenced by the work and wisdom of my wife and Richard Muntz. When we left Danny’s house two things were certain: One, my first book Project Joseph had to be completed. The project had stalled for four months and it was time to finish delivering the message God had given me. Two, it was time to launch a ministry umbrella under which Project Joseph and other ministry ventures could be situated.

 

Three more weeks passed as Danny, Kimberly, Traci and I exchanged e-mails, texts and phone calls each with new ideas for a ministry name and brand.  While a name remained somewhat illusive, I kept coming back to a message that had become my favorite Friday night camp message and challenge. It was entitled, “Get out of the Boat” and came from Matthew 14. It’s the passage where Jesus walks on the water and Peter asks to join Him for a stroll on the Sea of Galilee. My Friday night message focuses not on Peter but rather, on the 11 other disciples who never left the boat. My heartbeat as a speaker, pastor, father and husband has emerged in my desire to help others live their God-designed calling as His children on the waters where He is doing Kingdom work, not in the comfort of the familiar surroundings of the boat.

 

As that identity became clear, Overboard Ministries was formed -- we just hadn’t named it yet (not unlike our third child who they wouldn’t let us leave the hospital with because Traci and I couldn’t agree upon what the initials ‘CJ’ stood for) (happily they represent Celina Jordan and they allowed us to leave). Out of the Boat, On the Water, Strolling the Lake, Out on the Water, Water Walking, Walk on Water, Jimmy Crack Corn and I don’t Care, Faith Walkers, Life on the Water, Lighten the Boat, reKindled, Refined and countless other names were bantered about, belittled and eventually eliminated. Soon it boiled down to Unleashed and Overboard and both had their pros and cons. Ironically, both Danny and I were underwhelmed by Overboard Ministries but the longer it lingered -- like a good Philly Cheese Steak -- the better it settled. Truthfully, it came down to google searches (if you’ve actually read all the way to this part of the story, e-mail me a note and I’ll send the first 5 readers to do so a little thank you gift) which revealed there was a plethora of of ministries using some form of Unleashed, but very few talking about jumping out of a boat. Weird.

 

January 1, 2011 it was official when Overboard Ministries LLC was officially birthed and allowed to leave the hospital -- name and all.

 

In telling this story that was far more interesting in the first paragraph, I am however reminded that we serve an enormous God capable of innumerable methods and means to connect others. It’s amazing to me how He connected me and Traci with a world-class Christian illusionist and his wife from Southern California, brought a life-coach from Tigard, Oregon, a wise old pastor, mentor and librarian from all over, and any number of other people and conversations to create Overboard Ministries. Before inviting him to perform at our church, I “met” Danny at a youth conference in 2006 where he performed on a stage in front of 3,500 of youth workers -- never imagined we would forge such a strong ministry partnership and friendship. I shared the pulpit with Kevin and we exchanged business cards -- never imagined God would use him to be a pain in my toushy so that I might get out of my boat and out on the water with Jesus. The connections, chance-meetings, geographic barriers and “coincidences” are too coincidental to be coincidences. Someone was in charge of making certain each of our lives intersected at precisely the right moment in time. I’m so indebted to these men and maybe they too, have been influenced for good because of our relationships. I don’t believe in coincidence but I do believe in God’s Divine Convergences.

 

I wonder how often we miss God’s Divine Convergences that He has arranged for us? How many times is it just “too hard” or the first “no” we’ve heard makes us assume the door is closed when in fact, it just needs a little more pushing for the rusty old hinges to break free? (Hinges that have been made rusty by more than one other pilgrim passing by and turning away rejected or ignoring it all together.) I know I’ve missed some appointments and after I’ve seen what God has done and is doing with Overboard, I want to be sure I don’t miss any more!

 

Psalm 139:16 says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” -- God’s appointment book for me is already laid out. His Divine Convergences are already on the calendar. The question isn’t whether or not they will happen, it’s whether or not I’ll participate with Him when they do. What about you? What life-coach or Christian Illusionist or wise Christian saint is God sending to you in order to move you where He wants you to be for your next convergence?

 

Take the plunge, life is better on the water!

 

* Ack-tiv-lee-ish: To be actively passively-active in some form of activity. Not committed, but not idle, kind of like a lot of Baptists in relationship to their church membership.

Happy 40th, Danny Ray!

joeacast

by Joe Castaneda Time is a funny thing. Years pass by in what seems like a blink of an eye. And hours can take forever to pass. I’m sure at some point in your life your parents or grandparents or neighbors have said to you, “It just seems like you came home from the hospital  yesterday...” on your 24th birthday! 24 years -- 8,765 days -- can pass like the blink of an eye. But take a visit to the dentist and spend 90 minutes in the chair while the doctor does her work -- time seems to stand still.

No matter how “slow” or “fast” time seems to pass by, one reality is true: it’s moving at the same rate for all of us. Seconds become minutes, minutes turn to hours and days, days march on to weeks and soon become months and years.

During time’s march, there are some interesting markers. The zeroes always seem important: 10, 20, 30, 40 and so on. Each new decade brings with it the opportunity for evaluation, goal setting and course-correction.

This past February 14th, my friend Danny Ray crossed over one of those markers. 14,610 days prior, Danny had been born, and on this Valentine’s Day in 2014 he celebrated 40 years of life. By today’s standards, Danny is crossing the half-way point for life expectancy among American born males. 40 is a big marker.

So how would you celebrate the half way point of your life? Many people like to use these key dates as opportunities for big parties. Some prefer a quit reflection. Danny? He faces these key dates like he does every moment of life -- by challenging himself to be more and more of who God made him to be. This year’s celebration? A 40-mile run on his 40th birthday.

Danny RayIf you know Danny, it won’t surprise you that he took on this challenge. The man that locks himself in water tanks, dodges bullets, screws down the cover of a coffin while lying down in it and literally puts his eye in the path of a rusty old hay hook is prone to big challenges. What might surprise you is how he did it, incorporating 40 of his friends to join him, one on each mile. I had the privilege of “running” mile 34 with him from my home here in Michigan. A friend doing ministry in France also ran with Danny from afar. Many others joined him stride for stride through the streets and hills of Yucaipa. Mile after mile, friendship after friendship, Danny ran, runners prayed together, and the challenge marched on.

As Danny completed his sub 7-hour race, he had a following. People were running with him the last two miles, total strangers were following in cars and honking their support, and facebook was lighting up with messages with #nowaydannyray. Like his stage show, Danny was inspiring others to do more, to take on challenges and ultimately to live life without regret -- without leaving anything behind. This 40 mile run was a powerful metaphor for his life.

Truthfully, I’m not sure Danny realized how much this run was going to affect others. I was thinking about it all day, and while I ran on the treadmill during the early hours of Danny’s run, I was thinking about him, praying for him and praying for the team of people surrounding him. When I logged into facebook I saw prayers going up for him and started to see how much this personal challenge was influencing others:

“Such an honor for [my hubby] to be a part of this milestone celebration for such a dear friend.”

“Super proud of my brother...”

“He made it! What an awesome experience!”

“Congrats Danny! Really inspiring, thanks brother.”

“It truly brought a tear to my eye [a video of Danny of running] to see the family of God in full force! It was an honor being a part of the wee hours of the morning dawn patrol run. So glad so many people got to be a part of this...”

On and on. And the posts didn’t stop the day of the run. Just today, March 4th, I saw this one:

“Partly inspired by Danny’s birthday challenge...I wanted to come up with something different for my birthday...Today marks 30 days until I turn 30. What better way to end my 20’s and kick off my 30’s than to start a 30-day, random acts of kindness challenge?...So from now until my birthday I’m going to perform 30 random acts of kindness, one each day...”

Danny Ray (2)This 40-mile run was bigger than Danny. And that’s why I think it’s the perfect metaphor for his life. I’ve not known many people who intentionally direct their lives toward a bigger-than-life goal like Danny. On the stage, his magic isn’t about you seeing his greatness, it’s about creating some mystery, stirring some inspiration and challenging people to ask the important questions that beg asking. Danny wants you to connect to God, the biggest bigger-than-life you can ever connect with!

I’ve been privileged to know Danny for just a few years now. But I’ve seen the same attention to detail he applies to his magic, be applied to his off-stage life. I’ve watched him create powerful moments for his children to experience personal growth and to see glimpses of God. I’ve learned from him as he has prioritized his marriage, ministered to his extended family, stopped the world to help a friend and taken time to keep his own connection to God going strong.

So I wasn’t surprised by Danny’s run on his birthday. I wasn’t surprised to see the crowds follow and people be honored to share in his journey. I’m not the least surprised that others are following suit and thinking about their next milestones (Danny has impacted my upcoming 40th celebration, too!). The only thing that surprised me in this event? The fact that Danny was surprised that so many other people were watching.

Thanks for leading the way, Danny. Thanks for inspiring us to run further, to join together and to live an extraordinary life of faith in all that we do. This facebook comment maybe sums it up best:

“Today was an extraordinary day. Being part of something bigger than myself was inspiring. Running along side Danny Ray reminded me that supporting others in their endeavors can remind us of the amazing things God is doing in us. Sometimes we are the ones doing great things as others partner with us. Other times we make small contributions that help others achieve their goals. Incredible.”

I’m guessing the magic-man is already thinking about his 50th celebration. Even more, he’s working, planning, dreaming and praying about the second 40 years of his life. Somehow, I am confident that even with all we’ve seen God do in, to and through Danny, that like one of Danny’s mind-blowing performances, God’s greatest reveal is yet to come.

I will be enjoying every moment of the show. Happy 40th my friend.

Go ahead and follow Danny by taking the plunge…life is always better on the water!

Be sure to check out Danny's web site, follow his blog, and see what he is up to at: www.dannyray.tv

Where did "Overboard" come from?

joeacast

Why Matthew 14? The power of convergence. How did Overboard Ministries begin? I’ll never forget the night this ministry launched. It was as if God Himself spoke. The midnight sky was shimmering in darkness-piercing starlight. The moon was not yet on the horizon and the universe was unfurled above me. The air was hot and still and only the occasional coyote howl or cricket chirp could be heard. I had been praying and fasting for three days, asking God to show me His will for a future ministry. As I looked heavenward, it was almost like the night sky parted, the stars formed letters and words and God revealed Overboard Ministries to me. It was amazing. And of course, this story is a bunch of poo-poo.

I know God can reveal His will however He chooses. For me and Overboard, it was a long, two-year period through which God mapped out a course using some new relationships and some out-of-the-box thinking that helped this ministry take shape. I’m confident God’s work is just beginning but how Overboard started has everything to do with where God takes it next. This story is a little long, but the process by which God brought all the pieces together are interesting (at least to me) and if you can endure the story, I think there’s a good take-home at the conclusion. If nothing else, there are some helpful links within the story that will expand your resource toolbox!

Back in the winter of 2009, I was starting to feel that God was opening up new doors of ministry and influence beyond what Traci and I had been enjoying since moving to Salem in 2001. This wasn’t necessarily a discontent with what we had, but certainly was a discontent with the scope of influence we had -- and a yearning for something bigger (not better, but bigger). I think I agree with Bill Hybels who was one of the first people I heard say that in order to change to something different, we must first start to dislike something about our current condition before we can fully embrace the greatness of the vision that lies before us. Whether you’re talking about moving yourself, or a business or a church -- there must be a certain disdain for your present condition in order to encourage and promote growth for a new one.

My wife Traci was the first to start to sense that God was moving us in a new direction but soon others were confirming His work. It was in August of 2009 that my dear friend and mentor Richard Muntz went home to be with the Lord. That man poured his life into me and I was blessed to know him and to be influenced by him through our weekly meetings. Our weekly meetings stirred in me something bigger for my life and his departure left me longing for more and was the beginning of God’s Work. Later, in the winter of 2009 and spring of 2010 God connected me with a life-coach by the name of Kevin Flierl who would grow that longing even further. More on that in a moment.

About a year before the time Kevin and I met, our youth group hosted a large outreach event with one of the world’s top up-close illusionists, Danny Ray (founder of Upright Illusions which later changed its name to Captivators). Danny and I really connected during his one-night event in October of 2008 and when he returned in October of 2009 (two months after Richard has passed away) he shared his heart for starting an on-line daily devotional for people to “connect with God”. Tenthdotministries has a great story, and Danny longed for that devotional site to grow into a community of believers world wide, each sharing in the Word, and in their personal experiences together. I was moved by his passion.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eB_6gFVn3Og&playnext=1&list=PL7299A29BB2B9CF48]

At that time, I had been doing a little bit of writing for a denominational youth worker’s magazine and had been activelyish* (if this blog is about nothing else, it will be about the creation of new words that the English language desperately needs!) looking for ways to expand my audience. My first blog died when I abandoned it for a year (odd!) but when I heard what Danny was doing, I knew this was how God was going to expand my ministry. So I offered Danny my extensive writing services. He said “no thanks.” 15 years of youth ministry has taught me some very valuable lessons and one of them is this: God isn’t always looking for the most talented writers, orators, guitar players or administrators -- He is however, actively pursuing men and women with a heart for Him who are willing to face rejection to pursue the path He has laid before them. I often wonder how many things haven’t been accomplished for the Kingdom simply because someone said “no” and someone else thought that meant “no”. I’m often too ignorant, too arrogant or too confident in my faith to know those boundaries and so I rejected Danny’s answer and sent him a devotional for his site anyway. Two weeks later he asked me to write another one and two weeks after that I was officially welcomed as Tenthdot Ministries second author.

And now Kevin Flierl reenters our saga. Kevin and I met while sharing the pulpit for a small gathering of youth workers in 2009. This group of 35-40 adults were meeting as their youth organization was finishing it’s work on the West Coast and pulling the plug on the system they had come to know and love. Pete Steele, a 20 year veteran of youth ministry, had invited Kevin and I to come and share with these people, that we might encourage them to press on even in the shadow of great discouragement. We met that night and God forged a great friendship.

As Kevin and I enjoyed the Tillamook Cheese Pepper Bacon Burger from Burgerville every other week at our meetings, God was using him to expand my view of what was possible if I kept pursuing God’s will. Kevin was teaching, challenging, pushing and prodding me towards something Traci and Richard had already seen; something to which I had been reticent to accept. Tenthdot Ministries had opened some new doors of friendship and ministry, my summer speaking schedule was filling up and God was burdening my heart for something more. Finally the summer of 2010 came around and by then everything was in motion and God was already launching Overboard Ministries. I just didn’t know I was leading that charge for Him!

From July 1 through December 21 God gave me seven different speaking engagements, including 5 different weeks of camp during the summer and a two-week span of teaching in South Africa with friend and fellow youth minister, Josh Ausfahl. It was during this season of external church ministry to groups that my eyes were opened to accepting how God gifted me and how He could use me for a broader influence on the Kingdom. It was scary and humbling; exhilarating and fulfilling; joyful and even alarming. But it was a great summer.

Towards the end of it, my family and I took some vacation with my eldest brother in Southern, CA. We had received free passes to Disneyland for having made and donated blankets to children undergoing cancer treatment. While we rested and played we made a three day excursion to stay with my friend and fellow devotional writer, Danny Ray. Besides being an amazing illusionist, Danny is an entrepreneur and visionary. He doesn’t just think outside the box, he lives outside the box. For three days we enjoyed rich fellowship between our families and truly a life-long friendship was forged between Traci and I and Danny and his wife Kimberly and our families. It was an awesome experience.

Danny pressed me hard and helped me unpack God’s work in my life. He built off what Kevin Flierl had been doing, which was largely influenced by the work and wisdom of my wife and Richard Muntz. When we left Danny’s house two things were certain: One, my first book Project Joseph had to be completed. The project had stalled for four months and it was time to finish delivering the message God had given me. Two, it was time to launch a ministry umbrella under which Project Joseph and other ministry ventures could be situated.

Three more weeks passed as Danny, Kimberly, Traci and I exchanged e-mails, texts and phone calls each with new ideas for a ministry name and brand. (By the way, if you happen to know Danny, be sure to ask him about “The Event Doctors” -- classic stuff!) While a name remained somewhat illusive, I kept coming back to a message that had become my favorite Friday night camp message and challenge. It was entitled, “Get out of the Boat” and came from Matthew 14. It’s the passage where Jesus walks on the water and Peter asks to join Him for a stroll on the Sea of Galilee. My Friday night message focuses not on Peter but rather, on the 11 other disciples who never left the boat. My heartbeat as a speaker, pastor, father and husband has emerged in my desire to help others live their God-designed calling as His children on the waters where He is doing Kingdom work, not in the comfort of the familiar surroundings of the boat.

As that identity became clear, Overboard Ministries was formed -- we just hadn’t named it yet (not unlike our third child who they wouldn’t let us leave the hospital with because Traci and I couldn’t agree upon what the initials ‘CJ’ stood for) (happily they represent Celina Jordan and they allowed us to leave). Out of the Boat, On the Water, Strolling the Lake, Out on the Water, Water Walking, Walk on Water, Jimmy Crack Corn and I don’t Care, Faith Walkers, Life on the Water, Lighten the Boat, reKindled, Refined and countless other names were bantered about, belittled and eventually eliminated. Soon it boiled down to Unleashed and Overboard and both had their pros and cons. Ironically, both Danny and I were underwhelmed by Overboard Ministries but the longer it lingered -- like a good Philly Cheese Steak -- the better it settled. Truthfully, it came down to google searches (if you’ve actually read all the way to this part of the story, e-mail me a note and I’ll send the first 5 readers to do so a little thank you gift) which revealed there was a plethora of of ministries using some form of Unleashed, but very few talking about jumping out of a boat. Weird.

January 1, 2011 it was official when Overboard Ministries LLC was officially birthed and allowed to leave the hospital -- name and all.

In telling this story that was far more interesting in the first paragraph, I am however reminded that we serve an enormous God capable of innumerable methods and means to connect others. It’s amazing to me how He connected me and Traci with a world-class Christian illusionist and his wife from Southern California, brought a life-coach from Tigard, Oregon, a wise old pastor, mentor and librarian from all over, and any number of other people and conversations to create Overboard Ministries. Before inviting him to perform at our church, I “met” Danny at a youth conference in 2006 where he performed on a stage in front of 3,500 of youth workers -- never imagined we would forge such a strong ministry partnership and friendship. I shared the pulpit with Kevin and we exchanged business cards -- never imagined God would use him to be a pain in my toushy so that I might get out of my boat and out on the water with Jesus. The connections, chance-meetings, geographic barriers and “coincidences” are too coincidental to be coincidences. Someone was in charge of making certain each of our lives intersected at precisely the right moment in time. I’m so indebted to these men and maybe they too, have been influenced for good because of our relationships. I don’t believe in coincidence but I do believe in His Divine Convergences.

I wonder how often we miss God’s Divine Convergences that He has arranged for us? How many times is just “too hard” or the first “no” we’ve heard makes us assume the door is closed when in fact, it just needs a little more pushing for the rusty old hinges to break free? (Hinges that have been made rusty by more than one other pilgrim passing by and turning away rejected or ignoring it all together.) I know I’ve missed some appointments and after I’ve seen what God has done and is doing with Overboard, I want to be sure I don’t miss any more!

Psalm 139:16 says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” -- God’s appointment book for me is already laid out. His Divine Convergences are already on the calendar. The question isn’t whether or not they will happen, it’s whether or not I’ll participate with Him when they do. What about you? What life-coach or Christian Illusionist or wise Christian saint is God sending to you in order to move you where He wants you to be for your next convergence?

Take the plunge, life is better on the water!

* Ack-tiv-lee-ish: To be actively passively-active in some form of activity. Not committed, but not idle, kind of like a lot of Baptists in relationship to their church membership.