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Overboard Blog

Living the extraordinary life of faith!

Filtering by Tag: God's plan

Joseph Castaneda



Whenever I read the words of Galatians 6:10 I'm struck by the certainty of the statement Paul made to these believers. He didn't say, "If you ever have a chance..." or "Hey guys, maybe one day you'll get a moment you can do good..." Instead, he says with some confidence, that opportunity is coming, and when it does, these believers need to be ready to do good. To everyone.

I've known too many believers who want God to give them an opportunity to serve, who at the same time, are ignoring the opportunities right in front of them! They want a sign in the sky directing them to some divine appointment when they already have Galatians 6:10 giving some significant clarity.

It reminds me of a friend of mine who ran a mission trip for some out-of-state students. These teenagers were traveling across the country to do missions work in Oregon, helping serve the homeless community in Salem. The students were picked up at the airport in Portland, and on the one hour drive to Salem made a quick stop at the only rest area between the two cities.

Unknown to these students, my buddy had arranged for three guys to pose as homeless men at the rest area, asking for money, food, and transportation. These 20+ teens and their leaders actually had to step over one of them (pretending to sleep on the sidewalk) on the path to the restroom, and not one of them offered any help to any of the men. In fact, even though they had a van full of snacks provided to them, they didn't even offer a bag of chips to the men.

As the students hopped back in their vans for transportation to their ministry site, the three homeless guys hopped in a car and beat them back to the location. The students began orientation with my buddy, and while they were being introduced to the staff, the three homeless guys walked in. The kids recognized them instantly, and after a few uncomfortable laughs, my buddy dropped the challenge on them.

You see, they had flown across the country to minister to the homeless community, but they ignored the opportunity to serve homeless men right in front of them! They had "opportunity to do good," but they were waiting for the "right" opportunity in the form of a trip.

What "opportunity to do good" has God place in front of you right now? Are you ignoring a chance to serve or bless someone else because you are waiting for God to point you in the right direction? Maybe Galatians 6:10 is God's way of pointing you to serve TODAY, and to capture the opportunities He has placed in front of you.

Finally 4!


You probably noticed that we’re starting to wear our big-boy pants. You know, the ones that have a zipper and a button, not just an elastic waistband? Sure, they still have the adjustable stretchy thing on the inside, but all pants should have those, right? We’re also sleeping through the night, using silverware somewhat effectively at most of our meals, we know how to count to 25, can use an iPad better than most 50-year-olds and, honestly, I don’t think we’ve had an accident in almost a year -- we’re sooo past that phase. That’s right, Overboard Ministries just turned four.

Now that we’ve grown up so much, it’s already time for us to get out on our own. Wow, feels like just yesterday we were birthed and now we’re being kicked (Feels kinda like Megamind: “8 days old and I’m still living with my embarrassing.”)

As you can see, I was an extreme sport athlete in my early days!


Thank you for following us on this exciting/terrifying, exhilarating/sobering, gargantuan/humbling and faith building journey. As we look back over the past four years, we are truly blown away by what God has done, and by the path He has given us to travel. We started Overboard with the idea of publishing one book (Project Joseph), and building a small ministry of encouragement to couples, pastors and youth pastors, and maybe one day expanding into ministry mentorship/coaching for those going into full-time youth ministry.

Today we’ve published 9 titles, we have 2 more that will be released in the next month, and 6 more that are in the editing process. Today we are building a partnership with Starwood Ranch where we are praying about building the first Overboard Ministry Center, a place to invest in pastors and youth pastors and their wives, as well as marriages and families. Already a team of people are gathering around that endeavor and we’ve been in talks with several others about expanding Overboard Ministries’ reach into other areas and fields. A mentorship program for youth ministry majors is being developed and we’re having conversations with others about some pretty big, out-of-the-boat, concepts.

While we didn’t get to this place the way we intended, we have clearly been directed by God to be in this place at this time. (Check out this post about unexpected stop signs, or this one about God’s plans for our lives). And we know that as we move forward, our partnerships, with friends like you, will continue to grow. You are the people who read the blog, send the encouraging notes, share our crazy ideas, buy our books, offer helpful criticism, and pray with us believing that God is behind all of this.

Thank you.

We are excited to keep moving toward the big dreams God has placed in our hearts, and as we do, we humbly depend on support from an army of great people. If you would like to join our monthly financial support team, please click here. We are well on our way to finding 100 monthly supporters (So far, gifts have ranged from $10-$125/mo, -- the average has been $50. You can join at any level and share in the work of Overboard thru your giving!), and if you’d like to join that team we would be incredibly humbled and eternally grateful.

Likewise, we truly want to build a prayer team that is informed (weekly) and active in their prayer support for this ministry. Click here to be added to that prayer list and to be updated with current requests each week. If you sign up for our financial team, you will automatically be added to our prayer team.

Stay-tuned, God’s work in and thru Overboard is just beginning, and we are grateful to celebrate our 4th year with you.

Go ahead and take the plunge, life -- including birthday parties -- is always better on the water!

Our next adventure begins!


For the past six weeks, Traci and I have been on a roller coaster ride of change. Uncertainty about a job, a house, a future ministry etc... has been challenging us each day. I want to thank each of you for supporting us during this journey and for all of your words of encouragement, your prayers and your genuine concern as we’ve navigated this season. While the changes aren’t finished, we are excited to report that a few issues are starting to come into focus. Let’s start with what we can’t tell you. We still don’t know where we’re going to live, although we really want to stay local and keep our kids in school at least through the end of this year. When we came to Michigan in March of 2013, we pulled our kids out of school, mid-semester, and moved across country. The school change was tough, and our hope is to avoid the mid-semester change if possible.

Our housing prayer right now is two fold. First, we’re asking God to give us a temporary housing solution to navigate the remainder of this school year. We would be happy to stay close to Lake Ann if that was possible, but we would be fine if it meant Traverse City (about 15 miles east of where we live). Secondly, we are asking God to provide real clarity about where we will be long-term. (This of course reminds me of a blog I once read about God loving grand entrances or some non-sense like that!)

That brings us to what we can tell you.

Moving boxes

This April will mark the four year anniversary of the launch of Overboard Ministries. While Overboard debuted as a publishing company, Traci and I have talked about a number of aspects of the ministry that include serving couples, pastors, parents and students. The publishing arm of Overboard Ministries got things started, but in our hearts we have longed to expand the work even more, and to one day use the publishing arm to fund other facets of our ministry.

Over the four years since then, we’ve drawn up more plans and ideas. I’ve spent a lot of time consulting with leaders, pastors, mentors, businessmen and entrepreneurs to start casting a larger vision for this idea God has rooted in our hearts. Of course, during this time Traci was working her own passions and business, and I was blessed to finish up 12 years as a youth pastor in Salem, Oregon, and 22 months here in Lake Ann, MI.

As Traci and I have prayed over the past six weeks, we have come to conclusion that it’s time to take Overboard Ministries full time. As Traci said, “It’s time to take Overboard...overboard.”

Before I was let go on January 16th, God had already allowed my path to cross with dozens and dozens of ministry leaders throughout Michigan (and beyond). One such man owns a retreat center about 90 minutes from where we currently live. 25 year ago, he left a thriving youth ministry in Florida to return to Kalkaska, MI and build a camp from the ground up! Starwood Ranch is an 85-bed facility that groups rent and run their own programs (whereas the camp we’re leaving primarily runs it’s own programs in summer and winter, and does group rentals in the off-season).

Me speaking to JH students at Starwood Ranch

Grand Rapids Wedding Photographers.  Destination wedding photographers.

Steve (the owner of Starwood) would love to partner with Overboard Ministries to explore ways to expand Starwood’s ministry to churches in the area, and to create a win/win for both Starwood and Overboard. In one very real sense, there is no official job being offered. In other sense, Starwood will become the geographic launching pad for what Traci and I believe will be a long-term relationship (even if we end of up leaving Michigan down the road). Ministry to couples, to pastors, parents and students will be high on our priority list, and Starwood will allow me to use my gifts now, while implementing the vision for Overboard in the future.

So, in order to launch Overboard Ministries and begin a partnership with Starwood Ranch, Traci and I are confident that God is leading us to raise our own support. This is both exciting and terrifying (“Excitifying!”*), but we have no doubts about the next few steps God has put in front of us. Next Monday we will role out a short video explaining how we will be raising our support, the details of our support and how you can jump overboard with us! God has connected us to a great ministry -- called Ripe for Harvest -- that will make donations a snap and fully tax-deductible (they are a 501(3)c).

One chapter of our lives has definitely come to a close, even though it was shorter than we had anticipated. Another chapter is being written. I can honestly tell you that God’s Word has been such a help through it all, and in particular, almost from the beginning, Psalm 143:8 has been one of my regular prayer requests: “If you wake me each morning with the sound of your loving voice, I’ll go to sleep each night trusting you. Point out the road I must travel; I’m all ears, all eyes before you” (The Message). God has pointed out the next road we must travel, and we can’t wait to see what He has in store for us next. Stay tuned.

Go ahead and take the plunge, even if it’s Excitifying, because life is always better on the water!

*Like its sister word, "Territhrilled" (see entry in Overboard blogtionary), Excitifying is compound-emotive word, linking two strong sentiments together. "Exciting" indicates a happy, thrilling, adrenaline pumping moment like when a person is preparing to jump out of an airplane at 10,000 feet. "Terrifying" indicates a strong feeling of adrenaline pumping horror, like when a person who is about to jump out of an airplane at 10,000 feet realizes what 10,000 feet above the ground looks like! Often there is no sound uttered when a person is Excitified, as both the potential thrill of success and terror of failure combine to remove all vocal capabilities.

The view from 950'


I have always loved roller coasters. There is something so thrilling about that initial climb to several hundred feet above the ground, followed by the screaming terror of zipping around the track at insane speeds trying to keep your lunch down. It’s an awesome experience and one that I’ve always enjoyed.  

The first time I rode a real roller coaster I was in high school. My friend Paul and I had made the 12-hour trek from Salem to L.A. in order to hit one of the great ride parks in our country, Six Flags over Magic Mountain. After one run on The Demon, I was hooked! The adrenaline, the heart-pounding loops and corkscrews, the sudden stop at the end and the awesome feeling of near-flight had me coming back again and again!


There’s something cool about getting on top of each coaster, when you get a grand view of the park. From the top of a coaster, you can see all the other rides, you can see the long lines people are standing in and you can see the people beneath you who are eager to hear you scream. Being on top of the coaster gives you a view of the whole park that is unmatched!


Yesterday my wife and I spent the day in Chicago. Now that we live in a town (actually called a “village”) that’s about the same size as the housing development we moved out of when we left Salem, I especially enjoy the trips we get to make to the big city. Traverse City is a nice, quaint little town, but sometimes I just need to be around buildings taller than five stories!


Life from the ground floor.

Over the past year, I’ve spent a bit more time in Chicago than my wife, but I’m still getting to know the lay of the land. So when my pastor told me we could grab a reasonably priced lunch on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center, I totally jumped at the chance. And sure enough, for right around $15 we enjoyed a delicious lunch with an amazing view!


It was funny being on top of all the buildings we had just been driving around minutes before. From the ground, all the nearby sky scrapers stand so tall, and it’s crazy to not be able to see a 30-story building because it’s sitting behind a 40-story building! Or sometimes, when we were on the ground we tried to get our bearings by looking for a one of the recognizable sky scrapers, but even then, the Trump Tower (1,362 feet), the Willis Tower (aka: Sears Tower, 1,451 feet) and the John Hancock Center (1,127 feet) can be blocked out by buildings 1/3 as tall.


Chicago from 950

When we finally arrived at the lunch lounge on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center, we had such a view of the previously confusing and somewhat daunting landscape. From 950’ above the ground, we had a much better perspective. We could see the roads we had just driven on, we could see the park we had been taking pictures at earlier in the day and we could even see the construction that caused somer serious travel confusion a few minutes earlier. A change of perspective, changed everything.


So often you and I are living at ground level, and everything can seem big and confusing. We’re trying to turn right, but a one-way street prevents a turn. We try to move through traffic, but a construction project or a recent accident sends us on a wild detour. We’re trying to catch some sun or a gentle breeze, but a giant building blocks the heat or prevents the breeze from reaching our location. We try to see what’s ahead, but all the nearby buildings make any kind of view, impossible. From the ground, life can be very challenging.


That’s when we need a perspective change.   In Jeremiah God says to the people of Israel, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)   Israel was in the middle of some pretty severe punishment because of the way they had turned their backs on God. For Jeremiah and the few others that were trying to follow God, the view was bleak. Other nations were taking advantage of the Jews, the Israelites were under heavy tax burdens and their children were being taken into slavery. From the ground, everything seemed hopeless.


But God doesn’t live on the ground! From God’s perspective, He had plans for Israel and Jeremiah just needed to be reminded that God was working out a different outcome for His children. God’s plans were almost impossible to see from inside the walls of Jerusalem; but they were impossible to miss from the Throne Room of Heaven.


The Overboard Life demands a 950’ perspective -- one we don’t always have! So how do we get it? We get our perspective by trusting the One who already has it. Our perspective comes from faith, not from trying to figure it all out by ourselves.


When Peter climbed out of the boat in Matthew 14, he was only seeing the wind and the waves, the boat and the other disciples. Jesus, however, was seeing all of that, plus He was seeing Peter as the leader of the church in Acts, He was seeing Peter be the first Apostle to take the Gospel to the Gentiles and He was seeing Peter lead this ragamuffin group of disciples after Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. He had a 950’ perspective. So when Peter lost his faith and started sinking, Jesus rescued Him and said, “Why did you doubt?” He wasn’t just talking about the water, He was giving Peter a lesson for the future, too.


In the middle of the storm, you and I don’t have a very good perspective, so we must trust the One who sees it all. It seems that God rarely lets us have the full 950’ view ourselves, but He asks us to follow His lead, and we can be certain He knows where He is going, and where He is taking us. Experiencing hardships with a child? Walking through unexpected job changes? Are you enduring a painful health condition? Have you experienced some deep loss, a tough move or a broken relationship? Maybe it feels like you’re going through all of the above at once?


It’s in those moments you can trust God’s hand, because you know He sees it all. He already knows how He plans to use this in your life. He already knows the character that’s forming in you so you will be more of who He wants you to be, so you can do more of what He wants you to do. God always has the 950’ view, and when you learn to trust Him when you need that view most, you’ll be well on your way to living the Overboard Life!


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

Three thoughts for the weekend


The fall is beautiful here in northern Michigan. As the last leaves fall off the trees, I’m mindful of three powerful truths about the seasons. Maybe this will encourage you as you enjoy your weekend: Screen Shot 2013-11-09 at 10.38.58 AM

  1. Seasons come and go: What season are you in right now? The changing of the leaves always gives me encouragement that life is constantly in change. The winters of life come and go, and they will give way to spring and summer. Maybe you’re in a tough season right now -- remember that seasons change! Maybe you’re enjoying a rich spring -- remember that season change! God created this change to remind us of this: God never changes. I can always trust Him to be the same today, tomorrow and forever. Life has its ups and downs, but God doesn’t, and in His unchanging character my faith can firmly rest.
  2. Death gives way to life: Trees and plants die this time of year, but the end result of their death is new life in the spring. The withering flowers and falling leaves of November, create the environment for new life in April. None of us like to experience loss (except maybe when it comes to weight!), but death today is new life tomorrow. God has a way of producing new life in the soil of pain, suffering and loss. Even in death, a great new life is given to those whose faith has been established in Jesus.
  3. Every season has it’s beauty: I’m a big fan of the warmer seasons. Summer is great with it’s bright blue skies, green grass, noisy forests and stunning sunsets. While it might be my favorite season, the others are not lacking in character -- no matter how much I might argue against it! Fall has been incredible here in northern Michigan. I have never seen the vivid colors displayed in such striking contrast as I have this year. And as fall gives way to winter, the snow-blanketed land has it’s own beauty and brightness that cannot be seen in any other season. Likewise, the seasons of life each have their own beauty. The “good” ones and the “bad” ones still have the fingerprint of God on them. It’s not that beauty is missing, it’s that we may just have to work a little harder to see it.

I hope you’re enjoying the seasons of the Overboard Life. Wherever you are, whatever season you are in, I trust that the these three truths will encourage you to stay on the water where Jesus is building His Kingdom.

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