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Overboard Blog

Living the extraordinary life of faith!

Filtering by Tag: God's work

Blah...blah...blah...Choose Joy..blah...blah...blah

Joseph Castaneda



I don't know what the word "joy" evokes for you, but I think all of us come at that word from a different background. I grew up believing (and I think I still do) that joy is distinct from happiness, though maybe that line is closer today than it used to be. The distinction, I was taught, is that joy flows out of choices made because of our relationship to God, while happiness emerges from our experiences in the moment. Thus, the writer of Hebrews could say that, "...for joy set before, [Jesus] endured the cross..." Was Jesus "happy" to go through the trial at Calvary? I don't know, but I can confidently say He faced the cross with joy.

Maybe the Apostle James had Calvary in mind when he penned the above words in the first chapter of his epistle, stating that you and I are to choose joy when we face trials, too.

Back in 2015 when I lost my job and all of us were experiencing massive upheaval, happiness wasn't abundant during those first few months. In fact, I remember a moment in June, right before the kids were out of school and a week or two before we set out on a cross-country road trip to start summer, that my wife and I experienced one of those laugh-yourselves-silly moments, and it had been one of the first of such events, since January.

But Joy wasn't as elusive. In fact, I recall many moments of joy and deep satisfaction in spite of homelessness, joblessness, and significant uncertainty. Our relationship to Christ made it possible to choose joy, because we knew, at the core of our existence, that God was using our trials to produce grit, character, and whatever was missing for whatever was in our future. Our faith in Him gave our suffering purpose; even if we didn't know or understand what the purpose was.

This blog is read by hundreds, sometimes, thousands of different people each week, and I know, in that large of a group, many of you are experiencing difficult decisions, painful trials and heart-breaking challenges. I want to encourage you with the words of James, and challenge you to embrace, in faith, God's Word, that He is using this in your life for your greatest good and His ultimate glory.

The promised result of your faith isn't the end of suffering, rather, it's even better: joy. How can you choose joy today in your trial? What's one decision you can make to find joy in today's heart ache?

Keep Your Eyes on Jesus

Joseph Castaneda



As we continue to invest full-time in students here in Kalkaska county, we are reminded that we must make a conscious effort to fix our eyes on Jesus, and not lose sight of Him and what He is doing in our lives.

Whatever it is you are facing in life, don't forget to give yourself a regular spiritual eye exam: make sure you are staying fixed on Jesus! Spend time with Jesus, every day, listening to Him through His Word and through constant and regular time in prayer. Don't wait for that connection to happen...create the space and opportunity so that in all things, at all times, you can keep your eyes fixed on Jesus!

Jesus doesn't promise us an easy path, He just promises to walk with us through any path. So whatever path you are on, keep your eyes fixed on Him. And THANK YOU for praying for us to do the same as our journey into rural America continues.

Looking back one last time...


Our lives packed in 40 square feet of boxes, from Oregon to Michigan.Today we officially cleared out of the house that has been our home for the past two years. In fact, it was exactly two years ago today we drove off in our fully loaded minivan, and began a 2,500 mile trek from Salem, Oregon to Lake Ann, MI (which included a very circuitous route). What a wild journey we’ve been on during this time! The next phase of our journey is shaping up to be another great adventure, as God has given us the next few steps to take. (Thursday’s blog will roll out the details of the next part of our future, be sure to check back at 10:01 EST, 7:01 PST, thursday morning). Today, however, I wanted to reflect on four of the great things that have happened while we’ve been here, reminders of how clearly the Lord worked in our lives to bring us here.

* During our time at LAC, God has given us so many great relationships! Sometimes Traci and I have had to remind ourselves we’ve only been here two years, yet with relationships that are so deep, it seems like it has been many more. Bruce, Lyndsey, Tom, Tammi, Brandon, Rachel, Craig, Kori, Mandi, Dave, Brenda, Terry, Jenn, Taylor, Bryan, Ginger, Terase, Justin, Jaqi, Ramon, Jo, Dan, Brent, Sue, Larry, Deann, Steve and Jan just to name a few! Honestly, this list of dear friends could be the entire blog, and I’m sure I’d still leave a few names out! THANK YOU to all of you for embracing the Castaneda’s into your lives -- we have been so enriched because of it!

Picture from my friend Tom's FB page. A one-year flashback courtesy of Time Hop.

* We’ve had a unique view of God’s work from a ministry position that gave us a broader audience with which to connect. We’ve seen the lives of students changed as they’ve embraced the truth of God’s Word. Several couples have thanked us for the work Traci and I have been privileged to do through our marriage seminars. Truly one of our greatest joys has been ministering to those in ministry, a task we joyfully look forward to in the next phase of Overboard Ministries!

* I’ve personally enjoyed broadening my work experience by delving into the world of marketing and promotion. January 1st, two weeks before I was let go, it was exciting to see summer pre-registration numbers at a level they had not been at for over five years! Learning how to market to church leaders and individuals, how to work with a talented intern to build a brand new web site and how to harness the power of social media will, I’m confident, be tools that we will used in the near future. The new work experiences have been great.

* Our children have had the joy of being around some incredibly godly young people. Many of the year-around interns have become close “friends” with my kids, and the summer staff has been awesome about making AJ, BJ and CJ feel loved and blessed to be at LAC. One of the great losses for us in this experience, is the loss of the personal connection that unfolds while living on site during the summer camping season, yet it has been something our family will look back on with great fondness.

There are many more blessings we could count, but I could fill dozens of blog posts trying to name them all. Instead, it’s just good to remember that what has happened over the past two months doesn’t define or negate what God has done the past two years.

It’s hard to believe that our time at Lake Ann Camp is over. We’ve learned so much during the past two years of experiences, we’ve grown so much during these past two months of disappointment, and we’re eager to see what God will do thru this next phase of our lives and ministry. As we move forward, we want to remember the faithfulness of God in the past, and know that He will continue to work in us and thru us, to do His work.

The God who called us Overboard on March 15th, 2013, is the same God calling us Overboard on March 15th, 2015. We are, as always, in the care of His good hands!

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

Learning to be Uncomfortable.


A few days back I had this kind of funny thought: “God sure doesn’t want me being too comfortable these days!” With my recent job loss and uncertain housing and work future (although I have some exciting news to share with you on my next blog post...stay tuned!), the desire to be comfortable has certainly been low on the totem pole. I’d take “employed” and “housed” long before I’d take comfortable! In and of itself, comfortable isn’t a bad thing. There are people who believe that true followers of God must be miserably uncomfortable in order to show their esteem for God. Nothing in Scripture would suggest that this is true. However, comfort can become an excuse to not do what God has asked you to do. Neither of these extremes works for someone trying to live the Overboard Life.

While pondering these thoughts, I came across this awesome video by an American made garment company making waves in the fashion industry by selling their self-proclaimed “world’s best” zip-up hoodie for $90. A recent write up on a popular web site shot their product sales thru the roof, and for a short time, sales for a hoodie -- yes, a hoodie -- were back ordered for 5 months! American Giant went to work to increase productivity, find new suppliers and improve their warehouse and shipping efficiency. American Giant understands the dangers of being comfortable. Check out their ad:

This is definitely my idea of comfortable!

This season of discomfort has been good for me. It has reminded me of the things that are important and helped me to reinvest in the habits and patterns that I need in order to achieve what the Lord has put on my heart. Early mornings and late nights are generally not the hours that the comfort-lovers participate in. I’ve been reminded at how important the extra moments of each day are, choosing to spend those spare minutes investing intentionally in relationships, building business partnerships and engaging my wife and kids more often. Discomfort has improved my time management.

Discomfort has also re-fueled my passions. I want to be a person that is driven primarily by values and beliefs, not organizational bureaucracy or  paycheck-driven work. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of working because you get paid, or to belong to something that isn’t value driven but is comfortable or easy. Discomfort has returned a fire in my belly to live/work/play/worship/serve/love/give/dream according to the God-given values that make life worth living: self-sacrifice, contentment, faith, love, belief, forgiveness, trust, generosity etc...

I have also been the recipient of a healthy dose of perspective during this time of upheaval. While trying to navigate what's next for our family, I've been far more aware of the plight of others. My friend Caleb is ministering in the Ukraine, and is experiencing, first hand, the ravages of war (his blog is outstanding, and would be worth your time). All around the world, Christians are being publicly persecuted, beaten and murdered as punishment for their faith. Being jobless and homeless is a big deal, but it has been good for me to keep our journey in perspective.

Finally, this period of discomfort has fired up my desire to create and dream. I think I just came out of a season where I felt creativity was stifled, and where constant turn over created an environment of fear and uncertainty. Fear kills dreams, and stifling creativity forges an environment where creating something new is almost impossible. The level of discomfort God has allowed us to experience has fired up the ol’ dream machine again, and now, more than ever, I’m eager to engage in the creative process of building something new (you really need to read Monday’s blog post!).

I can’t say I’ve become a fan of being uncomfortable, but in a strange way, I’m starting to enjoy the feeling. After all, the Bible reminds us that, ultimately, I'm a sojourner in this world. Still, I’m praying that God will allow us to find a life-rhythm that will allow us to have a place to live, a clear direction for service (part of that prayer is already taking shape...check back on Monday!) and a comfortable level of discomfort (commonly referred to as “Disuncomfort”*) where time is managed well, passions are fueled, perspective is kept and dreams inspire creative growth.

At the end of 1 Peter, the apostle reminds us, “...and after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” Those are great words of encouragement for the imprisoned, the persecuted and for those who’ve had life turned upside-down on them.

Go ahead and take the plunge -- it might be a little uncomfortable, but -- life is always better on the water!

* “Dis” is from the popular early 90s phrase [as in, “I’m going to dis you for treating me like that’] and “un” implying the opposite of whatever is next [as in, “un-cool” or “un-sure”], combine with “comfortable” which means “affording or enjoying contentment and security.” Therefore, disuncomfortable is a proper double negative implying the speaker is dissing not being comfortable. Disuncomfortable is a state-of-mind, and generally only used by those experiencing being uncomfortable but are choosing to enjoy their present circumstances, regardless.

Where will you be in five weeks?


A few weeks ago I was lamenting one of my weekly runs to a friend who has been a running adviser for me. He’s run a full marathon in the past and has been a big help in getting me trained for the half-marathon Traci and I are running in October. As we talked, I whined, “Yesterday’s run was really hard. I still got it done, but for as short as it was, it just seems like it shouldn’t be that tough.” He smiled a sagely little smile and said, “You’ll be glad you did that run in five weeks.”

Five weeks? I’ll be glad in five weeks!? Obviously this friend of mine doesn’t understand my need for instant gratification! Of course, there is nothing in running that is about instant gratification, and he continued to inform me that studies have shown, that when you’re working out consistently, the workout you do today will have a significant impact on your workouts in five weeks.

That’s so contrary to how most of us workout, usually thinking that a big lift today will make tomorrow’s lift easier, or a big run today should make tomorrow’s run that much better. But those who study the science of the body have found that a day’s workout, when combined with a steady and consistent workout routine, shows its greatest benefit five weeks after the fact. So the run I was whining about was going to be my best friend a few weeks later.

Well that stinks.

Oct5 calendarOnce again, running proves to be a valuable metaphor for life. So much of what you and I are doing today doesn’t have its maximum value for our lives tomorrow or even the next day, but rather, as we keep a consistent life of growing and changing and being challenged by God and His Word we reap the benefit weeks later. And maybe that’s why so many people give up after putting in a couple of good days of effort. Have you ever been there?

Have you ever tried a new diet for a couple of days, only to face the discouragement that the scale didn’t change much after a week? So what did you do? If you’re like most dieters, you gave up and drowned your dieting sorrows in a giant plate of nachos or an extra large bowl of ice cream. Why? Because waiting five weeks for results is hard.

Experts say it takes somewhere between 21-35 days (3-5 weeks) to make a new practice stick. After that, it takes another two to three months for that new practice to become an automatic habit. That means from day one of a change you are trying to make in your life, it can take close to six months before that change has become somewhat automatic in your life.

Soooooo, when you make that great choice today, you are paving the way for that choice to stick, and then eventually become a habit. But not tomorrow. Not next week. Not even next month. The great choice you make today will help solidify your change five weeks from today, if you keep working it until then.

Maybe that’s why, so often in the Bible, we are instructed to keep working at growth and change. Like the writer of Hebrews who says, “Therefore let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage each other, and all the more, as we see the Day approaching...” Did you catch that? We need to keep encouraging other more and more as we establish a habit and culture of building into each other’s lives.

The theme passage for me for 2014 has the same idea in it: “...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us...” (Hebrews 12:1-2). Running with perseverance doesn’t just mean to run for a long time, but rather, to keep running day in and day out, knowing that the long term gain happens down the road.

In fact, later in that same passage in Hebrews 12 the author says, “No one thinks discipline [hard work, challenges or punishment etc...] is pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained up by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

So where do you want to be in five weeks? Where do you want to be in five months? Those changes you desire for the future begin today. Those goals you want to cross off your list? those dreams you want to tackle? your work begins today. Hold the course even when the work isn’t fun or easy because you know that what you’re doing today -- that very unglamorous daily obedience! -- is making a difference for the future.

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