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Overboard Blog

Living the extraordinary life of faith!

Filtering by Tag: Light

Never Bet On Darkness

Joseph Castaneda



Light is basic to our existence. Light is incredibly complex. Light makes no sense!

We are so accustomed to light that I don't think we often take time to really ponder it's existence. Seriously, when was the last time you sat around thinking, "Wow...light is amazing! I wonder what its properties are..." Until I sat down to write about it this week, I honestly hadn't given it much thought since a high school science class I had in 1991. Ahem. That was a few years ago!

After all, light is so basic to our existence, we wake up to it, we flip on switches and have it at our beck and call, we end our day as the main light disappears and many smaller lights appear in the night sky, and rarely do we ever not have it. Little lights flash all night in our homes, and we cary light producing devices in our pockets when we have to get up and stumble out of bed unexpectedly. Light is everywhere.

But it's almost humorous to read what we know, and even more, what we really don't know about light! Just do a google search and you'll see that as basic as light is to our existence, we still seem to struggle to define all of its scientific properties and to be able to properly explain why it behaves the way it does. Sure, we can explain reflection, refraction, and the insane speed at which light travels, but when we start getting down to what light really is...things get much less uncertain.

I'm not a science geek, but I enjoy learning about these things, especially when these things collide with biblical truth. And one of the coolest things that we do know about light is this: unless it hits an object and is reflected toward something else, it continues on forever. So in space, light travels millions and billions of miles so that stars, light years away from earth, are visible to the naked eye. Even distances of darkness that are truly beyond our comprehension, cannot stop a single beam of light from reaching earth.

In the words of John: "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

It is no accident that Scriptures often refer to Jesus as the Light of the World, and that we are instructed to "shine our lights" like Him. The power of light to penetrate the darkness (scientifically) is nothing compared to the power of light to penetrate the darkness (spiritually) in the world around us.

Let me encourage you to shine bright this week. Serve your bosses or your employees with the grace and goodness of the Lord, and let them know you are actually serving Christ in all you do (Colossians 3:17). Love your children and/or spouse this week the way Jesus would, and let them know you are really loving Him (Ephesians 5). When we live like this, our light (which is mere a reflection of the light of Christ!) penetrates the darkness and then the words of Matthew 5 ring true, "Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

Everything We Need

Joseph Castaneda



It's an extraordinary truth that God sent His perfect Son, to be the perfect Sacrifice, to pay the price for sins He did not commit. And having paid that price, God then opens the doorway to heaven so that you and I can enter into a relationship with Him, through faith in His Son's offering. If the story ended there, we would have nothing for which to complain or any ground from which to demand or request more.

Amazingly, the story doesn't end there!

Not only does God bridge the gap that allows us to enter into relationship with Him, but then within that relationship He gives us "everything we need" to live a godly life that is pleasing TO Him, and rewarded BY Him. He doesn't just want us to be saved from our sinful condition, He wants us to flourish in life as we cling to Him.

So whatever is happening in your life today, whether you are experiencing the joyful view from the top of the mountain, or you're feeling the cold angst of being trapped in the valley of the shadow of death, remember that all you need is at your disposal. Cling to Jesus and find Him sufficient to make your joy greater or to shine a light in the darkness.

The day I thought Jesus was a Mack truck


Have you ever had one of those moments where you were pretty sure you were about to walk into the light and see God? A moment when you were about to find out what’s on the other side of the curtain of this life? In the winter of 1995, I had one of those moments while driving my beloved, blue, 1985 Toyota pick-up on a snowy day in Des Moines, Iowa. I was driving from Ankeny, IA to West Des Moines (usually about a 30-minute commute) to log some hours at a regional credit center for Sears, when I thought for sure I was going to meet Jesus. It happened so fast.

The whole drive had truly been a white-knuckle experience, as the roads were in horrendous condition. Prior to living in Iowa, my winter driving experience didn’t involve much snow or ice. So every time I took to the roads when it was snowy and icy, I always felt the tension of driving in lousy conditions. On this particular day, after watching several cars spin out on the highway, I was especially cautious and a bit high strung.

Then, after nearly an hour of being on the road, the conditions seemed to improve almost miraculously, and I was within a half-mile of my exit. I relaxed a little, for the first time in an hour. That’s when the moment where I questioned my future existence came into play.

My little truck traveled under an overpass where the snow and ice hadn’t melted as much as on other parts of the road. The back end of the truck, not having much weight, slid out to the side and suddenly I found my car moving the right direction, but facing perpendicular with the road. Problem was, this put the driver’s side of the vehicle right in the way of oncoming traffic. I tried to hit the gas, hit the brakes, and scream like a girl but none of it helped me right the truck. I continued to slide in the correct direction of the rest of traffic, while still facing 90 degrees in the wrong direction!

I looked out my driver's side window straight into oncoming traffic and that’s when I saw “it” -- the light. Actually, it was two lights. I was sure I was about to meet Jesus as I saw two bright lights coming straight at me. I was surprised that Jesus’ name was “Mack” but I wasn’t asking many questions at that point, since I knew I was about to see St. Peter at the pearly gate.

Mack Truck, "Titan":

The next thing I remember is snapping back to this reality, and somehow the semi that had been coming straight at me was able to steer around me; the driver managed to jerk his rig around the front of my truck (which was still facing 90 degrees in the wrong direction!). At the same time I looked up in the rear-view mirror and saw several cars driving behind me by swerving onto the shoulder. Then boom! My wheels caught some dry ground and my truck shot straight for the concrete median the separated the two directions of traffic. Unbelievably I didn’t roll the truck but now I was destined to drive full speed into a concrete barrier.

At that point I did what any young, inexperienced driver would do: I screamed and slammed on the brakes! As the snow settled I started breathing again and realized I wasn’t at the pearly gates, and contrary to Kevin Costner’s assertions, I was still in Iowa, not in heaven. (Any sports movie geeks out there?) I had somehow managed to avoid being crushed by a semi, had only nicked one other car while doing a perfectly good driving stunt, and when I got out of my truck I realized I hadn’t hit the concrete barrier. I kid-you-not...I couldn’t put a credit card between my bumper and the concrete median, but I hadn’t made contact.

Friends, that’s what I call great driving.

Looking back at that moment in history, I know that it was a real possibility that I could have left this life and entered the next. I also know it wasn’t superb driving that saved my life, but it was definitely a moment in time when God intervened. I remember when I was finally able to cross the interstate, get to my exit and park my truck at work. The adrenaline surge left me and I started shaking because I knew how close I had come to death.

Most people have stories of when they were confronted with the possibility of death. Growing up, one of my pastors preached a message on “The Frailty of Man” -- and most of us have experienced just how frail this life can be! It’s terrifying when you look back and realize that things could have turned out differently for you (or someone you love), that life could have (should have?) ended for you, but something, someone, intervened to keep you alive.

The Overboard Life is ultimately about living this life to its fullest potential, taking advantage of the days God has given us. While we don’t know whether life will end tragically in the blink of an eye, or over time as we slowly fade away, we do know that this life will end. Every one of us is destined to face the termination of existence and in that moment, we will each meet our Maker.

This makes me want to keep two truths in mind. First, having a personal relationship with God is the most important step of faith any of us can ever take. Believing that God’s Son sacrificed Himself for our crimes, for our sins, and accepting His death as a holy payment on our behalf is fundamental to living the Overboard Life. You can’t live a life that pleases God, if you don’t first know Him personally. And you can only know Him personally if you’ll take the first, and most important, step of faith: trusting Him with your eternal destiny.

Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection is the basis for the second truth. Having a personal relationship with God frees me to live the Overboard Life of faith so I can live fully in the person God created me to be, doing what God created me to do. When I finally “walk toward the light” and meet my Maker, it will be a glorious experience because, as His child I’ll be returning home, and as His servant, I will have lived life to the fullest.

I hope you know God personally. If not, you can remedy that today, right now, simply by choosing to accept in faith, that Jesus died to pay the price for your sins -- a price you could never pay -- when he died on the cross and rose again three days later. In doing this you acknowledge that you have broken God’s holy law (Romans 3:23) and that only God’s sacrifice is sufficient to settle your debt (John 3:16).

I also hope you are living a life that pleases Him. If not, you can remedy that today, too! The same faith that draws us into a personal relationship with God, also sets us free to live a purposeful life that pleases Him. The Overboard Life is lived, in faith, every day, as we commit our moment to following the Lord. It’s not glamorous. It’s certainly not easy, but it is very simple: keep becoming who God wants you to be, so that you can do what God created you to do.

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

Overboard Curtains?


My wife and I are in the process of setting up our house after moving out from Oregon. One of the many blessings of our new home is the number of windows that let in huge amounts of light. It is wonderful having so much sunshine enter the house from so many different windows. But one of the curses that comes from so much glass is having to cover them with curtains or blinds. Our room in particular, has a window that faces east. As the sun comes up over the horizon in the morning, it shines across a small valley, lights up the lake directly below us, and then showers our room with sweet golden rays. In 7 of our 12 mornings here, we have had a spectacular view of God’s morning canvass. Only, it’s like 6am and I’m usually not in the mood for a shower of sweet golden rays!

camp sunrise

So last week Traci and I hit up Target and found some promising window coverings in a curtain brand called, “Eclipse”. Since we had literally been waking up with the sunrise, I was anxious to try out these new curtains. I believed the advertising on these that stated, “blocks 99% of all light.” I couldn’t wait to sleep in 1% of sunlight.

The night we attached them to the curtain rod, I was excited by the prospects of 99% of sunlight being kicked out of my bedroom. With all the snow around here, even nights are pretty bright, and already I could see a considerable improvement in the darkness of the room. These Eclipse brand curtains were just what the doctor ordered.

When I awoke the next morning, you can imagine my disappointment when this is what I saw:


99% of sunlight my eye! Granted, the room was much less lit than it had been the morning before, but I was expecting 99% darkness! These new curtains did not meet my expectations.

I hopped in the shower a little ticked at my recent purchase and then a thought hit me: what if that was 99% blockage? After all, we’re talking about the sun! It’s not like someone was just holding a flashlight up to our window, we’re talking about a flaming star that is 92.96 million miles away from earth. It is 109 times larger than earth, and has a surface temperature of 10,000 degrees (F). This baby is blasting heat and light across our solar system and galaxy -- giving light to objects billions of miles away.

As I thought about the magnitude of the sun and how big and bright it is, I realized my eclipse curtains were representing truth in advertising. They were blocking 99% of the sunlight, but 1% of sunlight is still a lot of light!

This got me thinking about Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world…” I wonder how much “son power” I’m cranking out as I try to live Overboard for God. If 99% of my light was snuffed out, would I still make an impact on others? At 1% of it’s potential, the sun is still lighting up my bed room, but what would 1% of my potential look like? If I’m truly living the Overboard Life then I know I’m living by God’s power, not mine. I know God’s power is limitless and 1% of Him flowing through me will light up lives everywhere I go.

Are you living with God’s help? The Overboard Life cannot be lived on our own strength or power. If it is, then you’ll see that when even a small percent of your light is eclipsed, things go dark. But when we live how God wants us to, depending on Him for strength and power, we’ll find that even our frailest efforts can still light up a room -- or a life -- for His glory.

Three ways to depend on God’s help:

Read your Bible every day. Fill up with God’s Word as a habit, and you’ll see your light shining brighter and brighter.

Spend daily time in prayer. The disciplines of faith strengthen our candle power! Regular time, connecting with God through prayer, will result in powerful lives of eternal influence.

Serve, serve, serve. Time with God must evidence itself in service. Jesus boiled life down to simple fragments: Love God and love others. It’s not ok to serve others without being connected to God any more than it’s ok to be connected to God without serving. (In fact, I’d argue that you aren’t connected to God if you aren’t serving others.)

Light up the world for God’s glory, and experience the great fruit and reward of living a surrendered life.

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