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Overboard Blog

Living the extraordinary life of faith!

Filtering by Tag: Service

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."

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.

We Should All Be A Little Leerie

Joseph Castaneda

This past weekend, Traci and I enjoyed a date, (something we try to do weekly) and after lunch, and a little shopping at Costco, we stopped by the local theater for a matinee viewing of the new Mary Poppins movie. We’d both heard reviews, good and bad, from friends who had previously viewed the film; it’s so hard to take something so iconic, and try to modernize it for a younger audience while keeping it familiar to an older audience. Some of our friends loved it, and others felt like it was a disservice to the magic Julie Andrews and Dick VanDyke had created back in 1964. (While we both loved the movie, this is not a critique or analysis of the film.)

If you haven’t seen it, I won’t ruin anything here, but in place of the Dick VanDyke chimney sweep character, a young man by the name of Jack plays a central role in the movie, and serves the community as a lamplighter. He is part of a number of fantastic musical numbers as he and his fellow lamplighters, or Leeries as they are known, start each day by lighting the city’s lamps after the sun has gone down, and end each day by putting them out, after the sun has come back up.

I’m not sure where the term “Leerie” first originated, though it is found in a Robert Louis Stevenson poem from the late 1800s. Here are the words to this short little poem, told from the perspective of a little child who longs to be a lamplighter:

My tea is nearly ready and the sun has left the sky.

It's time to take the window to see Leerie going by;

For every night at teatime and before you take your seat,

With lantern and with ladder he comes posting up the street.

Now Tom would be a driver and Maria go to sea,

And my papa's a banker and as rich as he can be;

But I, when I am stronger and can choose what I'm to do,

O Leerie, I'll go round at night and light the lamps with you!

For we are very lucky, with a lamp before the door,

And Leerie stops to light it as he lights so many more;

And oh! before you hurry by with ladder and with light;

O Leerie, see a little child and nod to him to-night!

You see, these Leeries were out at night as the sun set, and they traveled through London turning on every lamp in the city, including the ones on each street corner, on the outside walls of businesses, and even the ones on peoples’ porches. Carrying or driving their ladders and/or long poles around, they quickly turned the city from darkness to light, and then just as quickly extinguished the flames when the sun returned the next morning. It was an important job in London in the late 1800’s thru the early 1900s, until automation, and eventually electricity, eliminated their role from society.

An iconic image from a London Leerie plying his trade from the early 1900s.

An iconic image from a London Leerie plying his trade from the early 1900s.

Not only were the Leeries responsible for lighting the city at night, they were also responsible to make sure the lamps had enough wick to operate, that the gas lines were properly functioning, that the lamps and glass were kept clean, and in many cases, were the unofficial watchmen of the city in the hours of the day/night when criminals would be looking for opportunities to break laws. Leeries were considered honorable men, helping people find their way through the city, demonstrating charity to those in need, and working the odd hours of the day and night when most others would prefer the comfort of a warm and dry shelter.

There are several great lines in the movie about the role of the Leeries, but I love how Stevenson captured it: “For we are very lucky, with a lamp before the door, And Leerie stops to light it as he lights so many more…” This reminds me of the text in Matthew 5 where Jesus tells an audience, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Imagine if all of us who professed Christ demonstrated the qualities of a Leerie. We’d be packing our “equipment” with us everywhere we went, making sure we were always ready to serve when the opportunity arose. Each of us would make certain our neighborhood had a light shining bright, on the street corner, in our local businesses, and on every porch. Embracing the Leerie role, we’d help point people in the right direction, keep an eye out for danger, and do all of our work without complaint. And like all good Leeries, we’d help one another when our shift was “finished” and make sure all the other Lamplighters made it home safely at night.

I left the movie theater very satisfied with the new version of Mary Poppins, and already thinking about whether or not I living like a Leerie. The Overboard Life demands that each of us be a little Lerrie, lighting lamps for the Gospel in whatever corner of the world God has placed us. What would make you a better Leerie, today?

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

(Below you can enjoy a musical version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem)