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Overboard Blog

Living the extraordinary life of faith!

Filtering by Tag: challenges

Hold. Hope. Him.

Joseph Castaneda



I recently read a book about whaling adventures in the 1800's. More than once, a vessel was destroyed and men were thrown overboard in the harrowing act of trying to harpoon the giants of the sea.

In one particular account, a ship had experienced a disastrous encounter with a whale and an unfortunately ill-timed collision with a tropical storm. Many men were tossed into the sea and perished while just a handful of sailors were rescued.

One sailor found himself floating in the Pacific, coming to terms with his failing strength and the reality of being truly lost at sea. As he was contemplating death by drowning, a large piece of his ship came floating by and this whaler clasped on to it for dear life.

Days later, he was rescued by another whaling vessel and eventually wrote down his story in a journal. In it, he described how he survived at sea: he held on fiercely to that piece of wood.

You and I are not unlike that lost sailor. We are floating at sea, sometimes in a violent storm, sometimes in calmer water, but always floating. Our survival depends on our ability to "hold unswervingly" to the hope we have in Christ. Why is this hope so certain? Because HE who promised this hope is absolutely faithful in every word and every promise He has ever made.

Let me remind you to cling to the promises of God, and to hold unswervingly to the hope we have in Christ. Apart from Jesus, there is no thing, and no person, that can help us stay afloat in the world in which we live. So read the Word and embrace the truths and promises of God.

Hold fast.

Lessons from a half-marathon (Mile 13)


Crossing the finish line of my first half-marathon was a thrilling event. I don’t know how to put it into words, but there was something very special about coming down the last stretch of road and stepping over the curb ,and onto the grass, where cones funneled us through the final 50 yards that led to the finish line. Many spectators, including runners who had already finished their races and were dressed awaiting the awards ceremony, were cheering us on as we jogged our last few steps. There were whistles, claps, loud cheers and even a couple of cowbells clanging as we sauntered home. Best of all, our friends Clay and Lisa were waiting to congratulate us on having completed our 13.1 mile run. It was a memory I won’t soon forget. Race medals

Finishing the goal was the best the feeling of all. The energy we had in finishing was better than the energy we had in miles 1-3. Finishing was more joyful than the pace and rhythm of miles 4-6, and made the work of miles 7-9 almost forgettable. When we crossed the finish line, I wasn’t thinking about the wall we hit in miles 10-12, instead, I was taking in the moment and enjoying -- yes, enjoying -- the aches and pains, the sights and sounds and the emotional thrill of victory. We had beaten the course because we had finished.

As I’ve thought back to the finish line, there are three big take-a-ways I have from completing my first half-marathon:

  1. Train for the finish line. Traci and I trained hard during the months that led up to the race. We ran two or three times a week, every week, splitting up long runs with short runs, fast runs with slow runs and doing intervals and other types of sprints that helped us build up strength and endurance. And the whole time we were training, we were working toward 13.1 miles. We didn’t train for a 5k (3.1 miles) and then try to run a half-marathon. We trained with the finish line in mind.
  2. Public goals are harder to blow off. After we both agreed to run the race, we made our goals public. Believe me, that was one o the best moves we made. Why? Because so many friends and family members were cheering us on through the whole process. I had calls, emails, texts and FB messages of encouragement, in the days leading up to the race. Our friends wanted to see us succeed. That kind of public accountability made it almost impossible to do anything but finish! We had so much support, failing was not an option.
  3. Enjoy the journey and victories. Even during the race, Traci and I took time to “High-5” each other when we met certain markers. At mile 3.1 for example, we celebrated the first 5k of the race. At mile 9 we commended each other for the furthest run either of us had completed. At mile 10 we fist-bumped for making it to double digits and when we crossed the finish line we joyfully put our hands in the air and gave it a big “woot woot!” The race is long, the journey is hard but there are always moments to celebrate. And when you cross the finish line, take some time to soak it all in!

Race day was a big learning experience for me. From start to finish, I learned a lot about who I am and what I’m capable of doing when I work hard and choose to not give up. Through the ebb and flow of two hours and forty four minutes of running, I caught the bigger picture of life and realize that I’m on another journey, too. And as great as it felt to finish my first half-marathon, I can only imagine how great it will be to finish this journey with the same commitment and dedication.

I wonder if what I experienced at my race on Sunday was the same time of feeling Paul had when he told young Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my face...” Paul was at the end of his life, and he knew that his journey on earth was almost over. As he faced that reality he did so with an overwhelming sense of completion because he had beaten the course -- he had run the race God had given him.

It’s my hope and prayer to end my race the same way. I want to finish my journey with the satisfaction of knowing I did my very best, that I worked hard, ran thru walls and challenges, that I took advantage of the help offered me, and I encouraged others and allowed them to do the same for me. I hope people will see an excellent runner in me, one who embraced his course and, in faith, followed God where ever He led. And along the way, you’ll see me celebrate the little moments -- the milestones and the victories -- that God gives us each and every day.

Thank you for following along on this journey, and where ever it may lead, your encouragement and friendship has helped make it a reality. Let’s keep running together and pushing for the finish line one day at a time!

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

Lessons from a half-marathon (Miles 7-9)


In miles 1-3 Traci and I experienced the energy of the start. In miles 4-6 we enjoyed the encouragement of finding our pace. But in miles 7-9 we discovered the hard work of plugging along. Running a half-marathon is hard work. Part of what made miles 7-9 so challenging was the fact that we had just come out of miles 4-6 that were so pleasant. The downhill part of the run was “easy” and the encouragement we gave to, and received from, other runners was such a boost. We definitely found a good pace and rhythm and then...and then we turned the corner at the halfway point.

Race pic

Two realities hit us quickly. First, the wind had been at our back. Truthfully, I hadn’t even noticed the wind up to that point. When we hit the 6.55mile turnaround, however, I realized that we had unknowingly been enjoying the benefit of a tail wind that now was a head wind. The wind was a little nippy, and not terribly strong, but it was very noticeable and our newly found rhythm met its first real challenge. Secondly, we understood that what goes down must go up -- the hills we had been running down were still there but our downgrade was now an upgrade, and not the kind of upgrade you enjoy!

So rhythm came face to face with work. I can honestly say that until the turnaround -- while we weren’t speeding thru the course -- we were enjoying the ebb and flow of the race. We had found a pace that was manageable for both of us and were getting that feeling of, “Hey, we can totally do this!” By mile 7, our optimism had waned a bit.

In fact, last night as Traci and I were talking about these blog posts and the lessons from the race, I learned that she too felt a hint of despair at mile 8. When I saw the mile 8 sign, I had a not-so-fleeting thought: “Yikes. We still have FIVE MILES to go!!” Turns out my wife had the same idea floating in her head but neither of us had the heart to bring the other down, so the thought stayed silent.

For me, there were three factors that made miles 7-9 so challenging. First, as mentioned above, the hill/wind combo surprised me. I wasn’t ready for the change of terrain or the frontal assault from Mother Nature. Second, I started to feel some aches and pains throughout my body. My right ankle was already a little sore from running on the crown of the road and my left calf was keeping me aware of the discomfort I was causing it. Although both of these were mild (not strong, sharp pain), they were nagging, and as miles 7-9 wore on, they stole away some of my focus. Third, I became increasingly hungry. I couldn’t believe how quickly hunger accosted me between miles 8 and 9. I was running along feeling fine, and then I was starving! It was literally that fast, and since we had just passed an aid station at mile 8, and I hadn’t grabbed any nourishing Goo packs, I feared food was not on my radar any time soon.

Isn’t that just like anything worthwhile we tackle in life? You have the adrenaline and energy that comes from starting something new. Have you ever started a new diet or exercise routine? The first few days (ie. miles 1-3) are fun! You’re fired up at the prospect of change and you are energized by others who are traveling with you or have traveled the same road before. Then you hit your stride and as you enter week two (ie. miles 4-6) you are feeling like you can conquer anything. The food isn’t so bad after all. The exercise isn’t that hard. You aren’t that hungry. You’re really not that sore. You hit your stride and feel like you will achieve your goals with ease.

That’s when miles 7-9 show up. You leave the gym Friday all fired up after two weeks of great workouts, and then on Monday the gym has lost its appeal. You smell the dankness. The stuffiness of the locker room is almost nauseating. You realize the green super-shake you’ve been drinking for breakfast is really hideous and you actually don’t like the flavor that much. You step on the scale and see that after two weeks of new foods and exercise, you’re only down four pounds, and honestly, you feel lousy. Your body aches, your stomach wants something different than a blended garden for lunch and you’re wondering if it’s worth it.

Whether it’s diet and exercise, some other life style change, a new relationship or a new project, all of us will hit miles 7-9 in our lives -- the times/hours/miles when the work is hard. The question isn't whether or not you will hit those miles, the question is what will you do when they show up? Here are four lessons I learned from miles 7-9:

  1. Expect the hills and wind to work against you sometimes. Whatever you’re tackling in life, the reality is that you will face opposition. Brian Klemmer’s book summarizes it well, If Change Was Easy, We’d All Be Skinny, Rich and Happy. Change, is, after all, a battle of resistances. Especially when living the Overboard Life of faith, you must expect challenges. Paul told young Timothy, “Anyone wishing to live a godly life will be persecuted.” Jesus made it pretty plain that persecution is par for the course for those who truly wish to live out on the water where He is doing His Kingdom work.
  2. If you’re not willing to work hard, take your God-sized goals and dreams off the table. Traci and I knew that running a half-marathon was going to be hard. We worked for months in preparation, working through injuries (ouch, this hurts my body), emotions (ouch, I don’t like this) and will (I’m grumpy). During miles 7-9 our hard work paid off because we kept running long after the joy of finding a rhythm had left us. Any worthwhile goal or dream in your life is going to require hard work. Sometimes you’ll experience lots of miles 7-9! The writer of Hebrews says, “ with perseverance the race marked out for you...” Running is hard work. You must persevere (work hard!) to see the end that God has in mind.
  3. Make sure you prepare as best you can for the upcoming challenges. You know there’s going to be tough times, even though you don’t always (ever?) know what they are going to be. Anticipate as best you can. My friend Clay gave me some great advice the night before the run that saved me some heart ache (as well as some aches in other parts of my body. Can you say, “Runner’s Glide”). Next time I run a long race I’ll be better prepared on the nutrition end and not get caught off guard by my hunger. If you want to live the Overboard Life, you’ve got to prepare for challenges while still facing them head-on!
  4. Run thru your challenges. When we hit miles 7-9, it would have been easy to walk, to stop at the mile 9 aid station and chat it up with the very kind volunteers etc... But we weren’t in this race to chat things up or to enjoy the sugar-rush, high-energy pit stop buffets. We were in the race to finish, and so when miles 7-9 came up, we had to run thru them in order to reach our goal. Face challenges like a soldier, like a man (woman) on a mission! Keep running, as you move thru the challenges. As Dori would say, “Just keep swimming...just keep swimming!”

Where are you at today? Are you in miles 7-9 in your life? Are you at the hard work stage of a goal, dream or out-of-the-boat expression of your faith? Let me encourage you to press on and to keep running thru the challenges. Living your God-designed life is hard, and requires hard work, but the reward of the labor is worth the effort! Miles 7-9 will make you sweat, but mile 13 is getting closer.

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

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!

5 dream killers #tbt


Have you ever sat back and wondered what happened to your dreams and goals? I've had some God-sized dreams over the years that just seemed to disappear -- they were so close at one point I could almost touch them, then something happened: I got derailed and the dream disappeared or seemed so unreachable that I quit.  

I was looking back over some content for today's #tbt blog, and I found this one, detailing 5 dream killers that those wishing to live the Overboard Life must be aware of. Have you found any of these in your life?


(Originally appeared on January 11, 2012)

Gary Ryan Blair asked this question in his 100-day challenge program: "If your goals, dreams and hopes could speak, what would they say about you?" I took it a step further and thought about this question: “What would they say about how I operate and the passion with which I pursue them?”


What keeps me back from achieving the goals God has put on my heart?

I thought about this question for a little while and came up with five possible answers. Each of these is a personal reflection from my own life, especially thinking about those times I set out to do something, but failed to complete it. Maybe you can relate to a few of these. These are not necessarily listed in order of importance or significance, but the first one is definitely the top problem area for me.


  1. Lack of decision: I can clearly see some big objectives in the past that didn’t get completed simply because I failed to set my course. I said, “I want to achieve [X]” but then did nothing to actually push myself that direction. It’s like saying, “I want to lose

    Like my friend Andy says: "Excuses are like armpits: We all have them and they stink!"

    weight and get in shape” but then continuing to eat junk food all day and failing to start my membership at the local gym. (By the way, if you need help with food and tackling it from more than the perspective of ‘just another diet’, let me encourage you to get connected with my good friend Amber Thiel and her amazing program, The Healthy Edge!) Saying that I want to do something, and making the decision to start shaping my life towards that goal are two very different actions. The words are easy to say, but it’s another thing entirely to step out and start. I have had more than one venture in my life begin strong -- but unfortunately I’ve had many of them never get past the start. I think I have 5-7 unwritten books on my laptop alone, each of which got a great start, but none of which were finished because I never made a choice to go after them. Project Joseph was the first book I finished, and it too had 3-4 month stall period. This is a big one for me.

  2. Fear: It’s not often that I’m afraid to try something, but if I’m being entirely honest and transparent, then I have to admit that fear has sidelined me more than once. Fear kept me from starting Overboard in early 2010. I was afraid the money wouldn’t come in (which it didn’t when we first started). I was afraid that people would think I was a cheeseball for starting my own “publishing company” (and many of them did). I was afraid that I wouldn’t pick up any other authors and that editors wouldn’t be too interested in helping out. All of these were legitimate concerns, but none of them were valid fears. Thankfully, because of how God used my amazing wife Traci and my dear friends Danny Ray and Kevin Flier, I was able to overcome those fears and step out of the boat. Still, fear has kept me out of the game from time-to-time. It’s good to note, too, that on occasion, the fear of success has put me out of commission. Fearing what people will do/think if I succeeded at something. Kinda of weird, but just being real.
  3. Excuses: Excuses are the best. I can play the blame game as well as anyone, and when I make excuses, that’s exactly what I’m doing. Blaming the economy, the weather, the publishing industry, my editor, my graphic artist, my distributor, my printer, my kids, my tennis shoes with a hole in the bottom and my mail man for never bringing me "checks in the mail." The list could go on and on, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of blaming everyone else for my problems, instead of owning what  I’ve done and who I am. When starting Overboard Publishing, one of my best excuses was, “But I don’t know anything about publishing a book...” It was true, but it was also easily remedied. Excuses make us feel safe. They become a huge wall that surrounds us so that no solutions can get in, and certainly no good ideas will get out. Excuses are warm and comfy and they long to sleep around us and keep us comfortable, but as my friend Andy Hartfield says, "Excuses are like armpits. Everyone has them and they stink!"
  4. Lack of Discipline: Here is another zinger for me, personally. This would be number two on my list if I were listing them in order of impact. I can blame my ADD (there goes those excuses again!), but reality is that discipline, more-often-than-not, boils down to choices. Choices to do one activity over another. Choices to stay up later than I need to, thus making it harder to get up for my personal growth time in the morning. The longer I live, the more I realize how discipline doesn’t have to be a straight jacket. I always strayed away from discipline because it seemed to cut off the circulation of life. In reality, a healthy discipline allows us to enjoy life more deeply, while living it more eternally. When I’m rightly disciplined, I get more done, and enjoy more time with my family doing the things we love to do together. But discipline requires work and it requires diligence in the little things. Check out this blog on that topic.
  5. Lack of Focus: Some would put this with lack of discipline, but I think it’s another topic entirely. In my world, discipline is about making right choices when options compete; focus is about intensity. I can make the right choice, but lack the intensity to maximize the benefit. For example, I could get up at 6:30am with the goal of writing. I could open up my lap top, open up Scrivener, and begin my writing for the day. However, if I have the curtains open in the front room, it’s easy for me to find a squirrel and get distracted from my task. I’m still somewhat disciplined (I got up on time and started writing), I’m just not maximizing my writing because I lack focus. This is another big one in my life.


Today I will review and assess my goals. I will see if there is some course correction that needs to take place as I long to keep the course on some big goals. I’ll let you know what I come up with, but I’m curious if any of you would add any other obstacles you face that I didn’t list here? Leave comments and help your fellow readers!


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


The death of a dream


We moved to Michigan in March of 2013. During the past 14 months, we have enjoyed getting to know our new home, learning about the area and beginning the process of understanding the people and cultural dynamics that affect my job here at the camp. This is a great state with four distinct seasons, nice people and some beautiful scenery.  

It’s also a state that has been hammered by the economic downturn of the past few years. The auto industry was the backbone of this state’s economy for so long, and today it is barely a shadow of what it once was. A million people have left Detroit, The Motor City, and houses, buildings, schools and businesses have been abandoned to be vandalized and ultimately destroyed. Detroit is the largest city to ever file for bankruptcy.


Detroit might be the biggest city hit, but it’s not the only. Almost every town in Michigan has houses and business that have been abandoned during these past ten years. At one point, Michigan was one of just a few states with a negative growth rate: more people were leaving MI than moving here.


As part of my new job, I’ve had the privilege of traveling all over this great state, and everywhere I’ve gone I have seen the effect of Michigan’s struggle. Just this last week we drove through a town and saw “Two Brother’s Bakery” all painted up on the outside, totally shutdown on the inside. A sign in the windows says, “Closed for the season, see you in 2011.” We passed a run down hotel, an abandoned gas station, we even drove through a neighborhood where 10 of 12 businesses had moved out of a strip mall, and it looked more like the set of a zombie apocalypse movie than a place people would go to buy party supplies, get a hair cut, grab a bit to eat or meet friends for coffee.


Traci and I were talking about some of these buildings and wondering about the previous owners, wondering out loud what had happened there. Most businesses are started with a fundamental dream to do something awesome. I don’t know many business owners who start a business and hope it fails. Often, big loans are acquired to get things started, savings accounts are depleted in hopes of soon overflowing with new income, and countless hours are spent by friends and family members painting walls, hanging signs, comparing other stores online and spreading the word about a new business.


A farm has gone into disrepair, a baker closes and another commercial building lies abandoned. What happened to these dreams?

And then one day it all died. The neighborhood changed as people moved away. The income of his customers dried up. The bank said “no” to her next loan request and all of the sudden, the dream seemed hopeless. Traci and I speculated about whether or not some of these businesses reopened later in another location. We wondered whether or not the owner started a totally different type of business, or if she just packed up and found a job wherever she could, or maybe he just left it all behind and started a new life in another state or country; the empty buildings a remnant of a past life.


Whatever happened, the desolation and emptiness that’s left behind is a little haunting. Whether things changed because of bad business acumen or because of social/cultural/economic issues, the reality is that these dreams are done. Our friend Michael suffered such loss when his fruit stand and neighborhood market went under. The final day he was open, as he sold off everything but the doors and windows, Traci and I visited with him. He was devastated. He owed a lot of money to the bank and to some family members, and now he was returning to an hourly job in construction. His spirit was crushed. His family had suffered because of the business and his dreams for financial freedom seemed destroyed as he turned over the “Closed” sign for the last time.


Those abandoned buildings and financial woes are the reason some of us never dream. We like the comfort and stability that comes with not dreaming. There’s not as much risk when you don’t dream, there are fewer unknowns and generally speaking, the outcome is far more predictable when you work inside the box. And if you live this way long enough, you can practically kill off any internal motivation to dream in the future. Soon, you don’t even want to think about something as dangerous as a dream.


Yet that seems so contrary to how God made us. It seems each of us a capacity, indeed a built-in desire, to pursue something bigger than what we can see. Sure, you can dull that desire and practically destroy it by constantly ignoring it, but it never totally goes away. I’ve visited with prisoners who have 20 years left to go on their sentence, and they are talking about their future outside of jail. I’ve met cancer patients facing a terminal prognosis who are dreaming about life after they kick cancer to the curb. I’ve met homeless men and women who have larger-than-life goals when their financial situations turn around. Traci and I have met some stay-at-home moms who want to manage their homes with excellence while jump-starting their own businesses on the side.


In fact, the truth is, as a pastor, friend, coach and writer, I have never talked to anyone who didn’t have some hopes and dreams for something different. Sometimes those dreams were hidden deep in the recesses of some small corner in the back of their brain, but with the right questions, enough prodding and sometimes threats to keep them locked in my office until they shared their dreams, something emerged. Dreams for a vacation with the wife. Dreams for a better a life for their children. Dreams for financial security. Dreams to reach their neighbors for Jesus.


I believe the Overboard Life is dream-driven. The whole notion of getting out of the boat is based on the belief that you can walk on water -- you can do something that seems almost impossible to you now! Dreams are risky, they are hard to attain (or you would already have them!), they change, they move, they morph, they grow and just when you think you can lunge and grab them, they shift upward just out of your grasp. And so many people stay in the comfort of the boat because of those factors.


But not you and me. Not anyone who wants to live the Overboard Life. Like Paul, we “press on toward the prize” of a life lived for God. With the writer of Hebrews, [we] throw off everything that hinders" in this world so that we can be something different, focused on Jesus, running toward a bigger-than-life goal. Maybe it’s like my friend Tim who sets up each week in downtown Salem with a desk, a white board and a question. He uses a question written out on a white board to talk to total strangers about Jesus, and shares his heart with them. Maybe it’s like our friends Andy and Jodie who traveled to Tanzania to be a part of helping a people group know the story of a God who loves them so much, that He sent His only Son to die for their sins. Or it could be like my friend Jay, who runs several successful businesses and uses each of his ventures as a means to show God through beauty, creativity and other powerful expressions of his faith. Or it could be like our friend Nora who uses her teaching job as a way to show the mercy and grace of God to children and families in need.


What about you, what God-sized dreams do you have? Do you want to start a business? Write a book? Start a publishing company? Parent better? Have an off-the-charts marriage? Improve your health? Get to know your neighbors? Learn a new skill? Become a public speaker? [enter your dream here]?


By God’s grace, I want to live a dream-driven life, with my faith placed squarely on the One who put those dreams in my heart. This isn’t a “I can do anything I want” motivational blog, this is a “I can do all things through Him, who gives me strength” kind of a speech. This is a “God gives you everything you need to do everything He wants you to do” kind of a speech. And when you put your faith in Him, grab the sides of the boat and jump, all of your dreams are within reach. The Dream Giver, is the One who makes them a reality, too.


I hope you’re chasing your God-sized dream today. I don’t need you to chase mine, and I don’t want to chase yours (but I want to help you reach them! Let me know what I can do!). God made you specifically for dreams He placed in your heart, and it’s time for you to “throw off everything that hinders” and “fix your eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1-2) as you go after them!


Go ahead and take the plunge, your dreams are always better on the water!


That's how winning is done!


My sports-movie-junkie-buddies and I love to debate the place of particular movies in our Top-10 sports movie lists. We disagree on a lot of films (I admit, I think Field of Dreams should be a top-10 all time!), but when it comes to Rocky…he always makes our lists! Personally, I’m a Rocky IV kind of a guy, because it is so Over the Top (which is another great Stallone movie!) and has that great moment where Rocky’s opponent realizes that Rocky can’t be beat and Rocky realizes his unbeatable opponent is suddenly very beatable. Ahhhh, makes me smile just thinking about it.

But today’s speech comes from Rocky Balboa, the sixth movie in the Rocky franchise. Right before Rocky gives this big speech, his son has just told him that he’s tired of being Rocky’s kid. The boy believes life is stacked against him because of his famous father (Rocky) and the son can’t make it on his own because, right now, there are too many odds against him.

In classic Stallone style, Rocky tells his boy the truth about his current situation. Rocky pleads with his boy to stop being a victim and to step up and own his choices. Seriously, you need to watch this film, it has very little to do with boxing and so much to do with life:


I love the message: “You, me or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” (Has there been a more eloquent or prolific voice of our day than Rocky?)

The Apostle Paul talked about the beating life deals out in 2 Corinthians 4:7-9:

“We are hard pressed on every side…perplexed…persecuted…struck down…”

The enemy deals out punches and kicks and full frontal assaults on you, especially when you are trying to live the Overboard Life. But check out Paul’s encouragement in the “…” of the above quotes:

“We are hard pressed on every side, BUT NOT crushed.”

“Perplexed, BUT NOT in despair.”

“Persecuted BUT NOT abandoned.”

“Stuck down BUT NOT destroyed.”

How do we live in the hope of these statements? A little later in the chapter Paul gives us the secret: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” The key to standing up and moving forward when life hits hard is to look past the painful and difficult circumstances around us, and to look toward Jesus, whose eternal plan is for our good, and ultimately for His glory. When we focus on Him -- we “can get hit and keep moving forward!”

Don’t give up when you feel bombarded. Don’t surrender ground when the enemy tries to overwhelm you. Don’t relent under the pressure of opposition. For you are not crushed, in despair or abandoned, and you are certainly not destroyed. Through Christ, you will win the prize. And, as Rocky says, “That’s how winning is done!”

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