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Overboard Blog

Living the extraordinary life of faith!

Filtering by Tag: faith

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.

Why are Baptists against pre-marital sex?


I'm very proud  and thankful for my Baptist heritage and conservative upbringing. God has used that foundation in my life, time and time again. Thanks to my appreciation for that upbringing, I can also enjoy a few good jokes at the expense of my Baptist friends!

Read More

When a season ends on your favorite show


Over the years, Traci and I have found a few shows that we’ve really enjoyed. You know, the kind of programs that keep you coming back week after week to see what happens next. Or, in the case of Netflix, DVD or Amazon Prime, the kind of show you binge watch over the weekend. (Here’s a funny little skit from Portlandia about what happens when you get sucked into binge-watching a show.) What makes a show so appealing? For our tastes, a series we enjoy has good drama, strong character development, unexpected plot twists, surprise guest appearances, shocking revelations and unexpected deliverances. As I was thinking about the qualities of a good season of a TV show, I began to realize that those same attributes have contributed to our story this past “season.” Season One is coming to an end, and season two is about to begin.

Drama: We always tell our daughter Bethany that we want to avoid unnecessary drama. She, on the other hand, loves drama. In fact one night, not too long ago, she and I were talking about some drama at school and before I could say anything she said, “You know what dad...I really love drama with people!”

What BJ loves about drama is the meaningful interactions with others that are full of emotions, sometimes raw, sometimes boisterous, always expressed. She loves the intensity of the moment and God has wired her to experience life to the fullest. She grieves fully. She laughs whole-heartedly. She feels intensely. She expresses without hindrance.

Since January (even before), we have experienced a wide range of drama in our lives. We have wept together as a family. We have rested and experienced joy together. We have laughed, we have sang, we have prayed and we have grieved and through it all, we have felt the cycles of emotions. This season of life has had a lot of drama!

Character Development: Over the past 10 months, we have definitely found ourselves in the crucible of character development. I can say without hesitation that I’ve searched my heart more, probed my motives deeper and spent more time unpacking my heartache with others in the past 10 months, than I have in any other period of time in my life. There has been a lot of hurt, a lot of processing and a great deal of growth that has taken place and I know that more is still to come. Traci and I are not the same people we were on January 16th.


NCIS banner


Unexpected Plot Twists: The past season has been full of unexpected plot twists, too. On January 16th my job ended abruptly. On March 12th, we began a tour of houses, that included sleeping in over 30 different locations. When June 19th rolled around, Traci took off on a mission trip to Thailand to gain first-hand experience into human trafficking, and I -- and the three kids -- started of an 11,000 mile road trip. Traci eventually joined up with us, and the trip gave us opportunity to speak to dozens of people and families about Overboard Ministries.

When we returned to Michigan, we returned to unknown answers to big life questions: Where are we going to live? How will we make ends meet? Where will our children go to school? Literally, when we left Wisconsin on Saturday August 8th, we didn’t know where we were going to be spending the night when we arrived in Michigan. Yeah...there were some big plot twists.

Surprise Guest Appearances: In a recent blog, I called out a number of special guests who showed up big time in our first season of Overboard. The list is long and diverse, and yet God used each guest appearance to encourage us on the journey and keeping us moving forward in the Overboard Life.

We had friends provide food and shelter. We had friends give us special gifts and financial blessings. We saw God use others to put gas in the tank, provide back-to-school clothes and supplies, give our family unique memories, spoil us with special outings and lavish us with prayers and grace. The end-of-show credits for this season of our life will take hours to scroll by! The end-of-show credits just featuring our families would be hours long!

Shocking Revelations: When you experience a sudden U-turn in life, you see shocking revelations all around you. We experienced revelations in our lives (things we liked and things we didn’t!), as well as revelations in the lives of others. We saw things revealed in the the way others interacted with us, as well as a new understanding into the lives of others. I saw some ways I missed the heartache of some dear friends (because now I had a personal understanding of their previous experience) and we understood the harshness of others as we healed from open wounds.

Unexpected Deliverances: I was watching one of my favorite shows recently, while I was folding 3 tons of laundry. (yes, it was 6,000 lbs of laundry!) There was a moment I held a shirt in mid-air as I watched a suspenseful scene play out. The hero was a goner for sure, pinned down in a science lab with no way out. As he prepared to make his last stand while trying to save the one person he came to help, a last-second appearance by a friend allowed busted him out of his predicament and out to freedom.

I can’t tell you how many times God sent someone, at just the last second, to bust us out of a predicament and into His freedom. Like the time...Three days after I was released from my job, Traci and I were sitting at the table talking about upcoming bills. She was looking at the banking book, and I was contemplating a life as a crime boss in Lake Ann, Michigan. I asked her how much we needed and she replied, “$600.00 would take care of it.”

We sat there for about 10 more minutes when Traci said, “There’s someone in the driveway. It’s a car I don’t recognize.” Moments later, our friend John was knocking at the kitchen door. We had only known John for the 22 months we had lived in Michigan. I wouldn’t say we knew him super well, though we certainly considered him and his family friends. I had visited with him on several occasions, but this house visit was most unexpected.

John came in, gave me a big hug and expressed his condolences over my job loss. He then shared a story about a work God had put on his heart to do several months prior, but how the thing had kind of fizzled out. Perplexed, he stopped and waited for God’s leading. The day before he came to our house, he heard what happened to us, then he knew how to finish the task he started months before. So there he was on Monday, telling us this story. He concluded, and almost as quickly as he showed up, he prayed with us, shook my hand, and then left the house asking us not to share a word about this story.

When I opened my hands after he left, I pulled out -- you guessed it -- $600.00 in cash. The exact amount that Traci, just ten minutes earlier, had said we needed. This is one story in a hundred (or more!) that illustrates how dramatically some of our needs were met in the most unexpected ways. And don’t worry, I didn’t break my word with John. Since he unexpectedly left this life to join God in the next, I figured I’m free to share, yet another story, of how this man blessed the people around him.

In conclusion... The point of all this? In the book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller asserts that the qualities that make a movie great, are the same qualities that make a life great. In the same vein, the qualities that make a TV series worth watching week after week, are maybe the same qualities that make a life worth living. A good TV series changes pace, allows characters to develop, keeps you on your toes with new insights, provides lots of good drama and last minute rescues, and makes you smile (or cringe!) when special guests show up.

Don’t forget the most important ingredient of a great series at any season in life: make sure it all points back to God. I certainly wouldn’t boast that we’ve done that flawlessly during this season of our lives, but even when we’ve fallen off the trail or stumbled along the way, we’ve always tried to get back on track. It helps to have great co-stars on the journey with us, people who have repeatedly pointed back to Christ when we’ve lost our way.

So if you feel your life is like a dramatic, gut-wrenching TV series that gives you the sensation of riding on a roller coaster with all of its ups and downs, you might be precisely where you need to be in God’s plan! The drama, unexpected plot twists, surprise guest appearances complete with shocking revelations, unexpected deliverances and deep character development is part of God’s way of making you who He wants you to be, so that you are ready to do what He wants you to do!

And don’t forget to take a look around at others who might be participating in a great season of drama -- your guest appearance in their story might be the way God provides an unexpected deliverance for them!

Go ahead and take the plunge, your season will be better on the water.

The view from 950'



I have always loved roller coasters. There is something 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 to the 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!

A while back, my wife and I spent the day in Chicago. Now that we live in a town that’s about the same size as the neighborhood 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 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!

The "Faith" of Barak??


Sometimes when I read a Bible story I get that feeling of, “I could never be like that!” You know, at age 13, would you have charged into the battle field to fight Goliath like David did? At age 17 or 18, could you have resisted the sexual temptation of being chased by Potiphar’s hottie wife like Joseph did? If you were Esther, would you have risked your life? If you were Mary, could you have lived with the humiliation of being pregnant outside of marriage in a culture that used to give the death penalty for such offenses? Sometimes the faith of our heroes seems almost overwhelming. In part, I think that’s because we only catch glimpses of their lives and not the full picture. Rarely does Scripture pull back the curtain and let us see the day-to-day grind of those people, but instead, we get the highlights. And those highlights can seem daunting.

That might be one of the reasons I’m so glad Barak is mentioned as one of the great people of faith. In Hebrews 11:32 we read, “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell you about Gideon, Barak....” What? Barak? Seriously? How?

Maybe it was the mustache that gave Barak entrance into the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11? "Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum" Published by Guillaume Rouille (1518?-1589) Wikimedia

Maybe you don’t know the story of Barak so let me fill you in. Back in the book of Judges, we read of Israel’s worst years. (Believe me, that book is awful as it reveals what happens when we live life without God!) But even during that time, God kept providing holy leaders to help Israel out, and one of them, apparently, was Barak.

In Judges 4 we read that evil king Jabin ruled Israel, and the Jews were miserable. Deborah, a prophetess of that day, receives word from God that He is about to show up and free the Israelites from Jabin’s tyranny. So Deborah tells Barak, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men...I will...give him [king Jabin’s army] into your hands.’” (Judges 4:6-7).

Think about it. God just told Barak, through Deborah, that He was going to deliver the enemy into his hands. God actually detailed the sneak attack He was going to orchestrate and all Barak had to do was show up and win the day. So how does Barak respond to this awesome news?

“Barak said to her [Deborah], ‘If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.’”

Are. You. Kidding. Me?! How did this guy make it into Hebrews 11???

I’ll tell you how. I think at the end of the day, even in his fear, Barak still had faith to believe that God was going to deliver as He promised. Was he scared? Apparently he was terrified! Was he unsure of the outcome? Maybe. But he still believed, he still went to battle and he still brought about a great victory for Israel.

You see, how much faith you have won’t be measured against the faith of others. Barak isn’t being measured against David or Joseph, Mary isn’t being measured against Ruth, instead, faith is measured against revelation and maturity. In other words, the more you know about God, the more you’ve walked with Him, the higher the measuring rod for your faith. Jesus Himself said, “To whom much has been given, much will be required.”

In one story in the New Testament, Jesus and His disciples are walking through crazy big crowds. A woman reaches out and touches Jesus’ cloak in hopes of being healed from a life-long illness. She was a gentile woman (not a Jew). After a somewhat odd conversation (at least from our cultural stand point) Jesus heals her and proclaims, “I haven’t seen this much faith in anyone throughout Israel!” In other words, this woman who didn’t grow up with the reading of the Law and Prophets (the Old Testament), who didn’t grow up going to synagogue each Friday night, who didn’t grow up hearing the stories of the Great God of Israel, believed that Jesus could heal her. Yet how many Jews had been exposed to the truths of God and His Word, who didn’t respond in faith like her?

God isn’t asking me to have your faith, and He’s not asking you to have my faith. He’s asking both of us to live according to the faith that each of us possesses, and to be willing to allow Him to grow and stretch our faith each day. When I meet God, He’s not going to say to me, “Why didn’t you have the faith of Danny?" or "Why couldn't you be more like Jeromy?!” He’s going to measure my faith according to how I lived, how I trusted His promises based on what I knew, how I grew and how I responded to His work in my life.

What promises of God do you need to cling to, today? Even if you’re feeling a little unsure, or maybe you need a little help to hold on, what promises can you turn to? I love that Barak is in Hebrews 11, because even in his doubt, he proved his faith in the Almighty God. And sometimes, if I’m honest, I have doubts, too, but like Barak, I can still lean into the One who never breaks His Word. Here are three of my favorite promises, maybe one of these will give you strength today. Maybe you need to pull out one you’ve neglected for a little while in your life!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

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

Joe Castaneda

It's so simple...just ridiculously hard!


Today I was reminded of how simple the Overboard Life is. Simple? sure. Easy? No way! I was reading in Psalm 143 when I came across verse 8, one that has appeared in other recent Overboard posts.

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”

It’s pretty simple:

  1. "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love..." Each day is a new opportunity to see a glimpse of God’s love. It’s there, sometimes I don’t see it, but it’s always there!
  2. "...For I have put my trust in you..." I can catch those glimpse’s of God’s love, when I keep my trust rooted in Him, and who He is. When I lose sight of His love in my life, I’ve lost sight of Him in my life. He hasn’t gone anywhere,  and His love hasn’t changed -- my trust has shifted. (It’s called “unfailing love” for a reason!)
  3. "...Show me the way I should go..." God knows how today is going to end. He knows tomorrow and He knows the day I breath my last. He knows the path that’s best for me, my job is to seek and to find His will; not try to bend His will to mine!
  4. "...For to you I lift up my soul." He is the only one who can truly care for my soul. Nothing in this life can nurture me like God can.

Ever wish God's signs were as easy to see as this one? I do! Seriously, who doesn't follow the arrow to a penny arcade?!?!

It’s not easy, but it is very simple. Each day, when I trust God: I will see His unfailing love in abundance; I will uncover the path He has for my life; I will experience ultimate care for my soul.

What is keeping you from trusting God, today? For me, I’ve had a few days where I let the uncertainty of my immediate future crowd out God’s love, path and care. I’ve let hurt direct me, when I needed God to heal and guide me. What about you? What do you need to surrender, today, so you can reaffirm your trust in God? Simple? yes. Easy? I wouldn’t be writing this, and you wouldn’t be reading it, if it was!

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

How committed are you?


This blog has always been a great place for me to “keep it real” with readers, to share honestly about my own struggles and shortcomings, and to openly work through my flaws. For example, if you missed my fantastic parenting fail from earlier this year, feel free to learn at my expense. Seriously, parents, it could save you a little heartache. Today I want to openly admit another flaw: I’m an absolute sucker for any movie involving Sylvester Stallone (can we all just agree that he’s one of our nation’s finest actors?) and the Rocky franchise. (Fun fact for you: I read an estimate that said the Rocky franchise, to date, has grossed 1.1 TRILLION -- that’s with a “T” -- dollars over it’s lifetime!) So when I saw that a new Rocky movie was coming out Thanksgiving Day, I was already fully convinced of two things: It will be the Movie of the Year AND, Sly will finally win an Academy Award.

Ok, probably neither of those things will be true, but c’mon...can you think of a better way to enjoy the after-Thanksgiving Day coma than to watch a Rocky movie? Exactly!

Whether you like Rocky or not, you should stick with this blog. (If you don’t, you can probably already answer the question in this blog title!) Because 1.1 trillion dollars doesn’t happen by accident.

The story of the first Rocky movie is pretty well known, and part of what made the Rocky movie such a glowing success. There’s a little fact, and certainly a little fiction involved, but overall the story incapsulates the American Dream.

Sylvester Stallone wrote the original Rocky script and wanted to see it produced in Hollywood. He shopped it to several studios, and a couple showed interest, but they didn’t like the one caveat that came with Sly’s proposal: he had to be the star of the movie. According to one report, he turned down $150,000 for the script because they refused to allow him the lead role.

Time passed, and Sylvester and his wife were near the end of their resources. Down to around $100 in his bank account and with his wife pregnant and no acting opportunities in sight, Stallone had to sell his beloved dog that he could no longer afford to feed. Near the ratty Hollywood apartments they lived in, he posted a sign at a bar, listing his dog for sale, for $100. He finally sold him for $50 to man named “Little Jimmy” (a dwarf).

One week later, Sly received word that a studio would take his movie and he would get to star in the Rocky lead role. The studio was willing to pay him $30,000 up front. He signed the contract, took the money and immediately went back to the bar to find Little Jimmy and his dog. After a few days of searching, several minutes of negotiating and multiple threats from Little Jimmy, Stallone bought his dog back...for $3,000! (He even gave Little Jimmy a cameo in the first movie.) His dog went on to star in the first two Rocky movies, though he passed away before Rocky 3 was filmed.

Rocky 7? Yes please! And check out this retro movie poster from this site:

Stallone was absolutely relentless in pursuing his dream and he didn’t settle for less when he had the chance. Think about it: I wonder how many people would have happily taken $150,000 in his circumstances, and celebrated the sale of a screen play? Sure, they would have been wealthier but they would have compromised on their dream in order to do so. What would you have done? Down to your last $100, and no one seeing your dream with the same clarity or vision you have? Would you have settled?

The Apostle Paul had a dream to “know Christ more” and he was willing to give up everything else, in order to see that dream come true. In Philippians 3:8 he writes, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord...” Listen to his passion as he continues to describe his absolute commitment to the goal: “...for [His] sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ...I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection...”

Peter was passionate about helping others stand firm in their calling as children of God. In 2 Peter 1:12 he says, “So I will always remind you of these things [the Gospel and God’s divine power to produce righteousness in us], even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.” Look how committed he was as he continues to describe his passion for this goal:  “I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body...And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things...” (2 Peter 1:14-15).

John was absolutely committed to proclaim the message of Jesus that he had witnessed with his own eyes, a message he believed would unite the brothers in fellowship with one-another in love, and in fellowship with their Creator and Savior. Read 1 John and see how his passion emerges over and over and over again!

Abraham was relentless in his pursuit of the promise God had given him, so much so, that he was willing to give up the very thing he prized most in order to see God’s Word fulfilled. David loved the house of the Lord, and spent the last years of his life preparing the raw materials needed so his son could build it. Esther trusted God’s ability to save her people so much, that she laid her very life on the line in a desperate attempt to see Him show up. An impoverished widow trusted God’s ability to provide for her needs, to the point she gave Him her last two pennies as a show of her faith. The list goes on and on and the question remains: how committed are you to what God has put on your heart to do?

Overboard Ministries exists to help believers live their God-designed lives, out of the comfort of the boat, and out on the water where Jesus is building His Kingdom. It’s a passion God has put into our hearts for years, and today we are embracing the challenges, testings and opportunities that come from stepping out in faith to see this dream become a reality. The dream of speaking to more students, the dream of inspiring couples to embrace an Overboard marriage, the dream of empowering believers to use their God-given gifts to reach the lost and the dream to lead others leaders into the pursuit of faith-based ministries and work is as strong as ever.

So are the challenges. And each day I have to answer the question, “How committed am I?”

Sylvester Stallone didn’t build a 1.1 trillion dollar franchise by merely showing up with a manuscript. He was relentlessly committed to seeing his dream realized. Paul gave up his life, prematurely, pursuing his goals, as did Peter and 11 of the 12 disciples of Christ. Abraham died not seeing his dream fulfilled but left the hope of legacy with his family. David gave Solomon everything needed to see the House of God built and Esther saved her people. They were all, absolutely committed to God’s work in their lives, and to the dreams and passions He had placed inside of them.

What do you need to add to your life (habits, disciplines, friendships...) to keep your dreams front and center? What distractions do you need to remove from your life (habits, disciplines, friendships...) to keep your dreams front and center?

How committed are you?

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

Six months later...


Two weeks ago, while we were traveling somewhere between Southern California and Salem, Oregon, it hit me: we had passed the six month mark since I lost my job. January 16th has become an important date in my life -- an anniversary of sorts -- that marks a shift in my personal walk with God, the start of massive change/uncertainty and a season of intense growth. So on July 16th, six months after “you’re fired,” Traci and I reflected on all that has happened during this time. Scenery from our 10,000+ mile road trip that began June 19th.

When you experience a significant life change, time seems to pass at different a pace. In one sense, it feels like January 16th was years ago: a lot has happened to us in the past 181 days. We’ve driven across the country twice, logging more than 20,000 miles in our already aged van. I’ve slept in 30 different beds across 18 different states, and Traci has traveled half-way around the world to minister in Thailand. We’ve learned to live even more simply, and how to accept the grace, kindness and generosity of others.

This time has been a life-changing experience for our kids, too. They’ve had to say goodbye to schools they’ve been with the past two years, pack up all their belongings into a storage shed and had to “tag along” for a ride into the unknown. We’ve comforted all three of them at different times, cried with each them at other times, and watched them grow during this period of faith-stretching, too. All of us have been part of this journey.

Through all of the struggles of being jobless and homeless, through the challenges that come with trusting God and waiting for Him to reveal the next step, our whole family has been changed. God has become bigger to each of us, and without questions, we are all learning to walk in a renewed and strengthened faith. As Traci and talked about life six months after God changed interrupted our lives, here are a few observations we made.

First, God’s ability to provide has far exceeded our needs on every level. When I lost my job on January 16th, I was given six weeks to move out. That means on March 12th, we, literally, became homeless. And yet, since that day, we have never been without a roof over our heads, and we have never missed a meal. God has opened doors -- house doors! -- to provide shelter, beds, kitchens and basic comforts for all of us. We have lived in the city, on a lake, in the suburbs and in the country, we have house-sat vacant homes or lived in the company of dear friends and family. Every time we’ve needed another place to live -- God has met our need.

Second, we've learned that God is a lavish provider. In a lot of the circles I’ve grown up in, I came to understand that faith in God meant He would meet your basic needs and that’s it. Somehow I took away from sermons, missionary stories and fellow pastors that God was in the bare-minimum business, and not in the lavish gift-giving business. God has grown in my life these past six months, and maybe in this area more than any other. He has been so lavish with my family, and He has shown that He doesn’t just meet needs, He lavishly and generously pours out more than our lives are able to contain.

In Psalm 23 David wrote, “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings” (23:5). Notice that David’s feast occurred “in the presence of his enemies,” in other words, during the tough seasons -- the seasons when he was being pursued or challenged. But God showed up during that time and David describes God’s goodness like a feast, like a Thanksgiving meal, and says, “my cup overflows with blessings.” During our tough season we have feasted on the goodness of God and have seen, first hand, that He doesn't just meet the bare-minimum need -- He fills cups to overflowing.

Third, we’ve learned that our desire to grow is best met in challenges. Last October Traci and I ran our first half-marathon, and -- obviously, we didn’t know what was going to happen just three months later -- we knew the run was a metaphor for life. One of the big lessons I wrote about was the fact that you don’t get the medal that says you finished, unless you complete the race.

For us, that meant months of training, beginning while the snow still covered the ground. We ran when the roads first made an appearance in April, and we ran in downpours and drizzly afternoons in June. We ran in beautiful weather along Northern Michigan farms, and we ran in stifling heat and humidity in parks, roadways and big cities while traveling for my job. Running a half-marathon is hard, and receiving the joy of finishing requires months of hard work.

Likewise, growing in your faith is hard, but the resulting spiritual and personal change is worth it. Traci and I have longed to see some big dreams become a reality, and during this season, God is preparing us for the reality of those big goals. Does it hurt? often. Is it fun? occasionally. Is it easy? rarely. Is it worth it? always!

Finally, Traci and I have come to understand that our kids have to experience this for their good, too. Honestly, this might be the hardest part of the journey, and the burden I feel the most. It’s one thing to have your own life or marriage impacted by outside influences, it’s another thing entirely to watch it spill over onto your children. For years, though, Traci and I have prayed for their faith, and for their individual relationships with God, and we are seeing amazing growth in their lives, too!

Those times we’ve prayed with them, and for them, those times we talked about God-sized goals, and those times we’ve dreamed together as a family -- those possibilities we’ve talked about are beginning to take shape through this trial. To pray for change and growth and dreams with our children, and yet to try and “shelter” them from this hardship is a disservice!

Just as Traci and I realize our greatest growth occurs in the shadow of hardship, our kids’ greatest growth will occur as they see how Traci and I navigate pain and change, and as they learn to work through it themselves. During this season, more than once, their faith has lifted Traci and I when we were running low. And every time they see God answer a prayer, provide for a need or show up in grand fashion, their future lives are being shaped in ways that wouldn’t occur without hardship.

While I can’t honestly say I want the next six months to be anything like that past six months, I can honestly say I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. If you’re going through one of these season, I want to encourage you to reflect on how God is showing up in your life. For me, the more time I take to see His fingerprint in all of this, the more my faith is strengthened even in the face of extreme uncertainty. I'm confident if you look for God's hand in your hardship, you'll experience growth in your faith, too!

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

Living between dreams and doubts


Last Thursday night my family packed up our belongings, again, loaded up the van, again, and moved into some temporary housing, again. This time, our temporary housing is in the vicinity of where we hope to set up a more permanent home in August, and where we hope Overboard Ministries will be unleashed to be all that God wants it -- and us -- to be! When we arrived here in Kalakaska, we met up with some good friends and celebrated, with pizza and pie, the passing of one part of our journey. After moving to Michigan two years and three months ago for one job, God has redirected us toward this new adventure in a place, that until a year ago, we didn’t even know existed! We are chasing a God-sized dream that has been burning in our hearts for quite some time, and while the future seems a little blurry, the next step (maybe even the next two steps, but certainly no further) is right in front of us. The dream is beginning to take shape.

And the doubts are bigger than they’ve ever been.

Have you ever lived in that tension between your dreams and your doubts?

This family is awesome!

The scope of what we’re about to undertake is intensely exciting, and it is terrifying. (Thus we’ve coined the phrase, “Excitifying” and use it quite frequently around our house.) As a husband, I feel the strain that I’m putting on my wife. There has been, and at least for the immediate future will continue to be, a great deal of uncertainty. We don’t know exactly where we will be staying, 90% of our earthly possessions are in storage and we are truly living on the goodness and kindness of friends and fellow dream-sharers. My wife is a rock, and she takes care of our family in extraordinary ways, and is doing so in the midst of deep uncertainty.

As a dad, I feel the burden that I’m putting on my children. AJ is about to enter the 9th grade, and will be doing so in a brand new school with kids he did not attend junior high with, and whom he does not know. BJ is switching from 6th grade to 7th grade, and moving to a new middle school that doesn’t have choir (one of her true passions) and is smaller in three grades (6-8) than her previous 6th grade class alone. CJ is leaving a great school that loves her and what she brings academically and socially (3rd grade student of the year!), to enter a 4th and 5th grade only, Jr. High prep school. They load up the van like troopers on one end, and unload it like moving professionals on the other, and yet I can tell the bed-shifting, suitcase-packing, school-changing gypsie-life is taking its toll.

As a man, I feel the weight of wanting to provide, for my family, the basic comforts of a home, the relief of a steady paycheck and the peace of mind that comes with good insurance, retirement contributions and a growing nest egg. Today, however, none of those are realities. More than once I’ve wondered if I’m making a mistake pressing on toward this dream, questioning whether or not the burden of moving forward will be worth it for my wife and my children. Honestly, I think the burden is almost multiplied by their unwavering trust and the way they’ve embraced each new move “forward.”

The doubts that once were subtly in the background are now fully exposed, and they are ugly, vocal and stalking me in my thoughts, my planning and even in my dreams at night.

Friday morning, after our first night sleeping in the Starwood Ranch, I woke up and pondered my night of restlessness and the attack I felt in my sleep. Literally, I dreamed of failure over and over again, and I had to shake off the sleep reminding myself that those were images provided by doubt (and maybe the pizza and coke I enjoyed before bed!), and not the realities in front of us. I had to remember that the giant doubts are present, because the dream God has embedded in my heart and mind is massive! When the dream was little, the doubts were in the background -- they didn’t need to appear since I wasn’t pursuing the God-given vision with any fire. As soon as the dream became my focus, the doubts emerged with an unholy fervor. The size of your doubts will be proportionate to the size of your dreams.

I stumbled in and out of the shower Friday, then sat down to blog. Before I typed a word, I picked up my Bible and began reading in Genesis 12, where God first connects with Abraham (then called Abram). In the first verse Moses writes, “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘leaver your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’”

Notice the phrase, “...the land I will show you.” In other words, God was moving Abraham and his family, and Abraham had to trust God that this land existed, and that God would reveal it in time. The dream was huge as God had promised Abraham, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing...and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” In order to embrace the dream, Abraham had to embrace the unknown and follow the Lord.

And when they arrived in the land of promise, it wasn’t ready for Abraham. Look at verse six: “Abram traveled through the land...At that time, the Canaanites were in the land.” So he visits his future home only to find out it already has occupants (occupants, by the way, who weren’t thrilled at the idea of giving their land to someone else!), then leaves the area and settles outside of the region, and ultimately, just a short time later, leaves the country in order to survive a severe famine.

I wonder what kinds of doubts Abraham had to fight? Occupied land? Famine? (How great could this land be if there were famine issues?!) Some of them are revealed, like at the end of the chapter 12 when he lies about his marriage to Sarah in order to save his own life or in chapter 16 where Abraham tried to speed up God’s promise by having a child with a woman who wasn’t his wife. In chapter 18 Sarah laughs at God’s direct word promising them a child (she was almost 90!) and I wonder if Abraham shared in her doubts (he was almost 100!). After all, how could Abraham’s children inherit the land of promise and all of God’s blessings...if they didn’t exist?!

Without question, Abraham occasionally stumbled under the weight of his doubts, but he always managed to get back on the path that led to the dream. Ultimately, his faith was bigger than his fears and he reaped the reward of trusting in the Dream Giver. Hebrews 11 describes his journey like this:

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents...For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith Abraham, even though he was past age -- and Sarah herself was barren -- was enabled to become a father because he considered Him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.”

So Friday morning I acknowledged my doubts as a husband, father and as a man. I recognized my fear of failure and the sense that the task in front of me seems preposterously overwhelming. Then I chose courage, like Abraham before me, in the One who gave the dream and in whom there is no fear or doubt worthy to be in His presence. While I can’t see how He will pull it all together, I am confident that we are on the right path, and that the monumental task in front of us is nothing compared to the greatness of our God. The doubts are out on the water with us, screaming for us to get back in the boat, but He who called us stands confidently next to us, speaking clearly, yet quietly, urging us to keep trusting Him. I hear His sweet voice, and by His grace and strength, I will hold this course.

What about you? Are you living in the tension between doubts and dreams? Let me encourage you to root yourself, even deeper, in the One who gives the dream. Spend time in His Word daily, speak to Him often in prayer and surround yourself with those who will run the race with you. One of my life verses, Ephesians 3:20, continues to stand out -- almost daily! -- in my thoughts: “God can do anything, you know, far more than you could ever imagine, guess or request in your wildest dreams” (The Msg). What ever He has in store for us next, I know that being out on the water with Him is the best place for me and my family.

Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always best -- even...maybe especially!...when your doubts are biggest! -- out on the water!

When your son thinks "penal" is a medical term


A few weeks backs, I posted this story on Facebook:

A couple of nights ago, the kids and I were watching America's Funniest Videos, while AJ was finishing up a school project he missed while on our road trip. He needed to define words and then categorize them. (For example, he defined "pulmonary" and then placed it under the "medical" column.) I was watching as his eyes got big, and instead of just asking out loud for the definition of the word (which he had already done several times) he slipped me the paper with a snicker. He said, "I didn't want the girls to hear this one!" The words was "Penal." He was preparing to put the word under "Medical" when I assured him it belonged under "legal." I explained the word to him and then he, Traci and I wept tears of laughter.

I have a suspicion the “penal” story will circulate in our family for years to come. Even as I write this, I’m snickering as I think about AJ’s reaction, and the moment of realization when he understood the meaning of the word. As my friend Taylor said on a follow-up comment, “To be fair, that one is pretty confusing.” Indeed, and that confusion created a good laugh.

Thankfully, the definition for penal can be quickly explained and AJ won’t have to face massive embarrassment in his adult life when reading about some legal proceedings in the newspaper. Even if he did, barring that he became a lawyer with that same misunderstood knowledge, it wouldn’t take much to fix his thinking.

Other confusing concepts can be significantly more detrimental to someone’s life and growth.

Like many of you, Traci and I are on a great journey of faith right now. It’s interesting how some view this step of obedience as blind or reckless. That belief comes from a misunderstanding about how people have defined the word, "faith." Here are a few thoughts about what it means to live by faith.

Faith isn’t blind. Yes, there are times in life where we “step out” of the comfort of the boat and out onto the water, trusting Jesus to take care of us. But even in Matthew 14, where Overboard Ministries has its origins, Peter’s act of obedience to walk on water, wasn’t “blind!” Look at the passage. First, Jesus called him out of the boat, so Peter already had the assurance that Christ was behind this ridiculous expression of his faith. Second, Jesus was on the water where Peter was being asked to travel. In other words, Peter could see that Jesus was already doing what He was asking Peter to do. Third, Jesus’ rebuke of Peter for losing site of the goal (“You of little faith...why did you doubt?”) reminded Peter that when Jesus calls us to something, He empowers us for the task at hand. Faith isn’t blind.

Those same principles are true for our lives. If Jesus is calling you into action (and I believe He is calling all of His children to action, Ephesians 2:10), you have assurance that He is with you, and for you. According to Hebrews 4:15, Jesus knows what our life experience is like -- He lived here on earth, as the Son of God, fully God yet fully man! He knows what this life is about, and understands, experientially, what we’re going through. Finally, Jesus’ rebuke of Peter rings through the ages to you and me. Doubt, fear and anxiety are tools of the enemy to keep us from following the Lord. James 1 tells us, “ know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance...” God wants to stretch our faith to build lasting character.

Faith isn’t blind.

Faith isn’t the absence of knowledge. I have a dear friend who doesn’t know the Lord, and who, on more than one occasion, has accused Christians of using “faith” as a crutch to compensate for their lack of knowledge. He especially believes this at it pertains to science and the origins of the universe. Hebrews 11:3 says, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” My friend would say, “See, faith is your source of understanding because of your [a Christian’s] lack of knowledge!”

I love what the writer of Hebrews is telling us in this verse. “What is seen” -- in this case, he is talking about the created universe -- points us to an invisible Creator. It’s not the absence of knowledge, but the fact that we look around and realize that nothing else in the universe, no atoms, no scientific theory, no natural law, and nothing duplicated in the world around us, can explain the origins of the universe. Each of these theories lacks a common problem -- a “first cause.” The writer of Hebrews says we see the world, we can understand much of what it is, and we know that someone outside of creation had to bring it into being. God is the first cause.

The Psalmist said something very similar in Psalm 19: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge” (19:1-2). David, the author of Psalm 19, is telling us that creation screams one message clearly, “There is a God that put all of this into motion!” My knowledge of the world, my understanding of the laws of nature and creation actually point me back to God, not away from Him.

Faith isn’t the absence of knowledge, it’s the recognition that knowledge has its roots in truth, and truth is rooted in the Almighty God of creation!

Faith is never static. Ultimately, too many Christians see faith as a “belief in an idea” or something in their heart. That’s half right, but the other half of faith is crucial; faith must be active! James 2:17 says it clearest: “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” I love how The Message paraphrases this verse: “Isn’t it clear that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?”

Faith in God isn’t dead belief, it’s a life-giving conviction that there is a reason, bigger than me, to get up each day. It’s an unshakeable belief that the Almighty Creator God gives life and breath to everyone, and living life for Him is the greatest cause to which we can devote ourselves. It’s a rock-solid foundation for life that allows us to weather any storm, comforted in the knowledge that everything in life occurs for our good and God’s ultimate glory. Faith in God graciously fixes my life path toward an end that God knows, and one which He asks me to actively follow, trusting that what I see and know about Him, is enough to take the next step.

If you’ve been playing it safe in life, living in the safety and apparent comfort of the boat because you have a bad understanding of faith, I hope you will listen to God and follow Him today. He rarely shows us the whole path, but almost always lays out the next step. Will you take the next step with Him? Will you see who God is and what He is doing, and take the next step? Will you seek to understand Him and His work around you, and in that renewed knowledge and understanding, take the next step? Will you put action to your faith, and take the next step?

Traci and I wouldn’t choose to be on any other journey. It’s not always easy, but the growth and challenge we’re experiencing is worth the work. We don’t know exactly where this path will end, but we know the One who leads us, and in faith, we’re following Him. Not blindly. Not foolishly. Not passively.

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

I'm 40 and living in my friends' basement...


...and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Seriously. This morning I was thinking about how crazy life can be. At times, Traci and I feel like we’re the punch line to one of those Nationwide Insurance commercials: “Life comes at you fast.” It’s funny when it happens to MC Hammer, not-so-funny when it happens to you.

Last week we returned from a 6,500 mile road trip to Oregon, and began the next phase of our Michigan life by moving into the basement of a dear friend. Don’t get me wrong, it might be one of the nicest basements I’ve ever seen. There are four bedrooms (the places sleeps 14!), two full bathrooms, a full kitchen, a nice little dining area and to top it off -- it’s fully furnished including towels, blankets, sheets and all the kitchen utensils for our family. Did I mention we’re on a lake and have a beautiful view from large windows and have walkout access from our private entrance? It’s really a gift.

This is the view we enjoy each morning, from our new digs. Couldn't ask for much more!

Back in January, I was struggling to see the gift side of this situation. After all, I’m 40-years-old, I have a wife of 18 years, three amazing kids and I’m at the stage of life where I should be settling into my career. In fact, five months ago, I would have told you that I was settling into a career. I would have told you that I was in a job that I could see staying with through my “golden years.”

Then God turned my life upside down. He removed my job, income, insurance, house and basic comforts and securities. He clearly directed Traci and I to put ourselves full-time into Overboard Ministries and He lined up a partnership with another local ministry (Starwood Ranch) to help make that pursuit a reality.

So, in an instant, we moved from regular full-time income to having to raise our own support. We switched from having the comfort of an on-site house, to living on the kindness of others while we wait 7 months to settle in a new town (August/Sept). For the first time in my life, my insurance isn’t being supplied by my employer, and instead, we’re paying out of pocket for super limited coverage and I’m facing the expenses of an upcoming surgery. The kids will be changing schools again.

And I honestly wouldn’t want it any other way. Seriously.

Over the past few months, as I’ve had time to process the series of events that has put us where we are, I can honestly tell you there’s no other place I would rather be. Sure, I would love to be back in a house, on someone’s payroll and enjoying the peace of mind that comes with quality insurance, but if I had to choose between that and the path we’re on...I hope I’d make the hard decision to hold this course every time! (Of course I’d take both if I could, but right now, God has said those two options aren’t available to us.)

The reality is that this journey has already stretched me further than I thought possible, and I suspect the stretching has just started. Already I’m experiencing a renewed energy and faith in the person and work of God, and I suspect He has some pretty amazing works to show us. Traci and I are enjoying a closeness and intimacy that only comes through facing obstacles together, and the bonding we’ve done with our kids has only served to strengthen their faith and push me to be a better dad.

Although this season has brought deep sorrow, challenging growth and difficult decisions, it has been filled with deeper joy, richly rewarding experiences and life-changing moments of being the recipients of God’s goodness and grace through others. The sorrow, growth and decisions don’t compare to the joy, experiences and goodness and grace of God. Not even close.

I feel a little hint of experiential understanding of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 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” (NIV).

The Overboard Life requires an eternal perspective, in the good seasons and in the “bad” ones. When God has provided abundantly beyond our needs, and when it seems that He has given just enough to meet the current circumstances. When we have that eternal perspective, truly we are maturing in our faith and will be ready for whatever God has next.

I’m still maturing, and the season of life we’re in is part of the process of preparing us for a deeper faith and more profound expression of our relationship with God. If being a 40-year-old homeless husband and father is what it takes to experience that, then I’m ready for the journey. Yes, I’m praying for a little more certainty and comfort in the future, but even more, I’m praying I keep becoming who God wants me to be so that I’ll be ready for what He wants me to do.

And that’s why I can honestly tell you, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Seriously.

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

Regardless...what I learned, when God didn't.


Obviously I enjoy writing a blog, but I also enjoy reading blogs. When I come across one that really hits the mark for me, I love sharing it with you so you can add another one to your reading list. My new friend Hannah has a great blog, and today I've asked her to share with you so you can get a sense of who she is. I hope you'll read it and check out her other works on her site. Enjoy!

"You are invited to join us at for a special Hardship Service. 

Come share your darkest moments and hardest seasons with dozens of strangers.  Do you have a health issue that God hasn't healed? Come tell us about it!  Are you facing eviction because you haven't gotten that raise at work? We'd love to hear about it!  Have you been crying over a broken relationship that God hasn't restored? Come cry with us!" 


You will never see this service advertised on a church website or bulletin. Why? Because people love to talk about the amazing things that God does.

When He heals the sick. When He provides in miraculous ways. When He raises the dead to life.

But most people don't want to talk about times that God doesn't.

I am not one of those people. 


It all started with a blazing furnace and a simple declaration.

Photo: Tim Walker

You've probably heard the story of crazy King Nebuchadnezzar and the furnace. I like to call him Nezzy for short. The story is found in Daniel chapter 3 and tells of three young men who refused to bow to the idol that Nezzy built of himself.

In a nutshell, they refuse to worship the idol so Nezzy throws them into the blazing furnace. But a miracle occurs and the three friends emerge safely from the flames without even a smell of smoke on their clothing.

This story is pretty unbelievable. But I believe the most unbelievable part comes not in the furnace but at the idol when the friends stand before the king. They say with boldness:

"But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Their faith in God gave them the audacity to say, "REGARDLESS of what happens to us, He is our God." Regardless. It means in spite of everything. Despite the prevailing circumstances. In the face of everything that tries to stop or hinder.


Honestly, sometimes it’s really hard to say those words.

In the GOOD times of blessing, provision, and health it's easy to say, "You are my God."

But it’s a different story when things are hard. In the BAD times, when they stay bad, and when God doesn't show up how you expected Him to.

But, I truly believe that if we want to grow into mature Christians we have to learn to praise God when He DOESN'T just as easily as when He DOES.


This was not an easy thing for me to learn.

In college something happened that changed my faith forever. It was a normal Friday night when all of the sudden I got a terrible headache and couldn't even stand. I tried everything to ease the pain but nothing worked. Months went by and I had every test under the sun but the doctors could not figure out what was wrong with me.

My grades slipped. My relationships suffered. My faith in God was shaken.

A year later I was diagnosed with something called NDPH (New Daily Persistent Headaches). The doctor said, "This means that for some reason you suddenly got a headache and you will have them for an undetermined time. There is no cure. Many people have it for the rest of their lives."

As you can imagine, that was not very comforting to me. But I knew that the Bible told me I was healed by Jesus stripes. So I prayed. I asked. I sought. I did everything you’re supposed to do. And you know what happened?

God didn't heal me.

I was so angry with Him because it didn't make sense to me that He could be ABLE to do something and still choose NOT to do it.

Months later, still in pain, I sat down to pray. I couldn't even find the strength to ask him one more time. So instead of praying for healing I simply said, "I love you." They were the only words I could muster.

And in that weak moment, I heard His sweet voice: “Daughter, your faith shouldn't be based on what I do. Whether I heal you or not, I’m still your God."

From that moment on I have been free!

To this day I still have headaches every single day. I don't know if God will ever heal me. And frankly...I really don’t care!

Because REGARDLESS of whether He heals me, blesses me, or gives me anything at all, He is still my God!


Today, you need to know that REGARDLESS of what is going on in your life, He is still GOD!


When we are in the tough times of life we tend to think that it’s God who has somehow changed. But in reality it’s us who decide to change, not God!

Malachi 3:6 God says: “I, the Lord, do not change." Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not human. He does not change his mind.”

God doesn't suddenly change on us. It’s us who change under the weight of our worries, pressures and disappointments.


There are three important lessons I learned when God didn't heal me:


Make a decision right now that you will trust Him REGARDLESS of your frustrations.

My struggle with healing left me so frustrated with God because I knew that He was ABLE to heal me but He chose not to. I started to let my frustrations blind me to who God was. This is a dangerous place to walk.

Maybe you are frustrated with yourself. With God. With others. I understand. But I want to challenge you to have a faith that doesn't hinge on what God does for you or in you, but hinges instead on who He is.

Faith isn't faith unless it is faith even if He doesn't.


Make a decision right now to praise Him REGARDLESS of what you get out of it.

We all want things. We want to be blessed. To be healed. To have life go a certain way. There's nothing wrong with having those desires. But the problem comes when we let our wants determine our worship.

We must do what is right, even if God doesn't do what we want or expect.

We often do quite the opposite.

Many Christians tell God that once they get what they want, then they will worship. But we don't worship to receive anything from God. We worship because of who He is.

He is worthy REGARDLESS of what we want!


Make a decision right now to seek Him REGARDLESS of your problems.

I used my problems as an excuse to stop seeking God. I thought because I was in pain that I got some kind of pass from pursuing His Presence. But I was wrong.

Having problems doesn't change the fact that God is the most worthwhile PURSUIT we will ever have!

REGARDLESS of what is going on in your life, God is still God.

If you ever get misguided in thinking that your hard life exempts you from giving everything to God, let me remind you that not only is He worthy, but He did the same for you.

REGARDLESS of your past. IN SPITE OF all your sin. AGAINST ALL ODDS of having a relationship. IN THE FACE OF EVERY OPPOSITION that tried to stop Him...

He came. He lived. He died. He loved. All for you.

I don't know about you but that is enough for me to say, "REGARDLESS of what is happening in me, to me or around me:


"Oh God, You are my God. Give me nothing  And I will still give you everything."


As you can see, Hannah has a great style, and I've really come to enjoy her blog. It's raw, challenging and she writes with humor and passion. Please take a moment to check out her site, A Wasted Life.



Our friend, and the kids' youth pastor, Bruce Banwell gave a full day (plus!) to help us load and unload boxes on moving day. Earlier this week, my wife wrote a great blog about the humble blessing of being the recipients of so much kindness from others. (Seriously, it's short, sweet and worth reading!) I think Traci and I have always considered ourselves ridiculously blessed when we think about the friendships God has given us, but lately, that blessing has been almost too much to handle. In Psalm 23, David wrote, “ cup overflows” in talking about God’s goodness to him. Traci and I can surely relate to the way God has showered us with His kindness, through His people, the last two months.

I have learned a bit about myself during this seasons of blessing. First of all, I’m learning to be a better receiver, but I’ve still got a ways to go. Over the years, God has allowed Traci and I to be on the giving end of His grace and goodness, and we have experienced the joy of the scriptural truth, “It is better to give, than to receive.” During this season of receiving, we have had the joy of allowing others to be the conduit of His grace and goodness. It is humbling, but it is special to see how God meets needs in ways we could never have imagined. Without a doubt, these stories will one day make it into a book, as will the lessons I’m learning!

Not only am I learning to be a better receiver, I’m also learning to embrace God’s plan regardless of how crazy it seems from my limited perspective. As Traci and I have followed the Lord through this wild season of change, His blessings in our lives have followed us along the way! When I first lost my job back in January, we toyed with the idea of just licking our wounds, washing our hands of the problems and packing our things to head back to Oregon. Yesterday, while taking a stress-relieving walk together, Traci and I talked about everything we would have missed out on, had we just packed up and headed west. Truly, following God despite the crazy limited perspective we have, has proven to be spiritually, emotionally, financially and relationally richer than any path we could have made for ourselves.

Finally, I’m learning how rich I am in regards to the way God showers us with His grace and goodness through His children. More than once I’ve shed tears over the gifts that have sustained us through this season of uncertainty. More than once I’ve sat dumbfounded at how an exact need was met, a meal was provided, a gas tank was filled, a debt was paid, a box of goodies arrived in the mail, a helping hand was offered or a special provision showed up just in time. Each time one of those things happened, there was another human on the giving end.

Could God miraculously drop a pot of gold into the back of our van? Yes! (And Lord, just so you know, we’re open to that idea, too!) Instead, He most often chooses to use others to be the conduit of His work. Sometimes anonymously, sometimes with a special card and note, sometimes with a smile, sometimes with a back story that only God could write and sometimes with a hug and a “God told me to do this for you.” Truly, based on the people in our lives -- from Oregon, Michigan, West Virginia, California and everywhere in-between and beyond! -- we are richly blessed. THANK YOU for your prayers, your love, your emails, your gifts, your texts, your monthly support and most of all, your friendship.

As we move into the next phase of our journey, we are confident that God is leading the way, and that we will continue to experience the richest blessing of all -- meaningful relationships with people who will share this journey with us!

Go ahead and take the plunge, the best friendships you ever have, will be forged on the water where Jesus is building His Kingdom!

If you want to learn more about the next phase of our journey, check out this 10 minute video explaining how we’re taking Overboard Ministries, overboard! If you would like to join the Overboard family thru prayer or thru monthly financial support, click the links! (For monthly support, click the link, choose one of the three options, and then select "Joseph Castaneda" from the drop-down menu. Remember, all gifts are fully tax-deductible!)

Two years ago we began preparing for THIS day!


OurNewHomeOn March 20th, 2013, right around 5pm, we pulled into the back driveway of a snowy Lake Ann Camp, having just completed a 2,500 mile van ride from Salem, Oregon. We had spent five days on the road seeing family along the way, and the kids looked at their new home for the first time (Traci and I had seen it just once before). We were all nervous, we were all excited and we were all...VERY hungry! We grabbed dinner at Papa’s J’s pizza across the street and spent the first night in our new digs. No mattresses, no couches -- no furniture of any kind -- but a lot of hope and energy about our future in God’s grand plan. Today, one day shy of what would have been our second anniversary at the camp, we’re officially launching the next phase of our lives and ministry. Who knew that two years ago today, we were already preparing for this moment?

Thankfully...God knew!

Traci and I have been on this wild journey, and we count it a true honor that so many of you have journeyed with us! When we left Salem in 2013, we left behind a great church with awesome friendships and meaningful relationships, and we headed to Northern Michigan, unsure of what was waiting. Our hearts truly ached to leave a place that had been home for over 12 years to our family, a church that had been the only ones our children knew and a city where most of my family still lived. Montana was the furthest “east” any of our family had settled.

On March 20th 2013, Lake Ann Camp became our new home and we quickly settled into life and work God had so clearly called us to. Although our time at LAC ended abruptly with heart break just two years later, the time of ministry God gave us was awesome! We wouldn’t trade it for anything. And clearly, through it all, God was already preparing us for this day.

So today, we are excited to officially launch Overboard Ministries, full-time, and begin chasing after the big dreams that God has placed in our hearts.

Back in April of 2011, I published my first book, Project Joseph. In the process of writing the first manuscript, I began researching how to get the book published. I read blogs (started this one, too), interviewed authors, called publishing companies and submitted several letters with a copy of my book. Through many rejections, one letter was returned by a publisher that had clearly done two things: first, the respondent had actually read my book and second, he had taken the time to send a personal response.

I know publishing houses don’t have time to read every submission and don’t have the man-power to personally respond to every request, but I was grateful for this one letter. In it, the reviewer of my book encouraged me to complete the manuscript and finish the project to completion. He told me that his company published a very narrow style of book, and my writing wasn’t in that style. However, he assured me that it was a book worth writing and that I should pursue it all the way to publishing.

That letter is one of the main reasons Overboard Ministries exists.

As we approach the four year anniversary of Overboard Ministries this April, we have published 9 books by 8 authors, and 3 more books will be out within the next month or two. We have several projects lining up in the ranks, and by the end of 2015 it is likely we will have close to 20 books in our arsenal! But publishing books is only part of the dream of Overboard Ministries.

Honestly, when Traci and I first began to dream up the Overboard Ministries concept, we hoped that the publishing arm would become a financial tool by which we could fund other facets of the ministry. We thought Overboard would involve:

  1. Speaking to high school and middle school students
  2. Investing in couples and marriages through classes, seminars and retreats
  3. Ministry to those in ministry -- coming alongside pastors and their wives
  4. Mentoring youth pastors and those going into full-time student ministry
  5. Publishing books that are intensely biblical and intensely practical.

But these things aren’t being done to simply maintain the status quo. Overboard Ministries is about helping believers live their God-designed lives out of the comfort of the boat, and out on the water where Jesus is building His Kingdom. We want to challenge students to live-out their faith in radical ways on their school campuses, sports teams and in their own homes. Traci and I have a passion to see couples put faith in to practice in how they approach every aspect of their marriages. We know too many pastors (and wives!) in ministry who have been so beat up and wounded, that they’re simply existing day-by day; we want to encourage them and help restore their passions to dream God-sized dreams for their organizations! I have met too many youth pastors who fit the young youth pastor stereotype (it’s not a good one!). I love to help young guys develop a faith-driven philosophy of ministry that will challenge students -- and parents! -- to put faith into practice every day, while also helping these guys develop long-term ministry strategies. And our books must continue to be intensely biblical and intensely practical, challenging readers to make their faith an everyday experience.


As God has walked us through this amazing journey together, and brought us to the place of taking this thing full-time, Traci and I know that Overboard Ministries will only be as strong as the team He continues to put around us. So many of you have encouraged us over the past two months with financial gifts that have brought us to tears, and many more have overwhelmed us with words of encouragements, powerful passages of Scripture and timely texts. THANK YOU.

So we’re asking you to continue your relationship with Overboard -- with Traci and me -- as we move into the next phase of this ministry. We are looking to gain true partners in ministry in two main areas: prayer and financial support. First of all, we know the heart of Overboard is going to be our prayer team. Not just people who say, “hey, I’ll pray for you...” (I’ve been guilty of that more times that I care to admit!), but people who will add us to their daily prayer list, will read over our regular prayer updates and will ask God to do amazing work in, and through, us. CLICK HERE to be added to the Overboard Ministries prayer list.

Secondly, we are anxious to find people who believe in Traci and me, and the vision we have for Overboard, and who will come along side us with monthly financial support. We have supported friends in the past, so we know what a huge commitment this is, and yet we also know the joy of sharing in the work of others through our financial gifts. While prayer is the heart of Overboard, monthly support is the backbone. Would you consider supporting Overboard Ministries with a monthly gift? Whether it’s $10 a month or $1,000 a month, your investment in Overboard is an investment in the work that God is going to continue to do through this ministry. (Maybe for you, you’d like to make a one-time gift to help jump-start our work today. That’s awesome!) All gifts are tax-deductible through our partnership with Ripe for Harvest, and if you want to be a part of our monthly support, click HERE. (choose one of the payment options, and then select "Joe Castaneda" from the drop-down list)

I believe God loves it when His children step out in faith and express audacious goals! Our audacious goal for raising support is this: we want to find at least 100 monthly financial partners between now and April 30th (just six weeks away!). That number seems so obnoxiously large to me, but our God is so obnoxiously bigger than anything I could ever dream up! A big verse for me the past few years has been Ephesians 3:20 (in The Message) “God can do anything, you know, far more than you could ever imagine, guess or request in your wildest dreams...” I love that! Our audacious goals are nothing in God’s eyes, and so even as we set this one, we know He can do more.

And as our team, our Overboard family, grows, we long to keep our relationship a two-way connection. Traci and I are already preparing a prayer wall where the names and faces of our supporters will be prominent so that we remember to pray for, and support, you, too. From day one we want to build lasting relationships so that all of us can share in the great work that God will do as Overboard Ministries moves forward.

I can’t wait to share with you all that God is going to do, and I can’t wait to hear about all that God is doing in your life as you come along side and partner with us. If the past few months have been any indication of what He has in store...then the next part of this journey will be an adventure worth sharing!

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

Check out this 10-minute video that explains even more about Overboard Ministries, and be sure to visit our web site to learn more, or to join our team:

Living the dream!


Have you ever been inspired by a movie, song or book? I don’t mean just moved by something you saw, heard or read, I’m asking, have you ever been truly inspired and changed by a powerful film, a meaningful book or a thought-provoking song? In the summer of 2010, I reluctantly read a book for one reason: a good friend, who also was on our church’s elder board at the time, recommended it to me. I was not a fan of the author, in fact, I was an anti-fan of the author, and I really had no interest in his latest book. However, Kent is one of the smartest people I know, he is full of wisdom and grace, and he reassured me that this was an important book for me to read. I bought a copy from Amazon and let it sit on my desk for the month of June.

In the middle of July, Traci and I packed up the kids for a three-week-long road trip. We would spend the first week at camp TLC in northern California, where I would speak and our family would enjoy the pool and a great camp setting. The next two weeks would be spent vacationing, mostly in southern California. The day before we left for camp, I closed up my office, grabbed my notes and saw the book on my desk. I debated taking it but decided that Kent would only recommend a book if he really saw value in it for me.

The best decision I made in the summer of 2010 was taking A Million Miles in a Thousand Years with me to Camp.

After I checked-in with the director of the camp, we set up our little cabin and looked over the schedule. I didn’t have any speaking duties until after dinner, so Traci and I took the kids for an afternoon swim. When we returned to the cabin to let the kids rest before dinner, I reluctantly opened up the book by Donald Miller and began reading.

If you are feeling stuck in life, this book could help inspire you to reach for something great!

I was instantly captivated by Don’s story, impressed by the transformation he had experienced from his previous books, and eager to see where this story was going. I read the book by Tuesday afternoon and begged Traci to start reading it, too. By Friday we had both completed the book (I actually read it a second time that week) and we began a journey that, ultimately, led us to northern Michigan, and is leading us to launch Overboard Ministries full time!

If you haven’t read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, I highly recommend that you do. As Don unpacks his journey from passive observer to active participant in his own life, and as he reveals the qualities that make a life worth living -- a story worth telling -- he invites you to share in the same adventure. Don’s invitation was the fuel I needed to take the next step (at the time) with my writing and with Overboard Ministries.

Me speaking to JH students at Starwood Ranch

On Friday night, the last night of camp, I spoke the final chapel message in the outdoor amphitheater under a clear California sky. I preached a familiar end-of-week message, based on the story of Jesus and Peter walking on water in Matthew 14. In the story, Jesus walks on the Sea of Galilee toward the disciples who are in a boat. The wind is howling, waves are pounding the ship and the disciples are terrified as this “ghost” is walking near them in the middle of the storm.

Suddenly, Jesus calls out to them so they know it’s Him, and Peter replies, “Lord if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus replies, “Come.” So Peter, in a moment of unbelievable faith and courage, jumps out of the boat and walks on water with Jesus! It’s at that moment that I love to stop, and ask everyone to think about the other 11 disciples who are still in the boat. What are they feeling? What are they doing? Do you think any of them is worried about the ghost or the storm any more? Not a chance! They are focused on Peter as he does the impossible!

In the message, I challenge campers to “get out of the boat” for Jesus, and to live a life of faith for Him. The boat is comfortable, the boat is “safe” and the boat is where most people are living. But, Jesus isn’t in the boat, and Jesus is calling us out of our safety, out of our comfort and entirely out of the boat in order to build His Kingdom out on the water. More than once I’ve preached, “I’d rather fail a hundred times trying to get out of the boat, then live another “successful” day in the boat."

It’s time to live Overboard.

As Traci and I, and the kids, headed for vacation the next day, we continued the conversation from Don’s book. We talked about what it would look like to write the story of our lives in such a way, that it would be a story worth sharing, a story worth inviting others to be a part of, a story with which others would want to connect.

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 6.27.22 AMDuring that vacation, the idea of launching Overboard Ministries was born. (You can read more of that story here.) While it started with a publishing company, the dream was for much more, including ministry to couples, mentorship of youth pastors and investment in pastors and their wives. We began, informally, making Overboard a reality during our years in Salem, and continued that work when we moved to Michigan. In many ways, we’ve truly been living the dream since that summer in 2010.

And we have no intentions of stopping now.

In the past, Overboard Ministries has been a part-time addition to my regular ministry duties. As of January 16th, that’s all changed.

As Traci recently reminded, “It’s time to take Overboard...Overboard!”

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

Yesterday’s blog was about the lessons learned in that past two years here in Michigan. Thursday’s blog will reveal the details of the partnerships we’re trying to build. Thanks for joining us as we try to create a story worth living and sharing with others!

You gotta see this view!


This past week, Traci and I took her parents to see the massive ice blocks on Lake Michigan. The view is hard to describe, but imagine that God has a giant box of building blocks all made out of ice, and that he took that box and dumped it over the 22,394 square miles of Lake Michigan. Of course, if they are God’s building blocks, they are HUGE blocks, and that’s what we took Traci’s parents to see. The amazing ice formations are drawing national attention again (something similar happened last year) and everyone in the area is talking about them. So on a beautiful and sunny Friday afternoon, you’d think the place would be packed. Instead, in the main area of ice block where we visited, I don’t think I saw a dozen people spread out over the miles of ice we could see. Why would so few people get out to the ice?

I have a thought: because it’s so hard to get to them!

It's hard to believe these are "natural" occurrences!

When we parked our van and stepped out into the 20 degree winter air, I warned my in-laws that the wind on the Lake would be significant. We had bundled up before we left the house, but Traci and I started putting on our gloves, cinching down our hats, zipping up coats to the chin and generally preparing for Winter-geddon. I think my in-laws thought we were a little crazy, because where we were standing was actually pleasant. With a 20-degree temp (18 degrees warmer than the previous day’s high!), the sun shining and the breeze just gently blowing, it was hard to imagine that when we stepped out of the tree line, about 100 yards away, we’d be slapped by Old Man Winter!

Then we took the first step onto the shoreline and the wind smacked us from the south. It stung, and we had just stepped on the frozen sand! 30 feet later we were on the frozen waters of Lake Michigan and now we were fully exposed to the gusting wind. And that was only half the problem, because now we were walking in 6-8” snow drifts that were covering the very uneven ice on the shallower parts of the Lake.

It's hard to believe we're standing ON Lake Michigan, on a section of water that is over 100' deep.

While we could see God’s giant ice block collection in front of us, we had to cover a 1/3 mile of this uneven frozen ground to get there! (Basically, think of a small wave rolling into shore, and then freezing while it’s still in wave form, or as it crashes on another wave or on the shore. That’s what the surface of the lake is like in the parts closer to shore that you have to cross in order to get to God’s ice blocks.) About half way out, the wind picked up its intensity and the ground became increasingly difficult to walk on. I’ve never been drunk, but I imagine I looked like a drunk man stumbling around looking for my lost car!

After about 20 minutes of walking/hiking/stumbling we arrived at these beautiful ice structures. The actual view is hard to put into words, and the pictures we took don’t do it justice. The whole area looked like NY City after Godzilla destroyed all the buildings and uprooted the roads. There wasn’t a piece of level ground as far as the eye could see. Ice blocks, the shape and size of airplane wings, stuck out all over. A giant round column, (it looked like God put water in a bucket, froze it, and then tipped it over) probably 10-12’ tall, stood a hundred feet from us. Rectangles, Triangles and just tons of leftover ice parts were strewn about. You could climb up 6-7’ up one ice chunk, and descend 8’ into a little “cave” below it. The whole time you had to keep reminding yourself that you’re standing a 1/2 mile ON Lake Michigan, which has an average depth of 279 feet!!

The ice on Lake Michigan has drawn national attention, and everyone in the area is talking about it. But not many people are actually visiting this Winter Wonder! I’m a little shocked because this isn’t an annual event (although it has happened each of the last two winters), and missing out on it this year could mean missing out for another 20-30 years.

Here are a few thoughts.

  1. The journey is hard, so people settle for the stories of others: Truth is, it wasn’t easy getting out to the ice. The wind was bitterly cold and blisteringly sharp. Walking through the 6-8” snow drifts that covered treacherously uneven ice was hard. More than once I thought I was about to bite it on the ice. Twice we came across open expanses of ice that were clear, and looked straight into the water, giving the sense that it was fragile. (Strangely, there was more comfort in walking on snow-covered ice!) In the same way, so much of what most of us want in life is “out there” and requires a difficult journey to find. How many times have you talked about your future, your dreams, your God-given passions, but when you looked at the journey from here to there, you just settled for the stories of others?
  2. All four of us are glad we made the trek out to ice!

    The destination is so far away, people wonder if it’s really worth it: We could see the ice blocks from the shore, and they already looked impressive. Could the view really be that much better from up close? When the wind slapped us with negative zero wind chills, the distant view seemed like it would be sufficient. Our God-given dreams can have the same appeal, we can let ourselves believe that the view of them from far away will be just as good as the view from directly beneath or over them. It’s like living thru a northern Michigan winter and studying pictures of Hawaii to get your vitamin D fix -- the pictures are great, but there’s nothing like the real thing!

  3. The horror stories of others can keep us in the car: Tons of people talk about how great the ice formations are, and just as many talk about the dangers. News stories of people nearly falling through the ice or slipping into a frozen tomb frequent the local broadcasts and newspapers. Let’s remember, we’re talking about walking on a massive body of water that has a larger area than 9 states and The District, and is just barely smaller than West Virginia! Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about people who have chased their God-sized dreams, too. People who have been wrongfully accused, have lost friends, have ended financially ruined because of their pursuit of what they believed God had put in their hearts. They really believed they were following God’s plans, but the outcome was, at least from our finite human perspective, a total loss. The failures of others can keep our own dreams grounded.
  4. Ultimately, getting out on the ice requires quite a bit of work: To walk out on Lake Michigan, you really have to prep. First of all, you have to wait for the right conditions, and the right conditions that can freeze a lake the size of West Virginia involve ultra-freezing temps! You have to own the right gear, you have to know where to research to find the right access points and you have to be willing to drive some less-than-desirable roads to get to a place where you can actually walk on the lake. In the same way, chasing the passions God has given you requires prep, research, patience and a willingness to venture into unchartered (or rarely chartered) waters. The journey is hard (point #1), but preparation for the journey has its own challenges, too.

I’m glad we made the trip to see God’s ice blocks this week. I’m confident we won’t soon forget the amazing formations, and we have a fun story to share with our kids and with others. Even more, I’m glad we’re headed to our next great adventure with God. The journey is hard, but we’re not going to settle for the stories of others. The destination seems like it’s a lifetime away, but we know it will be worth it! The road of faith is littered with stories of those who didn’t get to see their dreams fulfilled in this life, but our our faith is helping us overcome our fears. And yes, it has been a lot of hard work -- and yes, more hard work is in the future -- but being ready when the call comes is worth the work!

What about you? Are you settling for the stories of others? Are you questioning the value of God’s dreams for you? Have you let the horror stories or fears of others derail you? Has the hard work of preparation been overwhelming? “‘I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11). Will you trust His plans for you today? “Trust me” God is saying to you, “you’ve gotta see this view!”

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

God loves a grand entrance!


I read a book by Mark Batterson this past year. Actually, I’ve read the book a couple of times, and finished it up again toward the end of 2014. In the book, Batterson has this great line about God’s timing. He talks about how God loves to make a grand entrance into our lives, showing up in “just the nick of time...” in order to display His grace, His power and His divine sense of timing. When it comes to our struggles and questions, we usually have a vastly different timeline than God does. We want answers now, we want His provision well-ahead of time, and we usually want miracles in our timing, not His. God sees the big picture, though, and He knows the exact best moment to provide, bless, answer or show up. So as Batterson writes, “Rarely is God early...but He is NEVER late!”

Have you ever found yourself in God’s waiting room? Have you walked thru a health difficulty and wondered if God would step in? Maybe you’re going thru a job change like Traci and I are right now, and you’re wondering how to pay the bills or find a place to live when you don’t have any income? Are you experiencing heartache in your marriage right now, and you’re asking God to step in and “fix” it? Do you have a child that’s making some really poor decisions? Are you worried about your education, wanting God to intervene as you look to the future? Is your job situation lousy and do you find yourself asking God to give you another option so you can leave? Do you have more going out then coming in to your checkbook each month?

We’ve all been there at one time or another, waiting on God to show up and do His thing. Waiting for Him to intervene in our lives and to take a hurt and mend it, turn a wrong into a right or just plain help out when we don’t know where to turn next. I’m there right now, asking Him to clearly reveal the next step in our lives as Traci and I embark on this unexpected new chapter in our lives.

This one thing I know while I wait: God loves a grand entrance.

Overboard Ministries was forged out of a message I prepared for camp, from Matthew 14. After Jesus has preached an all-day message and performed a miraculous feeding of over 5,000 people, he ends the long day by dismissing the crowds, sending his 12 disciples home on a boat, and then heads up a hillside to spend some time praying to the Father.

While He is up there, and while the disciples are lazily crossing the Sea of Galilee, a storm comes charging over the top of the mountains and crashes hard on the water. A reasonably tranquil trip is suddenly thrown into chaos and the 12 disciples become fairly concerned about their own safety.

Think about how God could have handled this:

  1. He could have prevented the storm from the beginning.
  2. He could have stopped the storm shortly after it formed.
  3. He could have made the disciples fall into a deep sleep, and slept through the storm.
  4. He could have teleported them to the shore and boycotted the storm all together.
  5. He could have provided better seats, in-boat food service and a large bucket of ice cream.

Instead, what does God do? He sends His Son to make a rather grand entrance!

When Jesus finishes praying on top of the hill side, He heads down to the water and takes a stroll across the lake to see how the boys are doing. In John’s Gospel we find out that He actually wasn’t going to visit the boys in the boat, He was walking to the other side to meet them at the shore. Suddenly the disciples see a figure walking on the water and their night has just gone from bad to worse, because now there is a ghost walking on the turbulent lake!

Matthew 14 says they “cried out in fear” [translation: screamed like little girls!] believing the end was in sight.

And isn’t that where we sometimes find ourselves? We look around at our circumstances, the storms in our lives are raging at full scale, nothing seems to be going our way, and we’re fairly certain that we’re at the end. We cry out in fear. You ever been there? Are you living there now? Are you living at that point where you’ve hit the end of your rope and you feel like there is nothing left to do but cry out in fear/anger/disappointment/confusion and hold on for dear life?

Suddenly God makes a grand entrance into the Matthew 14 story as Jesus reveals Himself. Peter miraculously walks with Him on water. Jesus calms the storm. He climbs in the boat and then takes it to the other side of the lake. Life continues with the dawn of the next morning.

Hands of GodIf you’re in one of those seasons right now, let me encourage you to keep your faith rooted in the One who loves to make a grand entrance. Let me encourage you to trust the One who says, “All things work together for good, to those who love [me]...” and is quoted as saying, “[I] will supply all your needs according to [my] riches in glory...” and was even once quoted with these words, “[I] can do anything you know, fare more than you could ever imagine, guess or request in your wildest dreams...”

Believe me, I wish God would more frequently show up early (according to my schedule)! But when everything is said and done, I’m always glad He showed up on His schedule because I know, that He knows, the very best timing for me -- the time/place where my faith will be extended, my character will be forged and where I will become more of the man He wants me to be, better prepared for what He wants me to do.

I’m learning to trust Him more and more each day, even as I’m awaiting His grand entrance onto the stage of my story. If you’re in a pinch today, will you reaffirm your trust of God and His timing in your life? Will you pray like crazy for answers/money/miracles/jobs/children/spouse/health but be willing to wait for God to answer on His schedule? It’s not an easy task but the future will be best after God makes His grand entrance!

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

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!