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Overboard Blog

Living the extraordinary life of faith!

Filtering by Tag: grace

Be Humble You Arrogant Geek!

Joseph Castaneda



Humility is one of those strange qualities that's a little hard to talk about in Christian circles, and especially if you are talking about yourself. How do you talk about being humble while...being humble?

The problem is that when we think of humility, it's often viewed as one of those "negative" attributes; it's not what you have or do, it's what you aren't supposed to have or do that defines it. You aren't supposed to be proud or arrogant or to think too highly of yourself if you are going to be humble. All of these things are true.

But I think the essence of humility isn't what you are lacking, but rather, what you possess: a proper perspective on your need for God! One of the biblical definitions of the greek word used in 1 Peter 5 is: "To be ranked below others who are honored or rewarded."

When I remember who it is that should be honored for my life, and I keep HIM as the one that is elevated, then I am truly living a humble life. I can't be arrogant or haughty when I'm making it about Jesus and keeping the perspective that He matters most. When I live with this perspective of how much I need God and that my life needs to be about Him, whatever I do brings Him praise (Colossians 3:17).

Then, if I'm speaking in front of thousands, giving a significant boardroom presentation, counseling a friend, cleaning the house, building a skyscraper in the middle of the city, or doing my homework, I am one of HIs humble servants. The trick is keeping "me" in the right place.

After a bunch of amazing weeks of speaking last summer, I was reminded about how much I need God. I can't imagine completing five straight weeks of speaking without His grace! I look back and can see how God showed up at each camp, how He changed lives for eternity, and many campers and staff were compelled to be more humbled before Him because His Word was preached and their lives were changed. I couldn’t do any of that, only God can.

Life can be so difficult and messy, and especially so when you and I become the focus of each day. Let's keep the words of Peter fresh in our minds this week as we seek to keep this life about Him and His glory, so that in our humility He can lift us to where we need to be. My friend Steve Etner often says, "I need to dethrone King Me!" Indeed, lets make sure the right King is in the position of honor in our hearts.

Mistakes leaders make (4/10)


I’m working my way through a book, The Top 10 Mistakes Leaders Make, by Hans Finzel, and I’m really enjoying the challenge. So for the next ten Saturdays I want to work through these ten mistakes, knowing that they apply to CEOs, ministry leaders, parents, teachers, coaches, pastors and just about anyone in any kind of leadership role. I promise to keep my summaries short(ish), and I would love to interact with your thoughts as we go along. These mistakes are listed in order of how they occur in the book, not necessarily how I would arrange them. Overboard Leadership requires an honest self-evaluation of each of these shortcomings (sins?) of leaders. Looking for missed posts, click here: Mistake #1, Mistake #2, Mistake #3)


Mistake #4: No Room for Mavericks

Mavericks are the small segment of the population that are born with a different perspective. They don’t live inside any box, and they don’t naturally conform to the cultures in which they live and work. These people often feel like they don’t “fit in” because, truth is, they don’t!

If you have more than one child, you may know exactly what I’m speaking about! You probably have a child who just sees the world differently and no matter how hard you try to explain life to them, they just don’t seem to “get it.” The problem is, most of us, inadvertently, try to squash the mavericks from family influence -- or office expression -- as we stifle their creativity in an attempt keep things “normal.”

Generally, it’s not that mavericks try to make things hard, and generally, I don’t think most people intentionally try to block the influence a maverick can have. Rather, our homes and businesses and ministries and schools and organizations become so set in their ways, that without knowing it, they push away the very help they need. I find it ironic when an organization is formed out of a cry for change (like many church plants) but then themselves become a stagnant body that rejects change in the future!

Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make, by Hans Finzel is available from Amazon and other fine retailers.

Hanz writes, “Organizations (businesses, families, schools, ministries) have nasty habit of becoming institutionalized.” He continues, “Movements become monuments. Inspiration becomes nostalgic.” In other words, every organization experiences life cycles, much like a human moves from birth to death: birth, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, middle age, golden years, old age and death. In the human existence, there is no way to reverse the cycle, but in organizations, there is: introduce a Maverick into the group!

Instead, however, most organizations opt to stifle the mavericks and try to keep them away from influence. Finzel gives five signs that suggest an organization is afraid of mavericks and headed for demise:

  1. They create as many layers of management as possible for decision making.
  2. They keep looking over the shoulders of employees, micro-managing them.
  3. They make the policy manual as thick as possible.
  4. They send everything to committees for deliberation.
  5. They make new ideas and maverick leaders wait.

Kaleo Korner

(From my Friend, Justin VanRheenen, found of Kaleo Media)

My name is Justin. Am I’m a Maverick. **Hi, Justin**

I think of the greatest Maverick in the Bible, Peter. I love this guy. In John 21, after Jesus appeared to Peter and several of the disciples who were out fishing, He joins them on the shore to have breakfast. Now this is after Peter had tried to rebuke Jesus, cut off a dude’s ear, and denied Jesus three times, within a week. Think about that. If you’re a manager or pastor and someone screwed up this many times in a week, you’re ready to have a meeting aren’t you? So was Jesus.

So on the shore Jesus is having this meeting with Peter. And Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” There are three greek words for love. Eros (a steamy passionate love; erotic), Phileo (a sibling kind of love), Agape (a fall-on-a-grenade-for-you type of love; self-sacrificing). The word that Jesus uses for love here is the word agape. “Peter, do you agape me?” Peter responds, “Jesus, you know that I…” **now watch this** “…phileo you?” Did you see that? Jesus asks a very specific question and Peter can’t answer it. But Jesus says “Feed my lambs.” WHAT?!

Jesus asks Peter again if he loves Him. “Peter, do you agape me?” Peter again responds. “Yes, Lord; you know that I phileo you?” Does Jesus say, “DUDE!! DO YOU NOT HEAR THE WORDS THAT ARE COMING OUT OF MY MOUTH?” Nope. He says, “Tend my sheep.”

It's the next statement that makes me wish I had Jesus as a boss (don’t get all spiritual on me; you know what I mean). A third time, Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, but watch this. “Peter, do you phileo me?” Did you see that? Jesus changed the word. He met Peter where he was. But I think He asked him, “Do you really phileo me? You said you do. But do you really?”

Peter is grieved that Jesus had to actually ask him this when he replied, “Jesus, you know everything; you know that I phileo you.” and Jesus says “Feed my sheep…Follow me.”

So why tell this story? Because Mavericks can identify themselves in this story. Mavericks know they don’t fit in. They know it. Just ask them. And they will make soooooo many mistakes. So many. But if you as a manger/pastor/parent punish a maverick because of their failures and never mentor or teach them through it, they will NEVER hear the words of Jesus when He comes down to their level and says, “Feed my sheep. Follow me.” They will instead feel shame, and they will fear even stepping outside of the box they are being stuffed in every day.

But let me tell you, if you can empower a Maverick within your organization, church, or family to do extraordinary things, they will turn a stagnate status quo into a thriving machine. And.And.And. hear me with this: their loyalty will go deeper than the biggest rockstar on your team. Don’t believe me? Engage that Maverick on your team.

Of course, there are mavericks who are self-centered, and more concerned about their status than the team’s -- you must be ware of them -- but there are plenty of game-changing influencers out there who just need a little opportunity to express themselves, in order to bring about significant change. Here are five ways Hanz suggests, to release the potential of a maverick:

  1. Give them a long tether -- they need space to soar!
  2. Put them in charge of something they can really own.
  3. Listen to their ideas, and give them time to grow.
  4. Let them work on their own (if they wish).
  5. Leave them alone, and give them time, [and limited direction], to blossom.

As a leader, if you are feeling stuck, if you are feeling like your organization is in a rut, it might be that the answer is sitting right in front of you; you just need to release a maverick in to the equation. It can be a risky move, but mavericks are often the last person that stands between long-term success of a ministry or business -- even a family! -- and the demise of a once-great organization.

We’ve all seen 60, 70 and 80-year-old businesses, churches or ministries that have long passed their prime. They’re still around, and they’re still active, but they are at the end of their life-cycle and effectiveness. A maverick leader could be the one person that restores life.

Go ahead and take the plunge, you leadership will be better on the water!

Mistakes leaders make, 5/10

Special thanks to Justin VanRheenen, friend and founder of Kaleo Media. If you want to increase your online presence, or improve your social media content and skills, contact Justin and learn from him!

Joshua Duggar should rot


The recent story of Joshua Duggar, and his 12-year-old sexual misconduct conviction, has ripped through the news. Now 27, Joshua admitted to unspecified inappropriate sexual behavior involving girls when he was 15, and this seems to coincide with an Arkansas State Police report from the same time (approximately 2006) involving “forcible molestation.” However, the police report, in order to protect the minors involved, has been heavily redacted, and now expunged, so names and details don’t show on the report. The Duggar Family. Photo from, by Scott Enlow/TLC

As news of this reached TLC, they quickly pulled the plug on their hit show, 19 Kids and Counting, a reality program about the Duggar family, their faith in God and how they’ve raised 19 children. Because Christian culture is in the limelight, the fallout from this type of move is significant. There are some who feel TLC is persecuting this family because of their faith, even though TLC did something similar to the family show, Honey Boo Boo, when one of its main stars was allegedly dating a pedophile. Others are outraged by Joshua’s behavior, teenager or not, and think the punishment was fitting, even though Joshua already faced civil prosecution according to Arkansas law, sought counseling and offered help to his victims.

Let’s face it, there are no acceptable excuses for perpetrators of sexual abuse. Sex crimes carry with them severe long-term pain for the victims, and the monsters behind those crimes deserve severe punishment.

Personally, I think Joshua Duggar should rot for his crimes. And while I’m at it, so should you.

Maybe you’re not a confessed sexual abuser, but I’m sure you have a list of crimes (illegal or otherwise) that you should rot for, too. Let me know if any of these would register on your record:

Gossiping: I think there are few crimes more devastating, yet more acceptable, in our culture than Gossip. Gossip fuels rivalries, breaks up relationships, stirs distrust, ruins the workplace and splits churches faster than almost any other type of crime. We all hate it, yet most of us participate in it at some level.

Lying: A close cousin of Gossip, but far more deadly and deliberate. In gossip, I might spread an untruth but genuinely not know. “I heard it from so and so...” and spread it like bubonic. With a lie, I know what I’m saying isn’t true, and yet I share it anyway. Lies drove a young teenage cheerleader in Florida to take her own life last year. Lies have corrupted presidencies, destroyed pastors, landed people in jail, ruined marriages, split up families and started wars. Lying might be the most sinister crime of all (it was the first crime ever committed).

Power abuse: Have you ever abused your position of authority? Have you ever taken your frustration out on a child or spouse, a co-worker, employee or sub-contractor? In the Christian world, I’ve seen far too many pastors, elders, counselors, camp directors, association leaders, deacons, choir directors and ministry leaders who have misused their authority for their own gain. In the church, it’s usually veiled in a “I’m doing what’s best for the [insert cause/organizaiton/church here]” but most often reeks of personal gain. Outside the church walls, power abuse is a daily headline, from politicians to corrupt CEOs, from sports organizations to non-profit fundraising groups, where ever there is power and authority, there is the possibility that abuse is happening.

Lust: Here’s a crime that likes to sneak under the radar. Unlike the other three listed above, lust hides primarily in your thought life. Lust can camouflage itself in any environment, and can slowly release its venom for years. Decades. Sometimes called “Window shopping” or excused for “I look but I don’t touch,” lust corrupts the beauty of sex and turns it into a self-focused, self-pleasing experience. Lust turns other humans into objects, and fuels an industry for trafficked people around the world. Lust is not a victimless crime, yet we’re sold its virtues everyday online, on billboards and newspaper ads and television commercials.

I could go on, but I suspect that if you’re anything like me, I’ve already struck at something connected to you.

I don’t know the extent of Josh Duggar’s crimes, and neither do most of you. Right now, after reading hours of online stories and documents, the details of his offense are protected. His victims are, at this point, silent, and to the best of my knowledge, the legal, civil and spiritual consequences have been met. His crime is inexcusable, and his victims will live with his actions for the rest of their lives (as a pastor for almost 20 years, I’ve seen the devastating impact of this kind of personal violation), and he will bear the guilt, shame and, now, public disgrace as a result. What else should happen to him? I’m not sure I can answer that objectively.

Yet I wonder what would happen to you or me if our crimes were brought to light? What if your texts were broadcast to everyone, your browser history exposed on Facebook or your private conversations made public? What if your secret thoughts were televised nationally or your past indiscretions exposed on the evening news? What would we think about you? What would you think about me?

As I’ve read about the Duggar case I have come to at least three conclusions:

  1. All of us are guilty, it’s just that not all of us are exposed for our guilt. Romans 3:23 makes it plain that everyone commits crimes (legal or otherwise, the Bible calls these crimes, “sin”), and every crime is worthy of punishment. Josh’s “forced molestation” is heinous, just as your gossip, my lying, your power abuse and my lust are the vilest of offenses. Don’t down play your crimes because they are unknown or socially acceptable, own the fact that you are guilty, too.
  2. Admitting guilt is the hardest step, but it puts us on the best path. When news broke of Joshua Duggar’s crime, I admired this about his response: He owned it out of the gate (as far as I can tell), and accepted responsibility without a “but” (“I did it...but it wasn’t my fault...”). When’s the last time you looked at your list of crimes and owned them? When’s the last time you confessed them, even publicly (when appropriate), and began the process of restoration (when appropriate)? (Quick soap box: Restoration does not mean that a human relationship can be restored to its prior place. Restoration means that sin has been acknowledged, forgiveness has been granted, and offender and victim are restored to their right place with God. Consequences may continue, and the relationship may be forever changed, but restoration can still be a reality.) [end of soap box] You and I are only as sick as the secrets we keep, so admit your own crimes and begin the process toward health!
  3. God’s justice and mercy are compatible, and His grace surrounds both. It seems that many responses to this Duggar scandal have been either justice (“I hope he rots in prison!”) or mercy (“He did the right thing, we should all forgive him!”). The truth is, God is the ultimate example of both, and neither His mercy or justice trumps the other, and both are filtered through His grace. God perfectly gives us what we deserve (justice), yet because of His mercy (not giving us what we do deserve) we’re not all dead. Holy justice means God can’t look away from our sin, it must be punished, and that punishment is death here, and eternal separation in the next life. In the same vein however, God withholds the full brunt of His judgement (mercy), giving us what we need (grace) in order to be changed into the likeness of His Son. When I cry out for God’s full justice to be unloaded on anyone (the sex abuser, the gossip, the power abuser, the liar or the pervert), I should ask God to do the same to me; and falling headlong into the full wrath of God’s full justice is a horrible place to be.

At the end of the day I realize I want mercy and grace in my life. I mess up and I know I deserve God’s unshielded, unbiased judgement, and I sit here today thankful that He provides mercy and grace. No matter what I feel about Joshua Duggar’s crimes, I want the same for Him, too. Because if there’s no mercy for Josh, there’s no mercy for me. That doesn’t excuse his sin, and it doesn’t require the removal of legal, social or public punishment that may come with it, any more than it excuses my sin or removes the punishment due me. His story just brings to light that all of us are guilty, all of us are in God’s justice system, and all of us are doomed without God’s grace and mercy.

I hope the reports I’ve read about Joshua Duggar’s confession and restoration are correct. I hope his victims have found help and healing through counselors who point them to Christ, and true hope through God who loves and restores the brokenhearted. I pray that you, too, will find healing for the crimes that have been forged against you, and that you and I will be reminded of the crimes we’ve committed against others, and do our part to undo the harm we’ve perpetrated.

May we all live aware of God's justice, be thankful for His mercy and be distributors of His grace.

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



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!)

Words of encouragement (a blog post in just 4 paragraphs!)


Over the past few weeks, Traci and I have been truly overwhelmed by the number of encouraging notes, emails, texts, FB messages, posts, replies to blogs, etc... that we have received from so many of you. It is seriously humbling to be supported by so many people from so many walks of life. We’ve received notes from pastors and missionaries, co-workers, parents, cousins, firemen, military veterans, teachers, brothers, youth workers, students, 2nd career moms, CEOs, unemployed husbands, stay-at-home moms, principals, sisters, business owners, in-laws, church members from our previous work, small group members, baseball coaches and more. Truly we are humbled. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping carry us thru this season of transition. Your words of encouragement bring to mind Paul’s command in Ephesians, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those hear” (4:29). Without question, we have been recipients of your grace.

Words of encouragement, printed off and seen every day. THANK YOU for your kindness!

We’ve printed off all the encouragement we’ve received and taped each one to the back of our door. Over the next year I want to offer the same encouragement to others, that has been offered to us, so here’s what I’m committing to: each day between now and December 31st, I’m going to write a note that “fits the occasion,” praying “that it may give grace to those that hear.” Your words have not only encouraged us, but now they will be the inspiration for words that, by God’s grace, will be an encouragement to others.

Words are so important, and I believe I understand that now, better than ever before. Who could you encourage today? Will you take a little challenge with your words? For the next (7, 14 or choose!) days, take time to write one meaningful card, email, FB message or [insert your preferred message of communicating] to a person that needs a boost. Will you do that? Let me know in comments who's on board!

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

Hey Married guys, want to bless your wife with powerful words of encouragement? Check out this simple idea you can do for a week, a month or a whole year! TRUST ME, it's worth it!

Why my marriage will fail in two more years


Last year on our 17th anniversary, I wrote a blog entitled, “17 reasons I have a great marriage” -- to this day, it has been the most read blog post I’ve ever put up. I’m guessing today’s won’t have quite as much success. Because now, on our 18th anniversary, I’m going to show you how I could end my marriage before our 20th anniversary. It’s actually quite simple, and if you follow these five steps, you can end your marriage, too! (Don’t worry, if you’re working on a great marriage, I have a list for you, too!)

  1. Make your marriage about you: This is the first and most important step in ending your marriage. Making sure your marriage centers around you is crucial in bringing it to a screeching halt. Nothing is more draining about other people than when they focus everything on themselves.
  2. Make marriage about your happiness: If you’re working hard to make your marriage about you, this should be relatively easy piece to add to your marriage-ending arsenal. Make the majority of decisions about your marriage (and family!) that revolve around what makes you happy and content.
  3. Keep track of everything wrong your spouse does: This is a very important list, and truly, might make the difference in whether or not your marriage ends appropriately. Keep this list current, keep it dated and keep it very private until just the right time. I can’t stress enough how  important it is to keep a VERY detailed list of wrongs your spouse has committed. (Practical tip: It’s best to have two lists. One of the obvious offenses [ie. when your spouse embarrasses you in public] and one of the unknown offenses [ie. your spouse puts their inside-out socks into the laundry hamper]. Trust me, you’ll want both lists at the end!)
  4. ALWAYS assume your spouse has ulterior motives: If you actually think your spouse is doing something out of love, simply open up your secret book of lists (step #3) and review them. After just a few minutes you’ll realize that whatever acts of niceness your spouse is performing must be making up for something on one of your lists.
  5. NEVER forgive, and if you accidentally do, NEVER forget: Forgiveness is weakness when it comes to ending your marriage. Once you start down the slippery slope of forgiveness, you’ll start to see the good in your spouse and experience the grace of God in your marriage. Trust me on this, if you want to end your marriage, forgiveness is a killer. Don’t do it!

After a rough winter, Traci and I didn't have many complaints about the weather in Hawaii!

Thankfully, by God’s grace, I actually have no intention of trying to end my marriage in the next two years. There are three basic reasons for this. First, (you really should read last year’s blog about this!) I’ve made a commitment to God, and to my wife, to fight for our union. That was a “death til’ us part” commitment, and since I’m blogging, I must be living, and that means I’m still holding up my end of the covenant. Second, I’m running out of words and ways to describe my wife. Next to God, she has been the most important person in my life. She has endured more than anyone, and been my greatest cheerleader and fan. Why would I want to end that? Third, and honestly, this is a bit on the practical side, but I checked the marriage market for middle-aged, slightly overweight, Mexican men with pitiful investment portfolios (thanks DK for helping me try to change this one!), twelve-year-old mini-vans, furry bodies and having three kids....things aren’t looking good for me. If my wife can love me in this condition (and I often think she’s crazy for doing so!) then I’m more than happy to keep this marriage thing going!

Truth is, however, the key to our marriage has been the grace of God in our lives. By His help we’ve been able to keep this thing afloat. Here are five not-so-secret secrets to our marriage success: (For those that need a more comprehensive list, check out this post with 17 not-so-secret secrets.)

  1. Make your marriage about serving others: It’s not easy putting others first, but it’s the first part of a strong relationship. I’ve seen too many friendships, businesses and marriages end over wrong focus in the relationship. When I focus on me, I get in the way of everything. When I focus on others (my spouse), their success becomes my success, their joy, my joy and their happiness. Truly, deeply and profoundly.
  2. Make your marriage about holiness, not happiness: If I focus on becoming who God wants me to be, and less about whether or not I’m happy at any given moment, I’ll find two life-changing facts. One, I’m far more content in my place in life when I’m being changed into the man/husband/father God wants me to be, and two -- that new-found contentment will lead to a profound joy and happiness that circumstances can never provide OR take away.
  3. Keep your lists short: In the Bible, Paul tells us, “Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath...” In other words -- resolve your conflicts with each other. And while he wasn’t specifically writing about marriage, it works there to! Clean up your list, every day, with your spouse. Resolve what needs to be resolved (or at least start the process) and forgive what needs to be forgiven. (Make sure you clear out your garbage, too!)
  4. ALWAYS assume the best in your spouse: If you start the day by assuming the best in your spouse’s actions and motives, you’ll go a long way in keeping your lists short. I’m not talking about ignoring obvious problems or excusing away abusive or sinful behavior, I’m talking about assuming flowers were given because of love (not to cover a wrong), that sex was offered out of desire (not out of conflict resolution) etc...
  5. NEVER hold on to wrong once it has been forgiven: If you’re keeping your lists short (step #3), make sure you don’t keep the completed pages in the back of your notebook. Again, I’m not talking about ignoring patterns of sin or unfaithfulness, I’m talking about truly forgiving your spouse and releasing them from the wrong they’ve committed.

I hope you’ll choose the second list of five, over the first! Marriage is hard work, but I can tell you that after 18 years of hard work, you couldn’t offer me enough money, power or status to make me want to end mine. God has given me such a great gift in my wife Traci, and because we’re both working through our imperfections with Him, and with each other, we’re making a pretty good go at this marriage. And it’s worth it. You are worth it, and so is your marriage!

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

Ferguson on my mind.


A week has passed since the Grand Jury reached its decision in the city of Ferguson, and things haven’t quieted down much. While Ferguson was ablaze in anger, shock and outrage, other cities have had little riots and protest marches as people everywhere responded to the outcry for justice that many perceive has not occurred. Then another group of people are appalled by the behavior of those who are rioting, flipping cars over and smashing windows of local businesses. Some even feel like the justice system worked, and that regardless, civil chaos isn’t a proper response.

Photo: Tim Walker (in Ferguson)

I’ve seen whites and blacks, men and women, on both sides of the debate. I’ve read tweets from a black rapper who said she might start killing “crackers in their sleep” (she tweeted later that it was a joke) and that she “hates straight white men” in response to the judicial system’s lack of justice. I’ve read post from a white guy who said, “I hope every rioter gets their head bashed in with a club...”, and a white woman who said, “...Officer Wilson did his job that August day...” I also saw this from a white man who wrote, “Cops have come a long way since Rodney’s getting worse!” and a black man who wrote, “...the black people of Ferguson are a disgrace to other blacks. They asked for justice and the courts ruled...” I too have felt a lot of emotion about these events.

Black or white, male or female, the issues in Ferguson have hit a nerve.

People are sighting interviews with family members and police officers to “prove” their point. Videos of police violence and honorable police conduct have been filling up my social media feeds (even squeezing out the dog jumping on a trampoline video!) and heartache, anger, revenge and compassion are spilling over from everywhere. Friends are being dropped because of different view points, new friendships are being formed over agreeing opinions and comments are flying back and forth between total strangers.

No matter what side of the ruling you are on, Ferguson has captured our attention. It has certainly captured mine.

As I’ve reflected on what’s happened since the Grand Jury verdict was read, I’ve come up with three thoughts that seem to withstand the barrage of conflicting emotions and counter opinions flying around them. Here they are, and I would love to know what you think.

First, to me, the biggest travesty here isn’t the sense of injustice some feel, or the fear of law enforcement that many are talking about, it’s the tragic loss of life for an 18-year-old boy, and the pain and suffering that tears through a family, a school and a community when a young person’s life is ended. As a youth pastor for almost 17 years, and having worked with students for over 20 years, I can assure you that every time a young person is killed or tragically ends their own life, the heartache is deep.

Parents and family achingly ask “why?” as no parent ever wants to bury their child -- it’s not how it’s supposed to be. Having walked with several families through the loss of a child, I’ve seen the heartache and pain up-close and personal. In fact, I’m not sure there is a greater type of personal suffering than that experienced with the loss of a child. A child whose future is wide open before him. A child who was anticipating the next stage of her life. A child who had dreams and plans, who touched the lives of others, who had a special place in mom’s memory and who was celebrated joyously the day they entered this world.

And as the family suffers, so do the peers of the Michael brown. I’m certain many of his classmates, fellow employees and friends faced their own sense of mortality after hearing of his death. Having a friend in school or work one day, only to have him gone the next, leaves a gaping hole in a peer’s life, one that doesn’t just fill up overnight. Some respond in anger, some with a healthy dose of tears, others with silent, painful, contemplation and still others turn to substances for rescue. No matter the cause, the loss of life is painful.

Whatever you may think, feel, believe or know about the events of Ferguson, don’t forget that an 18-year-old child lost his life. Death hurts us all.

Second, the troubles in the Ferguson shooting didn’t begin on August 9th, 2014. While  some of the facts of this case may never be fully revealed (was Michael attacking Officer Wilson? Did Officer Wilson fire in self-defense or did he take aim at a man surrendering to his authority? Was this racially motivated? Was it excessive force or well within the guidelines of an officers parameters while in the line of duty?) one fact is evident: the events that ended with Michael’s death on August 9th, certainly didn’t start on Aug 9th.

Tragically, the shooting of August 9th began with a robbery involving Michael. According to a store’s video recording, Michael and a friend attacked a convenience store clerk and stole a box of cigars. But that wasn’t the start of the story either. It goes back further, because at some point in time Michael believed he had the right to take what wasn’t his. At some point in time he was taught a value that if you want it, take it. If someone else has it, over power them. Maybe it was a friend at school. Maybe it was a parent or family member. But somewhere along the line it became ok to steal.

It may well be that officer Wilson’s actions were out of line with standard conduct of a police officer. Maybe his shots were fired in response to racial profiling or in gross prejudice toward the conduct of people of color. I don’t know officer Wilson, and I can’t wade through enough of the details to determine what’s true or not. However, racism is a sickening reality in our world (all over our world!) and if it was in play in Ferguson, it came into play long before August 9th!

The story begins -- not with theft or racism -- when we face the reality of our sin, the reality of our own personal corruption, and choose to do nothing about it. You see, when we break God’s laws and standards, we come face to face with the fact that our lives are thoroughly influenced by sin’s power. We were born with sin woven into our spiritual DNA, and nothing in us naturally longs to do what’s right. At some point in our lives, we become consciously aware of sin’s influence, and when we reject God’s plan of salvation over and over and over again, we reject the one power that can give us freedom from sin’s control.

Theft and racism and rioting have the same root, it’s called sin, and it’s ugly in all of its forms.

Third, the madness that unfolded in the aftermath of the Grand Jury’s decision should make us all look inward at our own lives. While you may point a finger at Officer Wilson or Michael Brown, or whether you blame a community or a police force, whatever side of the issue you fall on, we have the same personal responsibility: how will we keep ourselves from our own Ferguson?

What sin in your life could lead to an explosive response like the one in Ferguson? Are you angry, ready to lash out at the next person who cuts you off in traffic or hangs up on you at work? Are you hiding secrets of lust from your spouse allowing guilty pleasures to create a wedge in your marriage? Are you taking out your work frustrations on your children, spouse or ex-spouse? Do you hope for bad things to happen to other people, are you plotting revenge on someone who has wronged you or are you harboring a bitter, unforgiving spirit to your parents, husband or boss? Do you have a penchant for lying? Is it easy for you to justify stealing something from someone you believe “doesn’t deserve it?” Do you gossip and speak ill of others, and then flip-flop when you’re with a different set of friends?

If you and I will turn to the One who can help us with our own sin, we can avoid another Ferguson by never walking down that road ourselves! If we will deal with our own junk, then our own junk can’t be at the heart of tragedy like the one in Ferguson. Imagine if Michael Brown had put theft away from his life long before August 9th! He never would have assaulted a clerk and stolen cigars, Officer Wilson never would have been called and this last Thanksgiving in the Brown house would not have included an empty seat at the table. If Officer Wilson is guilty of gross misconduct or racism, imagine how different August 9th would have been had those things been dealt with years before he ever put on the uniform. Imagine how different the long-term outcome might have been for Michael had he been given an opportunity to change his life path. How different would the Thanksgiving table had been at the Wilson’s house if the death of an 18-year-old boy wasn’t the main topic on everyone’s mind?

I ache for the loss Michael’s family is still feeling. Ferguson lost one of her sons and the community heartache is real. Thankfully, thousands of protesters have raised their voices in peaceful ways as law-abiding citizens of every ethnicity. May their voices be heard over the noise of broken glass, angry shouts and burning cars. But I also ache for what officer Wilson’s family is experiencing. Having known several police officers as friends, I can’t imagine what it’s like to take a person’s life in the line of duty. If it was racially motivated, I can’t fathom the hatred that is destroying him. If it was in accordance with proper conduct as ruled by the Grand Jury, I can’t imagine the pain in his conscience, the constant “what ifs” he is playing out and the reality that  his actions have stirred a community in so many ways. Neither family “won” in this tragedy.

Most of all, I pray that the Browns and the Wilsons will experience genuine healing. Nothing will ever replace the loss they’ve experienced, but healing can soften pain’s edge. I pray that the the community of Ferguson will find common ground in hope, not anger, in resolutions and not rioting. I pray that a nation will solve this, not strictly at a legal level, but at a personal individual level. And for each of those to happen, I pray that God changes hearts as only God can, beginning with mine.

And I really believe God can bring peace to all of this. God is a God who loves to step into the brokenness, heartache and suffering that we’ve created, and perform life-changing, peace-giving miracles. God loves to reconcile the defendant and plaintiff and to build a bridge of peace between the victim and perpetrator. As much as God’s heart is broken by everything that has happened in Ferguson, His power to bring change and healing is even greater. I believe the love, peace, mercy and grace of God could show up mightily in Ferguson, and that the Browns and Wilsons can both be freed from the losses they’ve each experienced.

In fact, imagine if next November, the Browns and Wilsons shared the Thanksgiving meal together! Imagine if the emptiness at the table this year, was replaced by powerful new relationships forged in the Gospel of reconciliation. Imagine if hate could be replaced by compassion, if loss could be replaced by hope and if inner turmoil could be replaced by peace. Sound impossible? It is...unless the people of Ferguson find the power of the Gospel in all of this. Ultimately, my prayer is for God’s power to show up in life-changing ways that brings people together.

And if I believe God can bring peace to the Wilson’s and Browns, am I accepting His peace in my life? Am I embracing hope for my losses? Am I allowing peace to calm my turmoil? Am I expressing compassion where hatred reigns? We all have a little Ferguson in our hearts, and we all need the Gospel of reconciliation to start it’s work in us, first.

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

I want to be like Richard


It was usually on Thursday, occasionally on Wednesday, but almost every week for close to two years, I met with Richard to talk about life. For the first year we were working on my ordination papers, but in the second year it was because I realized how much I desperately needed his input in my life.  

One of my favorite pictures of Richard and Marietta!

I loved showing up and his and Mariertta’s house. There was almost always a glass of juice waiting for me, and undoubtedly, a plate of freshly baked goodness would be on the coffee table. I have no idea how Richard always remained so thin living in that house; I gained weight just showing up once a week!


My time’s with Richard (and Marietta!) were so rewarding to me, and Richard claimed he got something out of them, too. If he wasn’t such a man of integrity, I’d think he was lying, but that was on of the things about Richard -- he was ever a learner, as much as a teacher. I enjoyed my time with him each week and have such fond memories of him. Memories of his powerful prayers for me and my family. Memories of Richard’s great wisdom in board meetings. Memories of Richard praying for me, and praying a moving blessing over my life, just three days before he passed away. And I remember seeing Marietta next to him the day he passed away as his breathless body lay in the hospital bed, but knowing that his spirit was alive in heaven.


This August, it will be five years since Richard graduated to glory, and five years since I lost a dear friend and mentor. Richard is one of the men I want to live my life like (a list that includes my own father and a short list of other close friends). I think we all need a model who shows us what the Overboard Life is like, and Richard was that for me. Here are five ways I want my life to be like Richard’s.


  1. Richard was the most humble man I knew. I’ve never known anyone as humble as Richard. Few men had the Bible knowledge he did, yet he never used it to make you feel stupid or silly. He would take notes whenever you spoke, he would shake his head and smile while saying, “I’ve never thought of it like that...” or he’d gently correct you without making you feel like an idiot. He knew so much, shared it so graciously and was ever a learner.
  2. Richard had no social boundaries. There wasn’t a soul on planet earth who wouldn’t get imagegenuine friendship from Richard. One of my favorite pictures of him comes from our time at Bethany in Salem. It shows Richard, ever the conservative, dressed in his coat and tie with his precisely combed hair, praying with a tall, hairy, disheveled biker in a leather biker vest, hat and ratty jeans. Richard didn’t see external differences like everyone else did. More people ended up staying at Bethany because Richard took them out to lunch, met with them after church, called on their house, prayed for them at the hospital, than maybe any other reason.
  3. Richard prayed with passion. When Richard prayed, I felt ushered into the thrown room of God. He prayed with faith. He prayed believing that God was powerful and able to answer any request. And He prayed for people every day, praying through the church directory regularly and always remembering requests. He often would start our meetings by asking me, “How did that [insert request here] work out last week?” I’d scratch my head and try to remember what he was talking about? I had given him the request and I had forgotten about it already. Not Richard, he kept praying.
  4. Richard was a maker, not a peace keeper. Some people (you seconds borns better pay attention here!) love to try and keep the peace. They don’t like tension or arguing or people mad at each other, so they try to keep the peace by constantly making sacrifices, by selling out their own convictions in order to try and appease someone else. Richard was a peace maker. His goal wasn’t to keep the peace, he wanted to help create it. Richard sought to solve problems according to Matthew 18. Richard wanted to follow the great Scripture teaching: “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with all men.” He didn’t like to fight, but he wasn’t afraid to if that’s what was needed for peace. He didn’t like being at odds with others, but he would if peace was at stake. I’ve never known anyone who worked so passionately for peace and unity.
  5. Richard was able to change. I think Richard was in his mid-to-late 80s when he went home with Jesus. Some people at his age, can become a thorn in the flesh of a younger pastor, who is trying to lead a church or elder board toward change. (Don’t get me wrong, not all change is good, and sometimes it’s them youngins’ that cause all the problems!) I know for a fact Richard didn’t like all the changes that came to our church, and he sometimes shared his opinions confirming that. But he fought for peace and was willing to see change happen so that others could be reached with the Gospel. Richard accepted a different style of music and he embraced, and even became a proponent, of a new kind of preaching style our pastor introduced. He led the church in a leadership structure change and when some of his generation spoke up agains the change, Richard would confront them and challenge them to follow suit. Richard was able to change.


I hope my next 40 years look similar to how Richard lived in this phase of his life. I long to be humble, to reach across any social barriers, to pray with passion and faith, to seek peace while being able to embrace an every changing culture with the never-changing message of Jesus Christ.


Do you have people that you are modeling your life after? Can you look around and see others who have qualities that you would like? People who are living Overboard that can help show you the way? If not, I want to encourage you to find friends who are. Visit your church (find a church!), search online or just ask someone you know is already out of the boat! You need someone to help you grow, and I hope someone else could get help from you.


Richard made me a better father, pastor, preacher, husband and friend. I’m indebted to him. And knowing what I know about him, he would want me to do the same for someone else. Thank you Richard for leaving a legacy with so many, including me.


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

Love and Legalism


I worked on my sarcastic face...I think I had it down pretty good! It’s interesting as a parent of a 7th grade boy, to be navigating the Jr. High years from the other side of the table. More than once, during the past two years, I’ve thought, “Oh my word...what did I put my parents through?!?!” I remember, in particular, Jr. high was when I learned that sarcasm could be a primary form of speech and that I should definitely pursue a career as a stand-up comic -- I was certain that everything I said was absolutely hilarious!


Jr. High is an age where most of us are figuring out some key aspects of life, and like it or not, it’s the time when many of our values for living are set. Choices are made to do -- or not do -- certain things, to be around or to avoid particular people, and these choices set a pattern for our lives. I know a lot of people who’ve looked back at the decisions they’ve made in life, good or bad, who can trace the origins of those choices back to Jr. High. I think that’s one of the reasons why I’ve always loved youth ministry, and in particular, why I’ve always enjoyed the challenges of working with Jr. High students.


Bob Smith was my Jr. High youth pastor and he was used by God to influence me for good. Bob made it cool to be a Christian and taught us that living for God by making good life choices was not just wise, but fun. He taught us early on that if we would evaluate our lives by God’s standards we would end up living with fewer regrets while experiencing more joy. Bob was the reason I started aiming my life toward youth ministry.


One of the things about Bob was that you wanted to be around him. He had his own pressure washing business at the time and worked 60+ hours a week, yet he ran the youth group like it was his only job. He was high energy, he was funny, he wasn’t afraid to challenge the norms and most of all, he loved people. I invited friends to church, to youth camp and to activities all the time, because I knew they would have a great time and that Bob would love them unconditionally regardless of where they came from. In fact, I remember the time we drove up for a weekend youth camp and on the day of the event, I brought 12 mostly unsaved, mostly unchurched, friends with me. Even though Bob had a mild heart attack (we were a church with 2, 15-passenger vans for transportation, and I had given Bob no warning about my friends!) he welcomed them and made them all feel welcomed for our weekend away.


I also remember that Bob used to get in “trouble” with some of our church leadership because he valued people so much more than rules. We had a few leaders who tended to focus on the rules, especially the unwritten rules, of church life instead of the relationships of people in the church or community. One particular event that’s etched in my mind involved my friend Joe.


Joe had come to youth group a time or two before (I think) but also attended his own church. I really wanted him to start making our youth group his new home so on a Wednesday night during the summer, I invited him to come out again and be with Bob. Joe and I talked during the day and He assured me he was coming. So you can imagine that I was a little irked that as youth group came and went, Joe never showed up. I railed on him over the phone the next day.


Well, it turns out Joe did show up. He rode his bike the 3 or 4 miles from his house to the church, and when he walked in the front doors of our building he had been greeted by one of our older “saints”. The older gentleman asked Joe, “Can I help you find something?” Joe told him he was here for youth group. The older gentleman looked Joe over and was a little bothered that he was wearing shorts in church (keep in mind, it was summer, and Joe had just ridden his bike to be at church), and knowing nothing about Joe, his family or his spiritual condition he said, “Well, not dressed like that you’re not. Why don’t you go home and change, and then come back in pants...” (Of course, there were 25 of us hanging out with Bob in the back of the church, and 1/2 of us were in shorts.) Joe went home, but he never came back to our church.


That event has never left me, and in fact, has often guided decisions that I made in youth ministry. I know I made some mistakes, I know I hurt feelings, said the wrong thing and broke rules I shouldn’t have over nearly 17 years of being a full-time youth pastor, but I always tried to err on the side of love. I didn’t want anyone to ever turn away from God because I emphasize religion about God, instead of having a relationship with God. (Thankfully my friend Joe found another youth group that apparently hadn’t read the Bible verse, “Thou shalt not wear thine shorts on a hot summer day whilst riding thing bicycle” and he went on to love and serve God with his life.) But I’ve met far too many people that were treated so poorly by those enforcing the rules, that they never turned back to see the love of God that’s supposed to be behind those rules.


Don’t get me wrong, rules are important. Anyone who thinks they can please God without following the commands and truths of His Word, is sadly mistaken. But God demands that we follow His Word in love. Just listen to these few verses that describe the priority of love:


“ABOVE ALL, love each other deeply...” (1 Peter 4:7)


“And over all these virtues, put on love...” (Colossians 3:14)


“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)


There are many others but the point is clear: love for God is to guide our actions and our lives, not a love for rules. In fact, when Jesus was asked about the most important rule in the Bible He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” and then He threw in a freebie: “and the second most important command is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.” You see, when we love God with all of our being, and when we love others the way we want to be loved, we will obey God’s Word. John 15 teach us that if we love God, we will do what He has commanded us -- obedience follows love, not the other way around!


And if we truly love someone, we will show it by following the commands of God’s Word. If you love someone, will you steal from them? If you love someone, would you sleep with their spouse in a scandalous affair? If you love someone, would you invite them to do evil things with you? If you truly loved someone, would you intentionally want to bring any harm to them? Of course not! And guess what, those are all things in the Bible that we are commanded to avoid! So love leads us to obedience!


I was blessed to see love lived out in my family and in my Jr. High youth group. I know my life has been shaped by how Bob Smith lived out God’s love in my life and in our youth group. But most of all, I have grown, through many mistakes and missteps, to teach and preach the love of God more than ever. I know that the Overboard Life demands a commitment, not to the rules of God, but to the love of God; to loving God, and to loving others the way God loves us. When we get our love for God and others in the right place, the rules become a whole lot easier to follow.


What about you? Are you loving God with all of your heart, mind, body and soul? Are you loving others the way you want to be loved? Put on God’s love first, and then I think you’ll see His commands in a whole new light.


11 down, 29 to go!


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

Little sisters and other dangers of family


On August 1st, 1975, my chances of being the baby of the family ended abruptly. In a rather dramatic and quite rapid birth, my sister made an appearance as, not only the baby of the family, but as the only girl among three boys -- the proverbial “rose amongst the thorns.” Thus I was relegated to cheerful third born, and not spoiled last sibling. Me and Naomi

While my sister may disagree that she was spoiled (the opinions of her three older brothers would stand in stark contrast to her own!), she was a blessed addition to our family. Yes, she may have been tortured by her older siblings. Yes, we may have shared a few laughs at her expense. Ok, ok, ok, I wasn’t always the kindest to my sister, but that too, was part of God’s work in my life.


In high school, Naomi and I couldn’t share the single bathroom in my parents house. (We disagreed strongly over usage times, and to this day, even after 17 years of being married to a woman, I still can’t figure out what takes girls so long in the bathroom!) The bathroom was just the battlefield where our disagreements emerged. I know I would antagonize her, and I think there was a time or two she might admit she was just arguing for the sake of a fight, too. My relationship to her was not pretty through the high school years.

Me and Nay on couch

It was during college, however, that I started to realize the problem wasn’t my sister -- the problem was me. As much as I wanted to blame her for taking up too much morning time in the bathroom, or be mad at her different perspective on promptness, the reality was that I was impatient, often unfair and frequently unkind. My sarcasm was sharp and hurtful. I still remember the day I sat down at my roommates word processor (any one remember those?) and wrote an apology letter to my sister. While I certainly hadn’t showed it, I actually longed to have a better relationship with her.


At the time, I was attending school in Iowa and when I got home for the summer, my sister and I did something we hadn’t done in years: we hung out together. We drove the hour drive from Salem to Portland and visited the zoo. We had a great time. I found out that my sister was absolutely hilarious and afterward, I met her boyfriend (future husband) for the first time. I’m thankful my sister was so gracious.


To this day, I’ve never forgotten what I learned from the frustration I used to feel toward my sister. Up until I wrote that letter in college, I always blamed her for the angst I felt; I never once thought that the source of the problem could rest with me.


Yet, that’s how most of us live. When conflict comes, we tend to blame those we’re in conflict with and rarely look to our own involvement. When we do look inward, it’s usually followed with a big “but” (I know I was mean, but....) I’m glad my sister and I were able to begin working on our brother/sister relationship. We still don’t always see eye-to-eye, but I love her and her family, and am so thankful that we enjoy spending time together and having our kids hang out together. She is an amazing mom and wife, and she is an awesome sister.


From the first day God put humans on the planet He did something amazing -- He connected them to each other. Adam wasn’t supposed to live alone, and even after Eve came on the seen, the two of them weren’t left alone for very long, either! We were created to be in relationships, first with God and then with one another.


And the reality of those relationships is this: they will experience hardship and brokenness because we live in a fallen world. None of us are perfect, and we bring our imperfections into every relationship we have. And when two imperfect people get connected (husbands/wives, brothers/sisters, neighbors) the possibility for struggle rises exponentially. So when I run into conflict with another human being, I have to remember that my imperfections are part of the problem, too, not just theirs!


I’m confident that’s why in the New Testament there are at least 32 different “One another” commands. Those “One Another” commands remind us to look through the imperfections of others, to try and acknowledge and work on our own, and to put the love and grace of God into practice. Here are a few of those commands, any of them resonate with you?


Love one another

Forgive one another

Be kind to one another

Build one another up [with your words]

Encourage one another

Pray for each other

Spur one another on to love and good deeds

Be compassionate with one another

Submit to one another

Bear each others burdens


Family is a great place to practice living out the one another commands of Scripture. I’m sorry it took me so long to learn that with my sister, but I’m thankful the last 20 years has been much better than the first 20 that I knew her. If you want to live an Overboard Life, you’ll have to come to the same realization I did -- relationship problems are a two-way street, and if you’re on the street, you’re part of the problem. We can’t fix others, (No, this isn’t an excuse to let others be cruel or unkind, and it’s not an excuse to be some one else’s doormat!) but we can resolve to live how Jesus wants us to, regardless of the response of others. As we say to our own children all the time, “Your response, is your responsibility.”

Is there a relationship you can work on today? Is there someone that you've cut off because you weren't willing to see your part in the problem? What "one another" command could you put into practice today? We were made for relationships, so let's work to make them the best they can be!

4 down, 36 to go.

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

Birth and other messy things


At 3am on May 24th, 1974, I started making my wishes for an appearance, known. While they didn’t often do ultrasounds in those days to determine a child’s gender, my mom had that motherly instinct that assured her I was a chunky boy. And a few hours after I started plotting an escape from my maternal holding tank, a doctor facilitated my release and all 8+ pounds of me emerged.  

My next oldest sibling had tortured my mom for 33 hour of labor, so despite my size -- “the biggest of the brood” -- the time reduction was welcomed by my mom. And as they played the birthing song in the hospital lobby (dad’s didn’t often join their wives in the birthing room in those days), my father knew he had a third son and the name had already been chosen: Joseph Aaron Castañeda.


Birth is messy. If you’ve ever had the experience of seeing new life enter in this world, you know the mess of which I speak. Sitting bed-side while my wife gave birth to all three of our children, I had a front row seat to the natural carnage. I’ll spare you the details, but there is nothing glamorous about birth.


And yet, birth is incredibly beautiful. After my wife had labored for over 15 hours, our firstborn emerged reluctantly. In an instant, the pain of child bearing disappeared, tears of joy replaced tears of pain and in the majesty of the moment, both Traci and I turned our attention to the baby boy nestled in a blanket, resting on her chest. There are few things more beautiful than watching a mom hold her new born baby after enduring labor.

even in pink


I don’t think it’s an accident that birth is messy and beautiful -- it’s a metaphor for the life that will be experienced by the new child. Life is messy. Read the paper, watch the news or follow the top online headlines for a week and you’ll know just how messy it can be. Since Adam and Eve chose to disobey God in Genesis 3, the messiness of life has followed humanity like a haunting shadow.


Messiness is the reality of a busted up world. Yet intersecting with the reality of messiness is the fact that beauty is emerging all around us. Just as Adam and Eve experienced God’s grace and forgiveness following their moral failure, that same grace and goodness shows up in the greatest darknesses of this life.


Just as the pain and mess of childbirth fades when the mom holds her new baby, the messiness of life pales when God’s grace shines through. Paul said it this way in 2 Corinthians 4: “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.” The big-picture of God’s grace makes the messiness of this life worth it!


Have you experienced the messiness of this life? Maybe you are enjoying a break, or maybe you are living in the muck right now! Let me assure you that life starts messy, and stays messy until it ends. What makes it worth living is the grace that God provides -- the hope that only He can give as we follow Him.


I’m glad my parents brought me into this messy world. I’m thankful for how they raised me and taught me to live in the mess but not be overcome by it (more on that in the blog posts to follow). But more than anything, I’m thankful for a God who knows the big-picture, and provides grace sufficient for every moment of every day so that I can enjoy the beauty that this life offers.


2 down, 38 to go.


Go ahead and take the plunge, the beauty of life is seen clearest out on the water!

1 year ago today...


OurNewHome By Joe Castaneda

On March 20th, 2013, our family began a new chapter in the journey of our lives. Five days earlier we had packed up our home in Oregon, loaded all of our earthly belongings into 40 square feet of trailer space and headed out toward Michigan. On March 20th we arrived at our snowy new home and began a new work at Lake Ann Camp.


If you didn’t catch my wife’s blog on the anniversary of our move, I encourage you to check out. Looking back over the past year, I wanted to share you five lessons I’ve learned while on this crazy journey God has us on.


  1. Attitude is always a choice: There are no perfect circumstances this side of heaven. Every job will have moments that make you wish for other work. Every relationship has days where you wonder why it’s worth fight for. Every day has high and lows. So while you can’t necessarily control the factors that make things good or bad, you can control how you respond to those factors. Moving was exciting, and hard. Five days on the road was full of fun and exhaustion. Changing jobs was mentally engaging and stimulating as well as emotionally draining. Every moment of life leaves you with a choice: joy or victimhood, forward or backward movement, personal growth or blaming others. And these choices are yours to make, because attitude is always a choice.
  2. Obedience and joy are linked: Leaving Salem was one of the hardest decisions we have ever made. We left the only church and home our kids had ever known and we left a congregation that we loved (and knew that they loved us, too!). Yet, without a doubt, we knew that this move was orchestrated by God, and obedience to Him is a key link to joy. In Psalm 38:4 David says, “My guilt has overwhelmed me, like a burden to heavy to bear” -- disobedience results in self-inflicted suffering. On the other hand, following God’s direction in your life, choosing to do what’s right, leads to joy. That doesn’t mean that the choice will be easy, but God’s ways are always best.
  3. Snow and sand both have problems: Not everyone knows this, but during the time we were looking at Michigan, Traci and I had been investigating a ministry on one of the small islands of Hawaii. We had actually been investigating that ministry for several years and it appeared that God may have been opening a door that direction. I love Hawaii. I love the heat much more than I love the cold and I’m a big fan of sandy beaches over snowy lakes. It would be easy to look over my shoulder at Hawaii and wonder what would have happened had we moved west instead of east. But a ministry in Hawaii has great challenges, too. And while it may not be the same as trudging through 200” of snow in the winter, the challenges are equally daunting! Salem was an awesome ministry for our family to have been a part of, and I knew that in leaving, I wasn't going to a better ministry, I was just going to a different one, full of its own problems and opportunities. Big moves might have bigger opportunities only because there are bigger problems to overcome.
  4. Enjoy the people around you: When we left Salem, Traci and I realized just how blessed we had been with so many great friendships and relationships all around us. We tried not to take our friends for granted (although I’m sure we did at times), but as we settled into our new home, we began to miss those friendships even more. That longing for new connections has challenged us to enjoy the people that are around us, now. We could keep looking back and focusing on friendships in the past, but God has given us a whole batch of new friends and relationships. If we sat around talking about how great the past was, we would never move into the future that God has for us. We spent a lot of nights with weepy children as they shared the hurt of lost friendships (and our parent’s heart ached with them!) and then we encouraged them -- while preaching to ourselves -- to embrace the new community of people surrounding them.
  5. Say thank you, often: In a blog I wrote right before our departure, I talked about the importance of saying thank you. Those two little words are so powerful, and I don’t want to be in the middle of a departure having to remember all the people I need to thank because I didn’t take the time to thank them in the moment. We have a child who rarely uses those two words. This child is prone to high demands, critical words when their expectations aren’t met, and rarely offers thanks unless there is something to be gained. We’re working hard to cultivate thanksgiving in their heart, and every time I experience frustration with them…I’m reminded of my own lack of thankfulness at times. Say thank you often. Thank your spouse, your children, your parents, the waitress at the restaurant, the attendant at the hotel and even the police officer that gives you a ticket (read this blog here!)


This last year has been amazing, and we anticipate the next year to be even better. Thanks for sharing in the journey with us and remember….


Life is always better on the water (even if it’s frozen water for 6 months!)…so go ahead and take the plunge!


Are you being bold?


By Joe Castaneda I’ve become convinced that “bold” is one of those words that can go either way -- you can like it or hate it depending on how you’ve seen it used in your life. Sometimes boldness is the explanation a person gives for being a jerk or for stepping all over people. But being bold is not an excuse to be mean, arrogant, rude or uncaring.


It seems to me boldness is the blending of courage and bravery. I’ll define bravery as the sense of duty that comes when we must stand up to fierce opposition (whether that opposition is internal or external), and courage is the character quality by which we do the right thing, even when others falter.


BoldBoldness then is standing in a strong sense of duty, while still doing the right thing even if others falter. Boldness is action. It makes me think of the writer of Hebrews who wrote, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are -- yet without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence...” One translation reads this way: “Let us boldly enter the throne room of grace...” (Hebrews 4:15-16). Our flesh is opposing us, trying to keep us from living richly in the grace of God. Boldness is required to stand up and to courageously do what’s right -- enter the presence of God to seek help.


Today I want to be bold in pursuing those things before me as I keep trusting the Lord to move and to act. Below is a Tenthdot Devotional I wrote on this particular topic. Maybe these words will help embolden you, as they did me.


Be Bold

Paul told young Timothy, “For God did not give you a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). In other words, be brave and courageous and go after those things God has put before you. I think it’s easy as Christians to mask our fear in piety or holiness, claiming a desire “let go and let God” when in fact, God has already released us to do His work. I’m convinced God opens doors of ministry and life-change and we sit outside in fear, saying, “As soon as [X] happens, I’ll walk through this door” because we lack boldness to follow God’s leading. In doing so, we miss out on the blessing of being the vessel used by God to accomplish His work.


David said, “When I called, you answered me, and made me bold and stouthearted” (Psalm 138:3) and Solomon wrote, “The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as lions” (Proverbs 28:1). In Acts 4, Peter prayed for boldness and God delivered (4:29, 4:31). Paul and Barnabas spoke the Gospel boldly (Acts 13:46, 14:3), and later Paul told the Corinthian believers that our hope gives us great boldness before God (2 Corinthians 3:12).


The author of Hebrews reminds us that because of Christ’s sacrifice by which He gained experience through His humanity, we can boldly enter God’s throne room and ask for grace and mercy. Boldness is a christian quality! God wants us to boldly ask for grace. God wants us to do His work boldly! God wants us to step out in holy ambition and boldly do the work He has given us! God wants bold children!


Today, ask God to help you be bold. Ask Him to make you “bold and stouthearted” so you will have the bravery to stand up to opposition, and the courage to do what’s right even if others fall away. Be bold for God in all your choices today.


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

Lessons from 4 days in airports


After speaking at a winter camp in Oregon and Iowa, I had the joy of traveling home to the midwest during winter. Anything can happen with wintry mid-west travel…and it did. I spent four days living in airports, boarding and de-boarding planes, and trying to engage my brain as much as possible. During this stint of getting to know every nook and cranny of the airports in Des Moines and Chicago, I learned a lot about the Overboard Life. Here are a few important lessons that should affect how I live outside the airport: airport living

  1. Be kind to people under stress. While winter was blasting the midwest with snow, sub-zero wind chills and ice, those working in the travel industry were under a ton of stress. One day in Chicago, over 3,500 flights had been canceled, and thousands of weary travelers were stranded. Many of them, like me, were just trying to get home, some were trying to get to a job, and a few I met were on vacation. Everyone was going somewhere. The poor American and United airline employees were powerless to control the weather, but so many customers were rude, unkind and downright childish in the way they talked to the workers. I was amazed at how far kind words went whenever I spoke to employees who were doing everything they could to get everyone rebooked and sent home. Some were working double shifts to help with the overload of travelers and a simple, “thank you for your hard work” or “I really appreciate that you’re doing all you can do” changed demeanors, brought smiles and in one case, even a couple of tears to a travel agent who had been beat up by several of the previous customers in line. When people are under stress, be kind. I still worked hard to get home and to get on flights etc… but I was able to do it with kindness and those who received it were grateful. Paul’s words are so fitting and so direct: “Be kind to one another…”
  2. Think win/win, not win/lose. While everyone was trying to get a flight, there were just limited number of seats. Flying into Traverse City, for example, there were just a handful of flights a day, and when previous days’ flights were canceled, the flights suddenly were massively overbooked. One day, I -- along with two others -- were put on a plane headed back to TC and suddenly we were removed by customers who were high up on that particular airline’s loyalty program. As we got off, the patrons getting on were a tad smug and boasting a bit about their success, “no one treats me like that” was one comment I heard. Well one of the girls with me burst into tears as we lost our seats, because she had been stuck in Chicago for four days, her luggage had been checked through to TC, so she was living on airport food, airport clothes and very ready to be home. In order for one set of travelers to “win” their seats, someone else “lost” theirs. Sometimes when we’re fighting for “our” way, “our” seats or “our” thoughts, we take a win/lose mentality. We don’t think about the cost to others if we get our way, because we’re so stuck in one zone. How can you turn a win/lose into a win/win?
  3. Everyone loves to talk. I was waiting at one gate, hopeful that I was finally going to catch a flight. A young lady, in her mid 20’s, was sitting next to me with ear buds planted firmly in her ears, playing games on her phone. After an hour, she popped them out and sat their silently. I simply asked, “Where you headed?” and we engaged in a 60-70 minute conversation about her life. She was a student, traveling abroad, but headed home from a vacation in Florida. Her family is fractured a bit, but her aunt and uncle’s home in Florida is a safe place for her. She loves the son, but stays in Iowa because that’s been her childhood home. She shared with me her hopes and dreams, shared heart ache about a broken relationship and we even talked a bit about God. Over and over I engaged people in conversation and I realized that everyone has a story, and everyone loves to share their story. I never had a shortage of conversation, all I had to do was ask a few questions, and people would begin to talk. Are you listening to those around you?
  4. People aren’t used to receiving grace. Sometimes when you offer kindness and grace to people, they don’t receive it well. Grace can be easier to dispense than to receive. (I only have to look at myself to see this truth in action!) While travelers were walking numbly through airports (is it just me, or does time move at a different pace during travel?!), and airline employees were working frantically to solve problems, grace wasn’t always readily available, and when it was given, wasn’t always received well. But people’s inability or choice to not receive it, shouldn’t discourage us from still offering it. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 reminds us that the grace God gives us is meant to be given out to others. The passage doesn’t say others have to take it, we just have to be willing to give it.
  5. Sometimes a hug is all it takes. Back to point #2, when the young lady and I were booted out of our seats on the airplane, we had to do the walk of shame back up to the gate. However, when we got to the gate, the door was closed and we had to wait for the flight attendant to open the door and let us back in to the terminal. This young lady and I were standing silently, both feeling a little bummed about being on a plane and then losing our seats, when she suddenly burst into tears…full on sobbing! I didn’t know what to do as it was just the two of us on a the jetway. After a moment, I just reached over and gave her an awkward Baptist side-hug, and she buried her face into my shoulder and cried her little eyes out. She had been stranded for four days, she was at her wits end, and losing a seat she had been begging for was devastating to her. I couldn’t help her. I had no way to get her on the flight, but I could stand there and hug her, a total stranger, until she regrouped. By the time the flight attendant arrived, she had recovered enough so that we could go to the counter and figure out our next flight options. I’ll never forget that the hug from a total stranger gave her the strength to process and press on through what was an emotional moment for her.
  6. Let your friends help. I have been blessed with amazing friends that live all over the world. Two of them live in Chicago, Mikee and Joel Stutzman. More than once during the day they sent a text saying, “If you get stuck, give us a call and we’ll come get you.” Mikee and Joel live an hour from the airport, and I kept thinking, “I don’t want to put them out….” After two days of hobnobbing between airports and hotels etc… I needed to be with friends. So after an on again, off again airplane ride to nowhere, I called them and they were eager to come pick me up. I could tell it was a joy for them to help out, put me up in their home, let me eat their food and then to take me back to the airport in the morning. They were practicing 1 Peter 4:9 (the subject of another blog!) and demonstrating the gift of hospitality. I’ll tell you what, when I got back to the airport for day four, I was refreshed, energized and ready for whatever was next. My friends were a real encouragement to me. Are you letting your friends encourage you?
  7. Walking clears the head. Whenever you get bogged down, what do you do to clear your head? I couldn’t do much in the airport, but I decided to walk. Who knew you could walk over 3.5 miles in the Chicago airport and still not hit all the terminals? I used an iPhone app to track my mileage and I set out walking. It helped. I realized that when I often get mentally or emotionally bogged down, I tend to turn to things that don’t help clear my mind: food, tv, sulking etc… Instead, a high-energy walk helped a ton. Physical exercise is a huge part of our mental health and well-being, even if you’re stuck in an airport.

The Overboard Life isn’t meant to be lived in church or in some secret religious practice. The Overboard Life is a process of embracing who God made us to be (Psalm 139), so that we can do what God made us to do (Ephesians 2:10). That means there are lessons and opportunities, everywhere. I hope I never have the opportunity to be stuck in airports for four days, again. However, if I do, I still am privileged with the choice to live Overboard with those whom I am encountering. Overboard living doesn’t get to take days off; “whatever we do, whether in word or deed” or travel or fun or exercise or…. “do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

What lessons are you learning?

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

If you are looking for some great Overboard resources, be sure to visit our bookstore:

4 Things to do every day


On of my favorite books in the Bible is 1 Peter. I think I find myself relating most to him in Scripture, so I have a special affinity for his writings. Peter was impulsive, often spoke before he thought, was willing to step out, was often wrong and occasionally made things worse with the best of intentions. That’s my kinda guy! 4 things to do

Years ago I memorized 1 Peter 4:7-11, and it has become a passage that has guided my life. In part, because it’s so stinkin’ simple and practical. In part, it resonates with the kind of person I want to be. In many ways, it’s the heart of what an Overboard Life should look like. I would even go so far as to say that if you obeyed these four commands every day, you would truly be living life Overboard!


1 Peter 4:7-11: Four things to do every day


“The end of all things is near, therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray” (1 Peter 4:7)


Take time each day to connect with God in prayer. Pray for your family, your friends, your church and your pastor. Pray for God to help you see the God-moments of each day and pray for the grace to give to others in need. Pray and thank God for who He is, praise Him for His past goodness in your life, and praise Him for what He will do in the future. Make sure you’ve confessed your sin to Him and found His forgiveness and then work to keep the phone line between you and Him open -- pray throughout your day!


“And above all, love each other deeply, for love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)


I always marvel that when Jesus was leaving His disciples He told them this basic truth: the way people will know you belong to me is by how you love each other. Of all the traits God could have picked, he chose the issue of our brotherly love to be the marker that declares our allegiance to Him. Not our evangelism. Not our acts of service to the poor. Not the way we provide for our families, take care of our kids or parents, not the way we feed the needy, volunteer at the hospital or visit prisoners (all of which God has commanded us to do). No, the one mark that He said should distinguish us from others is our love. Love allows us to be a kind and forgiving to people, eager and ready to serve. Take time to intentionally show love to the people in your life. Choose forgiveness when it would be easier to be hurt or hold a grudge. Lavish love on someone every day and watch how you are affected by it.


“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:9)


While the New Testament understanding of hospitality might be vastly different than ours today, the principle remains the same: be generous with the resources you have. Resources that could include food, money, clothing, shelter, transportation, time etc… In New Testament times, it wasn’t uncommon for a member of one church to come visit a town unannounced. That visitor may or may not know anyone in the town, but they could quickly find the Christians that gathered there, and they would have an immediate need for hospitality. Peter was reminding believers that sharing our resources is not only “nice”, it’s commanded and so is the spirit in which we are to do it -- “without grumbling.” In other words, happily share what you have! Take time each day to joyfully share your resources with others. What would it look like if you intentionally sought out opportunities to bless others with your time, or money, or house, or food or…??


“Each one should use whatever gifts he has to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)


God has blessed each of us with talents, abilities and gifts that are to be used, not primarily for ourselves. He has gifted us that we might use those gifts in service to others. This flies in the face of mainstream culture which speaks so much about advancing yourself for your sake, or for getting everything you can out of what you have to offer. No, there’s nothing inherently wrong advancing in work or politics or society and there’s nothing wrong from benefitting financially (or in other ways) from your gifts. Peter is talking about a base motivation -- serving for gain vs serving for the benefit of others. I have a good friend who has a number of very profitable businesses. He has grown them by using his gifts, and he has been a very faithful administrator of God’s grace serving others. He has kept the service of others as the priority of his business, while still practicing good business. What would it look like for you to seek out ways to serve others, using your God-given gifts and abilities? What if, every day, you looked for at least one opportunity to bless someone else with a self-less act of service?


Living the Overboard Life is ultimately choosing to live in obedience with God’s Word. Peter gives us four practical ways to live Overboard every day. Will you seek to apply these four commands in your life today? Tomorrow?


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


Check out the Overboard resources available to help you live the Overboard Life. Visit our online store at!

Simple acts


Every few years, I tackle an item on my bucket list. It’s always the same item, and by my calculation, it will take another decade to finish. What’s that bucket list item? To see a Major League Baseball game in every ball park in America. Presently, there are 30 such ballparks, and me and a group of friends have crossed 16 off the list over the past 3 trips spanning 7 years.  

A few weeks back, three of our group (numbering 6 on our first trip, 7 on our second, and now 3 on our third) took on six games over a seven day period. We watched the White Sox in Chicago, took a day off to tour Lake Ann Camp, then visited the Indians in Cleveland, the Tigers in Detroit, the Cubs in Chicago, the Twins in Minnesota and the Brewers in Milwaukee. It was a glorious trip.


During our first game in Chicago, watching the White Sox at U.S. Cellular field, I was given a baseball during the Sox’s pre-game batting practice. It was a nice looking ball, had only been hit once or twice, was handed to me by one of the Sox pitchers and was bearing just one scuff. Catching a ball at a baseball game is always a fun highlight.


As batting practice continued, my friends and I took off on a self-guided tour of the park. This is one of our pre-game rituals, and one of the best parts of our trip -- seeing the unique features that each park offers. We started in right field, worked our way across centerfield and then dropped down to the fence in the left field bleachers. My friend Chad caught a batting practice home run, and then tracked down another one that landed uncaught in the bleachers. It was a good first game.


As we departed left field at the end of batting practice, I saw a little boy, probably 8 or 9 years old, leaving the bleachers with his dad. I heard his father say, “Well, we tried buddy, maybe next time we’ll get a ball!” The boy was obviously bummed to have not caught a ball, but he put his too-large Sox cap back on, told his dad he was “ok” and proudly wore his Sox jersey as they headed up to their seats.


I couldn’t help myself. I grabbed the ball I picked up at BP and chased after the boy and his dad. I caught up with them on the wide concourse, just a few yards away from the massive Frank Thomas statue that rests on the left field porch. I called fort the little guy’s attention and asked if he wanted a BP ball. It was a redundant question, and he looked at his dad for permission. The dad gave an appreciative smile and told his son it was ok.


The boys smile was as big as his oversized hat. He couldn’t believe it and thanked me four or five times. He rubbed the ball in his small hands and and you would have thought I had just handed him a hundred dollar bill. His eyes lit up, he thanked me again and he walked away buzzing with excitement. The little Sox fan walked off with a spring in his step as he tossed the ball lightly into the air. He was smiling and laughing and he and his dad were both a little happy about the gift.


For several seconds I watched them walk down the concourse, and was surprised by a little wave of emotion that washed over me -- I knew I had made that young boy’s night. I knew he was going to walk in the door of his home and when his mom asked, “How was the game?” his first response was going to be: “I got a ball!” I knew he was going to sleep with that baseball under his pillow and first thing in the morning, he would pull out his glove and play catch, dreaming of being a major league ball player one day. I knew because I watched my son AJ do the same thing at one of the first games I took him to in Seattle. (Thanks JJ Putz for throwing it to us!)


My buddies had come up after me and they saw the boy wandering off with the ball. The old man in our group slapped me on the back, because he loves the nostalgia of baseball, in fact, he’s the one who has helped me to understand it. My road trip comrades wandered off to the first restroom break of the night, while I just enjoyed the moment.


It was so simple, but the act of giving away a free baseball had changed the course of one little boy’s night. In fact, I’m fairly confident I improved the night of the boy’s dad, too. It was so easy and so fun.


In moments like that, I wonder why I don’t do those kinds of things more often. The simple act of giving kindness in meaningful yet unexpected ways is powerful for everyone involved. Makes Paul’s words take on whole new meaning: “Be kind…to one another” (Eph 4:32). A simple act of kindness can change the course of someone’s night, can turn sadness to joy, anger to joy and loss to gain.


I’m going to work on taking advantage of the opportunities God has already given me to offer kindness to others. Sometimes it might be big, but so often, it’s just a simple act that God provides space for. I know when I regularly take advantage of the small opportunities -- I’ll be ready for the bigger ones that are sure to follow an Overboard life focused on giving.


Will you put Colossians 3:23 to practice today? What about making a commitment to perform at least one simple act of kindness every day for week? How do you think God will you use to impact others? How do you think you will be changed?


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

Whiners, victims and other people I emulate.


As most of you know, I enjoy sports. I enjoy playing sports of all kinds, I enjoying inventing sports (made up a few competitive games in my day) and I enjoy watching sports. If the competition is good, I’ll watch just about anything. I remember the night I realized how sick I was when I was watching a highly competitive dart throwing match on ESPN 3am after getting up with one of the kids. golf course

A few weekends back the Players Championship was held by the PGA. Tiger Woods won the match on the fourth day of the tournament, following a verbal sparring match he had with fellow golfer, Sergio Garcia. A day before Tiger’s win, Sergio had questioned some of Tiger’s field etiquette, and Tiger basically called Sergio a whiner. Probably both guys were right!

But what interested me most was Sergio’s interview after the event. And in particular, this one line when Garcia was asked if there was anything he would change about his banter with Tiger:

“It sounds like I was the bad guy here. I was the victim.”

Let me begin by being particularly clear: I am not, nor ever have been, a professional golfer. Some who have golfed with me would be shocked by such a statement, but it’s true. I have never had my “Q Card” and have never been invited to one of the four Majors. So I don’t know what that kind of golfing pressure is like.

However, I think I’m highly qualified to speaking on the issue of victimhood. Playing the victim card doesn’t require any professional certification. In fact, some of the best victims have achieved nothing in life precisely because of how well they play that card. I have played that card myself on numerous occasions in my life.

Whether Tiger purposefully tried to hinder Sergio’s success in the Players Championship or not, will never full be resolved. From Sergio’s perspective, Tiger used the crowd to get into Sergio’s head. From Tiger’s perspective, he couldn’t even see Sergio’s play and therefore he did nothing to intentionally distract his opponent. But this one fact remains: Sergio is a victim.

But he was not a victim to Tiger’s alleged actions, he was a victim to his own mindset. He lost that tournament a few weekends back because he chose the path of least resistance -- he took the easy way out the moment he blamed Tiger. And worse? He will learn nothing from this event that will help him overcome a similar circumstance in the future.

Oddly, Sergio has never contacted me for life-coaching, but we can all learn from his choice to play victim. Just like you cannot win a pressure driven round of championship level golf while playing the victim, you cannot live the Overboard Life when you sit back and blame your failures and lack of progress on the actions of others. You can’t parent from faith while playing victim. You can’t forgive, love, give grace, offer truth or even get along with your spouse when you play victim. God didn’t give you a spirit of fear or weakness, but rather He offers His children one of tenacity and strength -- one that is able to overcome in every circumstance because God’s power rests behind it! (2 Timothy 1:7)

When victims are looking to be offended, Overboard-ers* are looking to provide mercy and grace. When victims blame others, Overboard-ers are accepting responsibility and rising up to the challenge. When victims are staying put in the boat because circumstances aren’t quite right, Overboard-ers are already on the water, striving to reach where Jesus is working. When victims can’t forgive because the hurt is too deep, Overboard-ers remember how much God forgave them, and they are eager to forgive and move forward. And when victims wallow in self-pity, Overboard-ers are moving forward in a God-given confidence that even the worst of circumstances can be used by an Almighty God to make priceless art from the most horrendous trash. You can’t live Overboard and play victim.

Imagine how much different Sergio’s interview could have been if he had rejected the victim card:

Reporter: Sergio, how much did the crowd, responding to Tiger’s play, affect your shot.

Sergio: Great question. I think I let it get to me more than I should have.

Reporter: Do you think Tiger was trying to mess with your mind?

Sergio: Wow, I hadn’t thought of it like that. If he was, that means he saw me as a threat to have won the tournament, and next time I’ll have to live up to that perspective. Whether he was, or wasn’t, the fact is -- I let it get to me and that’s why he won, and I didn’t.

Reporter: That is such a cheesy response.

Sergio: My life coach, Joe Castañeda, is helping me work on the mental side of my game, including my responses. Thank you for your brutal honesty, I’ll work on that too….

(I can dream, can’t I?)

These three things are true of everyone living as a victim:

  1. Decision are based on fear, not faith.
  2. You must find ways to blame others, instead of moving forward with personal responsibility.
  3. More time is spent regretting, than rejoicing.

Rise above being a victim. Play at a high level in whatever ‘game’ God has called you to, and as you do, watch God do amazing work in and through you.

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

*An “Overboard-er” [plural: Overboard-ers] is the term given to one choosing to live Overboard. Can be personalized, as in, “I am an Overboard-er”. Often used to describe someone who is perpetually grabbing the side of the proverbially boat and jumping sea-ward. For example, “That [insert name here] sure loves being an Overboard-er.

Prepare to shed a tear...


Every time I watch a movie, read a story or see something about Dick and Rick Hoyt, I usually end up wiping tears from eyes. Over 950 times, Dick has pushed his son Ricky in a wheel chair or pedaled him on a bike or pulled him in a canoe across race finish lines all over the U.S. Every time I think of this duo, I am reminded of what the power of a father’s love can do. Rick Hoyt is severely disabled. And when doctors told the family to just “put him away” because he would never be more than a vegetable, the Hoyt family decided to take him home and prove doctors wrong. Take ten minutes to watch this special piece on Team Hoyt as they tell their amazing story:


My favorite part of the video is when Dick says, “He’s competing. I just give him my arms and legs, but he’s competing.” I am so moved by that father’s love and I am so reminded of the love of my own Heavenly Father in the same way.

I’ve often heard people use the phrase, “we are the hands and feet of Jesus” -- and in one sense it is very true. We represent Jesus in this world, and the way we walk and serve will be the best (or sometimes worst) representation of Jesus some people will ever see.

But in another very real sense, we are all like Ricky Hoyt. “Powerless” on our own, but with God as our hands and feet, we are able to compete in this life. With His help we are able to put aside our own selfish ambition and vain conceit, we are able to serve others as we have been served, we are able to love as God loved and we are able to run our race. We aren’t gods; we are God’s.

At the end of his life, the Apostle Paul told Timothy, “I have the run the race” and he was ready to receive his reward. How did Paul run? He ran as man pushed by God. He didn’t run on his own strength, He ran with God’s! In 2 Corinthians 11:23-29, Paul lists out the trials he worked through in his life while serving God. Then, in chapter 12, he discusses a “thorn in flesh” -- some sort of extreme suffering that kept him dependent on God. And at the end of this recounting of all of his hardships Paul says this: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Paul was just admitting that he was like Ricky Hoyt. No mistaking it -- Paul was competing. But he was competing with the power of God’s arms and God’s legs, so that using God’s strength, God would be glorified in Paul’s life.

You can’t live Overboard in your own strength for very long. Let God give you the power you need to press on so, like Paul, you too can finish your race!

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

The least of these...


I just got done with a crazy travel adventure that involved three rental cars, unexpected overnight stays, three legs of flight through five airports and a through-the-night drive in order to make my destination. I had a great time ministering God’s Word to a receptive audience, as well as some quality time connecting with some old friends. All things considered, it was a good trip. During one particular leg of the trip, I was reminded of Jesus’ words to His followers: “And whatever you do, even to the least of these, you do to me.” The “least of these” was a reference to people who were not always looked after in society. Some were prisoners, some were sick, some were probably just down and out; old, homeless or lonely.

As I was changing my tickets for the third time, I walked passed two elderly ladies sitting in wheel chairs right by the ticket counter. They seemed set and taken care of, so I didn’t give them a second thought. When I came back through the line for the fourth ticket change, they were still there, but this time, there was a young woman sitting at their feet.

I didn’t think much of it until I realized she was on the phone, talking to the airlines on their behalf. I found out that these two ladies had been sitting at the desk for five hours (five hours!) waiting to get help with their tickets. Since they were both in wheel chairs, they couldn’t get to the front of the line, and they were both too kind to be pushy.

After five hours, one kind woman who was in the same flight-delaying weather pattern we were all in, asked them, “Do you ladies need any help?” That’s all it took. For the next thirty minutes, she set aside her own travel problems and focused on helping these two elderly women get to their doctors appointments in Boston.

In all the chaos of the moment, I paused to realize: “I didn’t even think once about helping these women.” It’s not that I even could have, but I probably could have helped them get to the ticket counter, I could have created awareness for the airline employees or at the very least, I could have said, “Hi, how are you doing today?”

But I didn’t.

In the focus I had over my own circumstances, I didn’t take the time to look outward and see the circumstances of others. After all, I had a flight to catch (which ended up being canceled), cars to rent and a speaking engagement to make. But at the end of the day, I would have ended up at the same destination, at the same time, through the same crazy route whether I had helped them or not. I’m confident of this: I would have felt better about my day if I had accomplished something productive through all of the craziness.

How often do you stop and pause, and look around at the world near you? How often do you try to engage the needs of others as you are going through life? Sometimes I think I’m guilty of compartmentalizing need-meeting. In other words, I go through my day, and meeting the needs of others is scheduled from 4:15-4:27, and I check it off the list. But what about the needs of those we cross throughout the day?

It reminds me of another blog I wrote about a time I did stop and help out -- two homeless guys coming through Salem. Both days were busy. Both days were a bit chaotic. One day I paused, one day I didn’t.

Let’s not get so focused trying to live the Overboard Life, that we forget to actually…live the Overboard Life.

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