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Overboard Blog

Living the extraordinary life of faith!

Filtering by Tag: growth

Choosing the right path


It’s hard to believe that four weeks have passed since I was released from my job at Lake Ann Camp. It feels like months and months have passed, yet the reality of an uncertain future continues to loom right in front of us, and the emotional cycle of loss continues to play out throughout each member of our family. Last night, my son AJ was really wrestling with justice and fairness, and the distortion of both in this life. Hard questions for a 13-year-old to process. Hard questions for a 13-year-old’s parents to process. Part of the challenge we’re working thru is unpacking the heartache, while living under a pressing deadline to find a new home, a new job and a place where we can heal. Emotionally we’re pretty drained, yet we have to press thru this season in order to finish the immediate tasks in front of us (work...home...job...). In one sense, there is no rest when we need rest the most. Have you ever felt like that?

On top of that, we’re trying desperately to find the path that God would have for us next. Neither Traci or I want to simply take a job because it has been offered, or to interview for some ministry just to make sure we have something ready to go. That’s the safe option, but we’re both very eager to be on the best path for our lives, for our family and for our future (short term AND long term).

But finding the right path can often be a challenge.

I don’t believe the idea that there is just one right path for everyone to take, and if you mess it up, you throw off the whole cosmos. Sometimes I’ll hear high school or young college students talking about finding the right spouse, as if there is only one correct choice. Think about that for a second. If there is only one right choice and you marry the “wrong” the person, you pretty much screwed up marriage for everyone. After all, if you married the wrong person, then your spouse married the wrong person, which means the person they were supposed to marry, will now marry the wrong person, and the person you were supposed to marry, will marry the wrong person, which mostly likely mean the wrong kids will be born and will marry other wrong kids and just a few generations later, no one can marry the right person. Nice work.

The same is true for most of our choices: there isn’t just one right answer, but God gives us opportunities and freedom to make choices. Some options are certainly better than others, and God promises to help us find those options. Choosing a “less-good” option isn’t a sin, and certainly doesn’t mean that God has abandoned us, or is somehow punishing us. Lets face it, all of us have made poor choices in our lives that we’d love to take back or have another chancer to do over.


Let me be clear that I’m not talking about freedom to sin. Of course we have freedom to sin, but sinful choices are always wrong choices. If I suddenly decide to follow the path of a contract killer, you have my permission to call me out (though I’d be careful with that according to my vocation...) and tell me it’s a wrong choice. If Traci and I decide divorce because the strain of this season has become too difficult, you have my permission to call me out. If I choose to make friends at the local bar and become a drunk in order to deal with the embarrassment of being fired, you have my permission to slap me silly. Those are all wrong choices (that are also very bad options for my life!).

No, I’m talking about the choices that pertain to a particular path, where the road forks left and right, and you have to pick a direction. Traci and I are at a major fork in the road, and there are, literally, dozens of options. I honestly believe that any one of them is available for us to pursue and see where it leads, but we desire to pick the path that will play to our strengths, the path that will ultimately take our experiences and use them for the greatest good. Have you ever been there? Have you ever asked yourself, which path is right?

The answer, in one very non-comforting sense, is that they are all right. Truly, God gives us options all the time, every day, and you and I have freedom to take either the left or right fork. My pastor was preaching on Micah 6:8 yesterday, and said it this way: If your choices fit the criteria of Micah 6:8, then you have freedom to make any of those choices. Micah 6:8 is the holy triad of God’s expectations for His children:

“But He’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,

what God is looking for in men and women.

It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,

be compassionate and loyal in your love,

and don’t take yourself too seriously -- take God seriously.” (The Message)

Do justice. Act mercifully. Follow God. If the paths before you allow you to do those three things, then I believe you can follow any of those paths! In one very real sense, that brings such a relief and freedom to our choices and our futures.


Fine-tuning that search, though, requires a deepening faith in God. Rather than throwing a dart at the target to see which right option it hits, we want to pick the best option for who we are, and for who God ultimately wants us to be. After four weeks of evaluating my time here, I’m fully convinced it was a right choice to come here, AND that it was the best choice God had given us. The outcome wasn’t what Traci and I had imagined, but we still believe it was the best choice at the time we made it. That’s a hard pill to swallow: That God actually wanted us to experience this part of the journey, in order to prepare us best for the next part. But it’s a good pill to swallow!

That’s why Psalm 143:8 continues to be such an encouragement to us: “...make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” God will help us find, not just a right path, but the very best path for our lives. Notice I didn’t say “easiest” path or “funnest” path, instead, Traci and I are eager to find the path that will most stretch our faith in making us more and more the people God wants us to be.

And so we are glad to be where we are, even in the tears, frustration, anger, sadness and doubt. Wrestling with the past, while trying to tackle the current array of options, is precisely where we are supposed to be. Trusting the hand of God as He leads us forward is so much better than trying to figure out all the answers to the past, and in doing so, we’re finding ourselves in the sweet spot of our Savior’s leading.

“Walking on water”, in faith, isn’t easy, or all 12 disciples would have gotten out of the boat in Matthew 14. But trust me, you’ll never be the same once you do. By God’s grace, we’ll stay out of the boat and on the waves with Jesus and when we do, we’ll be on -- not just the right path, but -- the very best path for our lives!

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

How to cross an icy parking lot


When we arrived at church last Sunday, we were running a little late, so I dropped my family off at the door and then drove out to park the van. After I found my spot, pulled in and turned the car off, I noticed a family across the lot who had just vacated their car and had begun their walk to the church building. Apparently, the parking lot was a solid sheet of ice. I watched as mom tried to navigate the black ice by shuffling her feet with great caution. Admittedly, I was kind of hoping to see her take a spill (I didn’t want anyone getting hurt...just a funny little flop would have been fantastic!). Her older daughter (maybe mid-teens) was equally cautious and her husband was trying to pretend like he wasn’t bothered (that’s what we men do) but he wasn’t taking any chances with the ice. Their posture on the ice was quite funny to watch, although I began to wonder what someone watching me would think when I finally braved the parking lot.

Before I hopped out, I realized that there were two other family members also in the parking lot -- two young boys. The reason I didn’t notice them at first was because they were not cautiously navigating the ice, they were running, sliding, slipping and frolicking across the ice! They were laughing as they tried to run at full speed, then stop and slide 20-25’ across multiple parking spots. They were carefree and oblivious to the dangers of falling. The joy on their faces, compared to the terror on the faces of their other family members, told a great story. I realized I wanted to cross the parking lot like those boys.

My two daughters, BJ & CJ, trying to walk on the ice of a very frozen Lake Michigan!

As I stepped out of the van, I continued to watch this family walk across the lot, the street and then climb the stairs that led to the church building. The whole time I could hear the two boys laughing hysterically, challenging each other to bigger/faster slides and the whole time I could see mom hunched over, shuffling, clinging fiercely to her husband’s arm while cautiously avoiding an America’s Funniest Home Video’s face plant.

Later that day I was telling Traci about what I had seen in the parking lot and it hit me hard -- that was a great picture of how people approach their faith in God. Like the mom, too many of us are cautious and timid. We’re afraid that something will go wrong, or even more, that if it does wrong, that somehow God wasn’t a part of it. We’ve bought into the lie that living out our faith means God has to work things out according to our plans, when in fact, faith is trusting that God’s plans are always best. When we live timidly with our faith, we rarely see the growth we desire, nor do we experience the opportunities to use our gifts and talents to bless and encourage others.

The two boys however, give us a vivid picture of what faith in God looks like. They weren’t worried about how things might go wrong, they were thinking about the opportunities right in front of them. They saw the slick parking lot and they thought, “What a great chance to skate and have fun!” instead of, “What a dangerous dilemma, I hope I don’t fall and embarrass myself!”

Don’t get me wrong, faith isn’t an excuse to be careless or flippant. For too many of us, though, fear dictates our actions instead of faith. Faith and fear stand in stark contrast and will determine what you see at any given moment. You can approach the same situation and see opportunity or potential disaster, growth or pain, expectation or disappointment, gain or loss, opportunity for creativity or complete confusion, hope or despair. The same circumstances can reveal radically different perspectives based on whether you approach them with faith or fear.

Hebrews 11:1-2 are pretty familiar verses, so check it out in the Message paraphrase: “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.”

I love that! Faith is what “makes life worth living” because it changes our outlook on everything; faith is a total game changer. Then, when the author writes, “The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors...” we are reminded that faith is active in the life of believers, and is the catalyst that sets us apart from the crowd (most of whom are making choices from fear, not faith). Faith isn’t a passive feeling or a glorified emotion, faith demands action, and that action is a distinguishing characteristic of God’s children.

When I finally stepped out of the van, I ran for 5-10 yards and slid for a good 15’ with a smile of satisfaction. I hope I approach all the icy parking lots in my life with the same enthusiasm as those two boys. Sure, I am certain I will slip and fall, maybe even break something a time or two. But I would rather look foolish trying to live the life of faith, then to look foolish shuffling fearfully across the same ice.

Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water (even when the water is frozen)!

Hi: My name is Joe and I'm a quitter.


If you could hear the thoughts bouncing around in my head while I’m running, I’m pretty sure you’d demand immediate psychiatric evaluation. It’s crazy what goes on in my brain as I train for my October half-marathon, and one thing is certain: I’m a quitter.  

Tonight I ran my first 10k distance: 6.2 miles of non-strop running. I actually logged 6.24 miles (but who’s counting?) in just over one hour and four minutes, and the battle to stay out on the course was significant. I originally began the night thinking I’d try to run 5-miles again, since I had just completed my first 5 miler last week. But after I finished 3 miles, I had this crazy thought to push through to 6, and as I got closer to 6, my legs told me to go ahead and finish up a 10k.


Sounds sane, doesn’t it? Once I got past the one mile mark however, the conversation in my head was a constant battle. On the one hand, I really wanted to achieve this goal, on the other hand, I wanted to quit and head back to the house to sip a cold beverage and admire how easy a mile was.


As I finished up three miles, my wife split off from me and I headed out on my own. When I’m running with my wife, I know I have her encouragement to stay on the trail and keep up pace. As soon as she peeled off, my desire to quit grew even stronger. So as I turned to complete my second 3-mile circuit, I did a mental check:


Me: Self, how are you feeling?

Self: Lousy. I hate running. My feet hurt. My back hurts. My eyes hurt. My hair hurts.

Me: Wait...your hair hurts?

Self: If that will get you to stop running, then yes. My hair hurts.

Me: Liar.

Self: Okay, but I was serious about my feet and my back.

Me: Baby.

Self: I really don’t like you.


It was crazy, every step of the way I kept trying to come up with reasons why I should quit. Do you ever do that? Are you ever looking to stop?


My friend Danny never gave up as he ran 40 miles on his 40th birthday. He's an inspiration to me as I keep trying to run my race, too!

You know what I realized: there is always a reason to quit! In running, every step is a reason for me to quit: My feet can be sore, my calf might be aching, my back gets tired of the bouncing and, as you can tell, my brain is working against me. Tonight my shoulders were tense, and even though I tried to consciously relax them, I kept finding myself tensed (not sure why!). Even on the night of a good run, like tonight, there is always multiple reasons to quit!


What about you? What are you trying to fight for, but find yourself in the mental battle about quitting? Are you wrestling in your marriage? There will always be a reason to give up. Are you contemplating how doable your God-sized dreams are? There will always be a reason to quit. Are you struggling under the burden of debt? Every day you will have the chance to put it off another 10 years! Are you working hard on improving your health? Temptation to give-in is always just around the corner.


You see, the easy choices in life don’t require much effort. Choosing to stay unhealthy is easy. Letting my marriage go to pot doesn’t require any work on my part. Giving up on my dreams is as easy as making Netflix a 2-hour/night habit. The easy choices don’t require much effort. It’s the ones we really want that require effort. And even more than effort, they require a reason!


And I realized tonight that what kept me running after mile 3...and 4...and 5...and 6 was a BIG reason; it wasn’t my effort, and it certainly wasn’t my passion for running. My preparation for this race is a picture for my life right now -- I’m running because this process represents the work that I believe God is doing in my life. I’m in the middle of a long stretch of His working, and He is opening up doors and opportunities for me that require patience, discipline, hard work, endurance and even some joy in the journey! As I physically prepare for a 1/2 marathon, God is teaching me that what it takes to run long distances are the same qualities needed to run spiritually, and to chase after God-sized dreams.


Hebrews 12:1-2 have become my theme verses this year. The writer encourage the readers to strip off anything that hinders them, so that they can “run their race(s)” with perseverance and focus. "Running our race" is a spiritual discipline, that's hard, requires a great deal of effort and sometimes doesn't feel very rewarding in the moment. But God uses that discipline to make us into who He wants us to be, so that we can do what He wants us to do.


Yet, as most of us know, discipline isn't pleasant. We often like the results of the discipline, but the process of being disciplined is far from enjoyable. In fact, we usually tend to resist it and that's why we don't "run our races!" So as the passage goes on, the author gives the big reason why we should run and endure the discipline: “...but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (12:11).


Physically, I'm looking forward to the fruit of discipline that will reveal itself when I complete my race in October. Crossing that finish line will be a big accomplishment, whatever form it takes (even if I'm crawling across!). Spiritually, I'm looking forward to the fruit of the discipline that is required to achieve the God-sized dreams placed inside my heart. In both cases, I have to be willing to be trained by the discipline and the hard work of grinding out the pavement, mile after mile.


And that's why I kept running tonight.


What's your BIG reason for pushing on? Why will you fight for your marriage? How will you keep pressing on toward your God-sized dreams and goals? Where will you find the strength to eat up more pavement when your brain is telling you to quit?


When we live the Overboard Life, we are focused on the BIG why's in our lives, pressing on in the race that God has given us. It's not easy and the process of discipline hurts -- but it has a big payoff when we've truly been trained by it.


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


Project Nehemiah was written to help people identify their goals and go after them with passion and faith. This tool is available in our bookstore in both print and e-book formats (and soon in audible format, too!). Grab a copy today!

Three thoughts for the weekend


By Joe Castaneda Are you a procrastinator? Have you ever said, “On Monday I’m going to...” All of us, procrastinators or not, tend to function better when we have deadlines pressing in on us. Gary Ryan Blair says it this way, “You will always work best under a self-determined or externally fixed deadline.”

Often with the Overboard Life we have work that has to be done, projects that need to be tackled and short-term goals that need to be met. Yet, without some kind of “externally fixed deadline,” those things can go undone. We have the “best of intentions” and want to pursue what God is putting out there, but fear, procrastination or just a lack of know-how keeps us from being effective.

A simple fix can found in using a deadline that puts something concrete on the calendar. Just the act of writing the matter on the calendar can create the necessary motivation to get the job done. Here are three thoughts about why deadlines work:

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 9.37.30 AM1. Deadlines represent commitment. When you commit to a deadline (whether it’s one you chose or one that was placed upon you by some other external force) you are committing yourself to completing a task or project. 2. Deadlines also enforce accountability. I recently signed up for a 1/2 marathon with my wife Traci. We’ve picked the event, the Sleeping Bear marathon, and chosen the date: October 5th. Having done that, I announced through this blog, through facebook and twitter that I’m running and now a lot of people are tracking my progress as the race moves closer and closer. Announcing the deadline has created accountability. 3. Deadlines help to create urgency. As a college and seminary student, nothing propelled a mid-week all-nighter more than the looming deadline of a mid-term, 10-page paper or some other class project. Deadlines create urgency.

Do you need create some movement in your life? Simply adding a deadline to your activity may be all you need to move out of the boat, and out on the water where God is working!

What do you need to put a deadline on?

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

Three thoughts about running


By Joe Castaneda I’ve started training for my first 1/2 marathon. When I started 5 weeks ago I didn’t like running. Ok, that’s a bit of an understatement because I once told a guy “I’d almost rather have all four of my wisdom teeth pulled out again, then run for any length of time.” True story. But now, after 25 miles on the treadmill...I still pretty much hate it. Honestly, running just isn’t my thing.

But the discipline of running has helped me learn a few lessons, and for today’s three thoughts for the weekend, I wanted to share what three lessons I’ve learned from running.

  1. Evey finishing first (ladies) @ the Salem Summer Solstice run. Photo by my good friend @ Diana Dettwyler Photography

    It’s ok not being able to run as fast as others: I like excelling at what I do. When it comes to running, however, I’m not at the front of the pack compared to my running friends. A few weeks ago my friend Aaron posted on facebook, “It felt good to run for the first time in 9 years [slight exaggeration], and the fact I ran a 5k in under 21 minutes made me feel pretty good. Can’t wait until I get a 5k back under 2 minutes [slight exaggeration].” Some of you running types chuckled at a 21-minute 5k, but Aaron will get that down, mainly because his wife runs a 15-minute 5k [pretty sure that’s NOT an exaggeration!] and he’ll want to keep up. My best 5k so far? I barely ran it in under 11 minutes/mile -- my best 5k was 33 minutes and 59 seconds! Aaron’s wife Evey would have lapped me, then handed me a cup of water at the end of my run after she had run a 10k, painted her toe nails and mowed the lawn while waiting for me to finish. She’s a runner. She loves running. And it’s A-Okay with me! I’m learning that my running isn’t about beating anyone else but me. I’m just working to get out of my own head so I can “run my race” and finish the course in front of me. It’s ok not being able to run as fast as others. My growth will happen as I work to finish the race -- not as I work to beat any particular runner. Aaron and Evey, I guess you’re safe for now!

  2. There can still be joy in running: Have I mentioned that I still don’t like running? Even as I write this I’m dreading the fact that I am choosing to work out again tomorrow, and that means another 25-35 minutes on the treadmill. Yea. Here’s a bigger problem -- I don’t have to like running but I can still choose to receive joy from this activity. This is where I can really dislike the Bible, because it reminds me how much choice God has given me in the joy and happiness I experience in life. Most people equate joy with circumstances -- if things are “going good” then they are happy. The Bible however, reminds us that joy is a choice. “Rejoice in the Lord always” said the Apostle Paul, “again I tell you, rejoice.” Joy is a choice not a reaction to my journey. That means when I put myself on the stationary torture device tomorrow, my attitude will have nothing to do with the speed at which I’m running or the ease -- or lack-of-ease -- I’m feeling in my pace. My attitude will be decided long before I step up.
  3. An they're off! Photo by my good friend @ Diana Dettwyler Photography (

    Running is challenging my mind to be stronger: Have you ever heard of a “runner’s wall”? It’s the mental barrier a runner has to get through in order to reach their long-distance goals. My wall used to hit me in the first 100 feet of running [NOT an exaggeration!]. Now I can run a mile without straining too much, but from mile 1.5 to 2.5 I hit this mental barrier that slaps me silly every time. It’s almost embarrassing to admit how much I want to quit running during that mile stretch. My feet start complaining, “ouch…running hurts us” and then my calves chime in, “Hey, you feel this strain? You’re not going to be able to use us for walking for a year if you don’t quit RIGHT NOW!” Don’t get me started on my hips, my abs and my lungs -- the higher you go the worse the whining gets. I start out with the desire to run 3 miles and at 1.5 I’m thinking, “Maybe I should just stop now and lie to all my friends about how far I’ve run.” Seriously, I’m pathetic. However, the experience of getting through that wall and choosing to get past my feeble attempts at stopping are powerful tools in my arsenal. Every time I choose to keep going when I want to stop, every time I press on through the discomfort, and every time I choose to go another 1/4 mile and another 1/4 mile and then another 1/4 mile…I give myself confidence for other, non-running barriers, too. Like those days when marriage feels too hard, I’m able to remember what it feels like to kick down a barrier and I can step up my game and press on into my God-given role as a husband. "Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church" is much more about choice then about how I'm feeling! Have you ever wanted to just give your kids away and be done parenting? In those moments I need God’s help to be mentally strong, to choose to make good parenting choices even when I’d rather take a shortcut. It’s not easy, but running has helped to strengthen my resolve.

I don’t like running, but I’m thankful for what I’m learning. I want to keep pressing on in this training, because this 1/2 marathon is so much bigger than just a road race. It’s a big metaphor for God’s work in my life in 2014, and every time I step on the treadmill I remember the words of Hebrews 12:1-2, “let us therefore throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. And let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” And with those words bouncing around in my head tomorrow, I will keep running my race with joy, even though I’m slower than many, because I know I’m getting stronger.

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

Happy 40th, Danny Ray!


by Joe Castaneda Time is a funny thing. Years pass by in what seems like a blink of an eye. And hours can take forever to pass. I’m sure at some point in your life your parents or grandparents or neighbors have said to you, “It just seems like you came home from the hospital  yesterday...” on your 24th birthday! 24 years -- 8,765 days -- can pass like the blink of an eye. But take a visit to the dentist and spend 90 minutes in the chair while the doctor does her work -- time seems to stand still.

No matter how “slow” or “fast” time seems to pass by, one reality is true: it’s moving at the same rate for all of us. Seconds become minutes, minutes turn to hours and days, days march on to weeks and soon become months and years.

During time’s march, there are some interesting markers. The zeroes always seem important: 10, 20, 30, 40 and so on. Each new decade brings with it the opportunity for evaluation, goal setting and course-correction.

This past February 14th, my friend Danny Ray crossed over one of those markers. 14,610 days prior, Danny had been born, and on this Valentine’s Day in 2014 he celebrated 40 years of life. By today’s standards, Danny is crossing the half-way point for life expectancy among American born males. 40 is a big marker.

So how would you celebrate the half way point of your life? Many people like to use these key dates as opportunities for big parties. Some prefer a quit reflection. Danny? He faces these key dates like he does every moment of life -- by challenging himself to be more and more of who God made him to be. This year’s celebration? A 40-mile run on his 40th birthday.

Danny RayIf you know Danny, it won’t surprise you that he took on this challenge. The man that locks himself in water tanks, dodges bullets, screws down the cover of a coffin while lying down in it and literally puts his eye in the path of a rusty old hay hook is prone to big challenges. What might surprise you is how he did it, incorporating 40 of his friends to join him, one on each mile. I had the privilege of “running” mile 34 with him from my home here in Michigan. A friend doing ministry in France also ran with Danny from afar. Many others joined him stride for stride through the streets and hills of Yucaipa. Mile after mile, friendship after friendship, Danny ran, runners prayed together, and the challenge marched on.

As Danny completed his sub 7-hour race, he had a following. People were running with him the last two miles, total strangers were following in cars and honking their support, and facebook was lighting up with messages with #nowaydannyray. Like his stage show, Danny was inspiring others to do more, to take on challenges and ultimately to live life without regret -- without leaving anything behind. This 40 mile run was a powerful metaphor for his life.

Truthfully, I’m not sure Danny realized how much this run was going to affect others. I was thinking about it all day, and while I ran on the treadmill during the early hours of Danny’s run, I was thinking about him, praying for him and praying for the team of people surrounding him. When I logged into facebook I saw prayers going up for him and started to see how much this personal challenge was influencing others:

“Such an honor for [my hubby] to be a part of this milestone celebration for such a dear friend.”

“Super proud of my brother...”

“He made it! What an awesome experience!”

“Congrats Danny! Really inspiring, thanks brother.”

“It truly brought a tear to my eye [a video of Danny of running] to see the family of God in full force! It was an honor being a part of the wee hours of the morning dawn patrol run. So glad so many people got to be a part of this...”

On and on. And the posts didn’t stop the day of the run. Just today, March 4th, I saw this one:

“Partly inspired by Danny’s birthday challenge...I wanted to come up with something different for my birthday...Today marks 30 days until I turn 30. What better way to end my 20’s and kick off my 30’s than to start a 30-day, random acts of kindness challenge?...So from now until my birthday I’m going to perform 30 random acts of kindness, one each day...”

Danny Ray (2)This 40-mile run was bigger than Danny. And that’s why I think it’s the perfect metaphor for his life. I’ve not known many people who intentionally direct their lives toward a bigger-than-life goal like Danny. On the stage, his magic isn’t about you seeing his greatness, it’s about creating some mystery, stirring some inspiration and challenging people to ask the important questions that beg asking. Danny wants you to connect to God, the biggest bigger-than-life you can ever connect with!

I’ve been privileged to know Danny for just a few years now. But I’ve seen the same attention to detail he applies to his magic, be applied to his off-stage life. I’ve watched him create powerful moments for his children to experience personal growth and to see glimpses of God. I’ve learned from him as he has prioritized his marriage, ministered to his extended family, stopped the world to help a friend and taken time to keep his own connection to God going strong.

So I wasn’t surprised by Danny’s run on his birthday. I wasn’t surprised to see the crowds follow and people be honored to share in his journey. I’m not the least surprised that others are following suit and thinking about their next milestones (Danny has impacted my upcoming 40th celebration, too!). The only thing that surprised me in this event? The fact that Danny was surprised that so many other people were watching.

Thanks for leading the way, Danny. Thanks for inspiring us to run further, to join together and to live an extraordinary life of faith in all that we do. This facebook comment maybe sums it up best:

“Today was an extraordinary day. Being part of something bigger than myself was inspiring. Running along side Danny Ray reminded me that supporting others in their endeavors can remind us of the amazing things God is doing in us. Sometimes we are the ones doing great things as others partner with us. Other times we make small contributions that help others achieve their goals. Incredible.”

I’m guessing the magic-man is already thinking about his 50th celebration. Even more, he’s working, planning, dreaming and praying about the second 40 years of his life. Somehow, I am confident that even with all we’ve seen God do in, to and through Danny, that like one of Danny’s mind-blowing performances, God’s greatest reveal is yet to come.

I will be enjoying every moment of the show. Happy 40th my friend.

Go ahead and follow Danny by taking the plunge…life is always better on the water!

Be sure to check out Danny's web site, follow his blog, and see what he is up to at:

Did you read my Super Bowl prediction?


Did you catch my Super Bowl prediction this year? If you missed that blog post, check out my thoughts on Sunday’s big game. Overall, I think I nailed it pretty well and there’s a couple of powerful lessons from this prediction. Seriously, this is worth a read even for you non-sports fans! Keep in mind, the actual game score was 43-8. Here is my original post in [black] with actual events recorded in [red] to show how accurate I was!


“As many of you know, I’m not a fan of either the Broncos or the Seahawks. I hold a certain amount of contempt for both these teams, and for significantly different reasons. However, since they are playing in the 2014 Super Bowl, I will try to set aside my prejudices and make a prediction for the game.

“First off, out of the gate, let me tell you that I think the Hawks will win, and they will win big. Sports is all about momentum and mojo, and right now, the Seahawks have it. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they won by over 30 points [Seattle won by 35!], despite playing against the #1 quarterback (maybe of all time!), because this great Hawk defense (though not the best ever, regardless of what every Hawk fan will try to you!) is very opportunistic. I will predict 3 to 4 turnovers in this game [4 turnovers by the Broncos], at least two of those by Manning himself [Peyton threw two pics!].

“Secondly, I’m confident the Broncos will repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot (or is it feet?). I expect at least two costly offensive mistakes resulting in Seattle points [Both the opening game safety and pic 6 were costly offensive mistakes giving Seattle 9 points!].

“Thirdly, Seattle isn’t as strong as their record suggests. A casual look at the regular season shows they easily (yes, easily!) could have been 3-5 after 8 games (instead of 7-1). As such, they can’t win this game if it’s an offensive shoot out. However, since I do believe it’s going to be a blowout, they are going to have to score some points from all sides of the game. Here’s my take: expect at least one defensives touchdown (pic six?)[nailed it!], one special team’s score [the second half started with a kick-off return for a touch down!] and one other non-traditional scoring play (a returned fumble or maybe a safety). [wrong on the fumble, spot-on about the safety!] I expect those plays to come early in the game [safety was first play of the game, pic six was also in the first half!], as Seattle will try to apply pressure out of the gate, making it possible for them to score more traditionally late in the game [two of Seattle's three “traditional” scores came in the 3rd and 4th quarters] when they are grinding out the clock.

“Fourthly, Russell Wilson is a very good QB. He is not great, even if they win a Super Bowl. Doug Williams won a Super Bowl and no one is calling him great. But as a very good QB, he will do what it takes to make key conversions, extend drives and most importantly, he won’t turn the ball over [No turnovers]. I wouldn’t be surprised if he threw one (maybe two) TDs [Wilson threw for two] but mainly he won’t make any big time mistakes.

“Finally, Peyton Manning is surrounded by a bunch of players he still doesn’t know that well, and who aren’t very battle-tested. This Seattle team was one play away from the Super Bowl last year and they have the big-game experience that will make the difference. Watch as several people you’ve never heard of [If you’re not a Seattle fan…can you name the game’s MVP? Probably not, because he’s not named “Sherman” or “Wilson”] step up and make the difference in this game. That Hawks are healthy, Denver is banged up, and the “unknowns” will be the difference makers on Sunday.”


I’m not going to lie to you…that’s impressive.

And since I’m not going to lie to you, I should let you know that I actually wrote this prediction on Monday, the day after the game. I didn’t technically watch the game, (I read most of the details after the fact), so I still think it should count as a prediction, don’t you?

It’s pretty easy to make accurate predictions after-the-fact. (Millions of dollars gambled on the Broncos show how difficult pre-result predictions can go!) Whether you’re talking about sports or marriage or work, this truth holds firm: predictions are easy when you already know the outcome.

I also think it’s pretty easy to make reliable and accurate predictions when you see patterns in place. For example, if you see me belittling my wife in public, leaving for long business trips and you regularly run into me while I’m on dates…with other women, you’ll know that my marriage will be incredibly weak and unvalued (by me) and most likely not going to last much longer. My life patterns would make a marriage prediction fairly simple and most-likely accurate.

What predictions could I make about your life patterns? Take a moment to answer these questions and start making some predictions:

  1. Do you finish what you start? For most people, starting is easy, but finishing is hard.
  2. Is it your pattern to intentionally invest in your marriage? If you’re single, are you honoring yourself in singleness and guarding your purity?
  3. Are you under the mentorship of others? The most successful Christians I know live under someone else’s mentorship, allowing themselves to be coached and guided by others who have more life-experience and wisdom.
  4. How well do you keep to your health goals? Do you set health goals and then struggle to keep them, constantly reverting to unhealthy habits?
  5. How well do you manage the money and resources God has given you? How would you rate your ability to be financially free right now?
  6. Do you live in victimhood, blaming others for your place in life? (“My wife spends all our money” or “I sometimes lose my cool but it’s because my boss is such a jerk” or “It’s not my fault I was speeding, officer…” or “I feel lousy today but it’s because the weather is so cold” or “Don’t blame me for my reaction, if you hadn’t…” or “The reason I was late was because traffic…” or “I sometimes act like this because my mom was never there for me”…)
  7. How well do you schedule your time? Think about these questions:
    • Do you often find yourself saying, “If I had more hours in a day…”
    • Do you deliberately ignore unfinished tasks because they take too much time?
    • How many minutes/hours a day do you spend reading about the lives of others (Facebook, social media etc…) Seriously, take a few minutes to think about how much time you spend in this area of your life?
    • Have you ever said, “If I had more free time, I would…”?
  8. Based on how you spend your free time, what would people say is the most important part of your life?
  9. Do you intentionally take on hard tasks? When’s the last time you challenged yourself to step waaaaay out of your comfort zone or to tackle a project that was beyond your ability at the time?
  10. Are you biggest life decisions made in response to fear or rooted deeply in faith?

Socrates is famously credited for saying, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Joe-crates* is famously(?) credited for saying, “an unexamined life has a very predictable, and disappointing, outcome.” But when we take the time to examine our life, it’s habits and patterns, we give ourselves the opportunity to predict an outcome that is in line with who God made us to be, doing what God made us to do. I think that’s why the Apostle Paul wrote, “…I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Cor 9:27).

Paul was talking about more than just the discipline he brought to his physical body, he was talking about a thorough examination of his life and direction. He didn’t want to be preaching one thing, while living another, and lose out on the rich blessing of following God closely. He disciplined himself (literally in the Greek it reads, “I punch myself with blows!”) so that his life remained in line  with who God made him to be so that He was doing what God made him to do -- truly a life examined!

Where is your life headed? What does your current path reveal about your future path? What patterns are present now that will most-likely reveal the outcome of your life? Let me give you three closing thoughts about how to determine your current course of action:

  1. Answer the 10 questions above, and then ask two or three people close to you (those who will give honest and loving answers) to answer them also.
  2. If you already know of a pattern that is negatively affecting the outcome of your life, find a new system to put in place to help create change. Attend a seminar like Traci and I did, read a book that addresses how to make changes, ask 3 or 4 of your closest friends to join you on a journey of change or find some other way to introduce change in your life. Whatever you have been doing isn’t working, so introduce a new mechanism to solidify the change you seek!
  3. Based on what’s happening in your life now, including who is a part of your life (or who is not a part of your life!), what predictions can you make about your life? Taking time to map the present direction may do wonders in helping you understand the areas that need change.

You cannot live the Overboard Life without examining where your current habits and patterns are leading you, today. Most of us have dreams and goals -- the ideal life we want for ourselves or family -- but few of us take the time to see if what we’re doing today will lead us down that path. It’s worth the effort to examine your life, to be willing to make changes and corrections, so that you can fully  embrace the journey God has for you. I’m running my race, and I want to make sure I hold the course, so that the predictions I’ve made about my future will be reality, bringing glory to God and building His Kingdom, His way.

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


*Joe-crates: a Word of Eng/Greek origins rooted in desperation. "Joe" from the english, "Joe," and "Crates" from the Greek word which probably means, "Of great philosophical thinking." thus Joe-Crates would be "Joe of great philosophical thinking." A few less-informed readers have pointed out that the word could also be pronounced like "Joke-rates", as in "your Joke-rates poorly." However, those nincompoops are openly ignored.

An open letter to Bethany Baptist Church


An open letter to my church.  

Dear Bethany Family:


As we drove out of Salem on Saturday, I was hit by another rush of emotion. I keep wondering how many of these wandering rushes I can be hit by. But as we left my parent’s house while friends and family stood by, waving through tears, I was hit by another. It’s the painfully good reality that God has blessed us beyond measure over the past twelve years.


On Sunday the 10th, Traci and I were completely overwhelmed by the gracious testimonies, fond memories and kind testimonies offered by so many of you. Some were spoken, some were written and some were expressed with neck-adjusting hugs without a single word being uttered. Truly we know that God is leading us to Michigan, or we would never leave such an amazing group of people.


THANK YOU Bethany for loving on our kids. Without question, the most painful part of our departure has been watching our children have to process it. AJ is in middle school, and having to watch him say goodbye to his new youth group friends, and his long-standing Bethany friends has been excruciating. At school he has been connected to the same group of pals since Kindergarten. Likewise BJ & CJ have only known Bethany (and Salem) for the full-length of their lives. Their closest friends, young and old, are at our church. And of course, the way this church has rallied to support Tati and her family has been an example of God’s grace administered in its various forms (1 Peter 4:10). Many tears have been shed by all of them, and it’s in large part because of how much you have loved them.


THANK YOU Bethany for giving me the opportunity to grow as a pastor, and to be imperfect in my shepherding, parenting and husbanding. Some pastors are held to a standard that makes transparency impossible -- any flaw is fatal to his employment and calling. While Bethany strives to hold its pastors to biblically expressed standards, there is a freedom in that for us to be growing Christians, too. I’m so grateful for a church that has high expectations for its leaders, but still knows how to give grace. I’ve been the blessed recipient of that grace, more than my fair share.


THANK YOU Pastor Tim for being more than my boss. Few youth pastors get to work with a senior pastor for 12 years, but I’ve had that privilege because of you. You gently chided me when I needed it, encouraged me when I was struggling, went to bat for me when I was cornered and gave me advice when I asked. You gave me opportunities to learn and grow, and you provided coaching and instruction when things didn’t turn out as we planned. You have been a friend, brother, theologian, teacher, mentor and pastor to me (and my family), and it has been my privilege and honor to serve along side you for the past 12 years. You have set the bar very high for my future employer(s).


THANK YOU to so many of you who prayed for us, sent us cards, gave us gifts, brought us meals, visited us at home or in the hospital, came to our kids’ games, helped us clean, paint or process paperwork. THANK YOU for listening (enduring?) to my sermons, laughing at my stories (especially you, Terri Kersey. When no one else would laugh, I could count on you!), and oohing and ahhing at pictures of my kids. THANK YOU for coming to class when my wife and I taught, letting us come along side when you walked through hard times and for allowing us to share in your lives. THANK YOU for serving with us, sharing in the ministry side-by-side and for being willing to think “outside the box” as a church. In so many ways, you have lived out Hebrews 13 for us.


THANK YOU for helping us create so many wonderful friendships and memories. This church will always have a special place in our hearts, and we will always cherish the years we spent serving at Bethany. I know that whatever future ministry God will provide for our family, it will be shaped by the years we spent in Salem. Not because the past has been perfect, but because together we’ve been in process towards becoming who God wants each of us to be.


Finally, THANK YOU for following and supporting our journey. Whether it’s been youth ministry, family mission trips, fund raising, book writing, counseling or moving -- you have been there for our family. We’ve been overwhelmed to the extent at which so many of you have stepped into our lives and encouraged us on our Overboard adventures. We wouldn’t be here today, without your support.


I feel confident our family isn’t done with the tears. I know there will be more than one Tuesday when I will want to be back in Salem with my students, or a Sunday where we will desire to be in the fellowship of our Bethany family. But we thank God for the opportunity before us, and for the opportunity before you. May God give you the grace to extend to Bethany’s next pastors the love, patience and friendship you extended to us. And we look forward to seeing how God will continue to use all of you to connect the community to Christ for the next 12 years, and beyond.


In His Service,