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Overboard Blog

Living the extraordinary life of faith!

Filtering by Tag: technology

What Are You Staring At?

Joseph Castaneda



Focus seems like a lost art in the crazy world of information that we live in today. In fact, even as I write this blog post I realize how unfocused I am as I'm carrying on a conversation on Facebook Messenger with one friend on my iPad, using my phone to text with another, and responding to emails every time my laptop chimes. Apparently this was a timely word for me, too...

I recently read an article about how important focus is for the human mind, especially for young children. The author of the article stated that we are witnessing a new generation of social and psychological problems in children, that he believes, are directly related to the inability of kids to focus because of the constant need to be entertained by some sort of handheld device.

According to this researcher, it seems that we were designed (I would say, created!) for needing times of "white space." White space is a term usually used in design work, describing the space where no words or colors have invaded a page. White space is necessary in design work as it allows the human eye to focus on what's important.

Mentally, white space carries the same concept: it's the opportunity to have nothing calling for our attention (the phone is off, the door is closed, the office is quiet....whatever it takes!) so that we can focus on what's important. So we can, as Paul says, "fix our eyes on what is unseen."

And while it's easy to point to the kids, I'm not fooling anyone, because I'm just as guilty of filling my life to capacity with noise, and not leaving enough white space to stay fixed on God, who He is, and what He is doing in my life and in the world around me.

Do you need some white space today? In our house, we are beginning a new white space campaign, maybe you should join us! Most of our distractions come from screens, so here's a list of our family's plan for creating more white space:

1 hour a day with ZERO screen interaction (phones, laptops, iPads, TVs, watches...)
1 day a week with ZERO screen interaction (we are presently toying with Sundays, but also considering Mondays)
1 week every year with ZERO screen interaction (My daughter almost threw up when she heard that one. Ha!)

We're not sure how the time will be used, except that it's meant to be screen-distraction, free, for all of us, all at the same time. That time might be used for games together, might be used for rest, conversation, exercise, reading, praying, is just meant to be white space. For sure, it's a work in progress and we will keep you updated on how our family goal actually works out!

Do you need more white space in your life? If you're distracted by technology (my computer literally chimed as I wrote those words!) or by heartache, loss, or the worries of this world, than I encourage you to create some white space so that you can focus on what matters most.

Do something!


There is something cool about how “small” technology has made our world. A few years back I had the privilege of performing a marriage ceremony for a great couple, but prior to their wedding, they lived in different countries and their pre-marital counseling was going to be a challenge. Thanks to technology we could Skype our weekly sessions while one of them lived in Israel, one lived in Pennsylvania and I was living in Oregon at the time. Technology shrunk the distance instantly. This morning I pulled up global information on my morning news feed. I watched a video from the Middle East, saw pictures from a friend in Amsterdam and read an article from a friend in the Ukraine. 15 years ago, that info was not a mouse click away, but today it’s instantaneous. In a moment we can be caught up in the beauty of this world, in the happenings of friends and family and in the special events that connect our lives.

And in the next instant we can be made aware of the broken world in which we live.

The smallness of our world has also brought to light some of the horrors of the global community. Everyday we read of the spread of terror across the globe. Everyday we read about the plight of people living without healthy food or clean drinking water. Everyday we are bombarded with political scandals, partisan half-truths and stories of the tragic loss of life. Every day we can see the best and the worst this world has to offer.

Prior to the explosion of social media, I honestly think ignorance was welcomed by many of us when it came to matters of global crisis. In one sense, it was just harder to get information. Unless you read about African poverty in a magazine or newspaper article, or saw a news special on TV about deplorable drinking water in Central America, the issue just wasn’t front and center. I remember in the early 90s when “We are the World” was a popular song, trying to bring awareness to some global issues that most of us were happily ignorant about!

Today, the access to knowledge about these problems forces a choice on us: We can choose to respond and do something, or we can choose to actively do nothing. But now we know, and pleading ignorance is no longer an option.

* Our friends Andy and Jodie were so moved by the problem of poor drinking water, they organized their church’s annual Christmas gift-drive to help villages dig fresh water wells. Two (or three?) times Andy led trips to the villages where they helped dig the wells and then celebrate with the villagers who had fresh water in their village for the first time, ever!

* My friend Justin was appalled by the human slavery issue, so he set out to learn more. Not only is it problematic in other countries, it’s disgusting reach is present here in the U.S., too. He reached out to civic leaders, has been invited to meetings and is making a difference.

* Two young ladies in Portland, Oregon, got passionate about helping the homeless in their community. What started as a few gift bags for homeless sign-holders on the corner, turned into a global movement called, “H2O: Help to Others.”

* In my home town, Salem, Oregon, a high school student was so moved by a study that revealed that homeless teenagers perform significantly better in school when they have new clothes they’re not embarrassed to wear, so this teenager decided to launch a campaign to raise awareness. They sold shirts that had a simple motto printed on them: “Give a Shirt”. Following the Tom’s shoe model, for every “Give a Shirt” purchased, a free shirt was given to a homeless teen.

The examples could go on and on, but the point is simple: when you know what could be done, and when your heart has been moved to do something, are you willing to get involved? The book of James reminds us that it’s not enough to be aware and simply do nothing. And while we can’t help in all the problem areas we become aware of, we can certainly get involved in one...or two!

human-trafficking-teensMy wife had her heart touched by the issue of sex trafficking, and so in June, she will be taking a 10-day trip to Thailand to help the women, young girls and children that are caught up in this perverse slavery. Learn more about her trip here, where you can also offer to support her in prayer and in finances.

Living the Overboard life requires an active response to the movement of God in our lives. Is there an area of your life where you feel compelled by God to act, but you haven’t taken the first step yet? Are you looking at the massive nature of a problem and unsure of where to start? Let me assure you, most issues can’t be solved by one person taking action, but a big dent can be made when many of us link arms and choose to move the same direction. Take the first step (learn more, attend a meeting, send an email, donate time/money to an organization already doing the work, take an exploration trip, contact a local civic leader, etc...) and see where the adventure ends!

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

Who needs God? We have technology!


Joe Castaneda While I’m a devout football fan, I had a tough time tuning in to this year’s Superbowl (although you should read my amazingly accurate Superbowl prediction here!), as two of the four teams I can’t stand, were playing. (Incidentally, the other two teams I can’t stand lost to these two teams, in the playoffs two week prior!) (That’s a lot of Two’s and to’s.)

God mercifully protected me from having to turn down a bunch of Superbowl watching parties by having my wife and I traveling on the day of the big game. So I caught glimpses of Seattle’s epic victory while navigating Chicago’s O’Hare airport.

A few days after the game, however, I dialed up a Youtube channel that had all of the Superbowl commercials. I enjoyed catching up on the commercials I missed and am always amazed at what some companies will do with their $4,000,000 commercial spot. One that left many inspired and in tears (according to viewer comments) was done by Microsoft. It was a powerful 60 second ad:

I’ve watched this commercial a few times and found myself inspired each time. The people and stories they used to illustrate the power of technology make me want to stand up and cheer; in fact, it almost makes me like Microsoft. (Which as a life-long Apple guy, that’s a big shift!) (Notice I did say, “almost” makes me like Microsoft).

I digress.

But as I thought about all the claims this commercial made for technology, it reminded me very much of the claims Jesus made about Himself, and about His followers. In fact, I’m fully convinced that the things “technology can do for us” should be the calling card of every church that truly follows Jesus. Imagine if your church reader board said,

“Come to our church: We will unite our community, inspire people to be great, take you places you’ve never dreamed of, give hope if you’re feeling hopeless, give you a voice if you’re feeling voiceless and we empower everyone who walks through these doors.”

I bet you’d have a few people coming in to check out your claims.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that those claims should be true of every believer in Christ -- every person striving to live the Overboard Life. Let’s look at each claim:

The power to unite us: As Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure, He prayed for unity to exist among us (John 17). He prayed that we would love each other with the same love God has for us, and that through our common love of a not-so-common God, we would be united in our worship, our work and our Kingdom dreams. True unity doesn’t come from a computer screen, but from a faith built on the unchanging nature of our God, expressed in genuine love for others.

It inspires us: When I contemplate all that God has done for me, I’m inspired to grow and be who God wants me to be, so that I can do what God wants me to do. In Romans 12:1 Paul writes, “Therefore, in view of God’s mercy…” we should live sacrificially for Him. The more I think about His mercy, His desire to pay the price for my sins, the more I’m inspired to step out of the boat and live out my faith. And I’ve noticed that when I take those steps of faith, others are inspired, too. And when I see others take the leap of faith, it inspires me to go even further! God is the greatest inspiration for every good and decent action.

reflection of GodTechnology has taken us places we only dreamed of: When I began serving the Lord with my life, I never imagined the places I'd visit, the people I’d meet or the opportunities God would give me. I’ve had the privilege of working with people from all over the world, I’ve traveled to Europe, the Middle East, Africa, all over North America and have made friendships with people with whom I have but one thing in common -- Jesus. I’ve heard the name of God worshipped in dozens of different languages and dialects, and my life has been transformed by the opportunities God has given me. I’m humbled by His provision and for the chances to be used by Him at home and around the world. I never imagined God would use me the way He has, and that He would take me to places I had only dreamed of. He took a lowly fisherman and made him the leader of the early church. He took a humble shepherd and made him king of an empire. He took a servant girl and made her queen of the Kingdom. He took a broken and hurting widow who had nothing, and made her the Great Grand mother of Israel’s greatest king. When you live your life devoted to God I feel like it’s ok to quote Dr. Seuss…”Oh the places you’ll go!”

It gives hope to the hopeless: There is nothing that gives us hope like faith in God. As a race, humans are doomed to live under the curse of sin (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23). Left to ourselves, this curse leaves us without hope and destined for an eternity without God. But God didn’t leave us without hope, instead, He sent His Son Jesus to do the unthinkable -- the perfect Son of God became the perfect sacrifice that made it possible to have our sins removed (John 3:16). When we had no hope, God gave us a chance; when we were dead in our sins, He made us alive. And God will do that for anyone who turns to Him in faith. And once your life has been changed by God’s grace and mercy, you should reflect that same hope to others. Nothing gives us hope for a better future than a relationship with God.

It has given voice to the voiceless: Some of the greatest advocates who have spoken for the voiceless are people who have put their faith in Christ Jesus. Jesus was the ultimate example of one who cared for the those forgotten by society, and by His grace and goodness, many of His children do the same today. In fact, no people on earth should care for the voiceless more than those who have been saved by the sacrifice of Christ. While our contemporary culture loves to point out those people who call themselves followers of God but who make Christianity look so spiteful, I’m thankful to look through pages of history and to see people living out their faith and speaking up for the voiceless. The drive to end slavery was initiated and led by people of faith. The women’s movement, at least in its origins, was led by men and women of faith. I spoke with an executive at a ministry that is seeking to end the world’s hunger problem and he told me, with absolute certainty, that the leading voices making a difference in the world’s poorest communities are people of faith. Hospitals were began when people of faith expressed their compassion to the hurting. Orphanages took shape under the community of faith. Today, hundreds of faith-based organizations are rescuing women and children from the sex trade industry and offering them education, training and hope. Knowing Jesus gives us the greatest platform for offering a voice to those who are not heard.

Empowering us all: No technology, no government and no policy, cultural norm or social initiative can ever empower people the way God does. The freedom that comes from knowing God and living a life of faith is unmatched by any other force. The Word of God sets people free to be who God designed them to be, so that they can do what God designed them to do. In a culture where people are longing for connection and fulfillment, a relationship with God empowers people to pursue greatness through the strength, power and resources that God provides. The humblest of humans can rise up to greatness under God’s hand, and “ordinary” individuals perform extraordinary tasks by trusting in Him. There is no other source of empowerment greater than God, and those living the Overboard Life should know it best.

This commercial has challenged me to evaluate my life. Am I leading the charge in unity? Am I trying to inspire others to live a life of godliness? Am I celebrating the journeys of others as they go where they never dreamed of in God’s service? Am I offering hope to those who have none? Is my voice speaking out for the voiceless? Am I living empowered by God, and showing others how to do the same?

Maybe next year you’ll see a commercial during the Superbowl about someone living the Overboard Life. You’ll be moved to see all that God does through people who trust Him with their lives, and you’ll think -- I want that to.

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

Project Nehemiah is a book by Joe Castaneda, challenging people to live remarkably, and inspire others to do the same. It's available during the month of February for just $8.99 + FREE shipping! Order you copy today.

3 thoughts about living in the moment


Can you relate to this video? Do you know someone in your life that reminds you of the people in this 2-minute mini-movie?  

In our efforts to live our big dreams, it can be easy to forget to enjoy the process of reaching our God-sized goals. There are so many precious moments along the journey of an Overboard Life, moments that capture God’s love, encourage broken hearts, lift fallen spirits, bring smiles, create laughter, instill hope and strengthen faith, and it’s so easy to miss these moments because we quit looking. Our vision can become so narrow and so focused, that we miss what God is doing all around us.


I hope you are chasing big dreams and goals in 2014, trying to write an even better story than you wrote in 2013. But as you do, don’t forget to enjoy the journey, and to live in the ‘now moments’ that God has graciously given you to enjoy. Here are three thoughts for you about enjoying the journey today, while you work toward something bigger tomorrow!

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  1. Take time each day, maybe once at lunch and once before bed, to write down the great moments from the day. Every day has great moments. Yes, every day. It could come in the form of a free lunch, an encouraging text or note at just the right time, a verse God gave you to get you through a tough time or through some act of service you performed or was performed for you. Every day has moments where the love and goodness of God is evident on the journey we’re on. Take time each day to record those moments and you will find yourself happier along the way.
  2. Intentionally choose to serve others, every day. Sometimes when life is throwing us curveball after curveball, it’s easy to turn our focus entirely inward. We begin to think only about ourselves, our circumstances and the lousy day/week/month we’re having. Take time every day to serve someone else. Take time to intentionally make someone else’s day. It could be a spouse, a child, a co-worker, parent, boss, neighbor, pastor or stranger. By shifting the focus from your circumstances and pursuits, to the circumstances and pursuits of others, you’ll find your own journey is more enjoyable. The first few verses of Philippians 2 tell us that Jesus chose to keep others [you and me!] in his vision while He lived on earth. So He served us, while obeying the Father, when He went to the cross to pay for our sin and brokenness. What was the result? According to Hebrews 12:3, it was joy! Focused service on others helps us enjoy the journey and it’s amazing how often you’ll serve others and find you reach your own destination more quickly!
  3. Put down the technology and look around you. I’m not trying to oversimplify this, but our technology driven culture often misses great moments, ironically, in an attempt to capture them digitally. Traci and I were in Hawaii a few years ago and I was obsessed with getting pics of this beautiful sunset we were watching. I wanted to create that perfect Instagram that people would love. After 20 or 30 pics, I nailed it. Only problem? My poor wife wanted to enjoy this romantic moment with her husband sitting beside her. She was hoping to just lean against him as they both relished the beauty of God’s paintbrush while the sun dipped below the horizon. I “captured the moment” on my phone, but totally missed it in life. She didn’t say anything, but she didn’t have to -- I knew I blew it. I made sure the next night was a photo free romantic sunset night -- and I just enjoyed the moment for what it was, not for the comments I’d get on my picture. I’m a techno-geek and love how my life iLife is connected and interconnected. But just like the video above, it can be so easy to “connect” with a facebook audience while totally missing the people right next to you; I mean, literally, the people who are physically right next to you. People in the same house, same room or even sitting at the same table. Put down the tech, and look up -- you’ll see some great moments happening all around you, and you’ll still have plenty of time to take that pic or capture that video.


What are some ways you’ve enjoyed the journey? Got some other thoughts about this? Please share them in the comments and let others know how you enjoy the moments you are living in!


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