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Overboard Blog

Living the extraordinary life of faith!

Filtering by Tag: trusting God

Excuse Me...Your Faith is Showing

Joseph Castaneda



The prophet Isaiah gives us two of the most amazing commands followed by two of the most amazing truths! 

1: Don't be afraid
2. Don't be discouraged

I love that those aren't just suggestions to make our lives better or ideas that will create a happier you (although they will!). Seriously, these are commands God is giving out to His children while they are in the midst of some serious turmoil and struggle. The odds seem impossible to overcome. The chance of victory seems unlikely at best...certain to end in crushing defeat at worst. There was no out.

But God.

God shows up, and He reminds His people who is in control of EVERYTHING in life. He reminds them of how He is the God of all power and authority, the God who raises up kings and kingdoms and who just as easily brings them down. In the face of one of Israel's greatest foes this God commands, "Don't be afraid," and, "Don't be discouraged."

Then, to remind the Israelites the why of His commands, He states:

1. I am with you
2. I am your God

Amazing! The Almighty Creator God of the universe is close to His children, and personally relates to them! He is their God, personally reaching out and personally known and He is with them. Unlike the gods of the people around Israel, God's who were neither personal nor near, this God delights in knowing, loving, and blessing His people.

I don't know what you're facing right now, or what you might be facing soon, but I know my God (and He knows me!) and He says to you: Don't be afraid, and don't be discouraged, because I am with you...I am your God! Will you, today, exchange your fear, discouragement, anxiety, worry and stress for the hope, courage and power that God provides? The only way to do that is through faith, trusting that God's promises are as true today as they were 2,700 years ago when he gave them to Israel.

Not Just Hope...Living Hope!

Joseph Castaneda


Living Hope

Last summer I spoke at the IFCA National Youth Convention, at Appalachian Bible College in West Virginia (you know you want to cue the John Denver music right about now...). It's a beautiful campus nestled in the mountains with the New River just around the corner, and a countryside rich with American history.

One of my themes that week is based on the word "hope." It's the idea that in Christ, we have a great, imperishable hope, rooted in God's eternal nature and guaranteed by His Word. This hope is spoken of by the Apostle Peter in chapter one of his first book: "In His [God's] great mercy He has given us new birth into a LIVING HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade..."

I love the phrase, "living hope." Hope is always alive, because the person in whom it is anchored is Jesus, our living Lord! It is a hope for today, and a hope for the future. It is a hope that our sinful past can be forgiven and that our future is already redeemed. It is a hope that broken relationships can be mended and wayward children can be brought back into the fold. It is a hope that takes the remnant of the ashes of a life of pain and suffering and turns them into a beautiful work of art in the hands of the Master. It is a hope that tomorrow's mercies will be renewed and that today's mercies will be sufficient.

Lean in to the living hope of rooted in our Savior and let Psalm 119:114 be your mantra today!

We have Hope!

Joseph Castaneda



Hope is a great concept, a life-saver for times when we've experienced difficulties and challenges in life. Hope gets us up in the morning when we feel like hiding under our blankets and hope helps us face the challenge after the doctor closes the door and begins sharing the news we didn't want to hear.

But hope isn't a feeling or emotion, it's not a self-created concept, and it's not something that can be found by opening a box of cereal and digging to the bottom for the prize (did you used to do that as a child?).

Hope is rugged. Hope doesn't float down like a soft fluffy cloud landing gently on your pillow at night, rather, hope is forged in hardship. Hope emerges when we've encountered trials, when we've endured the challenges of life, and thru them, have seen our character grown and strengthened.

Over the last six years in Michigan, we've been comforted by the God of hope, the God who gives us precisely what we need, precisely when we need it. And as He has guided us thru many trials, at the end of each struggle, we've found great hope in Him.

If you're looking for hope today, cling to the truth of Romans 5:3-4. Remember that hope comes with endurance, it comes when you and I lean in to God in the middle of the struggle and allow Him to do His work in us. This kind of hope, true hope, never lets us down because it is rooted in our Lord and Savior.

Some anniversaries aren't fun to remember


This past weekend we remembered an anniversary. It’s hard to say we “celebrated” because that certainly wasn’t the tone, but we definitely remembered. Some anniversaries are, after all, hard to enjoy. The moment in recall was the day I lost my job, January 16th, 2015, and the day our family began a year like none other we’ve experienced. In the 12 months since the afternoon I took my last walk from the office to my house, we’ve experienced the life of faith like never before. Traci and I have felt the love of friends and family like at no other time in our marriage, and we’ve felt some of the highest highs and lowest lows. It has been a wild journey.

The first seven months after that departure were filled with many couch-surfing adventures (with our family of five!), thousands and thousands of miles on the road (two trips to the West Coast and back) and many tearful nights and tension filled days. We had to make tough never-been-here-before decisions, and trust in God’s hand to take care of us. We made some great memories along the way, including the time we spent on road visiting friends and family.


I remember vividly, the August 5th morning that we were returning from our six week, 11,000 mile road trip to the West Coast. We were still uncertain about the details of the future, but confident that God wanted us to stay in Michigan. We were driving in from a couple night’s rest in Galena, Illinois, and we literally didn’t know where we were going to stay that night (or any night thereafter!).

Some dear friends texted with my wife asking about our living situation, and they assured us that their home would always be available to us, and for the next two nights we would rest in their hospitality. As Traci and I fell asleep in their camper (not even joking when I tell you that it was the absolute best night of sleep I had experienced in months!), I became profoundly aware of how much God had taken care of us. How much He had provided for us along the way.

By that night in August, I had lost track of the number of different beds we had fallen asleep in (well over 30!), and the number of times financial gifts came in to bless us at “just the right moment” of need. Two trips to the West Coast had gone off without a hitch, literally, without a single problem from our 280,000-mile-old vehicle. Hundreds and hundreds of emails, FB messages and posts, texts and phone calls had come our way from people who just wanted to encourage us along the journey. Truly, in the midst of being homeless and jobless, I had never had a more profound sense of God’s work in my life.

So this weekend, on the one year anniversary of watching God change things up as only He can do, I remember, somberly, that His ways are not mine. I remember that He holds the future in His hands -- He already knows tomorrow better than I know yesterday! While I was experiencing (perceived) injustice, hurt, uncertainty and far more questions than answers, God already knew where the path was leading, and He was directing me -- the whole family! -- with the patience, grace and mercy of a loving father.

Ultimately, the goal of living the Overboard Life is that, through an active faith in God and His work in our lives, we are becoming more and more like His Son. That transformation is worth all the uncertainty, hardship and challenge that God directs our way and that this world throws at us. I am praying that 2016 is vastly different than the year we just put behind us, but even more, I am praying that the seeds of change God planted in our hearts and minds last January, take full root and began to blossom and produce fruit in this year.

When I think of the past year with that perspective, I have no choice but to celebrate this anniversary.

What about you? Do you have a painful anniversary that you need to see in a different light? It’s not easy, but it is freeing. After all, since becoming like Jesus is the goal, we must learn to embrace the process that gets us there.

Go ahead and take the plunge, life -- even your painful past -- is better on the water!

God loves a grand entrance!


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

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

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

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

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

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

Think about how God could have handled this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 months ago today...


I’ll never forget the moment. As we pulled out of my parents’ driveway, there were a lot of people seeing us off. My dad was comforting my sobbing mom, my sister and her kids all waved goodbye through tears and my brother and his family stood by as we headed out, alongside my brother-in-law, Ellen and several other friends from church. Inside the van, things weren’t much dryer, as none of us were really ready to say goodbye to so many great friends and family.

Moving boxes

That day was March 16, 2013 and it was six month ago today that we began our move from Salem, Oregon to Lake Ann, Michigan.

The process that lead to that move can be read on previous blogs, but today as I look back over six months of living in Michigan, there are a few key lessons I’ve learned -- maybe these will encourage you.

The process of growth is often the product of growth

I think I often look as growth as a destination. I think, “once I get through [insert life-changing event here] I will be [enter superhuman power here].” As I look back over six months of life change here in Michigan I’m realizing that the process of growth is the product that I desire. In other words, what I am becoming is a direct result of how I work through the process of growing, not in where that process leads me.

Living in Michigan hasn’t changed me (although I’ve never worn so many hoodies throughout the summer months!), but the process of moving to Michigan has radically shaped my life. In fact, I think I could have gone through this process and ended up staying in Salem, and I would have experienced the same type of life change. The process of growth creates the change God is working in my life.

James said it this way, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials [aka: personal growth opportunities!] because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and compete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

Notice that it isn’t the victory over trials that James says produces growth, but rather, the working through them…perseverance!…that produces the character God wants to develop in us. The process of growth produces the life change God wants to perform in me. When I short-change the process, I short-change the end product.

It pleases God to bring joy to His children

I don’t know if it was the conservative church context I grew up in, or whether or not I simply missed it (and both are distinct possibilities), but somehow I grew up not understanding how much God delights in His children. Two times in the New Testament Jesus was said to be “full of joy,” and both instances occurred in relationship to His disciples (not to His own activity). All throughout the Scriptures, we are told about the joy of God in regards to His children.

In Jeremiah 32:41 God says to the prophet, “I will rejoice in doing them good…”  What a profound statement to think that God rejoices in doing good to His Children! If you have children, you totally understand Jeremiah’s words. There is something intensely joyful about doing something your children love. When you grant them a wish, when you give them a special gift, when you surprise them with blessing -- you smile almost as much as they do! How much more that Almighty Creator God, who knows you better than you know yourself! When He does good to you and to me, it is precisely what we need, and He rejoices.

In Zephaniah 3:17 we read, “I [God] will rejoice over you with gladness…” It seems almost redundant, but maybe that’s the point -- if you missed it the first time, please understand that God rejoices over you with gladness. Doesn’t rejoicing imply gladness? God is joyful, He is glad, to bless you with His resources.

We have been the recipients of God’s amazing blessing through this growing process. And while we know we could never earn His favor on our own (thank you Jesus for making it possible!), we marvel that God smiles and is glad to shower us with goodness. He hasn’t blessed us reluctantly, but joyfully. Somehow, that makes the gifts have even more value.

God’s path is always the best path

I know it’s nothing new, but this journey has reminded us to always seek the path of God. The Bible tells us many stories where the path of God seemed to be ‘off’ one way or the other, only to end up taking God’s people precisely where they needed to be, when they needed to be there. It seems that God is rarely early, and usually doesn’t give the most direct flights. However, He is never late, and what may appear to be a random series of layovers and stops, is actually the most direct travel for the process of growing.

I wouldn’t have chosen Michigan on my own. Honestly, I was looking at ministry on a small island near Maui. Seriously. But the journey God began for Traci and I didn’t start with Michigan as the end, and it didn’t start six months ago. We can look back five years and see how God started the work to prepare us for this leg of the journey. And whatever may lie ahead for us, I am certain of this truth: staying on this path that God has defined as our route, is always going to be best. (I may need to be reminded of that when the 5th month of winter rolls through!)

The Overboard Life is constantly in motion; not because we are constantly on the move, but because we must constantly be in the process of growing. It’s not always easy, nor is always fun, but the end product is worth the trouble. Are you growing? What has God brought into your life as an opportunity to be more of who He made you to be? Are you trusting His path? Are you rejoicing in goodness of God?

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