Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).

"Grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ—the Son of the Father—will continue to be with us who live in truth and love. How happy I was to meet some of your children and find them living according to the truth, just as the Father commanded" (2 John 3-4).

"Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. Some of the brothers recently returned and made me very happy by telling me about your faithfulness and that you are living according to the truth. I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth" (3 John 2-4).

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I Never Imagined - Africa Update

Dear Family & Friends,

I have been expectant for some time knowing that the Lord Jesus was about to move in a remarkable way. I never imagined that He would open a door for me and Bridget to help train hundreds of African pastors and to shepherd a local church in Africa. But, He has.

I'm writing this note to update you and to ask for your support.

You may know that I have been serving as a secondary education teacher at a Christian academy through a church in the Chicago suburbs. My fiance, Bridget, has been serving Jesus for the past few two months with a ministry called Sinakekele near Durban, South Africa. The mission director there has asked me to come serve as an interim pastor with Sinakekele Church.

Through prayer and fasting, I am certain that the Lord Jesus is calling me to go to Africa for these next three months. I will be leaving the first week of December and returning with Bridget at the beginning of March 2012. My ministry supervisors here in Illinois have released me with their blessing to follow Christ's call.

Sinakekele Church was planted by Firm Foundation World Ministry and grew into a vibrant local congregation; however, recently, it has been without a pastor. Without leadership, the congregation has shrunk substantially. There are hundreds of people, especially youth, in the villages surrounding Sinakekele who need to be reached with the message of Jesus.

Sinakekele is a Zulu phrase meaning "Take Good Care of Us." I believe the Holy Spirit is calling me to partner with Him in helping to "care" for the local believers at Sinakekele and to help reach the  lost in the surrounding villages with the Gospel of Jesus.

While in Africa, Bridget and I will also partner with a friend of ours named Dr. Andre Delport, director of Hands on Africa. Together, Bridget and I will spend two weeks training pastors and their wives in BIble and theology through an accredited African seminary in Malawi.

Dr. Delport explains that hundreds of African pastors lead churches without any biblical training. Our education from Moody Bible Institute enables us to partner with our African brothers and sisters, equipping them to more faithfully proclaim the Gospel and teach the Bible.

Two hundred pastors will attend the two weeks of seminary classes in Malawi. One of these pastors is the overseer of seven hundred churches in Malawi. He in turn, takes what he receives from the classes and teaches the seven hundred church leaders under his care. What an amazing opportunity to equip nearly 1,000 African ministers!

Will you please pray with Bridget and me, as I join her in serving Jesus and the precious people of Africa? Will you also give financially to support us?

We are responsible to raise 100% of our own support and to pay our own travel expenses. Please be as generous as you can.

Hands on Africa has created an account for my trip. Every penny you give goes into that account. 100% of your gifts are tax deductible.

If you mail in a donation, make a memo note of "Marcus - Africa."
The mailing address is
Hands on Africa
16250 84th Ave.
Chicago, IL 60487

If you use Hands on Africa's online Paypal account, enter the amount of your gift and click on "add special instructions for the seller," then enter the note of "Marcus - Africa" and put your address in that box so you can be sent a donations receipts at the end of the year. Please note: Paypal keeps a commission of about four percent of online donations, so larger gifts would be better mailed.
You can contribute online here:

Thank you so much for the role you have played in my life and ministry. Know that Bridget and I, as well as many of our African brothers and sisters in Christ, will be praying for you as you pray for and support us.

Faithfully in the Lord Jesus Christ,
Marcus Constantine
For details about our wedding in April, visit

Friday, October 7, 2011

Miracle basketballs


This morning, I texted our school administrator at the Christian academy where I teach to let her know I needed two basketballs for my high school gym class last period today. She responded that the school does not have any but that she would check with the basketball coach to see if there were any we could borrow.
Shortly after we talked, an elderly man from our church who faithfully supports our school with ten dollars each week came into the office with a basketball under each arm. He said, “I read that the school was in need of some equipment, and I felt the LORD wanted me to bring in these two basketballs today.” It may seem simple, but this was a perfectly timed provision. Glory be to Jesus! He truly does know exactly what we need to carry out the task He has called us to each day. Have you been called to a task that seems like too much? Do your responsibilities feel heavy on your shoulders?
Our Savior has all the supply you need to accomplish His will for you today. Ancient rabbis, Jewish spiritual teachers, would call their life teachings their “yoke.” All they stood for, what they lived for, and all they taught would be entrusted to their followers to pass on to others. The Lord Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).
I can hear the Lord Jesus say, “If your Heavenly Father provides basketballs for a Christian school teacher in his time of need, how much more will He provide what you need for life and ministry!” Let’s serve Him with abandon and watch in faith as He opens Heaven’s windows to pour out His extravagant love.

Also posted on Thrive80:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Overcoming fear

We experience fear so often that many learn to live with it and tolerate it, as if fear is immovable. Fear is no excuse for disobeying our Lord’s clear commission to make disciples. If we have faith in Jesus the size of a mustard seed, we can overcome the mountain of fear (Matthew 17:20). 

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Romans 14:23 explains, “…everything that does not come from faith is sin.” When we’re plagued by fear, we must confess our sin to the Lord Jesus and receive His unconditional love anew. His perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). When we ask, Jesus will increase our faith and help our unbelief (Mark 9:24). 

All the power we need is available to us as we rely on the Holy Spirit and surrender to Him. He empowers us to be witnesses for Jesus (Acts 1:8). We can remind ourselves of God’s promises to be with us, to empower us, and to draw near to us. When we confess fear and surrender our feelings to the Lord Jesus, we can step out in faith and bold love to witness.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pastor fired for not evangelizing: faithfulness with "To Do" lists

At a local Bible study last night, one attendee shared a prayer request for his former church. During his time on the church board, they hired a new pastor, who served several years. According to this man, the pastor “promised to evangelize and do all kinds of other ministry stuff. But he hadn’t done any of it.” So recently, that pastor was fired.
If the pastor was truly let go for not evangelizing, the congregation probably should have been fired too. According to Bill Bright, a Campus Crusade for Christ survey of professing Christians found that “a bare 2 percent regularly share their faith in Christ.”
How many professing believers would agree that Christ’s great commission to “make disciples of all nations” was given to all Christians? And yet, how few actually talk with unbelievers about Jesus on a regular basis?
What renders so many mute? Are we crippled by fear of rejection? Are we concerned what people think of us more than what our Heavenly Father thinks? Do we crave the pleasures of this fallen world more than His affection? It’s time for a heart check: “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 Jn. 2:15).
We’ve zeroed in on one area of disobedience, but let’s apply this principle more broadly too. How many times do we promise to act and then don’t follow through? We may set the bar high to feel accomplished, but we never actually accomplish much of anything. We make to do lists and set goals, but we develop selective amnesia and never look back at them. We fear feeling like failures when we fall short. If we never try, we think we’ve escaped failure’s grasp. So, procrastination becomes a new roommate. Does fear of failure hinder you? Haven’t we experienced enough hope deferred and dreams that die? Do you have a sick heart (Prov. 13:12)?
This is a call to be faithful. Examine yourself and ask, “LORD, why is this fear in me?” We need to deal with fear like any other sin: to declare war on it, to memorize Scriptures about it, to take steps to overcome it, to ask others in our community of believers to pray with us and encourage us through. Loved and trusted people can help us accomplish the goals the Holy Spirit has laid on our hearts. When we’re witnessing, we can go out with others. Jesus sent His disciples out two by two to preach the Gospel, heal the sick, and cast out demons (Mk. 6:7-12; Lk. 10:1-20).
On top of that, let’s take initiative that says, “When I write down this goal, I’ll start on it today.” Take at least one little step immediately that moves you toward the finish line. In my free time, when I’m not purposefully resting—which must also be budgeted into my schedule—I’ll be working on one of my goals. Do something eternally meaningful. Prioritize goals based on how valuable they are for your life and ministry. Then, start on the most important, and work to the least. You may never get to the action items on the bottom of your list, and that’s okay. They’re on the bottom for a reason.
When you catch yourself doing something mindless that doesn’t glorify Jesus, provide for your rest, build into the lives of others, or accomplish some of the goals that He’s called you to, get up and stop it. Ditch it. Change. Grow. Let’s be a people that put our hands to the plow and refuse to look back, lest we be found unfit for service in the Kingdom (Lk. 9:62).
Pause for a moment: what has Jesus called you to do? Are you doing it? If you have difficulty hearing His voice, could it be because you’ve neglected what He’s said to you in the past?
It shouldn’t take a mountaintop experience or a natural disaster for us to evangelize and be obedient to Jesus, living holy lives that follow in His footsteps (1 Jn. 2:6). What if our regular prayer time with Him was enough to motivate and put a fire beneath us to preach the Gospel and be who we’ve been called to be, as His children and new creations in Christ?
Then the daily prayer time that’s been on our mental to do list since we got saved would finally become a habit. And the Bible reading plan we’ve had shoved in a drawer for years might be put to use.
Are you part of the congregation that would get fired for not evangelizing? Let’s receive the fire and love of the Holy Spirit to go tell others about Jesus. Even when people reject us, let’s love them still and rejoice, for great is our reward in Heaven (Mt. 5:12; Lk. 6:23). It’s by obeying His commands that we show Jesus we love Him (Jn. 14:21). By deeply loving one another, we show the world we love Him too (Jn. 13:35). We don’t act out of dead obligation, but because we’re doing great exploits as the Living Lord Jesus empowers us (Dan. 11:32). Maybe then, we’ll finally be able to check something off our to do lists.

Also posted on Thrive80:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Losing teeth, gaining wisdom

I sit here writing this morning with a dull ache in my mouth. When sharp pain woke me a couple hours before my alarm, I figured it was an early wake up call to write. I had an unexpected surgical procedure two days ago that I’m feeling this morning.
I’d been having tooth pain for a few months. Finally this week, discomfort made it difficult to chew on the left side of my mouth. I visited a dentist who specialized in wisdom teeth consultations and made an appointment this past Tuesday. The doctor recommended I have all four wisdom teeth removed, as my mouth didn’t have space for them. No room in the proverbial inn. He explained his calendar was booked till August.
A hygienist peeked into the room, smiled, and said, “Well, Doctor, you did have one cancellation tomorrow morning at 9.” A way had been made, and I was penciled in to have my four teeth extracted.
My mind was racing, and I asked as many questions as I could, before agreeing to make the appointment. I like to research. I like to understand. I like to ask questions. The dentist and hygienist answered as best they could. How long would recovery take? What would I be able to eat? Because the whole thing happened so quickly, there were several questions I didn’t think to ask until it was too late.  My mouth was quickly propped open with a piece of rubber and gloved hands were sticking metal utensils into it. Of course, new questions arose once I’d been stuffed full of gauze, and I had four less teeth.
The night before the surgery, I was scared. My fear was uncovered by getting my wisdom teeth out, but more broadly it was fear of the future and fear of the unknown. What would the pain be like? What complications could arise? What side effects could the medications cause?
My lack of knowledge was the fuel for my fear. I didn’t know what the procedure would be like. I hadn’t experienced it before. I wasn’t told very much, and I didn’t have time to do substantial research. I even wondered at one point if I might contract an infection that could prove to be fatal. The dentist had a strong Jamaican accent. I wondered what would happen if I couldn’t understand his instructions during the surgery.
Knowledge dispels fear. I had imagined the pain would be much worse than it actually was. The most discomfort of the procedure came from the pricks of the initial Novocaine shots. I squeezed the chair’s armrests firmly, and the worst was soon behind me. During the actual extractions, I didn’t feel much of anything.
Fear is false evidence appearing real. When the truth was brought to bear in my situation, my fear was dispelled and I renewed my trust in Jesus. Beforehand, people shared Scripture with me: “God has not given you a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind.” Driving to the dentist, my mom said, “The Lord is your Helper whom shall you fear? What can man do to you?” I thought silently, “He can rip my teeth out!”
When I experienced the truth of the situation and my perspective became realistic, my fear was crippled. People wrestle with fears of rejection, failure, abandonment, and both physical and emotional death. My fear of the future extended beyond my wisdom teeth extractions. It was at heart a fear of rejection.
I thought I would be unable to talk for several days after the extractions. This fear of being unheard was strongest of all. I was intensely unwillingly to give up my voice. I imagined no one would listen to me. Being willing to surrender my tongue was both humbling and healing. I wouldn’t be able to defend myself, and I didn’t need to. The day of the surgery, after two hours of stuffing my mouth with gauze, I was not only talking but also singing praise to my Lord Jesus. Family members went the extra mile to help me.
I just graduated from Moody, and I got two jobs. I’ll be writing with New Life Community Church and working in the kitchen at a restaurant downtown. Again, the devil tries to paralyze me with fear of what people think. I’ve been asked things like: “Oh, you got a B.A. in communication and pastoral ministry to work in the kitchen?”
I don’t know what my future holds. But I do know the One who holds me. Though the details of my future are unknown, and people may outright reject me. I am known, and I am forever accepted by my Father and my Savior, who will never let me go (1 Cor. 13:12; Jn. 10:28-29). God wrapped Himself in human flesh in the Person of Jesus to free us from bondage to the fear of death (Heb. 2:14-15). Knowing His truth, makes one free – free indeed (Jn. 8:32, 36).

Also posted on Thrive80:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Moody's Student Outreach, Relevance: worthy ideal or contemporary idol?

Moody's Student Outreach: Relevance: worthy ideal or contemporary idol?: by John Clark, instructor of theology at Moody Bible Institute "If our Christian witness is to be credible and compelling, we must..."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Who are you?

There they sat at an Italian establishment, discussing what they would name their first child. The husband had been reading a book on the Roman Emperor Constantine. And the dad-to-be liked the name Flavius, a hero in the story. His wife knew she needed to think fast. There in that Pizza Hut, she had an epiphany.

On a napkin, she wrote a name, which formed an acronym of her and her husband’s full names. She wrote, “Marcus.” These two were my parents.

In biblical times, names entailed great meaning. They were given with purpose and often prayerfully. A man’s name represented who he was. People usually lived up to their names.

Jacob was a “deceiver.” He “wrestled with God” and was renamed Israel. Isaiah’s ministry prophesied, “Yahweh is salvation!” Joseph, called Barnabas, epitomized a “son of encouragement.” Phoebe was “bright” and “radiant” as she shared the Gospel alongside the Apostle Paul.

Marcus means “mighty warrior.” I have affinity for Ephesians 6, where Paul urges believers to be clothed in God’s armor, so we can engage in spiritual battle. Marcus has been the name of a Roman orator, a pope, a politician, a statesman, and now a news editor and open-air preacher.

My middle name, Arthur, comes from words meaning “bear” and “stone,” and it makes me a namesake of my dad and my Grandpa Pemberton. When Elizabeth in Scripture became pregnant in her old age, her husband was likewise expected to pass on a family name to their son. However, Zechariah obeyed the LORD’s prompting, naming him John, which means “God is gracious.” Constantine is Greek and means “constant” or steadfast.

I strive to live out my name, as a mighty warrior, bold as a bear, steadfast as a stone, constant in the faith, conducting myself in a manner worthy of Christ’s Gospel (Phil. 1:27). What do your names mean?

When seeking to properly place you, people may ask, “Who are you?” I’ve gotten in the practice of answering, “I’m a child of God and a follower of Jesus. My name’s Marcus.” Whether your name means “deceiver” or “Yahweh saves,” it does not determine who you may become.

When you know who you are, you can live confidently. No excuses are needed for a life of surrender to the Holy Spirit. It is for freedom that Christ sets us free (Gal. 5:1). We are not to submit to slavery again. Only Jesus frees us to fully live as He intends. What holds you back from becoming who you could be?

Are you known by extravagant love for Jesus? They will know by our love that we are His followers (Jn. 13:35). Why do some professing Christians talk about seemingly everything except Jesus? Treating Christ like a hobby breaks the heart of the Spirit (Eph. 4:30). We are called to love Him and not this fallen world. When we live in His freedom, unbelievers may think our love is excessive. They should.

Remember, they hated Jesus first (Jn. 15:18). He loved perfectly, and they nailed Him to a cross. Out of our union with Jesus flows that sacrificial love, intimacy with the Father, and soft heartedness toward the Holy Spirit. He is our power source (Acts 1:8).

Christ followers have become new creations (2 Cor. 5:17). We have received new names (Rev. 2:17; 3:12). It’s against our new spiritual nature to act contrary to the LORD’s will. Live in light of who you truly are. When we know who we are in Jesus, we can live confidently in His love, faithfully in His power, and freely in His grace. Believers could spend an eternity pursuing the beauty that becomes ours when we join Christ’s Bride by faith. And we will.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Leaving a legacy: the cloud of witnesses

Henry “Butcher” Varley, the British revivalist, gave a charge that gripped D.L. Moody’s heart. Moody recalled Varley saying, “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him.” Moody replied, “By God’s help, I aim to be that man.”

As students of the Bible and followers of Jesus Christ, consider the legacy we have inherited. Believers throughout history, who pressed to make their Lord Jesus known, have entrusted it to us: witnesses like Moody, Varley, Torrey, Noah, King David, Mary, Lazarus, Peter, Paul, and John.

This great cloud of witnesses spurs us on (Heb. 12:1). Their histories bear continual witness to the Gospel of Jesus. Their testimonies exemplify surrender of self to the declaration and demonstration of His full Gospel. The great cloud calls to us, urging us to walk in their footsteps, follow their examples, and build on their foundation. 

“Imitate us as we imitate Christ!” their lives beckon. Someday soon, those serving the Lord Jesus will join that cloud of witnesses. Their legacy urges, “As the Lord tarries, call future generations to Gospel-centered lives through your faithfulness today!”

Moody heard that call from his friend Varley. In 1873, Moody asked Varley to repeat his words that had spoken so powerfully to him just a year earlier. Varley looked at him blankly. He did not recall uttering any such charge.

According to Paul Gericke’s Crucial Experiences in the Life of D.L. Moody, Moody responded to Varley, “Ah, those were the words sent to my soul, through you, from the Living God. As I crossed the wide Atlantic, the boards of the deck of the vessel were engraved with them, and when I reached Chicago, the very paving stones seemed marked with [them]. Under the power of those words I have come back to England, and I felt that I must not let more time pass until I let you know how God had used your words to my inmost soul.”

What are you preparing for those who will come behind you? Like sewing squares into a patchwork quilt, choose each day to add beauty to your legacy. What are you forging that you plan to pass on? When believers stand before Jesus, our works will be tested by fire. Only treasures stored up in Heaven, the precious metal and gems of work done for Christ, will endure (Mt. 6:19-21; 1 Cor. 3:13-15). Leonard Ravenhill advised an evangelist, “Make sure when you die that you aren’t standing knee deep in ashes.”

As we proclaim the Gospel and run this race with perseverance, the ripple effect of our legacy may touch nations. Our calling is to bear witness by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). As we faithfully serve, we remain unaware of the full extent of our legacy until we arrive in glory.

Wigglesworth calls thousands to “only believe” for salvation, divine healing.

Smith Wigglesworth has been called an apostle of faith. He reportedly won thousands to Jesus, saw multitudes healed, raised 14 from the dead, and planted several Pentecostal churches across five continents. He began as an illiterate plumber turned street preacher.

Wigglesworth was born in 1859 in a shack in Menston, a small village in Yorkshire, England. At age seven, Wigglesworth, his older brother, and his father were hired at a textile factory. Finally, food ceased to be scarce.

Though neither of his parents were people of faith, Wigglesworth explained to biographer Stanley Frodsham, “I can never recollect a time when I did not long for God.” At eight, Wigglesworth joined his grandmother at a revival meeting. He recalled, “As I clapped my hands and sang,…I looked to the Lamb of Calvary. I believed that He loved me and had died for me. Life came in—eternal life—and I knew that I…was born again.” Wigglesworth explained, he immediately became a “soul-winner,” first winning his own mother to Christ.

At nine, Wigglesworth began full-time work in a mill. He felt he was “robbed of an education.” Like his mother, Wigglesworth had great difficulty expressing himself. Until three old men, family friends, laid hands on him. He remembered, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and I was instantly set free from my bondage. I not only believed, but I could also speak.”

When Wigglesworth joined the Salvation Army at 16, he was delighted by their passion. Wigglesworth learned to fast and pray for the salvation of lost souls. He said, “Every week we saw scores of sinners yielding their hearts to Christ.”

A fellow believer at the mill taught Wigglesworth Bible doctrine and plumbing. At 18, Wigglesworth began work as a plumber, giving all his earnings to feed children that gathered to hear him preach. Wigglesworth opened his own plumbing business at age 23 and met a woman, he called “the best girl in the world!”

Mary Jane Featherstone, called Polly, was born again at a Salvation Army open-air meeting. Wigglesworth was in the audience and noticed her at the altar. General William Booth invited Polly to join the Salvation Army as an open-air preacher and singer. She was fearless and eloquent, and Wigglesworth was attracted.

When Polly and Smith were married in 1882, she began teaching her husband to read and write. Polly would preach, while Smith counseled sinners at the altar. He said of his wife, “She was a great soul-winner.” Smith continued plumbing and brought their five children to meetings. When Smith was called upon to preach, he would often break down into sobs for the lost. Another preacher would step in to finish his message.

During a trip for supplies from Leeds, Smith attended a divine healing meeting. He then started paying for the sick in his hometown, Bowland, to travel to Leeds. When Polly grew ill, he brought her, unsure of how she would respond. Polly received prayer and was instantly healed. Both Wigglesworths recognized this as a true movement of the Holy Spirit and founded the Bowland Street Mission. Polly and Smith began teaching about Christ’s healing power and saw several healed.

In 1907, Smith heard that believers in Sutherland were reportedly receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues like on Pentecost. Smith and Polly were among those who believed true Christians had already received Spirit baptism.  Because Smith desired to speak in tongues though, he traveled to Sutherland. He was so disappointed, he interrupted the meeting, saying, “I do not understand why our meetings seem to be on fire, but yours do not seem to be so.”

Before leaving, Smith received prayer from the vicar’s wife. He saw a vision of Christ at the Father’s right hand. He opened his mouth to praise and spoke in new tongues. Smith preached that evening like never before. Afterward, 50 were baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. The local paper, the Sunderland Daily Echo, headlined a story of Smith’s experience.

When Smith returned home, Polly greeted him, saying, “I want you to know that I am just as baptized in the Holy Spirit as you are, and I don’t speak in tongues.” That Sunday, Smith preached. Polly decided she would test the legitimacy of her husband’s experience. He spoke with new boldness. Polly reported thinking, “That’s not my Smith, Lord!” In the coming weeks, hundreds in Bedford received the baptism with the Spirit and spoke in tongues, including Polly and the Wigglesworth’s oldest son.

Soon, the couple began receiving calls to preach throughout England, riding trains and even bicycles to pray for the sick. Smith was known for preaching a simple gospel and would call hearers to “only believe.” In 1914, Smith began ministering overseas.

He called himself a man of one Book. His sermons were mainly comprised of Scripture quotations. Newspapers reported miracles, the dead raised, and healings following his preaching ministry. Though he was not present at any of the revivals that sparked Pentecostalism, Pentecostals view Smith as one of the movement’s greatest modern patriarchs.

In 1947, at another minister’s funeral, Smith breathed his last and painlessly bowed his head. Smith never exalted himself and never wrote a book, but his stubborn faith in the Spirit and undying love for Jesus empowered him to demonstrate the gospel to the world.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The end

A few days ago, I went to the bank and added a beneficiary, payable on death, to my accounts. I sat across the desk from the banker, who was dressed in her business suit and blue collared shirt. In my sweater and jeans, I supplied my information and signed the paperwork. The banker seemed strangely nervous. Suddenly, it struck me: I wonder if she thinks I’m planning to end my life.

After all, she knew my address was Moody Bible Institute. Why would a young college student want to add a payable on death to his accounts? I looked into the banker’s eyes and decided to clear things up.

“I’m graduating this semester and thinking about endings,” I chuckled. “I’m not planning on dying anytime soon.” Right then, it hit me. Who does? Today could very well be our last day. I saw an opportunity to share about life and death.

“But I know I won’t live forever,” I clarified. A slight misstep. “At least, not here on earth. When I die, I’ll live in Heaven because of what Jesus has done.” The banker nodded as she ushered me toward the door. When I asked about her spiritual background, she mumbled about being Baptist and said she’d received a million-dollar gospel tract before. 

Encounters like that move me to pray about the end. As I answer questions about future plans and listen to the Holy Spirit for next steps, I’m reminded of Ephesians 5:16-17. Time passes so quickly. You can become either disheartened and immobilized or reminded and energized. Redeem the time. Make the most of every opportunity, for the days are evil. Consider it a challenge. If you follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit’s power is available to you.

If we’re to live this abundant life that Jesus lived, died, and rose to provide, we must become skilled in a few key areas (Jn. 10:10). We’ve got to realize that our days are numbered and our time on earth is short so that our hearts may overflow with wisdom (Ps. 90:12; 23:5).

Get in the habit of listening prayer. Spend time quietly waiting before the Lord Jesus. Keep a pen and paper nearby. As you’re learning to hear the Spirit’s voice, test what you hear according to the Bible (Acts 17:11). Your discernment will grow with practice (Heb. 5:14). We must be filled with the Holy Spirit that we might discern His will (Eph. 5:17-18).

Learn to say “no” to things outside His will. Throw off sin and anything that hinders (Heb. 12:1). Over committing will kill you. Refine your schedule and eliminate activities that don’t contribute to expanding Christ’s Kingdom, your spiritual growth, or your rest. What monkeys have you taken on your back that you need to surrender to the LORD?

Also, learn to say “yes.” As you grow to know Jesus more intimately, you’ll learn more about yourself. How has He gifted you? What do you love doing? As you discern His will and calling for your life, seek confirmation from mature believers. We learn His will from His Word, His church, and His Spirit. When we ignore the good we ought to do, we grieve the Holy Spirit (Jm. 4:17; Eph. 4:30). Adrian Rogers said, “Procrastination and disobedience are just different shades of the same sin.”

The Father may call you to bold new territory. In fact, He will always nudge you out of your comfort zone, so you learn to trust Him. Take holy risks. Love boldly. Make it your practice to step out in faith. I never expected I’d preach the Gospel in the open air. It’s one of my ministries that thrills and stretches me most. Join me! After all, our lives are rapidly coming to an end. The question is: will yours be a glorious one?