By Dianne Barker

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain” (Psalm 127:1NIV).

Got it. Unless the Lord does it, our best efforts will fail.

Synonyms for “vain” are ineffective, hopeless, unsuccessful, unproductive, futile, useless, worthless.

Why would anyone pursue such a life? Who gets up in the morning desiring your day’s work be ineffective, unsuccessful, unproductive, futile, useless, worthless?

We’re off and running, determined to achieve something significant. But if we’re trusting in our own wisdom and strength, our best efforts will be futile.

God created us for a purpose. The greatest disappointment in life is coming to the end of it, never having achieved the purpose for which we were created.

How do we discover God’s purpose?

I accepted Christ at seven and during teen years sensed a desire in my heart to write. At eighteen I landed my dream job writing for the local newspaper while attending college. Within a few weeks, I had my own weekly column. Being young, bold, and confident I had answers to life’s big questions, I often injected my Christian faith.

After finishing college, trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.

There was no passion for anything else.

I joined the newspaper’s fulltime staff. Besides writing my column and news stories, I covered many religious events and evangelistic crusades. The Lord brought a host of celebrities across my path: Corrie ten Boom, Vance Havner, Bob Hope, Joan Crawford, Debbie Reynolds, Johnny Cash, Jerry Clower, and others. I shook hands with President Richard Nixon.

The newspaper sent me to Minneapolis to attend the School of Christian Writing, sponsored by Decision Magazine, founded by Billy Graham. I met Dr. Sherwood Wirt, founding editor, who became a friend and mentor.

A year later while covering Dr. Graham’s ten-day crusade in Knoxville, Tennessee, I reconnected with Dr. Wirt. Through his influence I was chosen to write a book about the crusade, Billy Graham in Big Orange Country—my first book at twenty-four.

Clebe McClary, a Vietnam hero from South Carolina, saw the book and asked me to write his story, Living Proof. Through Clebe I met Harold Morris and wrote his story, Twice Pardoned, first book for Focus on the Family Publishing and a 1986 national Christian bestseller.

That book (still available on Amazon, 1.5 million copies in print) surpassed my dreams.

God built the house! I simply followed Jesus, sensitive to impressions of my heart and opportunities he presented. He kept me close, whispering encouragement, whenever the path wound through disappointment and difficulty.

Have you grown weary pursuing dreams, only to slam into a stone wall? Pick yourself up and dare to dream again!

  • Pray, diligently seeking guidance from the Lord, and study his Word.
  • Be sensitive to desires of your heart.
  • Consider your natural talents and learn your spiritual gifts; often natural talents and spiritual gifts are related.
  • Ask godly friends for counsel. They may recognize abilities you haven’t seen and suggest opportunities you haven’t considered.
  • Use what you have and serve where you are. Don’t wait for something amazing to come along. Be faithful where God has placed you.

Your purpose on this earth at this moment in time is to serve and glorify him. Stay as close to Jesus as you can get. He still calls disciples with a simple invitation. “Follow me.”

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s a member of Christian Authors Network, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

 

 

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By Mary Tatem

Tiny footprints. Waffle soles of sporting shoes. Delicate three-pronged bird tracks. What an interesting variety of footprints I saw in the sand on my early-morning walk down the beach. Read More →

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Dianne Barker

Dianne Barker

Dianne Barker here with encouragement for your journey.

I don’t love disappointments, delays, or detours. Life would be sweet if we could just go our well-planned way, checking off finished projects one by one. But unwelcome interruptions are reality. I wasted a lot of life fretting and grumbling, allowing circumstances to disturb my peace and steal my joy. Not any more! Read More →

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Kathy Collard Miller

Be An Effective Mentor.

Hello from Kathy Collard Miller, writing in the very hot desert near Palm Springs, California.

One of the many goals of mentoring is helping our mentee identify her motive for the choices she makes. She may not realize it but all of us react, respond, and choose based upon what we desire and want. Or what we think will prevent some kind of emotional pain, maybe even physical pain. Helping our mentee to recognize what can seem well-hidden is a challenge.

My husband and I are lay-counselors and as we try to help people make wise and godly choices, we’ve seen the most long-rang change when there has been a heart transformation, not just mental assent or gritting their teeth (metaphorically) to force obedience. Because we also received counseling and have been in relationships where we were mentored, we have appreciated the mentor or friend who asked questions that helped us identify our motives and what we hoped to gain when we made a particular choice.

If you’d like to help others discover why they “do what they do,” you don’t have to be a “formal” mentor. Even in casual friends friendships, you can inquire into their heart’s motives. Rather than encourage them to grit their teeth and vow to be better, we want them to have a deep spiritual change where their motives are based upon greater trust in God—not self-effort.

Asking questions rather than giving advice helps your mentee/friend to get in touch with their motivations. If we only give advice, our mentee could depend upon us for their power rather than having a heart for God. But the difficulty is thinking of the questions to ask.

Here Are Some Questions to Use During Mentoring

These aren’t used in any order but can be used depending upon what the mentee is telling you. Then ask more questions based upon what the mentee replies.

What did the other person’s reaction seem to say about you?
What if you didn’t keep doing that? What do you fear would happen?
What is God inviting you into through allowing these circumstances?
What would you like to say to that person who hurt you?
Why do you believe that’s true when other people have told you it’s not?
What were you hoping or longing for?
What do you feel is lacking in your life?
What does that choice provide for you?
What were you saying about yourself during the time that hurtful thing happened?
How does your behavior leave out God in your life?
How does that behavior protect you from some kind of harm or pain?
Everything is a choice. Why are you choosing that destructive behavior: to gain something or protect yourself from something?
What does your choice say about who God is?
What does your behavior or choice indicate is your belief about God, life, or other people?

Kathy’s most recent book.

Learning to use these questions may take time. And asking them may not bring instant change to your mentee. But the mentee’s new sense of self-awareness can be used by the Holy Spirit to reveal wrongly-motivated thinking and choices. That kind of heart transformation will have long-range benefits.

 

(These thoughts have been adapted from Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today by Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller)

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BobHostetlerBob Hostetler here, offering another prayer for writers:

Abba,
I am a weak writer:
insecure,
inadequate,
in over my head.
But you chose Ehud because of his weakness.
You used him,
not to mention Moses, David, Jeremiah, Paul, and others
(though I did just mention them; see what I mean?).
So grant me the faith
to believe that you can choose me and use me too.
Read More →

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