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Posts By Jay Barfield


Marriage: Are You Just Playing House?

Honeymoon Bliss When a couple gets married there is the initial honeymoon period that is all bliss and adjustment. While they aren’t exactly sealed off from the rest of the world, their existence is pretty much wrapped up in each other for those initial months. However, while the foundation of a relationship that is laid during that period should endure, the day-to-day life eventually takes on a somewhat different tone. For Christian couples this tone should be defined with a distinct kingdom focus, one that keeps the entire world in view, not just our marital relationship. As we see in. . .
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Suffering for the Right Reasons

There is no great satisfaction to be found in suffering for being a jerk. Let’s be consumed and driven by love, acting in humility, and proclaim the gospel in both word and deed.

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Reflections on a Faithful Life

The Legacy As I write this, it is the eighth anniversary of my father’s death. I’ve gotten lots of comments from friends and family about the impact of his life on them. He wasn’t a well-known guy and didn’t have an extraordinary amount of earthly success. He came from a very poor upbringing, even by Depression standards. He left a successful and promising corporate retail career to care for his aged aunt and grandmother in Mississippi. He enjoyed relative anonymity in the country, while my mother became the successful merchant, choir director, and business woman. I think he preferred it. . .
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Lessons in Love: It’s Hard

I am writing this on the day before Valentine’s Day. As do many of you, the holiday makes us think of those we love, have loved, or wish we could love (I’m trying to cover as many of the bases as possible here). However, I was thinking along different lines the other day. I was thinking about how we learn about and express our love for others. Learning to Love There are some people for whom loving others comes very easy. We all know people like this. They have open and overflowing hearts that express love freely and joyfully to. . .
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When Your Christmas Traditions Falter

Difficult Christmases I don’t mean to come off like a Debbie Downer, but the Christmas season has been somewhat difficult for me for the last couple of years. Not in an overwhelming sense, it has been more like a wet fog and slush in contrast to fresh snow under a blue sky. I’ve struggled to discern the root of my difficulty because it has been even more of a struggle in recent years than it was right after my wife Kim passed away. I began to comprehend the problem after reading an article by a well-known national journalist and a. . .
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The Lord Reigns, Even in Dark Times

I’ve been beset lately with a downcast spirit of sorts. It doesn’t feel like a storm raging, just dark clouds and a fog within me that blocks out the sun. It isn’t anything clinical or particularly intense, but a consistent feeling of sadness or frustration that many things in and around me simply aren’t as they should be. It might be a frustration with our current cultural or political climate, which is a total mess; I think we can all agree on that. In my memory, I don’t remember a time that our nation has been this divided and pessimistic. . .
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God, the Great Storyteller

Writing a Good Story In the last couple of weeks, I’ve started taking an online video class in screenwriting taught by Aaron Sorkin, an Oscar and Emmy award winning screenwriter and producer. My writing efforts have, in the past, always been focused on essays, devotionals, articles, sermons, and blog posts. However, I’ve recently become fascinated with the particular skill set that enables one to tell stories and write dialogue, not merely for reading but for viewing In one of the first lessons, he made the point that in any good play, movie, or TV series, there has to be a. . .
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Transform Your Bad Attitude into Beatitudes

Beatitudes Are Scarce These Days In this time of intense political debate, I have providentially been working through the beatitudes in Matthew 5. There are two beatitudes that are connected that have jumped out at me in our present political context. In verse five, Jesus pronounces His blessing on the meek, which is fundamentally an attitude of selflessness. The meek person consciously puts the interest of others before himself and does not seek to defend or vindicate himself before others. He only seeks to be faithful to God and to love his neighbor and leaves the rest to God. He. . .
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Don’t Confuse the Bread with the Plate it Comes On

Disagreeable Compliments As Christians, when we think about our faith or our worship, we often sink into thoughts or discussions about secondary doctrines or modes of worship. While there is surely a time and place for those discussions, I have been a bit dismayed of late with the relative proportion that is spent on what I would consider tertiary topics, or points of debate that are less than central. I have heard it said far too often (and sadly said it myself) when referring to a pastor or teacher, the constant self-protective caveat of “You know, I don’t agree with. . .
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Showing Hospitality to Strangers

An Inhospitable Place I had a dream the other night. This isn’t a unique occurrence for me but my dreams usually tend to mirror my conscious fears—something disastrous happening to my children for example. This dream was different. I dreamed that I was in a strange city. I’ve traveled a lot around the country, so this would normally not mean much. However, this was a foreign city. More specifically, I am guessing that it was a city either in the middle east, north Africa, or the region known as Eurasia. It was predominantly Muslim, and non-English speaking. I knew nothing. . .
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Is Your Communication Style Killing Your Marriage?

Identifying Marital Communication Problems I’ve been reading a lot recently from the writings of Malcolm Gladwell, whose books I have found fascinating and I highly recommend them to you. In his book Blink, as part of a larger discussion of how we know what we know seemingly instinctively, he wrote about a psychologist who studied the communication styles of married couples. He placed them in a room and asked them to talk for thirty minutes about any topic that had caused them tension as a couple. He videotaped and analyzed the interaction repeatedly looking for a large number of specific,. . .
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Understanding the Life Context Where God Has Placed You

Everyone Has a Life Context We don’t live our lives in a vacuum; God has us living in a certain place and time. Wherever you are, you live in a specific culture, you speak a certain language, and you are surrounded by a unique group of people, be it family, friends, or relative strangers. Also, you and the people you are surrounded by, live with certain cultural perceptions and legacies that frame how you understand the world around you. All of these factors make up your life context. To deny or ignore the life context that you live within sounds. . .
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Does God Keep His Promises?

The Tension of the Story Any author will tell you that a good story needs certain elements to work, to bring in and keep a reader engaged. One of the most critical elements is a sense of tension, something that is not quite right that must be resolved at some point. Even the writers of the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew mystery books knew this. Besides the main plot, there was always some sense of tension at the end of each chapter that kept you reading—just one more chapter. This principle doesn’t only apply to fiction. The greatest story of. . .
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You Never Stop Being a Parent

The Good Old Days of Parenting As most of you know, I have six children. Some are in various levels of transition into adulthood and some are still what the law calls minors. Each one has a place in my heart, in my plans, and in my prayers. Every day and all day. The reason for this is obvious, I am their father and they are my children. I go through phases where I am looking forward to the relative lightening of the load of parenting. I remember telling myself that the hard years were the early ones, when you. . .
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Parenting Teens & Reliance On Grace

The Process of Parenting Teens With one child just out of their teens and five still in the throes of their teen years, I’ve understandably been thinking a lot lately about the process of young people transitioning into adulthood. This train of thought has also been triggered by the experiences of many of my peers who are also navigating these waters, and the idealism that many of us in the homeschooling movement bought into about how smooth the sailing would be. Turns out that sin and circumstance are still big factors churning the waters for both our children and ourselves.. . .
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Overcoming the Parenting Blues

I’m Not a Parenting Unicorn I am going to be brutally honest. There are times that I really don’t enjoy being a parent. It is usually connected to some aspect of the overall parenting enterprise that is particularly unpleasant or difficult. During those times, I give way to the feeling that being a parent kind of stinks. I know that doesn’t sound very mature or very spiritual. If you are a long-time parent and have never felt that way, I salute you. You are officially either a parenting unicorn of unparalleled spiritual maturity or incredibly self-deceived. I guess you can. . .
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Wise Guys Know They Don’t Know Everything

Wisdom for Difficult Pastoral Issues In recent weeks, I have seen a lot of internet energy being spent on what could charitably be called “difficult pastoral issues.” To be more specific, the energy is being focused on the relative correctness of pastoral decisions, and whether wisdom was properly applied. I have no desire to get into the specifics of any particular situation, because it really isn’t necessary to get to my main point which is the slippery nature of wisdom. In James 1:5, it says that if we are lacking in wisdom, that we should ask God for it. Furthermore,. . .
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Living in a State of Constant Change

Significant Changes Change is a big theme in my life these days. As many of you know, I have recently returned to the pastorate and this vocational shift has brought about many other changes to my life as well as to the lives of my children. We have relocated to a new state, three of my children are either working or attending school in other locations, and my three at-home children are attending a Christian school for the first time, instead of homeschooling. For the younger children, unless you have experienced this, you have no idea how significant the changes. . .
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What if my wife doesn’t want to follow my vision for our family?

To find an answer to this question there are several questions that need to be asked that can help foster understanding, and several biblical principles that can be applied. Learn to Ask Why The first question to be asked as to her lack of support is: Why? You need to understand her heart and convictions in the matter. Also, this isn’t a one-question kind of inquiry. Her initial answer needs to be probed, not to look for logical errors, but to make sure you know both the surface answer as well as the underlying concerns. Her concerns might not be. . .
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Legacy, Memories, & Throwing Out Old Furniture

Relocation Over the last few weeks, I’ve been preparing for my relocation to Mississippi where I will be taking a new pastorate. I am very excited to be moving into this new chapter of my life though I have no small amount of internal stress and conflict about what this new chapter necessarily entails. Please understand, there is nothing coming up in this new chapter that I particularly dread. There are the requisite pains in the neck that go with moving and getting acclimated to new surroundings. I will be going with a reduced brood size since some are going. . .
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Jay Barfield

Jay Barfield.

Jay serves as the pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Clinton, MS (ipcclinton.org), and lives with his six children and dog Lucy, just outside of of Jackson, MS.
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