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Posts By Jay Barfield


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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My Dad Was a Work in Progress & So am I

Looking Back on a Life When I think back to my dad’s life, certain pictures or incidents come into my mind, as I am sure happens for you when you think back on your father. I have memories of him during my childhood, throwing baseball with me. I remember him standing by me as my best man when I got married. I remember him playing with my children when they were small. I remember him caring for my mother during her bouts with cancer and eventual home going. And, I remember him during his final years, as his own health. . .
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My Dad Could Do Magic!

My Dad Could Do Magic Really. He could. At least through the eyes of a little boy, he could. I’m not talking about divination, which is an abomination. I’m talking about magic. When I was nine or ten, my dad bought a 1956 Cadillac Fleetwood. It was dark green, and was absolutely beautiful. It was as big as a small apartment, and had every option and gadget that was available at the time—but no seat belts. One day, I was sitting in the front seat next to my dad, along with one of my friends. Dad casually said, “Wanna see. . .
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Your Idols Usually Look Like You

What does idolatry look like? As a sin, idolatry usually brings certain concepts or images (no pun intended) to mind. We typically think about statues and pictures as objects of our worship, and that is entirely accurate, though it doesn’t cover it completely. As I’ve said before in sermons, if you think little Buddhas or icons are your only worry with regards to this commandment, you’re reading it wrong. As we meditate on the sin a little deeper, we move into areas such as attitudes, insecurities, possessions, and whacked out priorities, that gain sinful traction and preeminence in our lives.. . .
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Loving Others the Way God Loves Us

The Love of God for David Throughout the Old Testament, a phrase or concept repeats itself over the course of the history of Israel. It almost serves as a frame or guiding principle for how God interacts with Israel, both in good times and in bad times. The phrase is this: For the sake of His servant David. God’s actions, in times of blessing as well as times of judgment, were all taken in light of His love for, and His covenant with, David. His covenant promises to David, and His love for His flawed but faithful servant, extended for. . .
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God is Not Zoltar

Getting Your Fortune Told Back in the days when pinball was popular, video games were in their infancy, and you had to go to arcades to play either one, there was one machine that stood out as unique. It had a major role in the Tom Hanks film Big. It was Zoltar, the fortune teller machine. You can actually buy one of the machines today for around ten thousand bucks. You stick in a coin, Zoltar’s eyes light up, and the machine spits out a card with your fortune. God Isn’t Zoltar It’s sadly common that we approach the task. . .
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You Can Be a Load Bearing Friend

Have you ever had someone in your life who was a source of strength and encouragement for you? Have you ever been that source for someone else? Weight Bearing Walls I was listening to an audio book today, and an otherwise innocuous phrase jumped out at me. The author was describing a friend as part of a long unrelated narrative, and referred to her as a “weight bearing wall.” The thought of friendship described that way hit me hard, like a water balloon in the back on a summer day. I had never thought of that metaphor to describe friendship,. . .
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Don’t Let Bad Memories Steal Your Hope for the Future

Good & Bad Memories Our perception of God, ourselves, and the world around us is largely shaped by what we have learned, not only through God’s Word, but also by our experience—our personal history. Our individual body of experience is made up of a collection of memories. These memories can be “good” or “bad” remembrances. They can be epochal events, or everyday occurrences. They can be highly emotional moments, or they can be relatively humdrum incidents. They can be memories of overwhelming love and kindness, or they can be memories of cruelty and brutality. Regardless, they have been stored in. . .
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Redemption for the Ruined

The Scars of the Redeemed Harsh and difficult providences can leave very real scars, both physical and emotional. While none of us are completely free from these marks, some scars are deep. For some, it could be the result of a difficult or abusive childhood, or some sort of trauma related to the sins of their parents. Others might have had a period of rebellion, and still carry baggage from those times. Some might be carrying the pain of rejection from a former spouse who has abandoned their marriage vows. Possibly, you are carrying guilt and remorse because you were. . .
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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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