Everything Else is Second

Hello Readers and Welcome New Visitors,

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  Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

           This summer while traveling, we had the opportunity to share at Poplar Spring Church in King, NC. Poplar Springs was the church that I grew up in, and was the place that had ordained me into ministry.  It is always a pleasure to go back and share about the things that God has been teaching us while living in Bangkok.  This year, my message firstly focused on building a relationship with God, and then secondly, building relationships with others.  While I was preparing the message, Jana hit me with a question that I had not considered while looking at this passage.

Jana said, “I have never noticed that at the end of this passage that Jesus states, ‘the entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these commandments.” As we continued discussing her insight, we quickly realized that Jesus was telling us that everything that we deem important is second to this great commandment.

The idea that everything came second opened my mind to the fact that no matter how passionate I might be about a particular issue or ritual, if I am not loving God and loving other people, nothing matters. This problem was considerably noticeable to us as we traveled and watched the news media while visiting family and friends. It appears as if we have become so passionate about certain issues we deem as “sin”, that we forget that God commanded us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus did not say to love your friends, or love people who think like you, or love people who act like you, or even love people who live like you; He simply said to, “Love our neighbor.”

          As I was speaking at Poplar Springs, I was reminded that I am more receptive to input from people whom I have a relationship with.  If certain people who I cherish as personal friends speak truth into my life, then I listen. No matter what that truth might be, I am open to receiving it. But, we are not using the same practice with our neighbors because we are not building relationships with them. Instead of building a relationship first, we want to state our agenda, hammer a person with our Christian truth while exposing their sin, and then start building a relationship with that person.  Why are we shocked when people state that their impression of Christianity is judgmental?  I do not believe that is the prominent example Jesus gave us throughout the New Testament.

Let me close by saying that I believe in truth and the Bible as the Word of God.  I am also quick to judge others instead of focusing on relationships.  But, this approach is not the one we are shown in John 8.  Too often we want to ask who the sinner was, and what their consequence came to be.

Maybe instead, we should start focusing on Jesus’s answer to not be so concerned with pointing fingers at other people’s sin and instead let Jesus work in that person’s life:

John 8:2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said.” Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”   . . . .

Jack Barr, Author

Product Details

A Personal Guest Writer Interview By Andi Cumbo-Floyd At AndiLit.

Hello and Welcome Readers,

Hello and welcome to my new Book Blog! December was a pretty busy month for my book and myself. So I thought I would start the New Year off with sharing a wonderful ‘Guest Author Interview’ by Andi Cumbo-Floyd that was done and shared on her fantastic and helpful website here:

 

She is a writer, editor, and author herself, and she enjoys learning through interviewing other authors about their books and writing process. She was kind enough to do a wonderful interview about my book.
Here first is a little about Andi Cumbo-Floyd, and what she does to help other authors and writers.

About Andi Cumbo-Floyd:

I’m a writer, a teacher, an editor, and a reader.  Sometimes more of one of those than the other.

Recently, I published a book called The Slaves Have NamesThe book tells the stories of the people who were enslaved on the plantation where I was raised and shares my journey of getting to know them.  I self-published the book, a decision a vacillate between loving and loathing, depending on the moment and the predominance of solar flares.

I write mainly creative nonfiction and sometimes get something published. Most often I just get rejection letters that I dutifully file because some day I’ll be able to make my own recycled paper house from crushed up and hardened rejection slips. Additionally, I teach writing and edit manuscripts for other writers. I hold an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in Literature, and I’ve taught at several colleges and universities all around the country including George Mason University, Cecil College, Stevenson University, Santa Clara University, and Solano College. For more about Andi, please visit here website  www.andilit.com . . .
Especially if you’re a writer.
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My Interview About ‘Failing At Fatherhood, A book for the imperfect father’

Write to Serve Others – A Writers Write Interview with Jack Barr

When a friend writes me and says, Would you interview my friend? I do everything I can to say yes.  So this interview is a result of that request from my college friend Manny.  If you have ever struggled with the path your life has taken, if you love someone who has Down Syndrome, if you doubt the reasons you life has come the way it has, I think you’ll appreciate the words of Jack Barr.

Failing at Fatherhood by Jack Barr

1. Tell me about your latest project.

I have recently written my first book, Failing at Fatherhood.  It was released this past November.  A publisher contacted me about two years ago after he read my article about our family on CNN.  He encouraged me to write a book and share my story with a broader community. That led me to writing Failing at Fatherhood.

2. What role, if any, did books, writing, and reading play in your childhood?

I was not an avid reader growing up.  My parents encouraged me to read, but I was more interested in outside activities.  After I became a Christian in college, reading became more important to me.  One author that encouraged me in my journey was Tony Campolo.  His book, Carpe Diem, opened my eyes to our calling as Christians and the needs of others
around us.

3. What is your writing practice, your writing routine?

Since I have finished my book, I occasionally blog.  Usually I blog when something in the news or my life strikes me as an interesting story to share with others.  Recently I wrote about Brittany Maynard and Lauren Hill.  I shared my own thoughts about their stories and my personal experience of watching my father die of cancer when I was eighteen years old.

4. Who are you reading now?

I have three authors that I follow on a regular basis: Michael Connelly, John Grisham, & Ken Follett.  I enjoy “getting lost” in their stories and taking a break from my other responsibilities.  I also read various Christian authors when I find a topic interesting to me.  Right now I am working through a devotional book entitled, Conversations, by Brian Rice.

5. What are three of your all-time favorite books? Why do you love those?

Tony Campolo – Carpe Diem – It was the first Christian book I read that embraced difficult questions about Christian beliefs.  Tony gives you honest insight into what it means to be a Christian and follow that calling.

John Grisham – A Time to Kill – I grew up in the South, so many issues in this book I saw in my own community.  This is the first book I read by Grisham, and I have been reading his books ever since.  The book gives us a true glimpse into racism and makes us question our beliefs about justified murders.

Mitch Albom – Tuesdays with Morrie – This book prompted me to become a teacher and the purpose of my life.  The topics discussed in this memoir should be topics discussed between every pupil and teacher.

6. How do you balance “building a writing platform” and the actual writing to set on that platform?

I didn’t really follow a traditional writing process.  I just wrote my story. It was easy for me to write because it was a story I wanted to share.  After battling depression for a year, I knew I wanted to help other fathers.  The publisher contacted me before the book, so I was writing with the idea that my book would be published. Since writing the book, I have learned that promoting a book might be the hardest aspect of being an author.

7. What is a typical day like for you?

First we live in Bangkok, and I am a teacher at an international school.  I start each day at 7am at teacher devotions.  From 7am till 3pm, I am teaching or overseeing the athletic program at our school.  Usually from 3pm till 5pm, I am coaching a sports team after school.  At 5pm, I journey home to spend time with my wife and daughter.  My daughter goes to bed around 8pm, and I read for an hour before going to bed around 9pm.

8. Describe your dream writing space?

Somewhere quiet.  Does not really matter the location.  As long as my three-year-old daughter is not running around my feet, then it will work for me.

9. What is the hardest writing critique you ever received? How did you respond?

That was probably some of the comments from readers about my CNN article. I wrote about my journey in raising a daughter with Down syndrome.  I never realized that people could be extremely mean and hurtful.  I am not a traditional writer so when people critique my writing, I accept that with a willingness to improve.  But when people attack my beliefs, personal choices, and my own daughter for being different, I realized that the world could be a hurtful place.  How did I respond?  I cried.

10. What is the best wisdom you have to share with other writers?

Marley and Jack BarrWrite about what you care about.  I never wrote to be famous or to earn income.  I wrote because I cared about the topic and my future readers.  If you write to serve others, then you will always be happy with the finished product.

Jack and Jana Barr are missionaries in Bangkok, Thailand. Three years ago, Jack and Jana did not know God would use their daughter Marley, to forever alter their life plan.  Marley was born with Down syndrome and that event sent Jack crashing into a sea of depression. They started, If They Had A Voice, an awareness campaign that focuses on Down syndrome abortions.   Jack also wrote his first book, Failing at Fatherhood. . .

I want to Thank Andi for this in-depth interview she kindly did and shared on here website. I hope those of you who read this interview have a little more insight about my book, and my writing process. As this being my first book, I’ve had many doors open to share my book and message about Down Syndrome. I was also honored in December with a Silver Adult Book Award by The Mom’s Choice Awards, and also a live interview on Blog Talk Radio about my book as well.  So yes December was a busy month for me.

I thank you all who have come to visit, and have followed my new blog. I and my  family appreciate the support!
I hope you will support us by purchasing your copy of my book today on Amazon Books here: http://www.amazon.com/Failing-Fatherhood-book-imperfect-father/dp/1940145309/
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Product Details

Failing at Fatherhood: A book for the imperfect father

About My Book:

Winner Mom’s Choice Award

“Why do I fear her so much? Marley is my own flesh and blood, yet I lie here silently as a new father wondering if I will be here in the morning.”

When Jack Barr and his wife, Jana, had their first child, they were overcome with joy and excitement. Three days later, as they prepared to leave the hospital, two doctors entered their room debating whether newborn baby Marley, had Down syndrome. Mixed in with the confusion of whether or not their daughter was chromosomally different, Jack and Jana knew their lives would be changed forever.

Failing at Fatherhood embraces Jack’s honest struggles as a father, after receiving his child’s diagnosis of Down syndrome three weeks after her birth. He excavates the past, examines the present, and explores his future life in a sincere attempt to understand his personal failures as a father during his first year of parenthood. Throughout the book, Jack wrestles with the decision of divorce, suicide, and the existence of God. However, with His ultimate direction, Jack is able to understand the significance of fathers being committed to their children.
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My Book Is Now A Mom’s Choice Silver Award Winner.

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May God Bless You,
Jack Barr, Author