Phone: 417-881-3073

2645 E. Southern Hills Blvd | Springfield | MO 65804 

Genesis 28: The Domino Effect

My parents used to tell me all the things I need to do to be a good and successful person in the world. At the time, I used to think why they would tell me things as if I don’t know what to do? Being young has its own set of challenges, and being older has it’s. So I just did not understand why my parents would ask me to do the things I thought was not the best or the right thing to do. It’s payback time now as I hear my children say the same thing to me sometimes.

As I read this chapter, I see Isaac is telling his children what to do. He is telling his son Jacob what he is to do with his life. He tells him how to find his wife and be blessed. This gesture of asking your children to do the right thing is called “blessings” for the children. Ephraim and Manasseh, Isaac’s great-grandchildren, get the blessing from their grandfather the same way later on. Asking children to obey and children obeying their parents is a sign of blessings in store in life.

In chapter one, we see God the Father asking his children, our first parents, Adam and Eve, to be fruitful and multiply. It was not a suggestion, but a command and a direction. They were given charge to grow and subdue. They were expected to obey the father, and when did not, we know how that ended up.

Every father and mother, regardless of who they are wishes and hopes for their children to listen to them because life experiences have given them a better perspective on life. Children, on the other hand, just like us when we were young, do not see the wisdom of the age. So, we see here Esau marries against the father’s wishes, and Jacob does what he was asked to do. In a way, Esau seems to have justified without any coercion, why he lost his blessings when he took women as his wives from the Hittites. It was not necessarily that he took a wife from a foreign land, but because he did not listen to his parents’ advise.

Blessings will go a long way if we listen to the wise advice of our elders. Jacob obeyed his parents and was blessed by it. Joseph made ready his chariot and went up to meet his father Israel in Goshen, and was blessed by that encounter. Joshua blessed Caleb with a large inheritance because Caleb wholeheartedly followed the Lord and his commandments. Naomi blessed Ruth with God’s kindness and love, security, and safety. Boaz acted as God’s hand in making this blessing come true. Ruth returns the blessings to Boaz. Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife Hannah, and that blessing is fulfilled in Samuel.

The whole idea of blessing someone has a domino effect. You kick off a blessing, and it keeps going forever. You start with a small blessing to someone else, and it snowballs into a bigger one for you and generations after you. This is the whole story of Jacob. If you follow his trail, you will see blessings after blessings following Jacob, because he listened to his father Isaac first. While Jacob’s beginnings do not reflect his good ending, it shows God can reverse the course on people and bless them abundantly.

Genesis 27: Our Words Have Power

In this chapter and the next, we will hear a lot about blessings that were given or taken away or stolen. We all would like to be blessed by someone we love. Do you know of anyone who doesn’t want to be blessed by those whom they love? Those we love maybe our parents and grandparents or our children and grandchildren. Age does not matter, we would like to be blessed by another.

My mother, even when she was old, sought blessings from people who were older than her. She also sought blessings from her children and grandchildren. She would bless everyone regardless of who you were and believed in the power of blessings she gave.

The ancient world believed that blessings and curses have a kind of magical powers. If they blessed you with positive outcome, they believed that what they pronounced will come true. Similarly negative things.

In a way, we can say, yes, pronounced words have powers. Or else this world wouldn’t exist. In the beginning, was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word was God and therefore, in my opinion, every word spoken has power. Because words have power.

Words are doubled-edged swords, as St. Paul would say. They can go both ways. So the use of words to bless or curse can go both ways and affect the pronouncer of the words and the receiver of it. It will be a great thing for us to bless than to curse. If the words are double-edged, then why not give blessings than curses. I am sure blessings given are blessings returned. In this story of Isaac’s children, one is blessed and the other’s blessing is withheld. Through treacherous ways, Jacob received the blessing and for that Jacob is solely responsible to God. God will bless Esau regardless but Esau learned a lesson for being naive. He wanted his blessings back, but what has already gone out could not be withdrawn.

This story is a wonderful lesson for us to reflect and think before we utter words of any kind. Good or bad, blessings or curses, encouraging or discouraging words, once gone out, can not be withdrawn. They are in the universe to dispense the power it was sent out for. So, it will do good for us to remember before we speak, we are blessed with the same gift Jesus was blessed with. That is to create or destroy with our words. To bless another or to curse another is the call of everyone created by God through words that have power.

Jacob not only took the birthright of his naive brother, but he also took the blessings from him. Jacob’s story here is not a justification for doing the wrong thing. Jacob lived in fear for the rest of his life for what he did, even though Esau will deal with him kindly and with love. I would rather live free and happy than live like Jason with fear of his own brother. Our actions have consequences and our words have power.

 

Genesis 26: God Is Strolling With Us

“I am the God of Abraham your father; don’t fear a thing because I’m with you.” Genesis 26:24

Haven’t you had the experience of someone you love standing near you, but you didn’t know about it.? It’s a strange feeling people get that someone is near them and they turn around and find that person smiling at them. In the early chapters of Genesis, one of the things we see is this very thing that God walks near them as a person who loves them. But they didn’t know. We find it over and over with different characters in the Bible. Like in Genesis 3: 8, you will read that Adam and Eve heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze. God was in their space. God was finding their garden a place to relax and build a friendship.

In one of the stories we find when Hagar, Abraham’s servant girl, was in the wilderness, she was afraid. God was with her, but she did not know it. She was not just scared for herself, but much more for her little boy, Ishmael. But the scripture says, “God was on the boy’s side as he grew up.” He was not left alone for a second. When Israel, Jacob, was dying, this was one of the blessings he gave to Joseph, his son that “may God be with you and give you a safe passage.” Genesis. 48 21. God was with Ishmael just as much as He was with Jacob.

Isaac had every reason to be afraid of the new people in the new land he ended up in. He also knows the stories of his father and his struggle in life. I want to take you to the emotions of Isaac as he meets Abimelech, most likely one of the Egyptian officials. Isaac lies to him just like his father did. While Isaac was afraid of all the antagonism he might experience from the ruler of the land, Abimelech, the ruler, knew that God was on Isaac’s side. That’s why he says, “We’ve realized that God is on your side.” Abimelech was not ready to fight with the one whose friend was God.

Isaac eventually believed in the promise that God will stick with him. Because the Lord had promised that, “I’ll stay with you, I’ll protect you wherever you go, and I’ll bring you back to this very ground. I’ll stick with you until I’ve done everything I promised you.”

This is what happens to all those who are following the promptings of God within them. God walks with them. It’s not just God is watching over them. But God walks with them and makes them part of his evening stroll as it was in the story of Adan and Eve. God is looking for a friend in you.

It is hard for us to fathom the idea that God, the supreme being, will walk with us and make us His friend. Because we do not deserve it, we think, and we do not know for sure if God does walk with people! That’s because we haven’t seen a physical being called God in anyone or anything. We are like Isaac and the rest of the Biblical people with whom God walked without fail, regardless of their fear or lack of faith.

Isaac went through the same. Abraham, his father, Patriarchs and saints, went through the same. It is in the destiny of man to have God with them. But man fear God won’t be.  The Lord continues to promise  Isaac and everyone who believes in him that, “I am the God of Abraham your father; don’t fear a thing because I’m with you.”

Don’t fear a thing, for that’s the biggest folly of humankind, namely, to be afraid of everything that does not make sense or is different. In the book of Leviticus, we find another assurance that God will stroll through your streets. Leviticus 26: 12. Numerous occasions, God promises in the Bible that he doesn’t want anyone to defile the places he lives and strolls, namely, the temples, the churches, the homes, and the hearts of people. “Don’t desecrate the land in which you live. I live here too—I, God, live in the same neighborhood with the People of Israel.” Numbers 35:34

Genesis 26 tells us that God will be with us through thick and thin, over and over. Even though the story may have different themes, the overarching idea of the chapter is that we are walking along with God. God is happy that we are his company. He will do everything to keep us safe. Trust him like Hagar, Isaac, Jacob and even Abimelech.

Member Talks: Gerald Snow – “What Would Jesus Do” Behind the Wheel?

We have all heard of WWJD (What Would Jesus Do), but as a driver of an automobile do we think of this when we get behind the wheel of a car?

So, the answer to the WWJD is simply…Always the right thing. Somehow many of us forget that Jesus travels with us whenever and wherever we go. He is often forgotten when we get angry or frustrated with another driver. Often that anger and frustration turn to road rage, a frequent and dangerous situation.

In 2006 only 80 fatal crashes were related to road rage (Zebra, May 23, 2019). In 2015 that figure had escalated to 467, a 500% increase. In Missouri (Missouri DMV), 2017, there were 583 crashes involving what the MDMV refers to as Aggressive Driving (vs. Road Rage?) with a total of 640 people killed and a total of 37,120 people injured. Non-aggressive driving deaths were 274. Road rage or Aggressive Driving numbers were more than double of those killed in non-aggressive accidents.

Perhaps we all should consider these horrific numbers when we-

  •      Refuse to allow another vehicle to enter a roadway ahead of us
  •      Honk our horns, scream, shake our fists, or flash an unfriendly finger sign
  •      Tailgate someone in front of us who is moving slower than we would like
  •      Weave in and out of traffic in a dangerous manner
  •      Speed up when we see another car is attempting to overtake us
  •      Respond to another driver who is displaying road rage behaviors

Certainly, we cannot alter another driver’s behaviors, but we can our own. There is a saying, “kill them with kindness,” (of course not meant literally).  As stated in Joshua 1:7,” Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.”

If any of us are guilty of aggravating behaviors while behind the wheel of a car, remember “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good,” Proverbs 15:3

Hopefully, reading this and recognizing our own actions on the roadway, we can change our behaviors on the roadways, honoring Jesus and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

I have learned a great deal from this. I wish you all peace.

Genesis 25: The Hunger That Blinds Us

The earthly journey of Abraham comes to an end and he is gathered among his people. But before the story ends, we see the writer rushing through some very important events in his life such as his second marriage, his second wife Keturah, several children born to Abraham, the twelve tribes of Ishmael and then the life of Isaac, his wife, and his children, Esau and Jacob.

As we go deeper we find the parallel stories in this chapter, stories of the good and the bad, stories of success and failure. Even though both are the sons of Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac, there is a shadow of one being loved over the other, just like Esau and Jacob. The story repeats. The story of good and evil; the story of darkness and light continues.

Two nations were conceived from two sets of brothers – Ishmael and Isaac, and Esau and Jacob – in the mind of God even before the two nations came into existence on earth. Ishmael, the child from the servant girl, is equally important to the fulfillment of God’s plan just as Esau who was tricked by his brother to trade his birthright for a bowl of soup. Several places in the Scripture we will find references back to this one incident as human beings we fall for things that satisfy us in the moment instead of waiting for the things that will give us happiness forever. We go for the short term happiness instead of waiting for a long term blessing.

What is fascinating here is this hopelessly self-centered behavior of the elect and non-elect, the blessed and the cursed, the so-called chosen and not chosen. Jacob, the clever and conniving person succeeds while the free-spirited, hardworking Esau loses his inheritance and future.

One of the basic human needs is hunger. Survival of the fittest, you have heard, can blind us. When the body craves food, the rational process, spiritual insight, and emotional balance can all be lost. In the story of Esau and Jacob, we find this played out. Esau loses all of the future for a bowl of red soup. Jacob takes advantage of this inner blindness of Esau. Neither one is exempt from the implications of their behavior.

In the same way, we can ask what did Ishmael does wrong to be cast into the wilderness? As an innocent child of an unfortunate slave girl, Ishmael was simply collateral damage.

Where is God’s justice in all of this story, one might wonder? Why did God allow Ishmael to be lost in the wilderness and why did God allow Esau the older brother to lose his future? In each story of these brothers, we find their relentless prayer life. For Ishmael in his abandonment; Isaac in his search for God and in seeking a Godly woman in life; Rebekah for a healthy pregnancy; Esau in his fear and loss; Jacob in his search for truth. The good, the successful along with the unsuccessful in the sight of the world gives us a lesson in prayer. The success we envision may not be the success story that gets us into sacred stories. It is our perseverance in following God’s will that gives us a place in the Scriptures.

Complaints, crying, fear-mongering, anger, disappointments, and frustration are all prayer moments for Jacob, Esau, Isaac, and Ishmael just as much as they were true for Abraham, Sarah, Keturah, and Rebekah. Each person in this story had their share of dark emotions to go through. Each dark night of the soul for these patriarchs and matriarchs are the shining moments of God’s power through the darkest moments of life.

Solution #25: So for us, as we read this chapter of Genesis, it is a lot more than simply the events of birth and death of the patriarchs and matriarchs. It is the interwoven presence of God that gives character and depth to the experience and abiding presence of God in one’s life. Success and failure are sides of the one coin we all have to live with. We all have the potential to become Ishmael and Esau just as much as a chance to become Isaac and Jacob. Regardless of what happens to us, we need to remember calling upon God for help made them stay on course to become the characters of the Scripture for generations to come.

Genesis 24: The Power Of Blessing Another

Abraham’s Sarah died not seeing her son marry and have children. Even though she did not get to see her only son Isaac blossom, she died in peace trusting in God’s promises in getting her through the hard times.

As is in the case of every parent Abraham freaked out when the servant suggested maybe he could take Isaac to the land where he came from. Abraham rejects everything that might separate him from his son. He makes the servant promise never to do what he suggested.

When we look into the story of Abraham what we find is a man who initially doubted what God wanted from him but trusted blindly the promises God made him. That did not happen overnight. In Genesis 15 we find him complaining to God saying, “you have given me no offspring” to Genesis 24 where he assures his servant that the angel of God will go before him and make everything right.

This transformation from doubt to trust was not easy. Over the course of his life, we find him slowly trusting God wholeheartedly. It was not a moment of an extraordinary miracle. It took years of recalling life’s blessings that lead him to trust God at every moment. Likewise, it took years of practicing faith through doubt and complaints before Abraham could let go of his fears.

In this story of Isaac finding his wife Rebekah, we find similar patterns of experiences like that of his father Abraham. Isaac and his wife Rebekah go through similar moments of struggle, doubt, and even danger just like his father. But through it all, they both reach a place of confidence in the ways God works in life.

Many people do not realize in reading this chapter that there is a very simple but powerful pattern of blessings which we see the main characters practice. Even when things were not clear Abraham did not fail to bless the servant. The servant blessed Abraham in return and promises to follow his wishes. The servant praises God for leading him to the right person. Rebekah’s brother and mother blessed Rebekah, the journey and the future. They also blessed the future of the children of Rebekah, Esau and Jacob, and a life that defeats everything negative in their lives.

In the end, we find Isaac blessed by Rebekah’s loving friendship her mothering care and comfort and her overall compassion.

Solution #24: Seldom do we realize there is always grace in blessing one another. No matter what life presents to us, no matter who the other person is, blessing another human being brings about the best in us and we receive the best in return. We are better people for blessing one another. In one shot  is an opportunity to get two birds, except both the birds will be alive, unlike the idiom that says, “killed two birds with one shot.” There is nothing to kill when we bless. There is nothing to die when we bless. There is nothing that is destroyed in blessing. Rather even the gates of our foes could be opened to give us security and love we need. Blessing one another is the key that opens the door to blessings in life. Blessing others is being blessed.

Member Talks: Dotti Kaiser on Plastics and the Environment

I am submitting this because I feel a calling to do so.

In our current BCP on page 384 it is quoted we pray, “For the good earth which God has given us, and for the wisdom and will to conserve it, let us pray to the Lord.”

It is my concern that we, not only in our congregation, but worldwide, are not doing much to preserve our planet for future generations. It has come to my attention that our waters, lakes, ponds, streams, and oceans have become polluted with plastics and much other garbage which cannot dissolve any time soon. It is said that by 2040, at the current rate of this type of disposal, there will be more plastics than fish and other wildlife in the waters. It is my feeling we are not doing much to conserve our planet. Plastics do not deteriorate like paper.

It is easy to say there is nothing I can do about it, but yes, there is. We, as individuals, can do only our little bit as I am trying to by spreading the word to others. We can stop the use of plastic bags where we shop by bringing our own fabric bags. Those who go boating should not dispose of plastic into our lakes, and most of us know that.

I write this because I am deeply concerned about this situation and want to do what I, as one person, can do.

Thank you,

Dotti Kaiser.

Genesis 23: The Story of a Soulmate

Here is the story of a soulmate, Sarah, who went through all the high and low points in the life of Abraham, her spouse. Imagine the anxiety, fear, doubt, and anger Sarah must have had in wandering around in the wilderness with Abraham’s visions and experiences of God. Any person, for that reason, will think twice before embarking on a journey without a defined destination or clarity of where they are going.

Now, of course, we know the ancient people were nomadic in nature and so they are attuned to such a lifestyle. We might say, it must not have been that hard as far as the journey is concerned but when it came to doing things as God commanded him to do; it must not have been easy. Then when it came to sacrificing the only child she must have been just crazy, I would think. If I put that into words it will be something like this. “Let us fold the tent man, you are nuts.” Instead, she trusted him.

If you remember, Sarah offered her maid to Abraham and he had another son, Ishmael. There is all the reason for her not to go along with Abraham’s ideas but in the end, she follows him wherever he goes. She supports him in all the escapades of life and becomes the helper God intended her to be. She was not always quiet but in the end Sarah supported Abraham in all things, even letting go of her only son, Isaac.

Nothing comes free, Abraham knew this fully well. He remembered all the sacrifices Sarah made for him and for the family. That’s why in this chapter we see Abraham is not falling for the insincere and quick answer of the Hittite, Ephron. Abraham politely acknowledged Ephron’s offer, but created a prudent boundary by paying for the land he wanted. He also establishes a deep awareness that the place he is buying is a sacred place, for that is where Sarah, his soul-mate, is going to be buried.

For the sake of his soul-mate he spares nothing. He is willing to pay whatever it takes to respect, love, and honor the spouse who journeyed with him. In scripture you will find that Sarah is the only woman whose age, death, and burial are mentioned in such detail. She is not only the mother of the Jewish people, but also of people whose faith is challenged daily by those who are close to them. Regardless of religious affiliation, Sarah represents what it takes to give a person grace, to have courage, to be understanding, and how to support a spouse.

Solution #23: Practicing faith is not easy but if we are attuned to God it will always be present to us through the people we love most us. Those that are near to us will show us the way forward even when we are not sure. When there is mutual trust between spouses even the hardest of choices become a little easier. A reciprocal love is the only way to respond to such trust. Nothing should be spared when it comes to showing that kind of commitment and love. Abraham proves he is the man for Sarah and he will do whatever it takes to prove it. When it came to showing his love of his spouse, and her loss, he did not shy away from showing his emotions. The great patriarch becomes greater when he cries his heart out.

Genesis 22: Keys to Unlock Faith!

The story of Abraham and Isaac always puzzled me. As I see it, God is testing Abraham and asking him to do something anyone in their right mind won’t do. I have a hard time understanding why God, the father, the loving and ever-living being, would put Abraham through such a test? 

It took years for me to understand a little about this story. I did not understand the depth of a father’s love until I had my own children. At every turn of life, I think of them and worry about them. I look for signs that might lead my children to the right or to the left. I pray for their safety, security, and happiness. I long for them to be settled and have a life that is full and beautiful. 

It’s only in this context I can think of Abraham and Isaac. Every time this little boy called daddy, Abraham’s heart must have leaped for joy. Because he is not simply a child among the several other Abraham had. He was the only one and Abraham was going to spare nothing to keep him safe. 

Abraham knew God wouldn’t put him through what was asked. Nevertheless, he was terrified of the thought of what all this means. Everything about God that he had built over the years is now called to question. It is God who blessed him with a child and foretold all that is awaiting this child and the future of Israel. When we read this story, it is heart-wrenching to say the least, because the one who was supposed to protect him and his child is now the one asking for his life. 

One thing I have learned through it all is this. When God puts us through rough days like Abraham had to go through, it is never without a plan to take us out of them. No matter how hard and crazy our experiences might be, in the end, there will always be a contingency plan for God. To trust God to that point is hard because we are all limited by the knowledge of our future. I do this every day when it comes to my children. They do not see the future as much as I see and I am worried, scared and excited for them even when they nothing of it. I have a contingency plan every time they are out of my sight. 

Godly fear, in other words, the constant awarenesses that God has your back even when it is all dark around you, is key to unlock faith. Abraham grew into that faith eventually. It was not quick or easy, but constant building up of a relationship. When he, Abraham, could have been killed at the court of Abimelech, God came to his rescue. In the wilderness, in his loneliness, in his fear and hopelessness, God was present. Abraham came to trust God to do what is best for him in the end. A trust that is a complete surrender to God is hard to come by. Remembering God’s hand in every step of his life helped him get there and served him well. Whether it is in the wilderness or on the mountain, Abraham believed in what was impossible. Because God made the impossible possible in every moment of his life. 

Solution #22: The story of Abraham is the story of complete surrender, a story of growing into that surrender, a moment of letting go of the control of life into the hands of God. When all is done, God gave back all that was surrendered. This, in fact, is the gist of the whole Bible in different stories, anecdotes, and examples. Letting God into life’s moments, as Abraham did, might bring us peace and prosperity just as we see in two great men, Isaac and Abraham. 

 

Genesis 21: Delayed Blessings

Now in here, we are back to some joyful times. In Genesis 21 we see the birth of Isaac, Sarah’s joy. (1-8) But then there is the rivalry of Isaac and Ishmael. (9-13) This leads to the ejection of Hagar and Ishmael, and they are comforted by an angel in the wilderness. (14-21). We read further Abimelech’s covenant with Abraham. (22-34). 

In Romans 8:19 we read that the “whole creation waits with eager longing.” We live in an instant gratification society. No matter young or old, everyone wants and have information at their fingertips. The word Google was the name of a company some years ago, but now it is a verb we all use. Google it! we say. Because the answer is right at your fingertip. 

Our patience level these days for that simple reason is much lower than of our ancestors. We can not wait for things any longer. The deep longing we are talking about in the first paragraph is not the trait of modern society. If you do not answer your text or email right away, then there are hard feelings, fear of rejection, fight and the rest of the drama that follows. 

With this backdrop of the modern world, let us look at Genesis 21 that takes us to the reality of how God works things out. Coping with God’s ways of doing things is just the opposite of the ways of the modern world. Everything, if it is left to God, will be a delayed blessing. Nothing is fast or furious for God. This is the message of this chapter. Sarah had to wait for a long time even after a child was promised to get the child. She waited until she got pretty old to conceive. She had to wonder if God was in the story at all. But she waited through her doubts. 

Look at Abraham. He was not a spring chicken when his firstborn came about. He was 100 years old. If any of us can actually think straight at 100, I would call it a blessing beyond my imagination. I have met two people who made it to 101 and seemed like they carried some sense in them to that age. As for me, forget it, that I won’t have much sense left by then. So, it was a delayed blessing for Abraham just as much as it was for Sarah. It was a blessing in when it came in God’s own timing. 

See how Hagar and Ishmael were treated. They were thrown out of their security and into the wilderness. But God was waiting for them in the wilderness. For Hagar to know God and experience God’s care, she needed to reach the wilderness. In the wilderness, Hagar had to move away from her own son, and limited vision, to see God’s hand at work with her child. God opens the spring of water and life for them once Hagar gave everything into the hands of God. God’s blessings may be delayed and nerve-wracking, but it always comes when needed. 

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. (Luke 2: 25) Simeon waited for a long time for the right time so that he could see Jesus brought into the temple. We see Jesus doing the same when he waits for the right time to raise Lazarus from the dead. He didn’t rush to raise him, instead waited for God’s time.  Jesus asks His disciples to do the same. “Wait for the helper,” Jesus says, “I will send you the Holy Spirit.” Delayed blessings are real and I believe that’s how God does things. He rushes not! 

So, in short, Genesis 21 speaks volumes about waiting for the delayed blessings. Delayed blessings of God in our lives is proof that God is with us. If you doubted whether God was ever with you in anything you are going through, remember Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Isaac, Ishmael, the disciples, Martha, Mary and Lazarus, and the list goes on and on. You are on the right track when things are not right in front of you when you want it. God works with infinite things and we work with finite things. It is in my DNA to die, therefore a limited vision and it is in God’s DNA to live and therefore beyond the small things. Therefore, delayed blessings are God’s way of guarding your back!