Jeremiah – Chapter 9

Late night Bible Study

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In Jeremiah 1:1 we find him in such agony for his people he wishes he could cry away the pain of watching Judah and its people dissolve into nothingness; to personally disappear into the wilderness. Somewhat similar to the Ostrich hiding its’ head in the sand. But, he can’t as he is called of God to point out these evils and foretell of the impending captivity by the Babylonians. The punishment is coming and Jeremiah agonizes over it. He knows, but his people deny. Jeremiah suggests there is more peace and safety living among the wild beast of the forests and wilderness.

The Tribe of Judah and its entire leadership from the king down to the head of each family clan is in total denial. As we discussed in the Jeremiah 8 website article, they are in such denial they don’t even realize it. To the people of Judah, from the highest officials to the local neighborhoods, people have come to believe that s/he is a better deceiver-liar therefore it is to her or his advantage to continue living such lives.

JIV NOTE: Remove the v from lives, as in victory, one ends up living lives [lies]. Hosea 4 is the brutal truth of what God sees in his people, especially with their priestly leadership. It is only 19 verses but well worth the quick read. It paints a vivid picture of what Jeremiah is discussing in Jeremiah 9.

The reader should be reminded or note that the prophet Hosea lived during the time when the Northern Kingdom still existed, but…. What he said about the Kingdom of Israel to the north was about to happen to the Kingdom of Judah in the south but now through the prophecies of Jeremiah.

God warns through Jeremiah that neighbors should beware of each other; brothers should not trust the tongue of their own kindred; no one should trust the leadership of Judah. 9:1-8…

In Jeremiah 9:9 he gets very specific. He tells the evil priestly clans that God will not only punish the people of Judah, but He reserves a punishment for the priests. They have used the name of religion (not God) to commit all sorts of evils [v14].

9:16 is a reminder to those of Judah that the Lord has provided many times over for them, even when they were a nation and not a divided kingdom north and south. Even though Israel to the north is no more, Jeremiah combines their sinful ways with that of all 12 tribes. In a sense, this may be the same path Israel of today will follow in their denial of the true Messiah (Christ) and their God Jehovah.

Jeremiah 9:14 and 19 pretty much sums up the entire chapter: [ESV]

V14…My people are asking pieces of wood for advice. They think those sticks will answer them! They have chased after those false gods like prostitutes and have left their own God.

V19…They went to those gods for safety, and they have lost their ability to think. Their altars will bring them shame.

There is more news today about political leaders and businesses using deceptive advertising, politicians lying, cheating, living personal agenda driven lives, and calling wrong a political correctness okay or right of the individual than in previous history.  This does not excuse the clergy either. Remember that Jeremiah points out that even the Levite priestly clans were doing the same thing. It is getting very difficult for a person to know who or what to trust.

Do not become overly concerned my friends. God can be trusted to keep His word and covenants.  Fact is, He will fulfill each one with or without man doing his part. Israel and Judah had made gods to their liking. After all, if one can say that stone or stick idol told me it was okay, do this, do that, then the person is no longer to blame. It is that stick idol, right? It is amazing how the reader of this article probably gets it but the people of Israel and Judah did not.

There is an old saying, perhaps a proverb, that if one hangs around a fire too long, eventually s/he will get burned or become fuel for the fire. This is what is dreadfully wrong with the compromising church today. In order to “get along” with others, standards are compromised; doctrine is shallow; hope is in the masses not God; sin is only a perception of right and wrong; what counts is Political Correctness.


Rev. Dr. JstarkDr. jStark

December, 2017

A Wandering Tale

Have you ever had a day, a week, or a month when you simply “dragged tail?” Though I bytheShadowdon’t have much of a tail to drag it feels like it’s dragging. I can’t quite put my nose on it but something is missing. Sometimes I don’t feel right, but I don’t feel wrong. I get real whiny and my mom doesn’t understand me. To be honest as a dog can be; I don’t understand either. nose

My mom looks at me with concern. I get stuck in this zone of “The Wandering Tale,” going nowhere but wanting to be everywhere. Doing nothing but longing to accomplish something.  You think dogs don’t wanna work? We do. My mom will tell you I do much better with structure and boundaries. Most of the my wandering tale is just because I lost focus of that One thing I am to do.

I think I found the cure for the wandering tale. It is to stay focus on my Master and her will for me. If I start looking at squirrels, chasing the cat, bark excessively because I feel like it,  I end up losing focus on my real purpose. This actually makes me more anxious and out of sorts.  A distracted Service dog who wanders in thought or deed is a potential danger to the Master’s Service. One of my commands is to “look” which is the same as focus.

Don’t waste your time stuck in a wandering tale whether in thoughts or deeds -going nowhere. There is a great purpose for you that will impact your world for the good. Stay focus on your Master’s will  and just do it. Life is short, especially for a dog. Why do cats have 9 lives, life just isn’t fair! So live your life with laser like focus, fiery passion and a sole purpose. I know my Master deserves no less.

This for That or That for This

Not only did I go through a lot of training to be a Service Dog, every day is like on thebytheShadow job training. My mom went through training with me and we will always be in “training.”

One of the reasons I used to love training so much was I always got “this for that.” I got a treat for doing whatever my mom asked me to do if I responded correctly. Boy, once I figured out that I got a treat each time I was faster than fast…YUM! But as I grew and matured the treats got less and less. Sure, I do get treats for doing what I am called to do but only when my mom decides to give them to me. Doing what I do without getting this (a treat) for that (performance) is no longer my motivation. I sort of grew up and do “that” for my mom because it is who I am and what I do.

If my mom felt she always had to give me something for turning the light off or picking up her slippers she would be doing “THAT” for “THIS.” It equally speaks of the wrong motive of her heart. She would be striving to repay me for what I freely give. That would steal my joy of serving.

Are we always expecting “this” for “that?” Or do we feel obligated to give something when they do something (THAT). Both can bring disappointment. “This for that” is the I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine attitude. ”That for This” is striving to and always paying someone back for a good deed or gift.  When we don’t expect “THIS” for “THAT” or strive to do “THAT” for “THIS” it changes us. Giving without expectation and receiving without striving to pay someone back is balance living. It is unconditional love and acceptance. One of the best things in life is when we know the how to give and accept love unconditionally.

Keep Moving

bytheShadowI love going places with my mom. Many people ask my mom what does she do? I am called a “Mobility Dog.” My main job is to help my mom stay mobile by helping her with balance, support, and bracing. My mom has a wheelchair stored in a closet and it is where we hope it will stay. During times I am out of harness when we go for a walk my mom uses a walker to keep stable.

Two Mobility Specialists

Two Mobility Specialists

There is another type of Mobility Specialist called a chiropractor. My mom goes to Dr. Marc who uses his hands to set my mom straight. Dr. Marc says it is important to keep moving. The adjustment helps her keep moving and gets rid of headaches. (If Dr. Marc would just take Murphy he would be taking away my headache!) I love Dr. Marc and his staff as they also “treat me” literally with treats while always treating my mom with compassion and care.

Keep moving. There is no such thing as staying in place. If we are not moving forward, we are losing ground. Even when life is painful and it seems like you take three steps forward and two steps backwards, be thankful for the one step you gained…and keep moving- forward.

Living Upside Down

bytheShadowServing my mom by helping her balance, pick up stuff, and opening the door is such a joy to me. In a world that seems to be getting more self absorbed and self-centered, so many are missing out on the Joy of giving of themselves. Our friend, Bob Burg, who with John David Mann wrote the book The Go-Giver shares some great wisdom. Bob Burg lives the life of a go-giver.

Murphy practicing a cat's concept of living the upside down life.

Murphy practicing a cat’s concept of living the upside down life.

It seems like the upside down life. You don’t give to get but when you give–you get. Like when I open the door for my mom I get praise and a pat or a hug. Not much beats that in my book. Even when there is  seemingly no pay off for serving there is a reward and it has a value greater than one can convey.

We Service Dogs are called Leader Dogs when we serve the blind. Whether a dog is a leader dog, mobility dog like I am, PTSD dog for a  War Veteran, or Search and Rescue dog or in the many other areas of service…we all are leaders in serving and giving. This makes us Go-Givers in the canine world. We add great value to the lives of our “humans.” Just ask my mom!

Our friend Bob Burg wrote,“Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.” The Go-Giver may seem targeted to business but it can easily be applied to every aspect of life. A Go-Giver is one who gives….could be a smile, good advice, helping a friend move, buying lunch for a stranger or any other act of kindness. Giving at its highest level is motivated by love. There is no love greater than to lay down your life for a friend. Most of us probably won’t be faced with that choice but some will. The truth is I will lay down my life to protect my mom. Mom told me her earnest prayer is if the need arise she would lay down her life for her friends without a second thought. Even when the going gets tough we will live the Go-Giver way and perhaps die a Go-Giver. In a way, it is like living in upside down world when you live not for self; but to put others first. Who is first in your life? Is living without giving – truly living?








I Think I Wanna Be A Cat

bytheShadowHaving Murphy the cat around has taught me how easy life is for a cat! He just does whatever he wants, however he wants and only when he wants to! What a life! Eat, drink and be merry! I have to work. I love to work but maybe I just wanna be a do nothing cat, sounds easy and fun. Murphy is like a free loader. In defense of Murphy, my mom says I need to mention the value he adds to our lives. Okay, okay, this Service Dog has to think deep….a cat that adds value…

Okay, Murphy the cat can be entertaining. Especially fun to chase if I get away with it. Usually, my mom tells me to knock it off or “kennel.” Murphy does have a heart too, I watch him lick my mom tears away and cuddle next to her on one of her difficult days. (I get a bit upset when Murphy starts acting like a Service Dog though).

MurphyJMe wanting the easy life of a cat and Murphy the cat acting like a Service dog can be a bit confusing. Murphy has even picked up a pen my mom dropped (just to chew on it not bring it back to her like I would do). He is messing with my harness while it is propped up against the wall, when I am not working. He better not be getting any big ideas. I am the Service dog, he is the cat!

My mom told me the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. She reminds me if I was a cat I will have to go potty in a box, and stay in the apartment. My mom even mentions how I may have to hack up hair balls. That did it. I don’t want to be cat.

Seems like everybody wants to be somebody else. Take it from a Service Dog- I learned a new lesson in life. We are created to be who we are; no one else can replace us, nor can we be them, even if we tried.  You are unique and have a great purpose for your life that only you can fulfill. Enjoy being YOU. You can not be a better someone else because that isn’t who G-d created you to be. You are beautiful just the way you are. Be YOU!

Keep Going Through

bytheShadowI don’t like going through open doors and I especially dislike elevator doors. My mom waits for me to “go through” as she holds the door open for us. I look back and with all my might try to convince her with my pleading eyes that she should go first. She knows me well. Looking straight at me she commands “Shadow, Go through.”  So I just “do it,” and all is well.

There are things I just don’t like going through. Things I don’t like seeing my mom go through – like the struggles and pain  she goes through every day. I don’t like to see homeless dogs or homeless people go through the heartaches of life. I don’t like to see anyone hurt – not even Murphy, the cat. My mom told me the key is focus ahead and keep putting one paw in front of the other and keep “going through.”

One Paw In Front of the Another

One Paw In Front of the Another

Are you facing something that you don’t think you will be able to go through? Life obstacles are overwhelming at times. Though I go through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil for Thou O Lord are with me. Shadows are harmless.  Keep putting one paw in front of the other. You can “keep going through!”

I Confess!

Yes, it is true. I am a dog. I will confess before Murphy, the cat leaks this out to thebytheShadow press. I am a Professional Service Dog and my mom keeps a “short leash” on me to remind me of my higher calling…but some times I slip up bad. I am a dog. Today, I chased the cat not just once but three times. Yeah, I know it is what dogs do and my mom excuses me from some of these things. But chewing up the cat’s toy when I don’t even play with my toys pushed the limit. Plus I barked and barked when my mom was very clear about “leaving it” (people talking in the hallway by our door). My mom sent me to the Kennel to remind me to listen and obey. And my treat monies will go to buy Murphy a new toy to replace the one I chewed up. Yeah, acting unprofessionally is not always worth it but I was out of harness today. (sort of like Sunday only Christians who act un-Christian Monday-Saturday). Excuses work-sometimes. The truth is chasing the cat was totally worth it and fun. Besides Murphy was bugging me too, walking by me swinging his tail and…I think he was smiling at me.

My mom needs to know that dog do dogs things and people do people things and often their actions can be wrong, out of regret, anger, pain or frustration or for temporary pleasure. I am but a dog and don’t know the details of why- but my mom threw the remote across the room. It wasn’t a training exercise for me. But I ran and picked it up and brought it back to her. She didn’t even thank me. She held her head in her hands and cried. So I washed her arm. Last night my mom was crying in the shower…she didn’t think I could hear her. She has some bad days lately and then regrets being a “person” reacting out of emotions rather than being a woman of faith.



People (including my mom) need to know it is okay to be “people.” It is not wise to dwell on the things one can not change or continue to do things one ought not do. But there’s a time to forgive yourself, to let go, regroup, face life and go on. Sort of like a professional service dog –a dog needs to be a dog  and sometimes chase the cat. BUT then we get back to the business of the work we are called to do. Serve and help others.

What’s Wrong About “Rights”

It may not be wrong, but it sure it isn’t right! The other day my mom told me to bytheShadow“Kennel.” So I headed over that way. To my shock Murphy was in there! Can you believe the nerve of some cats! At first my mom thought it was cute. This felt like a conspiracy. Murphy seemed to make a point of camping in MY kennel– way back in the corner of it. My mom told me to go in there anyway; so I crawled in and nudged him several times. The goofy cat just rolled over and smiled…well it sure looked like a smile. I backed out of there in a hurry. I was disgusted.take over the dog’s my kennel?

Cat in MY Kennel!!

Some may think it’s no big deal. In fact, my mom compromised for a few days telling me it is just a little change, what could be bad about that? Murphy stayed in for a little while at first. Then he stayed in MY Kennel more and more. The longer Murphy made MY kennel his new home the more displaced I felt. No place to go to chill, no Kennel to go in when I was naughty. I never thought of messing with his cat bed (though I did try to get in his litter box once – he has some interesting stuff in there! And I got in BIG trouble for that).  My life became less structured and my “place” of discipline non-existent since Murphy took over my place. The cat decided that he had “rights” to my Kennel.

Well, my mom said enough was enough and tried to shake Murphy out of the Kennel. (Now that was funny!) It didn’t work. My mom got a spray bottle and with two squirts of water Murphy vacated the Kennel! That was all it took. He has not been in My Kennel since!

Most of the time there is nothing wrong with sharing. But giving up our constitutional rights is another thing. We need to take heed. Most of the time giving in a little turns into giving more than we expect. Give an inch and some will take a mile, or a country. Just give a cat a bed and next he’ll try to take over the dog’s kennel.

Ca-ca- CAT – Catastrophes

Boy, did my mom rock my world! We went to Petco and I thought way cool, mom bytheShadowis going to buy me treats. I was wrong. We adopted a cat!! Sometimes I think my mom is crazy. We have a happy home why ruin it with a ca-ca-cat? Truly this is a CATastophe in the making.

Well, to my utter amazement Murphy is a pretty cool cat. You could say my attitude needed some big time adjustments and my mom helped me make them. Do cats laugh? When I chase Murphy, my mom says, “SHADOW KENNEL!” I swear Murphy turns and grins at me just as he takes off to his safe place. The very first night, Murphy had the guts to get on the bed with us! Where is the boundaries boy? My mom was up most the night helping me make more adjustments in my attitude. By morning, not only was Murphy sleeping on the bed with us, he had snuggled up to me!Murphey

It has been about a month since Murphy came to live with us. I must confess life is much more interesting. Actually, what I thought was the worst possible thing, turned out to be nice. Don’t tell Murphy but I am rather fond of the little fella. We play and run around the apartment. My mom still likes me best! She tells me I am her favorite dog!

What we think is the worst thing that could happen to us may actually turn out to be wonderful! At first it may not seem like it. Sometimes our attitude needs to change. It is amazing how much our attitude can dictate whether we look at life as a disaster or an adventure we can learn from and perhaps enjoy. The choice is ultimately ours to make.