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Welcome to readingremy.com

Welcome to readingremy.com. If you scroll through my posts you’ll find words of faith to help you overcome whatever you might be facing.F. Remy Diederich

This blog has evolved over the past two years based on what I was working on at the time. As I launched my first book, Healing the Hurts of Your Past …a guide to overcoming the pain of shameI offered many posts taken from the book. If you are looking to learn about how faith in God can help you overcome insecurity, shame, depression, and addiction, you can search these key words.

The next set of posts are based on my second book called: STUCKhow to mend and move on from broken relationships. The posts during this season of my blog dealt with understanding anger, how it gets you stuck in the past, and how forgiveness releases you to reclaim your future.

The last phase of this blog is geared for hurting pastors but really relates to anyone suffering loss and grief. I wrote “Out of Exile”a forty day journey to make a comeback from a setback. I hope to turn this journey into my third book. Click the link to start the forty day journey. You might want to forward the link to pastor friends going through a hard time right now.

I’m currently not posting regularly but I respond to every comment on this blog or emails you send me directly. I’m happy to answer questions about your specific situation that you might be struggling with.  I hope to hear from you. – F. Remy Diederich

The Desert Prepares You for a Comeback

I spent the last several months talking about “exile”. Once I came upon the theme of “exile” in the Bible, I started to see it everywhere. It’s like when you buy a car and you start seeing that make and model all over the road. 

No matter what your situation is today, no matter how remote, how harsh, how isolated…God can use it to make you grow and become strong. 

I just started a study of Luke’s account of Jesus. The last verse in chapter one seems like a “throwaway” verse…a simple statement that wraps up a long chapter. But on second look, I saw another truth about exile. Luke is talking about John the Baptist:

…the child grew and became strong in spirit and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel. Luke 1:80

Where did he grow and become strong?  In church? In seminary? At the university? No. In the desert…the last place we think good things can happen. Our view of the desert is a place where your strength is drained. But not in God’s economy.

God can make you grow and become strong any place he wants to do it. No matter what your situation is today, no matter how remote, how harsh, how isolated…God can use it to make you grow and become strong. It can be the place he prepares you to make a comeback.

Father, help me to see my desert as a place where I can grow and become strong. Help me to not limit what you want to do in my life by my circumstances. Thank you for the good things you have in store for me. 

Out of Exile: Day 40 – Goodness and Mercy

Today marks the end of our 40-day journey in, through, and hopefully out of exile. Thanks for walking with me over these months as I’ve sought to help you process the losses, betrayals, setbacks, and outright rebellion that landed you in exile, far from anything that looked remotely familiar, wondering if you’d ever find your way back. 

My hope in writing for these 40 days, and my prayer for you now, is that you would experience the fullness of God’s goodness to such an extent that it would overflow you and into the life of others. After all, isn’t that what God is working into all of us…a generous heart to reveal his goodness to others? 

Let me quoted Richard Rohr one last time:

The soul has many secrets. They are only revealed to those who want them, and are never completely forced upon us. One of the best-kept secrets, and yet one hidden in plain sight, is that the way up is the way down. Or, if you prefer, the way down is the way up.

In Scripture, we see that the wrestling and wounding of Jacob are necessary for Jacob to become Israel (Genesis 32:26-32), and the death and resurrection of Jesus are necessary to create Christianity. The loss and renewal pattern is so constant and ubiquitous that it should hardly be called a secret at all.

I hope you see by now that loss, or what I’ve been calling “exile,” is not a misnomer…it’s not an aberration that hits people God is upset with or just “bad luck.” Loss comes to us all. It’s a part of life that we need to learn how to recover from and even dance with it gracefully.

When I lived on our farm, one of the many things I learned about farm life is that death is as much a part of the farm as was life. You think of a farm as a place with many living animals. But when you are there 24/7, you begin to realize that death happens all around you. There is almost a rhythm of life and death. I’d imagine people who work in hospitals experience the same thing.

We live in a sanitized world where we quickly remove pain, suffering, death, or anything that makes us feel uncomfortable. We have lost our ability to suffer, learn patience, grieve and then recover well. As a result we become shallow, self-absorbed people who get stuck in exile, having no idea how to return.

But I’m confident that God not only provides a way to return from exile but longs to restore and prosper us.  David was convinced that “goodness and mercy” would “follow him all the days of his life” even though he walked through the valley of the shadow of death. Psalm 23

When my wife and I moved off of our farm, into town and back into ministry, I was surprised at how quickly the blessings of God came back into my life. That was in 1997, and they continue today. One day I was reading through Psalm 31 where it says:

How great is your goodness that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you have given to those who trust you. You do this for all to see. Psalm 31:19

I felt like God was speaking to me directly, saying: Remy, you think you wasted seven years. You think the world passed you by and life will never be what you hoped. But all the time you were enduring hardship, I was storing up the goodness that you were missing. And now I’m bringing that goodness out of storage for you to enjoy.

I find it hard to believe that God would want any more for me than he wants for any of his children. I have to believe he has goodness stored up for you as well.

My hope in writing for these 40 days, and my prayer for you now, is that you would experience the fullness of God’s goodness to such an extent that it would overflow you and into the life of others. After all, isn’t that what God is working into all of us…a generous heart to reveal his goodness to others?

I haven’t gotten as many comments since I took a break for the holidays. But I’d love to get your final thoughts now that the journey is over. Please leave them below or email me directly.

I’m not sure how much I will be posting in days to come. Much less for sure. But I’d love to post the thoughts and stories of people who are either going through an exile or have found their way out…especially if you are in ministry. People in ministry have their own special exiles and we need to hear from our peers to gain comfort and insight.  Click the mail icon in the margin to email me.

Thanks again for traveling with me. God bless you in your journey.

Out of Exile: Day 39 – Double Blessings

I mentioned the other day that King David was confident that God restores our soul (Psalm 23).  It’s interesting to look at how God has restored people through the years.

A common theme in restoration is that God restores you to a place that is better than you were before your exile, often with a double blessing.

  • Naaman’s leprous hand “was restored like the flesh of a little child…” (1 Kings 5:1-14).
  • God restored Job’s fortunes “two-fold” (Job 42:10).
  • God restored Nebuchadnezzar with “surpassing greatness” (Daniel 4:36,37).
  • God spoke through Zechariah that he would restore double to them (Zechariah 9:11,12)

Is it too much to hope that God might restore double to you as well? 

Restoring double implies that the exile is at last over, you are fully accepted, and the gate of blessings is now wide open to you. 

Exile stripped you but God wants to make your life good again. More than that, he wants to celebrate you…YOU…in all of your weakness and failure.

Isaiah’s famous words say it best so I will quote them for you:

1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted , To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners (exiles);

2 To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God ; To comfort all who mourn,

3 To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.

4 Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, They will raise up the former devastations; And they will repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations.

5 Strangers will stand and pasture your flocks, And foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers.

6 But you will be called the priests of the LORD; You will be spoken of as ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations, And in their riches you will boast.

7Instead of your shame you will have a double portion, And instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land, Everlasting joy will be theirs. Isaiah 61

I’ve been trying to show you a way out of exile. Above all, you need to have hope. You need to believe that God desires your best.

Like the Prodigal, he welcomes you back from exile. But more than that, he puts a robe around your shoulders, a ring on your finger, and sandals on your feet. Why? To restore you. Exile stripped you but God wants to make your life good again. More than that, he wants to celebrate you…YOU…in all of your weakness and failure.

But as with the Prodigal, you have to be willing to receive the blessing. He could have refused, saying that he wasn’t worthy. But he stepped into the blessing.

Do you have hope of being restored?  Is God trying to bless you now but you are unwilling to receive it? Leave your comment below.

Out of Exile : Day 38 – Traveling Companions

Our 40-day journey is nearing the end. I hope you are getting your questions answered. If not, let me know before this train comes to a halt.

Today, as I continue to offer a way to return from exile, I want to talk about a touchy subject: your fellow travelers. It’s touchy because the truth is you might get stuck in exile if you are afraid to distance yourself from them. 

Some people like exile. They like the drama. They like being contrarian. They’ve never fit in. They wouldn’t know what to do if life was “normal.” 

You see, some people like exile. They like the drama. They like being contrarian. They’ve never fit in. They wouldn’t know what to do if life was “normal.” 

You think they want to return from exile. They don’t. They like to TALK about returning. But they don’t want to return. They like to make PROMISES about returning, but they have no intention of doing it.

Meanwhile you wait for them. You hope for them. Your pray for them. You believe in them…until you don’t. Until it becomes painfully obvious that they don’t want to leave exile. They never did. Deep down they like people feeling sorry for them. They thrive on pity and self-pity. When this realization hits you, you getting a sinking feeling as you think of all the time you’ve wasted on them.

So here’s the hard part: you may need to walk away from them if you ever want to return from exile. I know you don’t want to do that. Exile is hard enough with someone, let alone on your own. Plus, they always lay a guilt trip on you when you mention it. So you give them more time.

But seriously, walking away might be the right thing…for you and them. Your sticking with them only enables their self-defeating behavior. And besides, you won’t be alone forever. Eventually you’ll find other people headed in the same direction you are…healthy people…humble people… people ready to live the new life they discovered in exile.

I think you know what I’m talking about. You know WHO I’m talking about. The question is: will you walk away and return from exile or allow them to lead you in circles through the Wilderness forever? It’s your choice.

What do you say? Do you know what I’m talking about? Have you ever had to do this to find freedom? Let me hear from you by leaving a comment below.

Out of Exile: Day 37 – Reframing God

Several years ago I was lamenting the life of someone I was counseling. It didn’t seem like they would ever climb out of the hole they were in. Then I remembered Psalm 23 where David said of God, “…he restores my soul.” It struck me that those words were either true or false. Did I believe God was a restorer of souls or not? I believe he is.

I’m convinced that many people stay stuck in exile because of a low view of God. For whatever reason, they don’t believe God is a restorer of souls, and they pay the price for it.

My last recommendation for reframing has to do with choosing to see God as a god of abundance, not scarcity.  Will you look at life expecting God to show up in a big way? Or will you assume the worst? 

We serve the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.

Scarcity is about fear. You are afraid there won’t be enough: enough money, enough love, enough time, enough forgiveness: whatever it is you feel you need in life. 

Scarcity focuses on what little you have; it’s all you’ll get, and if you aren’t careful you will even lose that.

Scarcity is about walls and locks and secrets and hiding because you can never be too careful to guard your meager holdings.

Abundance is the opposite. Abundance is about hope. Abundance sees opportunities when others are cutting back and preparing to throw in the towel.

Have you ever noticed how many seeds a tree throws off every year? Literally thousands. One tree shed enough seeds to create a forest. God has wired abundance into his creation. If he’s done that for trees, won’t he do it for his children?

In the wanderings of the Sinai Wilderness, God’s people doubted his goodness. They doubted he would meet their needs. God responded:

How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? Numbers 14:11

When I have a scarcity mindset I hold God in contempt. I tell him he’s not enough. He is not sufficient for my need.

Paraphrasing, God responded by saying: Okay. It’s your choice. If you don’t think I can help you overcome the obstacles then fine, don’t enter the Promised Land. And in fact, they didn’t enter. They wandered in the Sinai Peninsula for forty years.

It didn’t have to be that way. They had a choice.

In contrast to their contempt for God was Abraham. He believed in a God of abundance: the God of resurrection. Paul wrote that Abraham believed in:

…the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations …Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:17-22

We serve the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.

I know there are exceptions. I know that all stories don’t end in resurrection and deliverance in this life. But God is a god of abundance. Why not expect the best? Why not expect something amazing…even if that’s an amazing sense of peace and joy in your exile?

Maybe you are in a hopeless place. But did you see what Abraham did? It says… against all hope, Abraham believed in hope… 

You are not a fool to hope. You are a person of faith.

Do you see God as a God of abundance or scarcity? Be honest.  What will it take to renew your hope in the God who gives life to the dead? Leave a comment below.

 

Out of Exile: Day 36 – Reframing your Identity.

What often keeps us stuck in exile is we lose a sense of identity. The loss we experienced is so disillusioning that we don’t know who we are any more.

Over the past two posts I talked about reframing your loss and reframing your offender. You also need to reframe your identity if you want to return from exile. You need to see who you are in a new light so you can move on and start a new life.

What people often fail to see, and fail to accept, is that their loss changed them. For example, if you got a divorce, you are single, whether you like it or not. You have a new box to check off on forms: single. 

You need to see who you are in a new light so you can move on and start a new life.

Or maybe you lost your job. Your identity used to be as a pastor, and now you are…well, you aren’t so sure.  Are you a pastor who is currently selling cars?  Or are you a salesman who used to be a pastor?  

Because people don’t like their new identity, they often get stuck in blame, self-pity and denial…finding ways to dismiss or minimize their new status.

But there’s a better way to identify yourself than married/single, or pastor/salesman, etc. You are simply God’s child. You are loved by a caring Father who is committed to bringing you to a better place. But if you insist on clinging to old identities, you will never be able to receive the new life and experiences that God has for you.

When a person is able to find their identity apart from their relationships or their associations (work, hobby, etc.) we call them “differentiated.” They are able to distinguish themselves from whom they know or what they do. If you want to leave exile, you need to differentiate yourself.

Jesus was differentiated. He found his identity in God alone. He said:

If I give honor to myself, that honor is worth nothing. The One who gives me honor is my Father… John 8:54 NCV

Jesus tells us here that he didn’t look to others for affirmation or identity. His worth came from God. In another place, Jesus chided the people of his day on this point saying:

How can you believe since you accept praise from one another, but do not seek the praise that comes from the only God? John 5:44

In other words, he’s saying we too often find our worth in what other people have to say about us and not in what God says about us.

Jesus’ words show us that he was differentiated. He didn’t allow himself to be defined by his work or ministry or family status. No one could intimidate him with words because he only listened to what his Father had to say about him. His goal was never to keep people happy. As a result, he was never devastated when people rejected him. Even in his death, he was able to say,

“Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

Take a look in the mirror. Who do you think you are? How have you framed your life? What is the label you hang on that picture? Is it keeping you from returning from exile?

No matter what has happened to you; no matter what you’ve lost, you are God’s child. That is how you ought to frame yourself and that is the title you should place on the frame.

Please take a minute to leave a comment below. This post was adapted from the chapter in STUCK on how to reframe your identity.