Featured post

Welcome to readingremy.com

Glad you stopped by. My blog has evolved over time. It has served as a place for me to discuss topics found in my books. But other times what I discuss turns into a book, as it did with “Out of Exile.”

Because I’m both pastor and an addiction spirituality consultant, I interact with people on how God can help them overcome their problems in practical ways. My writing isn’t hyper-spiritual but down-to-earth, no-nonsense advice. 

My writing isn’t hyper-spiritual but down-to-earth, no-nonsense advice.

A common theme with me is helping people make a comeback. I like to look “under the hood” to find what’s wrong with our thinking, help get things rewired, and then encourage people to trust God to find a new life.

Much of my writing is to pastors; both to help them and to help them help others. But I think everyone can find things here that will help them.

I hope you’ll subscribe to my blog and like my Facebook page in the margin. And feel free to send me a note. I promise to read it and reply. If you sign up for my monthly newsletter, you can download my latest book, Out of Exile, for free.  Thanks for spending some time on my site!- F. Remy Diederich

p.s. – Pastors, when you order “Out of Exile,” send me your receipt and I’ll forward you three message transcripts from a series I preached called, “Return from Exile.” It will help your congregation learn how to recover from a setback.

The Key to Growing in Personal Freedom

Jesus came to set you free, but do you know why? Is freedom just for your personal happiness, or is there a greater purpose?

Jesus made it clear that he came to set us free:

If you obey my teaching…Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. …I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin…but if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:31-36

Maybe you’ve heard someone tell their story of how Jesus released them from a habit or lifestyle that had them trapped in a death spiral. Those stories are great to hear, but being set free is only Part One of a two-part story.freedom

Sometimes people forget that.  I’ve heard people say that they attended a church, came to faith, and got the help they needed during a hard time in their life. But when they got what they came for they left the church and drifted from God. They used their freedom to live for themselves. They just wanted to be happy.

These people used church and Jesus like they use a doctor…just when they needed some help. What they failed to see is they were set free to help others. That’s the second part of our spiritual story. The apostle Paul put it this way to a first century church:

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom.…use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. Galatians 5:13-15

Did you catch his insight here? He said that when you serve others your personal freedom grows. But when you use your freedom for just yourself, you destroy it. It’s like God gives you a treasure chest of riches. If you use the riches to help others, the chest never empties. But if you use the riches for strictly your own benefit, you’ll drain the riches and end up in poverty again.

God, give us eyes to see not only how we can find freedom in You but use it to serve others!


Don’t Let Your Shame Block God’s Love

Last Sunday I spoke about an aspect of God’s love that I have never spoken about before. Most believers understand that God loves them. They can quote the Bible verses. But many believersshame-652499_640 are never able to receive God’s love because they don’t think they deserve it. In their mind, God’s love is for people who have cleaned up their act.

But there’s an inherent problem to this kind of thinking: you can’t clean up your act without God’s love. If you insist on becoming a better person so God can love you, that “carrot” will always be in front of you. You’ll never get there. You’ve consigned yourself to your own personal “hell,” but you don’t even know what you’ve done because you think you know all about God’s love.

Yes, you KNOW about it. You haven’t RECEIVED it. You need to let the knowledge drop from your head to your heart and bring the healing that’s needed.

The issue is: we receive God’s love on our good days…when we are doing well. But we don’t receive God’s love when we need it the most…when we screw up and fail miserably. We resist the invasion of God’s love because we don’t think God wants to/ or is able to come into our unholy place.

You’ve consigned yourself to your own personal “hell,” but you don’t even know what you’ve done because you think you know all about God’s love.

A good example is something that happened to me 20 years ago. I had done my initial study of shame (which I’ve written about since). I realized that shame was not just a topic for other people. Shame was MY issue. My dad shamed me and I faithfully passed it on to my kids.

I felt sick about it for three months. It haunted me. I felt like I had passed on an incurable disease that would affect my kids forever. But then it dawned on me that hating myself and being depressed wasn’t doing anything productive. It only made things worse.  It wasn’t helping my kids to continually beat myself up and live under the weight of guilt. I was letting my shame rob from me again. How ironic!

So I decided to agree with God and forgive myself. If he could love me in my failure, then I could too. I stopped berating myself and owned my shame, talked to my kids about it, and actively sought to not only change my behavior but teach what I learned to others. Instead of wallowing in self-pity I broke the cycle of shame that my dad passed onto me. That’s a good thing! That’s something I am proud of doing.

I mention this because you might do the same thing…beat yourself up over failure and not allow God to love you and forgive you. But if you want to find the freedom that God has for you, that needs to happen. Just think whom you might become if you loved yourself like God does?

You can download Sunday’s message here. 

Download your free copy.

Download your free copy.

I gave away my book on Sunday that deals with overcoming shame. I want to do the same here. Click this link: Healing the Hurts of Your Past. I hope you’ll read it and post a link to the book on Facebook so your friends will read it too!  Why give it away? That’s simple: more people will read it. More people will discover how shame has diminished them and the people around them. And hopefully, more people will find the same freedom I have found.

Five Reasons People Struggle to Find God

One of my roles is to help recovering addicts include God in their recovery process. No small task. To start the process I like to hear their stories…that is, how they saw God growing up, if at all; how they related to God through a religion, or nature, etc.Finding-God-banner-703x201

After a while, some clear themes emerge. It is VERY rare that someone in recovery tells me a good story about their spirituality. If they have found God it was usually after a long detour through some kind of bad religion. As a pastor (another role of mine) it’s been enlightening as to how LITTLE the church has helped people find God. Really sad. But there are other reasons that keep people from God. Let me list what I’ve learned.

Reasons Why People Struggle to Find God

  1. Meaningless church/religious experiences. As mentioned, it’s rare that people tell me how attending church helped them to know God. It’s usually something they had to endure for a season (usually through confirmation…a training process for kids in middle school) before they opt out. Parents want their kids to get the basics of faith but no more. The lesson kids get is that church is irrelevant and God is distant, so pay your dues and leave.
  2. Bad experiences with “believers.” This covers a gamut of experiences that turn people off from God. The basic response is: if this person is a true believer then I don’t want anything to do with what they are into. Here are a few examples of bad experiences:
    • hypocrisy
    • judgmental attitudes
    • abuse
    • historical craziness like the Crusades witch burning, or “Jones Town Massacre.”
  3. Small Mindedness. This could be included in the point above but is broad enough to be worthy of its own point. If you consider yourself an open minded free thinker, any kind of religion can pose a threat. Religion, by nature, channels your thinking into a set format. So religion is the enemy. “Believers” often think in such narrow, simplistic ways. Personally, this is something that I find embarrassing about fellow believers. They like to make things simple, i.e. black and white, pat answers. Don’t confuse me with science or the facts. To them, the beauty of faith is that it solves all complex problems with a few Bible verses. But what they love is the very thing that causes a revulsion in the free thinker. The free thinker sees faith as something that reduces you as a person.
  4. Tragedy. I’m surprised how many people either quit on God or never give God a chance because of a tragedy. There’s nothing like a death to kill faith. It’s interesting how they could handle the injustices in the world until injustice struck THEM. Until they got up close and personal with suffering, they were fine with God. (Surprisingly, the same experiences bring others to faith.)
  5. The invisibility of God. Maybe the number one struggle I hear is that it’s hard to believe in something/Someone you can’t see. People want to touch it and feel it to know it’s real.

I’m not going to attempt to answer these obstacles here, just note them. I’m curious what else you would add to this list. Please leave a comment below.

I will say that if you focus on the person of Jesus that you can bypass all five of these concerns (I’m not trying to be simplistic in saying this. I’m just saying that these five issues are often meaningless smokescreens that cloud the true issues of faith.) Whenever my doubt surfaces, whenever believers make me mad and make me want to give up on the idea of church, I always remind myself that Jesus was a historical documented person with multiple eye-witness accounts of his life, death and resurrection. My struggle isn’t with life’s problems or people that disappoint me, it’s with whether or not I accept the claims of Jesus.

What causes you to struggle with believing in God?

When Does Celebrating Become Flaunting?

In my last post I made an appeal to the Church to seek unity more than celebrate or defend their side of the current same-sex marriage court ruling. But unity, like love, takes a lot of work.  white_house_rainbow_zps24ptrqtq

For example, unity not only requires that you are careful in what you do or say, it requires being careful with how you are perceived. You can’t always control this. You don’t want to obsess about it. But when the apostle Paul tells us to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit” I think we can do more than we often do.

What I’m thinking of is seeing the White House lit up in rainbow colors. Whoever thought of that was a brilliant PR person. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt and think they did that out of pure excitement and with no malice. They knew the supreme court decision made many people happy and so they threw a party for them. But I have to wonder if the same level of celebration would have been offered if the supreme court decision was 4-5 against and not 5-4 in favor. Or would the decision have been cast as a dark day in America?

When individuals put a rainbow on their Facebook page, that’s one thing. That’s an individual saying “YEAH for my team.” I’m okay with that. But when the government openly celebrates one side of a hotly debated issue it insults the other side. The government has the right to pass a law that people disagree with. I respect that. But it would be nice if they respected all the people who were not represented in their decision by not being so partisan. It only breeds contempt.

Do you see what I’m saying? When does celebrating your win turn to flaunting your win, or worse, mocking and even taunting those who lost? Like I said, I want to think the best. But not everyone is so charitable. To some, the illuminated White House was an aggressive act of “in your FACE!” I think it only added fuel to a raging fire.

In the church I’m seeing a lot of people using the Bell coined phrase, “Love Wins.” Again, I give people the benefit of the doubt. How can you fault celebrating love? But that phrase can easily be interpreted as “Haters Lose.” Do you see how these words can subtly undermine trust within the church? If your side “loves” what does that make the other side? Those who disagree with the court’s decision can easily feel painted as fascist bigots.  Some are, but many aren’t. No one likes to be labeled and then dismissed as a hater.

I’m not trying to be negative here. I just want to point out something that we all need to recognize as a potential threat to unity. Celebrating isn’t always innocent…at least it’s not perceived that way. Wisdom suggests we factor this in whenever OUR side wins, whatever side you are on. Let’s all be careful to make EVERY EFFORT to keep the unity of the Spirit.

What Ever Happened to Unity?

unityI shared the following thoughts at my church yesterday:

I’d like to bring some perspective on the recent supreme court ruling if I can. It’s interesting to me that in some churches today, they are celebrating. I understand why. Yet in other churches, they are mad and fearful of what may happen next. I understand their concerns too. In many other churches, there is just confusion. I don’t want us to be confused by this.

I can’t say that I know God’s heart but from reading his word,  God may not share any of these emotions this morning. I think this morning God might be grieved because his church is divided.

The agenda that should take priority over all agendas is our walking in unity with people even if we can’t agree with them. That’s a topic I’m willing to talk about.

Jesus prayed, “Father, might they be one as you and I are one.” He prayed that we might love each other in order that we might show the world that He exists. The apostle Paul said that we should make every effort to maintain the unity of the church. I’m not seeing that. What I’m seeing is people taking sides and saying terrible things about the other side of the argument. It’s not right. As your pastor, I want to encourage you to not join in this war of words and actions.

The Bible is clear about Satan’s agenda: he wants to divide believers. If he can divide us and create bitterness in our hearts toward each other, he has done his job. I think that is what has happened. I don’t want our church to fall into his trap.

Jesus said we should be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. Paul said we should speak with grace and truth. There is no greater time for this than now. This is a watershed moment in the church. I hope you realize the historical implication of what has happened. This decision by the supreme court, and how we react to it, can affect the church for years to come. 

Our church and denomination has always believed in the traditional view of marriage. But I’m not interested in that becoming our agenda. There is a bigger issue at hand (not to diminish the marriage issue). The agenda that should take priority over all agendas is our walking in unity with people even if we can’t agree with them. That’s a topic I’m willing to talk about.

Let’s not be seduced into discrediting and disrespecting people just because they don’t agree with how we see things. I hope our church can be an island of reason amidst a conversation that is often filled with people saying things that they don’t always understand.  

As is often the case in divisive issues: there is truth on both sides of the issue. If one side had no truth it would be obvious and there would be no debate.  We all grab bits of truth and attempt to build our case. It’s important to affirm the truth on both sides in order to find common ground.

To cast off either side of the argument as wrong, stupid, ungodly, wicked, ignorant, backwards, or whatever pejorative you can think of, is unfair and only causes people to dig their heels in deeper in defense of their position. You’ve only made it harder for them to see the truth that you so clearly see.

I’m just one more voice in a sea of voices. But I hope, if you are a follower of Jesus, that you will strive to walk in unity and show respect for all people. The only way through a divisive time like this is if people feel free to openly share their thoughts without threat of being labeled and dismissed as a fool. We need to be quick to listen and slow to speak. I’m committed to that. I hope you are too. Then unity might have a chance.

Parents Need to Reframe Failure

On Father’s Day I gave a message at my church that took all 59 of my years to speak. What I had to say about failure stood out to me as especially important. For the whole message you can click here.

Parents, You Need to Reframe Failure

The older your kids get, the more they will explore. And the more they explore, the greater the chance they’ll get into trouble. So, mom and dad, you need to decide in advance how you are going to handle their failure. What’s going to be your response? What will you say? How will you say it? What will be your facial expression when you say it?father-daughter-family

Your child will learn a lot about himself or herself based on how you respond to their failure. They look to you to interpret their failure. They want to know what YOU think.  Have you ever noticed what a child does right after they fail at something? They look to their parents to see their response. If they show disgust and disappointment the child will believe they ARE a failure. Failure will become their identity and their behavior will show it. So you need to reframe failure for them.

Einstein defined failure as “success in progress.” That’s a great perspective. So, with your encouragement, your child will learn that failure is just one stop on the road to success and not a dead-end street. Failure isn’t cause for shame or defeat. It’s just a temporary setback on a child’s way to success.

Failure isn’t cause for shame or defeat. It’s just a temporary setback on a child’s way to success.

For some of you, being this positive might take some work. It does for me. My first reaction is often negative. People don’t always know that about me. If you know me well, you see my negative side. But if you just listen to me on Sunday, you probably think I’m very positive. I am, but it’s a two-step process. I often think a negative thought and then have to reframe it before I speak. Dads, you might want to try that if you are naturally negative. If you want your kids to love being with you, learn to be positive.

For example, what’s the first thing you tell your kids when you see them in the morning, or when you get home from work, or after a game, or when you pick them up to from your ex for the weekend? Do you criticize their hair, or their clothes, or how late they are? Or do you smile and tell them it’s good to see them first? It’s easier to hear about being late from someone who is smiling than from someone who is scowling.

I was listening to a Christian radio station yesterday. It’s called K-LOVE and its tag line is “positive and encouraging.” Dads, that should be our tag line too. Positive and encouraging. When our kids think of us, I want them to think of us as their biggest supporter.

Listen or read the full message here.

Healing the Hurts of Your Past

I believe that words are powerful. Words can change lives if they are understood and internalized. Occasionally my words have caused people to change their lives and they will write to tell me. Nothing is more rewarding than when that happens.

That happened today when someone wrote back to me after reading the book: Healing the Hurts of Your Past.  I want to share with you what was said in case you know someone who might be looking to find some freedom in their life:

I have just finished reading your book “Healing the Healing Promo Image 2Hurts of Your Past”. On Monday 18th May I asked God for help. All sorts of bad stuff had come back over the past two years from ages ago to haunt me and make me miserable.

After I don’t know how much medicine, appointments with the psychologist, arguments with my nearest and dearest and so on I was at the end of my tether because it just would not get better. I asked God simply, “please help me”. I bought your book on Kindle a short while later. I have never believed in coincidences!

By Tuesday I had read about a third of your book and I felt so much better. By Wednesday I was pretty much cured. I have just finished it. (I hope that this feeling of liberation and joy stays with me – I will do my best to try to make sure that it does by following the suggestions in your book!).

Thank you so much for writing the book. I asked God for help and He pointed me in your direction. I am at ease with myself again. I am in your debt sir.

I’m guessing that this person’s feeling of being “cured” is an overstatement, but I’m glad my words helped send them in the right direction. Healing is usually a process, not an event. Is there someone you know that needs to read this book?

If you’ve read this book, or one of my other books, I’d love to hear back from you too!