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Welcome to readingremy.com

Glad you stopped by!

I’m a pastor and author, plus I consult in an addiction treatment center where I help people consider how God might join them in their recovery.

My goal is to help people overcome everyday problems in practical ways with God’s help. I purposefully write and speak in a way that makes God approachable and understandable.

I hope you’ll subscribe to my blog and “like” my Facebook page in the margin.

Feel free to send me a question. 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

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Ten Questions to Help You Find God’s Will

If you believe in God then there is nothing more important than finding God’s will for your life. Nothing can give you more confidence than knowing that you are where God wants you. But, how do you discover God’s will for your life?Finding God's Will

I can’t tackle a subject this large in one post, but I do want to give you ten questions that might at least get you headed in the right direction. It’s not an exhaustive list. Maybe you can share your own questions in the feedback below.

I offer questions instead of directives because I find questions do a better job of opening our minds up to new ideas. For a fuller discussion of this topic you can download a recent message of mine on the topic.

Ten Questions to Help You Find God’s Will

The first four questions position you to hear from God. The next five questions help you to judge what you think you’ve heard. And the final question helps you with the execution of the idea.

  1. Do I believe God speaks to people personally? This is a fundamental question that will determine if you are even open to the idea of hearing from God. Jesus said that his sheep hear his voice, so I have to assume that he does indeed speak to his followers. Do you?
  2. Am I close enough to God to hear his voice? God is not a Ouija board or a Magic Eight ball. Hearing from God doesn’t involve tricks or formulas. Like any relationship, it requires drawing close enough to hear from God. What can you do to draw close to God to hear him better?
  3. Have I asked God for direction? As basic as this sounds, many people never think to ask God a question, assuming he’s not interested in answering. But when you ask God a question it predisposes you to start using your five senses to hear from him. The world looks different when you believe that God is communicating with you.
  4. Is my desire to please God or myself? Some people want direction without a sense of accountability. I don’t know if God dispenses direction to people who don’t have his interests in mind. Maybe. But it seems to me that he’d be more inclined to reveal his will to people who do.
  5. What, or whom, is influencing me?  We are passionate people. It’s easy to confuse what YOU want with what God wants. You need to be careful with your tendency toward confirmation bias, meaning that we all tend to hear only what we want to hear.
  6. How does my idea fit with my personality, talents, and passions?  You are born with natural gifts and talents. God knows enough to call you to do things that work with those gifts and talents.
  7. What do older, wiser, and more experienced people think?  We are often afraid to ask for input on our ideas because we think people will discourage us from doing what we want to do. But God can use people with experience to help clarify his will, not scare us away from it.
  8. What will be the long-term impact?  The Bible says that God’s kingdom leads to righteousness, peace, and joy. What will your idea lead to in the long run?
  9. Is my idea actually something someone is coercing me to do? Sometimes people have more control over us than we care to admit. We might think that our idea is from God when in fact it’s a person who holds sway over us. Be honest with yourself.
  10. When does God want me to do this? It might be today. It might be in twenty years. Timing is everything. Immediate action and waiting both require great faith depending on the circumstances.

I purposefully made this list short and to the point. What would you add to the list? Leave your comment below.

For a fuller discussion on this topic listen to my recent message on how to find God’s will for your life.

 

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Five Words of Advice to 20 Something Singles

adviceLast week I posted My Advice to 30-Something Couples; one of my most
read posts. So today I’m offering a sequel (or maybe it’s a prequel) with five words of advice for 20-something singles. I hope you find it helpful.

My Five Words of Advice

  1. Be adventurous. There are two seasons of life where you have the best opportunity to be adventurous: in your twenties and in retirement. When do you think you’ll have more fun? Exactly. In your twenties you have little to lose. In retirement, a lot. And honestly, not everyone lives to retirement. So seize the moment.
  1. Don’t compare. Easier said than done. When “all” your friends are getting married, or having kids, or scoring a job with Google, etc. while you are still delivering pizzas and living with your parents, it’s hard not to compare. Just remember: it’s not a race. You aren’t in competition. You are an individual. You need to find out who you are and how God wired you and live YOUR life.

What good is it to marry quickly if it’s to the wrong person? What good is making six figures if you hate your job? Find the path that God has for you and then learn to trust his timetable for your life.

  1. Be proactive. Since people are getting married later in life, there is a tendency to stay in an adolescent mindset through your twenties, especially for men. Don’t waste these years. Yes, be adventurous, and no, don’t compare, but set goals for education, a career, and your relationships. Then pursue them.

Think ahead to where you want to be when you are 35 or 40 and beyond, then work backwards. What needs to happen in your twenties to reach your goals? Too many people let life drift by only to realize they wasted an entire decade. It’s hard playing catch-up.

  1. Set moral boundaries. I know. What a killjoy. But think of a ball game that has no rules or boundaries. The freedom might be stimulating at first but eventually the game loses it’s meaning. What’s the point? What’s accomplished? There is a reason games have rules and boundaries.

As a pastor people often come to me when the wheels fall off their lives. They tell me what they may not tell others: that their unbridled freedom led to regret. Many things can’t be undone: bad choices in your twenties can stay with you forever. Investing in a moral compass early on will pay dividends throughout your entire life.

  1. Serve others. I’ll let you in on something some people never discover: your greatest satisfaction in life will been in serving others. Seriously. It’s a well-kept secret. But trust me, if you develop a habit of serving in your twenties your life will be so much more fulfilling and you’ll meet some amazing people along the way. You might even become an inspiration to someone else!

Enjoy! You have so much ahead of you! Don’t waste a day!

If you’ve lived through your twenties, what advice would you add to this list? Please write it below and click a “share” button if you found this helpful. Thanks.

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Take Back the Pen in 2016

Welcome to 2016. January is great for fresh starts. It’s a time to collect yourself and try again to achieve your goals. But success in life isn’t always about what you do with your life. Sometimes success is about not letting other people do things in your life.2016

I like to think about it as writing a story…my story. I don’t have total control over what’s written. Good and bad things will come my way that I can’t control. But I have a lot of control: control over my decisions, my attitudes and whom I let write my story.

We may not be aware of what we are doing, but when we let people into our lives, we hand them a pen. We invite them to take part in our story. To whom have you handed a pen?

If you are unhappy with your life today, it could be because you’ve given a pen to someone who is a careless writer. If that’s true, take back the pen. It’s your story. They have no right to your story, unless you give it to them.

The sooner you take back the pen the better. If they’ve done damage so far, what makes you think it will change? How many pages will you let them write before you take back the pen? How bad do things have to get?

If you are unhappy with your life today it could be because you’ve given a pen to someone who is a careless writer.

What you don’t see is how much time you spend worrying about what they will do next. It’s a cloud that hangs over you that you’ve probably gotten used to by now. But imagine the freedom you’d experience if you didn’t live with that constant threat…the fear of “the other shoe dropping” and the ensuing fallout. Imagine your story losing the drama that these people continually bring to it.

If you want 2016 to change for the better, make a list of everyone you’ve allowed into your life that’s negatively impacting you. That’s your “to-do” list for the next few months. Then decide what action needs to be taken with each person to stop them from writing in your book.

I can hear the push back: “I can’t do that!” “What will they say?” “I hate conflict.”

You have to decide which you hate more: conflict, or a bad story. You can do it. Yes, it will be hard, like pulling out a thorn, but it will change your life. When it’s all over, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

It helps to have a support system. So share your list with a counselor or supportive friend and ask them to hold you accountable. If you need advice on how to confront someone constructively, I outline this in a few posts in this blog and in my book STUCK. But make it your priority this year to take back the pens from people who have abused the privilege of holding one. The only people holding pens should be you, God, and a small circle of trusted friends.

If you’ve had success taking back the pens in your life, leave a comment below. If you think this might help others, please click one of the SHARE buttons below. Thanks!

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My Advice to 30 Something Couples

This morning I read a post by Carey Nieuwhof on Twenty Five Random Pieces of Advice to Leaders in their 20-30-40’s. That got me thinking about what advice I might share to that same crowd. advice

I had recently shared my own advice with my 30 something staff members and was curious if my thought was on his list. It wasn’t. So here it is:

Pay attention to building your marriage and not just your career and lifestyle.

What I’ve observed is that when you are in your thirty’s you tend to feel like “NOW IS MY TIME.” It’s make or break. You are full of energy and ideas. You’ve conquered some of the big goals of life (spouse, job, house) and you still have some energy, so you push for the promotion, get your masters degree, get a second job to pay for the house you overbought, etc.

Be careful with that.

What often happens is your marriage drifts. Or you might be busy chasing your kids and driving them around but you never get to know them. Just because you are with your family doesn’t mean you know them.

If you follow your dreams and fail to develop your relationships, you’ll end up a lonely person in your 50’s and beyond.

You assume that all is good and whatever goal you have in mind will “just be a year” of your life. No big deal. Your family will be so much better off when you accomplish your goal. But when that wraps up you still have some energy. You still want to improve your life and you think the marriage, or time with your kids, can wait.

That’s an illusion. If you follow your dreams and fail to develop your relationships, you’ll end up a lonely person in your 50’s and beyond.

I know what I’m talking about. Not the lonely part in my 50’s (I’m 59). The busy part in my 30’s. I’m thankful that at age 39 my wife confronted me about my workaholism. I thought our marriage was fine. I was working hard to accomplish a number of goals that I thought would “set us up” to live a happy life in the future. But my wife was miserable in the present. In my quest for success, I had emotionally abandoned her.

Thankfully she told me. And thankfully I heard her. (It took a number of attempts before she found the words that helped me understand). That saved me from being lonely today. We made some drastic changes to put our family relationships first. I shudder to think of where I’d be today had we not done that.

So…watch yourself. Don’t think your relationships will still be there when you have accomplished all your goals in life. Your accomplishments won’t mean anything if you are all alone. Make this #26 on Carey’s list of ideas (or maybe #1).

If you think this might help others, please click one of the SHARE buttons below. Thanks!

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Don’t Let Fear Mislead You To Hatred

fearThere is a lot of fear in our world right now. What’s sad to me is seeing how fear is moving people, even Christian people, to say and do hateful things. But even worse, they are finding ways to justify their hatred. Self-preservation is the excuse for rejecting a whole class of people.

Jesus said that we don’t have to fear this world because he has overcome the world.  Because of that, we can risk preferring others, even at our own expense.

People are Watching

If you’ve made yourself known as a Christian, people are watching to see how you respond under duress: will you trust God and speak words of hope and grace? Or will you allow fear to move you to become self-preserving and hateful?

I’m seeing posts online that are very provocative…meaning the words and images are meant to PROVOKE you to react (more than usual). People seem to think they can win others over with clichéd and inflammatory quotes. But they more often offend than win over. When was the last time someone changed your mind by shaming you?

Reducing complex issues to a sound bite only reveals that they don’t have a grasp of the issue. Reasoned dialogue please.

Watch Your Words

If you consider yourself a follower of Jesus, can I ask you to think twice before you speak, and three times before you post something potentially provocative and divisive that only promotes a limited view?

My big concern is that Jesus followers misrepresent the heart of God to a world that desperately needs him. Let’s not risk turning someone away from God for the momentary pleasure of spouting off our viewpoint.

Please ask yourself, “Am I posting to honor God and promote peace and goodwill, or am I posting to promote my viewpoint and take a jab at the fools that disagree with me?” Or put another way, do your words build up or tear down?

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:29-31

When you feel fear spiking within you (often disguised as a strong sense of self-righteous indignation), that’s the time to pray and ask God to give you HIS mind to do and say something constructive…something that adds to the discussion and offers a solution.  Polarizing people doesn’t help. Some notable politicians are doing that and it’s disappointing to see Christians support them.

Jesus said we are to be known for our love. That’s what sets us apart from the world and points people to God. Our job is to promote HIS agenda, not ours.

We need peace more this Christmas than ever. Let’s be a people who turn to God for that peace and not react in fear, causing people to separate rather than move toward each other. If we want to be like Jesus, let’s work at bringing people together.

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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!

 

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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.

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