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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. As my way of saying “thanks,” please download the Kindle version of my book, “Out of Exile” for free right now.

Feel free to send me a question. I promise to read it and reply. Thanks for spending some time on my site!- F. Remy Diederich

toxic pastors

Toxic Pastors and Why They Are Not Confronted

Why is it so hard to confront toxic pastors? If they are clearly in the wrong, it seems like it would be the obvious thing to do. But if you’ve ever been in a toxic church, you know how hard it can be.

Here are ten reasons why people don’t confront toxic pastors.

Ten Reasons People Don’t Confront Toxic Pastors:

  1. You don’t want to be accused of being rebellious. Toxic pastors make you feel like disagreeing with them is equal to questioning God. And we all know that bad things happen to people who question God, right? The Old Testament has more than enough stories to give you pause. You don’t want the ground to open up and swallow you, and you don’t want to be labeled a rebel, or God forbid, having a “rebellious spirit.”
  2. You get filled with self-doubt. Toxic pastors make you feel like YOU are the problem. They say things like, “The reason you disagree with me is because you aren’t as spiritually mature as I am. You need to trust my leadership and submit to my authority like the Bible tells you too.” That can mess with your mind. They turn things around and before you know it, you are asking for THEIR forgiveness when it should be the other way around.
  3. You fear losing your circle of friends. Sometimes we tolerate a toxic church simply because that’s where our friends are. When I left a church, after being there for seven years, I lost my entire network of friends.
  4. You don’t want to lose your equity investment. If you have a home mortgage, you have an equity investment. Each month that you make a payment, your equity, or ownership of the house, grows. But if the bank foreclosed on you, you lose your equity. All that investment would be lost. That happens in relationships too. You feel that you’ve invested so much time and energy into the relationship/church that you don’t want to lose your investment. So you try a little harder, a little longer, hoping it will work. You even tell yourself that God will reward you for persevering. So you invest another year, but the system doesn’t get any better. Now you’ve lost another year and your equity has increased which makes you feel even MORE obligated to stay.
  5. You like to be liked/needed. If you are a good performer, the toxic system can be very rewarding. You feed off of the praise. Or, maybe you simply can’t handle the thought of the church people not liking you if you leave. Your low self-worth keeps you trapped.
  6. You fear losing your salvation. They had you convinced that their way was the only way to God. Even though you know they are wrong, you fear falling away from God without their strong input into your life. You’re not sure you can make it on your own.
  7. You fear exposure/humiliation for leaving. You know if you leave that your name and reputation will be trashed by those in the church. You’ve seen it happen to others who left the church and you don’t want it to happen to you.
  8. You fear being wrong. What if they ARE right? After all, what do you know? You don’t know the Bible like they do. And the pastor and his/her followers seem so convinced.
  9. You lack boundaries. You were raised to believe that people had the right to impose their thoughts/beliefs/will upon you. You don’t feel like it’s your right to question others. You are used to being violated. You think that’s your lot in life, so you let it continue.
  10. It’s not worth your time. You are so sick of the craziness that you are just done. You don’t think talking to the pastor will change anything, just aggravate you more. So you up and leave. End of story.

As you can see, confronting toxic pastors isn’t so easy. There are lots of reasons people fail to follow through on their intentions. It takes maturity to stand tall and confront the madness. Someone has to do it. Why not you?

Can you think of other reasons that people don’t confront toxic pastors? Leave a comment below.

If you need help in confronting church leadership, see my post on how to confront a toxic pastor here.

If you have encountered a toxic pastor, let me know about your experience. I am in the process of writing a new book on how to handle a toxic church experience and your insight would be helpful to me. Email me here. Thanks.


toxic church

Toxic Church, Toxic Faith… a new book in the works

People often ask me what my next book will be. My answer has been that I’ve got nothing in the works. But then I noticed that my blog series last year on toxic church and toxic pastors has gotten a lot of reads. In fact, they are always in the top ten of my years of posts.

I wondered why that was and so I googled some of the topics I covered on toxic church and saw that my posts are near the top of the list. Hmmm… maybe there is an interest out there that I didn’t realize existed.

Checking Amazon.com there is only one book on the subject. So…I have a new answer to the question about my next book. I just started a new book to help people discern a toxic church and know what steps to take with it.

Would you contribute your thoughts on toxic church?

I’m letting you know about this because if you had an experience in a toxic church, I’d like to hear about it. You can email me your thoughts by clicking the link in the margin. I may or may not include your story/thoughts in the book but whatever is included will be anonymous with some details changed so no one could trace the story to you. Whatever you send will broaden my understanding and make for a more helpful book.

It’s a sad statement…

It’s really a sad statement that a book like this is even needed. “Toxic” and “church” should never be two words that are linked. But when it happens, people need to know what to do, so I’ll do my best to offer advice so believers can discover the true church that Jesus had in mind for us: a gathering of people that encourages people to know God and find freedom.

Let others know

Please share this post with your friends who may have interest in contributing their experience with a toxic church. I’d love to hear from them. Thanks so much.


Forgotten God: Remembering the Spirit

Francis Chan wrote a book called Forgotten God. I used his title for the name of a recent five-part series to talk about how the church somehow forgot about the Holy Spirit. Forgotten God

Chan opened his book with this:

From my perspective, the Holy Spirit is tragically neglected and, for all practical purposes, forgotten. While no evangelical would deny His existence, I’m willing to bet there are millions of churchgoers across America who cannot confidently say they have experienced His presence or action in their lives over the past year. And many of them do not believe they can.

The benchmark of success in church services has become more about attendance than the movement of the Holy Spirit. If I was Satan and my ultimate goal was to thwart God’s kingdom and purposes, one of my main strategies would be to get churchgoers to ignore the Holy Spirit. Forgotten God

My series didn’t follow Chan’s book, but his words drove me to try to help my church rediscover the Spirit for their own lives.

Ignorant of the Spirit

I was surprised how many people, even long time believers, told me that they knew very little about the Spirit. They were taught growing up who Jesus was and what he did. But they were rarely taught who the Spirit is and what he wants to do in and through us.

Think about it: we dedicate 40 days to preparing for Christmas and Easter. But most people don’t even know when Pentecost is.

Think about it: we dedicate 40 days to preparing for Christmas and Easter. But most people don’t even know when Pentecost is (It’s this Sunday, by the way). That should tell us something about our focus. It’s in the past, on what Jesus did, not on the present and what the Spirit is doing.

A Five-Part Series on the Forgotten God

I wish I had more time to write books. Maybe someday. In the meantime, I decided to turn my sermon series into PDF files and offer them here from time to time. You can download the full series here.This is the outline for it:

  • Part One: From Creation to Pentecost. An overview of the Spirit.
  • Part Two: Jesus Promises the Spirit. What did Jesus say about his Spirit?
  • Part Three: WE are the Temple. The meaning of Pentecost and the Church.
  • Part Four: God’s Moral Guide. God guides us from within.
  • Part Five: Filled with the Spirit. What does it mean? How does it happen?

I hope you’ll give Forgotten God a read. I’ve studied the Spirit for many years and from many perspectives, having participated in a variety of churches. So I hope my words offer you some insight. Part Three seemed to open people’s eyes. I got a lot of good feedback from that message in particular. Let me know what you think if you give it a read.


The Gift of Cancer, An Unexpected Guest

the gift of cancerCan cancer be an unexpected gift? In my book, Out of Exile, I help people reframe their loss by showing how God might use it to broaden them as a person. When you are able to believe that good can come from evil you are able to return from “exile” and live a fuller life that blesses others. With this in mind, I’d like to share with you what my sister has come to call “the gift of cancer.”

Last year my sister was diagnosed with colon cancer and has been receiving chemotherapy for the last several months with very positive results.

One Qualifier

Before I share her thoughts on the gift of cancer, it’s important to admit that, if your life, or the life of a loved one, was ravaged by cancer, hearing it called a “gift” might be offensive. I understand and appreciate that. Everyone’s experience is different.

If my sister’s treatment hadn’t gone so well, maybe she’d have a different perspective. But I’m happy to know that she’s gained something from her cancer experience and not let it steal from her. I hope her words might encourage you. This is what she wrote:

The Gift of Cancer

In reading other blogs, I have seen that maintaining a positive attitude through our journeys is common of the bloggers and their followers.  On that note, I have rewritten a common saying on what cancer cannot do to what it can do for us.

This saying has been sent to me a couple of times over the past 8 months and they are posted in my office.
Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love,
It cannot shatter hope,
It cannot corrode faith,
It cannot destroy peace,
It cannot kill friendship,
It cannot suppress memories,
It cannot silence courage,
It cannot invade the soul,
It cannot steal eternal life,
It cannot conquer the spirit. – Author unknown

There’s More To It Than That

I believe all these statements are true, but I also see that cancer has been a gift in my life.  I have chosen not to fight it, and be angry with it, but to recognize its gifts, be grateful for them, and then encourage it to leave my body.  So far, it’s been a good approach.

We are parting ways each day and I honestly feel it has left my body.  I am hopeful that the gifts it showered on me will remain with me the rest of my life and the cancer will not return.  I have chosen to rewrite the common cancer phrases in a more positive light.  I hope you can understand my position on why I choose to follow this journey:

Cancer can be a gift…
It can expand your love,
It can encourage hope,
It can enhance faith,
It can bring peace,
It can build friendships,
It can make new memories,
It can develop courage,
It can blossom the soul,
It can help me face eternal life,
It can inspire the spirit. – author – Diedre Kaye

No matter what journey we are following, whether it’s a loss of a loved one, a concern for a child, a tragic occurrence, depression, or any disease, we all need to keep the spirit of joy, love and gratitude in our hearts.  May we all look for those gifts every day that make us happy. Diedre Kaye

Good Can Come From Even Cancer

Back to Remy here. From my perspective, you can trust God to make good out of anything, even cancer. It’s the ultimate act of worship. Rather than focus and lament over what’s been lost, why not focus on what’s been gained?

Too often I hear people speak as if God owes them a pain-free life. Any pain is fought with bitterness and they resent God for allowing it to visit them.

But I never read that guarantee anywhere. I’m grateful that God is willing to walk with me through my pain and give me eyes to see the silver lining that exists if I look for it.

Bitterness will shut you down and close you off to all that’s good, even the healing you might be longing for. Gratefulness does just the opposite. I hope you might see the gifts in your life today.


Seven Steps To Help The Hurting

hurting peopleI’ve been sharing the highlights from a recent series  on RelationSLIPS. In my last message I talked about how we often slip up with people who are hurting. Rather than offering words of healing, we often put our foot in mouths. So, I’d like to give you a brief recap of the advice I gave in this message.

When Bad News Happens

Imagine that a friend drops some big news on you. Bad news. They are getting divorced. They’ve got cancer. Their mother just died. Their teenager was just arrested for drugs. They lost their job.

…let your friend know that you will stand with them through their pain.

It’s going to happen. Are you prepared? Do you know what to say?

Seven Steps to Help the Hurting

Here are seven ideas to help you know what to do and say (and not say):

  1. Listen without any distractions. Turn off the tv and your phone. Don’t let your kids interrupt. If you can’t avoid being interrupted, then tell your friend that you want to give them your full attention so you need to schedule a better time.
  2. Dial into their emotion. Bad news strikes at our fear of losing control. It might also undermine our sense of worth if the loss has to do with being rejected (divorce, fired from job, etc.). Dialing into those emotions will give you empathy for what your friend is experiencing. The pain isn’t just from the loss itself but from what the loss means for their future.
  3. Don’t share clichés, even if they are from the Bible. This is harder than it sounds. Profound truths will pop into your mind and so you might be tempted to think that God gave you wisdom for the moment! Probably not. Wisdom just listens. So don’t say any of the following: It’s all a part of God’s plan, God won’t give you any more than you can handle, There’s a reason for everything, You need to just let go and let God. When someone dies, don’t say; God takes the people he loves the most, or God needed another angel, or They are in a better place now.
  4. Don’t correct them, even if they need correcting. Sometimes your friends’ bad news is a direct result of their poor choices. Bite your tongue. That’s not the time to show cause and effect. It’s not a teachable moment, so don’t try. If you do, you might lose a friend. They will be waiting to see if you seize the moment to preach at them or love them. So love them. You might get a chance later to share your wisdom…if they ask for it.
  5. Ask people what kind of space they need to process their pain. Everyone’s different. What comforts one person, offends another. I’ve learned this as a pastor. It’s frustrating. I’ve found the best thing is to just ask people: How can I help you right now? Would you like to meet to talk or would you just like some space to process this on your own?
  6. Affirm your commitment to stand with them. One of the most powerful verses in the Bible is when God tells us that he will never leave us or forsake us. You see, one of our greatest fears is that we’ll be alone. Abandoned. Left to face the world by ourselves. So let your friend know that you will stand with them through their pain. It doesn’t mean you will agree with everything they do, but you will stand with them.
  7. Offer to help in a specific way. People often tell a hurting person; If you need anything, just call. Odds are, they won’t. They don’t know what they need. Having to think of something and then call you is just work. So identify a need and just do it, like, mow their lawn. If you know them well, offer to pick up their kids or shop for them. This will be a huge relief.

Hurting people are an opportunity for you to show God’s love in a powerful way. Don’t run from it. But don’t run to them unprepared either, causing a relationSLIP.

What are some other tips you might offer to help a hurting friend. Scroll to the bottom of this page to leave your comment.


Seven Steps to Handle Crucial Conversations

I recently finished a seven week sermon series on How to Prevent and crucial conversationsOvercome RelationSLIPS. One of the messages dealt with how to have success with crucial conversations.

Today I want to share with you some of the highlights from my message. My thoughts came from my personal experiences (mostly mistakes), the Bible, and the book, Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler.

The book defines a crucial conversation as having three main components: high stakes, strong emotions, and differing opinions. Whenever those three ingredients combine, a little light should start flashing in your brain warning: CAUTION…proceed with care!

Strangely, the authors of the book tell us that when conversations turn crucial we are often on our worst behavior. Dang! Why is that? All those great lessons we’ve learned seem to fly out the window as we revert to our “flight or fight” reptilian brain tendencies.

Relationship Principle #7: You prevent and overcome relationSLIPS when you are able to successfully handle crucial conversations. So how do you do that?

Seven Steps to Handle Crucial Conversations

  1. Go to the person. There are some exceptions to this step, but in general, the best way to handle conflict is to speak directly to the person. Jesus said, whether you are at fault or the other person is at fault, go to them. Matthew 5:23,24, 18:15.
  2. Put the relationship first. Our big mistake in conflict is that we either want to be right or we want to punish the other person for being wrong. Or both. But if you “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit” (as the apostle Paul said) you will keep yourself from doing damage. Ephesians 4:3, Romans 12:18, John 17:21
  3. Expand the pool of knowledge. This phrase came from the book, Crucial Conversations. Conflict comes from different perspectives. So rather than battling perspectives, the goal should be to “expand the pool of knowledge” by each party sharing what they know. You want to both become wiser by hearing each other out, not proving each other wrong.
  4. Make it safe. Here are a few things you can do to make the other party relax in your presence and not get defensive: (see Galatians 6:1)
  • Look for signs of fear: pleasing, punishing, pulling away. When you see theses defense mechanisms, double your efforts at being safe.
  • Be curious, not condemning. Draw the other person out with good questions.
  • Admit your faults. When the other party sees your humility, they will realize that this isn’t a witch hunt but an attempt at reconciliation.
  • Listen more than you talk. James 1:19
  1. State your case: where you agree and disagree. The other person isn’t all wrong. You can agree with this but struggle with that.
  2. Move to a decision or next step. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that just because you’ve discussed the problem that you resolved it.
  3. Circle back to reaffirm your conversation and commitments. We often lose the “good feelings” of a reconciling discussion within a few hours as doubt creeps in. Reaffirm your discussion by contacting the person within 24 hours.

You can download the manuscript here of my message or download the audio here. The book Crucial Conversations is also helpful as is my book STUCK, if you want a fuller understanding on this topic.

There’s nothing more God-like than striving to achieve unity between two people in conflict. I hope you will “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit.”


Six Ways to Rebuild Trust

rebuild trust

Six Ways to Rebuild Trust

When you’ve let someone down, you have one task: to rebuild trust with the person you hurt. The problem is, since you weren’t the one offended, you are often out of touch with what it takes to rebuild trust.

I often work with addicts. They have a long line of people with whom they’ve broken trust. The other day someone asked me what they can do to rebuild trust with their family and this is what I shared with them…

Six Ways to Rebuild Trust

  1. Apologize well. I cover this in other posts. But the idea is to fully admit your errors with sincerity and ask for forgiveness. If the other person can see that you mean what you say, you’ve started well.
  2. Ask what they need to see from you. The person you betrayed lives in fear of you offending them again. So, ask them what those fears are. What will undermine their trust in you? It is better to ask up front about their concerns and not find out later when they are ready to give up on you.

    Trust is what makes a relationship safe and allows for intimacy.

  3. Give them permission to not trust you. People often confuse trust with forgiveness. They know they should forgive you but they wrongly think that means they should trust you too.  That makes them feel guilty. They shouldn’t. You can alleviate their guilt. So tell them that you’d love their forgiveness but you want to work to earn their trust and you are committed to the long haul. They will appreciate that. It will remove a burden from them.
  4. Change your behavior. This might seem obvious but I need to list it here. This is what trust is ultimately about. Work at being consistent. Gaps in your behavior set the clock back to zero and you have to start all over again.
  5. Over communicate. If you know you will be home late, call to let them know. Check in with the person at key points where they might be wondering what you are up to. To you, it might seem petty. But they will appreciate your thoughtfulness. If you take the mystery out of your behavior, they won’t have to wonder if the other shoe is going to drop.
  6. Don’t pressure people to trust you prematurely. Rebuilding trust always takes longer than you can imagine or want to believe. If you pressure them to trust you, you might lose them. You aren’t the one to decide if you’ve done enough to rebuild trust with them. They are. If you broke trust for years, it might take years to win it back.

Trust Takes Work

Trust is what makes a relationship safe and allows for intimacy. It’s a beautiful thing. But it takes significant work to create it. You have to decide how much it’s worth to restore the broken relationship.

Are there other ways you can think that will help build trust? Scroll to the bottom of this page to add your comment. Share this with a friend who needs to rebuild trust with someone.