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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

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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.

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.

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.

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The Gift of Cancer

gift of cancerIn 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 her “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.

Before I share her thoughts, 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

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

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.

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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.

(Note: this post went out by mistake on Friday. Sorry if you got this twice).

You can download the text of my message here, but I’d like to give you  the main points in this post.

Seven Steps to Help the Hurting

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? 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, 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.). By dialing into those emotions it 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 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.

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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.”

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“Out of Exile” is Free This Week

This week I’ve made my book, “Out of Exile” available for free on Kindle. Soout of exile, free scoop it up and tell a friend!

The book was written to encourage hurting pastors who feel stuck in the “wilderness” from some kind of setback. It’s set up as a 40 day journey with 40 short chapters, followed by questions to help you process your loss.

But don’t let the “Pastor’s Edition” scare you away. We all suffer loss. We all get stuck in the wilderness, or “exile,” and we all need to find a way back. I’m currently rewriting the book with examples that apply to a variety of losses. But in the meantime, I think you will find it very helpful.

Download “Out of Exile” for Free This Week

You can download it here on Amazon.com. 

Please tell your pastor about this offer. If you read the book reviews, you’ll see how it’s encouraged people and renewed their vision for ministry. In fact, here’s what one pastor wrote:

God used Remy to save my soul. I forgave my offenders, forgave myself, and recalibrated. I’m back in ministry, due in large part to the writings you’ll find in this book.

As someone who knows quite personally the pain of exile, I found this book to be exactly the gentle salve I needed. I stumbled upon Diederich’s writing quite accidentally, but it was the best accident I’ve ever experienced. His writings offered deeply biblical perspective for overcoming the ministry hurts I’d experienced, and renewed my perspective on how God might orchestrate a comeback through exile.

Let me be blunt… I hated those who had railroaded me, had just about given up on God, couldn’t imagine another day in ministry, was deeply skeptical of the local church… but God used Remy to save my soul. I forgave my offenders, forgave myself, and recalibrated. I’m back in ministry, due in large part to the writings you’ll find in this book.

Am I overstating? Not if you knew my story. Thank you, Remy, and thank you, God, for excellent writing that offers hope and perspective when ministry gets the best of you. I’m on the comeback trail.

If you read it, let me know what you think. Since I’m still rewriting the new version for the general public, let me know what you’d like me to add. Thanks!

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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 them. The problem is, since you weren’t the one offended, you are often out of touch with what the other person needs for you to rebuild their 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. 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 reoffending them. So ask them what those fears are. What will undermine their trust in you? Better to ask up front than to 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.  They feel guilty. They shouldn’t. You need to win them back. So tell them that you’d love their forgiveness but you want to work to earn their trust and 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 it needs to be said. 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 are going to be home late, call. 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 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.

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Four Guidelines to Set Healthy Boundaries

set healthy BoundariesAt Cedarbrook I’ve been speaking about Relation-SLIPS…those stupid things  we do that undermine our relationships. One of the most common relationslips is to not set boundaries. I want to offer you four guidelines to help you set healthy boundaries.

People who fail to set boundaries allow anyone into their life. They lose control of their life and often simmer in anger for it.

Now, before I give you some tips on how to set boundaries, I want to answer the question that some people have: where does it talk about boundaries in the Bible? Or, did Jesus have boundaries? Those are fair questions.

People who fail to set boundaries allow anyone into their life. They lose control of their life and often simmer in anger for it.

Jesus Had Boundaries

Jesus definitely had boundaries. Here are a few quick examples:

 

  • Luke 4:1-13: Jesus used boundaries when he was being tempted by the devil, defining what he was willing and not willing to do.
  • Luke 4:28-30: The people wanted to kill Jesus but he walked away. He wouldn’t play by their rules.
  • Luke 5:14-16: People came to Jesus for healing but he withdrew to pray and rest.
  • Matthew 12:46-50: Jesus’ mom and brothers called him out of a meeting but he refused to listen to them, saying that people who chose to do God’s will were his true family.

You see, Jesus could only lay down his life once. Before that, he had to decide how vulnerable he was willing to make himself in each encounter. He used boundaries to help people understand his limits.

Four Guidelines to Set Healthy Boundaries

Now, let me give you a few ideas for setting boundaries (see other related posts below):

  1. Set boundaries to protect yourself, not punish others. Too often we wait until people have used and abused us before we set a boundary. But by then, we are often so mad that our “boundary” is actually a form of punishment. We come across harshly and offend people.
  2. Set boundaries before things get awkward. The answer to my first point is to set boundaries early on. Don’t assume people will respect your space. I mean, how can they if they don’t know what your space is? It’s not rude or selfish to communicate your boundaries. It’s helpful.
  3. Set boundaries with respect and without apology. Let people know that your boundaries are to help YOU, not because you don’t like them. And don’t feel like you need to apologize or explain yourself.
  4. Set boundaries with appropriate consequences. Where there are no consequences, there are no boundaries. In sports, you pay a price when you step out of bounds.
    • Consequences should equal the trespass. Small transgression, small consequence and vice versa.
    • Enforcement should be without drama. Wen consequences are communicated in advance you can naturally enforce them without overreacting.
    • Increase consequences until your boundaries are respected. In another post I talk about the four degrees of boundaries. You start small and eep increasing the pain until you get the results you want.

You can hear my message on how to set healthy boundaries by downloading RelationSlips Part 5. (Note, the link will change in a few weeks. Look for it in Past Sermons). Download the text version here to read it. 

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