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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


Overcoming Loss: a free book offer for reviewers

Have you suffered a devastating loss and haven’t known how to get your life Overcoming lossback? Whether it’s a divorce, a death, a health issue, a job loss…well, you name it. These can all leave you feeling like you’ve landed in “exile.” My new book was designed to help people in overcoming loss, failure, and personal setbacks.

What is exile? Exile is when life throws you a curveball and you end up in a place you never thought you would be. You feel stuck, like a beached whale, with no way back. Exile convinces you that life will never be good again.

It’s lonely. It’s confusing. And it’s painful.

But exile can also be a time of transition that opens a door from one season of life to the next. In “Return from Exile” you will learn that, whatever pain and loss you have experienced, it is not the end of your story. You are not finished. You are not a washout. Exile is merely a rite of passage: an intensive character-building workshop preparing you for a richer, fuller life…if you let it.

Read a Preview of “Return From Exile.”

I’ve created a short preview of the book that takes you through the introduction and the first five devotions of a forty-day journey. You’ll hear a bit of my personal story and get a feel for where the book is headed.

Click here to download the preview.  Answer the questions to rate the preview and request a free copy of the book in exchange for reviewing the full version on Amazon.com. I don’t know about you, but I rarely buy a book without combing through at least a few reviews. I’d appreciate your posting a review when you finish the full book. My book page should be “live” on Amazon.com by the time you finish the book.

I hope you’ll share this post with your friends, especially those who might be hurting right now.

I appreciate your willingness to be a part of the publishing process!


Trump’s Apology and Cheap Grace

Trump's apologyDonald Trump’s apology last week,  and the quick acceptance by some of his apology,  provide us with a teachable moment. I’d like to bring some clarity to what makes up an apology so we can all be better at it.

(Please note, this is not a political statement. My blog and books are dedicated to helping people to be spiritually and emotionally healthy. Put aside your politics for a moment. See what you can learn about apologies so you can apologize well and expect more from those who apologize.)*

What Is An Apology?

First, let’s look at what makes up an apology. I’ve written a number of posts about making an apology on this blog. In fact, I wrote four posts on each aspect of an apology. But here is a brief overview of the four components to an apology:

  1. Fully admit (100%) to what you did, and it’s impact, to everyone offended.  Resist the temptation to excuse, minimize, blame others, or justify your actions in any way.
  2. Express true sorrow for the impact of your offense. Speak in terms that show people you understand the pain you’ve caused them (empathy).
  3. Ask forgiveness of all those offended.
  4. Work to rebuild trust by stopping the offensive behavior, taking corrective action, and making amends.

When you take these four steps, there is a good chance that people will forgive your behavior. They might also give you a shot at  restoring the relationship. If you cut corners, you run the risk of intensifying the offense instead of removing it.

Measuring Trump’s Apology

If you read/watch Trump’s apology, observe how it lines up with these four steps. Trump’s words fail the test of a true apology at each point. For example:

  1. Full admission: Trump said he has “said and done things” he regrets, but he never mentioned what they were. He never apologized directly to the women he referenced. He minimized his actions by saying his words were merely “locker room talk,” a mere distraction to more important issues, and that the event was ten years old.
  2. True sorrow: Trump never mentioned the impact that his actions had on anyone or expressed sorrow for the impact.
  3. Asking forgiveness. He did not ask for forgiveness of any individuals or the public at large.
  4. Making amends. Nothing was said about how he would try to make this up to the people he hurt or the trust he broke. Eighty percent of the words in his statement sought to justify himself, divert people’s attention, and even attack Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Chris Christie, one of Trump’s biggest backers, thought the statement fell short of an apology:

When asked whether he thought Trump’s apology was enough, Christie responded, “I didn’t think it was on Friday or Saturday, and I told him that. I would have done it much differently.” “He should have been much more direct and much more focused on saying, just saying, “‘I’m sorry’ and only ‘I’m sorry,’” Christie added. ABC News

What bothers me so much about Trump’s statement is that it set a poor example for other people to follow.  It reinforces our low view of what makes up an apology. He’s not alone. Most people in the news offer an apology similar to Trump’s.

These “apologies” confuse people about what is necessary to reconcile an offense. Just because they use the words “I apologize” doesn’t mean it’s a true apology. We should expect more from them.

Cheap Grace

The response that I’ve heard from many people is that, “He apologized. I forgive him. Let’s move on.” I’m all for forgiveness, but the sentence I just quoted lacks a great deal of logic for these reasons:

  • “He apologized.” No he didn’t, for the reasons I mentioned above. He only said the words “I apologize.” It was merely his attempt to appease people who were offended.
  • “I forgive him.” To “forgive” simply means to give up the right to get even with someone: to pay them back. So yes, we can hopefully all forgive Trump and not try to pay him back. No one should slander him or rob him of dignity, even though his words did that to others.
  • “Let’s move on.” To move on just because someone used the words, “I apologize” is naive at best. If the behavior in question is a pattern, then we have a right to ask for verification of a change of behavior.  We aren’t talking about the misbehavior of a neighbor or co-worker here. This is a candidate for the presidency of the United States. It’s fair to expect more.

I can forgive you for your behavior, but if your behavior broke my trust, then you need to rebuild my trust before I gift you with it again. To trust someone who hasn’t shown, what the Bible calls, “the fruits (evidence) of repentance” is foolish. You are asking to be hurt again.

It’s shameful to accept an “apology” or offer forgiveness simply to white-wash immoral behavior and release someone from their accountability to their behavior. That is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer referred to as “cheap grace.” God’s grace is more than mercy. It’s the power to live a new life and be a better person. I can forgive Donald Trump without him changing his behavior. But to trust him without him offering a true apology and rebuilding trust is to misunderstand and misuse the grace of God.

Seizing a Teachable Moment

I’m not writing this post to promote Hillary Clinton. She might be just as guilty of what I’m saying about Trump. Trump’s behavior is what’s in the news right now and provides us with a teachable moment on the issues surrounding what it means to apologize. Vote for whomever you’d like, but let’s be clear that the examples of Trump’s apology, and his supporters acceptance of that apology, miss the mark. My hope is that you and I will have a higher standard whenever we seek to recover from a broken relationship.

You might enjoy this article by two experts in the field of forgiveness.

  • updated, 10/15/16, 11:30 a.m. CST.

Forgiveness is Not Being Nice

One of the biggest deterrents to forgiving someone is believing that you need to be nice to them. Think about a serious offense: betrayal, abuse, even a rape. Something recoils at the thought of being nice to someone who has violated you to such an extreme. But forgiveness is not about being nice.forgiveness is not nice

The simplest definition for forgiveness is to “give up the right to get even.” Even simpler: letting go. If you want to add being nice to the equation, that’s your choice. The Bible refers to “blessing those that curse you” as a step beyond forgiveness. So it’s not unheard of to be nice to an offender. Just don’t fold that into your definition for forgiveness. Being nice is not required to be successful at forgiving.

Forgiveness indeed helps the offender. It releases them from your hatred and any attempts you might make at payback. Hopefully they use that grace to thank you for your forgiveness, make restitution, and rebuild your trust. It might open the way to restoring the relationship and for them to become a better person. But trust and reconciliation go beyond forgiveness. They need to be thought of separately from forgiveness.

Forgiveness is Not…

In my book, “STUCK…how to overcome anger and rebuild your life,” I mention five things that forgiveness is not.

Forgiveness is not:

  1. Forgetting: we forgive what we can’t forget.
  2. Excusing: we can only forgive those to whom we first assign blame.
  3. Trusting: we only trust people who have proven themselves trustworthy.
  4. Reunion: we only reunite with people who have rebuilt our trust.
  5. Conditional: forgiveness has no prerequisites. We can forgive immediately because it simply means that we refuse to retaliate.

Now, let me add a sixth.

Forgiveness is not:

  1. Emotion: we don’t have to feel nice or any warmth toward our offender.

I find this list helpful because we tend to load too much into our definition of forgiveness. If forgiveness includes the six words above, then who could do it? Most people’s response would be “Forget that!” Forgetting and excusing an offense is wrong and trusting and reunion prematurely will only complicate the offense.

Forgiveness certainly opens the door for the possibility of trust and reunion. When I give up the right to get even, it allows my offender to start rebuilding my trust. There might be a chance for us to reconcile the relationship. And if that happens, I will start to feel emotion toward them again. But forgiveness is only the first step in a long process of reconciliation. It does not equal reconciliation.

Forgiveness means being nice to yourself.

Forgiveness may not mean being nice to your offender, but it is one thing you can do to be nice to yourself. By not forgiving, you consign yourself to thinking continually about the offense. You rehash the event, first condemning your offender for hurting you, then condemning yourself for allowing it to happen. You think of what you could have said or done. You think of ways to pay them back. The thoughts consume you and take up space in your brain that should be given to more positive things, like loving your friends and family.

By refusing to forgive, you allow your offender to make you less of a person. You give them control of your life, turning you into someone you never wanted to be. Your offender hurt you initially, but now you exacerbate the offense by refusing to let it go.

When you forgive, you are free from all that. You show your offender that, though they hurt you, you can overcome what they’ve done, with God’s help. You trust God can still make something special of your life, even though you suffered a minor setback.

What are some other misconceptions that have kept you from forgiving your offender? Scroll down to leave your thoughts in the comment section.

To learn more about how you can forgive someone who has hurt you, check out STUCK here.


What Would You Call This Book?

I’ve got just a quick note for you about a new book I’ve written. new book

I need your help in picking a title.

Would you click this link and pick which one you like the best?

Much appreciated!

What’s it About?

The book is a rewrite of “Out of Exile,” a book I wrote to help pastors recover from setbacks. But since everyone experiences setbacks, I wanted to offer something that helped everyone. I rewrote, “Out of Exile” offering examples that fit all kinds of loss: death, divorce, health, career, etc.

The book is written with 40 short chapters to help people understand loss, how it impacts you, what you can learn from it, and then how to overcome it to make a comeback in life.

I look forward to hearing from you. The survey will take less than a minute.

You can request a free copy of the book in the survey in exchange for a review on Amazon.com. Here’s the link again.


Unconditional Forgiveness: Is it Biblical?

unconditional forgivenessI was surprised to be asked by Moody Radio to debate another pastor on the topic of Unconditional Forgiveness. Is it biblical or not? The debate was last Saturday. You can listen to the podcast by clicking this link. 

What is Unconditional Forgiveness?

Unconditional forgiveness is the belief that God calls us to forgive people whether they change their behavior or not. There are plenty of scriptures to support this. I’ve listed a few of them below. But there are some people who believe we should only forgive people if they repent, that is, ask for forgiveness and change their behavior. They say that God requires repentance, and so we should too.

The strongest case for this view is from something Jesus said:

“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” Luke 17:3,4

Forgiveness 101

If you read Luke 17 in its most literal sense, you might conclude that Jesus is saying the opposite as well, “If they don’t repent then don’t forgive them.” But it doesn’t say that. In fact, in context, Jesus is teaching on Forgiveness 101, entry level forgiveness. His disciples can’t believe you should forgive people for an offense, even if they repent. Their reply to Jesus was, “Increase our faith!” In other words, “You’ve got to be kidding!”

Little did they know that Jesus would call them to even deeper forgiveness. He would call them to forgive, not only people who repented, but people who did not.

…Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:28-31

Forgiveness 201

Forgiveness 201 is when you choose to not retaliate. You give up the right to get even. The Bible calls this “mercy.” There are two Greek words that speak to this: aphiemi and apoluo. Look them up. They mean to release, pardon, separate or divorce. The idea being that you let go of what you were previously attached to, that is, retaliation. No conditions are implied here.

Forgiveness 301

Forgiveness 301 is when you give to people what they don’t deserve. This is called, “blessing.” This idea is rooted in the word charizomai. It’s the word for “grace” that Christians like to use so much. It means to give freely. To give without reserve. That sounds pretty unconditional to me. This is the word used in Ephesians 4:30:

Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other just as God in Christ has forgiven you.

How has Christ forgiven us? Paul stated this throughout his letter to the Ephesians. But he states it explicitly here:

…in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,… Ephesians 3:13-15

What drew us to God? Jesus’ sacrifice and his setting aside the law (or conditions) of God that condemned us. His love was shown first. In the same way, we are called to forgive others without condition.

Forgiveness is NOT:

Just to be clear, forgiveness is NOT:

  • Forgetting. You forgive what you CAN’T forget.
  • Excusing. You only forgive what you have accused someone of doing.
  • Trusting. You can forgive immediately. Trust takes time.
  • Reunion. This can only happen when trust is restored.
  • An Emotion. It’s the refusal to retaliate and/or the willingness to bless.

What’s Wrong with Conditional Forgiveness?

A big downside to thinking that forgiveness is conditional (beyond the fact that I don’t see the Bible supporting it) is that, knowing humanity, we will always find a reason to NOT forgive, right? We will always think that someone hasn’t repented enough, thereby justifying our not forgiving. How convenient. How human. We are called to something higher.

Plus, conditional forgiveness encourages us to carry lists against all the people that have offended us over the years. Rather than being seen as a gracious child of God, people avoid us for being a rigid legalist who carries grudges.

It’s worth studying on your own. Here are a few scripture to look up:

  • Matthew 5:43-47
  • Luke 6:32-36
  • Romans 12:17-20

My book STUCK deals with the power of unconditional forgiveness and how it empowers you to live a new life, as well as the person you forgive.

Welsh poet and priest, George Herbert, said: Forgiveness is the fragrance of the violet, which still clings fast to the heel that crushed it.

This is a beautiful image of unconditional forgiveness. The fragrance stays with the person no matter what they do, and it’s a constant reminder of God’s love for them.

Please share this with someone who is struggling with an offense.


Lose Your Christian Cliches and Jargon

I recently spoke in church about seven ways to share your faith without Christian clicheticking people off. (Download: Road Trip- Sharing Your Faith.) One of my seven points was to “Lose your clichés, jargon and spiritual innuendos.” Christian clichés, etc. are so easy to fall into, but they undermine your credibility causing people to question your sincerity.

Here’s an excerpt from my message:

Christian clichés

Christian clichés are when you over simplify complex matters with a pat answer. Rather than offering a thoughtful response, you quote a Bible verse, or say something like, “You just gotta let go and let God,” as if that is the end of  the discussion. No more needs to be said. 

The truth is, we should learn to speak intelligently about the concerns that people have about faith without resorting to a cliché. 

Clichés are often true. But that’s not the problem. The problem with clichés is that they trivialize what’s important by making it sound like once you know God you don’t have to think any more. You just have to pull out your list of Top 20 Christian clichés or Bible verses to answer any hard question that comes your way. The truth is, we should learn to speak intelligently about the concerns that people have about faith without resorting to a cliché. 


Jargon is the words or terminology that are unique to a subculture. A subculture is any smaller group of people, like medical workers, or athletes, or motorcycle riders, etc. You have medical jargon, and sports jargon. You’ve got biker jargon. Every hobby has its unique jargon. Churches are a subculture.

But jargon only makes sense to people in that subculture. For example, if a doctor uses medical jargon on me, I’m clueless. It’s not helpful. And it’s the same when you use Christian jargon with your friends and family. People don’t know what you are talking about. Church people say things like:

  • “I feel led to do this.”
  • “I feel a check in my spirit.”
  • “We need to bathe this in prayer.”
  • “Those are works of the flesh.”
  • “You need to be born again.”
  • “The blood of Jesus covers that.”

If you’ve been in the church a long time, you probably know what these mean. But if you aren’t a church person these phrases just sound silly, if not scary. Plus it’s rude to talk in code around people who don’t know the code.

I am careful not to use jargon in church on Sunday. It’s tempting because it’s like shorthand for people in the know. But I understand that many people come to our church who didn’t grow up in church. Using jargon is confusing at best and offensive at worst.

Spiritual Innuendo

You probably know what sexual innuendo is. That’s when no matter what you say someone reads something sexual into it. They always find a sexual connotation. They think it’s funny and clever.

It’s not clever. It’s awkward. And it’s just as intellectually insulting as sexual innuendo.

Personally, I find it insulting to reduce everything to sex. I don’t mean it’s morally insulting (although that is true as well). I think it’s intellectually insulting. God gave us a creative brain to talk about interesting things, yet some people want to use that brain to talk about sex and they assume I want to do the same. That’s insulting to me.

People do that with faith. They turn everything into an opportunity to work God into the conversation. You might say, “Man, I love these French fries.” And then I say, “That’s interesting you should say that because I was just thinking about how much God loves us.” And you are thinking, “Really, that’s where you want to take this conversation? I can’t even mention French fries without you bringing God into the conversation?”

It’s not clever. It’s awkward. And it’s just as intellectually insulting as sexual innuendo.

If you want people to treat you seriously, hear what you have to say, and not get mad at you, then please… lose your Christian clichés, jargon, and the innuendos. It’s hard at first because it’s a strong habit. But people will relate to you better if your faith doesn’t drip from every word you speak.

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.