Stop Punishing Yourself and Find God’s Forgiveness

As I prepare to launch my newest book: STARTING OVER how to find God’s forgiveness when you find it hard to forgive yourself …I’m releasing portions of the book in advance. This is from the meditation called: Stop punishing yourself.

If you would like a free advance PDF copy of the book, I’m happy to send it to you in exchange for posting a review of the book on Amazon.com on the day it launches (currently projected at April 10th). Request your copy here.

Stop Punishing Yourself

WHY ARE WE SO QUICK to dwell on our failure? I think it’s because we feel the need to punish ourselves for what we’ve done. Rather than embrace God’s forgiveness and celebrate it, we embrace guilt as our cross to bear: our penalty for failing God.

We know we can’t make things right. We can’t undo our past or fix what’s broken. But maybe if we embrace guilt God will see our remorse and be pleased with us. We hope that embracing guilt will salve our regret and soften God’s judgment against us.

That’s our solution…as bad as it is. But God has a better solution. He forgives us. I know that might sound simplistic; the apostle Paul put it like this:

God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. 2 Corinthians 5:19 (emphasis mine)

That’s such a simple definition of forgiveness: not counting your sins against you. Paul compares God to an accountant checking his books with its debts and credits. In God’s “ledger book” you have no outstanding debts. You don’t have to worry about getting harassing “collection calls” because Jesus paid all your debts with God.    A selection from Starting Over


If you struggle with accepting God’s forgiveness, this book is for you. If you know someone who struggles with forgiveness, it’s for them too. Please share this post with them and look for the book on April 10th.

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Your New Life Starts Here: God’s Forgiveness

I’m preparing to launch my new book: Starting Over...how to find God’s forgiveness when you find it hard to forgive yourself. The launch date is set for April 10, the Monday of Easter week. I thought that was an appropriate time to launch a book about God’s forgiveness and starting a new life.

Leading up to the launch I’m going to post selections from the new book. It’s a short devotional with twenty meditations about God’s radical, unconditional forgiveness.

If you would like to get a free copy of the book now, in exchange for posting a review on the Amazon.com sale page, I’ll gladly send you one. Request your free copy here.

Day One: Throwing it all away

TIME magazine reported the reemergence of Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of New York. He was known as a man who fought corruption with a vengeance only to be exposed as a regular user of a high dollar prostitution ring. To make matters worse, he covered his addiction by sending money to shell corporations that funneled the money back to the prostitution ring. TIME called it,

…hypocrisy on a scale that was hard to fathom…as if Eliot Ness had been busted for peddling gin from his apartment. [1]

When the news hit the paper, his career was over. Currently he is trying to find his way back into politics, but the writer of the story wasn’t so sure it could happen. She said,

To learn that Spitzer was the world’s biggest hypocrite, that he’d thrown it all away to frequent prostitutes, was devastating, a lapse that could never be forgiven.

When she mentioned this to Spitzer, he responded,

“’How do you think I feel?’ he said, his eyes welling up. ‘I know exactly how you feel. At one point I stood for something that was important and useful. I was in a place in time where I had a purpose, where it mattered. And then I destroyed it.’”

Thankfully his wife seemed to forgive him but not without some residue in their relationship. The article said,

His wife…appears to have forgiven him. “I don’t know if you can ever mend something like this, in the sense of repair the canvas so that you never see the tear in the fabric,” he said. “I’m incredibly lucky to be with a woman who is willing to deal with that tear in the fabric and keep moving forward.”[2]

Spitzer said there would always be a scar in the fabric of his marriage. TIME said the public would never be able to forgive him. And Spitzer himself said he destroyed his purpose in life.

As I read this, it made me wonder if Spitzer will be defined by his indiscretion for the rest of his life. Will his name be synonymous with hypocrisy and prostitution forever? Will he ever be able to move beyond his mistakes or the shame?

Maybe you have also made mistakes, or suffered failures, that haunt you and rob you of the life that God planned for you. Can you imagine hitting the “reset” button on your life? How would that change things for you?

God has good things in store for you. He wants to help you start over. That’s what I want to explore over the next few pages. Let’s work at getting your life back.


Thanks for reading this excerpt from chapter one of Starting Over. Remember to request your free copy if you are willing to post a review of the book on the day it launches, April 10th. Thanks!

[1] Elliot Ness was the leader of the famed “Untouchable” crime squad that fought bootleggers during Prohibition.

[2] Eliot Spitzer’s Impossible Mission, by Sheelah Kolhatkar, March 15, 2010, TIME

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The Shack Free Sermon Series by F. Remy Diederich

the Shack Free Sermon SerieThe movie, “The Shack” was just released in theaters. I spoke on the book for seven weeks back in 2009 when the book first came out. I thought you might find these messages helpful to process the movie and discuss it with your friends. Download The Shack free sermon series below.

The Shack is about how a man (Mack) processes the death of his daughter with God. Here’s an outline of what I talked about in my series:

Part One: How Do Finite People Describe an Infinite God?

I looked at the controversy over the book. Many Christians attacked the book as heresy. Personally, I loved the book because it took a creative way to engage people in talking about God…even highly theological issues.

Part Two: Be Careful How You Judge Others

I took a step back to look at Christians being so quick to judge this book. I talk about how it’s wrong to judge someone’s motives and methods.

Part Three: The Great Sadness (Depression)

This message was about a major theme of the book: The Great Sadness. The sadness not only came from tragedy but from feeling abandoned by God. When Mack chose to stop speculating on what he didn’t know about God and chose to trust in what he did know about him, his healing began.

Part Four: The Shack and a Personal God

Here I looked at how The Shack helps us to see that we can relate to God personally. Even though Mack struggled to know God and often wanted to give up on God, there’s something in him that kept seeking after God. That’s why when Mack got a note in the mail from “Papa” to meet him at the Shack, the place where his daughter was murdered, he felt compelled to go.

Part Five: Questioning the Nature of God

The Shack surprisingly discusses some very theological questions. In this message I looked at two of them:

  • Is God male?
  • Are the Father, Son and Spirit all equal?

Part Six: Who’s in Charge of the Trinity?

I tackle one more theological question that is raised in The ShackIs there a chain of command between the Father, Jesus and the Spirit? That is, does the Father call the shots in the Trinity? Does he tell Jesus and the Spirit what to do? Or is there another kind of relationship between the three?

Part Seven: Forgiveness

In The Shack, the issue of forgiveness is never far from the surface. In this final message, I look at forgiveness and answer the question; How can I forgive when it hurts so much?

Download The Shack Free Sermon Series

Each message in the series has a set of study questions for personal reflection or to discuss with your small group.

I hope you enjoy the series.  Download The Shack free sermon series here.

Please note, these messages are from 2009 and are based on the book, not the movie. I haven’t seen the movie yet to know how close the movie adheres to the book.

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Free Forty Day Devotional for Lent 2017

I’d like to give you a free devotional for Lent 2017.

I’ve always enjoyed following a devotional for the season of Advent and Lent. Short daily meditations help keep me centered on what’s truly important. For Advent: reflecting on how I can best receive the presence of God in my life. For Lent: reflecting on how God uses suffering to refine me into the likeness of Jesus as I wait for God’s resurrecting power to fill me.

Free Lent 2017 Offer

For this reason I want to offer you a gift of my book, Return from Exile, free on Kindle on Ash Wednesday as well as the two days preceding it. Return from Exile uses the biblical theme of exile to explore how God uses loss in our lives. Over the forty days I reflect on what causes exile, what we can learn in exile, and what it takes to return from exile to live a new, resurrected life.

I hope you will share this post to let others know about this offer. The book is also available in paperback at 30% discount here if you use the code: YHSMPH6T. You can also purchase it at full price from Amazon.com.

A Book for Those Struggling with Loss, Pain, Anger & Disappointment

Here’s what one recent reader said of the book:

This is an excellent book for anyone struggling with loss, pain, anger, and/or disappointment…While some self-help books wield bible verses like a club, Diederich offers them as search-light into the human heart and a gentle guide for constructive solutions . He does not condemn us for feeling angry, dissatisfied, hurt or in despair, but instead gives us a model for how to use these conditions as a tool for growth and perhaps even someday use the knowledge gained to help someone else.

I speak as a pastor/friend, wanting to help you out of your personal exile to reclaim the life that God has waiting for you.

Return From Exile is for Everyone

The reviewer above used Return from Exile to help them through a rough divorce. It will soon be used in a small group of cancer patients to help them deal with the many losses associated with the disease. Return from Exile is meant for everyone because we all deal with loss.

I hope you will share this special Lent 2017 offer with friends and family going through their own season of loss. Click here to download the book for free now.

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Discover God’s Forgiveness in “Starting Over”

I’m convinced that one of the most overlooked truths in the Bible is God’s absolute and unconditional forgiveness. God’s forgiveness is assumed but not embraced. Most believers are afraid to admit this allowing unresolved guilt to eat away at them.

Finding God’s Forgiveness

God's forgiveness

Discover God’s Forgiveness

As a result of failing to understand and accept God’s forgiveness, people fall into a variety of legalistic traps. Their guilt pushes them away from God and into a hamster-wheel of performance, working daily to please God and people, hoping for their acceptance.

Sound familiar?

To counteract this Christian secret I have written a short book called: Starting Over...finding God’s forgiveness when you find it hard to forgive yourself.

The book lays out in plain language why God forgave us and how he did it. My hope is that after people read this book they will understand God’s forgiveness in a way that will convince them of its reality. I want to help people push past their regret and start living the new life that God has for them.

One early reviewer wrote:

I’ve always struggled feeling worthy of God’s love. I can honestly say that after reading “Starting Over” that I feel a stronger connection with God and his gift of forgiveness.

Get a Free Copy of “Starting Over”

I’m hoping to launch the book by Easter (April 16th) but I need some help. I’d like 50 people to read it and then post a review on amazon.com the day I launch it.

If you are willing to help me out, I’ll send you a free PDF copy today when you email with your request. On launch day you will get the Kindle version for free.

The book takes less than two hours to read. Have we got a deal? Email me here to request your copy. I’ll notify you when the book launches. You can also help me out by sharing this post on Facebook. A few of your friends might appreciate the chance to read the book.

Thanks for your help!

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Churches That Abuse: Six Warning Signs

In researching my new book on spiritual abuse (Broken Trust), I’m unearthing a number of good resources. The following is a recap of an article about the book, Churches That Abuse, by Dr. Ron Enroth. The book is currently out of print but this outline is still helpful.

Six Signs of Churches That Abuse

Spiritually abusive churches have many markers but here are six signs to help warn you of the presence of abuse:

  1. Dependency: The church fosters a dependence on its teaching and input from the leadership with what’s called “learned helplessness.” Members are instructed on every facet of life, who they can associate with, where they should work, how much they should volunteer, etc. The leaders imply that life is too complex for people to make it without the informed guidance of their spiritual wisdom. To operate without their input is to put your life and success at risk.
  2. Legalism: Legalism is the ladder that you climb in an attempt to reach God. The problem is that when you get to the top of the ladder, there is another ladder. You never get to where you hoped to be.
  3. Isolationism: this is where your church is insulated from outsiders. It’s a closed system. People within the church community are the only ones that can be trusted. People outside of the system are often spoken of in disparaging ways. Anyone that has left the church is belittled and cast as a threat to members. The church leader is often seen as the ultimate source of truth.
  4. Discipline: Abusive churches are obsessed with exposing detractors and publicly exposing them or excommunicating them. On the front side, the church might seem warm and accepting, but on the backside they can be incredibly cruel if you cross them in any way.
  5. Disrupted Family Relationships: A sign of a true believer is when they are willing to cut off ties with their family. Abusive churches often encourage this and discipline the people who refuse to do it.
  6. Surveillance: To keep people in line with the five areas above, surveillance is required. Church members are told to keep an eye out for how people behave under the guise of mutual accountability.

All of these attributes work in consort to control the person and develop strict allegiance to the church.

Jesus spoke of wolves coming in sheep’s clothing. There is no better disguise for falsehood than the church.

If you would like to receive a free copy of my book, Broken Trust, before it is published, please email me here to let me know. I will send you a PDF copy for your review.

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Free Sermon Series for Lent for Pastors

I want to give you a gift to pass on to your pastor. It’s a free sermon series for the season of Lent.free sermon series

Lent is the season that leads up to Easter. It’s the time we reflect on the suffering and resurrection of Jesus. But it’s also the time we ought to reflect on how our suffering can lead to resurrection as well.

Resurrection isn’t limited to the next life. It’s for this life too. God wants to resurrect us from our seasons of suffering.

Download the Free Sermon Series

This free sermon series is called: Return from Exile: How to overcome loss, failure and personal setbacks (or whatever your pastor chooses to call it). I’ve preached these sermons in my church and they formed the basis for by book, “Out of Exile,” which was followed by my latest book: “Return from Exile.”

The goal of the series is to help people reframe their losses as something positive. I use the metaphor of exile to talk about the various losses we experience in life that leave us feeling disoriented and disillusioned.

The Bible is full of stories about exile and how God used them for good in the lives of his people. If you are open to it, God can use your losses to transform your life. As one person said about the book: I learned that God makes his greatest investment in our lowest moments.

Download the free sermon series here. (email me if you want a Word document)

As an added bonus, here is a link for a free download to my book: Out of Exile: Pastor’s Edition to give to your pastor. It’s written to specifically help pastors overcome the losses unique to them.

Contact me if you have any questions. Otherwise, download the free sermon series and you are good to go. Or maybe just send the link for this post to your pastor.

I hope this series encourages your church.

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