Escape to Reality has just passed a milestone – check out the Blog Stats in the right-side column. A short while ago it had six zeroes in it. Being a male, I get a kick out of round numbers. For instance, if we’re out driving I might start a conversation like this:
“Look, honey, the odometer’s about to roll over to 100,000.0!”
“Sweetie, I really think you should keep your eyes on the road.”
“Look! Look! There! Oh, you missed it.”
“And you barely missed a kid in a wheelchair.”
I don’t know if a million page views means anything. No doubt some of those hits were from Google bots and travel agents. (Apparently, “Escape to Reality” is a phrase that comes up a lot in the travel industry.) But this does seem an opportune moment to reflect and say three things.
1. Thank you!
Thanks for reading what I write. Writers love to have their words read, so thank you, from the bottom of my feet!
I might say that when I started this blog, I never dreamed we’d get to a million hits, but that’s not true. I had very big dreams back then. I remember sitting down to pray and feeling impressed to pray for a target. A big number came to my mind, something I thought impossible to attain, and that’s what I prayed for. We haven’t hit that target yet, but we’re well on our way.
I also prayed that God would use this message of grace to set many people free and he has. Some of you have told me that you would literally be dead if you had not encountered the good news of God’s love on these pages, and that just blows me away. The gospel is literally a life-saving message!
One thing I didn’t see coming was the large number of senior citizens who have responded to grace. I regularly hear from people in their 70s and 80s telling me how their feet are now dancing to the joyful rhythms of grace. This so blesses me because for ten years in Hong Kong we prayed for old folks to come in to the church and none did. But now they’re running in to the House of Grace. How cool is that! You’re never too old to have a joyful childhood.
2. E2R Facelift
You may have noticed the website has had a bit of a make-over recently. This was my Christmas project and it’s nearly complete.
One change that I am super-pleased with is the Search box in the top-right corner of the website. It actually works! For instance, if you enter 1 John 1:9 into the search box and click “Search,” you’ll get links to the 13 posts where that verse is discussed. Type “Spurgeon” and you’ll get a list of 14 posts where the Prince of Preachers is mentioned.
Readers have been telling me for ages that the archives are hard to navigate. No more! If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the subject index or the archives, try the search box. It works! It works! It works!
3. How to get more out of E2R
A week ago I published a post entitled “Is God Sovereign?” Underneath this post you will now find 100+ comments consisting of questions, observations, and outright disagreements. Readers often tell me they value these discussion threads as much as the posts themselves and I can understand why. They are full of life – hurts and hopes, joy and pain, revelation and incredulity. So keep those comments coming. They help keep it real.
However, I am aware that as E2R gains visibility it will attract more attention from critics and stone-throwers. I am not referring to people with a different point of view but those with an agenda to manipulate, condemn, and bind people.
I’m a believer in free speech, but I’m increasingly having to delete comments that are inappropriate. This past week I received about 150 comments for moderation and I had to delete about five for being inflammatory (some folks get outraged when you tell them God doesn’t make people sick) and another five or so because they were otherwise against the rules (eg: shameless advertising, rants that had nothing to do with the post being discussed, etc.).
I know it’s the pits to submit a comment or a question and hear nothing back. It makes you feel unimportant and you’re not. Christ died for you! You’re a treasure in his eyes and mine (2 Cor 5:16).
So to help make the ride more fun for you, I want to take you behind the scenes and give you an inside look at the world I inhabit. Ooooh, this should be fun…
A glimpse behind the magic of E2R
- I love hearing from readers but I receive more comments, emails, messages, questions, etc., than I can possibly respond to. If you send me a message, know that I will read it and I will try to respond if I can. But if I don’t respond it doesn’t mean you or your message are unimportant. It probably means I’m swamped or I’m playing with my kids. Family comes first and this year I plan to spend even more time with my children. (They grow so fast!)
- If you get a short response from me, it doesn’t mean I am being short with you. Just brief. It’s a coping mechanism. (Most of my phone-calls are less than 30 seconds long. I’m not joking.) Of course this is not ideal when we are talking about weighty issues, so please have grace for me. Know that I would love to sit and have coffee with you and would if I could.
- I tend not to read long messages all the way through. This has got me in trouble in the past and will no doubt get me in trouble again. In the interests of avoiding trouble, please only send me short messages.
- When I respond to your problem with, “Ask your Father,” or “Ask the Holy Spirit,” I am not being dismissive. I genuinely believe the Holy Spirit is the greatest teacher in the universe. I will do everything I can to encourage you to lean on him instead of me. I am always happy to help but I am not The Answer Guy. I will disappoint you eventually; he never will.
- If you put something I write on your Facebook wall or send it to your pastor and it attracts a lot of criticism, don’t ask me to weigh in for you. I will not join your thread, write to your pastor, or attempt to explain things to your friends. I’m sorry to be blunt, but I’ve got more than enough battles of my own – and most of those I don’t fight anyway.
- I sometimes write posts in response to reader’s questions but I do not take requests. So please don’t ask me to write a post on tithing or gay Christians or the meaning of the candlesticks in the tabernacle. I think most of your questions are brilliant and valid but I cannot afford to live in reaction to the requests of men. It’ll suck the life right out of me.
- Finally, and just so there’s no confusion, I love questions! Questions are healthy so feel free to ask them either in discussion threads under the relevant post or on E2R’s Facebook page – just don’t direct them to me personally.
Don’t say: “Paul, what do you think…” as this excludes others from responding.
Do say: “Does anyone have any insight into…” as this invites others to contribute.
Understand that E2R readers are an amazing bunch of people who love to help others and many of them have far more wisdom than I.
May the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of the Father, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all!