2016 Christmas Message from Paul
Someone once said life is what happens when you’re making other plans. This is wisdom for me because I am a planner. I begin every day, every week, and every year with a detailed plan. But I am learning to hold my plans loosely so as not to miss out on life.
At the start of this year I had grand plans and… I achieved none of them, for my year was marked by three interruptions. Were they life-giving interruptions? I hope so. You be the judge.
Interruption #1: The Stuff Jesus Never Said book
This book did not exist in January; by April, I had a copy in my hand. Stuff Jesus Never Said came out of nowhere and took us by surprise.
It has long been my dream to convey the gospel in visual form. When I began the SJNS page three years ago, I wanted to put the best pictures in a book, but I couldn’t see how to get past the copyright issues. I asked the Mormons if I could use their pictures. (The Church of the Latter Day Saints takes art seriously and they have the best pictures of Jesus.) But they said no. Apparently they didn’t feel my intentions for their art work were a good match with their own.
For a long time we couldn’t see how to do it. Then in February this year we cracked the rights puzzle by using a mix of public domain art, Fiverr talent, and helpful archive curators. We also learned how to print full-color books in China and use order-fulfillment service providers in California.
The finished book is visually stunning, if I do say so myself, and the feedback from readers has been encouraging. Readers have been giving books away to people who normally never read anything remotely Christian. Others have leaving them on their coffee tables or work desks for others to find. This works because memes are disarming, and humor is an effective way of presenting the gospel message.
We sold a third of the first print run in the first six hours of the book’s release. But sales have since tapered off, possibly on account of the price. Full-color coffee table books with licensed images are costly to produce, and shipping costs are only cheap for US customers.
I have said that there would be no Kindle version, but I may change my mind. Although Stuff Jesus Never Said was always intended to be a gift book, the main thing is to get the message out there. Stay tuned for an announcement about ebook formats early next year.
Interruption #2: AD70 and the End of the World
Why am I writing a book about the year AD70? I honestly don’t know. I didn’t mean to. It just happened.
Here’s a little known fact: Escape to Reality was nearly an eschatology blog. But the timing wasn’t right. The gospel was the main thing; the end times could wait.
However, over the past two years I have been drawn back to Christ’s prophecies and parables of judgment. I am familiar with the standard futurist and preterist interpretations, but I wanted to examine the scriptures for myself. One thing led to another and I have just finished my biggest ever book. It has over 500 scriptures in the index and covers pretty much everything Jesus said about the last days.
I realize eschatology is a subject that divides opinion, and I have no wish to stir up debate. But I have read dozens of end times’ books and commentaries and found most of them miss grace by a hundred miles. It seems to me there is an opportunity to look at Christ’s words of judgment through the lens of the cross.
At present, the book is being read by a group of pastors and theologians (both preterist and futurist). So far the feedback has been most helpful in sharpening the message. I am confident that when the book is released next year it will bring clarity and freedom to those who have had a fearful view of the future or a gloomy view of the past.
Interruption #3: Patreon
I love writing about the gospel and I’d do it for free, but bills have to be paid. Income from royalties provides a fraction of our household income, so for the past seven years we have been living off other sources.
It has always been my hope to make a living from my work, and for a highly-trafficked site such as this that means selling advertising. But putting ads on E2R? Yecch! I just can’t do it. I don’t want anything to interfere or compete with the sweet words of the good news.
In May I was praying and money was on my mind. “Lord, how do we go forward?” Immediately one word leapt into my heart: Patreon.
I knew Patreon was a funding website for creative people making music videos and comics. As far as I knew it wasn’t for writers, and certainly not gospel writers. But on that night the word hit me like a hammer. Patreon! Patreon! Do it now!
My mind and my spirit were telling me contradictory things. My brain said, “This is not for me,” but my spirit heard, “Get on Patreon as fast as possible.”
Within ten days we launched and the results were astonishing, far better than I expected. It’s not just about the money (although that certainly helps). It’s the thrill of finding like-minded people willing to invest in this radical message of grace. It’s super-encouraging.
E2R patrons not only keep this site ad-free, they help fund the distribution of grace resources all around the world. They amplify this message. In return, they get access to a number of rewards including sneak peaks into draft chapters, insider access to forthcoming projects, advanced review copies, signed books, and exclusive invites to “Ask Paul Anything” sessions. (There’s one running right now.) Patrons are truly partners in this gospel venture.
Since it is Christmas, I want to thank you all for sharing the journey. If you commented on a post, thanks for joining the conversation. If you shared what I wrote with friends, thanks for passing it on.
And I particularly want to thank the following Patreon patrons for their generous support and partnership:
A and M Robertson, Michael Lipparelli, Rachmat Permana, Randy and Julee Armstrong, Charles and Sheilla van Wijk, Ben Dailey, Terry Maupin, Bill Fowler, Debra Hamilton, Amanda Henderson, Ian and Norma Anderson, Larry Eiss, Don Beeson, Klaus and Erika Degen, Mikael Jonsson, James Tuttle, Mary Anne Tango, Andrea Nagy, Jeremy Pelfrey, David Dunham, Terri Simon, Jerry Williams, John Ross, Melissa and Adam Kensell, James Young, Anne H Hoover, Tim Brasic, Anita Sheridan, Joe Merchant, Patti McPike, Kindall Nelson, Agnes Tan, Jean-Paul Parenteau, Rose Simmons, Yeo Wee Khin, Janelle Myers, Rose Hayden, Tung Lee, Erik Grangaard, Karen Moffett, Bill Schanuel, Kyle Defoe, Jason Kim, Justin Hopper, Michael and Kimberly Vizza, Ted Nelson, Sandra Osei-Gyamfi, Peter Hanson, Derrick Darden, Kundayi Bernard Mugabe, David Edwards, Anne T Ross, Henry HS Yeo, Christopher Johnson, Matt Bovett, Robin Waller, Brandon Petrowski, Real Paquette, Toshiko Johnson, Brian Campbell, Peter Barnett, Eveline Hotz Gamonez, Lyle Geck, Michael Gragg, Michelle Nonis, Pete Godwin, Damon Jackson, Paul Noble, Stephanie Hay, Frank Hillberg, Ricky L Cain, Kendall Oei, James Davis, Bruce Leane, Brian McLaughlin, Susie Dunlap, Julia Vockrodt, Robin Waller, John Reed, Paul De Sousa, Gary Greer, James Monteleone, Bill McDonald, Andy Manuel, Peggi Douglass, Lloyd D McCaskill, Van Ertel, Nick Atkins, Steven Kotsonis, Penny Hippey, Hazel Saquing, Kirsty Gerlach, Benny Sunjaya, Jeffrey, Rene Bouwer, Lester Blair, Nancy Reed, Shannon Carroll, Gord Penner, Andrew, Michael Pollard, Gilly Stott, Deirdre M Rogers, Berris-Dale Joseph, Mary Salisbury, Deborah Long, Josh King, Falxion, Pat Greene, Yuting Kita, Diane Schakola, Edward McCarthy, Denis Paquette, Mark Flint, Natalie, Adam Tanti, Joel Belcher, Elizabeth Brown, Liz Bailey, Melissa Keewee, Marie, Bryan Ryder, Rhea Cooper, Richard Lee, Norin Lumungking, Mark McElwee, Oscar Rios, Bank Akinmola, Elias Struik, Chad Huffman, and Cory Smith.
So that was my year. I had plans, but God’s plans were better. They always are. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for next year.
It’s our pleasure to support this wonderful work, we are determined to increase our support in 2017! Merry Christmas to you and your family.
Merry Christmas to you Paul. Thank you for showing us the Scriptures in the light of grace and the cross. We’re glad to be a part of this ministry. May the Lord lead and guide you in the coming year.
FANTASTIC! May you be blessed and favored ‘pressed down and running over’.
Merry Christmas! Thank you for your special ministry and blog! God bless!
I cannot find the place to put a question for you, it just leads to becoming a patreon which I am already?
Hi Rene. Check out the Ask Paul Anything post on the Patreon page. (If this link takes you to some other pages, it’s found under “Posts” on the Patreon page.)
I so much enjoy your blog, I never miss reading one, and have used them lots when I was studying a topic to share with my study group. Thank you! There are so few that really get grace, fully. We don’t even have a church in our city that we know of that is consistently true to truth without mixing in law.
I would really love to order your book Stuff Jesus Never Said in the “buy three get two” bonus package. When I got to the checkout I see that shipping is almost as much as the $69 to buy the books, I’m thinking this could be keeping a lot of us Canadians from getting this product? Im all for supporting you, but not the postal system!
Do you have a Canadian supplier? Is it the cross border brokering thing that puts it out of reach? Would it be an idea to have someone be a contact in Canada that could stock boatloads of your books at a time, and then ship out from here for your Canadian readers? My friend Dawn and I have thought about doing this for another author who writes out of South Africa, is this even a feasible idea?
Hi Helen, thanks for the encouraging feedback. I am sorry to hear that shipping is so costly for Canada. We have zero control over that as the prices come from the United States Postal Service. Believe me, we feel your pain here in New Zealand. For me to ship a carton of my own books costs something like USD200. It’s ridiculous. We knew this would happen when we set up the site. We basically had to choose one nation to be blessed with cheap postage at the expense of all the others, and the numbers led us to the US. So for all the Americans reading this, the rest of us hope you are grateful. 🙂
Thanks for the offer of stocking books for Canadians. Let me have a think and then I will contact you via email.
Thank you Paul. You have blessed me with you insight on grace which in turn have helped me in my messages and teachings at my fellowship. Marry Christmas and all the best to you and your family in the coming year.
Merry Christmas, Paul, and thank you for all the wonderful writings you take the time to share with us. Love your grace message.
Merry Christmas, Paul! You have a great gift for sharing the truth of God’s grace toward mankind and you are definitely one of the best! I have been praying for your success in this great task, and for God’s grace, blessing and safe keeping of you and your family so that you may continue in this awesome work. May you continue with joy and the same humility you seem to have, combined with your wit and humor. To read your writings continues to be such a blessing! And BTW…you have such a warm and friendly face that anyone would want to know you! Thanks for your good works! “Tidings of comfort and joy to you” and yours for always.
Thanks for your kind words Sandy. Merry Christmas to you too.
Thank you for your books and blog. Here in Quebec Canada there’s only one church that I know that preaches the message of Grace.(Resurgence church supported by Joseph Prince) There is no french church yet and I pray that 2017 will have a breakthrough. I’ve been giving the gospel in 10 words to pastors that I know. I pray for a grace revival every day. For 60 years I was a legalist fool and I praise God for opening my heart to Grace. May God bless you and your ministry. A merry Christmas to you and your family.
Thanks for the year in review, Paul!
Merry Christmas to you and your family!!!
Paul, mate, seriously, what is your daily routine to be sooooooo productive and cover soooooo much ground‼️ You’re a bloody legend, love your work immensely, and when I’m out of my financial woes I would just love to kick my tin for your cause in the war… it will be the greatest of pleasure 🤔 Have a ridiculously grace filled Christmas. 🌏 PS: Do you do speaking engagements at churches❓ I go to CITIPOINTE Church in Brisbane, has quite a few 1000, and is a very happening bunch of Happy Campers & I would love to have this message heard clearly from the front ✅ Cheers, Laurence Brill 😊
Thanks Laurence. You’re actually the second person in two days to ask me about my routine, so I will tell you what I told the other person. Most days I get up about 5:30 or 6am and write to mid-day. I’ll take a break, go for a run or do some chores, then pick up again late afternoon. If that sounds like a lot of work to you, it doesn’t feel like work to me. Imagine doing the one thing you most like doing for 8+ hours a day, and that’s how I feel about writing. It’s fun! Happy Christmas.
Paul, I know you probably don’t take requests. But could you write something on being generous during Christmas, or even the fact that less Christians are helping Syrian refugees than a year ago? I do think that’s unfortunate, but I say this because I sometimes feel pressure to help more than I’m able to. I barely have any money in the bank to support myself, much less anyone else. Yet I have this sense, ridiculous as it is, that if I don’t give every cent I have I’m not a real Christian. I want to be generous with my time and money, but I can’t donate to every cause in the world. I can’t help every single refugee. I’m just one person.
First of all, I want to say that I think you already have a generous heart. The fact that you want to give so much, when you have so little, shows that you have your Father’s heart for generosity. I also want to say that that voice that’s telling you that if you don’t give every cent you have then you’re not a real Christian; is the voice of the enemy trying to make you feel defeated by not giving everything. The Bible says that you shouldn’t give out of compulsion, but out of a cheerful heart because the Lord loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7). You can’t be giving cheerfully if you’re giving out of guilt that is being induced by the enemy! The enemy is trying to take your generous heart and turn it against you, just like he tried to take Jesus’ divinity (if you are the Son of God, turn these stones to bread (Matt 4:3) and use it against Him. Don’t let the enemy take the gift that God has placed in you and turn it into a curse! God loves you no matter how much you give, because you are His beloved. So, help in whatever ways you have been gifted to help, whether financially, resourcefully, or just by being a listening ear to someone who is hurting. Don’t worry about feeling like you can’t do enough, because you can’t! Only Jesus can do over and above all that we ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20)! God gives out of His abundance (John 1:16), so let Him give to you, pressed down, shaken together, and running over (Luke 6:38), and then give out of that! Be blessed sister!
Never commented before but this time I cannot restrained myself. Pastor Paul please do not wear Santa hat in the future, Christmas never ever involved Santa only Jesus Christ.
How get I access to the draft chapter(s) of AD70 on Patreon? I am Patreon.
You find the download links on the Posts page on Patreon.
Excited about your book on eschatology. Do you have a time frame that it will be coming out next year?
Hopefully the ebook version will be out by Easter and the paperback a few months after that. Merry Christmas to you too.
Actually I think a more appropriate post would be on phrases Christians need to absolutely stop using. One of which is “God will use you,” “God will use this.” I’m sorry, but I absolutely “hate” it, when people say God uses people. They may not see it this way, but it really does imply that God sees us as little more than pawns on a chessboard. It implies that God would rather have a whore than a wife. Again, I know most people won’t see it that way, but it needs to stop. We get angry when other people “use” each other. Why doesn’t the same apply to our relationship with God?
I am excited that the Lord is leading you in ways that can clarify for a new generation of believers, how to see the future in light of the cross. I have grown up with futurist alarm bells and been exposed to preterist teachings, and am aware of how it affects your filter of seeing the Lord. I am still not sure which is the truth, but I do want to stay in the provision of what Christ has provided for me and give hope to others. Looking forward to your new book.
Always, always inspiring. Happy Christmas, Paul.
Happy New YEAR Too Beloved!!
Inspiring th know there us a way to spread God given creativity
And God bless u more and more as u hear His voice to lead u into your purpose