After I wrote my first book One Thing You Can’t Do in Heaven, I kind of thought my writing career was over. And I was totally okay with that! Writing is not the easiest of tasks for me. I have much more respect for authors now that I understand the amount of work that goes into a book. The word perseverance carries more meaning for me than it used to.
“One Thing . . . ” was geared toward those who are already saved. Its main message is, “Get up and go! Go tell all the world about Jesus.” Surprisingly, more than a few lost people got a hold of me to say how much they liked the book.
So, that kind of planted the idea in my head that I might want to write a book for the unsaved and those who are seeking and searching for answers. But I knew if I took that step, I would be taking on another huge commitment of time and resources to make it happen. Little did I know what I was getting into!
Starting on One Heartbeat Away
One thing I didn’t do as I was considering writing a second book was read other books about reaching the lost. I didn’t want to do what someone else had already done. I wanted to write something that was biblically accurate and fresh, so to speak.
When I write a book, it typically takes about one full year before I hold the printed version in my hands. It takes time to do the writing, editing, layout, cover design, printing, and shipping. It is a pretty lengthy process.
One Heartbeat Away took one year and nine months! I literally almost quit writing three times. I was frustrated by how it was coming together. The research was taking longer than I had anticipated, and I was having some editor issues.
When I organized the book, I wanted it to follow the same general progression as a conversation with a lost person would ― how to prove there is a God, creation vs. evolution, how to know the Bible is true, what happens when we die, the problem of sin, the remedy of the cross, the resurrection, and thanking Jesus with our lives!
Fine-Tuning the Book
As the project was nearing completion, one editor gave me an idea and said, “You should have five to eight people pre-read your book before it goes to print.” I almost screamed out loud, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” The project was already taking too much time, and that step would add a few more months to it. Let me be honest here: That was one of the best suggestions I’ve ever received when it comes to writing, and it has application in other areas of life as well.
When you write, you can get tunnel vision. You tend to view what you’ve written from your perspective and your perspective only. You know what you want to say and you just say it. But the way you say it might not be as clear as it should be to someone who is reading it from a different angle.
So, I picked five or six people―both lost and saved―to help out. Some gave only grammatical help and others would say something like, “You need to flesh this part out better for it to make sense.” Truthfully, the book is 1,000 percent better because of the feedback those people contributed. Folks tell me all the time how the book just flows and they were able to read it from front to back quickly.
We have heard from many people about how they have quoted portions of the chapter on creation/evolution in their high school or college papers. Students have also used in their papers a lot of the quotes we have from scientists in that chapter as well.
The chapter that covers how to prove the Bible true by using fulfilled prophecies has hit many people hard. My father told me that he had no clue that the Bible had all of those fulfilled prophecies in it.
The chapter that addresses the Ten Commandments has also been a game changer for many. After reading that chapter, one person told me they were 100 percent sure they would be guilty before God on Judgment Day.
Worth the Effort
Every time I have written a book, I say to myself a million times as I bang away on my keyboard, “Is anyone going to read this?” And then, I find myself saying again, “Is anyone going to read this?”
I think writers say that because writing is a lot of work, and they don’t want to invest their time in something that might not be worthwhile.
Well, I had no idea how the Lord would use what I was writing. While One Heartbeat Away started out as a modest project, we have just crossed the milestone of one million copies in print! To say that I am stunned and blown away would be the understatement of the millennium.
We have heard from atheists, Muslims, Catholics, a Roman Catholic priest, a nun, and folks in solitary confinement who have read it and gotten saved. Praise ye the Lord!!
Effective Witnessing Tool
But another thing I had no clue about was that folks like you would get multiple copies of the book and give them away to others; that thought never even crossed my mind as I wrote it. I figured people might buy it, read it, and then put it on a shelf. Boy, was I wrong.
We have had churches pick up cases of these books because they wanted to include them in their visitor packets to give away to the people who visited their churches on Sundays.
We have had people donate these books to their local prisons. Many businesses have set them out for their customers to take. Some doctors have set them out in racks in their individual offices for each of their patients to have.
None of these possibilities was even a remote thought as I was writing the book. That is why I think my favorite verse is “O me of little faith!!” I can have such little faith at times.
One of the crazier stories I’ve heard was in a letter that came in the mail one day from a prisoner. When I looked at the return address, I immediately recognized the name. It was from Mark David Chapman, the man who shot and killed John Lennon. He let me know that the book had deeply impacted him.
I wrote him back and sent him a couple of other books. A week or so later, his wife got a hold of me. She let me know that Mark really liked the book and wondered if she could get a copy for herself. We sent some materials to her as well.
About a month later, the chaplain of Mark’s prison got in touch with me and wanted to know if he could get copies for the other guys in the prison. I asked him how many inmates were there. He said the prison had 1,500 inmates!! That is a big prison. Before it was all over with, we gave the prison a total of 14 cases of books, which included some of our other book titles for the guys as well.
Many thanks for all of you who donate for your orders and give donations to the ministry. You make it possible for us to bless chaplains all across the country with books for the inmates they work with. We will be seeing many of them in Heaven soon!
To commemorate this milestone, we have updated the cover for One Heartbeat Away and also includes an “Over 1 Million in Print” emblem! We have just received these newly printed copies and are ready to get them out to you.
So let’s have some fun with what we have all accomplished together through the Lord’s leading and blessing. All copies of One Heartbeat Away are being offered for a suggested donation of $7 each. That means bundles of 18 books are $126 and cases of 44 books are $308. So you can stock up on the books you plan to give away and still have plenty on hand to bless those around you.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
I am very grateful for all of you and for all that you are doing for the Lord. You have encouraged me so much over the years, and hopefully we have encouraged you in return.
Stay bold and plant many, many, many seeds with the lost before you see the Lord face to face!!
Until the Nets are Full,
P.P.S. While one pastor was passing through Texas, he witnessed to and handed out One Heartbeat Away books to a large group of guys one day. Only half of them are in the picture below. He keeps very busy doing the Lord’s work by reaching out to lost people everywhere he goes.