If You Can Keep It: Q & A With Eric Metaxas

reprinted with permission

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I have been huge Metaxas fan since his voice work as the narrator of VeggieTales rendition of Ester. I joke. I frist became aware of his writing from his book on Bonhoeffer and have since read most of his books. In his writing, his candor, wit and wisdom always shine through. Eric’s newest book If You Can Keep It is no different. I will be posting a review on my blog of Eric’s book in the coming days. I really enjoyed it. It releases officially this Tuesday, June 14th. Here is the Amazon link to pre-order until then and to purchase after the 14th.

How did the idea for the book first come about?

Honestly, I’ll never forget it. I was listening to the author Os Guinness
give a speech about the Founders unique idea of “ordered liberty” and
he described it in terms of what he called the “Golden Triangle of41MVx69VbUL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
Freedom.” It all made perfect sense, but I was shocked and
embarrassed to realize that somehow I’d managed never to have heard any of this before and that neither had most people I knew. So after I stopped perspiring, I tried to figure out how a reasonably well-educated American could miss these ideas that are utterly foundational and central to what America is and who we Americans are as a people? What could have happened? Then I read his book A Free People’s Suicide and was staggered further still, because I realized that if this country — which was expressly founded on these ideas — had ceased to understand them and pass them on to the next generation, it would eventually cease to be America in any real sense, and I realized that that’s precisely what had been happening in the last four or so decades. To say that I had a sense of urgency about it is an understatement. I talked about it whenever I went and pushed Os’s book on everyone I
knew, and as my thinking on it all expanded I realized I needed to get my own thoughts into a book — and to promote that book as widely and forcefully as any book I would ever write. Because I saw that once America devolved to being “America”, the whole world would suffer. Despite our ills and shortcomings, we have been a beacon of liberty to the whole world — my parents, for example, as I discuss in the book, who came from places of misery to this place that represented hope and a future — and if that beacon should go out in our generation, what Lincoln called the “last best hope of earth” would have vanished. It would be as though we had effectively committed suicide because we had forgotten to eat. So to cut to the chase, this book is about saving America, and in doing that, saving the world. That’s all. No pressure, right?

Throughout the book you refer to the popular quote “America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” What does that mean to you and how has America strayed from that?

This has manifested itself differently between liberals and conservatives. For example, conservatives have sometimes felt that America’s greatness was indeed that kind of chest-beating pride that people have misunderstood as “American exceptionalism,” and have forgotten that we have an important role to play in reaching out to the rest of the world, in welcoming others to our shores and in sharing our blessings — whether ideas regarding freedom or material blessings — with others. They’ve sometimes acted as though greed were indeed good, as though laissez-faire capitalism didn’t require a moral component to work as it should. And they’ve sometimes acted as though self-government didn’t require virtue — and a people and ethos that that prized virtue and hailed it as a social good. On the other hand, liberals have mostly in recent decades misunderstood the role that faith has played in our history and will continue to play if we allow it to do so. People of faith have been at the forefront of the Abolitionist movement and the Civil Rights movement. These were not secular movements. Our history in doing good could not and did not happen without people of serious faith playing a vital role, so to allow a new secularism to push people of faith out of the cultural conversation is to deny our history and to prevent our future together in any meaningful sense.

In If You Can Keep It, you write that self-government cannot exist without virtuous leaders. What do you think has been the biggest cause of the erosion of virtue in our modern-day political leaders?

Protecting Kids Online with Circle

As a gateway for the internet Circle is tops

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When it comes to protecting your kids, monitoring where your kids go online, blocking them from places you don’t want them to go as well as limiting their time online Circle is the way to go. I have been using it at our home for several months now, it is dead simple to use. Circle has the ability to set up user profiles for each member of your home and each device giving you total control over what you block from whom. What I have also found amazing is that kids who come over to play and log on to your wifi are automatically assigned the “house rules” profile with you even lifting a finger.

I love the bed time features that shuts off the internet to devices so kids can really sleep. It also keeps track of how long they have been online and turns them off when they have reached their limit this works for the whole device or just one app. You want your daughter to only be on Instagram for 30 min a day and your son to play clash of clans for only an hour, you just enter the time limit on each profile for each app. So simple.

A couple of important updates they have made is adding the android platform to circle as well as Circle Go for iOS. Circle Go allow you to you can extend Circle’s settings anywhere. All your favorite Circle features are now on 4G and any other network they join. The Circle device is a one time fee of 99.00 online or Best Buy. Circle Go functionality is 9.95 for up to ten devices.

Want to keep your kids safe and limit time online. There really is nothing better than Circle. Head over to their website and check it out for yourself.

 

Looking for a Great Bible for Kids 6-9 Years Old

The ICB is a solid option

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A while back I wrote a blog post on why you need to make sure your kids have the right Bible. One of the key points in helping your kids love the bible is finding the right bible to transition your kids from a picture/story Bible to a full-text bible. This transition is so important as it is the time when kids typically start to read their Bibles on their own. There are several questions that you should consider in selecting a bible for your 7-10-year-old.

1. Are the illustrations age appropriate?
2. Does it have helps to help kids go deeper?
3. Is the translation readable?

I think the ICB passes each of these tests really well. In particular, the translation of the ICB is very accessible without losing or muddying the original meaning. If kids can’t read their bible because they don’t understand it they will most likely not develop the habit. They also highlight a couple hundred texts that they feel are essential for kids to know. I was given the hardback version of the bible for review but I also downloaded the Kindle version on my iPhone on my own. Many times reference bibles are difficult to navigate in the kindle app the ICB was very simple. There were highlighted words that you could touch that would bring you to more information about them yet returning back to the text was intuitive and easy definitely something to consider if you are looking for a bible on the go, the kindle option is great. If you are looking for more info check out Tommy Neilson’s blog.

If you have kids between 8-12 years old, you definitely want to check this out

12 Books Every Leader Should Read.

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One of the things that I found as a leader that if you want to continue to grow you need to read books, and not just any book you need to read good books. The problem I have found is there are so many books out there many are great some not so great. A good book should feel like a conversation. Books give you the ability to have a conversation with people you will likely never meet. Great books do that.   One of the best strategies I have found to find a good book then read the books by the people they recommend and quote often. Here is a list of 12 good books to get you started.

  1. Theology –

    True Spirituality – Francis Schaeffer
    Prodigal God – Tim Keller
    Mere Christianity – CS Lewis
    Pilgrims Progress – John Bunyon
    Confessions – St. Augustine

  2. Technology –

    Reclaiming Conversation – Sherry Turkle

  3. Leadership –

    Leadership and Self-Deception – Arbinger Institute
    The Call To Joy and Pain – Ajith Fernando
    How to Read a Book – Mortimer J Adler

  4. Biography –

    Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand
    Amazing Grace – Eric Metaxas
    Bonhoeffer – Eric Metaxas

 

My Top 8 Books of 2015

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I enjoyed so many of the books I read last year to narrow the list down 8 is a challenge indeed. But if had to recommend only 8 books out of the books I read last year these would be it. Each one challenged me personally in unique ways. Each of them is well worth the time it would take you to read them. Enjoy.

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True Spirituality – Francis Schaeffer
Francis Schaeffer is amazing. I only regret I never stumbled upon him sooner. He is best known for How Shall I Then Live also an excellent read but True Spirituality has to be my favorite book by Schaeffer to date. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from a book that is a must-read for any Christian.

In our culture, we are often told that we should not say no to our children. Indeed, in our society repression is often correlated with evil. We have a society that holds itself back from nothing, except perhaps to gain something more in a different area.

There is one difference between the practice of justification and sanctification. As justification deals with our guilt, and sanctification  deals with the problem of the power of sin in our lives as Christians, justification is once for all, and the Christian life is moment by moment

When I lack proper contentment, either I have forgotten that God is God, or I have ceased to be submissive to him.

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The Republic by Plato

A sad reality of the state of our school systems is we no longer teach our kids classically. They are not taught how to think but increasingly through programs like no child left behind and common core are taught what to think. I was never forced to read the classics in school and that is to my detriment.  The Republic should be mandatory for every student before they graduate. The Republic created categories in my mind that didn’t previously exist. It’s treatment of education and politics make it a must read for any person who wants to be a productive member of society. The Republic was an excellent book. It is definitely one of those books you read more than one time.

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Finding Truth by Nancy Pearcy

Nancy Pearcy has a gift that is definitely needed in our world today. Her ability to describe and articulate what a true biblical worldview should be is amazing. I highly recommend Finding Truth and Total Truth. For any High School senior going to College this fall these books are more than a good idea they are essential.

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Preaching by Timothy Keller

Tim Keller is my favorite preacher so a book by him on preaching for me was a rare treat. To see how he thinks and where he is coming from as he communicates is amazing. I have read several books on preaching. Keller’s book is by far the best I have read, he is practical, spiritual and overall helpful. If you communicate to any size group his stuff on preaching to the heart is gold.

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A Free People’s Suicide by Os Guinness

Os Guinness is becoming one of my favorite authors. His insight and classical background give him such depth in everything he says. A Free People’s Suicide is a thoughtful critic of the American experiment from the outside in. Guinness has a genuine love of America without being blinded to her weaknesses. He is approaching the topic of America’s freedom and responsibility as an outsider so he equally implicates Republicans and Democrats alike. Really balanced and very convicting. Great book

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Show Them Jesus by Jack Klumpenhower

Loved this book by Jack Klumpenhower. It was much needed among the growing number of books for youth pastors and kids pastors. He does an excellent job of explaining the need for gospel-centered teaching and then explains how we can do that more faithful in the classroom. I bought a copy for everyone who preaches to our kids or youth.

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John Newton: From disgrace to amazing grace by Jonathan Aitken

This was a lengthy treatment of the life of John Newton. A fantastic Biography that did not gloss over the awful life that Christ redeemed. The things Newton faced were staggering. I found this biography so informative and at the same time life-giving. It challenged me to love and trust Christ more. I left with a greater appreciation of the Amazing Grace that saved a wretch like John Newton and especially me.

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The Prodigal Church by Jared Wilson

I like Jared’s writing style he doesn’t pull any punches and he isn’t afraid to say things that I am still afraid to say. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from his book.

How we “do church” shapes the way people see God and his Son and his ways in the world

It is a customary mantra of ministry that healthy things grow. And yet sometimes healthy things shrink. This is certainly true of our bodies, when we’re eating right and exercising. I mean, the formula doesn’t always work in every circumstance. “Healthy things grow” sounds right. But cancer grows

But the only thing of value the church has to offer is the gospel. I believe that one result of the emerging Experience Economy will be a longing for authenticity. To the extent that the church stages worldly experiences, it will lose its effectiveness.

What was your favorite book of 2015?