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?

What Relevance Is

revelant

One of the things I have come to discover in reading old books is there is nothing new under the sun. That when you take the time to discover what people have said in centuries past you realize how profound they really are. You see how relevant old things are. They help us see what is good, true and beautiful because it has always been so. The relevant of today is fickle and given to fads and trends. What was relevant centuries ago is in many ways more instructive for us as leaders. Do Kanye and Kim define relevance to our culture? I would argue no. They are the trendsetters perhaps but relevance true relevance goes deeper.

I’ll illustrate it with two things that have come across my path they last few weeks one is a picture the other a poem.

Three Actions to be a Better Parent Overnight.

Father-and-Child-parents

Everyone no matter where you come from, how much you make or where you live, you have the same thing in common, we all have twenty-four hours in each day. No more no less. The difference comes in where you chose to invest those 1440 minutes. There are so many things that take up our time that are important and much needed. If we were all honest, there are many things that we invest our precious moments on that are a complete waste of time.

Over the past few years, I have done several funerals what I find fascinating is how people invested their lives. There are some who worked their whole lives others invested in hobbies, and still others family was everything. Every time I do a funeral or attend one I ask myself if I am investing my life in what matters most. When talking with people at the end of their lives, I often ask what they regret most; some have no regrets. Of those who have regrets, almost all of them is not spending enough time with family. I think our generation does spend more time with family, but often I find in talking with parents it’s not concentrated devoted time. It’s on the go time; it’s hurried time. There is nothing wrong with on the go time it’s still time, but I find that unhurried time is where life happened, and big questions get asked. It’s in the cracks of near boredom that we dig deep and find the space to discuss what matters most.

If you are a parent and are looking to invest your time where it matters most to get the most bang for your buck, I would urge you to consider the three things I have listed below. These things make a huge difference quickly but more importantly they make a huge difference in the long run. I would like to offer a disclaimer that I am working on these myself. Our family does dinner almost every night mostly because of my amazing wife. We just started doing family worship and we aren’t as consistent as I would like. As far as the cell phone goes, I am trying to disconnect but it’s not easy.

Do you want to be a better parent overnight?

3 Books that Need To Be Written That No One Would Buy

3-Books

I love reading books. When I don’t know how to do something or I don’t understand something the first thought that usually comes to me is “I’ll bet there is a great book out there that would help me understand this.” And there usually is. The challenge we now have is not is there a book on a given topic, and the challenge is finding good books on a given topic. Forbes Magazine says “there are there are somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the US alone, depending on which stats you believe. Many of those – perhaps as many as half or even more – are self-published. On average, they sell less than 250 copies each.” So needless to say finding a good book is easier said than done.

I understand that books are written with three aims in mind. The first is be helpful and the second appeal to your audience and beyond, third sell more than 250 copies. Of all the books I have read, I have never come across many books that fit the four books below that I think need to be written. I think they need to be written because they would be helpful, but I don’t think they would sell more than 250 copies.

3 Books that Need To Be Written That No One Would Buy

  1. Sometimes Healthy Things Die. “Why Faithfulness matters more Fruitfulness” – One of the things I used to say all the time is “Healthy things grow” While that may be true I think it oversimplifies what is true in the statement. Healthy things do grow, and I would say this because my goal wasn’t health but growth. Is there anything wrong with more people, more produces more stuff? Not necessarily. I do think that statement for me was geared around fruitfulness more than it should have been. In the scriptures, we see many examples of how farming works. We plant we water God makes it grow. Faithfulness is something we can do by God’s grace. Fruitfulness is something God does for us, through us and sometimes despite us. I want they leaders I am pouring my life into to avoid that mistake and find their worth in being faithful and leave the fruitfulness up to God.

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.