The Strenuous Life (book review)

I just finished reading Theodore Roosevelt’s Autobiography, so it was quite fascinating to read some of the speeches he was giving during the same periods he covered in his memoirs. TR practiced what he preached, and one of his consistent messages is that anything worthwhile is worth the strenuous effort it takes to get it. This collection of speeches is called The Strenuous Life. 

TR himself described the strenuous life like this: 

“The doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife: to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph. … A life of slothful ease, a life of that peace which springs merely from lack either of desire or of power to strive after great things, is as little worthy of a nation as of an individual.” 

In The Strenuous Life, you will read the consistent message TR delivered to a wide variety of people—from the rough-and-tumble outdoorsmen and women, to the diplomats attending a World’s Fair, to business people—nothing of lasting value ever came to those who sat around and waited for it to come to them. The strenuous life is one of initiative, of hard work, of sacrifice, of perseverance, and ultimately a life rewarded by self-satisfaction in a job well done. 

This book is inspiring as a stand-alone read, but I highly recommend you read it in conjunction with TR’s Autobiography, as it adds an extra level of insight to both works. 

9 Quotes From Theodore Roosevelt’s Autobiography

Theodore Roosevelt never pulled his punches! And you could never misunderstand exactly what he was saying. Check out my review of his autobiography by clicking here, and then enjoy some of these straight-shooter quotes from TR. 

“With soul of flame and temper of steel we must act as our coolest judgment bids us. We must exercise the largest charity towards the wrong-doer that is compatible with relentless war against the wrong-doing. We must be just to others, generous to others, and yet we must realize that it is a shameful and a wicked thing not to withstand oppression with high heart and ready hand. With gentleness and tenderness there must go dauntless bravery and grim acceptance of labor and hardship and peril.” 

“The necessity of character as the chief factor in any man’s success—a teaching in which I now believe as sincerely as ever, for all the laws that the wit of man can devise will never make a man a worthy citizen unless he has within himself the right stuff, unless he has self-reliance, energy, courage, the power of insisting on his own rights and the sympathy that makes him regardful of the rights of others.” 

“I never won anything without hard labor and the exercise of my best judgment and careful planning and working long in advance.” 

“For I then held, and now hold, the belief that a man’s first duty is to pull his own weight and to take care of those dependent upon him; and I then believed, and now believe, that the greatest privilege and greatest duty for any man is to be happily married, and that no other form of success or service, for either man or woman, can be wisely accepted as a substitute or alternative.” 

“I did not then believe, and I do not now believe, that any man should ever attempt to make politics his only career. It is a dreadful misfortune for a man to grow to feel that his whole livelihood and whole happiness depend upon his staying in office. Such a feeling prevents him from being of real service to the people while in office, and always puts him under the heaviest strain of pressure to barter his convictions for the sake of holding office.” 

“No man can lead a public career really worth leading, no man can act with rugged independence in serious crises, nor strike at great abuses, nor afford to make powerful and unscrupulous foes, if he is himself vulnerable in his private character. … He must be clean of life, so that he can laugh when his public or his private record is searched; and yet being clean of life will not avail him if he is either foolish or timid. He must walk warily and fearlessly, and while he should never brawl if he can avoid it, he must be ready to hit hard if the need arises. Let him remember, by the way, that the unforgivable crime is soft hitting. Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly.” 

“I am glad to see wrong-doers punished. The punishment is an absolute necessity from the standpoint of society; and I put the reformation of the criminal second to the welfare of society. But I do desire to see the man or woman who has paid the penalty and who wishes to reform given a helping hand—surely every one of us who knows his own heart must know that he too may stumble, and should be anxious to help his brother or sister who has stumbled. When the criminal has been punished, if he then shows a sincere desire to lead a decent and upright life, he should be given the chance, he should be helped and not hindered; and if he makes good, he should receive that respect from others which so often aids in creating self-respect—the most invaluable of all possessions.” 

“My duty was to stand with every one while he was right, and to stand against him when he went wrong.” 

“We must ever judge each individual on his own conduct and merits, and not on his membership in any class, whether that class be based on theological, social, or industrial considerations.” 

More quotes coming soon! You can subscribe to this blog to be notified when more quotes are published, and you can also check out the quotes I publish daily on Tumblr. 

Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography (book review)

Without a doubt, Theodore Roosevelt is one of my all-time favorite US Presidents. Not only for the policies he enacted, but for the large life he led—frontiersman, commissioner of police, governor, Vice President, President, explorer, Nobel Peace Prize laureate. This man did it all, and wrote about it in a very straightforward style in Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography. 

In telling his life’s story, Theodore Roosevelt (TR) compiles each chapter around a “role” in his life. For instance, a chapter on his childhood, one on his time in the American frontier, one on his work as police commissioner in New York City, and so forth. Not only does he tell what he did, but he explains why he did it and the lessons he learned along the way. 

Other people played important roles in his life, and TR was quick to recognize competent and loyal people, make them his friends for life, and then put them in positions where they could do the most good for the most people. I have a hunch that this was started by the way his father raised him. Very early in the book, TR writes about his father—

“My father, Theodore Roosevelt, was the best man I ever knew. He combined strength and courage with gentleness, tenderness, and great unselfishness. He would not tolerate in us children selfishness or cruelty, idleness, cowardice, or untruthfulness. As we grew older he made us understand that the same standard of clean living was demanded for the boys as for the girls; that what was wrong in a woman could not be right in a man. … I never knew anyone who got greater joy out of living than did my father, or anyone who more whole-heartedly performed every duty.” 

TR truly lived an oversized life and left an indelible stamp on the American landscape that can still be seen and felt today. This is truly an enjoyable book to read! 

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus—expanded edition (book review)

In 2015, a family member who works in predominately Muslim areas of the world recommended that I read Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. This book opened my eyes and heart to our Muslim brothers and sisters around the globe who haven’t heard how Jesus can meet each one of us personally. 

The 10th anniversary of the book is being released next week with all new content, and I couldn’t be happier to recommend it to you. (There are also some special offers for you if you pre-order this book on NabeelQureshi.com.)

When I first read Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus I wrote…

“This book is told in the narrative style of an autobiography, as Nabeel walks us through his devout Muslim upbringing, and the conversations and confrontations that got him thinking about his religion in contrast to Christianity. The book has a “documentary” feel to it, as Nabeel takes us inside his home, school and mosque to let us see his life portrayed almost in real-time. Many of the conversations include Arabic phrases, which Nabeel footnotes at the beginning of the book, and then continues to use without the footnoted translation later, allowing the reader to become more immersed in his world.”

This is the same great content you will find in this expanded edition as well. In addition, there are some added bonuses too:

  • An epilogue where Nabeel answers some of the frequently asked questions like how his family responded to him becoming a Christian, and how he met his wife.
  • You will also hear from his wife Michelle, and a transcribed interview between Nabeel and David Wood, who was instrumental in his conversion to Christianity. 
  • Several expert essays from Christian apologists.
  • Some frequently asked questions about Islam.

As I wrote in my review of the first edition, I wholeheartedly repeat here: By reading Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, I (re)discovered a whole new way to pray for my Muslim friends, as well as feeling like I may now carry on a more intelligent conversation with them about their cherished beliefs. Please get a copy of this book for yourself! 

I am a Zondervan book reviewer. 

Book Reviews From 2016

Shaken (book review)

shakenI continue to be so impressed with the way Tim Tebow always finds a way to let his light shine for Jesus in everything he does. Many people find it easy to give God praise when things are going well, but it might not be as easy to praise Him in the down times. This is exactly what Tim Tebow explores in his latest book Shaken.

Football fans have seen the on-field celebrations after a big victory, the joyous locker rooms, and the upbeat press conferences. But seldom do we see much from the team that loses the big game. Even less often do we get a glimpse behind the scenes of the heartache for athletes in the day-to-day grind of their sport.

Tim Tebow has won the Heisman Trophy, the NCAA football national championship, and one of the most exciting NFL playoff games in history. Tim has also been traded, benched and cut by other NFL teams. During these times, Tim has learned to rely on his bedrock faith. And in Shaken we get to hear the lessons he’s learned, and to discover the truth behind an important Bible verse (from which the name of the book comes): I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken (Psalm 16:8).

Shaken isn’t all about Tim. He is refreshingly transparent to share with us about his struggles and the lessons he’s learned, but he also shares with us the overcoming stories of some other amazing people—folks who wouldn’t normally be in the spotlight. And in so doing, Tim shows us that each and every one of us has immeasurable value to God, that tragedies don’t have to shake our world, but that we can use even the difficult times to lean into God and to do great things for Him.

My level of respect for Tim Tebow, and the way he uses his notoriety for God’s glory, has risen again after reading this book. For anyone who is looking for a way to make sense of the hard things in life, Shaken will be an eye-opening, heart-changing book.

I am a Waterbrook book reviewer.

(By the way, Tim’s first book—Through My Eyes—is also an excellent read!)

One Of The Few (book review)

one-of-the-fewI love to read stories that take me “behind the scenes.” Which is one of the reasons I enjoy reading autobiographies, where the author is candid and transparent, and gives me the scoop on things I wouldn’t have experienced myself. That’s exactly what I got in One Of The Few by Jason Ladd.

Jason takes us inside the United States Marine Corp, specifically into the seat of a Marine pilot. We get to see firsthand the grit, intelligence, and perseverance it takes to be one of the few, the proud, the Marines. Learning a little more about what it takes to attain this elite status, increased my respect for our men and women in military service even more.

But as I read Jason’s story, I quickly learned that he was learning from his own life experiences as well. As he pursues his dream, as he learns new skills, as he is confronted with the harsh realities of wartime situations, Jason must also come to grips with his beliefs about spiritual matters. His journey is uniquely his, but he shares his story in a way that will benefit anyone who is either wrestling with spiritual questions, or anyone who is trying to befriend someone who is skeptical about the Christian faith.

One Of The Few resonated with me on many levels: a great personal story, excellent leadership lessons, new military insights, and great Christian apologetic skills. Definitely put this book on your “to be read” list.

I am a Boone Shepherd book reviewer.

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