Teddy Roosevelt On Character

Theodore Roosevelt was well aware that talent alone wasn’t enough to sustain an individual, a family, or a nation. Talent and perseverance, he preached, must be supported by character. In a series of speeches bundled together in the book The Strenuous Life, TR had much to say about character development and integrity. You can check out my review of The Strenuous Life by clicking here. 

“It is a good thing to have a keen, fine intellectual development in a nation, to produce orators, artists, successful business men; but it is an infinitely greater thing to have those solid qualities which we group together under the name of character—sobriety, steadfastness, the sense of obligation toward one’s neighbor and one’s God, hard common sense, and, combined with it, the lift of generous enthusiasm toward whatever is right. These are the qualities which go to make up true national greatness.” 

“We do not need men of unsteady brilliancy or erratic power—unbalanced men. The men we need are the men of strong, earnest, solid character—the men who possess the homely virtues, and who to these virtues add rugged courage, rugged honesty, and high resolve.” 

“The men who with ax in the forests and pick in the mountains and plow on the prairies pushed to completion the dominion of our people over the American wilderness have given the definite shape to our nation. They have shown the qualities of daring, endurance, and far-sightedness, of eager desire for victory and stubborn refusal to accept defeat, which go to make up the essential manliness of the American character. Above all, they have recognized in practical form the fundamental law of success in American life—the law of worthy work, the law of high, resolute endeavor.” 

“After all has been said and done, the chief factor in any man’s success or failure must be his own character—that is, the sum of his common sense, his courage, his virile energy and capacity.” 

 “Bodily vigor is good, and vigor of intellect is even better, but far above both is character.” 

“In the long run, in the great battle of life, no brilliancy of intellect, no perfection of bodily development, will count when weighed in the balance against that assemblage of virtues, active and passive, of moral qualities, which we group together under the name of character…. Of course this does not mean that either intellect or bodily vigor can safely be neglected. On the contrary, it means that both should be developed, and that not the least of the benefits of developing both comes from the indirect effect which this development itself has upon the character.” 

“Character is shown in peace no less than in war. As the greatest fertility of invention, the greatest perfection of armament, will not make soldiers out of cowards, so no mental training and no bodily vigor will make a nation great if it lacks the fundamental principles of honesty and moral cleanliness.” 

“Alike for the nation and the individual, the one indispensable requisite is character—character that does and dares as well as endures, character that is active in the performance of virtue no less than firm in the refusal to do aught that is vicious or degraded.” 

Be sure to check out my review of Theodore Roosevelt’s Autobiography by clicking here, and read some additional quotes from TR here and here. 

Fight Or Flee?

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith… (1 Timothy 6:11-12). 

Psychologists tell us that when faced with certain situations our bodies instinctively prepared to fight or flight. Knowing which situations to fight and which to run from are crucial for living a long and productive life. 

It’s no different in the spiritual realm. 

Christian leaders must know which things are worth the fight, and which things they simply must flee. To flee from things we should fight shows a lack of courage. But to try to fight the things we should run from shows a lack of wisdom. 

A mark of a godly leader is one who knows what to fight and what to flee.

Three things you must FIGHT for…

  1. …the purity of the true faith (1 Timothy 6:12; Jude 1:3)
  2. …the disempowered (Proverbs 31:8-9; Matthew 21:12-13)
  3. …the devil (1 Peter 5:9; James 4:7; Ephesians 6:11) 

Three things you must FLEE from…

  1. …idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14)
  2. …sexual sin (1 Corinthians 6:18; Genesis 39:12)
  3. …earthly riches (1 Timothy 6:9-11)

Don’t try to fight the things you must flee from, and don’t run away from the things you must fight for. Pray for God’s wisdom to know which is which. 

This is part 29 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

Stand Your Ground!

“If you are going to live the life that God created you to live, if you are going to live to your full potential, if you are going to live the kind of life that never settles, you have to come to a place where you decide to stop running and instead choose to take a stand. 

“You have to eventually stop trying to be what everyone else wants you to be, and you have to stop choosing to become only what comes easy to you. You have to decide what will define you. What will mark you as a person? How will you be known by others? Your decisions are the direct result of truly knowing yourself. … 

“When we run in fear, we are only postponing the inevitable. We will eventually have to face those fears. We will eventually have to fight those battles. Running only makes us weaker and makes our opposition stronger. …  

“There comes a time and a place you have to decide, This is worth fighting for. This is where I stand. This is who I am. This is the life I have chosen. I will not run. I will not allow fear to move me from where I should be to where it wants me to live. I would rather die facing the challenge than exist running from it.” —Erwin McManus, in The Last Arrow (emphasis added) 

Check out my review of The Last Arrow here, and check out some quotes from this book here, here, and here.

Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 1

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Jeremiah 1 

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 1.]

     The servant of God is never self-elected, there is always this impelling call of God, and it is always the most unlikely man, the most unlikely woman, God calls. …  

     Jeremiah’s courage was superb. It was not the courage of foolhardiness But the courage of a hyper-sensitive man being held by God; he sees the terror of the evil and wrong and knows his own sensitiveness, and yet hears God saying, “Be not afraid.” There are people who are fearless and we say they are courageous, but there is no moral virtue in their courage, it is born either of physical or moral obtuseness. Spiritual courage is the high heart that sees the difficulty and faces it. That is the courage that is valuable to God. …  

     How am I to know what God has ordained me for? By His eternal Word. We have to stir up our minds and find out what God’s purpose is by obeying His Word and relying on His Spirit. … Will the Word of God come to me? Of course it will! Will the Spirit of God see that I fulfill that Word? Of course He will! If we will keep in the light with God, our destination is as sure and as established as God, as certain as His throne.

     When once you realize the divine purpose behind your life you will never again say, “I am so weak”; you will know you are, but you will be strong in His strength. The only strength we have is the strength of God, which comes to us from the vision of God and of His power. The time of stress in which there is no vision, no insight, no sensing of the purpose of God, is the time to stand firm in faith in God and God will do all the rest. Keep true to God and your development in God’s plan is certain. …  

     The reason men and women are exhausted in life is because they have not realized God’s purpose for them; when once they are awakened by the Spirit of God, regenerated by Him, and fitted on to His purpose for them, they will end where God wants them to end. 

From Notes On Jeremiah 

God had a purpose for Jeremiah’s life. He has a purpose for your life too! 

Get into His Word. Listen to the voice of His Spirit nudging you forward, awakening compassion, prompting you to go or to speak or to serve. God is glorified when you do what He designed you to do, and the rest of us are blessed and benefitted when you do what God designed you to do!  

11 Quotes From “The Last Arrow”

Erwin McManus will get you fired up to make the most of the life God has given you! Check out my full review of The Last Arrow by clicking here. 

“I do not believe anyone is born average, but I do believe that many of us choose to live a life of mediocrity. I think there are more of us than not who are in danger of disappearing into the abyss of the ordinary. The great tragedy in this, of course, is that there is nothing really ordinary about us. We might not be convinced of this, but our souls already know it’s true, which is why we find ourselves tormented when we choose lives beneath our capacities and callings.” 

“Here is the painful reality: we will find ourselves defined by the average if we do not choose to defy the odds. … We can refuse to be average. We must refuse to be average. We must war against the temptation to settle for less. Average is always a safe choice, and it is the most dangerous choice we can make. Average protects us from the risk of failure, and it also separates us from futures of greatness.” 

“Most of us underestimate how much God actually wants to do in our lives and through our lives.” 

“I wonder how many victories are lost before the battle has even begun. I wonder how much more good God desires to usher into the world that has been thwarted by our own lack of ambition.” 

“If one day we are to have a conversation with God about the measure of our lives, I would rather have Him ask me why I tried to do too much than to have Him ask me why I settled for so little.” 

“Many of us keep longing for a new future while holding on to the past. We desperately want God to create something new for us, but we refused to let Him tear away all the old from us.” 

“The tragedy of a life that is never fully lived is not solely the loss of that one life. The tragedy is the endless number of lives that would have been forever changed if we had chosen to live differently.” 

“We do not help the world by choosing to be less or to do less; we help the world by choosing to be more and give more.” 

“Be ready when you get there. Don’t make the mistake of living your life waiting for good things to happen—make good things happen. Be faithful in the small things that do not matter to you as much and treat them with the same level of respect and importance as the big things connected to your hopes and dreams.” 

“The great tragedy would be to live your life waiting for that moment to come instead of living your life preparing for when that moment comes.” 

“If you truly live before you die, your life will have a power that not even death can conquer.” 

Saturday In The Psalms—Overcoming Overwhelming Problems

…whom shall I fear? … of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

Not just enemies are confronting David, but entire armies of wicked people had him surrounded! War and trouble are on every side, trying to overwhelm David.

Yet David is not just not afraid, he is filled with joy!

Why? He has heard God, even in the midst of the evil turmoil, say, “Seek My face.” And David responded, “Yes, Lord, I will seek Your face!” In fact, David declared there was nothing more fortifying for him than to be in God’s presence, gazing on God’s beauty and majesty, and learning more of God’s ways.

In this place David has peace, joy, protection, salvation, courage. In this place David’s overwhelming problems are overcome by God.

David’s conclusion is one for all who are experiencing overwhelming problems—

Wait on the Lord;
be of good courage,
and He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Live Dead Life (book review)

I have been a big supporter of the Live Dead movement ever since this initiative was launched. So I was more than happy to read Live Dead Life by Joy Hawthorne, even though it was written as a 30-day devotional for students. Although written by a teenager for other teenagers, I was instantly hooked!

Joy is living in a country that is closed to the Christian message, and yet she is daily living out her Christian testimony in such a genuine and winsome way that it is having a positive impact on the Muslim members of that country. I can see why, because the book had a profound effect on me too!

As I read this journal and pondered Joy’s setting contrasted with mine, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Why aren’t I doing more to tell people the Good News about Jesus?” I think this book will provide that same tug on your heart as well.

Parents, read Live Dead Life with your son or daughter.

Youth pastors, read Live Dead Life with your students.

This is a life-changing book! You can download Live Dead Life free by clicking here.

I recently had an opportunity to interview Joy Hawthorne—

Craig T. Owens: I am curious as to the seed thought behind this book. Did you simply start a journal for your own thought-processing, or was there a book idea in the back of your mind right from the beginning?

Joy Hawthorne: The original thought of a Live Dead book for teens was not my idea, I was asked to write the book. Writing a book was something I might have imagined I would do when I was older… the idea of writing a book as a teen probably would not have crossed my mind until one of my Live Dead mentors asked me to consider it.

As I started to work on it the seed definitely grew. At first, it was on a couple major topics (like fear or calling) and then it just really grew out of my life and sharing what God was speaking to me in my heart with others. As it developed, my mentor suggested it be a 30-day devotional including Live Dead values.

CTO: I can tell that a major audience for your book is other teens that are living in the same sort of environment in which you are living. How would you suggest that students in the US read this book?

JH: I can see how other TCKs [third culture kids] would connect with it more because we have an understanding of each other and connect with our lives that way. Living as a TCK has been such an adventure, and that is something I would want kids in the US to see and join me in the journey that way. This book is intended to fan into flame a deeper intimacy with Jesus and obedience to whatever He asks for ALL teens, not just TCKs.

My life living worldwide has shaped some of the ways I walk with Jesus. Hopefully, from seeing through my eyes a bit, other teens would be able to see the world with eyes that are little more wide open. It’s easy to focus on the stuff that bugs us daily in our little corner of the world, but I wanted to encourage following Jesus and being a part of what He’s doing worldwide. I would love if other teens can see a little more of what ordinary life overseas is like and watch God doing extraordinary things.

CTO: How has writing such a journal (and sort of bearing your soul to the world) changed you?

JH: Writing the journal is a way that I do process things. I write in my in my journal that way and it helps me think and respond to things. Bearing my soul to the world sounds kind of scary to me feeling so broken but something I’ve discovered from writing is that I have a voice. Everyone does. We just have to choose to use it, to not stay silent when God asks us to speak but choosing to follow Him in what we say and do in a way that brings Him glory. Being a quieter person, it is a hard choice for me to speak when I’m scared. Writing something others will read is choosing to use my voice, and also a choice to open myself to let God use me.

A verse that has really encouraged me to speak is Esther 4:14, about being here for such a time as this. That pretty much hits what I’m here for. Created for this time and place for His glory.

CTO: Will there be other books from Joy Hawthorne in the future? If so, any hints as to what you may be working on? 

JH: There’s no ‘next book’ I’m currently working on, but writing about what God is doing in my life and sharing it to bless others is something I love to do. If I felt God was leading me that way I hope I’d be willing to follow Him and do it again. So I’m open to it, writing will probably be something I will always do, love, and grow in.

I am a Live Dead Publishing book reviewer.

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