12 Quotes From “The Strenuous Life”

Teddy Roosevelt believed firmly that a nation rose or fell as individuals exercised strong character or lived a slothful life. He not only preached it, he lived it! The Strenuous Life is a collect of TR’s speeches that emphasized what he called “the manly characters.” Check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“We do not admire the man of timid peace. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort; the man who never wrongs his neighbor, who is prompt to help a friend, but who has those virile qualities necessary to win in the stern strife of actual life.” 

“A man’s first duty is to his own home, but he is not thereby excused from doing his duty to the State; for if he fails in this second duty it is under the penalty of ceasing to be a freeman. In the same way, while a nation’s first duty is within its own borders, it is not thereby absolved from facing its duties in the world as a whole; and if it refuses to do so, it merely forfeits its right to struggle for a place among the peoples that shape the destiny of mankind.” 

“If we stand idly by, if we seek merely swollen, slothful ease and ignoble peace, if we shrink from the hard contests where men must win at hazard of their lives and at the risk of all they hold dear, then the bolder and stronger peoples will pass us by, and will win for themselves the domination of the world. Let us therefore boldly face the life of strife, resolute to do our duty well and manfully; resolute to uphold righteousness by deed and by word; resolute to be both honest and brave, to serve high ideals, yet to use practical methods. Above all, let us shrink from no strife, moral or physical, within or without the nation, provided we are certain that the strife is justified, for it is only through strife, through hard and dangerous endeavor, that we shall ultimately win the goal of true national greatness.” 

“Scant attention is paid to the weakling or the coward who babbles of peace; but due heed is given to the strong man with sword girt on thigh who preaches peace, not from ignoble motives, not from fear or distrust of his own powers, but from a deep sense of moral obligation.” 

“Strive manfully for righteousness, and strive so as to make your efforts for good count.” 

“We are in honor bound to put into practice what we preach; to remember that we are not to be excused if we do not; and that in the last resort no material prosperity, no business acumen, no intellectual development of any kind, can atone in the life of a nation for the lack of the fundamental qualities of courage, honesty, and common sense.” 

“If a man permits largeness of heart to degenerate into softness of head, he inevitably becomes a nuisance in any relation of life. If sympathy becomes distorted and morbid, it hampers instead of helping the effort toward social betterment.” 

“The quality of self-help is so splendid a quality that nothing can compensate for its loss; yet, like every virtue, it can be twisted into a fault, and it becomes a fault if carried to the point of cold-hearted arrogance, of inability to understand that now and then the strongest may be in need of aid, and that for this reason alone, if for no other, the strong should always be glad of the chance in turn to aid the weak.” 

“The Bible always inculcates the need of the positive no less than the negative virtues, although certain people who profess to teach Christianity are apt to dwell wholly on the negative. We are bidden not merely to be harmless as doves, but also as wise as serpents. It is very much easier to carry out the former part of the order than the latter; while, on the other hand, it is of much more importance for the good of mankind that our goodness should be accompanied by wisdom than that we should merely be harmless. If with the serpent wisdom we unite the serpent guile, terrible will be the damage we do; and if, with the best of intentions, we can only manage to deserve the epithet of ‘harmless,’ it is hardly worth while to have lived in the world at all.” 

“The boy who is going to make a great man, or is going to count in any way in after life, must make up his mind not merely to overcome a thousand obstacles, but to win in spite of a thousand repulses or defeats.” 

“Softness of heart is an admirable quality, but when it extends its area until it also becomes softness of head, its results are anything but admirable.” 

“A man is worthless unless he has in him a lofty devotion to an ideal, and he is worthless also unless he strives to realize this ideal by practical methods. He must promise, both to himself and to others, only what he can perform; but what really can be performed he must promise, and such promise he must at all hazards make good.” 

More quotes from TR are coming soon, so stay tuned! 

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. 

Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 20

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 20

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 20.] 

    O Lord…I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me (Jeremiah 20:7b). Jeremiah came back to the city and repeated to all the people the message he gave to the elders (Jeremiah 19:14-15). For the first time Jeremiah is designated by his office—‘the prophet’ (20:2), and the action of Pashur is against him as a prophet for his public utterance. According to the people Pashur was right and Jeremiah a raving fanatic. How we select things out of the Bible! We have forgotten what Paul wrote—‘He was crucified in weakness … likewise, we are weak in Him’ [2 Corinthians 13:4]. A Christian is one who can be weak, an abject failure in the eyes of the world. …

     It takes the grace of God to go through disgrace unspoilt. … 

     O Lord, You deceived me, and I was deceived [v. 7a]. Jeremiah says in heart-breaking sobs before God, ‘I have been deceived in what I hoped Thou wouldst do.’ His cry is not the theological argument of a man’s mind, he is pouring it all out before God; there is no charge brought against God and no reply from God. ‘I spoke because the people were reproaching Thy Word, and now I see nothing but ridicule all day long.’ 

     Jeremiah is sensitive to the last degree to all the affinities of the people and he speaks out of perplexity—But if I say, ‘I will not mention him or speak any more in His name,’ His Word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot [v. 9]. 

     I hear many whispering… ‘Report him! Let’s report him!’ All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying, ‘Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him.’ ‘The people watch for inconsistencies in my life that they may say on that ground I am not preaching Thy truth.’ To be defamed means that if you stand for God you will not be able to stand for anything else. …

     But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior [v. 11]—a sudden outburst of the devotion of Jeremiah’s heart for God. … When in communion with God His desires are a delight, he sees and enjoys deliverance.

From Notes On Jeremiah

Standing for God may mean that you stand alone. Are you ready?

Standing for God also mean that He stands with you like a mighty warrior. Are you ready now?!

❤️ The Love Test

The description of love that Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 13 is well known, and I think most people would agree that this is an outstanding definition of true love. But the ultimate test is this: can this definition of love be said of me?

God wants you to be able to say “yes!” and so the Holy Spirit works on us to make this definition more and more consistently true of us. Here’s how we can test ourselves and find out where we need to allow the Spirit to work on us—put your name in this passage everywhere you find the word “love.”

Can this be truly said of me:

“Craig is patient. Craig is kind. Craig isn’t jealous. Craig doesn’t sing his own praises. Craig isn’t arrogant. Craig isn’t rude. Craig doesn’t think about himself. Craig isn’t irritable. Craig doesn’t keep track of wrongs. Craig isn’t happy when injustice is done, but he is happy with the truth. Craig never stops being patient with others, he never stops believing the best for others, he never stops hoping for the best for others, he never gives up on others. Craig’s love never fails.”

If you put your name in that passage, how well do you do on the love test? If you will let Him, the Holy Spirit will help you get all As on these tests.

Renewed Passion For Prayer

If I were to ask you if we should we pray for our friends in need, I think I’d probably get a universal “yes.” Even non-Christians might say we should “send good thoughts” or “best wishes” to our friends.

But if I were to ask, “How long should we pray for them?” we might get a lot of different answers. 

What about if we’re praying for a friend to get a job (and he gets it), or a friend to be healed (and she is), or a marriage to be restored (and it is)—do we stop praying then? 

Psalm 20 and 21 appear to be companion psalms: with Psalm 20 being David’s prayer of petition, and Psalm 21 being his prayer of praise. But there is also something quite interesting in each of these psalms about the placement of the word Selah. 

Remembering that Selah means some sort of pause, I find it very interesting where David tells us to pause in both of these psalms. In Psalm 20 we see the prayer request “may” either 6 or 7 times in the first five verse, but the Selah pause is right in the middle of them. Why would David start making his requests to God, tell us to pause in the middle, and then continue making his requests? 

I believe this Selah means to “pause and consider” that… 

  1. God invites us to participate with Him in fulfilling His plans. 
  2. God loves us so much that He wants to hear from us. 
  3. God is powerful enough to grant what we ask of Him. 

It’s as if in the middle of all of his petitions, David says, “Hold on a second. Do you realize what we are in the midst of doing? We are actually communing with the All-Knowing, All-Loving, All-Power Creator and Sustainer of the Universe!!”

In Psalm 21 David is offering up a prayer of praise for God’s answers to his prayers (note the similar language in Psalm 20:4 and 21:2), and once again he tells us to Selah pause right in the middle of those prayers of gratitude. 

I asked earlier, “When do we stop praying for a friend or for ourselves?” Is it when we get the job, or experience the healing, or have the breakthrough or restoration? What if the job, the healing, the restoration was just the beginning of what God wanted to do? The Selah in Psalm 21 is an accentuation: an explosion into so much more!! 

David prayed for victory in battle, but gave him an everlasting victory; David prayed for long life, but God gave him eternal life (21:4); David prayed for blessings on his battle, but God gave him His eternal blessings (21:6).

Jesus said our Heavenly Father has gifts for us beyond our asking (Matthew 7:11), and the Apostle Paul said the same thing in Ephesians—

Now glory be to God, who by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes. (Ephesians 3:20 TLB)

These two Selahs tell me: 

Don’t quit praying when times are tough. 
Don’t quit praying when you’ve prayed a long time. 
Don’t quit praying when it seems like God has answered. 
Keep on praying. Always. About everything!

 

Please join me this coming Sunday as we continue to look at the Selahs in the Psalms. You can join me in person or via Facebook Live. 

Hold On!

Hope is faith holding on for a moment longer. 

“When it’s hard to hold on—no one holds on to what is cool. They hold on to Christ. When it’s hard to hold on, no one holds on to what is hipster. They hold on to Him who is holy and healing. When it’s hard to hold on—we don’t hold on to trendy, we hold on to the True Vine; we don’t hold on to the prevailing and popular, because we hold on to the Prince of Peace and the true Perfecter of our faith.” —Ann Voskamp, in The Way Of Abundance

Check out my review of The Way Of Abundance here, and check out some other quotes from this wonderful book here.

Luciano Pavarotti On Commitment

“When I was a boy, my father, a baker, introduced me to the wonders of song. He urged me to work very hard to develop my voice. Arrigo Pola, a professional tenor in my hometown of Modena, Italy, took me as a pupil. I also enrolled in a teachers college. On graduating, I asked my father, ‘Shall I be a teacher or a singer?’  

“‘Luciano,’ my father replied, ‘if you try to sit on two chairs, you will fall between them. For life, you must choose one chair.’  

“I chose one. It took seven years of study and frustration before I made my first professional appearance. It took another seven to reach the Metropolitan Opera. And now I think whether it’s laying bricks, writing a book—whatever we choose—we should give ourselves to it. Commitment, that’s the key. Choose one chair.” —Luciano Pavarotti (emphasis added)

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