Hope Rising (book review)

Many years ago while working on a personal values exercise, the word hope surfaced as a personal guide. So it’s no wonder that two connections (work and church) I’ve made in the last year carry that same guide.

And it goes to reason that the book I just finished reading stands out as meaningful. Hope Rising by Casey Gwinn and Chan Hellman hits the mark in explaining much of the challenges our country wrestles with daily. Many people have low hope, and therefore their lives follow down the road to hopelessness.

Hope is a verb involving action and the ability to change the future.

The crust of their objective is to help readers grasp the importance of goals, pathways, and willpower in what they call the science of hope. They recite many research results (there are over 2,000 published studies on hope) that indicate how the concepts move people from low hope to high hope, thus hope rising. The book contains numerous stories of people with low hope working on rising their hope.

We act based on what we believe not based on what we know.

In order to know where you are on the hope scale, they share several examples of domains (academic, health/fitness, family, romantic relationships) where you can assess your hope level. Quite insightful. To take the general evaluation, follow this link to hopescore.org.

They make a believable argument that hope impacts education, work, and health, which certainly impact families and personal growth. This has led them to focus on providing support for children and adults who have experienced trauma in their lives and struggle with hope.

Hope is not a step in life; it is a stance.

Who should read this book?

  • It wouldn’t hurt anyone to read it
  • Anyone who has had any hint of trauma in their life
  • Anyone who works with children
  • Anyone who works with trauma victims
  • Coaches
  • Ministers
  • Counselors/Psychologists
  • Anyone desiring hope to rise

A Time for Preaching and Listening

I came across Amy Cuddy‘s book while browsing in Barnes & Noble. The cover intrigued me.

I ho-hummed through the first two chapters. Then came #3, “Stop Preaching, Start Listening.” Highlighter activated. And mostly because of the illustrative work she retold of Boston minister Reverend Jeffrey Brown. Follow this link to his Ted Talk.

His story of turning around gang violence in Boston in the 1990’s definitely brings light to the definition of presence. You could say that he defines presence as simply showing up. But how you show up is what Cuddy emphasizes with this statement:

When we meet someone new, we quickly answer two questions: “Can I trust this person?” and “Can I respect this person?” In our research, my colleagues and I have referred to these dimensions as warmth and competence respectively.

She ties warmth and trust together, competence and respect together. And whether we realize it or not, we first check a new acquaintance’s trustworthiness before their competence. Yet, when people are asked which they’d rather be seen as, most choose competent. Cuddy believes that desire can lead to costly mistakes.

To avoid that mistake, she encourages us to focus on the value of listening. Here are five reasons why:

  1. People can trust you.
  2. You acquire useful information.
  3. You begin to see other people as individuals-and maybe even allies.
  4. You develop solutions that other people are willing to accept and even adopt.
  5. When people feel heard, they are more willing to listen.

In order to get somewhere with the gang members, Reverend Brown had this attitude: The youth have to be looked at not as the problem but as partners. How much farther might we get in all life’s arenas if we adopted this mindset? In our families, in our offices, in our courtrooms, in our churches, in our schools, in our legislative bodies, in our town halls, in our social media posts, in our spotlight moments, in our journalism, in our prayers?

There is a time for preaching and a time for listening. How much further might we get if we honored those times?

2020 Library

For a third year I have followed a self-developed reading strategy with the objective to read broader. The goal: read 30-35 books falling under 9 headings. This strategy is still working for me.

For the curious, here is the library of 31 books listed alphabetically and avenue of reading:

A Life God Rewards by Bruce Wilkinson (hard copy)

A Spirituality of Listening by Keith Anderson (kindle)

Awe by Paul David Tripp (kindle)

Born A Crime by Trevor Noah (kindle)

Before You Go by Wade Hodges (kindle)

Chasing Dreams by Jerry Kill (hard copy)

Choosing to Lead by Harvey Kanter (kindle)

Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers by Leslie L. Fields & Dr. Jill Hubbard (kindle)

Honor’s Reward by John Bevere (hard copy)

How to Pray by Ronnie Floyd (hard copy)

I Choose Honor by Rich Wilkerson Sr. (kindle)

I Hear You by Michael Sorensen (kindle)

It’s Not My Fault by Henry Cloud & John Townsend (kindle)

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson (hard copy)

Me and White Supermacy by Lyla F. Saad (kindle)

Note to Self by Joe Thorn (kindle)

Spurgeon’s Sermons on New Testament Men by Charles Haddon Spurgeon (hard copy)

Talking to High Monks in the Snow by Lydia Minatoya (hard copy)

The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity by Matthew Kelly (hard copy)

The Dog Who Saved Me by Susan Wilson (hard copy)

The Genesis of Justice by Alan Dershowitz (kindle)

The Grand Weaver by Ravi Zacharias (hard copy)

The Pastor’s Wife and The Other Woman by Joe & Pennie Wright (hard copy)

The Power of Christian Contentment by Andrew M. Davis (kindle)

The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller (hard copy)

Unwanted by Jay Stringer (kindle)

Uniquely Bivocational by Ray Gilder (hard copy)

What If Jesus Was Serious by Skye Jethani (kindle)

What Now?  by Jim Henry & Deb Terry (hard copy)

When to Leave by Wade Hodges (kindle)

Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor (kindle)

2019 Library

For a second year I have followed a self-developed reading strategy with the objective to read broader. The goal: read 25-30 books falling under 9 headings. Having read 27 books across these topics, I testify I still enjoy this strategy.

For the curious, here is the library of 27 books, listed by order read and avenue of reading:

A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer (kindle)

The Crib, The Cross, & The Crux by Lisa Fulghum (hard copy)

Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Chambers (kindle)

Every Square Inch by Bruce Ashford (hard copy)

Bravo Two Zero by Andy McNab (audio)

An Autobiography or The Story of My Experiments with Truth by M. K. Ghandi (kindle)

Canoeing the Mountains by Tod Bolsinger (hard copy)

Saying No to Say Yes by David C. Olsen and Nancy G. Devor (kindle)

Them by Ben Sasse (kindle)

When to Leave by Wade Hodges (kindle)

Before You Go by Wade Hodges (kindle)

Awe by Paul David Tripp (kindle)

Our Presidents and Their Prayers by Rand Paul and James Randall Robison (audio)

Calico Joe by John Grisham (audio)

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott (audio)

The Bait of Satan by John Bevere (kindle)

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris (kindle)

Boundaries For Your Soul by Kimberly Miller and Alison Cook (kindle)

Forgiven by Terri Roberts (hard copy)

Dare to Lead by Brene Brown (kindle)

Something Needs To Change by David Platt (hard copy)

The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller (hard copy)

Leading Change Without Losing It by Carey Nieuwhof (hard copy)

It’s Not My Fault by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend (kindle)

Replenish by Lance Witt (hard copy)

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer (kindle)

Integrity by Dr. Henry Cloud (hard copy)

Understanding Gender Dysphoria (book review)

January 13 I posted my 2018 reading plan. My coach helped me develop it as an answer for personal growth. Apart from that plan, I would have missed an important read.


In my search for a book on the divisive cultural topic of sexuality, I discovered author Mark Yarhouse, a Wheaton College graduate and a psychology professor at Regent University in Virginia. He’s written several books in this field for the Christian audience, so I figured he would be a good choice. He proved me right.

It is important to consider that original sin has corrupted all of existence, including human sexuality and experiences of our gendered selves.

Scripture reminds us that God does not abandon us in our fallen state.

The topic of gender dysphoria is not the same as homosexuality.

This 7-chapter book is graciously written for readers on all sides of the conversation. To assist us all in the conversation, he gives a great explanation for where we could fit in an integrated framework in the dialogue. He divides everyone into one of three groups: integrity, disability, and diversity. These names are lenses through which people often approach the topic of gender identity. Evangelical Christians are drawn to the integrity framework as it emphasizes the sacredness of maleness and femaleness. He encourages learning from all three in order to inform ministry settings and engage the broader culture. I agree.

You may be asking, “So what is gender dysphoria?” If you haven’t already googled it, do so. But then give Yarhouse the opportunity to give you an exhaustive look at the topic. If you are asking “should I read this book,” allow me to answer with the following questions:

  • Are you a church leader who truly wants to engage your community? If so, yes.
  • Are you a therapist? If so, yes. Your specialty field doesn’t matter as much as this subject does.
  • Do you know someone in your family or in your friend’s family who struggles with sexuality questions? If so, yes.
  • Do you struggle with giving grace to others outside your belief system but wish you didn’t? If so, yes.

Christians can benefit from valuing and speaking into the sacredness found in the integrity framework, the compassion we witness in the disability framework, and the identity and community considerations we see in the diversity framework. No one framework in isolation will provide a sufficient response or a comprehensive Christian model of pastoral care or cultural engagement.

For everyone’s sake, consider reading this book.