Here are the second five of my top ten books for the summer. They are not always religious books but they are interesting and helpful. With each book I enclose information provided by followed by my comments: “Why I recommend this book.”


“Listen: Praying in a Noisy World” by Reubon P. Job. We live in a world of noise. Everywhere we go, we hear sounds that compete for our minds and hearts. Listening to God requires a deliberate choice to shut out the chaos around us and focus our thoughts. Listen is a 40-day experience created to offer help to those new to prayer, those with a daily prayer routine, and those whose lives seem too busy to pray. With a focus on listening prayer and prayer as a two-way conversation, the experience will assist individuals and groups in building and deepening a personal prayer practice and spiritual discernment. As we learn to listen, we find a new depth and fulfillment in our relationship with God and a new experience of God as guide and companion in our lives. The daily prayer pattern includes an invitation, silence, Bible reading, a story, guided time for reflecting and listening, and practical help for developing six specific prayer practices.


Why I recommend this book: Whether you are looking to start a more disciplined prayer life or simply looking to improve your prayer routine, “Listen” provides rich teaching and real examples of “prayer in action.” Excellent for small groups, individuals and churches. Listen is a valuable resource.


“Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity ad Reap Big Results” by Moten T. Hansen. In Collaboration, author Morten Hansen takes aim at what many leaders inherently know: in today’s competitive environment, companywide collaboration is an imperative for successful strategy execution, yet the sought-after synergies are rarely, if ever, realized. In fact, most cross-unit collaborative efforts end up wasting time, money, and resources. How can managers avoid the costly traps of collaboration and instead start getting the results they need? Based on the author’s long-running research, in-depth case studies, and company interviews, Collaboration delivers practical advice and tools to help your organization collaborate–for real results.


Why I recommend this book: I work with pastors, churches and groups of all shapes and sizes. The overwhelming tendency of each of them is to continue doing ministry as they’ve always done it with the people they’ve always done it with. Collaboration involves new people with new ideas, new challenges and realistically new frustrations but without a willingness to collaborate our future looks bleak.


“Finding Our Way: Love and Law in The United Methodist Church” edited by Reubon P. Job and Neil M. Alexander. Questions and conflict about homosexual practice and the church abound. We encounter media reports of same-gender unions and clergy trials. This leads to talk in congregations and district preacher’s meetings, in the hallways at district, conference and general church gatherings, and in the deliberations of the Council of Bishops where we hear prayers, questions, and an outpouring of conviction or anguish. We observe The United Methodist Church grappling with issues of importance that divide and confound us. We hunger for our church to engage hard questions and decisions in a spirit of generosity, gracefulness, and mutual respect. This book could change the nature of the conversation. It encourages frank and constructive dialogue that will help us conference together and open ourselves to God’s guidance. We seek faithful, fair, just, and loving resolution to issues that challenge our faith community. Finding Our Way: Love and Law in The United Methodist Church is authored by several United Methodist bishops. These writers enunciate and clarify pathways that represent faithful, responsible, and constructive ways forward through the current controversies. Each bishop articulates a prescription for moving through current conflict about homosexual practice, same-gender unions, qualifications for ordination, and maintaining the “good standing” of elders.


Why I recommend this book: How do we learn to talk about the “elephant in the room” issue of human sexuality without irrevocably dividing our church? “We begin with the intention of seeing the best in each other. Those on the political right might view those with whom they disagree as being motivated by Christian convictions of justice and compassion. Those on the political left might in turn view those with whom they disagree as being grounded in traditional and ecumenical interpretation of Scripture. This guides us to debate and discuss our passionate convictions about human sexuality with civility and to treat each other with dignity, which excludes blaming, shaming and bullying. This is not to suppress speech – it is simply to seek a higher way of being in conversation with each other.”


“The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal 1870 to 1914” by David McCullough. In The Path Between the Seas, acclaimed historian David McCullough delivers a first-rate drama of the sweeping human undertaking that led to the creation of this grand enterprise. The Path Between the Seas tells the story of the men and women who fought against all odds to fulfill the 400-year-old dream of constructing an aquatic passageway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It is a story of astonishing engineering feats, tremendous medical accomplishments, political power plays, heroic successes, and tragic failures. Applying his remarkable gift for writing lucid, lively exposition, McCullough weaves the many strands of the momentous event into a comprehensive and captivating tale.


Why I recommend this book: In addition to being an interesting look at history, I discovered two valuable lessons. The first half of the book was about devastating obstacles, costly mistakes and errors that delayed the building of the canal for years. The second half was about how another group overcame the same obstacles and accomplished one of the greatest feats of engineering in history.


“Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes that Take 5 Minutes or Less” by S.J. Scott. Want to improve your life, but don’t have enough time? Right now you could easily think of a dozen ways to instantly improve your life. Odds are, these ideas will only take a few minutes apiece to complete. The problem? You might feel like there’s not enough time to do all of them. One solution can be found using the power of “habit stacking.” One Routine + Multiple Habits = Habit Stacking. We know it’s not easy to add dozens of new habits to your day. But what you might not realize is it’s fairly easy to build a single new routine. The essence of habit stacking is to take a series of small changes (like eating a piece of fruit or sending a loving text message to your significant other) and build a ritual that you follow on a daily basis. By completing dozens of small habits on a daily basis, you’ll be able to make giant leaps forward in your business, strengthen your personal relationships, stay on top of your finances, get organized and improve your health.


Why I recommend this book: Task #1. Drink a Large Glass of Water. Time required: two minutes. So simple yet so important. Each task is down-to-earth and manageable. A great daily reminder. I’ve included this with my devotional material so that I can continually make the changes that will help me be more productive, better organized, improve my health and hopefully become more like-able. Once can only hope.

1 Comment

Robb Almy · May 26, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Great list, Larry. I will have to check some of these out. Thanks for sharing.

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