Here are the second group of recommended books for 2016. They are not always religious but they are interesting and helpful. With each book I enclose information provided by followed by my comments: “Why I recommend this book.”

The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children by Stormie Omartian. In this important follow-up to The Power of a Praying(R) Parent, Stormie addresses areas of concern you may have for your grown children and shares how to lift them up to God. With stories from other parents and insight gleaned from personal experience, Stormie helps you pray with the power of God’s Word over your adult children and their career choices and sense of purpose, marriages and other relationships, parenting skills and leadership, struggles, addictions, or emotional trials, faith commitment and prayer life. Perhaps you are watching your grown children step out into the world and wishing you could do more to support them while giving them the freedom they crave. You can. It doesn’t matter how young or old they are; you can rest in the power of God working through your prayers.

Why I recommend this book: “One rapidly spreading epidemic I see today among many adult children is confusion about what their purpose is in life. One of the things contributing to such confusion is that they are getting far more input from the world than they are from God.” Statements like this are why, I wanted to read this book and pray the prayers. I have two adult children and like many parents, I yearn for more guidance on how to continue being a good parent while respecting their independence as adults. I want to help without interfering, advise without preaching. If this describes your situation, then you will value the guidance offered by Stormie Omartian.

Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham. On the right side of the law. Sort of. Sebastian Rudd is not your typical street lawyer. He works out of a customized bulletproof van, complete with Wi-Fi, a bar, a small fridge, fine leather chairs, a hidden gun compartment, and a heavily armed driver. He has no firm, no partners, no associates, and only one employee, his driver, who’s also his bodyguard, law clerk, confidant, and golf caddy. Sebastian defends people other lawyers won’t go near. Why these clients? Because he believes everyone is entitled to a fair trial. He hates injustice, doesn’t like insurance companies, banks, or big corporations; he distrusts all levels of government and laughs at the justice system’s notions of ethical behavior. Sebastian Rudd is one of John Grisham’s most colorful, outrageous, and vividly drawn characters yet.

Why I recommend this book: Some books are just for enjoyment. If you appreciate a good story full of interesting characters, then “Rogue Lawyer” will be several hours well spent. “These nights I find myself sleeping in cheap motel rooms that change each week. I’m not trying to save money; rather, I’m just trying to stay alive. I’ve been threatened before. It’s part of being a rogue lawyer, a subspecialty of the profession that I more or less fell into ten years ago.” Great story.

Doing the Math of Mission: Fruits, Faithfulness and Metrics by Gil Rendle. Over the past ten years, the North American mission field has experienced dramatic changes, which in turn have required congregations, middle judicatories, and denominations to adapt. Among these adaptations is an expectation for clear goals and quantified progress towards those goals. Church leaders who have never needed to measure their goals and progress with metrics may find this change daunting. Doing the Math of Mission offers theory, models, and new tools for using metrics in ministry. This book also shows where metrics and accountability fit into the discernment, goal setting, and strategies of ministry. While there are resources for research on congregations, tools on congregational studies, and books on program evaluation, there is a gap when it comes to actual tools and resources for church leaders. This book is intended to help fill that gap, giving leaders a toolbox they can use in their own setting to clarify their purpose and guide their steps.

Why I recommend this book: “Doing the Math of Mission is not for the faint of heart but the message is clear. The numbers show North American protestant denominations declining. The question remains, how do we allow the numbers to guide our choices as we learn from the past and set goals for the future? “Our numbers matter deeply. But they are not the standard for measuring the impact of faith. How do we find the balance between measures and purpose?” For any pastor or leader, this is a painful but necessary book that can guide our churches toward a better future.

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar. Today in the United States, there are more than five hundred federally recognized Indigenous nations comprising nearly three million people, descendants of the fifteen million Native people who once inhabited this land. The centuries-long genocidal program of the US settler-colonial regimen has largely been omitted from history. Now, for the first time, acclaimed historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz offers a history of the United States told from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the US empire. Spanning more than four hundred years, this classic bottom-up peoples’ history radically reframes US history and explodes the silences that have haunted our national narrative.

Why I recommend this book: “An Indigenous People’s History of the United States” may be the most painful and challenging book, I’ve read. What I learned in high school history is debunked as legend, myth and lies. For example: “In the founding myth of the United States, the colonists acquired a vast expanse of land from a scattering of benighted peoples who were hardly using it. The historical record is clear however, that European colonists shoved aside a large network of small and large nations whose governments, commerce, arts and sciences, agriculture, technologies, philosophies and institutions were intricately developed… Incapable of conquering true wilderness, the Europeans were highly competent in the skill of conquering other people and that is what they did.” Reading this book gives you an opportunity to witness history from a radically different perspective.

Glory Days: Living Your Promised Land Life Now by Max Lucado. Keep walking. This may be the day your Jericho walls come down. We all face them. Strongholds with a strong hold on our lives. Roadblocks to our joy. Obstacles in our marriages. Fortresses of fear blocking us from peace. How can we bring down these walls that keep us from the future God promises? Remember the story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho? Those were some formidable foes and big barriers. Max Lucado says the book of Joshua is in the bible to remind us of one thing: God Fights For Us! We can overcome, because He has already overcome. We were not made to stand in the shadow of our walls and quake. We were made to stand on top of Jericho’s rubble and conquer. We win, because God’s already won. Need a new battle plan for life? Keep walking, keep believing. These may be your Glory Days.

Why I recommend this book: Max Lucado himself said it best: “Here is what you need to know about the walls of Jericho. They were immense. They wrapped around the city like a suit of armor, two concentric circles of stone rising a total of forty feet above the ground. Impenetrable. Here is what you need to know about Joshua. He didn’t bring the walls down. Joshua’s soldiers never swung a hammer. His men never dislodged a brick. They never rammed a door or pried loose a stone. The shaking, quaking, rumbling and tumbling of the thick, impervious walls? God did that for them.” Max Lucado is a master story teller and Glory Days will help us face the walls of Jericho in our own lives and turn to God for answers.

There you have it. Five more books to put in your stocking. I pray you find reading them to be useful. Merry Christmas.