“Ten Books for Summer” has become an annual tradition. I read a lot and love to recommend books to others. So, why not share? Here are the second five of my ten favorite books for summer of 2016. They are not always religious but they are interesting. The list is in no particular order. With each book there is information provided by Amazon.com followed by, “Why I like this book.”

Defying Gravity

Defying Gravity: Break Free from the Culture of More by Tom Berlin. Our possessions can create unbearable weight and affect our ability to serve and thrive. How do we defy gravity and find freedom? In this 4-week small group study and stewardship campaign, pastor and author Tom Berlin explores what is required to sustain a vibrant life, what we need versus what we want, and what we can do to avoid being pulled into the orbit of materialism.

Why I like this book: “This orientation toward God’s kingdom is life-altering. It creates an identity founded in generosity.” (from Defying Gravity) If you are sincerely interested in becoming a Christian or deepening your faith as a Christian then at some part of your journey you must make critical decisions about how you manage your resources. Tom Berlin through Defying Gravity shares his personal path toward generosity that includes many intense struggles as well as deeply satisfying stories of lives changed through his giving. The end result has helped shape Tom’s leadership and Floris UMC, the church he pastors into one of the more mission minded and generous churches in our area dramatically impacting lives in their community and throughout the world.

Becoming A Disciple: A Lifelong Venture by Adolf Hansen and Colleagues. Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. It’s not easy, and it is never over. Jesus himself set forth the conditions: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Eight United Methodist clergy—all ordained since 2008—explore a definition disciple and help us along in our efforts to pursue the adventure of a lifetime.

Why I like this book: Eight pastors look at what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. “Too often church members think that pastors and staff are hired to do ministry on the congregation’s behalf. We need to correct this misconception.” (from Becoming A Disciple) There are so many facets to becoming a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ. “Becoming A Disciple” explores many of them.

The Christian Wallet: Spending, Giving and Living With A Conscience by Make Slaughter. Every Christian knows that we are called to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. But what about our wallet? We are asked to open it every Sunday when the offering basket comes by and are told that giving is a way of being a “good steward,” but what about spending money at a restaurant or grocery store? Slaughter explores today’s culture of consumerism and the impact of what we buy, asking difficult questions about morality and money while acknowledging that there are no easy answers. Throughout the book, profiles of real people inspire thoughtful reflection about the true value of money and the rewards of conscious spending. Questions for individual or group study are also included.

Why I like this book: “Conscientious and compassionate use of our money in a world where people spend $310 million on costumes for their pets and $5 billion on entertaining ringtones for their phones is not an easy task.” (from Christian Wallet) Mike Slaughter comprehensively shows how we spend too much, save too little and give not nearly enough. But there is more: What about responsible investing? How we handle our taxes? What is our attitude about our jobs? How do we treat our neighbors? The Christian Wallet is one of the more comprehensive books you can read on Christian discipleship and money.

I Will! Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian by Thom S. Rainer. Could you be the answer to the problems you see? Every day we are faced with the needs of those around us. Emotional. Physical. Spiritual. What are we to do about it? Are these problems for our pastors to address or is there a way for the church member to make an impact that will last? Thom S. Rainer answers these questions by offering nine simple traits that you can incorporate into your life no matter your background, stage of life, or sense of capability.

Why I like this book: “I will avoid the traps of churchianity. I know churchianity is not a word. I think it should be. I would define it as ‘practicing our church and religious beliefs according to human standards rather than biblical guidelines.’” (from I Will) The word churchianity is one of the reasons I really like this book. Thom Rainer provides practical and down to earth advice on how to move from being a church attender to a committed disciple. This should be required reading for every church leader.

Front-Row Leadership: Stop Criticizing and Start Leading by Rob Ketterling. Become the person of influence you were born to be. Whether you’re a CEO, a volunteer, or a homemaker, leadership is your responsibility. Front-Row Leadership by Rob Ketterling will show you how to move up to the front and lead the change you want to see take place. Learn to engage the leadership process and contribute with your God-given strengths. One person can still make a difference today, and Front-Row Leadership offers tools that will empower you to do just that.

Why I like this book: “Change isn’t easy. Matter of fact, it’s easier to keep doing what you’re doing. It’s even culturally encouraged to be a critic and not a front-row leader. However, if your current situation isn’t satisfactory and is the result of past actions, will the continuation of those actions produce different results? You won’t get something different by doing what’s always being done.” (from Front-Row Leadership) Ultimately, leadership is about change. The question: Do you want to be part of making a difference toward change or do you sit on the back row and complain? In order to first make a difference, you much change something within yourself. You can still make a difference. This book will help.