Gamer records the prayers of believers; the authors explore who Jesus is
Decurion: Called to be a 21st century warrior
Alabama author Mark Randall imagined a story with a video game premise that he presents as an illustration of spiritual warfare.
In this imaginative work of fiction, a talented young gamer, Jay, is unexpectedly transported to another realm where he stands in a mission control room with a replica of Earth in view. He soon learns that he is in the prayer processing center, where technological tools help record the prayers of believers around the world.
It is also at this time that Jay finds out from his host, a military-like official named Stallworth, that he has been recommended as a candidate for Decurion with responsibility for a small unit of 10 legionnaires within a much larger operation.
Jay soon meets his team members, hears about their different specialties, and begins his training program.
Randall’s story blends the teachings of scripture into a sci-fi format as its title character receives an intense lesson in prayer.
The book ends with a prayer warrior challenge and discussion guide.
The author’s admiration for warriors stems from a childhood spent on a military base in Japan and a mission in Zimbabwe.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Randall graduated from the UAB School of Medicine. Among his worldwide missionary adventures, he worked in hospitals in East Asia for 15 years.
Finding Jesus in Judaism
Elaine Jacobs has a deep personal connection to the topics she discusses in “Finding Jesus in Judaism.”
Jacobs was born into an observant conservative Jewish home where she observed all the customs, holidays and traditions. She converted to Christianity while in college.
Jacobs hopes to help readers better understand Jewish faith and culture so that they will be better informed when witnessing to their Jewish friends.
His self-published book offers plenty of detail for those who want an insider’s perspective.
It defines the term Jew, both by cultural identity and religious practice. It explains a wide range of terms, customs and beliefs, as well as other aspects of the Jewish faith.
Jacobs discusses elements of Jewish scripture and teaching, including the Torah (the five books of Moses), the Tanakh (the Jewish Bible, which Christians call the Old Testament), the Talmud (a manual of ancient writings) and the Shulchan Aruch (a condensed version of the Talmud).
She also notes some reasons why Jews do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah. For example, the Trinity—a three-in-one God—is foreign to Jewish teaching, in light of the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one.”
Further, she said, “The Jews believe in the coming of the Messiah, but they do not believe that He has come in the form of a man yet.
graze like jesus
With a fluent and eloquent writing style, Andrew Hébert, pastor of Paramount Baptist Church in Amarillo, Texas, offers sage advice to fellow pastors through “a new application of the greatest sermon ever preached.”
While Hébert recalls news reports in recent years that involved scandals in churches or with ministry leaders, he says the problem is character. The book’s subtitle indicates its purpose: “Returning to the crazy idea that character matters in ministry.”
Hébert asks, “But how do we know what the character of Christ should look like in the life of a pastor?
He turns to the Beatitudes of Matthew 5 to show how pastors can avoid the faux pas of heartbreaking headlines or other difficult detours.
For example, as he reaches the final bliss, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness,” he notes a series of tensions in the country, including political division, racial strife, and responses to the pandemic.
“Pastors have been in the crucible of trying to navigate issues that no seminary class could ever have prepared them for,” Hébert writes.
The criticism pastors receive can be overwhelming, he acknowledges, suggesting, “If you want to last in the ministry, you need tough skin and a soft heart.
“Shepherding Like Jesus” is filled with humility and honesty, but also with hope. Between chapters, several other pastors offer their own commentary on the principles discussed.