Decurion: Called to Be a 21st Century Warrior
Alabama author Mark Randall has envisioned a story with a video game premise he presents as a spiritual warfare illustration.
In this imaginative work of fiction, a talented young gamer, Jay, is unexpectedly transported to another realm where he is standing in a mission control room with a replica of Earth in view. He soon learns he is in the prayer processing center, where technological tools assist in logging the prayers of believers around the world.
That’s also when Jay discovers from his greeter, a military-type official named Stallworth, that he’s been recommended as a candidate for the position of Decurion with responsibility for a small unit of 10 legionnaires within a far larger operation.
Jay soon meets the members of his team, hears about their various specialties and begins his training program.
Randall’s story blends teachings from Scripture in a sci-fi format as his main character gets an intense lesson on prayer.
The book concludes with a prayer warrior challenge and a discussion guide.
The author’s admiration for warriors stems from a childhood living on a military base in Japan and at a mission station in Zimbabwe.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Randall is a graduate of UAB School of Medicine. Among his global missions 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 addresses in “Finding Jesus in Judaism.”
Jacobs was born into a practicing conservative Jewish home where she observed all customs, feasts and traditions. She converted to Christianity while in college.
Jacobs hopes to help readers better understand the Jewish faith and culture so they’ll be more knowledgeable as they witness to their Jewish friends.
Her self-published book offers abundant detail for those who want an insider’s view.
She defines the term Jew, both through cultural identity and religious practice. She explains a wide array of terms, customs and beliefs, as well as other aspects of the Jewish faith.
Jacobs addresses elements of Scripture and Jewish teaching, including the Torah (the five books of Moses), the Tanakh (the Jewish Bible, which Christians call the Old Testament), the Talmud (a textbook of ancient writings) and the Shulchan Aruch (a condensed version of the Talmud).
She also notes some reasons Jews don’t believe Jesus is the Messiah. For example, the Trinity — a three-in-one God — is foreign to Jewish teaching, in light of the Shema from Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is One.”
In addition, she said, “The Jew does believe in the coming of the Messiah, but they don’t believe He has come yet in the form of a man.”
Shepherding Like Jesus
With a smooth, eloquent writing style, Andrew Hébert, pastor of Paramount Baptist Church in Amarillo, Texas, offers wise counsel for fellow pastors through “a fresh application of the greatest sermon ever preached.”
As Hébert recalls news stories from recent years that involved scandal in churches or with ministerial leaders, he says the problem is one of character. The subtitle of the book points to his goal: “Returning to the Wild 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 missteps of heartbreaking headlines or other difficult detours.
For example, as he reaches the final beatitude, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness,” he makes note of a range of tensions in the country, including political division, racial strife and pandemic responses.
“Pastors have been in the crucible of trying to navigate problems for which no seminary class could have ever prepared them,” Hébert writes.
The criticism pastors receive can be overwhelming, he acknowledges, suggesting, “If you are going to last in ministry, you need a tough hide and a tender heart.”
“Shepherding Like Jesus” is filled with humility and honesty but also hope. Between chapters several other pastors offer their own commentary on the principles discussed.