Thursday, 28 January 2016

Book Review - No Ordinary People by David McLaughlan


 You can learn so much from the successes and failures, lives, humility, and obedience of unnamed Biblical people—and you will find great insights in No Ordinary People: The Unknown Men and Women of the Bible Devotional. This brand-new book features 100 in-depth, easy-to-read entries on the people behind the scenes, the everyday men and women, not the kings, queens, miracle workers, or leaders. These people, from the Good Samaritan to Pilate’s wife, played a powerful role in God’s plan for humanity and their stories were recorded for your benefit today. No Ordinary People can share important, even life-changing, principles for your quiet time.


I'm not normally a big fan of devotionals, but this one is a great tribute to nameless heroes and heroines of the Bible, and simple folk whose role might have been just to challenge others!

It's written in honor of side characters in the Bible who barely get a mention. Maybe their role was over in just a sentence or two, or maybe they were mere observers. When I started reading about them, the one thing they shared in common was impossible not to notice. In almost every case, these individuals weren't named.

To give an idea of the unexpectedness of those chosen, I'll mention just a few. There were Paul's sister and nephew, who somehow slipped through the cracks of my memory, the host of the Passover (you know, the man who owned the upper room where the last supper took place), and the servant girls who taunted Peter in the courtyard. You never know who will pop up in the pages next.

Bible heroes we all know about, movers and shakers in the faith such as Abraham and Moses, Peter and Paul, really are in the minority. They are outnumbered by these faithful folk in the shadows, who are simply living their lives the best way they know how. I feel it gives us permission to be numbered among them, without feeling guilty about not being tallied among the 'great'.

The omission of names is so consistent, you can't help but wonder whether they were withheld in the Bible deliberately, to show that 'making a name for ourselves' isn't the important thing we often make it out to be. These people have gone down in history for their attitudes and actions, which we can all benefit from without knowing whether they were called Hosea or Hananiah, Judith or Jemima.

I love the deep life applications we can take from each story, with great prayers that get to the crux of where each person was coming from. I've often dodged devotionals, feeling that the shortness of the reflections tend to make them a bit trite, but this one is different.

'I know that even if the rest of the world never hears my name, there will be a particular spot reserved only for me in your heart. It is enough,' one of the reflections says. This book convinces me that it really is enough.

Thanks to Barbour Publishing and NetGalley for my review copy.

Paula Vince is a South Australian author of contemporary, inspirational fiction. She lives in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, with its four distinct seasons, and loves to use her environment as settings for her stories. Her novel, 'Picking up the Pieces' won the religious fiction section of the International Book Awards in 2011, and 'Best Forgotten' was winner of the CALEB prize the same year. She is also one of the four authors of 'The Greenfield Legacy', Australia's first and only collaborated Christian novel. Her most recent novel, 'Imogen's Chance' was published April 2014. For more of Paula's reflections, you may like to visit her blog, The Vince Review where she also interviews other authors.


  1. Paula, thanks so much for sharing this one with us. I never knew such a book existed and sounds like a really good one to explore. We focus so much on the named but as you say there's much to be learnt from the unnamed.

    1. Hi Ian,
      I think it's fairly new, with a January '16 publishing date. I'm sure I can't think of anyone David McLaughlan might have missed, and the way he threshes out their stories is very interesting.

  2. Thanks Paula. Sounds like a fascinating book. One unnamed character that always stood out to me was the servant girl (a captured Israeli slave) who told Naaman about the prophet in Israel. She was humble yet courageous - and in complete contrast to the greed and duplicity of Elisha's named servant Gehazi. Looking at all (many) of these unnamed heroes and heroines would be fascinating.

    1. Hi Jenny,
      Yes, what irony that the Hebrew servant girl went unnamed while Gehazi wasn't (although he might have wished he wasn't in retrospect).

  3. I can clearly see how this book has resonated with you, Paula. And what a change from the thousands of books aimed at 'becoming a leader'. Not many are called to be that, but faithful followers of Jesus, though perhaps unknown and unnamed are not unknown in Heaven. May we all serve Him faithfully even in our writing. Who knows but that someone who reads our stories will be drawn closer to the Lord.

    1. Hi Rita,
      I think you've nailed exactly what appealed to me. This book contains a great, humble message when you stack it up against the thousands of books aimed to equip readers for leadership roles and other 'important' and 'significant' destinies. Yes indeed, who knows how many people our writing, collectively, has touched already.

  4. Sounds interesting Paula. Thanks for telling us about it.

    1. Hi Dale,
      Thanks, for a devotional, there's a fair bit of meat and food for thought in this one.


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