Friday, January 1, 2016

'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.

A great start for this year's reviews. What a tribute to nameless heroes and heroines!

This devotional is 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'll be using it every day.

'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.

5 stars

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