Book Reviews 

Laughing at the Days to Come by Tessa Thompson

Joanne Teo - June 2020

If like me, you enjoy making “plans” for your life (and then have multiple back-up plans for your plans and then draw a flowchart just in case… you get the drift) because you hope to (or think you could) minimise the amount of pain, suffering and disappointments that might potentially-probably brush passed the periphery of your life – this Christ-centred, hope filled book is for you.

Strength and dignity are her clothing,

and she laughs at the time to come.

Proverbs 31:25 ESV

The author’s reflections begin from the time she was diagnosed with a degenerative hearing disease at fifteen when all she could envision “was the painful reality that things were only going to get worse”. The vision of the women who could laugh at the days to come despite life’s trials, disappointments and grief, was a stark contrast to her own vision of her life would be if God did not answer her prayers to restore her hearing.

The author candidly shares her fears (all past, present and future) openly with her readers, while also wrestling together with the reader to be “governed by a right and prevailing conviction of who God has revealed Himself to be in His word”. Although much of the experience the author shares on one level relatable for the reader as they follow her reflections of her own trials and those around her. It is both the strength and weakness of this book that those experiences would probably be more relatable for women (for example being a mother of two boys) than for men. Nonetheless, what I really enjoyed about this book was that it was not just another book on the existential or moral topic of suffering and pain; or more self-help steps to help us simply cope with the endless anxieties, cares and uncertainties that the future could bring. Rather, the author has put much effort in her writing to show us how the truths of the gospel – about our suffering, God’s sovereignty, Christ’s example, the Spirit’s provision, prayers, church, and heaven – are not just abstract or subjective ideas the readers need to know individually but also experience as well, here and now, with our brothers and sisters in Christ as a community, especially when we are most tempted to withdraw. Moreover, the author is able to gently challenge our prevailing mindset about pain and suffering with scripture while still being able to put them into simple relatable terms that draw out the reality of the hope of the gospel has to offer now and will be proven true when Christ returns.

This is both a challenging and easy book to read at 192 pages. If you’ve enjoyed books like

Joni by Joni Eareckson or A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis with a side of How Long, O Lord

(by D. A. Carson) – do grab hold of this.

This book is available as eBook, hardcopy and audiobook.

You can watch some brief interviews with the author here:

VIDEO: Should you read laughing at the days to come? 

VIDEO: Laughing at the days to come​​​​​​​

Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown 

Jayne Chambers - May 2020

‘Sensible Shoes’ is the engaging story of 4 very different women who reluctantly arrive at a Spiritual retreat centre and begin a journey together. It is a work of fiction but their stories seem very real and relatable.

I found it easy to identify with some of the women in their experiences and challenges. Issues around grief, disappointment, guilt, failure, loneliness, rejection, perfectionism, identity and dissatisfaction are but some of the challenges these women have faced or are facing.

As much as it is a story of struggle and searching for peace and identity it is a story about spiritual growth. For some it is acknowledging that they are hungry and thirsty and in need of rest as they come to understand for the first time what it means when Jesus says ‘ Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest’.

There are lots of wonderful spiritual truths, encouragements and challenges woven into each of these women’s  stories. Some older spiritual disciplines  are presented along the way which in the main were helpfully explained and always with the focus of allowing the scriptures to speak into our lives with the goal of growing our relationship with Jesus.  

The book has an accompanying study guide that has helpful and engaging questions.   

Suffering by Paul Tripp

Clinton LePage - April 2020


Journey Through Psalms by Mike Raiter (Our Daily Bread)

Joyce Parle - April 2020

Journey through the Psalms

No matter how often I read this book of the Bible, I never tire of it. In the past I have tried to work out which of the Psalms was my favourite, only to find it was an impossible task. Just when I think I have found ‘the one’, another Psalm becomes the favourite.  

This excellent little book is from Our Daily Bread Ministries. There is a range of ‘digging deeper’ devotional books written by different really good authors. This one is by Mike Raiter, former principal of the Melbourne School of Theology and current Director of the Centre for Biblical Preaching.

I have also really enjoyed ‘Journey through Judges’ by Gary Inrig and ‘Journey through Romans’ by David Cook.

They are very reasonably priced and can be ordered from journeythrough.org

The Book that made your world by Vishal Mangalwadi

Alex Rishabh 


About the reviewer:

Alex is an Indian national, born and raised in India, currently attending Reservoir Presbyterian church and boarding with Joyce Parle. He completed his Bachelor of Business and Administration in India and came to Australia to do his Masters in Human Resource Management.


Book Review

The author writes this engrossing book with his cross cultural view on how the Bible has impacted Western civilisation in general, but also modern India.  The current secular world rejects the teaching of the Bible and does not acknowledge the Bible’s profound influence for good on our lives.


Mangalwadi looks at many different ways the Bible has positively shaped our world: freedom, family dynamics, the dignity of all people (especially women, lower castes etc.), politics, music, morality, technology, education and science. I was surprised at the extent and scope of that influence, especially in areas like science.


I could really relate to Mangalwadi’s life experience, stories and testimony.  Growing up in India we regularly heard in the media negative comments about missionaries from the Hindu Nationalist Party (which is the one currently ruling). They even go so far as to try and defame Mother Theresa and Mahatma Ghandi. Growing up in India I had friends from many backgrounds and faiths, and I still do. I would be happy to give this book to some of them. As a Christian I was very encouraged by this book and I feel better equipped to engage in discussions with my friends.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi  

Joyce Parle - April 2020


This is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. Nabeel Qureshi was a man, happy and contented, in a loving Muslim family. All he ever heard and read about Islam were good things. In his own words, “I needed a friend, an intelligent, uncompromising, non-Muslim friend who would be willing to challenge me.”  Studying at a university in the USA, he found that friend, David Wood.


Nabeel describes his journey from Islam to Christianity, involving friendships, scholarly investigations and supernatural dreams along the way. It is a very personal story of family, friends and faith, along with great insights into Islam. It is truly amazing to read how God pursues this man.  I found I was greatly encouraged and confirmed in my own faith and in the reliability and authority of the Scriptures.


Nabeel was a man of formidable intellect. He had an MD from Eastern Virginia Medical School, an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University, an MA in religion from Duke University and an MPhil in Judaism and Christianity from Oxford University. He writes in a scholarly, yet very readable way. He was persistent in pursuing truth even as he found his world turning upside down.


Buy two copies of this book. Read one and give the other away. There is also a copy in the Bundy lending library.


By the way, after you read this book, check out David Wood’s testimony. It is incredible.

Humilitas by John Dickson

Joyce Parle - April 2020


John Dickson is a senior research fellow of the Department of Ancient History, Macquarie University Sydney.  He is also co-director of the Centre for Public Christianity. He is a well-known historian, speaker and author of a number of books. You may already be familiar with a few of them:   A Hell of a Life, A Sneaking Suspicion and The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission. The first two are excellent resources for evangelism, especially for secular Aussies. The third one is specifically for Christians.


Dickson has written a fascinating book on the topic of humility. On the front cover it says Humilitas, A Lost Key to Life, Love and Leadership.  He looks at this concept from different perspectives and standpoints:  history, psychology, sociology and business. To whet your appetite these are some of the chapter titles: Why Humility is Better than Tolerance, Why the Ancient World Didn’t Like Humility, How a Jew from Nazareth Redefined Greatness and How Humility Lifts Those Around Us.


I was amused to read of how, as a joke, he sent an email to his publisher saying, “Stop press. I have come up with the perfect title for the new book: “Humility and How I Achieved it.”


In our Friday womens’ growth group we recently heard an excellent talk from Hannah Tin on this very topic, which sparked a lot of lively discussion and interest. I think most of us would like to be more humble, but we may not be sure exactly what it is or what it looks like at street level.


I highly recommend this book for anyone, Christian or otherwise. It is not difficult reading and is full of fascinating stories and insights.


I am actually thinking of giving it to my boss at work. 

End of the Spear by Steve Saint

Joyce Parle - April 2020

In 1965 five American missionaries tried to befriend a tribe in the Ecuador jungle. These were the Waodanis, one of the most violent tribes in the world. Even the Columbian drug lords were terrified of them. The five missionaries were speared to death.

One of them, Jim Elliot, left behind a wife and little daughter. This woman,  Elizabeth Elliot,  much to everyone’s utter amazement, took her little girl and went to live amongst the people who had murdered her husband. This was famous all around the world and many of you are familiar with the story. But there is more…

One of the other men speared, Nate Saint, left behind a wife and 5 year old son. That little boy, Stephen, grew up, married and had children, and then in 1995 he took his family back to that jungle to live with the Waodani.

What happens in this tribe and in this family will astound you. You will be filled with joy and wonder at the things our great God does.

This excellent book makes a great gift, and great reading for people who might be spending more time than usual at home. There are also 2 copies available in the Bundy lending library.

Joyce Parle