2003 issue 21

good books
Understanding People
(Deep Longings for Relationship) by Lawrence Crabb (Zondervan Publishing House, 1987)

I was introduced to this book when I was taking a course on counseling.  It was a required reading.  I took a look at the book, turned the book around and saw the following remarks by Howard Hendricks: “‘Warning: reading this book may prove beneficial to your mental health, and to your ability to relate in a deeper way to the meaningful people in your life.’”

In his “Preface” Crabb gives us three guidelines as the subject is being discussed in the book.  The guidelines are:

“Guideline 1: Articulate our positions carefully and nondefensively.

Guideline 2: Maintain a willing openness to changing positions we currently cherish if we come to believe that change is warranted by new insights into Scripture.

Guideline 3: Self-consciously labor to walk the tightrope of open conviction by working to avoid falling into either (1) accommodationism (openness to the point where unity is placed above truth), or (2) exclusivism (conviction to the point where condemnation of another viewpoint precedes understanding it)” (pp. 14-15).

This book has three main sections.  The first, “A Sufficient Bible,” is an essay in epistemology, the study of what we can know and how we can know it.  Crabb shows why the maxim “All truth is God’s truth” can be treacherous: in putting general and special revelation side by side, we are tempted to sell the Bible short when it conflicts with current wisdom.

The second section, “Understanding People,” takes a hard look at how we tick, or fail to tick, in accordance with the Creator’s designs.

The third section, the smallest, “Growing Toward Maturity,” closes the book with a word on love, the fruit of all Crabb prescribes.

If the Bible is our source book, what does it say?  It doesn’t address all our troubles directly; there is nothing specific, for example, on bulimia or the cause of drunkenness.  Thus, the preacher who searched through the Bible books with pure exegesis is going to leave gaps precisely where a lot of people are despairing.

The author’s answer is to move to the level of doctrinal categories, the subjects you find in the table of contents for a biblical theology text.  He expresses his approach in this formula:

“Biblical Categories  x  Life’s Observations  x  Reflection = Biblical Understanding” (p. 71)

We know the doctrinal categories in that equation, but what about “Life’s Observations”?  Crabb explains that is takes insight to realize, for example, that a man who exposes himself is gratified when his “audience” is shocked or horrified.  As we reflect on such findings within a scriptural framework, we achieve the understanding we need to help him change.

Thus armed, we are able to address such real-life issues as “How do I cope with the awful fact that my father was too weak ever to love me?” or “How do I stop worrying about money?”

The author argues that people have a deep longing for acceptance and impact.  We are thirsty.  But in our natural state we are also fools, and in our foolishness we determine to slake our thirst apart from God.

The means people use to slake life’s thirst are mostly broken cisterns.  But as long as people keep moving from one to the other, they may not notice that none of them holds water.  After all, they take a while to drain.

Eventually, however, shyness, bluster, shopping, pornography, sociability, etc., wears thin, and in that moment, people may well discover their need.  Three agents of exposure stand ready to help: the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the people of God (p. 146).  The work of soul searching and conviction gets underway, and as the poster says, “The truth shall make you free, but first it will make you miserable.”

If the hurting receives the truth, their illusion of independence gives way to a healthy sense of helplessness.  And in Christ they find the love and significance for which they have thirsted.  They then move from destructive to constructive emotions and find themselves on the road to maturity.

Thus, the Christian counselor has some preliminary work to do beneath the water line.  He must probe for pain and the presence of defiance strategies.  Once he exposes these, he is in a position to show a more perfect way.

I could have wished for a clearer line between the character of the lost person and that of the regenerate.  Are there two corresponding ways to counsel, or is the approach essentially the same for both?  Crabb touched on these matters, but I came away wanting more.

However, Crabb’s insights have helped me too. His strong focus on dependency has refreshed my ministry.  It is easy for me to slip into thinking that once I master the basic skills of the pastorate, I will be equipped to succeed.  But the pastor sees himself as a consummate professional rather than a desperately needy servant, standing before a uniquely sufficient God, has missed the essence of ministry.  The realization of our total dependence on God must dawn daily on us all.

(Reviewed by Dr John Lim.  This book is available from BGST Library: LC 253.5  CRA.)  

Hukali Aye, our 2nd year student, shared with us an account of Nagaland and her homechurch.


Nagaland is one of the states in Northeast India. It has 16 major tribes with different dialects inhabiting the hilly region.  The word "Naga" comes from "Na" meaning "ear," and, "ga" means "hole."  Thus the word "Naga" means a people with holes in their ears. The Nagas are nature lovers and were headhunters before the coming of Christianity.

The American Baptist Missionaries introduced Christianity to the Nagas in 1872. Dr. & Mrs. Edward Winter Clark were the first missionaries to the Nagas. The development and the growth of the Christianity brought tremendous changes to the Nagas.  It is said that the Nagas were headhunters before the coming of Christianity. Today, about 95% of the people are Christians.  The Baptist denomination is the biggest church denomination. The churches in Nagaland are united together under the umbrella of Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC).  There are about 60 local Associations under NBCC. In spite of all the financial difficulties, Nagas are committed to missionary work both within and outside of Nagaland and is being  initiated by the Nagaland Missionary Movement (NMM). The NMM supports some of the missionaries in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nepal, India, Thailand etc.



 Although Kohima is the capital of Nagaland, Dimapur is the main commercial place in Nagaland. Our Church is located in the center of Dimapur, with some 900 houses.  The number of church members is about 2500 baptized members. DSBC has nine para-churches with two pastors.  At the moment the church sponsors about 10 missionaries in the neighboring states.



Pray for Nagaland

  •  Pray for the Nagaland Missionary Movement (NMM) to send out more missionaries.

  •  Pray for Naga Youths to turn to Christ.  Many are addicted to drugs and alcoholism.

Pray for DSBC

  • Pray that the church may be a missionary sending church.

  • Pray that God may raise up more youths to reach out to youth delinquent.

  • Pray for our church leadership, for commitment amongst church members.

Pray for Hukali Aye

  • Her studies here at BGST and her future ministry in DSBC.

  • Pray for her parents and siblings.  

News Bits

  • Rev Ng Seng Chuan will be preaching at Faith Mission Home on June 1, 2003 on the message of Amos.

A Blessed Birthday to ...

Mr Jeffrey Loh Foo Keong  19/5

Mdm Tan Soh Hiang  19/5

Mrs Molly Chua  20/5

Ms Elaine Teoh  20/5

Ms Catherine Ho  21/5

Prof. Daniel Chan  22/5

Mr Shi Pau Soon  22/5

Mdm Julia Ng  22/5

Mrs Sharon Khoo  23/5

Mr Justine Lee  24/5

Mrs Tan Chua Chiew Peng 24/5

Mrs Zhang Haidi  25/5

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This page is updated on 23 May 2003 by Daisy Tan
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