Sin & Not Acting Like Yourself!

It is so easy to become so consumed with Thanks- giving and Christmas activities at church, school and home that you lose track of who you are and what it is like to be you. Sunday School dinners, class plays, decorating, shopping and holiday baking, gift making and wrapping …you become driven by your list until your spouse asks who you are and what you’ve done with the real you!

Miserly, greedy christmas man possessive of money

(Photo courtesy of Fotolia)

The book of Proverbs says that a deceitful heart keeps people from finding and doing good. (Proverbs 17:20) Someone not synchronized with God becomes vulnerable for perversion, deceit, and distortedness. All of these characteristics obviously are unhealthy and do not promote life. Paul helps us understand more on keeping an open connection to God and acting the way you are designed.

Writing to a group of believers, Paul says sin impedes your ability to act like yourself. He explains that everyone is capable of sinning, or failing to act like themselves–we all sin and fall short of God’s glory. Romans 3:23

  • You are not justified by your works or through your deeds.
  • You receive justification from a holy God through faith alone in the atonement of Jesus Christ.
  • You require and need atonement to pay for your sins.

However, a struggle still rages as you discover how to act like yourself and stay synchronized with God.

Paul’s struggle with not acting like himselfIn Romans chapter 7, he shares his discontentment and frustration with how sin caused him to do things he did not desire to do. Sin, the deadly gene passed down from Adam and Eve caused Paul to fail at acting like himself.

Paul concludes the problem is sin and the flesh. Who Paul really is desires to please and serve God. As a Christian you are no different than Paul. A battle still rages in your members as you wrestle with sin (death) and acting like yourself, which is life.

PowerPoint PresentationYou draw on right hemispheric experience when upset.  Left hemispheric activity–words, explanations and information–do little to help you when you undergo intense distress.

Your well-intentioned and prearranged strategies are not enough to enable you to act like yourself. You require practice with experienced people to be examples and models. You need people who remember who they are when upset and act like it.

When you remember who you are when upset you are motivated by love rather than fear.

Love and desire are motivations that result from the frontal centers of your brain.

Fear and problem solving activities result from the back of our brain.

Desire enables while fear disables your ability to act like yourself amidst distress.

The disciples learned the difference of operating from desire and from fear during their time with Jesus. All of them endured hands-on training and gained experience, especially during the distress of having their Teacher taken away.

For example, Peter experienced enough distress to interfere with his well-intentioned (desire driven) plans. In Mark 14:27a, Jesus prepares and informs His disciples about His impending death, Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night…” 

Peter speaks up and professes his utmost devotion, desire, and loyalty to follow his Lord – even if the others leave Him. After Jesus prophesies his denial, Peter speaks up again, recorded in Mark 14:31, But he (Peter) spoke more vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all said likewise. You know what happens, and can speculate Peter’s fear overran his plans, desires and hopes to be able to stand firm next to his Savior to the very end.

Had Peter acted like himself while feeling terrified, he would have fulfilled his hope to not deny his Lord and possibly died. Thankfully, God had a plan full of redemption and reconciliation for Peter. After Jesus rose from the grave, He not only restored Peter but replaced Peter’s three denials with three commands – to feed His lambs, tend and feed His sheep.

All of these activities are desire driven functions that Peter would do throughout his ministry. However, the Lord informs Peter He would ultimately fulfill Peter’s pledge to join his Lord and prophesies about the type of death Peter will undergo. Church tradition holds a remarkable account that says Peter acted like himself all the way to his death. Supposedly, Peter went to his death still motivated by desire rather than fear. Peter, finding himself unworthy to die the same death as his Lord, asked to be crucified upside down.

Whether you feel shame, terror, hopeless despair, rage, sadness or disgust, you fare well when you remember who you are and act like it. You stay flexible and your ability to recover improves when you act like yourself.

If you would like to learn how to live from the front of your brain and be yourself in good times and bad, consider starting to prepare for Thrive Training or bring Connexus to your church.


Go here for information on Joy Starts Here groups, Thrive and Connexus.

Thrive Training Reminder…

Feb. 23-27, in Austin, Texas

July 26-31, 2015 in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Registration Information here.

May your Christmas joy be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol A. Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive

Carol’s email –


Acting Like Yourself


“What is the matter with you? Behave. Act like yourself!”

Remember being told to “act like yourself” when you were a kid? It is not always easy to do. But you find relief and enjoy peace when you act like yourself. This means you stay relational throughout hardship and trials. Staying relational helps you:

  • Recover from distress
  • Avoid regret, disappointment and guilt.
  • Be flexible and recuperate from hardship rather than deteriorate and stay stuck.

Staying relational means you continue to interact with other people and remember who you are in the midst of distress. Whether you are cut off on the highway, stuck in long lines at the grocery store or trapped in an elevator you can remain yourself rather than crumble and say or do things you normally would not. You bless others who curse you, walk an extra mile and even turn the other cheek when you remain yourself.

Often, especially during distress, you forget who you are and how it is like you to act.

Some people act out:

  • Become angry, then curse and swear
  • Throw temper tantrums
  • Hurt other people.

Others, when they feel hopeless or ashamed, turn to coping mechanisms such as:

  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Destructive and immoral behavior

You end up with regret, remorse, and disappointment when you do and say things that do not portray your heart. You become ensnared when you forget who you are and fail to act like yourself.

Return To Joy 

You have an infinite number of coping mechanisms to choose from when you fail to handle distress. Thankfully, there are only six basic emotions to conquer in order to return to joy. We thrive when we stay relational in each of the…

…two sympathetic emotions (rage and terror-action) and the

…four parasympathetic emotions (disgust, shame, hopeless despair and sadness-shutdown).

When you have no people or past experience to draw on, these emotions jolt you into a tailspin—which can easily happen during holiday busyness.

Good Works

You act like yourself when you stay relational, suffer well, perform good works, and synchronize with God and the people around you. Because you are created for good works in Jesus Christ, you fail when you lack performing the good works that result from who God made you to be. Ephesians 2:10 declares,

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” NKJV

These good works stem from who God made you to be. They result from knowing Him. Good works are not hoops to jump through or formulas to perform in order to be close to God.

Good works are the by-product of salvation, not the other way around. “Good works” can have several implications, based on your perceptions, experience, or culture. So rather than speculate, let’s see what the words of Scripture meant to the people to whom they were addressed.

In Ephesians 2:10, good in Greek is agathos, a primary word for good, which means ‘benefit’, or ‘well’. Agathos derives its meaning from another Greek word, kalos. Kalos can mean properly, beautiful, but chiefly good, valuable, or virtuous, honest, and worthy.

Works derives its name from the Greek word ergon, which means toil, deed, doing, and labor. 1 In other words, we are new creations in Christ Jesus for honest, worthy, virtuous, and valuable deeds.

The result of your actions, behavior, thoughts, words and lives should reflect these qualities, because this is what you are fashioned to do. When you fail to accomplish this, you are not acting like yourself.

Kalos is the same Greek word Jesus uses in Matthew 5:16 to describe the kind of works we will do as good witnesses for Him. He explains as we let our light shine before others, people can see our good (kalos) works then glorify God. (Paraphrase mine)

Jesus used this term when rebuking the disciples for judging the woman who poured a flask of expensive oil on his head. Jesus said her action for Him was kalos. We can rest knowing good works flow from us when we stay connected to God and act like ourselves, the way He made us.

For help with learning to act like yourself, seriously consider attending Thrive or bring the local version (Connexus) to your church. Go here for information on how to do that.

We will continue this then next week. Look for “Sin and Not Acting Like Yourself!”

Thrive Training Reminder…

Feb. 23-27, in Austin, Texas

July 26-31, 2015 in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Registration Information here.

May your Christmas joy be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol A. Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive

Carol’s email –





Joyful Christians, Joyful Churches–Transformed World

How do we get there?

Phase 1Joy Starts Here – A 9 week program


This is the beginning. It helps you understand the need for joy. Our brains work best in an environment of joy. Joy Starts Here is the beginning of where hard science and the hard truth meet in a non-threatening way. You will like the results! There is a bible study on each chapter’s topic to put it in a biblical perspective, an assessment of your joy in that area and exercises to build joy.

  • Individual study
  • Informal group study (2-3 friends)
  • Adult education classes at church


Joy building exercises will give you a taste of what is possible. They develop the right hemisphere of the brain, which does not happen when you simply read about it. It is like building muscle—you have to go to the gym and practice. You cannot build muscle by reading about it. The same is true for relational skills. By the time you finish the book you will know your next step. Purchase here.

To take a free joy assessment, go to:

Phase 2Connexus classes


Excellent material for  developing resiliency and life skills.

Restarting and Forming (2 -12 week courses) run simultaneously. Facilitator led, DVDs and exercises in class and at home. This is for a larger group than the Joy Starts Here group but is done locally. 2 -12 week courses

Restarting is for those who realize they are low on joy and high on “pseudo-joy” (something that creates the similar brain chemistry as joyful relationships. They have cravings or addictions. They want to acquire or repair relational brain skills that were either missed or somehow damaged by the bumps and scrapes of life.

Forming is for those who were fortunate and have most of the brain skills. They are more interested in seeking more intimacy with God and being formed to be more like Jesus.

Belonging (12 weeks) is a class that combines people from Restarting and Forming. Here the two groups learn how to create belonging and build a thriving relational and joyful community. It breaks down the we/them that often happens when the “weak and strong interact” and creates belonging around you.

Phase 3 – Thrive Training 

Off site, Thrive Training is a large group and can be taken at any time but there are prerequisites. This is a three-week training taken one week at a time. It is a concentrated opportunity to learn the 19 relational brain skills in the ideal environment. Then you go home and practice for a year or 6 months. Then come back for another week and go home and practice for a year to 6 months, and again for the third week.

For more information about these three tracks click here:

Information on prerequisites click here: 

Everything at Thrive is geared to growing joy. It is actually the foundation that the other two pieces are built upon. When a church uses Connexus materials it is wise to make sure that 2-3 couples attend the Thrive Training. Bonded pairs attend Thrive. Parent/child is a bonded pair, also siblings or prayer partners.


Feb. 23-27, in Austin, Texas

July 26-31, 2015 in Grand Rapids, Michigan


Track 1
Bonded Pair: $1,375
Bonded Pair, DVDs & online course: $1,595
Track 2
Bonded Pair: $1,300
Bonded Pair, DVDs & online course: $1,550
Individual: $750
Track 3
Bonded Pair: $1,300
Bonded Pair, DVDs & online course: $1,550
Individual: $750

*Bring a new bonded pair to Thrive and receive a $75 discount off your registration price!


Look forward to seeing you in person at Thrive!  Blessings,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol A. Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive

Carol’s email –

P. S. How did you grow joy in your community? We would love to hear from you.



What it looks like—

Sitting home alone in your living room… suddenly you hear an urgent warning on the television. A ferociously large tornado is rapidly heading toward your city. A twinge of fear passes through you. I thought the forecast said it was going to be sunny today, you think. You glance out the front window and notice the sky turning dark. Swirling clouds form before your eyes. Branches on your trees begin shaking violently. Fear grows but so does your sense of helplessness. You have nowhere to go. Your house has no basement.  You search the room, almost expecting an answer to fall from heaven. You hear your neighborhood alarm sounding. Your fear grows and your heart races. You breathe rapidly, palms become sweaty and your mind floods with pictures of tornados and their devastation. You try to think of what to do next but nothing comes. You feel helpless.  Your stomach squeezes into a knot, you swallow hard.  Memories of past tornado devastation flash through your mind.



Suddenly the phone rings, jerking you from your trance and disrupting your mind. Your body is energized and shaky. You quickly leap to answer the phone before the second ring. You recognize your neighbor yelling and screaming jumbled words about a tornado approaching your house. Suddenly the phone goes dead. Time is running out. You can’t reach help. You can’t escape. A sense of hopeless despair floods in converting your terror into DREAD. You throw the phone down and clutch your head. Panic overwhelms you. Terror surges! You want to call your loved ones and warn them what is happening but you can’t. Hopelessness surges. You want them to pray. There is no basement to run to, or shelter to hide in. This feels hopeless. Time is not on your side. Hopeless despair grows. You feel frozen. The door shakes, the windows make a cracking sound and you hear what sounds like thunder getting louder and louder. Terror rushes through your veins. Like water slipping away down the drain, the sense of imminent danger (terror) and seeing no way out (hopeless despair) locks you up in dread. It paralyzes you.

Though this scenario is fictional, you can easily picture and imagine your words, actions, and responses. You visualize the events and anticipate your decisions. You think about your options, how you would act under such a stressful situation. You estimate how you would respond. Most recognize this familiar pain and feel despair and fear, even as you ponder the above situation. You cringe as you imagine feeling this way for an extended period of time. The internal agony of so much turmoil leaves you bewildered and disoriented.

What dread is and what it does to you—

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Dread is a combination of terror and hopeless despair. Though you may not recognize dread when it hits, you may be familiar with its horrible sensations. Dread intrudes upon your thoughts and disrupts your peace. Dread envelops your outlook and easily transforms your perspective. Dread takes a toll on your health, work, family, and relationships. Dread leaves you weary, restless, and irritable.

Unless you grew up with plenty of practice returning to joy from terror and hopeless despair, you will not fare well with dread and would rather avoid the feeling altogether. It is a suffocating cloak, easy to put on and hard to remove.

A deer caught in the headlights


This toxic combination causes a deer caught in the headlights physical response. It is similar to the engine of a car that has the accelerator and brake pressed at the same time. The consequence, if not immediate, will be wear and tear on your nervous system.

Terror, a sympathetic response, energizes you. It produces a decrease in serotonin and raises your dopamine levels. The means your ability to self-quiet and calm diminishes. Your state becomes attentive and watchful. A steady flow of adrenaline into your bloodstream gives you energy. Your heart races; you breathe short, quick breaths, your pupils dilate and you begin to problem solve.

Hopeless despair, the parasympathetic response, drains you of energy. is You lack hope and lose motivation. You want to hide, shrink and sleep. Depression sucks the life out of you. Dopamine levels drop and serotonin levels rise. A constant release of adrenaline and cortisol without a change in your environment or a release by your body causes trouble. Hopeless despair is your inability to see a way out of a situation or circumstance. Even the thought of a dreadful scenario, which replays in your mind, can produce a physical reaction, as if it were happening at that moment. Psychological distress generates body signals, urgent warnings of problems and disturbances.

How much damage does an engine sustain when you press the accelerator and brake?  Imagine if the above tornado illustration was going to happen the next week, and then the following week, week after week! Would you be able to rest, be still, and have peace knowing you are a few days away from another disaster? How would you cope? Hopefully, you would have plenty of practice and training to be yourselves and suffer well rather than become traumatized. Hopefully you would rely on a large God for such a large problem. Unless you practice, train and utilize your resources distressing situations prove challenging and debilitating.

Where do you see dread in the bible?

How about when Saul and his army stood in battle array before the Philistines? Unexpectedly a huge, powerful giant-man named Goliath appears sporting a hefty shield, sword, and spear. He arrogantly confronts and mocks the Israelites. This overwhelmingly adversary triggers enormous panic among the army of Israel. They frantically problem solve and flee.1 Next, the soldiers regroup and strategize. You almost feel their alarm and fright upon Goliath’s appearance, then their gloom and despair at the bleak circumstances. The army struggles with despair. What will happen next?

Imagine their racing thoughts, “Who will go out and face this giant? Who is the brave soul to fix and put an end to this mess?” Dread consumes them and they wait. Thankfully one young shepherd named David had some experience (and faith) in this area. David, acting like himself, quickly volunteered and overcame with the help of Israel’s God. David had plenty of experience fighting lions and bears.2 We hypothesize that David had much training tackling his terror, overcoming his hopeless despair, and returning to joy. God’s faithfulness brings about a victory through David as he conquers the giant and returns Israel to joy.

You can handle dread like a winner when you practice and train with those who are experienced. You triumph over dread when you grow up with parents who know who they are and act like themselves when they feel afraid or hopeless. Capable trainers are those who stay relational while they experience the specific emotion. You learn to avoid emotions when mom and dad forget who they are when afraid or hopeless. Possibly you will sidetrack to other emotions. This occurs when you jump to another emotion rather than stay in the specific emotion of terror or despair. Men usually experience intense anger and rage when afraid while women may experience sadness. If you can’t handle one emotion, surely two of them simultaneously disable you at the most and hinder you at the least. You hit your desired target when you return to joy from dread.

What you can do about it–

You resolve the dread dilemma when you find an experienced partner. A qualified companion is one who is available to spend time with and teach you how to act like yourself amidst distress. Practice and training allows you to become a capable “sufferer” who can handle fear and despair among other emotions and not be traumatized. You find hope and relief when dread no longer consumes you. This means you do not panic and fret when a tornado approaches or a giant stands before you. Rather, you find yourself actively on your knees praying or putting stones in your pouch rather than reacting. You find liberation when you stay relational during distress and act like yourself. You may even hear God speak, as He spoke to a man named Job out from the whirlwind!

1 – 1 Samuel 17:24

2 – 1 Samuel 17:34 +

Get the next available training—

Holiday Inn, 6000 Middle Fiskville Rd., Austin, TX 78752.
(512) 451-5757.

 Accommodations available on site.

Click Here For Registration Details

Full payment must accompany your registration
unless you make credit card or payment plan arrangements with Jen Coursey at 309-367-4020.

In case of cancellation by  Thrive: all payments will be refunded after February 4th, 2015. Hope to see you there!

May your JOY be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol A. Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive

Carol’s email –