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.

Joy To The World! – Part I

image.pngSince the focus of this season is JOY, Chris and I thought we would share with you the evolution of developing this unique but simple approach to dealing with trauma, addictions and missing relational brain skills and gaps in maturity. The staff at Shepherd’s House spent many years puzzling over why some people became well and stayed well while others did not. In studying these cases what they discovered was the presence or absence of joy in a person’s life made the difference. From that awareness the dream was born. We suspect that JOY was on the Father’s heart when He sent His son, and it is on our hearts as we work with you to take His JOY to the uttermost parts of the world!

OUR DREAM—that we would love to have become your dream as well.

Self propagating recovery as the normal function of the church.

Along with transferable training, Life Model Works is committed to self-propagating recovery that transforms cultures. The Christian Church is the only global force whose calling is to love and reach even those who see them as enemies.


As evil spreads through any community or group, it leaves behind signs such as trauma, but even more insidiously, it brings about the disappearance of relationships, trust and love. The basic skills necessary for joyful relationships weaken and disappear from one generation to the next. And the abuse, violence and damage spread from person to person without help. One in three abused children grows up to be an abuser. In the case of pedophiles, each one will abuse about 260 children. Two-thirds of addicts report being abused as children, and the children of addicts are three times more likely to be abused. At Life Model Works we have seen first-hand how, when this evil spreads, everyone suffers. Not only do trauma and addictions cause much suffering, they also produce damaging changes in the brain. We at Life Model Works have found solutions.


  1. The clinical solutions currently are expensive and cumbersome; they require extreme levels of education and do not spread on their own. Even those people who are able to benefit from modern treatments are not able to then help others without undergoing the same extensive training that therapists need. From a global perspective, factors such as wars, AIDS, societal disintegration, child abuse, violent crime, human trafficking, addictions, and terrorism have left about a quarter of the world’s population showing significant signs of trauma. Against such overwhelming circumstances, our current recovery systems end up looking like a Band-Aid on a volcano. Life Model Works solutions make it possible for ordinary people to pass on to others what they have learned, without extensive training.
  2. Along with transferable training, Shepherd’s House is committed to self- propagating recovery that transforms cultures. The Christian Church is the only global force whose calling is to love and reach even those who see them as enemies.

If we are able to develop an effective self-propagating recovery program, the best existing distribution system for global recovery would be the relational network created by the church. All over the world, most new converts to Christianity come from backgrounds of trauma and/or addiction. They enter into the Church having impaired maturity and relational skills. Simple conversion does not provide the missing brain skills they need for healthy relationships any more than salvation will make them suddenly literate.

Thus the Church faces the recovery problem both inside its congregations and in its mission. In the past the Church has shown a capacity to change cultures, although it lacks that vital function in most of the Western world at this time. In spite of this current state, we at Shepherd’s House are dreaming of a self-propagating recovery model that could change cultures through the ordinary life of the Church. We believe that we are on that path.


  • Trauma and addictions change our identities; therefore the solution must also change identities.
  • Trauma self-propagates; therefore the solution must self-propagate.
  • Trauma blocks the development of maturity and character; therefore the solution must restore maturity and Godly character.
  • Trauma encourages people to reject others, therefore the solution must create belonging.
  • Trauma and addictions spread without needing education; although the solution should be based on the best science, it should not require a Western education or medical model.
  • Violence and terrorism traumatize whole groups at once; therefore the solution must heal whole groups at once.
  • All human cultures, races and ethnicities have the same nervous systems and the same spiritual needs. A solution based on solid neurology and Biblical spirituality would be a solution as universal as the causes for trauma.
  • The recovery model must be high-tech design with a low-tech implementation.
  • Abuse usually spreads through unhealthy relationships. The 19 relational brain skills, taught through THRIVE materials in bonded relationships, train and encourage people towards joyful relating.
  • The identities formed by the solution must match God’s design for us.

If this resonates with you, here is where we begin: Click Here:

JSH_325     ShareImmanuel Ibooklet


We will share more of “The Dream” in next week’s blog. May your joy be full as you celebrate our Lord’s birth!


Chris & Carol

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

Twitter – @coursey_chris

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

Bell photo courtesy of Microsoft Images.

Predator Impulses…How Common Are They?

Last week’s post laid a foundation for what iniquity means in the development of sexual predator impulses for men and women. This is where we are diving in today.

Jim Talks - Vol. 30Most readers would probably think the term “predator” only applies to people who are in San Quentin. Years back I remember reading an article that talked about a woman in the bus station. A man attempted to rape her but another man saved her from it. Then the writer commented, “They were the same man.”

Predatory impulses are not a rare and strange thing that happens to just a few people. Everyone is wired with sexual predator impulses; that is normal and automatic; it’s easy to do. No brains required. Anyone can feel this reaction.

Look at it this way: If you see somebody that you want to get close to and you are already of a sexual age, the least imaginative way is to think about having sexual contact with them. It is the first thing that presents itself to your mind. There is nothing creative about it. The predator impulses are wired into your brain to look for the easiest, simplest way to get something you want to consume.

Sex-TemptationSo, when you look at fruit on a tree, your little predator circuits are going to conclude that the stem is the easiest place to break and that is where you break it to get that fruit. You look for the weakness to exploit in order to get what you want. That is wired into everyone.

You look at situations; you see weakness and think, “I can exploit that weakness.” You see someone about to bend over at their desk and you think, “I could exploit that weakness to look at what they are doing.” You see someone is feeling lonely, “I could use that to get close to them.” You immediately go there. Humans are wired to look for the weakness and to see it as the way to get what they want.

The sexual predator impulses are in everyone. They look a little bit different for men than women. Cultures have shaped women to think, “For me to have power, I need to attract predators. If I can get people to look at me; if I can attract all those impulses to look at me I am going to be a very powerful woman.” That is normally how women think and what they expect. Clothing today is designed to make people think they are about to get a peek at something that normally should not be shown in public.

Men play the same game, just the other way around. “Since women have all the forbidden fruit, if I can somehow gain access to the thing that is being forbidden me or being hidden from me or almost hidden from me then that would make me powerful.” But both end up feeling that it should be pleasing to them and pleasing to the other person—that is the thing that makes us fool ourselves most easily. Men think “This will make us both happy if I let my predator responses find a way through your defenses and get what I want.”

While the predator response is wired in, the protector response is not—it is learned. It is acquired from more mature people who look at weakness and say, “Oh, I know how to protect that so it isn’t exploited.” It is very easy to see a weakness and exploit it; it is much more mature to see a weakness and while seeing it and seeing how to exploit it, you want to learn how to protect those conditions.

Why do sexual sin and its predatory attributes become so appealing for men and women? The answer to that is an odd answer. It is so appealing because we don’t have an alternative to it. If it is the only thing you know, you have no image, no sense that you want to protect somebody, and consequently, all you see is what you want.

The question comes up, “Why can’t I have what I want?” It is increasingly the case that just because the Bible says, or your pastor says, or Christians generally say you can’t have what you want, “What do I care what they have to say? That is their opinion and my opinion is that I should have what I want as long as I’m not hurting anybody and as long as it is tasty for everybody, then everybody should have what they want.” That is becoming the global mindset.

The interesting thing is that it never occurs to folks that the thing they really want is a permanent relationship. There is a blog titled, “Why should I not live with my boyfriend?” The answer is one of the more popular issues on the site. The reason to NOT live with the boyfriend is that it does not lead to permanence.

If what you are after is a permanent relationship, living with the boyfriend is a lousy plan. This is inevitably the case. If you want to have a long term relationship with someone…let’s say you want to have a long term relationship with your neighbor and his wife. However, you see your neighbor’s wife as “tasty.” As soon as your neighbor discovers this, that long term relationship with them and whatever closeness you were going to have is over.

The same is the case with the men who want to be close to their step-daughters. If the desire to be close to your step-daughter is a sexual one, that is not going to lead to a permanently good relationship. It will give you exactly the opposite result and a lot of misery. Many leaders have discovered a miserable outcome for what they thought was tasty to begin with because it never occurred to them at the time that what they really wanted was love that endures.

The more hopeless you feel about the desire for love that endures, the less you know about creating enduring relationships, the more likely you are to take what you can when you can get it. It is sort of a desperation response. No alternative. “I am the guy, or I’m the gal that is missing out on all the fun, all the power, all the appeal because I’m the only one who won’t.” That is kind of how they think about it rather than, “I am the one who is building for permanence here!”

If you are protective of other people, they will love to stay around you even if they have weaknesses. They have no reason to be afraid of you.

The same kind of thing would happen if we lived in a protective environment. This is what life should be like as we form churches and life together. We come together not because we are the odd people who don’t have predator impulses but we are the odd people who know something more than predator impulses—we know how to protect others. The mature answer is to learn a better response.

The Joy Starts Here book is trying to introduce how a lot of these iniquities, these deformities are not only getting into society, but are spreading in larger numbers. Deformities, when you are talking about sexuality, are not so much something wrong with us as it is something that is missing from us.

Christians need to reintroduce into culture some things that are badly missing. This is a wake-up call for us in this country because it doesn’t take much looking around to see that our society is quickly becoming predatory. We should be the ones who reintroduce that new way of life back into the culture around us starting with our own churches and families.

Resources — To order click here!

And that brings me to that Joy Starts Here book.

 Pastors, this is a great way to introduce this training (relational brain skills) into your church, staff and family. Joy Starts Here, the transformation zone, unpacks a lot more. I highly recommend this resource as a next step.

Jim Talks - Vol. 30


Vol. 30  of the JimTalks is a companion resource to The Joy Starts Here.





30daycover500.jpgThirty Days of Joy, exercises to build joy for busy married couples.

To learn the brain skills that buildenduring relationships, click here:


Join us again next week for more insights and resources on starting joy in your family, church and community. If you have questions or comments please drop them in the comment box below and we will respond!

May your joy be full!

Chris & Carol

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

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

This post was developed from a talk by Dr. Jim Wilder for Pastor’s Weekly, Oct. 31, 2013

Q & A with Pastor Darrell Brazell–Part IV–Joy in Relationships (Groups)

Rev. Darrell Brazell

Question: Is there any hope of conquering the addiction to pornography/sexual addictions if someone does not join a group?

Darrell: Recovery from pornography and sexual addiction is a complicated, difficult path. In our model in our ministry we found that path best when an individual dived into our recovery group, did individual counseling, Emmanuel work and actively built relations with other men—attacking it from many different directions. Yet, I talk to individuals from literally all over the world, different people contact me and say, “Well, I don’t have a group. I don’t have any connections.” I tell them, “Okay, then pray.”

“Ask the Father who He wants you to talk to and share your story and your journey with.” Whatever face or name comes to your mind, ask the Father for strength and go and tell them where you are at. You found my manual, you found a resource, now go to them and tell them hey, I have this resource. This is my story; would you be willing to be my sounding board as I go through this manual? What is amazing to me is:

1. How resistant most people are at trying that…most people are terrified of anyone finding out.

2. Secondly, what normally happens is they find out that the person who came to their mind is either a fellow struggler who understands and needs help themselves and then they have a partner to walk through this recovery with or they have found someone who has fought this battle and God brought them into places of freedom and they become a mentor and guide who can walk with them.

Don’t let not having a group, not having the right resources in your immediate vicinity stop you. I didn’t have a group. I didn’t have anyone in my area that I found …it was a little over a year into my recovery when we started our first group.

Our group was the first one that I was aware of anywhere in our area. Yet God was faithful to me. He brought an individual to me and he and I started working together. Yes, a group is better than one person, but one person is a place to start.

Question: Can you give some very practical examples of how a man can become a protector of women rather than a consumer?

Darrell: So much of it boils down to the mindset. Restaurants are a good example. I am in Lawrence, KS—a college town so every restaurant is also a bar. Many times waitresses are not dressed in the best of ways. It is often challenging in those environments to deal with the consumptive temptation but a friend of mine years ago…one of the things he did was that whenever we went to lunch (pretty regular basis). Whenever the waitress came he would always find out her name and every time she came to the table he would refer to her by name. And he had kind words for her and had that framework of her as a daughter he just doesn’t know very well.

I know that he blessed many young women in ways that they probably didn’t understand–it just felt different. After I have taught on these things, women will say something like, “You know, what you have described about this consumerism and how men look at us has helped me understand why I feel icky sometimes. I didn’t even know why I felt that way, but now I do—that person was not seeing me, they were seeing body parts. They were consuming me, not knowing me.”

Speak to them as a person rather than an object, then you are protecting; you are not consuming. It is a simple next step in personalizing instead of objectifying.

Question: What activities are you doing in men’s groups to create joy?

Darrell: We don’t have a lot of “activity” in our group but I will give you a quick picture of a typical meeting. First we have what we call “big group time” which is anywhere from 6-8 guys (as many as 25) around a big table and we have group discussion. There is often banter and conversation and we enjoy being together.

Then we break up into our “check-in groups” of 3-4. No less than three for safety/protection reasons and no more than four because if we have 5 guys in a group for check-in we will be stuck there for two hours! We have learned that 3-4 is the perfect number. And in the small group of 3-4 we have four simple points of check-in:

1. Where am I at today? What’s going on in my world? This is the sharing of joys, struggles, etc.

2. Check in—we have what we call our 6 dailies which are six recovery behaviors that we do every day. So it is a check in—how have you done on your 6 dailies?

3. Confession time. James 5:16, I John 1:7-9—Is there any sin that needs to be brought into the light? Anything you came in here weighed down with that you want to share with your brothers in Christ and leave here free of?

4. Goals. What was your goal from your last meeting and how have you done with it? What is one tangible, practical goal that you are going to work on this week to be in a better place?

In that context as guys share their struggles and victories and where they are at, there is much relational connection, there are many ah-ha moments when a guy shares something and another guys says, “Really? I thought I was the only one.” As those take place, there is a very natural place of joy that happens.

I have a whole page of suggestions in my manual for starting joy in groups. We talk about and encourage guys to make eye contact, saying hello, calling one another by name…those kinds of things. We encourage guys to meet for lunch or coffee, daily phone calls with one another…anything to build those relationships and build joy. We have found that to be especially helpful in the process.


If you would like to snag a copy of Pastor Darrell’s Recovery Manual, here is a link.

Joy Starts Here with exercises, bible studies, assessments


Vol. 30 of the JIMTalks – Workers of Iniquity is a wonderful companion to Joy Starts Here. It gives a biblical understanding of some of the vocabulary used in the book.

There are 8 hours of teaching in this volume! God had a lot to say about transgression, sin and workers of iniquity!

Sex as a Snack 5

And 30 Days of Joy…for busy married couples! This resource is available, but has not been added to the website yet. Contact Chris personally at Chris Coursey (

30 days Joy Exercises

May your joy be full!

Chris & Carol

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

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

This post was developed from a talk by Pastor Darrell Brazell for Pastor’s Weekly, Oct. 24, 2013.


Predator to Protector – Part III, Q & A with Pastor Darrell Brazell

There was so much helpful information in Pastor Brazell’s presentation that we wanted to share the further helpful nuggets that came out in the Q & A session following! Without further ado…


Question: I believe sexual purity is about my identity and who I am in Christ. What are your thoughts on this?

Darrell: Absolutely. So much of sexual acting out is about numbing out and medicating the pain of negative and wrong beliefs about myself. For example, one of the things I have in chapter 3 of my manual is a very exhaustive “Who Am I in Christ” list.[1] It helps you go back into scripture and say, “God who do You say that I am?” But it has to go much deeper than just an intellectual understanding. Those lists, those verses are powerful, essential, but the reality is that you have to take it to the next level of you hearing it from the Father Himself. Hearing it not just in a written work, but in your own relationship with Him and in the dialogue you have with Him.

We found the Emmanuel Process to be such a powerful, essential part of the recovery process because as men experience Emmanuel meeting them in the middle of their mess, even in some of the worst places of their acting out and discover that He is not rejecting them. He is not pushing them away. He is sad for the mess that they are in, but He is still glad to be with them. That is often life transformational for men.

Sexual purity, so much of the time, does come back to understanding who I am in Christ and allowing God to define me. We are not defined by our sin; we are defined by our Savior. As you see yourself as He sees you, then you begin to live out that reality rather than the reality you have believed up to that point.

Question: Could you distinguish for us the difference between joy and pleasure? I think there is a lot of confusion over what joy is and what pleasure is.

Darrell: Yes, it is very important to begin to recognize the difference between joy and pleasure.  As a culture and a world, we are addicted to pleasure when what we are really seeking is joy.

Pleasure is anything that will tweak the brain’s ability to produce dopamine. Anything you do pleasure-wise will cause your brain to release dopamine and that feels good. Eat chocolate, play a video game, watch TV, ride a roller coaster…you can do all these pleasurable things. Most pleasures are fine and okay in and of themselves. The problem is that pleasure without relationship is just pleasure. You have to train your brain that what your life really wants to live off of is not the immediate hit of pleasure, but the longer lasting effect of Joy. The difference between pleasure and joy is that joy is always relationally connected. You can have pleasure without another person. You can never have joy except in relationship because joy is that experience of the brain knowing that I am with someone who is glad to be with me.

Joy, as we know from the various Thrive materials, is communicated right brain to right brain through the eyes primarily. It cannot be faked; it is always authentic. It happens faster than you can keep up with. So, you will never receive joy from your smart phone. You will never receive joy from a computer screen. You can only experience joy in actual encounters of relationships with other people.

Here is the confusing part: pleasure feels like and has many of the same effects as joy, but not really. It is a counterfeit. It is like a sugar substitute where you get the feeling and taste of sugar but you don’t get any sugar. The difference between pleasure and joy is like the difference between carbohydrates and protein.

To this day I can sit down and eat an entire box of Captain Crunch cereal. I love the stuff. For me it is a sugary heaven. But if I had a great big bowl of Captain Crunch for breakfast at 7:30 in the morning, at 9:00…starving. Not only am I starving, but I am on a sugar crash and my brain is saying, “Give me more carbs!” I need more just to function. However, if I eat a breakfast at 7:30 in the morning of 2 eggs, some fruit and juice. At 9:00 I am perfectly fine because protein lasts. That is the difference between pleasure and joy.

Pleasure feels good; it has some of those same effects as joy, but it doesn’t last. When it doesn’t last your brain tells you to have more so you go to the smartphone, the internet—you go looking for another hit and start to build up tolerance so that you need more and stronger, etc.

Going back to my point about helping men learn how essential it is to build joy with other men…as they experience joy in relationship they find that their cravings reduced because they are staying full longer.

Question: I work with men who are sexually addicted. I have some men who never want to look deep to see what the core of their addiction is. Do you have any insights to help these men look deeper into their lives? They say they have no pain or anger in their life. How do I help move them on to insights about themselves?

Darrell: 1. You must recognize that you cannot move them anywhere. What you can do is help them see more of reality. Reality is that every one of us has painful things at our core. Honestly, I am always frustrated and amazed at how resistant people are at looking beneath the lid to see where the pain is really coming from.

2. Something I learned from Karl Lehman is that the brain will not load any memory that it does not have the joy capacity to hold. So the people who are the most resistant to looking at the pain in their lives have little to no joy capacity. Ironically, one of the things that you can do for those individuals is to help them build joy capacity and as they build joy capacity, they will find more courage and ability to look at the painful things.

3. Help people think through things and recognize pain. The reality is that so much of what people do is medicating, whether it be through pornography or lust or carbohydrates or any form of BEEPS (Ed Khori’s acronym for behaviors experiences, events, people and substances) that you use to artificially regulate your emotions. As long as you are living in BEEPS you are not going to feel much pain because it has been medicated into silence! You are keeping yourself in a dopamine cycle and you don’t feel much.

Help those people who are not willing to look beneath the surface by challenging them to go without their BEEPS. When they eliminate their BEEPS the pain comes to the surface and they have to start feeling it.

4. The other thing is to help them challenge their denial. One of the most significant ways to do that is to work with them in the context of their spouse or someone else who is closely related to them. So much of the time what they say is “Well it is just my struggle and it is not effecting anyone else.” One of the things that often helps individuals who are not looking at their pain is when they start seeing how much impact their ways of dealing with their pain are causing havoc on the ones they love and care about.

For example in my own story, when I was in the middle of my mess 13+ years ago, any pain or trouble that came to me because of my addiction, my acting out, in a way I just wrote it off I thought. “I deserve it.” Whatever suffering I had I could swallow and say, “Well, yeah, I am a horrible person so I am getting what I deserve.” But when I looked at my wife and my little daughter at that time and saw that they were suffering, then I said, “Okay, God, you have got to help me change because I don’t want them to hurt this way.”

It is a delicate balance of walking with people, helping build their joy strength and continually coming back to beat the drum and say, “Okay, well, what is underneath? If you keep going back to broken cisterns you must be thirsty for something. So where is the hurt; where is the pain?”

Chris: That is the beauty of the Emmanuel Process really, that it creates such safety that it is possible to address some of that stuff. We hope that you find this helpful and even more help in the following good resources.


Darrell’s contact information: &

Joy Starts Here-the transformation zone Describes the kind of environment we want to have to start joy.


Exercises, Bible Studies, Assessments with each chapter to get a feel where the strengths and weaknesses are.






Joy Rekindled Marriage Retreat, Medicine Hat, AB, CANADA Nov. 15, 16, 2013. More info on  Interactive time for couples to learn  to start joy in marriage.

30 Days of Joy…joy starting exercises for busy married couples


15 min. a day to jump-start joy in your marriage – shopping page.

Low joy can lead to lots of trouble, especially in marriage.




Jesus in Mind—Jim talks, Vol. 30. “Workers of Iniquity.”

Jim Talks - Vol. 30

Unpacks the scriptures and the terminology used in Joy Starts Here.

Pastors Weekly_logo400x100




Pastors Weekly – Each week at

DVD’s of the Joy Starts Here Conference this past Oct. 3-5 They are in process! Lots of content on how to start joy in you family, church, school and community.

We are looking for places to host a Joy Starts Here weekend. Let me know here at and Jim Martini Shepherd’s House CEO will contact you.

May your joy be full!

Chris & Carol

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

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

 [1] Pastor Brazell got the identity scripture list from some people who had expanded one they got from Neil Anderson and he expanded it a bit.

This post was developed from a talk by Pastor Darrell Brazell for Pastor’s Weekly, Oct. 24, 2013.



From Predator to Protector Part II, Two Tools – Pastor Darrell Brazell

This week Pastor Brazell shares two of the tools he teaches the men in his recovery groups.

Brazzel-1.pngBrazell 11

Tool #1 Learn to see women through the eyes of a protector rather than a consumer.

Brazzel-9.pngI had an individual come to me and he shared with me that he was in a place of giving up. He said, “I don’t know that it is even possible for me to look at a woman and not go to lust.”

Think about that statement for a moment. Hear the damage that the enemy has done to how this man saw himself. He saw himself as a man whose only choice, the only reality, the only thing he could do whenever he saw a beautiful woman was go to lust. What I would say is that the vast majority of men that I work with believe that it is somehow impossible to do anything with the image or even a live woman in their presence without going to the place of consumption.

I knew that he was married to a woman for a number of years but his step-daughter was 13 years old when he married this woman through the time when she left the home. He had said that he didn’t think he was capable to looking at any woman without going to lust. I said, “what about your step-daughter? Did you lust after her?”

Brazzel-9.pngHe immediately bristled, “Well, no. Of course not!” I said, “Well, why not?” He said, “Well, because, I saw her as my daughter and it was my job to protect and care for her.” So I just looked at him and said, “So your brain really is capable of putting women in a category for protection rather than consumption.” You could see the light bulb go off in his head. For the first time he realized that he was capable of seeing a beautiful woman without going to lust.

That evening we at men’s group we talked about that very discussion. You could see the light bulbs going on all across the room in the guys’ heads as they began to think of the different women in their lives who were beautiful, attractive women with whom they did not have problems of lust. One of the common threads that kept coming out was that these were women with whom they had a relationship and they saw themselves in a role of protecting, not consuming.

It is critical for a man to begin to recognize that he is capable of protecting, and then begin to use the discipline of categorizing every woman he encounters into the category of mother, sister, or daughter. That is exactly what Paul describes in I Tim. 5:2. “Treat older women as mothers and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” Let that sink in for a bit.

Unfortunately in Christian circles, they try to get men to deal with lust as if it can be controlled by shackles and chains. If you just clamp the lid down tight enough, then you cannot go there. I am convinced that the answer is in retraining the mind to recognize that we are in relationship with women but that relationship needs to be in the proper perspective. I think that is part of what Paul is saying to Timothy when he says to treat older women as mothers and younger women as sisters with absolute purity.

So I am teaching men to put every woman they come across in the category of sister, mother or daughter. In those categories your brain begins to learn that they are not for consumption. They have been placed in your path and one of your tasks as a man of God is to be a protector of Eve rather than a consumer of Eve. That paradigm shift for men makes a huge difference in the struggle against lust, pornography and sexual addiction.

Tool #2 – Build joy with other men—Our world has little to no understanding of the power and need for authentic male friendship.

Brazzell 10When I was working on this slide show for the power point slides I got a graphic illustration of this. I spent 15 minutes looking at hundreds of thumbnail pictures of joy and people happy looking for a picture of men in joy together. This picture is the second picture I saw in 15 minutes of very active searching! The other picture was four men with alcoholic drinks in their hands in a bar. Our world does not associate joy with men’s relationships with one another. There were countless pictures of men with women smiling and many pictures of men with children but very few pictures of men glad to be with other men.

Men come to us and join the group and one of the things I ask them in the intake process is, “So what are your relationships like with other men?” They tell me, “I have work relationships.” Some men have relationships with other men where they do something. They hunt together; they work together on yard projects or something like that. “But do you have any men in your life that you share hard things with? Do you have any men in your life that you know are glad to see you no matter what?” And the answer is almost always “no.”

Another dynamic that we see is that after coming to group for 2-3 months or so a man will just blurt out something to the effect of “I never knew that you could have this kind of friendship in relationship with other men!”

Why is male friendship so critical?—Our world has pressed upon us the belief that the only place men can get joy from as men is from woman. As a result, we have multiple generations of men who are constantly looking to Eve to fill their joy bucket, oblivious to what can grow from other men. Then when you combine this with the twisting of seeing Eve, not for who she is as an individual, but seeing her through the eyes of lust, then you have men who are joy starved. They are not looking to the relationships even with other women for a joy boost and healthy relationship, but they are consuming them.

When you are joy starved and powerless to resist your cravings, you look for something—anything to medicate the pain and shame in your life. That is one of the reasons internet pornography and other forms of sexual acting out are so common and such a powerful draw.

Tool #2 – Build relationships with other men. What men need desperately is to build joy with other men. However, they are often very resistant to that. When I talk about coming to men’s group and build joyful relationships with other men they look at me with a weird look and say, “Why would I want to build joy with these ugly guys?” I tell them, “Because it will change your life.” And the men who jump in and do that find that their lives begin to change in very radical ways.

A number of times guys will shake their head and say, “You know, I would never have thought from the first time I came here, that one day I would look forward to coming.” The most common thing for most men in telling their story is that they sit in the parking lot for 5, 10, and as long as 45 minutes, absolutely scared witless, trying to find the courage to come into the room where they know we would be talking about pornography, masturbation and other sexual issues..

Over time they found that as they entered the community, they started to experience joy. Many of the guys have talked about how men’s group night is now one of the highlights of their week. If you walked into our room and did not hear the content we were talking about, many times you would be surprised because you see guys smiling, and having joy with being with one another.

Other times when we are dealing with really hard stuff, praying over one another, grieving with one another, and what happens in that process is that relationships are formed. Relationships go deep and those deep relationships give the men more strength or joy capacity to deal with the hard things.

These are two of a number of tools Pastor Brazell teaches the men in his groups. We hope these tools will bring new hope to you or someone you know or with whom you work. For other resources Pastor Brazell uses with men’s groups around sexual integrity visit

May your joy be full!

Chris & Carol

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

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

This post is from a talk by Pastor Darrell Brazell of New Hope Fellowship, Lawrence KS given for Pastor’s Weekly Oct. 24, 2013.

From Consumer (Predator) to Protector—the paradigm shift men often miss. Part I

Is it possible for a man to transition from being a consumer of women to a protector of women? Is it possible to shake loose from lust, pornography and sexual addition? Pastor Darrell Brazell says, “Yes!”

clip_image002imageOne of the things that is critical in transitioning from being a consumer or devourer of women to a protector of women is for a man to learn that his brain is really capable of protecting. Noticing and devouring are two very different things. Devouring is at the core of lust, pornography and sexual addiction. Lust is not noticing and appreciating; it is a consuming.

Devouring happens when men objectify women rather than personalize them and develop relationship with a person. The sensations of pleasure become more important to a man than the relationship with the person. Devouring concentrates on body parts. Concentrating on body parts causes the brain to produce a dopamine pleasure spike but that is a pseudo-joy and does not last. It is like giving your body a bowl of sugar cereal rather than a breakfast with protein. It satisfies briefly but does not last; it will require more and more…and that is the essence of addiction to lust, pornography and other sexual addictions.

Problem—The problem is that men too often go from noticing and appreciating to devouring.

clip_image004.jpgRoot of the Problem: Let’s first talk about some things that often get us caught in places of toxic shame. The reality that God created Eve beautiful and He hardwired Adam to notice is foundational! That is our design. God created Adam’s brain to notice Eve’s beauty but instead of going from noticing to appreciation, men go from noticing to shame. Men feel shame over something that is hard wired within them. The male brain has a stronger emphasis on visual things and Eve (women’s beauty) is one of the things his brain is especially wired to notice.

clip_image006.jpgThe enemy has come in and twisted men’s noticing and appreciating and pushed them into a place of consuming and devouring. When a man has trained his brain to be in a devouring mode through pornography, lust or sexual fantasy, then he is not able to shift gears. Many men don’t know they are capable of shifting gears.

So what I want to talk about today are some ways for men to deal with that struggle in better ways than they have been taught in the past.

What does NOT work—

clip_image008.jpgToxic shame will not cure lust. Men hear sermons about the evils of pornography and lust and the message they have heard is: “It is bad. Don’t do it and if you are doing it, you are bad. Yet no matter how much they castigate themselves, no matter what they do to stop the behavior, they find themselves just going back.

One of the reasons for that is that we use any kind of dopamine pleasure addiction to medicate shame that we are not able to deal with. “Your heavenly father will not use toxic shame against you.” Toxic shame is not helpful to solve the problem.

clip_image010_thumb.jpgGender isolation will not cure lust. Gender isolation cuts off a significant avenue for healing, a significant avenue for mother and sister type relationships. It also eliminates 50% of the population from being able to share joy with joy starved men when that is what they need!

Covering your eyes is not a cure for lust. Yes, men must learn the skill and discipline of bouncing their eyes away clip_image012_thumb.jpgfrom sexually stimulating images, improperly dressed women, and improper billboards, etc. However, it is critical to know that you cannot live your life with your eyes covered and bouncing your eyes from every woman you encounter because, 1. It is not feasible! 2. If you are bouncing your eyes from every woman you encounter, then you have eliminated 50% of the people in your world who could pour joy into you.

When women are dressed immodestly and inappropriately a man is going to need to look away. However, in normal, regular interaction looking away adds to the shame and eliminates the ability to share joy. Joy is communicated right brain to right brain through the eyes primarily. So if you are always looking away from every woman, you miss those opportunities to experience joy. Draw a line at the neck. If you look a woman in the eyes, you concentrate on her face and not body parts. You will be much more successful in not going to lust.

What can a man do?  Next week I will share just two of the tools a man needs to make this paradigm shift.

A huge disclaimer: Please do not take these ideas and think “okay, if I do this I won’t have any problems with lust or if I can teach my husband this we can solve these problems. It will all go away if I use these two tools.”

clip_image014You need to understand that dealing with the tangled web of lust, pornography and sexual addiction is an incredibly complicated task. In simplifying it to just a couple tools, three steps or learning to avert your eyes and in 30 days you will be better is absolutely ridiculous. The problems go very deep. These are just two tools in what needs to be a very large tool box for men…but they are powerful tools!

Join us next week for the two tools that Pastor Brazell teaches the men in his recovery groups at New Hope Fellowship in Lawrence, Kansas. If you would like to hear his presentation in full you can find it here. Scroll down to the “Free Viewing” section and click on Oct. 24.

May your joy be full,

Chris & Carol

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

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

This blog developed from a talk by Darrell Brazell for Pastor’s Weekly, Oct. 24, 2013.

What do road hazards have to do with low joy?

There are five road conditions or driving hazards that are metaphors for low joy within churches. Understanding these hazards is so critical to life and health of people and communities that we are going to deal with them in a series so that you can take in the full impact. This is part I.

You hop in your car anticipating that you will arrive at your destination and with good results—you expect to accomplish the purpose for which you started out. But, your anticipation can be short lived and your happiness cut short with hazardous conditions. The same is true in the church. You can be drawn to Jesus and go to church to learn more, to develop relationships with God and others that will help you grow and mature, that will be satisfying, fulfilling. Those are good reasons to associate with other Christians but just like with your road trip, you can encounter hazardous relational conditions!

You have all seen these as you drive:

· Distracted drivers: people texting, tweeting, reading email, eating and drinking

· Drunk drivers: untold numbers of families have been devastated, crippled, bereft of loved ones…and it could have been easily avoided

· Rain & fog: you cannot see clearly to anticipate what is ahead

· Black ice: these are hidden hazards

· Drivers Running Red Lights & Stop Signs: this is a lack of awareness of one’s surroundings and immaturity on the driver’s part

You can expect to find these same hazards for relationships within low joy congregations. This will apply to leaders as well as congregants.

Distracted Driving. I am sure you have seen it, I am sure you’ve done it. Distracted driving or distracted leadership of churches and congregations involves immaturity. Immaturity means that you are not anchored; something is missing. Some part of your identity or your character is not fully developed. So there is some weakness and as soon as weight is put on that foundation, problems will be around the corner.

Immaturity in congregations leads to work becoming a higher value than relationships. There is an atmosphere where you serve, and serving is a very good thing, but when serving becomes a higher priority than relationships, burnout is right around the corner. When people are not anchored with their maturity, they are missing tasks and skills. Just because a person has a 38 year old body does not mean they possess 38 year old maturity. Adults can be stuck at infant level maturity—not knowing what satisfies, having never learned to do hard things or not knowing how to get back to joy from upset. These are skills and tasks that everyone has to learn and we learn them from other people who have them.

Some signs of immaturity:

· I am adrift at sea. I don’t know…

· I’m not goal oriented. I float around.

· I don’t really have a sense of who I am and that is not expressed very well when I am upset.

· Being right trumps being relational.

Where being right is valued more than the relationship, people do not feel connected in the community. It is easy to leave the church because there is no real anchor—there is nothing keeping them there. In this environment wounds are nearby. You want to have a healthy balance between “rightness” and relationships.

When there are disagreements can they be resolved? Do you have a relational approach to problems? Do you keep relationships bigger than problems?

· You will also see that there is a loss of focus with a lack of maturity because of not being anchored. People feel seen and defined by what they do, by what they can contribute, but don’t feel a part of the family. It’s painful when that happens, when joy levels are low.

· People become critical… critical of the service, the worship, the message, of the carpeting in the lobby, etc. People are not glad to be together. Or they do not feel joy from the leadership, or joy with each other. There is a lot of floundering that goes on when maturity is lacking.

Results of immaturityI feel I have to perform to stay connected—not a good feeling. What frequently happens is that you also come to interpret this as “this is how God sees me—God loves me as long as I do all the right things but the moment I don’t do all the right things He wants nothing to do with me anymore.” That goes against what Jesus did on the cross by keeping the relationship bigger than the problem.

alcoholDrunk Driving is another common reason for accidents. People use poor judgment. Many families have been devastated by drunk drivers. The thing that is so painfully frustrating about drunk driving is that it could be avoided by the intoxicated person asking for help. Calling a taxi; asking someone who is not intoxicated to drive them home. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

The same thing happens in your congregation in terms of driving relationally–you struggle with hidden addictions. Hidden addictions are as catastrophic for relationships as drunk driving. Addictions are a broken approach to fix problems. Addictions are there for a reason. It is a very unhelpful way that you learn to help manage something or to solve a problem.

clip_image004If you have someone who is drowning you don’t tell them to swim harder or to stop splashing. You throw them a life preserver.

In churches where joy levels are low, people don’t feel like they can share their struggle.  They don’t feel like they can ask for help or they are afraid to ask for help because of what people will think of them.

Low joy levels means that there is an increase in artificial or pseudo-joy, what Ed Khouri calls BEEPS—his acronym for Behaviors, Experiences, Events, People, Substances. These are all things people use to make themselves feel better.

BEEPS become a problem when they start to replace whatclip_image006 you really need which is genuine joyful relationships where you can give and receive—where it is safe to give and receive. And when it is not safe to share weaknesses, you feel like you have to hide addictions because you are ashamed of them. It is especially hard for leaders because whatever you share can/may be held against you.

Many leaders find it difficult to share their weaknesses because weaknesses may be pounced upon or used against them. Or, they might lose their job. As staff and elders you want to create an environment, starting at the top, where it is safe to share weaknesses, find healing and grow.

When you have a congregation where it is safe to be weak, people feel like they can deal with their stuff and start to grow joy. But, when you have to hide weaknesses they feel isolated, both leaders and congregants. You feel isolated. A common feeling for those wrestling with hidden addictions is, “if you really knew this part of me, you wouldn’t like me anymore.”

Praise God! There is a solution—establish a joy filled zone! In a joyful zone it is safe to be weak or immature. Mature people who have relational skills are there and glad to be with you whether you are weak, immature, upside down or crossways with the world! By interacting with those who have the skills, you learn. And joy grows.

Footprints_thumb.pngAction Step: Put your hands on these two resources.

1. Joy Starts Here for more information on starting joy in your congregation and community.

2. 30 Days of Joy for Busy Married Couples starts joy in your marriage and family! (not listed yet on the Thrive Today website, but it is available. Email or call Chris Coursey at 309-367-4020.)

Share your glory stories or let us know how we can help!

Blessings, Chris & Carol

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

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

Church Essentials for Creating a Transformation Zone

What factors does a pastor and his leaders have to consider in making church a safe place for people attached to BEEPS? If you are wanting to move your church in a transformational direction, you need to read this blog!

Family Dynamics—What you need to know:

It is usually a co-dependent family member who shows up in your office first. The primary reason is that they are the one in the most pain.

The person with a strong attachment to BEEPS is in a tremendous amount of pain but,


  • The BEEPS medicate and numb their pain so they are not entirely aware of it.
  • The addict is sometimes so medicated they don’t even know they are affecting other people.
  • They don’t know they are hurting other people and even if they do they minimize it.

HelpfulHintsBeeps2The co-dependent and the children in the family are watching this. They are victimized by the anger and are in a huge amount of pain.  So the first person to show up in your office will probably be a family member—a parent or a spouse or a child.

The family member that shows up in your office is breaking the rules of an addictive system which says, “Don’t tell anyone else we have a problem here.”


  • They feel a tremendous amount of shame.
  • They feel a lot of fear about what is going to happen;
  • They are likely to be embarrassed. They feel great emotional and relational stress, so it is hugely important to support their request for help.

You don’t have to fix them, but supporting them and encouraging them for coming forward to talk to you about it is huge.

You don’t have to buy everything they say. Sometimes they are in so much pain they exaggerate. That is part of what makes addiction so messy. Showing up in your office is not normal. Normally that kind of stuff stays hidden so it is a huge step for someone if they come to you and say, “This is going on in my house and I don’t know what to do.”

The best thing that you can do is to start connecting them immediately to people, resources, and groups in your church and in your community that can help them.

They are going to need a huge amount of support and encouragement to follow through on getting help for themselves. They always come to try to get help for the person who has the attachment to BEEPS.

Typical Conversation: The spouse or parent shows up with the person attached to BEEPS and says, “Well here he is, fix him.” or “Here she is fix her.”

We always say, “Well what is your problem?”

They say, “Well, this person. If they would stop drinking or drugging…snuffing stuff up their nose or shooting it up their arm, smoking….”

“No, no, no, what is your problem?”


Eventually, they come to realize that living with an addict is not unlike living in a house with a rattlesnake. You always want to know where the snake is, what’s the snake going to do, and is the snake hungry and irritated enough to bite you today? So they need a lot of help in working with their own fear, with their own shame and knowing what to do.

 alcoholThe only difference in dynamic in the home between someone married to an alcoholic and a perfectionist is that the alcoholic’s breath smells like alcohol.

The dynamics in the BEEPS family tend to be very similar whether somebody is a dyed in the wool perfectionist, workaholic or approval seeker as they are in the home of an alcoholic.  This is something that effects everyone.

How can your church become a place of healing, hope and transformation for people with attachments to BEEPS?

Three conditions must be present for there to be a culture of transformation.


1. You need a MULTIGENERATIONAL community.

You need three generations interacting together. Sometimes you have three generations, but the older people go to the older people’s class and the younger ones go to theirs and the teens go to theirs and everybody else goes to theirs. Everyone is in the same building, but are not interacting.

2. You need the Immanuel Lifestyle. The Immanuel Lifestyle is a term that means that you go through your day and your life interacting with Jesus and His Shalom is ruling in your heart. You must have God’s Shalom in your church and an Immanuel lifestyle that people are learning to live.

3. You need relational brain skills. You need to grow the skills to initiate bonds, to grow strong bonds and especially to repair strong bonds. You need these three as primary focuses of what you do in church in addition to everything else mentioned about dealing with people with BEEPS.

Those three things are the culture you need. But to enter the transformation zone and to stay there, three things need to happen–and this is a big part of what is talked about in the Joy Starts Here book. Those are the conditions, now here are the actions:

1. You need the strong and the weak of your congregation interacting together. That means people who don’t have BEEPS, and people who have recovered from BEEPS and people who are still struggling with BEEPS. You need all of them interacting together around issues of life, including BEEPS.

2. You need tender responses to weakness. If you do CB101945not respond tenderly to weakness, you will create a culture of performance and legalism that will kill transformation. So, we all must get over pretending that bad things are not happening, pretending BEEPS are not there, and get over responses that say, “There better not be BEEPS here or we will take care of them!” You need to respond tenderly to weakness.

3. And lastly, you need the interactive presence of Jesus to maintain peace in your commands of gracecongregations. All three of these things must be present for transformation to occur.

This is why we wrote the Joy Starts Here book. All this is laid out in great detail in the book and it explains how to grow this kind of culture in your church. The Thriving Program has been designed as a discipleship program that includes specific training for people with BEEPS.


(Click diagram to enlarge) You notice that the diagram starts with the Joy Starts Here book. If you use Joy Starts Here in your churches, it is designed for weak and strong to interact together in joy in multigenerational community and Immanuel shalom.

Beeps RecoveryAfter you complete the 9 weeks of going through the book, people in your group can go to one of two places. They can either go to Restarting or they can go to Forming. Restarting is a recovery entrance into the Thriving program and focuses specifically on BEEPS and trauma and how you learn to recover, how you learn to grow joy, how you grow relationships, how you grow relational skills, how you learn to connect with Immanuel to grow Shalom.

It is rooted in a culture of transformation.

Beeps FormingThose people who do not see themselves as having issues related to BEEPS and trauma or relationships, go into FORMING which is a spiritual formation program. Forming is designed for people to grow a deeper, more interactive relationship with Jesus and it is 12 weeks of learning how to grow their skills and give some practice to grow their skills.

Beeps HealingFrom there both groups go into BELONGING. Which is about how you learn to create a joyful place for others. How the weak and strong mix together. How multigenerational community mixes together. How you respond tenderly and how Shalom rules.

BeepsHealingFrom there everyone moves into HEALING which is intensive practice in connecting with Immanuel and talking to Him about people and places in life. From there you go to LOVING which is about BeepsLovinghow you apply everything you’ve learned in Joy Starts Here and the rest of Thriving and how to apply that to your relationships.

A special crisis unit will be developed. This curriculum is designed so that you and the people you love can go back through the program together.

Action Step:

  • What fears and concerns come to mind when you think of creating a t-Zone for your church?
  • What did you learn about weakness growing up at home? What about in grade and high school?
  • Tell three people with less maturity than yourself what you appreciate about them. Notice what happens.

We look forward to your feedback!

Blessings, Carol Brown, B.A. M.A.C.I.                         Amazon Best Selling author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive 

Chris Coursey. B.A. M.A. Theology, Co-author of Joy Starts Here

Addictions–Is Your “Zero Factor” Doing You In?

ZeroFactorImage courtesy of Microsoft

“I experienced tremendous success, accolades, rewards, etc. in all sorts of areas of life and yet, at the end of the day, even with all that success I still felt like a total zero. Is your “zero factor” doing you in? I was the poster child for “The Zero Factor.” (Today’s blog based upon a talk given by Darrell Bazell for Pastor’s Weekly.)

I was the leader of my high school youth group.

In college, I did an undergraduate and then a master’s program in Bible. I made close to straight A’s; I was at the top of my class.

I was hired for internships.

I had everything surrounding me look on the outside like I had it all together. But, at the end of every day I went home and believed that there was nothing there because I had an area of shame in my life that I had never exposed. I had never brought it into the light with others. That was my zero factor. (In an equation, if one of the factors is 0, the ultimate answer to the equation is 0.)

Unfortunately, that is a very common struggle for many, many people.”

Church surveys reveal that at a bare minimum 50% and often as high as 75% of men who attend church regularly and are actively involved, will admit to looking at pornography at least in the last week. But it is not acknowledged much less talked about.

The Problem:


  • Most men wrestle with secret sins
  • Sexual sins are most often hidden in Christian Communities

Pornography is very well hidden in Christian circles. In fact, sexual sins are most often hidden in Christian communities. Christians don’t go there; they don’t talk about that. Everyone sort of knows it is “out there” but are real resistant to talk about it.

Those attitudes compound the issue that sexual sin is one of those subjects that we cannot touch; we can’t talk about—we can’t deal with in the church. If our Christian communities are not a safe place to deal with these issues then what are we doing?

  • Hiding destroys community and prevents the receiving of joy.

Addicts don’t make eye contact and they do not receive the joy that is being offered to them. This goes into all their relationships and especially the marriage relationship. As long as a man has the zero factor he has a filter and a disqualifier that prevents him from receiving what his wife or anyone is giving to him.

 The real sad irony is that they are even more stuck than before.

Addiction runs rampant in isolation. When you hide among people you feel incredibly isolated.

  • Internet pornography is more damaging than the pornography of the past.

There is a whole movement taking place among the 20-somethings of getting away from pornography because they are discovering that it is the constant use of pornography that is leading to ED issues! What that really boils down to is the individuals begin conditioning their minds to needing a barrage of variety so that one person is not enough. As a result of that they rewire the brain in some very dysfunctional ways.

Solutions: What can pastors and churches do?”

Create Safe Environments Without a “Sin Hierarchy.” Unfortunately it is very common for anything of a sexual nature to be seen as almost the ultimate sin. People struggling in this arena are somehow much worse than anyone else.  Sin is sin—there is no sin hierarchy. Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength and your neighbor as yourselves. So if there is a greatest sin, it would seem to be the refusal or failures to love.

We Need to Model Transparency. This is where it gets really scary, dicey for pastors.  The reality is that pastors are all strugglers as well. No, it does not mean that one Sunday you stand up in front in your underwear, but it is important at some place to be willing and able to talk about some of your own struggles, talk about places where your sanctification is still in process.

talk openlyImage courtesy of Microsoft

Churches need to TALK OPENLY about the tsunami of sexual addiction.  The reality is that sexual addiction is everywhere. We have a pornographic paradigm all around us. My son is now 10 years old and he is right at that age where he is starting to notice things. Being in Lawrence, Kansas, March Madness is in full swing. My son is getting more interested in watching basketball games and reading stories on line. Yet it is amazingly hard to find him any safe place on the web to go and read a story on KU basketball that doesn’t have pictures of women that are barely dressed. That is the unfortunate reality of our culture and our life today. If we are not talking about it and dealing with it in the church context then we are leaving our people unprotected.

EquipEmpowerImage courtesy of Microsoft

We Must Protect and Empower The Wives. I get phone calls, emails…I am bombarded every week from women all over the country, all over the world who have been devastated by the discovery of their husband’s pornography use or his use of prostitutes, etc., etc. One of the saddest things to me is how often these women have experienced their own churches putting it back on them in subtle and not so subtle ways. I have personally heard elders say things like, “Well, if his wife was taking care of him at home then he would not struggle in this way.” That isn’t true! In fact, I can’t tell you how many 100’s of men I have worked with one on one and groups over the last 12 years and every single one that I have worked with his struggle began long before he met his wife, let alone married his wife. So, we have to do whatever we can to empower women to know that this isn’t something that they just have to live with and put up with. This is something that they have an opportunity to address and to draw a line in the sand that says, you know, you need to get help or you need to get out of my bedroom. Because the damage this does to women’s hearts and their lives is …inexpressible.

We, as churches and pastors, need to provide good resources for both men and women. Thankfully, there are more and more good resources popping up all the time.

 internet addict

Image courtesy of Microsoft

What is critical to note is sexual addiction, pornography addiction, love addiction and those things, is not just a problem for men. It never has been, but especially in today’s internet age, it is becoming a greater and more common problem for women as well. It is real important that we provide resources, that we provide a safe place that people know that even if it is that they can see a pastor and they will know that they are not going to be shunned or shamed, but that they are going to have an opportunity to find resources and to find help and to find people who will walk with them on this journey even if they don’t quite know what that looks like yet.

What amazes me (Carol) is the help that relational joy gives but, relational joy is targeted by the enemy! He heaps on shame so a person will not make eye contact….what a vicious cycle!

Darrell Brazel

Today’s blog is from a talk by Rev. Darrell Brazell for Pastor’s Weekly.  Darrell Brazell is pastor of New Hope Fellowship, Dir. of New Hope Recovery Ministries. His specialty in ministry and work is in the area of pornography and sexual addictions. His ministry comes out of his own journey of healing and recovery and running groups for men a little over 12 years and working with individuals and couples through the recovery process.

Action Step:  This week let’s take a ruthless inventory of our fears. What fears are keeping you isolated, keeping your struggle hidden? I read recently that the best way to conquer a fear is to walk right into the middle of it. My prayer for each reader who commits to facing off fear is that the Lord makes Himself known to you, strengthens you and walks with you into the very thing you are afraid of.

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

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