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.

CONNEXUS Confusion? (What is it, exactly?)


Some of you have taken the Restarting, Forming and Belonging classes in part, or all of them under the name of Thriving: Recover Your Life. Generally the feedback is that it was a wonderful experience for you and most do not want the classes to end. So, when we talk about CONNEXUS, ears perk up and you hope this is a continuation of the “good stuff”! Because of some confusion as to what CONNEXUS is, we thought it best to spell it all out!

A Bit of HistoryFor those who have taken some or all of the classes, you were part of the development of the CONNEXUS curriculum. CONNEXUS is the name we are using to package these three courses.

The Lord gave the idea, Dr. Wilder and team created Restarting. The material was tweaked and edited but another module was needed. We all need to belong, so they developed Belonging. But another piece was needed for Belonging to work as it should.

The premise of Belonging is that transformation happens when the weak and strong are together and there are tender responses to weakness. The problem is that the weak are drawn to what they see in the strong—they “want” it. The need/desire is intense and in their intensity they come close—close to the point of unknowingly invading the comfort zone of the strong.

The strong back away; the weak pursue, and you have the scenario of one backing up and the other coming forward, chasing each other around the room. The alternative scenario is two separate camps, neither one really trusting the other.

Simply putting the strong and the weak in a room together does not work. The strong feel their personal space invaded and the weak feel let down, as if a promise was unfulfilled. The Forming class was the answer.

In the Restarting class the weak learn to quiet their intensity (one of the 19 skills) and in the Forming class the strong become sensitive to the Lord’s compassion for weakness (heart-sight, another skill). By having the two classes run concurrently at the end of the classes both groups are more tolerant of each other and able to be together in ways that are transforming.

The Joy Starts Here book with the exercises helps people understand their personal joy levels. (And the exercises are more important than reading the text. If you don’t have time for both; if you must choose one or the other, go with the exercises!) During the study, people with low joy (fewer of the brain skills) can see that they would benefit most from the learning and training in Restarting.

The strong, those with more or most of the brain skills, can see that they would benefit most from the Forming class. During the course of the Joy Starts Here studies students begin to sort themselves out. No one needs to be directive dividing people up with “you go here and you go there.” They self-identify using the joyQ we’ve developed online. (



Now that we have all the pieces needed for transformation we packaged it together as one curriculum—one transformative set of materials and called it CONNEXUS…because joy connects us. Up until now you were helping give feedback to the developers so they could make the material the best it could be. For that we are grateful.

The good news is that the modules work. Lives are transformed. The bad news is the modules work…so well that you want more, you want to continue building joy. CONNEXUS is not additional new material. We know that often people travel to another city or church to take the classes and then when they conclude, there is no one to continue to practice joy with. : (

Continuing the Joy — The genius of CONNEXUS is that you can run these classes in your local church and/or home group. When classes are done you will have someone locally to practice with.

Another way to keep growing joy is to invite a friend to the classes and volunteer to go through with them. You support your friend and benefit from another round of joy! You can even incorporate some of the exercises into your small groups as one of the things you do each week and continue building joy indefinitely.

CONNEXUS is not just for recovery classes; it is for all of us who “miss the mark”.

Bringing CONNEXUS to the local church makes it more affordable than attending THRIVE. You don’t have to take off work for a week, have motel expenses plus tuition. Having it locally makes it available to more people.

You do not need expensive and extensive training to lead a group. Training for facilitators is available online, and since our license allows you to charge participants, your group can essentially pay for your training! You receive training for a chapter and then you lead it.

To begin, you simply need a copy of Joy Starts Here, three or more people and you are good to go. If need be, go through the book a couple times to build up a larger number of people for a base group…we recommend somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-30 to begin the CONNEXUS material.

The long range goal is to have CONNEXUS become a church sponsored opportunity such as part of a “new members class” or as an ongoing small group which would feed trained people into other small groups to spread joy throughout the whole body.

If you are interested in forming a Joy Starts Here group with the goal of becoming a licensed trainer, you will find information you need here

Hopefully this has clarified the confusion around CONNEXUS. However, if you still have questions, click here for a FAQ PDF. If you still have questions, be sure to ask them in the comments or register to join us on the Round Table Talks.

Blessings, Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology — Author, Speaker and  Director at Life Model Works

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive                   Carol’s email —

P.S. The last Thrive Training for 2014 is fast approaching. If you have not signed up and want to, you will need to do so very soon!

Date: July 14th – 18th, 2014
Holiday Inn, East Peoria, IL. USA
Registration: Is now open! 
Click here to register.
Find Out More

P.S.S.- If you were a previous license holder of Restarting, Forming or Belonging, you can get 50% off our new online training purchased in 2014! Contact Deni to receive your coupon code!

Starting A Transformation Zone


In our post on April 7 we shared from the Round Table Talks about starting a transformation zone in your family, church and community.

As we have been encouraging each other in our efforts to be self-propagating joy starters let’s add to the list of things that you can do:

Be a Joy Starter! This may very well be the single most powerful element in the transformation process. You.

Go fly a kite! Literally! You will see faces light up and smiles on faces. People may strike up conversations with you. And you will benefit—relax, and your spirit can soar with the kite. This can be a time when you connect with God and feel renewed.

Be engaging. We have heard “don’t talk to strangers” so much that we avoid eye contact are filled with fear. But we know that perfect love casts out fear! And joy is shared quickly through the eyes.

Take walks. Appreciate nature. Do some beach combing—God may surprise you with a divine appointment! Expect God…

Ask for highlights. Ask people what the highlight of the day, week, etc. was. This elicits appreciation stories or glory stories without any “special language” that might turn people off.

Laugh. Don’t be afraid to laugh out loud! Laughter is infectious; it lifts people’s moods and can change the atmosphere. It has the effect of sunbeams through rain clouds. It is good medicine!

As you walk around you emit a “zone of joy” that attracts others. People want to be around you because you lift their hearts. Joy is the source of strength—their burdens feel less heavy when you are around. You are not lifting their burdens nor are you absorbing them into your own being and becoming weighed down! You simply emit joy, that you are glad to be with them.

People are curious. They will want to know what makes you tick. They will want what you have because of the way you make them feel. Then you can begin to gather a group together and “share your secrets.” That’s when you begin to do the things listed in that previous post.

That’s the latest tidbit from the Round Tables. Let us know what is working for you as you begin the transformation in your corner of the world so we can share what works or what does not work!

May your joy be full,

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                   Carol’s email —

p.s. The last Thrive Training for 2014 is fast approaching. If you have not signed up and want to, you will need to do so very soon!

Date: July 14th – 18th, 2014
Holiday Inn, East Peoria, IL. USA
Registration: Is now open! Click here to register.
Find Out More


19 skills that change lives!

19 skills that change lives!

Learning relational brain skills, like the ones we’ll introduce in our upcoming Thrive JOYStream, can completely change your life! Just ask Chris Coursey, a former slave to fear and alcohol and now a director at Life Model Works.

A Life Controlled by Fear

Getting cussed out by his alcohol counselor was a turning point for Chris Coursey. It came after he received his second DUI within a year. His counselor “hoped to never see me again after my first round of counseling. Now I faced jail time and hefty fines. I had stopped trying and was dying.”

Chris’s story is about a descent from a life of promise to one completely controlled by fear. He purposely flunked a test for entrance into an elite school. He dropped out of sports his senior year, despite promising opportunities in college.

“I have a lot of examples in my life where I quit trying because I figured I would fail anyhow. This is a common theme since I can remember. Sadly, many of the things I quit were actually things I was good at. ‘At least if I quit it doesn’t look like I failed. Quitting gives me control,’ I told myself.

chrisThis controlling approach to life began to affect his relationships. “I hurt many girls because of my fear of rejection and failure. I often ended dating relationships and friendships because of underlying fears and trust issues. A girl would start to really care for me and I would bail.”
Chris spent a lot of his time in high school and college drinking. “I drank excessively. I smoked and partied incessantly. Blackouts, drinking and driving and self-destructive actions were routine. I ended up in scary places. I daydreamed about my funeral and wondered if death would be a relief.”

The turning point when Chris encountered a prayer-infused approach to counseling in college. Chris felt totally overwhelmed and even told God “you’ve got the wrong guy!”

The Turning Point

Then one night, he woke up suddenly, with a sense that he should immediately read Isaiah 61. He didn’t know what it meant, but had the sense it was in the Bible.

He looked it up, and was overwhelmed by what he read “The chapter’s theme was what I saw the previous three days – counselors “preaching good news to the poor… binding up the broken-hearted… proclaiming freedom for the captives.”

“I found myself doing what I had not done in a long time. I bowed in prayer and worshiped the God who hears.”

Life-Changing Brain Skills

Chris became more involved with counseling, which eventually led him to the concepts being written about and explored by Dr. Jim Wilder. They partnered together, with Chris developing practical training experiences.

He quickly found himself overwhelmed with new opportunities and experiences. One of those was leading Thrive Training events, which required public speaking. Speaking had been one of the triggers that had always filled Chris with fear.

It was the actual brain skills that Chris learned at Thrive that allowed him to speak and lead Thrive Training events. “I had been learning the THRIVE brain skill of returning to joy from fear and the other five negative feelings. I had learned how fear affects the brain’s control center and how to quiet myself.

“I was learning the “God-sight” skill – how to see things as God sees. ”

Chris used an approach to prayer taught at Thrive called the Immanuel Process. This helped him unearth painful memories, and recognize how Jesus had been with him the entire time.

“Thrive and the 19 relational brain skills radically transformed me and my relationships. I felt hopeful. I learned that attachment pain drove my deadly behavior and depression…I resolved old wounds that hindered my growth… I grew up.”

Chris Coursey doesn’t just teach how the 19 Relational Skills can affect your life. He’s living proof!

The next Thrive Training is July 14-18. 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 Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive                   


Used with permission from

Identify Heart Values From Suffering? Um…how’s that?

Chris and I have run a couple blogs about the upcoming Thrive Conference March 24-28. But that was general information for registration for those who knew they wanted to attend. Now I want to share with you a specific skill you will learn when you attend Track 1 – The track for learning to “Quiet and Rest.” If you recall Anna Hill’s testimony, the skill of quieting was transformational for her and her family. Being able to identify heart values by looking at what causes you pain, relational brain skill #6, is equally transformational.


Skill 6 is about learning to identify your heart values from your main pain—your suffering. You can tell a lot about a person’s values by what hurts them. Your “main pain” points to the main characteristic of your heart. This is something the Lord placed in you; it is part of your design.

Since this is February, the “love” month, this would be an excellent heart conversation to have with your spouse or BFF. Be intentional about understanding each other’s heart values. It may shed light on mystifying behaviors and motivations! Just clear the schedule so you have uninterrupted time and see what God reveals.

Everyone has issues that particularly hurt or bother you and always have been the way you are likely to be hurt. Looking at these lifelong issues helps identify the core values for your unique identity. You hurt more the more deeply you care. Because of how much pain your deepest values have caused, most people see these characteristics as liabilities not treasures.

  • Write down the pain that seems to consistently show up in your relationships. Chris’s example:
    • I frequently feel let down by others.
    • I seem to work harder in my relationships than other people.
  • What does this pain say about you? What qualities did God place in you that are expressed in this type of pain?

Carol’s example:

Betrayal by a trusted friend is devastating to me. Consequently, I am slow to trust. I want to know you are not going to turn on me later. I try to avoid betrayal so I can appear to be distrustful or suspicious. Once I learn I can trust you, you have a loyal friend who will go through thick and thin with you. Trust and loyalty are very high values to me and that is why betrayal of trust cuts me so deeply and takes so long to recover from.

Another characteristic that God placed in me is high sensitivity. My central nervous system picks up more sensory data than most, which means I can be easily overwhelmed…by lights, sounds, activity, temperature, people, pain…easily overwhelmed. And it can be physically painful being bombarded by all of that!

That pain points to the ability to sense, know and understand what people feel. It means I am able to also sense God’s heart and how He wants to meet and help people. He designed me as an intercessor who can pray the prayers asking for what God wants to do for hurting ones.

I can hate the pain and the way I am designed; see it as a curse or thank God for the way He made me and learn how to use the gift and work with my design. Under all the pain I feel is the heart value of desiring to help those in pain. It is my heart value to help but I must learn how to help in a way that does not overwhelm others or myself.

My Heart Value clip_image004  My Main Pain

  • If God placed the heart value in you that you have identified, do you feel it is a weakness to despise, or a gift to embrace?
  • How would Jesus live with your heart values and main pain? What 2 responses come to mind about who Jesus would be under varying conditions?

FootprintsAction Step: Take these questions and have a discussion with your spouse or BFF and identify some your heart values. As my husband and I did this we found ourselves strategizing how we could support the other’s values. It also gave us insight into avoidance behaviors that caused us to question the other’s motivations. This is a very helpful little exercise. You will learn more about Skill #6 at Thrive as well as  additional skills.

If interested, Click here to register. Find Out More

May your JOY be full!

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                  

Pastor’s Weekly is GONE?

Newsflash—Pastor’s Weekly has a new name and format. Pastor’s Weekly is now called “The Roundtable.” This week’s topic, Best Practices – What works and What Doesn’t, was presented in a panel discussion format with Chris and Jim Martini, Shepherd’s House CEO, facilitating.

Our session opened with a presentation of the CONNEXUS materials and our vision of what it could do. Our goal for 2014 is to put CONNEXUS materials in 1,000 churches. What a JOY explosion!

Jim Martini gave three steps you can take to begin to spread JOY in your church and community.


1. Be An Instigator. Get the Joy Starts Here book and find a small group that is looking for a new book to study, or gather a group and form your own. Be an instigator with your pastor(s) and leadership (adult education minister, youth minister, etc.) and introduce them to the material. Show them what JOY can produce!

2. Start the CONNEXUS program. This begins with two classes running concurrently, Restarting (for those who are aware of their pain and know that something is missing) and Forming (not necessarily aware of pain, but who want more…a deeper more intimate relationship with The King). Next class is Belonging in which both groups come together to learn how to live in community. This is based on the Life Model concept of transformation happening when there is a gentle response to weakness and the “strong” and the “weak” relate.

3. Repeat! Now that you have experienced it, become a life-giver and give away what you know by starting more groups and sharing the JOY! Over 170 people across the U.S. are licensed teacher/trainers. Information about becoming a teacher/trainer are available by contacting CONNEXUS.

Somewhere along the way you are going to want to take the THRIVE training. It is available twice in the U.S. and highly recommended. See Resources below.

And then the interactive part started. The panel introduced themselves and shared their “best practices.” They told what was working at their end as they used the Connexus materials and how the JOY was spreading. There were questions…and answers. Wow! How do you summarize that? You don’t!

Listening to people share the excitement of seeing lives changed has a way of igniting your imagination as to what could happen if 1,000 churches really got hold of how to help people connect with Jesus. It would be/could be a repeat of what it was like in the apostle’s days!

Give a listen and feel the possibilities! The next session is Jan. 16, 2014.

Resources in this episode can all be purchased at



Joy Starts Here





30 days Joy Exercises30 Days of Joy for Busy Married Couples

A listener asked if this book was available on Amazon (it was listed, but as “out of print.”) We don’t know why it was on Amazon since no one of us put it there! The book is NOT out of print. It can be purchased at





CONNEXUS curriculum




US THRIVE  Training Events2014
5-day Training (Tracks I-III)

Dates: March 24th – 28th, 2014 and July 14th – 18th, 2014
Holiday Inn, East Peoria, IL. USA
Registration: Is now open!
Click here to register.
Find Out

Hoping you will come on over to to purchase or get more information on each of these resources.

May your JOY be full,

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                  

This blog post is based on a panel discussion led by Chris Coursey and Joe Martini, Jan. 9, 2014.

Joy To The World – The Dream – Part II

image.pngWe left off last week talking about the elements of the problem and the elements of the solution to the evil in the world and its effects on lives. The task of taking this good news to the world faces a challenge in distribution….



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 Life Model Works 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.

The Life Model shows promise as a solution that is both high-tech in its foundations and low-tech in its implementation that ordinary Christians without specialized education can use. Elements have already been shown to work in groups and the results demonstrate self-propagation. While self-propagating healing is easier to do through the Immanuel Process, self- propagating relational skills are not as easy to transfer. The relational skills take community, bonded relationships and time. Along with healing and improved relationships, Life Model Works staff believes this same model and the skills it teaches, could reduce, and even prevent, some trauma and addiction

History of Development

1971 – Shepherd’s House Inc. is founded with the primary purpose of using Christian counseling principles to help people with their emotional and spiritual needs.

1980s – Shepherd’s House provides nearly 1,200 monthly counseling appointments with women who had been sexually abused as children.

1990s – Insurance industry calculated the cost for recovery of one sexually abused child to be $15 million. Realizing a more affordable solution is needed, Counselor Jane Willard introduces healing prayer. Through these changes the Shepherd’s House staff began developing a new model that came to be called the Life Model.

2002 – Shepherd’s House staff identifies nineteen relational brain skills. The team developed ways for ordinary people to identify lacking skills and train others in these brain skills.

2008 – Shepherd’s House works with Dr. Karl Lehman of Chicago to develop the Immanuel Prayer Process, combining healing prayer and cutting-edge neuroscience and to facilitate trauma resolution in large-group settings. Initial tests in Colombia and Sri Lanka yield positive outcomes for self-propagating recovery. Further testing and research awaits funding.

2009 – Ed Khouri & Jim Wilder develop a trauma-&-addiction recovery program called Thriving: Recover Your Life. Thriving serves as a test program for self-propagating recovery as a normal function of the local church.

2011 – Shepherd’s House recently celebrated 40 years of helping people thrive.

2012 – Forming (for the strong) is added to Restarting (for the weak). Belonging runs after Forming and Restarting and brings the weak and the strong together, an essential ingredient for the Transformation Zone. Further development awaits additional funding. (This program is called CONNEXUS. It is the module based program for Churches to bring this joy based training home.)

2013 – Joy Starts Here: the transformation zone is published. Together with Connexus (Restarting, Forming and Belonging) and Thrive, this provides a complete solution for churches to create the transformation zone. Shepherd’s House begins operating as Life Model Works. This year the Lord arranged for the Life Model approach to be broadcast in Lima, Peru via television to a potential audience of 8 million! We are waiting to hear the results.


Our hope is to distribute these tools to as many existing networks as possible. We are planting seeds that will change whole cultures, alter generational heritages and equip people with the skills they need to thrive. Would you like to dream with us and get involved with Life Model Works to see self-propagating recovery become an everyday function of YOUR CHURCH as well as the church worldwide? Your support through prayer, finances and action is vital to making this dream a reality.

For more information on how churches can begin starting joy and their own “transformation zone,” contact Chris Coursey @

We trust that your “JOY tank” was filled with family, fun and friends as you celebrated our Lord’s birth. May JOY motivate and sustain you as you look forward to the challenges of the new year.


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

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.

From Ashes to Beauty – A Tornado Update

It’s been three weeks since an F4 tornado struck Central Illinois, shredding homes and destroying 20% of my hometown. One of the most devastating parts of this tragedy involves the reality that so many families have been uprooted. 1200 homes were damaged. Everybody knows somebody who was impacted. Every person seems to have a story from the morning of November 17th, what they were thinking or doing and how they responded. Sounds and images continue to sear minds and steer conversations. PTSD is far-reaching as people say things like, “I can’t sleep.” “My mind won’t stop.” “My daughter now cries for no reason.” “My son started throwing temper tantrums.” Some feel depressed and can’t get going while others are anxious and can’t seem to stop. 


Many are simply overwhelmed by the gravity of it all. People feel uncertain about the future and dazed by the past. The effect of such a powerful storm, in November nonetheless, cannot be forgotten. Life as we know it is turned upside down. Piles of debris adorn streets that once were friendly neighborhoods where children used to run and play. The scene looks surreal, as though some invading army dropped a bomb which shattered homes across the state. tornado 3

I noticed my body tense up once I first entered the afflicted area hit the hardest. I quickly realized that I could not find my way around all the wreckage so I used a map program on my phone to figure out where I was and locate where I was going. “How strange,” I thought to myself. “I used to roam these streets with my high school buddies only now; all signs of familiarity are gone.” It took less than 30 seconds as 200+ mph winds cleared homes and threw cars and minivans like they were leaves.

The story continues and there is hope on the horizon. The community is pulling together like never before. Accounts of salvation and unexplainable intervention paint a picture of God’s hand that remarkably saved countless lives and families. One church packed full of praying congregants huddled on their knees were spared as the tornado struck the parking lot then miraculously changed course with a last second shift in its path. Families’ report how some went to church for the first time in years that morning – which saved their lives since their homes were lost. Others fled to their basements as the tornado hurled debris, vehicles and trees at their homes.

A father was holding his two infants safe in his arms as the tornado struck his house. Once he opened his eyes, he saw his two infants safe and sound nearby while his lap was full of bricks. The tornado was big. The tornado was bad. Yet, God was good. For many who are looking for God, peace is replacing tension and pain while others still feel trapped in despair. 

One of my friends lived just on the line of the tornado and was a first responder to many of the demolished homes in his neighborhood. He described the scene to me, running up the stairs from his basement then peering out at the devastation from his deck. He ran to piles of rubble then grabbed dazed children as they were lifted out of basement windows, he helped shocked families climb out of debris. When we prayed together, he experienced TornadoefriendpicsmImmanuel change for the first time since the tornado and his perception of God being with him brought much-needed peace and relief, even some new perspective. During prayer he noticed a new “God thought”, and described how he perceived God carefully guided the tornado through the town for the least possible casualties. “God was protecting us” he said as a smile broke loose and melted away tension and anxiety. “God was with my family” he said, and now he could breathe easier.

 Tornado ChrisJen and I knew we needed to reach out and serve our community. Here we are, sitting on a gold-mine of training and resources that equips people to thrive, to start joy and to recover when things go wrong. “We must do something! But what?” we asked ourselves. We turned to Immanuel for guidance and felt God’s quiet affirmation, “I will bring the opportunities to you.” He has.

This Sunday, December 15th we are offering Share Immanuel training for leaders to learn basic tools at New Life Christian Church in Morton, Illinois. The following Wednesday, December 18, we invite the community for a time of ministry and prayer to help families find comfort, peace and joy by having the awareness of God’s presence.

There is not much time before these events take place and we pray God will bring people to these scheduled meetings who need some peace. We will follow up with more training events after Christmas. Will you pray with us that God will restore the ashes to beauty for this region?

Thanking you for your faithful prayer support,

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

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

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