What it looks like—

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



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

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

What dread is and what it does to you—

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

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

A deer caught in the headlights


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

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

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

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

Where do you see dread in the bible?

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

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

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

What you can do about it–

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

1 – 1 Samuel 17:24

2 – 1 Samuel 17:34 +

Get the next available training—

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

 Accommodations available on site.

Click Here For Registration Details

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

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

May your JOY be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,  www.thrivetoday.org

Twitter – @coursey_chris

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

Carol’s email – godsheart@comcast.net



Say It, Don’t Just Think It

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image18019901Expressing your sense of joy, appreciation, thankfulness or gratitude has a greater effect than simply making a relationship work more smoothly. Think about this: God “spoke” and creation was the result. He spoke and there was light, the planets and stars, living things in the sea, the air and on land.

What happens when you speak joy?

One researcher looking into sound and its effects upon substances is Dr. Masaru Emoto. To view some of his research, click here70% – 80% of your body is water and water vibrates to sound…even sound that is below or above your hearing threshold. Your thoughts and intents create sound frequencies that you cannot hear but they have an effect upon your own body as well as the bodies of those around you.

The photo of the effects of “thank you” versus “I hate you, I’m going to kill you”and the photo of the effects of heavy metal were all very dramatic. Many times we say nothing, even though we feel gratitude and thankfulness. Doubtless, that is not without effect, but I would think, to speak would set an even stronger sound frequency into motion.

Imagine the beauty you could create in your family, friends and colleagues, or the damage you could do with hateful thoughts and words. It is no wonder the Psalmist asked the Lord to put a watch upon his lips! Psalm 141:3

I was struck by another comment in this video (click here) Please view past the beginning to the presentation. (David Lee in not really my favorite!) The comment was that “particles are held in formation as long as the frequency remains the same.” If you remove the frequency it essentially falls apart. Is this so different from  Act 17:28, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” We are here because God called us into being and sustains us. Pretty amazing.

I want to align, spirit, soul and body, with the creative power of blessing that comes constantly from God so that I might reflect His purposes into my family, church and community. How about you?


Action  Step:  This week don’t be shy and keep your feelings and thoughts inside. Bless someone out loud and set up a strong positive frequency they can vibrate to for a long time!

We would love to hear what you created by your expressions of thankfulness and appreciation.

May your joy be full, Chris & Carol


Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,  www.thrivetoday.org

Twitter – @coursey_chris

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

Carol’s email – godsheart@comcast.net


Got your license yet?

Greetings all! I have been off-line far too long…but the Lord has brought me a beautiful new (to me) computer with one of those screens that doesn’t hurt my eyes! It’s wonderful, but now comes the learning curve. So if we have some strange occurrences on the blog, you know why!

1,000 churches on JOY in 2014!

This is the challenge we have given ourselves. Can we do it? With your help…yes! On the last Round Table one item that surfaced was, how do you go about becoming a facilitator for Connexus. I thought it would be helpful to post the process:

  • Begin with a Joy Starts Here study group. It does not have to be very big and can be in your home or the church. Just a few friends getting together. There is no advanced training needed.


To purchase click here: http://www.joystartshere.com/shop/

  • If you do not have a developed relationship with leadership (new to the community) work on building relationships with influencers within the church. It may be the pastor but do not limit yourself to just talking to him about starting Joy Starts Here group. A Sunday School teacher already has credibility with leadership and it might be easier to establish trust with them or a deacon, etc. while continuing to build relationship with the pastor.
  • As you work through the book, taking the evaluations as you go, people get a taste of joy and begin to self assign themselves to the appropriate next step…either Restarting or Foundations. They realize that they live in a low joy environment and might be lacking in skills, so Restarting seems the way to go. Or, they realize they are pretty comfortable in their environments and want to pursue intimacy with the Lord, which means they would fit better in Forming.

JSH Assessment Scales 2

  • Obtain a license to run Connexus classes. For information on facilitator training go to http://www.joystartshere.com/connexus-plus/
  • Begin Restarting and Forming from those who completed Joy Starts Here.
  • Bring the two groups together in Belonging and build a joy filled community with the weak and strong together.


  • Celebrate and repeat! We can infect our communities with joy. Let’s do it!

If your church would like to have an event to introduce the concept of joy in our lives, be sure to contact our office (below)—and talk to us. We’d also enjoy meeting you at the Round Tables. You can find the schedule here.



Surprise Announcement–Watch for it in the coming in the November newsletter! Jim Martini has a secret…and he isn’t telling anyone!

October Events–Chris will be traveling and ministering through the rest of this month. Your prayers a much appreciated for his health issues. Sitting and standing are challenging, and that is most of what he is doing this month. Chiropractic therapy is helping. We are praising God.

November Round Tables–Tuesday, November 4th, 12pm EST. East Coast Roundtable. Tuesday, November 18th, 3pm EST. West Coast Roundtable. Register.

May your joy be full,  Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,  www.thrivetoday.org

Twitter – @coursey_chris

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

Carol’s email – godsheart@comcast.net


Gleanings From The Round Table

I’m sharing today another picture of how to begin building joy in your life, family, school and community (which includes your church). Most people have not thought about the presence or absence of joy in their lives, nor do they have awareness of the consequences of low joy. You will probably be stretching paradigms and pressing people’s comfort zones so it is important to be wise in how you go about introducing new concepts. Never hurts to hear a thing more than once!

Know The Material


It is important that you can answer questions people may have about the components of the Connexus materials and how the classes run.

Joy Starts Here is a 9 week book study and brings a person who knows nothing about brain skills and/or joy building up to speed about joy levels and how the affect our lives. Practical exercises in each chapter begin training the right brain and building joyful community. You are encouraged to begin building joy in wherever arena you think it would be the easiest—family, school, community. This material can be used in your family, small groups, as evening classes or you can meet a friend at Starbucks to go through Joy Starts Here.

Each chapter has an assessment you can take online (if you want feedback) or in the book to help you develop a picture of your joy levels in various areas of life – http://joyq.joystartshere.com/account/welcome.php As people begin to get a picture of their joy levels, they self sort into which class to take next.

Connexus Classes for Two 12 week sessions — Restarting & Forming run concurrently or you can begin with Restarting, go to Forming and conclude with Belonging.

Formingis for those comfortable in their comfort zone. People choose Forming to learn a more intimate relationship with Jesus and more of His compassion rubs off on them.

Restartingis for those who need to learn how to quiet so they are not so overwhelming and not so hard or outlandish, not quite as different. Some of the hard shell loosens up a bit. Then at the end of those two concurrent but separate 12 week classes, we bring the two together for…

Belongingis the opportunity to be together in useful, meaningful ways—not to create animosity or indifference, but to create community together. This curriculum allows the “weak” and the “strong” to be together as community. It doesn’t leave anyone out.

The Strong & The Weak Together

commands of grace

One of the problems in churches is that, if the primary outreach or ministry is to hurting people, soon the church itself can become toxic. If all you are doing is pulling in more and more people who are in pain, unless you have a structured way for them to connect with the mainstream of the church, you perpetuate an “us” and “them.” Belonging teaches people from very different places how to form community and learn how to be glad to be with each other.

It’s not unusual for the weak and strong to be together in the same church; what is unusual is for them to interact with tender regard for weakness and be glad to be together!

In the Belonging class small groups are formed ½ from Restarting and ½ from Forming and they do all their joy building and interaction and brain training exercises with each other. They actually learn how to create a joyful place for each other to belong. That is what is so unique about this training. We are actually teaching those two groups how to create community together that is based in joy.

The issue of the strong and the weak together in community is far bigger than most of us realize. This is clearly the most challenging aspect of the curriculum. The weak cannot stay in their comfort zone; so if you offer them any kind of solution they are quite willing to adopt it. The strong, however, are quite insistent about their comfort zone and if you present any kind of threat to it there will be resistance!

The Joy Starts Here book helps clarify this strong & weak issue for folks. If you have done Restarting and Belonging without having taken your group through Joy Start Here, it would be good to now do that. That whole issue is woven throughout the entire book and it will give them a much better idea of why the strong need the weak.

We have much better results emphasizing how to be glad to be together and learning joy as a basis for relationships rather than emphasizing “Hey you guys are different but you need each other anyway.” The more you tell them they are different and need each other, the more reluctant they are to be together. Creating joyful belonging together is a lot more fun!

The strong are the ones who tend to drop out if the Forming class is omitted because they will not see what is in it for them. So this is why we have introduced Joy Starts Here as the starting point and let people sort themselves out. The strong will be attracted to the Forming class as they see they can benefit. So if you have a small church that  is full of strong people, you might want to begin with Forming.

Having taken the classes once, people may feel at a loss for someone with whom to continue to build joy. Encourage them to find a friend who has not had the training and go through the classes again with them as a support person. Then upon completion they both have a partner to continue the joy building!

Build Relationships with Influencers


The consensus of those who have experience with introducing these concepts into the church is that the best way to begin is to build relationship with influencers. This does not mean the pastor necessarily. It could be an influential leader like a Sunday School teacher, beloved deacon or other person who has access to and credibility with the pastor. At some point the pastor does need to become one of your relationships, just not necessarily the first.

If a leader becomes excited and goes to the pastor, he/she may carry more weight with the pastor and be listened to more quickly. Invite people over for dinner and plan to insert some joy building exercises into your evening so they begin to experience what you are talking about. Since this material is about building relational joy skills; relationships are the key!

Pray and Practice Patience

Sometimes we just click in a relationship. Other times it can take a year or more to build! Trust that the Lord is guiding you and He will bring it into being. Thank Him for what He is doing.

Upcoming Events

Joy Rekindled Marriage Weekend.     September 19th – 20th, 2014.

Location: New Life Christian Church, 401 Edgewood Court, Morton, IL.

$250 per couple, cost includes lunch on Saturday. 12:30pm to 6:00pm Friday then     9am to 5pm Saturday.

For those traveling from out of town, a block of rooms is reserved at Quality Inn 309-266-8310.

Registration closes September 4th. Register.

Joy Starts Here in Edmonton, AB Canada. October 3rd-4th, 2014.

Speakers are Dr. Jim Wilder and Chris Coursey. Cost and registration here.

Feel free to contact us with your questions or if you have a testimony of how this training is being beneficial or would like to tell us what is working for you.

May your joy be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,  www.thrivetoday.org

Twitter – @coursey_chris  

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

Carol’s email – godsheart@comcast.net

p.s. The update on Chris is that he is awaiting further tests. Surgery has been recommended but in the interim we are pressing Jesus for intervention!

Quieting…why? (how do you do that?)

The latest news is that Chris has a herniated disk. It remains to be seen how this will play out. Let’s hold him in prayer as he walks through this pain filled time.

I wanted to share with you this week about quieting, brain skill #2. How well this skill is mastered is a predictor of an individual’s lifelong mental health. And remember, that ideally, these 19 skills are mastered by age 3 1/2!

With national and world events as they are, these are difficult times and the temptation is to fear. Fear is one of “The Big Six Negative Emotions” that we need to learn how to return to joy from. This skill of quieting will be essential in the days ahead.


Skill Two – Soothe Myself


Why is Quieting important? Simple Quiet – Quieting (shalom) after both joyful and upsetting emotions is the strongest predictor of life-long mental health.

Can you identify a time in your life when you were wrought with worry and dread? Intrusive thoughts robbed your peace. Maybe you felt misunderstood, even wrongly accused. Possibly you were concerned about paying the bills or worried about health issues. Your shallow breathing and tense body gripped you. You wondered if this riptide would ever end. When Skill Two is missing you do not effectively quiet your thoughts or body. You feel exhausted.

Another reason you need to learn this skill is that relationships require a rhythm of joy and rest. You rest then cycle back to joy. You build joy and return to rest. This moment by moment interaction leaves us satisfied. Short moments of rest provide strength and stamina for more joy. You see this in infants who reflexively look away from interactions once they reach a peak of joy. They quickly return for more face to face joy, and the dance continues.

When synchronized, energy levels mutually climb and drop. Your brain knows these patterns and the fun feels natural. The lack of rest makes you feel overwhelmed. Alternating joy with rest prevents relational casualties.

Just think about a time you enjoyed a tasty meal with a friend. Each bite is savored as you synchronize your breathing, eating, tasting, swallowing and speaking. Your senses are pleased. Much like the result of your good meal and fellowship, Skill Two is a primary commodity that keeps relationships balanced. Skill Two releases serotonin on an “as needed” basis to recharge your relational battery. Serotonin leaves you content and peaceful. As a sunrise leads to a sunset, Skill Two follows Skill One to soothe your body and calm your mind. Joy and quiet are cyclical, each compliments the other.

A third reason to learn and practice quieting is that memories, language, talent, muscles and skills that are not used will atrophy. When it comes to relational skills, every generation can only transmit what they learn and use. As skills drop out of family lines, generations spread undesirable traits such as abuse, pain, addictions and distortions. Regardless of intention and determination, you cannot give what you do not have. Skill Two diminishes when families and communities either do not allow or have not learned to rest. Without Skill Two you overwork, burn out, feel depressed, become lost in your devices, avoid states of quiet and push yourself until something gives. You pass this deformity on and call it normal.

Skill Two is difficult to identify because replacement patterns are socially acceptable. You replace quiet and rest with BEEPS in the form of busyness, work, sex, music, iPhones, television and sugar. Who you are may be based on the things you do, the items you buy, the cars you drive, the places you work or clothes you wear. Synthetically calming your emotions and ignoring rest signals create strain and deregulate the brain. BEEPS replace the natural ebb and flow families rely on.

The inability to down-regulate emotions to rest and up-regulate positive emotions to joy lead to the largest risk of developing a mental illness in a lifetime. Skill Two, when absent, leaves you vulnerable to depression, anxiety, addictions, ADD, ADHD and a myriad of behavioral and personality disorders. You recognize the need for Skill Two when you fear slowing down, resist rest and surrender to the urge to disconnect in non-relational ways.

Skill Two is best learned by spending time with people who rest. Like all of the nineteen skills, Skill Two is relationally transmitted. With practice you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that rest and quiet feels enjoyable, even restorative. Small steps of quieting create a positive link that extends into relationships. Rest is rewarding. Over time quieting begins to replace previously learned behaviors that replaced a genuine need for rest. Racing thoughts can be slowed. To-do lists can be written down instead of finished right now. Impulsive responses can be tamed. To varying degrees, yoga, silent retreats, the Sabbath and mindfulness exercises are some of the ways our culture embraces Skill Two.

Rest is a gift you give other people. As you demonstrate this skill you become expert at recognizing the need for rest. You allow others the freedom to rest. Breaking eye contact, low or high energy levels, overwhelm, loss of a relational mode, rising tension levels, even yawning can be signs that a breather is needed. With a bit of practice, quiet no longer threatens your busy lives, rather rest enriches productivity. Rest is one of the most productive skills you can practice.

Resources for Skill Two: How to learn to quiet

  • Joy Starts Here: The Transformation Zone – the book
  • JoyQ Assessment – online (free)
  • 30 Days of Joy for Busy Married Couples – a book of joy growing exercises each requiring only 10-15 minutes
  • Jesus In Mind: Talks on Kingdom Life  – CDs
  • THRIVE Skill Guides 52 weeks of training exercises


Training Opportunities: Where to learn


Joy Rekindled marriage retreat in Morton, IL from September 19th and 20th.

Joy Starts Here in Edmonton, AB Canada for October 3rd and 4th.


Thrive Training in Austin, TX from Feb 23 – 27th.

Annual Gathering on Sustained Relationship in Chicago, IL from April 9th – 11th.

Thrive Training in Grand Rapids, MI from July 27th – 31st.

More info on these events can be found here:


We always encourage you to begin study groups with the Joy Starts Here  book which will lead to Connexus classes where you can begin to learn these skills. You can look in our past posts to see an explanation of Connexus classes.

Another excellent idea is to take the online Joy-Q assessment of joy levels to gauge your joy levels and to help jumpstart seed-planting in your communities.

May your joy be full,

Chris & Carol,

Chris Coursey, MA Theology — Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer, www.thrivetoday.org

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive                            www.fromgodsheart.com Carol’s email — godsheart@comcast.net

Collateral Damage

Have you noticed how something always happens when you make spiritual progress? The enemy sneaks in and hits you in your weak spot. For Chris, his weak spot is his back. And wouldn’t you know, it gave out on him just as Thrive Training approached! Or, if satan can’t hit you, he hits one of your family members or friends.

We thought it important to share this prayer tool with you since the purpose of this blog is to share solutions, encouragement and tools that work! Here is a prayer we found that can invite God to shield your weak spot and the weak spots of anyone associated with you.

Prayer to prevent collateral damage-History

Legal grounds for a class action lawsuit

An example of collateral damage in war is when a target building is bombed, but then it falls or sets fire on the school next door that was not an intended target. We have seen a bit of this recently in the Middle East conflict. An example of collateral damage in spiritual warfare is when you do deliverance for one member of a family, then immediately another member of the family is hit in the same area that the first member was just delivered from.

Sometimes it is institutions. You cleanse one church or company in a cluster and it gets relief, but the symptoms then break out in another church or company in that cluster.

Covenant also needs to be understood. When one nation conquered another, they typically made an agreement, OK, we won’t wipe you out if you pay such and such tribute each year. Israel had times they required conquered nations to pay tribute and there were times they had been conquered and they had to pray tribute. Let’s say that one of the tribes of Israel decided they had had it, and was ready to fight for their freedom and so quit paying.

The nation that had been collecting tribute has to decide whether to let that go or fight the tribe trying to get free. They could either fight the tribe that was getting free or simply collect twice the tribute amount from their nearest tribe and let that tribe decide what to do about paying another tribe’s share in addition to their own. The conquering nation doesn’t care who suffers, just so they get all the money they decided they could squeeze out of the conquered nation.

This is why unity is so important, so be encouraged to pray in agreement with someone, like your spouse or a friend to cover ungodly agreements to prevent collateral damage.

Prayer to prevent collateral damage-Class Action Lawsuit

Father, in accordance with your great love[1], align us with Jesus who prayed,” Father forgive them”. God Most High, the Ancient of Days, forgive the sin of people, including me and my family line[2], for as Jesus said, we “do not know what we are doing[3]”.

Especially have mercy[4] on us and our neighbors and our family lines for ways we condemned the innocent[5] and withheld mercy, especially where we covenanted or agreed together to do evil[6]. Apply your blood to overrule these agreements and in your mercy apply your blood to the consequences of these agreements and to the consequences of renouncing and repenting of these agreements[7]. Also, God Almighty, forgive us for the times and ways we broke covenant with you or others, without regard for the honor of your name[8].

Father God, when we pray for salvation, healing and deliverance for people and healing and deliverance for a home, church, business or area of land, then by your great mercy and the supreme power of your son’s blood shed for mankind, stop evil from enforcing collateral damage[9]. Every time we are offended, may we pray mercy[10] and every time we pray, may your Holy Spirit bring us into unity with Jesus who forgave friend and foe alike. Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one[11].

[1] Scriptures are from the NIV. Numbers 14:19 In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”

[2] Psalm 79:8 Do not hold against us the sins of the fathers; may your mercy come quickly to meet us…

[3] Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

[4] Matthew 15:22, 28 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” … 28Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

[5] Matthew 12:7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.

[6] Example, Genesis 37:27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.

[7] Isaiah 25:15, 18 You boast, “We have entered into a covenant with death, with the grave we have made an agreement. :18 Your covenant with death will be annulled; your agreement with the grave will not stand. When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by, you will be beaten down by it.

[8] Isaiah 24:5 The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Jeremiah 11:10, 14:7, Daniel 9:19, and Malachi 2:14,

[9] James 2:13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

[10] Mark 11:25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” John 20:23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

[11] Matthew 6:12-13

Trusting this will be helpful.

May your joy be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,  www.thrivetoday.org

Twitter – @coursey_chris  

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

Carol’s email – godsheart@comcast.net

Thrive Training 7/14-18, 2014

This week is the final Thrive Training event for 2014 and  with 92 participants this is the largest training ever! This is cause for great joy! Join us in praising God for what He will do as the attendees scatter across the country creating trails of joy.


Prayer Points–

  • that everyone will receive from the Lord all that God wants to give them
  • that the Lord’s protection and travel safety be over everyone attending—students and teachers alike and that the Lord restrain the enemy from taking collateral damage out on friends, family, businesses and so on
  • that the Lord sustain Jenn as she had to step in and help lead since Ed and Marisa Khouri who were scheduled to lead could not. Ed’s recovery from surgery is taking a bit longer than he would like. Jenn will also be leading the dance segment of the training.
  • Jen requests prayer that their joy remains high as she and Chris will go home to their boys each night…that little boys would do well with Grandma and that Grandma holds up! That Chris’s back be strengthened—all these details are in the Lord’s hands.

An Idea For Growing Joy–

This week a facebook friend sent the following video to show what is being done in schools in Israel to help mitigate the anxiety and fear children have during rocket attacks. I sent it to Dr. Wilder with the comment that I thought this would go toward preventing PTSD. He said it would do quite nicely! Take a look…


My suggestion is to use this as a model; incorporate the insights, for example affirming the physical symptoms you might feel during times of stress or an anxiety attack such as rapid heart rate or shaking, and add those insights to a Psalm such as Psalm 91 and sing it to the Lord during times of fear and stress.

Singing gives your brain something to do other than be overwhelmed by fear. It keeps your eyes focused heavenward rather than on the object of your fear. Your brain amplifies what you focus on. This could go a long way toward diffusing the traumatic power of an event when you cannot stop it from happening.

Footprints.pngAction Steps–

Sing your Psalms during personal times of fear and stress.

Share this with someone you know who struggles with PTSD.

The children of Israel went into battle led by the singers and dancers. Have your worship team set it to music and teach the whole congregation how to sing in the battle.

May your joy be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,                                            www.thrivetoday.org 

Twitter – @coursey_chris   

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

Carol’s email – godsheart@comcast.net




Low Joy… (Now what?)


In the Joy Starters blog we have talked about the dangers of low joy and presented the relational brain skills as the antidote for low joy. There are times when there is not much you can do about the fact that you are experiencing low joy. On our July 1 Round Table Talk, Ed Khouri, one of the authors of the Joy Starts Here book commented that he was quite familiar with that particular flavor of low joy. He has had three major surgeries in the last 18 months and two of them related to the spine. Anything relating to the spine says P.A.I.N!

surgery_recovery-ggogleSurgery can sap all your body’s resources as it diverts everything to repair the wound. Adrenal fatigue and auto immune diseases are also conditions that make the task of growing joy overwhelming. Even being in the presence of high joy can be overwhelming.

What I am saying here is that there are times when you are in low joy and it is not because of a conscious choice to live a bad life style or willful sin, but a result of living in a fallen world where bad things happen to good people. Or, we could say, hard things happen (surgery) so our lives will improve and we will return to higher joy…it just takes time. But we seem to be impatient people, we don’t want to wait.

 American society as a whole tends not to have tender responses to weakness. We have been trained to take a dim view of weakness; so, we don’t like being weak. We don’t like or want to be around ourselves when we are weak even if it is no fault of our own. (Ask me how I know!) Consequently we are hard on ourselves; we do not have a tender response to our own weakness which depresses joy further. We blame ourselves and right behind blame is shame. These are “sticky” emotions and difficult to throw off.

If you are feeling blamed and shamed; if you find yourself in such a low joy state that just the thought of expending the effort to grow joy is painful…what can you do?

Look for something, anything to be grateful for and then express appreciation.

  • Thank the nurse who adjusts your bed or gives you ice.
  • Thank the candy striper who brings flowers.
  • Appreciate the friend or spouse who sat by you all those hours in ER and recovery, who would not go home until they knew you would be okay.
  • Thank the person who brings your meals, puts supper in the crock pot or does your laundry.
  • Appreciate the little things someone does without being asked…

You get the idea…find something to appreciate. It only takes one or two brain cells! : ) Our brains tend to amplify what we focus on…so use the thimble full of strength that you have to practice the brain skill of gratitude.

For those of you who are stronger, please read this to a friend who doesn’t have the strength to even read. Make a tender response to weakness!

May your joy be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology — Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer, www.thrivetoday.org

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol A. Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive                            www.fromgodsheart.com Carol’s email — godsheart@comcast.net

P.S. The Thrive Training begins July 14 in Peoria, IL. Please join us in prayer to cover this event. For last minute preparations to come together. For travel mercies for everyone. For protection for families, businesses and all the etc. of life. That the enemy be held in check and not allowed to take collateral damages out of friends and families. May the Lord’s kingdom come and His will be done in each and every life.

Sustainable Joy?!

Artesian Well

Is it possible…to sustain JOY? Jesus came that your joy might be complete. (John 15:11) You might paraphrase that to read, Jesus came that your joy-tank might be full! And it behooves us to cooperate with the Lord—to do what is our responsibility to do to keep that joy tank full.

We believe that it is possible to sustain joy. In fact, joy can be characteristic of us. The image of the face lighting up followed by a big smile should be what comes to mind as you think of each other.

Joy is not happiness; it is important to not confuse the two. Happiness is much more surface and susceptible to fluctuating circumstances. A snarky remark can burst your happy bubble, but joy is deeper and made of more durable stuff. You can build a foundation of joy through relationship with Jesus first of all so that joy is your bottom line as well as your highest expression! Joy can be your beginning and end, your top and bottom.

You can have JOY in the midst of the fear of a tornado overhead (but probably not happiness!). You are definitely glad to have your family with you in that situation. And Joy is “someone glad to be with me.” You can have joy in the midst of an explosive hurtful discussion. Joy keeps you working to resolve the problem rather than imploding in disappointment. Joy is the bottom that holds you from falling into a pit of depression. It is the strength that sustains you through the trial of grief.

As I was meditating on Nehemiah 8:10 that says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength,” I thought to ask my Hebrew friend about the language. Is it God’s joy in me or is it my joy in response to God’s presence in me. Her response was, “it is the joy, happiness, overflow gaiety of God that is my fortress, for I can hide in it. God is the origin of JOY.  Thus, when He is in me, joy is in me. And it is that joy that is my fortress and I can hide in it. In it I feel protected.”

Then the Lord showed me my “inner landscape”. I saw what I can only call a “zone;” a place on my inner landscape that was illuminated. I “knew,” without words, that this was my safety zone. This was the place where I could come to find living water, peace, direction, safety; everything I need—this was Joy’s Place.

I “knew” that I needed to learn how to make this my home as well. This place is my “high tower, my refuge, my fortress. I have to learn how to live in joy, to approach life from the place of joy, from within the joy zone. I need to learn what causes me to lose my way, and what dulls my senses so I cannot perceive joy. And most importantly, I need to learn how to find my way back here when I am lost, confused, fearful or overwhelmed.

Again, God communicated without words that my presence in the “Joy Zone” increases God’s  joy, or“overflowing gaiety!” The zone will become larger and larger as I spend more time there until my entire inner landscape will become saturated with JOY that has overflowed from God being happy that I choose to live where He lives! This is not to turn inward away from life, but to do life from the place of joy.

Like the well in the picture above, joy flows constantly and overflows the area around it. It saturates the landscape. A wonderful benefit from being fully saturated with joy is that when people, troubles and the pains of life crash into you, you will splash joy on those who hurt you rather than spewing acid, venom and hatred!

The $64,000.00 question is “so…how do you sustain joy; how do you begin?” Two answers come to mind. 1) Personal time hanging out with Jesus, learning His ways, His heart, His thoughts–not facts about Him, but knowing Him. A by-product of hanging out with Him is joy. 2) Come to Thrive Training or join a Connexus class to learn relational brain skills and relational joy. It carries over into your relationship with Jesus.

Note that in both answers you learn relational brain skills from someone who already knows how to grow joy and sustain it—someone with greater capacity than you. Relational joy with Jesus overflows into relationships with others and relational joy with others overflows into relationship with Jesus. They build on each other. And that is how you sustain your joy!

Our last Thrive Training for 2014 is just around the corner!

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

May your joy be full,

Chris & Carol,

Chris Coursey, MA Theology — Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer, www.thrivetoday.org

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive                            www.fromgodsheart.com Carol’s email — godsheart@comcast.net


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. (joyq.joystartshere.com)



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 www.lifemodelworks.org

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive                            www.fromgodsheart.com Carol’s email — godsheart@comcast.net

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! deni@lifemodelworks.org