Introduction to
The Life Model
• Overview of The Life Model Book
• Outline of CSR’s 19-page summary of the 133-page book
• Shepherd’s House Observations
• From the Life Model Blog: Instilling Maturity in Children, by
Barbara Moon
• Coauthor E. James Wilder, PhD.
- Important Books by E. James Wilder, PhD.
- Biography and CV Extracts
- Presentations Given
• Three Ministries Related to The Life Model
- Thriving Recover Your Life
- Thrive Changing My Generation
THRIVE Skills - 19 of them. Nineteen Skills That Create Healthy
Communities. Nineteen Skills That Must Be Learned
- Karl and Charlotte Lehman
Brain Science, Emotional Trauma, and the God Who is With Us:
The Immanuel Approach to Emotional Healing
• Information Processing in the Human Brain
• Neurobiology Bibliographic References
September 2009
The Life Model, by E. James Wilder and colleagues
A growing number of books, tapes, videos, conferences and training seminars use aspects of the life model but its
essentials are found in a small book called The Life Model: Living From The Heart Jesus Gave You. This book has
been translated into several languages. The LIFE Model is used around the world for trauma treatment, addiction
recovery, community development, church design, child rearing and Christian missions.
The LIFE Model is, as its name implies, a model for life from conception to death. It is an idealized model, that is to
say, it proposes what life should be like rather than describing what life on earth generally produces. The LIFE model
suggests that people need five things in order to thrive:
1. A place to belong
2. To receive and to give life
3. The capacity to recover from things that go wrong (desynchronizations)
4. Maturation
5. To live from their identities (hearts)
These elements develop when we share joy and sorrows together as natural and spiritual families in peaceful
homes. The LIFE Model covers both our growth and recovery. These five elements apply whether we consider
physical growth, emotional growth, family growth, community growth or spiritual growth. Taken in order from one to
five, these elements are needed for strong and healthy human growth. Taken in reverse order, starting with living
from our true identities, these same elements form an excellent diagnostic grid for a failure to thrive.
By understanding the causes for failures to thrive we can design a restoration process. The LIFE Model explains
how to restore our identities as individuals, families and communities so that we live from a completely synchronized
and authentic identity we call “the heart that Jesus gives us.” This authentic identity is as much communal as it is
individual. Published 2000 and revised 2004 by Shepherd’s House, a 30-year old Christian counseling and healing
ministry in Pasadena, CA, this small, 100-page book is a collaborative effort by Shepherd's House staff over many
The LIFE Model is a profoundly Christian blueprint for wholeness for individuals, families, churches and communities
across the lifespan.
The LIFE Model is a unifying approach to ministries of counseling, recovery, pastoral care, prayer ministry,
deliverance, inner healing, child rearing, body life and health.
The LIFE Model is used internationally for substance abuse recovery programs. It has been widely used as a church
model. Missions have adopted the model for the restoration of missionary children. Almost every major ministry that
deals with trauma and abuse victims in the USA uses and distributes the LIFE Model as part of their teaching.
The theory behind this book was developed at Shepherd's House Inc. in California. Pastors, counselors, prayer team
members, lay leaders, people in recovery and an international advisory panel from many traditions and theoretical
perspectives worked together to formulate this profoundly Christian view of life.
The Life ModelOutline of Cliff’s Summary Document
1. Wholeness (page 3)
• We live in a Fractured and Fracturing World
• Family and Community Can Fail
• Traumas keep us from becoming what God intended us to
become (Eph 2:10)
• Joy is a Necessity
• Growth and Maturity are a Biblical mandate
• God’s Part and Our Part in Becoming More Mature
• Summary
2. Maturity (pages 4-7)
• Maturity is about reaching one’s God-given potential and
depends upon Joy
• We are motivated by Fear Bonds and Love Bonds
• It takes both a village and a family to promote maturity
• Maturity and its Stages
• How People Mature and the Maturity Indicators Chart
• Summary
• Maturity Indicators Chart (diagnostic tool)
3. Recovery (page 8)
• Recovery is about exceeding ones’ current potential and
reaching one’s God-intended destiny
• How brains help with traumas
• Type A Traumas - absence of good things we all need to
achieve emotional stability
• Type B Traumas – bad things that happen
• Lies Accompany Both Type A and Type B Traumas
• Healing for different types of traumas can misfire in the
church setting
4. Belonging (pages 9-10)
• A caring family and community are needed to reach one’s
• Spiritual Adoption – God’s way of caring for those who don’t
• Levels of Spiritual Adoption
• A note of caution regarding those who volunteer to become
an adoptive family member
• How Spiritual Adoption Applies to Ministry
• The Life Changing Revelation
5. Your Heart (pages 11-15)
• All valid spiritual direction comes to us through our heart
• True knowing and false knowing
• A healthy heart
• Getting to know the characteristics of your heart
• The human birth defect
• The heart and the sark
• Winning battles with your sark
• Living from your heart
• Take a Look at Where You Are (diagnostic tool)
6. Living the Life Model (pages 16-17)
• Every church has a God-given heart
• What a church looks like under the Life Model
7. Appendices (page 18)
• Scripture References:
- Maturity,
- God’s Concern to Heal,
- God’s Concern For the Fatherless,
- Spiritual Adoption.
• Books about the connections between Development, Healing
and Neurobiology:
- The Developing Mind,
- Parenting from the Inside Out,
- Healing the Hardware of the Soul,
- Change Your Brain --Change Your Life,
- Joyful Beginnings.
The Life ModelShepherd’s House Observations
• Practicing God’s principles makes the people around us more alive.
• There are enough good things to be done for us all to participate.
• Most people are happy to be life-giving until it requires suffering on their part.
• Belief does not form character directly. A change in belief is often the last step in the
character formation process and this gives the illusion that a change in belief alone
produces a change in character.
• Maturity grows best in multi-generational communities.
• The Life Model propagates relationally not conceptually.
• Healing may be instantaneous but learning skills and building capacity require time
and practice.
• Joy is a necessary agent for lasting change in relationships with God and with others.
• Giftedness and education do not equal maturity.
• It is who you know and love that counts.
• Most fallen leaders we have examined had excellent categorical theology, knowledge
and beliefs that neither caused nor prevented their falls.
• Most people do not grasp the importance of things that are missing from their lives.
From the Life Model Blog: Instilling Maturity in Children, by Barbara Moon, posted 10-04-2008
Barbara Moon is a ministry leader, counselor, mentor, and teacher living in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the mother of four grown children and Nana to eleven grandchildren.
From a description of her book, Jewels for My Journey, “Come take a journey with Barbara Moon, an ordinary person who walks with an extraordinary God. In Jewels for My
Journey, Barbara takes you from the beginning of her journey of faith where she meets Jesus Christ at an early age, through young adulthood where she learns about freedom and
union with Christ, to a place in her adult life where Jesus heals a deep childhood wound and the disaster of divorce. As the journey unfolds, God uses jewels of wisdom from
Barbara’s mentor, Dr. Jim Wilder, to lead her through what Dr. Wilder calls an identity change. What she learns through her journey of faith is life changing and rich with wisdom.
You will want to explore and ponder these jewels over and over.”
Most conscientious parents desire to help their children grow into maturity. I would like to
suggest some topics that may help parents see this issue more specifically. I will take a
short compilation of ideas on maturity from my book, Handbook to Joy-Filled Parenting, a
topic upon which I will be sharing at the July 2009 THRIVE conference. Maturity is a
central truth of and one of my favorite topics in the Life Model. As I look at what
maturity entails, its progression and its goals, it has helped me to realize that as parents
we are not raising children, we are raising adults. That is our goal—to see our children
become fully functioning adults. This worthy task will take daily attention and time over
several years. Working on it may prevent some of the problems we see around us today.
In today’s world and even in the church, the task of growing maturity is seldom
mentioned. We receive all sorts of messages screaming “how to” or “you should” but we
don’t hear enough messages that shout, “Grow up!” I’m on a mission, when possible, to
try to bring maturity into discussions whenever I encounter struggling relationships. The
maturity I am most interested in is not Spiritual maturity but emotional maturity, the kind
that helps us act like the age we are supposed to be. We all know adults who whine, blow
up and/or attack when they don’t get their way. We know adults who can’t keep a job or
who spend unwisely. As I mentor and counsel people and watch children in various
settings I see some maturity lacks that are similar in all ages. For now I would like to tickle
your thinking about four specific areas that can help parents guide their children into
maturity while checking out their own behaviors concerning these skills. It’s important to
keep in mind that “More is caught than taught,” and that children will learn none of these
specifics unless parents are willing to give unselfishly of their time. The topics I would like
to share about are: knowing how to do hard things, respecting another’s’ “no,” knowing
what to do with disappointment, and knowing good repair skills when conflict arises.
It seems to me that many people do not understand how to do hard things, a task to be
learned before the age of thirteen. Perhaps one reason for this lack in children today,
besides the fact that parents have that lack, is that we have become a culture of busyness
and doing the least possible to get by. It does take tons of time to parent well as we slowly
and persistently teach children that homework is part of life and comes first; that delay of
gratification is more important than having everything one wants-when one wants it-the
way one wants it; and that seeing life from the “big picture” will go a long way towards
preventing bad choices later in life. It is very hard as an adult to live within ones means
financially, giving and spending the way God intends, if these values were ignored or not
modeled while growing up. It is difficult to manage one’s time well as an adult if that topic
was never spoken to or modeled. Remaining pure while dating will be extremely absent if
children have not been taught that their choices can affect generations.
A parent who does not know how to do hard things will find it difficult to make the
sacrifices of his or her time that are vital to parenting well. There is no place for
selfishness when making the time consuming, hard choice to be the kind of parents who
want to be involved in building character into their children’s lives. When children reach
the age around four to six and do not demand as much intense attention, it can be easy to
become dismissive and step back with our time and effort and allow the children to “take
care of themselves.” Parents often do this without thinking and then wake up when the
child reaches middle school and begins to act out. It can then be too late to reestablish a
close relationship that could have been maintained with unselfish time and attention from
birth to twelve. The elementary years are some of the most important for teaching values
and building character. Everyday moments bring great opportunities that over time form
maturity. Noticing these opportunities is a mind-set that we can choose to have and then
trust God to lead us in those moments. When there are squabbles, hurts, questions or
celebrations, taking time to interact will send a deep message of value, love and
acceptance to our children.
Another specific area for training towards maturity is that of helping children learn to
respect the “no” of others. Siblings can be taught to respect a no at a very young age
when someone says, “Stop” or “No, you can’t play with this right now.” If parents are
aware of this aspect of maturity it can become part of everyday life by reminding
them when they fail to respect a no and praising them when they do. Sharing of
course is taught along the way also, but if we stop and think about it, we can become
aware of many places conducive to training children to respect others’ “no’s.”
Along with respecting a no, another important task is to help children learn what to
do with a “no” which often brings disappointment. This is part of returning to joy from
sad and taming the nucleus accumbens, but it can be very practical and often will
expose that we as parents might not do well with disappointment. It is much more
difficult to take the time to work out, comfort, and/or discipline crying or a tantrum
over disappointment than it is to give in. Over the years, and it may take years,
children can learn to hear that “no” without falling apart and realize that they will not
surely die when not getting their way. Again I see the hard choice for the parent—
time and patience instead of going the easy road and giving in.
Asking for forgiveness when conflicts arise is another skill I cannot emphasize
enough. When children are taught, beginning around the age of two and half to
three, to say, “Will you forgive me,” instead of, “I’m sorry,” it will be an engrained
habit that will serve them well in life. If you do not think it makes any difference, then
try it yourself and see how much more humbling it is to say, “Will you forgive me?”
That phrase allows the other person to answer “yes or no.” “I’m sorry” leaves only a
place to say nothing or to lie and say, “Oh, that’s okay. “ My daughter-in-law, whose
four girls have asked the question from toddlerhood, will not answer anything if her
children try the “I’m sorry” route with her. She just remains quiet until they finally say,
“Will you forgive me?” After she answers, “Of course,” joy is restored. Once again
this kind of training will take time and persistence. As the children get older, we can
add, “I was wrong, will you forgive me?” This can be even more difficult to say. This
way of seeking forgiveness trains children to take responsibility for their actions
instead of blaming others for their mistakes.
Granting forgiveness goes right along with seeking it from others. Future
relationships will have fewer struggles when mature adults know how to ask for and
grant forgiveness. If this is practiced in childhood with siblings and parents, it will
easier down the road. When someone asks, “Will you forgive me?” the offended one
can say either, “Yes,” or “No” or “I’m not ready yet.” In a family where this kind of
practice is normal, the children do not stay very long in the latter two answers. Return
to joy is accomplished quite quickly and fear of ruptures is non-existent, another
mature skill to carry into life.
Taking the tons of time needed to build and guide children through the maturity tasks
will be very rewarding and worth the effort as we watch our children enter adulthood
better equipped to thrive. Selfless parenting can help prevent many problems that will
arise from immaturity issues such as “infants” marrying other “infants or children” and
then “babies” having babies. Young adults will be more likely to succeed in school
and careers, spend and give money as God designed, and have better relationships
by respecting another’s “no.” Realizing that disappointments are part of the entire
journey of life and learning to suffer well in them will help life go a bit easier because
they will already know that joy comes after feeling sad and/or not getting one’s way. I
hope these four topics will encourage us that maturity is an extremely important and
necessary path worth considering in everyday issues that arise in our relationships
with our children.
Very important book!
How God designed men to grow and
mature. This is the most complete
description of Life Model maturity
in print. Includes:
Stages of Infant, Child, Adult,
Parent, and Elder
How to seek out corrective
experiences for those elements of
development that were missed.
A deeply profound book – a must
read for adults, parents, elders,
pastors and other leaders.
Requires familiarity with The Life
Model. Raises serious questions
about the decreasing ability of our
culture to produce elder-level
maturity in people.
The Life ModelOther important books by E. James Wilder, PhD.
This beautiful and warm hard cover
book makes an excellent gift for parents
of grade school aged children, men who
grew up without active fathers, and
anyone who did not have a good bond
with their own father. You will learn how
to become an adult, deal with sexuality.
This book records the warm and
personal conversations between father
and son on a weekend trip to learn
about being a man. Will help you and
those you know to grow up even when
it has been years since puberty. Those
who have read this book and, like
Wilder, have taken this trip describe it
as a “sacred moment.” Now it is your
We are all part of a natural
community made up of our families,
friends, work and culture, as well as
part of a spiritual community that
revolves around God or Satan.
When a person fails to receive
proper love and support, the door is
opened for cults and the occult to
provide for those needs. This book
shows how Christians have the
power to affect both the natural and
spiritual worlds.
This powerful tool advocates
restoration from evil using a
community-based counseling
perspective. Unlike most books on
Satanism or cults, it takes a positive,
nonsensational approach intended to
encourage those seeking answers.
The Life ModelE. James Wilder, PhD. Biography and CV Extracts
Jim Wilder sat at Christmas dinner but could not lift his hand. Even though he was only two
years old he was having a stroke. Soon it was obvious that he was spiking a high fever that
proved to be viral meningitis – the disease portrayed in the movie Awakenings by Robin
Williams and based on the book and true story of Dr. Oliver Sacks. He was a very sick boy
and his community prayed urgently for him. Everyone else who had become ill in the
epidemic was dead. Instead of being in a wheelchair, mentally retarded or in a perpetual
coma Jimmy was soon walking with the help of a brace. As a boy with an uncertain and
challenging future, Jimmy read biographies of the doctors who discovered the causes and
cures of plagues. He was taking pictures through his microscope of unidentified protozoa by
the time he was 12.
At age 19 Jim witnesses his first miraculous healing from a psychological trauma. Having
grown up during extreme violence in Colombia (an estimated 250,000 people were brutally
killed and danger was everywhere) he has seen the results of violence and trauma. Once he
saw trauma healed by prayer, his interest in trauma recovery began. Here was a worldwide,
unhealed epidemic from violence, abuse and war! Jim acquired a masters in theology and a
doctorate in psychology that led to work with veterans, Nazi death camp survivors, addicts
and abused children. He has spent over 30 years at Shepherd’s House leading trauma
treatment programs. As a supervisor, Jim consistently received the most damaged people
and continued his search for recovery for those considered untreatable by all known
therapeutic means. By the mid-1990s trauma recovery was an established field but the
estimated cost of recovery for one person with severe, life-long psychological trauma was
estimated at fifteen million dollars. Doctor Jim knew there needed to be a better way or most
of the traumatized people in the world would never be helped. He had already seen a miracle
and he was a walking miracle.
Before the days of brain scans Doctor Jim worked in the VA hospital doing brain evaluations
using the methods developed by the famous Russian doctor Luria. Doctor Jim built research
equipment and even designed and built computer circuit boards for research projects. Doctor
Jim combined the work of the genius UCLA medical school professor known as the Einstein
of psychiatry, Dr. Allan Schore with the work of the Nobel prize winning doctor Gerald
Edelman, Dr. Guillio Tononi and the brain scan work by the well known Dr. Daniel Amen and
added the materials by Dr. Oliver Sacks, Dr. Daniel Siegel, Dr. Antonio Damasio, Dr.Vilaynur
Ramachandran, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk and others and combined them into a form that can
be taught to third-world peasant farmers with no education and still amaze career
neurologists. At the center is the power of joy to passing a thriving human vitality from
generation to generation. If you are human this will make sense deep in your genes and if
you know your science it will be brilliant.
Doctor Jim continues to seek a self-propagating trauma recovery solution that one person
can pass to the next in devastated parts of the world. He was on his way to the Sudan when
the somewhat reclusive doctor and Ed met in Florida and the plan for Thriving Recovery was
born. The answers Jim and Ed have found are richly woven into the design of Thriving. Now
you can participate in the answers that have Doctor Jim speaking to such varied groups as
the Public Health Department of the State of Tabasco Mexico, European dignitaries or
presenting the future of recovery with Ed at a global conference for training recovery
counselors. The power of prayer, the power of innovation, the power of personal recovery
and the power of a vision for still undiscovered solutions to the effects of violence and
deprivation – global evil – drive the shape and the future of Thriving.
The Life ModelE. James Wilder, PhD. Presentations (1 of 2)
Clinical and Spiritual Considerations in the Treatment of Adult Survivors of Satanic Ritualistic Abuse, Christian Association for
Psychological Studies Western Region, 1988.
Patterns of Deliberate Personality Damage, Spiritual Warfare Seminar III, Maranatha Ministries, 1988.
Restoration of Those Exposed to Extreme Evil, Spiritual Warfare Seminar IV, Maranatha Ministries, 1990.
Community Based Treatment For Ritual Abuse, Christian Association for Psychological Studies Western Region Convention, 1992.
Treatment of Husbands of Incest Abuse Survivors, Christian Association for Psychological Studies Western Region Convention 1992.
How Ministering to the Deeply Wounded Transforms the Church, International Conference on Biblical Counseling (ICBC) 1996.
Community Based Counseling and the Church, Christian Society for Healing Dissociative Disorders (CSHDD) 1996.
Overlooked Factors and Traps, Discipling Ritual Abuse Survivors In Resolving Dissociation, Demonization, and Programming, Tulsa 1997.
Marriage and MPD, Pasadena 1997.
Bonding and Treatment, Keynote speaker--three days CSHDD Convention 1998.
Helping Wounded Healers, Discipling Ritual Abuse Survivors Conference, Shield of Faith, MN 1998.
Bonding and Treatment, Keynote speaker--Western Region CSHDD Convention, 1999.
Filling Your Cup After the Bottom Drops Out, (Four presentations at each conference.) Community based counseling for churches, Acton
CA 1997, Palm Springs 1997, Lexington KY 1997.
Healing In Community, Two day training conference for pastors, counselors and those helping abuse survivors, Shield of Faith, MN 1999.
(12 hours of training)
Bonding, Dissociation and Attachment Workshop, Two day training for counselors, Spokane WA & ID, 1999.
Joy Strength, Four presentations at ICBC, 2000.
Attachment, Training for prayer counselors at Elijah House Canada, Victoria BC, 2000.
Pastoral Counseling Training, for Desarrollo Cristiano Internacional in Chiapas, Jalapa, Mexico City, 2001, 2002.
Joy and Trauma Recovery, Ron Susek Evangelistic Association, Gettysburg, PA 2001 (One day training).
Shepherds at War, Three day conference, Wichita KS 2002.
THRIVE Conference, CARE Inc. MI. Synchronization of brain, relationships and spirit 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 (Six days).
Five to Thrive and Diagnosing Failure to Thrive, Lake Avenue Congregational Church, Pasadena. 2003 (12 weeks).
Five to Thrive, (8 hours) at Trauma and Abuse Care Group International (TACGI), Medicine Hat, Canada 2003.
Joy, Returning to Joy, LA District Assembly Church of the Nazarene, 2003.
Lectures and chapel talks on healing and growth Bethany College, Scotts Valley, CA 2003.
Maturity Retreat Weekend, Lake Ave. Congregational Church 2004 (Previous retreats include Vineyard, Foursquare, Nazarene, community,
Presbyterian and other churches since 1990)
Ministering the Joy of Jesus to the Traumatized Brain, Kitchner Ontario, (2 days) 2003, Ensenada Mexico 2004.
Suffering Well, Training Pastoral Staff (3 days) Madonna House, Ontario Canada, 2003.
The Life ModelE. James Wilder, PhD. Presentations (2 of 2)
Suffering Well, Training Pastoral Staff (3 days), First Church of the Nazarene, Pasadena, 2003.
Synchronization of the 4+ Hierarchical Levels of the Brain and Diagnosis of Trauma, CAPS Fresno, CA 2003.
Joy, Quiet and Synchronization in Trauma Recovery and Prevention, Link Care Fresno, CA 2003.
Keeping Your Ministry Out of Court, International Association for Theophostic Ministry Convention Minneapolis, MN 2004.
Theophostic and the Brain, International Association for Theophostic Ministry Convention Minneapolis, MN 2004.
Recovering From Sexual Addictions, ICBC (five presentations) 2004.
Bonding & Healing in Community, Mariners’ Church Irvine, CA (recovery facilitators retreat-5 presentations) 2004.
Thriving and Addiction Recovery, De Hoop, Dordrecht Netherlands (one week training for staff) 2004.
Belonging and Maturity, De Hoop, Netherlands (one day training for pastors) 2004.
Capacity and Vision, Tot Heil des Volk, Netherlands (one day training for Tweede Mijl volunteers) 2004.
Thriving and Addiction Recovery, Tot Heil Amsterdam Netherlands (one week staff training for staff) 2004.
Fear Bonds in Occultism, FEO Ede Netherlands (lecture for counseling, medical and pastoral professionals) 2004.
Sexual Identity, Netherlands, (one day conference) 2004.
Recovery from Trauma, Ruchama, Netherlands (recovery home for Amsterdam prostitutes) 2004.
Pastoral Counseling, Szepalma Hungary (three days for Eastern European pastors through Mentoradines) 2004.
Trauma Recovery, (one day church conference) Budapest Hungary 2004.
Trauma Recovery, Brasov Romania (5 evening church conference) 2004.
Marriage Enrichment and Returning to Joy, Dziegeslow Poland (two day conference) 2004.
Maturity, Seminario Teológico Grupo Vida Nueva, Coacalco, Mexico 2005.
Recovery, Desarrollo Christiano (half day seminar for leaders,) Mexico City, 2005.
Maturity, Seminario Teológico Presbiteriano de Mexico (3 days,) Mexico City, 2005.
Maturity, Presbiterio del Sur de Veracruz, (3 days) Coatzacoalcos, Mexico 2005.
Addiction and Trauma Prevention, Secretaría de Salud de Tabasco, (Half day conference for the psychologists and social
workers for the Department of Public Health), Villahermosa, Mexico, 2005.
Addictions and Trauma, 22nd Annual NET Institute Convention, Orlando FL, (3 days of speaking/workshops), 2006.
Addictions, Trauma and Maturity, ABC School for addiction counselors (YWAM), Lonavala India, (5 days) 2006.
Maturity for Men, Sierra Madre Congregational Church men’s night, 2006.
How to Live With A Man, Mexico City, 2006.
Thriving, Salvation Army (Leger des Heils) anniversary address, Netherlands, 2006.
Guest lectures at Fuller Seminary, BIOLA, Talbot Seminary and Point Loma University.
The Life ModelThree Related Ministries
Also: Dr. Dallas Willard
Dr. Dallas Willard is a Professor in the
School of Philosophy at the University of
Southern California in Los Angeles. He
has taught at USC since 1965, where he
was Director of the School of Philosophy.
He has also taught at the University of
Wisconsin at Madison, UCLA and the
University of Colorado.
Dr. Willard also lectures and publishes
on religion. His books include:
The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering
Our Hidden Life in God (Book of the year
Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the
Character of Christ (Spirituality award
The Great Omission: Rediscovering
Jesus' Essential Teachings on
Hearing God: Developing a
Conversational Relationship With God
The Spirit of the Disciplines:
Understanding How God Changes Lives
Dallas and his wife Jane live in Southern
California where Jane is a Marriage and
Family Therapist who helped establish
Shepherd’s House.
The Life ModelThree Related Ministries
What is the difference between the THRIVE Conference and training and the
Thriving - Recover Your Life program?
THRIVE training is based around the transfer of the 19 essential skills from the trained
control center in a mature brain to a less mature person. The THRIVE training is for
bonded pairs of people to learn and practice so they can develop strong bonds and
minds. THRIVE is based around a series of three weeklong THRIVE Conferences led
by Chris and Jen Coursey. THRIVE training also includes videos called Sensible
Strategies and workbooks of training activities to be practiced throughout the year
between conferences. The THRIVE Conference was introduced in 2001.
Thriving – Recover Your Life is a church-based recovery program for people with
trauma, abuse and addictions. The Thriving program includes aspects of the skills
training from the THRIVE conferences but is designed for ongoing growth and
recovery in churches. Unlike the THRIVE conference itself, Thrive – Recover Your Life
is designed to help people with their recovery from traumas and addictions as well as
their growth. The program was introduced in the Fall of 2006 on the East Coast by Ed
Khouri and on the West Coast by Jim Wilder.
The Life ModelThrive Changing My Generation (1 of 3)
THRIVE Skills - 19 of them. Nineteen Skills That Create Healthy Communities. Nineteen Skills That Must Be Learned
Skill 1 - Share Joy
Mutual amplification of joy through nonverbal facial expressions and voice tone that conveys, “We are glad to be together.” This capacity allows us to bond and grow strong brains as well.
Technical description: Right-hemisphere-to-right-hemisphere communication of our most desired positive emotional state.
Skill 2 - Soothe Myself
Simple Quiet
Lowering my own energy level so I can rest after both joyful and upsetting emotions, as I need to and on my own, makes me feel stable. This self-soothing capacity is the strongest
predictor of good mental health for the lifetime.
Technical description: Release-on-demand of serotonin by the vegetative branch of parasympathetic nervous system to quiet both positive and distressing emotional states.
Skill 3 - Form Bonds for Two
Synchronize Attachments
The essence of a secure bond is the ability to synchronize our attachment centers so that we can move closer or farther apart at moments that satisfy us both. Synchronized attachment
centers provide the basis for smooth transfer of brain skills and learned characteristics.
Technical description: Two-way bonds involve simultaneous activation of the attachment centers (Control Center level 1) between two people. This activation helps create a state of mutual
mind at the cingulate cortex level (Control Center level 3) that can only be maintained by direct facial contact with one other person at a time.
Skill 4 - Create Appreciation
High levels of the emotional state of appreciation closely match the healthy balanced state of the brain and nervous system. Creating a strong feeling of appreciation in yourself or others
relieves unpleasant states and stress. Appreciation is very similar to the let down reflex that produces milk flow when nursing and the warm contented feeling that follows for mother and
Skill 5 - Form Family Bonds
Bonds for Three
Family bonds allow us to feel joy when people we love have a good relationship with each other. We experience what they feel and understand how they see our relationships through our
three-way bonds. Joy bonds between two adults form a couple style bond so community joy building requires bonds for three or more.
Technical description: The prefrontal cortex (Control Center level 4) contains our capacity to maintain three points of view simultaneously. When this area is well developed we can
understand how others see us, participate in relationships between others and correct our errors about ourselves and how we see others.
Skill 6 - Identify Heart Values from Suffering
The Main Pain and Characteristic of Hearts
Everyone has issues that particularly hurt or bother him/her and always have been the way he/she is likely to get hurt. Looking at these lifelong issues helps identify the core values for
each person’s unique identity. We hurt more the more deeply we care. Because of how much pain our deepest values have caused, most people see these characteristics as liabilities not
Skill 7 - Tell Synchronized Stories
4+ Storytelling
When our brain is well trained, our capacity is high and we are not triggered by the past, our whole brain works together. A simple test as well as a means to train the brain is telling stories
in a way that requires all the brain to work together.
Technical description: The four levels of the right-hemispheric control center work together and allow the bonus (+) of having our words in the left hemisphere match our experience. When
emotional and spiritual blockage is resolved our whole brain works in a synchronized way. By selecting stories we can test and train our brains to handle specific aspects of life and
The Life ModelThrive changing My Generation (2 of 3)
Skill 8 - Identify Maturity Levels
We need to know our ideal maturity level so we know if our development is impaired. Knowing our general (baseline) maturity level tells us what the next developmental tasks will be.
Knowing our immediate maturity level from moment to moment lets us know if we have just been triggered into reactivity by something that just happened or have encountered a “hole” in
our development that needs remedial attention. Watching when our maturity level is slipping also tells us when emotional capacity has been drained in us or others.
Skill 9 - Take a Breather
Timing When to Disengage
Sustained closeness and trust requires us to stop and rest before people become overwhelmed and when they are tired. These short pauses to quiet and recharge take only seconds.
Those who read the nonverbal cues and let others rest are rewarded with trust and love.
Technical description: All the brain-developing and relationship-building moments that create understanding and produce mutual-mind states require paired minds to stop a moment (pause)
when the first of the two gets tired, near overwhelm or too intensely aroused. Those who disengage quickly, briefly and allow the other to rest are rewarded
Skill 10 - Tell Nonverbal Stories
When we want to strengthen relationships, resolve conflicts, bridge generations or cultures we get much farther with the nonverbal parts of our stories than with words.
Technical description: This workout for the nonverbal control center in the right hemisphere develops all the timing and expressive skills used to develop good emotional and relational
Skill 11 - Return to Joy from the Big Six Feelings
Although we live most of our lives in joy and peace we need to learn how to stay in relationship and quiet our distress when things go wrong. When we take good care of our relationships
even when we are upset the upset does not last long or drive people away. We quickly resolve our “not glad to be together” moments.
Technical description: The brain is wired to feel six unpleasant emotions. Fear, anger, sadness, disgust, shame and hopeless despair are each signals of something specific going wrong.
We need to learn how to quiet each of these different circuits separately while maintaining our relationships. Training under these six emotional conditions covers the full range of our
emotional distress.
Skill 12 - Act Like Myself in the Big Six Feelings
Part of maintaining our relationships when we are upset is learning to act like the same person we were when we had joy to be together. A lack of training or bad examples causes us to
damage or withdraw from the relationships we value when we get angry, afraid, sad, disgusted, ashamed or hopeless.
Skill 13 - See What God Sees
Hope and direction come from seeing situations, ourselves and others they way they were meant to be instead of only seeing what went wrong. This spiritual vision guides our training and
restoration. Even forgiveness flows from seeing people’s purpose as more important than their malfunctions and makes us a restorative community instead of an accusing one. Through our
hearts we see the spiritual vision God sees.
Skill 14 - Stop the Sark
This Greek word (also rendered sarx) refers to seeing life from our personal view of how people should be. This conviction that I know or can determine the right thing to do or be is the
opposite of heartsight in skill 13. For the sark, people become what they have done (the sum of their mistakes) or what we want them to become for us. Blame, accusations, condemnation,
gossip, resentment, legalism, self-justification and self-righteousness are signs of the sark.
Skill 15 - Quiet Interactively
Facial cues, particularly of fear, help us to know when we are pushing others too hard. Sometimes we need and want to maintain a high-energy state without “going over the top” like
knowing when to stop tickling so it stays fun. Fast recognition and response to facial cues means optimum interactions and energy.
Technical description: Using the ventromedial cortex that is part of level 4 of the Control Center together with the intelligent branch of the parasympathetic nervous system allows us to
control the upper end of arousal states. Instead of taking us all the way to quiet/peace this type of quieting allows us to operate at high levels of energy and quiet just enough to avoid going
into overwhelm. This system controls aggressive, sexual and predatory urges so we can avoid harmful behaviors.
The Life ModelThrive changing My Generation (3 of 3)
Skill 16 - Recognize High and Low Energy Response Styles
Sympathetic and Parasympathetic
Many characteristic responses to emotions and relationships are strongly shaped by our tendency toward high or low energy reactions. Recognizing who tends to respond with high energy
(adrenalin based emotions) and who would rather withdraw helps us match minds with others and bring more helpful variety to our own response tendencies.
Technical description: Joy, anger and fear are all energy producing emotions (sympathetic) while sadness, disgust, shame and hopelessness all reduce our energy levels
(parasympathetic). Tendencies to activate or shut down often become “pursuit and withdrawal” or “anger and tears” instead of healthy relationships.
Skill 17 - Identify Attachment Styles
How well we synchronize our attachments (skill 3) early in life leave the most enduring pattern in our personality. These patterns change the way we experience reality. At one end we may
give almost no importance to our feelings or relationships and at the other we may feel hurt almost constantly and think of nothing but feelings and people. We may also become afraid of
the very people we need. All these factors distort our reality but feel real to us at the time. Knowing how to spot these distortions helps us compensate.
Technical description: Secure attachments bring joy, peace, resilience and flexibility as we mature. Insecure attachments come in three types. An under-active attachment pattern
(dismissive) leads to underestimating the importance of feelings and relationships. This group usually thinks things are fine and no big deal. An overactive attachment style (distracted)
leads to excessive intensity and an exaggeration of feelings, hurts and needs. This group is always feeling hurt or thinking others are upset when they are not. The third style (disorganized)
is afraid to get close to the people they love and need.
Skill 18 - Intervene Where the Brain is Stuck
Five Distinctive Levels of Brain Disharmony and Pain
By recognizing the characteristic pain at each of the brain’s five levels we can pinpoint the trouble and find a solution if someone gets stuck. The type of pain gives us a good idea of the
kind of solution we will need when someone is not “keeping it together,” “falling apart,” or “stuck” as we commonly call these losses of synchronization.
Technical description: There are five levels in the brain when we count the four in the right hemisphere control center and add the left hemisphere as the fifth. By knowing the
characteristics of each we know when one level got stuck and what kind of interventions will help. For instance, explanations help level 5 but will not stop a level 2 terror like the fear of
Skill 19 - Recover from Complex Emotions
Handle Combinations of the Big Six Emotions
Once we can return to joy and act like ourselves with the six big negative feelings taken one at a time, we can begin to learn how to return to joy and act like ourselves when the six are
combined in various combinations. Shame and anger combine to form humiliation. Fear and hopelessness (with almost any other feeling as well) form dread. These combination feelings
can be very draining and difficult to quiet.
The Life ModelKarl D. Lehman, MD and Charlotte E.T. Lehman, M.Div.
Cliff participated in this seminar
From the Shepherd’s House Advisory Board page:
Karl Lehman M.D. is a board certified psychiatrist, international speaker and
teacher and writer. His website contains over 2,000 pages of free
information. He has produced more than 20 teaching DVDs. Dr. Lehman
and his wife Charlotte are the developers of the Immanuel Process of healing
prayer. Charlotte has a Masters in Divinity. Karl has been a student and critic of
the Life Model and THRIVE training for over a decade. His background in
medicine, biology, physics, prayer ministry and community life make him a
huge resource who never accepts an answer just because someone said so.
Karl D. Lehman, MD and Charlotte E.T. Lehman, M.Div.
The Immanuel Approach to Emotional Healing
Cliff did all the reading!
The Life ModelKarl D. Lehman, MD and Charlotte E.T. Lehman, M.Div.
The Immanuel Approach to Emotional Healing
Does this teaching regarding Immanuel Interventions and the Immanuel Approach
make outrageous and/or heretical claims?
Some people are upset by the teaching that we actually interact directly with the living Jesus
Christ. Some people are upset by the proposition that people who engage in this process will
perceive the Lord’s presence, will connect with Him, and will actually communicate with God.
Some people especially have trouble with the obvious implication that people who participate in
this process will receive a kind of divine revelation in the context of communicating with the living
Jesus Christ.
First, I want to clarify what I am actually saying, so that there is no confusion regarding the
questions we need to address. Yes, I am saying that we actually interact directly with the living
Jesus Christ. Yes, I am saying that people who engage in this process will perceive the Lord’s
presence, will connect with Him, and will actually communicate with God. Yes, I am saying that
people who participate in this process will receive a kind of divine revelation in the context of
communicating with the living Jesus Christ. This is exactly what I am saying. If you are going
to hang me for this, you can be comforted by the fact that I am not denying the charges.
However, I am NOT saying that we are infallible in our ability to accurately perceive what the
Lord is saying to us. I am NOT saying that we are infallible in our ability to accurately interpret
the meaning of what the Lord says to us. I am NOT saying that we are infallible in our judgment
regarding how the Lord’s words to us apply to the rest of the world. In summary, I am NOT
saying that the revelation people receive in the context of communicating with Jesus has the
same authority as scripture. But I AM saying that we can perceive the Lord’s presence, that we
can connect with Him, that we can communicate with Him, and that we can receive truth from
Him in the context of this communication.
So, do I have an answer for those who are upset by these bold claims? Can I support this
teaching – that some find upsetting (or even outrageous) – with sound Biblical exegesis? The
answer is actually surprisingly simple:
Read Dallas Willard’s book: Hearing God.30
In all seriousness, Dr. Willard wrote this book to answer exactly these questions: “Can we, today,
in the twenty first century, actually communicate with the Lord? Can the average Christian, in
the present, actually receive specific, individualized truth from God in the context of this
communication?” Dr. Willard’s conclusion is “Yes.” And he supports this conclusion with
strong, sound, compelling Biblical exegesis.
Read the book. It’s really excellent.
Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God. (Downers Grove, IL:
Intervarsity Press), 1999.
The Life ModelA Helpful Diagram of Information Processing in the Human Brain
Viewed from the Right Hemisphere
The Life ModelNeurobiology Bibliographic References
Allan N. Schore, Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self: Neurobiology of Emotional
Development, (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, 1994)
Allan N. Schore, Affect Regulation and the Repair of the Self, (New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 2003)
Allan N. Schore, Affect Dysregulation and the Disorders of the Self, (New York, NY: W. W. Norton,
Erik H. Erikson, GROWTH AND CRISIS in, Theories of Psychopathology and Personality Edited by
Theodore Millon (Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Co., 1973) Pages 136-156.
Bessel van der Kolk, Psychological Trauma, (Washington: American Psychiatric Press, 1987.)
Daniel J. Siegel, The Developing Mind: Toward a Neurobiology of Interpersonal Experience , (New
York: Guilford Press, 1999.)
Daniel G. Amen, Healing The Hardware of the Soul, (New York: The Free Press, 2002.)
Gerald M. Edelman, Guilio Tononi, A Universe of Consciousness, (New York: Basic Books, 2000)
Harvey Milkman and Stanley Sunderwirth, Craving for Ecstasy, (San Francisco: Josey-Bass
Publishers, 1997.)
Ronald A. Ruden and Marcia Byalick, The Craving Brain, (New York: Perennial, 2000.)

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