Author Archives: Trevor Olson

About Trevor Olson

Psychologist, PsyD; License No. and State: PSY 28474 California; Serves with the LJCC High School Ministry on Sundays and during the week
Transitioning Back to Work After Summer Break

Transitioning Back to Work After Summer Break

Getting into the right mindset to return to work

Back to Work Again After Summer

Work is a four-letter word most of us dread. We work now more than we ever have. We work for longer, with greater insecurity, expectation, and revolving casts. Our work is often not satisfying, and we usually don’t like someone we work with or the whole office for that matter. The cost to our families and ourselves is high. For many of us, being a worker is what we spend our adult lives doing. For many of us, being a ‘worker’ doesn’t have that much of a ring to it. Most of us would prefer to be on vacation.

If we’ve had a good summer, there’s the sad reluctance of saying goodbye to weekends at the beach and European vacations and enough sitting by the lake where God’s powers of enjoyment have begun again to recur. If it’s been a lousy summer, or no summer at all, work never came off the throne, leading us to think: It’s going to be another long year. When summer break is rewarding, we might keep looking back or push down the sadness at summer’s end in favor of new mountains to climb. If summer break was disappointing there’s just cause for angst, and perhaps plenty of it.

You’re Not Alone

Going back to work is work, it’s painful, and not easy for most of us. Going back to work is a choice; it costs us something to say “no” to, so we can say “yes” to our careers. Going back to work takes the renewal of a profound commitment that is maintained entirely through wills and hearts and minds.

So, what is the secret to reconditioning ourselves for more work? “Whatever we do, work at it with all our hearts, as working for the Lord and not for men, since we know we will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward, for it is the Lord Christ we are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24) Going back to work according to the Worker Himself is an act of devotion, obedience, and hope. It is the intimacy of devotion because we are devoted to Him. It is the sacrament of obedience because we choose to obey Him. We go back to work because our hope is in the work. Our Lord has given us the way by which we become hopeful.

Consider this

We should look at going back to work, not in ‘word or talk, but in deed and in truth’ (1 John 3:18). Going back to work with the futility it brings is reminiscent of the Fall (Genesis 3:17-19). Thank God we weren’t left overcome sin on our own (Luke 19:10). Jesus went about His work so well He gave us a clean slate. As a result, our job description is to be done for the Almighty Himself.

Join us this fall as His Body turns our heart back again to our work – laying down our lives for the Master and our friends. Then with our voice, let us speak to the ‘good works God has prepared in advance for us to do.’ Let us announce our return.

We believe God calls us into community with one another to do life together and that’s why life groups are so important. Life Groups offer an opportunity to encourage and support one another as we learn to walk with Christ and face everyday challenges. Take the step to joining a life group today.

Recommended reading

How to walk boldly into the next season

How to walk boldly into the next season

Everyday people equipped to walk boldly

REFLECTING BACK TO LOOK FORWARD

As summer comes to close, I have a suggestion: along with looking forward to the fall, let’s reflect on the summer. Our culture moves so aggressively into the future that the past is a little bit like the rain forest and glaciers. Casualties of climate change, the past is not the source of identity, confidence and inspiration it once was, in part because it’s place in our lives is shrinking. While we’ve still got enough sunlight in the day to power a beautiful reflection, let’s look back.

One of the few things we know about Mary, Jesus’ mother is that she was someone who ‘treasured up’ things in her heart. In other words, Mary did not want to lose sight of the events leading up to Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:16-20). The words spoken about Jesus were impressed upon her, about who He would become. She prized what she knew of Jesus (Luke 2:40-51) and what that meant for her and others. In other words, she did not let her faith fade away but instead made it grow. As Mary did, let’s add His glory this summer into our movement into the past.

GOD IS PRESENT IN ALL MOMENTS

Start by asking yourself this question: If you only used three words to describe your summer to people, what would they be? Mine are: busy, illuminating, and dry. In my case, the summer was dry because I didn’t care to read the Bible much, and I paid for it. And what made summer illuminating, interestingly enough, was a busy travel schedule that got me out of town three weekends in a row (away from the usual busy which right now is drying me out like the hot sun). God met me along the way, through three consecutive times of travel. For me, busyness was both the thing that emptied me out, while also filling my soul. Now make the contemplation for yourself: how does this bespeak of your relationship with God? What do these words have to do with what you read, or didn’t read, listened or didn’t listen to in the Bible and on podcasts? What do they do with what God said or didn’t say, and did or didn’t do?

RESTORE YOURSELF BEFORE MOVING FORWARD

Don’t let us miss the firm foundation of our life in Yours, lest we fail to accrue to the profound good You had in mind for us this summer to become ours for life. Some of you had incredible, unadulterated moments this summer: on ski boats, at the top of mountains and by campfires, in countries where people have fewer means than we do, at home with your family, at camp with your friends; moments that are so good that probably should be said to be glorious. And I bet some of you had painful, lonely, anxious moments this summer. Times so bad perhaps they are indeed many things, but they are not glorious. Let us ponder these things against the backdrop of the miraculous love of God in Jesus Christ. As we move into fall, let us ask Him to make us new by looking back even as we pray He will do good to us as we move forward.

On Sunday, September 9, 2018, we celebrated God’s hand in blessing us with curiosity–the kind of interest that drove people to start La Jolla Community Church in 2005. Now as we’ve looked back and recognized how He was present then, we cannot help to ponder His glory in the next chapter of the church. Replay the service for inspiration as you contemplate how God was present in your life this summer.

The Secret to Peace this Summer

The Secret to Peace this Summer

The Secret to Finding Peace may surprise you

Finding the Work/Life Balance You Desire

It’s mid-summer, and you’ve either taken your much-deserved vacation or are anxiously awaiting the peace that comes along with it. And for some of you, you’re on your way to your destination right now! You’ve packed and made all the arrangements. You finally get a chance to take that vacation you’ve always desired, and you end up sleeping most of the time.

Why We Sleep” (Matt Walker, Ph.D.) – a recent book out from by a well-respected sleep researcher would have us believe our exhaustion has us poised for a fell. Enjoyment is underwhelming. The relaxation that results in peace is often elusive. As soon as we break from work for vacation, we shrug off the all-time work mentality. But when was the last time we knew, deep down, it is well? (Ecclesiastes 2:22-23) When was the last time it was streaming out of our bones?

Perhaps the key to finding rest in our lives doesn’t come in the form of a plane ticket to an exotic resort. Shocking, I know! But finding lasting peace in our lives means being at peace well after we return to work. I’m not suggesting that you cancel your vacation but consider for a moment that we were created to share. When we’re in a state of desperation, we tend to isolate ourselves. When we entertain others, we create a space where gratitude meets joy. Yep, I’m talking about hospitality.

John Mark Comer, a pastor at Bridgetown Church calls our time of unrest, confusion, and isolation a season for the Church to embrace the world through the reconciliatory work of hospitality. But, how do we find the energy to be generous to others when we don’t have enough power to get through the day?

When everyone else is busy keeping up with the Joneses, consider your life with the eyes of the Lord. Rejoice for what people point at in your life and say ‘look at that.’ If your family is well, or well enough – rejoice. If your children are being educated – rejoice. If you have work that pays you a wage – rejoice and be glad. Hospitality starts with having something to give away. And it ends with being glad. Would you agree? Jesus certainly does.

Jesus eats with people often. The excellent book “Never Eat Alone” (Keith Ferrazzi), comes to mind as a spinoff to Jesus’ mentality, the difference being that instead of social climbing He ate with everyone. Jesus ate with people He barely knew so they would know that God sits down with His people. He also ate in the presence of His enemies. What a stir there would be in La Jolla/University Towne Centre if LJCC came to be known for having our enemies over for dinner to show them God’s mercy. (Romans 12:20) After all, “for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” (Ecclesiastes 2:25)

When you return from vacation, or the next time you’re longing for peace, get real on how good of a time you can have your friends. Better yet:  see how good of a time you can have with strangers and nominal acquaintances. (Hebrews 13:2-3; Luke 14:12-14). If you sit at the table of gratitude and joy more often in your life, your life will be made full to overflowing and likely you will be more rested. Amen.

How will you show hospitality to others?

Share with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter! And let us return the favor – we’re turning 13 this year and you’re invited to celebrate with us at our Annual Celebration and Brunch.

How to navigate through transitions

How to navigate through transitions

He is the light that will guide you through change

Finding light in times of need

It seems like transitions are taking place in our lives daily. Think about the many ways we’re dealing with changes right now:  not only are the days are longer, but people are graduating, switching jobs, and even moving to new locations. For many of us, we’ve been here before, but some of us deal with change better than others. Like it or not, change happens. In the past, people handled change by keeping things the same, whereas nowadays we keep things different.

A philosopher recently commented, “stability is no longer the rule, it’s the exception” (Svend Brinkmann, “Stand Firm“). That’s an interesting take on change, but here’s an even more impressive take on change. Jesus was fond of saying things like, “Not a dot, not an iota of these words will pass away until everything is in the field” (Matthew 5:17-18 ESV). In other words, “not even the smallest change will happen until everything in this world passes away.” Jesus says things will not change depending on time, but we also know from Scripture that He does not change:  “He is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He knows what’s to come, whereas we cannot foresee what’s to come. We can trust God to be who He is until the end of time.

Change in our lives should come from the difference in our lives. What I mean by this is, the comfort we get out of the transition we’re going through should come out of the place in our hearts where the Lord is working within us. Here’s an example of a shift that took place between the Jews and Gentiles, where Paul recounts that Jesus united them:

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near (Ephesians 2:14-17 NIV).

So, how do we find stability in the midst of change? The peace we’re looking for in the midst of transition is the change God brings about in our hearts when we abide in Him (Psalm 30:5). We should trust not in the variables that exist in our lives, but in Christ who is a constant, who turns rebels into faithful followers, poor to rich, lost to found, orphan to the favored child, from death to life (John 11:25). Join us as we seek God’s blessing in our own lives as one of His calling.

Actual Self-actualization

Actual Self-actualization

A man reading a book on a rock in a grassy field

Have you noticed people talking about self-actualization a lot these days? It seems to me like it’s the next “go to.” When I was a kid growing up in Encinitas (north of San Diego), self-actualization took place in the form of the commune by the beach where the people looked serene and everyone wondered what they did exactly. Now as an adult, I’m more concerned with the actual definition of self-actualization. In Webster’s dictionary to self-actualize means to fully realize one’s potential. Another way to say this is to pursue a better version of oneself.

Here’s the problem: self-actualization doesn’t work. One reason: it can’t. Here’s why: it presupposes a power we don’t have. We believe as people that we have the power to do anything we want. The people we look up to as heroes are no different. Here’s the problem with that: no human has ever come close to anything like the earth-shattering magnitude and fundamental perfection of getting exactly what we want, except one.

We are bent for self-actualization, meaning we are drenched with longing for that which we don’t yet have. Just because it isn’t within us doesn’t mean we aren’t made for it. So, we do just about anything we can to get what we don’t have: we work longer and take less time off, our stress level increases, and then we get psychotropic medications prescribed to us to deal with the anxiety and depression created by our increased workload. Throw in the caffeine for our exhaustion and Netflix for a bit of enjoyment and we’re higher still.

Yet in the Bible, self-actualization takes the form of discipleship. The way to really find oneself is to aspire to become someone else. Instead of becoming ourselves, we apprentice ourselves to the One we follow. In the Christian story, the Son of God came down and laid down His royal life for one, alarmingly specific reason: because it was the will of someone else. He actualized according to His Father’s will.

We believe the well-known line “not my will, but thine, be done” (John 6:38-40) is the touchstone moment of actualization that both completely changed the history of the world and defines what self-actualization really is:  laying down our lives for our friends. The Son of God submitted His will to His Father and then faced the veritable firing squad on behalf of people He loved. Then He was brought back from the dead by the power of the One who loved Him. Now, anyone who comes with Him can also be changed in this frank and fundamental way. What a wild definition of self-actualization! In the Christian faith, self-actualization is the process of becoming so completely with and like Jesus—submitted and formed into the will of God in the love of God and the people in one’s life—that the good stuff, the love of God and the heart of God, the most powerful force, and powerful thing, comes true.

Come and learn about God’s actualization of His people… It’s a deeply counterintuitive approach to becoming who we are meant to be. And it is absolutely wonderful. Come and see what that means for you at our Sunday worship services at 9:00 and 10:45 am.

The Miracle Cure

The Miracle Cure

Dr. Olson's blog post, "The Miracle Cure," on the LJCC Blog.

There’s a Miracle Cure for nearly everything

Have you noticed how often we think about miracle cures? Right now I’m moving my week around so I can cash in on Turbo Tax’s “50% off Federal Filing Products 3.23-3.27” that is brightening up my inbox right now. Whether it’s purchasing a lottery ticket with the expectation of winning it all or saving money on the next big purchase, we expect little things to solve our big problems.

As a wise pastor wrote famously about marriage, we expect both too much and too little of the miraculous. What’s strange is we don’t expect nearly enough out of the provision God provides us with. Instead, we look for the next business deal. We are deeply skeptical of supernatural and, simultaneously, we as a people are converging on the present moment to satisfy our great longings and rectify the great wrongs. Miraculously. That’s what the definition of a miracle is, isn’t it? When something undone and undoable goes completely good, in an instant.

We’ve given up hope for the miraculous, which somehow means that when we have the innate desire for the supernatural to take hold of our lives, that desire is much stronger. It’s as if in the last couple hundred years of systematically disabusing ourselves of the miraculous we now, with instantaneous gratification, and compromised attention, and ever-present loneliness, find ourselves ever more oriented around that very thing.

Mercy at a time when we need it most

Jesus’ impending passion, crucifixion, and resurrection come at such a merciful time in our predicament. When most of us can’t spend five minutes without worrying, Jesus came and told us “when I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32) The Bible goes on to say that the Father will take care of all our needs. (Matthew 6:25–34) Whoever thought the cure for our woes was the man Jesus, whose life was taken by people whose sins he was dying for? Whoever thought God actually loved you and me enough to subject himself to giving ‘His only Son.’? (John 3:16)

Whoever thinks, when we are casting about for something to soothe our troubled souls this is what we are really looking for? And if we’re really honest, who among us has the courage to believe the Miracle is true? But there it is. This week the church around the world will be struck down with Jesus as He is crucified for our sins. Sit with the rest of Jesus’ family as He lies in the tomb, and then watch as He’s brought to life. Hear the good news sisters and brothers. The Miracle Cure is alive and real; it’s the living God.

Join us in celebrating the good news on Easter Sunday with services at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 am. Blessings to you in this season of the year when all of those in need of a miracle get one. 

Easter Services

The Secret to Healing in the Midst of Darkness

The Secret to Healing in the Midst of Darkness

healing during dark times

Did this time of the year ever drag as a kid? I remember trying to taste summer break and coming up short. Summer and the freedom that comes with it are a long ways away right now. As an adult, this time of year seems to drag on too, as if we’re in no man’s land.

The glow of the New Year isn’t on the radar anymore and it’s all-too-familiar to think in circles. It’s hard to even talk about wanting so badly to have it all together when the emptiness deepens. Anxiety sets in when we’re trying to grab on to something comforting that we cannot quite reach. This emptiness causes us to focus on our fears and it becomes almost maddening. Wasn’t it just two months ago when we sang ‘should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?’ with the hope that comes from a glimpse at the joy of new life? How have things returned to normal, in the painful sense of the word, so fast?

Jesus once warned his friend Peter that he would be tempted to betray the one most dear to him: his teacher Jesus. Being led into temptation can be a somewhat medieval sounding concept. What it means is simply being drawn from doing good to doing bad, being drawn away from the path we were on, to fearing the emptiness of being empty. In the story, Jesus famously tells Peter he would be tempted to deny his connection to Jesus. Peter, of course, denies he would do such only to find himself swearing up and down he never knew the man just days later (Luke 22:31-62). His pride led him to a great fall and he experienced remorse over his decision to deny Jesus. How can we avoid what happened to Peter?

In the season of Lent followers of Jesus prepare themselves every year to go with Jesus to His death on the cross on Good Friday, and His resurrection three days later on Easter. It’s a time of preparation for Easter Sunday. And what better way to give the normal temptations in life a run for their money than by making a “pilgrimage?” In the midst of coming up short and searching, Christ’s story is a journey that leads straight to the turning points in our lives: the moment when God reconciles Himself to buy us back. When He dies for our sins, He opens up a way for our ‘hearts and minds and strength and soul’ to get back on the right track, away from no man’s land, away from anxiety that can set in.

If you would, come and go on this journey that we celebrate year after year. You will not be alone. What’s more, we will be restored on this journey together. Holy Week is one of the weeks of the year when we are made to know that our anxieties, emptinesses, and strivings can be caught up into something much bigger and deeper than ourselves and be made well. Jesus tells us to come and pick up our cross (Matthew 16:24-26). The process of getting it right is to come and lay down our temptations so that we might be raised up in His forgiveness and grace. This time of year may drag on, but not if we’re open to the comfort that He provides all year long. Come and join us as we join Him.

Join Us for Holy Week

The Solution to New Year Resolutions

The Solution to New Year Resolutions

A group chatting.

Okay, folks! We’re almost a month into the New Year. What do we have to show so far for those resolutions? To be honest, I’m not doing the best with my resolutions and I suspect that might be the case for you, too.

Oftentimes we have a tenuous experience of carrying things through the gauntlet of our busy lives, but we have to carry things through if we are to make good on them. One thing that we often miss when making resolutions is that we don’t account for worries, or the fears that so consistently give rise to those worries, but they happen year after year.

I realize it’s starting to sound like commitments aren’t worth making, but hang in there. Let’s put some context on how we usually handle commitments. As people, we often divest ourselves of as many commitments as we can manage. We fantasize about a week, or a day, or even five minutes, where we don’t have to do anything, and can sit back and be rid of life’s problems. Other times we flip the script and urgently try to make changes in our lives like getting another job, going back to school, starting a family, or getting both kids into after-school programs. Our on-again, off-again habit of commitment is the roller-coaster a lot of us know firsthand.

So why is something so difficult, personal, and scary worth doing? Because God’s commitment to us is at the center of our lives, and we are coming into relationship with Him. At Christmas, we are reminded of the gift He gave to us. In January, He gives us strength, unifies us as a body of believers, and reminds us with His life in us that our lives are good when they are together. With God and with one another our worries and fears don’t cripple us the way they do when we are on our own. Together we can be committed to life. So at LJCC we commit to winter camp, to the season of Lent, to celebrating His resurrection at Easter, to finishing the construction on our campus, to baptisms, weddings, memorials, summer camp, beach days, more weddings, baptisms and memorials, tithing, sending people down to Mexico, all the hours of Bible studies, visiting the sick and being visited ourselves.

We want to invite you to do the same. Come and commit to a year of being closer to God, and helps us ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’ all the year through. Come to the sermon this week about how God taught a timid person to commit to much more than his timidity. Help us to see this year all the way through. And let us help you to do likewise.

Peace in a no-peace Christmas

Peace in a no-peace Christmas


I have been in so many stores that I cannot find the thing I want to buy for Christmas. I went to too many stores and now I’ve forgotten where it is! Christmas came and went faster this year than it ever has before. Unconsciously speaking about it in the past tense a full week before it’s happened tells you all you need to know about how I’m doing this year. And what’s a little spooky is this year, for the first time I can remember, I pushed back against that ceaseless trajectory of my life a little bit less.

From the looks of it, human life has been speeding up almost since it began. For a while it was slow. Camels could only be selectively bred so fast. Then there were horses. Then there war horses and warships. Then in the last 150 years, there were trains then cars then planes then electricity then phones then email then Instagram. In all likelihood somewhere in those last 150 years you and yours got swept away. The course of the life is now at full flood stage. San Diego is an epicenter of the flood. Christmas and its competing demands for work and family and celebration and annual conclusion exemplify our penchant and commitment to frenetic existence.

But here’s the thing:  there is still peace in this little life and this perhaps, no-peace Christmas. One of Jesus’ names we use around His birthday, is Immanuel – God with us. Immanuel refers to God becoming a person – ‘incarnating’ Himself – which is this lovely visceral word that literally means ‘enfleshed.’ God descended from the realm of all glory and ceaseless adoration and entered into the womb of a young girl in a captive country to make things right again. God registered Himself amongst our human race and has been gathering people up into a life-changing embrace ever since. Here is the mercy and peace for all of us: that given we are who we are, that God is who Immanuel is.

Come to our Christmas Eve service. Take a break. Have a respite. On the eve of the big day, step into peace for an hour. Start the holy day early by initiating it in peace the night before. Be ahead for once. 🙂 Walk out on Christmas Eve with the peace of the Presence of God, having come to be with His people, yesterday, today and forever. Know in a deeper way, or for the first time, what a wise pastor calls the “hope of Christmas and the joy of Christmas.” Knowing God often gets made out to be a lot more troubled and vexing than He Himself is.

Let us try to make out the proclamation of peace – the moment everything changed:
“Joy to the world – the Lord has come.”
“For unto us a child is born. Unto us a Son is given.”

To us! But can it be? Yes:  somehow our Savior has come. The Lord has come:  to bind up the broken-hearted, to set us at liberty in the midst of our oppression, to reconcile us to God, to proclaim His favor. He has come to make us His family. Christ has come, ‘with the government’ of all of the grievous, confounding, unmanageable things of our many lives ‘upon His shoulders.’ Join us at the Christmas Eve service as we receive our King. And Merry Christmas.

The Race and the Prize

The Race and the Prize

The Race and Prize

The expert of the law and the Lord said the same thing: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:25-29; Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18)

That is what we’re called to do if we want to inherit eternal life. It is our big chance in life. It’s our ticket out of the fall and into the Kingdom.

Pastor Steve pointed out, this is the question that God gives us – “who is my neighbor?” It’s something we can’t afford to misunderstand or fail to hear. “A new commandment I give you – love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Recollect a few things Pastor Steve said to this point:

  • “We are the people of the Word.”
  • “If you bite and devour each other, watch out, or you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:14-15)
  • “This is a love issue. My relationship with myself sets the tone for all relationships I have.”

When we end up with our back up against the wall (surely this will happen at times) – let us pray we do not forget that we are lovers of God and neighbor and so then the way forward is this. In this endeavor we can always succeed. This is the soul-anchoring hope of Christ winning out in our lives. In this endeavor we may succeed whenever we desire. This is the love of Christ in us. This is the promise of the cross. Love of God and neighbor is what fulfills our lives – it is the race and prize.

So “set out towards justice” as Steve said. Form, further and fulfill relationships with your neighbor and yourself until the particularities of whom God desires to be becomes clear. Remember:  relationships always resolve themselves into particularities. If you aren’t sure where God is in your neighbor’s life or your own, it’s an optics problem. You aren’t close enough to see.

So get to know/love your neighbor and yourself. Ask the questions and raise the issues. Sincerity and love allow incredible kinds of communication/bonding not otherwise available. In Christ, all kinds of otherwise impossible and high and holy things are possible. God is reconciling people to Himself. Let’s be people who have the deal-making joy of saying “yes.”

X
X
X