Category Archives: LJCC’s Faith Blog

22 Summer Book Recommendations

22 Summer Book Recommendations


Read a summer book recommendation from Pastor Steve

The summer months are a great time to rejuvenate and restore. Whether at home, on a plane, or at your final destination, reading a new book is rewarding and beneficial. There are so many books to choose from, which is why I’ve narrowed it down for you with summer reading recommendations. These are books I have read and enthusiastically recommend! The books are divided up into categories that may help you further define the best titles for you.

Inspiring Stories of Faith
Gray Matter: A Neurosurgeon Discovers the Power of Prayer, Dr. David Levy

Surprised by Oxford: A Memoir, Carolyn Weber

Daily Devotional
The Daily Bible – In Chronological Order, F. LaGard Smith

Jesus Calling, Sarah Young

Bible Tapestry Volumes I & II, Laus Deo (Johann DeVilliers)

Personal Growth
A New Kind of Leader: What You Believe Can Open A Door For A Kid or Teenager’s Future, Reggie Joiner

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts., Brene Brown

Everybody Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult people, Bob Goff

How People Grow: What the Bible Reveals About Personal Growth, Cloud & Townsend

Biblical Study/Theology
People to be Loved: Why Homosexuality Is Not Just An Issue, Preston Sprinkle

Paul: A Biography, NT Wright

Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism, Alvin Platinga

Spiritual Disciplines
Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Avila

Mirror for the Soul: A Christian Guide to the Enneagram, Alice Frying

The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard

Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors from Augustus to Constantine, Barry Strauss

Social Commentary
Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, Yossi Klein Halevi

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Bryan Stevenson

Professional Development
The Ideal Team Player, Patrick Lencioni

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived Life, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, Cal Newport

Purchase books on the patio on Sundays at the Books table. These adult reading recommendations are available in paperback or hardcover, and we accept payment in the form of cash or check. Speak to whoever is running the table about the selection of books we have available and to make a purchase. You may also enjoy the selection of books we have for children at the Books table.

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.

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” 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

Practice is back in season

Practice is back in season

Getting into the right mindset to return to work

Practice has come, thankfully, back into fashion. But what’s trending is more about how to practice self-discipline. There’s no shortage of books out there on this topic. An example is Jordan B. Peterson’s “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos” that entices readers with the antidote for order in a chaotic world. The upside is clear: we move from the hopelessly incurvatus in se of ‘your truth/my truth’ and a destructively antagonistic attitude towards commitment, discipline, and obligation, back into a life actually going somewhere.

The downside is self-absorption: our tendency (as just recently uncommitted, anxious, guilty, often exhausted moderns) will be to practice life the same way we avoided practicing it. Namely, we will practice aimlessly and obsessively and self-consciously, ending up with discouragement and more anxiety, unrealized hopes and unrelieved fears. Worst of all is the gnawing lack of success of our chief desire – the victory of giving and receiving the love of Christ, who has given to us to expend our lives in.

The Basic Idea

Our culture is penduluming out of the unstructured morass of following the inner spinning compass, thank goodness, towards practice. But practicing can be just as counterproductive, just as detached and consumptive and distracting if done as ‘my schedule, my life, my world.’

Remember, practice is completely necessary for our job descriptions as those who lay down our lives for our friends (John 15:13) and enjoy God forever. To give up just because we struggle against self-absorption is to skip the race because we aren’t yet in shape. Take the Scottish philosopher, Alasdair MacIntyre’s reflection on practice. MacIntyre writes about one of the great philosophical defenses of faith, and he does it by talking about virtue, which does by talking about practice. In summary, MacIntyre’s reflection on practice from “After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory,” is this:  A ‘practice’ is a beneficial and committed act that brings the goodness inherent in the action to fruition by doing the action excellently. In this, the goodness of the world is expanded.

The Bottom Line

How does someone proceed with excellence in practice? First, a jumping-off what we know practice to be; we have a tendency to make practice only about ourselves. But in fact, practice is really about discipleship – fixing our eyes on Jesus, of looking at Him more and more intently and more committedly and more lovingly and obediently. And since we are called to bear witness, would we not share the Good News with others? If not for looking to Him first, practice will merely accrue to whatever train we are riding on. Without a good reason, we have no shot at real hope. We have to want this Guy, and not just want Him. We have to choose Jesus: the one for whom we are all practicing (1 Timothy 4:15). Jesus has called Himself the Lord of the Harvest, the Bridegroom. It is He who is bountiful and gives us our daily bread.

Join us in giving thanks this season as we lean into committing ourselves to the ‘One from who everyone in Heaven and on earth derives their names’ with more of our heart and mind and body and strength. Lord let the good wind of devotion blow, and blow all over our lives and our land.

Want to know more about practice?

Revisit the November 2018 sermon series, “Practice” as a download or podcast with message titles such as “Honesty,” “Humility,” “Gratitude,” and “Wisdom.”

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


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.


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?


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.

An Unexpected Summer Adventure

An Unexpected Summer Adventure

Take an Adventure toward Personal Growth

It’s time to go on an adventure

You’ve turned on your autoresponder, and it’s officially time to kick back. After all, summer vacation is one of the best times to be refreshed and renewed. It’s no surprise that we want an adventure on our summer break and that often comes in the form of reading a good book. Here are some intriguing book titles: “A Long Way from Home” by Peter Carey, “How to Stop Time” by Matt Haig, and “Less” by Andrew Sean Greer. While it’s pretty clear that a lot of us want to disconnect from work (and who could blame us), summer is also a great time to better ourselves.

Getting more out of ‘Out of Office’

When we feel that we need a break the most, that’s a cue that we’re missing something important in our lives. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Perhaps loving God means being more wise and discerning like Him. Those who will likely be more prepared to tackle life’s challenges are those who choose to grow (Proverbs 9:9). Here are some books we are reading that can take you on an adventure toward your growth as God intended this summer:

“Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t” by Simon Sinek
“Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion” by Gregory Boyle
“The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery” by Cron and Stabile
“Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well” by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen
“Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People” by Bob Goff
“Paul: A Biography” by N.T. Wright
“How People Grow: What the Bible Reveals About Personal Growth” by Cloud & Townsend
“Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?”
by Gary Thomas
“Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson
“Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead”
by Brené Brown
“The Words and Works of Jesus Christ: A Study of the Life of Christ” 
by J. Dwight Pentecost
“Thinking About Christian Apologetics: What It Is and Why We Do It” 
by James K. Beilby
“The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society” by Henri Nouwen

Similarly, there are other books we would love to read, so let us know what you’re reading this summer!

Keep growing well after you’ve finished your book

Did you know you can stay connected to us when you’re traveling? We live stream our services every Sunday at 10:45 am and you can also listen or watch the service replays weekly on Mondays or Tuesdays.

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.

A Fresh Look for LJCC

A Fresh Look for LJCC

Transformation Starts in Community

a beveled sign of the new logo

We’re at a crossroads – both literally and figuratively! The new LJCC logo is symbolic of where we’ve been and also marks the beginning of a new chapter at LJCC. LJCC is an intergenerational family of families. The lines woven together in unity represent our commitment to the body of believers here at LJCC and those who have yet to walk in our door. Because at LJCC, we believe we’re better together. We’re committed to meeting everyday people wherever they’re at on their faith journey. Join us in spreading the news by using #LJCommunityChurch

Logo Video