11330 Campo Road, La Mesa
Pastor: Jim Garlow
Born: Concordia, KS
Formation: Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Bartlesville, OK; Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma City, OK; Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY; Princeton Theological Seminary, NJ; Drew University, Madison, NJ
Years Ordained: 39
San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
Pastor Jim Garlow: My passion for Christ — the excitement and joy of serving Him, the desire to see other people come to Him, the sheer delight in people when they come to an understanding of how incredibly great it is to have a walk with our Savior. I am deeply concerned that many people go to church and don’t understand the excitement, joy, and delight of being a follower of Jesus Christ.
SDR: What is your main concern as a member of the clergy?
PG: As it relates to the American scene, if I can nationalize it, my concern is the failure to see how biblical truths apply to community and national life. It is easy for people to understand the application of biblical truth to personal life; it is reasonably easy for most people to understand how the Bible speaks to family life; most people get it that the Bible speaks to well-ordered church life. There is oftentimes a break at that point — a failure to grasp that God is the God of nations as well. He has an understanding of how a nation’s life is to be ordered to bring peace to the people. “Blessed is the nation whose God is Lord” (Psalm 33:12), says the Scriptures.
SDR: Where is the strangest place you found God?
PG: A few days after my wife was diagnosed with cancer in June 2007, on a late Thursday night or early Friday morning, we knew we were in for a tough journey. She’s been battling now for five and a half years and she has stage-4 cancer. She’s miraculously survived — she’s in the 99.99 percentile — only 1/100 of the people diagnosed with this form of cancer are still alive after this length of time. It’s been tough. When she was first diagnosed, we realized how serious things were, and we resolved an issue that night. The pains and heartaches of life do not mitigate God’s grace and God’s love. He is most present when he feels most absent.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PG: I’ve written two books on heaven — I coauthored one book called Heaven and the Afterlife and a second book titled Encountering Heaven and the Afterlife. We interviewed people for our book, people who experienced both heaven and hell and were brought back to life. No one who experienced hell has any desire to have any touch with that place again; and yet those who experienced heaven in near-death experiences lost all fear of death and were so eager to go back to that place they experienced…. It is a breathtaking place of perfection and permanence. We know we’re made for these things and we know we’re not experiencing either of those. God created the Earth this way, but we lost it because of Lucifer’s fall and humanity’s sin. Still, God is going to restore a new heaven and Earth someday. God desires all to be there; hell was never designed for humanity. If humans go to hell, they go by their own choosing and not because God ever wanted it.