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God found in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

There are great illustrations that pop up in movies that communicate deep spiritual truths

Graham Clifford
  • Graham Clifford

La Mesa Church of Christ

Contact: 5150 Jackson Dr., La Mesa (619) 465-5150 www.lamesachurch.com

Membership: 100

Pastor: Graham Clifford

Age: 43

Born: Salinas

Formation: Dallas Christian College, Dallas, TX; Center for Christian Education, Irving, TX

Years Ordained: 12

San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach?

Pastor Graham Clifford: I love the gospels. I love being able to preach all the way through the gospels and seeing what exactly Jesus taught, how passionate he was about loving people, and how loving people is a reflection of how you love God.

SDR: What’s the mission of your church?

PC: It is to love God and love people. That’s the short of it. We do that through our primary focus, our ministry to families with children at home. When this church was built in the late 1950s, the leaders wanted to dedicate this facility to honoring and glorifying God, and at the same time to serve the community. One way we do this today is through Parents Night Out. On the first Friday of every month, we invite families in the community to bring their kids 12 and under to join us here. We watch the kids, feed them dinner, have some skits we put on and watch a family-friendly movie while the parents get to have a night off. We started this as a way to reach out to kids, but we realized it was just as much a ministry to the parents. We started with six kids showing up, and now two years later we have about 70 kids on our mailing list now. We’re excited about being able to get involved with these families’ lives.

SDR: Where is the strangest place you found God?

PC: The least likely place I find God is in movies, and not even explicitly Christian movies. There are great illustrations that pop up in movies all the time that communicate deep spiritual truths. One of the first ones I noticed was a favorite movie of mine from my younger years, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. There’s that scene when Steve Martin is asleep and John Candy is driving the car, and he decides he’s too hot and wants to take his jacket off while he’s driving. He gets his coat caught in the seat levers and in typical movie fashion, things go crazy at that point. That moment communicates so deeply the mess we get ourselves into with sin. We get ourselves into some sinful situation that at the time really isn’t that big of a deal. Had John Candy at that moment pulled the car over on the side of the road and fixed it, he wouldn’t have ended up in the situation he did. But we don’t do that. We try to cover it up, or fix it on our own, and we wind up totally out of control and our life is hanging in the balance in a nasty situation as we head into two semi-trucks with Satan just laughing at us.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PC: I believe that when we die, there is paradise waiting for us. I don’t think it’s what you see in paintings with streets of gold and pearly gates; I think it’s just getting to be in the presence of God with all the other Christians who have gone before us. There’s perfect peace and love when we’re in the presence of God. The opposite of that is hell, the absence of God, where all those things don’t exist because God’s presence is not there.

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