Jim Fowler and Duke Snider
Jim Fowler is one of the great friends and mentors of my life – I’m not the only one who is closer to God given Jim’s ministry. Given a traumatic surgery he has recently endured, allow me to share a few thoughts about my relationship with Jim, a self-sacrificial servant of Jesus.
I first became aware of Jim’s ministry something like 25 years ago. He was then and still is a rare “find” – I look back and I was like an archaeologist who has found a treasure – something (someone) of great value. I quickly determined Jim Fowler to be a prolific writer, a consummate and dedicated scholar who had already, at that time, amassed a long and distinguished body of work. As I read his articles and books, I was encouraged and gratified to realize he shared many of the perspectives to which I had come. In Jim I discovered, as I had with no one else at that time, someone who had almost identical concerns about the dangers of Christ-less religion, at least to the degree I did.
After making contract with him on the phone I discovered Jim and his wife Gracie were living in Fallbrook California, a little more than a two-hour drive south of my home and our CWR/PTM offices. On my first visit Jim graciously welcomed my colleague Monte Wolverton and myself, and then later, Ed Dunn accompanied me for a second visit. During both meetings we had lunch on Main Street in Fallbrook. I still remember those delicious fish tacos.
During a sidebar in our conversation during my first visit to Fallbrook, as we talked about God, our faith in Christ, and the nexus of our doctrinal presuppositions, I told Jim this was my first ever visit to Fallbrook, a town whose name would forever live in my memory. And then I told him the rest of my Fallbrook story and why I will never forget Fallbrook.
I then told Jim the story of my lifelong devotion to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and that as a young boy, when the Dodgers moved to LA from Brooklyn, I was almost religiously entranced by the radio voice of the Dodgers, Vin Scully. During the career of Duke Snider (1947-1964), one of the greatest Dodgers of all, Vin Scully would often talk about how Duke, his wife and family had purchased an avocado orchard in Fallbrook and made it their home.
“And now,” I joked with Jim, “here I am in Fallbrook – not to visit the baseball slugger known as ‘the Duke’ – but you will have to do!” Jim smiled (he has a smile as big as the Kansas heartland which is the soil of his younger days) and said, “I can arrange for you to meet Duke if you want. I retired from full time pastoring a few years ago, but when I was pastoring Duke and his wife attended our church here in Fallbrook.” Duke Snider hit many home runs in his career – but in the ballparks of publishing, electronic ministry, pastoring and theology in my estimation Jim Fowler ranks as one of the all-time home run hitters.
A few days ago my phone rang, my caller ID identifying the phone number’s location as Fallbrook, California. I have a soft spot for Fallbrook, so even while I surmised it could have been a robo call trying to sell me a warranty for my car (or whatever) I picked up. It was my good friend Jim Fowler. He has kept his Fallbrook cell phone number even though about five years ago he and his wife moved to live near their daughter and her family in San Antonio.
I had not talked with Jim for several years, but my elation in hearing from him swiftly morphed into shock – I felt like I had been hit with a ton of bricks. He explained that he was calling from a rehab hospital near San Antonio. Jim told me he had been suffering, for a number of years, with diabetic neuropathy, that became so bad both of his feet were essentially dead. He told me only a few weeks earlier he had surgery, a double amputation. Here are some excerpts from a recent Facebook post in which Jim explains some of his emotional and spiritual pain:
“In the days following my double amputation surgery [late March, 2022]… I was pleading with God during my prayers. I pled that he might allow me to escape this life, and slide into the place prepared for me in heaven. Then God seemed to pull me up abruptly, and said, ‘Stop the pleading! I will not listen to or respond to your pleading…’”
“That is the daily relational process God and I are engaged in time and again. It’s a never-ending process – our natural tendencies keep drawing our attention back to ourselves, and God has his ways of drawing our attention to himself… into his love for others.”
Jim Fowler is a forever friend of CWR/PTM. He served on our Board of Directors for several years. Jim’s writings have helped changed the negative perspective that thousands upon thousands have had of God. His literary contributions are somewhat like fine art, vividly portraying and explaining the beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We often exchanged books we had written – in one of the many titles he was written Jim included a personal autograph: “Greg – Thank you for the friendship we share within the relational Triune God. Jim Fowler.”
We are pleased and thankful to continue publishing Jim’s perspectives and insights, in our magazines and on our blog. Please join us in praying for Jim and his wife and family, as they adjust to the challenges ahead of him, and give thanks for the continuing, uplifting and Christ-centered teaching he intends on providing.
During this time of Easter and the weeks thereafter we give thanks for new spiritual life. We give thanks that we, by the grace of God, are new creations in Christ. We give thanks for our risen Lord who empowers and enlivens us. And we give thanks for people like Jim Fowler, who tirelessly and with great perseverance, point us toward the Light of Jesus. Thanks Jim – my brother in Christ.