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Paul Bawden

Paul Bawden is married and served in the pastoral ministry for 45 years, retiring in 2011. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Speech and attended Dallas Theological Seminary, receiving a Master of Theology. He has taken counseling courses at Trinity Evangelical Seminary in Deerfield, Illinois. Paul is a lifetime member of the Evangelical Free Church of America, as well as being a member of Interim Pastor Ministries (IPM), which serves churches during their time of transition in searching for a new pastor. He writes for Union Gospel Press, as well as being a volunteer writer for GotQuestions.org. Paul likes to write, read, bike, and work in the yard. The Bawdens have had the privilege to travel to Mexico and Romania on mission trips and visited various countries in Europe.

What’s God Up To?

September 14, 2017

By Paul Bawden

Our prayers are certainly for those who have experienced the devastating hurricanes in Texas and Florida. It’s hard for us, who have not been touched by such violent storms, to even imagine what it’s like to experience such catastrophes, with some having lost their lives and others having lost all they have. We need to continue to pray for those who are stepping up to provide help in so many ways, and for the recovery in these areas.

In fact, the overwhelming response to provide assistance in these devastated areas is incredible. Such a response shows that the hearts of people are moved with compassion when tragedy strikes. In addition, it reminds each of us what really matters in life, and that our differences are really non-essential when our lives are at stake.

For me, this overwhelming response to these awful storms is evidence that the biblical God uses people to bring His love and care in time of need. Cynics might say where is God in all of this, but it’s obvious He is using people to help people, and He is there in His Spirit to provide strength and comfort for those who will look to Him in faith.

From a spiritual perspective, though, I always like to consider if there is anything we can learn from such horrible events? Certainly, as mentioned, our hearts and prayers go out to those affected by these storms. But, from a spiritual perspective, yes, a biblical perspective, a couple of things come to mind. Romans 8:19-22 tells us that the creation, under the curse of sin, groans and suffers the pains of childbirth waiting the day of redemption, which will happen when Christ returns, sets up His 1000 year kingdom on earth and eventually creates a new heaven and earth. That means some day devastating hurricanes, earthquakes and other cataclysmic events will no longer occur.

Secondly, we are reminded that life is fragile, and can be taken from us quickly. Such should cause all of us to think about what will happen to us after this life. Is this life all there is? Do we just live on planet earth, and do the best we can, and that is it? A person can have that lifestyle, but it misses the reality of what is available to each person.

What do I mean by that? Regardless of one’s philosophy of life, there is the option of eternal life, that is, lasting life, which can be experienced now with the guarantee of life beyond the grave. That’s why the words of Jesus Christ speak to all of us, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him, will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

There it is. Eternal life is what we all need, provided through Jesus in His death, burial, and bodily resurrection for us. The one who accepts Christ as personal Savior receives His eternal life, life that starts now, giving eternal purpose for living here, with the guarantee of living beyond the grave with God forever.

Oh, I know the skeptics, scoffers, and doubters are around. But their response in no way changes Christ’s offer of eternal life to any who will come to Him in faith, believing in Him for forgiveness and eternal life. Those, who make that decision for Christ, begin a journey with Him, where His character becomes evident in their lives (Galatians 5:22-23), and even in the midst of challenging times, the believer knows that God is there with His encouragement and strength (Romans 5:1-5). What’s God up to? He is reminding us at this time that He cares, loves all of us, and He wants to give us His eternal life, which we desperately need, so, through faith in the Lord, each of us can experience His life that never ends!

Paul Bawden is married and served in the pastoral ministry for 45 years, retiring in 2011. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Speech and attended Dallas Theological Seminary, receiving a Master of Theology. He has taken counseling courses at Trinity Evangelical Seminary in Deerfield, Illinois. Paul is a lifetime member of the Evangelical Free Church of America, as well as being a member of Interim Pastor Ministries (IPM), which serves churches during their time of transition in searching for a new pastor. He writes for Union Gospel Press, as well as being a volunteer writer for GotQuestions.org. Paul likes to write, read, bike, and work in the yard. The Bawdens have had the privilege to travel to Mexico and Romania on mission trips and visited various countries in Europe.

BAWDEN ARCHIVES

Charlottesville/Barcelona – The Heart Of The Matter

August 19, 2017

By Paul Bawden

The evil happenings in Charlottesville and the terrorist attack in Barcelona remind us sadly of the hatred in men’s hearts. Our society and world cannot accept racism and the killing of human life created by the biblical God in His image. But why this flagrant display of evil in these settings? And more could be given.

Many don’t like to admit it, but there is a real spiritual problem in our world. Jesus Christ put it this way. “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10a). Who is Jesus talking about? He is referring to the evil one, Satan himself, who has, as one of his missions to steal, kill, and destroy – yes, to bring destruction. His influence was very apparent in the evil racism displayed and loss of life in Charlottesville, as well as the deadly terrorist attack in Barcelona. Certainly, our prayers include those of the families of the two troopers killed in the helicopter crash, the families of those who have lost their loved ones by these barbaric acts, and those recovering from injury.

But there is more than just the wicked influence of the evil one in these heart wrenching situations, there is something desperately wrong with the spiritual heart of mankind. Again, we need to listen to Jesus, ““For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:21-23).

Why was racism displayed and murder committed in Charlottesville? Why the deadly terrorist attack in Barcelona? Man’s spiritual heart is filled with all kinds of wickedness and hatred, and in conjunction with the influence of the evil one, innocent and valuable lives were killed. Something needs to change, and change now! The wicked, yes, sinful heart of man needs to be changed!

We need to listen once more to Jesus from John 10:10b, “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.” What a contrast to the mission of Satan who steals, kills and destroys and men who do the same. Christ came to bring life abundant, life in surplus! What kind of life is that? A life that is filled with love that accepts all people regardless of background and race. A life that displays love that is patient and kind, is not jealous, doesn’t brag and is not arrogant, and doesn’t seek its own and is not provoked . . . . (cf. I Cor. 13: 4-8a).

This kind of life stands for truth with grace, forgiveness, and hope, which Jesus won for each of us through His death, burial, and bodily resurrection. This is what the Bible calls the Gospel. It is the radical, life changing dynamite of the living Christ. The person who accepts Jesus as personal Savior, receives that kind of life – eternal life – and relying on the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, he will love like Christ, accepting and honoring all people, while seeking to live selflessly and sacrificially for Him, and reaching out to those with different needs.

I know it’s easy to write about Christ’s life-changing Gospel. It’s quite another matter to believe the Gospel, and have one’s life supernaturally changed from pleasing one’s self to pleasing Christ. So many pass by, and we continue to have the evil and wickedness displayed in the USA and the world. For those who realize their need of the Gospel and come to Christ and believe in Him, their lives are changed for all eternity. Regardless, we all need a spiritual heart change. Has that happened to you? If not, read John 3 in the Bible. If your heart has been changed by believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, live for Him, displaying His kind of life – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control! This is the heart of the matter!

Paul Bawden is married and served in the pastoral ministry for 45 years, retiring in 2011. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Speech and attended Dallas Theological Seminary, receiving a Master of Theology. He has taken counseling courses at Trinity Evangelical Seminary in Deerfield, Illinois. Paul is a lifetime member of the Evangelical Free Church of America, as well as being a member of Interim Pastor Ministries (IPM), which serves churches during their time of transition in searching for a new pastor. He writes for Union Gospel Press, as well as being a volunteer writer for GotQuestions.org. Paul likes to write, read, bike, and work in the yard. The Bawdens have had the privilege to travel to Mexico and Romania on mission trips and visited various countries in Europe.

BAWDEN ARCHIVES

 

Am I Caught In The Performance Trap?

July 13, 2017

By Paul Bawden

During a British conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world debated what, if any, belief was unique to biblical Christianity.

The debate went on for some time until C.S. Lewis wandered into the room. “What’s the rumpus about?” he asked, and heard the reply that his colleagues were discussing biblical Christianity’s unique contribution among the world religions. Lewis responded, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s GRACE.”

After some discussion, the conferees had to agree. The notion of God’s love coming to us free of charge in Christ’s death, burial, and bodily resurrection, with no strings attached, goes against every instinct of humanity. The Buddhist eight-fold path, the Hindu doctrine of karma, the Jewish covenant, and Muslim code of law, all offer a way to earn approval. Only biblical Christianity dares to make God’s love for us unconditional in His grace.

I read the story of a man who tried to be perfect for years. He would set his alarm for 5:30 AM, but would hit the snooze button and roll over. In nine minutes the alarm would go off again. He would hit the snooze button and roll over again. That would continue until about 6:30 AM. Then he would get out of bed, take a quick shower and eat a cold bagel, leap out the door to start another challenging day.

This routine became the rule rather than the exception. His desire to have some time alone with God in the morning didn’t materialize. Yes, the desire was there, but he couldn’t drag himself out of bed to prove his love for the Lord.

He went on to say that he had heard all his life about the importance of having some time alone with God, but he couldn’t seem to make it happen. Desiring to gain points with God, he knew that he must rise to this level of “pristine performance” if he were to get anywhere in God’s kingdom. His thought was that grace from God was only available after he had exhausted every other natural resource.

Somehow, he felt that he must prove his worth, gain points, as a lover of God, or He would not help him. He must prove that he was a man after God’s heart. He must prove. He must prove! It’s easy to fall into the performance trap regardless of where one is on his or her spiritual journey, thinking that doing something good, getting baptized, or joining a religious organization, gains merit before God and His approval.

I can only ask, “Is there a better way?” May I suggest for your thinking biblical Christianity which is distinct from all other religions, faiths, and cults. Why do I say that?

The biblical God’s grace is amazing, as the song writer penned. Grace is giving us what we don’t deserve. We actually deserve judgment for disobeying God. But the biblical God proved His love for us, while we were yet sinners, Christ died in our place to pay the penalty for our breaking God’s law, which is death. Then Christ rose bodily from the grave to tell us that God’s wrath has been satisfied and His forgiveness and eternal life are ours through faith in Christ.

I trust you have personally experienced the biblical God’s grace through asking Christ to be your Savior (cf. Romans 10:9-13). If you have made that decision for Christ, you are totally forgiven and accepted by God. You no longer have to be caught up in the performance trap, trying to gain God’s approval. You are loved and accepted by God eternally.

Knowing you are totally accepted by God as a believer in Christ, you can put far from your mind that you still need to do something to gain His approval. Rather, approved by God, and by relying on the Holy Spirit’s person who now lives in you spiritually, you can do any task large or small to the glory of God. In fact, you will want to spend time alone each day with the Lord reading His Word, the Bible, while serving the Lord with enthusiasm. That is the ultimate in living! Enjoy living for Christ, knowing you are accepted by HIM for time and eternity!!

Paul Bawden is married and served in the pastoral ministry for 45 years, retiring in 2011. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Speech and attended Dallas Theological Seminary, receiving a Master of Theology. He has taken counseling courses at Trinity Evangelical Seminary in Deerfield, Illinois. Paul is a lifetime member of the Evangelical Free Church of America, as well as being a member of Interim Pastor Ministries (IPM), which serves churches during their time of transition in searching for a new pastor. He writes for Union Gospel Press, as well as being a volunteer writer for GotQuestions.org. Paul likes to write, read, bike, and work in the yard. The Bawdens have had the privilege to travel to Mexico and Romania on mission trips and visited various countries in Europe.

BAWDEN ARCHIVES

Is Freedom Free?

June 26, 2017

By Paul Bawden

The recent Congressional baseball shooting, and the terrorist attacks in England, remind us that our freedoms are very fragile.

These violent and evil assaults, along with others, are a wake-up call that we must not take our freedoms for granted, and we must never forget the source of the freedoms we experience on a daily basis.

In the month of July when the United States celebrates its independence, the great document of the Declaration of Independence reminds us that all of us are created equal and are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights which include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

These words tell us that freedom is not found in ourselves. Rather, our freedom comes from our Creator, who gives us these wonderful realities of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. At the same time, when we don’t make choices that display these realities, we find ourselves going down a different path, resulting in life turning into that which destroys life, liberty becoming bondage, and happiness replaced by sadness and hopelessness.

The result is a society that is filled with selfishness, hedonism, licentiousness, and lawlessness. As a person objectively observes what is happening in the United States, and even in other parts of the world, it becomes crystal clear that is the fast track our nation is on. But I ask, “Why so? Why do we live as if there is no Creator?”

Could it be that we have forgotten that freedom isn‘t free? Could it be that we have forgotten that lives were given on the battlefield, and are being given on the battlefield today for our freedom? Could it be that some who ignore the high cost of freedom are using their freedom in the United States to destroy the very freedom that they enjoy? Yes, and could it be that we have forgotten that true freedom is a spiritual issue rather that a physical/material matter?

Jesus Christ jarred the minds of the Pharisees when He told them that everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. Then He added, “If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.”

Our high tech minds tend to scoff at such words. In the process, we fail to realize that we are in bondage to our selfishness, pride, hedonism, licentiousness, lawlessness, yes, our sin. We need true spiritual freedom.

But the cost is monumental. True spiritual freedom is not free. Christ died on the cross in our place to pay our penalty for breaking God’s law, which is death. He was buried, and then He rose bodily from the grave to provide for us His forgiveness and eternal life. Don’t pass Him by. Come to the Savior, and ask Him for His forgiveness and eternal life. He will make you a new person (II Corinthians 5:17). Then you will experience what it means to have true spiritual freedom – freedom to do God’s will, which is life at its best (Romans 15:13). If you know the Lord personally, may Christ’s life-changing freedom He won for you be evident in every area of your life.

Paul Bawden is married and served in the pastoral ministry for 45 years, retiring in 2011. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Speech and attended Dallas Theological Seminary, receiving a Master of Theology. He has taken counseling courses at Trinity Evangelical Seminary in Deerfield, Illinois. Paul is a lifetime member of the Evangelical Free Church of America, as well as being a member of Interim Pastor Ministries (IPM), which serves churches during their time of transition in searching for a new pastor. He writes for Union Gospel Press, as well as being a volunteer writer for GotQuestions.org. Paul likes to write, read, bike, and work in the yard. The Bawdens have had the privilege to travel to Mexico and Romania on mission trips and visited various countries in Europe.

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Dads, We Are Needed!!

June 3, 2017

By Paul Bawden

A son at college wrote his dad, “No mon, no fun, your son.” The dad wrote back, “Too bad, so sad, your dad.”

Being a dad is not always easy, but it is one of the highest privileges that a man can have. In fact, the title that dad has, father, means the founder or progenitor of a race or a people, and his title, father, comes from the biblical God who is called Father, and the Creator of us all. This means that the earthly father actually has the opportunity to represent God the Father to his children, which is an awesome thought to say the least.

Of course, such thinking is far removed from the popular ideas that condition us to think otherwise in our society today. With absolutes obsolete in our culture today, we are given the impression that a family can be anything you want it to be. The traditional family, and what’s that? — is not necessary for a society to have stability.

Such is far from the truth. Josh Mc Dowell, a writer and researcher on the family and conference speaker, reported a study done a while ago by Columbia University on the disconnected generation.

(1) A single parent home, where the mother was the head of the home, 30% of the children became involved in drugs, alcohol, crime and violence.

(2) In the two parent where there wasn’t a good relationship with the father, 68% of the children were likely to get involved in alcohol, drugs, crime and violence.

(3) In a two parent family with an excellent relationship with the father, .06% of
the children became involved in drugs, alcohol, crime and violence.

Yes, both fathers and mothers are needed in the family. O.R. Johnson in his book, “Who Needs The Family?” points out the necessity of the mother to bring love, nurture, support and direction. Then he points out, quoting from Eickhoff, that father poverty undermines the security of the child and his ability to face the unknown or great excitement with that optimistic confidence of a safe landing natural to the well fathered child. Certainly, dad and mom need to work together to make the family what God intended it.

In this month of June when dads are honored, I want dads to know how much they are appreciated, but also how much they are needed in their family. I also want to honor dads who have to fill the role of both father and mother.

Obviously a dad has many things to do, but his family should have top priority. His person and time is what his wife and children need. Dad needs to play with his children when they are young. When they are older, he should spend quality time with them. He should praise his children, listen to his children, pray for his children, and provide loving leadership for his children.

Above all, a dad should provide a lasting spiritual basis upon which his children can build their lives. I believe that Jesus Christ is that foundation, for through His death burial, and bodily resurrection, He won for us His forgiveness and new life. I trust that, as a dad, you know Him personally and are seeking to lead your family in the paths of righteousness. (cf. John 3:16; Ephesians 6:4). Happy Father’s Day!

Paul Bawden is married and served in the pastoral ministry for 45 years, retiring in 2011. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Speech and attended Dallas Theological Seminary, receiving a Master of Theology. He has taken counseling courses at Trinity Evangelical Seminary in Deerfield, Illinois. Paul is a lifetime member of the Evangelical Free Church of America, as well as being a member of Interim Pastor Ministries (IPM), which serves churches during their time of transition in searching for a new pastor. He writes for Union Gospel Press, as well as being a volunteer writer for GotQuestions.org. Paul likes to write, read, bike, and work in the yard. The Bawdens have had the privilege to travel to Mexico and Romania on mission trips and visited various countries in Europe.

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The Ongoing Battle

May 16, 2017

By Paul Bawden

As we watch the happenings in our world, we can only ask, “Will evil ever end?”

Even for ourselves, we can ask, “Will we ever be able to stop making choices between good and evil?”

To make those statements for some means that one is out of touch with reality. What do you mean that there is evil in our world, or that we have to make choices between good and evil? After all we are all good people and we just make some mistakes at times, and some make greater mistakes.

Of course, that is one way to look at what is happening in our world and what we do as individuals at different times. It is a very hopeless way, for there is no solution to what is really happening in our world and in our lives.

But when we move from a humanistic viewpoint to a biblical viewpoint, we discover an entirely different and life-changing solution in the midst of hopelessness.

The Bible tells us that we are in a spiritual battle between the forces of the evil one and the forces of the biblical God (Ephesians 6:10ff). It also tells us that our minds are spiritually blinded (II Corinthians 4:6), so that we can’t do that which pleases the biblical God. In fact the Bible tells us that all of us have sinned, missed God’s mark of holiness (Romans 3:23).

The Bible, then, tells us why there is evil in the world where people want to control and even kill others. The Bible also tells us why we say words that depreciate others, why we covet, why we have feelings of hatred and anger, and why there is immorality in different lives. Our spiritual lives are filled with unrighteousness and sin. In fact, Christ pointed that out very clearly (Mark 7:21-23).

But the Bible doesn’t just tell us why there is evil in the world and why we do things that are wrong, the Bible also gives us the solution to that problem.

That solution is found in Jesus Christ. In His death for us on the cross, He paid the penalty for our sin, the breaking of God’s law, which is death. Then He was buried, and rose again bodily the third day. What for? To provide for us His forgiveness and eternal life through faith in Him. The believer in Jesus Christ, then, receives a new kind of life, actually Christ’s resurrection life, along with God’s power, the indwelling Holy Spirit, to experience and show His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Galatians 5:22-23). The text adds, “against such there is no law.”

Did you get that? If everyone in the world knew Jesus Christ personally, and depended on the Holy Spirit’s indwelling power, there would be no need for law enforcement. Of course, such could never be now for not everyone knows Christ personally, and sometimes believers in Christ don’t act like Christ as well. But in the Lord’s new heaven and earth, eternity, there will be no need for law enforcement, for Christlikeness will be evident in every believer’s life. That will be a grand and glorious day!

In the meantime, back on planet earth, the challenge for the believer is to say “No” to sin and “Yes” to righteousness, as he or she submits one’s life to the Lord in order to live in His victory. For, as there is a battle going on in the world between the forces of the biblical God and the forces of the evil one, the believer is in a battle personally to resist the evil one and to obey the Lord so that His life is evident in the believer’s daily life. The Scripture encourages each believer to “Be strong in the Lord, and the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). Eventually, Christ will return and put down all evil and establish His 1000 year reign of peace on this earth. After which, He will create a new heaven and earth for all believers of all ages to live with Him forever. The ongoing battle against evil will be over. Righteousness and peace will never end!

Paul Bawden is married and served in the pastoral ministry for 45 years, retiring in 2011. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Speech and attended Dallas Theological Seminary, receiving a Master of Theology. He has taken counseling courses at Trinity Evangelical Seminary in Deerfield, Illinois. Paul is a lifetime member of the Evangelical Free Church of America, as well as being a member of Interim Pastor Ministries (IPM), which serves churches during their time of transition in searching for a new pastor. He writes for Union Gospel Press, as well as being a volunteer writer for GotQuestions.org. Paul likes to write, read, bike, and work in the yard. The Bawdens have had the privilege to travel to Mexico and Romania on mission trips and visited various countries in Europe.

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The Power of Words

April 21, 2017

By Paul Bawden

Trent and Smalley in their book, “The Blessing,” tell of Mean Mike.

His name was really Mike, but his parents started calling him mean Mike as a toddler because he had a terrific grip. If anyone would try to take something away from him, he would snarl and hold on for dear life. This nickname, mean Mike, became a humorous way to picture his bulldog tenacity in holding unto something. But his nickname, mean Mike, became more than a nickname. It became a way of life.

When he became older, he became a bully at home and school. Everyone at home still called him mean and he lived up to his name. His name, mean Mike, may have given him the edge in football as he was a very good linebacker. It wrecked, though, his personal relationships. He was always too tough to get too close to anyone. Sad, to say, Mean Mike eventually ended up on the state prison in Arizona.

Our words are powerful. The proverb says that life and death are in the power of the tongue (18:21).

Words like this are said, “What’s the matter with you, can’t you ever be happy” instead of saying, “Have I done something to hurt you.”

“What have I said this time? Are you ever sensitive?” Rather than saying, “I see I’ve upset you. I think I’ve said something that hurt. I’m sorry.

“I’ll dress the way I want to, You wouldn’t know when things match and when they don’t anyhow.” Rather than saying, “You know, I haven’t paid as much attention as I could to dressing neatly. Thanks for calling to my attention the mismatch between my shirt and tie.”

“I’m always putting gas in your car. Once in a while I’d like to use some of it.” Instead of saying, “As you say, it was careless of me to overlook putting gas in the car.”

How do we use our words? Do we speak words of blessing and encouragement, or words that tear down, deceive, and curse? If you are in a family relationship, do your words offer encouragement to build up the self-esteem of your mate or your children? Our children need to learn to speak words that build up as well. How about in our employment, do we use words of encouragement rather than negative comments?

Jesus taught that we would be judged some day by our words (Matthew 12:36). Why? Our words reveal our true character. On the other side of the coin, Jesus said that the words that He spoke were spirit and life, and whoever believed in Him would not perish but have eternal life.

Jesus, then, set the example of what words of blessing and encouragement were all about. But more than that, He offers to us the words of eternal life. How so? Through His death and bodily resurrection, He has won for us His forgiveness and life everlasting. It is up to you and me to accept His word about Himself and His work for us on Calvary and the open tomb.

Have you made that decision for Christ? Read Romans 10:9-13. If Jesus Christ is your personal Savior, in His power, speak His words of blessing and encouragement to others.

Paul Bawden is married and served in the pastoral ministry for 45 years, retiring in 2011. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Speech and attended Dallas Theological Seminary, receiving a Master of Theology. He has taken counseling courses at Trinity Evangelical Seminary in Deerfield, Illinois. Paul is a lifetime member of the Evangelical Free Church of America, as well as being a member of Interim Pastor Ministries (IPM), which serves churches during their time of transition in searching for a new pastor. He writes for Union Gospel Press, as well as being a volunteer writer for GotQuestions.org. Paul likes to write, read, bike, and work in the yard. The Bawdens have had the privilege to travel to Mexico and Romania on mission trips and visited various countries in Europe.

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The Eternal Spring

April 12, 2017

By Paul Bawden

As I look out the window in our great room, our flowers in our rock garden are beginning to push up through the sod. The other day I noticed a couple of robins looking for food, while our lawn begins to turn green. There is no doubt that spring is in the air – the newness of life – resurrection is taking place. Spring is always a wonderful time of year.

At the same time, we know that eventually spring will turn to summer, to fall, and then to winter. It’s the same in the life cycle. We are born, spring. We mature, summer. We grow older, fall, and eventually there is winter, where we pass from this life.

Is there an answer to this life cycle? May I suggest to you that is what Easter is all about. I know we have the Easter bunny and the egg hunts for the children, along with the freshness and joy of spring, while many may get together with family, or attend the yearly Easter service at a church. But is that all there is to Easter?

To some that may be the case. But the individual who searches out what Easter entails, that person discovers Easter is the reality that death has been conquered. In fact, reliable eyewitnesses report to us that it happened, for the person who died, appeared to them in His resurrected body. Only one individual in all of history has done that, and He conquered the grave bodily for the world, for death affects everyone.

I’m referring to Jesus Christ, the God-man, who died on the cross to pay the penalty to God the Father for our breaking His law, was buried, and rose bodily from the grave. Now forgiveness of sin and eternal life are available to anyone who will respond in faith to Jesus Christ, accepting Him as one’s personal Savior (John 3:16).

The eternal life Christ has won for us is actually His resurrection life. It’s the kind of life that doesn’t grow old, but remains new, as the individual grows old, meaning it’s not affected by the cycles of life. It’s the kind of life that provides the believer the privilege to live with eternal meaning on planet earth, to know that what he or she does here is not just for time but it counts for eternity. It’s the kind of life that guarantees that when one’s body dies, one’s spirit or personality goes to be with the Lord. When the Lord returns, the believer’s body will be resurrected and joined with one’s personality that was with the Lord. All believers in Christ will live with the Lord in eternity forever.

Spring is in the air. But don’t miss the eternal spring – the resurrection life in Jesus Christ. It’s not a fairy tale or a nice story. Resurrection life in Christ is real like He is, for He is resurrection life (John 14:6). Don’t miss what the Lord has for you. If Jesus is your personal Savior, your eternal spring, celebrate Easter with joy. He is risen. He is risen indeed!!

Paul Bawden is married and served in the pastoral ministry for 45 years, retiring in 2011. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Speech and attended Dallas Theological Seminary, receiving a Master of Theology. He has taken counseling courses at Trinity Evangelical Seminary in Deerfield, Illinois. Paul is a lifetime member of the Evangelical Free Church of America, as well as being a member of Interim Pastor Ministries (IPM), which serves churches during their time of transition in searching for a new pastor. He writes for Union Gospel Press, as well as being a volunteer writer for GotQuestions.org. Paul likes to write, read, bike, and work in the yard. The Bawdens have had the privilege to travel to Mexico and Romania on mission trips and visited various countries in Europe.

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The Greatest Week in History

April 6, 2017

By Paul Bawden

There is one week in time, which is the greatest week in history – Passion Week.

Passion Week had its beginning on what is called Palm Sunday, with Jesus Christ fulfilling prophecy by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey presenting Himself to Israel as their King. The crowd accompanying Him went wild exclaiming, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:9-11). The people thought that Jesus would be their deliverer from Roman oppression.

On Thursday of Passion Week at the Passover meal, Jesus established Himself as the new and eternal Passover by taking the bread and the grape juice in the cup, and teaching that those elements would represent Him in His upcoming death, burial, and bodily resurrection, through which He would win eternal redemption for the world.

But on Friday of Passion Week, the people, who honored Jesus as their Deliverer, had changed their exuberant celebration to malicious condemnation, and cried out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” The Lord was delivered to be crucified, and was flogged with a leather strap embedded with a bone or metal thongs. He was spit upon, ridiculed, a crown of thorns was placed on his head, and was hung on a cruel cross, the most awful way to die, with nails driven into his hands and feet. Amazingly, in the midst of His indescribable suffering, Jesus asked His heavenly Father to forgive His accusers. He died. A sword pierced His side, blood and water flowed, and He was buried in a tomb. On the first day of the week, Easter Sunday, Christ rose bodily from the grave.

Some today think that what happened during Passion Week has no significance whatsoever. It’s just a nice story with no reality. Some may admit that Jesus died but did not rise from the grave bodily. Others try to say that there is some kind of a spirit of resurrection that brings a newness of life on Easter Sunday. Still, others believe that all the events of Passion Week actually happened in time. Who is right?

The reality of Passion Week resides in the eyewitnesses. The Gospel writers were not reporting fairy tails. They reported accurately what they saw. But the bottom line in Passion Week is this: Did Jesus Christ actually rise from the grave bodily? Taking the eyewitnesses at their word, Jesus did rise from the grave bodily. That means that what He said and did while on planet earth have eternal ramifications. For through His death on the cross, His burial and bodily resurrection for us, He won for us His forgiveness and eternal life, which we desperately need.

A person, then, has a choice to make. One can reject Jesus Christ, and even be neutral about Him, which is really rejecting Him. OR a person can become a believer in Jesus Christ and receive His forgiveness and eternal life. An individual can’t be on the fence about Jesus Christ. You are either against Him or for Him. I trust you are a believer in Jesus Christ, and you are enjoying serving Him in His power (Colossians 3:23).

Knowing Christ as your personal Savior, you know as well that Passion Week is the greatest week in history!

Paul Bawden is married and served in the pastoral ministry for 45 years, retiring in 2011. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Speech and attended Dallas Theological Seminary, receiving a Master of Theology. He has taken counseling courses at Trinity Evangelical Seminary in Deerfield, Illinois. Paul is a lifetime member of the Evangelical Free Church of America, as well as being a member of Interim Pastor Ministries (IPM), which serves churches during their time of transition in searching for a new pastor. He writes for Union Gospel Press, as well as being a volunteer writer for GotQuestions.org. Paul likes to write, read, bike, and work in the yard. The Bawdens have had the privilege to travel to Mexico and Romania on mission trips and visited various countries in Europe.

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What Is Truth?

March 15, 2017

Famous words of Pilate to Jesus, after Jesus had said to Pilate, “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37-38).

What does the word, truth, aletheia, mean? It is the state of not being hidden; the state of being evident. It also means factuality or reality.

Pilate, then, was questioning not just the meaning of truth, but also he was questioning Jesus’ claim of being the truth, for Jesus said that everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.

As we observe the happenings in our world today, without making a hasty generalization, it appears that the question Pilate asked of Jesus is no longer relevant. What has happened is that there is no longer any pursuit of what truth is, and we are living in the days of the Judges in the Old Testament, where everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6; 21:25).

This is seen in state institutions of higher learning, where a certain dogma is presented without any discussion of what truth is. It is happening in the news media where some are more interested in promoting their bias rather than telling what the truth is, the actual facts of the situation. It is seen in the government where some are promoting ideas that tear down a country. In regard to morality, there is no longer any standard, as the individual makes up his mind as to what he wants his lifestyle to be.

In spite of this lack in our society of pursing what is truth, we need to ask Pilate’s question again, “What is truth?” In the definition of truth given above, truth is that which is factual, that which is real. This means for truth to have any validity, it must be that which is completely verifiable. It must not be fake but real, having taken place in time. As we live in time’s box, as I call it, the only ones who can speak truth and verify truth are humans, like you and me. The challenge is that you and I do not always speak the truth. We can change the truth to something it is not, which is lying, or we can outright lie.

Since we are people who can lie, it becomes quickly obvious that we can’t be relied upon to be people of truth. This means we need somebody outside of time’s box who can be depended upon all the time to be truthful, really the personification of truth.

The only one I know who fills this description is Jesus Christ who spoke to Pilate, “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” That is why Jesus Christ also said, ”I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6). Through His incarnation, Jesus Christ broke into the time box we live in, and through His death, burial, and bodily resurrection for us, He won for us His forgiveness and eternal life, which we desperately need. In so doing, He demonstrated conclusively that He is the embodiment of Truth and His words are Truth. He cannot and will not lie (John 8:44-45).

One can deny who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for each person. But that in no way destroys who He is and that He is the Truth. For the believer in Him, He provides true direction and guidance for human behavior that is pure and God honoring (Matthew 5-7; John 15:1-17; Acts 1:8). As well, He provides the believer hope beyond the grave (John 14:1-6). It is time to discover that true Truth is found in none other than Jesus Christ, the Savior, the king of Kings and lord of Lords!

Paul Bawden is married and served in the pastoral ministry for 45 years, retiring in 2011. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Speech and attended Dallas Theological Seminary, receiving a Master of Theology. He has taken counseling courses at Trinity Evangelical Seminary in Deerfield, Illinois. Paul is a lifetime member of the Evangelical Free Church of America, as well as being a member of Interim Pastor Ministries (IPM), which serves churches during their time of transition in searching for a new pastor. He writes for Union Gospel Press, as well as being a volunteer writer for GotQuestions.org. Paul likes to write, read, bike, and work in the yard. The Bawdens have had the privilege to travel to Mexico and Romania on mission trips and visited various countries in Europe.

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Foolish?

March 3, 2017

By Paul Bawden

On January 8, 2017, was the 61th anniversary of the five missionaries who were martyred in Ecuador on January 8, 1956.

Jim Elliot along with Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian had committed their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ to take His gospel to the unreached Auca Indians, more properly referred to as the Huaorani, in Ecuador.

On January 8, 1956, the five men were martyred, leaving behind wives and families. Certainly, their deaths were tragic, but in the light of these deaths and God’s providence, many were drawn to and called to missions. Even though we don’t understand the workings of God many times, God used the death of these dedicated men to advance His kingdom eventually to the Auca Indians and to encourage all believers around the world. Like Jesus, His gospel was advanced through death, bringing life to those who would believe in Him.

At the time of their tragic deaths, there was much discussion even criticism of what the men did. And from a purely human viewpoint, such a venture was useless and ridiculous, for here were five men full of vigor and vision with great potential having their lives snuffed out for the cause of the gospel of Christ, leaving their wives and children. It’s easy to add. What a waste! How foolish!

But Jim Elliot made this famous statement in his life, which diametrically opposed any humanistic thinking:

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Such a statement described so vividly the heart of these five men.

To them, it was foolish to reject the biblical God and His forgiveness of sin and eternal life provided in Jesus Christ. To them it was foolish to live for the world and follow its sirens rather than accepting Christ and serving Him with enthusiasm, even if it meant giving their lives in following Him to make the Lord’s gospel known. What happened to them was not the issue. They knew whether they lived or died they belonged to the Lord – for heaven was their ultimate home, and the Lord their eternal reward.

How about you? What’s your commitment to Jesus Christ? I trust that it’s not rejection of Him, which is being foolish. Or, if you know the Lord personally, perhaps you are living a life of low commitment, which is really living a foolish life as well.

May each of us who knows the Savior personally, be so committed to Him to “give what we cannot keep to gain what we cannot lose.”

Let’s take up the Lord’s cross daily, putting to death selfishness in the Lord’s power, while serving Him with gladness and enthusiasm!!

The Greatest Love

February 6, 2017

By Paul Bawden

February is the month of love.

As we observe all the hatred in our world and the divisiveness brought about through political rhetoric and uprisings, love seems to have lost its meaning.

But what is love? Is it some fuzzy feeling? Is it showing some kind of affection to or care of someone. Is it some kind of an emotional sensation? Is love fulfilling one’s sexual desires?

To find out what love is, we need to find the true source of love. Let’s start with man. Could he be the true source for love? Obviously not, for even though he shows some kind of love, he also displays selfishness, jealousy, hatred, even committing murder. Obviously, man can’t be the true source of love. Since man’s understanding is limited to himself, he is stuck in life’s box, as I call it, with his love that is plagued by that which is really sin.

Such is a meaningless and a hopeless way to live. Unless, unless there is an eternal source for love outside of man’s life box. Hear these words, “God is love” (I John 4:8). What God is that? The biblical God who is eternal (Psalm 90;2). The biblical God, then, can only be the true source of love. He is also light or holy (I John 1:5), meaning that the biblical God’s love is holy, that is pure without selfishness, jealousy, hatred, gossip, or any of the negative characteristics that man displays.

The amazing aspect of the biblical God’s love is that He doesn’t keep His love to Himself. Rather, He breaks through our life box, and expresses His eternal love ultimately to each of us. How so? That’s what Christ’s dying on the old rugged cross, His burial, and bodily resurrection are all about (I John 4:9-10). Through His death and bodily resurrection, Jesus paid for our sin, not loving as we should, which is the breaking of His law, and He won for each of us His forgiveness and His eternal life of love. Now the believer in Christ possesses His new dimension for loving like Him, for the very love of Christ resides in the believer (Rom. 5:5). Is Christ your Savior? Read Romans 10:9-13 in the Bible.

Activated in the believer, by his relying on the indwelling Holy Spirit’s strength, Christ’s love is radical stuff – for His love is patient, kind, not jealous, doesn’t brag, is not arrogant, doesn’t act unbecomingly (inappropriately), doesn‘t seek its own, is not provoked, doesn’t take into account a wrong suffered, won’t rejoice in unrighteousness, but will rejoice in the truth, bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails (I Cor. 13:4-8a).

There is no doubt that Christ’s radical love is also a supernatural love. Why so? Christ’s love is a pure love and a committed love that comes directly from Him. In relationships, Christ’s love values the life of the unborn child, while treating each person with dignity and honor, respecting one’s property, and asking forgiveness if needed. It means that premarital relationships are not love but are lust and sin needing God’s forgiveness. It means the love of Christ establishes that true marriage is between a man and woman (Eph. 5:22-33), where they are committed to each other for life. In the family, the husband and the wife are a team where the husband is the servant leader and the children obey their parents (Eph. 6:1-4). Indeed! Christ’s love is needed in every area of our society, in individuals, in the family, in our communities, in our government, yes, in the world — for Christ’s love is the greatest!! (I Cor. 13:13).