In less than two months, America will have another major election, electing a president, vice president and many members of Congress as well as state and local leaders.

While each election is important, this election may be the most important in recent history for setting the stage for a better or worse future for our nation.

I have pop-up ads on some of my devices where one of the Presidential candidates declares that this election is for “the soul of our nation”. I agree with the statement, but would have major disagreement with the direction he wants our “soul” to go.

It is estimated that in the past election, 25 million professing Christians did not vote. I really cannot understand that. We have a Biblical mandate to be both salt and light in this world and we cannot do this unless we’re willing to be involved in every aspect of American life and culture, and government is a major part of that. Edmund Burke was so correct when he said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

And sitting home on election day is about as nothing as one can be!

We are commanded in the New Testament to be good and productive citizens, loyal and respectful to the government as long as that government does not violate the laws of God. Jesus said to “render to Caesar that which is Caesars” which can mean that we are involved in government and politics.

The early church was heavily involved with the government. Paul appealed to Caesar and witnessed to the civic leaders. Jesus stood before Pilate and Herod and accepted their decisions, as wrong as they were. The early church preached and prayed and was persecuted and tortured and killed, because they were willing to stand up and be involved in government, but were willing to die for the “higher government”, Almighty God. Can we do less as Christians in the 21st century when we see our nation on that slippery slope toward anarchy and evil?

There is always a question as to what churches and Christians can do in regard to politics and elections. It’s similar to the discussion of Christians in schools and other parts of the public life. Each year at the beginning of the school year, I write a column outlining the rights of Christian educators and students in our schools and colleges.

The rights of Christians, outside their homes and churches, are not hard to understand. But there are a number of so-called “civil liberty” groups that want to squash or at least limit religion in America. They fall back on that greatest of all American hoaxes “the separation of church and state” (not found in any of our founding documents). And they intimidate people with their loud voices and threats.

But the writers of our Constitution, realizing the absolute importance of faith in the lives of our people, and knowing that it is an “inalienable/unalienable right”, given by God and not by the civil government, chose to note that and protect that in the very first amendment where they wrote: “Congress what make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Charles Finney (a 19th century Presbyterian minister and a leader in the Second Great Awakening) said, “The church must take the right ground in regard to politics. Politics are a part of a religion in a country as this and Christians must do their duty to the country as a part of their duty to God. He will bless or curse a nation according to the course Christians take in politics.”

First Liberty put out a guide to things that a church/pastor can and cannot do legally in regard to elections and politics. This was written as a response to much of the false information given out in an attempt to scare pastors and churches from impacting our culture for Jesus.

The law is actually supportive of pastors and churches in supporting our mission to equip our congregations.

Four things church can do: (1) churches can register their members and encourage their members to register to vote. A group called Family Policy Alliance (familypolicyalliance.com) is helpful and pro-active in this regard.

(2) Churches can pass our non-partisan Voter’s Guides; let your people know where the candidates stand on the issues important to them.

(3) Churches can invite candidates to speak at the church; note, all candidates for the office must be invited, but if only one shows up, so be it!)

(4) Perhaps most important, pastors and churches can speak directly about specific issues and legislation. Not only is this a civil right, it is also a mandate from God that we take up the difficult issues of our world and speak clearly and plainly expressing what God says in His Word. Our opinions don’t matter; politicians’ opinions don’t matter. What God says matters!

The Bible cannot be clearer on the subjects of abortion (it is murdering an innocent child), marriage (it is ordained by God as a union of one male and female); gender, “male and female created He them”; sexual immorality (any and all sex outside of the bounds of God’s ordained marriage is sin); and homosexuality, which also is undisputedly sin in God’s mind. Bigotry, by people of any “color” is pride and that is sin. Looting, burning and mayhem are likewise not part of God’s plan for society.

As pastors and church teachers, we cannot skip the “hot button issues” and we must realize that when we teach exactly what God says, that does not make us a “phobe” or a “hater”, it actually shows our loving concern for those disobeying God’s law, as we would any other sinner, ourselves included. And we know that God’s laws were given for our own good and the good of society, that deviation from God’s laws brings problems and eventually judgment, and God’s Word is always “Love Speech”, never “Hate Speech”.

Two things churches cannot do:

(1) Endorse or oppose a particular candidate;

(2) Contribute to or use church resources for one candidate over another (including the free use of church lists).

Individually, a pastor can endorse or support a member’s campaign as long as it’s not done with church resources. And as an individual citizen, there are no limitations on the pastor’s ability to participate in the election and campaign process.

I was in the first class of 18-year-old voters and have voted in every election since. I also ran for office (in West Virginia) and although I didn’t win, it was a very educating experience. Politics is not a dirty word unless we make it so.

We must remember that every candidate is a sinful person, flawed, just like you and I. There will never be a perfect ruler on earth until Christ returns. We must be aware of the stands he/she and his/her party platform take on regard to the issues we hold dear.

I have my own list of important issues and one very important “litmus test” (I promised the Lord at age 18 that I would never support or vote for a candidate that I did not know or believe is pro-life, because if a politician isn’t “right” on the most basic issue, I’m not sure he/she can be right on many other things).

I would never openly support a party or a candidate from the pulpit or in my church, but openly talk “politics” with friends and others as the opportunity allows.

So, churches and Christians, let’s get busy. Know the candidates; understand the issues; register to vote; study God’s Word on the issues; pray, pray, pray and vote! Remember, when you and I go into the voting booth or cast an absentee ballot, we are representing the Lord Jesus Christ in our culture and society! “And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.” (Colossians 3:17)

2020 Prayer March

On Sept. 26, the Rev. Franklin Graham and others will be at the Washington Mall in Washington, D.C. for a Prayer March. The March will start at noon at the Lincoln Memorial and will proceed to the Capitol with prayer all the way! These are his words: “Let’s pray that God will turn this nation back to Him. This is the most critical time for America that we have seen in our lifetime and I know the power of prayer. I want to invite you to bring your family and gather with other Christians. Churches and pastors, fill a busload and join thousands to pray.”

Go to PrayerMarch2020.com.

Coastline Women’s Center Needs You!

Each evening on the 11 o’clock news we hear the statistics on new positive COVID tests and the number of deaths for that day. We’ve been hearing the death toll from the recent storms and fires and, while we understand that one death is too many, we feel relief when numbers go down.

But there is one statistic that continues steadily, each day, no matter what else is going on, and that is the tragic death toll from innocent infant boys and girls being killed in America’s abortion mills.

Thankfully, there are still many trying desperately to save these unborn human children and, in our area, one of the dedicated groups is Coastline Women’s Center.

Counseling mothers who are in crisis, conducting pregnancy tests and ultrasound scans, giving needed diapers and other items to new mothers, and sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Coastline is saving babies from abortion, saving parents from the trauma of having aborted their child, and seeing men and women turn to Christ as Savior and Lord.

But currently, with the pandemic and the circumstances of our “world and local” situation, Coastline, a nonprofit organization, has not been able to conduct its usual fundraisers and funds are limited and dwindling.

We can help! Each gift you give is not only a donation, but also an investment in life and eternity. We cannot, we must not, let Coastline get to the place where they have to cut services or even close their doors.

How can you give? Mail your gift to Coastline Women’s Center, P.O. Box 3325, Myrtle Beach SC 29578. You can Text to donate: text the word COASTLINE in your message box to 91999. You can also give by going to the Coastline website.

Operation Christmas Child

Samaritan Purse’s Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Project collection week is Nov. 16-23. So, if you haven’t started working on your shoeboxes, you’re late!

With the storms and other disasters, pandemic and so on this could be a year when many decide to just “cut out” the shoebox project. We cannot do that! It’s times like this when it is even more important to share our love and the love of Jesus with needy boys and girls. And OCC is a wonderful, fun, not-too-expensive way of doing just that.

So, start picking up school supplies (they’re cheap right now), toiletries (as allowed), small toys and other fun things for children of all ages. You’ll be glad you did!

Continue to Pray for our Schools!

This school year promises to be as “interesting” as the end of the past year proved to be.

Let us all pray for our students at every level, their parents, school administrators, faculties and school staffs. Education is important to our young people and we can all see if there are ways we can be a helpful and positive part of this school year “adventure”.

What Can I Do To Help?

The ongoing COVID-19 “pandemic”; the upcoming “flu season”. Financial upheaval caused by the current situation. Storm devastation. Wildfire destruction. The list of difficulties and problems seems never-ending.

Thankfully, there are many groups and individuals looking for ways to help. Samaritan’s Purse, the Red Cross, many denominational disaster teams, Help4Kids, the Shepherd’s Table, Coastline Women’s Center, Bethesda for Single Mothers, CAP and many more need our help. Can we spare some time, financial or material help? We can all do something.

“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying…when did we see You hungry, thirsty, a stranger or naked, or sick or in prison?’

“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:34-40)

International Day of Prayer

Sunday November 1 has been designated at the International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians. On that day, churches, families and individuals will focus on intercession for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are constantly in danger of imprisonment, torture or death.

Videos, prayer cards and other resources are available from The Voice of the Martyrs, info@vomusa.org. Plan now to have your church be a part of this important day.

Conway, Loris, Aynor and Western Horry

■ Kingston Presbyterian Church, 800 Third Ave. in Conway, will hold boat-in and drive-in worship again this Sunday. Worshippers are invited to park in the parking lot between the educational building and train trestle or pull up in their boats and tune into the service on an FM station. Bulletins will be handed out in the parking lot. The service will begin at 9:30 a.m.

■ Union United Methodist Church, 4491 U.S.. 701 South invites you to its big yard sale Oct. 3 from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. (rain date: Oct. 10). Features include lawn and house plants, homemade cakes and other goodies, household goods, framed art, furniture, antiques, books, party supplies, toys, linens, holiday decorations and much, much more.

The sale will be held on the front lawn of the Fellowship Hall and tables will be arranged for social distancing. Face coverings are encouraged. Park in the parking lot and avoid grassy areas.

All monies will be used for future outreach programs for the community and the event is sponsored by both the women’s and men’s groups. For more information or donations, call Linda Griggs at (843) 397-5560.

■ The Catholic Church of St. James, 1071 Academy Drive, announces a new Mass Schedule beginning this month as follows: Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Sundays at 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. (and 12 p.m. Spanish); Monday-Friday at 9 a.m. and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. – Spanish.

The church also collects nonperishable food items for Catholic Charities and CAP Monday-Friday from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the church. Please help as you are able. Call (843) 347-5168 or go online to www.stjamesconway.org.

■ Langston Baptist Church, 763 S.C. 905, invites everyone to its Fun and Safe Fall Festival and Trunk or Treat on Oct. 31 from 3 p.m.-7 p.m.

This is a free event, rain or shine so come and bring your friends. Enjoy chili, hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn, snow cones, games, music, inflatables, dunking booth and more…something for every member of the family. Phone (843) 365-5141 or email to LBC@langstonbaptist.com.

■ Tilly Swamp Survivors of Suicide, a new faith-based support group for those having lost someone to suicide, meets the first and third Mondays of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the church: 4619 S.C. 90. Phone (803) 566-0702.

■ St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, 3449 S.C. 65, will distribute food on the second and fourth Fridays of each month from 11 a.m. until all food has been distributed.

■ Loris First United Methodist Church, 3507 Broad St., has a Blessing Box in the church and it is available each Friday from 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. This box contains nonperishable food items, and individuals in need are encouraged to come to the church at those times. Also, if you would like to donate items, please place them in the box.

■ Dogwood Hill Baptist Church, 1040 Mt. Zion Road in Loris, has a food pantry on the third Saturday of each month from 8 a.m.-10 a.m.

■ Salem Baptist Church, 4008 Salem Road in Aynor, opens its Food Bank on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month from 9 a.m.-noon. The mission: “We serve Christ when we serve people.”

Myrtle Beach/The Coast

■ THE RETURN: In addition to Franklin Graham's Prayer March, Washington D.C., will also host "The Return: A National and Global Day of Repentance and Prayer" this weekend.

The event will kick off on Friday from 6 p.m.-9 p.m..

On Saturday, there will be a Solemn Assembly and Prayer Time from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. that will close with a final assembly from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Much will be live-streamed.

There will be many guest speakers leading in prayer. These include Dr. James Dobson, Ben Carson, Anne Graham Lotz, Pat Robertson, Alveda King, Tony Perkins, Don Moen and Nicky Cruz. (More information can be found on the

website thereturn.org.) Much of the day will be spent in repentance and intercession on the personal level, for families, churches, our government and its leaders, and the world.

In connection with this, and locally, a time of prayer will be held on Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Amphitheater, located at the North Myrtle Beach Sports Complex off S.C. 31. There is plenty of parking and ample room for spacing. Restrooms are sufficient. So come out and bring a chair and spend time praying for our nation that seems at the breaking point. Call (843) 273-4754.

■ Help 4 Kids and Backpack Buddies, who continue to provide food for 400-500 families per week, need your help. Suggested food donations include: peanut butter, jelly, pasta and sauce, rice, beans, cereal, macaroni & cheese, canisters of Kool-Aid, canned meats, snacks and chips.

You may also donate grocery gift cards used for produce, meats, dairy and bread, and monetary donations are always appreciated.

And let’s not forget the need for back-to-school supplies, pencils, pens, notebooks and all the rest! Also, there is a need for new clothing, sizes 4 and up (especially teens); shoes and sneakers (any size), socks and underwear. And send gift cards that Help4Kids can use to purchase necessary goods.

The office is located at 2523 Forestbrook Road, Myrtle Beach SC 29588 (gifts may be mailed to that address also). Go online to www.help4kidssc.org.

■ Ground Zero of Myrtle Beach is hosting a special evening for Ministry Partners Oct. 13 from 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. This will be a special time of worship with Jason Roy of Building 429. Hear testimonies and more information about the ministries and impact of Ground Zero. Assorted hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be provided.

This is a closed event for GZ Partners, but partners are encouraged to be table hosts and commit to bring four additional guests. There is no cost for the event. Please RSVP by Sept. 30 to Holly Williams at (843) 945-9440 or partners@groundzero.com.

■ Together in Christ has a Wednesday ZOOM Prayer Meeting from noon-12:30 p.m. each week. Prayer changes everything, and you are invited to pray with the mid-week group. Email hgprayer @sccoast.net.

■ St. Philip Lutheran Preschool is registering students for the 2020-21 school year for the 2, 3 and 4-year-old classes. Come join the fun!

The Virtual Schoolhouse is available for any students in Kindergarten-fifth grade enrolled in virtual learning (hybrid and/or full time) with Horry County Schools. Staff will provide guidance; document connection issues; and coordinate times for breaks, snacks and lunch.

Health and safety protocols will be followed to include: morning temperature checks, social distancing and required cleaning. Classes will be Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

Contact the director, Jenn Loeswick at stphilippreschoolmb@gmail.com or look us up on Facebook: St. Philip Preschool-Myrtle Beach. The preschool is located at 6200 N. Kings Highway. Call (843) 449-4322 and we’ll get back to you.

■ Temple Emanu-EL by the Sea announces the following services that will take place at the Dunes Club, 9000 North Ocean Blvd.: Erev Rosh Hashanah, Erev Shabbat, Sept. 18, 7:30 p.m.; Rosh Hashanah First Day, Shabbat, Sept. 19, 10 a.m., Evening Service 7:30 p.m.; Rosh Hashanah second Day, Sept. 20, 10 a.m., Shofar Service, Tashlich Ceremony (after services on the beach); Kol Nidre, Sunday, 6:30 p.m.; Yom Kippur Day, Monday, 10 a.m. (with Yizkor); Mincha & Neilah, start 5:30 p.m., Private Devotion/Open Ark 5:30 p.m.-6 p.m.; Break the Fast and Shofar, 7:41 p.m.

(Please note: due to COVID-19 constraints, no children under age 12). Phone (843) 449-5552.

■ The New Beginnings drive-thru food distribution will be held Oct. 17 from 10 a.m.-noon at the Church of the Resurrection, 8901 U.S. 16 Bypass in Surfside Beach. Phone (843) 215-4500.

■ Low Country Food Bank and Faith Outreach Ministries will sponsor another Drive-Thru Food Distribution at 4223 Socastee Blvd. on Nov. 6 at 2:30 p.m. Phone (843) 215-4500.

■ The fall Women of Passion Conference, Dare to Dream God-Sized Dreams (Ephesians 3:20) will be held Oct. 10, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at The Grace Place, 404 George Bishop Parkway in Myrtle Beach. Tickets go on sale this week. Contact Stacey Gurley by phone at (864) 477-9683 or email to stacey@lovecoversus.com.

■ Infusion Ministries International Presents Blue Fire Conference with guest speaker David Hogan Oct. 10-11 at the Landmark Resort, 1501 South Ocean Blvd. Email to GotInfused@gmail.com or go to the website infusionintl.org.

■ St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, 3301 33rd Ave. North will hold its annual Greek Festival Oct. 15-18, opening at 11 a.m. on Thursday-Saturday and noon on Sunday. You won’t want to miss it.

■ The Colombiettes of St. Andrews Church, 37th Avenue North are in need of crafters and vendors for their November 7 Christmas Bazaar that will take place from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. in the Community Life Center. Contact Patricia Martelli at (908) 938-1433 or email patriciamartelli57@gmail.com.

■ St. Michael’s Catholic Church, 542 Cypress Ave. in Murrells Inlet has a Life Chain every first Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on U.S. 17 Business near the church driveway. You are invited to participate in this event. (Bring a chair if not able to stand for the hour.) Contact Joanne Bennett at (614) 313-8425 or email Joanne.bennett55@ gmail.com.

■ Myrtle Beach Christian Church, 1226 Burcale Road, opens its Thrift Store each week, Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. You are encouraged to come out and browse and buy and, in so doing, you’ll be supporting this community outreach. Phone (843) 236-1121.

■ Temple Shalom, 4023 Belle Terre Blvd., invites you to Shabbat services each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Phone (843) 903-6634 or go online to templeshalommyrtlebeach.net.

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