A couple of weeks ago I heard part of a message given by Pastor Bill Monroe of Florence Baptist Temple in which he talked about “unsaved Christians”.

Of course, those two words do not go together. He explained that he sometimes uses the term “cultural Christians”, and a pastor at the church I attend called them “Horry County Christians”.

These are people, and there are a lot of them everywhere, but especially in the “Bible belt”, who identify as “Christians” but have never come to the place of repentance of sin and accepting Jesus Christ as Savior.

They consider themselves “good people” (at least “better” than the people around them). They attend church and have all their lives (at least on Sunday when nothing else is going on), and may be members of their church. Their parents are Christians and people who know them probably assume they are, too.

They may have walked an aisle and shaken the preacher’s hand; they may have been baptized, as a baby or an adult, or gone through some “training” classes. But by and large they’re depending on their goodness, church affiliation or “religiosity” to get them to heaven. Yet they’ve never come to grips with their sin, accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, or committed their lives to Him.

So even with their “profession” there is no possession of eternal life; they play around God’s house, but have never been “adopted” into God’s family. And as such, they are not growing in the Lord or being molded into the image of Christ (which Romans 8 tells us is God’s design for His children).

I read the data from the Barna Institute and while I know statistics and figures have many variables, I’m still amazed at the number of people in America who claim to be “Christian” when I see the decline in our churches.

Church attendance decreases annually across the nation and the spiritual impact of our churches is waning as well.

The only growing churches in our world are in areas where there is intense persecution, those areas like China, North Korea, and many of the radical-Muslim areas. We must ask ourselves “why”? Why are churches growing, why are people being saved when to be a part of the “Christian church” is dangerous. And yet where we still have our freedoms (in the western world) why are churches declining?

The answer is that in these persecuted areas, the Christians are showing their friends and neighbors the reality of Jesus Christ. They are professing with their mouths, and sealing with their blood, the truth that real life in Christ, being a part of His “true” family, is the only thing that really matters and is worth dying for! Sadly, in America, too many of us are showing our friends and neighbors that “life in Christ” is no different than life without Christ. So why should those who see our apathy and complacency want to come to Christ when we show them that it really doesn’t matter?

It’s time that the true church of Christ wakes out of its spiritual coma. We cannot blame “unsaved Christians”, we cannot blame the culture, we cannot blame blatant sinners, we cannot blame Satan for the state of our families, our schools, our nation and our churches. The blame rests with each of us, who is truly saved by the blood of Christ, relying on His grace and faith in His finished work, adopted into His family.

I Peter 4:17 says that “the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God…” As true Christians, we will never be perfect, but each day we must let God mold us more and more into the image of Christ.

Each day we must spend time in stripping out our sin through confession and repentance, and we must rid ourselves of those things, as good as some of them may be, that keep us from taking the Great Commission and sharing the gospel, with our lips and our lives, to all we come in contact with.

What about your family? Your neighbors? Your co-workers? Your schoolmates? Your teammates? The people you run into at the post office or Walmart or pass driving down 501?

Do they see Jesus in you? Do they see a real difference in the way you live, the way you talk, the way you deal with adversity that would make them want the Savior you and I claim to know?

Are you committed to the Word of God and to prayer? Are you faithful and an active participant in your church (church is not a spectator sport)?

Are you loving and gracious? Do you “hate” sin, but love sinners enough to show them Jesus Christ? Are you generous with your time and resources to the needy?

Are you daily teaching your children God’s Word and more importantly, modeling it to them? Are you taking your children to church, to Sunday school, to children and youth programs? Is the Word and prayer a priority, even more than sports, technology, leisure and so on?

Are you and I playing church or are we being God’s church? Are we clearly reflecting Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world? In the time it takes you to read today’s newspaper, more than 7,000 people will die in America -- some in your city and maybe some in your neighborhood. Many, if not most of those, will go out into a lost eternity. Jesus Christ died to give them eternal life; are you and I willing to live so as to show them the reality of Christ and to share with them the gospel?

One day we will all stand before God. As true Christians, His children, His church, we will be called upon to give account of our “Christian life”. I can think of few things more horrible at that time than realizing we have relatives, friends and acquaintances, who could testify that we never showed them Christ, we never told them about Christ.

It’s time the church wakes up; it’s time that Christians wake up; it’s time that I wake up; it’s time that you wake up.

The late evangelist Charles Spurgeon said these words (I have them in my Bible; if you don’t, cut them out of today’s paper and tape them in your Bible): “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped around their knees. If hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let no one go unwarned or unprayed for.” AMEN!

A Day of Hope

The Seventh Annual A Day of Hope will be held Aug. 7. If you know families with children in kindergarten through 12th grade in need of back-to-school supplies, please have them call (843) 438-3247 to set up an appointment to register (registration is mandatory).

There will be a volunteer meeting Aug. 5 at 6 p.m. Contact Sheila at hopeinaday@gmail.com.

CAP’s Anniversary

CAP (Churches Assisting People) invites you to join in a community celebration of its 35th Anniversary of helping needy people in our area. This will take place Sept. 18 from 12 p.m.-4 p.m. at Thompson Farm, 100 Brickyard Plantation in Conway.

This is a free event to thank the churches and the community for their support and prayers for the past 35 years. (You must sign up on Eventbrite.)

There will be food, a petting zoo, corn maze, cakewalk, entertainment and a special guest. Don’t miss it. But also continue to support and pray for the ministry of CAP! (Phone 843-488-2277.)

Praying and Helping!

Many things are starting to get back to “normal” after a year and a half of “pandemic life”.

But two things are still necessary, necessary in good times and bad times…prayer and giving!

I Thessalonians 5:17 encourages God’s people to “Pray without ceasing.” Prayer is vital at all times and in all places. Prayer is not trying to change God’s mind, but it is molding my mind and will to His.

Prayer is thanksgiving; prayer is intercessory; prayer is requesting what is needed for ourselves and others. And God hears the prayers of His people and answers them.

■ Continue to pray for our nation, for hatred and violence to end. Pray for our leaders (at all levels of government), first to come to Christ as Savior and Lord and then to rule according to God’s laws.

■ Pray for the church in America to stand strong and preach the entire Bible, not just the parts that people want to hear. Pray for repentance among God’s people; if revival is to come, it must begin there. And pray for the church universal and especially the persecuted church. The church is the only light in a dark world.

■ Pray for our schools, our homes and our families. As vicious and evil philosophies invade, educators and parents must stand up and teach children the truth.

■ Pray for the elderly, the sick, the infirmed and the needy. And pray for each other.

Then put feet to your prayers by giving to those who have needs for food, for the basics of life. The list of problems and difficulties is endless as are the needs. We cannot meet every need, but as the Lord leads, let us meet the ones that we can. Mother Tereas said, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can all do small things with great love.”

Conway, Loris, Aynor and Western Horry

■ Grace Presbyterian Church, PCA, 1955 Riverside Drive, Conway will host a program of sacred music July 30 at 6:30 p.m.

The program will include organ, piano, harp, flute and violin music all performed by extremely-talented local musicians. There will be some instrumentals, psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.

Cookies and lemonade will be served after the event.

Call (843) 347-5550.

■ Everyone is invited to VBS at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, 4301 Red Bluff Road, Loris continuing through Friday of this week from 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m. This year’s theme: “Destination Dig: Unearthing the Truth about Jesus”.

■ The Catholic Church of St. James the Younger, 1071 Academy Drive, will have VBS July 24 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. for ages 6-12. Enjoy prayer and reflection, crafts and end the day with a field day! To register, contact Suzanne at (843) 347-5158 or visit www.stjamesconway.org.

■ First Baptist Church of Conway, 603 Elm St. will have VBS July 26-29 from 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. To register, phone (843) 248-4067.

■ Bethany Bible Chapel, 1668 Four Mile Road, invites boys and girls, ages pre-k thru grade 6, to VBS, Aug. 2-5, 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. This year’s theme is “The King’s Court”. To register, go to www.bbcofconway.org or phone (843) 369-7729. See you there!

■ 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.”

Please help as you are able. Call (843) 347-5168 or go online to www.stjamesconway.org.

Myrtle Beach/The Coast

■ Anchor Baptist Church, 3300 Highway 50 in Little River invites all children, ages 4-12, to its Community VBS. Enjoy free meals, games, Bible lessons, competition, crafts, prizes and more! The theme is “The Big Top Secret”. VBS will be held Aug. 2-5 from 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m. To register, call the church at (843) 399-4466 or visit www.anchorbaptist.church/vbs.

■ The next New Beginnings drive-thru food distribution will be held Saturday at the Church of the Resurrection, 8901 U.S. 17 Bypass in Surfside Beach. Cars can begin lining up at 7 a.m. and the distribution begins at 8 a.m.

Please bring your ID if you have one. Food will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis, one per household represented with a maximum of two per car. There is no cost. This is sponsored by Faith Outreach Ministries of the Grand Strand and Low Country Food Bank. Phone (843) 215-4500.

■ You are invited to the following services and activities at The Well By The Sea, 211 Forestbrook Road:

Something new: The Deep Dive, questions and answers live-streamed; you may submit questions about God, the Bible, the Christian life, spiritual things and so on. All honest, respectful questions are welcome! Add your questions to the queue by submitting them to deacondebhamilton@gmail.com. Then tune in to The Deep Dive on Facebook Live every Wednesday at 6 p.m. Go to The Well By The Sea’s Facebook page and click “Like”. You will be notified when the show starts.

Also, at the Well By The Sea: In-Person Bible Study/Discussion Group on the “9 Supernatural Gifts of the Holy Spirit”, on Mondays at 11 a.m. (no cost, no RSVP, masks required).

In-Person (or Zoom) Weekly Bereavement/Loss Support Group, every Sunday at 6:30 p.m. Email debhamilton56@gmail.com.

In-Person Hangout for Young Adults (ages 18-30); every Saturday at 7 p.m. Come for a free meal and planned activity. Email personalityprism@gmail.com.

■ Fr. Anthony Montesinos Columbiettes Auxiliary #5086 of St. Andrew Catholic Church, 503 37th Ave. N, is looking for crafters for the church’s Holiday Bazaar to be held Nov. 13 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Community Life Center. Phone (908) 938-1433 or email patriciamartelli57@gmail.com.

■ The Socastee Pantry opened on June 1. This food pantry will be located at A Father’s House, 4513 S.C. 17 Bypass in Myrtle Beach. Hours will be Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and Saturday 7 a.m.-10 a.m.

The Pantry is sponsored by Faith Outreach Ministries and operated by local veterans. It will provide much needed food and necessities to the needy in our community. Phone (843) 474-9900 or visit www.faithoutreachministries-gs.org.

■ Temple Emanu-EL by the Sea; 406 65th Ave. North: Services (Zoom and Temple) Friday 6 p.m., Shabbat 10 a.m. (Note: Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities without wearing a mask or physical distancing.

According to the CDC, as of May 13, fully vaccinated people can resume activities without a mask or distancing except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

For Temple Emanu-El’s New Vaccine Worship Guide please call (843) 449-5552. Wear a mask if you choose.)

Fast of Tisha B’Av, July 18, 10 a.m.

Education classes are now on “Summer Vacation”.

Call the Temple at (843) 449-5552 or go to www.mbsynagogue.org.

■ Faith Church on S.C. 90 in Little River sponsors Celebrate Recovery on Tuesdays at 6 p.m.

■ 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. 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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