A verse that’s on my mind often today as I look around our nation and the world is II Timothy 3:1 “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come.”
I’m not a prophet; I do believe Jesus when He promised His followers in John 14:3, “…I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” And I believe that Revelation promises that, no matter how we perceive things to be bad now, they’re going to get a whole lot worse.
If this and the daily news was all I had to go by, I’m not sure I’d want to get up in the morning and get started on my daily activities. But I’ve read several times lately two verses in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians that give me confidence and impetus to go on. In I Corinthians 16:13-14 Paul gives us five simple, yet profound words of direction. He writes, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.”
First, we’re told to watch; be alert, be aware, look around. Know where you are and whose you are and what’s going on around you. It’s very difficult to know what’s happening in the world today as most of our journalism has become opinion, not fact. We don’t know for sure what’s happening in Washington or Columbia or Moscow or Peking. And few, if any, know what’s going on with COVID.
But if we’re going to be effective in countering the culture (and we’re taught to resist the culture not give in to it), we need to watch, to be as knowledgeable and wise as possible. We can’t panic because of what’s going on in our world, and we won’t if we truly watch (and that means having our eyes looking to the Lord)!
As we become aware of the world situation, spiritually, politically, economically and culturally, we must stand fast in the faith. That simply means we must know, understand, believe, accept and follow the Word of God, the Bible. Far too many churches have begun to pick and choose what to teach and preach. They leave out things they feel make people “uncomfortable” or cause dissension.
The truth of God’s Word will make us uncomfortable; it is a contradiction to our sinful, selfish nature and in direct conflict with the culture of this world. But God does not take polls on what is popular or what the culture wants to believe and do. God’s Word is set in stone; it is eternal; it does not change. What was a sin 6,000 years ago is still a sin today. And for churches and Christians to ignore parts or the Word, to downplay them, or change them to make them seem more palatable is simply leading more souls down the road to hell. The Bible is not our word; it is God’s Word and it is the whole basis of our faith. So, as we “watch” what’s going on around us, it is imperative that we also “stand fast in the faith.”
Third we’re told to be brave. Bravery is not the absence of fear; bravery is the ability to do what needs to be done even through our fear. Yes, to the normal person, we live in a fearful world. But we can’t go into our “safe room” and seclude ourselves away from any seeming danger.
We don’t act carelessly or rashly, but bravely we carry the cross of Christ to a lost and dying world and as we watch and stand fast, we realize that we risk mockery, persecution and possibly even death. But we’re brave. Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego told king Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel, when he gave them a second chance to bow before the idolatrous statue: “King, we don’t have to think about this. We know God’s commands. We also know that if He bids us burn, we’ll burn; but if He wants us to survive, we will survive.”
Fourth, we’re told to be strong. That comes from spiritual strength training. We become spiritually strong by staying daily in the Word, reading it, studying it, memorizing it, obeying it. We also become strong in prayer. Every single prayer we see answered encourages us to greater faith and more prayer. We gain strength from each other; Christian fellowship was important to the first century church; it is equally important today. And we gain strength by being an active part of a local church and serving at church and outside church walls. Let’s do these necessary things to build up our spiritual stamina and strength.
Paul’s fifth word is “let all you do be done with love.” We are not to be caustic Christians. Yes, we must tell the truth, in love. Yes, we must call sin, sin; in love. Yes, we must share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all others, in love. Let all that you do be done with love. Love is the glue that holds the rest together. Love gives us a clearer vision of what’s going on around us as we watch. Christ’s love for us, other Christian’s love for us, our love for Christ and others, this keeps us in the faith.
Love allows us to be brave and sends us to greater “feats” of service because we love others. And love strengthens us. Love strengthens the bond of marriage between a man and a woman. Love strengthens the bond between parent and child. Love strengthens the bond between friends. Love is the glue that flows from Christ to His true followers and let’s us live for Him in this world.
These two verses have challenged and convicted me and brought me to my knees. I trust they’ll do the same for you.
Coastline Women’s Center
I was privileged to view virtually the annual Coastline Women’s Center Gala, this past week, and it was a very worthwhile half hour. I hope you were able to view it also and to offer all your prayer support and financial support to this wonderful, God-given ministry.
The testimonies of the two families, who were assisted in making the right “baby decision”, were a tribute to the people who make up the Coastline family and to the providence of God. Whenever I hear the phrase “Pro-Choice” my mind immediately goes to the choices: live baby or dead baby. And last year Coastline was used by the Lord to save 67 precious children.
The story of Rebekah Hagen’s journey and the Lord saving her child from chemical abortion, a reversal that doesn’t always work, also makes you want to praise God and thank Him that organizations like Coastline Women’s Center and other similar “baby-saving” groups are in our area.
Last year, Coastline had 1,233 client visits and served 424 new clients. They gave many pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. And saw 14 individuals receive Christ as Savior and Lord and enter the Kingdom of God.
Coastline has many different ministries to women and men, their babies and also a healing ministry to those suffering the effects of having had an abortion.
What can you and I do? Pray, pray, pray. And as God leads, give! To learn more about the organization and see why I am so excited to share their work, go to their website at coastlinewomenscenter.org or visit one of their facilities.
Christian Youth In Action
It’s almost summer. Schools will be out and churches will be getting involved in summer activities. As you all know, last summer was devastating to our usual summer Bible camps, vacation Bible schools and five-day club type activities. While we don’t know what this summer will bring, we’re praying we’ll be able to get back into person-to-person summer Bible activities, some of the most fruitful ministries in the church!
Child Evangelism Fellowship has a program called Christian Youth In Action. This has been going on for a number of years and involves taking teens and discipling them to share the Good News of Jesus with boys and girls in neighborhood five-day clubs, near participating churches. This could be an alternative to VBS or an additional summer outreach and can be used to bring people into the church.
What can you do? If you have teens 15 and over who would be great workers in such a program, let CEF know. They are seeking eight volunteer teens to serve this summer and the deadline is rapidly approaching.
Also, if your church would like to house or sponsor a five-day club, again, please let CEF know and get the necessary information. I’ve been involved in CEF ministries for more than 40 years in various capacities and know their materials are completely Biblical and their heart is to win boys and girls to Jesus Christ. So, one thing we can all do is pray for CEF and for the CYIA ministry. Go online to www.cefgpd.org. or phone (843) 365-4233.
The Socastee Pantry
Larry Nowak, president of Faith Outreach Ministries of the Grand Strand is pleased to announce the opening of The Socastee Pantry 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. ad Saturday 7 a.m.-10 a.m.
The Socastee Pantry will be chaired by arry Simmons 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.
Congratulations to Christ the Servant Lutheran Church, 2105 U.S. 501 (across from the colleges). The church just joyfully celebrated its first 35 years serving God and the people of this area. For more information on the church and service times and events, phone (843) 347-4914 or go to their website ctslconline.org.
Pick Up Your New Book
Don’t forget to pick up your newly-published book by local Christian author Michael Martin, BBA, RN. The book is entitled My Career as a Spirit-Filled Nurse and is available at Paula B’s store on U.S. 378 or from the author (write him at 2309 Ninth Ave., Conway SC 29526). Cost is only $15.95. And check out his other books too.
National Day of Prayer, and Everyday
The annual National Day of Prayer will be held May 6.
The Bible encourages God’s people to “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17), “pray always with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:17), and the exhortation from Paul to Timothy (I Timothy 2:8) that “men (and women and children too) pray everywhere.”
I’m sure your church, like mine, has a long prayer list and I’m sure you have your own personal prayer list, too. Here are some things that we, as God’s church, can and should be praying about daily:
■ Pray for our leaders, at all levels and right now, our elected incumbents and newly-elected leaders, that they will lead wisely and seek God’s wisdom and will in their new positions of authority
■ Pray for the church in America and the church around the world (especially the persecuted church). In the increasing darkness of sin, the church is the light and if we’re willing to be the light, then darkness cannot extinguish God’s truth!
■ Pray for our nation that we will return to a time of mutual respect for each other, of love, real toleration, and as the Bible tells us “accepting and bearing with” one another. Pray that the hate, the violence, the malice will end.
■ Pray that we’ll all respect life as a gift from God who alone has the right and power to begin and end it. Pray that we’ll realize that all life matters from conception until natural death.
■ Pray for our homes and families that love between parents and parents and children will be the “rule of the day” and that families will follow God’s pattern to be the solid basic building block of society.
■ Pray for our schools (all levels), students, teachers, administrators and service personnel. These are incredibly difficult days in education.
■ Pray for the sick, the infirm, the elderly, the needy and be willing to be God’s hands and feet to meet needs as you can.
■ Pray for each other. Each week as I share prayer requests at church, I ask our folks to look around and tell them everyone they see needs prayer. But we have a great God who can hear every prayer.
National Day of Prayer Observances
CONWAY: There will be a National Day of Prayer Community Prayer Service on May 6 at noon at the Old Horry County Courthouse on Third Avenue in Conway. Everyone is encouraged to come out to pray for our community, cities, state, nation, leaders, churches and families.
This will be led by Dr. Jeff Gaskins and sponsored by North Conway Baptist Church and the Waccamaw Baptist Association.
“Now the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (II Corinthians 3:17)
GEORGETOWN: The public is invited to attend a National Day of Prayer Service on May 6 from noon-1 p.m. in the parking lot of Georgetown’s First Baptist Church, 219 Cleland St. The service is sponsored by the First Baptist Church, in cooperation with the City of Georgetown, Georgetown Police Department and other local churches.
Senior Pastor Dr. Ted Sherrill will introduce the event. Mayor Brendon Barber will make the National Day of Prayer Proclamation on behalf of the city. Other officiants include Col. Homer Baxley, the Rev. Kenny Johnson, the Rev. Ron Reid, the Rev. Carl Anderson, the Rev. Dan Hager and Bishop John Smith.
This year’s theme is Lord, pour out Your Love, Life and Liberty based on II Corinthians 3:17. Attendees are asked to remain in their cars during the service and participate by offering prayers for the nation and state, community, elected officials, military, media, businesses, education, churches, first responders and families.
Traditionally more than 50,000 National Day of Prayer gatherings are held in America and this is the 70th Anniversary of the National Day of Prayer.
Conway, Loris, Aynor and Western Horry
■ 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. For Call (843) 347-5168 or go online to www.stjamesconway.org.
Myrtle Beach/The Coast
■ You are invited to the following services and activities at The Well By The Sea, 211 Forestbrook Road: In-Person Bible Study/Discussion Group on the “9 Supernatural Gifts of the Holy Spirit”, on Mondays at 11 a.m. beginning April 12 (no cost, no RSVP, masks required).
In-Person (or Zoom) Weekly Bereavement/Loss Support Group, every Sunday at 6:30 p.m. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In-Person Hangout for Young Adults (ages 18-30); every Saturday at 7 p.m. Come for a free meal and planned activity. Email email@example.com.
■ Temple Emanu-EL by the Sea; 406 65th Ave. North: Services (Zoom and Temple) Friday 6 p.m., Shabbat 10 a.m. (Masks required!)
Education classes: April 28: Advanced Hebrew 12:45 p.m. (via Zoom); Adult Education 2 p.m.-3 p.m. (via Zoom) (Book: Jewish Literacy by Joseph Telushkin); Hebrew School, 4 p.m.-5:30 p.m. in the Rosen Center.
Phone (843) 449-5552; website www.mbsynagogue.org.
■ The next New Beginnings drive-thru food distribution will be held on May 15, June 19 and July 17 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.
■ 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. For more email hgprayer @sccoast.net.
■ St. Michael’s Catholic Church, 542 Cypress Ave. in Murrells Inlet has a Live 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.