They were New Balance, size ten, white with navy lettering. I thought that they would give me a magical bounce that would make me sprint faster up and down the court, or maybe even dunk the ball.

For some reason, I had hoped that they might help me make a free throw or perhaps even dribble better. It was my first real pair of basketball shoes, a gift from my grandmother. But it turns out those kicks were just for hoping, not for hooping.

Those shoes were some of the best-looking ones on the bench that year. I played a few minutes every game, but not many. After all, I wasn’t good. Basketball, though a fun hobby, was not my best sport. As an illustration, for every free throw that we missed in practice, my coach made us run five staircases -- a brutal exercise that essentially meant running the inside perimeter of the school -- before we could play in the next game. I once ran ninety-five staircases in one practice just to sit on the bench.

But this is the way we live our lives. We shuffle from one hobby, possession, degree or relationship to the next hoping that we will somehow be able to improve our situation. We believe that if we buy another truck, earn another dollar, or go on another date, we will somehow feel better about the world in which we live, and perhaps we will feel better about ourselves in the process.

It makes sense. This is the narrative we have been told our entire lives, the outcome of living in the product-pushing, commercialistic culture that we know so well. We are shaped by advertisements, and forged by algorithms.

All we have ever known is that we, if we have more and know more, then we will become more: the lie since the third chapter of Genesis. But all of these good things simply turn out to be distractions, “fig leaves” we hold up to try to hide ourselves from the ultimate realities of life. As one of my favorite professors once said, “We have been sewing fig leaves ever since,” desperately trying to escape the glaring reality that something is not right, but that maybe we can fix it on our own. We cannot.

As a Christian pastor, I take deep comfort in the reality that the Bible does not offer a product. We do not peddle a sort of magic wand that you keep in your pocket for hard times and wave around to make life better. God is most definitely in the business of making his people prosper, but that often involves the hard realities of life in a sin-broken world. He is not willing to waste anything in our experiences that would make us and others turn to him in faith. God redeems our brokenness and makes it into beauty.

I also take comfort in the truth that the Bible does not offer a philosophy. It is not merely a collection of wisdom and stories to simply help us love one another and live together in unity. The Bible is not just a how-to guide, complete with instructions and illustrations. The Bible is the message of the Christian faith, the true story of how God reached down to rescue people by grace through faith in Jesus, and how he brings us along with him as he rescues others.

That’s the crux of it, friends. The Christian faith does not offer a philosophy to buy into, or a product to purchase. Rather, the Christian faith introduces a person, Jesus.

It is not primarily a list of dos and don’ts, a get-rich-quick guide, or a catalogue of ancient people and places. The Christian faith is founded on knowing God through trusting Jesus Christ -- a person, rather than a product or a philosophy. And he draws us to that kind of belief by his grace through faith in Jesus. So today, may the longings of our hearts be to know him more. May the broken possessions and promises of this life shift our gaze heavenward. And may we find in Him all that our hearts long for, even while we work on our jump shots.

CAP’s anniversary

Churches Assisting People (CAP) invites the public to join in a community celebration of its 35th anniversary of helping needy people in our area. This will take place Sept. 18 from noon-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. Call (843) 488-2277.

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. until noon. The mission: “We serve Christ when we serve people.”

Call (843) 347-5168 or go online to www.stjamesconway.org.

Myrtle Beach /The Coast

■ Myrtle Beach Christian Church, 1226 Burcale Road, will hold bring a friend day Sunday. A free Bible will be given to anyone who brings a friend!

Services are at 8:30 a.m.; Deeper Growth Sunday school, 10 a.m.; second service, 11 a.m.; and evening service, 6 p.m.

Call (843) 236-1121 or go to myrtlebeachchristianchurch.com

■ 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).

An in-person (or Zoom) weekly bereavement/loss support group meets 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.

The Well by the Sea Annual Fall Festival:

Sept. 18 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Food - Music - Bazaar - Games - Children’s Activities

This is a fun event for the entire community. All are welcome to come!

Food – Fresh BBQ and a variety of homemade goodies for purchase to eat at tables or to take home.

Bake Sale – Homemade bakery goodies for purchase, already made for you to take home.

Bazaar/yard sale – Tables loaded for browsing with donated timeless treasures for sale: toys, clothing, small appliances, craft items, furniture, vacuums and many more items too numerous to list here.

Music – throughout the day with some live bands.

Fun games & children’s activities – throughout the day with small prizes to winners.

Get out of the house. Bring the entire family. There will be something for everyone!

■ Father Anthony Montesinos Columbiettes Auxiliary No. 5086 of St. Andrew Catholic Church, 503 37th Ave. North, is looking for crafters for a holiday bazaar to be held Nov. 13 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. in the Community Life Center. Call (908) 938-1433 or email patriciamartelli57@gmail.com.

■ The Socastee Pantry is now open and serving. This food pantry will be located at A Father’s House, 4513 U.S. 17 Bypass in Myrtle Beach. Hours are 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. Call (843) 474-9900 or visit www.faithoutreachministries-gs.org.

■ Temple Emanu-El by the Sea, 406 65th Ave., North, Myrtle Beach: (843) 449-5552. Conservative Rabbi Avi Perets.

To go

www.mbsynagogue.org

Services (Zoom & Temple):

Ki Tavo Aug. 28,

Friday: 6 p.m.

Shabbat: 10 a.m.

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities with wearing a mask (except while being seated) and physical distancing.”

Call: (843) 449-5552

Selichot Eve Program

Aug. 28, 8 p.m.-10 p.m.

Hebrew School Registration

Sept. 19, 10 a.m.

Rosen Center

Pizza Party Sukkah Decorating

Steffi Nathan Scholarship Fund

Open to all Jewish College students. Applications

available in the temple office.

Fostering Hope

Sisterhood is once again collecting socks and Underwear (any age/any size) for Fostering Hope.

*High Holiday Services will be held at The Dunes Club

Erev Rosh Hashanah

Sept. 6 at 7:30 p.m.,

Rosh Hashanah (First Day) Sept. 7, 9 a.m.

Evening service at 7:30 p.m.

Rosh Hashanah (Second Day) Sept. 8 at 9 a.m.

Erev Yom Kippur (Kol Nidre) Sept. 15, 6:30 p.m.

Yom Kippur: Sept. 16, 9 a.m.

Private Devotion at 5 p.m., Mincha & Neilah Services at 6 p.m.

Sukkot, Sept. 21-22

Simchat Torah Celebration

Sept. 28 at 7 p.m.

■ 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., 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. until 1 p.m. You are encouraged to come out and browse and buy and, in so doing, you’ll be supporting this community outreach. Call (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. Call 843-903-6634 or go online to templeshalommyrtlebeach.net.

■ Christ the Servant Lutheran Church will hold its Fall Flea Market again.

Tables are available for a $15 donation.

The church is at 2105 U.S. 501 E., Conway, across from HGTC/CCU.

Call 843-457-3547 for a registration form.

■ Thompson Farm is hosting a “Hometown Heroes Weekend” benefitting Help4Kids with a food drive!

Please help us feed our “pumpkins!”

We need volunteers to collect donated food items and talk about Help4Kids at this event!

Where: Thompson Farm, 100 Brickyard Place, Conway

When: Sept. 25 and 26

10 a.m.-noon, noon-2 p.m., 2 p.m.-4 p.m., 4 p.m.-6 p.m.

■ Holy Lamb Lutheran Church, 2541 Forestbrook Road, Myrtle Beach will hold its Fifth Annual BBQ Fundraiser for Help4Kids to purchase shoes and socks, Saturday, 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Eat-in or Take-out,

$10 for adults includes BBQ sandwich, baked beans, coleslaw and a bottle of water; $6 for children includes BBQ sandwich, chips and a bottle of water; $5 for second sandwich; $25 for a 2-lb container.

Donations of new shoes and socks are appreciated!

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