Since humans began to form groups or communities, soon after creation and again after the flood of Noah’s day, each group has its own set of rules of conduct, either written or oral.

These rules set the acceptable standard of behavior expected by members of that group. Many if not most of those “rules” of “group morality” have their basis in our innate sense of right and wrong, put into us at creation and enumerated by our Creator in His list of ten basic commandments, boiled down by Jesus to two: love God supremely and love others as much as you love yourself.

In America, our rules have been set down more than once in written form. Our Declaration of Independence gave the King of England our reasons for seeking to leave the commonwealth (i.e. to get rid of soccer in favor of “real football” and to exchange small cups of hot, weak tea for large glasses of sweet, iced tea?!). We wrote the Articles of Confederation and then the Constitution followed by a few amendments. And each state and most counties, cities and communities have their own documents of expected behavior and conduct.

Perhaps the first written document in “America” was the Mayflower Compact, penned by the Pilgrims and written by William Bradford. This brief document, signed by 41 of the Mayflower’s male passengers, gave the overriding reason the ship came to America: “having undertaken for the Glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith…” And it asserted that in the future there would be other documents written, “just and equal laws” set down, for order and the preservation of the colony and the general good of all the people.

This was a very good reason for their coming to America and in essence, resembles the Great Commission, given by Jesus Christ following His crucifixion and resurrection and just prior to His ascension.

This commission, an order from our God to all of those who know Christ as Savior and Lord, is given in Matthew 28, Mark 16 And Acts 1. And the commission will not be fulfilled until every person in the world has heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ, given succinctly by Paul in I Corinthians 15 as the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and leading to salvation and forgiveness of sins for those who will in faith accept Christ.

The commission requires us to “go” or in actuality, the wording is “as you are going”, that is wherever you go and wherever you are: home, work, school, church, community, golf course, ball game, flower club -- wherever. As we are going, we are to give out the gospel, in how we act and in our words. We are to share the Good News and when people are saved, we then are to baptize them, disciple them and teach them God’s Word. That was the commission 2000 years ago; that is the commission today; that will be the commission until Christ returns.

Too many of us make the mistake the Pilgrims and early Christians in America made and many missionaries and travelers to “foreign cultures” make. We try to change the culture before we share the Gospel.

In America, many of the Native Americans were “turned off” by the teaching of the Bible because the “teachers” tried to change their way of life. The same thing has happened throughout the world.

We are not called to change people, only God can do that. We are called to show people the change (for the better) that God can make in a life when we come to Christ and are filled with the Holy Spirit. We are to show the world Jesus, in our actions, our speech and our love. And when someone comes to Christ, then God will do the changes that He deems necessary.

I’ve known people in my life who came to Christ and were immediately and drastically changed: “old habits”, harmful habits became new. Some gave up alcohol and drugs immediately; others more slowly. God works differently in each one, but God will work. Someone said, He will come to us where we are, but He’s not content to leave us there!

In my life, the change was evident to me but wasn’t so drastic. I grew up in a good, Bible teaching/believing church. My parents took my brother and me to church every time the doors were opened and they were both active in the church in the gifts God gave them. I went to Sunday school, VBS, youth; I memorized Bible verses, participated in Bible quizzes, attended Bible camps and so on. And I pretty much “behaved” myself to my parents’ rules!

At age 11, I finally came to realize that all my “goodness” and all the “religious” things I was doing, wouldn’t take me to heaven. So in July of 1963, in by bunk at camp, I confessed my sins to the Lord and accepted Jesus Christ as my own personal Savior.

The next day I told my counselor and when I went home on Sunday I told my pastor. Their reaction was the same “I thought you were already saved!” But God still had work to do. Where I had gone to church because of my parents, I now wanted to attend church. Where I had studied and memorized the Bible for prizes, I now did it to grow closer to the Lord. No I wasn’t, and I’m still not perfect. But God is still working on me and will “until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6)

I saw the changes; they weren’t so much outward as they were attitudinal and inward. And that’s how God works. It’s not our job to change people. It is our “commission” to live out and share the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, to a lost and dying world so desperately in need of change, change that only God can achieve.

Yes, the Pilgrims came to bring Christianity to the “Americas”. Christians travel the world to take the Gospel to every continent and nation. It is our “prime directive”, our daily work, wherever we are. And as we do our part, God will do His; people will be saved, lives will be changed, and homes, communities, churches and nations will likewise change, too. Who are you praying for? Who are you sharing the Gospel with?

Best Wishes to a Friend

If you saw last week’s newspaper, you read about the retirement of Guy Dozier, who has served the newspaper and community as advertising representative for almost 50 years (besides being an active part of his church and community organizations).

While no one is indispensable, Guy will be missed. In advertising for my church, I only had to send Guy the applicable copy and he designed the ads, always perfectly! In addition, he is someone who often gives me words of encouragement for “Church Talk”. I haven’t gotten to know him as well as I’d like, but I consider him a friend, and I know he’s a friend to many of my readers and the entire Waccamaw Publishers “family”. Church Talk wishes Guy the best on his retirement; he will stay busy!

Continue to Pray Without Ceasing

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

Coastline Jingle Bell Drop Off!

In the past, Coastline Women’s Center hosted a “Jungle Bell Drop In” that allowed the community to come in and visit with the ministry and learn more about what Coastline does. This has become the “Jingle Bell Drop Off” that allows you to “adopt” for Christmas, a child whose mother is taking parenting classes at Abagail’s Place.

Send an email to louane@coastlinewomenscenter.org and provide your name, phone number and the number of children you would like to adopt (currently there are 38 children in the program). You will receive a reply email with the child’s gender, age and prayer request.

You then purchase an age appropriate toy (value about $20), wrap it and deliver it to Abagail’s Place, 1607-Ninth Ave. in Conway on Dec. 8, 10 or 11 between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Then you pray for the child and his/her family. Call Louane at (843) 488-9971 on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. What a great way to show the love of Christ along with your love!

Your Help is Making a Difference!

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.

And all of these seem worse during the “holidays”. Inventory what you have. Do you have more than enough? (Be honest, God has given to most of us abundantly!) If you do, someone has said that God gives that so you can share with others.

Share your resources (food, clothing), your time, your monetary resources with others. And you don’t have to look far to find the needy or good faithful organizations that are ministering to them. Don’t be a Grinch or a Scrooge. Open your hands and your heart to others! You’ll be blessed as you bless.

Conway, Loris, Aynor and Western Horry

■ This Sunday at 5 p.m., St. Paul’s Church, 710 Main St., invites you to “A Light in the Darkness”, a “Blue Christmas” service.

The events of 2020 have caused pain, sadness, loneliness and loss. For some, the holidays will be the most difficult time of the year. Come and bring your suffering to our sign of hope -- the Christ Child. Hope is here.

You may join in person or via livestream at www.stpaulsconway.com. (Please note: facemasks are required at the service!)

■ First United Methodist Church of Conway invites you to celebrate Advent and enjoy its Candlelight Advent Concerts virtually on Facebook and FUMC Youtube channel aired at 4 p.m. On Dec. 6 the concert will feature Rose David, Soprano; on Dec. 13, Kate McDaniel (soprano), Jessica Eaton (piano) and James Canty (Trumpet); on Dec. 20, Katherine Brooks and Janet Lawrence (sopranos), Melinda Hyman (tenor), Will Brown (tenor) and Patrick Carter (bass).

On Dec. 20 at 5:30 p.m. there will be a virtual presentation of “A Festival of Lessons and Carols” with Chancel Choir and Orchestra (this is an archived performance from 2019). Phone (843) 488-4251.

■ South Conway FWB Church, 3575 Copperhead Road, will host a Chicken Bog Fundraiser (delivery and take-out only) on Dec. 11 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; the cost is only $8 per place. Call (843) 397-0742 or see a church member by Dec. 5 to purchase plates/tickets. The menu includes chicken bog, green beans, candied yams, rolls and desserts.

This fundraiser is for Preacher Ray and Mary Alice Cribb to help with expenses for their son Matt during his battle with Stage 4 lung cancer.

■ The Catholic Church of St. James, 1071 Academy Drive, 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.

■ Catholic Charities Pee Dee Thanksgiving and Christmas distributions is available for those in need items for their Christmas Assistance which is available to families with children under the age of 18.

Registration is required for this assistance that has just started. Registration is first-come, first-serve until all slots are filled. Call Catholic Charities Pee Dee at (843) 438-3108.

For the Christmas project the needs are: new, unwrapped toys and books for children through age 12; for teens 13-18, makeup kids, nail kids, bath sets, curling irons, blow dryers, purses, teenage board games, tabletop games, dart boards, sports gear, headphones, watches, wallets, tool kits, $10 fast food or movie theater gift cards. Also new winter coats (newborn to adult XL), hats, gloves, earmuffs and scarves. Please drop off by Dec. 14.

Catholic Charities is located at 2294 Technology Blvd. in Conway.

■ Bethany Bible Chapel, 1668 Four Mile Road, has AWANA each Monday. Cubbies meet from 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. and Sparks, T & T, Trek and Journey meet from 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. (Yes, we have clubs for all youth age 3 through grade 12!) Distancing and face masks are encouraged for leaders and clubbers. Phone 843-369-7729.

■ Langston Baptist Church, 763 S.C. 905, has Good News Club for boys and girls on Wednesdays (until Dec. 16) from 7 p.m.-8 p.m.

■ 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.”

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

Myrtle Beach/The Coast

■ North Myrtle Beach Christian School will host a Pancake Supper fundraiser on Dec. 9 from 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. at Eggs Up Grill on U.S. 17 in North Myrtle Beach.

Tickets are $10 per plate and will be on sale through Dec. 7 at the school (from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. daily). Or you can purchase tickets by phone at (843) 399-7181. There will also be special Christmas “guests” outside Eggs Up from 5 p.m.-6 p.m. for dine-in or take-out customers who want photo ops with Santa, a reindeer, the Grinch and others!

North Myrtle Beach Christian School is located at 9535 S.C. 90, across from Wampee Baptist Church.

■ Low Country Food Bank and Faith Outreach Ministries will sponsor another Drive-Thru Food Distribution at 4223 Socastee Blvd. Friday at 3 p.m. Phone (843) 215-4500 for information.

■ Myrtle Beach Christian Church, 1226 Burcale Road, announces the following:

Farm fresh Christmas tree sales from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily through December. Santa Claus Comes to Church on Dec. 9 from 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m.; get your holiday picture with him!

Christmas Cantata on Dec. 13 at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Journey to Bethlehem, outdoor drama, Dec. 22 and 23 at 7 p.m.; Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 7 p.m. Phone (843) 236-1121; e-mail to christianchurchmb@gmail.com or go online to www.myrtlebeachchristianchurch.com.

■ Help 4 Kids and Backpack Buddies continue to provide food for 400-500 families per week and 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 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.

■ The New Beginnings drive-thru food distribution will be held Dec. 19 from 8 a.m.-10 a.m. at the Church of the Resurrection, 8901 U.S. 16 Bypass in Surfside Beach. Cars can begin lining up at 7 a.m. Future dates include Jan. 16, 2021. Phone (843) 215-4500.

■ Temple Emanu-EL by the Sea; 406-65th Ave. North: Services (Virtual and Temple) Friday 6 p.m., Shabbat 10 a.m. Hebrew School Wednesdays, 4 p.m.-6 p.m.; Adult Education Classes, Wednesdays 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.; Advanced Hebrew Classes, Wednesdays 12:45 p.m.-1:45 p.m. (Masks required!)

Light a Chanukiah Project, through Dec. 18; light a virtual Chanukiah and dedicate it to whomever you wish, $18. Don’t miss the Hannukah Lighting at Market Common on Dec. 10 (masks required). Phone (843) 449-5552; website www.mbsynagogue.org.

■ 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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I'm the editor of the Horry Independent, a weekly newspaper in Conway, South Carolina. I cover city hall and courts, among many other subjects. Know of a good story? Call me at 843-488-7241.

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