It’s graduation time again at the end of another tumultuous school year. Whether you’re graduating from kindergarten, middle school, high school, college or graduate school … congratulations and best wishes as you enter the next exciting chapter of your life.

Stories are often used to share important truths. Aesop was well known for his fables, stories (often humorous) with an important moral. And the greatest orator of all time, Jesus Christ, on many occasions used parables, stories with images that people would understand, but used to teach deeper truths. So, for our graduates, here's a story and I hope some “wise advice” for your future.

A man went on safari in Africa and took along his pet dachshund. One day, the dachshund began chasing birds and before long realized he was lost. Wandering about, he sees a leopard heading in his direction with the obvious intention of a doggie lunch. The dachshund thinks, “Hmmm, I’m in deep trouble now! What will I do?”

Then the dog noticed some bones on the ground nearby and he settled down and began gnawing on a bone with his back to the leopard. As the big cat is about to leap, the dachshund exclaims in a loud voice, “Yum. That was one delicious leopard. I wonder if there are any more around here?”

Hearing this, the leopard backs off, a look of terror comes across his face, and he heads back into the safety of the trees thinking, “Whew, that was close. That dog nearly had me.”

In a nearby tree sat a monkey who saw the whole thing and figures he can put his knowledge to good use and trade it to the cat for protection. So off he goes, after the leopard. The dachshund saw him heading after the leopard with haste and decided something must be up.

The monkey catches up with the leopard, tells the leopard about the trick the dog played, and struck a deal for future protection. The leopard is furious and says, “Okay, monkey, hop on my back and see what’s going to happen to that conniving dog.”

Now the dachshund sees the leopard coming with the monkey on his back and thinks, “Uh oh! What am I gonna do now?” But instead of running, the dog sits down again with his back to the oncoming cat, pretending he hadn’t seen them. Just when they get close enough, the dachshund says with a loud voice, “Hmm, wonder where that monkey is? I sent him a half hour ago to bring me another leopard!” (And off the cat goes in the opposite direction!)

Perceptions are often more real to us than reality, and perceptions often become our reality. But perceptions, when they conflict with truth, are not good for us!

So, graduates, as you leave one chapter of life and go into another, let me share some things with you. First, and most importantly, there is a God, one God, the creator of all that exists. He is the God of the Bible, eternal, holy, loving, just, all-knowing, all-powerful, and in complete control!

Along with that, God is truth and is the ultimate source of all truth. Yes, contrary to many cultural perceptions, there is absolute truth and there are absolute standards of right and wrong; these do not come from man; they come from God.

Our culture, the culture you young people are living in (as well as us “older folks” too) is often skewed and wrong, because daily our culture seems to venture further and further from God.

Even precepts, principles and laws, when they deviate from God’s law, are wrong. And when we see this conflict, we are “required” to obey God, rather than men.

Don’t be swayed by cultural trends and fads. Don’t be tricked into believing the culture knows more than God. Again, if a textbook or a teacher/professor says something that doesn’t coincide with God’s word, then that person or book is wrong; and you must not accept that.

Today our culture erroneously teaches that life is subjective and it’s okay to destroy life that doesn’t seem (to the culture) to have value, whether that life is unborn, “imperfect” or diseased. Today our culture has severely warped God’s pure creation of sexuality and gender. Do not be taken in by the world’s views when they don’t come up to God’s word.

We hear about hatred and racism. Hatred has always existed; racism is a misnomer. All humanity is of one race, the human race. We all go back to God’s original creation of Adam and Eve. Yes, we have genetically changed into varying skin colors, eye and hair colors, body types. We have different languages, come from different geographic areas, and have varied ethnic traditions. But strip away the external, and in the part of us that really matters, we are all the same (sinners needing a savior). And yes, we all have our own biases and prejudices; don’t accept yours, but work to lessen them. (If we all looked alike, all spoke the same language, we would still find ways to “look down” on each other!)

Don’t be easily “offended”. Far too many people in our world have the opinion that everyone must agree with them and if they don’t they must be “haters” or “-phobes”. Learn to get along with those who have differing opinions. Learn to talk and discuss areas of commonality as well as differences. And agree to disagree agreeably.

Realize that money and things are not the factor that determines worth. Earn money by work; purchase things to help others; but don’t worship either. And utilize technology to help others too. While technology can be wonderful, it can also be a trap to separate us from others, and it can itself become our “god”.

As I close, just a few simple things to remember: (1) the world does not revolve around you; to be all you can be, love and serve God first and foremost and then love and serve others with the abilities and things God gives you.

(2) Remember, it is never wrong to do right and it is never right to do wrong. With that in mind, accept Christ as Savior and Lord, if you haven’t done so. Then, stay close to the Lord. Purpose each day to stay closer than the day before. Stay in God’s Word, the Bible; read it, study it, memorize it, understand it, obey it. Get involved in a Bible-believing and teaching church. Make good friends who will lift you up and not drag you down. Make good decisions (you will live by their consequences).

I graduated from high school in 1970 and college in 1974. The world is a vastly different place today than it was then. But God is still God; He is still on His throne; His Word and His commands and His expectations have not changed. And one day, graduates, we will all stand before Him. What will you hear Him say? “Well done, good and faithful servant” or “Depart from Me, I never knew you.” The choice is yours. I and others will be praying for you. I’ve often told my students, when a generation has “messed things up” like we see today, don’t you accept the status quo. You can be a part of changing this world for God and for good!

CEF Golf Tournament

Child Evangelism Fellowship will hold its 12th Annual Golf Tournament this Saturday. Tee time is 8:30 a.m. This tournament is held in memory of Mike Ward and will be held at the Tradition Golf Club, 1027 Willbrook Road in Pawleys Island. Breakfast and lunch are provided.

This tournament supports the after-school Good News Clubs, ministering to more than 2,000 students per year.

Register early. The event is expected to fill up fast. And if you cannot play, you can still be a sponsor or donate a gift. To register, donate or get more information phone (843) 365-4233 or go online to www.cefgpd.org. You play; the children “win”.

Knights of Columbus Golf Tournament

The Knights of Columbus Ninth Annual Invitation Charity Golf Tournament will be held June 19 at Wachesaw Plantation East. Register at 7 a.m. and Tee Off at 9:30 a.m. Breakfast and lunch are provided.

This is a Captain’s Choice Scramble format with team prizes and Top Twosome Teams of mixed couples, ladies twosome, father and son or daughter. There is also a Hole-in-One Contest with a brand-new car prize (from Hadwin-White).

Call Vin Vecchio at (845) 222-9681 or e-mail VincentVecchio40@gmail.com.

Day of Prayer and Appreciation

The American Family Association has designated June 13 as a Day of Prayer and Appreciation for Law Enforcement. With all the negativity and malice toward those who bravely serve and protect our families, it is important that citizens encourage those who “wear the badge”

Remember, law enforcement officers deserve our respect and appreciation. Too many times they are taken for granted. Without effective law enforcement, there would be no law and order and chaos and anarchy would prevail.

On this special day (and every day) let these men and women know they are appreciated and prayed for. For more information on what you and your church can do on that day, go to the AFA website.

Helping Help4Kids

As the school year ends and summer nears, Help4Kids is still busy providing meals for hundreds of hungry children in our area. You, your church group or civic organization can help.

The group needs bologna/cheese sandwiches or hot dogs/rolls (no condiments, please); make the sandwiches and put them back in the bread bag.

Also needed are hot dogs and rolls, bologna, cheese, Kool-Aid, mustard, ketchup and mayo, snacks (chips, cookies, apples), Little Debbie Snacks, Pop Tarts and breakfast foods, peanut butter, jelly. Also, can you provide flip-

Conway, Loris, Aynor and Western Horry

■ Conway’s First Friday Evening of Prayer will be held this week at 7 p.m. at Bethany Bible Chapel, 1668 Four Mile Road. Everyone is encouraged to come out for a “sweet hour of prayer”. Phone (843) 369-7729.

■ This Sunday come and hear James “Bull” Canty in recital at First United Methodist Church, 1001 Fifth Ave. The recital begins at 3:30 p.m. Mr. Canty is one of the Grand Strand’s own trumpeters and will feature the works of Bernstein, Enesco, Haydn, Torelli, Peaslee and Bellstedt.

Joining Mr. Canty will be pianist Jessica Eaton and mezzo-soprano Kate McDaniel.

This performance is to raise funds to travel with Festive Brass of Myrtle Beach to Hawaii this December where they will represent South Carolina in concert at the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. All donations will go to this cause.

■ Brown Swamp United Methodist Church will have a Family Day Cook-out and fundraiser on June 12 from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Enjoy food, fun and games. Menu: two hot dogs or one hamburger plus chips, drink and dessert for $5. Everyone is invited. The church is located at 4725 U.S. 501.

■ The Rivertown Boys will be in concert at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, 4301 Red Bluff Road, Loris on June 13 at 11 a.m. Lunch will follow the program.

Everyone is invited and encouraged to come and bring a friend. Phone (843) 756-6221 or go to www.mtvernonbaptist.org.

■ Mark your calendar. The renowned King’s Brass will be in concert at Bethany Bible Chapel, 1668 Four Mile Road, on June 30 at 7 p.m. They will be playing a medley of patriotic and sacred music and everyone is welcome. There is no cost, but an offering will be accepted. Phone (843) 369-7729.

■ 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

■ Grand Strand Community Church, 3820 Holmestown Road, will be hosting a giant indoor yard sale in conjunction with the church’s children’s ministry kickoff event.

The yard sale will be held Saturday from 6 a.m.-noon and will feature clothes of every kind, books, yard tools, weed eaters, mowers and much, much more.

The Kid’s Summer Kickoff will be held Saturday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and will have food, music, games, bounce house, face painting and more. Everything is free. Phone (843) 650-3878 or (860) 690-4868.

■ 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.

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

■ 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. (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 for information.

■ 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 are now on “Summer Vacation”.

Phone (843) 449-5552; website www.mbsynagogue.org.

■ The next New Beginnings drive-thru food distribution will be held on 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.

■ Come out to Open Heaven Ministries on June 19 at 10 a.m. at Ignite Church. Speaker will be Crystal Grainger.

■ Attend Grace Summit on the Beach June 24-27 at 1501 S. Ocean Blvd. Email hgprayer@sccoast.net.

■ 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 midweek 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 their its 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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