This past Sunday was Valentine’s Day. The Saturday before I ventured into one of our large stores; mistake! I was overrun by those purchasing flowers, candy, cards and other items to “show their love” to their Valentines!

There’s nothing wrong with that. I send my wife a card and get candy, knowing she’ll share it with me. But candy, flowers and so on are not the true measure of real love! That doesn’t happen one day of the year, but occurs every hour of every day.

Real love is not an emotion; it is a commitment. When I begin pre-marital counseling with a young couple, my first question is “Why do you want to get married?” The usual answer is “Because I love him/her.”

And I respond, “That’s not the right answer.” Few if any couples know love on their marriage day. You don’t fall in love; you grow in love. Love is the byproduct of the commitment a couple makes to God and each other on their wedding day. And you also don’t fall out of love. You choose to love; you choose to cease loving.

Our world has developed a real misrepresentation of love. Love in today’s culture is more physical, lust. It is “like”, having common interests. It is conditional; I’ll love you if, or I’ll love you because. And it rises and falls like the tides of the ocean. That’s not love.

In fact, the Bible tells us that we really don’t know or experience love until first we experience the love of God. (I John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.”) God is not only the giver of true love, but God is the essence of true love…God is love! And His love, real love, is unconditional and everlasting. I often tell our children this truth: God cannot love you more than He does right now, and He will not love you less.

God’s love is not just for those who love Him, for those who have accepted His Word and His Son. No, God’s love is to everyone. In fact, Romans 5:8 says that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners (enemies of God), Christ died for us.”

As Jesus went in to the “last supper” in John 13, we’re told that “He loved His own who were in the world; He loved them the most He possibly could.” (verse 1) During that time with His disciples, Jesus further taught this: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another.” (verses 34-35) And He reiterated and added in 15:12-13 “This is My commandment, that you love one another a I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

John got the point, because He wrote in his first epistle: “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren…My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (3:16,18)

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, if (since) God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (4:7-11)

God’s love is not just a word; it is not just flowers or candy. It is sacrificial; it is active. It was to give His only Son to die for our sins to bring us back to Himself. Love, real love, is always “other-centered”, it always seeks the best for the one loved.

In that familiar passage in I Corinthians 13, God defines love (the love Christ demonstrated and still demonstrates): “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous; love does not boast and is not arrogant or rude and does not insist on its own way; love is not irritable or resentful; love does not rejoice in wrongdoing but does rejoice in the truth; love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails!”

Go ahead and take your sweetheart out to dinner, buy him/her candy or flowers or cards. Please tell them you love them! But more than that, show your love, every day, every hour of the day. Show it to everyone regardless of skin color, political party, religion, economic condition, culture, language or all of these other “divisional” things!

The greatest thing we can do for another and for this tired old world we live in, is to actively show the love of Christ. That can change things for the better! “So now faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of the three is love!

WMU Missions Day

WMU is hosting “Stirring Christian Virtues”, the 2021 Focus on WMU and Children’s Missions Day. This is a drop-in for adults, children and their leaders and will be held at North Conway Baptist Church, 1608 Sessions St., Saturday from 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

The goal is to stir “relentless” faith and lay a “relentless” mission’s foundation in adults and children and set them on the road to live a mission’s lifestyle. “Stirring Christian Virtues” highlights WMU and continues the CA, GA and RA “serve theme” and mission purpose.

Come enjoy missionaries, music, photo booth and a mission’s project. Wear your red, pink or blue to show your “relentless” plan to live on mission. There is no cost, but it may be too late to register. Provide leader/church contact information and breakdown as to number of adults and children who will attend. Do this by email: pjjones@sccoast.net or phone/text (843) 855-0787.

The Missions Project: jeans and tees for Fostering Hope, a local organization assisting some of the most vulnerable children in our area, those in the foster care system. Collect and bring jeans (all sizes for both boys and girls); long sleeve t-shirts (size 10 and 12 for teen boys and girls).

NOTE: All COVID guidelines and requirements will be observed.

NMBCS Golf Tournament

North Myrtle Beach Christian School will hold its Fifth Annual Golf Tournament March 13 at the Valley

at Eastport Golf Club. Check-in and breakfast start at 8 a.m. with the tournament Shotgun start at 9 a.m.

There is a four-person Captain’s Choice Scramble and all skill levels are welcome. Entry fee is $75 per person, $300 per team and includes green and cart fees, a raffle drawing and door prizes. Breakfast, lunch, snacks and drinks are also included. (Pastors, ministers, clergy will have their fee waived when on a team with three paying golfers!) Hole and corporate sponsorships are also available.

All proceeds from the tournament will benefit North Myrtle Beach Christian School. Phone the school office at (843) 399-7181. You may email the school at nmbcs96@sccoast.net. Your support is appreciated and your prayers for the event are also appreciated!

Beautiful Feet Ministries

Beautiful Feet Ministries of Tanzania (http://www.bethefeet.org), founded in 2016, fulfills its mission in Tanzania by restoring hope to children and families, providing healthcare and investing in Christian leaders.

The ministry has recently announced that it has received accreditation by the ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability). This group uses seven standards of responsible stewardship in the accreditation process. These include financial accountability, transparency, sound board government and ethical fundraising.

Michael Martin, president of EFCA said, “We are pleased to accredit a ministry committed to bringing hope and healing to the lost and hurting people of Tanzania.”

To learn more about Beautiful Feet you can contact John Long, president at (843) 340-8567 or John@BeTheFeet.org. Stewardship opportunities are noted at ServantMatch.

(Personal Note: Before I give to any Christian group, I check to see if they are a part of EFCA; if so, I know the funds I invest in them will be used effectively and efficiently for the Lord.)

Feeding the Hungry

We are told that there is more than enough food produced each year to adequately feed every man, woman and child on earth. But every day, millions go hungry and even here in the United States and in Horry County, there is hunger. That’s why we support ministries like Help4Kids, CAP, the Shepherd’s Table and so on.

Here are some places where the needy can obtain food: this Saturday a food distribution at the Church of the Resurrection (8901 U.S. 17 Bypass, Surfside Beach); second and fourth Friday of each month at 11 a.m. at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church (3449 S.C. 65 in Conway); third Saturday of each month, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. at Dogwood Hill Baptist Church (1040 Mt. Zion Road, Loris); and second and fourth Wednesdays of each month at 9 a.m. at Salem Baptist Church (4008 Salem Road, Aynor).

Support these and other efforts as you can!

The Best Place to Be: On Our Knees!

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 infirmed, 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

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.

It seems that each day we add to this list! What can we do? 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. Open your hands and your heart to others! You’ll be blessed as you bless. Mother Teresa 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

■ First United Methodist Church and the Grand Strand Chapter of the American Guild of Organists will present virtual Lenten Organ Meditations airing on the FUMC Facebook page on the following Wednesdays Feb. 24, March 3, 10, 17 and 24. The programs will air each day at noon. Be sure to tune in for a daily blessing!

■ 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

■ Temple Emanu-EL by the Sea; 406 65th Ave. North: Services (Zoom and Temple) Friday 6 p.m., Shabbat 10 a.m. (Masks required!)

Purim Services: Feb. 25, 7 p.m.

Education classes Wednesday Feb. 24: 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 Saturday from 8 a.m.-10 a.m. at the Church of the Resurrection, 8901 U.S. 17 Bypass in Surfside Beach. Cars can begin lining up at 7 a.m. 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. 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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