Faith Matters for March 10, 2012

Church’s service will be a drive-in for motorcyclists

Bikers will get a chance to attend a church service — and use their bikes as pews.

The Hebron Baptist Church FAITH Riders and In the Wind Ministries will present a bike blessing at 4 p.m. March 25 at Hebron, 24063 La. 16, Denham Springs.

The blessing will be in the church gym, where bikers will ride in on their bikes and can stay seated, said Arnold Schwartz, a deacon at Hebron and director of the church’s FAITH Riders chapter.

“You’re not really blessing the bike,” Schwartz said. “You’re blessing the rider and praying for his safety as he rides. In doing so, we hope to reach the unreached and people that don’t go to church that ride.”

Schwartz credits his pastor, the Rev. Joe Alain, with allowing Hebron to host such an event.

“There’s a lot of Baptist churches … that wouldn’t consider letting anybody do this, and he has been behind us and supporting us all the way,” Schwartz said.

The speaker for the event is biker Terry Lobell. Known to many as “Pastor T,” Lobell is pastor of the Freedom Church of Springfield and heads In the Wind Ministries.

“Bikers are very real, and I speak to them in a very real way,” Lobell said. “I don’t tell them how they should live; I tell them about how they can live through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

The bike blessing is part of the FAITH Riders Motorcycle Ministry, a Southern Baptist organization launched in Florida in 2002 that has expanded to nearly 200 chapters throughout the country. The FAITH ministry is not a riding club but a group of riders who share their faith through Christian fellowship.

Schwartz said bikers share a bond that presents many opportunities for witnessing.

“You have something in common (with other bikers), and everybody enjoys talking motorcycles,” he said. “Talking motorcycles can lead into taking about your faith.”

Although he has been riding since high school, the 57-year-old Schwartz said he didn’t establish a relationship with God until his faith had been tested.

“Early in my days, I had the long hair, hippy-type face and got into drinking and all that kind of stuff, and God rescued me from all of that,” he said.

Lobell, 53, said God and bikes have always been a part of his life. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that he really brought those two passions together.

He was a pastor for 25 years until God gave him special ministry geared toward bikers. He traded in his suit and ties for blue jeans, leather and chains.

“I spent two years reaching and speaking with bikers, learning their culture, earning their trust,” Lobell said.

The bike blessing will include music by Lobell’s In the Wind band.

For information, call Schwartz a (225) 931-7978 or go online to http://www.faithriders.com.

Helping homeless

The Rev. Raymond Bennie continues to rely on God — and the community — to help the homeless in Baton Rouge.

Bennie, of Living Waters Outreach Ministry, uses donations to run a homeless shelter at 4156 W. Brookstown, substance abuse clinic at 803 N. 48th St. and a thrift store at 3535 Choctaw Drive.

In addition, Living Waters offers free boxes of food through the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank at 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays near the clinic and free clothing 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays at the church at 3255 Hollywood St.

“With the grace of God, I’m able to do these things,” said Bennie, who owns rental property.

Bennie said he also plans to open a center for men and women affected by HIV at 35674 Greenway St.

Bennie, 68, doesn’t mind begging to help those in need.

“I feel personally that I need to be visible, letting people know what I’m doing,” said Bennie, native of Trinidad.

Most of the Living Waters congregation usually comes from people served at the clinic or shelter, Bennie said.

“What I preach to them is, ‘You have very good counselors, but God is in the healing business. You need to come to church and get a spiritual healing from God.’”

To help Bennie, call (225) 356-7142 or (225) 270-4046.

Good book of parables

The parables of Jesus have long been a source of fascination — and contradiction — in the Christian community, says the author of “The Parables of Jesus Revisited: An Innovative Approach to Understanding and Interpreting the Parables” (iUniverse).

“While many authors agree on certain points in their interpretation, they are more often in contradiction,” William Bekgaard writes. “Because of this existing contradictory nature of the general study of the parables, confusion, rather than clarity, ensues.”

Bekgaard says a valid interpretation must be determined and applied to understanding parables.

Using a wealth of resources, seminary study and 34 years as a pastor, Bekgaard examines 20 parables. For each, he offers notes on the customs of the day, language, interpretation and the application.

In the “Parable of the Pharisee and the Publicans” from Luke 18:9-14, Jesus tells the story of two men who went to the temple to pray.

The well-to-do Pharisee made no requests of God and did nothing to glorify God. But he did thank God that he “was not like the other men who are unjust or even a publican.”

The publican, on the other hand, had a seven-word prayer: “God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

Jesus concluded this parable by saying that the publican went “down to his house justified instead of the other. For everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

One of the points of the parable, Bekgaard says, is the both men got what they asked for. The publican received God’s “favor, mercy and justification” and the Pharisee “asked for nothing and got nothing.”

In his application of the parable, Bekgaard warns against self-righteousness.

“Pride is a curse,” he says. “It is a sin that destroys fellowship with God and others. We should curse our pride and humble ourselves before him.”

The 164-page book is a helpful source for teachers, ministers and all believers alike that provides much insight into the parables of Jesus.

Faith Matters runs every other Saturday in The Advocate. Reach Terry Robinson at (225) 388-0238 or email trobinson@theadvocate.com