Elmo J. Custodia 1957-2015



This week the Bridgepoint family has suffered a great loss. Our beloved Elmo has gone to be with the Lord.

While it’s true that everyone is special, Elmo was a special kind of special. Everyone who knew him absolutely loved him. And what’s there not to love? Elmo brightened a room, just about any room, with his trademark greeting, “Happy birthday” (it didn’t matter if it was actually your birthday or not). If I could describe him in just a few words, I would say that he was a joy-giver. Always willing help, always giving us a reason to laugh, always pushing us to be our better selves. He will be sorely missed.

Elmo was loving husband and father, a consummate musician, a true friend, and an all-around great guy. Most of all, he profoundly loved Christ and His church. And he served his Master faithfully until the very end.

This morning, we think of Elmo with fondness, we pray for Brenda, Ria, Nathan, and Gabby, and we give thanks to God for sharing such a wonderful soul with us.

May his peace and comfort be with us all.

In His love,
Pastor Ed and Sis. Ana


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New Dogs With Old Tricks

“Pastor Ed, have you heard of this new false teaching?” It’s a question I get all the time.

It seems like every couple of years a new spokesperson emerges with a false Gospel or erroneous teaching. To many listeners, these teachings come across as new and fascinating, but in reality, they are often rehashed heresies that raise their ugly heads at opportune times throughout the course of church history. The teachings are not necessarily new, only the messengers are—new dogs with old tricks, if you will.

The Christian church has been hounded by false teachers from the earliest years of its inception.  In the first century, the Apostle Peter was alarmed by the number of false teachers who were beginning to penetrate the persecuted and scattered church. These teachers were exploiting the people’s hunger for truth as well as their willingness to welcome those who come in the name of the Lord. Left unabated, these “theological dogs” would cause unthinkable damage to the people of God and the cause of the church. Peter, therefore, had to step in by warning the flock about the dangers of such false teachers.  In his second epistle he wrote,

But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed. (2 Peter 2:1-3, NLT)

According to Peter, there are a few things we need to keep in mind about false teachers:

  1. False teachers are nothing new. They were around in the early times of Israel’s history and they will continue to hound God’s people until the final day. This means that we always need to be vigilant and prepare ourselves to confront false teachers and their false doctrines. But we can only do so as disciplined students of Christ and his Word.
  2. False teachers are clever. People fall for their schemes because they know exactly what people will fall for. They use fancy words, make enticing promises, and employ manipulative methods to reel unsuspecting victims. To combat the works of the false teacher, we ought to be grounded on God’s truth as well as be even more clever than they are.
  3. False teachers have a butchered theology. Heresy, for the most part, paints an inaccurate picture of God and his nature. Within the first four hundred years since the birth of New Testament Christianity, about half a dozen major Christological heresies plagued the church. These heresies continue to linger today, simply taking the form of newer and more sophisticated garb. The more we learn about the false doctrines of the past, the better able we will be in combatting modern heresies.
  4. False teachers are enemies of truth. False teachers have no reverence for the truth. They will either change it or alter it just enough to fool an unsuspecting audience. Sometimes false teaching has enough truth in it to make it sound credible, yet the small amount of falsehood is enough to poison the entire stew. Remember, a half-truth is no truth at all.
  5. False teachers are greedy. At their core, false teachers do what they do for personal gain. They have no love for God nor are they committed to the cause of Christ. They use the Gospel to enrich themselves and prop up their already-inflated egos. A true servant of God is humble, selfless, and fully surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
  6. False teachers face a frightful future. Their end is one of judgment and destruction. False teachers are not to be believed nor followed because their path is one that leads to eternal separation from Jesus, who alone is the way, the truth, and the life.

*Tricks photo courtesy of google images.

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Shortly before he died, a young reporter threw Pablo Casals a question: “Mr. Casals, you are 95 and the greatest cellist that ever lived. Why do you still practice six hours a day?” Mr. Casals answered, “Because I think I’m making progress.” The attitude Casals had toward his development as a musician ought to be the same attitude we have in our spiritual walk with Christ. Having been born again by the power of the Holy Spirit, we must continue with this new life by growing in faith.

In the first century, the Apostle Peter had great concern for the believers that had been scattered all over the world because of persecution. Furthermore, he was aware that false teachers were intent on exploiting this situation by penetrating struggling churches and inflicting Christians with a gospel of their own. It was important, therefore, for each individual believer to be fully committed to developing strong spiritual roots and grow in the knowledge of Christ and His teachings. He therefore wrote these words of encouragement:

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

10 So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. 11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

(2 Peter 1:3-11)

In this passage, Peter offers four principles that motivate us to continue growing in our faith. First, he says that we have everything we need to grow (1:3-4). Each day, it is easy to succumb to the temptation to focus only on what is missing in our lives. This attitude keeps us from understanding that God is more willing to provide for our needs than we are eager to be provided for. In fact, not only does God want to provide, He actually does provide! The providence of God is grounded on His promises. Even if we cannot see all our provisions ahead of time, we know God to be a trustworthy Father and His promise to provide is all we need to keep on keeping on.

Second, Peter encourages us to respond to God’s promises by developing our faith (1:5-7). He offers us a specific list of spiritual qualities that ought to supplement a believer’s faith—this includes moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, patient endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and love for others. It is a reminder that faith is not merely a statement of belief, rather, it is a lived-out belief. The developmental stages of faith, from right living to right loving, are the products of putting faith into action.

Third, Peter reminds us that active faith leads to spiritual fruitfulness (1:8-9). Maturing faith results in producing spiritual fruit and growing deeper in our knowledge of Christ. These two results are intricately bound together in that the more we know who Christ is, the more we are enabled to live as Christ lived. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul defined maturity as “measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ” (4:13). We who believe should always uphold Christlikeness as the golden standard of biblical discipleship.

Finally, the Apostle Peter encourages us by offering the promise of a glorious eternity (1:10-11). We should never underestimate the motivating power of a desirable future. Without this perspective, the daily challenges of life would be difficult to endure. Conversely, if we recognize that our present pain leads us to the path of future bliss, we are able to persevere through such trials because we know they will last only for a moment in light of God’s promised future for us all.

Albert Einstein was once asked what he did for a living. Surprisingly, rather than referring to himself as a physicist, he replied, “I am a student of physics.” Remarkable, isn’t it. Because of his posture as a lifelong learner, Einstein has left an indelible mark in his field of study. As disciples of Christ, we too are students of faith. I am confident that as you embark on a journey of perpetual learning, you will continue to grow each day in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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