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Can a new Pope bring repentance to the Church of Rome?

potential popesIn a CBC radio interview I listened with interest to an intelligent, young, American Jesuit seminarian who prayerfully called on whoever might be the new Roman Catholic Pope “to lead us into a new age of integrity and to deliver us from hypocrisy—so that we can really be who we say we are!”

This aspiring priest believes it’s imperative for the Roman Catholic Church to really become faithful to Jesus Christ. To achieve this would require dramatic changes in order to bring that church into conformity with the way of life that the Son of God taught in both word and deed as recorded in the Scriptures.

Mission impossible? Well, that man’s not asking for much, is he? Repentance and change!  Not easy but essential to both experiencing and living authentic Christianity as described in the pages of your Bible. But repentance/change is, after all, the profession of every individual Christian and every group of people who want to be a church “of God” in reality and not merely in self-promoting advertising.

A new pope is going to have his work cut out for him if he wants to bring the Roman Catholic Church to the biblical repentance that would please Christ.  What with seemingly unending bad news arising from its on-going flood of clerical pedophile sex cases, and the Vatican Bank’s (the ironically named Institute for Religious Works) stinky reputation in banking circles as a go-to-place for money laundering by traditionally Catholic Mafioso types.

Also, one can’t neglect to add to this new pope’s to-do-list, actions to get to the bottom of the ongoing allegations of various forms of ecclesiastical corruption that include ugly bureaucratic turf battles among the Curia’s Cardinals, and—surprise, surprise—scandalous allegations that some of the papal staff formerly close to Pope Benedict XVI were embracing homosexual practices more enthusiastically than their vows of celibacy.

Wow, what a revolution of change and repentance would occur in the above situation if a new pope actually took his policy and doctrinal cue from biblical teaching about clerical marriage such as found in 1 Timothy 3:2 in order to get at the root of what’s causing that church to be rife with sexual abuse and perversion. But, don’t hold your breath.cardinals

It’s hardly surprising, then, that Massimo Franco, a columnist for Italy’s leading daily newspaper, Corriere della Sera, describes the Vatican as being utterly dysfunctional in his new book “The Crisis of the Vatican Empire.” No wonder every employee working at the Vatican and all the Cardinals locked up in the Sistine Chapel to elect a new Pope are required to take vows of secrecy. What goes on at the Vatican must stay at the Vatican!

But then, what can you expect from an organization that would not even tolerate an individual’s religious freedom of conscience until the Vatican II Council in the early 1960s. Remember that the Roman Catholic Church has a long and bloody history written by its popes’ decrees. Those men who styled themselves as the successor of the Apostle Peter ordered Crusades to slaughter those they saw as “infidels” whether Muslim, Jew, or especially non-conformist Christian.

It makes you wonder when you compare Christ’s teaching to his disciples to the reality revealed by the Catholic Church’s own history.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” John 13:34-36 English Standard Version

Following the crusades, these same popes also formulated and launched a network of terrorism inquisition2throughout the world, which persisted for almost 600 years and was known as the Inquisition. The Roman popes even authorized various forms of horrific torture by a papal bull entitled Ad Extirpanda in 1254 that would make the CIA’s use of waterboarding for interrogations look like playing tag football. Bloody, harsh, and violent were the Inquisitorial methods! The Roman Catholic Popes employed these tactics in order to enforce their monopoly on power and their domination over the expression of all individual Christians’ faith.

Is there something inherently flawed about the Roman Catholic Papacy—whether we’re talkingpapal crown about the office itself and/or its doctrinal claim to authority over Christianity—so that it can’t be reformed, no matter the initial decent nature of the man who might occupy the so-called “seat of St. Peter”? We all know this saying about the human condition: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Check out this series of four presentations discussing the foundations of church authority. Did Christ give the Apostle Peter and his successors authority as “vicars of Christ”? Does the Pope have the authority “to bind and loose” in all matters of doctrine and tradition? Where did Sunday/Easter worship originate and why? How has Christianity changed from what was practiced by the original Jerusalem Church of God during the first 100 years after the crucifixion of Jesus? All these questions and more are discussed and examined in four in-depth streaming video presentations on this subject.

Just click on: http://cogwebcast.com/sermons/video-archives/a-changed-christianity/

 

Finem Respice! Principiis Obsta! The Rise of the 4th Reich?

Finem respice! Principiis obsta!  Yeah, you know I must be an antiquity since I did indeed study Latin in the 8th grade in public school. But a little Latin and a love of history and the Bible does give me something of an edge when it comes to discerning the World Tomorrow. After all, as King Solomon the Wise once wrote:

What has been is what will be,

and what has been done is what will be done,

and there is nothing new under the sun.

Is there a thing of which it is said,

“See, this is new”?

It has been already

in the ages before us (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10,

English Standard Version).

Finem respice means “consider the end,” while Principiis obsta translates as “resist the beginnings.” I lifted these Latin phrases from Milton Mayer’s 1955 book They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45, published by the University of Chicago Press.

Mayer’s book was all about how the Nazis used the human nature and cultural characteristics of the German people in order to manipulate and gradually subvert them in order to ensure their acquiescence to, and then compliance with their evil program of world war and genocide.

Most of us are somewhat familiar with a small portion of Mayer’s book in which he relates the observation of a German university professor during the 1930s and 1940s who remarked that the Nazis first targeted the Communists, then the Socialists, and next the Jews, etc., but the professor did nothing because he wasn’t one of them. Mayer wrote:

Pastor Niemöller spoke for the thousands and thousands of men like me when he spoke (too modestly of himself) and said that, when the Nazis attacked the Communists, he was a little uneasy, but, after all, he was not a Communist, and so he did nothing; and then they attacked the Socialists, and he was a little uneasier, but, still, he was not a Socialist, and he did nothing; and then the schools, the press, the Jews, and so on, and he was always uneasier, but still he did nothing. And then they attacked the Church, and he was a Churchman, and he did something—but then it was too late.
http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/511928.html

Of course, as the Nazi program unfolded, the pastor and the professor and  others like them, found themselves being isolated and then targeted. But by then it was too late as there were too few left to effectively stand and resist with them.

You see, at the beginning of the Hitler regime in 1933, the Nazis didn’t seem all that bad—a little uncouth, maybe. But after all, they had great ideas about how to rescue the economy, get people back to work, and restore some of Germany’s lost pride. So most Germans hopped aboard the Nazi Volkswagen and went along for the ride. But, of course, there was a catch, wasn’t there? There was a price to be paid in blood. Millions of Germans had their lives and families destroyed by the Second World War. One must foresee the end in order to resist, or even to perceive the mild beginnings of oppression and tyranny.

The recent Dec. 9-10th emergency Brussels meeting of the European Union marks a critical new beginning for that supra-national body. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the press at the end of the conference “This is the breakthrough to the stability union.”

The breakthrough that 26 or the 27 European Union members agreed to was about agreeing to create a new inter-governmental treaty by which all the participating nations will have to submit their national budgets for approval by the European Commission bureaucracy, which will have the authority to veto it and order it to be revised.

The new treaty will also create an unspecified “automatic correction mechanism” that will punish any country that breaks the new European Commission fiscal rules. At least, that’s where it starts.According to the European Central Bank’s president Mario Draghi:

“It’s a very good outcome for the euro area, very good. It is going to be the basis for much more disciplined economic policy for euro-area members. And certainly is going to be helpful in the present situation.”

Well, I’m glad Mr. Draghi thinks so.  However, as of December 12th the world’s financial markets have not been as thrilled as Mr. Draghi with this outcome. But then, neither was Great Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron.  His was the sole dissenting voice to this newly promised Euro discipline, and he forcefully resisted this push by Germany’s Chancellor Merkel and France’s President Sarkozy.

Cameron tenaciously defended his refusal to go along, saying to the press at the close of the Brussels conference on Friday:

What was on offer [by Merkel and Sarkozy] is not in Britain’s interest so I didn’t agree to it. We’re not in the euro and I’m glad we’re not in the euro. We’re never going to join the euro and we’re never going to give up this kind of sovereignty that these countries are having to give up.

Some of the French, though probably a minority, actually agree in principle more with the British Prime Minister than with their own president. Former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who has just announced his candidacy for the upcoming French presidential elections in April-May 2012, dismissed the Merkel-Sarkozy deal that would bind the countries that use the euro ever more closer together, including giving officials in Brussels control over national budgets, remarking:

“We’re falling in line behind interests that are not those of France. I think we need more courage than that!”

Simon Heffer, a prominent English Euroskeptic, wrote in Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper as quoted by newstatesman.com:

“What we are witnessing is the economic colonization of Europe by stealth by the Germans. Once, it would have taken an invading military force to topple the leadership of a European nation. Today, it can be done through sheer economic pressure.” This is, he says, the “rise of the Fourth Reich,” in which Germany is “using the financial crisis to conquer Europe.” Fiscal union, favoured by some as the long-term solution, “would make Europe effectively a German empire” and lead to “a loss of sovereignty not seen…since many were under the jackboot of the Third Reich.” http://www.newstatesman.com/print/201111240017

The motivating force behind the new German push is neither Nazism nor an overly ambitious or aggressive German lust for European domination. Rather, paradoxically, it is fear – fear of the present and fear of the past.

Any student of modern European history over the last 300-400 years knows that whenever there has been a strong continental European power seeking to assemble a coalition of European states under its hegemony, whatever the reason, the end result has always been disastrous for regional peace and freedom. Has human nature changed? Can a leopard change its spots? Are the Germans still Germans, the French still French, and the United Kingdom still British?

If you would like to learn more about what is going to happen in the future and Bible prophecy, check out my video presentation “Who Will Be King” on http://cogwebcast.com/

 

 

A Lesson from Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse: dishonouring parents brings a curse

What remains to be said about the tragic death of the famed jazz-soul singer Amy Winehouse? Well, in the secular press you’ll find lots of comments that go something like this: A short sad life, such a waste of talent. Too bad. All true, but not very illuminating or helpful for others.

The Economist news magazine made a deeper analysis in its obituary of Winehouse with this observation:

“Perhaps above all, her life was a lesson in the dangers of early, overwhelming fame—and an admonition to a popular culture that, like a primitive religion, revels in the destruction of its gods” (“A losing game,” Aug. 4, 2011).

Not bad! But still there is a more profound lesson that may be drawn from Winehouse’s recent induction into Club 27’s list of notable dead young musicians that includes: Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Brian Jones among at least 43 others.

While I don’t believe in magic, I do believe that there is such a thing as a curse. The Bible warns:

“For people who hate discipline and only get more stubborn, there’ll come a day when life tumbles in and they break, but by then it’ll be too late to help them” (Proverbs 29:1 Message version).

Amy Winehouse’s parents, Janis and Mitch Winehouse, a few years ago publicly lamented how their daughter’s remarkable, explosive career as a singer/songwriter [her 2006 album Back to Black won a record 5 Grammys] pushed them to the fringes of her new, highly successful but also highly stressful life.

From Mitch and Janis Winehouse’s perspective, their beloved little girl was transformed seemingly overnight into a popular culture music “god,” who was now surrounded by an entourage of “cool” drug-abusing music scene types and tabloid media hacks who fed off her like sharks at feeding time. Their “little angel Amy” became bad girl Winehouse who could be counted on for a good time by music scene low lifes and a stream of outrageous headlines for the tabloid rags. For years Winehouse’s lifestyle of binge drinking, occasional violence, and poly-drug abuse amply fed these various parasites while simultaneously driving her parents to despair.

The Winehouse family tried repeatedly to intervene in their daughter’s life because they knew she needed rescuing from her own self-destructive behaviour. But their efforts availed little because Amy refused to fully cooperate with her parents and change her lifestyle. After all, overcoming addiction and other destructive behaviours requires a meaningful commitment on the part of the one with the problem. In spiritual language this is called repentance.

For those willing to hear—making the Fifth of the Ten Commandments part of your lifestyle offers protection from the personal unhappiness that comes from practicing the primitive, self-destructive religion lived by so many of today’s ”entertainment false gods.” In contrast to depression, unhappiness, violence, and addiction, the Fifth Commandment offers the blessing of strong families and peaceful, happy lives. Such a good blessing is explicitly promised by that commandment:

Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you. Deuteronomy 5:16 (NKJV)

Of course, this vitally important principle of living was not just taught by the Old Covenant. The Apostle Paul made sure it was thoroughly ingrained in the ethos of the nascent Christian church:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord [as His representatives, His co-Creators in your existence], for this is just and right.
Honor (esteem and value as precious) your father and your mother—this is the first commandment [or “the preeminent commandment”] with a promise—
That all may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth. Ephesians 6:1-3 Amplified version.

It should be noted that the Fifth Commandment was not just directed to young children who are still living at home with their parents. Jesus Christ made the specific point in the Gospel of Mark chapter 7 verses 10-11 that it continued to be the duty of adult children!

God’s law, His Moral Logic of the Universe always works—doesn’t matter whether you believe there is a God or not —it works for both believer and non-believer. This was a core teaching of the Apostle Paul:

When the Gentiles [non-Jews] sin, they will be destroyed, even though they never had God’s written law. And the Jews [Amy Winehouse was Jewish], who do have God’s law, will be judged by that law when they fail to obey it. For merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in his sight. Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life (Romans 2:12-16 NLT

Amy Winehouse very publicly failed to obey the Fifth Commandment. Consequently, she also failed to receive the commandment’s promise of long life, well-being, and a happy family of her own. Instead she got the curse of an early, untimely death. This is the totally un-PC lesson you’ll never read about in the secular press. But it is the truth.

The Point of No Return


The phrase “point of no return” sounds ominous. And indeed it is. Among today’s financial analysts there are those speculating about just how much more money the U.S. Federal Reserve can create by digital keystrokes in order to buy the U.S. Treasury Bonds no one else in the world wants to buy before oil exporters of the Middle East and manufactured goods exporters of eastern Asia will refuse to accept U.S. dollars in payment for their stuff.

Truly the governors of the Fed are between a rock and a hard place. With the U.S. Fed’s second round of quantitative easing scheduled to end in three weeks from today, everyone is holding their breath to see what comes next. Will they raise interest rates to attract buyers to T-Bill auctions? Such a raise would push up the value of the dollar and push down commodity prices while probably pushing Main Street’s economy back into a full-blown recession. Or will they launch a third round of quantitative easing, QE3, weakening the value of the dollar (perhaps precipitously if they trigger a panic of lost confidence around the world), hastening the coming demise of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency while at the same time sending the price of stock equities and commodities including oil and gold skyrocketing.

Probably they’re going to end up trying both options “A” (save the dollar) and “B” (save the economy). When “A” works too well they’ll hurriedly switch to “B” when the howls of financial pain rise to a deafening roar and American cities start to burn!

The U.S. economic policymakers are going to be damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Their wildest dreams right now must be about discovering some magic way to just muddle through this astounding mess.

You ask, just exactly when will the U.S. dollar, the world’s reserve currency, pass the point of no return and become worthless for all practical intents and purposes? What is the tipping point? Well, there are quite a few financial analysts who are far more knowledgeable about the economy than I am who believe that we’ve already gone too far to return to “normalcy.”

Dear reader, you understand the future implications of this, don’t you? Most people stop considering information that makes them feel uncomfortable or insecure or fearful. Our human nature yearns for the deceptively comfortable, the reassuring voice that all’s well, over the disquieting, dissonant voice speaking the plain truth. But you aren’t like most people because you realize that allowing yourself to be willfully blind to what is coming will prove to be far more dangerous to you and your family’s future welfare. After all, being forewarned gives you a chance to be forearmed.

If this situation with the U.S. dollar weren’t enough, Gregory Jones, a U.S. weapons expert affiliated with the Pentagon-connected RAND Corporation think-tank said that Iran is just eight weeks away from producing enough highly enriched uranium to make a nuclear bomb. Mr. Jones’ calculations are based on information release last month by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and are considered credible and were published last week by the Nonproliferation Policy Education Centre. Mr. Jones noted:

It is unclear what actions the U.S. or Israel could take (short of militarily occupying Iran) that could now prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons. The reality is that both the U.S. and Israel have failed to prevent Iran from gaining the ability to produce nuclear weapons whenever Iran wishes to do so. It is time to recognize this policy failure and decide what to do next, based on a realistic assessment of Iran’s uranium enrichment efforts (Peter Goodspeed http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/06/07/goodspeed-iran-may-be-two-months-from-bomb-two-new-studies-say/).

So, we are fast approaching another point of no return. News like this doesn’t bode well for a peaceful future in the Middle East or the rest of the world. Remember Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not like the West’s old “honourable” Russian communist foes of the cold war era with whom we could work out a way to avoid mutually assured destruction. Ahmadinejad’s motivation is very different.

As a radical Shiite Muslim with a predilection for apocalyptic Madhi/Islamic Messiah prophecies, Ahmadinejad’s religious beliefs make him positively itch for the day when he can threaten Israel, the U.S. military forces in the Persian Gulf area, and also Europe with nuclear annihilation if he doesn’t get his way. He has surrounded Israel on the north by his Hezbollah Lebanese and Syrian proxies and in the south by his Hamas Palestinian proxies and he supports his allies with money and weapons. Finally developing a nuke will just give Ahmadinejad that much more leverage on both his friends and enemies.

Both of these issues that I’ve written about in this blog just won’t go away without having some sort of significant affect on YOUR life at some point in the relatively near future. How are you going to cope when the bad news hits?

Some people are preparing for this future when our present assumptions can no longer be assumed by buying lots of gold, and stockpiling food and firearms. In their fear and anxiety they are only looking at the physical and are neglecting what is far more important. Consider these words of Jesus of Nazareth:

21 Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God. 22 Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. 23 For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. 24 Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! 25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things…. 34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. 37 The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! 38 He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready (Luke 12 New Living Translation).

Are you ready to meet God? This coming weekend is Pentecost. I’ll be speaking on this subject on Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Pacific Daylight Saving Time on http://cogwebcast.com/ Join us online and be prepared for what’s coming.

Pharaoh Hosni, Corruption, and the Kingdom of God


The Egyptian pharaohs always did very well for themselves as the bosses of Egypt Inc. They lived luxuriously and had everything the heart could wish for…well, almost everything. But even when their jig was up, they could afford to go in style—solid gold caskets, incredible burial pyramids—grand monuments to human nature and pride, that still draw crowds of admiring tourists.

It seems the latest incarnation of King Tut, Egypt’s now ex-President Hosni Mubarak, could also afford to be buried in a solid gold casket or maybe a decently sized pyramid if he so chose—even at today’s inflated prices. After all, news reports estimate his personal fortune and that of other Mubarak family members to be in the $10-$80 billion range. Not bad for a fellow who spent 30 years of his life as leader of his nation and another 30 years or so in the Egyptian military. Obviously the Egyptians must take great pride in providing such a remarkably generous pension scheme for their chief public servant!

Although Hosni Mubarak had feet of clay that is not to say he didn’t accomplish some good and worthwhile things during his presidency. He did keep the peace for 30 years, which is not a bad trick in the Middle East. And although Pharaoh Hosni did fabulously enrich himself during his period of power, he is not wholly unlike most Western leaders who also benefit financially from their high offices in far more ways than the official remuneration schedule would otherwise suggest. In the Western world most leaders following their term in high public office secure lucrative book deals, well-paying directorships or executive positions at major corporations, generous public speaking honorariums, sky high consulting fees, and some fascinating financial planning services from private banks, etc. But perhaps the real measure of a leader’s success should be how the poorest segment of the population fared.  Mubarak made some headway in economic development and stabilization that led to a growth in GDP but how did the poor do under his regime?

While the wider economy was doing great due to lower tariffs and taxes in Egypt during the last 6 years or so, according to David Schenker of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, there was no trickle-down effect for your average working Egyptian. Some 20% of Egyptians continued to struggle to survive in grinding poverty. Even highly educated Egyptians found themselves working 2 or 3 jobs in an effort to sustain themselves. Why? As Schenker notes:

“Corruption is rampant. Sweetheart deals are common…. Inflation [the state stealing monetary value from wage earners and the nation’s savings] was an astounding 12.8% in 2010.“http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/hosni-mubaraks-economic-achievements/19838632/

In the Worldwide Corruption Perception Index published by Transparency International, Egypt was ranked in 2010 as the 98th most corrupt country out of 178 countries, towards the top of the second half of all nations in this world. In other words, just about average from a worldwide perspective. The world’s most corrupt nation #178 was Somalia with the runners up for second most corrupt nations tied between Myanmar and Afghanistan (surprise, surprise).  The honours for the #1 spot, or least corrupt country was a tie between Denmark, New Zealand, and Sinapore. Canada was #6, while the U.S.A. was ranked #22. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_by_country. Corruption is a worldwide phenomenon.

It would seem that in the human sphere in this age when it comes to government and leadership, the great deeds and good works announced by those in power often come at a price. The cost is a corruption that oppresses and beats down hardest upon the poorest members of society.

A major focus of the Christian hope and the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is a change in governance, that will bring peace and prosperity for all – without corruption.

Why is it important that Jesus Christ will sit in the chief seat of public service in the coming Kingdom of God? The answer rests in His character. As the Apostle Paul praised Him:

17Now to the King of eternity, incorruptible and immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever (to the ages of ages). Amen (1 Timothy 1:17 Amplified Version).

Christ, the Messiah, is incorruptible. His character is faithful, true, pure, and honest.  Besides being incorruptible, Jesus Christ is also immortal. Immortality is something neither corrupt pharaohs, nor any other corrupt person can buy. Perversely, selfish human nature focuses on futilely amassing during this short lifetime a pile of money or goods. But as the country song goes, “I ain’t seen no luggage racks on the hearses going to the graveyard.” Christ is the creator, the owner, the master of the universe, so there is no covetousness or greedy desire to acquire things at the expense of those that are under his care.

As the financial newsletter writer, Doug Casey, notes:

“Corruption is a betrayal of a trust for personal gain.”

Escaping the clutches of this common, corrupt human nature is just one major reason why the true Gospel about the coming Kingdom of God was preached by both Jesus and the early Christian church.

The Gospel of this coming new incorruptible political reality that will govern this earth is a major focus of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. A key prophecy for the future in the book of Daniel states:

“Sovereignty, power, and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be given to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will last forever, and all rulers will serve and obey him,” (Daniel 7:27).

If you would like to hear more about this foundational biblical teaching on the incorruptible Kingdom of God, then check out my streaming video message on this subject, The Gospel Part 3, at: http://cogwebcast.com/