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The Steady Beat of Life

I’ve been thinking about life… I do that a lot. After all, I’m a preacher. I’m constantly confronted with life and death, situations that are life-altering and the like. Truly, by the time people contact me, it’s usually pretty bad. Life…it’s a steady beat. What do I mean? I mean life goes on. If I were to die today, life would not miss a beat. The sun will come up tomorrow. People would still go to the grocery store, eat at restaurants, check Facebook and brush their teeth. Life moves on… It waits for no one.

It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the moment. The problems. The troubles. The heartaches and forget to live life and enjoy the journey. There are the constant deadlines…another sermon to prepare, another death, another hospital, another counseling session. How about you. What would you write… another_________, another_________, another __________. Would it be: “report to create,” “diaper to change,” “truck to load,” “paper to grade”? What would it be? You see, that’s the steady beat of life. It doesn’t stop and it waits for no one. Now, what can we learn about this?

We learn that just as a drummer keeps a steady beat for the band…life keeps a steady beat for us. The sun will set…

(That’s the view from my house looking west…yes, the sun always sets in the west) And the sun will come up in the east… Yes, the grass grows… The coffee is in the cupboard… Holidays are coming… And people will continue to get married. Like my daughter next April. So, there are flower arbors to be built…

Dad, Andrew and I made an arbor…there was plenty of humming and drumming as we used our saws and drills. Yes, you can count on these things. Life moves on…

In the midst of uncertainty, turmoil and trouble, you and I can count on these things. And it’s that ordinary, hum-drum that keeps us grounded in the midst of difficulty. To wander into the kitchen half awake…sun barely peeking through the windows…oh yes…the sun…it’s up again…thank you Lord! And then wandering to the cupboard to grab the coffee…time to make a pot of coffee…oh yeah…thank you Lord for coffee. Do you see? It’s the common things that ground us and let us know that while chaos may be around us…the common things don’t change. I’m grateful for that. I’m thankful to the Lord for His goodness and the fact that His mercies are new each morning. I’m grateful that He gives us our daily bread and He will sustain us in all things. I’m thankful for the steady beat of life.

I’m grateful that I can walk up the hill and still see my mom and my dad and watch them play with their great-grandchildren.

What a joy!

Could it all change? You bet! In a heartbeat! Life changes. People die. Routines can change. But, some things stay the same…the sun comes up in the east and it sets in the west. I’m also reminded of this: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” Isaiah 40:8.

Thank you Lord for the steady beat of life! Thank you that you are unchanging…the same yesterday, today and forever. The Psalmist (Ps 136) has it right:

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who alone does great wonders,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who by understanding made the heavens,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who made the great lights,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

Amen!!!

This week’s Two-Minute Tuesday (“What You Do Today Could Impact the Next 1,000 Years”) puts that into perspective for us:

https://subspla.sh/hjypn3b

One last thing… I was blown away when I received this:

Apparently our local newspaper, the Wilkes Journal Patriot, was running a “Best of Wilkes” awards, and yours truly was awarded the “Best Spiritual Leader.” When I was made aware of this…well…I thought it was some sort of hoax or scam. But, it’s not. Needless to say, I was and I am humbled and feel unworthy of the award. Yet, I understand the position the Lord has placed me and I will seek to continue to honor His name through our church (MPBC) and the ministry He has given to me and family and the other men I serve with each day. Thank you Lord…the beat goes on! 🙂

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Mother Nature and God

So, is Mother Nature mad right now? I heard that stated by a weather forecaster this morning as he showed a chart of all the hurricanes and typhoons in the Atlantic and Pacific, respectively. Is that true? Is she mad? Wait a minute? Just who exactly is Mother Nature? Where does she live? Where is her throne? What’s her location in the universe? I’m being facetious of course! There is not a Mother Nature. Anyone who knows me, knows this is a pet-peeve of mine. God is in control. Not Mother Nature or Mother Earth, et al.

He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth,
    who makes lightnings for the rain
    and brings forth the wind from his storehouses. Psalm 135:7

Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,
    stormy wind fulfilling his word! Psalm 148:7-8

So, God is in control. Yes. Well, is He in control of the weather. Yes. So, is He mad at us? Is He trying to get us! I’ve been asked that question a lot lately. Particularly as Hurricane Florence is bearing down on the coast of NC/SC. Well, here’s my take on this matter. Think this through with me.

In the beginning, God made heaven and earth and He made Adam and Eve. And all was “very good.” But sin came into the picture. The Fall of Man. They sinned and everything changed. Think about that. From the beginning Adam and Eve were walking around naked. They were not dealing with storms, tornadoes, hurricanes or even rain. They lived in a very temperate climate. They weren’t wearing North Face jackets and Under Armour shoes. They were naked and living in a climate that was very comfortable. No real heat or cold or storms. Certainly no hurricanes.

So what happened? Sin! The Flood and death… Storms… Hurricanes, typhoons, upheaval. The earth ruptured from underneath and the rains came! Noah’s Flood! Bang! Weather patterns and storms were born! And we’ve been living with the effects ever since. Remember, Romans 8 says the “earth groans,” and it does. The earth feels the effects of sin, just like the universe. But one day, Jesus will reverse the curse and that goes for the earth. The earth will be refurbished (2 Peter 3) and all will be back to the original condition. But until then, we deal with hurricanes.

Yes, the Lord is in control and He could stop Florence if He wants to…no question about that. After all… The LORD by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding He established the heavens. By His knowledge the deeps were broken up And the skies drip with dew. Proverbs 3:19-20

Yet, God has a plan and purpose in all things. His ways aren’t our ways and His thoughts aren’t our thoughts. So, I trust Him. And I continue to pray. I pray for the people at our NC/SC coast, because this could be really, really bad. We may mark this storm as the worst to ever hit NC/SC (beating Hazel, Hugo and Fran). We’ll see.

In the meantime, I trust God…not Mother Nature. He is one in control!

“While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, And cold and heat, And summer and winter, And day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22

I praise the Lord for His goodness and I’m praying that people will listen and evacuate and be ready. I pray people will not value “stuff” over their lives. I pray that after all is said and done, we’ll help our neighbors as they rebuild and show the love of Christ in the midst of whatever happens.

Kevin

I Finally Did It

Is there something in your life that you know you need to do and you know it, but you’ve been putting it off? Me too! But, I finally did it. Did what?

I’ve set up specified counseling hours. Yep, I had to finally break down and do it. It finally hit me that I’m pretty much counseling all the time…all hours of the day…every day…you name it. This included “days off,” which usually only comes on Saturdays. (As you know, Sunday is a work day for me… 🙂 And with three sermons…I’m running around like a chicken with his head cut off!) So, it became apparent to me when we topped 700 people a couple of Sundays ago: “Kevin it’s time. There is no way to keep up this pace…working all day and then coming home and answering emails and messages throughout the evening.”

Part of the issue is that we’re on local TV (two stations) and I’m getting thousands of view each week for the “Two-Minute Tuesday” on Facebook. Last week’s TMT got almost 14,00 views. Thus, people contact me through Facebook and ask for help, counseling, advice, etc. It’s truly non-stop.

Now, hear (or in this case, “read” my heart)…I LOVE people and I LOVE what I do! What a blessing! What a privilege and a joy! It truly is! But, there has to be “down times.” And I can’t shepherd half of Facebook. 🙂 So, I’ve made the policy that I only counsel church members or those who are actively attending the church. Peter said, “Shepherd the flock among you.” I take that admonition seriously. You can’t be all things to all people and no one can be “on” all the time. Not even a car can go “pedal to the metal” all the time. Even race horses don’t run every race. They have to have time to recover.

Recently, I read this book and was reminded again, “It’s time!” by what I read…

 It’s an excellent book and I’ve been using the nuggets in it a lot! One of those nuggets: a sabbath. A day where you totally unplug. A day where you don’t work unless it’s an emergency. What’s an emergency? Well, that’s different to different people. Everyone’s problem is an emergency to them. But, to me… an emergency is something that’s life-threatening. Again, to some people, an emergency is when the microwave doesn’t work. (wink, wink) Yes, if it’s an emergency…I’m on it. But, otherwise, going forward, counseling will need to take place during the hours I’ve set aside for that purpose. In fact, I’ve asked Pastor Dale to set hours as well. That way, we can do a better job of controlling our schedules and our time.

My counseling hours (which will be posted in this week’s bulletin) are:

  • Monday 1:30-4:30 pm
  • Wednesday 3-5 pm
  • Wednesday after Service

Pastor Dale’s hours:

  • Tuesday 1-3 pm
  • Wednesday after Service
  • Thursday 9-11 am

The sessions are 1 hour in length. We both counsel for these needs: marriage, financial and family counseling. We do NOT offer counseling for: drug/alcohol/substance abuse or psychiatric issues. For those areas we encourage folks to contact SureCord at 336.957.1710. SureCord is the Christian Counseling service MPBC supports through the Brushy Mountain Baptist Association. They are located in the Brushy Mountain Association Office on Highway 268-West near the Wilkes YMCA. https://www.surecord.com

I’ve been pastoring for 13 years and in the early years I could work in all the people when we had 285 people. But now that we have 700+ people attending (and truthfully about 850 who attend at least once or twice in a month’s period of time)…so, I finally had to do it.

Now what about you? What do you need to do? You know you need to do it. You’ve been feeling prompted by the Lord to do it. And now it’s time. Maybe it’s a difficult conversation. Maybe it’s something that’s been festering and needs to be addressed at home or at work or with a child. You dread it. You wonder how it’s going go? You are afraid it might be difficult and people might not understand it. I get it. Believe me, I do!

I think about all the ramifications of everything I do. I’ve thought about how some might even react to having to make an appointment to talk to me. I’ve thought about those who will not understand or complain: “He’s not accessible enough!!” You know what…there comes a time and place in your life that you have to do what you know the Lord has told you to do and let the chips fall where they may. I serve an audience of ONE. So do you! As a believer in Christ, we have to answer to Him primarily, first and foremost. My advice: Do what you know to do is right. Do it now and you’ll reap a harvest of peace from it. I already feel better about things just knowing that I can actually have some control over my life again. And I know my wife and family will be happy about that too!

This week’s Two-Minute Tuesday is about problem. We’ve all got them. How do you see them? As obstacles? As something to be swept under the rug? How about this: “Making Your Problems Work for You.”

Kevin

 

You would expect to read that headline in a paper from New York City, but not a paper in Columbia, SC. Yet, The State, South Carolina’s largest newspaper reported: “Losing Faith: South Carolina is Abandoning It’s Churches.” https://www.thestate.com/news/local/article215014375.html

The headline definitely stopped me in my tracks. The bottom line is this: churches who are abandoning the Bible as the authority from which they teach, preach and admonish their people, are in free-fall decline. That’s across the denominational spectrum: Episcopal, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, etc. The churches who are waffling on the truth are the churches who are losing members right and left.

And this stands to reason in my mind. The Word of God is our authority. It is the foundation of the revelation of who God is and when you walk away from the truth of His Word, you will fall for anything. Therefore, as denominations and congregations walk away from the truth, they are in essence saying: “We’re okay with dying.” Ultimately, that’s what is happening to many churches. They are becoming pubs, rock climbing stations, restaurants, etc. And this is now happening in the South…in the buckle of the Bible belt.

Here’s my TMT about the article and my thoughts on the future of churches in the South:

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLyt0Ymc2a2hkP2F1dG9wbGF5PXRydWUmYnJhbmRpbmc9dHJ1ZSZlbWJlZD10cnVl

What a fantastic weekend it was with FaithFest. We started out with the preconcert on Thursday night. What a blast! Our Praise Team did an outstanding job!

 

The crowd was amazing! I would guess at least 1,000 people came!

The weather was perfect and what a time of rejoicing and celebration in the Lord! And then Saturday came and FaithFest!!

Oh my!!! What a crowd!!!

Estimates are 20,000+. That’s at least double from last year (the first year)! I really believe FF will become the largest Christian Concert event in the country within the next couple of years.

I know my granddaughter, Evie had a blast with the face painting!

And of all the pictures she could have chosen to be painted on her face… She chose a basketball! That’s a girl after my own heart!

The Lord blessed tremendously to say the least. My heart was stirred on many occasions. I was particularly touched by these two…

Mandisa and Jason Crabb! My heart rejoiced as they were singing: “Bleed the Same.” Truly, for me, it was a taste of heaven Saturday night. I watched the moon come up and the stars circle the Wilkes Community College field and I thought, “Lord, thank you for blessing us with this taste of heaven.” I honestly can’t wait for next year!

It was a great weekend at church too. Can you believe this… We had 704 people at church on Sunday! Are you serious!!! Yes! Now, again…I don’t get caught up in the numbers. I never have. But, they do represent people. And that’s A LOT of people for a church in the capital of podunk! 🙂 The Lord continues to blow our mind as people come to worship and learn from the Word of God. Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all mine to myself.” We are seeking to do just that and this past weekend…I saw 1,000+, 20,000+ and 700+. Thank you Jesus!

Kevin

FaithFest 2018

It’s a neat time of year. School is starting back…Summer is winding down. Faithfest is happening this week and I’m excited to see what the Lord is going to do. It’s so wonderful to have something of Faithfest’s caliber in our small town.

Casting Crowns and Mandisa will be in Wilkesboro! That’s pretty amazing! What a blessing! And I’m a bit biased… I’ve got family leading out in this thing. Craig Church is my brother-in-law and FF was/is his brainchild.

Craig of course is the founder of Craig Church Ministries. It’s CCM and a bunch of other folks that pull this off for us. Many thanks Craig!

Our Church Praise Team will be performing Thursday night at the Pre-FaithFest Concert…

Our Praise Team should be up around 8:10 pm. This will all be at the Wilkes Communications Pavilion in Wilkesboro. This is going to be a treat! Here’s the full line-up for Thursday night:

It’s going to be a lot of fun and the weather…oh my…the weather is going to be impeccable! It should be in the mid-60’s with very little humidity by 6 pm Thursday night! Wow! Thank you Lord! And the weekend is going to be just as good! Highs in the upper 70’s and a light breeze. Here’s the full lineup for Saturday at the Watson Stage on the campus of Wilkes Community College:

And in case you are hungry…there will be plenty to eat on Saturday! Food Vendors galore:

Yum!!

Will you please pray? Pray that the Lord will move in the hearts and lives of the thousands who will be there. We’re expecting 10,000+ and prayerful for more! And certainly with a crowd that size, there will be people there who do not know the Lord. Pray for lives to be changed and souls saved! Pray for Jason Crabb…

He’ll be sharing the Gospel around 6:35-7:05 Saturday night. Please pray! I can’t wait to see what the Lord does! Thank you Jesus for your many blessings!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday: “Screen Time: How Much is Too Much?”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLys2NDYzYndxP2F1dG9wbGF5PXRydWUmYnJhbmRpbmc9dHJ1ZSZlbWJlZD10cnVl

Kevin

Well, the early forecasts are starting to come in for the Winter forecast for 2018-19. My favorite (non-regional, local) forecaster is from Pennsylvania. His name is Joe Bastardi of Weatherbell.com. He is an excellent forecaster because he uses his brain…not just computer models. Joe uses the past to help see into the future. Solomon says there is nothing new under the sun and that’s true! He uses what are called “analog years” to look at the current weather and what has happened in the last couple of years to then find years in the past that may have had similar patterns. These become “analog years,” or comparative years. In other words, you can genuinely look to the past to predict the future.

Now, Joe is not a perfect forecaster. No one is or can be. Only the Lord knows the weather. But again, the thing I like about Joe is that he uses his brain…not JUST computer models. I’ve followed Joe’s work and forecasts for years. He’s uncanny in his ability to forecast. He is about 80% accurate. That’s really good folks! I’ll say this:it takes no talent to read a computer print out.

Joe spent 32 years at Accuweather and now runs his own private client services weather forecasting business. His reputation for making bold and accurate forecasts has landed him on major television programs including Fox News Live, ABC World News, The O’Reilly Factor, The Colbert Report, CBS’ The Early Show, Imus in the Morning, and several others. Joe graduated from Penn State and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Meteorology.

Now, let me tell you this…the computer doesn’t agree with Joe about the winter weather. Let me show you the computer model of NOAA (National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration) and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Climate Forecasting Model (version 2). That’s a long and fancy way of saying this the government’s model.

It’s showing BLOW TORCH for the winter (Dec/Jan/Feb). Here’s what Bastardi is saying:

That’s the absolute opposite. And here’s the snow forecast from Bastardi…

You look at North Carolina and you say, “Okay, 167% of average…what does that mean?” Well, we average about 12 inches of snow per year and so do the math…and the forecast means we should have around 20 inches of snow according to Bastardi. That’s a lot of snow!

Now, what’s the rationale? The biggest reason for Bastardi and those who look at the past to predict the future is the sea surface temperatures. See the temperature of the oceans… (Red is hot, blue is cold)…

See the cold water off the coast of Africa (right side of map)? That’s why there are no hurricanes right now and it’s why there won’t be that many this year. See the mixture of cool water and warm water off of the western South American coast. That’s a moderate El Nino coming on. When you have a big El Nino, that puts a ton of heat and moisture up into the Gulf of Mexico and that feeds into the southeast with a warm/moist winter. But, if the water is a mixture of warm/cold…then it’s a moderate El Nino and that’s enough moisture to open up the Gulf in the winter…but, not so hot that it overwhelms the pattern. So, if you’re a snow lover…this is a good pattern for winter weather.

So, let’s see… I wanted to see what the European model is showing for the winter… Why the European? Because models are only as good as the data you put into them and the Europeans typically have had better models than our NOAA models. Remember, I showed you the NOAA model for the winter earlier… Remember…warm…

Now see the European for the winter months…

Okay…what about our friends to the north. Here’s the Canadian Model…

Are you starting to get the picture? It looks like the majority of the models agree and based on Bastardi’s analog years…it might be a wintry winter (that’s redundant isn’t it).

Notice I said, “might.” After all, this forecast could always bust! It’s way out. It’s just August…but, this is a preliminary look and we’ll keep up with it and see what happens. As Bastardi says, ” Enjoy the weather, because it’s the only weather you’ve got.”

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday about the failure of Socialism. I did this TMT for the generation of young people who are starting to believe the lie that socialism is a good thing. It’s not. And contrary to those who misquote the Bible, Socialism is not a Biblical principle. The Biblical principle is free-will offerings to love and help others…not “forced” sharing. Take a look… “Why Socialism Doesn’t Work.”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytmbmo0N3l0P2F1dG9wbGF5PXRydWUmYnJhbmRpbmc9dHJ1ZSZlbWJlZD10cnVl

Kevin

 

Real Men Needed

It was an amazing scene last Friday night:

That’s 200+ men who came out on a Friday night to hear teaching on how to be a “Man of Another Sort.” That says a lot right off of the bat… Friday nights are precious and to have men and boys to give up their Friday evening to come hear our all-male Praise Team and this bald-headed guy preach…well, that was phenomenal!

We are working hard to get it loaded to the website. So, be patient with us. We want the conference on the two local TV channels (Spectrum-Charter and Wilkes Communications) as well. I believe the Lord used the evening and I certainly felt the prayers of so many people, particularly our wives. They love us and want us to be the best we can be. I’m so grateful for my wife.

You see, in my humble opinion we live in a society today where being a “man” is not always popular. Truth is, in many circles, we’re not even sure what a “man” is anymore. Men have been emasculated by the society for years. In fact, saying, “I feel like a man,” is considered in some circles to be threatening. Now, I’m not saying this because I am a man and I’ve got some inferiority complex. I don’t. I also don’t have a chip on my shoulder. But, I do believe we need to teach our boys how to be men. But, what does that mean? Does a man rule with an iron fist? Is he a chauvinist brute? No! Yet, it’s true… Men have done some really stupid stuff over the years and we’ve brought on ourselves a heap of justified criticism and critique. Men can be pigs…no question about it.

But, that’s not the kind of man I’m talking about. I’m talking about men who are servant-leaders. Men who are willing to bend the knee and take the towel and the basin. Men who are willing to die for their wives (as Christ died for the church) and that means a lot more than just taking a bullet in the head for her. That means we’re willing to do the laundry, load the dishwasher, bathe the kids, pick up the groceries. You get it. We lead by being humble, just like Jesus. I defer to Pam. I listen to her. I trust her judgment more than mine. (Can I get a witness men!)

Listen, men, plain and honest need all the help we can get! God gave Adam a “helper” in Eve. Read carefully: WOMEN DON’T NEED HELP. They can do it all on their own, if need be (and many do). Men need help! So, why would I ever (in my right mind) go against my helper. If Pam and I ever disagree, I don’t go against her wishes and say, “I’m the man and I’m supposed to lead…so I trump you!” Are you kidding! No way! We are one flesh in the Lord and if she doesn’t feel right about something (a decision or whatever), then I dare to stand still and wait. We wait to be in agreement. Why? Because there is one Holy Spirit. He’s not going to tell her one thing and me another. He will have us in agreement. There is no part of God that operates in confusion and certainly that is true of the Holy Spirit.

I shared the Top 10 Marriage Killers (from my perspective as a man in my 13-year pastor/counseling):

Top 10 Marriage Killers:

  1. tearing her down with words
  2. not listening to her, really listening to her
  3. comparing and contrasting your wrongs against hers
  4. responding with defensiveness or with sarcasm
  5. never saying, “I’m sorry”
  6. demanding she changes, but refusing to do so yourself
  7. thinking more of what you deserve, and she can give you, instead of what you can give her
  8. preserving your own well-being at her expense
  9. refusing to show humility with her or the kids
  10. reading this list and thinking she should be reading it…

I believe we grew as men last week. I know I did!

The Praise Team did great! I knew they would. They always do! Pastor Brad Cordray, Martin Moore, Geoff Farmer, Seth Rhoades, Derek Harless, Steve Bryan, Gary Foster, Justin Gourley, Scott Heacock. What a group of dedicated men! It was truly a blessing! We worshipped together and that’s a cool thing! To hear a room full of men singing in those baritone/bass voices is powerful! I’m telling you…it’s goosebump stuff!

I felt like I kind of fumbled through the two messages. I probably should have done more to include the boys that came. Perhaps even asking them to sign the Resolutions that the men did (as kind of “future promise”), but I never felt led in that direction as I prepared. However, I know there are things I can do to improve it for the years ahead. And yes, we will be making this an annual event!

I don’t know how it is with you…but, Satan is always telling me how worthless I am anyway. I struggle mightily with self-doubt and feeling like I can’t ever quite do enough. But, I do believe the Lord uses our weaknesses and turns them into something good for His glory, if our hearts are in the right place. Throughout Friday afternoon I felt so excited and nervous at the same time that I felt like a caged cat. I received this passage of Scripture from a sister in the church that really encouraged me:

And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:3-5

So true! The Lord knew I needed that!

Ultimately, after all is said and done, I’ve gotten a ton of texts and emails that have been very encouraging and kind. Men want to do it again and we’ll work toward that next year!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday, “Answering the Top Three Argument Skeptics Make.” It might surprise you how easy it is to answer a skeptic.

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLyt2bnF2d3lrP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Kevin