|<< Previous 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 Next >>|
by Pastor Mike Burkhardt | April 6, 2021
Picture in your mind’s eye a man.
His name is Pete. Age 27.
Married. Wife’s name is Rachel.
Two children, Rachel who is 7(named after her mother), and Lauri who is 5.
Oh,…And one on the way.
Pete is in 1st century Palestine, Jerusalem to be exact. There are no paved roads, no cars, and no telephones. The summer air is filled with the dust that has been stirred up by the thousands of feet walking about the city. It’s quite hot on this particular day, uncomfortably so. This man looks and acts like just about every other man on the street that day. But this day would change his life forever.
As you stand looking at this man walking down the busy, dusty afternoon street, let me tell you something about him. You may be able to surmise by the large sack on his back full of bread that he is a baker. He bakes many loaves a day and sells them at market to support his wife and two small daughters.
They live in a small house in Jerusalem, on the south side of the city. Not far from the wall that separates the city from the garbage heap in the Hinnom Valley. It’s not a bad little neighborhood, although it is a bit noisy from all the traffic. And on certain days you can really smell the valley just over the wall. It can be nauseating at times. Nevertheless, it’s his home and he feels comfortable there.
He had not always dreamed of being a baker, even though his good customers always complement him and comment that he is a natural at it. Somehow or other, life just seemed to move him into that vocation, and he didn’t dislike it. There are other bakers at the market each day, some from out of town, some from the nicer parts of Jerusalem, and one or two that are from his side of town. All have their own secrets, their own way of making bread. And he is no different. He takes great pride in his work. It gives him a sense of purpose. He provides for his own and that feels good to him.
Each day as he works, when he has a spare moment, he thinks of home and his wonderful little family. Oh his wife Rachel. She is the most beautiful thing in the world to him. He dreams of her all the time. The smell of her hair, and clothes, her kiss, her embrace. He counts himself truly blessed for having such a woman. No man ever loved a woman more than he loves his wife.
And his daughters. What joy they bring him! The older of the two is rather high spirited, she has a mind all her own and does not hesitate to say what she is thinking about. Definitely the “Tom Boy” of the two. The younger is more pensive. One never knows quite what she is thinking, but she is always thinking.
Each day, as he returns home from the market, he can always count on them running to greet him with smiles and kisses. Somehow that makes the hardships of the day melt away.
This day, the dusty, busy, hot day, is not unlike other days. As he rounds the corner onto his street he hears the shrieks of, “Daddy’s home!” followed by hugs and kisses and a million questions about what he saw in town today as the man and his daughters make their way home in glow of the late afternoon sun.
He steps through the door of his home to the smell of a delicious dinner. He can bake just fine, but no one cooks like his wife. They sit down and, after giving thanks, eat dinner just like every other night. Nothing unusual, nothing peculiar. It is an absolutely normal, uneventful evening around the table. Watch the man now! Watch him get up from the table and walk over to his wife. He whispers a few words of gratitude to her and gives her a gentle kiss.
Each catches the others eye, and their brief gaze speaks a thousand volumes of affection. But what they cannot know in that moment, is that that would be the last such glance, the last such kiss, the last such moment, for a very long time.
As she rises from the table to begin cleaning up he wipes his hands on a towel he ponders the events of the day and anticipates another such day tomorrow.
But what’s that? There’s blood on the towel…Can it be? Blood???! Where’s it coming from, the man wonders? Had he cut himself somehow without knowing it? No there are no cuts! Why then is there blood? He slowly rolls his hands around trying to discover the source of the bleeding, all the while wondering,
Could it be? God! Don’t let it be. Blood seems to be pouring right through his skin now. Small openings appear where none had been before. He tries not to show his panic, but it’s too late. Out of the corner of his eye he notices his wife. Her pale face says that she too is wondering if it could be.
Please God, No! she thinks. Once again they stare into each other’s eyes, this time with a sense of fear rather than love and security. In a voice that is nearly a whisper he tells her to go quickly. Just take the girls and go. We’ll find out tomorrow.
The next day the priest puts the man in confinement, in a safe place, away from the people, outside the city wall, not far from his home…near the city dump.
The waiting is intolerable.
Now besides smelling the burning garbage he has to watch it day and night. Seven days later he is called before the priest who again examines him. Then the nightmare really begins as he is declared permanently unclean…Leprous.
"Why? What did I do to deserve this? God couldn’t you just have killed me? Must I be tortured like this? Is this really necessary? God where are you?"
Listen to him! Watch him! Pete’s world is crashing down around him.
For the next few years things go from bad to worse. He has lost his livelihood, his family his home, his friends, even his religion.
He has nothing except the sliver of conscience that keeps him from taking his own life. His clothes are rags that he has managed to gather from the trash heap. They hang loosely on him to ease the pain of the open wounds that have covered his entire body.
Tending those wounds now takes the place of kneading his bread. It gives him something to do with his time. After a while it becomes second nature to him. He hardly notices himself wrapping his arms and legs each day.
But he does notice that he must dig through the garbage for his food. He and the other "lepers". He hates that title. It is so dirty...unclean. He longs for the taste of fresh baked bread once more. But it will not ever be.
Yet even the indignity of eating garbage doesn’t compare with that of having to warn others of his presence. "Someone’s coming!", the other lepers would yell. Quickly, he covers his face and in almost perfect unison they all start yelling “Unclean! Unclean!” Children would recoil in horror at the sight of him. Mothers would grab them and run for safety.
The same people he had seen day after day in the market, spoken to, done business with, would go out of their way to stay away from him.
One day he was digging through the garbage by himself when he heard the cry “Unclean!” go up in the distance. He looked up. And he saw her. It was Rachel. He was off the regular path, so he didn’t say anything for fear of scaring her away. He just sat down low and quiet and watched.
She was as beautiful as ever. But she seemed sad and a little aged since he last kissed her. She had been through so much. If only he could have been there when she gave birth to their son. If only he could hold his son and they could gaze into each other’s eyes as only proud parents could. His heart began to beat as she drew closer.
Oh just to touch her again. Not since dinner that night so long ago had anyone even touched him. He could almost feel her caress on his face. He thought for a moment he could smell her breath. He was sure she would hear his heart beating in his chest. It was so loud and strong. Then she turned and began walking back toward the city and then disappeared through the gate. That was the last time he saw her.
He wiped the tears from his eyes only to have his hand covered in blood from the sores on his cheeks. "I wish I could die", he thinks to himself.
Several months later word begins to spread about a prophet who was in the area. They call him "The Lamb of God". That sounded so clean. But who is he? Crowds follow this prophet everywhere. Even the lepers follow at a safe distance. He speaks with compassion and authority.
One day, a particularly hot day, the man noticed the crowd following the Prophet up to the Mount of Olives. He has heard that this man can cast out demons and heal the sick. Maybe…no don’t even think it, the man says to himself. But he follows.
As he comes to within earshot of the man he is nearly choked by the dust and heat. He is reminded of another such day years ago, of his bakery, his street, his children, his home, and his wife. This day in many respects is just like that.
As the prophet speaks the crowd grows quiet. Such a large number of people, and so quiet, the man thinks. Even though he is at a distance, he can hear what the prophet is saying, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
It’s not possible! Does he see me way over here? Can he know of me in such a large crowd? Surely not! But Maybe…
Again he speaks, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets: I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
“Can one man really fulfill the law?”
Daring, for the first time in years to hope, the man asks himself, “Can he do what has not been done since the days of Naaman and Elisha?”
Not since he last saw his beautiful wife has his heart raced like it was now racing. If only he could be healed. If this prophet, this ’Lamb of God’, can do that I can go home again.”
As the day drags on the people sit and listen intently to the words of this Prophet. The man on the edge of the crowd waits patiently. Finally the Prophet finishes and begins to walk down the mountain. As the crowd moves to make a way for him to pass through the other lepers begin to shout “Unclean” and run to escape contact with the "normal" people.
Except for one.
Risking what little he had left in life he pushed through the crowd to find the prophet. “This man can help” When he finally reached Jesus, he falls at his feet and weeps, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean!” A gasp was heard throughout the crowd. A leper dared to talk to Jesus. How could they get the man to go away without touching him? They couldn’t throw him out or drag him away or even pick him up off the ground. They looked to Jesus to discover his response.
Then it happened. Who would have thought?…Jesus reached out and actually touched the man! For years no one had touched him. He had been forced to live in exile a stone’s throw away from his home and family. To live without the handshake of a friend or the kiss of a wife. To live on the edges of society.
Until Jesus touched him.
When no one else would…
Jesus touched him.
Then the man looked up. Once upon a time he had gazed into the eyes of his wife and there found love. Now he gazed into the eyes of the Messiah and there found salvation. “I am willing”, he said, “Be clean!” As Jesus helped the man to his feet, he wiped the tears from his eyes and they were wet, covered with perfectly clear tears. Unstained, untainted, clean.
He had cried out “cleanse me” and now he was.
JUST ONE TOUCH WAS ALL IT TOOK.
ONE ACT OF COMPASSION.
Pete looked into the eyes of the man who had just given him his life back.
Jesus told Pete “Go your way.”
Go your way.
Small sentence. BIG RAMIFICATIONS BEHIND IT.
Go your way?
THAT MAN’S “WAY” WAS HIS LIFE.
“GO YOUR WAY” MEANT “GO BACK TO YOUR LIFE.”
Pete turns and just strolls away.???
HI RUNS… FASTER THAN HE HAS EVER RAN IN HIS LIFE!
FIRST TO THE PRIEST, TO LEGALLY BE DECLARED WHOLE.
THEN RACING DOWN THE SAME STREET HE HAD LEFT SO MANY YEARS AGO, HE HEARS THE SCREAMS.
SOMEONE HAD ALREADY RAN AHEAD OF HIM WHILE HE WAS AT THE TEMPLE AND TOLD HIS WIFE WHAT HAD HAPPENED.
THE CROWD CLEARS THE WAY.
THERE WAS ONLY ONE PERSON RUNNING FASTER THAN HE WAS THAT DAY, AND THERE SHE WAS….AND CARRYING A SMALL BOY IN HER ARMS AT THE SAME TIME!
NO PERSON, OR DEMON THIS SIDE OF HELL, COULD HAVE SLOWED HER DOWN.
OVERCOME WITH EMOTION SO STRONG THEY BOTH THOUGHT THEY WOULD PASS OUT, THEY KISSED, (IN PUBLIC!)
THEN HE WAS HOLDING HIS SON, FOR THE FIRST TIME!
THEN THE GIRLS WERE THERE, THEY COULDN’T KEEP UP WITH MOM, BUT NOW THEY WERE THERE.
JUST ONE TOUCH, WAS ALL IT TOOK.
GAVE A MAN BACK HIS LIFE AGAIN.
GAVE A FAMILY BACK THEIR LIFE AGAIN.
JUST ONE TOUCH.
by Michael Burkhardt | March 27, 2011
I guess the question today is,…”Is church just an extracurricular activity to me, or am I going because I see the need to grow, and am going to yield to God as he shapes me?”
I challenge you…Go to church today with the willingness to change as God directs you.
IF YOU WILL SHAKE YOURSELF, GOD WILL SHAKE YOUR WORLD!
by Michael Burkhardt | March 3, 2011
by Michael Burkhardt | March 1, 2011
by Michael Burkhardt | February 11, 2011
1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
4. Live with the 3 E’s — Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy.
5. Make time to pray.
6. Play more games.
7. Read more books than you did in 2010.
8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
9. Sleep for 7 hours.
10. Take a 10-30 minute walk daily. And while you walk, smile.
11. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
12. Don’t have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
13. Don’t overdo it. Keep your limits.
14. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
15. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.
16. Dream more while you are awake.
17. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
18. Forget issues of the past. Don’t remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don’t hate others.
20. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
22. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
23. Smile and laugh more.
24. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree….
25. Call your family often.
26. Each day give something good to others.
27. Forgive everyone for everything.
28. Spend time w/ people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
29. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
30. What other people think of you is none of your business.
31. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
32. Do the right thing!
33. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
34. GOD heals everything.
35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change…
36. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
37. The best is yet to come..
38. When you awake alive in the morning, thank GOD for it.
39. Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.
Last but not the least:
40. Please share this with everyone you care about, I just did.
by Michael Burkhardt | September 11, 2010
by Michael Burkhardt | September 10, 2010
Thinking about my message for Sunday. I am talking about the vision for Harvest Life. Each person needs to ask themselves, “Why am I here? Why did God make me? What is my purpose?” Each church must do the same. What is the purpose of Harvest Life Christian Center? That’s what I’m talking about this week. God has very specific plans laid out for His church as a whole, and Harvest Life in particular. I’m excited to share the awesome vision God has for our church. I encourage everyone to be there. If you’ve ever visited Harvest Life in the past, or are thinking of visiting, this is the perfect opportunity to get to know us! Our family, and your family, growing together, playing together, and worshipping together!
by Michael Burkhardt | September 9, 2010
by Michael Burkhardt | August 31, 2010
by Michael Burkhardt | August 30, 2010
A place where we find friends to share life with, and a place to use our God given talents for good. I LOVE CHURCH!
|<< Previous 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 Next >>|