Mike Burkhart

Mike Burkhart   My name is Mike Burkhart. I was born in a little town called Cadiz, Kentucky. My family lived in a little community called Big Rock, Tennessee. In 1978, I would run through the living room. My dad was a very large man and a very mean alcoholic. My earliest memories of dad were he would stay gone up to 2-3 months at a time. Come in, beat mom, make another child, and hang around for a while and take off again. That was my early childhood.

   My mother and Jesus Christ are two of my heroes. Mom is 81years old and is still alive. She's still living in Dover. I would watch her crawl across the floor. One night dad had beaten mom so severely that she couldn't open her eyes. Her eyes were literally beat shut. She went over to corner of the room and prayed for his deliverance. That showed me what a hero was.

   I've been through some other things. I've been shot at, I've been in wrecks. I've been around some things that I don't need to mention. But I've never seen such courage. As to go back to your oppressor, and that goes into what's in this quote, and that's what I'm going to get too eventually. I grew up. It wasn't a bad childhood, we were poor but I didn't know I was that poor until people pointed it out.

   We lived in the country. We had chickens. I know what food scarcity is, but we never starved. The Lord always made sure we had food. If there was nothing but whole cornmeal with some butter and sugar we were happy. We called it "the cornmeal mush." The Lord always provided. Momma would pray and somehow more food would show up. A bag would in there to feed the six of us. There was always a white knight. I remember watching my mother sitting in the corner going "Lord, what am I going to do to save these babies?" And groceries would be on our spoon the next day. I don't know where it came from, but I hope one day to meet that man who helped us. Our God made a way.

   I was kind of a nerd growing up. I read a lot. I kept to myself. High school was pretty uneventful for I was a nerd. I didn't party. I didn't did go out or anything. I joined the United States Marine Corps in 1976, which was one of the best moves I've ever made. It gave me disciplines, strengths, and respect that I use to this very day. I have nothing but good things to say about them. But I was introduced to alcohol and drugs. At that time, they didn’t do drug testing in the services, so I can smoke when I wanted, drank when I wanted. And all of my life I said, "I’ll never end up like daddy, I will not become a drunk, I will treat everyone well, and I will grow up to be something besides an alcoholic like dad." No one wakes up one day, when you're twelve or thirteen, and say, “You know what? When I’m twenty-five, I’m going to be a drunk. I’m going to be a drug addict. I’m going to be a thief. I’m going to be an abomination before a Holy God. I'm not going to sit here and give a laundry of all the things I did, it is not necessary.”

   Sin! I'm a simple man so the Lord gave me very simple illustrations. Sin is like those merry-go-rounds you see at the amusement park. Kids sit on it, and you push it, you go around with these children your size and then you speedup. And that’s how you start out with sin, you get on there just hanging out with your friends, smoke a little, drink a little, going back to work, having fun and you think man I've got this managed. Seems like that big kid that comes along, that walks to you something like "oh", and he starts speeding that thing up and all of a sudden what was fun, starts getting a little scary and it keeps going faster and faster and then another big kid comes along and it heats up. Because they think it's hilarious and that's what the enemy does. The enemy thinks it's hilarious to take families and get them tangled up in methamphetamine and alcohol and pornography and all the other things that are climbing into our homes nowadays and destroying it. And they like to get it going fast until you think you can't get off. I remember the child in me going in one of those and there's a point where you're just hanging on, but you know if I let go I'll die. That's how sin takes you.

   When I got out of the Marine Corps, I bounced around a few different jobs and I went to work on the river. I'm a river boat captain and by the way, I push commercial barges on the Mississippi River. I'm blessed to be captain of the motor vessel 'Johnny Darling.' It's a 9,000 horsepower commercial vessel. When I'm south-bound, I've got forty loads of grain which is equivalent to about six acres in front of me, which weigh 3000 tons. I run from St. Louis to the Gulf of Mexico. I started out as a deckhand, the river's one of the few rivers left where you can start out an entry-level and if you work hard, you can end up successful. But it's also a perfect job for an alcoholic because I work for a month and be at home for a month. When I first started working there, I was having a party and having a big time. And because I went back to work, and worked for a month and did so productively I thought I didn't have a problem. I started riding motorcycles and racing with my good brothers. I love my Harley – Davidson bikes. I've owned one for forty years and will until the Lord takes me home. But I wasn't real good in picking up my company. I started riding with the Hell's Angels and learned to supplement my drug use by selling drugs on the side.

   Sin doesn't take prisoners. When you don't understand anything you play with, he's going to take your arm off. As time went on, my drinking got worse, the drug use got worse, and I started going to jail and getting DUIs for public intoxication. It was just a joke. Back then the DUI was a slap on the wrist. You spent the night in the jail and you get out and get your life back. So I didn't think anything about it. The offenses kept getting worse. The sentences kept getting longer and in about the middle 80s it started creeping in on me that I might have a problem because I didn't drink for fun anymore. It was who I was. I can't remember when it started dawning on me that I had to quit. I did what so many people would see me do. I’d go to jail and I would say a prayer. I’d say, "Lord! You get me out of this, and I swear I am not going to do it anymore!" I'd get out of jail and I'd stay clean for about a week. I was Mike Burkhart, a tough guy, and thought I was going to stay straight.

   Hollywood does a great job of portraying our enemy. As this Freddy Krueger-looking thing would jump out of walls and rip your lungs out. That’s not what the devil does. The devil is tricky. When I’m drinking, he had booze. When I had weed, he had weed. When I get out of the jail and I’m broke and wanted to straighten up, he'll pull up in my front yard and have two of the coldest beer on the planet. He had a big sack of the best weed or cocaine. That’s how the devil works. He will pull up in your driveway, He doesn’t drag you off. But he will pull up where you can climb in. And that's what will happen. I get in, I am not going to drink and I am just going for ride with you, but later I'm going to wake up in jail again. After about a year and a half, I settled down, and came to realization that I couldn't stop. I started thinking about taking my own life. I didn’t want my mother to find out that she had raised an equivalent of that beating on her for 27 plus years. So, I thought of taking my life before it gets too bad, I probably need to take me out of the picture. So, in September of 1989, I was arrested in the southern county of Tennessee which is near Nashville. I pulled a big one that night, without going into great detail; I was looking at 5 years in prison for assault, weapons charges, assaulting an officer, and some other things. But I woke up in jail and I was bloody on top of my head and bottom of my feet. I had knots all over me, my hair was all muddy. I had hair back. I thought man I'm on some kind of wreck.

   Another way the devil works on you is people have been telling me for a while, "You're going to be driving drunk, and you're going to kill somebody." Because I was one of those when I was drunk, I was sick. If you haven’t been there, there’s no way to describe coming down off cocaine and you don't know what kind of pills I had taken or how much alcohol. I was sitting there. I was shaking so badly. I couldn’t hold the coffee that they brought me, and every time the jerks pulled by, they would curse me. And I thought, "What’s wrong with them?" The longer I sat there, the more the devil started working on my mind. I thought I had killed somebody and that’s why they're mad. You killed an entire family or something, I don’t know what. My mind was a mess. And I was sitting there in that jail cell and the longer I sat there I thought I'm facing a double murder charge. And because I don’t care what anybody says, Drunks are cowards. Drug addicts are cowards. Any sin you hide behind is because you're a coward. We’d call it whatever we want. I didn’t want to face it. I didn't care about going to prison; I've been in jail for 7 to 9 years. I don’t want to face my mother in a court of law. And let her see her son, a drunk, a murderer, and an alcoholic. So while sitting in that jail on September 28th, 1989, I thought would kill myself.

   Before going further, I want to take those children, those loved ones, those strangers that you pray over and that you don’t see results. Don’t give up. Keep praying. Because I had a mother and not only did she pray over my dad every night she sat beside my bed and read the Bible and that's why I love the King James. Every night until we left our home, my mother would sit by her bed and read from the King James Bible and pray over her children. She said, "Don’t you dare!" I'm about to tell you what happened from my mother's prayer. I was sitting there and the jailers would be walking by and they would curse you? What is wrong with these people?" and I said, "I'm going to kill myself, I've had it, I’m done. I can't do this". And it’s an old Mayberry kind of jail and it was a really old. There was this old big iron coat hook right by the door outside my cell. I took my sheet and I had four half-hitches on that coat hook. You got to remember I made it on a riverboat that time, and when I tie knots, it stays. I’m not bragging but that’s what I did and I’m good at it. I’ve tied four half-hitches on that, made sure it would stay. And I climbed up on my bunk. I had on long plaid coveralls because it was cool for Tennessee like summer in Minnesota.

   I took my coveralls off, and I tied the arms around my waist. I stood up on my tiptoes and wrapped that thing around my neck twice. I tied 3 half-hitches in the coveralls, and tied the sleeves around my neck. I knew I was a coward. And when I started hanging, I knew they would untie me and I wanted to die. I thought if I got my hands bound maybe it will break my neck fast enough and I can’t squeal out. So I sit there on my bunk, crying, and feeling sorry for myself. I said some kind of prayer and said, "If you got anything for me, why don't you do it because I'm done." and I stepped off the end of that bunk. I landed flat on the floor and I was laying there with my hands tied.

   At the end of the sheet, I had tied it around that coat hook. Come flowing down. And it looked like it had been ironed. There wasn't a wrinkle anywhere. I tried all those knots. As I lay there, I thought am I dead? So, I pulled my arms out and took the sheet off my neck, made my bed because that what marines do. And I sat there and He untied that knot. I don’t know how some of you feel about a miraculous when you're older, but I know what I found. And why me? I thought about the Scripture when John said, "Whose shoes I’m not worthy to tie.” I could stand up and I was simply trying to gather my senses and the jailers came back by. And this time they got me to appear in court. And the reason I was so bloody is that I had taken some kind of pills. If you hand me some, I would take it back then. And I had taken some kind of pills. It made me crazy. It took six of them to get me in the cell. They had sticks and clubs and beat the cowboy snot out of me. That’s why I am so bloodied up. I ran a police barricade into cars.

   Anyway, I went to court and I was looking at 5 years probation. And this how our God works. While I was in jail waiting to go to jail, there was a jailhouse Bible study and there was a guy who came in and gave it to me. He was a little bitty old man with a skinny little neck and his collar was about 5 times to big for him. We call him Mr. Turtle.

   As I was getting out of my cell, I had memorized scripture. My mother read it to me all my life. One day in jail at a bible study, Mr. Turtle said, "You're now getting back to living" because I was good. I was cleaned up, I thought I was pretty slick, and that old man stuck his little skinny finger at my face and said let me tell you something sport, "You don't have a drinking problem, you’ve got a seeing problem." He said, "Your whole life you’re been an abomination to the Holy God." He said, "You’ve smooth your way around me. You’ve smooth your way throughout the courses and you’re going to stand before the Holy God one day and He’s going to ask you why you play with His name."

   I have my word on that. I went back to my cell, and I sat there and for the first time in my life. I tried to get honest with God and God started lifting me up. He showed me, who He was, and what He could do and who I was and what I could be. And my life started on a journey. When I went before the judge to be sentenced, I had signed up for a treatment center. And this is how our God works. I was looking in 5 years. And I went before this judge and when I walked up to her, she said, “I want to the bench cleared.” She cleared the courtroom and said, "Come here sport, I’m going to tell you something." She said, "I don't know why I'm doing this, but I have a daughter in the same shape as you are.” She said, “She’s going to a treatment center down in Ashton Center Tennessee and here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to knock these 5 years off and you're going to do 45 days over in a hard place and then you’re going to do the treatment, and if I hear that you spit in the air, your 5 years will become ten.” This lady judge had a reputation of being one of the hardest judges ever in Tennessee. She cut me loose. So don’t you ever think that anything you’re looking at? What do you think about all this stuff happening in our nation? What is it doing to us? All the stuff that enemy’s doing that looks so bad. Don’t you dare! Don’t you dare for an instant think that our God hasn’t seen everything you have done?” Don’t you think that He can’t turn this thing off at the last minute, or the first minute, or right in the middle because He saw it!

   She commuted my sentence. And I started on a journey and like I said, "I am the least, I am the lowest, and I am the worst Christian that ever was." Like those songs we sing about like “Amazing Grace, and like John Newton, the guy who wrote that song was a slave trader. Newton was man that dealt in human filth and was an abomination that saw His grace. He went and lived in the church from what I understand. He wrote that song, and he didn’t find himself worthy to do anything but mop the floors. But God elevated that song and wanted even the worst heathen on the planet to know Him. You don’t know what God will do when he redeems you and you let people know. And that what’s this nation needs more than anything else, is for God to be there and for you to stand up and go. I was going to read a bunch of scripture. But God says, “To be holy and cry holy.” And I will tell you, I’m going ahead and confess something to you that I'm ashamed of. After God delivered me, He allowed me to marry the girl of my dreams. I have admired my wife from afar for years. I don't care what anyone else thinks. She’s the girl of my dreams. The most beautiful woman I've ever seen. We have two great children. I’ve got a granddaughter who thinks papa is great.

   But I had a secret. Right in the middle of all these great deliverances, there was one box that I didn't open up before God because I was ashamed of it. I would go and give bible studies in the jail and go home, and I open that box. That’s what I'm ashamed of, but I'm afraid because we need men that aren't afraid. And I’m not afraid anymore; I don't care what you think about me. I was hooked on pornography. Even after the Lord delivered me and let me tell you, "It's just like booze." There was a point long ago even when I was looking it wasn't fun; it didn’t thrill me. It was a sickness that I had to get free from. I could go and give one of those unbelievable Bible studies at the jail, and then go home and perform that filth. I thank God and bless His holy name because He freed me from pornography.

   Stop thinking it’s about you, and rebuke the devil in the name of Jesus. If you stop worrying about whether you're holy or not then let Him make you holy.

   He dragged me out, and it broke the heart of my wife when I had to sit down with her and talk to her about this thing. It almost cost me my marriage. The hardest thing was when I had to sit down with my 14-year-old daughter. Because when you confess your sin you are going from top to bottom because it's peripheral damage in everything we do. It’s like drawing a hand grenade in your house, it don't just kill you. It damages everything around you.

   When He wants holiness to be shown in that jail, Holiness will be shown. When He wants power and deliverance to be done, He will send it.

   He used a dried-up old man almost forty years ago in a jail, that if you saw him on the street, you just go. "Well, I hope he makes it home because he doesn’t look like he will make it.” I know he guides me and turned me around. He taught me a lesson last night. Our washing machine broke down and Laura, God bless her she was washing clothes by hand because she didn’t want to pay a repairman to come fix it. I ordered a new pump to pump the water out. Unbeknownst to me, water has been sitting there for two weeks with all kinds of fun stuff in and when I took that pump out this nasty, nasty stinking water got all over me! And I said, "Not cool! No! Not cool!"

   The Lord dealt with me about that. "That’s what you are before I put that new pump in you. That’s what you are before me. That’s why I have to stay in you, as I cleanse you. When I take out that old pump, I put in my new pump of flesh. That’s who you are; you can’t even smell that water anymore."

Mike's Hearing His Voice Testimony

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