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Friday, 19 September 2014

Not A Waste: The Short Life of Keith Green

Cover of songbook
   Keith Green was born in 1953 in New York City; from a very early age he showed much musical promise.  He had perfect pitch at the age of two, could play the ukulele at age five, played guitar and piano, wrote his own songs and signed a recording contract when he was just eleven years old.
   In those days record companies did not know how to market young musicians, and this led to some disappointment for Keith as a teenager.  He ran away from home and explored all kinds of spiritual avenues to make sense of life.
   In 1975, he embraced faith in Jesus Christ and began writing music to reflect this new beginning in his life.  His passionate plea to whomever was in the audience was to live for God wholeheartedly. In the years following his conversion, Keith Green released five albums.  He was not interested in making money but gave away his music and made his concerts free (a free will offering was taken). That attitude of ministry included opening his home to people trying to turn their lives around such that it was nicknamed "the Greenhouse," a protected place where growth could occur.  Along with his wife, they also produced literature and began an organization called Last Days Ministries.
   Keith Green's life on this earth was brought to a sudden halt by a plane crash in 1982, which also claimed the lives of two of his children.  He was only 28 years old at the time.
   Although he died over thirty years ago, his influence lives on and many of his words remain prophetic.  Even then, some of the music known as "Christian contemporary" did not seem to line up with Jesus' way of doing things.  I leave for your consideration a paragraph from a pamphlet he wrote entitled "Can God Use Rock Music?":

    It isn't the beat that offends me, nor the volume - It's the spirit. It's the "Look at me!" attitude I have seen in concert after concert, and the "Can't you see we're as good as the world?" syndrome I have heard on record after record. Jesus doesn't want us to be as good as the world, He wants us to be better! And that doesn't mean excelling them in sound, style, or talent - it means surpassing them in value - in our motives for being up there on stage, in our reasons for singing our songs, and especially in who we're singing for! If there's anything wrong or worldly at all about so-called "Christian rock," it's the self-exalting spirit and attitude that comes across so loud and clear in many of the records and concerts today.  [1]

   Keith Green's example of humility and the plainspoken message remains a model of what music ministry ought to be.  

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