Thursday, August 18, 2005

Keith Green

Now do I put this under faith or do I put it under music?

During my time at the Maze, we used a track by an artist called Keith Green in one of the small group sessions. His ministry ran from the late 70's to the early 80's. We were worried that it might seem a little dated to the young people. The track was a live performance of a praise song based on Psalm 51, called "Create in me a Clean Heart". Listening to him on that recording, you can tell that he's totally lost in worship of the Lord... it is very moving. Some of the young people have become involved in a discussion about him on the message board, and having seen a brief mention of his name in Gerry's last post... I thought maybe I was being prompted to share what little I know of him:

What I do know of him, was that he was a Christian artist, a musician gifted by God... that his influence was significant enough for the legendary Bob Dylan to hang out with him for a time. One of the most important things about his ministry was that he refused to charge people entry fee's for his concerts and insisted that there was no obligation on people to pay for his albums if they wanted to hear the music. He had quite a long running feud with Christian bookshops and record companies over that, in the end it was resolved so that shops could charge for his recording, so long as there was a sticker on the album that said in large letters "If you genuinely can't afford this music, please contact us at *** and we will tell you how you can get a copy for free".

He was so passionate about not charging people for the right to hear the Gospel through music, that when he recorded "Create in Me A Clean Heart", he credited King David as the writer.... so there were no copyright obligations (nice move)

Sadly, he died when I was still a boy... just as his material was gaining mainstream appeal. I heard that on the day of his funeral, there was a terrible thunderstorm above his estate... but nowhere else in the area. I find it amazing that he refused to charge people entry for concerts. How cool is that? Can you only imagine how influential someone with that same vision was raised up by God today would be? If Keith Green were alive today, I'd be willing to bet he would have a website allowing free downloads of "his" material (though rightly he acknowledged God as the source). The Gospel as expressed in music form would spread like wildfire. I believe this is a strong challenge to christian artists of today, many of them jealously guard copyright. Don't get me wrong, I acknowledge they have a right to remuneration for their calling... but I believe their ministries could be more effective if they would be prepared to make similar sacrifices.

It's worth noting that despite Mr Green's insistence on giving his music away, God still blessed his brief ministry... and he prospered anyway.

To any budding Christian musicians out there, please read this (not as condemnation but as encouragement), from Malachi 3:8-12, I've emphasised and double emphasised that which is jumping out at me most as I write this to you, it goes back yet again to Proverbs 3... trusting in The LORD with all of our heart and not leaning on our own understanding:

"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty. "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty."

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