MUSIC MONDAY:Keith Green Story, includes my favorite song (Part 8)

Keith Green – Asleep In The Light

Uploaded by on Jul 23, 2006

keith green performing Asleep In The Light at Jesus West Coast 1982

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Keith Green was a great song writer and performer and the video clip above includes my favorite Keith Green song. Here is his story below:

“I repent of ever having recorded one single song and ever having performed one concert if my music, and more importantly —  my life — has not provoked you into godly jealousy, or to sell out more completely to Jesus!” 

Keith Green

straightonKeith was born in New York near Brooklyn. His mom had been a singer with the Big Bands, his dad a schoolteacher.  Before he was two his mom said Keith had perfect pitch as he sang his baby songs.  A year later his family moved to CA and settled into the newly developed orchards of the San Fernando Valley, just a short drive to Hollywood, which would play a significant role in Keith’s future.
Keith’s parents made sure he learned how to play guitar and piano at a young age. He liked piano best, but got bored playing the long classical pieces.  So instead of learning to read sheet music, he’d memorize each piece, then pretend to be site reading when his teacher was there. But his grandfather, who started Jaguar Records, the first rock and roll label, taught Keith how to play chords on the piano… and was he end of classical music for him. From that moment on Keith began writing and singing his own songs. He was only 6 years old at the time.

When he was 11 Keith signed a recording contract with Decca Records, singing his own songs.  Although his pictures were in the Teen Magazines and his single had some minor success, the industry didn’t know how market with such a young artist. Keith was very disappointed and at 14, felt like a total failure, a ‘has been’ which was very difficult for someone who had  been groomed all his life to be a pop star.

Keith was 15 the first time he ran away from home. He started a journal that very day and for years as he looked for musical adventure and spiritual truth, the wrote his journey down. Keith had a Jewish background, but he grew up reading the New Testament. He called it “a confusing combination” that left  him deeply unsatisfied. His journey led him to drugs, eastern mysticism, and free love.
When Keith was 19 he met a fellow seeker/musician named Melody. They were inseparable and got married a year later — now he had a partner as his spiritual quest continued.  Then when he had nearly given up hope, Keith found the truth he had been looking for.  He now was 21 and never looked back.

KGPhotos-4

Keith had grown up reading about Jesus in the bible, but was confused when he figured out he was Jewish, a fact his family had hidden from him. But now what once confused him made sense as Keith proudly told the world, “I’m a Jewish Christian.” As soon as Keith opened his heart to Jesus, he and Melody opened their home. Anyone with a need, or who wanted to kick drugs, or get off the street, was welcome.  Of course, they always heard plenty about Jesus at what fondly became known as “The Greenhouse.”
Not only did Keith’s life take a radical turn, but by then he was a highly skilled  musician and songwriter,  and so all of his songs changed too. His quest for stardom had ended.  And now his songs reflected the absolute thrill of finding Jesus and seeing his own life radically changed. Keith’s spiritual intensity not only took him beyond most people’s comfort zones, but it constantly drove him even beyond his own places of content.
Somewhat reluctantly, Keith was thrust into a “John the Baptist” type ministry — calling believers to wake up, repent, and live a life that looked like what they said they believed. Keith felt he would have met Jesus sooner if not for Christians who led double lives. He made audiences squirm by saying, “If you praise and worship Jesus with your mouth, and your life does not praise and worship him, there’s something wrong!”

The radical commitment Keith preached was also the kind of faith he wanted  his own life to display. About Jesus Keith said, “Loving Him is to be our cause. He can take care of a lot of other causes without us, but He can’t make us love Him with all our heart. That’s the work we must do.  Anything else is an imitation.”

Keith’s songs were often birthed during his own spiritual struggles. When he pointed his finger at hypocrisy, he knew he had four fingers pointing back at himself.  He penned honest and vulnerable lyrics—but left room for God to convict the rest of us too. He knew the journey to heaven often twists through rocky valleys, and saw no value in portraying his journey as otherwise.
With Keith’s honesty, he would have chafed against a glossed-over reading of his own life. After all, Keith was in the spotlight as he grew in Jesus. So when he made mistakes, he would talk about them to portray his life honestly.  He believed we miss something essential when we overlook the frailty and humanity of others as well as ourselves. He knew he was far from perfect, but he passionately hungered and thirsted after righteousness.
Keith was constantly praying, asking the Holy Spirit to,  “Please change my heart, and convict me of my sin.” And when he was convicted, he took action.  If he needed to repent, he repented.  If he needed to phone someone to ask forgiveness, he made the call.
Keith’s views on many subjects were often controversial -– especially when it came to charging for his ministry. With his albums at the top of industry charts.  Keith decided to give his albums away for whatever people could afford, even for free. Keith’s heart was to make sure those who could not afford to buy his music could get it.  Since Keith and Melody felt their songs were musical ministry messages and they did not want anyone left out due to lack of funds.  At last count at least 15 years ago over 200,000 albums were sent into prisions and to the poor, without charge.

The same issue arose with Keith’s concerts, which he felt were nights of ministry. After a few years of trying different ways of funding his concerts there was just one idea that gave him peace. He decided his concerts would be free so anyone who wanted could come.  The ministry would rent a hall or stadium and Keith took one offering for LDM to help cover the expenses.  He and Melody did not receive any of the offerings because they were able to support themselves with their music royalties.
Doing free concerts along with Keith’s new album policy were moves that sent shockwaves through the Christian music industry, causing, some record labels, bookstores, or other artists to question his motives. Some thought he wanted to undercut the system and make others look bad. But that wasn’t his heart at all and in the end it was understood he was just following his convictions.

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