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The Man Behind the Music – Trials Turned to Gold

July 29, 2010

I read a post today, by Jon Bloom, on the Desiring God blog. You can read that post here. (It opens in a new window.) In the post Jon talks about how the music and ministry of Keith Green helped to shape his life and the Desiring God ministry. For me too Keith Green’s ministry had a long lasting and significant impact on life and ministry. I wasn’t aware of Keith Green when he was alive. He died in a plane crash when I was four years old. For me it’s memories of seeing and hearing Keith’s albums in my house growing up. I had a youth pastor who also shared with me his passion for Keith’s music and ministry. Folks at my church know well my affection for Keith’s songs. I still now and again throw a little Keith into the mix before and after our weekly college/young adults meetings. 🙂

There is so much opinion and controversy around Christian music. Some are more concerned with the message of the music than the style. For some the style is everything. For some it’s about the atmosphere in which is played. Some have a cynical view of Christian music and prefer to avoid it in favor of secular music. While I agree, at least in part, with all of those, it’s the man behind the music that I try to focus on.

Keith Green lived his faith out in a real and public way. He wasn’t trying to mold his life around his musical career. In fact, there were times in his life when he put the guitar down because it had become an idol. Toward the end of his life he was more focused on missions than music. Pointing people to Jesus was his single desire. If that meant opening his door to those in need, he did it. If that meant traveling around the world to reach people in remote areas, he did it. When he dedicated his life to Christ he moved past his desires for personal fame and glory. He didn’t want people to see him, but the Father who sent him.

I wouldn’t say Keith Green is a hero of mine only because I think that probably would have bothered him. Was he a role model of sorts, yes. Not for the things he accomplished, but for the way he always pointed people to Jesus. I read his biography every so often. I can identify with how he was never satisfied with his current state of being, and was always pushing himself to live like Christ.

“My eyes are dry, my faith is old,

My heart is hard, my prayers are cold,

And I know how I ought to be,

Alive to you, and dead to me.

Oh what can be done, for an old heart like mine,

Soften it up, with oil and wine.

The oil is You, Your Spirit of love,

Please wash me anew, in the wine of Your blood.”

This is especially poignant to me right now as I am taking inventory of my heart and life. What is important to me. What should be important to me. What do I fill my time with. What should I be filling my time with. What frightens me the most right now are the things that I hear myself saying.

it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.
(Matthew 15:11 ESV)

Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.
(Matthew 15:17-19 ESV)

As I strive to live like Jesus, frequently I falter and fail. As I focus so often on the gaps between me and Jesus; I need to remember that we serve a sovereign God who’s grace is more than enough to fill in the gaps. As I am beaten down by my failures, Christ lifts me up. I am guessing that Keith knew this, and kept it close to his heart.

“He’s brought me here, where things are clear, and trials turn to gold.

He shared with me, His victory, He won in days of old.

Oh Lord, I don’t deserve, the riches of your word,

But You’ve changed my filthy rags to linen white as snow.

The view from here is nothing near to what it is for You.

I tried to see Your plan for me, but I only acted like I knew.

Oh Lord forgive the times, I tried to read your mind.

Cause you said if I’d be still, then I would hear your voice.

My Lord, my King, my urge to sing and praise the things above.

No words can say the glorious way you changed me with your love.

He’s brought me low, so I could know the way to reach the heights.

To forsake my dreams, my self esteem and give up all my rights.

With each one that I lay down, a jewel’s placed in my crown.

Cause His love, the things above, is all we’ll ever need.

He’s brought me here, where things are clear, and trials turn to gold.”

So today, when I feel at my lowest and my heart is heavy, I am lifted up by the music of Keith Green. I think about the man behind the music, and am grateful for the God we both serve.

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