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Balance
Brett Anderson ©2004

Years ago I read 2 books which changed my life - one of them was by Charles M. Sheldon and was called 'In His Steps' and the other one was the life story of Keith Green called "No Compromise".

I have been meaning to read "No Compromise" again for years and finally a few weeks ago a buddy of mine (thankx Brad) bought me a copy and gave it to me. And finally I've started reading it again and can hardly put it down. Almost every single chapter makes me cry. Some of my friends are already finding out it is a dangerous book for me to be reading while they are in the firing line of my life. It is just SO challenging and I just see so much of myself in this guy's heart and attitude - and probably a bit of what I've lost and maybe need to look at getting back to:

"As we prepared to meet 1975, I found myself wondering why two people who loved each other and wanted to live good lives just couldn't seem to do it. Keith could get me upset. He sparked those feelings in a lot of people. You either loved him or got mad at him. Sometimes both. There weren't many grays in Keith's world. There was black or white, good or bad. In many ways, he was exactly what I needed. But I also was finding that some of the things I really liked about him - his intensity and conviction - could be difficult to live with. Like right after he'd first moved in with me.

When Keith moved into my apartment, he started moving some of my things out. Because he'd made Jesus his master, some of the books on my shelf made him feel really uneasy. Especially the ones having to do with astrology and the occult. He wanted me to get rid of them, and I wasn't exactly happy or willing. Some of them were very expensive hardcover books. I thought Keith had a lot of nerve moving into my apartment, then insisting that I throw away my books. Even though I hadn't found the answers I was looking for after all my years of reading them, I wasn't convinced these books were totally wrong either. But Keith was so persistent, I reluctantly gave in. Deep in my heart I knew he meant it for my good. It seemed like Keith was always challenging me about something. Mostly he challenged me to know who I was.

Even though Keith could drive me to the brink, there was something about him that made me face tough questions and comb back through my life to figure out what I believed and why."

Anyways while reading this book it got me thinking about a lot of stuff and one of the things was what this thort is about. This IS going to be long but it's going to be quality stuff and you MAY not get thorts for the next two weeks:

The one thing I've been thinking about quite strongly lately, which I think was encouraged by reading this book, is that the word 'balance' which Christians often like to throw around quite easily can actually be another word for 'Compromise' - this is possibly due to the fact that too many 'extreme Christians' HAVE got it very wrong and messed up the witness for the church and so we think 'extreme is wrong - we must have balance in our lives'.

Yet the more I look at the life of Jesus Christ, the more I see it as being an extreme life. When I hear what He taught it was seldom if ever about finding balance - it was about:

# loving the Lord your God with ALL your heart and soul and strength and mind

# loving your enemies and blessing those who persecute you

# serving other people and seeing them as more important than yourself

# denying yourself, taking up your cross and following Jesus (where did He go to when He picked up His cross again?)

# forgiving 70 times 70 as in continuously, again and again and again

# losing your life in this world and to the things of this world

# only having one master - not serving God and money or the things of this world or a good name

I don't think Matthew 24:12 '...because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold...' is necessarily talking about the world - in fact if you look around honestly, it is talking about the church - where all too often half-heartedness, lukewarness and compromise seem to be the order of the day.

The verse carries on to say, '...but he who stands firm to the end will be saved!.' That is talking about being extreme. It is calling for people who are radical. Who don't give in to the system. To the rut that apparently life is supposed to become. To those who keep God as number one priority and NEVER sell out.

To big C Christians really - those Christians who have Christ as the absolute centre of their lives and follow Him as their Saviour AND Lord AND King.

As opposed to little c christians who are in it just for the name and the fire prevention insurance.

Because that's how we seem to have divided ourselves sometimes but NEWS FLASH PEOPLE!!! There is only one type of Christian and the scary thing is that some of us could get to heaven one day and God will be 'who are you?'

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father in heaven." [Matthew 7:21]

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.' Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." [Matthew 25:45-46]

I've been hit by a powerful statement in different forms and from different sides this year which has been quite sobering to hear - "It's not always about you, Brett" - not a fan of hearing that, but actually I realise it should go a lot deeper than that - it's never about you, Brett. That's how it should be - my life and everything I do should be about God and bringing Him glory and fame and worship. Obviously I have a long way to go before even becoming close, but that should be my focus and my heart.

I'm going to finish with what might be a long Keith Green passage that kinda emphasises what I am saying here - much better if you've read the rest of the book and have got an idea where this guy is coming from and I can't think of a Christian book, besides the Bible, that I would recommend more so I encourage you to get your local Christian book shop to order a copy and read it...

"'Let's just call the album 'No Compromise!'

It seemed to capture the heart of what Keith wanted to sday - how important it is that believers quit compromising with the world and start living radically committed lives.

Even the artwork was going to reflect the No Compromise theme. One lone man would be standing up in the midst of a crowd that was bowing in worship to an earthly king. A guard was angrily pointing out the man standing alone with a look that said, 'You've had it!' The picture reminded us of David in Babylon.

Keith wanted to shake believers awake from the comfortable slumber we'd seen. Most of us weren't faced with anything as obvious as the choice between bowing to a false god or being killed. But we are continually tempted to bow to other false gods - to go with the crowd, be ashamed of our convictions, stay silent instead of speaking out for what is right. So we compromise. We harbour secret sins. We bow to invisible idols of wanting to be accepted, of fear, pride, lust, and greed. Just as Keith was facing the need to clean these things out of his own life, he wanted to challenge other Christians to do the same.

Keith was so convinced of the urgency of this message that, just like the first album, people were rallied to pray... there was constant prayer - asking for God's help, anointing, and grace. We sensed this was a special project that would convey a difficult message. The soothing oil of the Holy Spirit was needed if the message was going to touch hearts...

...Another song that carried a strong message for believers was called 'Asleep in the Light.' None of us had any trouble with the lyrics in this one.

Keith got the idea from a phrase in the book 'Why Revival Tarries' written by Leonard Ravenhill, who had come to America in 1950 after being involved in many revivals in Great Britain. Keith just happened to find the book on someone's coffee table during a time when he was asking God to help him be less intense. After finishing it he said, 'What is God doing? Letting me read this boomk was like pouring gasoline on a fire!' So stirred by the book's concepts, Keith hoped its message put into a song would spread like fire.

Do you see, do you see All the people sinking down? Don't you care, don't you care Are you gonna let them drown? How can you be so numb, Not to care if they come? You close your eyes And pretend the job's done...

Open up, open up, and give yourself away You see the need, you hear the cries So how can you delay? God's calling and you're the one. But like Jonah you run. He's told you to speak But you keep holding it in. Oh, can't you see it's such sin.

The world is sleeping in the dark That the church just can't fight 'Cause it's asleep in the light. How can you be so dead When you've been so well fed? Jesus rose from the grave And you - you can't even get out of bed

It was true that Bill and I, and many others we knew, were behind the warning Keith was trying to sound. But what about the Christian public? What would they think about this message that was growing stronger in Keith's heart every day?

That summer while the album was being pressed, Keith was invited to sing at a festival in Oregon called 'Jesus Northwest." It normally drew about 20,000 people, but this year an estimated 35,000 people were there! Campsites were overflowing, a traffic jam clogged the roads for two or three miles, and the police were frantic. It was all one big, glorious confusion! Because the festival continued for several days and in open fields under a blazing sun, many people stripped down to the bare minimum to beat the heat.

Keith and I thought it looked like a mini-Woodstock. It was great that so many people were enjoying the Lord and enjoying each other, but something was amiss. It was a huge success and the promoters were blown away. But the real question was what the outcome would be from an eternal perspective. Would everyone go home thinking, 'Wow, that was a lot of fun!' Or was there something God wanted to say to everyone?

Inside the hospitality trailer, the man who put the festival together expressed his concern to Keith: 'We have a success in numbers, but I'm not sure what's happening in the Spirit.'

On the last evening of the event, several of us gathered in the trailer to pray before Keith's turn to go on stage. Our friend Winkie Pratney, who lived in East Texas, was there with his wife, Fae, because Winkie had been a main speaker. By now Keith and Winkie had developed such a close friendship that Winkie was like an older brother...

...So just now both Winkie and Keith were troubled - not about what had happened at the festival, but wehat hadn't happened. We'd all heard that the emphasis of the festival had been on music - lots of it and loud. There were some speakers, too, but hardly anyone had given a challenge for change or commitment. The place was packed, but some were saying there had been no real move of God, that it was just one big party. Keith and Winkie felt strongly that if nothing happened it was a big waste of a festival.

There was a piano in the trailer, and Keith crawled under it to get alone with God and pray. He'd be closing out the festival in just a few minutes. From where I was praying I could hear Keith softly crying.

There was a tentative knock at the trailer door. Someone summoned Winkie outside to see a young blonde girl who had asked to speak with him. She had tears in her eyes. Winkie recognised her from the Youth With A Mission booth there at the festival. She was timid, but at the same time had a gentle boldness as she spoke.

'Excuse me, but I've felt a little grieved during this festival because it doesn't seem like God has been given a chance to speak what's on His heart. There's been no breakthrough. We've had counseling tents and prayer meetings, but nobody from the stage has said anything about getting right with God.' She looked shyly at Winkie and pressed a folded piece of paper into his hand saying, 'I don't know if you can give this to any of the leaders, but I was praying and, well, I really felt like God gave me this scripture.'

While Winkie was outside, I looked over at Keith. I could hear loud weeping and choking sobs coming out from under the piano. In between the sobbing, Keith prayed out loud, 'O God, what do you want me to say? What do you want me to do?'

When Winkie walked back inside the trailer, he was reading from a small piece of paper in his hand.

At the same moment, Keith's head popped out from under the piano and he said, 'Winkie, isn't there a scripture somewhere about festivals?'

Winkie looked up from the paper in shock, 'Yes,' he said. 'I just happen to have one. A young girl just gave it to me.'

When Keith read the slip of paper, his mouth dropped open. A few minutes later, he carried it on stage with him.

When Keith walked into the spotlight, the crowd burst into a prolonged roar of applause, whistles, and cheers. Keith sat at the piano and adjusted the microphone, waiting for things to settle down a bit. Then he turned to the crowd and, still wiping a few tears away, started talking.

'Have you ever felt the Lord was sad? Most people think, 'No, no, the Lord's always happy.' Well tonight I was praying and I kind of felt the Lord inside me, weeping. So I started to cry.

I got to thinking about all the people that give God one day a week. How ould you like it if your wife gave you one day a week? 'Well dear, I'm here for your weekly visit.' People like to visit God from 10 to 11 on Sunday mornings. Like visiting time at the local jail. 'Lord, how ya doing in there? Are they treating you all right? Is the food OK? We're working on getting you out. Well, I'll see you next week!'"

I'd gone over to the side of the crowd to watch Keith on stage. As with any outdoors event, the crowd was a little restless. I knew they were waiting for Keith to sing, and he did. But the song he chose to open with was anything but lighthearted - "To Obey is Better Than Sacrifice." As soon as he finished he started talking again...

"In the Old Testament it says, 'These people draw near with their words and honour Me with their lips, but they remove their hearts far away from Me.' I was listening to everybody singing worship songs before, and nobody deserves praise and worship but Jesus. It's a beautiful thing.

"But what if your wife said 'I love you' but you knew she didn't honour you and love you in her heart. That you weren;t the most important person on earth to her, and , in fact, she had a couple of other men she liked to look at and think about more than you? How sick would it be for you to hear, 'Oh darling, I love you!' What do the words 'I love you' mean? If you praise and worship Jesus with your mouth, and your life does not praise and worship Him, there's something wrong.

"I want you to go away from here broken and blessed in that order. I don't want you to go away from here under condemnation. But I want you to get broken before God because unless you're a broken vessel, He can't put you back together the way He wants you."

The crowd had gotten quiet now. I noticed one young guy toward the front wearing cut-offs and a "Jesus is Lord" T-shirt. He leaned forward, with a serious look on his face. It was then that Keith reached into his pocket and pulled out the slip of paper Winkie had given him. I suspected things were going to get even more serious as he started to read.

"This scripture is out of Amos. 'Thus saith the Lord, I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies, even though you offer up to me burnt offerings... I will not accept them... Take away from Me the noise of your songs, I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.'

"Does anybody understand what that means? Some of you do. Among 35,000 so-called Christians there's always a remnant of real ones peppered in. My job as a minister is to make sure that every person here leaves a real one. But I can't do it. I'm nothing but dust.

Keith looked to the sky and said, 'I depend on you, Lord Jesus...'

His words had the effect of a shotgun blast. The crowd sat in stunned silence - the first silence I'd heard all night. I glanced quickly at the guy in the Jesus T-shirt again. He was just sitting there with his mouth open. I wondered what he was thinking as Keith continued:

"How many of us care about the people living next door to us? How many of your neighbours have never seen anything more than a little fish on your car? They think you work at the fish market. If you get really bold you put the Greek letters in there - in case you run into a Greek truck driver! What's going on?

"As for me, I repent of ever having made a record or ever having sung a song unless it's provoked people to follow Jesus, to lay down their whole lives before Him, to give Him everything. It doesn't cost you much to follow Jesus - just everything!"

Keith talked about reaching the world - not just being responsible for what we see but for what we know. He really hit hard when he compared the average Christian to a 300-pound baby growing overweight on the teachings of Jesus but never exercising his faith.

"The best exercise I know is hitting the streets for Christ - door to door, ghettos, prisons, old age homes, orphanages, high schools, colleges - why don't you do it? You say, 'Cause I don't feel led.' You feel lead all right, it's just a different kind of led."

Keith had been preaching for more than 30 minutes, and he knew people were wondering if he was going to sing any more songs. 'Hey look,' he said 'I've heard all my songs and God's hard all my songs too. i don't think He's that interested. Don't worry, I'm gonna sing again, but it's the least important part of what I've got to do tonight."

He did sing a few more songs - "The Sheep and the Goats" from Matthew 25, and "Asleep in the Light" - but they only served to underscore his hard-hitting message. Then he prayed:

Lord Jesus, I repent for our sin of not caring about all the lost souls, for not caring about all the hungry people. Lord Jesus, I repent for all of us... for playing church and not being Christians, for being part of religion but not being your children who are broken before Your throne, and put together in Your Spirit.

When Keith sang, "My Eyes are Dry" and taught it to everyone, he started to weep, his voice crackling with emotion:

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 with 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...

Then with tears streaming down his face, Keith prayed again, "Lord, we're sorry! Lord, we're sorry for having such deceitful hearts and such weak flesh. For being children of our own desires instead of being children of Your desires - children of religion rather than children of truth. Lord Jesus, please save us from ourselves and from institutions... Lord, corner our flesh - crucify our flesh, kill our own desires."

He turned back to the crowd. "Do you know that the rich young ruler would be accepted in any church today? But Jesus wouldn't accept him. Why? Because he had an idol in his life.

"Do you know who the Christian idols are? I happen to be one of them. So are Andre Crouch, Evie and B.J. Thomas [today substitute Matt Redman, Delirious, Stew West...] You can even idolize your pastors. They don't want to be idolized. They never asked for it. Remember that applause you gave me when I walked out? I didn't hear you applaud the Lord like that anytime today... We're more excited about a Second Chapter of Acts concert than we are about the Second Coming! SIN!"

This was tough stuff. I wondered what everyone was thinking about Keith's message. How did a bunch of people who thought they were Christians feel about having their salvation challenged? It seemed to me it needed a good challenge. And if the young fellow I'd been watchign was any indication, the Lord was doing good things. He had his arms wrapped around his legs, his head bowed on his knees...

Keith continued, 'The rich young ruler came to Jesus, and Jesus said, 'You still lack something. Go away. I can't take you right now.' Who today would say, 'I'm sorry, brother, I can;'t lead you in the sinner's prayer. You've gotta give up your dope, your selfishness, your love of posssessions, your clinginess to family and friends - and your life? Aren't you a little disappointed at how Jesus handled such a sinner? Didn't the Lord know how to lead a soul to Himself?

"The requirement for salvation is not just a prayer. The requirement is an open, totally empty heart that's ready to be full of Jesus Christ. After saying the sinner's prayer, if in a few months your friends can't tell that you're born again, if your relatives can't see a change in you, if your teacher can't see that you're a Christian, you're probably not!"

"Because let me tell you something, when someone's born again they get excited! It changes the way they live, what they do, how they speak, how they act, what they do with their money, their cars, their girlfriends - it's all different! Then how come it looks the same? How come Christians are trying to ride the line?

"I challenge anybody who calls himself a Christian, which means 'little Christ' to live as Jesus did. Or else sometime Somebody might say, 'I never knew you.' I'm gonna get on my knees every day and say, 'God, search my heart and see if there be any wicked way in me. I don't want to go astray. I want to be with You."

"You can't go to heaven by being a nice guy. You might end up to eb the nicest guy in hell!"

Finally, Keith gave a challenge to everyone in the audience - first to people who had never given their lives to Christ, and then to people who considered themselves Christians but had never given Jesus every hope, dream, posssession, every friend and loved one.

"If you're here tonight and you don't know Jesus it's because of two things. One, because of your sin. Two, because of the hypocrisy in the people around you, including me. If you don't know Jesus, you've got two choices - and I'm not going to say 'Heaven or hell.' I'm gonna say you can follow Jesus or you can hate Him. You can't sit on the fence. Those who are not with Him are against Him."

Then Keith asked people to bow their heads and he prayed, 'Lord we ask You for a miracle. There are no words I can say, no songs I can sing, to convict the sinner. Only Your wonderful Holy Spirit can do anything. Send Your Spirit... touching hearts to repent."

Keith turned to the crowd. "If you want Jesus Christ to completely take over your life, you're willing to die for Him, give Him every possession, every friend, every loved one, every plan, every hope, every dream. You're willing to give it all up if necessary. I'm not saying that's what He wants you to do, but you are willing. If you're willing to come before His throne empty-handed raise your hand. If you can't look Him in the eye and know you've been living a pleasing life before Him, get your hand up and make it right. Jesus Christ is not your Saviour unless He's the Lord of your life, and Lord means He owns and controls - lock, stock, and barrel - your destiny, your future, and your present. And He throws away your past as far as the east is from the west."

I looked at the young guy I'd been watching to see if his hand was up. Instead he was flat on his face along with many others! Other hands were up everywhere. Thousands of them. Not only that, weeping and loud crying broke out all across the open, grassy field. It was awesome. I could hear people sobbing and choking out prayers to God.

Then Keith asked everyone who was making Jesus Lord of their life for the first tiem to stand. To my shock, almost everyone in the crowd stood. Keith was so surprised he thought they must not have understood him. So he clarified it.

"This is not a rededication. This is the first time, the first time you've ever understood what making Jesus Lord really meant. Do you really mean it? Wow! How many people here realize that when they get home they have a lot of things to get rid of and a lot of things to change in their lives? A brother down front here says he has to remodel his whole bedroom. You've gotta remodel your whole heart, then the outside's gonna change!"

Then Keith called Winkie, Fae and me up on the stage, and we all led worship with Keith for about half an hour. That's the way the festival ended. Keith came down from the stage, raw and totally exhausted. He had delivered his soul. I was the first one to encourage him about how powerfully the Lord used him, but there were many others waiting to tell him the same thing. For Keith it was all overwhelming.

As we were driving back to our hotel we saw some people still out in the fields - praying."

If you can read this and then just bounce back into your life as it was, then I think you are in deep need of being shaken up by God... this really grips at my very soul and gives me a LOT to think about and I'm sure a lot of stuff to change. Like the most important thing in your life right now - for me that would have to be a person - are you willing to place that before God? Am I? I love that line about meeting God empty-handed because that is what we have to do...

Don't just bounce back into life as you know it... go before God... examine your heart... offer His Spirit unlimited access to EVERY space in your life... every thing...

Because let's fact it - everything else is pretty meaningless!