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