FAME IS NOT ALWAYS WHAT IT SEEMS
More and more people in Western society have a burning desire to become famous pop stars, rappers, models, or entertainers. Many of them have accomplished this celebrity status, and others are still working hard to get noticed and receive their big break at fame. Hollywood is known for its glamour, prestige, and the ability to make an everyday Joe become an overnight sensation. Fame seems to promise popularity, love, victory, and riches.
All too often, many allow success to change their perspectives, outlooks, and moral upbringing. Some have compromised by taking roles they never would have considered before their drive to succeed and remain at the top became their focus.
I see nothing wrong with wealth, popularity, and celebrity, but in the midst of pursuing fame, do not ever lose sight of who you are.
No new stars take to heart the public scrutiny and harsh judgments that come once they achieve popularity because most stars desire to be adored by their fans. This kind of mockery causes them to become faint of heart. Once gossip begins to hit the surface, their self-esteem and insecurities steadily go under. In order to please fans and increase their ratings, they become someone other than their true selves.
Similarly, when interviewed, many stars claim they had a religious upbringing. Some began by singing in church choirs. These past memories often trigger gratitude and appreciation for fame or regrets and remorse because of the significant changes in their lifestyles and behavior.
How far is one willing to go to accomplish success? If given the opportunity, how many would compromise their faith in God in order to obtain instant fulfillment?
Before you answer this question, I would like to share with you an experience that shaped, molded, and completely changed my life. The message presented was not only for the recipients, but it is also for myself and those reading this book.
I was sixteen years old and had recently started a new job at McDonald’s. “Can I please take your order?” I asked one particular day, patiently waiting for the customers to respond. They finally decided on their order and began to focus their attention on me. They asked my name and age. As we began to talk, we found we were neighbors. They asked for my number so we could hang out sometime. Normally I’d be hesitant about giving a group of guys I did not know my phone number, but because they were polite, I made an exception. I now realize our encounter was not a coincidence. It was God ordained.
To my surprise, they called later the same day. All four were on the phone together at the same time. They were flirtatious and asked if I had any female friends. In particular, there was one guy who stood out among them. His name was Mike. He was tall and handsome, and I distinctively remember him having either hazel or green eyes. I just know his eyes were beautiful, and his smile could brighten the whole room. He was interested in me but was intimidated by my presence. He thought I was different from most girls he met because of my faith in God and spiritual convictions.
As we got to know one another, the guys would always joke around and call me “church girl.” I never took offense to it. I knew they enjoyed my company and were only playing. After conversing with me and visiting my home a few times, Mike’s cousin spoke on his behalf. He said, “Mike, really does like you, but he is afraid you may not be interested. He wants to know your feelings for him.” I did not respond. I did like him, but I knew our relationship was not to go beyond friendship. His cousin told me there was a generational curse in Mike’s family. Every male seemed to die at a young age. Mike’s father, as well as some uncles, had their lives cut short. I do not know why he felt led to share this information with me.
One evening they invited me to come and watch movies at their home. We watched a movie that was full of crime, rebellion, and revenge. In the end, the main character was shot in the head and died a tragic death. I sat on the couch beside Mike and asked, “Do you fear death?” Mike, who was from Brooklyn, said dying was a part of everyday life back home. He had witnessed family and friends pass. “It hurts, but it’s something you have to learn to deal with. If I die, I just die. But I do know that I’m not ready to become a Christian. I’m still young. I have plenty of time for all that later.”
Mike’s cousins cut in and said, “You’re only young once. Have fun while you can and save the Christianity for when you’re older.” Then Mike added, “My mom is a Christian. I was brought up in a Christian family, but I do not feel salvation is an integral factor in my life presently. Right now I have a chance to really make it in rapping.”
Mike was talented. He was an excellent poet and had the gift of making his poetry into rhythmic songs. His cousins were also a part of his pop group. Mike was seventeen years old and had received a scholarship to attend a performing-arts school for music. He was in his prime and had a hopeful career ahead of him. The last words I spoke to them that day were “Your next day is not promised!”
The following week, I did some volunteer work at my aunt’s business. She is the owner of a commercial art studio. While typing a document at the desk, I heard a customer come in. My back was toward her. She showed my aunt an obituary of her friend’s seventeen-year-old son who had recently died in a car accident. She began to share how devastated his mother was because he was her only child.
After hearing this sullen news, I suddenly stopped typing and asked to see the obituary. I stood speechless as I looked at the young man on the cover of the program. It was Mike! Full of shock and total disbelief, I recalled recently speaking with him. I could not believe it was actually him. I felt as if I were dreaming. My heart ached for him. Secretly I thought of calling him, just to see if he would answer the phone because it had not totally registered in my mind that he was dead.
A couple of days later, his cousin called. He spoke of the accident and told me they had been on their way home from the mall.
It was raining hard that day, and one of his other cousins was driving fast. He lost control of the car and crashed into one of the walls on the expressway. Everyone had a seat belt on except Mike. He received severe head injuries as he was thrust through the car window.
“I don’t know, Acacia. I can’t explain it. It’s like he knew he was going to die. After you spoke to us that night, he started to act differently. He told each one of us what he liked most about us. He also said that he would like to make music that would glorify God. Acacia, I will never forget that conversation!”
His cousin told me that Mike was not dead at the scene of the accident. He was able to say goodbye to all his family and friends before taking his last breath. He told them he loved them and not to worry about him. He would be fine. Wow! I thank God that his cousin called me because after hearing his story, I had peace of mind knowing that Mike had made peace with God. God loved him so much that He warned him and gave him the grace to make peace with Him before passing away.
Mike’s death brought me closer to God. Our relationship is growing stronger each day. Mike’s story is a reminder and testimony to all that life is precious, and one does not have forever to get their spiritual life in order. If you have an ear, don’t say you’ll get saved when you’re older. People die young every day. My advice is to develop a relationship with Jesus while you’re young. Your next day is not promised! Don’t leave this Earth without knowing Him!
WHY? (A Poem)
In memory of Mike
Sometimes I sit and wonder why
Why, my dear friend had to die?
No hope for tomorrow, no fate it seems
All his dreams went unachieved
Dreams of celebrity, riches, and fame
A world of opportunities waiting unclaimed
These dreams were finished, cut off, destroyed
They came to an end on July the Fourth
Don’t die misled, not knowing the truth
In the depths of the earth, in an ill black hole
There’s a callous creature destroying the lives of souls
Take my word, life is grand
You never know when you’ll die
It’s part of the plan
Become a Christian, be faithful, stand strong
Once you leave this earth
There’s no coming home.
Selah: “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave”(Revelations 1:17-18).
Words of the Wise: “Live every day as if it were your last, because one of these days, it will be.”
MOST POWERFUL EMAIL I EVER RECEIVED (A Poem)
I had on new clothes
New sneakers on my feet.
I was there for class on time
Went to the back and took my seat.
Yeah, I’m moving up
I’m already grown.
Soon I’ll be graduating
And out on my own.
I talked to some of my friends
We were all having fun.
Said some things I shouldn’t have said.
Did stuff I shouldn’t have done.
I knew I was different
I felt God touch my heart.
I knew I should set a standard
But then I’d be set apart.
Walking to the bus, I was not looking for strength.
I heard the car tires screeching,
But now it’s too late.
I’m standing in this room,
And I can see the heavenly gate.
Oh no! I never prayed,
I thought I had time to get it straight!
An angel walked up to me
He had a book in his hand.
I knew it was the Book of Life,
When would this dream end?
I told him my name,
And he began to look.
Then he looked at me sadly and said,
Your name is not in this book.
Angel, this is a dream,
No, I can’t be dead!
He closed the book and turned away,
He whispered – You cannot
No…no this can’t be real.
Angel, you can’t turn me away.
Let me talk to God,
Maybe He’ll let me stay.
He led me to the gate,
And Jesus came to me.
He did not let me in but said,
Beloved what is your need?
Jesus, I cried, please,
Don’t cast me away from you.
Tears ran down his face as he said,
You knew what you needed to do.
Lord, please I’m young
I never thought I would die.
I thought I’d have plenty of time
Death caught me by surprise.
Lord, I went to church
Please, Jesus, I believe.
He said you would not accept me,
My love you would not receive.
Lord, there were too many
hypocrites. They weren’t being true.
He took a step back and asked,
What does that have to do with you?
Lord, my family claimed to be saved
They weren’t real. You know.
He said, I died for you
Now I have to go.
I fell to my knees crying to Him
Lord, I planned to be real tomorrow.
I couldn’t make Him understand
I had never felt such sorrow.
Then it hit me hard, I asked,
Lord, where will I go?
He looked into my eyes
and said, My child you already know.
Please Jesus, I begged
The place is so hot.
It seemed to trouble and grieve him,
He whispered, DEPART FROM ME,
I KNOW YOU NOT.
Lord, you’re supposed to be love
How can you send me to damnation?
He replied — With your mouth you said you loved me,
But each day you rejected my salvation.
With that in an instant,
Day turned into night.
I never knew such torture could be, Now too late,
I know the Bible is right.
If I can tell you anything
Hell has no age.
It is a place of torture
Separated from God and full of rage.
You know, I thought it was funny, a joke
But this one thing is true.
If you never accept Jesus Christ,
HELL IS WAITING FOR YOU!
So please, ask Him into your heart.
(Circulated via email, we thought the message of this poem was powerful and went well with the theme of this chapter.)
FAME IS NOT ALWAYS WHAT IT SEEMS
FAME IS NOT ALWAYS WHAT IT SEEMS (A Poem)
Hollywood portrays a false world people want to live in.
They will forget about morals and sell their souls to get in
They want to be stars that shine high in the sky,
but too often they come down crashing with no wings to fly.
John had hopes and dreams of being on the big screen.
He wanted to be recognized as THE man on the scene.
He sacrificed daily and put in his work,
he kept on trying, even when the rejection hurt.
His big break finally came at the age of twenty-six,
now he saw himself being in the popular mix.
He had to play a role that would compromise his faith.
But, that was his big break so he took the part anyway.
The movie was a box office smash,
and he walked away with a smile and a brand new style.
The old John left and someone else took his place.
He had a different character and attitude but the same face.
He shook hands with pride and stepped on humility
The pride grew when people raved about his acting ability.
He was invited to a party with all the big names.
It was one of the perks that came with his newfound fame.
He mingled, drank and danced.
He smiled, laughed and romanced.
At the party he tried drugs for the first time
He said to himself, “I can handle it; everything is fine”
John is now thirty-six and a whole lot has changed
He once had cars, money, houses and great fame
But John has a demon he met ten years ago
He said he can handle it, but now he can’t let it go.
Selah: “And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:26)
Words of the Wise: “If you come to fame not understanding who you are, it will define who you are.” -Oprah Winfrey
IS SUCCESS A CURSE IN YOUR LIFE? (A Poem)
Success is a blessing or success is a curse;
it can lift a man up or bring him down to the dirt.
If you know the truth but compromise, inside you’ll feel worse,
you feel yourself dying inside, yet you can’t let go of the hurt.
Success is GOD sent or it’s a trap from hell.
If you know the truth and compromise, you can no longer rest well.
Success can bring you closer to GOD
or make you forget that GOD exists.
Success can bring you into the holy of holies
or his glory you might miss.
Success is a blessing or success is a curse,
in everything we do we must put GOD first.
I know I come up short; am I ready for success?
If GOD opens up all the doors in my life,
will I make a big mess?
Success is given and success is taken.
If the world loses all their gifts and talents, then will they awaken?
Money comes and money goes; he’s born today,
and tomorrow he’s put in a hole.
The question they ask is how did he live?
He was a success, and his time and money he did give.
In the back of their minds they wonder where he went,
“Did he get it right with God and finally repent?”
A friend spoke to him about JESUS just before he died,
he said maybe one day I’ll give him a try.
That one day never came and now it’s too late.
Please meditate on these words
and don’t make the same mistake.
Selah:“And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews9:27).
Words of the Wise: “The question is not whether we will die, but how we will live.” -Joan Boryseko
ONE MILLION RECORDS SOLD
ONE MILLION RECORDS SOLD (A Poem)
The room is filled with alcohol and drugs.
They greet one another with handshakes and hugs.
The music in the air puts them in a trance,
as they move about on the floor trying out the new dance.
The music justifies their anger and drives their gnawing pain.
They shout out the lyrics and sing the chorus over and over again.
They drink until they are full and some pass out.
They smoke until their lungs are full and then they breathe out.
The lyrics dig deeper inside, as they sing the devil’s tune.
They nod their heads in agreement,
as the music travels through the room.
The songs are stuck in their heads the next day.
They insert their favorite CD’s and then hit play.
The devil’s work is done — one million records sold,
the artists give thanks to JESUS,
not realizing they have sold their souls.
Some want to change, but they are stuck in a contract;
it’s time to make money, no time to look back.
Back in the studio to record another classic;
it’s prepared and shipped to hit the masses.
The world dances to the devils songs all day and night;
while the devil tries to take the world out with all his might.
Selah: “Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy” (Ephesians 4:21-24).
Words of the Wise: “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” -Frank Outlaw
FORGIVEN (A Poem)
He felt rejected as he was growing up,
and he felt the same as a grown up.
His parents told him JESUS loves him, but that was never enough,
so he got into music to ease the pain –
to turn the rain to sunshine so he could smile again.
He wasn’t the best musician,
but he worked very hard to make music that would travel across the land.
The devil whispered in his ear, and then he let down his guard.
The devil said come worship me and take me by the hand.
I will give you everything your heart desires;
your musical ability will get better and soar higher and higher.
He said yes to the devil and vowed to follow him.
He hooked up with the occult and started to serve him.
When he picked up his instrument,
his friends were amazed at how much he had progressed in only a couple of days.
His chords and riffs caught everybody’s attention,
as they sat there gazing, eagerly listening.
He put together a demo and shopped it around.
Word got around town fast about the brand new sound.
He was signed to a major record label with big hopes and dreams,
but everything that looks good is not always as it seems.
He continued to serve the devil in all his ways each and every day;
before he went to bed at night to the devil he would pray.
Fame and fortune came, but he sank into depression.
He once had a nice spirit then came a spirit of aggression.
For added encouragement, her brother, Aaron Slaton, has written many poems that relate to a specific Scripture referenced at the end of the chapters. A few of my favorites are: ‘Stand’ on page 77, ‘Keep Hope Alive’ on page 90, ‘One Word’ on page 160, and ‘Power in the Tongue’ on page 167. They speak volumes to my heart.
I found Acacia’s writings to be very helpful in my own life. All the ‘dog-ears’ are proof! She’s open, transparent and frank about the subjects she speaks on. She admits the pitfalls as well as giving praise to the Lord who can get you back in line with His desire for your life. She writes to bring enlightenment to those who are seeking direction and guidance in their lives, and relies heavily on the Word of God in her messages, as His Word is truth for our lives.
I disagree with her stand on alternative methods to control sexual diseases, surprise pregnancies, etc., because to me it lowers people to the level of animals who cannot choose right from wrong. She acknowledges that not everyone will agree with her method, but I needed to bring this aspect up for clarification on how I reviewed the book. But let it be known, Acacia is a strong advocate for abstinence!
Special thanks to Acacia Slaton Beumer for sending me a copy of her book through the FIRST Wild Card Tour to review her book. No monetary compensation was exchanged for my review.