Monthly Archives: May 2012

Celebrity, Virginity & Celibacy

DAILY DOSE OF HOPE – BLOG – NAIMA LETT
CELEBRITY, VIRGINITY & CELIBACY



© photo source

Lolo, Tebow, Megan… sports stars and celebrities waiting for their wedding night to get busy are coming out the woodwork.

Lolo Jones, 29 year old Olympian, National Champion hurdler and Christian, told HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel (video) last week that her virginity is a gift she wants to give to her husband. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Jones asserts. “Harder than training for the Olympics. Harder than graduating from college, has been staying a virgin before marriage.”

As soon as the news hit, New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow, 24, reportedly began receiving Lolo chants from fellow teammates at practice. Last week’s news cycle was all aflutter with teammates wanting to play matchmaker. Tebow revealed in an interview a couple of years ago that he’s also waiting for marriage based on his Christian faith.

To top the week off, actress Megan Good, 30, an all around lovely sister who loves the Lord, revealed in an interview published last week, that she and her fiance have decided to remain celibate until after their soon-to-be wedding because of their commitment to the Lord. Beautiful couple.

Whew! Busy week! I don’t think I’ve heard this much news about celebrities waiting to have sex since Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon.

But I’m actually glad their stories have made the news, especially because of all the conversations unfolding. People weighing in on why they’re waiting, why they’re not, and issues of faith. I’m always excited when conversations of culture and faith blow up nationally. This very blog is an amalgamation of that exact concept.

And on a personal level, I applaud anyone who makes the commitment to wait based on faith. It ain’t easy. Kevin and I made a decision early in our dating to wait for our wedding night as well. And I agree with Lolo, it’s one of the hardest things we’ve ever done. Once your heart is knit, and soul connected, the body naturally follows. From engagement to wedding, we had about 8 1/2 months, and we had to really strategize, like summit-level planning, to make our decision a reality.

Some may wonder, what’s the big deal?
What about our faith are we honoring?
Paul sheds some insight in his letter to the Corinthians.
I like the way The Message interprets:

1 CORINTHIANS 6: 16-20
The Message
16-20 There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.

Easier said than done, but definitely do-able.

This just scratches the surface, I know. But I’m literally running out the door. Coaching actors this morning. We’ll have plenty of time to dive into relevancy and theology in the coming months. Right now, I plan to preach a series called Sex and the Summer at our bible fellowship in July. If you’re in the LaLa, bring it. We’re breaking open the Word and diving in.

Looking forward,
Naima

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Even Dogs Pray?

DAILY DOSE OF HOPE – BLOG – NAIMA LETT
EVEN DOGS PRAY?



©photo source

I came across this image online and stopped:

All I could think is, “If man’s best friend can turn his face toward heaven, certainly we can!”

What’s on your hearts, Fam?
It’s middle of the week. Made it through another month. What do we need to lift up before our heavenly Father who loves us?

Paul encouraged his readers to replace worry with prayer. We can do the same!

PHILIPPIANS 4:6-7

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

And Paul wrote this letter imprisoned. Just before he says, “Don’t worry”, he says, “Rejoice”. Almost makes me want to ask, “What type of prison service did Rome have?”

But that’s not it at all. Paul does not allow his circumstances to dictate his responses. Even imprisoned, he says to others, “Hey, don’t worry. Pray. And God’s peace will keep you.”

Be encouraged, Fam.
Let’s worry less. Pray more.
It’s a choice.

Let’s follow Lassie, Toto and Scooby-Doo, if need be, or our wonderfully committed canine friend above (blogger Jeter did not include his name).

What’s on your heart?
Let’s lift it up,
Naima

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Hollywood’s A Different World

DAILY DOSE OF HOPE – BLOG – NAIMA LETT
HOLLYWOOD’S A DIFFERENT WORLD


A Different World ©NBC, Carsey-Werner Productions

A DIFFERENT WORLD

I know my parents love me
Stand behind me come what may
I know now that I’m ready
‘Cause I’ve finally heard them say,
It’s a different world…(oooh) from where you come from… (yes it is now!)

Thus begins the stirring opening theme (sang by Phoebe Snow in Season 1 and the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin thereafter) of the award-winning NBC sitcom, “A Different World”, which aired 142 episodes over 6 successful seasons. The series was originally created by Bill Cosby as a spin-off of The Cosby Show starring Denise Huxtable (aka Lisa Bonet) going to a prestigious historically black college. That was 25 years ago. Can you believe it? The first episode aired Sept 24, 1987.

For our younger readers (shout out to 2012 high school graduating fam like Bryanna) who may have caught the series in syndication on Nick at Nite, the episodes were groundbreaking in dealing with issues like equality, race relations, HIV/AIDS, relationships, etc. It launched Jasmine Guy, Kadeem Hardison, Marisa Tomei and Jada Pinkett Smith and was a Who’s Who of guest stars: Whoopi Goldberg, Halle Berry, Diahann Carroll, Patti Labelle, Billy Dee Williams. Powerhouse Debbie Allen, fellow alum of Howard University (HU!) produced and directed.

By all standards, A Different World was… different.
Especially in Hollywood.

With all the colorful people and storylines, the show aired after the #1 Show on TV, The Cosby Show, and it consistently ranked between #2 – 4 in the ratings with 20 million viewers over its first 4 years on the air. Thus, it proved that people of all colors watch TV shows with good storylines and diverse casts.

Hollywood rapidly accepted the trend, because only one color really matters in our industry frankly, and that’s green.

HOLLYWOOD’S A DIFFERENT WORLD

I’m convinced that more people would “get” Hollywood if they started from the premise that first and foremost, Hollywood is an industry (like all other capitalist industries) that exists to make profit. The bottom line is the bottom line.

Hollywood churns out what makes profit.

If Keeping Up with the Kardashians did not make Executive Producer Ryan Seacrest and the E! Network millions of dollars in advertising based on an average of 3 million viewers weekly, then E! Network would not have awarded the Kardashians 3 spin-off series plus the richest contract in reality TV history: 3 more seasons of Keeping Up for $40 million (up to 9 seasons). Somebody is watching the show. 3 million somebodies are watching the show. Weekly.

Hollywood does not keep spending money where it does not make money. No business does.
And it rarely takes risks and spends money on talent that has not yet made money.

If artists who move to LA would get this, I think it would revolutionize the way that we work.

The truth is that people want to hire successful people.
So, how can you, the artist, prove that you have been successful?
Do you have a resume where you’ve landed 5 equity plays or several costar or guest star roles? Do you have an outstanding web series with millions of viewers? Do you have a YouTube or Vimeo video that garnered millions of viewers?

Hollywood wants to know: how have you been successful? Show us how you’ve been successful. Then, we’ll use your success to help our success.

It really is that simple.

Will Smith’s Men in Black 3 made $70 million domestically in 4 days and over $133 million worldwide, topping the box office this weekend and finally dethroning Marvel’s The Avengers. This is Will Smith’s 13th blockbuster film that has made over $100 million in the box office. Does anybody understand why Smith can ask for a reported $20 million salary + 20% of backend? Because his star power is making the studios billions.

Hollywood wants to do what? Make profit.

CHRIST’S DIFFERENT WORLD

Now, what we try to explain through Hollywood Christian Ministries is that for artists of faith, we work in Hollywood, but we don’t operate solely based on Hollywood’s standard that profit is king. Same goes for followers of Christ who work in other industries where profit is the king. We have a king who ultimately owns everything, so we have a different perspective.

We do need to be excellent in business and in our artistry and phenomenal stewards of the resources that have been entrusted to us, but at the end of the day, we don’t make decisions solely based on profitability.

We love God. We love people.
We make decisions based on what’s best for others.

When asked about the greatest commandment i.e. the most important thing, Jesus responds to the religious leaders in the following way:

MATTHEW 22:35-40

35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

If we follow Christ, we love and honor God first, then we love others as we love ourselves.

That means that we don’t approach people thinking, “What can he do for me? How can she advance my career?”
We do the opposite. We think, “What does she need? How can I make his life better? How can I make her job easier? Where can I add value? How can I help?”

I know. I know. That’s different.
But we’re different, aren’t we?

Now that doesn’t mean we start acting weird. I’ve had enough of the weird, Fam. LaLa is strange enough without adding Christian strange on top of it. Just saying.

We are “different”. We love God and love people. That’s different enough in any industry driven mostly to make money. We’re the people who are caring for the needs of others.

Isn’t your world different? Are you not, different?

Hey, it’s a different world… (oooh) from where you come from… (yes it is now!)

‘Bout to get my Phoebe Snow/Aretha Franklin on,
Naima

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An Actor’s Take on Playing A Soldier

DAILY DOSE OF HOPE – BLOG – NAIMA LETT
AN ACTOR’S TAKE ON PLAYING A SOLDIER


As Anita Addison in ‘Wire in the Blood’ ©NaimaLett.com, all rights reserved

I originally entitled this blog, “Happy Memorial Day!”

But then I thought about it and wondered, “Is happy the right word to describe the day that we honor our soldiers who sacrificed their lives fighting for our country?”

Happy doesn’t seem weighty enough, does it?

“Thank you,” seems more appropriate, I think.

THANK YOU

Today we thank all the men and women who have given their lives so that we can live ours.

When talking to His disciples about love and abiding, Jesus said this:

JOHN 15:13
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Many of our servicemen and women have laid down their lives for more than their friends. So, we honor you today. We remember you today.

AN ACTOR’S TAKE

I gained a whole new respect for our men and women in uniform when I filmed an episode of the television series “Wire in the Blood” called ‘Prayer of the Bone’ a few years ago (on DVD now).

As attorney Anita Addison, I represented an Iraq War veteran who was suffering from PTSD. I learned so much about our soldiers and the effects of war.

I filmed for a month, had stunts & weapon training (pictured above), and sweated through a few 100 degree days in suits and sweaters. But I had nothing on the actors who played the soldiers. They had to shoot a war sequence that placed them ‘in Iraq’.

My friends were fully geared in army fatigues in 100 degrees, no shade, desert conditions. It was brutal on them and the crew. Even though Gatorade flowed like water, one of our leads became dehydrated. Another producer had to be rushed to the hospital. Thank God everybody turned out alright.

But what really brought it home for me was in a conversation I had with one of my friends on set when he returned from the desert day shoot.

“How did you make it, man?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I just kept thinking, our real soldiers are over in Iraq right now in conditions just like this or worse, and their very lives are on the line. I better not complain. At the end of our day, we take off the costumes and go home. Many of them aren’t coming home. So the least I can do is represent them well.”

Put things in a whole new perspective for me, for us.

We were doing our part to bring to life stories that would help shed light on what some soldiers endure, but we were still on safe soil. Many of them were not.

SO VERY GRATEFUL

So, to all of our soldiers who have put your lives in harms way to keep us safe, “Thank you.”

And to all the families who have lost loved ones, you are in our prayers.

I especially dedicate this blog to my oldest brother and younger cousin, who are currently serving. We love you, we are proud of you, and we are bombarding heaven for you and your entire unit every day until we see you again. Thank you for protecting us.

So very grateful,
Naima

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Choosing Love

DAILY DOSE OF HOPE – BLOG – NAIMA LETT
CHOOSING LOVE (Anniversary)



©NaimaLett.com Geno Loro Jr, Photographer

“I heard you wanted to meet me.”

That’s how we met.

We were freshmen at Howard University. Kevin’s roommate had invited me to the Mr. Band contest in the Fine Arts building and told me Kevin wanted to meet me. So, I walked up to Kevin and stated the obvious.

True story.

I tell the extended version in Confessions of a Hollywood Christian (It’s coming!), but you get the picture. We’ve known each other for a long time.

And 11 years ago, Memorial Day weekend, we said “I do.”
That’s when the adventures really started jumping off.

“Love is a choice,” our premarital counseling workbook said.

At the time, I was so young and in love that it could’ve said, “Love is cotton candy,” and I probably would’ve agreed. But after going ‘over the river and through the woods’ of life together, I now can say that I understand that statement and agree, “Love is a choice, not just a feeling.”

What do I mean?
Kevin and I choose to love each other.
We choose to sacrifice for one another.
We choose to do life together in marriage.
We choose to be faithful. It’s a choice.
We choose to trust, not lie or keep dark secrets. I personally can’t live like that. Open Book.

We choose to accept each other for who we are. Why try to change each other now?
We choose to care for each other when we’re sick, hospitalized, beat up from accidents, surgeries, you name it. It’s not always easy, but it’s a choice.
We choose to love when we have money and when we don’t.

We choose to like each other and work through our differences as quickly as we can.
We choose to forgive when we hurt each other. It’s a choice.
We choose to support each other, sometimes even when we don’t necessarily understand.
We choose to adapt with each other as we grow older and hopefully wiser.

We are not perfect. Our lives are not perfect. But each day, we choose to do another day together. It really is that simple.

I think the hard times we continually survive have helped us see life differently. You know? Life is not promised. God gave us more time together post-cancer. So we opt to maximize our time, live life fully and do it together.

We have seen the very best of each other and the absolute worst.
You know our story. If you don’t, see the I’ll Trust You blog/video.

The point is, when it’s all said and done, we make a choice.
We choose to love.

When Paul talks about marriage, He draws an analogy to how Christ loves the church.

EPHESIANS 5:21-33
The Message
21 Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another. 22-24 Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands. 25-28 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage. 29-33 No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.

MYSTERY

Paul says it’s all a huge mystery.
Ain’t that the truth?!

But what’s clear is that Christ loves the church so much that He gave His life for us. That’s the picture of how a husband is to love his wife and a wife is to honor her husband. It’s a mutual giving of one another for each other.

We don’t always hit the mark, but we try.
And we do choose to love each other. That’s for sure.

And if I had to do it all over again, I’d put on my gown, tiara and train and walk down that aisle, again. We can probably still fit the same dress and tux, but I’m sure we look a little older. We have a little more life on us. My arms are probably not as chiseled as they were when I was working out every day. His hair seems curlier though. How does hair get curlier as we get older? Who knows?!

He can still pick me up off the ground when he hugs and lifts. I still feel safe in his arms. We still find reasons to laugh. Well, he laughs at me. I don’t know how I feel about that. Just kidding. We laugh at and with each other a lot. We just don’t take things too seriously around here. We do work hard, but we hang too. We enjoy this life. We have life and that abundantly.

Good times, bad, exciting, mundane… we choose to love.

How about you?
You choose to love somebody today?

Happy Memorial Day Weekend,
Naima

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Fire, Drinks & Birthdays

DAILY DOSE OF HOPE – BLOG – NAIMA LETT
FIRE, DRINKS & BIRTHDAYS


photo source

Fire, drinks and birthdays!
Sounds like some kind of party, right?!
Would you believe the folks accused of being drunken fools are Christians?

I’m not making this up.
Roll with me.

This Sunday marks Pentecost and the Birthday of the Church.
Happy Happy!

She’s still looking spry, after almost 2,000 years.
Here in Bev Hills, we might wonder, “Has she had work done?” i.e. a little nip & tuck?
Or maybe it’s those fire treatments and purifications!
I hear those knock a few years off.

FIRE

God has a thing with fire. Ever notice?

Yesterday, in So Good, we saw God pouring fire from heaven after Solomon’s prayer and dedication of the temple. It wasn’t the first time. God used a pillar of fire to guide His children in the wilderness. He originally revealed Himself to Moses within a burning bush that wouldn’t burn up. He consumed Mount Sinai with fire when He spoke to His people. Fire. Fire. Fire.

So, when God chooses fire as a means to start His church, we shouldn’t be surprised, right?!

NO COINCIDENCE

And, the timing is NOOOOO coincidence.

Pentecost means 50th day. So 50 days after the resurrection of Christ, and 10 days after His ascension into heaven, God sends His Holy Spirit upon His disciples, and the church is born.

Traditionally, during the Old Testament, God’s people came from all over to celebrate Pentecost, a festival that originally marked the day God gave His people the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, which is – you guessed it – 50 days after their Exodus from Egypt. It was called the Festival of Weeks or Shavuot.

That’s why there are so many of God’s followers in Jerusalem that particular Pentecost that the church is born. They had come from all over the world to celebrate the Festival of Weeks.

God, in His sovereignty, aligned two of the most important days in the life of His people:
– the day He gave His law, and
– the day He sent His Spirit.

No coincidence, indeed.

NO ORDINARY EVENT

Nothing about that Pentecost birthday was ordinary.

ACTS 2 (The Message)
ENTIRE CHAPTER
Excerpt
1-4 When the Feast of Pentecost came, they (the disciples) were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them. 5-11There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn’t for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, “Aren’t these all Galileans? How come we’re hearing them talk in our various mother tongues? Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; Visitors from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene; Immigrants from Rome, both Jews and proselytes; Even Cretans and Arabs! “They’re speaking our languages, describing God’s mighty works!” 12Their heads were spinning; they couldn’t make head or tail of any of it. They talked back and forth, confused: “What’s going on here?” 13Others joked, “They’re drunk on cheap wine.” 14-21That’s when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency: “Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight. These people aren’t drunk as some of you suspect. They haven’t had time to get drunk—it’s only nine o’clock in the morning.


DRUNKEN TOMFOOLERY

I love this. The Holy Spirit descends like fire and the disciples and women from the upper room start describing God’s mighty works in the native languages of all these pilgrims that have come to Jerusalem for the Festival of Weeks. The scriptures say that the pilgrims are thunderstruck, in awe. The only explanation they can come up with is that the disciples are lushes! Drunk off cheap wine!

Peter and his crew must not have looked like the kind of folks that would have access to a $100,000 bottle of Chateau Yquem. It’s assumed they’re knocking back the equivalent of Boone’s Farm from 7-Eleven… not that I’m an expert or anything. :=) We’ve all had vices. Mine didn’t happen to be alcohol/drugs.

The point is nobody had an explanation for why roughneck, sailor-type Jewish Galileans would be able to speak in the mother tongues of Jews and non-Jews from Egypt, Libya, Asia, etc.

PICTURE THIS

This would be like your family is from New Orleans. Your ethnic background is a concoction of French, African, Native American, Spanish, Italian and Greek descent. You trace your roots and find family members from all over the world and invite them to a family reunion which coincides with our nation’s biggest holiday, the 4th of July. People arrive by plane, train, car. You all go downtown to see fireworks.

When you arrive, you hear a sound like a whirlwind that looks like little flames from heaven that fill a building downtown. Then, Jewish men and women tumble out the building and start speaking French, Spanish, Italian, Greek, maybe Zulu, and a variation of Choctaw. Your family members from all over the world stand in awe. How in the world could these people know the language of the Choctaw tribe?

Or let’s bring it home.
Imagine you are one of the disciples. You’re caught up in the wind of the Spirit, something that feels like a tongue of fire rests on you and then you start speaking languages you have never spoken: Japanese, Russian, Swahili. You walk down the street and people who understand what you are saying start coming around you and dialoguing with you. Before today, you have never spoken Japanese. Now you are carrying on a full conversation and telling folks about the goodness of God.

That’s what happened in Jerusalem.
God knew how to get people’s attention.
He made something happen that they considered impossible.
Impossible!

3,000 SOULS IN 1 DAY

Then Peter preaches the first church sermon and gives an explanation of what has happened. He breaks down the prophesies from the Old Testament, which God’s people at the Festival would’ve been familiar with, and connects the dots.

The people respond and want to know what to do next.

Peter says, “Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away—whomever, in fact, our God invites.”

The scripture says that 3,000 souls believe Peter at his word and are baptized that day. Talk about a pool party! Talk about the birth of a movement. 3,000!

In today’s numbers, that would be an instant megachurch. I believe the number today is 2,000 in weekly worship to qualify as a megachurch.

An interesting study by Hartford Institute reports that there are about 1,200 Protestant megachurches in America, which represents 3/10 of 1% of all congregations. The study shows that “megachurches are in 45 out of 50 states. The states with the most megachurches are Texas with 174 (14%), California with 169 (13.7%), Florida with 83 (6.7%) and Georgia with 64 (5.2%). Houston and Dallas alone account for 56 megachurches or 4.5% of the total.”

Where my Texas fam?! Houston and the Big D are representing.

Anyway, the first day the church exists, 3,000 souls believe. That’s pretty phenomenal.

WHAT NOW?

I think we can learn a lot from that beautiful birthday of the church and what happened thereafter.

First of all, the church is birthed out of a promise from the Lord. Jesus tells His disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit. He promises that God will send His Spirit and the disciples will be His witnesses throughout the earth. (Acts 1:1-8) So, they wait. We would do well to wait on the Lord and move forward based on His promises. His Word is paramount.

Secondly, the church is birthed out of the prayers of both men and women. Acts 1:13-14 recounts how the disciples and the women who follow Jesus, plus Mary, Jesus’ mother and His brothers all go to the upper room in Jerusalem and dedicate themselves continually to prayer. They pray until the promise of the Holy Spirit is fulfilled. Do we pray like this, Fam? Do we believe God’s Word and pray until it is fulfilled?

Finally, the church commits itself to God’s teaching, doing life together, eating together and praying together (Acts 2:41-47). The apostles perform signs and miracles. Believers live in wonderful harmony, with all things in common. People pool their resources to meet each person’s needs. They daily worship together followed by celebratory meals that are exuberant and joyful. They continually praise God. And each day, their numbers grow.

Why? Because people want to be a part of a community that looks like this: joyous, loving, exuberant, fellowship, needs are met.

Do our churches look like this?
Do we, as believers, look like this?
Are we doing life together? Or just showing up on Sunday morning?
When we’re invited to fellowship, do we accept the invitation or would we rather rough it alone?

Do we give as much as we take?
Do we pour into other’s lives or just expect to be poured into?
Do we use our spiritual gifts or bury them?
Do we meet needs?

Are we praying?
Are we living out God’s promises?
Are we asking the Holy Spirit to lead us?

Are we having a good time?
Look, people thought the disciples were drunk! Smashed on cheap wine!
Does that sound like they weren’t having a good time?!

What does our church look like, 21st century?
Does she need a little nip and tuck? Or a whole makeover?

Things to ponder on this 1979th birthday!
Let’s celebrate this weekend.
Happy Happy,
Naima

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So Good

DAILY DOSE OF HOPE – BLOG – NAIMA LETT
SO GOOD!


© William Matthews “So Good To Me”

I woke up early this morning still reeling from the fiasco that led to yesterday’s blog, Rejection, Howard Stern & 7 Year Old. Rejection isn’t easy for adults, much less a child.

It’s great, as artists, that we are sensitive enough to feel each other’s pain, empathize with others and sound the alarms when stuff ain’t right. Great! But we also have to pull it together and make a decision to not stay in a place of grief and devastation.

That’s where I was this morning. Had to get. it. together.

Got a lot going on today:
* Being interviewed for an article in the local papers
* Find new scenes for actors I’m coaching
* Follow up with several ministry donors
* Follow up with DVD duplication
* Buried in D.MIN assignments due 1st week of June
* Prep for Sunday’s sermon
* List goes on and on…

My daily devotional time helped me to refocus and channel some of the volcanic emotions I was experiencing.

I really like using The Daily Bible because its in chronological order, and I can get through the entire Bible each year. Right now, I’m a couple of days off from traveling over the weekend, but I’m playing catch up and we’re in the section where Solomon dedicates the new temple. Good stuff.

2 CHRONICLES 7: 1-10
Excerpt
When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. 2 The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. 3 When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.”

I wish we could see this in 3D!
Talk about a spectacle!
Picture it:

Solomon calls the people of God to dedicate this magnificent gold-covered temple for the Lord. Solomon prays and asks the Lord to hear their prayers. Then fire comes from heaven and consumes their offerings and sacrifices. God’s glory fills the temple so much so that the priests can’t even enter. At that point, all the people fall on their faces to the ground and worship. They declare how good God is and that His love endures forever.

Something about seeing fire fall from heaven would probably lead us to fall on our faces as well and worship. And honestly, the fact that we’re not consumed by the fire, would certainly encourage me to declare that God is good! Just saying!

But seriously, this reminded me of the William Matthews’ song “SO GOOD TO ME” from the Hope’s Anthem album.

The truth is God is so good to me, so good to us. Certainly we can take a second and declare that He is good.

Love this song. And I hope that it encourages you today as much as it encourages me. We don’t have to wait for fire to fall from the sky. We can just go head on and worship.

Dancing around my office,
Naima

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Rejection, Howard Stern & 7 Year Old

DAILY DOSE OF HOPE – BLOG – NAIMA LETT
REJECTION, HOWARD STERN & 7 YEAR OLD

Did you see this last night?
7 year old rapper Amir Palmer aka Mir Money fell apart when Howard Stern explained why he X’ed him on NBC’s America’s Got Talent. Even I cried.

And I don’t even watch the show. How I ended up on NBC at that exact moment when the first grader walked on stage is still a mystery to me. But I saw this little pint-sized child rapping about money and thought, “There’s got to be other things for children to talk about…”

Amir is cute.
He has charisma.
But the refrain of “Get money” wasn’t the best fit.

Then Howard Stern hit the big “X” buzzer.
Followed by Sharon Osbourne.
Howie Mandel was the only one who had the decency to not destroy the child.
Nick Cannon rushed out to be supportive.
But by then, it was all tears.

Look, I’m not saying Amir should’ve been put through the next rounds. But X’ing a child on international TV is just cruel.

WHO’S TO BLAME?

And I don’t blame Howard Stern. He’s a figure head. I blame the producers. Everything that we see on reality TV is produced. There are thousands of contestants that producers wade through to get to the ones that they allow us to actually see during prime time. It’s all calculated. So, this is no mistake.

According to an article in the New York Post, Amir’s mother Regine Palmer says that Amir was told that he had actually made it to the next rounds and was going to Vegas. Nick Cannon instructed him to say to the cameras, “I’m going to Vegas!” Amir prepared. Regine received a call the day they were supposed to leave from the producers that Amir would not be going on after all. Hot mess!

The decisions about the show are not made by the 3 judges that you see sitting there every week. The decisions are made by producers based on what they can edit together as a show that will keep people watching and advertisers buying.

Nobody cared to explain this to Amir.
So, I hold the producers and NBC responsible for this fiasco.
Stop the madness.

REJECTION

The reason this hit home is that I felt Amir’s pain – the awful sting of rejection.

As actors, we live through this scenario every day. Thank God it gets better over time, but something about seeing and hearing those X buzzers on that child hit a raw nerve.

I not only cried for Amir.
I cried for every actor I know who is X’d in LA every day.
I cried for the rejection that we feel.
I cried for an industry that would think it’s okay to exploit our children for financial gain.
At what point do we say, “Enough!”

This was my first and last time tuning in to America’s Got Talent.
I will not support this circus or the advertisers who under-gird it.
That might seem like an over-reaction, but is it?

What happens to Amir now?
What does this do for him as the rapper who cried on national TV?
How can I help educate parents about what really happens with reality shows?

I pray that Amir will bounce back, I do.
I hope that he knows that beyond this, he truly is accepted and loved.

ACCEPTANCE

For every artist and person who reads my blog, please be encouraged today.
Your value as a person is not derived from how well you perform.
You can have an off day, an off performance, and still retain the truth that you are most precious in the eyes of a Heavenly Father who created you.

You may or may not get the audition.
You may or may not book the job.
You may or may not work this year as an actor.
You may or may not pay your bills as a singer/songwriter.
It doesn’t matter. You are still loved and cherished.

Here is PSALM 139: 13-18
I hope that it will encourage you.

13 For you (God) created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand — when I awake, I am still with you.

We are not alone.
No matter what, God is still with us.

I send love to Amir today. Maybe I’ll meet him at some point and give him a big hug. Maybe I’ll find a way to employ him in one of our projects. You never know.

I send love to each of you.
And when people start throwing up X’s and spewing out rejection, let’s remember that they don’t define us. We are wonderful. God says so,
Naima

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Monday Morning in Hollywood

DAILY DOSE OF HOPE – BLOG – NAIMA LETT
MONDAY MORNING IN HOLLYWOOD

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Monday morning in Hollywood is a scramble… for numbers.
Studios, agents, actors all want to know one thing:
How much did our movie make?

That box office number can make or break a studio’s budget for the next year, an agent’s next pitching plans for his/her star client, and an actor’s entire career.

Everywhere else in the world, life goes on. People could care less that The Avengers made another $55 million in America or that Battleship (based on the video game) having made only $25 million, is considered a flop. Those outside of Hollywood might even ask, why is $25 million a flop? Why? Because Universal spent $209 million.

To be honest, even writing these numbers is bizarre to me.

I am very much apart of this industry, and I too care about its successes and failures, but the fact that a studio has $209 million to spend on making 1 film tells me that there are billions behind the scenes. The fact that The Avengers has made over $1 billion worldwide tells me that people are still going to the movies and supporting films that they really want to see.

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

So, it’s hard to understand when producers try to slash budgets and squeeze working actors out of residuals, health insurance, etc. I wear both hats as a producer and an actor, and I get both sides, but let’s stop trying to convince each other that the industry is not making money.

The numbers don’t lie.
Somebody’s making money.

OK, I hear the objections. According to the L.A. Times box office article by John Horn this morning, the three new releases in the Top 5 did “awful” this weekend. Universal’s Battleship drowned at $25 million, Liongate’s comedy What to Expect When You’re Expecting tanked at $10.5 million (having cost $40 million), and Paramount’s The Dictator only made $17.5 million back of its $65 million production budget.

I look at the same data and wonder if studios should simply take a hint.

Just because a video game sells well doesn’t mean we have to spend $200 million to turn it into a movie. Perhaps we should leave it as a video game. And just because we put Rihanna in an acting role doesn’t mean the film will be a blockbuster, nothing against Rihanna. I haven’t had the privilege to meet her yet, but I’m addressing the thoughts of producers to put singers, rappers and reality stars in films in lieu of actors in order to bring an audience.

Besides, the only reason $25 million is considered a flop is because the studio spent $209 million. Most Tyler Perry movies make $25 million or less opening weekend; they’ve never made blockbuster status of $100 million; yet people rave about how financially successful they are. Why?

Because Perry spends about $3-6 million or less to make the film and Lionsgate matches whatever he spends to distribute, then they split the profits. If together they spend $6 – $12 million and opening weekend makes $25 million, both Tyler and Lionsgate make their investment back + $12 – $19 million pure profit the first weekend. Everything after is more profit, and it doesn’t even matter how good the film is. People are looking at the numbers.

ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE

It’s all about perspective.
$25 million opening weekend can mean a huge success.
Or $25 million opening weekend can mean a dismal failure.
It’s all based on the initial amount that has been spent.

And people are rewarded or not, accordingly.
The president of Disney will undoubtedly see a huge bonus this year based on Disney’s distribution of The Avengers. At Universal, somebody might get fired based on Battleship.

It’s all about the numbers.

MATTERS OF FAITH

As people of faith, we are encouraged not to shy away from the numbers, but to understand what’s going on in our world and model our faith in the midst of it all.

Do you remember Jesus’ parable of the shrewd manager?

LUKE 16: 1-15

Please take the time to read or re-read it.

The cliff note version is that a rich master calls his manager into account when the manager has wasted and mismanaged the rich man’s possessions. In order to build relationships to use when he is fired, the manager wheels and deals to gain favor with the rich man’s clients.

Instead of criticizing the shrewd manager, Jesus says the following:

“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? 13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” 14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.

FAITH & MONEY

Jesus does not shy away from talking about faith and finances. He talks about money candidly. He addresses numbers.

He reminds His observers that there is nothing wrong with knowing how to deal shrewdly with money. He commends the manager for knowing how to make the best of a bad situation. He even draws the conclusion that if people do not know how to handle worldly wealth, they will not know how to deal with the true riches, which are heavenly.

Can you believe that?

This flies in the face of all Christians who believe they are not supposed to concern themselves with how to handle money. Jesus says the opposite. He says if we do not know how to handle money, which is earthly, we will not know how to handle true riches, which are spiritual.

If we are dishonest with our worldly possessions, there is NO WAY we can be trusted with spiritual possessions. Does that make sense?

On the other hand, Jesus says we cannot love money and love God. We are to handle money, not love it. We are to love God. Don’t get things twisted.

FAITH, MONEY & HOLLYWOOD

Monday morning in Hollywood is all about the numbers.

As people of faith in Hollywood, we need to know what those numbers are. We need to be well versed on what is going on in our industry and understand what’s happening with what projects, which studios and how it impacts all of us.

If we can make a movie for $6 million and it makes $25 million, great!
If we make a movie for $200 million it it makes $25 million, let’s learn from it.

We do not shy away from the numbers.
But we also are not to fall in love with the numbers.
At the end of the day, they are just numbers.

How we handle them reflects what is truly in our hearts.
How we handle them reflects how we serve and honor God.
When it’s all said and done, we love God, who knows our hearts.
And we strive to handle well the true riches, which are not of this world.

It’s a new week.
Thanks for your prayers for the weekend.

The “Reveal Your Glory” event in Maryland was phenomenal. The Lord met us there. And my flight was not only on time, but early, back to LA Sunday to preach at our bible fellowship. God is faithful.

Shout out to all the ladies in Randallstown and B’More. You’re wonderful!
Shout out to my good friend filmmaker Avril Speaks for coming through. Great to see you.
Shout out to the HOPE fam, who endured the sounds of the parking lot power-washing while I was preaching yesterday. Who power washes on a Sunday? Only in LaLa Land folks. Only in the LaLa.

Today is my day off.
So, with that, I’m off!
I’ve got to find a way to write these Monday blogs on Friday or something… but then it wouldn’t truly be a Monday blog, would it? I don’t know. I’ll figure it out!

Thinking of ways to make our next project under-budget,
Naima

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Crisscross Country

DAILY DOSE OF HOPE – BLOG – NAIMA LETT
CRISSCROSS COUNTRY


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At the airport. Crisscrossing country this weekend:
LaLa to B’More and back again. Sweet.

I could use your prayers:

* For Saturday’s “Reveal Your Glory” event (sneak peek video) at New Antioch in MD to really reveal God’s glory! :=) I’m keynoting followed by a concert from Dove & Stellar Award nominee Vicki Yohe, and I’m praying for the Lord to meet us through His word and worship.

* And for Sunday’s flight to be on time and get me back to LA to preach at our bible fellowship by 11:30. For backup, I did ask Kevin to re-prep one of his bible studies, just in case.

All in all, should be exciting.

Yesterday was Ascension Day. Sunday is Ascension Sunday, so we’ll celebrate the Lord’s Up, Up & Away!

Today, let’s remember His message to His disciples before He jetted.

MATTHEW 28:18-20

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The family of God calls this message “The Great Commission”.

Why? Because it’s where Jesus commissions His disciples to go forth and make other disciples. Jesus basically says this good news is for everybody, so, get to stepping! Spread it! Baptize folks. Teach them God’s commandments.

And the best part, He will never leave us. He promises to be with us always. Can’t get much better than that.

So, how are we doing, Fam?
On this commission?
Told anybody the good news lately?
If not, we must get to stepping! :=)

An analogy:
If we were millionaires with complete financial security and we could share the ability to become millionaires with every person we knew and loved, wouldn’t we share that information. Wouldn’t we want everyone to come up?

Millions are good, but temporary. Eternal life is better. We have this good news of eternal life through Christ. Shouldn’t we want to share it?

Those first 11 disciples turned Jerusalem and the world upside down with that good news. And when the Apostle Paul came on the scene and started sharing with all the Gentiles, it was on! Folks died for their faith. Folks are still dying. This is so much bigger than us individually. It’s been a global phenomenon for 2,000 years.

So, let’s celebrate.

It’s Ascension weekend.
Christ crisscrossed heaven and disappeared into the sky and will return, as promised.
That’s something to shout about!

OK, got to make a restroom run before this 5 hour flight.
That’s probably way more information than you wanted to know! :=)

Have a great weekend,
Naima

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