Rolls Royce sat outside my Palm Springs, California condominium,
engine idling. Behind the wheel was Hollywood Producer, King Johnson.
Many months had passed and I had performed for a prominent Hollywood
agent looking for new artists. After hosting the Silver Anniversary
screening of the motion picture West Side Story at the Palm Springs
International Film Festival, my career finally began to look more
optimistic. Mr. Johnson took me under his wing and hired me to sing
with musical maestro Tommy Reed and his orchestra, a seasoned group
of industry pros from Hollywood. Performing at the world famous
Spa Hotel, in the same room graced by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin,
and Sammy Davis Jr., it was a very exciting time in my life. Working
with such a polished group of musicians, we began filming television
spots for what was to be a great gig.
I had relocated to California after years of singing Gospel Music,
traveling and ministering at churches, crusades and as a regular
musical guest on Trinity Broadcasting Network. My connection with
some prominent ministers ended during the scandals that rocked the
evangelical world in the late 80's. I was seriously wounded by some
of the people I loved the most, men of God who guarded their vast
ministry empires, rather than extend healing, compassion and love.
So with my musical and theatrical training, and some bitterness
in my heart, I set my heart towards Hollywood.
Back at the Spa Hotel, I had arrived for my nightly rehearsal. Glass
of wine in hand, I glanced at my name on the marquee as I relished
in my glitzy new role. "Now Appearing Steele Houston"
a stage name that I had chosen against the advise of another Hollywood
agent, Peg Halperin, who thought I looked more like a "David
Israel." As the band members began to warm up, I patiently
awaited the arrival of musical director Tommy Reed. Mr. Reed was
always on time musically, and was never late for a rehearsal. Something
was not right, I sipped some more wine and sat in the darkened theater
in anticipation. In what seemed like forever, a mutual friend rushed
into the theater shouting, "Tommy's dead, Tommy's dead!"
He had been killed earlier, his vehicle crashing off the highway
over a cliff. All of us just sat there in utter shock. Immediately,
in my spirit, I could hear the Holy Spirit say, "Its appointed
unto man once to die and then the judgment!" Like someone had
poured a bucket of ice water over my head, I was quickened in my
spirit about what I was doing with my life. With every fabulous
celebrity filled party I attended and every alcoholic drink consumed,
I became increasingly more depressed.
My work with King Johnson was cut short with the death of Tommy
Reed and sometime later, I connected with another agent who connected
me with Showtime Productions producer Ilene Holden in Las Vegas.
They were auditioning for the starring role for the multi-million
dollar production of Keep On Dancing at the Aladdin Theater. I remember
everything happened so quickly after my audition. I was in a fog
when the producers met with me and told me that I would be meeting
with a prominent choreographer from Chicago. I had impressed the
staff at Showtime enough for them to cast me in this mega stage
Joining a cast of highly professional dancers was not easy for me,
however holding the principal role, and being spoiled by the shows
producers, softened any professional animosity from other cast members.
I had a few years of dance training during my time at the School
for the Performing Arts, but I really wasn't a dancer so to speak.
My craft was singing...entertaining. It was an extremely exciting
time of my life. Night after night, crowds filled the Aladdin Theater.
Top notch production crews waited upon my every need. Once again
my picture and name in lights, graced the marquee at this spectacular
theater. I had a job that other artists only dream of. Backstage
in my dressing room, glass of wine in hand, I savored the moments
and basked in my achievement. A knock on the door, "5 minutes,
Mr. Houston," the wardrobe assistant quickly helped me with
the final touches to my rhinestone studded jacket, as I made my
way down the narrow corridor, up the ramp towards the curtain. "Break
a leg," whispered the stage manager as the tympani drum rolled,
"Ladies and Gentlemen, Steele Houston." The dancers on
the stage systematically positioning themselves around me as I stepped
onstage singing in a spectacular array of lights and special effects.
I was in my glory, and yet deep inside I was so unhappy.
What I thought would make me happy, led me down the path to worldliness,
ungodliness and alcoholism. I remember peeking through the side
curtain some nights and looking out over the audience. I would say
to myself, "Do these people know you Lord?" "Are
these people destined for an eternal separation from you God?"
"Am I doing what you called me to do Lord many years ago?"
Jesus said, "You cannot serve two masters. You must love the
one and hate the other." When you live in sin, and hold the
truth in unrighteousness, you are most miserable. Instead of fellowshipping
with Gods people, I was running around with a group of successful,
wild, promiscuous atheists, who wanted nothing to do with Christians
or the Lord.
But even as the Psalmist wrote about his own sin, I too knew that
the Lord loved me in spite of my own sin. I knew that God could
and would restore me if I came back to Him. I looked at my life
as a story. A chapter or two in my life when I rebelled against
the Lord and allowed the Devil to manipulate my emotions through
circumstances that occurred within the church. You see, I have seen
such a great falling away from the Lord, as prophesied in scriptures.
Being a Christian isn't easy, but Christ has overcome the world.
All of us will be tempted and tried. But if you look at your life
through the scope of the Word of God and realize that our battles
are nothing more than spiritual warfare, and if you allow God to
love you and make yourself available to Him, carefully guarding
you heart daily, then you will find his promises are true and his
love for you is greater than any love you've ever known.
My downfall came when I took my eyes off of the Lord and started
looking at my fellow Christians. People are people no matter what.
Ministers are human, they are not God. So my separation from serving
the Lord only made me grow and come to grips with the fact that
we really are all in the same boat. When you have Jesus in your
life, you can never be happy unless you are serving Him. You will
search the world over, filling your life with things, relationships
and busy careers, but you will never be fulfilled or happy without
Christ living on the throne of your heart. When a brother in Christ
falls, we must restore him and bring him back into the fold. I count
this as a learning experience and believe God for greater victories
as I continue to serve Him.
"Through many dangers, trials and snares, I have already come,
we've no less days, to give God praise, than when we've first begun."
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