Lori Kasbeer Interviews Rebecca St. James

Happy 2009!! I am over the moon excited to introduce you to Christian pop singer/songwriter Rebecca St. James.  In addition to her Grammy, she is a multiple Dove Award winner.  Rebecca St. James, born in Australia, has been a leading female voice in Christian Music.  But did you know she is also an establish author? 

Rebecca skyrocketed as an author with her book, Wait For Me, where she discusses sexual purity.   Wait For Me reached the #1 spot on the prestigious CBA (Young Adult) book chart in 2003.  In 2004 she released, SHE and SHE Teen.  SHE, which also hit #1 on the CBA Young Adult Chart, gives modern womanhood a voice based on a return to biblical principles.

Rebecca’s passion is still young women, but her newest devotional book Pure: A 90-Day Devotional for the Mind, the Body & the Spirit is for women of all ages.  Purity is something, as Christians, we should strive for daily.  But what does it mean to live a pure life?  Reading Rebecca’s devotional book Pure is like sitting down with a best friend in a coffee shop.  What you see is what you get.  She is real, she is honest, and she is a woman with a heart for God.  

Rebecca we are so excited to have you visiting us here at Christian Women Online Magazine.  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and also how you moved from Australia to the United States?

We moved to America originally because of my dad’s job in Christian music. My parents made the move with six kids—me, the oldest—and my five younger brothers.  My mother was expecting my younger sister, Libby, at the time.  My dad was a concert promoter back in Australia and always involved in Christian music at some level.  Unfortunately shortly after moving here, he lost his new job and we were forced into some very hard times as a family.  Through that time period, I saw God move on our behalf in dramatic ways—someone gave us a car, groceries would appear on our porch, someone even paid the hospital bills for Libby to be born, and to this day, we don’t know who did this for us. All this had a very profound spiritual impact on me at a very impressionable age—I saw firsthand with my family, while still very young, how we can fully trust God’s faithfulness.

It is amazing to see how the actions of one person, can make an eternal impact on someone.  Many times we as Christians think “what can I do, I am only one person?”  This example shows how one action can change a person’s walk with Christ.  Wow!

How did you get your start as a Christian singer?

With my dad being a Christian promoter back in Australia, as I mentioned, I literally grew up around music. I remember going to shows as a very little kid and looking at the performers onstage in the lights and wondering if they were having fun!  My brothers and I would actually put on little ‘shows’ at home for my parents—we would pretend to sell tickets and merchandise—so now looking back, I think maybe I had somewhat of an inkling even then of what was to come.  I was never really driven to be a singer as some people are—I actually remember purposefully giving God my gifts and talents when I was quite young and asking Him to use me. I didn’t quite know what this might look like in my life. 

I made a record in Australia but actually my real start came here in the U.S.  I was singing at our church and several executives from my label, EMI, heard me and were interested in signing me.  That was the real start of what was to come. I was only 15 at the time and I could never have imagined all the aspects of the journey God was about to take me on.  It’s definitely been an incredible adventure thus far.

You have written several books, but in your new 90-day devotional titledPure you encourage women to live a life of purity from the inside out.  Can you share with us what you mean by living a life of purity?

Striving to live a pure life physically is obviously a huge aspect of life as a Christian and one that we hear talked about a great deal. But in addition, the way you turn over your fears and priorities to God, the way you forgive others, the way you think about every aspect of life—this one and the one to come—are also part of living a ‘pure’ life.

When living out our love of God becomes our biggest passion, our lives are greatly impacted.  Not only our decisions about how we treat our bodies, but also how we protect and feed our minds and spirits as well. That’s a picture of a ‘pure’ lifestyle.”

What are some of the ways we can guard our hearts on a daily basis?

As I mention in Pure,  when my six siblings and I were growing up, our parents placed a sign on top of our television to remind us to be aware of what we allowed into our minds,  It was Psalms 101:2-3 and says: ‘I will live with a pure heart in my own home.  I will not put anything wicked before my eyes.’ 

On a day to day basis, we can prevent a great deal of anguish in our lives by guarding what we put into our minds—and ultimately what we allow to take root in the heart.  We need to be really wise about the simple things: the magazines we read, what we look at in our travels on the internet, what movies and television we watch, and, of course, the music we listen to.  What goes ‘in’ is ultimately going to come ‘out’ in our lives and actions. We need to ask for God’s strength to say no to the harmful—to go against the grain of what is prevalent in the world around us.  The best way to ‘guard the heart’ that I have found is to daily spend time in God’s Word—to ask Him every day to purify and renew my mind.

You share in one of your devotionals how we tend to live our lives surviving one challenge just so we can move on to the next one.  Can you share how as Christians we can get trapped in “survival mode?”

There have been seasons in my life, as I talked about in the book, where I realized I wasn’t thriving—I was simply surviving!  ‘Survival mode’ for me was simply getting by day-to-day and not failing. It was rooted in fear—fear of rejection, of stepping out to new opportunities, or people or challenges, even at times wanting what I did to be ‘just right’ to the point of agonizing over the creative process. It was exhausting to focus on surviving one challenge to get to the next one—a never ending cycle.  It took me some time to wake up to the reality that God doesn’t want us to just survive—He wants us to thrive!  In my own life, I have come to the realization that God is in total control of my steps—they are ordered of Him—and with Him guiding the path I can throw off all fears—I can move from ‘survive’ to ‘thrive’!”

In the past one of your passions has been your ministry to teens.  What would you say is your primary passion for your ministry today?

I’m still very passionate about reaching young people—the Wait For Memessage about waiting for sex until marriage is a huge part of my message and one that I continue to share from concert stages all over the world.  I have felt in this, the most recent season of my life, God really calling me to Christian film—to bringing a Godly message through this medium.  I am very exciting about this new aspect of my life and am seeing God open doors in recent months for me in the film community!

Singing, to writing and now acting, how do you balance everything and not burn out?

A few years ago I had to learn a very difficult lesson about the need for ‘balance’ in my life.  In certain seasons of my ministry, I have overtaxed myself and have paid the consequences both with emotional and physical exhaustion.  I didn’t have much left to give and came the closest to burn out that I ever want to get—a place where I never want to go again!  God is concerned that we learn to balance our lives physically and emotionally—learning that there is a time to work, and a time to rest.

In my own life, I’ve had to learn to set boundaries—and even harder sometimes—I’ve had to learn to say ‘no.’  Finding the balance between rest and work, grace and discipline, giving and receiving—all are daily exercises we all have to face.  I find I can avoid going off track by spending time each day with God and asking Him for daily wisdom on finding balance.

You are an advocate for one of the ministries dear to my heart, Compassion International.  How has this ministry changed you?

I am passionate about sharing the message of Compassion with everyone who will listen.  In my work with Compassion, I’ve seen their ministry in operation first hand in parts of the world where children would have little hope without the presence of this wonderful ministry.  On a trip several years ago to Rwanda to film for Compassion, I saw the stark contrast of their work in one of the poorest regions of the world.  I witnessed little children with clean, bright, shining faces singing songs about Jesus and radiating His love at the Compassion school which stood literally within the shadow of the town’s very foul, wretched garbage dump.  Here in the midst of the unlovely, Compassion had raised a standard for God—and children’s lives through Compassion sponsorship were being pulled from poverty and lack and being forever changed.  They are a ministry that’s truly impacting for the Kingdom.

To learn more about Compassion International please see their blog herehttp://blog.compassion.com.

Are there any upcoming projects you can share with us?

I’m very excited about a film I am working on that will be released in 2009—a wonderful door God has opened in this current season!  It’s called To the Wall.

It’s a faith and family film about two young guys whose dads died in the Vietnam war. The movie contains flashbacks from Vietnam, showing the friendship between the fathers of these two young men. One is a believer, the other is struggling with matters of faith. Wayne and John, the young guys, embark on a journey to the Vietnam wall in DC, to see their fathers’ names and to connect with their history. Along the way, they meet my character, Annie and her cousin Ted, and we bring some lighter elements to the film.  As a ‘PS’ to readers –I would love additional prayer for God’s peace and joy to shine through me and for inspiration as I move into this new genre.

Rebecca St. James with Candace Cameron Bure 
on set during the filming of “To The Wall.”

We will definitely be praying for God’s blessing on this new exciting adventure.  I will be looking forward to the release of  “To The Wall.”

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us here.  Can you share a scripture with us that God has recently placed on your heart?

I have one to share that is very special to me—a recurring reminder in my life and ministry. It’s Act 20:24. In the Living translation it says: But life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned to me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love.”  I pray we are reminded daily that through Jesus, each of us as Christians, have the privilege in this world of being ‘bearers of good news!’  How awesome is that?

Pure: A 90-Day Devotional for the Mind, the Body & the Spirit” by Rebecca St. James is a perfect devotional book to begin your new year.  Each chapter is short but rich in content.  If you would like a chance to win “Pure: A 90-Day Devotional for the Mind, the Body & the Spirit” by Rebecca St. James (for January ’09 only) please visit our Book Draw.

©2009, Lori Kasbeer

Lori’s personal blog can be found at Lori’s Reflections (www.laurelwreathsreflections.com) and additional book reviews at Lori’s Book Reviews (www.laurelwreathsreflections.com/lorisbookreviews )

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