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Monday, August 09, 2010

Meeting Rebecca St. James

Last Thursday, I interviewed Contemporary Christian Music artist Rebecca St. James on the phone for a newspaper feature I’m writing about her. She was coming to Omaha for a concert for faith and family night at Rosenblatt Stadium.

Since I also cover the Omaha Royals for Examiner.com, the Omaha Royals staff was nice enough to include me in the meet-and-greet before the concert. The team photographer snapped this photo of Rebecca St. James and me (if they ever re-release Beauty and the Beast on DVD, this will be the perfect cover):


Interviewing and meeting Rebecca made me think a lot about my early days as a Christian.

A few years after becoming a follower of Christ, I happened across her album, called God, and it quickly became one of my favorites. It still is. Then I picked up a devotional book she wrote called 40 Days with God. One of the questions she posed in the book had a profound impact on me: “What parts of my life do I have to admit I do for ‘my name,’ ‘my glory’ and ‘for me?’” She based her question on 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Her question dogged me for quite some time. It caused me to sit down, make a list, and then re-prioritize my life. I discontinued the things I believed I was doing for my own glory and, as I did, I began to sense I was supposed to be writing. I had no publishing credits at the time and I really couldn’t explain the sense of urgency I felt, but I knew God was in it somehow. 

I attended my first writer’s conference shortly thereafter and the calling was confirmed. I met an editor there from Decision magazine (Billy Graham’s publication). Soon thereafter I submitted an article to him about the process God brought me through after wrestling through the Bible verse and question Rebecca shared in her devotional.

To my amazement, Decision decided to publish the article and it appeared in their February 2000 issue. It was called “For My His Glory” and it included the Bible verse and question Rebecca shared in her devotional.

After receiving my copies of the magazine, I was both surprised and not surprised to see that Rebecca St. James also wrote an article in the same issue. It was called “Adjusting Our Vision.” It was about keeping our eyes on Christ. I’m not one who often feels certain when it comes to hearing from God, but this sure felt like one of those times. So, I kept writing. And I haven’t stopped.

And yes, I have often wondered if Rebecca happened to flip through her copies of Decision and saw my article—the one inspired by her. I didn’t think to ask her that question on Thursday or Saturday. But if I ever get another chance to talk to her, I’ll ask her if she remembers.

The story doesn’t end there though.

My dad was a writer in his younger days. He wrote some short stories and a few articles. He never pursued writing as a profession as far as I know, but he had the writing bug and, as is usually the case for writers, he loved to read. He seemed quite happy when I told him I was pursuing publication.

Sadly, he died in April of 2000, but not before I handed him the February 2000 issue of Decision magazine with my first published article in it.

After he died, my siblings and I began the emotion task of sorting through his stuff. My eyes were drawn to his bookshelf. I pulled a few books down from the shelves and flipped through them looking for any sort of notes he may have written in them or underlined passages. Not long after I began the process, I came across his copy of Decision I’d given to him.

Yes, I cried.

All of these events can be traced back to the day I read Rebecca St. James’ devotional book. So, to have a chance to meet her some 14 years later was quite an experience. And quite a trip down memory lane for me.


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