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Rebecca St. James has earned acclaim, awards and fans with her music. However, some of her greatest impact has been made through the printed page.

“Wait For Me” established the 27-year-old pop singer as a major voice in the sexual-purity movement. In her fourth book, released last month, she takes up a wider range of women’s concerns.

The catalyst for “SHE” was a stressful period that followed 13 months of touring and a decision to establish her own home. The accumulated pressure left her feeling that she couldn’t rely on anyone around her anymore.

“It was me sensing this massive inner struggle,” St. James said. “… I felt a coldness and a hardness creeping in on me.”

Although St. James was able to move from that place of hardness and return to “softness,” many other women feel trapped. These are the people St. James and her co-author Lynda Hunter Bjorklund hope will pick up “SHE.”

The book’s title actually derives from an acronym the pair developed. “Women have to have Safety, Health and be Empowered,” St. James said.

Each of these three topics is divided into nine key areas, such as beauty, sexual purity, security, femininity, setting boundaries and mentoring. Some of these topics require that women strike a balance. For example, it’s important to feel beautiful but women who focus too much on its physical aspects can fall into the trap of eating disorders.

One of the book’s primary targets is popular culture, with its focus on promiscuity and vanity.

“We’re bombarded with every kind of message … It becomes very about the here-and-now and not the heavenly mindset,” she said.

As a result, the book’s key areas aim to counteract these cultural influences that don’t “have our best interest at heart.” In doing this, the book draws heavily on biblical themes and each of the nine key areas offers a woman from the Bible as a model.

“We wanted to come back to, ‘God is the answer,’ and to trust him,” St. James said.

On the Web: http://rsjames.com

Disc tip

When Michael W. Smith’s “Healing Rain” hit the stores last month, the new CD shot to the top of the Christian music charts and as high as No. 11 on the mainstream charts. The title track topped the adult contemporary radio chart.

That shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s heard the disc’s first two songs — “Here I Am” and the title track. They grab the listener with powerful instrumentals, lyrics and vocals. “Healing Rain” tells of God’s gracious and healing love. “Here I Am” assertively proclaims a willingness to “give up my life for the One.” Both of these praise songs are in line with Smith’s tremendously successful worship CDs of the last few years.

However, the disc switches pace on the third track, “Live Forever,” slowing down and turning contemplative. Actually it seems a bit too slow, as if most of the energy captured in the first two songs has dissipated. Most of the remaining songs are definitely made for easy listening, including a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” “Hang On” and “Fly To The Moon” pick up the pace and explore interesting topics but don’t recapture the power of the initial songs.

Of course easy listening is perfectly fine if that’s what you’re after. The problem is that many of Smitty’s fans are drawn to his energetic worship songs or upbeat adult-contemporary tunes.

On the Web: www.michaelwsmith.com

Today's Praise is a roundup of news and reviews from the contemporary Christian music industry.

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