Handling the chaos of our world today in a way that honors God
Even though Meredith Andrews, singer, song writer and worship leader, doesn’t get it right every day, she believes there is much grace from the Lord in navigating these crazy times in our world.
As a follower of Christ, a wife and a mother, Meredith sees the need to take it one day at a time and have compassion, knowing things are different, hard and often feel heavy.
It is important to remind yourself what is true. “God is on His throne,” Meredith explained. “I know He is not side-tracked, not thrown off or panicked one bit.”
“When I remember what I know is true, it helps me to have the right perspective.”
Meredith said she has to get to the place where she can tell God she trusts him even though she has strong opinions and feelings about things.
“Sometimes God asks me to share my opinions, and sometimes He asks me to keep them to myself,” Meredith observed. “But above all else, He’s called me to love people, even the people that don’t think the same way I do or see things the way I do.”
There has been a lot of fear and Meredith does not believe that fear is ever from the Lord.
“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV).
When things are swirling around and seem to be on the brink of disaster, Meredith reflected on what it looks like to endure and be faithful to the end.
“It may not look like me being really loud on social media, although I have shared strong feelings. It might actually mean me getting into my prayer closet and telling God I don’t understand. But I choose to trust Him, and I can’t fix this. I must choose to surrender my feelings to Him.”
God has convicted Meredith to examine what she is making the “main thing” in a certain moment. Things in the world need to be addressed, but that’s not necessarily her role. First, she must intercede, be willing to surrender her opinions, which is hard for her to do, and then get involved in the community and continue to stand for truth.
Your view is limited, but God sees all things. Meredith acknowledged God hasn’t asked her to wrestle, or strong arm, a particular problem. He has told her not to be anxious about anything.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV).
You can take your anxiety to God and thank him that He is sovereign. You can trust Him. You can choose to do what Meredith is doing, taking her eyes off the news, off social media, off of everyone else’s opinion and focusing on things that are unseen.
2 Corinthians 4:16-17 says, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (ESV).
You have to remind yourself you’re just passing through and hold on loosely to the things of this world, so you don’t get tangled up in the chaos. Meredith has no solutions except to get into the Word of God. The more you do, the more you find His peace. The distractions are less.
Meredith explained, “Our assignment is to:
- Make disciples.
- Love people well.
- Point people to Jesus.
- Bring God glory.”
“That’s my checklist. Are those boxes getting checked? Or am I on my own soap box?”
“I have to trust that God is the just judge and He is merciful. I can pray that God would let justice roll like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream in our nation and around the world.”
Meredith’s challenge to you and to each person is to pray to “see things not as right or left, anti-this or pro-that,” but to seek to live like Jesus in this time.
She said, “He was willing to:
- Be interrupted.
- Not be easily offended.
- Not look for a fight.
- Just love people well.
- Be about the Father’s business.”
“He also turned over the tables in the temple, so He wasn’t passive. When there was religion and sin that infringed upon the heart of God, He said, That’s not okay.’”
Meredith encouraged believers to notice those who have been rejected and let them know God sees them and loves them right where they are. When you notice something is broken, raise a red flag and stand for what is true. Don’t stand on principle, but on the Word of God.
Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is tell someone the truth in love, tell someone what God’s Word says.
It’s what He has for them, and it’s better than what they are walking in.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8 NIV).
Meredith used the analogy of a baby, “We celebrate when a baby takes the first step. We celebrate as they become more and more independent. It’s the opposite with God. We become more and more dependent on him as we take each step.”
Ask yourself, “Am I relying on him and his Word or on my own strength?”
“For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10b ESV).
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The inspiring benefits of worship with Meredith Andrews
Meredith Andrews, singer, song writer and worship leader, has a full length Spanish album called Ábrenos Los Cielos. She fell in love with the language, culture and people while on a mission trip to Costa Rica when she was a freshman in high school. She began taking Spanish at about that time, and it was her favorite class.
After taking six trips to Guatemala while attending Liberty University, and then other trips to El Salvador, Peru and Dominican Republic, Meredith planned to move to Guatemala to work in an orphanage after she graduated from college.
Instead of majoring in Spanish, Meredith decided to major in Family and Child Development. It had nothing to do with music, which had been a huge part of her life. She’d led worship at her church since she was about twelve years old. With her other interests, she thought she needed to study something different.
God had other plans for Meredith. She found herself going from the balmy tropics to the blizzards of Chicago to lead worship. Although she was passionate about music and worship, there were times when she wished God would send her to Guatemala instead.
Meredith always knew leading worship and writing songs would be a part of her life, but she had her eyes on the Guatemalan orphanage. Then one Wednesday night, she vividly remembered singing “Sing to the King,” while leading worship for her college campus service. That was when God made it clear to her that leading worship is what He called her to do.
She loves worshipping and leading people in worship. Even though it may look different from one person to the next, Meredith is blessed to see people change in His presence. She considers it a privilege.
“It’s not so much about the music. It’s the vehicle and I get to facilitate,” Meredith explained. “It’s really just singing these truths over ourselves and back to the Lord and recognizing He comes to meet us right where we are.
“Worship is ascribing worth to God. It starts with the posture of my heart.”
“What do I hope to gain? What do I hope to give? What do I hope to experience? Or do I have no expectations at all?”
Meredith believes God wants you to enter into worship with expectations. You should expect God to move in your heart, even if it’s to shift your focus off your circumstances.
You may not feel like being there when you initially walk into worship, but you do it because God is worthy and He deserves it. Somehow, in His kindness you receive the benefit. Enter into worship with the expectation that God will do great things.
“It’s this beautiful exchange that happens,” Meredith said. “I’m bringing my offering, but He lavishes his love on me and reminds me of who He says I am. He reminds me that His presence is with me every moment of every day, not just in the four walls of a church building.
“It’s a perspective shift. When I worship, I get my eyes off my circumstances and look at Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith. I walk out without the weight of the world on my shoulders.”
When you walk out of worship with something in your life that is still really hard and heavy, you know you can bring it to God, knowing He will carry and hold you.
Psalm 59:16-17 says, “I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.”
Worship in any language is the key to unlocking faith and peace that trusts God no matter what is happening in your life.
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A transparent conversation with Meredith Andrews about children and screen time
Singer, song writer and worship leader, Meredith Andrews has three children. She and her husband have two sons, Maverick and Remington, and a daughter named Francis – a common family name on both sides.
Although they are all her children, Meredith thinks it’s crazy how they all have such different personalities. She teased that they should have named Maverick “Compliance” since he’s such a nonconformist. She explained that Maverick is the boy version of herself. He looks like her and acts like her. But “Rem,” her second son, is more reserved like her husband, and he’s also the comedian. If she wants to know how he’s doing though, she has to get him alone and question him to pull it out of him.
Her daughter, who they call Frankie, is the free-spirited youngest. Her name means “free one,” which is fitting.
Meredith’s kids are into video games, and although she has never done it, there are times when she’d like to throw the Xbox out the window.
She and her husband had to set boundaries in order to balance things out and “not be ruled by screens and devices” as Meredith put it. Most of the time, they reserve Saturdays for Xbox time. Every now and then, if her children have done something extra, like tennis or piano practice, they will allow additional Xbox time as an incentive.
Meredith remembered playing Nintendo and Mario with her friends, but it wasn’t the thing she lived for, but for today’s kids it’s different. She has regular conversations with her children about how they spend their time. She has noticed that her children are “not their best selves when they’ve had lots of screen time.” Without it, they become bored since they’re so used to being entertained.
In order to encourage her children to think of something else to do, she’ll suggest, “Even if it’s just to lie in the grass and stare at the sky. You might invent something while you’re there.”
Trusting God for guidance through the real parenting challenges common to many families today, Meredith finds joy along the way in her “hilarious and amazing children.”
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Falling in love with what you don’t know
It’s no secret that in this world we live in, to say we are a globe torn and divided would be a severe understatement. It appears the only thing that anyone can agree on is to disagree on everything. And unfortunately, the body of Christ isn’t always a better representation on how to handle a difference of opinion. It takes a quick log-on to one of your favorite faith-based blogs and a glance at the comments section to see that.
Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is convinced their opinion is the only correct one, and often they’ll stop at nothing to prove that.
How on earth do we, as believers, demonstrate the love of Christ in this sort of climate?
Jordan St. Cyr speaks of Jordan Peterson, a favorite author of his, who says the problem is how we have fallen in love with what we know, and when we fall in love with what we don’t know, that’s when we can celebrate the difference.
“Curious people are awesome!” Jordan says. “[But] they’re not always right. Can you be okay with that? Cause God’s okay with that.”
This doesn’t negate a wrong choice, nor the consequence that comes with it, mind you. And it’s tough when someone’s choice affects us personally. This is when things can get especially heated and when our need to seek individual justice kicks in.
This is also when Jordan says you have to return to the Word of God.
“The Word continually says, ‘Lay down your life.’ And I know that’s a tricky thing to say right now cause we’re going through so much, but the life of Christ is the way, the truth, the life, and the example.”
“In a greater way, He took His life out of the equation, [because He said], ‘My life, unto death.’ But He also made His life the equation.”
Being the example of Jesus was never going to be easy. It was never going to be comfortable. It was never going to be what our flesh wants.
And that includes being right.
A step towards unity may look an awful lot like nodding and smiling when Aunt Irma says something that makes your blood boil at Thanksgiving because it’s so far removed from the opinion you carry.
Just try to remember that Jesus loves Aunt Irma, too, and so you might just want to let it go.
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by Dr. Randy Carlson
Every family needs leadership!
Every family needs a purpose, a vision and a plan.
If you don’t have a vision for your marriage someone else might.
If you don’t have a vision for your kids someone else will.
If you are not leading your family, then who or what is?
Families don’t lead themselves.
You know you’re a leader when you look over your shoulder and others are following you. Leadership is not about how loud you speak but how effectively you live your life.
Leaders champion causes bigger than themselves and, in the process, attract others to that cause. Leaders help others get things done for their own good and for the good of the group.
When leaders speak others listen and learn.
Are you a leader?
Let me bring it home; are you a leader in your family – capable of getting your family to move in the direction it needs to go without giving up or getting out? If your head is nodding in agreement congratulations – you undoubtedly have leadership strengths and abilities.
From experience, however, I suspect that most of my readers are more likely to fall into the mass of people who struggle with getting anyone to listen to them, let alone follow them. The problem of leaderless families is epidemic across our Christian culture.
Please don’t throw in the towel quite yet, if leadership doesn’t come easily or naturally to you. You can become exactly the kind of leader God needs for you to be in your family. He promised never to give us more than we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). While the burden of leadership may weigh heavily on your shoulders you can make it happen.
If leadership were on the optional list for living, I’d likely suggest that non-leaders save themselves a lot of pain and simply hide out in the shadow of someone who is a natural leader. Isn’t that what most of us did through our high-school years and well into adulthood? There were only a few shining stars of leadership during those years – members of the “leadership club” – serving on the student council – captain of the team or the teacher’s assistant.
For every natural born leader there are 100 natural born followers. The world can get along with one in 100 people being leaders; your family can’t. Each family needs at least one godly leader in order to make it in this tough world.
I once heard someone say, “The world is tough, so you better be tough on yourself.” You may be tough on yourself when it comes to developing the kind of leadership skills your family needs from you.
You cannot excuse yourself from leadership duty simply because leadership isn’t your spiritual gift. By laying back and letting your spouse, children, school or church make all the decisions and set the tone for your life and family you are abdicating your spiritual responsibilities.
Leadership is a necessity
for strong families and healthy marriages.
George Barna in his book, Leaders on Leadership, provided a comprehensive list of competencies of a Christian leader. Below I’ve adapted his list a bit in order to make it apply to leadership in the family setting. How would you rate yourself against this list?
15 things family leaders DO –
- Effectively communicate with each member of the family.
- Identify, articulate and cast a vision for their families.
- Motivate their family toward good.
- Coach and help to develop the gifts of those in their family.
- Initiate strategic actions in their family.
- Resolve conflicts quickly.
- Manage resources (time, money, skills, etc.) well.
- Hold themselves and others accountable.
- Reinforce commitment to each other and to the family.
- Are team builders.
- Monitor how things are going in the family with lots of encouragement and instruction.
- Create the kind of culture God wants for their family.
- Maintain focus and priorities in their own lives and for the family.
- Relate everything back to God’s plan and principles.
- Model spiritual disciplines.
It’s a Mandate – Not a Call
If you are married, have children or are responsible for the wellbeing of others, you are already on the list of leaders. You may not enjoy it or even want it, but leadership is now your responsibility. We do God and families an injustice by discounting the importance of leadership in the family. Writing yourself off as a non-leader won’t cut it when your family is facing a crisis, demanding direction and action.
Some believe that leadership is a calling or gift, but in your family it’s neither optional nor can you ignore the need.
Leadership isn’t someone else’s responsibility; it’s yours.
But I’m Not Good at It:
Don’t compare your leadership qualities with anyone else’s.
A word to wives –
When you compare your husband’s leadership skills, interest or abilities against any other man you are undermining your husband. He may have dropped the leadership ball and may even be unwilling to discuss your needs but comparing him with other men will only widen the gap between where he is as a leader and where you’d like for him to be.
Leadership is something
you can learn to do for your family.
The principles are clear, and results will be encouraging. You become a leader through commitment to the process of becoming a leader. It is a process after all, not an event. Your attitudes, beliefs and actions are key to successful leadership for your family. Even if you have been guilty of abdicating your responsibility as a leader, you can start over today by doing two very straightforward things in the next seven days.
- Spend 30 minutes praying, thinking and writing about what you would like God to do for you and your family. And at the end of those seven days – review your notes and create a list of the top 10 things you believe will make the most positive impact on your family for the next year. As you create your list be careful to consider each of the important areas of your life – spiritual, financial, relational, physical, intellectual, etc.
- After you have your list in hand set-up a time with your spouse to discuss what God has been doing your life over the previous seven days. This is not a grip session about how you want your spouse to change, but a time for you share what God has been telling your about yourself, your marriage and your family. Don’t get discouraged if your spouse responds with less than enthusiastic support. They may even attempt to resist, criticize, or even ignore you. One of the basics of family leadership is to stay focused on the goal – in this case your goal is to open communications with your spouse concerning your desires for the family.
But My Husband Won’t Lead
Leadership isn’t just men’s work. Husbands and fathers have been given clear commands by God to lead (verses). However, scripture clearly has a high view of women who took leadership seriously (Proverbs 31, Esther, Ruth, etc.). God has a perfect design for how men and women are to relate and live in marriage. Men are to lead like Christ lead the Church and Women are to submit out of reverence to Christ. When men lead like Christ it’s not hard for most Christian women to submit as Christ designed.
Submission doesn’t mean mindless obedience or subservient loyalty. As men and women submit to Christ (verse) and to each other (Eph 5:21) the leadership blend between men and women in marriage becomes clear, to me at least.
I’ve talked with enough Christian women married to non-leaders over my years of ministry to know how vulnerable to discouragement they really are. If this is your situation, I caution you against making the mistake many Christian women make – they beat at air from frustration thinking that somehow this will get their spouse to take leadership.
A better use of energy would be to:
- Pray for your husband.
- Discuss your needs with your husband using the process outlined earlier.
- Start quietly and systematically to pick up those areas of leadership in the family, which demand attention.
What is Leadership?
Leadership expert John Maxwell in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership says, “The true measure of leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.” If you can influence others, they are allowing you to lead. In one of my most requested speaking topics on parenting I discuss the difference between rules and relationships.
I’ve often quoted Josh McDowell’s statement:
“Rules without relationship create rebellion.”
Leadership based upon rules over relationship will create in the follower either obedience without integrity, or rebellion without apology. Followers under the thumbs of rule-based leaders will either fall in line out of fear or they may openly rebel without really knowing why. Either way the leader and the follower lose.
I agree with Maxwell that true leadership is nothing more or less than influence.
What Does a Family Leader Do?
How does a leader influence others? Just think for a moment of those you respect and would be willing to follow. What is it about them that most impresses you? Typically, when I ask this question I hear things about integrity, listening skills, caring about others, and having a clear vision for the future. Influence comes down to people skills.
Great leaders know how to communicate a vision so clearly
and with such conviction that others are naturally drawn to it.
Kenneth O. Gangel wrote a chapter in the book, Leaders on Leadership, titled, “What Leaders Do.” In it he shared several important points concerning what successful leaders do right.
- Leaders Relate. More than managing the family, a leader knows how to lead a family. As you get behind the eyes of each member of your family you start the process of relating with those who need you the most.
- Leaders Organize. Organization may not be your gift, but it’s important in leadership. As you organize your own life and the life of your family around priorities and values you will discover good things happening in the family.
- Leaders Achieve. Help each member of your family experience a win. Cheer leading, encouraging, and instructing is a part of leadership. Help others establish goals and then help them succeed.
- Leaders Think. Planning ahead, getting good counsel and being decisive are each important aspects of leadership in the family.
- Leaders Envision. This is the vision part of leadership. Looking toward the future and making plans together with the family can be exciting and motivating to each member of the family.
- Leaders Endure. It’s not how a leader starts, but how they finish that will make all the difference to your family.
Through the process of leadership, you can influence the lives of each member of your family for good.
I once heard someone say, “Life is tough, so be tough on yourself.” If you’ve struggled in the area of leadership for your family, it may start with being tough with yourself. Until you can lead yourself it will be impossible for you to lead others, including your family.
Leadership is an exciting adventure for those who are willing to take the steps necessary to make it happen. You can become the leader your family needs.