10 Questions for Chris Hendrix

Today The ‘Mike’ begins a weekly interview segment called “10 Questions” featuring fellow bloggers, professionals, and other folk you might be interested to know. Here I chat with my blog buddy Chris Hendrix of Devotions by Chris who welcomes you in the video.

Chris, your readers are familiar with a series of events in your life that influences the character of your blog; you’ve also shared those details on this blog. So what happened to you on and around September 25, 2003?

I hit rock bottom in my life. In the previous five months my wife ran off with another man; the building I leased for my business didn’t renew my agreement; I had to find and build out another rental space while being gouged on rent where I was; I had to take on a business partner to help; I continually ran into issues with the build-out; the IRS came after me for back taxes; and I faced bankruptcy. On September 25th my partner, seeing I was against the ropes, took my business from me.

My brother called me hourly to make sure I was alive. He told me that he couldn’t have survived everything that was happening to me and would have ended his life. I actually considered it when the business was taken from me. That’s when I laid on my living room floor, crying, and told God, “I can’t do it anymore. This has got to be the bottom. I won’t survive if it falls out again.” I felt God say, “Finally.” He reminded me of his words to Paul: “My strength is made perfect in your weakness.”

I went to the calendar and wrote “The Bottom” on it and vowed that no matter what happened or how long it took, I would climb out of that hole. Each year I celebrate September 25th as the day I learned to fully trust God’s strength in my life. It reminds me that I can’t make it through life alone. I wasn’t created to; I was created to need God. I fail in my own strength, but in his strength I am more than a conqueror.

What is the purpose of Devotions by Chris?

The purpose of my site is to bring daily encouragement to other believers who struggle how I once did. I use everyday life stories, analogies, and God’s Word to help believers grow in their relationship with God. I want readers to start their day thinking about God by reading one of these short devotionals. I hope they find practical advice for taking that next step of faith.

How do you respond to the question “Why does God allow pain?”

I wrote about this in a piece called “Why Bad Things Happen to Good People”. I believe God uses these times of pain in our lives like a gardener uses pruning shears. In order to grow, we must be pruned. In order to fully trust God, we have to come to the point where we trust his strength more than our own. I like to say that the amount of pain you endure is proportionate to the amount of joy you are capable of experiencing. I know joy because I’ve known pain.

You’ve led several mission trips to Haiti, including one from which you’ve just returned. What is the focus of these missions?

James 1:27 says that pure and undefiled religion is caring for orphans and widows. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Between the 2010 earthquake, the AIDS epidemic, and 70 percent unemployment, there are over 400,000 orphans in Haiti. Parents have to choose whether they will live or their kids will live. In every case, the parents choose themselves.

Coreluv.org

Coreluv.org

I work with an organization called Coreluv. What I do is take teams and introduce them to the problem. I put them to work in the orphanages and show them how the little they have in their hands is enough to be used by God.

We work all day painting, feeding, building, or whatever is needed to make life better for these orphans. I call it putting sweat equity in the Kingdom of God. We love on the kids, play with them, and share the hope that Jesus brings. We also visit one of poorest communities to feed kids whose parents can’t feed them. We’ve built a school to educate these children and hopefully help them break the cycle of poverty.

How else do you serve in ministry?

I’ve always considered myself a part-time minister, but my pastor called me out on it a few weeks ago. He told me about his ordination; my grandfather was the presbyter of his ordination. My grandfather told him, “There is no such thing as a part-time minister. You can have a full-time job on the side; but if you are called to ministry, you should be doing it full-time.”

That said, I blog daily, I volunteer with Coreluv, and recently I assumed leadership of a young couples group at my church. Also, I connect with people through church or my website and pray daily for them. I have a rule that if you ask me for prayer, I stop everything that I’m doing and pray for you right then. That way you know for certain that I’ve prayed for you.

You say that your drive to work is a prayer time in which you focus on a blog topic. What is your writing process?

I spend several hours a day in prayer as part of my daily routine. I once heard that D.L. Moody prayed for eight hours a day. That’s been my goal. I start each day with a quick prayer thanking God for the day and asking him to speak through me in his word. Then, I read scripture for thirty minutes. After that, I continue praying as I get ready for work.

I commute an hour each day, so I use that time to pray instead of listening to the radio. Once I get to work, I pray that God would speak through me so I can write the right words; then he can bring the right people to read them at the right time. Thereafter, I sit in silence until I hear from God, and I write once I do. I post to my site and use HootSuite to time tweets and Facebook posts throughout the day.

What are “Free Fridays” on your blog?

I got the idea for “Free Fridays” at a writer’s conference last year. I kept hearing how fearful writers felt putting their work out there for others to read. I realized how much fear plays a role in keeping so many Christians from doing what they are called to do. I decided to write a post each Friday that would help Christians get free of something that holds them back. Then, I decided that I would drive traffic to these posts by offering a free book to one reader. So not only do people get practical advice, they also get the opportunity to win a book.

What Christian WordPress blogs do you regularly read?

Bea MusesUnshakeable HopeDirector B, Deeply Rooted in Himand A ‘Mike’ for Christ

Where do you see yourself ministry-wise in 10 years?

In full-time evangelism. I believe I am called to be a part of the next Great Awakening and will be instrumental in winning, training, and utilizing laborers to bring in the final harvest. My first post, “The Vision”, is about this.

What are two things readers would be surprised to know about you?

I do all my writing on an iPad. I don’t do any of it on a laptop or desktop. Also, after three years of marriage, my wife and I invited her parents to move in with us. So my in-laws and my wife’s two sisters live with us. 

What questions do you have for Chris? 

Read more by Chris at his blog Devotions by Chris.

“Thanks” Series—Guest Post by Chris Hendrix

CC BY-NC, @DartmoorGiant, Flickr

CC BY-NC, @DartmoorGiant, Flickr

This post is the second in this week’s “Thanks” series that features quotes on thankfulness given by notable Christians. Chris Hendrix, writer of Devotions By Chris, reflects on the following quote by early American theologian Albert Barnes.

“We can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.”

As things in my life went downhill ten years ago, my brother helped me to keep things in perspective. Over the course of a few months, an employee of mine, her husband, and child died in a crash; I got pulled into a legal fight for the remaining child; my wife had an affair while I was distracted by the legal battle; she then left me for the other man; and my business went under and I filed for bankruptcy.

While having a pity party one day, my brother looked me in the eye and said, “Believe it or not, someone else has it worse than you do. You can be thankful you’re not them.” No sooner than his words hit my ear, they pierced my heart. I had been feeling like my life was worse than what Job had experienced; the truth was my life wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

When my thoughts of pity changed, my perspective changed. I quit trying to find others to feel sorry for me and started finding reasons to be thankful. My situation hadn’t changed; in fact, it got worse. Instead, what changed when I decided to become thankful was how I saw myself in the storm I was in and the purpose of the storm.

Not a Victim

Instead of asking “Why me, God?” I began to ask “What am I to learn from this?” Being thankful changed me from being a victim to a student. Even in my darkest hour God had something to show me and was desperately trying to get my attention. I had been stubbornly ignoring his call and living how I wanted to live. I had ignored his gentle warnings and signals to change how I was living; now his attempts at getting my attention grew louder and louder. God wasn’t content to let me live my life my way; he wanted me to live it his way. I’m thankful now that he didn’t leave me in the life I was living.

The theologian Albert Barnes said, “We can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.” In my life I’ve always remembered that someone has it worse than anything I will ever face. I am thankful when I think about that. When times are tough and life isn’t going the way I think it should or I feel I’ve been dealt a bad hand, I no longer pretend I’m the victim. I know now that even when things appear bad or like they can’t get worse, God is there in the storm with me. He hasn’t left me or forsaken me. He’s enduring it with me and wants to use the experience for his glory.

An Attitude of Gratitude

If you’re in the middle of a storm and you feel like things can’t be worse, I challenge you to find something to be thankful for. Are you still breathing? Then you have something to be thankful for. Your life isn’t over. God can rebuild it from the ruins where you are now.

Lose the victim mentality and become a student of what God wants to show you. To change your perspective you have to change your mindset. A changed mindset begins with a thankful heart. Things may not get better right away, but being thankful will give you a purpose in hard times. That purpose, combined with a thankful heart, will pull you through.

Read more by Chris on his blog Devotions By Chris.