This month at the Patheos Book Club, we’re featuring a remarkable new book Signs, Wonders, and a Baptist Preacher: How Jesus Flipped My World Upside Down, by Chad Norris. This personal story of one ordinary man’s discovery of the healing power of the Holy Spirit – in his life and the life of others around him – is an inspiring call to cast ourselves in the role of healers, as well.
“My book is an attempt to show that brokenness and conservative theology is not a roadblock to seeing the supernatural become quite actually natural,” says Norris, a Baptist preacher who is currently on staff at a large Community Church outside of Greenville, South Carolina.
Chad answered a few questions for us about his journey from clinical depression to seeing “signs and wonders” of God in his daily life.
At one point you hated God. Why?
I did not want to be close to anyone that could be so sadistic. I was told He killed my grandfather, and my thoughts of God began to pile up on the idea that He will take someone or something close to you if you get too close to Him. I hated Him. As I got older, I slowly began to understand that I did not know Him at all.
How did the death of your grandfather impact you?
I think the reason his death impacted me so much was that I was five years old when it happened. He was my hero and best friend. I simply did not have the capacity to grieve the death or understand it. It shows me the power in learning how to grieve. I tell you what, I sure did grieve his death 25 years later. We are going to grieve our trauma sooner or later. Even in the middle of the worst thing I could imagine, I came to find the God I could simply not imagine. I went from hating God to loving Him.
Yes. If you notice, Jesus never called Him God when He was talking to Him. He was always referring to Him as Father. You can tell a lot about a person by what they call God. He is God, yet even Paul himself is pushing us toward knowing Him as “Abba Father.” A. W. Tozer said that what we think about when we think about God is very important. I could not agree more.
How did seeing Jesus in an open vision change your life?
Well, for starters, I could not get over how much love I felt in that encounter. I could literally feel love overwhelming me. Even now when I think about it, I still can’t get over it. I can’t imagine what heaven is going to be like if its anything like what I experienced. Jesus looked straight through my eyes and told me to trust Him. To use the word “overwhelming” is an understatement. From that point till now, it is impossible for me to minister without flowing from a stance of His extreme love for us.
Before the encounter, it never occurred to me to pray for the sick and broken. I would pray for their peace, but never actually thought of them being healed as a result of prayer. That all changed quickly. I started to pray with courage and boldness. The more I prayed, the more I saw people getting healed. Novel concept. I prayed and still pray with tiny faith and huge revelation of His love for us. To me, I think we have way more love problems than we do faith problems.
Why do you think methodology is so important when it comes to healing?
Well, for me, I only had one paradigm for the supernatural when I was growing up. I thought that things like healing had to be loud and obnoxious, and people had to be afraid of being embarrassed. Now I laugh that I once thought that way. As I have traveled, I notice that people really respond much better to being prayed for when I am calm, quiet and respectful of the situation. The Lord showed me in a dream one night how calm He was when He prayed for people, and it really helped me to think differently.
You use a lot of humor in Signs, Wonders and a Baptist Preacher. Why is that?
I love to laugh. I still can’t believe I am a pastor because I never thought I would be one. I thought that in order to be in ministry, you had to be serious all of the time. The older I get, the more I realize that seriousness is not a fruit of the Spirit. We take ourselves way too seriously in my opinion. I have found that humor is also a door to help people really relax with a conversation that has divided us for too long.
You write, “Gone are the days of the great man or woman of God coming into town and everyone goes to see them.” What do you mean?
In the past, we have known of great men and women of faith that see miracles. Now we are hearing stories of ordinary people that nobody knows about seeing great things as well. The day is upon us when the normal seventh-grade student simply lays hands on another student’s migraine headache and sees the Kingdom of God manifest.
What about when you pray for people and they do not get healed?
Well, I seem to be even more drawn to people who believe God yet do not see their breakthroughs. These people are heroes in my book. It is so frustrating to see so many people healed and then some not healed at all. At least not healed in the way I want them to be healed. I think more people would be open to the conversation on healing if someone could not make people feel worthless by not receiving. Jesus said there is no condemnation. There is no use in making people feel guilt for not getting healed. People who make others feel this way do not know the Father, in my opinion. He is the kindest person I’ve ever met, and I have not found Him to be this way.
Do you still consider yourself a Baptist?
This is going to sound like a cop-out, but I just don’t feel the need to label myself with a particular denomination. I love speaking in all types of churches. Just last week I preached on the love of the Father and saw people healed in a Baptist church in Texas. I am finding that more and more conservative people are open to a conversation on being naturally supernatural. To me, methodology is very important, and when people sense a calmness to the supernatural, they are more open to receiving from the Father.