You are Invited to a Dinner with Jesus of Nazareth
The mysterious envelope arrives on Nick Cominsky’s desk amid a stack of credit card applications and business-related junk mail. Although his seventy-hour workweek has already eaten into his limited family time, Nick can’t pass up the opportunity to see what kind of plot his colleagues have hatched…
The normally confident, cynical Nick soon finds himself thrown off-balance, drawn into an intriguing conversation with a baffling man who comfortably discusses everything from world religions to the existence of heaven and hell. And this man who calls himself Jesus also seems to know a disturbing amount about Nick’s personal life.
“You’re bored, Nick. You were made for more than this. You’re worried about God stealing your fun, but you’ve got it backwards.… There’s no adventure like being joined to the Creator of the universe.” He leaned back off the table. “And your first mission would be to let him guide you out of the mess you’re in at work.”
As the evening progresses, their conversation touches on life, God, meaning, pain, faith, and doubt—and it seems that having Dinner with a Perfect Stranger may change Nick’s life forever.
|Publisher:||The Crown Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.50(d)|
About the Author
David Gregory is the author of A Day with a Perfect Stranger, The Next Level, The Last Christian, and the coauthor of two nonfiction books. After a ten-year business career, he returned to school to study religion, sociology, and communications. He holds Master’s degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary and the University of North Texas. He has been a frequent teacher, trainer, and conference speaker since 1996. A native of Texas, he now lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, Ava, and their four children. Learn more about this book at www.dinnerwithaperfectstranger.com.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter Two: The Seating
“Dinner for one, sir?” The maître d’s appearance from behind the wine bar dashed my option of bolting before anyone noticed me. “Sir? Dinner for one?”
“No, I’m… I’m supposed to meet someone. I’m Nick Cominsky…”
“Ah, Mr. Cominsky. Right this way.”
He grabbed a menu and led me past the wood lattice that bordered the single dining room. The place hadn’t changed since I had brought Mattie for Valentine’s two years back. Two staggered tablecloths, one white and one red, covered each of the tables. Large mirrors created the image of a side dining area. The windows on two sides of the room overlooked the Ohio River. I could see lights from the Kentucky side reflecting on the water. The current provided nice background noise, like those ocean CDs you can buy to help you sleep. Unfortunately, some lame Andrea Bocelli song that Mattie loved virtually drowned out the river.
Tuesdays looked slow at Milano’s. Guests occupied only four tables. I inhaled the smell of toasted bread as we passed an older party of six laughing at a front table. A couple in their early twenties held hands and made goo-goo eyes at each other in the far right corner, the guy oblivious to his shirt sleeve dangling in his ravioli. In the middle of the room, two weight-challenged women giggled as they plunged into a monstrous chocolate torte. And in the far corner on the left, a thirty-something man in a blue business suit sat by himself, perusing a menu.
The maître d’ led me over to him. Rising from his chair, he stuck out his hand and firmly grasped mine.
“Nick Cominsky,” he said. “Hi. Jesus.”
In retrospect, a thousand comebacks were possible—“Jesus H. Christ! So good to finally meet you!”…“Are twelve of our party missing?”…“I didn’ t know they buried you in a suit.”
The absurdity of the scene, though, stunned me into silence. What do you say to that? The man and I continued shaking hands a little too long, until I issued a weak “Uhhuh.” He released my hand and sat back down.
My eyes caught the maître d’s. He quickly averted his glance and picked my napkin off my plate, cuing me to sit. He placed the napkin in my lap, handed me a menu and, with an “Enjoy your dinner,” left me alone with…
“Thanks for meeting me,” the man started. “This probably wasn’t the most convenient time for you, middle of the week.”
We stared at each other. Well, I stared. He resumed looking at his menu. He had an average build and was a little shorter than me, maybe five foot ten or so. His complexion olive toned, his hair dark and wavy, cut short and combed forward. His bushy eyebrows (Mattie would make me trim those,I thought) hung over deep eye sockets and brown eyes dark enough that you couldn’t quite tell where the iris ended and the pupil began. His slender nose and thinnish lips matched a chin that receded slightly, as if knowing it couldn’t compete with the brows above. He wasn’t GQcover material, but he definitely spent more time in the gym than I did. His suit wasn’t Armani, but it wasn’t Discount Warehouse, either.
He looked up and caught me scrutinizing him, but he didn’t seem the least bit uncomfortable. Since my eyes provided few clues as to what this whole thing was about, I decided to give my ears a shot.
“Excuse me, but am I supposed to know you?”
“That’s a good question,” he smiled, to himself I guess. “I would say the answer is yes.”
“I’m sorry, but I’ve never met you, as far as I can remember.”
I looked around the room, waiting for the guys to jump out from behind the lattice or maybe from the men’s room. But no one hid behind the lattice. As for the men’s room…I turned my attention to the guy across the table.
“Come at me again. You are…”
“Jesus. My family called me Yeshua.”
“Your family, from…”
“Well, I grew up there. I wasn’t born there.”
“No, of course not. That would have been in…”
“Bethlehem. But we didn’t stay long before we left for Egypt.”
That was about all I needed to hear. This guy was a nut. Without saying a word, I got up, retraced my steps past the lattice, took a right, and entered the bathroom. Mr. Ravioli was rinsing off his sleeve, but besides him, no one. Backing out, I momentarily considered cracking the door to the women’ s room but dismissed the thought as premature. I took a left and peeked through the circular window to the kitchen. Nothing. I paused, scanned the restaurant, and, deciding this warranted a more direct approach, returned to the table.
“Look,” I said, sitting on the edge of my chair, “I’ve got better things to do tonight than have some mystery dinner with… Who are you really, and what’s going on here?” My question had an unintended edge. After all, the guy hadn’t done anything to me except meet for dinner.
“I know this isn’t quite what you expected. But I think if you give this evening a try, you’ ll find it meaningful.”
“Of course!” I retorted. “Who wouldn’t find a dinner with Jesus meaningful? Last week I had dinner with Napoleon. Socrates the week before. But Jesus! Thank you so much for coming all the way from the Holy Land!” I realized my voice was carrying more than I wanted. The two women had turned our way.
He sat silently.
“Hey”—I rose again from my chair—“I need to get home to my wife and daughter. Thanks for the invitation.” I stuck out my hand in a conciliatory gesture.
“Mattie went out to a movie with Jill,” he said without flinching. “She got Rebecca to baby-sit Sara.”
Okay. Finally a few pieces were starting to fall into place. He knew my wife. He knew Jill Conklin, the wife of my best friend, Chris. He knew our regular baby-sitter, Rebecca. He knew Mattie and Jill had gone to a movie. Once more I reclaimed my seat.
“Did Chris put you up to this?” I couldn’t imagine how Chris could be involved; it was way too weird for him.
“No, he didn’t.”
I returned to my original suspects. “Are you a friend of Bill Grier and Les Kassler?”
He slid his menu aside and leaned forward. “I’ll tell you what. If you stay for dinner, I promise to tell you at the end who set it up.”
The last time Bill and Les had done something like this, I ended up wearing fake cement overshoes and getting tossed into a swimming pool on Halloween. A heated pool, fortunately. Now I was having dinner with some guy claiming to be Jesus.
The waiter interrupted my contemplation, addressing the man across the table. “Have you selected a wine, sir?”
“I think I’ll let my friend decide,” he responded, turning to me. “Would you care for some wine?”
“Okay,” I replied, “sure.”
I opened the wine list and scanned thirty or so offerings, none of which I recognized. I was tempted to order the most expensive one on the list, but instead I pointed to a midrange white. “We’ll take the Kalike.”
I handed the wine list to the waiter. He looked back at my host, who gave a slight nod.
“The Vermentino di Gallura–Kalike ’98,” the waiter confirmed to me. He departed, passing a busboy with a water pitcher. The busboy filled my glass first, then the other guy’ s, eliciting a “Thank you, Carlo.”
We both picked up our water glasses and took a drink. I had to admit, this guy was good. Where did they find someone willing to play Jesus for an evening? And in such an unassuming way, as if he were just a normal guy. My coworkers had outdone themselves this time. But why? What was the point to all this? Les and Bill weren’t particularly religious. Bill went to Mass on Christmas and Easter, when his wife dragged him there. As for Les, he worshiped only at Western Hills Country Club.
Glancing back over at the pre-honeymooners, the mirror caught my eye. Could the restaurant have a two-way mirror? That seemed a little far-fetched but no more so than the evening had been thus far.
Our waiter appeared behind me with a bottle of wine, opened it, and set the cork down for me. I picked it up and took a whiff. “Smells good.” I looked up at him, detecting a slight roll of his eyes.
He poured a small amount into my wineglass and'handed it to me to taste. Mattie and I frequently had wine at home but not in this class. “Very nice.”
He poured me a full glass, then one across the table before leaving the bottle, prompting a “Thank you, Eduardo” this time. Is he on a first-name basis with the entire wait staff? He must come here weekly.
I was tempted to ask, but I had already decided on a different strategy. I leaned back in my chair and turned to “Jesus,” suppressing my customary sarcastic smile. “So your family called you Yeshua?”
“Most of them. James called me a few other things.”
“Well, Yesh— Do you mind if I call you Yesh?”
“Whatever suits you.”
“Yesh it is, then. Tell me,”—I held up my wineglass—“can you turn this wine back into water?”
Reading Group Guide
1. WEEK ONE: CHAPTERS 1—4
What was your initial reaction to the premise of the book?
Do you ever wish you could have some sit-down-and-talk time with God? Why? If you could sit down one-on-one with Jesus, what are two questions you would like to ask him?
Is there such a thing as actual reality? Why is it important for our belief system to correspond to reality? What difference does it make if it does not?
What’s wrong with saying about someone’s belief system that “It’s true for them”?
How is Christianity distinct from the other primary world views, such as Islam, Hinduism, and atheistic naturalism (the material world is all there is)?
How does the Christian concept of God differ from the Islamic concept of God? Why does this matter in regard to humanity’s deepest longings? How does your experience relate to this?
On page 28, Jesus makes the statement, “You don’t want what you’re ultimately trusting to be wrong.” What are you ultimately trusting concerning your eternal destiny? How do you know whether you will be with God for all eternity?
What are you trusting in the day to day aspects of your life, to live life to the fullest?
2. WEEK TWO: CHAPTERS 5 & 6
Why isn’t God interested in having people try to perform for him? What is the implication of this for your own life?
If God’s business is restoring relationships, what does he want your response to be toward him? Toward others?
What do you think are the primary indicators that humanity is in rebellion against God?
Are there rips in the fabric of your life that only God is big enough to fix? Do you go to him with these things? How do you think he wants to use those rips for good purpose in your life (Romans 8:28-29)? How can you cooperate with God in his fixing process?
How does Islam water down God’s perfect holiness and justice? What is the way God can be both perfectly just and forgiving at the same time (see Romans 3:23-26)?
How would you answer the question Jesus poses to Nick on page 56: “Don’t you think God loves you at least as much as you love Sara?”
Discuss the parable Jesus tells of the two schoolboys. How would describe the character of the friend with the better grades? How is God like this friend, only more so? Why?
What should be the impact on your life of knowing that God longs to have you with him, both in eternity and in your daily life now?
If you have not received the free gift from God that Jesus explains on page 58, what is keeping you from doing so now?
3. WEEK THREE: CHAPTERS 7 & 8
How is belief in God not a blind leap of faith? How is belief in Jesus as God in the flesh not a blind leap of faith?
What happens to someone on the inside when they place their trust in Jesus Christ?
If Jesus came to restore us to our original design, is God living in us part of how we were designed to live? What are the implications of this for you own life?
What aspects of your life would you like to change, but you don’t seem to have the strength to do so? How does God want to be the one to do them through you?
In what sense is marriage “not about rules”? Why can God’s relationship with us be described the same way?
What does it mean to you personally that God became human?
Jesus said that he came to reveal the Father. Based on what you know about Jesus, how would you describe God the Father?
Most of the New Testament teaching on hell comes from Jesus himself. How does knowing this affect your view of hell?
How would you explain God’s purpose for the present time? In what sense will one day everything be made right?
What are the implications of the fact that God chose to suffer more than his creation suffered?
Are there hurts in your life that it seems God doesn’t care about? If you are willing to share, what is one of them? What does this chapter have to say about whether God actually cares or not?
How does God use personal pain in His plan of restoring his relationship with people? Have there been wounds in your heart that have driven you to God? What were/are they? How did they drive you to Him?
4. WEEK FOUR: CHAPTERS 9 & 10
Are you stuck on a performance basis with God, trying to please Him through your own efforts? How does He want you to depend on Him living through you instead?
In what way is “God living in you” the best part of the message of Jesus? What difference should it make if God lives in us?
If God lives in you, is it possible to love those whom you don’t have a positive emotional response to, at least at times? How does this happen in a practical sense?
Read the gospel of Luke, chapter 15. If you have placed your trust in Jesus as your Savior, is God “doing back flips” over you? What is the implication of that for you?
From the characterization in the book, how would you describe Jesus? What kind of person is he? What qualities of his stand out to you the most?
Which of the following aspects of the good news of Jesus Christ is most important to you:
·getting your sins forgiven
·being with God in eternity
·have a real relationship with God now
·receiving a changed heart with new desires from God
·God living in you now and forever
Overall, what was the most important aspect of the book to you personally?
What questions remain in your mind concerning any of the issues the book raised? Is getting an answer to these questions important to you? How are you going to go about getting your answers?
What is the personal application for you of Revelation 3:20, the Bible verse that the book closes with? How can we dine with Jesus daily?
What are action step(s) you would like to take concerning yourself as a result of reading this book?
What are action step(s) you would like to take concerning someone else as a result of reading this book?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a 'must read' for anyone interested in deepening their relationship with God, especially skeptics and those who are sure they already know 'the way.' Many surprises and 'ahh' moments that seem so simple, one would think humanity is still trying to invent fire! Share this book with those you love, but especially those missing out on the love of God...I plan on buying this book for birthday presents.
David Gregory does an excellent job of getting you to sit down across the table from Jesus along with the Nick, the main character. Sure it's a crazy idea, but its implausibility is trumped by its allure. What an opportunity ... dining with Jesus. I didn't mean to read it all at once, but I did. And I have picked it many times since, and recommended it to family and friends.
It's one man's interpretation of how a conversation of Jesus might go, but I think the author may have come pretty close to hitting it. His chracterizations of other religions do not sound very politically correct, but according to what I've read and heard, they are accurate.
In this time of many uncertainties, this is a truly inspirational book, that brings us back to the basics of faith. I would recommend and have to several friends.
I found this little book to contain a lot for it's size. It is a very intimate,thought invoking book about what happens during an evening spent in the presence of Jesus
As a Christian I loved this book....however I think non-christians would be really offended by the book. But, as a Christian I loved it. It gave me new ways to think about different things. I would highly recommend....infact, I have already given it to the kids bus driver.
This by far is one of the best books I've read, thought provoking and emotionally high-spirited! Information about the various religions around the world was very interesting to learn. I couldn't put it down, I felt as if I was listening in on their dinner conversation from the next table. Very inspiring.....I would love to receive such an invitation and be the honored guest of Jesus of Nazareth. Don' t miss this one, I've already ordered several more of these books to give as gifts to friends and family, my copy is being worn out by co-workers! Jan Makowski, Virginia, Minnesota
Quick, thought-provoking read!
Great book! It was a great quick read!! I highly recomend it!
"An Invitation Worth Considering" The tagline for Stranger is about as assertive as I feel in recommending this book. I have never been a fan of fiction that puts words in Christ's mouth, and here is a book that is filled with it. The story is based off Revelation 3:20 and Christ's words: "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me." Why I have issues with this sort of fiction, I hope, is obvious. When a man seeks to drive a point home with "what if scenarios" and includes a comment like "What if Christ said..." that's one thing. But to base an entire book on a theoretical conversation is to suggest that Christ Himself is a character pliable in the author's hand, and that the author knows exactly what Christ would say and how Christ would respond to one's questions. See Wm. Paul Young's The Shack for the epitome of how far "Christian fiction" has gone in this vein. Apparently we have become discontent with blasphemies living across town and with heresies slipping in through the back door. Now we invite them both into our homes as guests named "fiction." What floored me more than the "words of Christ" in Stranger was the response of the main character, Nick, "in retrospect" to meeting Christ on page 10. Honestly? Are we to allow the sheer blasphemy of of cursing Christ's name in our pleasure reading now? The Name that is above every name (Philippians 2:9)? The Name by which all men must be saved (Acts 4:12)? The name on which people call to be saved (Romans 10:13)? The name at which every knee will one day bow (Philippians 2:10)? I am all for fiction, leisure time, and pleasure reading. But I am disappointed that I used that time to read these 100 pages. This is one book I definitely will not recommend. [I received this book free for review from Waterbrook Press] ©2011 E.T.
"Dinner with a Perfect Stranger, An Invitation worth considering" by David Gregory is a great little book, with a great story. What would you do if Jesus had invited you to dinner? I really enjoyed how this story is told and the message is conveyed. The story is about a man, Nick, being invited to a dinner, to whom he doesn't know who invited him. At the restaurant he find out that he is having dinner with Jesus, although skeptical at first, he acknowledges whom Jesus is and has dinner. He asks Jesus all kinds of questions from religions, how the earth was made, to the passing of his father. I really enjoyed this book as it is a short read and the author keeps the story flowing to the point that I didn't want to put the book down. Revelation 3:20 20 Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 [...]: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Nick receives an dinner invitation on his desk. It is inviting him to dine with Jesus of Nazareth. He isn't sure he should go as it probably is a prank being pulled by his buddies. Nick is very unsure about this man he meets in the restaurant. Is he a nut or just some one pretending? As theyt eat their dinner Nick's questions are being answered.Will it change his life? I enjoyed this book very much.I would love to read other books by this author. I was sent this book by Waterbrook Mulnomah free to read and review.The opinions are all my own.
A book about an average citizen, living an average life, struggling with daily issues receives an invitation to dinner. He arrives at the dinner to meet Jesus of Nazareth. What ensues causes this man to re-evaluate the way he lives his life.I found this to be a very thought-provoking book which made me think differently about my own relationship with our Creator.
This is not the best book I've ever read, but it's perfect to give to a non-believer or someone struggling in believing that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. It's more geared toward presenting the gospel in an easy-to-read, non-threatening manner. Give this book to any of your non-Christian friends.
This book started out with an intriguing premise, that of a conversation with Jesus at a local fairly upscale restaurant. The narrator is a person of lukewarm faith, who has desultorily explored other religions. Jesus in this story takes point about other religions, and attempts to demolish them with clever arguments. This book takes a very evangelical approach to the conversion process, which I found disarming, if not disagreeable. I did manage to finish this relatively short book, which is why it got as a high a rating as it did.
A riveting little book that I couldn't put down. Nick is invited to dinner with Jesus and, thinking it is a prank, he shows up to the most amazing dinner of his life.
This was exciting and fun to read. Lots of meaning and so much to think about. If only we all had dinner with Jesus.... what a great world this would be....
Dinner with A Perfect Stranger was a very quick read that will strengthen your Christian walk. The premise behind the book is that Nick Cominsky gets an invitation to dine with Jesus. At first, he believes it is a practical joke from friends but soon learns that it is not. Nick gets to dine and speak with Jesus and ask many questions he has been having. In the end, the questions that Nick asks are similar to what most of us have had or still wonder about. For me, the book gave a new perspective on many of the topics discussed, including different religions, why we suffer, etc. The book is well written and at least for me helped to strengthen my Christian Faith. I have already purchased the second installment by Gregory, A Day with A Perfect Stranger, which focuses on Nick's wife Mattie. I am looking forward to it.
A easy read short novel. Cynical Nick is invited to dinner with a stranger who claims he is Jesus. Nick believs it to be a practical joke but finds himself drawn more and more into conversation with the stranger.
This was a very easy read, I finished it in one night. I'm sure almost every Christian has wondered what it would be like to meet Jesus, and that's answered in this book, at least from the writers point of view. I enjoyed how Jesus was portrayed as a normal man, just having dinner with someone. I found most of the dialog to be accurate to how Jesus would really answer. The only thing that I felt was missing was an explanation of how it changed the main character's life. Overall I felt this was a very good book.
There's just one thing people need in order to live a happy, abundant life: to be convinced that God loves them. ... "Dinner With A Perfect Stranger" will help you in learning how to be SURE that He does. This is the delimma facing Nick when he accepts the invitation to join Jesus of Nazareth for dinner. This must be a prank! But the man sitting across from him introduces himself as Jesus, of Nazareth. Their conversation covers family relationships, world religions, the afterlife, and eternal life. Join them for dinner, enjoy the "meal" and have your hunger satisfied. You'll never go hungry again.
This is a very light read. Gregory does a good job addressing a number of items that you might imagine would come up over dinner with Christ. Some of the topics he only just touches upon, but that makes sense given that I think this is meant to be a lighter introduction to Christianity.
This little book isn¿t your typical small, quick, superficial read. It¿s actually more of the opposite! It may be small but the contents are thought provoking and reflective. For me, it¿s a book that I¿m going to have to read more than once to digest it all!Skepticism abounds in the beginning of the book. From thinking the invitation is a joke from his friends to doubting Jesus at the beginning of dinner---¿Tell me (Yesh), can you turn this wine back into water?¿. Who can blame Nick? It¿s not every day you get invited to dinner by Jesus! But by dessert, Nick is trying to decide if this guy is a nut-case, a great actor, or is it possible he¿s the real thing?Obviously Nick has a lot of questions and much doubt about this whole thing but he¿s not afraid to ask the hard questions. As expected, the answers are not always specific or clear cut. They are meant for the reader to ponder and reflect about their own beliefs and values. On the flip side, sometimes the answers touched upon by Jesus are ¿lessons¿ that we need to learn.Dinner with a Perfect Stranger is a splendid read for a book club or bible group. There are several different sets of study guides for group discussions¿discussions for one meeting, 4 meetings, or 8 meetings. For a 100=page book, 8 weeks of discussion shows the inspiration of the book.I would give this a 5 out of 5 star rating. The story is very well written, easy to read and understand, as well as a way to discover your own beliefs and views. I¿m going to give this to a family member who has quite a bit of ¿alone time¿ due to his job. I¿m not trying to convert someone with the book but just allowing them explore their own principles and convictions. I¿m sure we all could use a little of that.I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah¿s Blogging for Books and have given my honest opinion of this book.
I had won my copy of Dinner with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory in a giveaway on GoodReads.com.The title and premise of the book intrigued me. I do so love reading novels about religion, religious history, and the like. I picked up the book to glance through it and commenced reading; the book being only 100 pages did not take me long to finish.When Nick first received his invite to have dinner with Jesus, he was certain it was a joke being played on him by his office buddies. But when Nick shows up to dinner the night unfolds into something he did not expect.I enjoyed the way the chapters where laid out; the events unfolding from receiving the invitation to being seated, glancing at the menu, appetizers, etc¿ all the way through to getting the bill and going home.Although in the beginning Nick treats the dinner as a test to get this ¿actor¿ to crack --- ¿Tell me, can you turn this wine back into water?¿ He soon finds himself engaged in a conversation the like of which he has not had since his college years.I liked how some of Nick¿s questions were answered with parables, for instance, when Jesus asks Nick if he would give his life in the place of his daughters if she had committed a crime and was sentenced to death to explain Jesus dying for our sins. And although a lot of the questions Nick asked and the answers Jesus gave seemed to me to be the norm; ones I have heard many times before there were others I had not heard. The two touched on many of the other religions, Buddhism, Islam to name two.As dinner progresses Nick realizes this man who claims to be Jesus knows a great deal about Nick¿s life and the possibility that he is telling the truth starts to weigh in on Nick¿s mind.Reading the book as a novel and not as someone trying to preach to me made the book quite enjoyable. Personally, I feel that a lot of people are missing out on some excellent writing due to the fact that they cannot read a ¿Christian¿ novel because they are certain they are trying to be converted.