Dinner with a Perfect Stranger: An Invitation Worth Consideringby David Gregory
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/b>
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 appears to be more than comfortable discussing 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.
From the Hardcover edition.
"Here’s a wonderful feast for the mind and soul! Pull up a chair and eavesdrop on this provocative conversation. If you’re like me, you’ll hear questions that match your own — and answers that can change your life."
— Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, and The Case for a Creator
“There's just one thing people need in order to live a happy, abundant life: to be convinced that God loves them. Want to be convinced? Read Dinner With a Perfect Stranger. The author deftly anticipates and answers every question. I predict this little book will become a classicone of a handful of modern books (like Mere Christianity) that people read to kindle or rekindle faith. All of the "business" surrounding the dinner is done so well it reminds me of Babette's Feastsimple, earthly details that profoundly convey spiritual reality. Dinner with a Perfect Stranger is truly a wonderful book that makes me feel I've just heard the gospel for the very first time.”
— Mike Mason, author of The Mystery of Marriage, Champagne for the Soul, and Practicing the Presence of People
“The choice is yours: Enjoy a delicious meal of, say, veal fantarella with grilled vegetables. Or spend a quiet hour reading David Gregory’s book. You may find an altogether different sort of hunger has been sated by the final page. Brilliant in its simplicity, fearless in its presentation of the truth, Dinner with a Perfect Stranger is one invitation you'll want to RSVP.”
– Liz Curtis Higgs, best-selling author of the Bad Girls of the Bible series and several novels
- The Crown Publishing Group
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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?”
From the Hardcover edition.
Meet the Author
David Gregory is the author of the best-selling books Dinner with a Perfect Stranger and A Day with a Perfect Stranger, and coauthor of two nonfiction books. After a ten-year business career, he returned to school to study religion and communications, earning graduate degrees from The University of North Texas and Dallas Theological Seminary. A native Texan, David now devotes himself to writing full time.
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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.
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.
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.
Rediculously expensive read for just 68 pages!!!
When faced with an invitation to have dinner with Jesus, a doubting and struggling man gives in assuming it to be a big joke. What he finds is nothing short of a miracle, forcing him to face questions, thoughts and challenging ideas that had followed him his whole life. What a refreshing and intriguing book! I was hooked immediately and curious, engaged up until the end and left wishing for more. Short yet packed with thought provoking ideas and concepts, this book is an instant favorite for me. Chapters are quick and easy reads, yet enough food for thought to keep ones mind going for hours and days after reading. An excellent book to share with an un-believing or on the fence friend or family member, the book presents many of the argued points in regards to Jesus, Christianity and religion in general in a non-confrontational or preachy manner that still gets across the main points while painting Jesus Christ in an accepting, loving and down to earth manner. Easy to understand even for those un-exposed to the Christian faith, the book opens the door for more conversation as well as explains the foundations of the Christian faith and salvation. A book I would highly recommend everyone read, believer or not, as it introduces a new way to look at presenting Christ as well as plenty of opportunity for self searching and growth. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated for writing this review.
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 (located here)-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.
Dinner with a Perfect Stranger is about a man named Nick who receives an anonymous invitation to dinner with Jesus. Nick is skeptical about this dinner invite. He has no relationship with God, his marriage is shaky, and his job no longer gives him satisfaction. Nevertheless, he accepts the invitation and shows up at the restaurant were Jesus of Nazareth awaits him. The conversation that ensues is extremely interesting and, at times, entertaining. The reader takes the place as an observer in this conversation; however, at many places in the conversation it is as though Jesus is speaking to the reader. David Gregory, the author, uses a 100 page book to help explain the fundamentals of Christianity. He also looks at other religions and points out how and where they have fallen short of the truth. In response to the question about why Jesus doesn't make everyone go to heaven, he responds "Love doesn't force relationship... God created people to be able to choose freely. He honors their choices" (79-80). Dinner with a Perfect Stranger is a light/heavy read. Light in the fact that it is only 100 pages. Heavy in the fact that it deals with questions and issues that many people spend months, even years, pondering on. While some questions may be answered, others are left unanswered as if to challenge the reader to seek a closer relationship with God so that the answer may be found. I received this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing for this review.
Dinner with a Perfect Stranger By David Gregory Nick Cominsky has received an invitation to dinner with Jesus of Nazareth. Thinking that he is the target of a practical joke Nick shows up. What follows is nothing like what Nick expected. Who is this man claiming to be Jesus? As Jesus asks and answers questions, Nick is forced to admit that much of what the world offers is empty and meaningless. Then Jesus tells him that God restores relationships - God's with humanity. To restore this relationship a person must accept a free gift from God - the gift of forgiveness and eternal life. At the end of this Dinner with a Perfect Stranger, Nick is left with a decision. Will he let Jesus into his life or leave Him on the outside knocking on the door his heart. What would you do? Join Nick for a night contemplation and heart-to-heart self examination. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
This book was so good. I recommend it to everyone. You will not be disappointed.
The entire time I wished it was me. I've always accepted not seeing Jesus until he steps out on a cloud and we all see him face to face. This story gave me a marvelous insight on talking to JC now, today, about living life and storing my treasures in heaven. I didnt expect to read something new. GOD doesn't change, he is the same today as he was yesterday and as he will be tomorrow. I did expect to be encouraged and that I received in abundance. By Wyvongela