10 Questions With...Margaret Feinberg

What authors have influenced your writing &/or your spiritual life?

I love great writing and storytelling wherever they can be found, especially when it’s in a fab magazine like The New Yorker. I read pretty much anything and everything that’s nonfiction—even the back of cereal boxes. But when it comes to growing spiritually, I tend to read Bible commentaries and biographies. Overall, I also consider myself a boutique reader. One recent title that I fell in love with is Jesus and the Eskimos by Fred Savor. You can’t even buy it on amazon—now that’s a treasure! It’s the story of how the Eskimos discovered the news that the Father of All Lights was coming even before the first missionaries arrived in Alaska. It’s a fascinating read of God revealing himself to a remote people. Those kinds of books serve as a tangible reminder to me that God is very real, active and engaged in our world.

You have been recruited to do a commercial for Alaskan tourism. What might be the top 2-3 reasons people should visit Alaska?

First, don’t wait! Far too many people wait until their too old to really enjoy Alaska. When you’re 75, it’s hard to hike, kayak and play in the wild beauty of this land. So visit while you’re young! Why come? Because of the rugged beauty, the plentiful wildlife (including bald eagles, seals, and bears—oh my!), and you’ll regret it if you don’t.

You write in your book that the question “what the heck am I going to do with my life” is one of the greatest questions we can ask ourselves. Do you think this is a recent phenomenon, one that has faced only the last few generations, or do you think it has always been a great struggle?

I think the very nature of the question has changed over the last thirty years. A few decades ago people looked at a job as a source of income. Today, people look at a job as a source of meaning for their lives. We want our 9 to 5 to include purpose, the opportunity to use our gifts and talents, and the chance to make a difference along with a hefty paycheck if possible. So the struggle has largely shifted and intensified for our generation.

Who or what helped you in the area of figuring out “what the heck you were going to do with your life”?

Friends and family members asking hard, reflective questions helped a lot—which is why I include so many of them throughout the book. One of the best is simply, If you could do anything with your life and time and money weren’t issues, what would you want to do? Now, what’s stopping you from doing it? There’s a lot of mileage that can come from that kind of introspection especially when coupled with prayer.

What suggestions would you give to older generations in trying to relate with & reach out to that twentysomething generation?

We need you! You have no idea how much we need you. The question of our age is not, What if Jesus comes back tomorrow? But What if He does not? What are you doing to mentor us? To love on us? To raise us up as the generation that will take the Gospel forward? We need you in our lives. Ask us over to lunch after church on Sunday. Invite us to work out with you at the gym. Welcome us into your lives, your families and your communities—it’s through relationship that we grow and learn and along the way you might be surprised what we can teach you.

In your book from a few years ago, God Whispers, you say that prayer is less about how we talk, but how we listen. If you could get one point across from that book on how to listen, what might that be?

Listening to God does not naturally come easy. It takes discipline. It takes quieting the mind—which in our world can be tough to do! So when you get distracted during quiet, contemplative prayer, write down the distraction especially if it’s something you need to do, someone you need to call it. Then come back to that quiet place before God.

At the same time, keep in mind that God doesn’t just speak through contemplative prayer, but he also speaks to us when we’re on the go and in our daily lives. So ask God to make you spiritually attune to the ways he may be speaking. You may find a nugget of wisdom in a sermon, a jewel of scripture in the Bible or wise words from a friend that echo something God is whispering to you.

You talk in a blog post about two issues (social justice & environmentalism) which twentysomethings are making more prominent within the church. Why do you think this generation is more interested in being socially responsible than ones in the past (on a whole)?

I think every generation has its strengths and weaknesses, and unfortunately, the modern evangelical movement has not been on the forefront of social justice and environmentalism. The good news is that’s changing. I think it’s something God is awakening in the heart of his people and we hear it as a resound in the words of people like Shane Claiborne and the International Justice Institute Mission. When we hear their message, something perks up inside of us and says, “We need that!” I think that heartcry is widespread.

On your website, you link to both Compassion International & World Vision. Do you sponsor a child & would you be willing to talk about that experience?

My husband (and I) sponsor a child through Compassion International. We had the opportunity to visit a series of Compassion projects in Bolivia and we’re huge fans. We love the way that organization partners with the local churches to change lives. In February, we’re scheduled to go to Africa through a partnership project with World Vision. We’re very excited about the opportunity.

In your blog, you talk about your upcoming release, The Organic God. You talk about how you went through the Bible verse by verse writing down every verse that revealed something about God. What was one of your favorite “revelations” about the character of God during that time?

I learned so much from that spiritual discipline. One of the many things I discovered is that God is very specific about the things he loves. He obviously loves his people, and there’s verse that says he loves the sanctuary, and we all know John 3:16 (even if you’ve only seen it on a placard at a game). But there’s only one verse in the whole Bible that says what God really loves succinctly. And it’s 2 Corinthians 9:7, “God loves a cheerful giver.” As I’ve meditated on that verse, I’m beginning to realize just how pleased God is when we give just material possessions but of ourselves to others—which includes caring for the poor, the widow and the orphan—people who are closer than you think. I can go into a lot more depth on this, but you’ll have to wait until The Organic God releases in May 2007.

(Yes I do realize that there are only 9 questions. My fault.)

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--posted by cubfann

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