Back To Detail Page

Margaret Feinberg (www.margaretfeinberg.com) is the author of over a dozen books including, God Whispers released in 2002, What the Heck Am I Going to Do With My Life? (2006) and the forthcoming Sacred Echo. She and her husband, Leif, currently live in Morrison, Colorado, and enjoy hiking, kayaking and blogging (www.margaretfeinberg.blogspot.com). Margaret is a sought after speaker for conferences and church retreats, and remains a popular and inspiring voice among those seeking a deeper more meaningful journey in the Christian faith.

 

Christianbook.com: Briefly tell us what inspired you to write The Organic God?

Margaret Feinberg: Though I had grown up going to church and even graduated with a Bachelors in Religion focusing on New Testament studies, I reached a place in my faith journey where I began taking a spiritual inventory and realized that while I knew a lot about God, I really didn't know him. So I began to pray, "God, I want to know you like I've never known you before. I want to know you organically."

Now the word organic may seem a little strange, but it actually means three things: natural, pure and essential. And in so many ways isn't that what we all want in our relationship with God? We want a relationship that is natural not forced or coerced. We want a relationship that is pure because it's founded on God's Word. And we want a relationship that is essential, because he is our life.

I thought, how do I get to know God? And I knew there was only one way, the Bible. I began going through the New Testament and key books of the Old Testament and writing down every single verse that revealed something about God. I studied God's names and nicknames, his likes and dislikes, those places in scripture where he's so readily apparent and those where he's withdrawn. This spiritual journey is the basis for The Organic God.


 
Christianbook.com: In the first chapter you mention being raised in a household with a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother. Please tell us how this shaped your spirituality at a young age and how it was that you came to know and follow Jesus.

Margaret Feinberg: Both my father and mother came to know Jesus a month before I was conceived, so I was essentially raised in a Christian home with hues of Judaism. I accepted Christ as a young child in a Christian school. I thought it was a good idea, so every time they gave an altar call, I went up. Finally a teacher told me, "Margaret, once is enough, you don't have to keep on coming up." I listened to her for the next invitation to know Christ. Then, I skipped her advice just in case she was wrong.

To this day, I have a great appreciation for the Jewish roots of my faith and enjoy Jewish commentaries, culture, and of course, the potato latkes.

 
Christianbook.com: In the second chapter you recount having seen the independent film The Motorcycle Diaries, which ended up containing one of the most incarnational moments you had seen on film. You state, "Toward the end of the film, the motorcycle duo spent time offering medical help to a lepers' colony. The nuns who cared for the lepers required that everyone wear gloves for fear of being infected…Ernesto refuses the gloves. With his bare hands, he touches those with leprosy. He talks to them as people. He laughs. He embraces. In the process, he comes fully alive and spreads that contagious life to everyone he meets." Why do you think the church has so much trouble embracing this sort of model? As Christians, what do need to do in order to embrace this sort of incarnational approach to ministry?

Margaret Feinberg: It's far easier to judge than to truly love. I believe love is the opposite of judgmentalism; it tempers our views, attitudes and interactions. In our cultural climate, love is foundational. Now some say that love has no agenda, but I believe that love is the agenda (John 13:35). Whether in our communities, workplaces or government, we must be committed to love those we work with and serve.

One of our weaknesses is that we're far more concerned with being right than being righteous. We become like the Pharisees whenever we focus on issues rather than people. Judgmentalism creeps in whenever we deal with issues as if they were black and white, rather than flesh and blood, humans in need of redemption. Do you want to remove the unhealthy judgmentalism you have in regard to the poor? Make sure you have poor people whom you love and welcome in your life. Do you want to remove the unhealthy judgmentalism you have in regard to homosexuals? Make sure you have those with alternative lifestyles that you're truly loving in your life. Do you want to remove the unhealthy judgmentalism you have in regard to our government? Make sure you have people involved in politics (even if it's just on the local level) that you love and welcome in your life.

Then, when we talk about issues, we won't just be talking about those things we care about but people we care about. And the judgmentalism, well, it will naturally begin fade away like it did for the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery and so many others.


 

Christianbook.com: You describe for us also, a class you took while attending Wake Forest University taught by the famous Maya Angelou. You mention that she taught life changing lessons on human dignity and treating others with the utmost of respect. She stated, "When you recognize someone's name, you recognize them not just as human but as a person. One of the greatest ways you bestow human dignity on someone is by calling them by name." Overall, how do you feel the church has done in working to bestow dignity upon others? Where has the church succeeded, and where have they fallen short?

Margaret Feinberg: I think that when it comes to bestowing human dignity on someone, the first question we need to ask is not, "What do we do?" but rather, "With what attitude are we going to do it?" Unfortunately, much of what is publicly expressed by the faith community is filled with anger, pride, arrogance and even hatred — not just toward the issue, but toward people — many whom have never encountered Christ.

Our humility, love, compassion and commitment to God and his Word are paramount, but the difference between being right and righteous — in any situation — begins in the heart and will shape our attitude, approach and eventually our impact. When we work from a place of loving and serving than bestowing human dignity is a given.


 

Christianbook.com: Throughout your book you describe the journey toward learning to discern God's will while learning to listen for His voice. What advice can you offer your readers as they attempt to discern God's voice while seeking His will for their lives?

Margaret Feinberg: My first book, God Whispers, really tackled the issue of hearing God's voice in a practical way. My next book, The Sacred Echo, takes a deeper approach to recognizing God's voice and what he's doing in your life. In both books, I make it very clear that hearing God's voice means spending time in scripture. You will never hear God's voice or recognize his will as clearly or cohesively as you will if you're in the Bible daily.


 
Christianbook.com: In your chapter on God being "Wildly Infallible" you state, "God's truth, if taken seriously, will not just transform our minds and hearts but also our behavior…obedience in relation to God makes all the difference. Those who obey God walk in wisdom." What might you say to some who have taken God seriously in trust and obedience, yet feel that God seems distant or absent from their personal and spiritual lives?

Margaret Feinberg: I would encourage them to keep hanging out and keep asking God to make himself real. In The Organic God, I describe a prayer that I pray almost daily for spiritual hunger. I pray that my heart would be so smitten with God that I would not be satisfied with the things of this world. And that's the kind of prayer that God doesn't say "no" to. In the same way, ask God to make himself real and keep asking. Again, that's the kind of prayer God won't deny.


 

Christianbook.com: I appreciated your chapter on generosity. Here you mention "I am discovering that [God] doesn't invite us into his generosity to take something away from us as much as he wants to give us something that we can’t get any other way. When we give freely, we become more free ourselves. We become less attached to the things of this world and more attached to the world to come." Too often we hear that Christians give far less than one might expect, even to their home congregations. Why do you think believers have so much difficulty giving to their local churches, or even with giving on the whole?

Margaret Feinberg: I think the temptation to hold back comes whenever we place more focus on what could be taken away from us rather than what we have been given. When we see ourselves as mere caretakers of possessions, then it's easier to give. Also, I think we are afraid to take God up on his offer to give and experience just how much he wants to give to us.


 

Christianbook.com: In Chapter 8, you share the process of examining the Scriptures with deep exploration, study and reflection – a process called "Midrash." Here you note certain Biblical passages revealed fresh as they never had before, such that the meanings had convicted your heart in new and life-transforming ways. Many Believers have yet to engage in this sort of Scriptural study. Could you share with us this process and what followers of Christ stand to learn from the Ancient Jewish tradition?

Margaret Feinberg: This method of study invites us to wrestle with God through his word. In Hebrew, Midrash means to search out. Midrash asks the reader to look at difficult Scriptures, ask questions, and try to make sense of them before God. Midrash invites us to have some holy chutzpah with the Bible and to trade in a surface understanding of scripture for a deeper grasp of a passage's meaning and along the way discover more of God and his ways. The questioning, the searching out, becomes a foundation of growth and discovery.


 

Christianbook.com: We hear you are working on a forthcoming book entitled The Sacred Echo. Please tell us a little about the book and what we can look forward to.

Margaret Feinberg: Namely, instead of just listening for God's whisper, I am trying to recognize the sacred echoes—those moments when God speaks the same message to my heart again and again.

The Sacred Echo challenges readers not to listen for the seemingly distant voice of God as much as to listen for the echo. When God really wants to get your attention, he doesn't just say something once. He echoes. He speaks through a Sunday sermon that pierces your heart, a chance conversation with a friend the next day, and even a random email. The same theme, idea, impression, or lesson will repeat itself in surprising and unexpected ways until you realize that maybe, just maybe, God is at work.

I've been noticing that God uses the repetitive nature of life and circumstance not only to get but to keep my attention. While a single whisper usually leaves me unsure, the repetitive nature of a sacred echo gives me confidence that God really is prompting, guiding, or leading. Like an exclamation point, the sacred echo reminds me to pay close attention, something important may be going on here. The sacred echo challenges me prayerfully consider how God is at work in my own life as well as the lives of those around me. The Sacred Echo is an invitation to spiritual awakening. It's scheduled to release in August from Zondervan.

 

Christianbook.com: Please take a moment to share with us some writers and other artists whom you enjoy, or who have been influential to your own faith.

Margaret Feinberg: I'm a huge fan of Cold Play, Snow Patrol, Sara Groves, Ron Mehl, Gary Thomas, The New Yorker, Winn Collier, Amena Brown, Craig Blomberg, and Wilson Bentley.


 

Christianbook.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Margaret Feinberg: One of my prayers is that readers will find themselves falling in love with God all over again.


 

Return to the Organic God detail page.

Back to the Top