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God's Favorite Place on Earth Paperback – May 1, 2013
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"In Frank Viola's hands, the story of Lazarus--like Lazarus himself--once again comes to life. In a world where hope is battered and life can so easily beat down the human spirit, we are reminded once more of the possibility of becoming a host of Life."
John Ortberg, pastor and author of Who Is This Man?
"God's Favorite Place on Earth realigned my heart toward Jesus and His mysterious, confounding, surprising, beautiful ways. It's not often I learn something new when reading a book, but Frank Viola's sharp storytelling and insightful interpretation made me hunger for more of the real Jesus."
Mary DeMuth, author of Everything: What You Give
"God's Favorite Place on Earth is the kind of book I've discovered I need to periodically find and read. Frank Viola's pen and voice are consistently both penetrating and trustworthy. Beyond his invitingly beautiful writing skill--which makes reading a joy and a sight-seeing tour that brings God's Word into 3-D when he relates narrative passages, I'm grateful for the depth of his themes."
Pastor Jack Hayford, Chancellor of The King's University, Los Angeles
"This is a masterfully engaging book that distills the vision of the Christian life into one focused quest: To be God's favorite place on earth today. I recommend this little volume to all Christians and Christian leaders."
Mark Batterson, New York Times bestselling author of The Circle Maker
"Combining masterful storytelling, historical knowledge, biblical insight and practical wisdom, Frank artfully uses the Gospels' depiction of Lazarus and the small town of Bethany to lay out a beautiful and compelling vision of a God who longs to make every human heart and every church 'His favorite place.' This is a beautifully written, timely, prophetic work all would benefit from reading!"
Greg Boyd, pastor and author of Benefit of the Doubt
"A lot of people write books, Frank writes stories and in this one we once again see why he's such a master. Honored to call him a friend, excited to call him an author I love to read."
Jon Acuff, bestselling author of Start and Quitter
"Frank Viola surpasses himself in his best book yet—a work of serene, soaring magnificence. Part novel, part biography, part theology, part Bible study, Frank’s imaginative touch and command of prose haiku leaves the reader resolved more than ever to be a Bethany—God’s favorite place on earth."
Leonard Sweet, Drew University, George Fox University
“Reading God's Favorite Place on Earth by Frank Viola, my soul began to burn from Chapter One. To delve into Lazarus' heart and thoughts ... I received a beautiful glimpse into the life of Christ on earth. Lazarus' stories make a perfect foundation for God's truth, God's intimacy. I can't wait to share this book!”
Tricia Goyer, USA Today best-selling author of 35 books
"In spite of my Ph.D. in Theology, I had never considered the importance of Bethany in the life of Jesus."
Phil Cooke, media consultant and author of Unique
"Reading God's Favorite Place on Earth illuminates the story of Jesus in such a new and captivating way that it's bound to impact your life. Read this powerful book and reconnect with the Lord's heart for every Christian, every church, and every city. "
Pete Wilson, pastor and author of Plan B and Empty Promises
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Top Customer Reviews
God's Favorite Place on Earth is a short and easy read that accomplishes:
- Bringing the Scriptures to life
- Revealing the height, depth, breadth, and width of Jesus Christ
- Demonstrating how the Holy Spirit is leading Christians to live by Christ's life today.
I love all of Frank's books, but this one in particular is especially beautiful to me because I have always loved the scene in the Bible where Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus with her most valuable possession; because it expresses the beautiful, natural response of a faithful follower of Jesus. As Frank points out, Mary's favorite place is at the feet of Jesus. She saw His worth and knew with all her heart it was beyond measure. She LISTENED to Jesus and through faith BELIEVED Him and THANKED Him with everything she had for His grace and truth, while others around her were trying to figure out if they would be first in His kingdom or how what he talked about would play out to bring about their personal, individual desires. She was Jesus-centered instead of self-centered -- the mark of a true believer. As the reactions of others offered offense to her, she didn't do anything or say a word to defend herself, rather, she humbled herself and left it at the feet of Jesus who honored and defended her and memorialized forever her precious gift to Him. We would all do well to learn from Mary of Bethany. I will never again think of the Passion of Christ without remembering that Jesus "smelled the perfume" - what an encouragement for a believer to remember!
Frank brings this story of Bethany to life in a way that teaches and shows a believer how we can bring comfort and joy to our Lord and Savior. The name Bethany means "House of Figs". The book's illustration of the cursing of the fig tree on the way to Jerusalem as the result of that tree's bearing false witness helps us understand how Jesus responds when we choose to pretend we are His followers but in reality lie and keep our gifts/fruit to ourselves and not share them with Him and his children.
Choose not to be a fruitless fig tree bearing false witness, but rather choose to be a Bethany to the Lord. As Frank writes: "Bethany--His favorite place on earth--the town where He was welcomed, loved and worshiped during his short life. In Bethany, the heavens opened up to Him. Spiritual Bethanys are what the Lord is after and what will bring Him back. When the Lord sees spiritual Bethanys all over the planet, He will return for His own because His own will receive Him. Jesus is looking for a Bethany in every heart, in every home, and every church." As Frank writes, through Lazarus, the narrator: "So take the high ground and be a Bethany for the Savior. He is worthy of nothing less." May we all experience the unfathomable love that our precious Lord and Savior has for each one of us - as our brother Frank obviously experiences and has faithfully expressed to us in the best way he can.
READ THIS BOOK (and all of Frank Viola's books)!! - I promise, it will bless your heart and bring you closer to the heart of Jesus.
I am thrilled that Frank has updated his out of print book "Bethany: The Lord's Desire For His Church." (1) I definitely love the update from the older e-booklet version that is no longer available and its synthesis from Jesus Manifesto (2) with Frank's other writings. In 2009 Frank's little booklet inspired me to see "church" in a whole new light, one that was centered on Christ as Head of the church practically and not just in theory. But "God's Favorite Place On Earth" is far from being an updated version of the older booklet, it really has been remade.
I enjoyed reading the dialogue and story of Lazarus, it is really inspiring! There were times that the vivid images that Lazarus gives brought me to the point of tears and a fresh joy in our Lord. The story of Bethany written like this gives one the sense of a play with varying acts. In each `act' Frank describes the story through the eyes of Lazarus. He then gives the "sacred text" that describes the story from the Bible and provides a section of application called "walking it out." In this section of "walking it out" you can hear in his words the voice of experience, Frank has "been there done that." In true fashion Frank does not hold back on the "gore and glory" one will find when we learn to live by Christ's life together. I thought that one of the most important sections was "Blessed Are The Unoffended" involving dealing with criticism in the body of Christ. Additionally, in the back of the book Frank has a "talking it over" section that gives questions that groups can use to discuss that `act' in the Bethany story.
Frank has been able to take the genesis of what T. Austin-Sparks wrote in 1933, "Bethany: The Lord's Thought For His Assembly," (3) into a spiritually and emotionally electrifying read that includes timeless and timely experience and application vitally important to the body of Christ today. As Frank says "the earth awaits a group of Christians in every city who will receive Him again utterly and completely."
Frank brings out the stories of Bethany to show God's desire, His thought, His heart for a people who together receive and appreciate His Son. When His people learn to be a Bethany they have learned to live by His life together and there will be "cleansed lepers, resurrected humans, transformed servants, extravagant worshippers, brothers, sisters, fathers, and disciples all sitting around a table where Christ is the Head - feasting, fellowshipping, and rejoicing with Him." They are "a group of followers who will enthrone Christ as absolute Lord over their lives...who stand for and submit to His headship...who will sit under the Lord Jesus Christ and esteem Him above all else...who will give themselves fully to Him and to one another...who are willing to `waste' their lives on Jesus...both individually and corporately. The earth awaits such a group." Wow! And we can be part of what God desires!
The stories of Bethany are stories of how the body of Christ properly receive and appreciate her Lord. Each time Jesus visited the family of Martha, Mary, Lazarus, and Simon with His disciples Frank shows that the church is in training on what it means to gather around her Lord, to give a place for Jesus to lay His head. The time around the Lord together will not only bring joy and awe it will include conflict with our souls, with our selfish desires and as we learn to live by Him Christ will have the supremacy, He will find "that which His soul longs for," and will find His favorite place on Earth. May we be a Bethany for our Lord.
(1) Bethany: The Lord's Desire for His Church was a 24 page e-book first published by Frank Viola, in May 11, 2007.
(2) "A House Of Figs," Chapter 9 from Jesus Manifesto. By Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, 2010. This chapter has 19 pages is an overview "of the outstanding features of Bethany, all of which depict what the Lord is looking for in every city across this planet."
(3) Bethany: The Lord's Thought For His Assembly. By T. Austin-Sparks, 1933. (28 page booklet from Witness and Testimony Publishers) http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/000422.html.