GOD’S FAVORITE PLACE ON EARTH by Frank Viola Publisher: David C. Cook Date published: May 1, 2013 ISBN: 978-0-7814-0590-4 Inspirational/Christian/Fiction Paperback Reviewed by Lynne Obtained via publisher Rating: 5
While on Earth, Jesus Christ was rejected by those He came to save. A man with no place to lay even His head until...Bethany. The one place he felt welcomed, accepted, and loved.
While in Bethany, Jesus and his talmidim came to love the family of Simon the Leper, which included Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, whose lives He touched in a unique, memorable, and awe-inspiring way.
GOD’S FAVORITE PLACE ON EARTH by Frank Viola is told by Lazarus, after he is raised from the dead. It is the story all believers have speculated about for centuries. What was it like, many have often wondered, to know a man who was dead for four days and was then miraculously resurrected back to life by the most rejected man on Earth?
Viola shares in GOD’S FAVORITE PLACE ON EARTH the incredible, heartwarming story of this great miracle. A miracle that still lives on in the Word of God, that proves Jesus Christ is indeed the Resurrection and the Life, as He professes to be.
GOD’S FAVORITE PLACE ON EARTH gives insight into what may have happened after this great miracle took place. The problems and unexpected fame Lazarus faced. Deeply moving and well written, GOD’S FAVORITE PLACE ON EARTH is an extraordinary book that will touch your heartstrings and brings this story to life in such a way as to make one marvel at not just the writer’s unique skills, but at God Himself.
GOD’S FAVORITE PLACE ON EARTH also brings understanding to the reader of challenges that many believers often face, including doubt, discouragement, fear, guilt, rejection, materialism, and spiritual apathy. Viola skillfully weaves a wondrous tale that will captivate one’s heart and will help the reader discover how to live as a ‘Bethany’ even in today’s world.
GOD’S FAVORITE PLACE ON EARTH is magnificently told and hard to put down. I read it in one day, I was so intrigued by the story and touching message it contains. GOD’S FAVORITE PLACE ON EARTH is full of depth, charm, incredible wisdom, beauty, and great spiritual insight. I am certain that anyone reading GOD’S FAVORITE PLACE ON EARTH will be drawn more closely to Jesus Christ and embrace Him as never before.
Clearly God’s anointing was on Viola as he wrote GOD’S FAVORITE PLACE ON EARTH. It is one of the most exquisite, memorable books I have read in a long time. By the time I was done reading it, I felt more love for my Savior than ever before. It is with new eyes I look at Him and marvel at His works.
I recommend GOD’S FAVORITE PLACE ON EARTH for anyone interested, not just believers. GOD’S FAVORITE PLACE ON EARTH is an experience that few will want to miss. It is a crowning achievement for Viola that I know many will enjoy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. 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.
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Review 2 for God's Favorite Place on Earth - eBook
Viola introduces this work with "narratives anchor people to a unified vision. May this book give you a unified vision that will govern the rest of your life".
The Lord used this writing in my life in exactly that way!!! I couldn't put this book down.
The story part of this work of art is unforgettable, really. I will always remember the way this book made me feel and the mental pictures it gave me of Jesus - fully human - as I imagined His interactions with others.
As a personality who operates from the heart primarily - I know my tendency to be lead by my emotions & not the Spirit... but I had over corrected of recent in trying to ignore my emotions and the Lord used this book to bring me back. Like a spring of water poured over a dry land, I felt His love just drown me as it has so many times before. He stirred my heart's affections for Christ so much that I literally feel the warmth of His love back in me.
Visualizing the stories I've read so many times in the NT and focusing on the Lord's heart....looking at the bigger picture and storyline behind it all.... has opened my heart up in ways I was yearning for. It changed the way I read the NT accounts of Jesus. It did exactly what I was desiring the Lord to do in my heart - help me know Him more intimately - as Lord, as Savior, as fully God and fully man, as friend.
Drawing me in to the heart of our Lord Jesus, God used this book to help me truly partake from the spring of living water and be quenched. It lead me back to the place of reverent awe & worship I always desire to stay in! Through this book, God helped fuse the disconnect I was feeling between my heart, emotions & my journey with the Lord. Though our feelings & emotions can trick us and we must be sure not to be lead by them or even focus on trying to "feel" a certain way......... the truth is He DOES make us feel and He uses our emotions perfectly to draw us to His heart! LOVE does FEEL. We can't expect them or lean on them.....but praise God He has gifted us with feelings and it all fits right when He helps us bring them under His reign! We can't make the mistake of trying to disconnect our emotions from our faith... and we must never desire to give the Lord anything less than our whole heart.
I am sure that the Lord will use this book for other personalities in different ways... there are so many practical lessons in how we relate to God, how we journey with Him... and others. But I wanted to share what He did in me through it.
This is one of those works I know I will continually come back to. Through this story & lessons following, He has imprinted many lessons & visuals in my heart & memories to draw from in future dry seasons.
I see so much clearer what the Lord is desiring in His people and I have been reignited in my vision to "waste my life" on surrendering to the Lord Jesus and giving Him lavishly my whole heart, soul & mind.
Praise by to the Lord on the throne! He is so worthy of all our praise!!! I can't wait to see Him in person and look in His eyes and feel His embrace!! I can't wait to see every knee bowed at His name and SEE Him in His place of King!! I am so EXCITED for Him!!! To get all He deserves!!! For all the glory & honor for ALL to see!! For the full redemption He is going to feel of all He endured for me and you!! For the amazement of everything set right!!!!
To look in His eyes and SEE the pure LOVE and acknowledgement, it was worth it, it was worth it!!! OHHH Lord Jesus!!! I can't wait to see you on the throne and to see your heart satisfied, your longings met in your beautiful Bride that you have presented to yourself radiant without blemish!! I see glimpses of it among this groaning and I am yearning to see the conclusion!!! I LOVE YOU JESUS!
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Review 3 for God's Favorite Place on Earth - eBook
Frank Viola is an American writer and blogger on Christian topics. He has written and co-authored a number of books including Jesus a Theography and the Jesus Manifesto. His latest book “God’s Favorite Place on Earth” is a book about the city of Bethany.
In truth, I’ve never read a book quite like this, I don’t know if I could classify this book as historical, or expository, creative or devotional. It almost reads as one long sermon filled with all of the accounts of Christ that take place in Bethany. And if that doesn’t sound like much, think again. Bethany is where all of the events with Mary, Martha and Lazarus take place. And even though the author does take some literary liberties in re-telling some of the bible stories, he is never far from the heart of the scriptures.
Frank Viola has an easy to read voice and is a wonderful story teller. If you like Max Lucado or Brennan Manning it has that same feel to it. God’s Favorite Place on Earth is a wonderful tale told in six parts through the eyes of Lazarus – in fact it could have been titled: the Gospel according to Lazarus! Mr. Viola is presenting a very creative, very enjoyable read for those who have grown too familiarwith the gospel narrative that I think most will find delightfully refreshing.
Thank you to David C. Cook for providing a free copy of this book for a fair and honest review.
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Review 5 for God's Favorite Place on Earth - eBook
I purchased a copy of God's Favorite Place On Earth yesterday and am already on my second reading! This unique little book is like the cherry on the top of all the books Frank Viola has written to date (I have been re-reading all his books from the late 90's onward)! The simple presentation of the absolute pinnacle of what our position in Christ should be if we are truly committed to him! It touched me in so many ways - anguish, laughing, crying, praying, edgeofmyseat anticipation, and finally - triumph! I had seen the beauty of Bethany previously, but Frank made it come alive in a way that provokes one to re-examine one's priorities in the who-when-where-why-how of worshipping our Lord and Savior.
The most poignant part that really brought me to my knees in tears was the full understanding of Mary anointing Jesus with her expensive flask of nard - and just what that meant to Jesus and the reaction of all who surrounded them in that unforgettable moment. The beauty of her worship, the prophetic sub-moment, the totality of her love and commitment for Jesus is almost too hard to wrap your head around unless you have been at that same place in your life. I am just stunned.
Simply a beautiful rendering of the facts about Bethany and its people, as told through Lazarus. I am recommending this little jewel to everyone , that they may better understand what Jesus needs from us (and by extension, Father God). It is my opinion that truly, if each Christian took the facts as presented in this book to heart and became a Bethany for Christ, we would see a totally changed 'church' in America. It would become a true Ecclesia exhibiting oneness in Christ, total love for Father, Christ and each other, that would have a great affect in local communities and eventually the world, as it did over 2,000 years ago!
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Review 6 for God's Favorite Place on Earth - eBook
This book is simple but deep. You don't have to be a scholar of scripture to enjoy and learn from the simple story told in this book. It does not take long to read, but you will want to read it again and again for new insights!
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Review 7 for God's Favorite Place on Earth - eBook
God's Favorite Place on Earth is a small, beautifully written book that tells the story of Jesus from the perspective of Lazarus.
Lazarus and his family, Mary, Martha and their father Simon the leper* lived in Bethany, a humble, quiet village whose name means the House of Figs. It was this village that Jesus went to again and again, and it was this family who opened their home to Him. Scripture says He loved this family. Jesus healed Simon of leprosy, and raised Lazarus from the dead. He accepted Mary as a worshipper and encouraged her heart of adoration, and He gently chided Martha to come and rest in His presence. It was in Bethany that Jesus ate with His disciples six days before the crucifixion, and it was at that supper that Mary broke the alabaster jar and poured her spikenard perfume over Him. The scent of her love-gift filled the house, and lingered around the Lord as He hung on the Cross. And it was Bethany that He returned to before He ascended. The Mountain of Olives in Bethany was the spot Jesus ascended from, the last place His feet touched the ground before He went up into Heaven. Truly, we have reasons to believe this village was God's Favorite Place on Earth.
Frank Viola's book tells this story with freshness and detail, pulling you into the life of Lazarus, his family, and their time with Jesus. The writing is reverent and lovely, perfect for devotional reading leading up to Easter. This book allows you to come close to the family in Bethany, and listen to the Teacher whom they loved. Drawing the story from Scripture and weaving in quotes from Christian writers like Nouwen and Spurgeon, God's Favorite Place on Earth adds richly to our understanding of Jesus' life.
I highly recommend God's Favorite Place on Earth. I was given this book by David C Cook Publishing for my honest review.
*Frank Viola has come to the conclusion that Simon the Leper was most likely the father of Mary, Lazarus and Martha. I agree that this is reasonable. I will think of this from now on whenever I read the story of the family of Bethany.