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«God’s Favorite Place on earth “In Frank Viola’s hands, the story of Lazarus—like Lazarus himself—once again comes to life. In a world where ...»

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Praise for …

God’s Favorite

Place on earth

“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. The gift given to Lazarus can be yours as well.”

John Ortberg, senior pastor at

Menlo Park Presbyterian Church

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. Pick up this book if you need a reversal in your Christian life; it will not disappoint.” Mary DeMuth, author of Everything “Frank Viola’s pen and voice are consistently both penetrating and trustworthy. Beyond his invitingly beautiful writing skill—which makes reading a joy and provides a sightseeing tour that brings God’s Word into 3-D when he relates narrative passages—I’m grateful for the depth of his themes. Frank probes the ‘deep calls unto deep’ content of the Holy Spirit’s call within the Scriptures and awakens that hunger that must be regularly fed to secure renewal in each of us. God’s Favorite Place on Earth is the kind of book I’ve discovered I need to periodically find and read—thereby keeping ‘the fallow ground’ of my own soul plowed, resown, and watered in order to continue fruitfulness and to deepen the root system of my spiritual walk and growth in Christ.” Pastor Jack Hayford, chancellor of The King’s University in Los Angeles “Frank Viola’s God’s Favorite Place on Earth is a fast-moving, groundbreaking look at the Christian’s struggle against legalism, discouragement, doubt, rejection, and spiritual complacency. Told through the voice of Lazarus, the narrative is intellectually gripping and emotionally touching. 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. It brings several familiar gospel stories to life in a fresh and compelling way.” Mark Batterson, New York Times bestselling author of The Circle Maker “Out of the rubble of the crumbling religion of Christendom is arising a new tribe of kingdom revolutionaries who are captivated by a vision of a God and a kingdom that is anchored in the humble, enemy-loving, self-sacrificial love manifested on the cross. And one of the boldest, most insightful, and certainly most creative leaders of this rising movement is Frank Viola. 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.’ In the process, Frank prophetically exposes the subtle but allimportant difference between hearts that embrace Jesus and hearts that merely appear to do so. It is the difference between the unimpressive town of Bethany, where Jesus was welcomed and worshipped, and the much more impressive Jerusalem, which crucified Him. This is a beautifully written, timely, and prophetic work all would benefit from reading!” Greg Boyd, pastor and author of Benefit of the Doubt, Present Perfect, and The Myth of a Christian Nation “A lot of people write books; Frank writes stories, and in this one we once again see why he’s such a master. I’m honored to call him a friend and excited to call him an author I love to read.” Jon Acuff, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Start, Quitter, and Stuff Christians Like “As masterly as a Cezanne canvas or a Stravinsky score, 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, professor at Drew University and George Fox University and chief contributor to Sermons.com “My Sunday-school teachers did the best they could, but when I was growing up, the biblical people and accounts were no more than flannel-graph images in my mind. They existed at about the same level as the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny.

As I’ve become a student of God’s Word, I’ve fallen in love with the real people who found themselves in the pages of the Bible.

I learn so much from their dreams, their failures, and especially their surrender. 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 bestselling author of thirty-five books, including The Promise Box “Perhaps it’s because I work in a creative business, but the idea of ‘place’ has always been important to me. Where I find inspiration, where I write, or where I take time off matters because I’ve discovered that where I create is the key to what I create. In spite of that, and in spite of my PhD in theology, I had never considered the importance of Bethany in the life of Jesus. Frank Viola’s new book, God’s Favorite Place on Earth, helped me understand why that one location meant so much to His life and ministry—and why a loved and valued place can transform yours.” Phil Cooke, media consultant and author of Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media “This book exudes love for Jesus. Its creative format offers an inviting window for valuable meditations on what we can learn about the Lord and our relationship with Him from His life and that of some of His closest friends.” Craig Keener, professor of New Testament at Asbury Seminary, and author of The IVP Bible Background Commentary “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 “God’s Favorite Place on Earth is engaging fiction, poetry, theology, and devotion all put under one cover. The book brings new insight and perspective to Jesus and His most intimate friends—Lazarus, Mary, and Martha—with creative language that is beautiful and inspiring. It’s emotionally moving and brings the reader back into the Gospels as an observer, addressing some of our deepest struggles as Christians in the process.” Anne Marie Miller, author of Mad Church Disease, speaker, and blogger “In the scope of the biblical story, weren’t Lazarus, Martha, and Mary just minor figures living in a unimportant village?





That’s certainly what I assumed until Frank Viola showed me what I had been missing. With a mix of creative narrative and pastoral insight, Viola reveals what these friends of Jesus meant to Him—and what that means for us.” Joe Carter, editor at The Gospel Coalition and The Action Institute “Frank Viola is a powerful storyteller. The story in this book changed Frank’s life. That’s a powerful statement. After reading the pages of this book, I’m convinced that learning God’s favorite place on earth might just change yours also. Do you need some encouragement? Ever feel rejected in your Christian walk? Read this book!” Ron Edmondson, pastor and blogger at ronedmondson.com “More than a devotional, better than an academic study, God’s Favorite Place on Earth is a deeply moving pastoral book that will build your faith. Turn its pages slowly, pause between chapters, and allow yourself to be immersed into the world of the New Testament. Prepare yourself for an encounter with Jesus the Galilean—yet the very Son of God.” David Fitch, B. R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology at Northern Seminary and author of Prodigal Christianity “My friend Frank Viola is one of my favorite authors. He has the rare ability to make theology beautiful and grace delicious and practical. In God’s Favorite Place on Earth, Frank teleports you back into the ancient first-century soil of Bethany, Jesus’ favorite place on earth, and a whole new world of grace will unfold like drama right before your eyes. This book will move you to love Jesus more.” Derwin L. Gray, author of Limitless Life: You Are Not Your Past When God Holds Your Future, speaker and pastor “Frank’s deep love for Jesus abides in every sentence of this unique and beautiful book. He makes the dry bones of the old stories from Sunday school dance with beauty and resurrection power. God’s Favorite Place is a call, a challenge, and a love story, all at once.” Sarah Bessey, author, editor of A Deeper Story, and blogger at sarahbessey.com “Familiar stories scattered in different parts of the Gospels are woven together into one narrative in this innovative work.

Fictional elements help bring the events to life, and each chapter concludes with practical teaching to drive home the message that if you choose to welcome Jesus into your life, remarkable consequences will follow. Frank’s refreshing and infectious passion for Jesus permeates every word.” Adrian Warnock, author of Raised with Christ and blogger at adrianwarnock.com “Hold on for a mind-bending, Spirit-honing journey. I’ve been a fan of Frank’s writing for many years now, and this book distills all of the things I love best about his books. Here, for the first time, Frank offers not only great wisdom and theological insight, but also narrative passages to take us back to the sights, sounds, and realities of Jesus’ day. We are there at the table with Him in Bethany. We are there at His side when He calls Lazarus from the tomb. To encounter Jesus personally is to be changed forever, and Frank offers that opportunity by taking us to God’s Favorite Place on Earth.” Eric Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Fireproof, 1 Step Away, and October Baby “Here’s an invitation to experience Jesus in a remarkably personal way, through the eyes of His close friend Lazarus. As Lazarus retells ‘the old, old story,’ we find ourselves there, with him, with his family, with Jesus, watching Jesus at work and enjoying the warmth of His presence and the power of His influence. Frank Viola draws us into a powerful drama very much at home in the Gospels and faithful to the first-century world, and then he helps us to personalize Jesus’ message.” Joel B. Green, PhD Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Associate Dean for the Center for Advanced Theological Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary

–  –  –

“Without question, this is Frank Viola’s most exhilarating book yet. Read it to see into the heart of Lazarus. Read it to experience the tenderness of Jesus like never before!” Dr. Andrew Farley, bestselling author of The Naked Gospel and God Without Religion “Frank Viola has a rare gift for helping us all understand the intimate union we share with the Father through Jesus Christ.

God’s Favorite Place on Earth will stir your emotions and empower you to open yourself to be a ‘Bethany’ where Jesus feels right at home. This is one of those books you’ll read twice and then share with a friend.” Steve McVey, author of Grace Walk “After reading God’s Favorite Place on Earth, I found myself longing to be in each Bethany story with Jesus—tasting the food, smelling the perfume, seeing the man raised, and watching Jesus soar to the heavens. But more so than this desire, I now long to be Bethany to those around me. Thanks, Frank, for helping me see.” Pete Briscoe, pastor at Bent Tree Bible Fellowship, Telling the Truth “Few authors challenge me in my faith like Frank Viola. This book and the stories it contains will force you to face the myth of religion and instead adopt a life of deeper dedication to God, to find your own Bethany. It sure did for me.” Jeff Goins, author of Wrecked “Frank Viola’s new book, God’s Favorite Place on Earth, couldn’t have reached me at a better time. I’ve been grappling with the pain of being rejected, misunderstood, and judged by other Christians for a few years now. I had no idea how dangerously bitter I’d become. Frank’s book spoke directly into my heart, giving me much-needed perspective on the way God reconciles these difficult experiences, both in Jesus’ life in the flesh and in ours. I realized how I had slipped into the modern church’s focus on the self and success and how that set me up to be bitter instead of forgiving, cynical instead of surrendered. I had forgotten that God’s greatest work comes in and through my weakness and brokenness. This book is a timely and poignant reminder, through the story of Jesus’ life and His one safe place, of the way God can redeem the pain of rejection by fellow believers and do amazing things through our own weakness when we embrace our brokenness and surrender to God.” Joy Bennett, writer, editor, and blogger at joyinthisjourney.com “God’s Favorite Place on Earth invites you to discover in a fresh way God’s desire to live in close relationship. Many struggle today from self-doubt and discouragement. They feel stress at home, school, and work. This book invites you into the life and experience of Lazarus and his small village of Bethany. In an easy-to-read and creative way, Viola tells the story of Lazarus and why Jesus, as God with us, found Bethany as His favorite place on earth. This journey ends with a compelling vision for believers to become God’s Bethany to their own communities.

This book will inspire all who read it.” Bruxy Cavey, teaching pastor at The Meeting House and author of The End of Religion “The best thing I can say about Frank Viola is this: when I read his books—and I read them all—I don’t think much about Frank Viola. I think about Jesus. And I learn to love Him more. This book is no different. Read it, and if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself thinking, ‘I knew Jesus was great, but … Wow!’ And that, at least from me, is as good as it gets.” Brant Hansen, radio personality and blogger

–  –  –



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