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Now Featured in the Patheos Book Club
God's Favorite Place on Earth
By Frank Viola
"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
"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 all-important 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 worshiped, and the much more impressive Jerusalem, which crucified Him. This is a beautifully written, timely, 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. Honored to call him a friend, excited to call him an author I love to read."
—Jon Acuff, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Start, Quitter, and Stuff Christians Like
"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: What You Give and What You Gain To Become Like Jesus
"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
"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, Drew University, George Fox University, chief contributor to sermons.com
"My Sunday School teachers did the best they could, but 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 find 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 best-selling author of 35 books, including The Promise Box
"Perhaps it's because I work in a creative business, 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 Ph.D. 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, 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: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic and Permission to Speak Freely: Essays and Art on Fear Confession and Grace, 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 story teller. 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, Northern Seminary, 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 1st 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
"God's Favorite Place on Earth beautifully creates a powerful and moving portrait of the humanness of Jesus and His dearest relationships. Taking a story well-told, Frank Viola engages the voice and view of Lazarus to bring a new perspective and moving relatability to Jesus' life on earth. Incredibly thoughtful and moving."
—Jenni Catron, Executive Director of Cross Point Church and author of Just Lead!
"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, blogger at sarahbessey.com