JohnSWilson3 Blog

Review of “God’s Favorite Place On Earth” by Frank Viola
June 24, 2013, 3:09 am
Filed under: 2A - Book Reviews

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 and 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)

4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Thanks John for sharing your thoughts. I have loved Violas writing, and glad to share in the love of our Jesus.

Comment by bobbyjonewell

Amen, thanks Bobby for commenting!

Comment by John Wilson

Good review, John.

Comment by Joshua Lawson (@Joshua__Lawson)

Thank you Joshua!

Comment by John Wilson

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