Friday, 10 May 2013

Review: God's Favorite Place on Earth author Frank Viola

A book of comfort. A book of challenge.

I had never realized the amount of time Jesus spent in Bethany prior to reading Viola's newest release, 'God's Favorite Place on Earth'. Viola presents a good case for Jesus' attachment to the people and the place that captured his favour. People who welcomed and received Christ, providing hospitality, honour, friendship and love. All responses we are encouraged to offer as our own Bethany invitation to Christ.

To move past performance mentality of serving as exemplified by Martha at our initial glimpse into this home in Bethany. To pursue relational living with the Lord as seen in Mary 's response. Casting aside gender and cultural restraints to be who she is called to be, Mary leaves propriety to wholeheartedly invest herself, her time, her efforts for the worth that is Christ. A worth that increased in her relational pursuit, culminating in the ointment poured upon the object of her affection, her heart's desire, her Lord. Viola would that we recognize Mary's 'waste' and make it our own. Recognize that what religion and religious of our day consider service or ministry is often the real 'waste' when worship is God's heart cry for his 'friends' to follow...

This particular point also spoke to a recent conversation on property ownership 
vs communal living where all things are shared. 
Christ never suggested personal property ownership was sin. Mary's fragrant offering was hers to give, revealing a heart of generosity. She owned the perfume; the perfume, valuable as it undeniably was, did not own her. There's the heart of the issue. For the rich young ruler, his personally owned property owned his heart. Thus, Jesus' solution to his particular issue wasn't a wholesale solution or command to every follower. We're called to have Mary hearts of worth and worship toward our Saviour, whatever our financial situation.

A beautifully novelized telling from Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha, of their times spent with their friend, Yeshua Jesus. Insights gained from those times, his own death and resurrection foretelling Christ's own. The deathbed counsel of his so-called friends reminiscent of Job's counsellors; there's definitely got to be some sin in there somewhere Lazarus! Or some lack of God's abilities or God's heart isn't toward you. How common to the religious minded to confront and affront another, all, supposedly, in service to God. 
But not in the truth of Christ's Spirit of Love and Compassion. 
Mercy that fails not...

Thought provoking and life changing challenges from Viola, if allowed to search and cleanse our own heart; to move us toward becoming a Bethany that welcomes and creates sanctuary for Christ and His nature to become our self-image.

Rich with narrative, scripture background to each chapter, and practical applications such as our position in prayer. 
Beggars coming before God? 
Or from the place of ascendancy provided through Christ's ascension? 
Are we seated with Christ in heavenly places?
Or still lacking boldness to enter God's throne of Grace
through the completed work of Christ in His death, resurrection and

A book to inspirit new perspectives in living out the Bethany experience as well as invitation to make our churches Bethany communities that welcome and promote Christ in relation and reality.

Highly recommended for those who are pursuing more than religious form and function, 
those who desire to live an ascendant life, 
or those who are curious.

*David C Cook provided an ebook copy to read and review without obligation. Thank you for the opportunity.

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