Frank Viola is a frequent conference speaker and author of numerous books on the deeper Christian life and radical church restoration. He has helped thousands of people around the world to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and enter into a more vibrant and authentic experience of church life.
As I wrote last week, Frank has been an encouragement to me for almost seven years now. His writings always spur me on toward Christ and knowing him together with saints in community.
Frank has written many books, including “From Eternity to Here,” “Reimagining Church,” “Pagan Christianity?,” “Jesus Manifesto,” “Jesus: A Theography,” “Revise Us Again,” and “Finding Organic Church.” I have reviewed several of his books here at the blog.
Frank was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about his new book, God’s Favorite Place on Earth (David C. Cook, May 1, 2013).
You’ve written many successful books. What is unique about God’s Favorite Place on Earth?
Of the 14 books I’ve written so far, God’s Favorite Place on Earth is different. It’s a work of biblical narrative that combines story with non-fiction. It’s fast and easy to read.
The curtain opens with Lazarus, who is now ready to die, telling the incomparable story of Jesus’ interactions with him and his sisters, Martha, and Mary. God’s Favorite Place blends drama, devotion, theology, biblical narrative, and first-century history. Within each narrative, the common struggles that we Christians face are addressed and answered.
These are struggles that I’ve faced in my own Christian life, so I offer solutions that I’ve discovered. Some of them are, How Do You? . . .
- Gain God’s peace and presence in the midst of your worst storm.
- Grow to the place where you are beyond being offended.
- Truly forgive and release those who have rejected you.
- Learn how to live life without fear of anything.
- Trust God when He doesn’t meet your expectations or doesn’t appear to fulfill His promises.
- Handle rejection, misunderstanding, and unjust criticism, especially from fellow Christians.
- Be set free from bitterness.
- Identify what touches the heart of Jesus the most. (It may surprise you.)
Why do you believe this book to be your “life’s work” as an author and church practitioner?
Because it includes all the major themes that I believe God has given me for the body of Christ. These themes have been burned into me from my own experiences, sufferings, mistakes, failures, and struggles. The book presents these themes in a creative and easy-to-read format.
When did you first conceive of the idea to retell the Bethany narratives through the eyes of Lazarus?
Good question. I don’t remember exactly when it happened. Probably several years ago. But when the idea came to me, I instantly resonated with it and thought it would be a neat way to tell the story. Readers will have to decide if it works or not.
Do you have a favorite chapter in the book? What would it be and why?
I like them all, but “Awakened in Bethany” and “Anointed in Bethany” have come out of deep pain, suffering, and struggle in my own life. And I feel God really anointed me in writing those chapters particularly.
I wept while writing parts of one of them. I published parts of “Anointed in Bethany” on my blog recently, and a number of grown men said it reduced them to tears.
Any chance this book will be turned into a movie or short film? Maybe Leonard Sweet could play Jesus! ;-)
Boy, I’d LOVE to see this. I mean, I’d would be like a dream come true. It could be really powerful if done right. And I’d insist that the script was close to the book and faithful to Scripture and first-century history.
That’s why I consulted two NT scholars before I published it. They both graciously endorsed the book: Craig Keener and Joel B. Green. Greg Boyd is also a scholar of sorts and is an expert in Jesus studies.
Who’s Leonard Sweet?
Beyond buying this book on May 1st (today), what does God really want from us?
Lol. I think He wants us to drink Saki and always remain kids with big dreams.
Actually, it seems to me that He wants all of us to be “Bethanies” for Him. What that means exactly and what it involves, well, that’s what I try to uncork in the book.
Tell us how you prefer we purchase the book and share it with friends.
Go to GodsFavoritePlace.com between May 1 and May 7, and you’ll see the link to online bookstores and the specific local bookstores carry it. There will also be instructions on how to get the 25 free books and audios.
I’m just a kid with a dream, Davey, just a kid with a dream.
Thanks for the interview.
Thanks for reading the Q&A with Frank Viola. If you would like to know and read more from Frank, he blogs regularly at frankviola.org, which is rated in the top 10 of all Christian blogs on the Web today.
D.D. Flowers, 2013.