Learning from the Master will guide those who read it into a deeper understanding of what it means to live a surrendered life.
Rick Larson, Creator,
The Star of Bethlehem DVD
Learning from the Master by Laura J. Davis is a companion devotional book to her novel, Come to Me. Come to Me is such a wonderful story about Jesus from His mother Mary's perspective and I felt I learned so much from reading this novel. However, rereading Come to Me while working through Learning from the Master took me to a whole new level! Each chapter of Learning from the Master corresponds to specific chapters in Come to Me. Each section has questions, Biblical passages to read and ends with a prayer. This workbook is a very thorough companion to Come to Me and is an excellent study to do on your own or in a small group setting.
This is a detailed study that is filled with so much, yet it is not overwhelming. I felt as if the author was working through this book with me as it is written in a conversational tone and filled with questions guiding the study. The approach is so gentle as it is through Mary's eyes and a mother's love for her son. It can be so easy to forget to let God take the reins in life and try to be in control and question His plans; however, Davis will remind each of us that God is in control in each of our lives and we are never alone. We may feel as if we are surrendered to God and living our lives that way, but it is so easy to let worries, fears and struggles take over and consume us in tough times and forget to give it all over to God. I highly recommend sitting down with Come to Me, Learning from the Master, a journal, a pen and the Bible, and diving into this study and I am sure you will be forever changed and filled with reassurance of God's presence and love.
- Kristie I., Reader's Favorite Reviewer
The study guide underlines and reinforces the novel’s themes of surrender, trust, and how to translate principles from the life of Jesus and His mother into modern living. Learning From the Master also includes word studies, explanations of the history and setting of the times, lists, and a timeline of the Passion Week. Each lesson ends with a prayer.
Davis’s friendly conversational style is sure to make this a popular study. It deals with many Bible themes, refers to lots of Scripture, and I can only think that twelve weeks spent in this kind of study would encourage the best kind of spiritual growth. The study guide could be used independently from the novel, however the two together would make an excellent resource for use in Bible studies or book clubs.
Violet Nesdoly, Author
Mary’s narrative begins with her betrothal to Joseph, and ends after Jesus’ resurrection. Her attentive audience includes Matthew and Luke, who intend to write her story, as well as fictional characters who accompany her on travels to join John the Beloved (who, in Davis’s tale, is Jesus’s cousin).
Davis, aware of the sensitivity of the characters she is fictionalizing (“With some works of fiction, a writer is free to do what he or she pleases. However, when it is about the Son of God that freedom is somewhat limited” – from the Foreword) sticks pretty close to the Bible account. Thus don’t expect to find extra-scriptural scandals or controversial “what ifs” in Come to Me.
What you will find is a warm, caring mother who struggles, as mothers do, with letting their kids go, seeing them make mistakes (as Mary interprets some of the things Jesus does), and watching them suffer and die. She comes across as deep, wise, with the odd glint of mischief and humor, but above all a woman worthy of respect.
The experience of seeing Jesus’ life through a mother’s eyes was one of the things I enjoyed most about the book. Another moving aspect was the heart-rending portrayal of Jesus’ passion, recalling scenes of Mel Gibson’s film Passion of the Christ.
This book would be a great addition to any home, church or Christian school library.
Violet Nesdoly, Author
Laura Davis shows a believable account of Mary?s life before and after she finds out she?s pregnant by the Holy Spirit and has to tell her betrothed Joseph. I haven?t read any book that?s showed the playful side of Mary who was a teenage girl and Joseph who wasn?t that much older than Mary. I enjoyed the authenticity and innocence of the book.
I enjoyed how this author revealed the intimate dialogue, playful side of Mary and Joseph the fun they had as they awaited their wedding day. Then she showed the heart-wrenching reality of Joseph finding out Mary is with child and it?s not his. Joseph respects Mary and can?t believe that she would lie to him, then the Angel speaks to Joseph in a dream and he believes Mary. I enjoyed reading about Josephs love for Mary and how he struggled to do the right thing.
Laura used her imagination to fill in the dialogue between Mary and Joseph as it might have been, two young people traveling to Bethlehem for the census. Mary was pretty far along in her pregnancy to travel. This journey is a little different than what you?re used to reading and I enjoyed that. Laura explains why she wrote the story the way she did, it was very interesting.
This story line is unique as it's told through Mary, the mother of Jesus, eyes. I often wondered about how Mary saw Jesus as he was growing up, then when he started his ministry and when she saw him dying on the cross and all the things that happened in-between. It was fun and heart-wrenching near the end to read this story through Mary?s mothering eyes.
This is a good read to help a new Christian get another perspective on the life of Jesus and his ministry. It?s also a great witnessing tool. Laura Davis does a great job of showing Jesus? humanity and him being the Son of God! I highly recommend this book to be read anytime not just during the Christmas season!
- Nora St. Laurent
Book Launch "Come to Me"
My Beloved and I entered Creation Bookstore in London, Ontario, several weeks ago and were greeted by Canadian author Laura J. Davis, who was seated at a small table bedecked with copies of her newly published book. She greeted us warmly, her round, cheerful face, already aglow seemed to light up even more (if that were possible) when she saw us. Verbal greetings soon graduated to hugs, since she is a friend.
The occasion was the launching of her book. An earlier version under the same title was published some years ago, but this new 338 page edition is expanded by about 100 pages. "It really is a different book, altogether," Laura said.
"Come to Me" (Published by Word Alive Press) is the title, and although I'm supposed to be reducing my personal library I purchased a copy, which Laura kindly inscribed and signed to us. It is about the life of Jesus from His divine conception to His earthly ministry, the crucifixion, resurrection, right through to the birth of the Church. I'm currently reading it, and what a great read it is!
In Come to Me Laura tells the story of Jesus as though through the eyes of His mother Mary. She presents a natural, kind, and gentle portrayal of Him that loses none of the mystery and wonder of the Son of God - "the Word made flesh."
This work presents Joseph and Mary and Jesus, and a cast of many interesting characters, not as flat two-dimensional figures, but three-dimensional living personalities. There is much to warm the heart and challenge the spirit. Appreciate the child Jesus' innocence, enjoy His humour, and witness the miracles and His manly compassion and love. Feel His passion, sense and contemplate His suffering, and share His victory in offering Himself up to God in our behalf to provide forgiveness and cleansing of all our sins.
Receive touching insights into Mary's heart while keeping vigil near the cross, and how, although pierced with sorrow at witnessing her son's suffering the agonies of crucifixion and the crushing load of human degradation and sin, she offers helpful perspectives to comfort and encourage others who surround her.
I haven't yet finished reading my copy and so still have lots to look forward to in the story. Laura has researched well the biblical accounts and other historical sources, and drawn a compelling narrative, reading between the lines of what may have been and what actually occurred according to the biblical narratives. I'm finding this to be an ideal book for Advent and Christmas reading.
The title "Come to Me" is inspired by a favourite scripture portion of mine. It's one we've included in P-Pep! from time to time, in which Jesus invites (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV): Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
What a great message - a narrative of the ages: God, who in the person of Jesus Christ came to us, invites us to come to Him. There are love, joy, peace, and well-being, plus relationship and security to be found in Him. May you find and experience these as you come and embrace Him, God's Gift!
© Peter A. Black - for The Watford Guide-Advocate - December 16, 2010.
Mary's character is so engaging, a little bit of a tease, as well as a bit like the girl next door. I enjoyed getting more of a glimpse of what might have been Jesus' younger years before the incident at the temple when he was about His Father's business. Joseph and Mary's relationship also seemed more like how I would picture them....young and in love, but at the same time, nervous about their duties as parents to the Son of God.
So many other portrayals of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus seem to be uptight (whether it's in a book or movie format), but this book is so refreshing, realistic, and natural. I highly recommend this book, and I look forward to reading more from Laura J. Davis in the future!
Christy Janes, Christian Fiction Reviews
This book, on the surface is a fictional composite of the Biblical accounts of Christ Jesus. However it is also so much more. The story is presented from His mother, Mary's POV. She is approached first by Luke who is a second generation Christian, a physician and author of one of the Gospels. Shortly thereafter the apostle Matthew comes on the scene as well. Initially their visits are couched as checking in on her but Luke's true aim is to elicit the story of Jesus from her in order to record it. Matthew, another Gospel author also joins in this pursuit and as Mary is relating her memories they are scribbling notes.
Because of the identity of our narrator in this account as well as her listeners, the reader experiences much more than just another account of Christ and His mission here on earth. We certainly see an expanded picture of these things but we also get a more personal view of both Mary and the apostles who are a part of this narrative as well as insights into three of the four Gospel writers - Matthew, Luke and John who not only are part of Jesus' story, except for Luke, but all three play a part in the later story we are witnessing in Laura's novel. The narrative although starting from scriptural accounts is not reliant solely on that smaller picture. We see things primarily from Mary's perspective though the disciples also present their observations at a number of points throughout the story. Being from more perspectives and an expanded time frame from the gospels and the few other new testament passages intertwined with the Old Testament prophecies of Messiah we receive a more integrated version of Christ and those around Him during His time in human form. Yes this is not solely scripture though I did not see any point where the author has deviated from scriptural fact. While fictional, I believe her intention was to remain true to God's Word but bring this story to life for those who may be so familiar with the Bible it has become old hat or for those who wouldn't touch the Scriptures with a ten foot pole but enjoy a good historical novel. I believe, based on my limited knowledge of scripture and Bible times that this presentation remains true to the realities of the period and what we know of Christ and those around Him. This is fictional merely in the sense that the author, through divine inspiration has expanded the story with additional scenes that we do not see in scripture but which do not in any way contradict it either.
Laura has done a commendable job of bringing this story to life and presenting it in such a way that anyone with or without a knowledge of the scriptures is able to read it as the story of a mother sharing memories of her son with those around her. The account flows quite smoothly despite the transitioning from the time of the book's setting (44 though 68 AD) back to whatever point in Jesus lifetime is being shared by Mary and then jumping forward again to the present time of the book. She has also developed the people in these pages far beyond what a reader experiences in the scripture which I'm sure entailed significant research into the times and historical accounts of events and people from beyond the scriptures but nevertheless relevant and historical.
Kudos to this author for a compelling and rich account which builds on Biblical truth in a format that is friendly to any reader while presenting the truth of the Gospel in a clear and enticing narrative without the limitations of the scriptural accounts which are only a mere fraction of the picture.
Melissa Meeks, Bibliophile's Retreat
This is the story of Jesus as told by his mother Mary to Luke, the doctor. It has a cozy, homey feel for much of the book, and I would recommend it for reading to children, of course with appropriate parental guidance through the crucifixion part. Lots of the action is taken directly from the Bible, with extra touches of colours and settings to bring it to life and put a more realistic and human flavour into the old stories known so well by so many. It is written simply so that even people who don't normally read books would be likely to enjoy it.
There are snatches of fun in unexpected places, such as the idea that Jesus was a practical joker and loved to play tricks on people and laugh. Nothing mean, of course! The scenes surrounding the resurrection are of particular interest as Laura has written Mary's experience of those times for us to travel through with her.
Laura has worked very hard on this and is very brave to step out alone in publishing a novel based on a story that's already gone around the globe. But I ask, can there ever be too many stories about Jesus? I doubt it. He is universal after all, with his message for all the world. I truly hope this novel will help people to understand Jesus better and love him for who he really is.
Grace Bridges, International Science Fiction Author
It was a tricky undertaking, really, for Laura Davis to write a book fleshing out the story of Mary and Jesus, tricky because she needed to avoid anything that might be contrary to the information we have in the Bible. There are those who object to any imagination about the life of Jesus, fearing blasphemy, I guess. I personally thought a novel had to stay true to what we know from scripture.
The good news is that Laura Davis has masterfully combined the truth that we know with imagined family and personal life. In the process, Jesus comes to life as a truly human person as well as divine. We know he was a loving son devoted to his mother, and Laura builds that relationship into the story. She also includes the back-story of Joseph and Mary, their parents, and how the situation might have played out when she became pregnant. Until I read this, I never really thought about Mary's parents.
It was obvious that Mrs. Davis did a great deal of research in writing this tale; it is filled with details of everyday life at that time: food, marriage, friends, traditions and little cultural tidbits that might enlighten readers to just how Jesus grew up, how Mary lived. These details just enhance what we know from scripture. In fact, I believe this would be a good book for those who don't know about Jesus but are not ready or willing to read the Bible itself. The language is at a level that even middle grade students can read easily.
One thing that readers must remember,though, is that this is fiction, so they may find details that they don't agree with. For example, the wise men are given the names that are in traditional stories, like Melchior. Of course, we don't really know their names or even how many there were. But that doesn't change what is truly important.
Overall, I recommend Come To Me very highly. It would be a great gift for someone who is struggling to understand the story of Jesus, wholly human yet wholly God, good for young people, and great reading for anyone who loves the Lord. If you are anything like me, you will find that it makes you "ponder" these things yourself, and spend a little time pouring over the Biblical accounts of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.
Cathi's Chatter, Fiction Review Blog
The story is about Jesus, but it isn't from the perspective of one of the apostles. Instead it is from the perspective of one much closer to Him, His mother. When we read the Bible we see Mary coming up here and there, but Laura Davis has gone to the trouble of tying all this together in an amazing narrative in which Mary, in different stages of her life, recalls the life of our Lord. It is tender, refreshing and touching. It doesn't gloss over the hard things, but helps to connect some of the historical points that have been left untouched. We get to meet Mary before Jesus is born and realize all that she had to go through. We see Jesus as a young boy, a young man, and finally as a rabbi who taught from town to town, hillside to hillside, house to house, teaching, healing and giving comfort wherever He could. And we have accounts of His death and resurrection. Yet you would expect all of that when telling the story of Jesus. It is the way she does it that is so startling and touching.
I believe this book should be in the home of every Christian, and they should share it with as many non-Christians as possible. It speaks to us in places in our hearts that we may have forgotten about. It speaks to us of a Jesus who was real, a mother who loved Him more than His disciples could know, and how we, who have become His children, are His living legacy. I love this book.
-David Brollier, Author of The 3rd Covenant
Taken from Mary's view point, Davis tells a story of God's great love for mankind. We see the human side to Christ, Mary and the apostles and it drives scripture home just that much more. Davis weaves in tidbits of ancient Hebrew society that a Bible reader might not think about. I found myself scrambling back and forth between the novel and scripture to take a new look,not a bad thing in a day and age when few of us look at our Bibles at all.
Come to Me is a great way to share Christ with those who weren't raised in the church but desire to understand who Jesus was and is. It is an easy to read novel that would be good for ages from fourteen and up.
- Donna Dawson, Author of Vengeance
Laura Davis's "Come To Me" is a skillfully written historical novel that brings to the table many of the events of the life of Jesus from Mary's perspective. From the time I started it I simply couldn't put it down. I love the entire book, but the part of the passion of Jesus was gut-wrenching yet inspiring. How much must we matter to the Creator of the universe to endure the brutality of the cross!
The final days of Jesus after his resurrection made me wish I was there to live the glory of the risen Christ. As I read this book, I found myself immersed in the story just as the disciples were a part of Jesus' life. And in a sense I was there through the pages of this book. A must read if you are a Christian or a seeker.
Gino Santa Maria, Photographer
It was just like being there and witnessing the life of Jesus without the restrictive prose of the Bible.This book was, without a doubt, written by a devout Christian who knows how to really use historical fiction to tell a story. It is a must read for anyone, believer or non-believer.
Ray L. Iles,
Lover of Historical Fiction