Monday, December 5, 2016


"And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city." Luke 2:3

Day Five, of the journey to Bethlehem...

As a missionary wife, one of the questions that I have learned to dread is, "Where are you from?"

(By the way, it's a sneaky question for my kids as well.  If we have an occasion to meet in the US on furlough, please don't ask them this.  Blank stares invariably follow.)

As someone with an obvious accent in my French, it's an inevitable question.  Many times people are just curious.  They know that I'm not "from around these parts," and they are trying to "figure me out."  Other times, this question is met with veiled hostility.  People want to know where I'm from, so they can launch into a diatribe of all the ills of my "home" country.  

(You don't have to lecture me, by the way.  I know my country is messed up.  France is pretty messy at times, too.)

I knew when I left my country in March 2000 to come and live and work and minister in France, I would have to accept the role of a foreigner.  Most of the time, that's okay.  At least, now it's okay.  When I first arrived, I was a hot mess.  Doing what God calls me to do requires me to change locations, and accept that my "differentness" is inevitable.  

As I was re-reading the passage in Luke 2 this morning, I was thinking about Joseph and Mary and the reason behind their journeying.  

"And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city." Luke 2:3

This verse made me scratch my head a little.  After all, Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth.  I don't know if Joseph had ever lived in Bethlehem.  He certainly wasn't when the time came for the Roman census.  Yet, because of his family birthright and tribal heritage, he was undertaking a long journey to his "own city," because that is where his family line came from.  It was his identity:  "because he was of the house and lineage of David." (Luke 2:4)

Even  though Joseph lived in a different place, he had a connection to the city of Bethlehem because of his relationship, however distant in the past, to king David who had lived there many centuries before.  He could claim Bethlehem as "his," not through any merit of his own, but because of being born into the king's family.

Joseph was a prince.  A prince many times removed, perhaps, but a prince nonetheless.

This verse was a great encouragement for me today.  No matter how far I am from my "earthly home," I can realize that the area where I was born, was not really my home, either.  I'm journeying in this life towards my "home," because of my spiritual birthright.  I can claim heaven as my home, not from any merit or worth on my part, but because God adopted me into His family.  I am His child, His "princess," if you will, and like Abraham, I am looking "...for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." (Hebrews 11:10).

No matter where we are today, whether we live close to home or on the other side of the globe, may God encourage us today as we remember that we are His children, and that we are merely journeying through this life, on the way home. May this truth comfort us as we enter the holiday season.  It's never easy to be separated by distance from the ones we love, but at times it is very necessary.  

One day we will be in our heavenly home, and will look back on our present lives, so thankful that we made the journey.  Until then, let us make the place where we are living today resemble as much as possible to our final destination.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Journey of the King

"And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.  And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." Luke 1:31-33

Day three of the journey to Bethlehem...

God uses the most unlikely of circumstances, to accomplish His will...

For thousands of years, the Jewish people had been awaiting the fulfillment of God's promises to them as a people.  Israel as a nation had been all but wiped from the map...almost...on several different occasions. The Romans that now occupied their land were just another people group in a long list of nations that conquered and would conquer the land where the Saviour was to be born.

Now the Romans were in charge, and like the many nations that rose before them, they never dreamed that their empire would be so short lived, and yet so important in the eternal plan that God was unfolding for humanity's salvation.

As Joseph and Mary approached Tiberias, the city that was built around the time of Christ as a celebration of the Roman occupation in Israel, and gazed upon the foundations* of the impressive palace that was constructed there, I cannot help but wonder if Mary rehearsed the words of the angel in her heart:

"And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.  And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." Luke 1:31-33

All of the "might" of Rome could not overcome the plan that God had set in motion from the very beginning of Creation.  From the foundations of the world, God had already been orchestrating all of human history, to the day when Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

Ancient walls of Tiberias, from

The Romans ruled over a limited territory, but God rules over all Creation.  It's so easy to lose sight of this, when the world around us seems so real, and governments literally rule over every aspect of our lives, to remember who is really in control.  The taxation required by Caesar Augustus was that "all the world should be taxed." (Luke 2:1)  For the Romans, their territory WAS the whole world, because it "belonged" to them.  The Roman rule however was limited in size, in strength and in time.  Only God rules over all Creation, all of the time.

May we be reminded that the rulers that are over us exercise their power in a limited frame.  One day every ruler, just like each one of us, will stand before God and give an account of the time and resources entrusted by God.  May we also be reminded to pray for those in leadership roles, whether or not we always agree with their policies.  Every man and woman in a position of authority has an eternal soul.

The Romans ruled over an enslaved people, but God's rule would set all men free.  The baby growing inside Mary's womb would not just be a Jewish king.  Yes, Jesus fulfilled all the promises for the just king that was promised to the house and lineage of David, but Jesus also by His death and ressurrection procured eternal life and liberty for all mankind.  His rule would know no boundaries--all nations would be made free, if they believed on Him.

May God help me this Christmas season to enlarge my vision to see the nations around me that so desperately need Christ.  May I invest my time this year in sharing the marvellous message of the freedom that Christ bought at so great a price to Himself.

The Romans ruled for a time, but God's rule is for all times.  At this time in human history, the Roman Empire was at its apex.  It was just a matter of "time" before the Roman rule would decline and eventually fade in its influence.  Such is the nature of human politics:  the decline of one empire, gives birth to another. (This is a cautionary tale to those of us who live in "influential" nations:  our time is numbered, as well.)

Mary received the promise:  "And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." (Luke 1:33) Mary knew even before she held her baby, that His coming would literally influence the entire world.  His reign would last forever, as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  May this thought be in the forefront of my mind as well, this Christmas season.  Kings will come and kings will go, but Jesus's reign will never end. May this be the motivation I need in this busy season to tell others about Christ.  This world will end, but Jesus's kingdom will not.

As Joseph and Mary passed by the palace of the temporal rulers and kings, I cannot help but wonder if Mary put her hand across her belly a little tighter, and stepped a little faster.  Such a hostile world for a baby King to be born into, and yet, His reign was coming.

May God help me to be mindful of His reign, as I live and work today.

*The city of Tiberias is listed as being constructed around 20 AD, so there were at least the beginnings of the city when Joseph and Mary passed by, even if the city and fortress were not entirely completed.  This was the palace of Herod Antipas, who ruled after Herod the Great as ruler over the Jews.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Why Me? Why Now?

"And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed...And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child." Luke 2:1-5

Day two of the Journey to Bethlehem...

It has been said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  For Joseph and Mary, that journey began...with the step of obedience.

I think that many of us, if we had been in Mary's shoes, would have cried, "Foul!" She had already surrendered her body, her reputation, her life's choices, to bear the child that would become the Saviour of humanity!  She could have said, "I've already given enough! I've already sacrificed enough for the Lord! I'm staying put until this baby is born."

How many times have similar thoughts echoed in my brain: "I'm already a missionary!  I've already left my home, and everything that was familiar and dear to me, to go to a strange place and be treated as a foreigner. I've already made sacrifices!  I've already changed so much to be faithful to your calling.  I don't want to..." insert latest challenge here.

The Bible is silent on Joseph's and Mary's reaction to this decree to leave home and family and make the long trek to Bethlehem.  Maybe there was a visit from an angel to calm their troubled minds.  Maybe they had some knowledge about God's Son being born in Bethlehem.

Or maybe...they were just obedient.  The Roman leaders of the day told them they must journey, and so they did.  They reasoned that God had a plan, and that He would take care of them, if they trusted Him to make the journey.

A few thoughts about Joseph and Mary's obedience to God's calling:

Joseph's and Mary's obedience fulfilled prophecy.  By leaving Nazareth and going to Bethlehem, Micah 5:2 was fulfilled.  God's promise came forth, at just the right time and at just the right place.  

I wonder how many times my lack of obedience to God's calling has prevented God's work from being accomplished in just the right time, in the right place, in the right way.  Maybe I repented, and went later, but by that time, an opportunity was lost, and I missed the chance to participate fully in God's plan for my life.

May I be willing to surrender my desires to be an obedient servant today.

Joseph and Mary's obedience required sacrifice.  The trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem would never have been an easy one.  Ninety miles was a long trip.  It demanded preparation, and even sacrifice, physically and financially, to embark on such a journey.  Plans had to be made.  Supplies had to be gathered.  Schedules had to be cleared.  And there was this little thing about Mary being nine months pregnant that had to be taken in account.

I wonder...would I have been willing to make the same sacrifices?  Am I willing to give up my comforts, my plans, my desires for be obedient to God?

Joseph and Mary's obedience...brought salvation to us all.  The Saviour was to be born in Bethlehem. Nathanael's words, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" reflected the views of the times:  the hopes of the Jews were not in the north, but in the area around David's city, and the light that was foretold to come and shine there. 

I think it unwise to speculate on Bible events:  "What if Mary had stayed put and said no? Would God have done a miracle to get Jesus to Bethlehem to be born?"  God in His perfect knowledge and wisdom knew that Joseph and Mary would go to Bethlehem, even before Mary accepted her calling as the earthly mother of Jesus.  For this reason, her acceptance--"Behold the handmaid of the Lord"--was indeed a big one.  Little did she know, at the time, all that God would require of her, to be obedient to His will.

Because of their obedience, however, God's Son was born in the right time, in the right place, in the right way.  And because of their obedience, salvation from sin came to all humanity.  Their obedience was not a "little thing."  Their obedience brought hope to the entire world.

I am so glad that I did not know, when I first said, "Yes," to the Lord, all the steps that my journey with Him would require.  I'm thankful that with each step I take, God is faithful, and gives me the grace and strength to make each one with Him.  Only at the end of this life, when I have finished my course, will I be able to look back and see God's leading every step of the way.  

May God help me to be obedient in this day, in whatever He calls me to do.  I have no idea how the decisions I make today will influence the lives of those around me, some of them for all eternity.  

What is God calling you to do today?  Will you step out in faith, to be obedient to His call?  

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Behold, the handmaid of the Lord...

"And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word...." Luke 1:38

Day one, of a long journey...

This month, as part of a fitness group that I host with other missionary ladies, we have accepted a challenge.  In preparing for a Bible study for Christmas, I learned that Joseph and Mary had to travel between 80-90 miles on their journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  As part of our fitness challenge for this month, we have agreed to walk, jog, run or bike our fitness journey in remembrance of the trek that Joseph and Mary travelled.  In preparation for this Christmas season, I wanted to think more about this trip that they undertook, but more importantly, why this trip was so important.

As a missionary wife, I do a lot of travelling.  There are many aspects of travelling that I enjoy.  I love discovering new places, meeting new people, sharing stories with other missionary families, and creating bonds with strangers that last for a lifetime. When people asked me as a missionary on deputation or on furlough how I handled all the travelling, I would shrug my shoulders.  It was just part of the life that I have been given.  As a missionary, we travel.

There are other days, however, when it's "mission conference season," and I've been on the road for a month at a time, and I haven't slept in a real bed for three weeks, and I'm living on top on my family in a stranger's house, with no privacy except for those isolated minutes locked in the bathroom...that travelling is "less fun." At these moments, I have to dig deep, and ask myself the question:

"Why am I doing this again?"

There was a time in my life, at the age of 13, when I said "yes," to a life-long journey with Jesus.  My life was empty and I was heading down a road that took me further and further away from God and His plan for my life.  I received God's incredible gift of love, and gave my life to Him to be used as He saw fit.  From the moment that I said, "yes" to the Lord, I began the journey of turning over my life to Him.  It is not a once-in-a-lifetime decision (although it begins that way), but it is a daily surrender, a daily commitment to take the hands off of the steering wheel of my life, and let God have control.

It's not easy.  There are days, many days, when I don't want to let Him take control.

This morning I was supposed to begin this month-long journey thinking about the road to Christ's birth.  I got off to a rough start.  I had gone to bed at 7 pm on Wednesday, too exhausted to even see my kids to bed.  I woke up at 4 am to a splitting headache, so I went to get some Tylenol and crawled back under the covers.  I overslept, which meant that everyone was rushed as they were getting ready for school, everyone except for my youngest who had a rough night and woke up sick.  On top of all this were laundry, dishes and a million and one other unfinished tasks that greeted my morning.

After getting everyone settled for this morning, and getting the first tasks started, I sat down with my Bible in hand.  I had so wanted this month's "journey to Bethlehem" to get off to a good start.  I was having one of those, "Why am I doing this again?" mornings.

I began to read in Luke 1, the beginning of my Christmas readings for this month, and marvelled again at Mary, and her willing surrender to God.  Hers was a very special journey, which began months before, when she said "Yes," to God.  Her response to the angel spoke very quietly to my heart today...

"And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word...." Luke 1:38

It was the "why" of my journey for today.  Why do I get up, and get going, and do the things that God has put on my plate for today?  It is because I said, "yes," to God.  There may be days when I don't "feel like it," when the daily tasks overwhelm me and I just want to return to bed, that God reminds me of all He has done for me, and the commitment I made to Him many years ago, as I surrendered my days to Him.  

During this month, as I enter into the busy-ness of this Christmas season, and all that needs to be done, may the Lord remind me to "get out of the way," and remember anew the day when the Lord called me, and I answered, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord..."  May I surrender my wants and plans today to be used as a willing instrument in God's hands.  As I begin the journey to Bethlehem, may I take each step with the thought of walking faithfully in the way that God has called me today.

What has God called you to today?  Can you answer with Mary, "Behold, the handmaid of the Lord?..."

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

November Bible Discovery Club: A Festival of Lights

"For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light." Ephesians 5:8

Good morning, praying friends!

Halloween is a relatively recent phenomenon here in France.  For many years the French people in general resisted the idea of Halloween as being an American, commercialized holiday, and since those two ideas are very much disliked in France, Halloween was not celebrated much at all.

Over the past few years, with the explosion of American television programs (and the Internet), Halloween is acknowledged more and more.  The first years we were here, we never had trick or treaters.  This year, we had over thirty that came to our house, with their demands, "Des bonbons ou des farces!" (Roughly translated, "Candy or a prank!")

While the origins of Halloween are usually associated with American materialism, the darker side of Halloween is usually ignored.  This year, we decided to hold one of our November clubs on October 31st, to address the subject of Halloween from a Christian perspective.  Instead of Halloween, we celebrated a "Festival of Light" (La Fête de la Lumière), reminding our children that God is the God of light, and not of darkness.

Our children have been very faithful to attend club!  We praise the Lord for another opportunity to share God's message of light with them!

At the beginning of the club, we explained why as Christians we do not celebrate Halloween.  We placed pairs of words on the white board (light/darkness, life/death, peace/fear, truth/magic, God/Satan) on the board.  We asked the children which words they associated with Halloween.  Then we asked them which words they associated with God.  

(This simple game reminded me of Paul's words, "...And what communion hath light with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:14  These children were able to see the distinction between the things of God and the things of the world.  May God help me to be careful in my life to stay as far away from the darkness as I can, and walk in the light.)

The story for today was about the demoniac at Gedara, and how Jesus saved him from that terrible darkness, so that he could walk in the light.  Explaining demon possession to very impressionable (and ignorant) children is always delicate, but the Lord gave grace and the children listened well.  

For a craft, we decorated glass jars with autumn-colored crepe paper, with a candle inside to remind them of Jesus our Light who lives within us.

Our children always enjoy snack time, and I am always amazed at how much they eat!  Damaris made American cinnamon rolls and white chocolate popcorn. Yummy!

As always, game time is a favorite time for our young people.  Since it was still warm and pretty out, we took our games outside and did an obstacle course...blindfolded, with a guide.  We reminded them how much easier it is to go through life with the light...and with a guide.

Thanks so much for your prayers for our clubs!  See you soon!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

August Blessings and Burdens

"As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country..." Proverbs 25:25

Dear Co-laborers and friends,

Summer months are usually tied with the idea of vacation time.  Even though it is true that our children are out of school, the ministry never stops.

We did have the opportunity and privilege to go to the south of France in July to attend to the camp we have been ministering in since arriving in France in 2000.  Last year the camp went from being a youth camp to a family camp for the first time and two people got saved, including one boy who followed the Lord in baptism when he got back to his local church.  Even though we were only but a handful this year, my family and I enjoyed this camp and we praise the Lord for His safety and provision.

Does this mean that missionaries never have any vacations?  We do, just not necessarily as would a “non-missionary” family.  We make sure we have family time, go for walks, visit things that are close by and just try to relax together and enjoy each other’s company.

Still working!
Mission’s work is never done and there is always more that needs to be done than we can ever finish. Everywhere we look we see needs and people who need the Lord. 
Susan recently met a lady named Dominique, and she has accepted to go on bike rides with Susan.  Please pray that this will be an open door for future conversations on salvation. We also had an older couple who came to our Sunday morning service.  They attend a Reformed church in town but were curious as to who we were – they had received one of our tracts in the mail box.

There’s also another younger couple with the two children we’ve been meeting with.  The Lawsons were in French-speaking Quebec before moving to France and we have enjoyed helping them with some of their needs.  Susan and our coworker’s wife, Damaris, will be having ladies meetings with Mrs. Lawson starting this month. 

Thank you for your faithful prayers and support throughout the summer! 

Servants of Christ,

Carey & Susan Abbett

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spring Family Camp 2016

"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." Ephesians 6:11

Good morning, dear friends,

If you've been wondering where I have been, so have I!  Life attacks at random moments, and it's either feast or famine with the work here.  Everything seems to happen at once!  Thankful for springtime and being able to get back outside with family and friends.  Here's to the final stretch until the end of school and the beginning of summer!

We returned Friday from our annual family camp in Belgium.  This camp joins several churches ministering here in France and although the location and ages have changed, this camp has been active for 30+ years!  This year we were celebrating 10 years "at the castle" in Belgium, where we have been enjoying this special family camp!  So many good memories throughout the years!

"The castle," our restored meeting place in Belgium
This year's theme for children and adults was on the armour of God, and spiritual warfare!  As you can imagine this was a popular theme for the kids, and a very unpopular one for Satan!  He fought us hard this week, with lots of unplanned issues and difficulties.  We can see the Lord's hand working as we fellowshipped and ministered to each other.   Here are some of the highlights of the kids' ministry from this week.

Our good friends Sam and Suzy did a great job with the kids this week!

The kids made their own bows and arrows!

Painting the shield of faith

Sack race!  Old games are the best!

We had a great time and came home both refreshed and tired from all the activity!  Many thanks to all the people and their hard work that was invested for eternity during this week!

Billy, who taught the adult lessons on spiritual warfare

My hubby, working hard as always

It's always hard at the end of camp to say goodbye to our friends, both new and old, some of whom we only get to see during this one week out of the year!  We love and miss our faithful workers in France!  It will make heaven that much more goodbyes!

Until next year!