Truth4TCKs: Citizens of Heaven

This post was originally a guest post (written by me) on my friend Clarissa’s blog. You can find it here.


When someone asks you where you are from, what do you say?

My answer looks something like this: Well, ethnically I’m from X country, and both my parents are from there. But actually, my dad grew up in Y country, and I grew up in Z country. 

I have a passport from a certain country, therefore I am its citizen, but I’m not very patriotic. I don’t share many similar views with the people of that country. Thus, I don’t feel like I belong there. 

Instead, I live in a different country. I adore it immensely, love the people, and yet I’m not its citizen. I don’t belong there either. 

So where do I belong? 

That’s the question every human being tries to answer. Many do find their answer. However, TCKs tend to not really know. This can be frustrating to them.

But for us Christian TCKs, it’s different. 

Why?

Because the Bible tells us that our identity is in Christ, and our citizenship is in heaven.

Our Identity: If We Don’t Belong, Who Are We?

As TCKs, we’re different. Some people love that, and others hate it. We can tend to find our identity in our TCK-ness. We try to tell people that they don’t get us because we’re different. We wrap up who we are in the fact that we’re different. As a result, we can be defensive. We can have self-pity because we don’t belong, or we can get rebellious when people talk about our passport country as home, simce to us, it isn’t. 

Where is our identity first found? Are we first TCKs, or first Christians? 

The answer is pretty simple, but it’s important. First and foremost, we belong to Jesus. 

How does that change our relationships? 

If we belong to Jesus, we love others who belong to Him as well. That includes the person who hasn’t left their town their entire life. That includes the person who seems to know nothing about the “outside world”. That includes the billionth person who asks you how life is like where you live.

We love them completely. Christ gave His life up for billions of people who can never understand Him. He is God, and we’re not. If Jesus could love like that, we need to love others who honestly, can understand us more than how we could understand Jesus. 

Citizens of Heaven

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:  Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. Philippians 3:20-21

The old english meaning of conversation is the place where one lives (Online Etymology Dictionary, 2020). In Greek, conversation is politeuma, meaning community or citizenship (Bible Study Tools, 2020). In the context of this verse, the idea is that there are two spheres: the earthly world, and the heavenly world. Returning to the verse which reads For our conversation is in heaven. We conclude that we don’t belong here. Our community, our citizenship, our home is in heaven.

Most Christians aren’t TCKs. Whether they are Canadian or Kenyan or Turkish or Singaporean, they’ve grown up in the same place their whole lives. They have roots. They have a culture, an ethnic or patriotic community. They have a sense of belonging. 

But the thing is, all Christians are citizens of Heaven. None of us truly belong here. We have a better Home. 

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.

And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.

But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

– Hebrews 11:13-16 

This passage comes after the “Hall of Faith” as many people call it in Hebrews 11. It lists the numerous heroes of the faith from the Old Testament. The passage is talking about them. They sought a better country. A heavenly country. A country where every nation will come together and will be one people. God’s people. 

What Our TCK Lives Teach US

I think TCKs have an advantage. We don’t belong, anywhere really, on this earth. I’ve heard many TCKs call themselves “global citizens”. However, Christian TCKs don’t belong anywhere on this earth. Being a Christian TCK is a blessing. Because we’re not attached to any country 100%, we long for a better one. Thus, we can comprehend better that our citizenship is in heaven as compared to someone who has never left their town their whole life long. 

And just think about it! A country where all ethnic groups, all cultures, all languages will live together, as neighbors, praising God! Is that a comfort to a TCK soul or what?


Sign up for my friend Clarissa’s TCK Email list here.

How Strong Are Our Words?

Hello friends! Today, I wanted to dive into the passage below (Matthew 12:33-37) and break it into pieces so we can study it more easily. This passage is rich and convicting, and I believe it has a message that we all need to hear.


“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” 

Jesus (Matthew 12:33-37)

1) The Tree Is Known By Its Fruit

If a tree is healthy, has clean water, plenty of sunshine, and it is far away from any sort of disease, the tree will produce healthy, juicy, fruit. If a tree is diseased, weak, and in a dry area, the fruit will subsequently be unripe, small and measly. It might get rotten before it even turns ripe. 

Suppose you had two pieces of fruit in your hand. One was large, brightly-colored, plump, and juicy. The other was smaller, hard, with bruised spots, and was a pale brown color. What would you infer about the trees they came from just from looking at the fruit?

Jesus is using a very simple picture to show people how the human heart works. 

I once watched an American Girl movie based in Colonial America. In one scene, the grandfather is talking to his granddaughter after the grandfather and father have gotten in a fight. The grandfather says, “Words of anger are never from the heart.” That’s what the world wants people to believe. But Jesus says something different.

2) Heart Fruit

If someone’s words are uplifting, encouraging, fun, wise, lovely, and admirable, that shows you what is in their heart. If someone is constantly encouraging and lifting others, it shows that they are humble and they care for others. If someone is wise and is constantly teaching others about God’s Word, it shows that they have God’s Word stored up in their hearts. If someone is fun and lovely in what they say, it shows that they treasure the beautiful, unexpected, joyful moments of life. 

If someone’s words are discouraging, dirty, rude, foolish, and repulsive, that gives you a very clear look into their heart. They discourage because they are proud or they are insecure in who they are and thus they try to put others down so they can feel high up. When they constantly make fun of someone they are doing the same thing. Their words are dirty and repulsive because they treasure sin. They are rude in their talk because they find themselves to be above the person they are addressing. They consider that person worthless. When their words are foolish, it means they haven’t stored up God’s Word in their heart. 

You may think, “Breanne, that’s way too harsh.” But I didn’t come up with it. Read the verse again. That’s what Jesus was getting at. 

3) Good Can’t Come From Evil

In verse 34, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees He is talking to. Although the Pharisees’ words seemed good, Jesus knew what their hearts looked like. Their hearts were evil. 

So even when they spoke “encouraging” or “good” words, their intentions and wants were self-exaltation, honor and self-righteousness. They wanted to do good so that they could be seen and known and respected. But Jesus said that that wasn’t “good”. 

4) Good Treasure

Whatever you treasure up in your heart, that’s what’ll come out. To treasure up means to hold or keep as precious. What is most precious to you? Your reputation, or God’s? Acceptance and praise, or God’s presence? The words of others, or God’s Word? 

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 

Psalm 119:11

The more we treasure and store up God’s word in our hearts, the more we pour out that treasure. When we give importance to something, it changes our actions. 

5) Accountable For Every Careless Word

When I read this passage, this is what got me. We will stand in front of God, and He will hold us accountable for every word. Those careless insults, those empty foolish mockery-filled words. He says we are accountable for them.

We will be condemned or justified because of them. 

The Hope

But wait, you might say, didn’t Jesus die for our sins? Yes! He did. Romans 8 verses 1 and 2 say this: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

If you are a believer, you will not be condemned. 

The Warning

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

Romans 6:1-2

However, we do not take grace for granted. If you are a believer, you should strive for purity, not trying to see how far you can bend the rules. 

If we are bearing bad fruit, we need to have a heart check. What are you treasuring? What are you deeming important? 


Disclaimer: I struggle with making fun of others because I am insecure in a certain situation, or putting people down because I think they are immature or “bad”. I care more about what others think than what God thinks, most of the time. Because what comes out comes first from the heart.


Some take away questions and thoughts to chew on:

When it comes to the words you speak, what areas do you struggle with? Do you tend to make fun of people? Or do you use crude language? Do you use your words to brag, and make yourself look bigger so everyone else feels a little bit smaller?

Why do you think you struggle in those areas? What sinful things are you treasuring or storing up in your heart? What are you prioritizing in your life, God, or something else?

What simple steps can you take to treasure the right things first? Remember, it’s the heart change that needs to happen first. What insecurities need to be addressed with God’s Word and His promises? What pride needs to be brought down when compared to the glory of the Maker of the universe? Memorize Scripture that addresses the heart issue, and meditate on that Scripture. Pray that God would change your heart and help you treasure the good and lovely.

Some Changes…

Hello my lovely friends,

I want to thank you for reading my posts for the last couple months. This has been so fun and I’m so thankful for this experience.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to stop posting. Here’s the thing. When I started out, I had made myself a schedule: one post on Tuesday, and one on the weekends. But the last couple weeks, it’s become more and more difficult. I’m entering a busier season of life, complete with starting 11th grade in a couple weeks.

So here’s my plan. I will post once a week. Most probably on the weekends. There may be weeks when I can’t post, but I will do my best to be faithful to my commitment 🙂

There’s no way I’ll stop doing this blog thing. I love it 🙂

May the Lord bless you and keep you; may He make His face shine upon you, and give you peace.

Breanne

EP Review: Searching For Us

Hello friends! I decided to change things up a bit and try my hands at an EP critique. This is something I have never done before. However, I have been listening to music of all genres and have been immersed in music since I was little. So which compilation of music shall I be reviewing today, you ask? None other than Searching For Us by Skye Peterson

Skye Peterson is a young, gifted songwriter and musician. Ever since I found out about her second EP (Searching For Us) on the Reb, I was super pumped to find out about all her music. 


Searching For Us is a beautiful, poetic, and truth-filled EP. 

It starts with the song ‘Sandcastles’ which is a fun, upbeat start to the EP. Skye’s voice is a sort of raw, dreamy voice, something between Lauren Daigle’s and JJ Heller’s, leaning toward the second of the two. The song talks about “all that we are, all we create, all that we give, all that we take”, and reminds us that it’s only love that remains. We build sandcastles, we build kingdoms, and although it might be forgotten, if we serve others, if we love, that will impact, that will stay. It is easy to follow and the music has this summery vibe about it. Not all of her songs are easy to sing but this one isn’t that hard if I tried. (I’m not going to be posting a video of me singing this XD)

You keep on listening and come to the second track, ‘Searching For Us’. The first couple moments sound like it’s going to be another easy-going, “fun” song but then Skye’s voice hits with this poetic goodness. Her words are beautiful, with the metaphor of a Shepherd, a King, a Father, who leaves the 99 to find the one, who loves, who tells us that He died for us. The chorus of the song etches into your memory and is filled with hope and is a sort of proclamation over our failures. The music fits it completely, it’s one of the best parts of the EP. The bridge is just beautiful, and now, instead of a proclamation, it’s a call, to look upon Him who searches for us. The bridge is made complete with other voices joining the call. The track is musically uplifting and lyrically sound.

The next track, ‘Come to Me’, begins with the words “sweet girl.” It immediately gets your attention and you listen because you’ve been there too. Jesus is calling us to come to Him, the One who loves and holds and leads. The words are comforting and the music is nice, and I love the vocals. I just wish this song sounded more acoustic, because it’s such a personal, raw sort of song, sometimes the beat and the loud music seem to distract from the meaning and beauty of the song.

Her next track, ‘As I Am’, commences with simple guitar and violin, and you just breathe in and out and listen. Skye’s simple voice prays this song, questioning why she is given such love from the Father, why it’s given unconditionally, just as she is. The stringed instruments and back up singers accompany the song gorgeously. It has a bit of a theatrical feel in parts of the track, especially when she sings: “Hallelujah, Hallelujah, He loves me as I am”.

‘Guessing Games’ opens with piano and electric guitar, and you can tell right off that this song is different. The lyrics are poetic and more expressive, artsier than her other tracks. On a personal note, this song has spoken to me so deeply since I’ve been feeling lonely and distant from God during the pandemic (more on that here). This track is less of the upbeat, fun music she starts with and is more full of longing, more musically experimental. She is so real, so raw with her emotions: I sat there in the loft of that old barn // And I felt Him there so I cried until my tears were nearly gone // And I wish that I could feel that way again // ‘Cause I miss that love that I once knew.  

The last track, ‘Stay’ is an instrumental and (slightly vocal) mash-up of all that’s been said over the EP. It personifies the longing that her music awakes in you as you listen. The emotion spills over, and you sit and take it all in. 


Skye’s music has the poetic depth that one would expect from the Peterson family, but she is uniquely and originally her, with the fun music but also the deep longing of her soul to be seen and known by her Father. It has been a blessing to me, and I think it’s so cool that someone like Skye, who is only a year or so older than me, has created such an amazing sandcastle 😊.

God Seems Distant: Fact or Feeling?

Loneliness…

It’s not something I usually struggle with. I live with my large, loving family. I have friends that I see at school and church. 

Then quarantine happened. I was still with my family, and we had precious moments together. However, when I couldn’t leave my house, I felt secluded and tired. I felt alone in a weird sort of way. Because technically, I was not. I had people around me all day. 

But I lacked all the other relationships in my life. I lacked my church family. I lacked my friends, whether it be at school, in my neighborhood, or somewhere else. 

The biggest problem that came along with this feeling of seclusion is that it started seeping into my relationship with the Lord. I started to feel like, along with everyone else, he was distant. And it was frustrating. Very frustrating. 

This feeling wasn’t new. I often go through seasons where God has felt distant. This, I think, just felt unique because everyone else was distant as well. My friends and my friend Jesus, all far away. 

And I’m not going to say that I’ve gotten over this feeling. I still feel like this very often. Almost daily. 

But I need to remind myself of this: Facts supersede feelings. That basically means facts remain. Facts are truth. Facts are what are real. 

So I know what I’m feeling. I feel that God is distant. I know that when God feels distant to me, I get discouraged and don’t want to spend time in His word because I think I won’t be renewed or refreshed. 

So should I just pout? Just sit and worry? 

No. 

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20b

What do all these verses say? What are the facts? God is near. If I call on Him, if I repent from sin, if I am discouraged, and even just because I am His child, He is near. He is always near. 

So I need to repent of my self-pity and pride, and preach the facts to myself: God is near, even if you can’t feel it. 

Lord, I pray that you would give me faith to trust Your words. You have promised that You would always be near to Your children, to those who believe in You. Help me to focus on the facts, not my feelings. Thank you that You are near when others can’t be.  

Quick Thoughts on Art, Beauty, Creativity and God

Hello, my friends! I didn’t post on Saturday because we were on vacation. It was wonderful, but I’m glad to be back with you all. 


Created to create

In the beginning was the Creator. He existed before everything. However, He decided to create. The pinnacle of His creation was us. People. Creatures created in the image of their Creator. 

Being created in His image means that we are created in His likeness. Basically, we are simiThat means that we have traits and emotions and can think logically and can make decisions and can protect and love.

We are also creative. We are creative because God is creative. We love art and beauty and rhythm and poetry because God put the planets into motions in a rhythm no one can fathom. He created art in every butterfly and seashell and flower and sunset. He wrote poetry when He inspired authors to write the Psalms. He creates beauty when he transforms an ugly, wretched sinner into a holy, wonderful, Jesus-follower. 

God’s Gift to His Creatures

Art is a wonderful gift from God to us. It is amazing because it helps us learn things that we normally wouldn’t be able to remember. Take rhyme for example. Rhyme helps people remember things that an hour-long sermon never could. A song is more memorable than a lecture. An image is more powerful than an explanation. A story is more powerful than an argument. 

Art is a gift. 

Art isn’t always found the way it should be in the Christian community. We have wonderful artists creating music, worship music. And I’m not saying that we don’t need that. Worship music is important because we need to have songs that help us glorify our God. However, we also need poetry in our music. We need deep words that make us think. We need music that fills our soul with emotion and hope. 

We need authors that fill the world with light-giving stories. We need painters and artists that reflect God’s love for beauty. We need photography that captures beauty but also shows the world as the broken world that it is, that calls for social justice. 

Artists Making Art to the Glory of God

Here are two artists who are breaking the rules, creating beauty, poetry, light, and hope.

  1. Andrew Peterson

I can’t quite remember when I first heard of his music, but I’ve been (ever so slightly) obsessed ever since. He is a masterful poet, a talented musician, and someone who thinks very deeply about things. 

Another thing I love about his music is that his albums tend to tell a story. There is a beginning, you start with one song, and when you listen to the album, you end up somewhere else. You start out with depression, and you end with hope, for example. 

His songs aren’t simple, but they are good. They are beautiful art, deep poetry, and complex music. 

Listen to his album The Burning Edge of Dawn here, and visit his YouTube music channel here

He is also an author. He’s written the Wingfeather Saga Series, a fantasy series for children. He has also written Adorning The Dark, which is a memoir but also a handbook to all who are called to create, make, and spread hope in a dark world. 

Visit his website here

  1. Taryn Harbridge

A talented musician, Taryn creates covers and melodies of tunes we all know and love, whether it be movie soundtracks, folk songs, or hymns. Her main instrument is the violin, but she plays many other instruments. Her music is inspired by bluegrass and Celtic music. 

Everything she creates is stunning. She layers sound upon sound of the violin, pennywhistle, bottle-blowing, guitar, and vocalizing. You feel like you are listening to an orchestra. 

Listen to her instrumental cover of How Great Thou Art here, and visit her YouTube channel here