Against the Grain

Upside Down Kingdom…continued…

(my American translations are in parentheses!)  🙂

Going down instead of up? A family member came to visit us for the first time recently on the lower income estate we are now living in. He said that as he was driving over he couldn’t help but wonder, why in the world had we moved here?

You see, we used to live in a nice flat in an up & coming area in Manchester – not posh (fancy) by any standards, but a nice area & could have moved to an even nicer area…you know, one with bigger gardens (yards), into a larger house, with a lovely high street (main street) with the latest pubs, coffee shops, cafes and shops.

Peak District

Peak District

The area we live in now is great –  I love it! Its quiet, we have nice neighbours who have lived here for years, there is a lot of green space, and we can see the Peak District (hilly landscape!) in the distance. There are no fancy shops or coffee places, but the new Aldi around the corner is great and my coffee fix is enjoyed at our very own GLO Central with old & new friends from the estate! The value of the 2-bed house we live in, though rented, is probably equal to our one bed flat we own, but its comfy and has everything we need.


Why did we move here? Why are we moving to the East side of San Antonio? Why would we give up good paying jobs again and again – seems like we keep choosing less & less for our family…  Because we are after MORE! Not more stuff, not more money, not more success as the world sees it. We are after MORE of God – his love being realised in people’s lives, his healing brought to those who are broken, his peace coming upon areas where chaos and division are very deeply rooted.

Its hard sometimes, giving up the bigger & better lifestyle. I felt it was easier when living in Africa…but here in the UK & in the US it just seems so against everything I’m told & see. We’ll have to get rid of a lot of our stuff before moving – we can’t afford to ship it over to the US…maybe a few boxes and luggage to go with us! We’ll be starting from scratch in a lot of ways – furniture, decorations, appliances…things you gather over the years. You move on from the uni (college) days of mis-matched furnishings to a proper job, house & start creating the home of your dreams…feels like in ‘stuff’ sense we’ll be retreating back to those mis-matched days…

But that’s ok! We want to invite people into our house to hang out with us – not our stuff. I want friends to feel loved and cared for, not know me by my brand name items and clothing. I want our Kora to grow up learning how to give of her things generously, even when those things may be few.

Matthew 6:19-21

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”




The world’s beautitudes

The Upside Down Kingdom…continued

In Matthew’s story of Jesus’ life, he shares a time of teaching wherein Jesus puts into words the actions he has been living out. These actions: healing, forgiving, loving, are the heart of God’s law and here Jesus lays it out for the people.

He begins with some now popular sayings, we call the ‘Beautitudes’, that focus on the least and the lost. Jesus calls ‘blessed’ those who are poor, downcast, meek. How does this compare to what we see, hear, and face day to day in our world?

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

The world says: “It’s all about YOU”

Blessed are you when you work hard enough to ‘succeed’…when you have a lot of money…when you have a lot of stuff…when you are popular and people want to be with you and like you.

Blessed are you when you carry the weight of the world and are not crushed…when you please everyone…when you are always feeling good…when you impress the masses…when you don’t screw up!

Jesus says: “It’s NOT about you.”

Blessed are you when you are at the end of yourself, at the end of your rope…when you realise that all your striving and hard work has come to nothing…

Doesn’t sound very ‘blessed’ does it?

And yet, “for yours is the kingdom of heaven”…You are not worth what you do or how you act or how many people like or admire you. You are worthwhile, you are valued because I made you. My brand name is upon you & that value cannot decrease over time with wear & tear. I created you and that alone declares you valuable, eternally accepted, and BLESSED.

Jesus says: “It’s about ME – my Kingdom, my values, my thoughts, my will. And these include Peace, Joy, Love, Hope, Light, ABUNDANT LIFE…BLESSEDNESS.”

Blessed are you when you are no longer focused on yourself, but have eyes for ME, for all these blessings are yours in abundance…so share them, give them away, lead others to them for they are never ending, sufficient for everyone, everywhere without lack.

“Standing around Jesus as he speaks are people with no spiritual qualifications or abilities at all. You would never call on them when ‘spiritual work’ is to be done. There is nothing about them to suggest that the breath of God might move through their lives. They have no charisma, no religious glitter or clout… The pages of the Gospels are cluttered with such people. And yet: ‘He touched me.’ The rule of the heavens comes down upon their lives through their contact with Jesus. And then they too are blessed—healed of body, mind, or spirit—in the hand of God.” Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard

Remember how just before He climbed the mountain to preach, Jesus was healing the diseased, the broken, the outcasts? He was delivering Good News to the people, hope to the desperate. The poor in spirit. Those who mourn. The meek and the hungry. The persecuted and reviled.*

These are the ones Jesus chose to have dinner with, to live with, to hang out with, to believe in! These are the inhabitants…the kings and queens of the Upside Down Kingdom. We don’t just go to be with them, we are these people…may our brokenness and desperateness for Jesus’ Life reveal the blessedness available to us all.

* from <;

Upside Down Kingdom…Part 1

What in the world does the phrase ‘Upside Down Kingdom’ mean? I’d like to have an ongoing series of posts here that depict what this means to us.

Today, I read this blog post and was struck by the following. This is our hope and vision, this is a piece of what the Upside Down Kingdom means for us as a family:

“What if success wasn’t measured by money, but by the number of people you helped pull out poverty?

What if we were judged not only by the accomplishments of our children, but by the accomplishments of the families we helped repair?

What if status wasn’t determined by the corporate or political ladder we climbed, but by the communities we helped build?

What if a home wasn’t measured by square footage, but by the lives we touched?

What if we didn’t treat innovation as synonymous with technological advancement, but by the advancement of the people around us?

What if leaders were admired not for their ability to bend others to their will, but for their ability to bring together the ideas of many for a common purpose?

What if we were less driven by ego and more by conscience?

What if wealth wasn’t simply the accumulation of materials, but the number of stories we could tell?

What if legacy wasn’t based solely on our personal achievement, but also on the achievements of those who followed after us?”

Join us in this conversation – comment and tell us what the Upside Down Kingdom means to you.