If you couldn’t tell already, 2016 was pretty amazing for us. Who would have though that when we were told to #expectmore this time last year, that Danielle and I would both get married and be given our beautiful little girl Charli before the year was out! Not to mention how blessed we have been with so much love and generosity from so many different places.

Charli is our ‘gift of grace’ because despite our faith in Christ, we didn’t quite honour our God in this area of our lives. Her middle name ‘Ann’ in Hebrew means ‘favour of Grace.’ Because God doesn’t expel any of us from his love when we fall short, we’ve received a gift, and an insanely beautiful one at that! Charli represents to us that, despite our shortcomings, his love is certain and we are loved no matter what. We hope that from this, our lives can speak this message to others who think they could never be loved in light of their own shortcomings. We believe she has and will have a special gift of showing grace to people over her life.

If we went at this year alone, we would have a fraction of what we have received. This is in love, encouragement and support, but also financially and practically, through the many amazing and generous gifts around the birth of our little Charli bear. We have beautiful, generous families, an amazing church family and work colleagues you simply couldn’t find all in one place anywhere else! God hasn’t just given us more, but has overflowed the bucket and shown off just a tad!

So as we take 2016 and #expectmore with us into 2017, we add on Gods word for us for the next 12 months and beyond…

2 Corinthians 9:13 is a verse that represents what we want our lives to produce and 2017 is about preparation! Preparing for even more and knowing that we can’t increase our capacity to receive it while we remain comfortable. Nothing grows without first being planted, and successful planting isn’t possible if the ground is not properly prepared. It’s the unseen parts of our lives, done right, that will produce the seen fruit later in our lives. Our hashtag for 2017 is…


Dani and I are both so thankful for all we have been given and learnt in 2016 and we are both excited and challenged heading into 2017! I’m sure we won’t get it all right, but we will dust ourselves off and do better because we’ve seen the grace we need to do it all at work, already, so many times in our lives!

Loads of love from the Hopkins team!

Be blessed!

“Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.” – 2 Corinthians 9:13



Have Yourselfie A Merry Little Christmas


“Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.””
Acts 26:32 NIV

Freedom has so many definitions in our world. Most of them are defined by our desire to justify our position or our place at whatever moment we are in because we aren’t really sure of how to do it better. We redefine ‘free’ so we can feel ‘happy.’ What does it mean to be ‘set free?’

In this story Paul was in chains for his beliefs, but considered himself free. His predicament certainly seemed to portray the opposite reality, and his observers agreed.

“Are you happy?” People ask us this and, though we can think of many reasons we are not, we say ‘yeah sure I am!’ (Just like when we tell our hairdresser we love their work and then go home and complain about it to our family and friends) Deep inside, a lot of the time, we are wondering why we can never honestly feel that happiness, or at least why it never hangs around that long, or seems to fade when we tuck ourselves into bed at night… Freedom, unlike happiness, is different and not dependent on a smile or circumstances being perfect. Freedom is the thing that can exist in the valley or on the highest mountain tops. We can cry and be free, we can mourn and be free, we can be mistreated and misunderstood and be free and we can hurt, yet still be free.

Perhaps that’s why we can’t find ‘happiness’ because it’s not actually what we really need or what we are seeking. We have got happiness confused with freedom and so we are looking for ‘freedom’ in places where the temporary version ‘happiness’ is found.

It’s not possible to be happy all the time, though we can quite easily cast out a facade of happiness to whoever we wish. Out of 100 selfies we usually get one or two that are social media quality!

Hair – ‘tick’

Brows – ‘tick’

Smile – ‘tick’

My good side – ‘tick’

Background scene looks inviting – ‘tick’

No food in teeth – ‘tick’

Appropriate hastags – ‘tick’

We can be trying so hard to look happy and like we’ve ‘got it together’ until we snap and feel we need to publicly fall in a heap. To those observing we ‘suddenly’ have the opposite extreme because we’ve done such a great job hiding the inner disharmony. It’s freedom we are missing and peace we are really wanting. We need a definitive answer to the question that rolls around in every one of our minds… ‘Am I actually ok?’ Not one of us is immune to it.

Freedom is found in the story of December 25. It’s about a love that says, ‘even if what’s around me doesn’t seem right, I’m ok and I have a purpose.’ It’s about a God that says, even if you’ve dropped the ball I’ll help you pick it up and even show you how to hold better, throw better and catch better… and there’s no time limit or pressure, I’ll give you my full attention until you are confident again.

Freedom is found in knowing that, though what I see isn’t all as I would like it, I am ok and valued and worth something. People may not see it or always acknowledge it, but in Christ I am valuable and loved.

What I see in the news and online and my previous religious experiences with people, and even churches, have given me a perception of a god very different from this. As Christians we are not void of the ability to get it wrong and portray our God falsely, and some do it more than others, but we try to do it better as we get to know him better. But the truth of it is that there actually is freedom to be found in the one who is the reason why Christmas is even a ‘thing’ in our world. Jesus’ birth was the start of the story of how we could finally link our brokenness to his love and and be free from the pressure to have to have it all together.

We don’t need to be perfect to be loved, because he who is perfect loved us enough to render all our weaknesses and imperfections invalid and eternally inconsequential upon our confession of belief in him. Nothing more need be done! That’s the gift of Christmas!!

Merry Christmas!

Stubby Coolers and Coffee Mugs


“All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.””

Luke 21:4 NIV

I went to get my haircut on Saturday, and ended up with a lovely hairdresser who recently moved to Brisbane from Newcastle. We got talking about her and her partner and her parents, and the conversation led to talking about Christmas shopping and gifting for family as it tends to do at this time of year. She made a comment that her family have never been able to buy big gifts, but never once did they ever not give each other something. Even if it was a stubby cooler for her dad or a coffee mug for her mum, it was wrapped up to open on Christmas morning… At the time it brought a smile to my face, remembering that even in the hardest times of our family life growing up, buying gifts for each other was never even spoken about as an optional activity at milestones or on special occasions. We just always bought what we could with what we had at the time and enjoyed watching each other open their presents! The next morning on Sunday I read the verse above and it took me back to the conversation…

So now I’m thinking, what is a ‘big’ gift really? Why did my hairdresser seem to have an apologetic tone and feel the need to validate her families gift giving habits? Was it because they were ‘smaller’ or ‘cheaper’ gifts than her perception of what I might buy for my family?

This verse perfectly illustrates that the biggest gifts aren’t at all based upon a numerical or material comparison between costs, amounts or size. They are based upon our heart; our willingness in being generous, our perspective on where what we have truly comes from. We weren’t born with possessions, we were given all we have, big or small, in some way from someone, who also was given all they have. Even the opportunities we had were given to us, regardless of whether we searched for them or they were handed to us, and we either took them or we didn’t.

One person can give a large, costly gift, and a second person can give a tiny, inexpensive gift in comparison, but still be giving more. It’s about the sacrifice and what giving that means to us. How much does a large gift really cost someone who has a thousand times that still left over? How much does a tiny gift actually cost someone who just gave a stranger the last $20 they had, of which they had originally planned to spend on petrol for their beat up Toyota Corolla in order to get to work? (Corollas are a great first car by the way, had a bright yellow one myself!)

If I was the receiver of the gift which would I think was a better gift? Would I be more thankful for the larger gift for what it means to me, or would I see the tiny gift and take the time to realise that maybe that ‘small’ act of generosity could be much ‘bigger’ than it seems? It’s not about how I receive a gift, or how anybody else does for that matter, that determines its ‘size,’ it’s about the heart of the giver. The ‘size’ of a gift is determined by how willing I am to put someone else’s needs or provision above my own needs or concern for provision.

When I first read this next verse back in the day, it never made sense, but it certainly does now:

“One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.”

Proverbs? ?11:24? ?NIV??

No gift I give is a waste, ‘big’ or ‘small’ but I have found that when I have trusted God with providing for me, it has brought more return and stability in my life than trying to hold on and accumulate things at the expense of others, whether that be with my bank account, my time or with material things that I own. I now actually get a little excited to forego a bought lunch at work so I have spare cash to buy someone a coffee, something my wife leads by example with!

By trusting God, what I gain from being generous is far more valuable than just the material value of what I give, which is all I stand to receive by withholding it. It starts small, and I still do hesitate, but I’ve never felt more fulfilled being generous than I do when I have sacrificed my immediate needs for someone else’s, and then see God come through for me.

What do you think?


“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.””

Matthew 11:18-19 NIV

In the days after a major news event, we are now over-exposed to opinion. This is largely due to the fact that social media provides a platform for us ‘experts’ to express it with out the face to face confrontation. There’s also the knowledge that, even if there’s haters, there’s bound to be those who agree and that’s enough for us to feel ok with expressing pretty much any view without thought on how it may effect those close to or involved with the event.

In short, we are broken humans who are insecure and have a distorted sense of our understanding and knowledge and a lack of compassion and wisdom. We can criticise someone for doing something a particular way, but would equally be able to quickly find a criticism to fire at them if they had acted in the opposite manner too.

We are focused so much on injustice and finding fault because we live in the shame and guilt of our own shortcomings. We can only see things from a purely compassionate and loving stand point, not feeling the unquenchable desire to express a thoughtless opinion, if we find true freedom from our own guilt and shame. We can love who we are, as we are, even with our past faults and current weakness. Until we stop running everyone’s opinions back and forth in our own heads about the ‘news worthy’ events behind our own facades’ we will continue to present ours to others to the detriment of relationships and our own freedom and joy.

“God is not ashamed to be identified with the parts of you that you think you need to hide” 

– Steven Furtick

I’m so thankful that the offer has been granted and I have accepted that offer in my faith in Christ. I still may offer the odd thoughtless opinion when I struggle, but I will always know I can feel comfortable to stand corrected because I know my God isn’t the ‘god’ that is often portrayed as a harsh dictator ready to punish my mistakes. He took my shame and guilt so he didn’t have to punish me, and any discipline I’ve ever received and accepted has only ever made me stronger.