Australia Christianity Personal the Church

Letter from Australia 114 – Dreams – Blocked, Cancelled and Open

Letter from Australia 114 – Dreams – Blocked, Cancelled and Open

 Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Do you dream?   Of course you do.  Let me rephrase that – do you remember your dreams when you wake up?  And do you think your dreams have any significance – other than they seem to be the clearing out of your subconscious mind?


Strange Dreams

I have some pretty weird dreams – but it is the recurring ones that interest me the most.  When I was a teenager, I had this constant dream of running up Nigg Hill in the Highlands (we lived at the top where my dad was the pigman on Castlecraig farm).  It was always dark, and a pair of car headlights chased me all the way up.  I was just about to get to the top when someone jumped out the car, and was about to chop my head off with an axe.  But it never happened because I always woke up!

Over the past year I have had a dream which has been repeated in differing forms.  It always involves me being about to speak in a church, or other public place – and for some reason or other, I am always prevented from doing so.  The latest version is that I was with Peter Hitchin’s at the University of Bath (a University I have never been to!), and was about to speak after him – but I was prevented from doing so by a bunch of plummy mouthed students who didn’t want to let the Scottish presbyterian peasant speak!  I ended up in an asylum where the inmates were much nicer to me – but they couldn’t stop laughing.  And as always in these dreams I woke up just as the prospect of me ever speaking got increasingly small! (Last night I had a dream where I was prevented from preaching by someone bowling a cricket ball at me!)…

I will leave you amateur, or even professional, psychologists, to work that one out!  I don’t think I need a Joseph or a Daniel to interpret where my mind is going!  Speaking of psychologists, I was fascinated to read Peter Kreeft saying that the profession with the lowest number of Christians is psychology!  I wonder why?

Cancel Culture in Christian Circles

I have been reflecting a lot on cancel culture in Christian circles.  It certainly exists.   Sometimes it is explicit and justified.  It would be irresponsible and wrong for any pastor to allow a known heretic to preach in his pulpit.  We are to feed the people of God, the word of God, not the poison of the one who seeks to devour, deceive and destroy.   It would also be wrong to let someone speak who speaks the truth but is as dull as dishwater and can neither connect nor communicate.  I know that the Lord can speak through donkeys – but that doesn’t mean we should all start braying!

Sometimes it is explicit and evil.   Like for example the Church of Scotland minister, Rev Bryan Kerr, who sought to get the civil authorities to ban Franklin Graham from preaching the Gospel.

Or when you are invited to write a response article, which is published and praised, only to be withdrawn 24 hours later because of external pressures?!  And you are hung out to dry as a ‘racist’?!

Sometimes it is more subtle and justified.  Your writing may not be great, or your speaking is just not up to the high standards the organisers or publishers expect; and so, they just let you down subtly by not printing, or not inviting you back.  I’m certain that in that sense I have been ‘cancelled’ justifiably many times.  To be honest it still sometimes surprises me when I am asked to speak or write – outside of my own very small circle – and even more surprised if I am invited back!

I would also say that if, for example, you go to a Baptist church and start speaking about infant baptism – you deserve to be cancelled – that’s just rude, arrogant and ignorant – no matter how many prophetic words you have had from the Lord.  In that category I think of Mark Driscoll’s ‘prophetic’ words to the New Frontiers people in England, or to the Anglicans here in Sydney.  It was just shock jock, machine gun preaching – hoping that some of the bullets would hit – and not caring about the damage the others would do.

Nudge Christianity

But other times the ‘cancelling’ is implicit, subtle but just as effective.  A bit like Twitter, Google, YouTube or Facebook ensuring that you are well down their algorithms.  There is a Christian equivalent.    Think of the magazine which doesn’t like the review they asked you to write – because the publisher is someone who advertises with them.  You can say what you want – but you just can’t say that!   Or the time when you read a book that is fundamentally heretical, and you naively think that you should point that out.  But the organisation refuses to publish the review because too many of its readers think that the author is wonderful!      Or the church leader who has a ‘quiet word’ in your ear after a conference event – ‘so and so, won’t like that – perhaps better not to mention these things”.  ‘So and so’ being a rather big name, or financier, in the organisation.  It doesn’t matter if what you said was true.  That’s the end of the line.

Sometimes the pressure that is put on preachers and writers to conform is enormous.  It is rarely stated explicitly – but more often than not in hints, winks and nudges.  That spells trouble for those of us who are useless at taking hints!

Another kind of pressure is that felt by ministers of relatively small churches.  Perhaps they invite a guest speaker who goes down well with the vast majority of the congregation, but there is a key family who are not happy.  It doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks, or indeed what is true – the pastor feels he cannot afford to lose that key family (my view is that largely he can’t afford to keep them – if they continue to dictate the ethos and direction – usually backwards – of the congregation!), and so they get what they want.  Sometimes taking the huff and threatening can be very effective.

Think of the speaker who goes to speak at an evangelical seminary – and is generally well received.  But he is told by one of the professors that whilst the word was appreciated, he won’t be invited back – because the big donors didn’t like it – and the seminary can’t afford to upset the big donors.  So, they go back to teaching about preaching the word fearlessly, whilst themselves living in fear.

One time I was sitting in a meeting of a mission organisation where a leader from HQ came to speak to us and encouraged us to think ‘outside the box’.  So, I did.  Only to be told not ‘that box’!   Apparently, he had a new ‘box’ to introduce to us, and we were all supposed to buy into it as though it were our idea!  But what can you do if you don’t understand or speak the code!

All of this came to mind because of a number of issues, but particularly the Mike Carlton incident.

Being called a ‘porridge wog’ was both pathetic and amusing.  But being threatened with being reported to immigration was no joke – especially with the current febrile anti-Christian sentiment in some sections of Australian civic society!    The whole purpose is to cancel and intimidate into silence.  And if they can’t shut you up – they will do their best to ensure you don’t get a platform.  Hence this article re Graham Norton’s comments…

It only takes one ‘significant’ person to say, ‘we can’t have him speak here – he’s too right wing/left wing’, for the doors to be shut.  I spoke at a school once and was challenged by a teacher for saying that the phrase ‘love is love is meaningless – you need to be able to say what love is’.  The teacher was so angry that she started a petition to get me banned and came to a Q and A to heckle me!   It didn’t go well for her.  Afterwards I was speaking to some people, and they were delighted with how the whole thing had gone.  I told them that it may have gone well, but I was certain I would not be invited back – even though this was a solidly Christian school, and I was only defending its public doctrine.  Why should the headteacher go through the hassle of having petitions and complaints when he could get someone else who could play the game better and was a bit more coded (bland)?

The University of Dundee occasionally got requests from outside groups to have me fired as a chaplain.  The principal would speak his minions and ask them to have a ‘subtle’ word.  It never worked because I just simply said I would not resign; he would have to fire me…and if he did, I would make sure it was well publicised!

All of this is to say that after the Mike Carlton affair I was tempted just to give it all up and live a quiet life – speaking only to people who like or agree with me – a somewhat select group!   But how boring would that be!   And then I heard this oldie but goldie – Tom Petty’s “I won’t back down”


Well, I won’t back down
No I won’t back down
You could stand me up at the gates of Hell
But I won’t back down

No I’ll stand my ground
Won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
Gonna stand my ground
And I won’t back down

Hey baby
There ain’t no easy way out (I won’t back down)
Hey I will stand my ground
And I won’t back down

Well, I know what’s right
I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around
But I’ll stand my ground
And I won’t back down

There are great open doors in Sydney schools – this was an event organised by a number of pupils which I had the privilege of speaking at.

I also need to remember not to fret about the shut doors.   It’s not about me, my ego, abilities (or lack thereof), and pride.  It’s about the Lord.  Rather than crying over shut doors, we should be far more concerned about the doors that the Lord opens – often in very surprising places.   “See I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.  I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and not denied my name” (Revelation 3:8).

Maybe our dreams are far too often the projection of our fears, and the arrows of the accuser?  Maybe the dream we need is of “the Lord restoring the fortunes of Zion,” then we will be “like those who dreamed.” (Psalm 126:1).  Except our dreams will be reality!  Let it be, Lord, let it be!

Yours in Christ


Letter from Australia 113 – A Car Miracle!

PS.  For those who were asking the Coffee and Revelation continues – I try to put them up every weekday at 5pm (Sydney), 6am (UK)…You can subscribe on YouTube or access them from the ASK website…

Here is yesterdays….







  1. I was head pigman at Castlecraig Farm in the 80s. Definitely wouldn`t want to run up that hill!!!! 🙂

  2. Just wanted to encourage you David that I’m blessed by your ministry.

    On a tangent, I heard recently that 80% of people (can’t remember whether it was in UK education or globally!) prefer speaking and listening to reading and writing- so it’s good you’ve got a mix (I’m one of the 20%- I read a lot of your articles but have only listened to one or two podcasts tbh).

    If it’s any encouragement, we’re called as you know to faithfulness to God, not to tickle people’s itching ears. I appreciate your faithful ministry.

    I think I’m a bit like you: my first love is the gospel, but I can’t help but take interest in worldly goings on. We just need to stay grounded in Christ in the midst of the storms of life.

  3. Keep dreaming, David! I thank God for your commitment to glorify Him as your goal in life.

  4. You must be getting old if Acts 2:17 is anything to go by 😉 Thank you for your ongoing ministry. Keep proclaiming the truth!

  5. David,

    Thank you for your article Christian Today. You always write with clarity and help the rest of us grasp the salient facts. I can appreciate the constant fight must take its toll, I can only encourage you to keep trusting. I find at a practical level it helps me to consciously remind myself ‘one thing at a time, slowly’, i know you live at a demanding pace but perhaps slowing it in your head would be a good thing. I’ve found it important to regularly remind myself when engaging with media (which I do only fleetingly) that the Lord is in control. He sits on the throne of the universe and has the first and last word in everything. He is coming. Our redemption is near.

  6. Really appreciate what you share David. So delighted you were invited into a school. The kids of today face immense challenges in discerning what is truth and what really is complete lies. Be praying you get invited into more schools/colleges etc.

  7. Hello David. I read with interest about your dreams and the fact that you had reoccurring dreams interested me more.

    Prior to 1979 when I was not yet a Christian, I periodically had the same dream. It was a terrifying one.

    Ever since I can remember, even as a young boy I was always aware that God existed. This was strange as I was not raised in a Christian household. My maternal grandparents we Christian, but my parents were not.

    We as children would have been ‘sent’ to church on our own and we would have joined the church Sunday school. That was the extent of my Christian input.

    Throughout my childhood and into early adulthood I could not shake the thought that God existed and I was not right with Him. As a lot of people my age did in middle teens and early 20s I drifted into the kind of stuff non saved people get into. Basically it was a time of drifting from one alcohol filled (and a lot of other stuff I care not to mention) season to another. But I in my inner consciousness could not shake the thoughts of my unsaved self and if I died in that state I was hell bound.

    It was in my late teens and early 20s I began to have the same weird and frightening dream. It was the day that God was judging the nations. I stood among a multitude of others and I knew in the dream what was coming and I knew I was not saved.

    Above us was a cloudless sapphire blue sky. In that sky the image of the person who was being called to be judged would appear. When their image appeared I heard the voice of God calling them forward.

    In the dream suddenly my image appeared and the sky and I was called. I have never felt a fear like that before.

    It was always at this point in the dream that I woke up in a sweat and screaming for mercy.

    Once I realized it was a dream and I had another chance, it was then I had a sense of relief that I had never experienced before. Did I repent and learn my lesson? Not at all. I would be out again at the first opportunity with the lads partying.

    During the month of August in 1979 when I was 27 an English evangelist by the name of Dick Saunders held an evangelistic campaign in my home town of Bangor here in Northern Ireland. On the closing night I decided to go to the tent and get saved. I wasn’t going to hear a message, I was there to get saved. By this time I knew if I didn’t become a Christian I might never again get a chance.

    I went in at the end of the meeting when there was an alter call. I went into the counseling tent and talked to a couple of guy who later became good friends. At around 11pm that night I exited the tent saved by God. Hallelujah. I’m forever grateful.

    Before I was saved I on at least two occasions came close to death. Once in a bar I decided not to go into when a friend suggested going in for a pint and was blown up by the IRA about 20 minutes later. Secondly in the Belfast shipyard when I almost fell to my death. But glory to God he kept me for such a time as this.

    Just as a footnote, after I surrendered to God, I never had that dream again, nor have I ever regretted becoming a Christian.

    Kind regards,

    Stephen Meharg.

  8. From reading and being encouraged by your writings on an early Free Church of Scotland message board up until the present day , I have often wondered , and at times envied your drive and conviction . You have a way of communicating Christ to converted and unconverted alike that I can only conclude that this is what you were saved for , both spiritually in life and physically while in Ninewells .

    You will recognise the futile sentiment from “Porridge Land” Dae as much as ye can noo , cos yer a lang time deed ! It is wonderful to be aflame for Christ , but it is necessary to give time to gathering fuel from His log pile , and choose the bits that will give greatest heat all around. Yes ! you and your dear Lady went up to Cairns for a break , but how much of that week was a rest in mind body and spirit ? Ok , there have been times before when I have uttered such comment , and I do think now is such a time ! Bless you in Jesus name .

  9. If you dream about emulating the lives of the Apostles , please remember that only one ( John ) died of natural causes.

    1. Alastair , Anyone who seeks to take Jesus calling seriously does not dream of emulating the lives of the Apostles . Christ’s death was sufficient ,( John 19 v 30 It is finished ) but for some ,death would be an answer to their prayers . For, they at times find it so much harder to live for Him , yet live for Him they gladly do !

      Rev Robertson and others are aware of the cost of discipleship ( John 15 v 18&19 If the world hates you , keep in mind that it hated me first . If you belonged to the world it would love you as it’s own . As it is , you do not belong to the world , but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. )

      Guys like him stick their necks out , and are shot at time and time again (even regularly coming under friendly fire) and it is guys like me who grow and benefit from their wounds . Sometimes we get carried away , urging them on to ” be proved right” and to win some small victory , while having the luxury of hiding behind the sand dunes of anonymity.

      My own Minister lived and preached the gospel with a passion few could match. His Sunday morning address was scripture and Spirit moving . After shaking hands with his congregation he inclined to his car to drive to a second gathering . Before he reached the door , he fell on to it’s roof having been taken “Home” to be with his Lord . Alastair , only a fanatic dreams of death, because death is the enemy of all things living . Paul calls it an affront , calling it out as an “an enemy”. Death is not a thing to be dreamt of. or desired Jesus says, ( I am the Way , the Truth and THE LIFE . Little wonder He wept for his own who would not believe. He died once and for all so that I could live , and that ,the Life which I live, would be one filled with wonder hope and assurance , and that when this body fails , a new one awaits. Blessings upon you !

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