Thursday, 31 May 2007

how my baptism went

i know that my baptism was a month ago (at least) but i haven't had the chance to blog about it since then. here's how it went (in brief):

i was excited about getting baptised for weeks! about a month before my baptism, the main leader from the church i go to came to my digs. he explained the purpose, the physical action, the spiritual result, and the significance of baptism with reference to various places in scripture. i found that evening quite helpful. i hadn't realised before how it important it is, if one is capable, for a christian to get baptised.

i was still excited about my baptism on the days leading up to it. i had invited friends, my sister, and my nan.

the night before, my sister informed me that she could no longer make it. on the day, my nan actually did come! i was quite nervous on that day. i had planned to write out a testimony, because i had to give a spoken testimony during the ceremony before going into the water. i kept putting it off and eventually didn't write one. i also chose the songs to be played during the service on the day as well. i had only managed to obtain a copy of the church song book the sunday before. i ended up choosing songs that emphasised God's grace. it was the realisation of divine grace that helped me to become a christian, so these songs were quite significant to me even though i didn't know them.

the baptism service was held in northway evangelical church, a little (tiny hall!) church in the outskirts of oxford. we arrived early - more time to be nervous. :P our church had to "borrow" another church premises for the afternoon because they have a baptism pool and the hall we use doesn't because we gather in a school hall.

silly me! i didn't realise before how short notice i had given the singer/guitarist about the songs i wanted and they weren't ones that i remember us singing before. luckily, the music all turned out well and he had some songs of his own that he had planned to play anyway. :)

the head church leader gave a very brief sermon on the significance of baptism, then cued me to come to the the front.

okay, my testimony. it went surprisingly well! people said afterwards that i had seemed confident and clear. what a relief! :D

now for the dunking. it was literally that! full immersion in what appeared to be a miniature swimming pool with steps and a bath plug. the water was warm. mmmm...

i was asked three questions about my faith while having my arms crossed over my chest. after confirming these, i was dunked backwards, a person holding me on each side, and held underwater for a second or two.

when i was brought back up, people quoted scriptures and described images that came to their heads during the baptismal action. my heart was racing. later i was told that i couldn't stop smiling the instant i came out of the water - a joyous and relieved kind of smile. :)

after i had dried off and changed in a side room, i took my seat in the hall beside my nan. another church leader started another brief sermon, but i don't think it was specifically about baptism - i was too excited to pay full attention.

the baptism was so emotional. i couldn't calm down for the rest of the weekend and even the monday after. it was like a "power" weekend of some sort.

i'll never forget that day (or weekend), that milestone in my christian journey.

- james

Saturday, 5 May 2007

poem: holy communion

"Holy Communion"

Whipped and mocked
Crowned with thorns
Nailed to the wood
That you did create

These things I picture
As I take this bread

Taunted and poked
Save thyself!
Rupturing of the heart
Blood and water separate

These things I picture
As I take this wine

Wrath of the Father
Averted only by you, Christ

(c) 2007 Alexis Down

poem: the clothes show

"The Clothes Show"

Get dressed up
Nice and pretty
Examine that wardrobe
Come on now, quickly!
Does God not see us
In the shower?

The Lord's going
To be there!
Get out that Sunday best!
Is it washed and pressed?
Does God not see us
In the shower?

Don't spill that
Breakfast now!
The Lord won't be best pleased
With a butter stain
Does God not see us
In the shower?

Find a seat
In plain view!
Make sure ev'ryone sees
That we are best dressed
Does God not see us
In the shower?

What to say?
We looked fab!
Did you see that lady?
Call that rag a dress?
Does God not see us
In the shower?

(c) 2007 Alexis Down

poem: teaching abuse

"Teaching Abuse"

You've got a family
But wanted more

God has forgiven you
And so must I

'Twas in the library
You did spank me

God has forgiven you
And so must I

I'm lucky I am
Not that pupil

God has forgiven you
And so must I

That innocent schoolgirl
That you asked out

God has forgiven you
And so must I

Sacked you had to be
On that sad day

God has forgiven you
And so must I

(c) 2007 Alexis Down


i understand new things by analogies. i'm sure that most people do too. the christian doctrine is infinitely difficult to get your head around - i mean proper christian doctrine, not what c.s. lewis would call "christianity-and-water" that you learn as a child in this country. it was only by understanding some fundamental concepts by using analogies that i could make an informed decision to believe in a personal God and to become a christian.

i will be posting analogies of how i understand christian concepts. i apologise in advance if some/all of them bore you because most of them are likely to come from a computing angle. it seems like our varied professions and skills are keys to understanding life. :)

- james

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

baptism update!

the date that i'm getting baptised has now been confirmed to be saturday april 21st at 6.00pm.

anyone who can make it is welcome.

thank you to all those who have been pencilling the potential dates because you really want to come. it really means a lot to me! :)

- james

Monday, 2 April 2007

song: sinai beach - humanity

i've been listening to the Christian hardcore band, Sinai Beach, since i got one of their albums, "When Breath Escapes", the weekend before last. aside from the brilliant technical proficiency, many of the songs have very moving lyrics. Here are the lyrics to "Humanity":

Sinai Beach - "Humanity"

Has been fooled by his own brain.
Man's been deceived. He's gone insane.
He's given away his soul.
Exchanged the glory of
The immortal
For the self-indulgent lies
Of the futile.
So that fools may become wise
In their foolish wisdom.
And the wise
Be made foolish
In the fool's kingdom.

Loves to think that he knows all.
His religion of science.
I guess
You can teach the earth to understand
When you make things up.

Can't shove a square
Into a circle
Anymore than a
Monkey into a man.
And the wise
Are made foolish.

Loves to think that he knows all.
His religion of science.
I guess
You can teach the earth to understand
When you make things up.

In serving
A useless non-existent cause
To it's useless
Non-existent end
Man became an infant
And crawled back to
The womb.
He's gone insane,
Fooled by his own.

Lyrics copyright 2003 Sinai Beach

poem: burial


Gave my life to Christ,
Died to this world
Bonds not completely severed:
Corpse with the appearance
Of life.

So I must be baptised,
Buried to this world
Sinful ways cleansed, banished
Let the Evil One know
I'm dead.

Copyright 2007 Alexis Down (James A. Cameron)

poem: am i good?

"Am I Good?"

Worked in a charity shop
Do recycling
Loved one without a stop
Shun gambling
Am I good?

Denied my Creator's existence
So refusing
Warped my perception of creation
And ruined
Am I good?

Who is good
But God alone?
I am not good
Without God's grace,
Through faith alone.

Weights of sin
Chains of addiction
Torn asunder.

For who is good
But God alone?
I am not good
Without God's grace,
Through faith alone.

Copyright 2007 Alexis Down (James A. Cameron)

Wednesday, 7 March 2007


i'm (finally ...or already!) getting baptised at emmanuel church, oxford, where i became a christian. the event will either be on saturday 31st march or saturday 28th april, dependant on which date it is more convenient to run a baptism service.

"if you love me, let go of me"

If you love me
Then let go of me
goes a lyric of the Evanescence song "Weight Of The World". The song is about the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual burden on Jesus in taking the sins of the world onto himself and not fighting back at his accusers even though he was infinitely more than capable and deserved of doing so.

Evanescence songs have a habit of being a dialogue between a human and God. The above lyric appears to have the persona of Jesus. The raised the question, "Why would Jesus want the person who loves him to let go of him?". An answer came to me this morning. I was reading John 14 on the bus this morning and came across this verse:

"You heard me say 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I."
- John 14:28 [NIV]
On the walk to work I whacked on my iPod, as I do. As soon as I heard those lyrics it instantly hit me where they were inspired from!

Jesus's disciples had bonded tightly with him during the time that they followed him. It was now the eve of his betrayal and he was forewarning them that he wouldn't be with them physically for much longer, although he does promise to return. The distress of the disciples is understandable. Despite all this, Jesus had a job at hand. If his disciples loved him, they would allow him to complete the Divine plan, in spite of the pain of separation.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

poem: misplaced worship

"Misplaced Worship"

Warm in your embrace

Joyous in your presence

Beautiful is your face

I worship

"I'm not God!", you say

"Then show me the way"

Warm in your embrace

Joyous in your presence

Wonderful is your Grace

I worship

"I Am God", you say

I have found the way

(c) 2007 Alexis Down (James A. Cameron)

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

poem: perception of you

surprisingly, i haven't written any new poetry since i became a christian. some people who have read my blog long enough know that my poems can get quite dark and torturous. i know it doesn't mean i should stop writing; i've just been waiting for inspiration, and by the Grace of God, here it is!

"Perception of You"

Guiding me when I was alone
Following your will unconsciously
Beckoning for me to come home
Ignoring your whisper blissfully

Nice it would be to receive you
But show me a way to perceive you

Taking me to a place I quite despise
Desiring to go home, desiring to leave
Shewing me who to speak with; compromise

Having much in common, having much indeed

Nice it would be to receive you
But show me a way to perceive you

Standing right in front of me
Refusing still to see now
Blowing a trumpet loudly
Rejecting the sound

Nice it would be to receive you
But show me a way to perceive you

Waiting always right here
Readying myself for embrace
Taking my hand to steer
Accepting your divine grace

Thank you for opening my heart to receive you
Gratitude for assuring me you were always there

(c) 2007 Alexis Down (James A. Cameron)

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

xml email to christ

i went to see my, then new, friend's baptism in october (2006). it was at jubilee church in enfield, middx. one of the pastors was called adrian warnock. you couldn't forget him because he kept winking and smiling. ;)

sometime in november, i got bored one day when i was at work. i was getting interested in semantics around that time and admired the ambition for creating the semantic web. i decided to search the web on how feasible it would be to develop a "semantic email" application. if you think about it, we store a lot of information, and often files from attachments, that are important to us in our mailboxes. this information would be more useful if it were easier to search on to retrieve it.

i decided to Google search email AND xml (or xml AND email). i went through the results. one of the results in particular amused me. the page description read something like: "read the Bible by email or XML", the XML referring to RSS or ATOM feeds. i clicked on the link. it was a christian blog. whose photo should load on the page but that of the winky pastor from jubilee church! this was extremely spooky to say the least!

i decided to email adrian using the address displayed on the web page. he responded quite promptly and verified that he was indeed the pastor i had met in enfield weeks previously.

God works in mysterious ways!

Friday, 9 February 2007

healing spiritual abuse

what i wanted to talk about here was too many words for blogger to cope with, so instead here's a link to the myspace post:

healing spiritual abuse

Sunday, 4 February 2007

emmanuel oxford - a new frontiers church

here are links to my church and the christian movement it belongs to:

Emmanuel Church, Oxford

New Frontiers family of churches

thanks for looking! :)


hey, there's this cool software called e-sword. it's digital bible software. you can conveniently browse the whole bible on your computer, and it doesn't take up that much space. the software is absolutely free and so are a lot of translations, however there are some translations that require payment. there's enough diversity in the ones that are free though. e-sword features parallel verse analysis where you can view the same verse in multiple translations simultaneously. there are lot's of advanced theologians tools built-in and available for download, such as commentaries and seeing the greek/hebrew equivalent of a word your mouse is hovered over.

unfortunately, e-sword is only available for Windows PC. however, there's plenty of other free bible software out there for other platforms, including mobile devices.

cheers for reading. :)

parables - the kingdom of heaven is like this...

jesus often taught in parables. if you don't know, these parables were short stories used as analogies of how life is ultimately.

my belief for jesus using parables is that it was for the commonfolk, who were the majority in the crowds that followed him, to be able to understand and remember what he was teaching. his parables often included familiar things, such as farming, weddings, landlord-tenant relationships, father-son relationships, etc.

however, a piece of scripture struck me! it seemed to indicate that jesus spoke the things of God in parables so that not everyone who heard would understand. hmm...

Then the disciples came and said to him, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" And he answered them, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not seem and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case, the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

'You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.
For this people's heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.'

But blessed are you eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear. Truly I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it."

- Matt 13:10-17 [ESV]

i'm not quite sure what to make of this. help and comments appreciated.

song: Finch - "Brother Bleed Brother"

Finch are an extremely creative screamo band. they were my favourite band for sometime early last year. unfortunately, they split up around that time.

i first got into finch in summer 2005 when i heard the song "brother bleed brother" on the free compilation CD that came on an issue of Kerrang! magazine. the song was so good that i went and got the album it's taken from "say hello to sunshine". the album did not disappoint in the slightest!

what i wanted to to talk about was how much the song moved me. i wasn't a christian at the time, and i don't know if any of the members of finch are/were, but the song portrays the gospel in such an emotional way! i really felt like crying the first time i heard the lyrics "and i'd die... for you/ and i'd die". i find it hard to describe how it felt hearing that. it's like a good friend coming to you and telling you that they love you so much that they would die for you. this is essentially what christians are meant to feel from John 3:16. it made me wish i had someone who felt like that about me and made me want to have a friend that i love that much as well.

i also like the opening of the first verse that goes: "hate sin, not the sinner/ a mote of ugliness thrown into the fire". this reminds me of the account of jesus saving the life of the woman who had committed for adultery. the crowd wanted to stone her, as was custom, but jesus challenged them asking the person who hadn't sinned to "cast the first stone". God loves everyone regardless of their sins. it's the sins themselves that He doesn't like.

Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now, in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on, sin no more."

- John 8:2-11 [ESV]

spiritual birth certificate

This is to certify that James Alexander Cameron was born into the Spirit
on the Twenty-ninth day of December in the Year 2006.

Location of birth: Earth

Father's name: God

Mother's name: The Church

Father's occupation: Lord of All Creation

sweet sacrifice

i've got the new Evanescence album, "The Open Door". some beautiful songs on it, but in particular i would like to share one about the Christian faith.

"Sweet Sacrifice"

It's true, we're all a little insane

but it's so clear

now that I'm unchained

Fear is in our minds

taking over all the time

fear is only in our minds

but it's taking over all the time

You poor sweet innocent thing

dry your eyes and testify

you know you live to break me - don't deny

sweet sacrifice

One day I'm gonna forget your name

and one sweet day,

you're gonna drown in my lost pain

Fear is in our minds

taking over all the time

fear is only in our minds

but it's taking over all the time

You poor sweet innocent thing

dry your eyes and testify

and oh you love to hate me, don't you, honey?

I'm your sacrifice

I dream in darkness

I sleep to die

erase the silence

erase my life

our burning ashes

blacken the day

a world of nothingness

blow me away

Do you wonder why you hate?

Are you still too weak to survive your mistakes?

You poor sweet innocent thing

dry your eyes and testify

you know you live to break me - don't deny

sweet sacrifice

Copyright 2006 Evanescence

i follow jesus - writings of a recently born-again christian

here's the blog of a dear friend of mine, jason kirk, who's recently become a Christian too (albeit for several months longer than me):

if you enjoy the blog, add the feed to your RSS reader or use the convenient feature on your browser, if present.

how come i'm so religious now?

short answer: i'm not.

long answer:

i entrusted my life to the Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, on 29th December 2006. i'm a Christian now!

...but i'm not religious! the sad thing is that for two millenia now Christians worldwide have been practising Christianity as a religion. that's all well and good and surely there's no harm. however, as Christians, we don't need religion. it's the Grace of God through our faith that saves us [John 3v16].

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." [KJV]

confused? what is religion? the belief in a supernatural being and practice of a doctrine. that seems to fit Christianity quite well, but let's go back to the quote in John. it doesn't say "do enough good deeds" or "do more good deeds than bad" or "follow this set of rules" and "you shall be granted access to heaven".

yes, God wants us to be good. but what does God define as "good"? His Word says that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". here's an analogy i like - it's easy to remember because of the "sinne" of an arrow: in an archery event, God sets being good as hitting the bullseye with every arrow you fire. every time you take an action (or indeed fail to take an action) in your life, you fire an arrow. if you miss the bullseye, you have sinned. if you have sinned, you are no longer good. ouch! this bars practically all of humanity (perhaps excepting infants) from being "good" in God's eyes.

solution? God loves us so much and though "sin cannot enter His Holy Prescence" he created a solution for us. He gave His only Son to take the punishment for us. Jesus took all of our sin onto Himself on the cross, and as a result went to Hell... for THREE days until He conquered death and rose from the dead!

but why would God do this for us? because he wants to have a personal RELATIONSHIP with each of us. i know that word can sound scary, especially when it's with the Creator of the Universe! but the only way we can touch Him is to be pure and blameless, not contaminated with Sin. all we have to do is believe in the sacrifice He made for us in Jesus's agonising execution on the cross then to be taunted by devils in Hell.

believing is a lot more difficult than it sounds, but it's the only way we can become part of God's family. i've had lot's of help from dear friends and the Holy Spirit over the past few months to help me take the leap of faith.

in conclusion, God wants to have a relationship with us, instead of just following a set of rules to please Him. as a Christian, i accept that i am a child of God and that he loves everyone no matter how often they fall out of line. one cannot be a "better" Christian than someone else.

questions welcome. i had loads when i hadn't become a Christian and i still have loads presently unanswered now.

thank you for reading this far. God has always and will always love you unconditionally (i.e. He won't bless you just because you read this article).