The New City Catechism is a resource aimed at helping children and adults learn the core doctrines of the Christian faith through 52 questions and answers. There's a mobile app available for Apple and Android devices, which makes it easy to take all 52 questions and answers with you wherever you go. The free app also includes Bible readings, short prayers, and a devotional commentary, as well as kid-friendly songs designed to help children (and adults!) memorise each question and answer. In our house we've started singing the songs after tea-time and during bath-time.

At the Prayer Meeting on Sunday afternoon we referred to the first question and answer: 'What is our only hope in life and death? That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Saviour Jesus Christ.'

Here is Tim Keller's devotional commentary on this question and answer:

'At one point in his writings John Calvin lays out the essence of what it means to live the Christian life. He says that he could make us a list of the commandments we should be keeping or a list of all the character traits we should be exhibiting. But instead, he wants to boil it down to the basic motive and the basic principle of what it means to live the Christian life.

The basic motive is that God sent his Son to save us by grace and to adopt us into his family. So now, because of that grace, in our gratitude, we want to resemble our Father. We want the family resemblance. We want to look like our Savior. We want to please our Father.

The basic principle then is this: that we are not to live to please ourselves. We’re not to live as if we belong to ourselves. And that means several things. It means, first of all, we are not to determine for ourselves what is right or wrong. We give up the right to determine that, and we rely wholly on God’s Word. We also give up the operating principle that we usually use in day-to-day life; we stop putting ourselves first, and we always put first what pleases God and what loves our neighbor. It also means that we are to have no part of our lives that is immune from self-giving. We’re supposed to give ourselves wholly to him—body and soul. And it means we trust God through thick and thin, through the good and the bad times, in life and in death.

And how do the motive and the principle relate? Because we’re saved by grace, we’re not our own. A woman once said to me, “If I knew I was saved because of what I did, if I contributed to my salvation, then God couldn’t ask anything of me because I’d made a contribution. But if I’m saved by grace, sheer grace, then there’s nothing he cannot ask of me.” And that’s right. You’re not your own. You were bought with a price.

Some years ago I heard a Christian speaker say, “How can you come to grips with someone who has given himself utterly for you without you giving yourself utterly for him?”

Jesus gave himself wholly for us. So now, we must give ourselves wholly to him.'

To find out more visit The New City Catechism website.

We're really encouraged that Morgan Freeman has applied to become a member of the Village Church. In his own words, here is his testimony of God's grace in his life:

I had the privilege of being brought up in a Christian family. My parents took me to church every week, they sent me to Sunday school and the church youth group each week too. So, from a young age I had heard many Bible stories and teachings, but I also knew that becoming a Christian had to be a personal decision and was not automatic because my parents were Christians. I knew that I needed to admit and repent of my sins, and thank God for sending his son to die on the cross for me. Today I am a Christian, not because of what I have achieved or any good things I may have done, but because of what the Lord has done for me giving me his grace and mercy through Christ.

I became a Christian sometime in my teenage years. Off the back of a Christian camp I remember thinking something was different that year. Previously, I’d often thought to myself I wanted to became a Christian and each year I went on camp, I’d come back with what could be said a ‘spiritual high’ but that was it, it only lasted a week, maybe two at most. I’d stop reading my Bible, praying and stop listening in services. I had stopped everything I could do to come to know Jesus. But one year was different. During the camp one of my leaders gave her testimony and a big part of it for her was praying for assurance of her faith. This was something I felt I could relate to and she encouraged me to pray for assurance for my own faith, if I had it. A few months later, God had answered my prayers. I remember one Sunday school class we were looking at John 3, discussing Nicodemus and being born again with Jesus and it was what we were discussing that made me realise I believed the gospel for myself and I wanted to live as a Christian.

A few years have passed since then, and praise God for growing and maturing me in my faith. Going to Exeter University was a great opportunity and experience to live my faith out, but also to be surrounded by other Christians my age at university and St Leonards Church. The 3 years I had in Exeter University, followed by a year working as a Ministry Assistant was a time of great fellowship, learning how to handle the Bible, as well as the challenge of being bold to share my faith and encourage other students to consider the gospel for themselves. Exeter was the place where I met Emily and soon after I finished University we got married, moved to Bristol and settled in the Village Church. We give thanks to God for helping us settle and pray he continues to grow us in our faith and that he will use us to encourage Village Church and in some way further his kingdom.

We're really encouraged that Emily Freeman has applied to become a member of the Village Church. In her own words, here is her testimony of God's grace in her life:

I had the privilege of being brought up in a Christian home and so have been taken to church since a very young age. I didn’t always see this as a privilege as I often felt like I was being dragged along to church by my parents and I didn’t see reading and learning from God’s word as particularly exciting. At the age of about 6 I can remember praying to God, saying sorry for all the things I had done wrong and asking him to forgive me. I did believe in God, and I did know that I was a sinner, but I think my prayer was more out of the fear of going to hell, rather than accepting and delighting in God's grace that led me to pray that prayer. In fact I prayed it several times for fear that I had got it wrong before and wasn’t quite a Christian yet!

As I grew up and went to secondary school, I desperately wanted to fit in, and so kept my Sunday routine of going to church very much to myself. I didn’t go particularly ‘off the rails’ and was always very keen to try and please people, and so felt like I became a ‘Sunday Christian’ who would go to church and give the right answers, but didn’t let it impact my day to day life. During the summer of 2010, I went on a Christian sports camp where I was surrounded with people my age who were Christians, but they were really living this out. During one of the evening meetings that week a speaker said, ‘If you are prepared to say you’re a Christian but don’t want to tell anyone about Jesus, you either don’t love them enough, or don’t love Jesus enough.' I felt hugely challenged and was made acutely aware that I was living as an 'in the middle' Christian where I would acknowledge the Lord as and when it suited me and the cost was small, rather than wholeheartedly and sacrificially. That evening I prayed a similar prayer to the one I had so many times before, saying sorry for what I had done wrong, and asking God to forgive me, but also asking the Lord to transform my whole life.

Since then I became more excited about reading the Bible, and hearing God, the Creator of the universe speak to me. My prayers became more frequent, real and sincere, rather than simply praying out of fear or when in desperate need, I would rely on God daily. Going to University a few years later was a significant time of spiritual growth for me. I was no longer living with my parents being taken to church every week and I suddenly had complete control over what I decided to go to. By God’s grace I got stuck in to the CU and church and made some really great friends who encouraged and challenged me daily on what it looked like to live as a Christian. Since University being a Christian has been a rollercoaster, and I have even had times where I have questioned if I really am a Christian. How can I be when I am still so selfish? So sinful? So unworthy? It was during this time that I learnt afresh the glory of God's grace. I am selfish and sinful, but Jesus wasn’t, and he took the punishment that I deserve on himself, so that I can have a real, true, intimate relationship with God, the Creator of the universe.