First Christian Church Poplar Bluff


Discover the Good News of Christ


Dr. Fred Craddock, the great Disciples of Christ preacher, told a story. A family was driving along a country road and the children spotted a kitten in the tall weeds by the side of the road. The kitten looked quite sick. “Stop”, they all yelled.  They wanted to  take the cat home.


The father protested. “We have a zoo at home already. There is no room for one more animal.”


But the children’s begging finally got to him. He reversed the car, right there in the middle of the road and got out to pick up the kitten. It was emaciated. Its ribs were showing. You could tell that it had not eaten in ages. The fur was matted and there were wounds. He reached out to pick the kitten up and it took a swipe at him. The cat hissed and growled.


Well, the father was frustrated and just wanted to walk away, but he looked at his children’s pleading eyes.  He picked up the cat by the scruff of the neck and wrapped it in his jacket. When they arrived home the father insisted on making a place for the cat in the parent’s room so that the rest of the zoo didn’t bother him.  It didn’t take very long before that cat became strong and beautiful. One day the father looked around to see if anyone was looking and then he gently put his hand down in front of the cat. Instead of being scarred by the claws of that cat, that cat just nuzzled up against his hand and began to purr.


Fred Craddock reflects:  He imagines that when God reaches out to each one of us, we see that God’s hands are covered with scars and scratch marks.  God doesn’t give up, but God loves us even at the ugliest times of our lives and nurtures us to transformation.


If you're new to the Christian faith or just beginning to consider what the church is all about, it starts with one simple truth:  CHRISTIANS BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS THE HAND OF GOD sent into the world to bring us salvation and wholeness.  Through his death, burial, and resurrection, we believe that we have seen the clearest example of God's love for the world. 


Obviously, the question is, "If we believe that God loves us in such an incredible way, how should we respond?"  How can we reach out our hands to the God who has reached out to us so many times before?  The New Testament tells us how we can begin our journey to experiencing the incredible gift of God's salvation and wholeness. 


1.  LISTEN for the voice of God in the Holy Scriptures, especially the words of Christ found in the New Testament.


2.  OPEN yourself up to the presence of God by BELIEVING God's Word, that in Christ you can be forgiven, reconciled, and made new through your faith in God's promises.


3.  Bring your worries, frustrations, doubts, and mistakes to God in prayer.  Be honest, and be real.  The church calls this honesty with God "repentance."  REPENT means to feel sorry for mistakes, doubts, sins, and worries, but it also means that a person is turning from those things to a God who can heal the soul and bring salvation and peace to our hearts.


4.  CONFESS in your heart and with your mouth what you have come to believe about God through the study of the Scriptures.  When you have reached the moment when you are ready to confess that Jesus is your Lord and Savior, say it out loud to you and the Lord.  Call upon God, and invite Christ into your life.  Believe it or not but it makes a difference to say it out loud.


5.  As you turn to God in faith, you will desire to follow Christ more closely.  The first step for a person who has accepted Christ as Lord and Savior is to BE BAPTIZED for the forgiveness of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  In baptism, you are placed under the water and raised up from the water just as Christ was buried in the tomb and raised up on Easter morning.  In baptism, you confess before Christ and his Church that you desire to be his disciple.  In baptism, the old life is set aside and a new life starts.  Baptism marks you as one of God's followers.


6.  Now that you have believed God's word, found forgiveness through repentance and confession, and been made new in baptism, you are ready to GROW in your faith.  Read your Bible, attend worship and other faith-enriching events, pray daily, seek out a spiritual mentor, and begin living the words of Jesus.  When you make a mistake, seek forgiveness but don't stop growing.  God's got big plans for your life!