Loving Those Who Protect Our World

Mark Worrell May 29, 2016 Acts

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Cornelius is pushed out of his comfort zone (vv.1-8)

Acts 1:8 - but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.

Peter’s hunger was used by God to challenge his comfort (vv.9-20)

John 1:14 - And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Good news is open to all (vv.21-48)

John 15:13 - Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

It’s not about our comfort zone, it’s about God's comfort zone.

How s God leading me to serve outside my comfort zone?

Conversation starters with service members.

Where is home for you? Prepare for a long answer! What made you choose to become a Soldier (Marine, Sailor, Airman, Policeman, etc.)? What has been your best experience in the military? How often do you get to visit friends and family at home? If you didn’t join the service, police force, etc. what would you be doing now?


Good morning. I've been blessed to serve our nation as Army chaplain for almost 8 years. I wear 2 things on my uniform, well, a bunch of other shiny stuff that the Army gives me to say, "Hey, make this shiny. Throw it on there." The 2 things that are most prominent that soldiers recognize are the rank, which sits on my collar, or on my shoulder on this uniform, and the cross right here, which is my branch, what the Army calls my job. On my normal uniform that I wear during the duty day, the cross sits above the rank, and I think that's pretty significant. It tells me what my calling is, what my purpose is, and what I get to do.

In May 2008, some of you may remember this congregation was witness to the oath of office I took as now captain, or I should say, Chaplain Captain Jason Lathers swore me in to the United States Army. Shelley, Charlene, my soldiers and I have appreciated your continuous prayers for us, as well as the physical support of care packages and books to serve our soldiers. That's huge and really has been a blessing for us. Thank you for your partnership in the Gospel. My family, Shelley and Charlene, say hi. If you follow us on Facebook, the Army has said, "Hey, you're moving again." In 2 weeks, we'll be heading to northern Virginia once again and serving in the chapel ministries there at Fort Meyer, Virginia.

Shelley decided to stay home and pack and prepare and at least stabilize them while I travel across the country and get to spend some time at Faith. Lord willing, they'll be back in just a couple weeks, and we'll get to see you as well as a family.

When you think about it, there's a few things that are unique about soldiers. I guess I can throw airmen, marines, and sailors in there too. We have that brother relationship, brother-sister relationship, where we like to torture each other. If you're part of that past, I'm sorry. You can get to that point at some point.

Our warriors is who we like to be called collectively. It's easier to group us together just calling us warriors or war-fighters, have a few things that are unique. They follow orders. Sometimes that's what we absolutely don't want to do. They sacrifice their lives for a greater cause. They move often, and they return from combat to reconnect the lives and reconnect with the families that they left behind.

We have our own subculture and our own language. We have our own pressures, our own labels, our own attitudes, and our own expectations. Some of those can be godly; some of those can go a different way. One of my soldiers, recognizing the challenges of deployment, when I was deployed in 2009, wrote this. "The thing about this place is that life is on pause, for us at least. The place that we once knew as home, a place where you had the comfort of your bed, your family, your friends, your hobbies, or the choice of going to get whatever food you felt like eating for dinner that night, that was home. The longer you're here," deployed, "the more that image of what was home begins to fade."

Then he stepped out of the picture for a second, and he said, "You can push the pause button any time for me. Start it over again because I want to go home." You know, oftentimes those who get a chance to serve the public, and I should include firefighters, policemen, paramedics in that too of those who protect our world, are forced out of their comfort zone to serve others in a way they never expected.

Let me ask you because I think this could connect the rest of us too. Have you ever had a time when God took you out of your comfort zone? Maybe it was a new job. You step into a new position and try to figure out what this looks like, what this means, how you're going to fit into this box that they put you in, or maybe it was that you lost your job. Maybe it's a diagnosis. Something the doctor says, "Hey, we found this." It pushes you out of your comfort zone, doesn't it? Maybe it's you're not sure what you want to do after school. I mean, graduate just happened, right, at Faith, but it's happening soon in other schools too. Maybe it's just for the summer, but maybe it's after college, and that's rushing in within a year or two or right now.

Maybe it's reaching out to a co-worker, somebody you see as struggling across the cubicle farm or wherever you work, and you get a chance to hear that they're struggling. That chimes in us something that says, "God, I need to do something, but I don't know what."

Maybe it's an opportunity to bring up God's grace in your life. Somebody asked me, "Hey, Mark, why do you do this? Why is God important to you?" One of the best relationships I've developed with a soldier, I ended up doing his wedding, was there was a machine gun live-fire range going on one time, so pretty loud, right? We walked back about 100 yards from it, and he goes, "Hey, sir, can we talk for a minute?" Right in the middle of pouring out his heart to me, he looks and he goes, "This is crazy, isn't it?" I said, "What do you mean?" He says, "There's machine guns going off 100 yards from us, and here we are talking."

That was an opportunity for me to do what I like to do and serve in a moment when that's going on. Maybe it's a bigger picture. I remember the story about when we got here in 2007, 2006, when Faith was in the middle of a massive building project, and the congregation was comfortable doing the community center, right? God said, "Oh, by the way, I have another job for you. Go. Here's Vision of Hope." God pushed this congregation out of his comfort zone to reach into a different area of the community that we had never ... I'm sure it was on the horizon somewhere, but it wasn't that close.

As we think about the comfort zone, Peter had one of those opportunities. He was brought out of his comfort zone and put face-to-face with a soldier. Turn with me, if you would, to Acts chapter 10. If you don't have your Bible with you, there should be one under the seats in front of you, and turn to page 100 in the back of that Bible, the back section.

Often, God works in two people's lives at the same time. He works in the life of the one who knows God, and I think often in the one who will soon do so. I want you to think as you're getting to that page, up through Acts chapter 9, God has been challenging what followers of Christ are comfortable with. Acts 2, 3, and 4, you see Peter and the Apostles figuring out, "Okay, what's this look like to challenge the entire status quo of Jerusalem?" In Acts 7, you see Stephen calling out the religious leaders and ending his life ... Or, they ended his life because of that.

In Acts chapter 9, probably one of my favorite pictures of being pushed out of your comfort zone, Saul is walking down the road and gets a reality check of a vision. Saul is told by God, "Go find a man named Ananias." Ananias gets a vision from God almost the same as we're going to see here in Acts 10. Ananias goes, "God, do you know who you're talking about? You're pushing me out of my comfort zone. I don't like this." We get to Acts chapter 10. Here's what verses 1-4 say. It says, "Now, there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a Centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually. About the ninth hour of the day," about 3:00 in the afternoon, "he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in and said to him, 'Cornelius,' and fixing his gaze on him and being much alarmed, he said, 'What is it, Lord?' He said to him, 'Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God.'"

Let's stop there. We'll talk a little bit through this passage as we get a chance to, but let's pray together. God, each of us has a comfort zone that we're currently in. Each of us has a place we're looking that this is where we prefer to say, but God, you have a habit, you have a purpose with our lives, to push us out of that comfort zone. Help us to honor you today, and as we look at this scripture, help us to understand and to walk closer with you. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

Cornelius is pushed out of his comfort zone (vv.1-8)

I want you to notice here that first off, Cornelius is pushed out of his comfort zone. Cornelius is pretty comfortable where he's at. He's mentioned by name, which is pretty interesting in the Bible. When somebody is mentioned by name, it's likely that the believers knew who this was. I picture as they're writing as Luke writes this book, this letter, this history, and he gives it to Theophilus, which could be a lover of God, could be any believer in Christ, they take it and they're looking at it, reading this scroll, or this leaf, and say, "Wait, is that where Cornelius came from? Wait a minute, I didn't realize that." That connection of somebody mentioned that you know.

Luke knew where the Gospel started in Gentiles, and he made special note of this passage because this is a shift in the way God's working. Acts chapter 1 verse 8 is kind of the title verse of the Book of Acts, and it says this, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you should be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Sumeria and even to the most remote parts of the earth."

This Gospel has been in Jerusalem, has expanded to Judea, has expanded to Sumeria, and up until Acts chapter 10, it hasn't gone to the remotest parts of the earth. My soldiers today, that well ... I'm serving with a bunch of chaplains right now. I'm in school for 6 months, finish in 2 weeks, and literally the 11 guys that I sit with in a class are going to go all over the world, some to Kuwait, some to Korea, some all over the US, to serve in different ways.

God, I think, knew ... Obviously, if he's God, he knows, that if he imprinted the Gospel on a soldier's heart, the Gospel would flow across the Roman empire. There's a massive shift here, though, because in the Jewish kingdom, when God was working specifically through the Jewish people, there were people who could come to be a Jew, Gentiles could become what the Bible calls a "proselyte." They would follow the law to the point where they were recognized as part of the Jewish faith.

Those people God brought into the kingdom, but there was still a difference. There was still Jews and Gentiles in the Jewish faith. Now, let's look at Cornelius for a second. He was a commander of 100 men; that's what a "Centurion" means. Company commander is what we call it. Our companies are anywhere from 70-130 or so, or bigger.

Cornelius was probably somebody who had worked his way up the ranks from a foot soldier, having demonstrated his loyalty and his courage. Centurions are mentioned a couple other times in Scripture, one that trusted that Jesus could heal his paralyzed servant without even being there. Jesus praised his faith and said, "I haven't even found this faith in Jerusalem."

The other Centurion we read about in the Gospels is at the foot of the cross. The Centurion who was carrying out Jesus' execution said, "Truly this man was the Son of God."

Cornelius was seen to be a man that was interested in the things of God. Maybe you've seen those people. Somebody who asked you a hard question and you prayed, "God, please help," and say what God's been doing in your life. Maybe it's somebody who's interested in who you are, who God is, and so this guy gets a vision of an angel coming into him and talking to him, and he's scared to death. Scared a soldier. He sends a runner. He sends a group, a messenger, to Peter.

Imagine Cornelius, a company commander, sending a delegation to Peter. He realized it was not about his comfort zone. Then we go to the other side. We go to Jaffa.

Peter’s hunger was used by God to challenge his comfort (vv.9-20)

Peter's hunger was used by God to challenge his comfort. Here Peter is. We won't read the whole passage here. Here Peter is up on the roof, hungry. Mid-afternoon, you know, it's time to eat, right before Thanksgiving dinner, right? Getting ready for that meal, and you kind of doze off for a minute. Well, God used that opportunity in Peter's life to push him.

God takes this sheet, comes down from Heaven, and lowers it down with all kinds of pork and creeping things and things with cloven hooves and all that stuff we read through or try not to read through in Leviticus. God does this 3 times, and Peter's response to God saying, "Rise, Peter, kill and eat," is, "No, Lord, I can't do that." Those words always go well together, right? "No, Lord." I want you to think about Peter's comfort zone for a minute.

Peter was the guy who literally walked on water to the Savior. You know that bumper sticker that says, "Next time you think you're perfect, try walking on water"? Peter walked on water; he wasn't perfect. Picture that for a second. Picture yourself in that boat, storm all around you. You see somebody walking out to you. It's got to be a ghost because nobody can walk on water, right? Jesus finally convinces them it's possibly him, and Peter steps out again and says, "Lord, if it's really you, command me to come out to you," and what's Jesus' response? "Come on."

Can you imagine yourself stepping out of that boat? You're doing the ultimate balancing act, right? Trying to figure out what that looks like, what it feels like. Did the water move a little bit like a trampoline? I don't know. Peter stepped out of his comfort zone to walk to Jesus. He saw dead man raised. Jesus didn't let a funeral finish. He'd walk up to the casket and open the casket and tell him to come out. That would make me uncomfortable. I wouldn't mind some people coming out of the casket, right? I do think that it would push me out of my comfort zone because that's not supposed to happen. It was Jesus saying, "Death is not the end. The God of all creation can fix this, and I'm going to."

That was the precursor, that was the trailer, for God saying, "I'm going to fix this death thing if you trust in Christ." He saw the transfiguration, Jesus going from looking in the human flesh like us to shining to the point where Peter's like, "I don't know what to do, God, can we build tents? Does that work for you?"

Peter also denied Christ because he didn't want to be uncomfortable. He didn't want to face persecution. Then the last time we really see it with Jesus is that he, at a fish fry, on the morning when they were out fishing, Jesus pulled him aside for a walk and says, "Peter, do you love me?" He asked him that 3 times in a little bit different way. Peter's response the third time was, "Yes, Lord, you know I love you." He was uncomfortable because Jesus was pushing on him a little bit.

Now, Peter was being pushed to eat pulled pork and shellfish. Peter didn't like it. As Peter's trying to figure out what this looks like and what this all means, there's a knock on the door. Isn't God's timing amazing?

Good news is open to all (vv.21-48)

Peter soon learns that the Good News is now open to all. I guess the question comes up, "How far can God stretch us?" You see, it's not about our comfort zone. The introductions are made. Cornelius is mentioned that he is spoken well of by the whole Jewish nation, and Cornelius, when Peter gets there, is called to party to involve his friends. "Hey guys, an angel showed up to me. You guys need to hear this, because this is going to be cool." I don't know what that conversation looked like. If you hear a soldier say, "Hey, y'all, watch this," it's probably going to be a bad day.

I don't know if Cornelius did that, but he brought his friends, and they were paying attention. In our Army, the company commander, the first sergeant, the platoon leaders, the platoon sergeants, I don't know who all was there, but there was a bunch of people. Cornelius was willing to be open to the Gospel. I think there's something interesting here that we need to note, is that people are open to listening when we're genuine about our walk with Christ.

God had announced to Cornelius that this was going to happen. We had credible understanding of who God was. When we live out our faith before Christ in a genuine way, people are going to pay attention. People are going to take us aside and say, "Hey, how can we? What does this all mean? What does this look like?"

As Peter walks in, Cornelius bows down to him and starts to worship him. He didn't know what to expect. Peter's response is, "Stand up. I too am a man." Peter's response is, "God has shown me I should not call any man 'common' or 'unclean.'" The New American Commentary tells us that there was a considerable friction between a good-sized Jewish population at Caesarea and the Gentile community. It's fitting that Peter came to grips with his own prejudices right at that location.

Let me just ask. What partialities, what preferences, what commitments have you made that keep you in your comfort zone that God may want to push you out of? You see, it's not about our comfort zone.

Verses 34 and 35 tells us that God doesn't show favoritism. It says, "But in every nation, the person who fears him and does righteousness is acceptable to him." What's that mean? That's the Gospel. Fears God, recognizes he's able to punish our sin, and does righteousness. Recognize we can't fit it ourselves; we need God to work in our lives.

You see, God works in the lives of people no matter where they are. You have 2 very different types of people showing up here. You have Peter who was a fisherman. You have Cornelius who was a soldier. God opened the door to the Gentiles through a soldier so that we could hear the Gospel.

Almost every single one of us in this room, I'm sure God could have done it a different way, wouldn't have heard the Gospel if Cornelius hadn't heard it first. Let's go down to verses 36-40. The Bible says, "The word which he sent to the sons of Israel preaching peace through Jesus Christ, he is Lord of all, you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You could Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how we went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the Devil, for God was with him."

We are witnesses of all the things he did, both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put him to death by hanging him on a cross. God raised him up on the third day and granted that he become visible. You see, that's the core of it here. It tells us that Jesus was special. He was set apart by the Holy Spirit. He was born in a different way. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the Devil. When you think about it, that's what sin really is, isn't it? Not, "The Devil made me do it. I can get away with it," but it's we have wanted what we wanted in spite of what God says no matter what. Ever since Eve looked at that fruit and said, "This is good to the eyes, pleasant to touch, and pleasant to eat."

We want our own thing, and we're going to go for it. Oppression by the Devil has continued throughout time since Genesis 3. I think Jesus is still healing the oppressed. Peter and the Apostles were witnesses. They were forced out of their comfort zone. Today's Memorial Day. There's candles lit on both sides of us to recognize those people who've given their lives as a sacrifice for our freedom, pushed out of their comfort zone. If you're looking for a way to talk to a soldier, to a sailor, to an airmen, Marine, they don't know the football verse John 3:16. Most of the time, they know the verse John 15:13, which is "Greater love has no one than this: that one lay down his life for his friends."

You can use that as a tool to build a relationship with them, to say, "Hey, what do you think of what that means? Who is that talking about?" They'll say, "I don't know. A friend of mine." "Let me give you the bigger picture. Let me show you what God really has."

In verses 40-43, the bible tells us that Peter was ordered to preach the Gospel to people, to tell others about the hope that lied within him. He also says that everyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness. You see, the ultimate comfort zone, I said it already, is that we like our sin. We like to be comfortable where we are. "I don't want to give my life to somebody else." God tells us that He wants to push us out of our comfort zone.

The next section tells us that the Holy Spirit indwelled the believers in Caesarea in Cornelius's house just like he did with the Jewish believers in Acts chapter 2. It's very clear that it says in the same way it happened. The Jewish believers were amazed, and they were pushed out of their comfort zone. It burst the bubble, and they said, "God, can you really do this in people's lives that are different than us?" Peter started to think about baptism. We need to allow them to see what God's doing in their life. We need to give them a physical representation of what's going on inside.

Peter was astonished, the Bible tells us. He says, "Can anyone prevent them from being baptized?" He was surprised; it didn't fit his model. Think about this for a second. Let's go back to Jaffa. Rewind a little bit. The Bible tells us that the angel said Peter was at the house of Simon the tanner. You ever wonder what Peter was doing there? Because the Bible tells us at the end of the verse that Peter stayed a few days at Cornelius's house. I kind of wonder if Peter was looking for some downtime. He wanted to be comfortable. He wanted to relax. He wanted to learn how to tan some leather. I don't know what that looked like, but he took some time away, but God has some intentional discipleship planned for him. God has other plans to push Peter out of his comfort zone, to have him stay there a few days and to relax.

I don't have an issue with anybody planning. I think that's important, very important, but allow God to flux your plans because he tends to do that. Have you ever not known what to say to someone? The song "Every Man" came to my mind as I was preparing this message by Casting Crowns. If you haven't heard it, probably one of my favorite songs. If you ask me tomorrow, I'll tell you a different favorite song. The song says, "I'm the man with all I've ever wanted, all the toys and playing games. I'm the one who pours your coffee corner booth each Saturday. I'm your daughter's favorite teacher. I'm the leader of the band. I sit behind in the bleachers. I am every man. I'm the coach of every wing team and still a loser in my mind. I'm the soldier in the airport facing giants one more time. I'm the woman shamed and haunted by the cry of unborn life, and every broken man, nervous child, and lonely wife. Is there hope for every man, a solid place where we can stand, in this dry and weary land, is there hope for every man? Is there love that never dies? Is there peace in troubled times? Someone help me understand is there hope for every man. If I could find someone to follow who knows my pain and feels the way, the uncertainty of my tomorrow, the guilt and pain of yesterday."

We don't know the tape playing in people's minds of what they've done, of what they've thought about, of what's going on at that moment. Those of us who know the Gospel are stewards. We're blessed with the facts of the Gospel. We're blessed of knowing how the Holy Spirit works in our lives, challenges us, pushes us out of our comfort zone on multiple opportunities. He tells us to use it wisely, to walk with God, and he tells us to bless others.

God demonstrates to us that we need to regularly preach truth to ourselves and to step out of our comfort zone. You see, that internal voice attempts to convince us, "I couldn't build a relationship with 'them,'" or, "I'm not up to the task. God, I can't reach that person," or, even worse, "God doesn't really care about them."

You see, the application of this passage isn't just about Peter and Cornelius, is it? What about to a soldier? I hear a lot when I'm in the airport or when I'm walking through Columbia, South Carolina, I guess, right now is where I'm supposedly living, "Thanks for doing what you do," and I'm never sure how to respond to that. I know I hear soldiers all the time say that, "Uh, you're welcome. Thanks for your support. Um, yeah." What if you just built a relationship with somebody? We wear patches on our uniform in the Army. Just ask what the patch is. Connect with us. That says a lot. It gives you opportunities to build relationships. Where are they from? That alone can be a long answer, right?

Ask my daughter where she's from. "Well, I was born in Virginia. We just moved from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and soon I'll be from Virginia, again." Where have they been? What are their challenges? One of the common says is that "There's no atheist in a foxhole." I think that's true on this side of the ocean just as much as it is on that.

A unit who's now known as the 101st Airborne Division served in World War II. The series "Band of Brothers" was written to commemorate one of those companies known as "Easy Company." As they stood or created the unit, the commander said, "The 101st Airborne Division, which was activated on 16 August, 1942, has no history, but it has a rendezvous with destiny." After completing a year and a half deployment from Normandy to the Battle of the Bulge, this clip shows the diversity of those returning from war. Let me set this up a little bit. They finished the major combat operations, and they're getting to relax a little bit. The commander of that company, the first commander, is the one talking. Let's watch it together.

Video: Hey. [crosstalk 00:34:48]. Whoo. Oh, Jimmy. [crosstalk 00:34:57]. Let's get Webster. Come on, Peewee, let's get [inaudible 00:35:04].

Buck Compton came back to see the company to let us know that he was all right. He became a prosecutor in Los Angeles. He convicted Sirhan Sirhan in the murder of Robert Kennedy, and was later appointed to the California Court of Appeals. David Webster became a writer for the Saturday Evening Post and Wall Street Journal and later wrote a book about sharks. In 1961, he went out on the ocean alone and was never seen again.

Go, go, go. Go, go, yeah.

Johnny Martin would return to his job at the railroad and then start his own construction company. He splits his time between Arizona and a place in Montana. George Luz became a handyman in Providence, Rhode Island. As a testament to his character, 1,600 people attended his funeral in 1998. Doc Roe died in Louisiana in 1998. He had been a construction contractor. Frank Perconte would return to Chicago and worked a postal route as a mailman. Joe Liebgott returned to San Francisco and drove his cab. Bull Randleman was one of the best soldiers I ever had. He went into the earth-moving business in Arkansas. He's still there. Alton More would return to Wyoming with a unique souvenir, Hitler's personal photo albums. He was killed in a car accident in 1958. Floyd Talbert, we all lost touch within civilian life until he showed at a reunion just before his death in 1981. How we lived our lives after the war was as varied as each man.

Carwood Lipton became a glass-making executive in charge of factories all over the world. He has a nice life in North Carolina. Harry Welsh, he married Kitty Grogan, became an administrator for the Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania School System. Ronald Speirs stayed in the Army, served in Korea. In 1958, returned to Germany as governor of Spandau Prison. He retired a Lieutenant Colonel.

Hit them around. All right, Webster. Easy company. [inaudible 00:37:59].

For Easy Company, it was D-Day plus 434.

A fast man would have had it, [Perco 00:38:12]. Listen up. I got some news. This morning, President Truman received the unconditional surrender from the Japanese. The war's over.

Regardless of points, medals, or wounds, each man in the 101st Airborne would be going home. Each of us would be forever connected by our shared experience, and each would have to rejoin the world as best he could. [crosstalk 00:38:49]. Louis Nixon had some tough times after the war. He was divorced a couple of times. In 1956, he married a woman named Grace, and everything came together for him. He spent the rest of his life with her traveling the world. My friend Lou died in 1995. I took up his job offer and was a personnel manager at the Nixon Nitration Works until I was called back in the service in 1950 to train officers and Rangers. I chose not to go to Korea. I had had enough of war. I stayed around Hershey, Pennsylvania, finally finding a little farm. A little peaceful of the corner where I still live today. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of the men I served with who never got to enjoy the world without war.

Mark: That's where many of us are. Community absorbs soldiers that come back from war. We'll have lots of different opportunities to interact with different people in different areas, different corners of the community, and let me just say, this congregation that has seen God work miracles through outreach to areas we would never have thought about. What if that's just the beginning? You see, it's really not about our comfort zone. Cornelius saw it. Peter saw it. It's not about our comfort zone; it's about God's comfort zone.

It’s not about our comfort zone, it’s about God's comfort zone.

Does God really have a comfort zone? When you watch the news, look for opportunities to pray for people and to pray for soldiers. We're deployed in over 160 countries right now. I think public servants, police, firefighters, paramedics, soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, need to see stability in culture, need to see that people care about the sacrifice, not about us, but of those who are represented on both sides of us. Today means a lot to me as a soldier. I think soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and those who serve our country and our counties and our cities need to see stability in marriages too. Maybe you know somebody who's a soldier. Maybe you know somebody who's serving. Take some time to mentor them. Take some time to connect with them. Take some time to disciple them.

Maybe it's about deliberate ministry to soldiers. I called a friend of mine as I drove past a recruiting station yesterday. Mike [Oud 00:41:59], the one I talked about that was talking to me behind the machine gun range. I said, "What would you think about if a random person brought cookies into the recruiting station?" He goes, "Right now, that makes me a little bit nervous," because unfortunately there's continuous attacks on recruiting stations, but you know what would be huge? Walk into a recruiting station, go into the Army Police ... No. Just introduce yourself. Talk to them.

Build a relationship with them. Don't everybody do it at once because then you flood them and they can't do their job, but maybe you know somebody who's represented in these candles. The picture here, a great picture of all of us. I think Craig said something funny right before the picture was snapped, but Craig Gross on our right is the dad of Corporal Frank Gross who was killed in Afghanistan in 2011. His son is up to the left of my head, and his mom is up to the right of my head. They're a huge blessing to many people.

Take some time and reach out to them. They'd love to hear from you. Just check in on how they're doing. Make that call today or tomorrow. "Hey, I was thinking about you today." Can we do more? What would that be? As a soldier, I've said before, unfortunately, here, I can't ask specifics because then it's unethical. You're benefiting me, right? You can ask me if something would work. The church has my email. Feel free to email me either way.

There's a new thing out there, a new study called Moral Injury. It's the fact that we take a split-second decision, and we've all done this, I said something that I might not have said if I had more time to think about it, and we slice up that decision over time and figure out that I shouldn't have done it because I knew this, but you didn't know that as a soldier when you had to pull the trigger in half a second.

Moral Injury is, "I could have done better," and yeah, we could have every time. That's a new topic out there that the world is talking about that I think we as a congregation could plug into. Community outreach. Where's God preparing you for to get involved? You see, it's not about our comfort zone. It's about God. It's about God's plan, His work, His glory, and Him pushing us to reach others. This weekend, as you take some time to reflect on Memorial Day, take some time to look toward where God would push you.

Let's pray. God, today we pause. As we look at Cornelius and Peter, God, we recognize that it's not about just us, but it's about your work in our lives and in our world. Help us to honor you, and help us to reflect on the sacrifice of those who have given their life for our country. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

Mark Worrell


Chaplain Worrell is the Deputy Garrison Chaplain at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, VA.