‘There’s trouble, right here in River City’! Well, ‘Music Man’, not referring to pool-playing downtown and the temptations of youth, but rather to what happened in the early church one day. It happened one day, but trouble had been brewing for awhile. It began when Paul and Barnabas (remember him?!) and some others sail from Barnabas’ home island of Cyprus for the Turkish port city of Perga. In Acts 13:13 Luke tells us that John (his full name is John Mark, the writer of the Gospel so named) ‘left them to return to Jerusalem’. If that’s all we knew, we’d think that nothing out-of-the-ordinary had happened with Mark and the others on this inaugural missionary journey. Maybe he had other commitments, possibly he had a message to take back to Jerusalem for the Apostles still there? We wouldn’t know, would we? But a few chapters later, Luke tells us that something has broken out between these missionary partners, Paul and Barnabas–and it’s all about John Mark. You see Paul wants to travel back again to those towns where those new believers needed encouragement, proper teaching, whatever. Paul tells Barnabas that they must go back and ‘see how they are doing’. And Barnabas’ heart, that ‘Son of Encouragement’, would leap with joy at the thought. But here we discover something we didn’t know before. John Mark didn’t just go home or on a side-mission. No, Luke says that ‘he had deserted them’. Oh, no, how horrible! A deserter.AWOL. Weak…troubled…a failure. John Mark, Barnabas’ cousin, had abandoned them on their mission for the Lord. Can you imagine? Trouble among believers…a church split wide open. And not just a slight tiff, either. Luke says ‘they had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company.’ Went their separate ways. This was a big blow-up, indeed. Swords were sharp and sharpened. And among leaders in the early church and early missionaries of the Prince of Peace. Prince of what? Peace…shalom? Well, you’ve been around awhile like I have. We’ve seen these things happen. Sometimes the shock just lingers for years and years. Others have failed us and we have failed others as well. I have and I’ve had it happen to me a number of times as well. That’s just life–even in the body of Christ. No fun…disillusioning for sure. But here’s one lesson from this story. My take on it. Don’t let troubles that brew…stew. Let them go…but you go on for the Lord. Don’t let them stop you in your tracks. Learn from them as much as you can…and then let them go. Someone needs that message today…maybe you or possibly someone you know. If someone else, then forward this blog to them today. I think I’ll stop here to let you digest what God is saying to you right now. Me, too. But there’s more to this amazing story… for next time!