When It’s Time To Sing Happy Trails and Part Ways



Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. 

Jesus, I belong to you.

I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.

Jesus, we belong to you. 

Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. 

Acts 15:36–41 

Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.


Three simple observations from today’s text.

1. The best predictor of future performance is past performance. You know the old saying. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Paul was not willing to take the chance on John Mark. He didn’t think it wise. We’re talking about the apostolic big leagues here, not whether John Mark is going to show up for ushering duty on Sunday.

2. Sincere followers of Jesus can have sharp disagreements. One does not have to be right and the other wrong. It is not the end of the world, and it is certainly not the end of the church. Paul was well within his apostolic authority to make this call. The ever-encouraging Barnabas was also within his appropriate authority to want to give John Mark another shot.

3. Followers of Jesus who sincerely disagree can actually part ways. Sometimes it just can’t be worked out. We can agree to disagree, go our separate ways, and still actually love each other. It happens all the time.

It’s refreshing to see people within a community who can’t come to agreement decide to call it what it is and part ways. The counterfeit unity that comes from the toxic mixture of mushy sentimentality and passive-aggressive behavior hurts the witness of the church far more than honest division.

It’s one of the things I appreciate about the Baptists. When their churches can’t come to agreement, they find a way to declare a new church plant. ;0) One group goes to Cyprus and the other heads for Syria. The people grieve. The community heals, and the gospel wins.

Am I missing something here?


Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. Melt me. Mold me. Fill me. Use me. Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. Amen. 


Have you ever witnessed a parting of ways like the one described in today’s text? Did they do it well? Did things turn out okay? 

Are you finding places in your relational life and community in need of necessary endings? What is keeping it from happening? 


Today we will sing “Take the Name of Jesus with You” (hymn 156) from our Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise. Get your copy here. New shipments arriving now. Use Code: WAKEUPCALL for free shipping through the end of May (does not apply to bulk orders). 

For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt

Subscribe to get this in your inbox daily and please share this link with friends.

Share today's Wake-Up Call!


WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

6 Responses

  1. Actually, I have experienced the type of separation from an assembly of fellow believers when it became clear, that for me to remain would cause unnecessary conflict. I also left the denomination of my youth, when I began to realize that I had come to a different understanding of the doctrine of sanctification, and the permissible roles of the “laity” in the mission of the church. Neither time did I make a big deal out of it, but left in a way as amicable as possible.

  2. Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement in Antioch and went their separate ways. Their disagreement wasn’t about doctrine. It was about a person’s behavior–how John Mark had abandoned them on their first Spirit-led journey. Barnabas wanted to give JM a second chance, but Paul didn’t. The Christ-followers in Antioch gave Paul and his new ministry companion, Silas, their blessing. However, Barnabas and John Mark apparently left without it.

    Early church history presents John Mark as the author of the Gospel of Mark. In 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul tells Timothy: “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is useful to me for ministry (NKJV).” Many Bible scholars believe that Paul is asking for John Mark.

    In the body of Christ, we can be useful to one another even when we disagree. I have learned so much from Christians I disagree with. I’ve been an avid reader of church history and of Christian writers living and dead, even when I don’t fully agree with them. I’ve found them all to be “useful to me for ministry.” The Holy Spirit has deeply touched my heart through the writings of “the church fathers,” ancient orthodox monks in the “Philokalia,” church historians, the Franciscans, the Moravians, the Catholic mystics, the Protestant Reformers, the Anabaptists, the Puritans, the Quakers, the Methodists, the Wesleyan Holiness writers, the Pentecostals, the charismatics/evangelicals, and too many more to name.

    Christians need to frequently hear Spirit-led insights from many diverse Christ-followers. They can do that through the writings I just mentioned. They can also do that by listening to more than one person on Sunday mornings. When they gather for worship, they can open up the meeting and let anyone present speak as prompted by the Holy Spirit. I seek out those kinds of gatherings because hearing ordinary Christ-followers share from their heart as led by the Spirit has been one of the most useful things ever in growing my relationship with the risen Jesus.

    1. As the early Pentecostals used to say: “The fire of God is more caught than taught.” Continually expose yourself to it! I always test what I hear and/or read to the Bible. If it contradicts the Word I set it aside. If it aligns with the Bible I embrace and try to live it out in my daily life.

    2. Yes, Steve. This is why I’ve fellowshipped with a group of brothers- in-Christ, from a diverse assortment of Church traditions every Wednesday for the last decade.

  3. I believe Jesus is the only way to the Father, but there are many ways to Jesus. While that may not stand up to rigorous theological analysis, in practice it helps me avoid elevating human ideas to essential doctrine. It reminds me of something I heard about missionaries. When Christians from different tribes are faced by other religions, they don’t have nearly as much trouble working together as we in the “Christian” west. It’s like we have to squabble about something so we find the most insignificant things.

    Ironically, we (I) can focus on pharisaical requirements at the expense of the things that really matter, like Godly love, Jesus’ resurrection, the primacy of the gospel, other things that the church has affirmed for centuries. Father, forgive me when I let anything distract me from “Love God, Love People”.

  4. Another great song that fits this topic to a “T” is “One Day (When We All Get Yogether” by Matt Redman.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *