Living the Resurrection Life as the Body of Christ

Posts tagged ‘CHURCH HISTORY’


Normally I reserve this blog for original posts written by myself.  I was intrigued, however, by thus post from the archives of Charles Stone’s  THE CHURCH WHISPERER giving us an imaginative, but quite credible portrait of an original Easter Person who has always fascinated me. – Steve


I Am Syzygus

9 02 2010

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

(This is the second in a series of posts from Philippians 4 about church conflict)

Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow,help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Philippians 4:3

Have you ever thought about your name and wondered how it has shaped you or influenced you as a person?  I have…

syzygusMy name is Syzygus.  It is Greek.  There really isn’t a good English translation of it, but “yokefellow” comes pretty close.  It’s a bit of an embarrassing name, actually, because it is a reference to oxen in a yoke.  I have no idea what my parents were thinking.  But today, looking back on my life, I’m glad they named me Syzygus.  When I think of how God worked in my life, it fits.  I suppose it refers to a co-laborer wearing the same yoke as you, pulling along with you.  If there is any truth to the old adage that names do reflect something about us, then I am a true friend who has walked along with you during good times and bad times, never leaving your side.  I am a person who has been coupled with you through difficult service together.  I have grown to trust you and you have grown to trust me.  I am your “yokefellow”.

I suppose I was not surprised, then, when Paul called me out in his letter to my church in Philippi.  I had been yoked with him in ministry and had been yoked with Euodia and Syntyche as well.  I knew them well and they knew me and trusted me.  As much as I did not want this assignment, I was exactly the right person to confront them about their disagreement.  In his wisdom, Paul knew that.

I suspect Paul also knew that all of us in the church were a bit perplexed about what to do with these two sisters.  We knew their broken relationship had gotten out of hand, and we knew someone needed to love them enough to confront them about it, but none of us wanted to do it.  I suppose we were all hoping someone else would step up, or maybe by some miracle Paul himself would be released from prison and he would come and do it.  Hey, don’t laugh, it’s happened before.

But there would be no miraculous prison break this time.  One of us (or perhaps a few of us) in the church would have to step up and deal with this conflict.  Personally, I usually run from it.  I really hate conflict.  I don’t like getting up in other people’s business, I don’t like being perceived as judgmental, and I don’t like sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong.  Frankly, I can probably think of at least a dozen other excuses if you give me a little time.  Bottom line: none of us in the church wanted to do this, but we all knew it needed to be done.  Some argued it was the pastor’s job.  Others argued it was the elders’ job.  I was neither.  I was just someone who cared deeply for these two women, which is why Paul knew I was the right person to do this.  After all, if it were me who needed confronting, I would want it to be someone whom I trusted and who I knew loved me.  Why shouldn’t Euodia and Syntyche have the same benefit?

I pray that, when you need someone to tell you the truth about yourself, you will have a “Syzygus” in your life.  And I pray that, when someone you love needs a “Syzygus” in his/her life who will help him/her see the truth, you will step up and be that yokefellow for him/her.  I pray that, when God touches you on the shoulder with that assignment like Paul touched me, you will kneel down and pray and then go.  And I pray that God will use that experience to change your life the way He changed mine.

I am Syzygus.  And I am so very glad for that.

© Blake Coffee

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on this website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Blake Coffee.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: © Blake Coffee. Website:





Blake Coffee posted this excellent article in his blog The Church Whisperer It very much follows the spirit of this blog and I want you to see.  Do Blake the courtesy of visiting his superb blog site. – Steve

The Simplicity of “Christ in You”

“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” I John 4:12

Born into a poor family in Lorraine, France, Nicholas Herman would grow up to do a stint in the army (where the food was free).  Still a young man when he got out of the army, he would eventually walk into a monastery, where he would take a job as a kitchen worker.  Over time, he developed the purest and simplest of relationships with God and took on the name “Brother Lawrence”.  He eventually wrote “Practicing the Presence of God”, a simple treatise about a simple lifestyle and a simple approach to the Christian life.  Four Hundred years later, that little book is still regarded as one of the great pieces of Christian literature.


It is not a complicated concept, practicing the presence of God.  In fact, it is a remarkably simple concept…almost Zen-like simplicity.  But it is easier said than done.  We understand intellectually that God is omnipresent, but in the bustle and chaos and pain of our human condition, we have a hard time really living as if we believe it.  Even in environments as sacred as our gathered worship or ministry endeavors or other church functions, we often “forget” Who it is all about.  In our staff meetings and our committee meetings and our business meetings, we often conduct ourselves as if God is nowhere to be found, and is certainly not in earshot of us.  In short, even in the church (maybe especially in the church) we behave horribly because we simply do not practice the presence of God.

In my own search for simplicity, I have found a simple idea to help me practice the presence of God, at least when I am around fellow Christians.  It may not work 100% of the time, but I have found it to be effective most of the time.  And its simplicity is remarkable: I look for Christ in my fellow Christians–ALL of them.

I often refer to this simple concept as “the Principle of the Spirit” (from Five Principles of Unity).  It has transformed my life.

I have begun to teach myself the simple discipline of looking for Christ in every fellow Christian I encounter.  I look for Christ-like characteristics and for fruit of the Spirit, and when I find them, I simply relate to the Christ in that person.  I have found that, even when I strongly disagree with a brother in Christ or even when I find a sister’s behavior on an occasion to be particularly bad, I can still find Christ-like characteristics in them and can focus on that side of them.  It has actually changed some very difficult relationships in my life to healthy ones.  And I didn’t need psychotherapy to do it.  It was a simple solution.

In a world where we as Christians are bombarded with the complexities of why bad things happen to good people or  of how a loving God could permit this to happen or that to happen, or of theological puzzles like how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, it is refreshing to find pure, simple truths to which we can return at the end of the day.  Christ Himself lives in every believer.  That’s simple enough for me.  I can work with that.

© Blake Coffee 

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on this website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Blake Coffee.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: © Blake Coffee. Website:


Cyprian lived 200-258 A.D.  A letter to a friend provides something for us to think about in 2010.

“It is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and good people who have learned the great secret of  life. They have found a joy and a wisdom which is a thousand times better than any of the pleasures of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care n0t. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are Christians … and I am one of them.