Responsibilities of a Disciple Audio Message (@ Mt. Vernon Baptist Church)

A week ago this past Sunday I spoke at a couple of services at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church here in central Arkansas. My family and I were warmly received and had a very positive experience. I had met the pastor around ten years ago when my design company developed some branding, CD artwork and a website for his evangelistic ministry. Since that time he took on the pastorate where he has been serving for the last four years.

Over the last few months he and I have had an opportunity to catch up, because a good friend of mine has been helping serve at his church. I also found out that he was friends with both the pastor and youth pastor of our church as well. Our discussions lead to us discussing the basic need for the church to have a greater commitment and to be educated in the ways of the Lord. In one word, “discipleship.” They have two morning services to which I was invited to speak. I laid forth my Four Primary Responsibilities of A Disciple of Yeshua (Jesus):

  1. Devotion
  2. Memorization
  3. Imitation
  4. Replication

Here is about three-quarters of my message. Unfortunately, the audio is not the greatest quality (it was pulled from a video from the back of the sanctuary) and it is incomplete. However, it will give you an idea of the things I shared and may raise some questions worth pondering and discussing. It is available both as streaming audio or as an mp3 download. I would welcome any feedback you might have.

Discipleship – Retaining the Message of Yeshua

the brain & memory

In my introduction to discipleship, I listed the Four Responsibilities of a Disciple. They included the following:

  1. To memorize the words of his rabbi or teacher
  2. To learn his teacher’s traditions and Scriptural interpretations
  3. To imitate the actions of his teacher
  4. To raise up more disciples

Of the four responsibilities of a disciple, which I discussed previously, memorization of our Master’s teaching is at the core. Does this mean we literally need to memorize every single word that we have of his that has been left to our record? Or does it mean that we are to have a good handle on everything that he taught? While I believe that the former (actually taking a solid translation and meticulously memorizing each and every word) is the ultimate goal, the latter is a very good starting point. But is memorizing his every word even a realistic goal? I believe it is. However, it will take a great deal of effort, and a change of our educational paradigm in order to do so, because in our society, educational potential has been dumbed down. We have devalued a true education, and praised mediocrity, being afraid of pushing our limits. Nonetheless, in other cultures where pushing the boundaries and potential of the intellect is acceptable, lengthy memorization is not only possible, but de facto.

Extreme Memory

There’s a children’s game that illustrates this point well. It’s a game known by many names, but the two with which I am familiar are “Telephone” and “Gossip.” It’s where you line up a group of people, whisper a phrase in the ear of the first person and then they repeat it quietly to the person next to them and pass the message down the chain to the last person. When the last person receives the message, the received message is spoken aloud to the group. At this point there is usually a roar of laughter when everyone hears how the original message has been distorted to an unidentifiable substitute. However, I remember hearing of a Westerner who was living somewhere in the Middle East and decided to play this game with the children one day. He gathered the children, explained the rules, lined them up and spoke the a phrase in the ear of the first child. The message was passed along until it reached the end of the chain. The child who last received the message, repeated it verbatim, word-for-word, back to the group. The Westerner, thinking this to be a fluke, tried it again with another phrase. Again, the child at the end of the line produced the same results. He tried it a third and fourth time only to find the results to be identical, thus proving that it was indeed possible and even probable for an oral tradition to be accurate, particularly in a Middle Eastern context.

When the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the late Rebbe Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, was alive, he would teach for hours upon hours on Shabbat and other festival days. Since Jewish law prohibits both the use of electronic devices and writing on Shabbat, his teachings were not recorded in the traditional manner. However, there was a group of oral scribes who would put to memory the teachings of the Rebbe as he lectured for hours on end. At the close of Shabbat, they would begin transcribing his teachings from memory in order to preserve them for latter generations. Simon Jacobson was one of these gifted individuals and has passed on volumes of the Rebbe’s teachings in the years since his passing.

On a smaller scale, a waiter or waitress has to do a similar feat. They constantly have to push organized information into their short term memory. A good waiter or waitress will remember what each person ordered, as well as what they are drinking (to be able to properly refill drinks without a mixup). I remember a year or so ago I had a business meeting one morning at a local diner to which I had never been. The following week we had a follow up meeting at the same location, and my waitress (the same one we had the previous week), brought honey to the table along with my coffee without me having to ask. After just one visit, she remembered a small detail regarding my preference for my coffee out of the hundreds of people she serves each week. I admit that my request for honey was somewhat unique and probably aided in her remembering, but it was still impressive, and shows that what a properly developed memory can accommodate.

Bringing It Home

We have all heard of the Mega Memory system and other such systems designed to increase your ability to remember things. It’s not that we are incapable of remembering large volumes of information, it’s just that we haven’t learned how to properly prioritize information and store it in a method for easy retrieval. Why is it that we can remember every play in a ball game, every corny one-liner of a movie, every lyric to every song of your favorite artist, every character and particular dysfunction of our favorite sitcom, but yet can’t remember the Sermon on the Mount? It’s all about prioritization and organization.

Back to the Master. No matter what our mental ability, we each have some capacity to store and retrieve the teachings of our Master. If we are continually pouring over his words, we will have an affinity with them that will not easily be broken, and that will guide us in our day to day experiences. It will also provide the springboard from which the other three responsibilities can take off and begin to soar.

New FFOZ Seminar Coming to Central Arkansas

Seminar Pic

May 23 • 2:30pm • Conway, AR

Learn the words of Jesus from a Messianic Jewish perspective. “A Jewish Sermon on the Mount: Exploring the Core Teachings of Jesus from a Hebraic Perspective” introduces the Hebrew idioms, Jewish contexts, and rabbinic methods at work in Jesus’ most famous sermon. Jewish Sermon on the Mount provides a brief introduction to Matthew 5–7 using a new, Hebrew-based translation of the New Testament that allows English readers to see the Hebraisms of the Master’s teaching and the richness of the Hebrew words.

Enjoy a challenging and inspiring look at Jesus’ teachings and the transformative message of the Sermon on the Mount.

  • See Jewish parallels to Gospel texts and find out why Bible scholars believe the parallels are important for greater understanding.
  • Discover Hebrew words that are impossible to translate into English and how translators deal with these difficult words. See the words—understand the concepts they represent and expand your understanding of the Bible.
  • Hear the compelling story and see the New Testament translation of Franz Delitzsch, a nineteenth century Christian Bible-translator considered one the greatest lights of Messiah to the Jewish people.

Learn and see what was so distinctive to Jesus’ teaching in this passage that produced such a response, “the crowd was amazed at his teaching, for he was teaching them as a man of authority, and not like the soferim” (Matthew 7:28–29).

The Hebrew/English Sermon on the Mount

There will be three teachings in a course of 2.5 hours. There will be breaks and time for questions. Everyone attending will receive an extract of Matthew 5–7 from the new Hebrew/English Gospel edition scheduled for release in the fall of 2010. Attendance is free—there will be a donation box on a table for all those that desire to help with the related expense.

Jeff Croswell or Darren Huckey

Simchat Torah

Faulkner County Library

1900 Tyler Street
Conway, AR 72032

501-242-3687 (Jeff)
501-339-8151 (Darren)


Download the PDF to distribute or post on your site.