rebelling against low expectations

Remarks at the National Bible Bee


The National Bible Bee 2009

One thing about being in college is that time can slip away from you. Homework builds up and the next thing you know five days have past and your family back home thinks you’re dead (we’re still alive mom!). This phenomenon also seems to negatively affect our blogging (and our sleeping).

For instance, a little less than a month ago we had the incredible privilege of speaking at the first ever National Bible Bee competition. We intended to post about it immediately, but then paper season hit. We wrote a lot — just not about the Bible Bee (and not for our blog). The good news is that by waiting we are now able to provide complete transcripts of our remarks (download links below), as well as announce that a DVD of the event is now available.

Sometime in the next week (i.e. before finals start) we will also be posting an inspiring message from Truman Falkner, a rebelutionary from Kansas City and 2nd Place Prize-Winner in the competition’s Senior category — so check back in!

  • Alex’s Remarks (full transcript): Alex emphasizes the importance of Scripture memory — especially for young people — and shares a neat story about our dad’s devotion to Bible memory as a young man.
  • Brett’s Remarks (full transcript): Brett challenges competitors not to separate head knowledge from heart reality — and shares the story of how he learned that lesson during high school.
  • Official DVD from Contains our full remarks plus our lengthy Q&A session with the audience. Hopefully some of it is helpful!
  • Audio from Family Life Today: We were blown away when Family Life Today chose to air our remarks! They had to cut out large chunks for the sake of time, so download the transcripts to see what you missed.

Soli Deo Gloria! To God alone be the glory!

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • I’m glad you got the time problem too. Right now i have to work so much, so that other things stand back a little. I’m happy because god leads me so much in this time. I would love to do so much more, but I know too, that it’s so important for me to keep on working and keep on helping the kids also if it takes a lot of time.
    It’s always good so read your blog, but college is kinda important too! =D so, be blessed…greetz from germany

  • Wow! I just listened to the Family Life audio, and (though I didn’t participate in the contest) I was still immensely encouraged and challenged by the words you both spoke, Alex and Brett! I thank God often for you, and I pray that He will continue to bless your efforts in ways unimaginable!

    Indeed, Soli Deo Gloria!


  • To anyone who’s thinking this might not be worth your time–listen, read, or watch it!! It’s life-changing…I was in the room when Alex and Brett first gave this message, and God used it then and continues to use it to impact my life. I had wondered what I’d get out of their talks, since I’d been to a conference and read the book, and I figured they’d say the same things. But God used their message, and it applies to everyone! Please, take time to read it!!

    I can’t wait to see Truman’s message–he was amazing!

  • I was one of the senior competitors at Nationals. Thank you guys sooo much for coming and speaking at the National Bible Bee. Your messages really spoke to my heart, and were some of the best messages about the Bible I have ever heard. I love to study and memorize the Bible and I love seeing others do the same! I know it’s also something God must get excited about, too, since the Bible is HIS words, and that’s the best way we can get to know Him better. When we get to know Him better through His word, he gives us a desire to do His will (Psalm 40:8), the Holy Sprit reminds us of passages when we’re tempted to sin (Psalm 119:9-11), He makes our way prosperous and successful (Joshua 1:8), and He makes us wiser than our enemies and teachers (Psalm 119:98-99). I wish I could say like David that his words are my meditation day and night (Psalm 119:97). I wish I could say like Job, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” (Job 23:12) Because I bear the name of the Lord God Almighty, His words should be “my joy and my heart’s delight.” (Jeremiah 15:16) I want to know God more like Paul (Philippians 3:7-10), and I want to be consumed with thoughts of Him continually (2 Corinthians 10:5) so I can be more holy, like Him (I Peter 1:15), cuz I know my sanctification is His will (I Thessalonians 4:3). I want to see others have those same desires, too, and I know that starts with getting to know God more through His Word. The Bible is SO important and is profitable for so many things (2 Timothy 3:15-17). Timothy knew the Scriptures from his childhood, and they led him to Salvation. The National Bible Bee is a powerful tool for encouraging kids and teens to get back into studying the Bible.

    Thank you guys so much for supporting the National Bible Bee. I never would’ve heard about it except for your blog. The National Bible Bee has changed my life forever. I am more in love with God and His Word as a result of it. Hearing the Bible quoted for hours on end and meeting other teens passionate about knowing God and His Word more made my days in Washington, D.C. at the National Bible Bee the best few days of my life. I wish I could relive the experience, but I will unfotunately be unable to compete next year cuz I’m 19 now. However, I know that means I do not have to quit striving for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. I will be continuing to larn, speak, and lve God’s Word throughout the rest of my life to the best of my ability. Thanks so much for the encouragement to continue to do so even when there is no physical trophy involved. (I Corinthinas 9:22-27)

    I HIGHLY encourage anyone reading this to compete in the National Bible Bee next year. It will change your life. Well actually, God will change your life through His Word as you study. God’s Word is SO powerful and SO worthy to be known and studied.

  • Thank you so much for posting this! My sister (who went to D.C.) told me you both exceeded her expectations, and I can see that her assesment hit the nail on the head.
    God used your book to open my eyes to what could be and has used this website to show me that more is always possible. Thank you for allowing God to work through you.

  • I was also a comptetitor at the National level–a junior. You might (or might not) remember me–I was the girl who asked you for your 1-minute testimonies. I also want to thank you guys for your challenge and your warning.
    The challenge spoke to me strongly, even after six weeks of intense memorization. It’s valuable to memorize the word, and oh so rewarding. To anyone considering trying to memorize more of God’s Word, definitely do it. It will be worth your time. That first part inspired me to continue memorization and work actively to retain what I already have.
    But the warning was more powerful, at least to me. Thank you very much, Brett, for not being funny. I needed to hear that part, as an encouragement that it’s about the meaning, not about the words. I’m sure that some needed to hear it as a warning, but to me it was an encouragement. It reminded me that while memorization is important, it’s not all important. It’s just a step to internalizing God’s Word, not necessarily the way to put it in my heart.
    And the part about fifteen minutes, fifteen hours, fifteen days, fifteen years… well, I’m definitely into the fifteen years. Or at least the fifteen or so weeks until they tell us what to memorize next year. Already it doesn’t matter much who won; I’ll remember who they were for a while, and I’ll probably always remember that I said “extol” instead of “praise” on Psalm 145:1-6, but really, the most important thing I’ve taken away from this contest is the meaning of the passages. So I guess what I’m saying is thank you–thank you for the reminder.

  • I had actually never heard of the Bible Bee until it was mentioned several months ago here on TheRebelution blog. Very amazing! I wonder if they have any of those here in Canada…..

    God Bless

  • I was another junior at the Bible Bee-my sisters and I were all there, and we were all some of the 240. Your message was such a blessing for all of us! Thank you so much for coming! I second what Rachel said–the warning, encouragement, and challenge were all just what we needed to hear. I’m still thinking about all the fifteens, too! Thanks again!

  • I know a couple of people who were doing the Bible Bee. It sounded pretty neat. I was quite amazed at the eagerness that they attacked it with. While that’s one thing I don’t think I could do, I applaud everyone who did and will do it again.

    I’ll read the transcripts and/or listen the audio later. I’m sure it was great as usual, though!!! 😀

    ~Kaitland C

  • No worries… I can imagine how busy college life must be. I go to a church with a lot of college students and they always seem swamped. Keep up the good work!


  • I also hadn’t heard of the Bible Bee until I heard about it from the Rebelution a while back. My father has always stressed time and time again the importance of hiding God’s word in our hearts… and I have grown up doing from the Hide ‘Em In Your Heart VHS as a two-year-old to memorizing verses by topics, like repentence or salvation. I am ashamed to say, however, that I would not know as much Scripture as I do without my father and mother there to push me… and even with that, I still have sometimes done it grudgingly.

    Alex’s remarks: Thank you for pointing out the distractions we have to deal with. I think we should all probably try stripping our rooms (and hearts) of furniture, and just sticking a big Bible in instead! I was really inspired to hear that about your father… it’s incredible that God can take a run-away teen and make him a strong father of Rebelutionaries and an encourager of Christians and Home-educators around the world.

    Brett’s remarks: Thank you for being bold enough to say that you can win the Bible Bee and still go to hell. So many “Christians” are only so-called, and don’t even believe in the reality of hell… or if they do, they’re sure that God is so good that he couldn’t possibly send anyone to hell. (Of course, it’s because of God’s goodness that he sends people to hell!). Look, I just mentioned “hell” four times… I guess that means I’m being too judgemental, or something :).

    Soli Deo gloria (and, “ora et labora”)!

  • I know several young people who competed in the Bible Bee, one of them even went to Nationals. I would love to compete next year if I can find time. Right now Speech and Debate take up a lot of my spare time. I read the transcripts of both your messages, they were very encouraging! You are so right Brett, scary to think that even with a thorough knowledge of the Bible some of those kids could still be without Christ.

    Concerning your comment about Speech Apologetics, don’t we get 4 minutes to prepare a 6 minute speech? 😉 It may have changed since you were competing, but we get 4 minutes of preparation.

  • Thanks guys for taking the time to speak at Bible Bee. I was there, too, and I was nearly in tears when you guys spoke. I was like, “Yeah! Speak it brothers!” Thanks for being normal and funny (not setting yourselves up above us) but caring so much about us. With memorizing all those verses, it was easy to think of it as just a contest, but I was so challenged that the Word must be my all in all, my focus. As Jeremiah said, “When Your words came I ate them, they were my joy and my heart’s delight!” Oh, how I love Your law, they are my meditation all the day!” I definitely can concur with the ALL DAY–but now I miss it! If I don’t spend quality time in the Word, there is such a void in my heart! “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be FILLED!”
    Honestly, such changes have taken place in my heart and life since Bible Bee. I was so challenged to be in the Word! Spending time in the Word is so eternally focused! IT IS NOT A WASTE OF TIME–IT’S AN INVESTMENT! But then the great challenge–living it out! A hard thing, but without it, we become hypocrites. It’s been a challenge since then not to be puffed up as everyone lauds our “achievement” in making Nationals, and awing that we learned so much Scripture, but that IS SO NOT THE GOAL! I am so humbled that God would let me, such an unworthy vessel, contain so much of His Words! They are a treasure and a bubbling brook, overflowing and blessing others!

    “The National Bible Bee has changed my life forever. I am more in love with God and His Word as a result of it. Hearing the Bible quoted for hours on end and meeting other teens passionate about knowing God and His Word more made my days in Washington, D.C. at the National Bible Bee the best few days of my life.”–Ditto, Hannah–and it was so fun to get to know you:)

    Definitely put Truman’s remarks up! They were such a blessing! At Bible Bee, he radiated with joy and love in Christ! He was evidently a true believer, passionate for God and people. It was a blessing to see him get second, way to go, Truman! It was a blessing and reward for all your faithful service and study!
    When you guys spoke, my parents said, “now I see why you love the Rebelution blog and the book Do Hard Things.” My dad just said, “I really want to borrow that book from you over Christmas break!”:)

    Read all the remarks you can, those who didn’t do Bible Bee this year. Do it next year! It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life (actually, confessions, my dad made me do it at first, but I was convicted that I was just “doing it” and needed to love because it was God’s Word, very humbling!) It will CHANGE YOUR LIFE–if you let it! If you can’t—be in the Word! It “is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from it’s sight but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account!”

    Thanks again for taking the time to speak, and to write about it here!

    Deum Delectare! (To Please God!)


  • Wow, just wow. Thank you, guys, for the resources. I’m looking forward to checking them out.

    And thank you, commenters Hannah and Sophie. Your comments here are extremely encouraging. I loved reading them. It sounds like such a fantastic event, and hearing (or reading really) from you about it directly is wonderful.

    Marshall Jones Jr.

  • WOW! I thought that I would just skim these. And I started to. But then I started to read every word. And by the time I got to Brett’s final words I was glued. Powerful, challenging words!

  • THis was so good for me to hear! I just started speech and debate this year and am just now starting to get the hang of it. Both transcripts were so good and have encouraged me to really apply what I am learning to my life.
    Thanks for posting this,

  • Haha, yes. It’s bad enough in high school, I don’t want to think about what homework syndrome does to college students.
    Thanks so much for posting the transcripts. They both have a good bit of hard truth in them. I have a pretty good memory. I have some movies down so well I could probably quote them in my sleep. I can recite lines from plays I wasn’t even in. I can cram vocabulary for Spanish into my brain if I try, and manage to retain most of it. So what’s my excuse for not bothering to memorise the word of God, which is far better than all of those put together? And for the bits I have memorised, I need God’s help in making sure that it’s applied, not just put into the files in the back of my brain.
    Thank you guys so much for being willing to give hard truth. God bless, and good luck with the finals.

  • I have never heard of the Bible Bee before. It souds awesome.
    I read those transcripts and now I feel really convicted to memorize the Bible. When I was ten or eleven I used to memorize lots of verses with my sunday school, but then I sort of fell away from those good habits and began to forget. I think this wake-up call has come just at the right time for me.

  • It has been encouraging to read the comments and see how many other young people are memorizing scripture! Recently, my father was impressing upon us the importance of memorizing scripture. He left us with a challenge, the Jonah Challenge, a challenge to memorize the book of Jonah (48 verses long) in 48 days. It has been neat for me, not only to start conquering this challenge, but to watch my siblings (especially my younger siblings) go at this challenge with so much zest!

    I would just like to encourage you all who took part in the Bible Bee to keep memorizing scripture! Let’s make this a life style!


  • Even though several things were thrown at you guys all at once, you really did well on handling it with an awesome attitude. I am homeschooled and still know that trying to keep up with paperwork, events, family time, and time with Christ is extremely difficult. Thanks for setting an example for me to follow

  • Good update. I hadn’t heard of the Bible Bee until now… oops!

    I did thoroughly enjoy reading both of your transcripts. Thank you for always speaking the truth with boldness. The points you both made are so important! Alex: Thanks for the reminder about the importance of Bible memorization (and yes, I have to agree, lines from movies are a poor defense when facing temptation). Brett: Many of my friends seem to be under the illusion that because of head-knowledge or attending church that they are saved. Thanks for making the truth so obvious!

    God bless!

  • Thanks so much for posting this, Alex and Brett! Reading your transcripts has really encouraged/inspired/challenged me. A couple years ago, I really got into studying the Bible and memorizing verses, but, unfortunatly it was all in my head. When I realized that all of my Bible knowledge didn’t actually seem to be helping me, I slacked off and quit memorizing Bible verses… and barely continued to read the Bible. After a heart-makeover from God, in which I realized how much I had in common with a Pharisee, I’m getting back into studying the Bible and tentatively memorizing Bible verses.

    I don’t want to make the same mistake I made last time- which was measuring how good a Christian I was by the number of Bible verses I could quote. I’m approaching the Bible with a new perspective now, and asking God to make the Scriptures I memorize real to me– to make them heart knowledge, not just stuff I can quote because it’s in my head, but verses that I truly believe and understand.

    Thanks again, your remarks have made a difference in my life.


  • I have read the twins remarks and know that God’s heart was expressed thru their words. I have also read some of the responses. to Hannah B who is too old to compete next year I say: I praise God for changing your heart through His Word and causing growth in you. Please consider serving in a local bible bee competition next year. Don’t let the excitement wear off. Continue learning His Word and encouraging others to be filled up with His Word. You’ll see heavenly rewards one day. The bee really is about learning, speaking and living God’s Word.

    By His grace,
    For His glory,

  • Thank you, Alex & Brett, for speaking truth and for encouraging young and old alike. My son quit the Bible Bee and even told me he thought it was wrong to compete using God’s Word. Although I told him no time spent learning God’s Word would never be wasted and that competition causes everyone to do more than they would do alone, I could not convince him to continue. Today I asked him to listen to your message and I believe it really spoke to him. I know it spoke to me. Thank you.

  • I had a friend who went to nationals (a senior) and while she didn’t (unfortunately) make it to the finals, I just want to thank you guys for speaking. It sounded like you made a big impression. Keep up the good work!

  • Hi. I was there at this first Bible Bee finals and loved Brett and Alex’s talks. I would encourage all who have discovered the incredible treasure of Scripture memory to use the free tool to maximize and organize your memory verses and to inspire/encourage others to also memorize. This tool works especially well with groups.

  • I was in that very room as Alex and Brett told their message. I have been influenced by them to do HARD THINGS. They have touched me and I am going to try and live my life as a nice, God loving, young man. God Bless

  • you should refill it as fast as possible so you do not run the risk of the empty pool shifting or popping up. follow the recommended drying time on the paint instructions and refill shortly after that. dan

rebelling against low expectations

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