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2009 National Bible Bee by The Shelby Kennedy Foundation

National Bible Bee by The Shelby Kennedy FoundationBalancing the Sword is honored to be an official study tool for those preparing for the National Bible Bee.  The Shelby Kennedy Foundation (SKF) is sponsoring the first annual National Bible Bee.  A Bible bee is similar to a spelling bee, except a Bible bee encourages and rewards biblical knowledge.  As stated on the official website:  "The Shelby Kennedy Foundation (SKF) is a non-denominational, non-profit, Christian ministry dedicated to promoting Biblical literacy and spiritual growth among children and youth" (source).   Three hundred finalists will be invited to the two-day competition in Washington D.C. on November 5-6, 2009.  The 2009 National Bible Bee has procured $260,000 in prize money to be given to the winners of various age categories.  The first-place winner in the age group of 15 to 18 will receive $100,000.

Dollar signs followed by so many zeros are sure to catch the attention of many.  I hope that the purpose of the Shelby Kennedy Foundation will not be overshadowed by the prizes themselves.  The financiers behind SKF are offering to give when no one is asking.  They are asking for nothing in return for themselves.  In addition to The Shelby Kennedy Foundation, the Bible Bee’s initial sponsors include Patrick Henry College, Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), Vision Forum, and God's World Publications.  Their motto is "Learn it! Speak it! Live it!"  That is, the primary motive is not to incentivize youth to study the Bible by dangling cash before their eyes.  But rather, the members of the Shelby Kennedy Foundation wish to reward children who prove this ability.

The LORD never buys righteousness; although, He promises to reward righteousness in both the Old and New Testament.  Jesus corrected those who sought Him for the wrong reason:  "Jesus answered them and said, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.  Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him'" (Jn. 6:26-27).  The prophet Micah protested against Israel's leaders saying, "The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money" (Mic. 3:11).  Money can easily pollute the motives behind righteous work.  Pastors are forbidden from shepherding God's people for the purpose of financial gain (1Ti. 3:3; Tit. 1:7, 11; Tit. 1:11).  Apostle Peter wrote:  "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind" (1Pe. 5:2).  However, we are to cheerfully subsidize those who labor in the Word as servants of the Lord, "for the labourer is worthy of his hire" (Lk. 10:7; cf., 1Co. 9:4-15; Gal. 6:6; Php. 4:18; 1Ti. 5:17-18; 2Ti. 2:6).

I hope that every child and parent who learns of the Bible Bee will steadfastly remember the unbribed righteousness of Shelby Kennedy herself, the inspiration behind the Shelby Kennedy Foundation.  I learned of Shelby shortly after her death.  Shelby Kay Kennedy, the daughter of Kenneth G. and Debora A. Kennedy of Kendall County, Texas was born on Nov 6, 1981.  She developed leiomayosarcoma (LMS), a rare form of cancer, which ravaged her body in only eight short months.  Shelby's battle ended on May 31, 2005.

Shelby Kay Kennedy - The Inspiration Behind the National Bible Bee

The family's website praised:  "Shelby's life was the personification of sacrifice, servant-hood, spiritual joy and honor to her father and  mother."  In his personal blog on September 18, 2007, Doug Phillips, who spoke at Shelby's funeral, added this testimony:  "Shelby Kennedy was a bright shining light in the Church of Jesus Christ and a favorite daughter of the San Antonio community.  Her effervescent spirit, overflowing love of Christ, passion for the Word of God and honor to her mother and father was a model of biblical womanhood" (source).

Young people, where is your focus?  Will you only serve the Lord Jesus Christ in the comforts of your own home?  I hope not.  Shelby's family is a missionary-minded family, and she shared their love for the lost and the needy.  Shelby's travels included work in Mexico, Haiti, South Africa, and Hungary.  As her cancer spread, Shelby posted in her Oct. 23, 2004 update, "I counted 18 countries that are tagged this mornning [sec.] that are praying for me."  Shelby Kennedy traveled to give.

Children, will you only study because you seek a cash prize?  In Genesis 24:63, we learn that "Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide...."  This passage came to mind when I read from Shelby's Oct. 23, 2004 update:  "Today for the first time since I was diagnosed with cancer, I was able to go on a drive on the ranch by myself.  I used to go watch the sunset or rise on an almost daily basis.  It was my alone time with the Lord.  I can't tell you how grateful I was for that time today!!  It was so refreshing to be outside (not on my way to an appointment) and spending time with the Lord."  Is your desire to draw close to the Lord  simply because you want time with Him?

Reader, are you grateful only when you win?  Are you grateful only when the wind is to your back and sunshine warms your face?  After days of heavy chemo, Shelby was very nauseous and full of pain.  On Nov 8, 2004, Shelby wrote of her suffering as God's providence to make her more like Himself.  "The Lord continues to refine and work in my heart and life.  I am so grateful to Him!!..  He did want to continue refining my life, and showing me His love.  I was humbled when I thought about that.  My Father in Heaven is wanting me to experience more of His love!!  What an amazing thing!  I am so unworthy!"  After two more months of rapid decline, Shelby wrote again of God's goodness in allowing her to learn more through her suffering.  "But, I believe He is showing me so much, and teaching me so many lessons by having me in this position... that for right now it is right where He wants me.  It was reassuring to know that and be reminded of that by Him!" (Jan. 08, 2005)

Chronic physical pain frequently causes us to excuse expressions of bitterness or anger from those who are suffering.  Yet, read these remarks by Ken and Debbi Kennedy, Shelby's parents.  May 5, 2005:  "People continue to be very kind to Shelby because when she's not crying in pain, she still has a big smile for everyone she meets."  May 17, 2005:  "No matter how much pain or agony Shelby seems to be in, she always looks us straight in the face and tells us how much she loves and appreciates us.  What tremendous strength of character the Triune God has given her!  We know that her relationship with us has never had anything to do with us, but everything to do with her relationship with the Heavenly Father."

Shelby's days and weeks were full of blood transfusions, X-rays, CAT scans, chemo therapy, radiation therapy, white blood cell shots, and high-powered medications.  Her pain increased while her energy waned.  Yet, only ten days before her death and barely able to speak, Shelby retained hope, “Tell that doctor that I’m going to live and proclaim the works of the Lord" (5/21/05).  Shelby's healing did come albeit in God's form of full deliverance from this world of thorns and thistles.  At the tender age of 23, Shelby Kennedy went home where "the weary are at rest" (Job 3:17).  Shelby signed journal postings, "In HIS grip."  Today, without hindrance, Shelby is "in HIS grip."

Shelby Kennedy - An Example for the Children Participating in the National Bible Bee

Mark Raskche, Bible Bee Executive Director of The Shelby Kennedy FoundationTo learn more about the Bible Bee, contact Mark D. Rasche, the Executive Director, by calling or emailing Kit Rasche, Administrative Assistant.  (Mark and Kit Rasche are married and have given their years in Christian service with other well-known ministries.)
Kit Rasche at 619-401-0385 or
1-888-324-2532 (1-888-3-BIBLE-B)

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Balancing the Sword is a structured study guide for every chapter of the Bible.