Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Why God Works Through His Children

I got to go on my yearly hunting trip last week. It is always one of the highlights of my year. The hunting trip always represents a time of refocusing and refreshing for me. Getting out in the woods before daylight, watching the sun come up and seeing and hearing the world come alive, smelling the sharpness of the pine trees and the earth and rotting leaves, seeing frost on the trees, watching squirrels and turkeys and deer, and getting to harvest a nice deer are important connection points with creation for me. I always come away from the hunting trip with new perspective.

The trip also is a good time of bonding for me with other men in my life. Each of them represent a different type of relationship. There is my father-in-law, the older, somewhat eccentric, sometimes frustrating, but very likeable old codger around camp.

Then, there's Robby, our worship pastor at The Crossroads, and one of my best friends. I've only known Robby for six months now, but he and I just really work well together. It was a joy to get to spend time with Robby in the relaxed atmosphere of a deer camp. Plus, he's great to bring along since he cooked New York Strip steaks for us one night (even if he did get himself the biggest one :-).

Landon is a teenager whom I have known for almost eight years now. I baptized Landon, have prayed for him, fought for him, cried for him, and loved him. I took Landon hunting for the first time last year and the rascal killed a nine-point. Landon is fun to have on a hunting trip. He brings a lot of energy and excitement.

But the greatest joy was taking my son, James. James has been going hunting with me since he was about five years old. He just started carrying a gun with him last year, though. Last year, he had the opportunity to kill a deer, but I wouldn't let him because I wasn't aware of a fine point of the law (oops). But this year, he had another opportunity. He killed his first deer on Monday, November 24, at 10:30 a.m. It was a spike buck (two points for those of you who don't know deer-hunting lingo), and he shot it from about 60 yards away. James saw the deer before I did, and got his gun up and got ready. The deer, however, was walking away from us. James was getting pretty frustrated, but I told him to calm down and that I would try to get the deer to turn around. I used my grunt call, and got the deer to come back toward us, giving James his opportunity.

James had gotten his rifle last Christmas. It was a .243 that belonged to my grandmother. She was no longer able to hunt, so she gave it to James. She passed away this summer, so it was a special gift for James.

It took us a couple of hours to find the deer because there wasn't really any kind of trail for us to track it, but I was determined that we were not going to leave the woods without that deer. Several of the other guys came to help us look for it, but James and I together were the ones who actually found the deer.

Two days later, I went out by myself (James decided it was too cold for him to get out on the stand) and got a ten-point, one of the nicest bucks I have ever killed. But, I have to tell you, I wasn't even half as excited about killing my buck as I was about James killing his.

So, here's the huge lesson that God spoke to me about through that experience. I killed a much bigger deer than my son. I am a more experienced, more skilled hunter than my son. I can make better shots that lead to a quicker, cleaner kill with a whole lot less nervousness. I can sit still quieter and longer than he can. At this point, deer hunting is tremendously easier for me than it is for him. And yet, I was infinitely more excited about him killing his deer than about me killing mine. I'm talking fist-pumping, high-fiving, shouting, can't wipe the smile off my face kind of excitement.

So why is that? Because I take so much delight in my son that I would rather see him do what he can (even if it's not as "good" or "easy" as I could have done it) than just doing it myself. And here's the huge spiritual lesson that God hit me over the head with. That's why God delights to use us fragile, messed-up, failure prone, nervous, doubting, humans to fulfill his plan. It's because he delights in seeing his work done through his children.

Yeah, sure, he could just do it himself, and he could do it better and quicker and easier. But, it's not just about getting the job done. It's about watching his children try, watching our attempts to please him and follow him, watching as we often mess up and make mistakes, but then screaming his head off cheering for us when we get it right and taking absolute delight in us when we fulfill his will for our lives and for eternity. He's a proud father who would rather see his children's attempts to please him and follow him, who would rather accomplish his work through us, than just to do it himself.

Man, thank you God for using us. Thank you for my amazing son who has been teaching me about you from the very first moment he came into this world. I am truly blessed.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Link to Family Stuff

I usually use this blog for the random stuff that runs through my head or to keep you up to date on stuff going on with the Kemp family, and I reserve trailblazer for church planting stuff. But the two have become so intertwined lately that I have posted some family stuff there. If you'd like to find out about church planting and what's going on with the fam, just click here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hot Blogger!

My smokin hot wife has officially started blogging and is doing way better at it than I do. Check her out at

Forever Yours

Wow, it's been a long time since I put anything up here. I've been really busy with the church plant, but am having the time of my life.

LaRissa and I went to a concert Sunday night with some really good friends. The concert, which was in the Superpages Center in Fair Park, was Cheap Trick, Heart, and Journey. It was phenomenal, even if it was the hottest day so far in north Texas.

Cheap Trick is one of those bands that you forget about and you don't really remember any of their songs. They were a great opening act, though.

Heart, fronted by Ann Wilson, was incredible. Wilson has definitely still got it. Her vocal talent does not seem to have faded any whatsoever over the years.

But the highlight of the evening, by far, for me was Journey. Journey is my favorite band of all time. They have so many incredible songs and are just amazingly gifted musicians. Neal Schon, lead guitarist, was a child prodigy who played in Santana when he was 15. He has only grown better with the years.

Deen Castronovo on drums, Jonathan Cain on keys and guitar, these guys are the real deal. But the real jewel is the new front man for Journey. Arnel Pineda is a little Philipino with a huge voice. Schon found Pineda by searching for Journey cover bands on Youtube. Pineda's voice is almost a dead ringer for legendary Journey lead singer Steve Perry.

Perry left the band several years ago because of either a hip injury or because he lost his voice, depending on what story you believe. Pineda has more than filled Perry's shoes. He is energetic, exciting, and man has he got some pipes on him.

An interesting side note, the Philipino contingent at the concert was pretty strong.

Journey did some of their great old stuff. I got to hold my wife, sing to her, and kiss her to classics like "Open Arms" and "Faithfully." They are smart enough not to mess with a good thing. I also like that even their new stuff is very much in keeping with who they have always been as a band. Driving rock ballads and anthems with incredibly strong vocals and harmonization. The new song "After All These Years" is an immediate favorite for me and has become the new "our song" for LaRissa and me.

Great, great show. Be sure to catch it if it comes your way.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Momma, I'm Coming Home!

Yaaay! Exponential has been great, but I am so excited to be headed home to LaRissa and the kids. Daddy's coming home.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Link to Church Planting Blog

I have had a request (thank you Becky) that I place a link to my church planting blog in my links. So, let it be. It's called "Blazing the Trail." Check out the sidebar.

The Last Sermon

I'm working on my last sermon as pastor of Hagerman Baptist Church. I will be preaching it on Sunday. After that, I will be devoting myself full-time to the plant in Anna.

Wow! What do you say in your last sermon to a church you have been pastoring for the last seven years?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Thank You, God, and Thank You, Hagerman

Sunday night, Hagerman threw a launching party for my family and the families who are going with us to plant The Crossroads. We were truly blessed by them. I am so thankful for what God has done and is continuing to do at Hagerman. They are praying for us and want to be closely connected and involved with us in planting in Anna. Praise God!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

This weekend, LaRissa and the kids took me camping at Eisenhower State Park for my birthday. We had a really awesome time without any major disasters, which is usually what happens when we go camping.

We got to play games, lay around and be lazy, and do some hiking! We hiked a little over a mile on the Fossil Ridge section of the trail around the park. It was some of the best hiking I've been able to do in Texas. There is actually quite a bit of variation to the trail, and it goes along the shores of Lake Texoma on some really cool bluffs. The ground is literally littered with fossils from the ancient ocean floor, mostly smaller shells, but I found one that was this really big chambered nautilus fossil. Super cool.

The trail is well-marked and the hiking was perfect for taking kids along with you. Just some moderate stuff, which is a good thing since I wound up hiking the whole thing carrying Abby on my shoulders.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday Movie Review

Larissa and I watched The Sentinel last week. We have had the movie sitting on our chest of drawers for weeks and just haven't had a chance to watch it. I'll make this short: It was nothing memorable.

It had all the right elements: a great cast (Michael Douglass, Kiefer Sutherland, Eva Longoria, and Kim Basinger), good points of intrigue (secret service agent having an affair with the president's wife, falling out with his best friend because friend suspected him of having an affair with his wife, assassination attempt against the president), and decent effects, but it just didn't all come together. The storyline got in its own way at times and character development was really weak.

Bottom line: Don't waste your time or your dime.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Cake-Mix Doctor

We have been using Chocolate from the Cake-Mix Doctor for about a year now to make birthday cakes for our family. They are incredibly delicious cakes. We just make the "cookies and cream cake" for Katie's birthday this weekend. We also got The Cake-Mix Doctor for Katie for her birthday.

New Kemp Family Fave

If you haven't checked out Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network, you need to. It's a favorite at our house. Guy Fieri, the host, is just a really fun, likable "guy".

Monday, April 07, 2008

Katie's Birthday

I can't believe it. My Katie turned eight years old this weekend. She is such a sweet, loving, happy little girl who is a joy to her father. We celebrated by taking her, her brother and sisters, and a friend to Frisco to spend some time at the Build-A-Bear Workshop, pick up some new books at Barnes and Noble, and eat at The Cheesecake Factory. Happy Birthday, Tinkerbell!!

More Robert Frost

I guess Frost is my favorite poet. "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" was the first poem I ever memorized. Some think it was at a time when Frost was contemplating suicide. I prefer to simply think of it as contemplation of life as a journey, another good reference for "Walk the Trail."

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound's the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.