Wednesday, December 31, 2014

We've Come This Far By Faith

As the old year disappears and the new year lifts before me, I awoke with these old song lyrics on my mind this morning: "We've Come This Far By Faith!"

I've pasted below a YouTube link that might help your heart make the leap of faith from 2014 to 2015. There's about a 12-second delay once you click the link before the music begins, so settle in and be prepared to be inspired:

Click here: West Angeles COGIC Praise and Worship We've Come This Far By Faith, I Will Trust, You Brought Me - YouTube

Give away you life...

Grateful

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"Knowing That He Knows You"

Shortly after my Dad's passing in November 2014, a friend in The Lord, Samantha, mailed me a card of comfort from her family that I am still carrying close to my heart, over a month later.

It is a Dayspring Greeting card with a writing by Roy Lessin. 

Hear the message:

"He knows you personally and will not confuse you or your needs with another sheep in His flock.

He knows where you are and will guide you;

He knows your fears and will keep you safe;

He knows your hunger and He will feed you;

He knows your weariness and will give you rest;

He knows your valley and will bring you through;

He knows your enemy and will defend you;

He knows you dwelling place and will safely bring you home.

He speaks these words to you...

My child, I love you, you are Mine!"

Grateful

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Monday, December 29, 2014

"Pulling Back the Throttle..."

Just returned with my old friend, The Oreo Pup, from the trash dump where I left all of our Christmas wrappings and the like. 

I am, Lord willing, "away from" any official pastor-related activity until next Sunday morning. Today, marks my first opportunity to truly pull back the throttle of activity in my life since my Dad's funeral. I admit I am weary. And yes, I know that "being-the-oldest-I've-ever-been" helps weariness to happen easier, no doubt.

Anyway, all is well. We had the Billy C. Willis family Christmastime last night at our home. It was a glorious time. Though Dad was not here, we celebrated the Christ Child with Mom and one another and sensed that Dad was somehow aware, maybe even smiling with Jesus as we gathered together.

We began our family time together with me praying passionately over my loved ones and ended our night with me doing the same again, even anointing one family member as the whole family leaned in. It was beautiful. 

As a friend recently prayed for me, "I truly sense my Dad's mantle resting comfortably around my shoulders as his oldest son." It's a new glorious burden for me.

I appreciate your prayers as I now take responsibility to be faithful in pointing Dad's family to those golden shores of our forever home. 

Yes, and you are right if you are thinking, "I already miss Christmas." You know me too well. 

Peace my friends. 

Grateful 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

"Give..." (Words of Jesus)

"Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.” -- Words of Jesus as recorded in Luke 6:38 THE MESSAGE


Grateful

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Link Between Christmas & Mission

Thanks to the Link family for linking Christmas to our local church's vision/mission statement:

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Grateful 

Friday, December 26, 2014

In The Afterglow of Christmas

Lord, as we bask in the afterglow
Of Christmas just past, 
You are our King -- Everything,
You are First; You are Last. 

Let Your Spirit of the Season
Keep lighting our way.
Until we bow down before You,
In Heaven's Forever Day. 

Grateful 





Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Witness

This Christmas 
must witness:
"The Bethlehem Boy
Brings Beautiful Joy --
Came to be crucified,
So we can be justified."


Merry Christmas!

Grateful 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve 2014

1,017 showed up for our Christmas Eve service tonight. What an inspirational evening.

The C-H-R-I-S-T-C-H-I-L-D is our Peace.

Grateful 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

"Christmas is Near the Atmosphere!"

Christmas is near the atmosphere.
In a few short hours it will be here.

Life can be hard, we know it's so.
Still wrap some gifts and add a bow.

Others may need to know you care.
Yes, Christmastime is in the air.

For some I know it can be sad.
Yet I choose to be among the glad.

Though I'll truly miss my Dad this year,
The Bethlehem Babe is surely here. 

Grateful  





Monday, December 22, 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014

"We'll Shine For All We're Worth"

Almighty God, we want to say
We're glad You turned our night to day.
To Bethlehem, You sent Your Son
To show Your Love to everyone,

Almighty God, in You we breathe
New Life from You we did receive.
Because our Savior came to earth 
We'll shine Your light for all we're worth.

Grateful 

Love Shines

"Those who love The Lord shine as the sun!" -- Judges 5:31 (TLB)

Grateful 


Friday, December 19, 2014

"My God, My God..." (My Morning Prayer)

Lord, I come before Your Throne of Mercy for this, a brand new day.

I lift my whole heart up to You in holy adoration and humble dedication.

You not only know me, but You love me and I must remember "Jesus cares!"

When I fall asleep at night, You give your angels charge over my life.

As morning dawns, You await to hear my voice lifting new prayers to You.

When I look back on my days, I see that Your Name really is Faithful and True.

As I consider the present, I must have Your Presence with me and within me.

And apart from Your direction, the forecast of my future would be all fear.

Yet, Your Love embraces my never-dying soul, and You are my strength to go on. 

My God, My God, never leave or forsake me and keep me focused on you forever.

In the name of the One called Wonderful, I pray all these things. Amen and Amen.

Grateful 



Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Please Come and Stay"

Morning is here, Lord
And we turn to You.
The Season so Holy
We know that it's true.

Please keep us focused
As distractions abound.
In Your sure embrace
We want to be found.

For friends and strangers
We lift up our prayers.
Too many burdened
With sorrows and cares. 

Yet you came to save us
Born a baby one day.
You came here to die
To take Sin far away.

How can we ever
Thank you enough?
For leaving Your throne
Up in Heaven Above. 

For a fresh glimpse of Hope
We cry out right now.
We're desperate for Light
You will lead us somehow.

We invite You, our King
To please come and stay.
Be with and within us
and don't go away. 

Grateful 







Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"Praying Deep"

I told a loved one recently: "Whenever I think of you I will turn my thinking into praying." I call it "praying deep". This morning I am doing just that.

With the Christmas season picking up speed, if we don't take time today to think and then to turn our thinking into praying, we will for the most part, very likely, miss the deepest meaning of these fleeting Holy Days.

So, right here, right now, yes on my blog today, I am praying you will experience Blessed Holy Days, especially as you think of loved ones and turn your thinking of them into praying for them. 

"Praying Deep" is one right answer to the question: "How can we partner this day with Holy God in needed Miracles?"

Let us pray for one another today.

Grateful

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Breathe

Today, has been one of those days when I have had to constantly remind myself to breathe. Before 9 a.m., two precious souls affiliated with our local church family crossed the line between time and eternity -- Archie, 96, and Velma, 85.

I keep wondering if they have met my Daddy over yonder, yet?

The Christmas Season in Heaven must be some kind of breath-taking!

Grateful

Monday, December 15, 2014

As Another Monday Arises...

As another Monday arises
I look to You, Lord.
Seeking true favor
Only You can afford.
With yesterday gone
And tomorrow at bay,
Please be here right now,
Have Thine own way. 

Grateful 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Matthew 2:11 -- From The Christmas Story

I preached from this passage today. It warmed the messenger's heart. Hope it warms yours:

“When they (The Magi) entered the house, they saw the child (Jesus) with his mother Mary. So they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11 (GWT) 

Bowing down to worship the King of Kings for being our Great High Priest and Suffering Savior results in offering Him our very best gifts. (At least the response of the Wisemen proves that it does.) 

Grateful 

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Preview of the Good News...

What a lovely preview of The Good News from The Old Testament:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)

Grateful 



Thursday, December 11, 2014

"The Old Rugged Cross"

In case you missed this powerful presentation of the beloved hymn. "The Old Rugged Cross", Here it is:


Grateful 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"Though It Seems Like You Can Never Recover..."

My wise and compassionate friend, Keith from Michigan, sent me words of comfort today. God must've let him in on the fact that I could really use some spontaneous encouragement this morning, as the Advent Season continues and my thoughts turn often to my Daddy now absent from us but present with our Lord. 

Keith's words to me:

"It's the little things, the small, everyday occurrences that you'll remember (about Capt. Billy). The laughs, the stories, the smiles. And even though it seems like you can never recover from your loss, it is these very memories that will help push the pain away and bring back the smiles. Lifting you and your family before the throne. -- Keith"

Grateful 
My Daddy praising Jesus and wearing his red celebration shirt at one of our visits to the cancer clinic this past year. I inherited the red shirt and Lord willing, I'll be wearing it at our Christmas Eve Service.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Written Words From Half-Way Around the World

Today, my dear brother in Christ, Pastor Ajay, from Calcutta, India, sent me such a compassionate email greeting as he knows I am in the afterglow of my Dad's recent passing and the Advent season is underway. 

I cannot over-emphasize how his simplistic but profoundly written words sent from half-way around the world wonderfully warmed my heart as I read them at 5:30 a.m. this morning. Yes, as an ice storm covered the outside of our house, on the inside the home fires of friendship inspired my being deep within.

Here are the words from Pastor Ajay whose home is near the orphanage founded by Mother Teresa:

"Dear Pastor Kerry:

I hope you have been emerging from sorrow.

May this Christmas bring all peace and rest in your heart and in the life of your family.

With Love,
Pastor Ajay"

Grateful



Monday, December 8, 2014

"It's Christmastime & Confession Time!"

Ok, it's Christmastime and confession time, so it's time for my own Christmas confession: "Luke, chapter 1, has -- had for weeks now -- a sacred stronghold on my soul."

Yes, indeed, during these Advent days of anticipation, while I hope to finally reach chapter 2, for now the first 80 verses of Dr. Luke's Good News account -- simply and profoundly -- refuse to turn me loose! And, I just love it. 

So, if you're coming to our local church this third week of Advent or if you plan to get the message from our media file found at www.abeaconofhope.org , you already know in advance where to read ahead and where to mark your Bible. 

Consider yourself warned and expect your heart to be warmed. 

All is well!

Grateful


Sunday, December 7, 2014

"Wings Like a Dove"

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Grateful 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

"Be Still..."

"Be still and know that I am God."
Psalm 46:10 
Grateful 

Friday, December 5, 2014

"For Now... But Then..."

I told a friend today, "What seems surreal to us may really be the most real." In other words, "Our earthly lives now are less real by far than our eternal lives will be then." Deep thoughts, I know. 

This verse helps explain my statement, though I don't expect you to understand it fully, because neither do I: 

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." 1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV)

Grateful 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

"KING... FOREVER AND... HIS KINGDOM WILL NEVER END!"

These recorded words from Luke 1:30-33, spoken by the angel, Gabriel, to Mary of Nazareth, warm my heart today (especially the final words of verse 33):

(30) The angel told her:
"Don't be afraid, Mary. You have found favor with God. (31) You will become pregnant, give birth to a son, and name Him Jesus. (32) He will be a great man and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. (33) Your son will be KING of Jacob's people FOREVER, AND HIS KINGDOM WILL NEVER END!"

That's my KING JESUS!
Grateful 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Unpardonable Sins?

Every kind of wrongdoing is sin, 
yet there are sins that don’t lead to death. 
1 John 5:17

All deviation from perfect holiness is sin, 
but all sin in not unpardonable. 
 John Wesley

The sin that continues to be repeated without true repentance
is unpardonable. 
Kerry Willis

Grateful

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Song of Peace

A song of Peace for the Season sent to me by a friend of Jesus:


Grateful 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Heaven

Three months prior to my Dad's passing, I penned these vulnerable and victorious words titled "Heaven":


My Dad and I have done lots of talking on the phone over the years. Especially, since I became a pastor and moved away from our little, coastal, island home, I’ve been thankful for a way of staying in regular touch with my Dad’s voice. On Tuesday, August 19, 2014, in the late afternoon, I was looking towards the end of the second day of my sabbatical season when Dad and I had the blessing of catching up with one another on the phone. Dad had just come through a seven-month season of trusting God with cancer and chemotherapy. All of the most recent, post-cancer reports were the best we could expect -- “all clear”. Yet, in the past few days, seemingly out of nowhere another “something” showed up to challenge Dad’s health. His left elbow and arm were really causing him pain and making his after-chemo days even more full of fatigue than they already were.


As I listened to my Dad share, his tenderness was inspirational to my eternal soul, as always. After about a half-hour of conversation, the topic turned to Heaven. We discussed how we would all be together someday soon, in the nonstop, realized presence of Jesus and enjoying a reunion with our loved ones who have gone on ahead of us. Finally, Dad said he had made his mother, my Granny Margery, a promise on her death-bed. His promise was that he would see her one day again in our Forever Home. Then these words just came out of my mouth as my tears began to flow: “Daddy, if you get to Heaven before I do, please promise me you will come with Jesus to meet me when I make my arrival.” 


Prayer: “So be it.”  

Grateful 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Christmas in Heaven

Well, my friend, Pastor Billy, sent me my newest favorite Christmas song shortly after the passing of my Daddy, Capt. Billy. I needed tissues. Just saying. 

Here it is: 


Grateful 

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Christmas Blessing for The Holy Days

This morning, on the day after Thanksgiving Day, I wrote a Christmas Season greeting for our local church's J.O.Y. (Just Older Youth) Group December Newsletter. Because it is a Christmas Blessing for the Holy Days, I want to share it with you as well:

BECAUSE THE BETHLEHEM BOY BRINGS BEAUTIFUL JOY...

...May your Christmas be bright with His Heavenly Light.
May you know the Holy Embrace of His Amazing Grace.
May this sweet season of Peace cause your Hope to increase.
And, God's Highest Favor, we pray, will inspire you each day. 

BLESSED HOLY DAYS!!!
Pastor Kerry & Kim Willis

Grateful

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Let's Express Our Gratitude Outloud

Today, we surely give thanks deep within our hearts, but let us not forget to express our gratitude outloud to God and to people. Go ahead right now -- reach out and touch someone with a specific message or deed of love. 

Who needs to hear that they matter? Who needs to hear that they are treasured by God and by you? Is there a need you and I can help meet in the Name of our Lord of the Harvest, today? 

Today, let our Thanksgiving 
move us from apathy to compassion for all, remembering that every human we see could be Jesus in disguise; and Jesus Who lives within us wants to rescue every desperate soul. Yes, every single, sinking soul who is seemingly drowning in the waves around us matters to our God. 

So, let's be thankful within our hearts and let's also give thanks outloud by reaching out to them for Him. 

Grateful 

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

In Our Temptation, God's Power Is Within Us!

Many of the Holy Scriptures are hard for us as believers to understand on our own. We surely need the mind of Christ to triumphantly trust in "what saith the Lord". Perhaps one of the seemingly most difficult Scriptures for believers to decipher is 1 Corinthians 10:13. Here it is from God's Word Translation of the Holy Bible:

There isn’t any temptation that you have experienced which is unusual for humans. God, who faithfully keeps his promises, will not allow you to be tempted beyond your power to resist. But when you are tempted, he will also give you the ability to endure the temptation as your way of escape.

As I have sought the mind of Christ in relation to this Scripture, I have come to believe that the way to understand this verse victoriously is to realize that God "will not allow us to be tempted beyond what His power can resist within us."

So, what am I saying exactly? I am saying that the answer to our confusion with 1 Corinthians 10:13 is found in another verse of Scripture -- Colossians 1:27: Christ in you (us), the Hope!!!

Let us never forget that, In our temptation, God's Power is Within Us!
Grateful 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"We're Not Completely Wiped Out..."

Here's a portion of a Scripture a friend sent me today. I send it now to you: 

“21  “The reason I can ⌊still⌋ find hope is that I keep this one thing in mind: 22  the LORD’s mercy. We were not completely wiped out. His compassion is never limited. 23  It is new every morning. His faithfulness is great. 24  My soul can say, ‘The LORD is my lot ⌊in life⌋. That is why I find hope in him.’ 25  The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to anyone who seeks help from him. 26  “It is good to continue to hope and wait silently for the LORD to save us.”
-- Lamentations 3:21-26 (MSG)

Grateful 

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Be Patient

The word patience comes from the Latin verb patior which means "to suffer."  Waiting patiently is suffering through the present moment, tasting it to the full, and letting the seeds that are sown in the ground on which we stand grow into strong plants.  Waiting patiently always means paying attention to what is happening right before our eyes and seeing there the first rays of God's glorious coming.

Whatever season you are in, be patient..., in other words, don't miss it.

Grateful

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Regardless...

"God can give you high favor regardless of your heritage, your last name or what side of the tracks you came from."
-- Pastor Margaret Michael 

Grateful 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

"Glorifying God in Whatever Circumstance... "

My longtime sister-in-Christ gave me her blessing to share this humbling correspondence to me, with you. To God be all the glory: 

As I was having devotions this morning this is what I read.  It not only reminds me of your dad but your life as well.

From "All In" by Mark Batterson:

"It's not about success and failure, it's not about good days and bad days, it's not about wealth or poverty, it's not about health or sickness, it's not even really about life or death.  It's about Glorifying God in whatever circumstance you find yourself in."

Thanks for being such an amazing example of what a life dedicated to God should look like.

Heidi 

Grateful 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Delightful Commentary -- Capt. Billy's Homegoing Service

If you were unable to be at my Dad's homegoing service on November 19, 2014, we hope to post the audio from it as a 3-part broadcast on our www.frontporchtalks.com website within the next 3-4 weeks. 

Until then, here is a commentary posted below sent to me from a family friend who attended. Her name is Delight. (She gave me permission to share it with you.) It's a delightful commentary that humbled our hearts and warmed our souls.

Delight's commentary: 

just wanted to take a moment to thank you, and the Willis boys, for allowing the rest of us to be part of yesterday (Capt. Billy's November 19, 2014 funeral).  I don't know that I have ever been to a service like that where I felt privileged to have been in attendance like I did yesterday.  It was a Song of Songs service....that only the Willis boys could have done.  What a love feast!   "I am my beloved's and He is mine!"

I once was asked WHEN I WAS YOUNG, what it was that I found most attractive in a man......my answer then, and still is, LOVE.  When someone loves you it does not matter what they look like, or really much of anything else, they are attractive.  LOVE ATTRACTS.

I know you thought the service went long, but it did not feel it.  It was as if you three boys invited everyone into some wonderful place where you loved on your father..your mother, and most of all GOD...and in doing that, you loved on everyone present.  That service will bear much fruit. Relationship. You left everyone with a good word, and a challenge.

Your folks have one incredible family,
Much love, Delight 

Grateful 




Thursday, November 20, 2014

"The Morning After"


(Dad would often tie a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree to highlight homecomings at our homeplace. So, we tied one around the old oak to mark Dad's homegoing.) 

There was a pop song that I heard frequently on the radio when I was in my teen years titled, "There's Got to Be a Morning After." Well, today is exactly that-- "the morning after" my Daddy's homegoing service.

Yesterday, our family's life overflowed with emotions of every kind and embraces from every direction. We were humbled by friends and loved ones who came from both near and far to help us officially remember our Dad's life and to enlarge our Hope of being reunited with him and Jesus one day in Heaven.

However, after the 1 1/2 hour celebration service at the Free Grace Wesleyan Church and the 1/2 hour graveside send-off at Virgie Mae Cemetery, everyone had to, of course, depart and return to their own lives. 

My brother, Billy Joe, was the last of our crowd to leave last evening, but not before the two of us drove after sunset back to Daddy's fresh, flower-covered grave. As we stood hugging each other with flashlights shining, our lingering numbness finally gave way to the raw reality that our Daddy is not coming back to be with us. But we will eventually go to be with him. 

I awoke this morning at 5:30 a.m. I slowly made my way into the living room. Mom soon joined me and now we sit together in the silence. Yes, "There's Got to Be a Morning After" and this is it. 

Sitting here in the dim light, Mom is whispering prayers under her breath. She just looked at me and said, "The last eleven months have been a whirlwind and today 'I just feel out of it'".

My son, Grayson, just entered the room and now Mom has transitioned to testifying. She said, "When you pray 'not my will but Thine be done', you just have to totally trust God with all that takes place." Grayson's reply? "'Not my will but Thine be done' is a dangerous prayer." Then he said to Mom with assurance: "When we have all left, Nana, just remember you are not alone." This morning my immediate family will leave to return for Virginia and I will stay with Mom for a bit longer before I also depart.

I am so overwhelmed with the outpouring of compassion that so many people in our lives have shown to us in Dad's season of cancer and the strong support lasted right up until this week when we sent him on ahead of us to Heaven. 

So, yes, "There's Got to Be a Morning After", and this is it and while there is a tremendous sense of loss in our lives, we mostly feel blessed, hopeful and...

... Grateful  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"I Miss Him Already..."

Last night our family greeted friends and loved ones for about three hours near the altar of Free Grace Wesleyan Church at my Dad's wake. It was a glorious evening.

I kept repeating three things over and over to the ones who came:

(1) "I already miss him."

(2) "Don't let anything come between you and where my Daddy is!"

(3) "The best gift we can leave our loved ones before we leave the planet is assurance that we will be in Heaven." 


(Flowers for my Daddy from his seven grandchildren.)

Grateful 



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Island Boy -- Billy C. Willis

The life of an island boy, 'lil Billy Cameron Willis', will be celebrated today. Billy was born in his parents' island home on July 19, 1940, and transported to his Heavenly Home on November 17, 2014. 


Grateful 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Our Daddy: In Heaven

As the 4th watch of the night was just ten minutes away, yes at approximately 2:50 a.m. Monday, November 17, 2014, The Old Ship of Zion picked up our Daddy, Capt. Billy, and transported him to Heaven. 

At daylight when we left the Hospice House, double rainbows formed for about ten seconds after a gentle sun-lit rain. Our loss is Heaven's gain. 

Godspeed Daddy. We will come to you one day. You showed us that Jesus is our Way. 




Grateful 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Meanwhile..."

A dear friend sent me these verses of Scripture this past week. While we as a family continue to enjoy God's marvelous presence and trust His mysterious ways especially during Dad's season of suffering, this passage surely reinforces our resolve: 

"Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good." (Romans 8:26-28 MSG)

Grateful


Saturday, November 15, 2014

"Some Time Away..."

As midnight has now come and gone, I am praying for my precious Dad still.

Today, I sensed I should pry myself away from the Hospice House for a while. The social worker suggested we take some time away from our vigilant watching, so I have. 

For the past nine days, I have stayed as close to my dear Dad as possible, coming apart from him only for hours of minimal sleep. 

So far, in my short season of reflection away from Dad's bedside, I have been able to vividly remember Dad during his years of health. It made me laugh and weep to reminisce about the relationship we have cherished as father and son, as best friends, and as spiritual brothers in Christ.

Before leaving for this short reprieve, I communicated deeply to Dad so very much of my heart. Two of the things I made clear to him included:

"You are my hero."

"I will love you, forever."

A day or so before Dad totally lost his hearing, he leaned into me and looked deep into my eyes saying: "Son, in Heaven we will have so much to talk about." What hope that message ignited in the depths of my soul!

Looking at Dad in his current condition of sickness, especially over the past nine days, has caused me to forget what he was like before cancer came. Today, I have renewed those sweet images. 

Here's my favorite image pasted below -- a portrait I took of Dad through his shrimp nets as he sat on the deck of his fishing vessel, The Lady Melba, a few Decembers ago. The countenance on his face causes me to pray anew for either his healing here or to be made new again in Heaven. Deo Volente -- Whatever God Wants! Pray with me please. 


Grateful 



Friday, November 14, 2014

Waiting... Sunshine... Sunbeam... Whispering

It's Friday morning and my Dad, Capt. Billy, is still resting easy. He had a very tiring day on Thursday, but continues to hold his own. One thing my Dad has excelled in is perseverance. Makes me "almost" feel sorry for the cancer. Whenever I think of that old Alabama song, "You Can't Keep a Good Man Down", I am reminded of Dad. So, the waiting continues. We believe that "waiting on the Lord's timing" is equal to pure worship. (And, yes, we still believe as we wait that Jesus still has authority to heal. Deo Volente -- Whatever God Wants!)

Mom and I are sitting here in the Hospice room beside Dad's bed right now talking about the goodness of our God. I just read aloud to her a comforting note that a sister in The Lord, Samantha, stuck in my hand last week. The words she wrote came from an Andrew Murray writing and really do explain exactly where we are these days:

"Come and however feeble you feel, just wait in His presence. Come with all that is dark and cold in you into the sunshine of God's Holy, Omnipotent Love. Sit and wait there with one thought: 'Here I am in the sunshine of His Love.' God will do His work in you. Oh, trust him fully" 'Wait on the Lord: be strong and let thine heart take courage; yeah wait on the Lord.'" (Refer to Psalm 27:14)

In the height of his struggles yesterday, Dad surprised us yet again by singing loudly, "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam, I'll Be a Sunbeam for Him."

As I close this post, Dad has awakened and is looking at me with such tender eyes and whispering: "My Jesus I love you. Have mercy on me."

Grateful    



Thursday, November 13, 2014

"Take Refuge in Him..."

Last evening, Pastor Keith Carroll of Mount Zion Wesleyan Church in North Carolina sent me Psalm 18:30, saying "I am praying these words over your Dad and family"...

"God's way is perfect! The promise of The Lord has proven to be true. He is a shield to all those who take refuge in Him." -- Psalm 18:30 (GWT)

This verse is our anchoring ground for today. Dad told the doctor a few days ago: "When The Lord is ready for me, He'll take me." We stand with Dad on that statement. 

Speaking of Dad, he was much more quiet on Wednesday. Needed oxygen but still communicates with us when he wants to or when we want him to. The Hospice nurses usually leave the room in tears because Dad, even in his weakness and deafness, strongly and loudly expresses his humbled cries of gratitude for their tender care of and for him.  

So, the waiting continues and what a glorious waiting it is. We are all physically, emotionally and mentally weary, however our souls are strong in The Lord. We take refuge in our God alone! 

We are anchored in Jesus! 

Grateful 


 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

"Unusual?"

Monday night I was up late with Dad in his hospital room. We prayed together, quoted verses from The 23rd Psalm in unison and shared audible "I love yous" until he drifted into a deep sleep. Then I left for the home place for some rest of my own.

Tuesday would be altogether different. When Dad awoke he was totally deaf. Within a short matter of time he couldn't even hear his own voice. 

He asked in a shout, "Can you all hear me?" We assured him we could, and he started to talk:

"Get paper and pen and I will communicate with you as long as I can."

"I want you to know everything will be alright." 

"I am at peace."

"The Comforter is within me."

"Even though I can't hear myself, I know my Lord can hear me."

By now, we were all crying our eyes out. So he continued:

"Don't cry. Be strong. We love each other and love is all that matters."

Then he broke into singing. Though he couldn't hear his own voice it was beautiful to God and his family. The two hymns he sang were "Must Jesus Bear The Cross Alone" and  "Faith is the Victory!" 

When the doctor came in, Dad told him "I love you." And then Dad asked "Is it unusual for me to go totally deaf overnight?" The doctor said, "Yes." Dad replied, "God is unusual, too." Smiles. 

Tuesday afternoon, Dad was transported from hospital comfort care to the new community Hospice House. Until late in the evening Dad communicated to us audibly from his new beautiful room with both holy and humorous shouts, as we wrote messages back to him in the spiral notebook I bought at the drug store.

As I reflect this morning in the chapel at The Hospice House, I am humbled to think that the last voice my Dad heard was mine. Among the last audible sounds Dad heard were the two of us quoting The 23rd Psalm together. And the very final audible words he heard himself say, he spoke to me: "I love you." Those are also the very final audible words he heard from me. 

Unusual? I don't think do. Not unusual for us at least.

Grateful 

Note: If images below don't display fully, click on image.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"The Dove"

One of my Dad's most inspiring sea stories as a boat captain took place on the Pamlico Sound near Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, after his father, my Grandaddy Gray, had passed from this life to the next.

Dad was feeling sad as he fished the waters without his father. As he was on the deck of his boat alone one day, he began to pray for The Lord to touch his heart with His Holy Presence. 

Suddenly, on the stern of his fishing boat "the dove" landed. It was unusual for a dove to be so far from the shore. Dad whispered to The Lord: "I really would like to hold 'the dove' in my hands." As he moved closer, "the dove" offered no resistance and Dad picked up the bird and held it close to his heart. After a while, Dad released his new feathered friend. "The dove" soared into the skies above the waves, circled Dad's boat three times and disappeared in the distance.

Last week before I left my home in Virginia to come and be a son to my precious Dad as he is in the hospital, I went into my garage where I go often these days to chop, whittle and carve primitive-style birds from wood. I thought I was carving a Sanderling shore bird, but the shape wasn't looking that way. I bowed my head over my chopping block and said: "Lord, help me to make the right piece out of this 'stubborn' block of wood." A few minutes later, I could see that the wood wanted to be a dove.

I spent the rest of the night completing my simple carving. I knew it was for Dad. I painted it and mounted it on a piece of driftwood and carefully packed it in my vehicle. 

When I finally presented it to Dad at his bedside, it touched his heart and the story of "the dove" was relived by us all.

Throughout Dad's eleven months of cancer, he has so often spoken about the nearness of the precious Holy Spirit. Of course you knew that was the real reason he wanted to hold "the dove" in the first place. 

The Holy Spirit comforted my Dad years ago after his father passed and the Holy Spirit comforts him and his family still. 


Grateful 

Monday, November 10, 2014

I Want to Say Thanks...

I want to say "thanks" to everyone who has ever counseled me to spend all the time I possibly can with my aging parents. 

For example, just this week a dear friend, Angela, gave me permission to "be a son." With my Dad's declining health, I desperately need to hear that directive right now. It also seems to me that if I cannot be trusted to be a faithful son, I surely cannot be trusted to be anything else to anyone else. 

Speaking of "my Dad's declining health", because I am taking time to "be a son" during these sacred days, I got to hear my Dad's faith proclaimed from his hospital bed as he told me early this morning: "Don't weep, son. Who knows, I might just surprise you and get healed."

Our God is SURELY ABLE! 

Stay tuned. :)

Grateful 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

My Daddy -- SOMEONE & SOMEWHERE

As I write, it's about 6 a.m. on Sunday Morning along the coast of North Carolina. I have spent several days and nights at the Willis' island home place. My Dad's earthly life seems to be fading fast. 

Dad's cancer diagnosis is nearing one full year and the disease has taken its toll on his body but it has not damaged his soul. On the contrary, his soul has soared to new spiritual heights of holiness during this trying journey. When people ask me how my Daddy's doing, I say: "He is weak in body but strong in Spirit (The Holy Spirit)!"

These tender days, we know as a family, that unless our compassionate and able Lord lays His nail-scared hands of healing on Dad, his burdensome struggle will soon conclude and His beautiful eternity will commence.

Yesterday, at his bedside, I whispered: "Dad, I wish I could take your suffering." He whispered back with a tender smile: "SOMEONE already has." Then, later last evening he said: "I must be getting ready to go SOMEWHERE. It seems everyone is giving me their goodbyes." Then he grinned real big as his eyes glistened. 

Whenever anyone comes into my Daddy's room, the grimaces of pain on his face turn to beautiful smiles. In his kind eyes it is easy to see  that the SOMEONE he speaks of taking his suffering is noneother than JESUS. Yes, indeed, and on my Daddy's countenance, it is also hard to miss a glimpse of that glorious SOMEWHERE he's going -- Heaven.

What a beautiful Lord's Day for The Lord to pull off the promise in John 14:3 for my Daddy. 

(You might want to go read that verse.)

Grateful 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

He Knows...

My dear friend in Michigan, Keith, sent me the words to one of my Dad's favorite songs yesterday. I read them aloud to my Dad at his hospital bedside. It touched us both so deeply that I share them for your own comfort now:

"I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hands 

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
and He hears me when I call 
I have a Father
He calls me His own
He'll never leave me
No matter where I go 

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
and He hears me when I call"

Grateful 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Need Help?

Read Ephesians 6:10-20. It will give you:

Perspective
Perseverance
Introspection
Inspiration

I promise you will find help in your time of battle... 

Grateful 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Legacy

Quote of the day overheard in my Dad's hospital room: 

My son, Grayson, said to my father, his grandfather, Capt. Billy: 

"Papa, we have a lot to live up to."

A legacy of light is powerful across the generations of a family.

Grateful 


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Are you Anchored?

A friend sent me this YouTube last week. It seems he heard the song in a dream and awoke to find it online. It is powerful. Listen now:


Grateful

Monday, November 3, 2014

Words of Inspiration from God's Word

Last week, a dear friend in the Lord sent me these words of inspiration from God's Word. I send them to you today:

16 God our Father loved us and by his kindness gave us everlasting encouragement and good hope. Together with our Lord Jesus Christ, 17 may he encourage and strengthen you to do and say everything that is good. 
-- 2 Thess. 2:16-17 (GWT)

Grateful

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Blessing Supper -- Sound the Ram's Horn

Sunday night at our local church we had our first ever Together Family Blessing Supper. We had some 1,000people across all generation and two languages come to share fellowship and to be blessed, yes prayed and sung over. 

Four different rooms were used and thus four times of blessing. Pastor Oziel videoed one portion that culminated in me blowing the shofar -- the ram's horn. Enjoy the clip and be blessed. 


Grateful 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

So That You Will Know...

I pray today
God will have His way.
That His love will flow,
So that you will know...
How He treasures you,
And protects you, too.

I am sure He cares.
He's not unaware.
Of your need each hour,
For His Holy Power.
So, don't lose trust.
He's looking out for us.

Grateful 




Thursday, October 30, 2014

Trust: Thought for Today

My childhood friend, Ken, who is in the midst of a challenging health season, sent me these words of inspiration:

Trust when your skies are darkening.
Trust when your light grows dim.
Trust when the shadows gather.
Trust and look to him.
Amen

And Ken's Thought for today:  
God acts through us in this world.

Grateful 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"The Empty Boat Slip"


("The Empty Boat Slip" -- if image doesn't display fully, click on image.)

In the words of my brother, BJ, with the Lady Melba fishing vessel now sold and gone from Dad's boat slip in the Harkers Island Refuge Harbor, "It's the end of the fishing (for seafood) heritage for the Willis family." 

But make no mistake about it, the Willis boys are still fishing -- fishing for lost souls. We will, with the Help of The Blessed Holy Spirit, continue to be "sons of a fisherman, and fishermen (and shepherds) for The Son."

Grateful 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Boat Sold

(The Lady Melba is the boat in the center of image. If image doesn't display fully, click image.)

Yesterday, my Dad, Capt. Billy, sold his fishing boat, Lady Melba, to another family of fishermen on the other end of the county. Well, Dad say, "He basically gave it away!" :)

Either way, today, the Lady Melba, under the hand of her new pilot, will leave the Refuge Harbor near the Harkers Island Bridge, where she has been docked many years. The hearts of the Willis family are kind of tender, as you might imagine. 

Last night I arrived on the island from Virginia around 10 p.m. I stopped at the boat to reminisce for a while in the darkness around the docks. It was heart-wrenching. I guess having the fishing vessel a vital part of our family for 29 years and knowing it would no longer be a part of our coastal landscape got the best of me. I finally left for the home place. 

When I arrived Dad and Mom were in bed. I stood in the hallway for a while just staring at Dad asleep and I tried to imagine how emotionally hard his day had been. 

This morning I walked in his room and woke him up for a full day of chemo. He cried a little. Oh yeah, I guess I didn't tell you, Dad didn't know I had arrived in the night. It was a surprise visit.

After cooking him a French toast breakfast and sharing coffee and prayer together at the family table, Dad, Mom, and their eldest son have now arrived at the cancer clinic and are awaiting the challenges of another day. 

The day is off to a good start. Dad's humor is back. As we rolled him back to have blood drawn, we saw some mannequin heads displaying wigs. Dad asked the nurse, "Have you all started beheading people here?" :)

Grateful   

Monday, October 27, 2014

Still Wonderfully On My Mind...

Sunday morning I preached twice from Psalm 133, and some 36 hours later the inspiring passage written by King David is still wonderfully on my mind. Here it is:  

“A song by David for going up to worship.
1  See how good and pleasant it is
when brothers and sisters live together in harmony!
2  It is like fine, scented oil on the head,
running down the beard—down Aaron’s beard—running over the collar of his robes.
3  It is like dew on ⌊Mount⌋ Hermon,
dew which comes down on Zion’s mountains. That is where the LORD promised the blessing of eternal life.” (GWT)

Grateful 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

"... Enough Reason... to Worship God..."

The Beautiful Seasonal Artistry seen in Creation -- courtesy of our Awesome Creator God -- should be enough reason alone to overflow our hearts and minds with holy wonder and cause us to want to worship Him for forever. 

(If full image is not visible, click image.)


Grateful 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Prayer for Your Heart and Soul

I pray the Light of The Lord will flood your heart with Love during this colorful season. 


And may your soul be like a tree planted by the water. 


In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Grateful 

Friday, October 24, 2014

"Ain't No Bird!"

"Ain't no bird 
gonna sing in my place.
As long as I'm alive
I'll glorify His Holy Name!"


Grateful 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Jesus, Please...

My Jesus, please abide in me
reside in me, preside in me.
Let your Spirit be on-guard, 
ever at Home in me.

Yes, temptation comes, 
sometimes it stays.
Yet, You're my way out --
King of all my days.

I dare not quench
my highest Love.
Strengthen me within
'til I'm with You, Above.

Grateful 


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Answer = Jesus

In spite of his season of physical suffering, my Dad, Capt. Billy, is having one of his better days today. We shared a wonderful time of witnessing to one another on the phone this morning. We cried beautiful long-distance tears. Even Mom joined in. It was such a glorious season of stillness for our souls.

Dad said, "Kerry, I can't get that song, 'Jesus is the Answer', off my mind. You should get on that YouTube thing you have, find it, and listen to it."

Well, I will honor my Dad's request even now. Here's the link to Andre Crouch's classic song:

Click here: Andre Crouch--Jesus is the answer - YouTube

Indeed, "Jesus is the Answer. Now what was the question?"

Grateful

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Work for the Night is Coming


Work, for the night is coming,
Work through the morning hours;
Work while the dew is sparkling,
Work ’mid springing flowers;
Work when the day grows brighter,
Work in the glowing sun;
Work, for the night is coming,
When man’s work is done.
Work, for the night is coming,
Work through the sunny noon;
Fill brightest hours with labor,
Rest comes sure and soon.
Give every flying minute,
Something to keep in store;
Work, for the night is coming,
When man works no more.
Work, for the night is coming,
Under the sunset skies;
While their bright tints are glowing,
Work, for daylight flies.
Work till the last beam fadeth,
Fadeth to shine no more;
Work, while the night is darkening,
When man’s work is o’er.

Grateful