Sunday, November 30, 2014


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.”  


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: 


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:


...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. 

Pastor Kerry & Kim Willis


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. 


(If image below does not display fully, click on image.)

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!

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)


(If image doesn't display fully, click image.) 

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.


Sunday, November 23, 2014


"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 


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.



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 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 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 


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.)


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. 


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. 


Sunday, November 16, 2014


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)


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. 


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."


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! 



Wednesday, November 12, 2014


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.


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. 


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. :)


Sunday, November 9, 2014


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.)


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"


Friday, November 7, 2014

Need Help?

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


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


Thursday, November 6, 2014


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.


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:


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)


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. 


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.