Christmas in Sidney

Well, it is an established fact that the world is so large that Santa can’t get to every little town in the world on a single night. With some delicate negotiations, arrangements were made for Santa Claus to arrive in Sidney, TX on the Saturday, the weekend before Christmas. For the Feril cousins, it could not have worked out better because it just so happened that this was the time that we could all make it home to Sidney on that same weekend.

In the corner of the room, away from the fireplace, a wonderfully decorated cedar

Christmas tree would be positioned, with the “weak” side to the corner where it would not be noticed. Lots of decorations, the big colored bulbs that burned you if  you touched them. Perhaps a popcorn string in the branches, children’s artwork, and tinsel… we were strong on tinsel. The tree could be clearly seen from window beside it from the outside if we arrived for the weekend after dark. It was that same window to which multiple tiny noses would be pressed when it was announced that Uncle Travis had just seen Santa’s sleigh crossing over the house. Due to the crowding at the frosty window, we were usually just a bit late to see it disappear over Round Mountain.

There were the standard presents, new pajama’s, a shirt and always socks or underwear. At 5-7 years old it was difficult to smile and act excited over underwear when a pocket knife or a toy gun was the real dream. Soon there would be the excitement of the toys. Adults were in kitchen chairs, hassocks, the couch or standing behind others ringing the outer walls. Children were in the middle of the floor, wrapping paper and ribbon encircling each one. Until the time for the Rabbit Dance was upon us. It was a rare and special time.

Parents played 42, a bridge like game using dominoes. The Feril men were fiercely competitive, analyzing each play and the implications for what was not played and why. By the second play everyone knew what everyone else had in their hand. Later, as chores were being done, some of the men might pair off to play straight dominoes. Some of the aunts played, although the mysteries of what was being prepared in the little kitchen seemed to hold them in that area more. Often they were gathered around the kitchen table making fudge, divinity, or some other specialty. Children were outside or upstairs, playing and telling their stories. Being the oldest of the plethora of cousins, I loved to tell stories about ghosts, or the Man With the Golden Arm.

Finally, we would be taken up the near vertical stairs to the great double beds. The mattresses were so soft that the covers threatened to swallow us up, and sheets so cold that the first 10 minutes you lay shivering under the mounds of quilts. We were always told not to get up anymore, but the truth is that with 40 pounds of quilts pinning you to the bed none of the boys would be getting up. I remember waking up a number of mornings to the hem of the sheet being frozen to the window.

Going downstairs, with Grandad lighting the propane stove, the fire place roaring and Grandmother backed up in front of it warming her legs under her housecoat… these are among my favorite recollections.

There would be chicken soup, a couple of the hens having given their lives for the main dish. Grandmother was really going all out when she added smoked oysters to the soup. They were black, chewy and distasteful, something akin to a black rubber band. I would finally give up and push it to the side of the plate.

Meals were taken in shifts, men, then children, then women. All were welcome at the table, but one took their turn. We played and wrestled and rode horses with all our cousins. Renewing relationships that always seemed deep but were very limited due to distance. The memories flood my mind as I sit to write.

Later, we would be taken from ranch house to ranch house, being shown off, having grown so much from the last year that our extended family could hardly recognize us. We could usually be recognized as the Feril’s from Colorado, or Michigan… wherever we were that year. We were usually in that blue Rambler American station wagon. When the car stopped, the doors exploded open and boys went everywhere, escaping their long confinement.

I am not sure where you will spend Christmas, or even the day that you will be with family to celebrate. If you ever get the chance, the weekend before Christmas, on that Saturday night… you might want to wander by the old Feril place outside of Sidney. On that night, the voices still linger in the air, echoing across the generations. If you happen to look very carefully to the starry sky, it is just possible that you will catch a glimpse of a sleigh just cresting Round Mountain before disappearing over the horizon. If you do, if you happen to see it… you will never be the same.

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Goodbye To My Brother

Since I began preaching, I’ve been telling stories as a method of relating points from the story of Jesus. Sometimes a bit of foolishness, other times something poignant, but always I’ve used illustrations from my youth. Over time, many of the stories revolved around a caricature of my youngest brother, Fred. In the stories I refer to “My Dumb Ol’ Brother, Fred”, and I tell the stories that often make him the point of the illustration.

My dumb ol’ brother Fred crawled up a tree when he was about 5 years old. A way on up there, where eagles fear to roost. Fred was a hangin’ on for dear life when I started throwing dirt clods from the garden at him. They would hit the branches and explode like bombs, we thought we were playing “army”.
Being all of 8-9 years old myself, I was throwing up into the tree near the far range of my accuracy. The clods were blowing up, Fred was taunting me for my poor aim, when low and behold one of those clods about the size of a child’s fist hit him in the side of the head. Fred began to fall, with the branches of that old elm tree cushioning his descent as he bounced from one limb to the next. Finally, like a sack of wet cement, he hit the ground in front of me and just laid there.
Being concerned for his life and my own well being lest my mother napping in the house should come outside, I reached over and poked him. He just laid there, sprawled out like road kill. I shook him a bit, trying to wake him up and looked around for witnesses to his unlucky fall from the tree. Seeing none I began to reflect on my own participation in his recklessness in crawling up so high. I was worried.
Now, a bit of background is in order here. I am the oldest of 4 boys, all Irish twins born just months apart. The oldest has been known to get in trouble for allowing foolishness in the younger siblings, and I had had it happen to me. Since I had experienced the heating up of the bottom of my blue jeans in the past for simply “puttin’ a knot on his head” I was pretty sure that there would be severe consequences for “killing Fred”.
At 8-9, the reasoning powers of how one handles murder are not well thought out. So I grabbed him by the arms and dragged him behind the chicken house to cover him with a piece of roofing tin until I could figure how to gently break the news to the rest of the family.
About this time, with the abrasions and head bumping of dragging him behind the chicken house and the clunk of the tin landing on top of him, he woke up.
Now Fred woke up mad. At that age, when a kid wakes up made, he starts crying and claiming he was going to tell Mom. I reminded him of how he would be in loads of trouble for climbing so high in that tree and would surely get a spanking for it. Consoling him, we agreed that it would be best to just keep it between ourselves.

This time however, the report of Fred’s death is real. Fred died November 29th of a heart attack. I received the report shortly after it happened. The following is the obituary I wrote for him at his memorial service. I will miss him.

Fred Ormal Feril of Waterford died November 29, 2017 at the age of 60; Fred was born to Carlton and Mary Feril on June 29, 1957, their youngest son. I am the oldest, Carl. 10 months later I was joined by the second son, Steve. 15 months following Steve, Harry was born. Then 13 months later Fred was here.

Fred entered this world in a big way, 12 lbs and 24 inches long. My parents were trying for a little girl after having had three earlier sons. My mother loved to tell that Fred was so overdue that she was determined to have him that day, so she went out and played tennis before going into labor. She said the doctor told her that the more children of the same sex you have in a row, the larger they become, so she claimed she was done. No girls for the Feril family.

He was born on the 16th birthday of my father’s youngest sister, Carolyn Lockridge, Fred would call her each year on her birthday saying, “Happy Birthday Aunt Carolyn. I know how old you are.” When I called her to tell her of Fred’s passing, her response was, “Well I’ve celebrated my last birthday then. It can never be the same.”
Fred made friends who were fiercely loyal, some of those here were his friends all the way back to high school. Fred went to school the same way he approached life, it was a party, something to be enjoyed. He didn’t like the academics, he liked the people. He finally wore enough teachers out that he graduated from Fraser High School.

After working for GM for a short time, Fred became a carpet layer. He laid carpet and flooring all over the country. He could talk his way into really big jobs and worked as hard as he played. I am sure he has done the flooring for every member of his family and most of his friends. Fred was quick to point out that he could “get you a good deal.”

He married Barb Nieto and to that union were born two children, C.J. and Ashley. I don’t know of any father who was more proud of his children. When I called Fred I always got an earful of the latest things the kids had been up to.

Then, about a decade and a half ago Fred met the love of his life. Bev McInerney came into Fred’s world and things changed a bit. He courted, wooed, and pursued her. When Fred wanted to charm someone, look out. He found out she liked plays so he took her to Jesus Christ Superstar, because we all know Fred was a man of the arts. They went to all these things that Bev wanted to do, because strangely… Fred had always wanted to do that. He kept it up until they were a couple at last.

Fred got to go to Scotland and Ireland this past year. He and Bev had the trip all planned when his step-daughter Kelly Brinker and her new husband Tommy decided to also go as their honeymoon trip. I’ve not known many couple’s who would invite mom and her boyfriend to join them on their honeymoon, but Fred got to go. They hunted all over Ireland looking for the “Feril castle”, a pile of rubble in an old field, but they found it. They found kith and kin all across Ireland, with Fred spreading his own unique style of “blarney” throughout the countryside. As they have related the stories to us, the twinkle in their eyes tells us it was the trip of a lifetime. Fred has told me hours of stories about it.

We can’t relate the story of Fred’s life without speaking about his dogs. I don’t know how many dogs Fred had. His first was a mutt named Peeper. That is the dog that had a lower eyelid that would pop out and Fred loved to talk about how he would “push his eye back in.” Dozer… there were many dogs. But Bailey, the Saint Bernard holds a special affection to us all. Big, loveable, loud, and sprawled out on the couch… Fred and Bailey were a match.

Fred leaves a family that loves him, and a host of friends who loved him as well. Fred was the kind of man who elicited many passions from all of us. We could have more fun at anything Fred was involved in than any of us could ever imagine was possible. Of course, if things got tense, we could be more frustrated with him than with anyone on the planet. He just milked the passion from every part of life

Fred was the beloved father of C.J. Feril, Ashley (Andy) Lowe and step-father of Kelly (Thomas) Brinker; Dear brother of Carl (Janet) Feril, Steve (Jaime) Feril and Harry (Cindy) Feril. Grandfather of Makenzie and Holden. Also cherished by the love of his life Beverly McInerney, the mother of his children Barb Wolcott and his St. Bernard, Bailey. And those of you who have come here today… we loved him and our world is a slightly darker place without the brightness of his smile and the twinkle in his eye.

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A Favorite Time

HOME!  I’m home this week and on a Sunday. I’ve never been gone this much from my home church in my life. I’ve missed you. Not only have I missed seeing you, I’ve missed telling you the stories of Jesus.

We’ve come into my favorite time of the year for ministry. It is the season that many in the world shift their focus for a portion of the time to Jesus. From the Nativity displays to the Christmas carols, I love to hear people talk about sharing, families coming together, and the importance of Christ to the world.

Now, in all fairness, lots of folks sing carols without much awareness about the meanings. But the reality is, that many people read Scripture without much awareness of the meaning. This isn’t that far removed from those who sing songs of praise on Sunday assemblies without any reflection on the meaning of the words.

But off of the negative and on to the positive. I spend most of my life looking for openings to bring Jesus into conversations. Now, the opportunities are abundant. From talking to little children about why so many people place a star on the top of the tree to remembering that when we exchange gifts it is an imitation of the great gift that God shared with the world in sending Jesus… each is an occasion to reflect, remember and connect.

My favorite expression in the story of Christmas is the announcement of the angel that Jesus would be called Emmanuel, God is with us. Jesus is forever the presence of God in our world. God is not distant, disconnected or uninterested… Jesus demonstrates that he is present, powerful, and involved.

God is here. God is with us. God loves us. Such language causes my spirit to soar. After whispering from heaven through the voices of angels, in the process of dreams and the mystery of visions the boldest statement of all time was the arrival of an infant who embodied God. As he grew, developed, and matured in life, the world around him was awakened to the notion that God has come.

Traveling from village to village bringing a message of grace and truth to all who would hear, touching with healing and mercy lives of the desperate and those who were hopeless, Jesus showed God’s presence in the world.

Now, living in us, serving through us, he continues his mission. Around us, if you listen, you hear the world celebrating it. Can we but smile?

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When the Pieces Come Together

Small choices are the building blocks of character formation. Being like Jesus is usually formed in little things that at the time might not seem significant. A choice to use kindness in place of trying to win, or the decision to share, rather than hoard, are the things that cause us to look like him. These are small pieces, but they are coming together to make us like Jesus.

We think of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross as what defines him, and I do not mean to minimize it in any fashion. However, if you spoke to the man born blind from John 8, or the widow of Nain, or the lepers who stood healed and whole after their encounter with Jesus, they might have a different answer.

The cross has meaning because of two factors. The first is the resurrection that followed it. Thousands of people have been crucified, only one has been raised from that death.

The second is equally important. The cross has meaning because of the life that was lived before it. The selflessness, the compassion, the willingness to help and restore in the face of judging eyes and whispering lips; these are the characteristics that separated Jesus from the crowd.

I can’t imagine the throngs of people as the message went out before him… Jesus is coming this way! The hope that it must have been elicited in the hearts of parents with sick children, and spouses of those who were infirmed is indescribable. Jesus is coming and with him comes hope.

But, what if Jesus, with all of his capacity to touch lives, had been unwilling to engage others? What if he turned away from the ugliness of illness or the despair of death? How would the gospel story read without words like “moved with compassion” or stories of his stopping to help while on his way to another place?

Jesus made small choices that were enormous in the lives of the individuals he influenced. Choices that we might not have considered important in the moment.

You will make some choices this week as well. Someone with holes in their shoes not asking for help but needing it. Someone with a coat that is too small, or a heart that is too heavy. Turn away, focus elsewhere, or continue on your path without further thought? If those are your little choices, the result will never look like Jesus. All we have to do is choose.

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I Found Me a Bass Player At The Party

People are important, relationships are meaningful, and it takes energy to maintain them. Janet and I planned to spend Friday and Saturday with some friends we met in Oxford at a music festival. It is actually three couples from Wichita, Harlan, and Codell. We prepared the motorhome for a weekend away and left Thursday evening about 6p.

You remember Thursday evening, the wind was blowing from the north about 40 mph. In the motorhome that kind of headwind is miserable, then when we turned west it became a crosswind.

Janet kept saying, “This is crazy.” But I insisted, “It will be worth it.”

We finally lumbered into their place at Codell about 9p and set up for the evening. The pleasure of our weekend was without measure. We sang and played, laughed and ate, then started over. Some of the ladies decided to do some Saturday morning shopping in quaint shops in the area.  Ages ranged from 55- 85, with little more in common than the genre of music.

Conversations were at times spiritual, other times simply trying to learn about each other. One couple winters in the Big Bend area of south Texas, urging us to come see them, play music with them there.

All of us have relationships, friendships… based on some area of interest, farming, old cars, music, sports, cooking, and thousands of other things. We create the time for them, setting aside other important things to cultivate a precious thing.

I am grateful that I have these ancillary relationships that also incorporate times of prayer and conversations about our walk before God. Some of the language of my new friends, in their walk, is different than my own. When asked to tour their tiny rural church building, to see the new “praise band platform”, we walked into an old white framed church house with high lofty ceilings. We looked as the history was explained, then out of the blue our guide said, “Can you imagine how your church would sound in here with their voices ringing in the rafters?”

We smiled, respected differences and connected once more. Our prayers together over the weekend focused on fellowship, joy, rejoicing and the belief that God brings people together for a reason. We encouraged each other, rejoiced in the joys that were shared from each life experience and laid the groundwork to spend more time together. Relationships matter.


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Tossing and Turning?

Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7  

 Does this mean that it is a sin to worry or be anxious about things? Are we violating God’s will when we toss and turn in the night, concerned about the events of the future? No, not at all.

Remember that Jesus wrestled with fears and concerns all night long before his betrayal. As he prayed in the Garden, his anguish was such that his night was sleepless as the disciples slept while on watch.

If you have those nights, lying next to a partner who appears to sleep effortlessly while your brain will not shut off, it does not mean that you are incapable of trusting in God.

This text points to appropriate behavior during those times. In anxiety we toss and turn for a solution, for escape from the weight of the problems at hand. We think that if we just had the right answer, all of our difficulty along with the concern would melt away.

Unfortunately, that faulty thinking causes us to turn inward, thinking the solution resides within us. Paul offers a different focal point.

Prayers and requests that move before God shift our attention from a world that is directed by our own good choices and perfect planning to a more realistic focus.

As he told the church in the letter of Colossians, lift your eyes to things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Our hope, dreams, and ultimate peace arises from a source outside of ourselves.  It is this heaven given peace that will move beyond anything that we can describe. It will begin to regulate our thoughts and emotions, helping us as we face the enemies that surround us. Temptations lose their power before one who is God centered. The forces of darkness are exposed as powerless when we walk side by side with Jesus in this world.

Does it mean that you will never have concerns again? No, this life is full of concerns. Jesus spent more than one night in isolated places in prayer. What it means is that you know the source of strength, and knowingly place yourself in his keeping. It is this that offers peace, nothing else will.

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Success or Significance?

In a meeting with a prospective client recently, I was attempting to describe my success rate with the particular malady with which they were wrestling. When clients first present for treatment they are often discouraged, desperate, and hopeless. One of the first battles is to demonstrate that things can be better and that I know how to move with them toward that goal.

Unfortunately, when I listen to myself describe the efficacy of the treatment process and my particular experience in helping others, it can come across as cocky and arrogant.

I ran across this quote and thought of how it addresses this issue. I found it meaningful and believe it is my new mantra. “I’ve been successful, but it is more important to be significant.”

Success can be a singular accomplish-ment, produced through the untiring efforts of an individual toward a specific goal. For example, 1994: Daniel Bent set the record for fastest ever time in the bog-snorkeling triathlon in 2 hours, 23 minutes, 24 seconds at the World Bog Snorkeling Championships. That might be successful, but it isn’t significant.

Some might question the success of Jesus’ coming into this world, after all, it ended with his crucifixion. While I would argue that he was successful because he gave his life as a ransom for many, and that the resurrection and ascension were the end rather than his crucifixion… no one can argue about his significance. We measure time in years from his birth, we celebrate holidays, observe holy days, and a large portion of the world begin and end their days reading about him.

Success or significant, which would you choose? Many significant people never achieve financial success, nor are they ever known outside of their sphere of influence. Jesus even alluded to it in reminding the disciples that everywhere the Gospel is preached the act of Mary anointing him with oil would be remembered. One act, significant for all time.



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The New Song

It thrills my soul to sing the songs of praise, we mortals sing below.

They sing in heav’n a new song, of Moses and the Lamb.


I love being in large venues where thousands of voices sing that song. The “New Song”, the song unlike any other proclaiming to all of creation that God has a plan, has always had a plan, and will always accomplish his plan. The song of faith, proposing to this world and the next that our God is worthy of honor and glory. The song that lifts hearts above the perils of this world, the chaos and clutter of a world in disorder to the splendor of God’s renewed creation.

The words are composed in tattered hearts and disheveled lives by people of God whose eyes look above to where Jesus sits on the throne. Like Stephen gazing above while the stones flew through the air, today God’s people look up as hearts are broken and dreams shatter. Still the words come, I see Jesus, seated at the right hand of God.

Hurricanes may pound the coasts, children may struggle in the darkness, confusion may threaten to choke out all of the light, but God’s people lift their voices to announce that he still reigns. We may not understand all that goes on in this broken and twisted world, but we know who holds us in the hollow of his hand.

Sing the New Song, children of the king. Don’t fall for the cheap imitations of glittery foolishness or temporary fixes. God is worthy of glory and honor.

Some world leader makes a rash statement, God reigns. Some supposed friend breaks your heart, God reigns. Age threatens the way things always were, God reigns. Give him honor and glory in the worst of times, when your voice is unique and clearly heard above the din of calamity.


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A Chance to Encourage Being Like Jesus

It was about 11:30p when I invited two young ministers to share a meal at a local Denny’s. We sat down with a cup of coffee and menus to discuss the opportunities and responsibilities of ministry. I enjoy such occasions.

Our waitress was an early 20s lady who was obviously nervous. This was her first time alone on the night shift, so if she “pushed the wrong button on the cash register there was no one to call.” We laughed, assured her that we would be understanding and learned her name was Meagan.

With only three other tables with customers, Meagan had plenty of time to stop by and engage us in conversation. Our coffee cups were full, the orders taken, when I asked her about the significance of a diamond shaped tattoo on her lower bicep.

“It means I was 17 and stupid. It was free so I went for it.” She was laughing as she explained. We joined in her laughter and I mentioned that many people have marks on them from immature choices in the teen years, scars and hurts of bad decisions.

Meagan then mentioned that she did have a rose tattooed on her side that was done in memory of her friend who died in high school. I could see it was special to her to mention her friend.

As we finished our meal and ministry chat about 2a and I settled our bill, there was one last conversation with Meagan.

“Meagan, I want you to know that I am glad to know you. That you wear a mark to acknowledge how important your friend was to you, a testimony of love, I really respect that. I am a Christian. My Jesus wears marks, in his hands and feet that are evidence of the same thing. I want you to know that you remind me of Jesus in that way. I encourage you to keep doing things that are like him. It makes all of us better people.”

I planted, now if the next Christian waters, then God can give the increase.


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A Spiritual Lesson From History

Anyone who knows me is aware I love history. I am currently listening to a biography of Robert E. Lee, Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee by Michael Korda while reading S. C Gwynne’s Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson. 

Cross referencing the two sources, I am exploring the campaign of the Shenandoah Valley in the spring of 1862. During that period Jackson suffered one defeat at the hands of a union Col. Nathan Kimball, who had been given command after the serious injury of Brigadier General James Shield.  This was Jackson’s only defeat of the campaign, due to faulty information about the size of Shield’s army (9000 men, but reported as 3000). Jackson with his 4000 men was unsuccessful in the engagement.


As a result of the victory, James Shield was promoted to Major General by President Abraham Lincoln, later withdrawn, reconsidered and rejected. But, those names faintly rang a bell for me. Let me give you a bit of the back story. Two decades before this battle, James Shields was the state auditor of Illinois and Lincoln was a self described “prairie lawyer”. Illinois was in a financial crisis and Shields created a plan where the Bank of Illinois would no longer accept paper currency from private citizens looking to pay off debt. Gold and silver, which the common man did not have access to, became the only acceptable currency. Shields sided with the Democrats and supported the decision to close the Illinois Bank.

This made him the target of the Whig party, in particular a young country lawyer named Abraham Lincoln, who writing under the penname “Rebecca” wrote strong letters to the editor of the Sangamo Journal, making fun of Shields who fancied himself as a ladies’ man. In the course of these letters he shamed Shields, intensified when Mary Todd (engaged to Lincoln for the second time and consider quite a catch), taunted Shields with her own letter to the editor under the pen name “Cathleen”.

Then Mary Todd and a friends of her’s decided to write under the pen name “Rebecca” and “Aunt Becca” wrote that Shields was “a ballroom dandy, floatin’ about on the earth without heft or substance, just like a lot of cat fur where cats had been fightin.” That was enough for Shields who demanded the name of the author of the letters.

The editor revealed that Lincoln was the writer, and Lincoln also took responsibility for the letters written by Mary Todd. When he refused to make a written apology, scoffing at Shield’s demand, before he was challenged to a duel.

Duels, being illegal in Illinois, a small sandbar island in the middle of the river in Missouri known as Bloody Island was selected for the meet. It was famous for duels, cockfights, bare knuckle fights. Lincoln, being the challenged party had the choice of weapons. Not wanting to kill or be killed by Shields (known as an excellent marksman), he avoided pistols and announced his preference for cavalry broadswords of the largest size. Being a towering six foot four inches compared to Shields’ comparatively diminutive five foot eight inch frame, this gave Lincoln a considerable advantage in reach.

As they met on the field of honor, a large plank was placed between them, with each being instructed to stand at the end of the board. When practicing, Lincoln was lopping off the tops of trees around Shields while Shields was unable to reach Lincoln at all. Seeing the immensity of Lincoln’s strength and reach advantage, the bystanders were able to convince Shields to call off the duel.

Have you heard of the Lincoln-Shields duel (175 years ago today)? I am sure you know of the Burr-Hamilton duel, and perhaps of the Jim Bowie Sandbar fight (190th anniversary was September 19th, four days ago) following the Wells-Maddox duel? Duels made names for those engaged, establishing reputations in the telling and retelling of them.

The reason you’ve not heard of the Lincoln-Shields duel is likely because of Lincoln’s refusal to speak of it. After being elected president, a young army officer asked him about it. “Is it true that you once went out to fight a duel and all for the sake of the lady by your side?”  “I do not deny it,” replied Lincoln. “But if you desire my friendship, you will never mention it again.”

Lincoln teaches two lessons from this story, first one: Shameful acts are not the kind of thing upon which to build a reputation and ought to never be mentioned or rehearsed. The second is equally important. 20 years after the altercation, Lincoln was in a position to reward an old enemy for an accomplishment and acted to do so. When the power to do good to one who at one time opposed us in present, bless rather than curse.

Scripture mentions both of these qualities. The things that evil men do ought not to even be spoken of (Ephesians 5:12), including our own misdeeds. It is one of those difficult commands, for us to return a blessing for a curse (1 Peter 3:9).

So, while my crazy brain remembers dates of odd things like duels, I was reminded of a far more important lesson.

By the way, James Shields served as a U.S. Senator for the states of Illinois, Missouri, and Minnesota, the only person to ever represent 3 different states in that capacity.

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