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When writing my memoir God Blessed Texas and Me Too, I had time to dig deep-down in my roots. It didn't take long to find out that both sides of my family tree have some pretty amazing characters. Most of you reading this blog have heard me talk or write about my Seals side (Jimmy Seals "Seals & Crofts", Dan Seals, Troy Seals, Chuck Seals, Baby Seals, etc). But this blog is about a particularly interesting man that goes way back in my Mom's bloodline. He was so special, that me and my good friend, Gordon Kennedy wrote a song about him. It's just a demo but hopefully you'll get where we're headed. You can listen to it

near the bottom of this page.

The man I'm talking about is the famous Kentucky lawman, “Devil” John Wright. The story goes that John was a U.S. Marshal for about forty years in the late 1800s, from around 1870 to 1910 in Letcher County Kentucky and Southwest Virginia. His nickname was attributed to him by his enemies. They would say, to have lawman John Wright tracking you, was like having the Devil himself at your heels.

There were other nicknames associated with him such as, “The Tall Sycamore” and “The Law of Pine Mountain”. Several books and numerous newspaper articles have been written about “Devil John” Wright over the years. The character Devil Judd Tolliver, in the novel “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine” by John Fox, Jr., was based on the life of John. It later became a movie. “Devil John Wright of the Cumberlands” is a history of John’s life that was written by his son and I’ve personally read the book, “Devil John Wright His Life and Times” by Philip Kent Church.

Devil John Wright

Some say John had 35 children by several different women. Others say it was 27. One story holds that his greatest regret he had was that he never quite broke even in his life, what with having 27 children, but having killed 28 men in gun battles. I’d like to say that he had a good reputation but he didn’t. I found one article written by J. Frederick Quillen that said he shifted continuously from outlaw to law officer to bounty hunter; sometimes hewore all three hats at once. A man of strong persuasion and fearsome temper, violent men gravitated toward him.

He frequently formed gangs, which operated first on one side of the law, then on the other. Wright, to whom loyalty meant nothing, would “apprehend” members of his own gang if the reward was substantial. At times, Wright signed on with the hated Pinkerton Detective agency. He even worked for the Yankee coal-mining companies, strong-arming the local citizens into selling their beloved land (or mineral rights) for little or nothing.

They say that “Devil” John was somewhat of a hero to outlaw Jesse James. According to the book “The Mountain, The Miner, and the Lord and Other Tales from a Country Law Office, Harry M. Caudill said that Jessie gave John a gift after escorting Jessie and his gang safely through Eastern Kentucky to Cumberland Gap. It was a pretty pearl-handled pistol.

One of my favorite stories about John is this one. It was taken from the Courier-Journal, an article by Joe Creason. “One hair-raising adventure I had once when I went with two

county offers to capture a horse thief. He was a bad man. Finally, I located him in a shoe shop. The officer with me took weak knees and would not go in with me. But I went in. The man was stooped over a bench in which lay a gun. My gun was in my pocket. I didn’t mean for him to take me as an officer, and he didn’t until I said I want you. Then he flung his hand to his gun and shot twice. Luckily he missed. I didn’t have time to go out with my gun--so I shot through my pocket and got my man. Some of the people accused me of murdering the man and brought me to trial. Two men who were working in the shop swore that the thief shot himself. When I came to the stand, I explained just how it was and showed the hole in my trousers and was acquitted.”

The redeeming and most soul-stirring part of John’s legendary tale was stated in Marshall Myers’ book “Only in Old Kentucky: Historic True Tales of Cultural Ingenuity”. She wrote that “Devil” John Wright died peacefully in his home on January 30th, 1931, after being baptized several years before, an event that drew visitors from all over the region.

Who wouldn’t want to go see “The Devil” get baptized, right? It’s comforting to know that God took John’s wild and ornery past and turned it around in the end. I’ve given him a new nickname, “Angel” John Wright. I hope to meet you in heaven someday John.

John Wesley “Devil John” Wright (1844-1931)

1st cousin 4x removed

Joel E. “Ellis” Wright (1817-1879)

Father of John Wesley “Devil John”

Joel Martin Wright (1788-1834)

Father of Joel E. “Ellis”

Hiram Wright (1816-1880)

Son of Joel Martin

Phoebe A Wright (1846-1913)

Daughter of Hiram

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Damrell (1878-1952)

Daughter of Phoebe A

Alice Ballard (1900-1974)

Daughter of Elizabeth “Lizzie”

Tressa Jacquelin (Jackie) Pennington (1935-2012)

Daughter of Alice

Brady Seals

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It never fails these days to login to Facebook or Twitter and see a friend asking for prayer. When I was in my early 20s, I didn’t think about prayer as much as I do in my 50s. Shoot, back in the 70s, social media wasn't even around to ask! Every now and then I’d hear about a family member that was in the hospital, but that was about it. Now it’s two or three times a day reading about sickness and death.

If I were a non-believer in Christ, I’m not sure how I’d feel about people asking all the time about prayer. I can’t imagine thinking all my friends are just pitiful and wasting their time. Thankfully, I am a follower of Christ, and I do believe in the awesome power of prayer.

I learned about how to pray and how God reacts to it when I was a little boy. I grew up in a Pentecostal church and they would have prayer lines every other Sunday night. It’s where elders of the church and faithful people would stand in the front of the church, sometimes in one straight line or two, depending on how the preacher was feeling that night or how intense the need was.

If it was one line, you'd simply walk up close to the alter and tell the preacher what prayer you needed God to answer and he’d lay hands on your head or shoulder and send you down the line. Every person up there would talk out loud to God on your behalf. If it were two lines, watch out devil! There’s strength in numbers you know... The Holy Spirit would come down and you’d hear more people speaking in tongues, raising their hands and shoutin’. The preacher (John Carter) would send you down the middle of the parallel lines.

I mustered up the courage to go through what some call the “Fire Tunnel” a time or two when I was around 12-years old. It kind of felt like going through an 8-minute car wash. I remember getting pushed and bumped along the way. Each time I went through, it was different. I never knew how long it’d take to get to the other side. But once I did, I felt clean, like I’d been washed in the blood of Jesus.

Like the old hymn says, “There’s power in the blood.” God has the ability to turn a bad situation completely around. I’ve seen people healed...heck I‘ve been healed! I recall the time when mom prayed for me when I was a kid. I had sprained my arm roller skating, and within an hour of her praying, I was using my arm again with no pain.

It clearly states in the Bible God‘s power.

“Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.” - James 5:14-15

“LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.” - Psalm 30:2

I‘m sure you’ve seen the term, “prayer warrior”, right? Some just think that it’s someone who prays a lot or someone that’s close to God. However, I believe it’s something more. Intercessors prayer is fulfilling the need of praying for other people, while prayer warriors engage in a spiritual battle against Satan.

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” - 1st Peter 5-8

You see, the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy. So when you are going through a difficult situation like illness, heartbreak or despair... you‘re fighting the devil. That’s when you need to turn to prayer warriors. Those that understand the enemy. They understand that it might mean long hours on their knees praying in earnest for you and rebuking the devil that’s attacking you.

“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” - Eph 6:12

I know it sounds scary, but we have powerful God. He has the authority to heal, soothe and to defeat the enemy in the twinkling of an eye. Turn to Him, read The Word and seek wisdom. Call on your brothers and sister, your prayer warriors and be steadfast in faith. God will hear you and answer. God will win the battle in the end. Praise His Holy Name!

“For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.” - Luke 11:10

Brady Seals, author of God Blessed Texas & Me Too

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Updated: Jan 1, 2021

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” -Revelation 21:5 ESV

Most of us hope that verse is true for 2021, right? 2020 was less than desirable, wouldn't you say? The virus, Kobe, Joe Diffie, heartbreak, bombings, unemployment, riots,'s enough to drive someone crazy. We've probably all cried out last year in defeat, "Why God?" or prayed in earnest while feeling hopeless, "Please stop the suffering!"

In my memoir, God Blessed Texas & Me Too, I wrote in Chapter Four (The Dark Night), about another time in my life when I felt hopeless.

I can now think back to those days when I was a young man and read my own words and know that with God, I persevered. I feel confident that with whatever the devil throws at me from here on out, God has got me, just like He did with His faithful servant, Job.

Here's an excerpt from my book:

Why do we Suffer? Job was the biblical guy that I most felt a connection with during my dark night of the soul. I had read his story in The Bible when I was a kid but after what I went through, I had a deeper appreciation of his dreadful account. It also made me ask a lot of questions though. Questions like, why do people suffer? And where is God in the suffering? The book of Job begins by describing him as a just and righteous man. But Satan comes before the Lord and God allows him to test Job. Unthinkable misfortune befalls Job and his faithfulness is gauged by three different conversations with his friends and family. Job passes the tests in the end and God rewards him giving him greater happiness than he ever had before.

“But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled” -1 Peter 3:14 KJV

I have also come to realize that God is God and He doesn’t need to answer to anyone about why. Instead we need to see His wonders of creation and need to try to comprehend just how small we really are in the scheme of things. God’s wisdom is beyond our comprehension and why He does what He does is unfathomable.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” -Isaiah 55:9 KJV

So 2021 is here and so is God. I'm going to put my faith in Him and let Him take control and guide me. And He can guide you too! All we have to do is trust in Him and pray for His Will to be done in our lives. Yeah, it's hard to accept when times get hard, but we can rejoice. It'll all work out in the end. He has a dove's-eye view and He knows about the sun that's just beyond the clouds. May your 2021 be amazing!

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