What does God look like?



Dr. John Ed Mathison

By John Ed Mathison

One day a first grade Sunday school teacher asked the class to think about something important and draw a picture of it.  Each child began working on the special picture that they wanted to draw.  The teacher noticed one little boy who seemed to be more focused than the rest.  The others had finished and he was still working.  She walked over to his desk and said, “Jimmy, what are you drawing?”  He looked up and said, “Teacher, I’m drawing a picture of God.”  The teacher said, “Jimmy, nobody knows what God looks like.”  Jimmy thought for a minute, and replied, “Well, they will when I finish this picture!”  

   What does God look like according to you?  The only thing some people know about Him is what they see in His children.  What qualities of God can people recognize in you each day?

   I remember hearing a beautiful story about a little boy who wanted to meet God.  He put some Twinkies and cokes in a bag and walked out the door.  He had only gone a few blocks when he met an old woman sitting in the park staring at some pigeons.

   The boy sat down next to her and opened his bag.  He noticed that the old woman looked hungry so he offered her a Twinkie.  She accepted it and smiled at him.  Her smile was so pretty that the boy wanted to see it again.  He offered her some coke, and again she smiled.  

   They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling and never said a word to each other.

   As it started to get dark the boy knew that he had to go home.  He got up, walked a few steps, and then turned around and ran back to give the old woman a really big hug.  She gave him her biggest smile.

    When the boy opened the door to his house his mom noticed a look of joy on his face.  She said, “What did you do today that made you so happy?”  He said, “I had lunch with God.”  Before his mother could respond he added, “You know what?  She’s got the most beautiful smile I have ever seen!”

   The old woman went home also radiant with joy.  Her son was stunned when he saw her face.  He said, “Mother, what did you do today that made you so happy?”  She replied, “I ate Twinkies in the park with God.”  And before her son could say anything she said, “You know, he’s much younger than I expected.”

   We can learn about God from a lot of different sources.  One of the best sources is people.  We have an opportunity to both demonstrate Godly attitudes and qualities, and to associate with people from whom we learn about Godly living.

   In his youth, Jacob cheated his brother Esau out of his inheritance.  Later in life, Jacob and Esau met.  Jacob was overwhelmed by Esau’s forgiving attitude and he said, “I see your face as one sees the face of God and you have received me favorably.”  (Gen. 33:10)  Jacob saw the face of God through the redeemed relationship with his brother, Esau.

As a youth I attended MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship) every Sunday night.  We always ended by repeating the benediction together.  Part of this was, “The Lord bless you and keep you.  The Lord make His face shine upon you…” (Numbers 6:24-26)

  Whose face shines in and through you?

Primary political potpourri



By Steve Flowers

Now that the dust has settled on the primaries, allow me to share with you some thoughts on the Alabama political stage.

   There is an old saying that says the more things change, the more they stay the same. This old adage is true in Alabama politics.

   First of all, “All politics is local.”  In the June 5 Primary, the turnout was about 25 percent on the average around the state. However, the ultimate voter turnout was 27 percent due to local races.  Alabamians are more interested in who is sheriff and Probate Judge than who is Lt. Governor, or Attorney General.

   Secretary of State, John Merrill, predicted a 27 percent turnout on June 5.  Guess what, there was a 27 percent turnout.  Almost 873,000 Alabamians voted.  There were twice as many voters, 590,000, that chose the Republican ballot than the Democratic slate.  There were 283,000 Democratic voters.

   What this tells me is that we are still a very red Republican state.  We have 29 elected statewide officeholders in the state.  All 29 are Republican.  When all the votes are counted in November, that 29 out of 29 figure will still be more than likely the same in the Heart of Dixie.  The Democrats have a good horse in Walt Maddox.  He may run close to Kay Ivey, but the odds favor an incumbent GOP Governor who has done nothing wrong and sits in the Governor’s office in a robust economy.  I would put the odds at 56 to 44 in Ivey’s favor.

   The Legislature will remain about the same after the November General Election as we head into the next quadrennium. The Alabama House of Representatives will have an over 2 to 1 GOP majority.  The numbers will be about what they are now, 72 Republicans and 33 Democrats.

   The State Senate will more than likely have a 3 to 1 GOP edge.  The members now are 26 Republicans and eight Democrats and one Independent.  The Democrats may very well pick up a Senate Seat in Northwest Alabama with Johnny Mack Morrow vs Larry Stutts which will bring them to nine.  The Independent seat being held by Senator Harri Ann Smith in the Wiregrass is one of the most Republican in the state.  Harri Ann is retiring.  It will be taken by the very Republican and popular state representative, Donnie Chesteen.  

   Whoever made the decision to oust Harri Ann from the Republican Party six years ago made a very poor and ignorant decision.  She continued to be elected as an Independent.  Her popularity exudes my example of all politics is local and home folks know you best.

   The GOP control of the Senate will probably be 26 to 9 or 27 to 8.

   Speaking of control, the Big Dog still walks the halls of the State House.  The Alabama Farmers Federation or Alfa still controls the legislature.  They ran the table in legislative races all over the state.  That is because they ran most of the races for their candidates.  They are the kings of Goat Hill, the same way they were in 1901 when the state constitution was written.  The more things change the more they stay the same.

   Alfa perennially puts their power, muscle and interest in the legislature.  They endorse in the statewide races and their endorsement is invaluable, especially in secondary state races.  Their members vote that ballot and many conservative Alabamians look over the Farmers’ shoulder and vote along with them.

   Alfa may give a token contribution to the Agriculture Commissioner, Attorney General, or Lt. Governor race and maybe $25,000 to the governor’s race.  However, it is not unusual for them to put up to $50,000 in a House race and over $100,000 into a Senate race, along with excellent political strategy and pastures along interstates to put big signs on.

   They use to play in the governor’s race.  However, they got burned badly by Bob Riley when they helped him get elected and the first thing he did was stab them in the back. However, they have slipped around this year and will not only own the legislature, they will probably have a good friend in the governor’s office.

   The day before the primary, Kay Ivey boarded Jimmy Ranes jet to fly around the state.  The first person to board with her was Beth Chapman, Alfa’s political consultant.  The next night when she came off the platform after giving her victory speech, guess who was helping her off the stage and holding her arm so that she would not fall?  It was Jimmy Parnell the Farmers Federation president.

   Folks do not look for property taxes to be increased in the Heart of Dixie over the next four years. 

Haney and the nuclear plant



By Josh Moon

Maybe Franklin Haney really can get the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant up and running, putting thousands to work in one of Alabama’s poorest counties and creating a success story out of a perpetual failure.


   Or maybe he can’t.

   Maybe the facility continues to sit like an eyesore along Hwy 72 in Hollywood — just the way it’s been sitting for more than 40 years now. A great big power plant that so far has produced less energy than the Kay Ivey campaign.

   I honestly have no idea. And let’s be real here, neither do you.

   But that sure hasn’t stopped any of you from saying that there’s just no way that Haney can pull this off, that it’s a lost cause, that the facility is too old, that it’s all a dream that will eventually turn into a nightmare.

   Just stop it.

   I live amongst you people. You’re like me. Which is to say, we’re not a bunch of nuclear experts.

   A bunch of real-life nuclear experts — and a room full of people who manufacture and sell the tools needed to produce nuclear energy — were at Bellefonte on Monday, as Haney and a management group provided a status update on the plant, and they all seemed fairly certain that they could get the plant up and going.

    In fact, many of them provided detailed answers for how they planned to do this, discussing a variety of components that would go into the rebuild of the plant. Most of the conversation went over my head, but I’m pretty sure I heard something about steam and a flux capacitor.

    Anyway, they seemed confident that they could get the plant running, and that producing and selling energy was very doable.  

The general public, on the other hand, is overwhelmingly skeptical. Social media mentions of the plant are not kind, and it seems most people are confident that Bellefonte will remain dead.

   As I read those comments, I started to wonder when we all became so damned pessimistic. When did skepticism become America’s default setting?

    I wonder what the country would be if this 2018 attitude had been prevalent throughout our existence.

   “The moon? Oh stop. It’s way too high.”

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Franklin Haney, Tennessee billionaire, is a benevolent dreamer who only wants to make the world a better place one nuclear reactor at a time. He’s a businessman. He wants to make money.

   That’s why Haney — who made his fortune in real estate — wants to get the Bellefonte plant up and going. He believes it can generate power that he can produce cheaper than he can sell it, thereby making himself and his investors a lot of money.

   There’s nothing wrong with that.

   And there’s nothing wrong with him giving it a shot.

   The rub for most people, from what I can gather, is that Haney is asking the government — and that means taxpayers — to foot at least some of the bill — by way of loans and grants and tax incentives — for the rebuilding of Bellefonte. And some of those taxpayers, after decades of missteps and false starts with Bellefonte, and with more than $5 billion of taxpayer money in the plant, don’t really want to toss more money down this money pit.

   That’s a fair position.

   But here’s the thing: In order to get that government assistance, and the clearance necessary to get the plant up and running, Haney and his teams will have to provide specific projections on production, safety and sales potential.

    On top of that, if the project fails, Haney stands to lose a hefty chunk of change. Not to mention, he’ll lose all of the money he’s spent greasing the wheels of government — through donations and other deals with President Trump, former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and others.

    Haney’s tactics in getting this project off the ground have come under scrutiny. But a grand jury in Montgomery determined them to be legal.

   And with that being the case, here’s the most important question remaining: What if Haney doesn’t fail?

    What if, with today’s technology advancements and broader markets, Bellefonte can produce power, and produce much-needed jobs in a poor county? What if it can have the $12 billion economic impact on the area?

   Look, I get that it’s a longshot. I understand the odds against Haney.

And that’s why I like it. This guy who could’ve taken his billions and went and sat on a beach until he croaked decided one day that he wanted to make a failed nuclear plant that’s been dormant for 40-plus years work again.

   After Haney secured the deal for Bellefonte, a reporter called his real estate office. The woman who handles his real estate transactions replied to the first question, flatly, “He bought a what?”

   You see? Man, that’s the start of one helluva story.  

   Of course, the most important part of a story like that — the thing that makes anyone care about it at all — is the ending.

   Maybe it’ll be a good one.