To God be the glory

Dr. John Ed Mathison

By John Ed Mathison

Three more high profile athletes used their platform in the Super Bowl to give God the glory for their accomplishments.  What a way to use a platform! Glory!
   Coach Don Pederson was coaching high school football nine years ago.  Nobody would have ever given him a chance then of being a head coach of a professional team – much less winning a Super Bowl.  When he held up the trophy in the post game ceremony, he was asked the question, “How did you do this?”  Coach Pederson’s first response was, “It’s all because of my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and I give God all the glory!”  In my book, that’s a winning play – not a trick play – a solid fundamental understanding of life and why we’re here.
  Zach Ertz, who caught the winning touchdown pass, and is married to one of our U.S. Olympic Women’s Soccer players, was asked what was going through his mind when his play was called at the most critical point of the game.   He said, “I just knew I had to make the play and give God the glory!”
   The most valuable player in the 52nd Super Bowl was Nick Foles.  He was the most unlikely.  He was a back-up quarterback until the franchise quarterback, Carson Wentz, went down with a knee injury.  Wentz, who could be the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, is a dynamic Christian leader.
   Foles was brilliant in the play offs and the Super Bowl!  He went up against Tom Brady, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.  He matched Brady play-for-play.  He was not intimidated.  He performed with excellence. When Foles was handed the Most Valuable Player trophy, his first comment was, “I want to give all the glory to God!”
    Foles is a devout Christian.  His Twitter bio reads, “Believer in Jesus Christ, husband, father, son, brother.”  Glory!  He plans to enter the ministry when his pro football career ends – which I think will be delayed after his Super Bowl performance.
    A few weeks ago the Eagles wide receiver, Marcus Johnson, was baptized in a North Carolina swimming pool before the playoff game against the Carolina Panthers.  Foles, Ertz, Wentz, and many other team members attended.  Johnson tweeted, “First time being Baptized! Corporate Worship is a beautiful thing!!  Cleaned & Reborn in JESUS name!! #WholeHeartedly,”  Glory!  5 other teammates were baptized last year!  Glory!
   This was the Eagles first Super Bowl win in franchise history.   Somebody in the front office of the Eagles has done an unbelievable job of recruiting great athletes and coaches who stand for the highest form of performance and integrity.  They understand life.  God gets the glory.
   Man’s primary purpose in life is to glorify God.  Real winning in life is not about getting glory but giving God the glory.  “To you alone, O LORD, and not to us, must glory be given.”  (Ps.115:1)
Real strength needed to win in life comes from our relationship with God.  Strength is not an external display of muscle that is the result of exercise.  Real strength is an inner force that is the result of a Godly commitment, attitude, perspective and faith.  That inner force is built daily.  It grows by giving God the glory.
   The hymn says, “To God be the glory great things He hath done.”  Whatever you accomplish today and in this lifetime, don’t take an unhealthy credit for your skill and wisdom – give God the glory and use it as a platform for Him.
  You can win your super bowl! Glory!

Let’s be vigilant about freedom of the press

By Steve Flowers
I have written about the legendary capitol reporters who use to cover Goat Hill.  There was Bob Ingram of the Montgomery Advertiser, Al Fox of the Birmingham News, Hugh Sparrow of the Birmingham News, Rex Thomas of the Associated Press, Don Martin of UPI and Clarke Stallworth of the Birmingham Post Herald.  A young cub reporter named Jim Bennett joined the Post Herald in 1961 and later had a distinguished career in Public Service.  None of these legends is any longer with us.
   Today’s capitol press corps also works hard, they stick with “just the facts” by conscientious research of their stories and leave out the speculations, “what-ifs”, opinion and political slants.
   The men and women I knew in the Montgomery press corps then and today, may have personal views, but they all were and are vigilant in their work as professional journalists.  They defended the freedom of the press and the right of the public to know the facts and events of public officials, their decisions and actions that will impact education, taxes and the economy.
   Over the last few years, an ongoing debate has emerged as to whether reporting on political news is still just the responsibility of professional journalists and whether online bloggers can be a trusted source of news reporting.
   The contemporary capitol press corps, like their colleagues of a bygone era, work hard to meet their deadlines.  These professional reporters put in long hours by getting evenhanded quotes, verify pertinent facts and simply report an issue, controversy, or an event in an evenhanded way.
   Online bloggers will do the same but add twists of innuendo, supposed behind the scenes reasons, and anonymous inferences.  Often the online ‘journalists’ story will present a story but give contorted extraneous, often incendiary, perspectives which have no basis in reality.
   Some suggest this is done to enhance the number of online “clicks”, make the story more salacious, attack someone’s reputation either directly or indirectly, make it cynical and infer insider deals and corruption – and you will get your clicks!
   In many cases, stories are published by journalists only to be later “reinterpreted” by online bloggers with an editorial or political agenda.
   Because of the cynicism and negativity that this new 24/7 online blogging creates, I have heard of many good men and women who would otherwise wish to give back to their communities by serving in public office essentially say – no thanks!  They have spent a lifetime building up a good reputation in their communities and businesses.  They cannot imagine where a pseudo-journalist, who is trying to build their reputation by the number of online clicks they get, can get away with attacking someone’s reputation in such a careless way.
    We must make sure that individuals get the news and information they need to be informed, responsible citizens.  Those sources can be from journalists, bloggers, and other digital platforms.
   Let’s be vigilant about the freedom of press whether it is old fashion, hard-nosed journalism or 24/7 blogging.  However, let’s also clearly delineate whether it is political opinion and gotcha stories whose sole purpose is to tarnish reputations and add to further public alienation from politics and cynicism.  Opinions are great and important to public discourse but see them for what they are – opinions of one – do not try to mask those as ‘facts’.
   Recently, the Alabama Political Reporter brought the documentary, “Atticus and the Architect”, to the Davis Theatre in Montgomery.  A packed house watched the story of former governor, Don Siegelman’s persecution. The film left no doubt that Siegelman was prosecuted for political reasons.
   Siegelman spent close to ten years in prison, unduly.  It is one of the saddest stories I have witnessed in my lifetime of following Alabama politics.  The travesty has not gone unnoticed by young potential leaders in the state.
   I have the opportunity to get to know some brilliant, young Alabamians in my University classes on Alabama and Southern politics.  Many of them are political science and prelaw majors.  I will inquire as to whether they are interested in pursuing a political career.  Most will tell me that they would never seek political office, not even a judgeship.  Invariably, they will point to the Siegelman prosecution as one of their reasons for not being a part of the political process.  They realize that their lives could be ruined by political persecution.

The problem with greed


By Josh Moon
It’s the greed that bothers me most about the Alabama Legislature. I know that it sometimes seems tough to narrow down the most troubling aspect of our state lawmakers — to boil down the systemic failures and overwhelming corruption to a single topic.
   But it’s not for me.
   It’s greed.
  Because every bad decision made in that house, every stupid bill, every head-scratching statement, all of the oh-my-God embarrassing moments can almost always be traced back to one motivating factor: self-enrichment.
   Let me give you an example from this past week.
   The Senate Finance and Taxation Education committee was set to consider a bill — SB210 — that addressed an obvious and serious problem in this state: a shortage of rural doctors.
   To address this issue, SB210, carried by Sen. Larry Stutts and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 13 other senators, would provide scholarships to a total of 100 medical students in the state.
   In exchange for the scholarships, the students would agree to sign a contract that required them to practice for five years in some underserved part of the state.
   Basically: we’ll help you pay for medical school if you’ll promise to stick around for five years and provide medical services to rural Alabamians.
   A solid idea. Good for the state.
  So, why am I talking about it in a column about greed in state government?
Because it is apparently impossible for some state lawmakers to do anything that is simply just good for the state. And it is particularly hard for Larry Stutts.
   Shortly before Wednesday’s committee meeting, I received word from a few … let’s call them insiders, that Stutts’ bill was going to have trouble in the committee because lobbyists working on behalf of Alabama’s public colleges had discovered a personal conflict of interest.
   During the meeting, Stutts’ conflict was broached, but in vague terms, and the bill was ultimately shot down by the committee.
According to multiple senators, including some on the Finance and Taxation Committee, Stutts’ conflict was this: His son recently started medical school at the college that stood to benefit the most from this scholarship program.
   Whether his son would have received a scholarship, I don’t know.
   But I do know this: Alabama has a few outstanding medical schools with long histories of churning out top-notch doctors and that place an emphasis on serving the state that supports the schools.
    Stutts’ bill bypassed those schools, and the administrations that operate them, and instead landed on The Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM), a private college located in Dothan.
   If you’re unfamiliar with ACOM’s work, that’s likely because it’s only been in existence since 2013.
    The college is a product of a partnership between the Southeast Alabama Medical Center in Dothan and a nonprofit group called the Alabama Medical Education Consortium (AMEC), which up until the opening of ACOM served as a sort of lobbying arm for eight osteopathic colleges around the Southeast.
   By all accounts, ACOM is a perfectly good school and AMEC is a perfectly good nonprofit with good intentions.
   But what no one in the State House could figure out was why a scholarship program that would eventually pay out medical school costs for up to 100 students would be placed in the control of a nonprofit operated by the owners of a private medical school.
   Because that’s what Stutts’ bill did — it placed complete control of the scholarship program in the hands of AMEC.
   And it reeked. So badly that some of Stutts’ fellow Republicans voted against it, and some others, after learning of his personal conflicts, were a bit ticked off.
   “The worst thing is that the way it was handled killed a bill that addressed a serious problem,” said one Republican senator, who asked not to be named.
   How many times has that been the case in this state — that greed, or at least the appearance of it, has upended attempts to do the right thing or address a serious issue?
   The root of all evil and most bad decisions.