Our choices can affect future generations

Published 6:29 pm Saturday, September 27, 2014

By Larry Stover 

The Selma Times-Journal

I have the joy and pleasure of spending a lot of time with the children and youth of our area. Whether at church, at school or in and around the community, I enjoy the times I have getting to know the next generation of Valley Grande and all of Dallas County.

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When I meet with our kids, I often think to myself, “I wonder where they will be in 10 or 20 years?”

Newspapers, television and other media outlets around the world carry regular segments on the crimes committed by adults under the age of 30. I think of the teachers who taught them in school, or the pastors who watched them grow up in their church.  What is happening to us? How can we turn the tide of even one child?

Many years ago, Richard Dugdale wrote a book comparing the descendants of Jonathan Edwards, possibly the greatest preacher of his day, with the somewhat infamous Max Juke.

While the credibility and authenticity of some of the numbers represented in that publication are debatable, there are some basic elements that challenge me to make an investment in the life of every child and teenager that I meet.

Edwards was a very godly man. He was also hard working, intelligent and moral.

He also married a woman of high religious, moral and ethical standards.

Right away, we see a strong foundation for a successful home.

We also know from a biblical perspective that the impact and influence of great parents carries on down for generations.

Their influence was noteworthy. In successive generations, 100 of their descendants became clergymen, missionaries or theological professors.

There were more than 100 college professors with 13 college presidents. The list includes over 100 attorneys and 30 judges. It also included 62 physicians. Some 80 were elected to public office, including three mayors, three governors, several congress members, three senators and one vice president.

There were 60 who attained prominence as authors or editors with 135 books published among them. Another 75 became Army or Naval officers.

On the opposite side of this comparison is the family of Max Juke. While the numbers are sometimes scrutinized and needs to be noted was that Max Juke, a known alcoholic, led an immoral life that bordered on debauchery.

This backwoodsman, worked in spurts, and led an idle life.

The Juke family with little moral fortitude produced a sad array of offspring.

While statistics regarding the exact number of individuals may vary the numbers are staggering. More than 300 died as paupers.

There were an estimated 150 who were criminals including seven murderers. His offspring also included as many as 125 prostitutes. One account listed 440 as alcoholics. Of the 20 that learned a trade, 10 learned that trade while in prison. Three hundred died early in life.

I use this illustration to help us think about those children and youth we see every day.  As parents, we need to accept the responsibility of raising our children well.

In my opinion, that would include taking them to church every week to enable others to help build a solid foundation for living. What we do, good or bad, often has a great effect for the generations that follow us.

We have to make good choices. Poor choices often produce consequences that affect our children for a lifetime.

The value of a child is priceless.

Our investment in them makes life “simply beautiful.”