The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn

A Family Tree

I was asked to speak in Sacrament meeting, on the topic of the hearts of the children shall turn, based on the talk given by Elder David A. Bednar in the most recent general conference. We hear this phrase often in the church, and today I’m going to talk about what this means to me.

The work of God is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of mankind (see Moses 1:39). This is brought about by our making and keeping sacred covenants with God. This work, is centered around families. Elder Russel M. Nelson said, “The earth was created and this church restored so that families could be formed, sealed, and exalted eternally. [Whenever scriptures warn that the “earth would be utterly wasted,” the warning is connected to the need for priesthood authority to seal families together in holy temples.]” (Russell M. Nelson, “Celestial Marriage,” Ensign, Nov. 2008, 92-95.) As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are blessed to have a knowledge of the gospel and the blessings that come from the priesthood power and authority being available on the earth today. There are many who have gone before us without this knowledge and, at times, without the priesthood. If they do not have the same opportunity as we do, than the work of God would fall short. I cannot imagine this as a possibility and therefore, I believe in the priesthood authority and power to do work for the dead. This authority of the priesthood is on the earth today because of the work of Elijah, the prophet. In Joseph Smith History 1:38-39 we read the words of Malachi as spoken by the angel Moroni to Joseph Smith. “. . . Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord (v. 38). . . . And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming (v. 39).” Elijah did come to the prophet, Joseph Smith, and Oliver Cowdery, and he restored the sealing power to them. We read about that in Doctrine and Covenants 110:13-15. “After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said (v. 13): Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come (v. 14)—To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse (v. 15)—”. Now is the time when the promises of the ancient prophets have been planted in our hearts and our hearts need to turn to our fathers.

How do we turn our hearts to our fathers? The prophet Joseph Smith explained that “. . . the word turn, here should be translated bind, or seal.” In other words, how do we bind or seal our hearts to our fathers? In his talk, Elder Bednar uses the words of Joseph Smith in telling how we, the saints, do this. He said, “By building their temples, erecting their baptismal fonts, and going forth and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead, and redeem them that they may come forth in the first resurrection and be exalted to thrones of glory with them; and herein is the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, which fulfills the mission of Elijah . . . .” (History of the Church, 4:569; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Mar. 27, 1842, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Wilford Woodruff).

Both Joseph Smith and Elder Bednar spoke of the chain that binds us to our ancestors. This image stuck out to me. When I think of it, I picture the master blacksmith, working hard with his hammer, to forge every link of our eternal chain, which binds our eternal family together forever. A strong chain needs each individual link to be shaped and bonded to the one before it. Likewise, in our eternal family chain, each individual must be prepared and forged to those who have come before them and then attached to those who come after, through the work of the master. This preparation for those who have gone before us, is family history work. We are blessed with the opportunity to assist the Master in His work, by doing family history work. President Brigham Young said: “We have a work to do just as important in its sphere as the Savior’s work was in its sphere. Our fathers cannot be made perfect without us; we cannot be made perfect without them. They have done their work and now sleep. We are now called upon to do ours; which is to be the greatest work man ever performed on the earth” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941, p. 406).

Family history work is for all of us. There is nothing in the scriptures or teachings of the prophets, which qualifies when we should be doing this work. In Elder Bednar’s talk he directed a lot of his words to the youth of the church and I think that those of us who are parents, leaders, and teachers of the youth, can do a lot to help the younger generation realize all that they can do to further this work. Doing family history work is something that I have enjoyed for years. I can remember as a young primary child, having the strong desire to find out about my own ancestors. I have been blessed to have a great-grandmother who was a world-renowned genealogist. She published many books during her lifetime. My parents had one of these books, which was a history of my family on my maternal grandfather’s side. I enjoyed reading through the stories in that book and learning about the things my family had experienced. Her example to me, gave me a strong desire to seek out my family for myself. I know that because family is central to God’s plan, there can be a desire in each and every one of His children, no matter the age we are, to be bound to their family eternally.

The incredible work that my great-grandmother did for our family, required hours of searching through physical records, countless trips to the libraries, frequent trips to other states and even to Washington D.C. to look through records in the national archives. But, just as new tools have replaced the blacksmith’s hammer in making chains, new tools have been provided for us to do family history work. The advances in computers have made this work so much easier for us to do. There is no longer the need to spend all our time traveling, digging through books, or scanning the micro-fiche for records. We have amazing tools, including newfamilysearch and familysearch. There are other great tools available online from the comfort of our own homes or at the family history library.

Before listening to Elder Bednar’s talk, I had not thought about getting my daughters involved in family history or on new familysearch, but after hearing what he said, I decided to go to lds.org to see what the church leaders had there for the youth and primary. The youth section of the site, has several videos which explain how to use new family search. There are sweet testimonies of young men and women who have started their own work. These examples are inspiring and motivating. I also looked on the primary section of lds.org, and they have a section titled “Family History 1-2-3“, which links directly to new family search. It is clear that the leaders of the church feel that children should be using newfamilysearch as well. Those of us who are older, should take the time to learn for ourselves how to do our own family history work, so that we can teach and guide our children in this work. Elder Bednar said, “It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies. Your fingers have been trained to text and tweet to accelerate and advance the work of the Lord— not just to communicate quickly with your friends. The skills and aptitude evident among many young people today are a preparation to contribute to the work of salvation.”

The Lord has blessed us with these tools, so that we can further His work. There are four things that we can and should be doing. First, we need to gather our family history. The least we should do, that has been suggested by church leaders, is four generations of our ancestors, but I think that you’ll find that as you do this work, you will gain the desire to go back even further. Find the records in your home. Ask your family for information. Go to newfamilysearch.org and start your family tree. Use the old family search site to find records of your family members. There are many other resources that can be helpful in this work as well. My parents and grandparents have done a great deal of family history work. I was struggling with where to begin, so I decided to compile the work that they have been doing. It’s been a fun thing to do. Last year, my grandfather passed away and I had the opportunity to gather information from several family members and to create a record of his life from their thoughts on him. It is something that I hold dear and I am so happy to be able to pass that on to my children.

Second, we need to record our own personal and family histories. This one is a big one for me. I’ve attended several family history workshops in the past ten years, and one of the things that has stuck with me the most is that each of us will most likely be forgotten after three generations. How many of us can say that we know all about our great-great-grandparents? What do you want your great-great-grandchildren to know about you? What can you do today, to make their work easier? How much easier would it be for you to have information from your life compiled for them? Keep a journal. Keep your physical records safe. Teach your children to keep journals as well. Keeping records of your living family as well as those who have passed away, is so important. If you question that statement, than I’d ask you to look to the example of Lehi’s family in the Book of Mormon. Lehi was commanded to send his sons back to Jerusalem to gather his family records. In 1 Nephi 3:2-4, we read, “And it came to pass that he spake unto me, saying: Behold I have dreamed a dream, in the which the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brethren shall return to Jerusalem (v. 2). For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass (v. 3). Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban, and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness (v. 4).” Then in 1 Nephi 5:21 we read, “And we had obtained the records which the Lord had commanded us, and searched them and found that they were desirable; yea, even of great worth unto us, insomuch that we could preserve the commandments of the Lord unto our children.” Royden G. Derrick, formerly of the Seventy said, “A personal history becomes a family treasure that enables children to emulate the virtues and personal characteristics of their forebears. Their forefathers become the David, the Samson, the Moses, and the Abraham of their lineage. Writing family and personal histories is becoming the popular thing to do. More and more people throughout the world are becoming interested in this exciting pastime to them, but sacred responsibility to us. The hearts of the children are indeed turning to the fathers.” (“The Heritage of Royal Families,” Ensign, May 1979, 26.) Preserve your own records, so that your life can be an example to those who come after you.

Third, we need to perform temple ordinances for our family members. We need to do this often. We need to do this now. I love serving in the temple, but nothing has ever been quite as meaningful and spiritual as doing work for family members. I’d like to share a very special experience for me. In fall of 2009 I prepared several names for a Stake Relief Society night of baptisms. One of these names was Maria Schmidlin. I performed the baptism for her as planned and then held on to the paperwork so that I could follow-up with more of her work. I had several names to do and this one kept going to the bottom of my stack. Finally, in February of this year, I felt the strong impression that I needed to go do a session. For 2 weeks, it seemed like everything I heard at church, from my visiting teachers, and so on, was pushing me to go do a session, so we made plans to go. I planned to do the work for Maria that night. Our drive was worst then usual, causing us to be a bit later than expected, so we started talking about just doing initiatories. Then, I had the impression that we needed to do a session, even if we had to wait longer. We decided to side with the feeling to do the session, and I know now why that feeling was so strong. As I prepared myself for the session, I said a silent prayer to Heavenly Father and I immediately felt the presence of Maria with me. I felt her joy throughout the entire session. I know she was there with me and I know that because I was willing, she was able to accept and receive the necessary ordinances to progress. I feel so privileged to have been able to do that for her. There are temples being built all around the world, which will are here specifically for this purpose. We need to be preparing ourselves for the work that we can do in the temples.

Fourth, we should help others to do this work. If you know how to do family history, take time to show others in your family, in the ward, or even friends who may not be members of the church. I had a great experience with this last year. I had a less-active family in our ward (a father, daughter and grand-daughter) who had heard me talk about family history work. We had a ward Relief Society temple night scheduled and had asked the sisters to prepare names to take for baptisms and confirmations. I was approached by this family to help them prepare to do the work for the father’s wife who had passed away, so that she could be baptized and confirmed. Helping them prepare the name was fairly simple and it gave me the opportunity to share my testimony of this great work. However, the best part of the entire experience, was helping the grand-daughter when she went to the temple the night of our temple trip. It was amazing to watch this young sister do work for her grandmother, and witness her own testimony grow through the process.

You can help others by locating records and other information for them or with them. This is a job that I think the younger generation would be great at. There are a lot of us, who may not be very savvy with the computer. Last year I went to my Mom’s family history library with her. She was serving as the assistant in the library at the time and was really excited to show me how to use the record search pilot, which was a tool to find ancestry documents that has since been added to family search. I’ve been blessed to marry a computer nerd, and he has helped me to learn a lot, so this was pretty simple for me. She got me started on the site and within less then a minute I had located a birth record for a family member that my Mom had not been able to find before. I helped our family by finding this one record. The record was made available because of volunteers giving their time. I know that we don’t all have a lot of extra time in our busy lives to be working on a lot of family history work. The church has a truly inspired way for the busiest of us to actively help others. It is called indexing. Indexing is what made my family record easy to find. Indexing is for anyone who knows how to read and enter data into a computer. You can spend as little as five minutes working on it at a time. In short, indexing is downloading a batch of records that have been scanned and prepared and then using the data entry form to type what you think the record says. Two different people with do the indexing for one record and then an arbitrator looks to see if things match and if their are any questions. Then that information will be made available for searching, and the records can be more easily found by family members. If you have any free moments in your days, I would highly suggest participating in indexing.

In closing, I’d like to quote Elder Bednar again. In addressing the youth he said, “As you respond in faith to this invitation, your hearts shall turn to the fathers. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be implanted in your hearts. Your patriarchal blessing, with its declaration of lineage, will link you to these fathers and be more meaningful to you. Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives.” I know that this promise can apply to all of us no matter what our age. I am so grateful for the desire in my own life, to do family history work. I love that we can learn about the lives of those who have gone before, and I love knowing that I have the ability to leave a legacy for my own posterity. I am grateful for the blessings of the temple and for the love of a Father in Heaven who wants each and every one of us to be sealed forever as a part of His eternal Family chain.

Advertisements

0 Responses to “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
Testimony

Testimony

I made an album with my dad in 2011. Check it out!

Testimony

NEW!!! Digital Downloads (mp3) available directly from the site.

Current Study

Currently I am studying the The Old Testament. I will be studying from the LDS - King James Version of the Bible (see link below). I am studying along with the book, Scripture Study for Latter-day Saint Families: The Old Testament by Dennis H. Leavitt and Richard O. Christensen.

Learn More:

I'm a Mormon

The Book of Mormon

You can order a free copy of the Book of Mormon here:

Book of Mormon Request

Archives

Follow me on Facebook:

My Wonderful Husband and Artist


%d bloggers like this: