How to avoid being deceived by Babylon’s band, according to President Kusch

In his youth and young single adult years, President Bruce C. Kusch enjoyed the music provided by live bands at Church-sponsored dances, and was even a member of one such band called Uphill Road. The appeal of these bands was their ability to successfully imitate other, original bands. Uphill Road in particular was designed to copy every note, chord and harmony of the trio Peter, Paul and Mary. 

A slide shown during Ensign College President Bruce C. Kusch’s devotional address on Jan. 11, 2022, shows a photo on the left of President Kusch and his best friend during their high school days as members of the folk music group Uphill Road and a more recent picture on the right of the pair with Sister Alynda Kusch.
A slide shown during Ensign College President Bruce C. Kusch’s devotional address on Jan. 11, 2022, shows a photo on the left of President Kusch and his best friend during their high school days as members of the folk music group Uphill Road and a more recent picture on the right of the pair with Sister Alynda Kusch. Credit: Screenshot from ChurchofJesusChrist.org

But at the end of the day, the bands were not authentic, and neither is much of what we hear in the world today, President Kusch said.

During his address at the first devotional of the 2022 winter semester, Ensign College’s president then repeated a warning given by President Russell M. Nelson in the October 2021 general conference: “The voices and pressures of the world are engaging and numerous. But too many voices are deceptive, seductive and can pull us off the covenant path. … Even Saints who are otherwise faithful can be derailed by the steady beat of Babylon’s band.”

President Kusch and his wife, Sister Alynda Kusch, addressed a congregation of students and faculty gathered in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square on Jan. 11.

President Nelson’s message was not the first time members of the Church were warned to stay away from the spiritually damaging things of the world, President Kusch said. The things of the world that can derail someone from the covenant path are too numerous to list, as King Benjamin said in the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 4:29-30). But President Nelson has given guidance to counteract them.

He said: “If most of the information you get comes from social or other media, your ability to hear the whisperings of the Spirit will be diminished. If you are also not seeking the Lord through daily prayer and gospel study, you leave yourself vulnerable to philosophies that may be intriguing but are not true. … Nothing invites the Spirit more than fixing your focus on Jesus Christ.”

Ensign College President Bruce C. Kusch speaks during a school devotional held in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square on Jan. 11, 2022.
Ensign College President Bruce C. Kusch speaks during a school devotional held in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square on Jan. 11, 2022. Credit: Screenshot from ChurchofJesusChrist.org

President Kusch then shared two labels for students to adopt and hold fast to that will prevent them from being deceived by Babylon’s band.

The first is “child of God.” 

Just like Moses came to know that he was a son of God when he visited with the Lord face to face, each person must learn this same knowledge. “Once Moses knew that he was a son of God, none of Satan’s tactics were ever effective in derailing him from his prophetic mission and purpose,” President Kusch said. “If you have doubts about your divine nature and origin, please go to the very source of truth and ask Him. I promise that God will assure you that you are His offspring.”

The second is “disciple of Jesus Christ.”

Over his lifetime, President Kusch has learned the vital importance of being aligned with the Lord’s prophets, seers and revelators. “When we are in alignment with them, we are in alignment with the Lord,” he said, citing Doctrine and Covenants 1:38: “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”

There is a difference between having questions about something God’s prophet has said and questioning something, President Kusch said. “When we question something, it is an expression of doubt. When we have questions, we seek with a sincere heart and real intent to have our questions answered.”

The Babylon that exists today is not a physical place, but a representation of everything in the world that “seeks to weaken our faith and our loyalty to Jesus Christ, His gospel, His Church and His living prophets.”

Sister Alynda Kusch and President Bruce C. Kusch are introduced during the Ensign College devotional in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square on Jan. 11, 2022.
Sister Alynda Kusch and President Bruce C. Kusch are introduced during the Ensign College devotional in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square on Jan. 11, 2022. Credit: Screenshot from ChurchofJesusChrist.org

President Kusch invited the students to make small improvements in their lives by pondering the following questions:

  1. How am I doing in making time for the Lord every day? What does that look like for me?
  2. What could I do to be more focused on Jesus Christ?
  3. Is there something I should stop doing — that I know I should stop doing — that would allow me to have a greater measure of the Holy Ghost in my life?
  4. Is there something I should start doing — that I know I should start doing — that would allow me to have a greater measure of the Holy Ghost in my life?

“I promise that if you will prayerfully seek answers to these questions, with clarity God will inspire you and will enlighten your mind and you will know where to start and what to do.”

The beat of Babylon’s bands can be enticing and tempting, President Kusch said in closing. “If we follow the inspired counsel of the Lord’s living prophet and make time for the Lord in our lives each and every day, we will with laser focus see these things for what they really are: the acts of imposters whose only motive is to derail us from the covenant path.”

At a recent Primary program, Sister Kusch learned three important lessons from the experiences shared by the children there. The children, including her 11-year-old granddaughter, shared how praying to Heavenly Father had helped them when they joined a new school while suffering from crippling anxiety, had lost a kitten and were fasting for a baby cousin undergoing surgery.

Sister Alynda Kusch speaks during the Ensign College devotional held in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square on Jan. 11, 2022.
Sister Alynda Kusch speaks during the Ensign College devotional held in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square on Jan. 11, 2022. Credit: Screenshot from ChurchofJesusChrist.org

First, “Prayer, combined with fasting, can be very powerful.” Second, “Because Heavenly Father loves you, He will help you in all things.” And third, “When you ask with faith, and then get up and do what the Lord tells you to do, that’s when blessings come.”

“The theme of their talks was simple: ‘I feel Heavenly Father’s love when He answers my prayers,’” Sister Kusch said. “That is a great gospel truth — and prayer is powerful.”

She then added two more lessons about prayer she has learned.

“The first is that many times our prayers are answered in ways that are different than we expect, but because the Lord knows and loves us, the answers are perfect for us in our circumstances.”

A few years ago, Sister Kusch served as a facilitator of a self-reliance class. During one of the meetings, a class member shared an experience he had when his wife retired and they weren’t sure how they would pay their bills. He asked Heavenly Father what to do.

The answer was unexpected. Rather than being directed to a better-paying job or a large raise, he had the thought to leave earlier for work to avoid traffic, and to take a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. “These were small things,” Sister Kusch said, “but with faith, he did them.” The amount he saved by following that prompting helped them bridge the gap in their income.

He also explained that his daily peanut butter sandwich tasted sweet and delightful. “He quickly added that this had been a surprise to him because at no other time in his life could he stand the taste of peanut butter,” she said.

“The second lesson that I have learned came as an answer to this question: ‘Do you have the faith to ask?’”

While she served with President Kusch as he presided over the Mexico Cuernavaca Mission from 2012 to 2015, Sister Kusch had the responsibility to prepare hundreds of meals for the missionaries. On one occasion when she was preparing dinner for the elders and sisters who were returning home, she had prepared a dinner as an expression of her love for them and appreciation for their service.

It was near the holidays, and she had decided to make her traditional Thanksgiving dressing using the countertop roaster since the stove in the mission home hadn’t worked for several weeks. As dinnertime approached, she checked on the dressing. “As I lifted the lid, I smelled burned food,” she said. “It was blackened around the edges and as I tasted the dressing, it was clear there was no way I could serve any of it because all of it tasted burned.”

Panicked, Sister Kusch walked into the pantry, and as she stood there, she offered a simple prayer. “Heavenly Father, I don’t know what to do and I have nothing to feed the missionaries.”

This thought came to her mind: “The Lord parted the Red Sea for the Israelites. He can heal the food. Ask.”

She wondered if she had the faith to ask Heavenly Father to do this. Taking a deep breath, she said, “Please, Father, heal this food.”

Sister Kusch left the pantry, walked back to the kitchen and had the feeling to check the dressing once more. “I lifted the lid,” she said, “and even though it looked the same, blackened around the edges, it tasted perfect.

“I was grateful and amazed. That day I was reminded of God’s love, of His desire to bless His children, and that He is a God of miracles.”

But this experience was an exception, she noted. Most often, the answers to her prayers come “line upon line, precept upon precept” (Doctrine and Covenants 98:12).

“I find answers to my prayers in the scriptures, from hearing speakers in conference, in other Church meetings and in devotionals. Many times, I have had to wait for answers to come, all the while reminding myself that Heavenly Father’s timing is not mine and that I need to be faithful for a little while longer.”

Sister Kusch encouraged the students to learn this truth: “Heavenly Father loves us when we seek, ask and then do.”