Prophetic Patterns and Promises for Our Day (President Kusch), A Prescription for Spiritual Vision (Sister Kusch)
President Kusch began his academic career at BYU-Idaho in August 2002 as a member of the faculty of the Business Management department. In July 2008 he was appointed Associate Academic Vice President for Curriculum, serving in that role until June 2012 when he and Sister Kusch were called to preside over the Mexico Cuernavaca Mission.
Prior to joining the BYU-Idaho faculty, President Kusch worked in the high technology industry in Silicon Valley, CA in various sales, marketing, general management, and consulting roles. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Phoenix, an MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management, and a PhD in instructional design from Idaho State University.
Sister Alynda Kusch is a graduate of BYU-Idaho. Following her graduation, she taught Culinary Arts until she and President Kusch left for their missionary service in Mexico. If you know Sister Kusch at all, you know she is a master teacher, and master designer and creator of textile art.
Both born and raised in Southern California, President and Sister Kusch were married in the Los Angeles Temple in 1974. They are the parents of four children, and 15 grandchildren.
Prophetic Patterns and Promises for Our Day
President Bruce C. Kusch
19 April 2022
It has been nearly 20 years since we left Northern California for Rexburg, Idaho. Now, it’s just a little different living in San Jose, California than it is in Rexburg. Take the weather for example. Cold in San Jose is a rainy winter day in the 40’s or 50’s Fahrenheit. Cold in Rexburg has 40’s or 50’s, too – but those are the wind gusts which regularly reach 40 or 50 miles per hour, along with the sub-zero temperatures.
When we announced our plans to move to Rexburg, the reactions from friends and co-workers were remarkably different. Those who knew nothing about Southeastern Idaho, but who knew we would be living in a college town 90 minutes from West Yellowstone and about the same distance from Jackson Hole, Wyoming said, “You’re living my dream!” Those who knew about the weather in Rexburg said, “It’s so cold! And the wind - What are you thinking?” As we grew a little weary of these comments Sister Kusch suggested that we take the “President Hinckley, always the optimist approach” and turn the negative comments into a positive reaction. So, when someone commented on winters my response was, “All my life I’ve been wanting to learn how to use the biggest snowblower money can buy!” Or when they commented on the wind my wife would say, “I love the wind and we’re going to buy lots of kites!” What could they say after responses like that?
On a beautiful summer day shortly after arriving in Rexburg, along with men from our new ward, I was helping a family move. One of the men asked about our arrival in Rexburg and where we had come from. He asked, “You never came here in the winter, did you?” I said, “No, I never had”, but I came with a promise in my heart to heaven that in exchange for the blessing of employment at BYU-Idaho, I would never complain about the weather. And I was true to that promise – for as long as we lived there.
I have shared this next story before, but I think it merits telling again.
When we arrived in Mexico for our missionary service, one of the assistants was Elder Jose Martinez from Guadalajara, Mexico. He was everything a Preach My Gospel missionary should be. He was obedient, happy, and successful in every way, as Preach My Gospel describes in Chapter 1. In my final interview with him, as he was finishing his mission and preparing to return home, I asked him what he had done to be so successful. He gave the usual answers about obedience, loving his companions and the people, and good planning skills. I was not prepared for the answer he gave to my final question. “Elder Martinez, these things are all good, but what did you do on the really bad days in the mission – the days when all of your appointments fell through, when no wanted to talk to you, when you got chased by frightening dogs, when you were sick, when you walked in muddy rainwater up to your knees, when there was no water in your apartment. What did you do on THOSE days?” His answer humbled me. It changed my mission and changed my way of thinking forever. He said, “President, I never had a bad day my entire mission.” Now, rest assured that Elder Martinez experienced all of the things I mentioned and more. He experienced what every missionary in our mission experienced. What was the difference? It was his attitude, it was his faith and trust in God – blessings he had received because of a sincere desire to what the Lord wanted him to be as one His set apart instruments. He trusted the promises of the President of the Church in the letter he received from President Thomas S. Monson calling him to missionary service. Come what may, Elder Martinez loved every minute of his mission.
On October 13, 2009, speaking at the Ensign College inauguration of President J. Lawrence Richards, President Henry B. Eyring said that this campus could play a key role in the ability of the Church to create distance learning. Trusting in that prophetic declaration, and with the approval of the Board of Trustees in January 2020, Ensign College now serves thousands of students around the world through our collaborative agreement with BYU-Pathway.
In our recent commencement exercises, Elder Matthew S. Holland said:
“At this very moment, events everywhere are raising some soul-searching questions. As we all climb out of the Covid catacombs we wonder, ‘when is the next variant coming and what toll will it take?’ An international conflict the likes of which we have not seen in half a century roils Eastern Europe, causing us to fear “’how far might this spread?’ Inflation is rising faster than it has in decades, ratcheting interest rates up and options for affordable housing down and so more of us are asking, ‘how will we live?’ Cultural, political, and social divides are growing so pronounced that we are starting to question, ‘can democracy last?’ And, with more people each day calling ‘evil good, and good evil,’ just as Isaiah predicted, we even question, ‘how much longer can the world last?’ There is surely cause for concern and worry about the times in which you are destined to go forth.”
Taking these words alone from Elder Holland, we might be inclined to dive into a deep depression, sitting on the couch, eating pizza, and watching all of Netflix, but Elder Holland gave marvelous, inspired counsel not only for our graduates, but for all of us.
If you go back to his statement and you were told that in spite of all these things, and while you’re at it add your own list of very valid worries and concerns, you could have:
- The power and strength to deal with temptations, struggles, and mortal weakness
- Miracles in your life
- The capacity to have joy even if worldly turbulence increases
- More personal peace of mind and freedom from fear
- The ability to move forward on the covenant path, despite obstacles
- Increased direction for your life and boundless gifts of the Spirit
- A glorious future
- An increase of faith and a decrease of Satan’s influence in your life
- Greater courage and increased personal revelation
- Joy amidst uncertainty, and power and blessings the likes of which you have never seen
Would you believe it? Would you want these things? If you were the recipient of all of these things, how many of them would resolve nearly every worry, every concern, every question, every doubt, or fear that you may be experiencing right now? As I read the list, did any of them sound familiar? I hope so – these are prophetic promises that have been made to all of us by President Russell M. Nelson in General Conference since he became the President of the Church on January 14, 2018. I did not do a search on other addresses that he has given, so I will leave it to you to look for additional prophetic promises.
A consideration of the promises made by President Nelson was inspired by BYU president Kevin Worthen in a recent monthly meeting of all the Church school presidents under the direction of Elder Clark Gilbert, Commissioner of the Church Educational System. I gratefully acknowledge President Worthen’s example and discipleship.
There is a prophetic pattern of teaching that can guide our study, our seeking for understanding of and application of the words and teachings of prophets – both in the scriptures and in the words of living prophets – and especially those of the President of the Church. In this pattern prophets teach and declare doctrines and principles, they may warn, they invite us to act, and they promise blessings for trusting obedience. If you are “quick to observe” you will see that prophetic promises always follow this pattern of teaching and testifying, warning, inviting, and promising.
My purpose this morning is to help each of us be more focused on this pattern and the promises of living prophets – especially those of President Russell M. Nelson. In companionship with the scriptures, they anchor us on Jesus Christ, they steer us on a true course, “constant as the North Star that shines for you and me.” [i] As we listen, hearken, follow, and apply, promised blessings will be ours and will sustain us in any and every circumstance and challenge in our lives.
Time does not permit that we look deeply into each of the prophetic promises that I mentioned but we will look at a few. As I read the words of President Nelson, please watch and listen for the pattern of teaching, warning, inviting, and promising. Sister Kusch invited you to see with your spiritual eyes and I would invite you to listen with your spiritual ears.
On Ending Conflict in Our Lives
In the recent General Conference President Nelson spoke about the power of spiritual momentum in the Sunday Morning session. Speaking of trials and conflict he said, “Some trials are deeply private burdens no one else can see. Others are played out on the world stage. The armed conflict in eastern Europe is one of these...I weep and pray for all who are affected by this conflict. As a church we’re doing all we can to help those who are suffering and struggling to survive...Any war is a horrifying violation of everything the Lord Jesus Christ stands for and teaches. None of us can control nations or the actions of others or even members of our own families, but we can control ourselves. My call today, dear brothers and sisters, is to end conflicts that are raging in your heart, your home, and your life. Bury any and all inclinations to hurt others—whether those inclinations be a temper, a sharp tongue, or a resentment for someone who has hurt you. The Savior commanded us to turn the other cheek, to love our enemies, and to pray for those who despitefully use us. It can be painfully difficult to let go of anger that feels so justified. It can seem impossible to forgive those whose destructive actions have hurt the innocent. And yet, the Savior admonished us to ‘forgive all men.’
We are followers of the Prince of Peace. Now more than ever, we need the peace only He can bring. How can we expect peace to exist in the world when we are not individually seeking peace and harmony? Brothers and sisters, I know what I’m suggesting is not easy. But followers of Jesus Christ should set the example for all the world to follow. I plead with you to do all you can to end personal conflicts that are currently raging in your hearts and in your lives.
Exercise the humility, courage, and strength required both to forgive and to seek forgiveness. The Savior has promised that ‘if [we] forgive men their trespasses, [our] heavenly Father will also forgive [us].’
Two weeks from today we celebrate Easter. Between now and then, I invite you to seek an end to a personal conflict that has weighed you down. Could there be a more fitting act of gratitude to Jesus Christ for His Atonement? If forgiveness presently seems impossible, plead for power through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ to help you. As you do so, I promise personal peace and a burst of spiritual momentum.”
If we were in a classroom and discussing this talk, I would ask you, “What did President Nelson teach? What did he invite us to do? What did he plead with us to do? Why would he plead with us? He has used this word often. And what did he promise? From personal experience I know this prophetic promise is certain and true.
The Blessings of Personal Revelation
In the Sunday morning session of the April 2018 General Conference – his first as president of the Church – President Nelson taught us about revelation for the Church and for our personal lives. I invite you again to listen for the prophetic pattern, “One of the things the Spirit has repeatedly impressed upon my mind since my new calling as President of the Church is how willing the Lord is to reveal His mind and will.
Through the manifestations of the Holy Ghost, the Lord will assist us in all our righteous pursuits.
Pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your concerns, your fears, your weaknesses—yes, the very longings of your heart. And then listen! Write the thoughts that come to your mind. Record your feelings and follow through with actions that you are prompted to take. As you repeat this process day after day, month after month, year after year, you will ‘grow into the principle of revelation.’
You don’t have to wonder about what is true. You do not have to wonder whom you can safely trust. Through personal revelation, you can receive your own witness that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, that Joseph Smith is a prophet, and that this is the Lord’s Church. Regardless of what others may say or do, no one can ever take away a witness borne to your heart and mind about what is true.
I urge you to stretch beyond your current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation... in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.
Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon, and regular time committed to temple and family history work.
My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation...Choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly.
To be sure, there may be times when you feel as though the heavens are closed. But I promise that as you continue to be obedient, expressing gratitude for every blessing the Lord gives you, and as you patiently honor the Lord’s timetable, you will be given the knowledge and understanding you seek. Every blessing the Lord has for you—even miracles—will follow. That is what personal revelation will do for you.”
Now, back to our classroom discussion. Did you notice that President Nelson used the word “plead” again? Did you hear him say that every blessing the Lord has for you would be yours if you learn to receive personal revelation? How hard are you willing to work to receive such blessings?
This would be such a great discussion!
Brothers and sisters, it is the responsibility of prophets to teach, testify, warn, invite, and promise. They act as the ordained special witnesses of the name of Jesus Christ in doing so. Their words are the Lord’s words. They are called to speak for Him – especially the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They love the Lord, and they love us. They are called by the Lord because He loves us. As we listen to their words, we can testify that we have heard His voice. [ii] I bear my personal testimony that comes from personal experience, personal observation, and personal revelation that the 15 men we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators are indeed that.
I further testify that as we hearken to the teachings, warnings, and invitations of President Nelson, trusting in his prophetic promises, every personal worry, concern, question, doubt, and fear will be resolved. We will go forward with greater faith in the Savior, and greater strength to resist temptation, “...armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.” [iii]
I conclude with these words from President Nelson in his closing remarks in the April 2020 Conference:
“The many inspiring components of this...general conference...can be summarized by two divinely decreed words: ‘Hear Him.’ We pray that your focus on Heavenly Father, who spoke those words, and on His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, will loom largest in your memories of all that has transpired. We pray that you will begin anew truly to hear, hearken to, and heed the words of the Savior. I promise that decreased fear and increased faith will follow.”
Did you hear the pattern?
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Gordon B. Hinckley – Constant As the North Star, Words and Music by Cheryl Boyer Hansen, 1996.
[ii] D&C 18:34-36
[iii] 1 Nephi 14:14
Sister Alynda Kusch
A Prescription for Spiritual Vision
A few months ago, in the morning following a fierce snowstorm, I had an important appointment to keep. President Kusch’s truck was parked behind my car in the garage, and I decided that to save time, although I did not do this often, I would drive his truck. Standing on my tiptoes, I cleared almost 5 inches of snow from the windshield and the side windows, and then made my way very carefully down the hill from our home.
As I approached the busy intersection where I needed to turn, I stopped for a red light. Everything was fine. The light turned green, and I slowly made my way into the intersection, waiting until it was safe for me to cross.
That forward momentum, even though it was slow, followed by stopping was enough to cause the snow from the top of the cab, to slide down and cover the windshield. There I sat in the middle of the intersection; my vision completely obscured by a solid sheet of white.
It was impossible to turn until I could see, and getting out of the truck in the middle of the intersection to clear the windshield seemed like a dangerous option.
I tired engaging the windshield wipers, hoping they would move the snow. Nothing. I tried again. Nothing. I felt some panic set it. Finally, after several more attempts, the windshield wipers were able to move just enough of the snow so I could see the road and make the turn.
I was so grateful to finally be able to see and be on the other side once again to be safe.
This experience has caused me to think a lot about eyes and seeing and looking.
The Savior talked a lot about eyes. He said, “Blessed are your eyes for they see.” (Matthew 13:16)
“An eye single to the glory of God.“ (Doctrine and Covenants 4:5)
“He who hath faith to see shall see,” (D&C 42:48)
What kind of seeing was the Savior talking about? Physical seeing that happens when we open our eyes and look around? No, He was speaking about another kind of sight.
Of this kind of seeing, Moses said, “Mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes.” (Moses 1:11)
Spiritual eyes. Spiritual seeing. Spiritual vision. That is what Christ was teaching about.
What is spiritual vision?
It is the ability to see things the way God sees them, as they really are. It is the ability to see with spiritual perception through the Holy Ghost beyond what our mortal eyes can see. It is the ability to see and thus feel truth and hear the Spirit and recognize answers to our prayers. It is the ability to know and understand God’s will for us. Can you “see” why it is so important?
Is it possible to see something with spiritual eyes that cannot be seen with physical eyes?
Yes, and a perfect example of this is found in the Old Testament in 2nd Kings.
The Syrians were angry with the Israelites. They surrounded them and laid siege upon their city. The Syrian army was very large, and it looked as though the Israelites would lose the battle.
One of Elisha’s young servants was frightened and asked the prophet, “What are we going to do?”
Elisha answered the young man and said, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” He then prayed asking the Lord to open the young man’s eyes so that he could see.
Elisha’s prayer was answered, and the Lord opened his servant’s spiritual eyes and the young man saw that “the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:14-18). His spiritual eyes had allowed him to see heavenly legions who had come to the rescue; a vision that his physical eyes were not capable of seeing.
How is your vision?
Are you looking and seeing with your spiritual eyes? It is clear from the example of Elisha and his servant that great are the things we can see when we look spiritually, through the lens of truth and light.
How do we develop or improve our spiritual vision?
The first thing we need to understand is why we don’t see spiritually clear all the time. What causes our spiritual vision to be blurry?
Satan would like you to look through his eyes, while he tells you, his lies.
He tells you that you are foolish to believe that seeing with spiritual eyes is even possible (Alma 30). He clouds your spiritual vision with pride, greed, jealousy, criticism and sin. He tells you that everyone is perfectly righteous, but not you. So, others may spiritually see, but you can’t.
Satan is a liar, and these things are not true. He knows that viewing life only through his lens will keep you from developing your own spiritual vision so that you cannot see what God can and will do for you. That is the way he wants it. Don’t let the adversary spiritually blind you.
How can you improve your spiritual vision?
Tell Satan to get lost? Yes, let’s do that, shall we?
There are 3 things that I know will help you, because they help me.
1. Trust the spiritual seeing experts
On August 21st, 2017, the entire world was caught up in the excitement of a total eclipse of the sun.
Experts published maps of the route of the eclipse so we could know where to stand to see the full impact of the sky being darkened at mid-day. If you wanted to see the total eclipse, you had to be standing in the right place and experts told us where that was.
Our son and his family traveled from Denver, Colorado to a field in Wyoming so they would be in the direct path and could see the maximum effect of the eclipse.
Our daughter and her family traveled from Prescott, Arizona to Rexburg, Idaho where another daughter lived, so they could all be together in a place where the moon would cover the sun.
Standing in the right place allowed them to witness this heavenly wonder.
So, location matters. Are you standing in places that help you develop your spiritual vision? Are you surrounding yourself with good things that will help you see clearly? If not, spiritual seeing experts say, go where there is spiritual light.
Experts also provided us with information about how to view the sky during the eclipse without causing permanent damage to our eyes. We all bought special glasses, with protective film that reduced sunlight to a safe level, so our eyes were not injured.
Where and how you look matters if you want to safely view an eclipse.
Listening to and following experts matters.
To improve your spiritual vision, find someone who is a spiritual seeing expert and follow them.
Two weeks ago, we raised our hands and sustained 15 men as prophets, seers, and revelators. They are trusted spiritual seeing experts. Listening to and following them will help improve your own spiritual vision.
2. Look in the right place
I love my glasses because they help me see. The lenses that are in them actually have 3 different prescriptions. The one I look through when I am looking straight ahead helps me see in the distance. The one I look through that is just below the middle part of my lenses, helps me see things that are 3 or 4 feet away. The prescription at the bottom of my lenses is where I look when I want to read or see something in focus close up.
So, if I want to see, it is essential for me to look through the right part of my lenses.
It is the same with spiritual vision, if you want to improve your spiritual eyesight, it is essential that you are looking in the right place. Are there some things that you are looking at, focusing on, that are preventing you from improving the use of your spiritual eyes? Spiritual seeing experts tell us to be careful what we look at.
3. Clean your spiritual lenses if they need it.
When I smear something on my glasses, and I want to see, I clean them. I use a special cleanser and a soft cloth that won’t scratch the lenses.
If your spiritual vision is not clear, then do something about it. If you need to clean up your life, clean it. If you need to be looking somewhere else, look somewhere else. If you need to do some changing, change.
The good news is you can always improve your spiritual vision.
As President Kusch and I traveled around our mission, we discovered something that we truly did not like. To control the speed with which drivers traveled on Mexican roads, the government installed speed bumps which were called topes.
And they were everywhere.
Some were clearly marked, while others were not. That meant that sometimes President would see a tope and slow down, while other times he would not, and we were literally flung into the air until our seatbelts stopped the momentum. This often happened when I was holding an open soda bottle in my hand, and you can imagine the result.
While in the mission field, I began to have problems with my vision and as soon as we returned, I went to see my eye doctor in search of a remedy. He told me that because of bouncing my way across hundreds of topes in Mexico, my eyesight had been permanently damaged, and that it could not be repaired. When I look out at you, I see you through what appears to be a spider web. So, I will never see clearly.
This is not so with spiritual vision. If your spiritual seeing is out of focus, it can be repaired. You can spiritually see clearly even if you don’t today.
Don’t settle for seeing poorly that which Heavenly Father would have you see with clear, spiritual, and true lenses.
Just as the windshield wipers removed the snow from obscuring my physical sight, we can see the way God sees. Your spiritual windshield wipers are, trusting the spiritual vision experts, looking in the right places to improve your spiritual eyesight, cleaning your spiritual lenses by making whatever changes are required. You can ask Heavenly Father to help you and He will help you know what to do.
My friends, may we look with our spiritual eyes and see that which Heavenly Father would want you to see and want you to know and want you to feel. That is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.