Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bold World Cup Predictions

I admit it, I like soccer. A lot. Actually that is nothing to hide because I always have and have played a lot of it since I was walking. For soccer fans like us, this is the best time of every four years.

The World Cup(TM) is one of the most exciting events in sports and it can easily draw you in. My first experience was as a 9-year old at Italia 90 when my dad and I watched West Germany defeat England on penalties in Turin during the semi final. A week later we watched Germany win the finals with friends in a small German town. To this day, I have always loved the thrill of the tournament.

I hope that my fellow Seer Stone authors will not be upset if I make this brief post about my predictions for the World Cup(TM). The Seer Stone is intended to have doctrinal posts as well as random thoughts. File this one under random thoughts.

Without further adieu, here is my team by team prediction. I am trying to be somewhat bold by not going with the obvious choices.

Group A

South Africa

Prediction: Mexico (1st), France (2nd), Uruguay (3rd), and S. Africa (4th).
Comments: France has sucked recently and qualified on a hand ball. Mexico has tacos and I like tacos, so there you go. I wouldn't be surprised if Uruguay advances if Diego Forlan plays well.

Group B

South Korea

Prediction: Argentina (1st), Greece (2nd), South Korea (3rd), Nigeria (4th).
Comments: You may have not of heard of a guy named Messi and a coach named Diego. Greece play too defensive but will probably get by on draws. Korea and Nigeria will cancel each other out.

Group C


Prediction: England (1st), Algeria (2nd), USA (3rd), Slovenia (4th).
Comments: I think the US could easily go in second place in this group, but there is too much hype around them as if they will automatically advance. Algeria can be lethal or it can be hit or miss. Slovenia is also a wild card because they have no business being there, but beat out a good Russia to qualify.

Group D


Prediction: Germany (1st), Serbia (2nd), Australia (3rd), Ghana (4th).
Comments: Germany will go far, but not win the tournament. Serbia are very, very good, don't count them out as a favorite. Ghana lost their best player to injury. Don't waste your time.

Group E


Predictions: Netherlands (1st), Denmark (2nd), Cameroon (3rd), Japan (4th).
Comments: The Dutch will go far, but won't win it. Other than that, this is kind of a "meh" group.

Group F

New Zealand

Prediction: Italy (1st), Paraguay (2nd), Slovakia (3rd), and New Zealand (4th).
Comment: Italy have to be favored, but Paraguay could surprise. Italy have gotten older since it won the last World Cup.

Group G

Ivory Coast
North Korea

Prediction: Brazil (1st), Portugal (2nd), Ivory Coast (3rd), North Korea (4th).
Comments: This is a brutal group. Ivory Coast has the Toure brothers, Salomon Kalou and Dider Drogba. But despite Portugal's bad form, I see them going through.

Group H


Prediction: Spain (1st), Chile (2nd), Honduras (3rd), and Switzerland (4th).
Comment: Spain looks good but don't look past their choker status. Chile is a wild card in the tournament as they qualified strongly out of South America.

I will return to my predictions in a few days to see how they stand up to the real results and I will plan out my prediction for the knockout rounds.

Receiving Revelation without Realizing It

When I was in the MTC, one of our language instructors said something that changed my life. We were reviewing the Joseph Smith story and practicing how to teach it to investigators when he explained that it would be close to impossible to teach this lesson unless you knew it to be true for yourself. He continued by explaining that the Spirit will not accompany one’s testimony unless he has received such a testimony for himself.

I contemplated that for a moment and came to the stark realization that I had never prayed about Joseph Smith and his prophetic calling. In fact, I had never specifically prayed about anything with regards to the Church. I grew up in the Church and kind of accepted things to be true by the testimony of others. But now, I realized that I had to boldly declare to strangers in a foreign land for the next 2 years that I knew something to be true for myself. Could I do that and have the Spirit testify to what I was saying? At that point, I didn’t know for sure.

So I prayed. I prayed for a while, in fact. It was one of those Enos prayers that lasted for hours. Now, there was no theophany or any audible voices or manifestations, but I received a distinct confirmation of what I was asking about. Interestingly, however, my prayer was answered more in the form of, “You already know this to be true, why are you asking me now?” At that point it hit me, I had known these truths for years, I just never knew that I knew it. Through countless temple trips, testimony meetings, scripture studies, prayers, family home evenings, etc, I realized that I had been receiving revelation of truth all along without being aware of it.

I feel this happens to many of us quite often, members and non-members alike. To Oliver Cowdery, the Lord explained that “for thou hast inquired of me, and behold, as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit. If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time” (D&C 6:14) (emphasis added). It's often the case that only as we grow in the things of the Spirit are we able to look back on our lives and realize how completely our course was actually directed by the Divine.

The Lord continued to Oliver, “Behold, thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things that thou mayest know that thou hast been enlightened by the Spirit of truth” (D&C 6:15) (emphasis added). In other words, the Lord verified that Oliver had in fact been receiving revelation all along, and that his prayers had been consistently answered.

Those of us who are maturing spiritually commonly have comparable experiences. For example, the two disciples of Christ did not realize who taught them on the road to Emmaus until the day’s end and Christ ultimately departed from them: “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32). Even more remarkable is the account of the Lamanites who, after their conversion, “were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not” (3 Nephi 9:20) (emphasis added).

Though he didn’t realize it, Oliver Cowdery was led by the Divine to Palmyra to teach school and eventually take up lodging with the Prophet’s family. Responding to this same Spirit, he was eventually guided to Harmony, Pennsylvania, where he became the Prophet’s scribe.

In my case, my experience in the MTC made me realize that I was also prepared and directed through the Spirit via countless revelatory experiences to eventually become a missionary. As I eventually discovered for myself, one of the keys to becoming conversant in the language of the Spirit is to learn to recognize the feelings of peace and comfort that accompany revelation. These feelings can be had on a daily basis if we are prepared to receive them.