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This Christmas: You’re Invited to Encounter the Mountain

Dec 15, 2016 // By Marcus Brotherton

Opinions?

 

Everyone has an opinion.

But what do you base your opinion on?

 

To truly know something, you must experience it.

To truly know someone, you must encounter them.

 

Here’s what I mean …

01

Mt. Baker, as seen from the San Juans, by Donn Anning Jones Photography.

 

 

Part I:

 

People sure talk a lot about Mount Baker.

 

I live in Bellingham, Washington, near the foothills of Mount Baker, and people talk about this mountain all the time.

 

People use adjectives like awesome and majestic to describe Mount Baker.

 

People say they feel joy because of Mount Baker. They hike on Mount Baker in summer. They ski on Mount Baker in winter.

 

They rave about the peace they feel on Mount Baker. How it’s beautiful to sit around a smoky campfire at the end of a day on Mount Baker and roast hotdogs and munch marshmallows. How they feel grounded because of Mount Baker, restored due to nature, and grateful for the time away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

 

Some people actually go the other way. They describe Mount Baker in negative terms, even frightening. They say it’s a wrathful old volcano just waiting to erupt again, eager to sear us in a fiery flow of lava. “You’ll get lost on Mount Baker,” they warn. “Keep your distance! You might get hurt.”

 

Do you know this mountain?

 

If so, what do truly you know about it?

 

See, here’s the difficulty. Adjectives are just words on a page. And if you’re not a hiker or a snow skier or a wanderer in nature, then it’s hard to feel either the risks or the benefit for yourself. And if you listen only to the negative stories about Mount Baker, then you will want to keep your distance, and you’ll miss out.

 

Fact: you can’t depend on what others tell you about Mount Baker. Sorry, but secondhand stories don’t cut it. To truly experience Mount Baker, you must encounter the Mountain itself.

 

So how do you do that?

 

Well, you jump into your rig and drive to the top, Artist’s Point, and take a good look around. You take out your Nikon at a scenic vista and start to click, click, click.

 

You hike some trails and feel the enormity of a mountain under your boots.

 

You inhale the fresh mountain air for yourself.

 

You taste some mountain snowflakes on your tongue.

 

I repeat: to truly know Mount Baker, you must be willing to risk a personal encounter with Mount Baker.

 

That’s a bold move. But what have you got to lose?

 

Part II:

09

‘Snow and Cross,’ courtesy DAJ Photography.

 

People sure talk a lot about Jesus.

 

Christmas is the season of his birth, and you’re bound to hear about Jesus more than once in the next few weeks.

 

People use adjectives like awesome and majestic to describe Jesus.

 

People say they feel joy because of Jesus.

 

They rave about the peace they feel because of Jesus. How it’s beautiful to be back again with God because of Jesus. How they feel grounded because of Jesus, restored due to Jesus, and grateful for the indescribable inner rest they experience because of him.

 

Some people actually go the other way. They describe Jesus in negative terms, even frightening. They say he’s a crutch for the weak, a destroyer of rational thought, a moralistic myth invented by parents to scare children into eating their peas and carrots.

 

Do you know Jesus?

 

If so, what do you truly know about him?

 

See, here’s the difficulty. Adjectives are just words on a page. And if you’re not a true and honest follower of Jesus, then it’s hard to know either the risks or the benefit for yourself. And it you listen only to the negative stories about Jesus, then you will want to keep your distance, and you’ll miss out.

 

Fact: you can’t depend on what others tell you about Jesus. Sorry, but secondhand stories don’t cut it. To truly experience Jesus, you must encounter Jesus himself.

 

So how do you do that?

 

Here are three suggestions:

 

First, find a Bible somewhere and read the gospel accounts for yourself—Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John. Read slow or read fast. It doesn’t matter. Keep an ear open for what you might hear.

 

Second, at least once during this Christmas season, quietly yet audaciously give someone an undeserved favor. Buy a warm blanket and give it to a homeless man. Tip a waitress 100 percent of the bill. Seek out someone you don’t see eye-to-eye with and genuinely compliment him about something he’s said or done. As you do this, whisper only to yourself, the love of Christ.

 

Third—and here’s the game changer—agnostic, atheist, believer, no matter what you call yourself, no matter your past experiences, be willing to take this challenge: for 30 days straight, during the entire Christmas season and on into the New Year, pray this prayer: Jesus, if you are truly who you say you are, then let me experience you today in new and good ways.

 

Then see what happens.

 

I repeat: to truly know Jesus, you must be willing to risk a personal encounter with Jesus.

 

That’s a bold move. But what have you got to lose?

 

“Come near to God, and He will come near to you,” (James 4:8).

 

Question: Take the 30-day challenge, and let me know how it goes. Will you give it a try? Why or why not?

 

 

 

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HI, I'M MARCUS BROTHERTON,

the bestselling author or coauthor of more than 25 books. Welcome to my blog. Thoreau pointed out how too many people lead lives of quiet desperation. Their lives are bland and meaningless, or they make choices that trap them in despair and darkness. By contrast, I want to help people lead lives of excellence. Meet here regularly for powerful stories and insight into how to live and lead well.