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7 Non-negotiables for the Greatest Challenge of Your Life

By Dennis Rainey

Life in our world today is challenging … a lot like climbing Mt. Everest. It’s 29,029 feet tall, and over the years many climbers have died in their quest to reach the summit.

If you were about to embark on climbing the tallest mountain in the world, wouldn’t you like to know the “non-negotiables of survival?” has everything you need to know, including “7 Survival Rules” for your climb to the summit. Here’s what veteran Everest climbers say …

1. Always have the last word on your safety. “It's very healthy to take control of your own gear, oxygen and climbing decisions. To turn around allows for new attempts. It's wiser to fail than to die.”

2. Respect the weather.Bad weather can turn an easy, sunny climb into a horrible, fatal inferno. The change is often fast and unforgiving.”

3. Use the ropes.Don't hurry, clip in everywhere. At technical parts, fixed with old rope, clip in to several lines at once. Almost yearly climbers die in the Himalayas due to old rope.”

4. Drink plenty.High altitude health problems like headache, edema, frostbite, confusion and such are actually more often related to dehydration than lack of oxygen.”

5. Know yourself. “In dangerous situations, we all react differently. Some freeze, some panic, some are rational. How will you react?”

6. Know your gear, oxygen and alpine medicine. “Preparation is the seed of success. On Everest, it’s also the key to survival.”

7. Avalanche.Avoid climbs following heavy snowfalls. … don’t climb the icefall too late in the day, and—well—keep your fingers crossed.”

So, are you ready to ascend Everest this summer? Not so much? Count me out!

But let me draw a real-life parallel: Life today is filled with dangerous, life-threatening challenges and precarious situations. You may even wonder if anyone is holding your rope!

The greatest challenge of your life is living your life. Since life was created by God, would you like to know what His seven non-negotiables are … not just for survival but also for success in life? Like the seven listed for climbing Mt. Everest, these are very practical. They are also intensely spiritual since God designed life as we know it.

Are you ready? These are very gritty—they go to the core of how He made us …

#1: Seek God, not sin.

For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: “Seek Me and live.” Amos 5:4

God is the life-giver. We will find life in no other. But as sinful creatures, our hearts are naturally prone to wander from our Creator. Our souls were made to pursue God, know God, and walk with God … nothing else. It’s only as we pursue Him that we truly find the life that He designed for us to live.

In the book of Amos, God tries over and over again to get the attention of His people. He allows them to experience famine, drought, and pestilence and yet, as God says in Amos 4:11, “… you did not return to me.” But Amos 5:4 reminds us of where life is found. God says, “Seek me and live.” These words should get our attention. We will only find life by seeking The One true God Who created it.

#2: Fear God, not men.

The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm. Proverbs 19:23

Our God is holy, and He is the Lord God Almighty. When I think of the power He holds, I can’t help but fear Him and hold Him in reverential awe.

Do you care more about what men think of you than God? Then learn to fear God, and you will be preoccupied in walking in His presence, not wondering what other people think of you. You will begin to live your life in light of eternity, and the temporal views of men won’t matter anymore.

The fear of the Lord also keeps us from evil and sin. A.W. Tozer wrote, “It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate.” When we lose the fear of God and don’t respect Him and His commandments, we are going to live our lives without accountability to God and one another, which is the cause of a hundred lesser evils among us.

#3: Love God, not the world.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17

What is the object of your affections? Power? Recognition? Hobbies?

Not too long ago, I visited an unbelievable house. As I walked around it, for just a moment my thought was, I could have had a house like this. But I was reminded that a house is not what life is all about. The world is seeking to seduce us into a love affair with temptations such as materialism, power, and money, but we must love God and be preoccupied with pleasing Him alone.

When I first fell in love with Barbara, I was preoccupied with pleasing her. We must also love His people and be concerned about their eternal destiny. We must look at them with compassion, like Jesus, and be moved with action to do something for them. Those who love God will do what He wants and be concerned about His mission and His will, and they will fulfill His calling.

#4: Believe God, not the deceiver.

You are of your father the devil, and you will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

In 1938, a man in Long Island ordered a very expensive weather barometer. He unwrapped it and noted that the arrow that was supposed to reflect the weather he was experiencing was stuck at the bottom, pointing at “Hurricane.” There must be something wrong with the barometer, he concluded. So he slammed it down a few times, and when the arrow didn’t move he wrote a hot letter of complaint to the manufacturer and mailed it off on the way to work.

When he came home, he found that the mailbox was gone. A hurricane had hit, and everything was destroyed.

As believers, sometimes we don’t want to believe the truth. When life and Scripture collide, which one do you believe and trust? The deceiver wants us to believe the lie. Will you believe God?

The Scriptures tell us that without faith it is impossible to please God, but our nature is to move toward unbelief. Never forget that your adversary is the father of lies. He wants to destroy you, so he works to make us doubt the truth and God’s promises.

#5: Obey God, not your appetites.

Do you not know that in a race all runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we are imperishable. So, I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Our appetites are the passions that we have within our flesh—contrary to the spirit, craving and battling to be satisfied. If you give in even the slightest to these desires, the enemy can use that to launch an attack in your life. At the same time, obeying God even in small things can build your faith to the point that God may use you to accomplish great things … perhaps even launch a powerful, life-changing ministry into the lives of others. Our passions must be surrendered to Jesus.

Obedience to God demands two main things. First, it demands courage to say no to self, no to appetites, no to lusts of the flesh, no to what’s easy, and yes to carrying the cross. Second, it demands faithfulness—the plodding endurance to God, to His call, and to that which He calls you to suffer. Only by yielding to the cross can you obey God, not your appetites.

#6: Serve God, not self.

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”

Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8

The concept of becoming a “bond slave” in the Scriptures means that we are slaves and God is the Master. That means that we must surrender to Him completely, without reservation. Many would see this type of service as lowly. But it should be seen as a privilege to serve such a loving Lord.

On Christmas Day 1972, in the first year of our marriage, Barbara and I decided that before we gave anything to each other, we would surrender our lives in writing to Jesus Christ, giving Him everything we ever dreamed of having. We gave Him the contract and title to our lives. Looking back at that day, I see now we gave Him nothing, but I am amazed to see that He has given us everything in return.

#7: Worship God, not comfort.

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18

I don’t know anyone who enjoys suffering, but I do know many who have benefited from the growth that occurs as a result. Are you celebrating God and worshiping Him in the midst of your pain, or do you seek relief or comfort by escaping it? When suffering comes, you must move through the pain to the God who allowed it to come to fruition.

Barbara and I have given thanks for short paychecks, for the deep waters of misunderstandings and unmet expectations, for serious health issues with one of our sons when he was a teenager, for the loss of a granddaughter who only lived seven days … the list goes on and on. Pain has pressed us against our Savior and reminded us that we are not in control. Pain results in growth and greater fruitfulness for Him.

We worship God through music, prayer, God’s Word, and baptism. But we should also worship God in the midst of suffering and pain.

These seven non-negotiables are the basics for a life that transcends the mountains we climb in life. Why don’t you sit down in a quiet place and meditate on the areas where you are taking good care of your spiritual life, and then ask the Lord to show you the areas where you need help.

Then choose a close friend or accountability partner and share with him or her the areas where you need help and prayer. Soon, you will begin to experience a healthier life—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

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