Why Would Normal Kids Suddenly Become Radicalised?

Earlier this year, South Africans were shocked by the news that a fifteen-year old girl was taken off a flight in Cape Town after evidence had been found that she was in contact with ISIS recruiters. The investigation of this case made it clear that ISIS has an active recruitment network in South Africa appealing to young people to join this extremist militant group.
It further indicates the vulnerability of South African youth and the responsibility of parents and other authorities to monitor the behaviour of teenagers. It signals the urgent need to understand why teenagers become politically radicalised and how to prevent it.
Terrorist groups target teenagers
[According to the US ministry of Foreign Affairs, “the exploitation of children by terrorist groups is not new, but groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram, and the Pakistani Taliban are increasingly using children to carry out their activities. The move is strategic as it is shocking. It provides heightened media attention and allows terrorist groups to groom more loyal members. Children are easier to indoctrinate and less likely to resist, since they do not yet fully understand their own mortality.
Moreover, because children appear less suspicious, using them often leads to more successful missions. On the other hand, the use of children and teenagers may also indicate that the group is having difficulty in recruiting adults – the fact that Boko Haram has kidnapped children to use them as suicide bombers may be an indication of the group’s weakness, not its strength.”]
Capitalising on internal anger
Radicalisation could be defined as the progression of searching and nurturing an extreme belief system until it becomes a dominant factor in one’s life that inspires and drives terrorist acts. Interest in an extreme belief system as a way of expressing internal anger or hurt provides a starting point for being lured into an extremist militant group. The brainwashing that takes place in the militant group would nurture and shape the initial interest to progress into full-blown radicalism.
The choice to join a militant political group is based in ideological and psychological processes and often linked to socio-economic situations. Militant political groups have political aims as well as social ones. These aims attract young people looking for answers about life. Youth struggling to find and develop their own identities and searching for a group to which they can belong are receptive to alternative solutions. Teenagers are specifically vulnerable because of their developmental stage. During this stage they generally have more conflict with their parents and authority figures and seek independence from their parents and their ideas. When teenagers have very strong issues with society and no trust in the ability of authority figures to solve their problems, they become potentially easy targets for militant groups.
A desire to control and execute justice
Militant political groups take the law into their own hands because they don’t trust the state’s justice system or they believe that the state is treating a certain group unfairly or fail to fulfil their ideological goals.
The critical elements of ideology that could lead to radicalism include the expression of a grievance based on perceived injustice, or perceived unfair treatment, the identification of a guilty person or group responsible for the unfair treatment, the identification and planning of a method to punish the person or group and the recruitment of others to execute these plans. ISIS presents itself as a group with ideologically based moralistic motivation [Islamic] based on a sense of justice and injustice.
This group claims to be the voice of Allah as they perform a form of capital punishment when they judge and execute victims. The ability to act as the accuser, jury, judge and executioner provides a sense of power to militant political groups.
Appealing to one’s need for purpose
Research with regards to Islamic youth living in the Netherlands revealed that youth that perceive the wider authority as illegitimate (they did not acknowledge Dutch law but only the law of Allah) and believers in Allah as superior to non-believers in relation to Muslim violence. These youth often display a feeling of distance and disconnectedness to society. Feelings of personal emotional uncertainty and a tendency to violence further increase the risk to be radicalised. The call for self-sacrifice when joining a militant group appeals psychologically to teenagers with personal emotional uncertainty or low self-esteem. It provides an opportunity to restore or enhance the belief in one’s significance. Self-sacrifice for the greater cause serves to give meaning in life to a teenager searching for a reason for his existence. The greater the sacrifice, the stronger the sense of significance experienced by the teenager.

How can society prevent the escalation of militant groups?

Parents should be observant and sensitive to the developmental needs of their teenager children. Issues of justice, injustice and meaning in life should be discussed openly in the family and in schools
When a parent notices that a child becomes overly interested in political issues and extreme in his or her views, a red light should go on. Parents should monitor the child’s social media contacts and communication. Discussions around different religious and political views to increase tolerance for all people should be initiated in the home.

Pre-disposing factors that foster radicalism in teens
[In response to the rise of domestic terrorism, the US Government devised an extensive questionnaire to establish if a family is at risk of fostering radicalised teenagers. Some of the factors that could lead to radicalised behaviour and ideology include:

Poor parent-child bond and lack of empathetic connection
Minimal parental involvement in child’s education and socialisation
Limited awareness of child’s friends and movements/activities
Perceived economic stress (by the child)
Strong family connection to a specific ethnic, cultural or religious group (or very weak connection can conversely also affect a child negatively, as they have no societal or familial bond)
Social anxiety, isolation and general social dysfunction]

We need to pray for the vulnerable youth
A [Christian] value system that counters superiority, alienation and disconnectedness from society should be cultivated in youth. Parents and the community should join hands in this effort. Only when we truly learn to respect and love others can we survive as a nation.
The great commandment should guide us in this: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40. 
BY PROF NICOLENE JOUBERT, the head of the Institute of Christian Psychology and a Counselling Psychologist. For counselling appointments or studies in Christian Psychology call  011 827 7611 or www.icp.org.za

Gary & Jacqui Rivas

The moment you walk under the lanterned awning of the impressive stone structure, you immediately sense that Gracepoint is a homely church, a family of believers committed to faith, hope and transformative love. As you walk through the reception, which is more like an open-plan lounge, you feel welcomed into a vibrant integrated community of young and old, black and white.
As a first-time visitor, you would be forgiven for thinking that you are in a modern “Charismatic” church, as coffee baristas serve you cappuccinos and talented musos strum their guitars – and yet you sense as you walk into the auditorium (or Sanctuary as it is named), that this is a “traditional” church…with stained glass windows and Methodist praxis.

Contemporary methodists…
Led by Gary and Jacqui Rivas, Gracepoint (formerly known as Lonehill Methodist) is a contemporary church influencing the surrounding suburbs in a convincing way. From fostering transformation, to instituting social justice and advocacy, Gracepoint is growing in reach and relevance every single day. And yet – Gary and Jacqui continue to remain grounded and approachable, to lead from the front and strive to retain a relational culture within the church, even as it grows exponentially (they currently have 4 multi-site campuses across Gauteng).

Committed to the call of Christ
Married for 23 years, Gary (47) and Jacqui (45) grew up in Germiston, and both knew from a very young age that they were compelled to serve the cause of Christ. Jacqui studied law, and Gary pursued teaching, but eventually the clarion call to ministry struck, and the pair embarked on the journey of ordination within the Methodist church.
Jacqui recounts, “In the late Eighties, I was a political activist, heading to Wits to study law. As a presbyterian, saved in the Assemblies of God, I later joined Gary at Germiston Methodist Church, where we became youth pastors. That church was part of the same geographic circuit as the township of Katlehong and so we were tasked to work as youth pastors there as well. Those were
exciting times, as we were often smuggled in and dodging the Apartheid police enforcing the Group Areas Act.”

Testing the call to ministry
For the pair, ministry was not an impulsive decision and within the Methodist Church the process of ordination is extensive and extremely thorough. Explains Gary, “To become a minister, it is a seven year process, starting as a local lay preacher for two years (in which time you commence basic theology studies and various assessments critiquing your sermons). Then you “candidate” for the ministry – in our instance we pastored in Soweto, and worked in the inner city with the sex workers in Hillbrow. Following this period, you become a probationer minister and do in-service training, all the while studying. It is a lengthy and extensive process designed to test your call – so that by the time you are ordained, you know that you are truly committed. There are times in ministry that the only thing that keeps you involved is a commitment to your calling.”

Fostering unity within the Body
At a recent inter-denominational gathering of leaders, JOY! met with Gary to hear his heart for the Body of Christ, for unity amongst the brethren, and for a truly transformed nation. At the Central Methodist Synod, Gary was elected as the nominee Bishop for the Central District (which sees him with the responsibility and honour as a spiritual leader over most of Gauteng, parts of the North West Province, and as far west as Vryburg), Gary is a Pastor to the pastors and their families as well as to care for the lay people (which cumulatively numbers 80 000!).
We were struck by his humility, approachability and his magnanimity; and together with his talented wife and servant-hearted kids, we felt it expedient to profile this family and the role they are playing in furthering of the Gospel and the grace of God. 
Gary, many people have a stereotype of what a “traditional” church is like, and what a “charismatic” church is like. Gracepoint is very interesting because you seem to fit within both moulds. What is the heart, culture and practice of the church?
When John Wesley formed the Methodist movement within the Anglican Church, he and his brother Charles were very contemporary. Their clothes that they wore, the places they preached in (from an old Foundry to pubs to graveyards), were all rather charismatic. The songs that Charles wrote were groundbreaking for the time (as most hymns were sung in Latin, until he composed the classics we sing today…based on pub songs!). With this in mind, Gracepoint is in fact “traditionally Methodist”. If you define a charismatic church as a Holy Spirit inspired church, then we most certainly are – we don’t know how any church cannot be inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Jacqui, you are not simply “a pastor’s wife” in ministry because of your husband. You have a law major and theology degree and are involved in the leadership of Gracepoint and even spearheaded the building project for the church…
I was privileged to graduate in the early 90s with a Law Major from Wits. I continued with my LLB studies at UNISA for a further three years and in the last month of my final year felt a deep sense of God’s call to full time ministry. As an ordained minister in the Methodist Church I am honoured to be part of a denomination that celebrates 40 years of women being ordained as generations have forged the road before me.
It was my role to lead the building project, but we had a team of phenomenal people who generously gave their skills, used their passion and committed to set and establish a place of worship that will hopefully be inspiring for generations to come. I hope to one day see old trees, beautiful labyrinths, faded jungle gyms and worn kneeling pray cushions. We long to see a healed community, a transformed society of people in prison and a restored humanity of those released. We aim to be a place of safety and a witness of love where all people feel they belong and can discover grace as their lives are transformed.

Gary, you have been involved with the “Movement of Unity” between Catholics and Evangelicals…
My work of unity actually has been primarily between all mainline churches and Evangelicals. Part of this has encompassed fostering unity and dialogue between Catholics and Protestants. The work of Church unity is incredibly difficult. Seeking that which unites us rather than what divides us takes effort.
I believe it’s a Gospel imperative that we seek ‘oneness’ amongst the Body (made up of believers and churches), according to Jesus in John 17. I believe that the biggest obstacles to church unity are the pastors and ministers themselves. Our congregation members practise Biblical unity everyday: in the workplace they sit across a desk from Catholics. At lunches, they eat with Pentecostals, Presbyterians and Methodists. Around the boardroom table, there are Anglicans and Congregationalists. My experience is that pastors, ministers and dominees generally hang around with people of their own denomination or affiliation. And yet – our Lord Jesus speaks about our witness in the world – the greatest witness of disciples who love one another and dwell in unity. 

What is your response to critics who feel that because of doctrinal differences, Christians should not and cannot unite with Catholics..?
My first response is that if we should not unite with the Catholics because of doctrinal differences, then there will be absolutely no unity between ANY churches – as we all differ in doctrine. Secondly – and most importantly – we aren’t saved by our doctrine. We are saved by Jesus Christ, and what He did on the Cross for us. I am not prepared to judge anyone as to whether they are God’s child or not. Jesus was very clear when it came to judging – in Matthew 7, He calls all hypocrites who want to remove the speck out of someone else’s eye, when you have a log in your own eye. Enough of the judging. I have met enough Catholics that are born again, Holy Spirit-filled, lovers of Jesus Christ and are making a social difference to this beautiful land of ours, that I count it a privilege to be united with them in Christ. If we follow Christ and His commands, we are Christians. We are brothers and sisters in the family of God – fighting the Good Fight of Faith together.

Jacqui, how do you and Gary lead the church within denominational structures, even as (perhaps) a pressure toward liberalism plagues some traditional churches?
The Methodist Church is a Connexional Church in six countries but also allows the local church a congregational expression. We experience the Gospel across boundaries, operate at a local level, and are able to exercise quite a bit of flexibility and self-governance in most areas. Our focus is on Christ, led by the Holy Spirit, governed by the Word.

Rebekah, pastor’s kids often get a reputation for being rebellious – yet you have turned out differently. Why?
I don’t believe there is an exact formula for turning out well; there certainly is the temptation to be rebellious but you need to resist. I can clearly remember the day that I decided to follow God  for myself, and walk in His will…today I am studying Theology at the University of Pretoria and hope to become an ordained minister.

Daniel, what is your role within Gracepoint and what advice can you share with parents (in Christian leadership) on how to raise your kids so that they love the church…instead of feeling “squashed” by people’s expectations?
I help lead the Youth Ministry (Grade 8-12). I believe that my role is to show teens that Jesus isn’t outdated or irrelevant and that despite all the doubt they face, Christ still has great plans for every single one of them. If I can show at least one teenager the love and light Jesus brings into such a dark world then I can say my role is fulfilled!
My advice would be to let your child do what they love and let them incorporate that into the church. My passion is drama, I love acting and being in front of a crowd and so my parents set me free to grow my talents and not suppress them. Now I use those same talents in the church and love it. Parents, don’t make your kids feel like they have to act a certain way because they’re in church, but let them be who they are as God intended, this way no one feels “squashed” or burdened by the expectations of others.
Gary, a final word about how one can find out more about the church and also the Miracle of Unity Movement?
Please visit our website: www.gracepoint.co.za for more information on the church, our services and programmes. To get involved with the Miracle of Unity, contact me via my blog: garyrivas.com
Interview by Jackie Georgiou

Cracking The Mystery Behind Allergies

About 40% of people world-wide are affected by allergies. Allergies are a mystery to most people. However I am going to give you some insight into the spiritual, psychological and physical mechanisms that produce allergies…and I’m going to trust the Holy Spirit to give you the revelation that you are not really allergic to anything!
The key to allergies
An allergy is a hypersensitivity reaction to an allergen that does not cause a reaction in most other people. An allergen is the substance that is considered to be causing the allergy e.g. pollen, bee venom, animal hair (e.g. cats), certain medication (e.g. penicillin), certain foods etc.
Are you really allergic to all these things or did the enemy train you how to react to these things? Let’s find out…
Let’s go on a journey into the Bible and into the physiology of your body, right into your bone marrow because allergies are a bone marrow issue.
What does the Bible say?
There are seven words in the Bible which show an insight into all allergies: Proverbs 17:22: “A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”
Here we see that a broken spirit dries the bones. Now think with me through this: What is drying of the bones? I suppose we could think of osteoporosis which is deterioration or weakening of the bones due to loss of calcium and bone density. In Proverbs 14:30 it says that envy and jealousy cause rottenness of the bones, which is what osteoporosis is – and that is true, research confirms that this is the toxic mind-set behind it. So it is not osteoporosis because we are not talking about rotting of the bones, we are talking about drying of the bones.
So if it is not osteoporosis i.e. if it is not the bone itself, what is left? Bone marrow! Now what is in bone marrow? This is where your blood is manufactured. Your blood consists of red and white blood cells. In allergies you don’t have anaemia which is a lack of red blood cells – the red blood cells are ok. So if it is not the red blood cells – what is left? White bloods cells – which is what makes up the immune system. When you have a weakened immune system you have a lowered number of white cells in your blood. Drying of the bones means a weakened immune system. What weakens the immune system? Proverbs 17:22 doesn’t say pesticides, chemicals or certain foods destroy the immune system – it says “a broken spirit” destroys the immune system.
What is a broken spirit?
In the Bible the word ‘heart’ means ‘the spirit’ or ‘the soul and spirit’ depending on the context that the word ‘heart’ is used. So we could say that a broken spirit is a broken heart. In Luke 4:18 Jesus said that He came to heal the broken hearted. What is a broken heart? A broken heart or a broken spirit can occur in a person’s life spiritually when they were damaged by someone who was supposed to love them and didn’t.
The subsequent relationship breakdown opens the door to fear
1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.” In this Scripture we can see that there is no fear in love…and that he who fears has not been made perfect in love. What does that mean?
If we have not been loved, covered or nurtured, but instead have been verbally, emotionally, physically or sexually abused or we are driven to perfectionism because we are loved and accepted based on our achievements…do you think fear is at our door? Oh yes! If you’re afraid of people that you don’t feel safe with, you avoid them don’t you? Do you know that when you have a relationship breakdown with somebody, fear comes in? That fear it is not obvious or easy to recognise because we associate fear with, for example, being afraid of the dark, of heights or of flying.
In a relationship breakdown we don’t experience that type of fear – how it manifests itself is with subtle feelings whereby you no longer feel safe in that relationship because you can no longer trust that person or be vulnerable because you don’t want to take the risk of more rejection and you don’t want to be hurt again. And until you have been delivered of that fear, that fear is not only going to affect you and the person you had the relationship breakdown with, but it is going to affect your relationships with everybody else because you will be projecting all the fear of rejection, disappointment etc into those relationships too.
A natural reaction is to start putting up all sorts of protective mechanisms such as hiding behind a mask and putting a wall around your heart. You back off from people and you don’t allow anybody to come close to you; a spirit of fear has come in and caused you to withdraw from people in fear and now you cannot give and receive love without fear.
Fear stimulates a stress reaction
You have a stress reaction in your body which was originally designed by God as a survival mechanism to help you in an emergency situation. During this reaction, stress hormones called adrenalin and cortisol are released which enable you to react quickly so that you can either fight off that danger or run from it – hence it is called the fight or flight response. Once the emergency is over, the stress hormones subside and you calm down.
However, when you have fear (from a broken heart and a breakdown in relationships) this stress reaction is constantly stimulated resulting in persistently high levels of stress hormones. This causes damage because they were only designed to be present in short bursts – not for long periods of time. There are two main types of white blood cells in the immune system – T cells and B cells. When
cortisol is present in chronically high levels, it specifically kills the T cells. This causes the B cells to become over-active because the cells of the immune system are now out of balance, and they produce high quantities of IgE antibodies. These antibodies then bind to mast cells.
The consequence of fear
When the person is exposed to the allergen, it binds to the IgE antibodies. This activates the mast cells which then release chemicals such as histamine which causes inflammation and the symptoms of an allergy (e.g. runny nose and eyes in hay fever, contraction of muscles in the intestines leading to vomiting, cramps and diarrhoea in the case of food allergies, narrowing of the airways in asthma etc.).
As you can see, you are not really allergic to anything! All you are experiencing is a biological manifestation of fear and the resultant consequences of excessive cortisol release!
How to gain freedom from allergies
If you suffer from allergies, my question to you is: “Who hurt you? Who broke your heart?” Deal with this through forgiveness and the sequence of physical reactions leading to allergies can be reversed and the symptoms will disappear. It is as simple as that!
See www.eagleswings.co.zw for a free book on allergies to learn more how they develop, how to overcome them (including children – where allergies can be genetically inherited) and to be encouraged by testimonies of people who have been healed of allergies without medication or a change in diet but simply through dealing with the fear and broken heart behind it. +
By Dr. Michelle Strydom who founded Eagles’ Wings Ministries. Enquiries for her materials (Books and DVDs), please contact Charmaine: 082 920 7826 / cj&eagleswings@gmail.com. This includes: ‘Healing Begins with Sanctification of the Heart 4th Edition’ and ‘No Disease is Incurable (22hr) DVD set’.

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Are You Worshipping The Idol Of Open Options?

As an Englishman, one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in America is automated call centres. You miss a package delivery from a courier company, and you have to call them to arrange a new delivery time. The problem is that when you call, you aren’t connected to a human being. You are connected to a talking robot programmed to recognise what you are saying in English. Or should I say, it is programmed to recognise what you are saying in American English!
Living in an indecisive world
Every time I call the courier company, I end up conducting the entire conversation in an accent that can only be described as the unholy offspring of John Wayne and Judi Dench. The talking robot, who is trying extremely hard not to laugh, keeps asking me to repeat myself. For a Brit, it is absolutely humiliating. It’s as if someone has implemented the whole system as payback for nearly two centuries of colonial rule.
The last time it happened, it occurred to me that this nightmarish limbo is a familiar place for many of us. Making choices and moving on with our lives seems increasingly difficult. We find ourselves paralysed: unable to make choices about relationships, dating, marriage, money, family, and career. I want to suggest that if we feel unable to make these choices, it’s not because we have the wrong accent. It may be because we’re worshiping a false god.
The god of open options
1 Kings 18:21 describes a crucial moment of decision. It’s the final showdown between the Lord of Israel and a false god called Baal. Elijah calls God’s people to choose once and for all between the living God who delivered them, and this false god who has captured their affections: “’How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is god, follow him.’ But the people said nothing.”
They seem unable, or unwilling, to make a choice. They want to hedge their bets, sit on the fence, and keep their options open. How different are we Christians in the 21st Century? Would you prefer to make an ironclad, no-turning-back choice, or one you could back out of if need be? Do you ever find that you’re afraid to commit? Do you reply to party invitations with a ‘maybe’ rather than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’? Do you like to keep your smartphone switched on at all times, even in meetings, so that you are never fully present at any given moment? Will you focus on the person you’re talking to after a church service, or will you look over her shoulder for a better conversation partner?

Why won’t you commit?
People wait years before declaring a college major, they only go to stores with a guaranteed return policy, and it’s not unusual for a person to date someone for years before getting married – if they ever do get married. We reserve the right to keep our options open in every department of our lives, from sex to spirituality.
In his book The Paradox of Choice, psychologist Barry Schwartz explains why we have trouble committing, why we love to keep our options open. He says that as a culture we demand choice. We demand options. We imagine that more options mean more freedom. And most people think that limitless freedom must be a good option. The irony, Schwartz writes, is that this apparently limitless choice doesn’t actually make us happy. The number of choices available to us becomes overwhelming, and actually makes it difficult for us to ever have the joy of fully committing to anything or anyone. Even if we do commit, our culture then makes us feel dissatisfied with the choice we’ve made.
Discontented with our choice
During a recent Starbucks visit, I stood behind a customer who ordered a decaf grande sugar-free vanilla nonfat latte with extra foam and the milk heated to 140 degrees. As I stood in line, I actually started to think, “maybe I want 140-
degree coffee too. Maybe,” I thought to myself, “my choice of milk temperature up to this point has been catastrophically naive.”
Suddenly, his choices made me unhappier about my own. I began to covet. I wasn’t sure what I wanted anymore. I became anxious and indecisive. I wasn’t sure I was ready to commit – either to my kind of coffee or to his. Was this really freedom of choice, or slavery to it?
What if we take the same multiplicity of trivial options we have at Starbucks, and apply them to bigger questions: where we should work, where we should study, where we should live, whom we should marry, or whom we should worship? It seems that the more options we have, the more afraid we are of choosing. We become enslaved to being noncommittal. We don’t want to make a mistake or cut down our options. In fact, we may become so fearful of making a choice, we simply refuse to choose. As we do that, we are worshiping an idol. A false god. One of the Baals of our culture, in fact. His name is “open options.”
We discount Christ’s sacrifice
Over the years, the Israelites had seen themselves delivered from slavery – repeatedly, spectacularly and miraculously – by the living God. The Egyptian gods were powerless against Him, as were the gods of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Yet here they are in 1 Kings 18, their faces licking the dust before Baal, worshiping another soon-to-be-defeated god. It should disgust us. But as God’s people today, how different are we? We have been delivered from slavery to sin by Christ’s death and Resurrection, spectacularly and miraculously. Here we are, many of us, worshiping the very gods that Christ has triumphed over, when we know they are defeated gods, and will only drag us to our deaths if we cling to them.
In what areas are you noncommittal?
We worship the god of open options. And he is killing us. He kills our relationships, because he tells us it’s better not to become too involved. He kills our service to others because he tells us it might be better to keep our weekends to ourselves. He kills our giving because he tells us these are uncertain financial times and you never know when you might need that money. He kills our joy in Christ because he tells us it’s better not to be thought of as too spiritual.
What is most frightening of all about the god of open options is that you may not even know that you are worshiping him. Because he pretends not to be a god at all. In fact, he promises you freedom from all gods, all responsibilities. “Keep your options open,” he says. “Worship me, and you don’t have to serve anything or anyone. No commitment necessary. Total freedom.”
Crippled by wavering decisions
Similarly, the Israelites thought that by saying nothing (1 Kings 18:21) they were not committing idolatry. But when they chose not to decide, they made a choice. By refusing to act, they were actually turning away from the living God who rescued them, and committing spiritual adultery by worshiping the god of open options. Some translations describe God’s people as “wavering” between two different opinions, but the Hebrew is closer to our word “limping.”  Their indecision was crippling them.
Wisdom or procrastination?
The living God did not create us to keep our options open; the Lord created us to commit. To Him, and to others. He created us to choose. It’s right to be careful in our decision making, of course: to pray, to seek counsel from Scripture and from wise Christians. The bigger the decision, the more careful we should be.
But there comes a point when pausing becomes procrastination, when waiting is no longer wise. There comes a point when it becomes a lack of trust in the God who ordains the decisions we will make, gathers up the frayed ends, and works all things for our good and His glory.
Trust that God is good and sovereign, and redeems every choice we make. Be wholehearted and single-minded. James 1:6-8 puts it like this: “Believe and do not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind…Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”
Make a choice!
So let me ask you, in what area of your life are you still flirting with the god of open options? Where are you refusing to choose? Maybe you’re refusing to commit to a particular relationship – perhaps even your marriage? Maybe you’re not truly committed at work – you have Facebook open in one of your browser tabs, half hoping to be interrupted. Maybe your restless eyes are on constant alert for something or someone better.
Maybe you’re keeping your options open with God Himself, not allowing yourself to become too committed. Elijah is speaking to you in 1 Kings, and he is saying, “Make a choice.” You have all the information about God you need. Enough of this noncommittal, risk-averse, weak-willed, God-forgetting immaturity. Or, as it probably says in some of the more modern translations, “Grow up.”
Forsake other options
The god of open options is a cruel and vindictive god, he will break your heart. On and on it continues, exhausting and frustrating and confusing and endless, pulling towards and then pushing away, like the tide on a beach. We have been like the starving man sitting in front of a buffet, dying simply because he would not choose between the chicken and the shrimp. The god of open options is also a liar. He promises you that by keeping your options open, you can have everything and everyone. But in the end, you get nothing and no one.
You cannot serve two masters
Jesus said, “You cannot serve two masters.” You must choose whom you will follow. And if you choose the god of open options, you cannot choose the Triune God, the one who deliberately closed off His options in order to save your life. Nothing narrows your options more than allowing your hands and feet to be nailed to a wooden cross.
“This day I call Heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life” Deut 30:19-20.
Choose the God of infinite possibility who chose to limit Himself to a particular time, a particular place, and a particular people. Choose the God who closed off all other alternatives so that He could pursue for Himself one Bride. Choose the God who chose not to come down from the Cross until she was won. Choose the narrow way. Stop worshiping the god of open options. 
BY BARRY COOPER, an author and speaker. For more information: www.barrycooper.com