Gratitude’s Power

By Dr. Kelli Criss

At Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, we see the importance of avoiding the snares set by the radical left and the media who insist the global pandemic falls on Trump’s shoulders alone.  They falsely assert that recovery relies totally on the political leaders of our day. We know that the faith community possesses power and influence from God to be part of the solution ourselves. 

Today’s blog, Gratitude’s Power, discusses how King Jehoshaphat and Judah reacted to God’s victory and favor with worship and thanksgiving and how the faith community can learn from the people of Judah’s testimony.  We discuss the ways God’s victory over COVID-19 is unfolding even now.   

Thanking God 

After the tremendous victory over their enemies, King Jehoshaphat and the nation of Judah remembered to thank God for who He is – sovereign, all-powerful, gracious, just, and generous.  They expressed gratitude for all God had done for them: 

On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the Lord. This is why it is called the Valley of Berakah to this day. Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies.  They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the Lord with harps and lyres and trumpets. (2 Chronicles 20: 26-28, New International Version) 

Berakah means praise.  Just as worship and praise led the nation of Judah into battle, praise led them into their future after the crisis.  Whether the faith community is facing trouble or triumph, relating to God through praise and gratitude is our guide and constant.   

Like the people of Judah, the faith community has united for prayer and fasting.  We meditated upon God’s attributes during the Florida National Day of Prayer livestream and heard God’s word communicated through faith leaders. 

Impacting Surrounding Kingdoms 

As King Jehoshaphat and his nation, Judah, turned to God for help, they shared a testimony that impacted their neighbors in the surrounding kingdoms.  Of course, God had accomplished the victory and granted the spoils; yet, the people of Judah and their king, had been obedient to God.  This interaction between God and His people possesses tremendous power to impact everyone around the faith community: “The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel” (2 Chron. 20:29, NIV).   

God was glorified through the nation of Judah’s testimony.  As people of faith, we are always eager for our lives to be a vibrant testimony which will help people know God.  This truth feels even more poignant during the current global crisis when suffering is rampant.  So, how has God impacted the “surrounding kingdoms” during His victory over COVID-19? 

Border Security 

 The faith community is seeing God’s movement to glorify His name.  At Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, we believe God is glorifying His name during the current crisis through securing international borders.   

Borders are being closed or highly monitored via restrictions throughout the world.  At home in the U.S., since April Trump has repeatedly extended border closures for non-essential travel with Canada and Mexico through June, 2020.  Furthermore, the Trump administration has restricted travel to the U.S. by foreign nationals from various countries to protect America from the spread of the coronavirus.  Before the pandemic, the media and political opponents labeled President Trump as xenophobic for focusing upon border security through measures like building the wall and increasing border security staffing.   

Now, even globalism-focused Europe has imposed travel and border access restrictions. Consider how globalism has been the rallying cry in Europe during recent decades; however, during the pandemic Europe has closed and/or limited travel within the bloc and from neighboring countries around the European Union (EU) bloc’s borders.  Although on the surface these European border restrictions are a response to coronavirus, God is using these restrictions to protect nations from threats by causing leaders to decide to secure their borders.  Hasn’t the faith community prayed for God to create security along borders around the world? We can worship God with gratitude.  He is answering our prayers.   

Next week, we’ll discuss further examples of God working during the current crisis.  God is fulfilling His promise to make “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NASB).    

For more information about the Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, visit our website to read previous blogs or signup for our newsletter.   

Florida’s 2020 National Day of Prayer

By Dr. Kelli Criss

On Thursday, May 7, 2020, Florida’s National Day of Prayer (NDP), was hosted via livestream by the Florida Prayer Network along with Hilltop House of Prayer. Today’s blog, Florida’s 2020 National Day of Prayer, shares the prayers of civil government and faith leaders during the event and the history of the NDP.  

FLORIDA’S FAITH 

Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, Governor Ron DeSantis, Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, CFO Jimmy Patronis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and Representative Mel Ponder along with Florida’s civic government and faith leaders sought God’s blessing for our beloved state and country during Florida’s NDP.  

Pastor Pam Olsen, the event’s organizer, opened in prayer outside the Old Capitol with these words: “Father God, I thank you for the privilege to stand here at the heart of our state government. God, crying out for America that we need you.  Jesus, we need you to come and heal our land. . . . Stop this virus.  Heal hearts.  Heal the economy.”

Governor DeSantis explained “With faith guiding the way, we will emerge stronger than before. . . .My prayer for all Floridians is that we continue to carry an appreciation of what truly matters in life and that we gain a new understanding of our true strength. In the face of fear and crisis, we are resilient.”

Rabbi Leonid Feldman of Temple Bethel in Palm Beach shared: “Master of the Universe, as the entire world continues to combat this dreadful scourge, we are grateful to you for inspiring the heroes who are sacrificing their lives day after day and for granting wisdom to our government officials so they can make the right decisions.  We ask you to help us understand that we all truly are one.  Dear God, remind us that every human being was created in your image and that every person has unique value and dignity. . . .Teach us . . . to realize that what we used to call menial jobs are in fact, essential. . . .Help us dear God to see the good in people so that we will, indeed, be able to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.” 

THE WHITE HOUSE

President Trump released a Proclamation for the 2020 NDP stating: “On this National Day of Prayer, Americans . . . join together and lift up our hearts, remembering the words of 1 John 5:14 that tell us when ‘we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.’”  Faith and Freedom Coalition National Chairman, Dr. Ralph Reed, joined faith leaders from across the nation at the White House on Thursday for the National Day of Prayer.

THIS YEAR’S NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER – DIFFERENT FROM THE PAST

According to the National Day of Prayer.Org, over 60,000 community prayer gatherings typically occur on the first Thursday of May across America.   The National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force confirmed that this powerful observance would neither “be canceled nor postponed–but will look very different from years past.” The 2020 NDP event involved “new and creative approaches, combined with unprecedented access to digital platforms . . . to mobilize millions in unified, public prayer for America . . . with the potential to become the largest prayer ‘gathering’ in U.S. history – with millions praying together, individually.”

BEFORE THE REVOLUTION

Let’s look back at how our government observed previous national days of prayer that predated the American Revolution.  Before the United States was established, the tradition of praying as a nation on a predetermined date was already occurring.  The Continental Congress, the legislative body which governed the U.S. from 1774-1789, made the first proclamation in 1775 designating a day for prayer. 

Another proclamation made by Congress was designated for May 17, 1776 in the colonies.  The proclamation declares that the colonists must “confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his [God’s] righteous displeasure, and through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness.”  As colonists prepared for revolution against the British crown, Massachusetts wanted printings of the proclamation for churches to be distributed.  Rather than employing the traditional “God Save The King” maxim, the printings’ closing read “God Save This People.”

A YOUNG REPUBLIC PRAYS

Subsequently, throughout Revolutionary War, the Congress continued to set at least two national days of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer,” according to the Library of Congress.  As the Civil War ravaged our country, President Abraham Lincoln called for a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer” in an 1863 proclamation.

MODERN DAY OBSERVANCES

During President Truman’s administration, the NDP became a formalized annual tradition, established through a joint resolution of Congress in 1952.  Later President Reagan’s administration fixed the first Thursday of every May as the NDP.  This national observance includes yearly proclamations by our presidents which ask our Republic to pray.  Since 1952, every president has signed such a yearly National Day of Prayer Proclamation.  Only four presidents have issued several National Day of Prayer Proclamations within the same year: Presidents Gerald Ford, George H. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.

Join us next week as we continue our series about God’s protection over Judah during unfathomable fear and trouble.  To learn more about Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, visit our website to sign-up for our newsletters and to read previous blogs

God Is

By Dr. Kelli Criss

Last week, we discussed King Jehoshaphat’s process for turning to God in the midst of war.  To overcome his panic over the enemy, he admitted his fear of the unknown and his powerlessness.  Shifting his focus from only the problem, he went to God with his own limitations.  Today, our blog, God Is, emphasizes the content of Jehoshaphat’s prayers. 

God’s attributes pervaded Jehoshaphat’s prayers as he submitted to God.  King Jehoshaphat focused upon God’s sovereignty, power, faithfulness, grace, and justice.   

Sovereignty and Power 

God’s sovereignty and power supersedes all created things.  No force in the universe is strong enough to stand against His power.  All other power in our world is derived from God, who shares His power. King Jehoshaphat proclaims God’s sovereignty and power as he prays: “Are you not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations?  Power and might are in your hand so that no one can stand against you” (2 Chron. 20:6, New American Standard Bible).  This power is spiritual.  Today during the global pandemic, we ask God to fill us with His Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, and might so that we and those around us will become people who build a society in which justice, truth, mercy, and goodness prevail.   

Faithfulness 

The faithfulness of God arises in Jehoshaphat’s words: “Did you not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham your friend forever?” (2 Chron 20:7, NASB).  God made Abraham a promise in Genesis 12:1-6 and Genesis 17:1-8 to make him into a great nation, to bless him, and to bless all the world’s families through him.  In the book of Joshua, God’s promise was fulfilled.   

Moses said, “There is no one like the God of Israel.  He rides across the heavens to help you, across the skies in majestic splendor.  The eternal God is your refuge, and His everlasting arms are under you” (Deuteronomy 33:26-27, New Living Translation).  Unlike fickle human beings, God never wavers in His commitments due to boredom, fear, weakness, difficulty, or selfishness.  How would our lives change if we truly understood God’s faithfulness? Would we be so frustrated and fearful if we knew that God would never break His promises because He cannot be faithless to Himself?  Wouldn’t we have more peace if we could daily renew a complete confidence in God? 

Grace and Justice 

The grace of God also emerges in Jehoshaphat’s prayer as he proclaims, “We will stand before this temple . . . in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple)” (2 Chron. 20:9, New King James Version).  God’s presence indicates a supernatural persevering love for us.  That love confers such favor upon us.  God’s love sustains us even if we waver in our love for God.  Jehoshaphat focuses on God’s justice as he prays “O our God, will You not judge them?” (2 Chron. 20:12, NKJV).  Judah faces an unprovoked attack.  The nation seeks God’s justice in relation to the country’s undertaking the meritless attack.   

Following Judah’s Example 

As the world contends with our own fears and powerlessness during the COVID-19 onslaught, the faith community is being called to submit to God in prayer.  We can follow the example set by Judah and King Jehoshaphat as they focused upon God’s attributes during prayer and fasting.  Today, we can recall examples of God’s sovereignty, power, faithfulness, grace, and justice; meditate upon these examples; and share with those around us.  We can extract these examples from our lives and from Scripture.  Indeed, God has been faithful to mankind throughout eternity.    

Next week, join us as we discuss how Judah waited upon God’s response to the nation’s prayers.  We will explore God’s answer to King Jehoshaphat and Judah’s prayers.  Resolving to wait for God’s response to their prayers enabled Judah to listen for a divine plan rather than relying solely on human intellect. 

For more information, check out Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition’s website where you’ll find previous blogs and a newsletter sign-up form.   

Germ Theory and Vaccines

By Dr. Kelli Criss

As our country and the world continue to address the coronavirus outbreak, our blog, Germ Theory and Vaccines, looks back to the end of the nineteenth century.  This retrospective contextualizes our current search for a vaccine and efforts to “flatten the curve” of rising infectious cases.   

1875-1900: The Discovery of Germ Theory 

During the final quarter of the nineteenth century, a scientific methodology for comprehending and addressing epidemic diseases was created and thus, opened the field of modern bacteriology.  This period was characterized by the identification of the pathogens causing myriad illnesses like typhoid, cholera, tuberculosis, diphtheria, and tetanus.  The ability to make such ground-breaking discoveries was linked to advances in medical technology like aniline stains and microscopes with high magnification ability.  These stains, developed in the 1860s and 1870s, were dyes enabling bacteria cultures to be seen under a microscope.  Likewise, new microscopes enabled high magnification of bacteria without distortion in the images.   

With a greater understanding of the bacterial and viral sources of diseases, public-health methods to control the spread of illness launched.  Among these methods, were disinfecting the environments of people infected with disease and separating ill patients in sanatoriums.  Investigation of diseases worked hand-in-hand with bacteriology and vaccine discoveries to enable the prevention of disease.  Diphtheria is one such disease.  

Diphtheria: The First Widespread Disease Prevented by Vaccine 

Diphtheria was a challenge to diagnose, and therefore, study.  Having the same symptoms as other diseases, diphtheria was not easily diagnosed.  In 1884, the diphtheria bacillus was identified; however, another decade passed until any breakthrough in prevention occurred.  By the middle of the 1890s, a diphtheria vaccine was developed through the identification of the diphtheria antitoxin.  States like Illinois showed a major drop in the death rate from diphtheria with the advent of the vaccine.  To be exact, Illinois’s death rate fell from an 1886 rate of 113 people per 100,000 to a 1902 rate of 22 individuals per 100,000.  After such success, bacteria became the focus of the medical community and accelerated advances in public health. 

Our Guide into All Truth 

People are experiencing desperation and confusion globally as we face the current coronavirus pandemic.  We need God’s help greatly and grapple with maintaining our faith-centered focus.  Like us, the disciples struggled to reconcile the stress and bewilderment of the events Jesus foretold about his crucifixion with their need for Christ’s physical presence in their lives.  When Jesus was preparing the disciples for his crucifixion and resurrection, he promised them that he would send the Holy Spirit as a guide and comfort to them, saying  

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” John 16:13 (New American Standard) 

Throughout history, God’s Spirit has revealed truth to humans and been Immanuel, God with us.  We thank God for all the wisdom and understanding we have been given.  As the faith community, we pray for God’s truth to light our path concerning the coronavirus and we ask for wisdom for our leaders, healthcare providers, and researchers.   

For more information about Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, check out our website or sign-up for our newsletter.   

Timeline of Events 

1862 – Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), French scientist, demonstrated airborne bacteria were the source of fermentation.  Due to these findings, scientists move away from believing disease is connected to environmental sources and embrace the notion of “germ theory.” 

1876- Robert Koch (1843-1910), a German scientist, while investigating anthrax in sheep and cattle, proves that particular pathogens or disease-causing agents like bacteria and viruses, cause disease.  

1882- Koch discovers the tuberculosis bacillus or bacteria. 

1879 – Louis Pasteur identifies how to use the bacilli or rod-shaped bacteria at the source of various illnesses in vaccinations.  The work of Edward Jenner (1749-1823), a British doctor, who discovered the smallpox vaccine, was instrumental in Pasteur’s innovation.   

1889 -1891 – 40 % of world’s population infected with influenza during epidemic. 

Sources 

Hooper, J. (1999, February).  A New germ theory.  The Atlantic.  Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1999/02/a-new-germ-theory/377430/  

Tompkins, V. (1997).  American eras: Development of the Industrial United States, 1878-1899.  New York, NY: Gale 

Resources 

Lecture 14: The Germ Theory of Disease from History 234: Epidemics in Western Society since 1600, an Open Yale Course 

https://oyc.yale.edu/history/hist-234/lecture-14