Blankets or No Blankets

by Bill Denton

A minister of the staid and orthodox type had an old woman in his congregation who was in the habit of saying, "Praise the Lord, amen," when anything particularly helpful was said, This practice greatly disturbed the minister and one New Year's day he went to see her. "Betty," he said, "I will make a bargain with you. You call out, Praise the Lord' just when I get to the best part of my sermon and it upsets my thoughts. Now if you will stop doing it all this year, I will give you a pair of wool blankets."

Betty was poor, and the offer of the blankets sounded good. So she did her best to earn them. Sunday after Sunday she kept quiet. But one day a minister came to preach who was bubbling over with joy.  As he preached on the forgiveness of sin and all the blessings that follow, the vision of the blankets began to fade and fade, and the joys of salvation grew brighter and brighter. At last Betty could stand it no longer and jumping up she cried, "Blankets or no blankets, Hallelujah!"

-source unknown

We need a few more people with the attitude of the lady who decided that, blankets or no blankets, she was going to praise the Lord! I'm not for undisciplined chaos, but it appears that too many people either have forgotten how, or they never knew how to praise the Lord.

While it is possible to have a personal, private, and quiet time of praise for God, when you read the Bible you cannot help but see that praise is associated with something outward, something in which people join together, and something which was often noisy! Such things seemingly offend our cultural sensibilities, which is sad. It robs us of a heartfelt expression of joy, thanks and honor of God.

In some churches where I have either visited or preached, there were people who could not contain their joy and appreciation for the things God has done or for the things with which He has blessed them. Their voices echo the grand truths proclaimed from Scripture, punctuating sermons with "Amen" "Praise God" or some other vocal statement.

For some reason, many seem afraid of that kind of expression. I wish it were not the case. I once had an elder's wife say, "I wish I could say, Amen' sometimes when you're preaching. I just feel like I want to shout, I feel so good."

I jokingly told her to make a sign and write in big letters the word, "Amen!" Then she could just hold it up and wave it at me and I would know she was praising God. It was a joke, but it's a sad joke.

If anyone is wondering, a few "Amens" or "Hallelujahs" wouldn't bother me a bit. In fact, I wish we wanted to praise God more. We seem to know we ought to praise God, but try to get someone to tell you how. Usually, we end up with either no praise, or a stilted praise at best. It's like someone tossed a wet blanket on us to keep us from being too "emotional."

Though different from the blankets offered to the old lady in the little story, we just need to say, "Blankets or no blankets, Hallelujah!"

© Copyright 2003, Dr. Bill Denton

All Rights Reserved.

Bill Denton's new book is available at www.lulu.com/billdenton/

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