Monday, December 21, 2009

Devotions and Legalism

Do you approach your time set aside with God as a means of gaining merit? Let's put it another way: Do you feel guilty and condemned when you skip your devotions? Do you feel that when you do have a time of prayer and reading your Bible, you have merited blessing? I have been listening to a sermon by C. J. Mahaney entitled "Enjoying Grace and Detecting Legalism." This quote was taken from the sermon. Mahaney repeated a prayer he had prayed that morning as an example of how to approach devotions and any other spiritual disciplines without legalism but depending upon God's grace and focusing on Jesus and the cross. I hope this helps some of you Christians out there. I know it helped me.

Father, thank you, thank you for speaking to me this morning as I waited on you, as I worshipped, as I read Your word, as I studied your word, and as I reviewed my notes. I received Your grace, thank You for these means of grace, but I want to acknowledge right now that I don’t merit Your blessing because of my previous practice. And my appeal to You now, yes, I want You to bless me. Bless me, Lord, as I have this privilege to serve Your people, but I ask You to bless me only, ever, and always because of the person and finished work of Your Son, because it is only on His merit that I can receive blessing because of what He has achieved that I can receive blessing from You and not because of any contribution that I have made through my practice of the personal or the corporate disciplines.

You see, a legalist is more aware of and reliant upon godly practices, (this is subtle) godly practices. This is not someone living in blatant, obvious disobedience to God, disregard for God’s word. No, legalists often can be the ones who appear to be the most zealous. But as Mr. Schriner said earlier “the attempt to obedience to the Law to gain recognition before God is insidious. It is the height of arrogance.” You are a legalist if you are more aware of and reliant upon godly practices than you are upon the cross. --C. J. Mahaney

Saturday, December 5, 2009

How To Make Lefse (a.k.a. Norwegian Potato Lefse)

This is the Potato Lefse recipe handed down from my norwegian great-grandmother, Bergliot Rindal Pogue:
8 c. mashed potatoes (5 lbs.)
1/2 c. cream
8 T. butter (1/2 cup)
1 T. salt
4 c. flour (chill before in freezer or refridgerator)
1 tsp. sugar

Cook potatoes until soft. Mash and add cream, butter, salt, and sugar. Whip until smooth and no lumps are left. Chill.
Add flour and mix with hands until dough is soft but does not stick to hands. Roll out on pastry cloth and fry on griddle. (The less flour you use the more tender the lefse.)

This recipe is pretty basic. There are a lot of "tips" that need to be added to make it successful. I am by no means an expert lefse maker, but I have watched both my husband's parents and my mom make lefse several times, and I have done it myself many times. Here is a tutorial:

Peel 5 pounds of potatoes, boil until tender, drain.

Mash potatoes with a potato masher or potato ricer. Add cream, butter, salt, and sugar. Whip until smooth and no lumps are left. Chill.
Once cool, mash again or put through the potato ricer again. Add 4-5 cups chilled all-purpose flour. Mix with your hands. It will probably still stick to your hands, but if you add too much flour, it will make the lefse dry and harder.

Divide lefse dough into golf ball size pieces for individual round lefse or baseball size for large griddle size pieces that will be cut into wedges to be eaten. In this example I did larger pieces and later cut them into three wegdes per piece.

Take ball and pat down flat. Dip into small pile of flour on counter on both sides of dough.

Pat flour into knit-covered lefse rolling pin and work flour into pastry cloth. Begin rolling out lefse until thin and large enough to cover griddle. Make sure to add more flour to the rolling pin and pastry cloth before you roll out the next piece. Add flour in between each piece to prevent sticking.

Take lefse turner and gently roll up lefse (not tightly) onto turner. It is not necessary to roll it up all the way, but just enough to be able to transport it to the griddle.

Grill on both sides until a light brown color.

Lay flat in between two cotton towels to keep moisture in until cooled. If you made the large lefse size, cut into wedges in thirds. Store in gallon-size Ziploc bags. Eat it fresh and warm or save it until later when it has been cooled on the counter. If you do not plan to eat it within 24 hours, then refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve. When ready to eat, spread butter on one side and sprinkle about 1/2-1 tsp. sugar per piece. My Norwegian/Swedish friend eats it with cinnamon-sugar. I also know some Norwegians who eat it with brown sugar. We personally prefer plain white sugar. Enjoy!

Optional: I have made lefse in Eastern Europe without any special griddle or pastry cloth. I still used the special rolling pin, but simply covered it with clean (never used) nylons (pantyhose). I simply cooked it over the stove on a non-stick pan or cast-iron skillet. I had to make the lefse smaller to fit the pan, but it worked just fine!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

True Forgiveness

After hearing this sermon today based on Luke 15:11-24, I realized how very weak we as humans are in forgiveness, and how gracious God truly is. In comparing God's relationship with us to one of a father, Jesus told a story about a foolish son who brought shame to his family through wasteful and sinful living. What amazes me is how the father's forgiving heart sought out a restored relationship by a gracious welcoming act even before the son repented. The father ran to him and kissed him. How often we withhold affection and lovingkindness to people because we have been hurt by them or we want to teach them a lesson through our disdain. May we become more like the Father and reach out to loved ones who have hurt us with a willingness to forgive and be gracious to them.

Note: These sermons are free to listen to from Dr. Timothy Keller and they are available on Redeemer's free sermon resources website: I found these under the heading "What Is The Gospel?" with the subheading "The Prodigal God." There are several sermons in a series on The Prodigal Son story Jesus told. I highly recommend listening to this series.