Going Vertical and Horizontal

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Let’s face it. We live in a jacked up world. The problems are endless and it seems like some days everything and everyone is against you. Ever feel that way? I think we all have our moments of feeling like it is our turn to be tied to the whipping post.

I heard a quote from a pastor in Harlem. “If all you have is a relationship with God and have no relationship with people, you only have a stick, not a cross.” I like that, but the opposite is also true. If all you have is a relationship with people and no relationship with God, you still only have a stick, not a cross. Pretty deep thought either way.

We are called to be like Jesus. He loves people not just for who they are, but for who He knows they CAN be. Jesus sees the potential in people and has a way of drawing it out of us, even if we don’t see it ourselves. I think that is one of the reasons I like teaching kids. I can often see the potential in them that they don’t see in themselves.

We are all called to give of whatever God has entrusted to us. Sara Schecter is a member of my church and a Head of Oakridge School in Arlington, TX. She exemplifies the love of Christ. Recently her story of unselfish love went viral. She had three boys in her school, and their dad needed a kidney. She found out about it and ended up giving him one of her kidneys. It turned out she was a perfect match. She happens to be white and the family is black, but that did not matter in God’s scheme of things. The dad never even asked to be put on a list for a donor! Ms. Schecter just could not bear the thought of the three boys living without their father when she had the means of helping them. Wow. That is amazing love!

That is the type of love we are to have for one another. In a jacked up world, it only takes a simple act of love to change the world for those we encounter. The beauty is that it also changes OUR world. That truly is a win-win situation. That is how we can change the world…one life at a time.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

Technology

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Technology is a double-edged sword. Like many things in life, it can be used for good or perverted for evil. We have to choose every day whether we are going to be conformed to this world or be transformed by the Spirit of God.

I have to admit that when video games were invented, I was drawn to them like a bug to a light. When Space Invaders first came out, I got hooked immediately and was determined to beat the game. Looking back I am kind of embarrassed by how many hours I spent trying to beat that silly game, but I finally did!

Did I learn my lesson? Well…no. When Call of Duty came around I was immediately hooked again! I spent countless hours beating people around the world and ranked myself up to be one of the better players out there (at least in my mind…LOL). I finally burned myself out and just went cold turkey and turned off all the gaming. I think it was a good move for me as I wasted way too much time in the fantasy world of games.

Recently I heard a sermon about technology and how it is being abused by young and old alike. Grandmothers spend countless hours playing Candy Crush, adults spend way too much time on social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., etc. They all have addictive things about them that tempt us to pick up the phone and check out what the latest posting is about….and don’t forget email and instant messaging, and online shopping!

We have forgotten how to have conversations with people sitting in front of us! Look at the folks in restaurants and see how many of them are on their phones and ignoring the people right there with them. I have to laugh when I go into the teacher’s lounge at school. Everyone pulls out their lunch and then pulls out their phone! I purposefully try to have actual conversations with people around me, but many of them are so busy texting or scrolling that they just tune out the people around them. We have become victims of the age we live in. We are the most connected people ever worldwide and yet we are disconnected from each other in real relationships. How sad is that?

I have to admit that before cell phones came around we still had problems watching too much TV, but now with the advent of the internet, we have access 24/7 to information and entertainment. I hate to date myself, but when I was a kid I remember the first TV we had. It was a black and white DuMont. It got a total of 3 channels and we had to adjust the rabbit ears to get a decent picture. I was the remote control for Dad. At midnight we got this annoying signal that informed us that there would be no more broadcast until morning. Boy have things changed!

We used to have a full set of encyclopedias just to know the details about something important or historic. Now we Google it and are given the info in a matter of nanoseconds on our phone. Think about this: the GPS on our phone today is many times greater in power and accuracy than the system our country used to put a man on the moon! We are living in both wonderful and perilous times. What we do with technology will make or break us.

In the Bible, Jesus often retreated from everyone and everything to get alone with his Father. I think we need to heed that example. We need time away from all distractions on a daily basis just to commune with our heavenly Father. I have found a great way to use my technology while I am driving. I either put on praise music or I put on Scripture that is being read to me. I have actually listened to the whole Bible in a very short time this way!

Even with the good things that technology can bring, I think we still need time to pray, meditate on God’s Word, and listen to what God is trying to say to us. I encourage you to try carving out time every day just to be still before the Lord. I am an early riser, so I will be up a few minutes early just to spend time with my Father. It is a pretty good way to start the day, don’t you think? I will be praying for you too. God bless and Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

Back Stabbers

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Chorus from The O’Jays Back Stabbers

(What they do?)
(They smilin’ in your face)
All the time, they want to take your place
The back stabbers (Back stabbers)

I never cease to be amazed at people who stoop to stabbing other people in the back. Just this week I got blindsided by someone I thought was a friend (at least casually). I never had a cross word with this person and yet I was thrown under the bus along with two other co-workers. Fortunately for me, one of us was in the room and overheard the remarks. I really appreciated what my friend did. They called the back stabber out and told them how inappropriate and untrue it was.

I was hurt by the cutting remarks and part of me wanted to lash out and let them know how I felt. This is where the hard part comes in. I had just been listening to some Scripture where Jesus was teaching us to love our enemies and pray for them. Hmmmm. Sometimes I don’t want to act like Jesus. LOL.

The more I thought about it the more I realized that attacks like this are an attempt to elevate themselves at the expense of others. Pretty pathetic when you think about it. How juvenile is that? I try my best to get along with everyone, but I have no illusion that everyone loves me. I just know that I can’t control how they look at me. I can only do what is right and let God deal with them.

When I offend someone, I try to take responsibility and apologize for it. When someone offends me, I try to talk to them about it in a calm and rational manner and work it out. Sometimes people will fess up when they mess up and sometimes they justify what they did. Either way, I try to talk to them instead of everyone around them. At least we both know where we stand.

In the case above, I have decided to just let it go and be kind and respectful despite how I was treated. Proverbs 25:21-22 says: “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” Think about that. By being kind and loving to an enemy we help them to realize they have a conscience and God blesses us for it! I think that is a better outcome for all, is it not?

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

Uncommon

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Jesus was radically uncommon. Think about this:

  • He is the King of Kings, but came to earth as a helpless baby.
  • He taught in the synagogue at the age of 12.
  • He worked as a simple carpenter for much of his life despite Him being the Son of God.
  • His ministry was only three years long, yet it turned the world upside down.
  • When He came into Jerusalem, He came in riding on a donkey.
  • He performed countless miracles and impacted the lives of all He encountered.
  • He chose twelve disciples to carry His word to the world, and He knew Judas was the one who would betray Him.
  • He called the self-righteous people of his day a brood of vipers. He was not afraid of them.
  • He taught us how to live, how to pray, and how to forgive everyone…even our enemies!
  • He gave up his life on the cross for the sins of all mankind, and rose again in three days to defeat death.
  • When He went back to Heaven, He gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us and encourage us.
  • He is coming back again, but this time He will be coming as the King of Kings.

Think about those facts and then realize that Jesus has called each of us to be uncommon! We are to be like Him! We are called to be world changers and earth shakers! We are called to be His disciples and to make disciples. All of God’s commandments are boiled down to this (I paraphrase): love God with all your heart and love other people like you love yourself.

Why is that so hard to do for so many people? Well, this is just my opinion but I think the love of money has blinded many people from really knowing God and understanding what He wants from us. We live in perilous times and I do believe that God is allowing people to choose how they live. I pray that each of us do our job of living for God first and foremost, and that we help others to turn to Him before it is too late. Nobody knows when Jesus will return, and none of us know when we will take our last breath. That is all in God’s hands.

I pray that we be an uncommon people. Help us Lord, to be the light in the darkness to draw the lost to You. May we glorify You in all we say and do. Amen.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

When You Take Offense

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

We live in a time where everyone seems to have a chip on their shoulder. What offends you? Politics? Religion? Traffic? Your family? Your spouse? Your job? I would be willing to bet that every one of us is prone to being offended. The problem is, when you take offense, you build a fence. Communication and relationships are sabotaged to the point that they are often destroyed beyond repair.

I don’t want to start singing here, but “Let It Go” comes to mind. When we hold on to offenses we are giving the devil a foothold in our heart. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The problem is, we don’t know who the real enemy is behind the scenes. We think it is the guy in traffic that is acting like a total jerk, or the boss who demeans us in front of others. That is not the REAL problem. We have to realize where the attack is from and start taking back control of our reactions.

A few suggestions to surviving the chaos in a world gone mad:

  • Learn the art of letting go of anger. It is truly liberating when you realize that you actually have the power over your own emotions. You will live longer and have a lot less stress.
  • Don’t let other people steal your joy. Why would you let someone else push your buttons and control you? Take back that control over your responses.
  • Stay in your lane. We say this a lot at school, but it applies to all aspects of life. Mind your own business and don’t get caught up in the drama that surrounds you every day. Do you really want more drama in your life?
  • Seek to be at peace with everyone as much as possible. You don’t have to like them, but you can still be respectful. Everyone is not going to think as you think or behave as you behave. Don’t expect them to. That is absurd. Worry about the person in the mirror. That is the only person that you can really change.
  • Get in the habit of doing the right thing regardless of what other people do or say. You will have less to apologize for.
  • Think about the consequences of your words and your actions before you speak or act.
  • Forgiveness is a necessity for your own sanity. Don’t let bitterness take root and keep you from realizing the joy of life.
  • Changing how you speak, think, and act is not easy to do. Ask God to help you and put on the whole armor of God every day.

I know that some of you may be tempted to take this thought to the extreme, so let me add that I in no way suggest that you turn a blind eye to injustice or evil. That is foolish and dangerous as well. We do have to confront evil when it crosses our path. I simply suggest considering a different path to have different outcomes.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

Work Smarter AND Harder

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

At some point in life you might have been advised to work smarter, not harder. That has an element of truth to it, but it misses the point of ultimate success. I was watching one of the tribute videos of Kobe Bryant. He along with numerous other athletes, successful businessmen, politicians, and top educators have come to the same conclusion: It takes hard work and working smarter to succeed. You will never reach your true potential if you neglect the hard work ethic.

“The three greatest essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work, second, stick-to-it-iveness, and third, common sense.” Thomas Edison. I like that quote because Thomas Edison also said, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

How do you stay positive when you are met with continued setbacks?

  • Stay focused on your goal.
  • Learn from each mistake.
  • Surround yourself with positive people.
  • Don’t get distracted by what other people think.
  • Be willing to think outside the box.
  • Only take advice from people who are knowledgeable and have common sense.

The road to success if often paved with blood, sweat, and tears. Don’t let the setbacks destroy your dream. The question becomes, are you willing to pay the price?

“Success is never owned. It is rented, and the rent is due every day.” Rory Vaden

Here is to your true success! Stay focused my friend.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

Love Em and Lift Em

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Teaching can be boiled down to a simple formula: love em and lift em.

  • You love em for who they are. You lift em to see their inner-beauty and potential.
  • You love em when they make mistakes. You lift em to take responsibility for their actions and consider the consequences.
  • You love em when they get what you are teaching. You lift em to put it into practice.
  • You love em when they show kindness to others. You lift em to be kind to everyone.
  • You love em when they are hurt or angry. You lift em to forgive those who hurt them.
  • You love em when they are disrespectful. You lift em to be respectful to all, even those they don’t like.
  • You love em when they want to give up. You lift em to press on, excel, and realize the power of perseverance.
  • You love em when they struggle with things at home. You lift em to focus on the task at hand and encourage them through the process.
  • You love em as they learn social skills. You teach them how to be a friend to others.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

Who’s In Your Boat?

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

I was listening today to a teaching that centered around Mark 4 where Jesus was in the boat with his disciples. He tells them, “Let’s go over to the other side.” The problem came when they were crossing over and a terrible storm arose. Keep in mind these were fishermen….and they were very afraid of drowning. What was Jesus doing? He was sleeping! Can you imagine what was going on in their minds? Finally they woke him up and asked, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown????”

Immediately Jesus arose and calmed the storm with a simple command, then he asked his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” We can’t judge the disciples too harshly because we might very well have been in a similar situation and crying out to the Lord ourselves.

The question becomes: where is your faith when you are in the storm? You have do ask yourself:

  • Is God good? That would be an absolute yes!
  • Does He care what happens to us? Without question He loves and cares for each of us!
  • Can He handle it? Of course He can. God can do anything He wants to do.

So where is our faith? Are we just trying to get through the storm in our own strength? That does not work. If Jesus is in your boat, do you really have to worry? Whatever God tells you to do, just do it. Don’t question it no matter how small or how big it may seem. An army may be lined up against you, but you and God are a majority! Don’t let the fear of failure, the fear of the future, or fear of your current circumstances hold you back.

True faith requires action. Just know that when God tells you to do something you can count on being tested. Don’t be surprised by it. Know that the testing of your faith reveals your true motives and your character. If you fold in the face of a storm, you have to ask yourself how much faith you really have.

By the way, everybody fails. Everybody makes mistakes…and everybody falls short of the glory of God. It is only thru Christ that we can become fully alive and live the lives that God destined for us. I was sharing with a group of men over breakfast that despite my eyesight problem, I have gained greater insight into myself and into other people. God has used my frailties to help me see things in a spiritual sense that I might have otherwise missed.

Whatever battle you face, don’t despair. If God called you to it, He will help you through it. You don’t have to understand, you just have to trust and obey.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

World Changers

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

2020

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

There are three types of sight: hindsight, eyesight, and insight. Each of them are important, but they give us different perspectives. Hindsight is past tense and gives us our history lessons. It helps us learn from both successes and failures. They say it is 20/20, but we don’t always see things as they were. We see them how we remember them, and many of us have poor memories. Hence, history tends to repeat itself till we learn the lesson.

Eyesight is present tense. It helps us see and evaluate what is currently going on around us. It helps us evaluate our lives and live fully in the moment. For those of us who have to wear corrective lenses to see properly, you can appreciate what it is like to see things clearly.

Insight is future tense. It gives us clarity, hope, and encouragement for the future. It helps us weather the storms and keep track of our true North. It is our compass, our light, and our hope.

It is debatable which one is the most important. Perhaps it depends on where you are in life. I think each has merit and can either help or hinder us. I used to think that seeing was believing, but I found out that a good magician can make you believe just about anything, so sometimes our eyesight is the enemy of our faith, and faith is what sustains and propels us forward to face and overcome our fears.

As we enter the new year, here is my word of encouragement: learn the lessons from the past, don’t miss the blessings of the present, and hold fast to your faith for the future. May God bless you and your family throughout the new year. I do believe it will be a year of great clarity for each of us.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes