Respect

Posted in Business, General, Motivational, Relationships

Yesterday was the last day of school. One of the last tasks I was assigned was to help a couple of our employees put up new flags outside of our school. The old ones were pretty beat up and needed to be replaced. One of my teammates was telling me that he got detained for three hours one time when he was on a military base and failed to stop when the flag was being raised. I did not know there was such a rule, but I love the fact that our military sets an example for showing proper respect for our flag.

Right after he told us this story, we were in the process of changing out the flags (without letting them touch the ground). We noticed a person standing out by the highway at attention…with his hand over his heart as we raised the flags. It was a beautiful confirmation of what my friend had just shared with us. I would be willing to bet he was a veteran.

We live in a time where respect has been forgotten by some. Many don’t honor our flag and some have outright contempt for it. For those that don’t love our country, I wonder why they choose to live here. It can’t be for any honorable reason. I know there are many enemies we have who would like nothing less than to see us lose our freedom and succumb to their ideologies.

One thing I know about respect: it has to be earned. Recently I watched The Last Dance documentary on Michael Jordan. I was touched by his raw behind the scenes story and how he continually had to gain the respect of those who opposed him. Obviously it is somewhat different in sports with all the trash talking that goes on between competitors, but is it really all that different?

Think about the trash talking that goes on in politics. I hate election year because of all the mud that is slung between the candidates on both sides. It seems to be a battle of words and it does not matter if there is any truth to the accusation or not. I realize that politics and religion are two topics which draw the most heated debates, so I try not to grandstand on those subjects because of the potential dog-piling that often ensues online. It does not mean I don’t have strong opinions about both, because I do. I just choose my battles wisely.

Why do people take the liberty to bash other people’s opinions just because they are different from theirs? I don’t mind healthy debates, but I detest bashing and bullying. If you think about it, it is reverting to a very childish behavior.

One thing I picked up from Michael Jordan that I really appreciated about his mindset was that he used the negativity of others to fuel his desire to win. And win he did. He had numerous failures and setbacks along the way, but look at what he accomplished! Wow. He was not perfect by any means. None of us are.

My advice is pretty simple: allow people to have their own opinions. If you choose to debate a point, do so with respect. If not, you may be fueling a fire that could consume you. I have the image of Michael Jordan walking off the court after one of those memorable comeback moments with the song in the background echoing: “How you like me now?” Be willing to earn the respect you desire and understand that it comes at a cost. Respect and freedom have this in common: neither one is free.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

TGIF

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Do you appreciate the freedom you have? With the recent onset of the world-wide pandemic, you may feel like you have lost your freedom…and to a degree, you have.

However, freedom is something we can have regardless of the restrictions placed upon us by the government. How is that possible?

There is freedom found in Christ. I think of the story in the Bible in Philippians chapter 1 where Paul was being held in prison. He said that what had happened to him was to advance the gospel. He claimed that he was in chains for Christ! His imprisonment gave his fellow Christian brothers and sisters confidence to share the gospel. Talk about a different perspective!

In the 16th chapter of Acts, Paul and Silas were both in jail. They were anything but despondent. They were singing praise songs to God. In the middle of their praise there was a violent earthquake. All of the jail doors came open and everyone’s chains came off. The jailer woke up and when he realized all the doors in the jail were open, he assumed that the prisoners had escaped. He started to take his own life but before he could, Paul called out to him to let him know that all the prisoners were still there! The jailer had a come to Jesus moment right then and there! His simple question to Paul was, “What must I do to be saved?” How cool is that? The jailer came to realize that HE was the one being held captive, and true freedom is found in Christ.

We all have to face our fears, and we have to adapt to the “new normal,” whatever that might look like. The question is, are you free or are you a prisoner of your fears? Don’t let the storms of life hold you down. You have a choice to make: freedom or fear. Choose wisely.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

No Ifs, Ands, or Buts

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

We seem to live in an era of excuses. I am not sure what happened to people just taking responsibility for their short-comings, but it appears to have all but vanished from our culture. Now it is your fault, not mine regardless of the facts. Now we blame the President, the Congress, our government, our spouse, our co-worker, our boss, our neighbor, etc. We have a tendency to blame anyone but ourselves. Some people have become masters at deflecting.

Admittedly, sometimes it IS someone else that is at fault. That is not the point here. The blame should go to the one responsible. My point is that when someone calls us out for messing up, we tend to make excuses. The problem with that mentality is that it is very immature. It is like we have a 5 year old kid living inside us that starts blaming everyone else when we are standing there with our hand in the cookie jar.

I have been guilty of this myself from time to time, but I am working on taking responsibility for my actions and being truthful with myself. By the way, the worst person you can lie to is yourself! I am encouraging you and those who might be around you to just grow up. Be mature in accepting responsibility for what you say and do, and quit blaming someone else for your failures. Excuses are a dime a dozen. We need to get our “buts” out of the way. Wouldn’t this make life easier on everyone? If you mess up, just fess up. Apologize where necessary and move on. That is what adults are supposed to do, right?

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

Know Thyself

Posted in Business, Relationships

Who we are is revealed in a multitude of ways: by our faith, when we face what we fear, through family and friends, through our ability and willingness to forgive others and ourselves, how we handle our finances, our time, how we handle stress, how we use power, how we face temptation, how we handle being alone, and how we treat children, the elderly, and animals. There are probably numerous other factors that we could mention, but you get the idea. Character matters. Who you are when no one is looking will be revealed when someone is looking, and someone is always watching how we talk, how we act, and if the two things are congruent.

It is a stressful time that we live in and how we handle this crisis will reveal who we really are. Don’t just tell people you love them, show them. Don’t just say you will pray for someone, pray with them. Don’t turn a blind eye to the suffering of others. Everybody on this planet has issues to face. If you are in a good place, then you are truly blessed. How you handle your blessing reveals your character as well. Find ways to encourage and help those who are unemployed, stressed out, physically ailing, and those that feel totally isolated. You may be the light in their storm. Leave the light on for them.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

Lies

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Lies are strange things in that it depends on who you ask as to what constitutes a lie. Some people would argue that “white lies” or “bending the truth” are occasionally necessary to protect someone, and I can see how that could make sense at least on the surface. The problem is, half truths and white lies are still lies. Deceit in any form is just a lie which we justify for our own purposes.

Next time you are tempted to lie to someone, think about what the Bible says:

Proverbs 6:16-19 says: “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among the brothers.”

Proverbs 12:22 says: “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are His delight.”

Proverbs 19:9 says: “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish.”

Psalm 101:7 says: “No one who practices deceit shall dwell in My house; no one who utters lies shall continue before My eyes.”

Colossians 3:9-10 says: “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator.”

Proverbs 12:19 says: “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.”

Luke 8:17 says: “For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.”

John 8:44 says: “For you are of your father, the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Exodus 20:16 says: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

That kind of puts a different light on it, doesn’t it? The bottom line is, we will all be held accountable for what we say, and there are always consequences to lying. Better to tell the truth and not have to remember what you said. A clear conscience goes a long way to living in harmony with God and man.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

3Ts

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

I heard a preacher recently say that there are three things that God expects us to steward properly:

  1. Our time.
  2. Our talents.
  3. Our treasure.

I like that list as it pretty well sums up everything that God requires of us. Once we accept Christ, then we take on the role of disciple. That is a full time job, and we are to give our very best in all three areas.

It is easy in this narcissistic world that we live in to lose sight of what really matters. We just went on daylight savings time. I don’t know why we still do this, but apparently it is not a priority to change it here. Anyway…we “lose” an hour when we “spring forward.” We “recoup it” later in the year when we “fall back.” I envy those places that just leave their clocks alone! We never really save or lose time, we just manage or mismanage it. It is a precious resource that God created for all of us. We have twenty-four hours every day…no more, no less. We are expected to use each day for His Kingdom. Whether we are fully employed, unemployed, or retired, we all have to give account for how we manage our time. The Bible says we are to work six days and rest on the Sabbath which is set aside to give God honor and glory. We are to get proper rest, and then manage the rest. It is about balancing all the stuff we want and need to do. I realize that it is easier said than done, but it is what God expects from us.

Talents are another resource that God holds us accountable for. He has given everyone unique talents that they can either use to glorify God, use for their own edification, or just totally waste. I saw a child prodigy this week on the news. This young boy is a gifted violinist that is getting to perform at Carnegie Hall. How cool is that? I am thankful that parents and teachers help kids identify what their talents are and give them the opportunity to use them. We just need to encourage them to use their talents to glorify God. When He gets the glory, He blesses our efforts in ways we can’t even imagine.

The last T is treasure. How we use our financial resources is a great indicator of our love for God and our fellow man. There is a story in the Bible about a very rich man who made so much money that he decided to build new barns to contain all his wealth. The problem was, his life was going to be taken that very night. All of his hording was for naught. We are called to manage whatever God has given to us. The better we manage it the more He will entrust to us. If we can just keep in mind that God owns it ALL and that we are just stewards of it, then it becomes much easier to let go. Learn to invest, save, avoid debt, and live within your means. Do that and you will have a lot less stress.

If you want to live a meaningful life, you must give of your time, your talent, and your treasure. There are two other Ts to remember:

  1. BE THANKFUL! When you learn the art of being sincerely thankful, you lose the need to always have more. Count your blessings!
  2. TRUST GOD! Trust Him with all that you have. When you put your faith in God, mountains will move, lives will be changed, and the Kingdom of God WILL be glorified.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

danskognes.com

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

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

World Changers

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual