Perception

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

How we view life is formed by many things: our past, our present, and what we hope is our future. World events and the media also play a big part in what we think and how we feel. So, the question today is: How do you view life right now?

I realize that 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year so far, and we are just half way through it. What do you want to see in the second half of this year? The Corona Virus pandemic has devastated the world economy. We are not even fully out of danger with this problem when we get hit with the George Floyd murder. Unbelievable what has happened and tragic on every level. When I turn on the news, I am almost afraid to hear what else has happened. But, even though tragedy surrounds us, I am hopeful.

I try my best not to believe everything the media puts out. I think we can all agree that they pander to our fears and seem to take great joy in spreading that virus. Secondly, my heart breaks for those who are suffering from the pandemic and the fallout of the George Floyd murder. We live in a fallen world, no doubt. Evil abounds and it seems that it controls a LOT of people right now.

Having said all that, I still believe that life is beautiful. If you have never seen the film, Life is Beautiful, this might be a good time to watch it with your family. It is an incredible story about having hope in spite of all the hatred, racism, and discouragement that this family faced in WW2 at the hands of the Nazis.

I put my faith and trust in God despite what I see, what I hear, and how I feel. I know God still has a plan and He is ultimately in control. I pray for our world and our country in particular that God heal our land. The thing is…in many ways we have tied God’s hands. We took God out of our schools, out of our Government, and out of many of our homes. This is a time for those that believe in God to turn to Him, trust Him, and be an example to a world that is desperately crying out for help.

Yes, we need change in our police departments. Yes, we need change in our government. We need change in our own hearts! I truly believe that God will do a miraculous healing in our collective hearts if we will just let Him! We are all cut from the same cloth. We may look different, sound different, and have different customs, but we are still one race….the human race. I think our diversity is a beautiful thing. I don’t hate those who are different from me. I enjoy their companionship, their thoughts, feelings, and hopes.

I am encouraging you and anyone that reads this to first examine yourself. Are you free from hatred? Do you judge those that are different from you? Do you have anyone or any race that you need to forgive? Until we learn to love and forgive one another freely, we will have a hard time moving forward as a country. It begins with God and our relationship with Him, then it has to take root in the heart of all believers. Life is still a beautiful thing. We just have to live it. Let’s pray for revival in the heart of mankind. This could be an awakening that will change our lives and the lives for generations to come. Isn’t that what every parent wants for their kids and grandchildren? Our world may be upside down right now, but it does not have to stay that way.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

George Floyd

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Last night riots broke out in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd. I don’t claim to understand the frustration that drives people over the edge like that. I don’t condone in any way what the officers did to Mr. Floyd. Nobody deserves to be brutalized like that. This is a tragedy on multiple levels. It is another reminder that we as a country have not learned the lesson, and thus have to repeat the test. Do you remember Rodney King? His words call out to us today as a country, “Can’t we all just get along?” That is a good question!

Why can’t police identify officers who have a record of brutality and get rid of them? They have no business keeping the peace by overstepping their authority. Their job is to serve and protect. How can a man who has had a dozen complaints against him still be on the force? I don’t know what has to be done to clean this up, but the police chiefs and commissioners need to pay attention to who is on their staff. Perhaps the problem goes to the top. Who knows? The people at the top ultimately have to take responsibility for the people they employ. If they turn a blind eye to brutality, then the frustration will continue to build.

On the other hand, why does his death merit burning down businesses and setting cars on fire? How does that accomplish anything positive? Here again, I don’t pretend to understand the level of frustration, but I don’t see that destroying your city is the answer to the problem.

My hope and prayer is that police officers around the country take this as a wake up call, and that people in the community learn to respond to injustice through legal means. Racism is as old as creation and the seeds of injustice have deep roots, but that does not mean we have to accept that as how it has to be. We have to learn to love and respect one another regardless of how we look, and regardless of what our job is. If we don’t learn the lesson, we WILL repeat the test and the outcome will not be good. Violence is not the answer…love is.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

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

My Way Or A Higher Way

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Many years ago Steve Winwood penned a great song called Higher Love. I think it is particularly relevant for this day and age. The lyrics express a longing that is hopeful, universal, and timeless.

Think about it, there must be higher love

Down in the heart or hidden in the stars above

Without it life is wasted time

Look inside your heart, I’ll look inside mine

Things look so bad everywhere

In this world, what is fair?

We walk blind and we try to see

Falling behind in what could be

(Chorus)

Bring me a higher love

Bring me a higher love, oh

Bring me a higher love

Where’s that love I keep thinking of?

We all have to choose how we will live. We can do it like the Sinatra song, “My Way,” or we can choose a higher love…a higher way. God has a plan for each of us, and His way is the higher way. He has the love we’ve been thinking of.

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

Tragedy

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Tragedy does not have to define us, but it can refine us. Nobody wants to deal with a tragedy in their life, but it seems that it is part of life whether we like it or not. When life smacks you in the gut, how will you respond?

Whatever you face (loss of a life, loss of a relationship, loss of a job, etc.), look to God for help. He is there with us and He is for us. God is not surprised at what you are facing. He may have allowed it, but that does not mean He has forgotten or abandoned you. He has a plan for each of us.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave nor forsake you.”

Proverbs 3: 5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.”

John 8:12 says, “Then Jesus spoke to them again saying, I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

Press in to God when you don’t know what to do. The light is always on.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

Corona

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual