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

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

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

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

There Is Joy In The Journey

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Sometimes we get so focused on where we want to go that we miss the joy of the journey. This can happen in our careers, in our current situation with the Coronavirus, or in our relationships. I am suggesting that we change our focus to the here and now.

The journey we are each on is unique. Some of it is by our own choices as to where we are now, but some of it is God’s hand too…moving and guiding us in the right direction. I know from experience that I can get so focused on the end result that I actually miss the blessings along the way.

I believe the Coronavirus is a double-edged sword. Harm has definitely come from it, but I believe good will also come out of this crisis. We are being driven to rely upon God, family, and friends like some of us have never encountered before. I know this is a unique situation for me and my family. I don’t believe any of us have lived through this kind of situation before.

You might ask yourself, “What good can possibly come from this?” This is where the joy of the journey comes in. Even in the midst of a storm we can have peace. The peace of God surpasses understanding. The one thing that will trip us up is FEAR, and that is all around us. If we allow fear to rule our lives, then we are missing the blessings that God has in store for us…even in the midst of the storm.

I know there are families who have lost loved ones to this virus, and my thoughts and prayers go out to all of them. I don’t take lightly the loss of someone you love…regardless of the circumstances. The hope we have in this day and age is in God. He has our backs, He has our future, and He has our today in His hands. This is a wake up call for the world. It is time for each of us to look in the mirror and decide what we are going to do differently not just now, but in the future.

Do you remember 9/11? When that happened, the people of the US united in ways that were unprecedented. Churches were filled with people praying and turning to God for His help. What happened? Sadly, many people have short memories and they just turned back to their old way of living once the fear of the moment passed.

We need to learn the lesson, or we are doomed to repeat the test. This is a test not just for the US but for the world. We need to wake up and change what we are doing, what we are thinking, what we are believing, and what we are worshiping. I pray for that change to take place in people all over the world before it is too late. The next crisis could very well be the last one which devastates the world.

Where does all of this change start? With you and me. We have to do our part to get ourselves right before God, and we have to share the love of Christ with everyone. That is all we are called to do in the end. The rest of it is up to God. He will sort it out from there. Don’t let fear steal your peace and derail you from the joy of the journey. There is still work to be done, and we will get through this crisis with the help of God. Love God. Love one another. That is it.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

The New Normal

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

I don’t think anyone could have imagined how quickly our world could change. The Coronavirus epidemic has transformed the world into homes of isolation. People are having to learn to get things done in virtual communication forms.

This is stressful primarily because of the unknown. We all are wondering what will happen next? Here is my advice in the days to come:

  1. Be adaptable to doing things differently. At my school we are still teaching kids, but it is being done through Zoom and Google Classroom. Obviously there are preferable ways to doing things online, but at least the kids are still learning and educators still have jobs! Are we going to all go through a learning curve? Of course. But we have to choose whether we move forward or allow ourselves to wallow in worry and despair. There is hope! Just remain flexible and adaptive to doing things differently.
  2. I know it is very tempting to tune in to the media and listen to all the doom and gloom. Be selective in what you listen to and don’t buy in to all the hype. The end of the world is not here yet and we will overcome this. One thing I can say about people in the United States (and I suspect in many other countries) is that they are resilient. We have always found a way to keep moving forward even in the face of incredible odds. Stay positive and look to the Scriptures for strength and comfort. There is faith! You may need to pray for more of it, but faith can sustain you through times of terror and uncertainty. Faith can be your fuel for the future.
  3. Take this time to strengthen your relationships with God, friends, and family. This may be the first time in a long time that kids have actually been at home for meals with Mom and Dad. Use this time to form new bonds with each other. I realize that everyone needs some space, but this is an opportunity to have some fun, and strengthen your relationships. Learn to play games in the evening instead of just playing on the internet or watching TV. Read more. All of us could benefit from that thing alone. We used to do that when I was growing up, but somewhere along the way we got addicted to electronic entertainment. Just a novel idea, but what if we actually TALK to each other and PRAY for one another? That might freak some of you out, but there is power in prayer. God is on His throne. He is not surprised by any of this. There is love! God loves us and is there for us to help guide us through the days and months ahead. Quit the worry and press in to God. Get to know and love your family on a deeper level. Relationships with remote family and friends can still be done online. Don’t forget them just because you can’t physically be with them at the moment. Stay in touch. Encourage one another. Let them know how much you love them!

We will get through this.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

The Storm We Face

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

This is a weird time not just in America, but in the entire world. We are facing a crisis that has so many unknowns that the fear factor has become an epidemic itself. People have begun hoarding not just toilet paper and sanitizer, but food as well. I was at the store to buy some bread and the shelves were picked clean. It is ridiculous how fear has taken control of our world economy. The stock market is still tumbling because of all of this fear, and that isn’t good for anybody!

Here is what I know to be true:

  1. You can’t always trust what the media reports. Check out the sources before you repost or discuss with anyone.
  2. Quit hoarding. Unless you are buying things to give to the under-privileged, don’t buy more than you need. This is not the end of the world, folks.
  3. Panic is contagious, but so is the peace of God. We have to choose whether to live in fear or faith. As for me and my house, we will trust God and not worry about tomorrow.
  4. Is there reason for concern? Of course, but there is no reason for panic and fear to rule your hearts and minds. It is a choice. Keep things in perspective. Don’t believe everything you read or hear on the web or in the news. Start by putting the word of God in your heart.
  5. Life is going to go on and we have to adapt to the storms we face. Is it scary? Yes. Is it insurmountable? Absolutely not. There is always faith, hope, and love to sustain us through the storm.
  6. I know that God does not always remove the storms we face, but He is faithful to be with us THROUGH the storms and to guide, protect, and sustain us. This is still in God’s hands, and I believe that God has a purpose for all of this and He will be glorified through the process…regardless of how things appear now. Perhaps God has allowed this to happen to the world to get our attention and drive us to Him. That is a good thing if people turn their hearts over to God. Sometimes God calms the storm, and sometimes he calms the storm in us. We have to trust Him either way.

If you are an employer, do the right thing by your employees…especially the ones who are hourly wage earners. The ones who live paycheck to paycheck need to know that you are there with them and for them through this time of uncertainty.

If you are an employee, be thankful if you have a job…even if it looks totally different than the one you signed up for. It is better to have a paycheck than none at all.

If you are self-employed, look for creative ways to diversify and create new streams of income. I know this is going to be difficult and unnerving, but perhaps you can find new or unique ways to serve the public. For instance, I know a lot of restaurants and coffee shops are going to drive through only.

If you are unemployed, this may be the most awkward time of your life, Think outside the box and get creative with your job search. There will still be companies hiring even in the middle of this crisis. You may have to take something for the short term that is beneath your skill set and education, but it is better to have some income than none at all.

If you work for the travel, sports, education, or entertainment industry, this is going to be a period of adjustment perhaps larger than anything else we have faced as a world economy. I don’t have any pat answers or advice other than to trust God. Lean in to Him. Proverbs 3:5-6 says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 says: “If my people which are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

It is time to wake up and trust God.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

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