Encourage

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

When we encourage people, they can face life “in courage.” Everyone faces times that they just need someone to come alongside them and say, “It is going to be OK. This too shall pass. I am here for you .”

Life is strange and unfair. Good people get blindsided and unjust people get blessed. Makes you wonder what is going on. Before you jump on me about calling anyone good or judging someone as unjust, tell me that you don’t look at stuff that happens sometimes and just scratch your head.

A good case in point is a wonderful Christian lady that came into our lives several years ago. We became friends at the dog park, and it was apparent that we were destined to be more than just friends. Joann is one of the Godliest women I know. She never complains and is always ready to lift up someone else.

When I was going through a terrible financial situation several years ago, I did not know what to do. I had prayed about it but the pressure just kept mounting. Then we met Jo Ann. We barely knew her when she came by our house one day after meeting with us in the park. She gave us a card of encouragement and a little book called Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray to read. When we opened the book, there was a check for $2,200. Wow. Who does stuff like that? She hardly knew us at the time. My wife and I just sat there and cried together at the grace of God and how he uses people to answer prayers.

Jo Ann told my wife recently that she has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. She is refusing to go through chemo and is just making the best of it till she meets God face to face. My wife and I are not sure how to encourage someone like Jo Ann. We are not ready to let go of her. I realize we have no control over the when or how it will happen, but why cancer? Why does she have to suffer? Why her of all people? I realize there is no use asking why, but you can’t help but wonder.

We are going to encourage Jo Ann as best we can, but more importantly, she has reminded me of the grace of God. It is enough regardless of what we are facing. His grace is amazing, and we just need to be reminded of it from time to time to encourage one another. God is there with us. He does not promise us a carefree life, but he promises to be with us through it all and to meet our needs. That give me hope.

HOPE stands for: Hang On Pain Ends.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Touched By An Angel

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

This is not about the TV show that was on many years ago. This is about a true life Angel that I work with. I had back surgery on Good Friday and came back to work on the following Tuesday. It was probably pushing it to come back that soon, but the rep for the medical device company told me that I would be able to resume work by Monday if I wanted to.

It turns out the Doctor recommends taking it easy for at least two weeks after surgery, but that was not communicated. Tuesday was a long day…no doubt. As I was doing my cafeteria duty, one of the teachers in my school came over to give me a hug and check on me. She asked me why I was back at work so soon. I told her I had used up my days off to go on the mission trip to Guatemala in December, and I burned up my last day on Monday to give me one more day of rest.  She said: “I have nine remaining days off. They are yours if you want them.” Wow!

When someone does something so unselfish, what do you do? It made me tear up. I laughed and told her, “It is not good to make an old man cry.” She reassured me that I could have her days off if I needed more time to recuperate. I thanked her profusely but told her I would only do that if it were a dire emergency. The act of her unselfish kindness made my day. It literally lifted my spirits at a time when I was getting pretty tired.

Things I learned:

  • People who advise you don’t necessarily have your best interests at heart (the sales rep).
  • Sometimes you don’t get the advice you need (the Doctor).
  • Even in difficult circumstance good things can happen (the Angel).
  • Angels are among us. She may not be an Angel in Biblical terms, but at the very least she is a Saint in my book.

I am truly grateful that we have a great team of people to work with. We have our issues from time to time, but when someone needs help, they are there.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

The Lesson

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

I don’t mean to be crude, but sometimes life sucks. I don’t know why things happen like they do, but there is always a lesson to learn. The question I have to deal with is: What now?

One of my fatal flaws is that I believe people will do the right thing. I believe them when they say they are doing something in my behalf. I believe them when they tell me that they are going to do it when they say they will do it. I believe that they have no hidden agenda. How stupid is that? Pretty naive, huh? Shouldn’t I have learned that lesson by now? Apparently not.

The lesson for me is that I have to start paying attention to red flags and gut checks. I have a bad habit of thinking the best even when people are manipulating me. I know God must be shaking His head when I don’t pay attention to the warning signs. Maybe I need some new glasses…at least spiritually.

I don’t want to be a skeptic and always suspect the worst in others, but somehow I have to get to the point where I can see the red flags and listen to the gut checks. I need to be able to see people for who they are, not who they say they are. It really bums me out how some people seem to have no conscience and do whatever they need to do to benefit themselves at the expense of others. It is particularly tragic when these people claim to have morals and scruples. Is it any wonder that some people scoff at people of faith?

It reminds me that I have to be a man of my word…always. Lord, help me to be someone who is authentic. Help me to be a giver…not a taker. Help me to love others the way You do, and help me to forgive those who have wronged me. Help me do what is right, not what’s convenient or just benefits me. Most of all, help me learn the lesson.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Prayers

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Prayers are not our last resort. They are our first line of defense. I recently encountered a spiritual battle that kicked me in the gut. Most of the battles we face, by the way, are spiritual. We tend to think of things in the natural, but spiritual battles are going on all around us.

One of the dilemmas I faced recently had to do with people who listen, but don’t really hear you. I explained something critical several times to a couple of people and they nodded like they were tuned in. Then they did something incredible. They totally ignored what I said and did what THEY wanted (even though I was crystal clear on my expectations).

This created a huge problem for me personally and while I vented to a few close friends about the pickle I was in, I realized who had the solution. I prayed about it and God gave me a clear vision of what to do.

I did not explode on the people for what they did (although I could have and I literally could have sued them and won a ton of money and cost them their jobs). I calmly laid out the facts as they listened. They knew they were in the deep end of the pool with no life jacket unless I decided to give them one.

I did toss them a life jacket and asked them to help me get through the predicament that they had caused. I am not sure how all of it will play out yet, but I offered them a peaceful solution to a serious problem. All they have to do is give up some time on my behalf.

The funny thing is that God knew this was going to happen all along. While I got blindsided, God didn’t, and He has the perfect road map to get all of us through it. I believe God let this happen for me to show them mercy. Trust me when I say that mercy was not my first thought! I think God let this happen to them to teach them a lesson as well. Next time, I bet dollars to donuts they listen to who is talking to them and check for clarity.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Evil

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

 

 

“To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it.” – Joel Rosenberg

Many years ago I had the opportunity to go to Germany and one of the things I wanted to do was visit one of the concentration camps from WW2. I was in Munich, and found out that the first concentration camp was in a suburb of Munich…literally just a few miles away.

Dachau was the first of many concentration camps to house Jews in WW2. When I walked on the grounds of the camp, it was surreal to say the least. When I got off the tour bus, nobody spoke a word. It was as it we knew that this was a place where we needed to show respect for the thousands of Jews who died there.

When I questioned the young tour bus driver about that atrocity, he quickly pointed out, “That was not my generation.” Of course I did not blame him or Germany in general, but I was curious as to how they felt about what happened there. He did not want to talk about it, so we didn’t.

Evil has no particular name or face. It just shows up and you know it is evil. It steals, kills, and destroys all that is in its way. The question then becomes: how do we stop it?

Obviously ignoring it does not work. Pearl Harbor is a perfect example. If the US had not chosen an isolationist position in world politics, I doubt Pearl Harbor would ever have happened.

The only way that makes evil back down is when it is confronted. You can take that to the bank and cash it. When you see evil, don’t ignore it. Face it. Confront it. Challenge it. Do whatever you have to do because if you don’t, you and everyone you know will lose.

It takes great courage to confront evil. It has a way of paralyzing people through fear. If you fear what will happen if you act, you are most likely not going to do anything. That is what the enemy is counting on. That is why Hitler was able to literally transform a nation into people who believed a lie. They were willing to die for him because they became convinced that HE was the truth. Tragically, it was all a lie. We all have to stand up for truth and what is right. If we don’t, evil wins.

“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” 
― Albert Einstein

“Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” – Winston Churchill

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

A Teacher’s Tale

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

There was a Men’s meeting that I attended yesterday that turned out to be memorable. It wasn’t so much the speaker…although he was awesome. It was the encounter I had with a first time visitor to the group. He was sitting at a table with a buddy of his when I asked if I could join them. They said, “Of course.”

We engaged in the typical small talk like men do. One of the first questions out of man’s mouth is, “So what do you do?” When I told this one fellow that I was a teacher he just opened up to me about his daughter and what she was going through as a teacher.

Megan, his daughter is teaching 7th Grade English. She has this one gifted student that just won’t participate and in fact is disruptive. When she asked the kid about his behavior one day, he said something strange. “I don’t like you. Stay away from me!” She tried to get him to open up as to why but all he said was, “Stay away from me and don’t read my journal!”

Well, this is an English class and the writing journal is something that has to be read, so she read it. She found that he had written twelve times in the book that he wanted to kill her! That would send chills down the spine of anyone. She immediately took the book to her Principal and asked for help and advice on what to do.

In the interim, she had called her Dad who lived in another city and told him the story. He immediately called the police in that town and they dispatched a couple of officers to the school. When the Mother was summoned to the school, she immediately began cursing the staff and the police and asked, “Why did I have to come down here?” When they handed her the book, she read it then turned and punched her kid in the face!

Is it any wonder this kid has issues with female authority? CPS stepped in and took the kid and the school suspended the boy, but three days later he was BACK at school. By this time my jaw must have been on the floor as this father was wondering what to do. He called the police again, but they said that the kid was in another class now (like that is a viable solution). The Dad pleaded with them to post someone there outside her class, but that was not going to happen.

I suggested that they take the story to a news reporter and let them run with it, but Megan did not want to do that for fear of losing her job and being blackballed as a troublemaker. After all, this is her first year of teaching.

I told the Dad that I was at this meeting apparently for him and his daughter. I reached in my pocket and pulled out a magnet that I had made called “The Teacher’s Prayer.” I told him to just read it to her and it would bless her. Tears welled up in the eyes of this hulk of a man and he thanked me. We marveled at how God puts people in our lives when we least expect it to encourage us and remind us that He is with us.

I did encourage him to have her quit that school district. No teaching job is worth losing your life. They apparently are more worried about what the parent thinks than the safety of their staff. He told me that Megan still loved the boy and wanted to help him, and I told him that I would be praying for them through the days to come.

The tragic part of this story is that this is played out daily in schools all around our country; then we wonder why bad things happen at our schools. I believe we are at a tipping point. We either need to change our education system radically or it is going to literally explode on us. More than that, we need to get grounded spiritually. We have so many kids raised in dysfunctional homes. It is no wonder they act out their hostility at school.

Pray for our country, our families, and for Megan. Her story needs to be told. I just hope I don’t read about it after a kid goes crazy on her and the school. Pray that we as a country find the way to rectify this collision course we are on before it is too late.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

The Hand of God

Posted in Motivational, Spiritual

Do you ever get impatient with God? I think we all have had times when we wonder if He is ever going come through and answer our prayers. One thing I can promise you and I know is true from personal experience: God is always on time in His time.

When you are waiting on God to answer a prayer, I have found that there are many reasons why God may be delaying the answer. Here are just a few of the reasons:

  • What you prayed for is really not in your best interest or in the best interest of those involved. This one takes a lot of faith, but we have to trust that God knows what He is doing.
  • What you prayed for is not in His will…period. We often pray for something that is just selfish or self-serving. God knows our hearts. He knows that if He gave some of us what we asked for that it would be a disaster not just for us but for everyone around us.
  • We often forget that God is orchestrating things not just for us…but for all mankind. It is not just about us, and when He does move it affects many people.
  • God may be testing your faith to see if you really believe that He will do what He says He will do. No better way to test it than to delay the answer. Do you complain about the delay or do you praise Him in the midst of the storm?
  • We forget that God does not work around time. He is eternal. Time is something that was created for us and I believe one of the primary reasons was to let us know how short our time is here on Earth and to use it wisely.
  • Waiting on God requires faith, humility, and patience. We have to learn to trust God regardless of what we see and how we feel. That is pretty difficult for us because we have a microwave mentality…and God is a slow cooker (at least in our judgement).
  • God is not a genie in a bottle that we can summon on command and “poof” He grants our wishes. The closer our hearts and minds come to being Christ-like, the more we come to understand the significance in the simple command: Trust and obey.
  • God may be withholding an answer because of strife between you and someone else. If you have unresolved conflict with someone, do your best to resolve it. Forgive them and let them know you want to make things right with them. God is all about relationship. How can we come to Him and ask His help if we are ignoring one of his primary directives….to love one another?

God will move when the time is right. Trust that. Praise Him and trust in Him. Remember all of the things that God has done for you in the past. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves, and that is a great reason to keep a prayer journal. Some of us suffer from selective memory.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Laughter

Posted in Funny, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

“Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.” Lord Byron

Have you ever wondered if God laughs? I am sure He does. It has been said, “We make our plans and God laughs.” There is probably a lot of truth to that. I think there are many things that make God laugh.

I was at a Men’s Conference a few years ago and we were singing, “Let It Rain.” Oh boy, did it rain?!!!! Be careful what you ask for when you are praying or praising God…just saying. I look back and think God was saying to the angels, “Watch this.” Then He laughed as we ran for cover from the deluge.

God laughs at our simple-minded thinking…especially when we think we have things figured out. That is usually when He throws us a curve ball. He laughs when we predict weather. How many times have the weathermen got that one wrong???  He laughs when the devil thinks he has got the upper hand on one of God’s kids. He laughs when anyone tries to be Him.

God laughs, and I believe he likes to hear us laugh too. Laughter is part of pure joy, and joy is rooted in our soul as an anchor to help us through the storms of life.

Have you ever laughed at the absurdity of something? I have, and I am sure God does too. Some things are just ridiculous and aren’t worth debating, fretting, or losing sleep over. I know God does not lose sleep over anything…so why should we?

When I was in high school a kid nicknamed me Smiley because I smiled all the time. I really didn’t mind it because it could have been a lot worse!  I remember a kid nicknamed Stinky. LOL. The few times I got in trouble at school was usually from laughing about something. It didn’t help that I knew I could make other people laugh!

“If you give up on your dreams, what’s left?” Jim Carrey. Jim dreamed of being a big star and making money by making people laugh. Despite dropping out of school and lack of support from his Mom, he never gave up on his dream. With the encouragement from his Dad he became one of the most successful comedians in recent years with his films grossing billions of dollars worldwide…all by making people laugh. Obviously, it pays to laugh.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

You Can’t Rush God

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime you find…you get what you need.” Mick Jagger

Do you ever wonder about God and why He takes so long to answer some of our prayers? It is easy to get impatient with God if we don’t see things from His perspective.

Our real problem is: we don’t trust God when we try to rush Him.

Here is what I know about trusting God and His timing:

  • He knows what is best for me including the timing.
  • God is teaching me patience. Patience builds character, and character gives hope. We all need hope to face the trials of life.
  • God’s ways are not our ways. We have to trust that He knows what He is doing.
  • It is not all about me. There are always other people affected when God moves. He is putting all the pieces together at the right time.
  • God wants me to be thankful for what I have already. He sometimes delays blessings because of ingratitude.
  • God wants my praise. After all, He is worthy of it.
  • God does not wear a watch. That is man’s way of counting time, not God’s.
  • He wants us to be careful what we ask for. He knows that many times we ask for something without really understanding the consequences.
  • God is faithful to His promises. If He said it, He will do it at the right time.
  • God won’t hear my prayers if I don’t forgive people who have wronged me.
  • Not waiting on God can have life-long repercussions. Look at the mess we still are dealing with because Abraham and Sarah did not wait on God to give them a child. The unrest we have today in the middle east was birthed out of that mistake.

If you are at a point in life where you are getting impatient with God, take a deep breath and rest in Him. He has everything you need…in His time. Start praising Him for all He has done, is doing, and is going to do in you, through you, and for you. Stand on His Word. Trust and obey…there is no other way.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Slender Man

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

(True Story)

I had never heard of this until the story aired on 20/20. In 2014 there were three 12-year-old girls in Wisconsin who had a sleepover. The girls had become enamored with a creepy fictional internet character called Slender Man.

Two of the friends became convinced that unless they killed their other friend, Slender Man would kill them and their families. At the sleepover the three girls walked out into some nearby woods. The two friends attacked the third girl and stabbed her 19 times! They then left her for dead and decided to run away.

Miraculously, the friend survived the attack. A man was riding his bike on a path that had been chained off. He came across the girl who was covered in blood and dragging herself to the path. Immediately he got his cell phone out and called 911. The bloody body was rushed to the emergency room. The Doctor who treated her said had one of the stab wounds been one millimeter over it would have killed her instantly. It took two nurses to count all the stab wounds.

The two perpetrators had become followers of the gruesome character on a website called Creepypasta.com. Apparently, people go on the site to get creeped out. This time it proved nearly fatal for a 12-year-old girl. When the police interrogated the girls, there was no remorse. One of the girls had been good friends with the victim since the 4th grade. The kids were tried as adults and determined to be mentally unstable. The girl who did the stabbing got up to a 40-year sentence in a mental ward. The accomplice got up to a 25-year sentence.

What is the moral of the story? Know what your kids are doing online and behind closed doors. Monitor who they are hanging out with. There was no mention by the parents of faith or spiritual grounding. Had they been grounded in their faith, this could have been avoided. If they don’t get the grounding at home, where are they going to get it?

The mother of the girl who got the lengthy sentence was aware of the Slender Man saga, but did nothing. Her comment was, “I was reading Stephen King at her age, so I did not think anything about it.” The young girl’s father had been diagnosed as schizophrenic, and now the daughter had been diagnosed with the same issue. How was this missed previously? You know there had to be signs. When they searched her room they found mutilated Barbie dolls and numerous notes and drawings that were disturbing to say the least. In one note she said she wanted to die.

This is a tragedy on every level. It is a wake-up call. I wonder how many kids like these are walking the halls of our schools?

P.S. The girl who survived is now 16 years old. She has readjusted and is doing well despite the circumstances.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes