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

danskognes.com

Blessing Blockers

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Fear

Lust

Lies

Envy

Pride

Greed

Anger

Worry

Hatred

Gossip

Idolatry

Jealousy

Laziness

Vengeance

Ingratitude

Witchcraft

Addictions

Selfishness

Immorality

Drunkenness

Unforgiveness

Judging others

Stirring up discord

Hanging on to the past

Not learning the lesson

Shedding innocent blood

A heart that devises evil schemes

Ignoring the promptings of the Holy Spirit

Mismanaging what God has entrusted to you

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

My Corona

Posted in Funny

(to the tune of My Sharona)

Ooh listen to me everyone, everyone.
Everyone is losing their mind, Corona.
Ooh your keeping us confined, so confined.
No gatherings of any kind, Corona
Gotta find some toilet paper now.

Never gonna stop, won’t give up.
Need sanitizer in the jumbo size.

Gonna shop. I’m not falling for the pack of lies.

My my my i yi woo.
M M M My Corona

Come a little closer huh, ah will ya huh.
Close enough to look in my eyes, Corona.
Keeping it a mystery gets to me
Is the panic really a necessity, my Corona?
Never gonna stop, won’t give up.

Need sanitizer in the jumbo size.
Gonna shop. I’m not falling for the pack of lies.
My my my i yi woo.
M M M My Corona
M M M My Corona

When you gonna give it to me, give it to me.
It is just a matter of time Corona?
Is it just destiny, destiny?
Or is it just a game in my mind, Corona?
Never gonna stop, won’t give up.
Need sanitizer in the jumbo size.

Gonna shop. I’m not falling for the pack of lies.

My my my i yi woo.
M M M My Corona
M M M My Corona
M M M My Corona
M M M My Corona

Lyrics by 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

The Real Deal

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Have you ever heard someone referred to as the “Real Deal?” What did that mean to you? That they were authentic? People of their word? Transparent? Well, it means all of that and more.

When someone is the “Real Deal” there is no hypocrisy. What you see is what you get. They are people who are comfortable in their own skin. They have no pretenses. They are people you can trust. They don’t judge others. They understand and acknowledge their own strengths and weaknesses. They forgive freely and often, because they know how much they have been forgiven.

So here is the question: in a world where everyone seems to want to fit in and be accepted, how do you become real? This past week I was consoling a 4th grader. He was sitting in class with the weight of the world on his shoulders. He was obviously upset, so I asked him what was going on. He said that some of the kids were spreading rumors that a girl had dumped him! I had to laugh. He is in 4th grade, for Pete’s sake! I said, “Buddy, let me point out a couple of things for you to think about. First of all…there will probably come a time that you do get dumped by a girl. It happens to most of us. That is not the end of the world. Secondly, if what they are saying is untrue, what does it matter to you? Don’t let what other people say or think control you. You know the truth in this case, so just brush it off. Let it go. It does not matter.” I saw him later that day and he seemed to be in much better spirits. Hopefully he took to heart my advice.

We all have a desire to fit in and be liked. The problem is when we allow what other people think or say about us define who we are! We have to KNOW who we are. If we believe what the Bible says, then we know who we are in Christ if we have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior. The Bible says that we are NEW creatures in Christ Jesus. We are no longer slaves, but God’s children. Our minds have been transformed to the image of Christ. That gives us a new identity that is not blemished by our past failings or future missteps. How cool is that? We are in the family of God. We are joint heirs with Christ. We have nothing to prove to anyone. It frees us to be who God created us to be: a reflection of Him.

My hope and prayer is that we can be the “Real Deal” when it comes to being authentic Christians. It is not about rules or religion. It is about relationship. To be the “Real Deal,” we simply have to get real. It starts with getting real with God, then with ourselves, and lastly with others.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

Life

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Last week a 4th grader came up to me and asked: “Mr. Dan, what is the meaning of life?” I was caught off guard at the depth of the question from such a young child and I only had a moment to answer as the kids were transitioning to their next class. What would you have said?

I thought for a moment and replied, “Love God and love people.” That is what the Bible says. It sums up all that we are called to do. If we do that, we will find our destiny. The child smiled knowingly and went to their next class.

That may be the best thing I taught all day. :o)

1 Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

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