New Year’s Resolutions Are A Sham

Quick! Someone call “Guinness Book Of World Records” because come January 1st millions of people worldwide will attempt to do the exact same thing— commence their New Year’s resolutions.

It’s the time of year when lists are magnetically fastened to refrigerators, reminders are set to do mild exercises at the most inopportune times, kale smoothies become breakfast, and countless other goals set forth by people wanting, and needing, anywhere from minor to major life changes. We have all been here. Nothing inherently wrong with it.

Recently, a friend asked me if my wife and I are “resolution people”.  I answered with a feeble and unconvincing, “I guess so.”  I had never been asked that question before to be honest.  It’s always been a more direct question like, “What are your New Year’s resolutions?”, as if to assume I certainly need any.  I don’t take offense to much, but I could see where a direct question like that could cause a snowflake to melt and evaporate in less than a Planck instant.  “Are you resolution people?”…  I gotta say, it produced some thinking.

I began to realize based off of this question, that though I may set resolutions, I can not truly call myself a “resolution person”.  But come to think of it, does setting resolutions make me, or anyone else, a “resolution person”?  Anyone can make a list and either complete it or not.  What good is a resolution to lose 20 pounds only to put it back on later in the year during the holidays?  Not much of a resolution if you ask me.  The meaning of resolution is; the act or process of resolving; the act of solving.  It is a very direct, absolute word.

Olympic athletes have a resolve. Doctors have a resolve.  Navy Seals have a resolve.  All these people, and of the like, categorically have resolved within themselves to live a certain way; to become certain people; to let nothing stop them on who they intend to be.  The goal isn’t necessarily the resolution. No. The resolution is the person.  True resolutions should be inward. It’s not something you should limit to a list of does and don’ts.  It is something you resolve to become, and furthermore— remain.

We can have our “bucket list” type things to do as New Year’s goals, like skydive or climb Everest.  Those are good, awesome things.  But setting one adventurous goal pales in comparison to resolving to be an adventurous person.  I will forever believe that who we are will always transcend what we do.

This new year, I resolve to become a Person of Resolution.

Adventures in Furniture Buying

This article is based on a recent, personal experience of buying new furniture. The business practices stated within this article do not represent the business practices of all furniture stores. Due to the subjectiveness of this article, and the personal experience content, there can be no guarantee that the results can be duplicated for you, if and when you attempt to purchase furniture. Enjoy.

In September of 2016 my wife and I began considering new furniture for our living room. We had the same couch and chaise lounge since we got married in 2009. It was great furniture that has years more use to it, but for us it was time. We had originally started considering building a new home which in turn led to us thinking about furniture, but plans for that unfortunately fell through.

On December, 30 2017, we made our purchase. A beautiful couch, loveseat, and chair and a half with an ottoman. It only felt right to share the experience we had in our adventure in furniture buying.

I’m not going to name the company that we dealt with, mainly to avoid conflict if somehow down the line that were to arise. The majority of our previous purchases have been from this chain, and overall we have been satisfied with our dealings with them.

…This go around was slightly different.

One Saturday we went in to look at the furniture we were interested in. We had already been acquainted with the brand and felt that it fit our wants and needs. Of course we were quickly greeted by an anticipating salesman as soon as we walked through the door. …shocking, huh?

He was a nice guy that apparently knew his stuff and was very personable. Having a background in automotive I am highly unintimidated by salespeople. So as we perused the showroom, he gave us info about the furniture of course, but also mentioned at lease twice that their company doesn’t mark their furniture up as much as others do. To me, that’s an immediate red flag, but I just let him talk as highly as he wanted about who he works for. As we rerouted back to what we were originally looking at I examined the price guide on the coffee table and noticed prices were “slashed” from MSRP. To be honest, up to this point I never really had a haggling bone in my body, but I felt the fire rise up in me to want to make a deal. We didn’t buy that night though. We were waiting until after Christmas to see how much cash we would get to help.

The following Tuesday morning I saw a commercial on TV for the company we were at saying “sales tax paid” until the first of the year. Intrigued, we went back up there that night only to find that the “slashed” prices were raised $100 on almost each item in that living room collection. This is not a new business practice and once again, I was not surprised. Nonetheless it still pissed me off and added fuel to the flame of haggling already kindled within me.

The next day I chose to do a little online investigating because the salesman informed me that they price match any advertised price… Challenge accepted. I checked the manufacturers website for a SKU# and exact title for the furniture and off I went. I consistently found prices identical to the original company we dealt with, but I also found prices much higher. Not to mention the half dozen articles verifying the high markup in the furniture industry. Through my web surfing journey I stumbled across a company that had the exact set we wanted. One problem though. They were in Colorado. I didn’t let that stop me though because the pricing was considerably lower than what was listed by the original company. As soon as my eyes saw it it dumped a deluge more of gasoline to make the haggling inferno inside me turn white hot… it was time.

Like a four year old running to the teacher to rat on his classmate, I immediately called the salesman to tell him my find. It was a high I’ve never felt before and I am proud to say I am forever hooked. He asked me what website I found the pricing and I informed him. He quickly stated he’d need to get with his manager to check on what they could do, but before I let him hang up the phone I spat out my offer. In response he says, “No guarantees, Mr. Kent. I’ll get back with you as soon as possible.” (Click)… I thought to myself, “I’ve won this battle!”

A little later he calls back. I rushed away from my desk to answer. I expected, “Sir, you got a deal!”, but noooo… They had to throw in that I would have to pay at least $300 in shipping to get it to me from that company in Denver, and that that company can’t be making a dime on that furniture for the price they have it listed for. I stopped him abruptly mid-sentence at that point, “Don’t give me that. I’ve been in sales and around retail long enough to know that a business does not sell anything to make nothing. You can’t tell me that you aren’t making money if you sold me the furniture at what I offered.” He jabbed back, “This is what we can let it go for, blah blah blah…”. I firmly and assuredly repeated what I would pay for it and of course, like before, he had to go back to his supervisor. The final reciprocal phone call, I thought, would be my victory solidified…

…it wasn’t.

They gave up the fight, but not in the way that favored me. They basically decided it would be better for them not to get a sale at all and would not come off their counteroffer. I was beyond dumbfounded. What arrogance?! What horrible business practice?! I’m pretty sure there is an unwritten statistic that verifies at least 20 out of 10 salespeople would agree, “A little profit is better than no profit.”

The devil is a liar!

After the call I was about 95% sure he’d call back that night to apologize and beg for my business, and eventually agree to my offer. Nope. The call never came.

I gave it till that Friday to call back. When I did, the salesman was very cordial and was still genuinely interested in helping me. He informed me that his hands really were tied on the matter. I made a counteroffer on their counteroffer, and let him know we’d be checking other places, but would be stopping by again Saturday. He didn’t call back that day.

That Saturday, we went back. The salesman approached and was easily read as being overwhelmed by a busy day. We conversed about my last offer, and to my dismay they still wouldn’t budge. We strolled through the store to arrive by the furniture we want. The salesman thought at this point it’d be best for me to deal directly with the sales manager. I agreed. As the manager approached, my wife asked if she and my son should go to another part of the store. I strongly agreed. My son doesn’t need to see this side of me yet. To be honest I didn’t know how it would play out.

We haggled together… it was awesome. I wanted the furniture, and he knew it. I knew that was why he wouldn’t meet me where I offered. However, he made one last offer. I paused and stared at the price for dramatic effect. “Let me go talk with my wife.” I turned away quickly, as if I was mad, for more dramatic flare.

We agreed to the price.

Though we didn’t get it for what we wanted to give for it, we still came out better than some putz who went in there and paid full sticker. We learned a stout lesson with this endeavor— get over my pride, and haggle.

As an average consumer who has to budget and make good, responsible financial decisions I owe it to myself and my family to not pay full sticker on major purchases ever again. Even if we were well off, I would still haggle. From now on I will put up a fight that proves I work hard for the money I’m spending, and am not willing to give it up easily.

Haggling is an American institution. Join the club.

It’s been awhile…

Unfortunately, I can’t blame my lack of a blog post in several months on a planet-sized case of writer’s block.  I’ve just been slightly … well ok… extremely lazy.  What good is confessing my laziness without backing it up with excuses, huh? None whatsoever. I started a new job (again) at the beginning of October; the holidays came (we added one this year and fulfilled celebrating all eight days of Hanukkah); I rejoined my church’s worship team; lastly, we recently began furniture shopping. In all reality, each of those endeavors provides plenty of raw material to build a good blog post or two. So shame on me and my laziness.

The Worship Team

Two years ago I felt a “release”, if you will, by the Holy Spirit to step down from my position in the worship team at our church.  It was much needed.  I had served faithfully for about ten years up to that point, almost every single Sunday.  Needless to say, it took a toll. Also, in all candidness, my heart was not in it anymore. I was frustrated and felt I was nowhere near where I believe God intended me to be.  Ministry left a stench in my nose and soul, and I wanted no part of it.

Not long after, in February of 2016, my wife and I attended a Bethel worship night in Conway, Arkansas.  At the time it was a big step for me.  I wasn’t far removed from my worship ministry departure, and it did not appease me as much as I may have let on; nonetheless, I kept an open mind and heart in hopes that The Lord would speak to me.  I remember sitting in the auditorium before the music started feeling reminiscent of my adolescent days of depression.  I hated to hear the jabbering young hipsters around me talk about what kind of guitars the band is probably going to be playing.  Heaven, help the person who needs me to stand up so they can get to their seat.  Much to my dismay, I couldn’t but feel like whale of raw emotion was billowing towards the surface about to breach.  Thankfully the band finally started and was loud enough to deafen my inner confliction.  A song or two in, I finally felt the familiar caress of the Holy Spirit.  He sure proved the nature of the name “Comforter” to me that night; just as He had countless times past.  I worshipped.  I cried.  He spoke to me.

Upon previous “concerts” of the likeness of this one, I usually would focus on the guitarists. I enjoyed the tones they were able to emit, and the effects selections within certain songs fascinated me.  I noticed it was different with this worship night.  I was entranced with the worship leaders and vocalists to the point where I knew it was The Lord drawing my attention to them.  He spoke to me gently, inside my spirit and asked, “When did I ask you to focus on guitar playing?”.  This question was clearly rhetorical and by no means could be answered.  Looking back, I can’t find the point in time where He specified such a command.  (Please know I felt zero ounces of condemnation when this correction happened.  The rebuke of The Lord harbors infinitely more love than the loftiest of accolades from friends and family.) So I examined my heart with the help of the Holy Spirit and it became clear again that my gift is in leading worship.  Not long after that night I set out to sell ALL of my electric guitar equipment and remarry the acoustic guitar.

So the past two years, being on a hiatus from a “formal” worship team setting, really allowed me to get reacquainted with my gift as a worship leader.  Back in September of this year (2017), I was singing and worshipping in my car on the way home from work and suddenly I felt the unction to rejoin the worship team at my church.  It felt identical to two years earlier when I was “released” from the team, except reversed.

Hanukkah

“Oh, you’re Jewish?”, I was asked several times this year. I get it though. Our westernized “Christian” culture is very non-Jewish, so being asked that question was never surprising.

I would like to elaborate our position on holidays though…

The past few years have been very enlightening in regards to the depths of my professed faith. I always had an understanding that Christianity “derived”, so to speak, from Judaism, but never really had the revelation on the matter until maybe the last three years. We’re systematically taught growing up that Christianity and Judaism somewhat are two separate yet intermingled faiths. Even if that may not be what is directly taught from the American pulpit, it is most definitely, massively assumed by the majority of American Christians, and potentially Christians from the majority of other countries.

This is no longer my current, nor future orthodox. It has been abolished in my mind and spirit to believe that way. Yeshua/Jesus the Messiah was not sent to create a new religion or way of belief. He was Jewish; lived a Jewish life, and fulfilled Jewish prophecy and law.

So to bring this back around to the subject of holidays…

Hanukkah actually has a true story to back up the festivities. If you have never heard the story of Hanukkah and the Maccabean revolt it is a must. It’s miraculous. Christmas, on the other hand, is quite… well… pagan. Please investigate the details for yourself. I will not elaborate them here. Yes, it is the designated day/timeframe in which we celebrate the birth of The Savior, which I am on board with. However, it has lost all other appeal to me other than that. I obviously also enjoy the family time it produces. Christmas for a lot of people is very mystical, and comes with it a sense of wonderment that somewhat removes a little reality for them. I’m all for wonderment and creativity and celebrations, but to me, it is a ship that has been sailing the wrong direction for centuries.

Don’t get me started on the intentional lying parents do to their kids regarding a fat guy wearing a blood red suit who can break into people’s homes. And even worse, a possessed elf character that likes to sit on shelves. “But it’s just a bit of fun! It’s tradition.” Eh.. keep telling yourself that. Take it down to brass tax, you’re just setting your kids up for disappointment when they find out it’s all claptrap. Not to mention the potential doubt they’ll have about all the other stories you’ve told them throughout their childhood. Including the gospel.

We did put up our Christmas tree, but before you call me a hypocrite because of my aforementioned words, I want to say that I’m indifferent on it. It holds no meaning to me other than it’s really pretty.

Hanukkah was a blessing for me to share with my family this year, because more than likely, Yeshua Himself celebrated the Festival of Lights with His family and disciples.

Does this make us converts to Judaism. No. It’s just hard not to give it the attention it deserves once we’ve learned about it. “Converting” is misunderstood anyways, in light of “The One New Man” elaborated on by Paul in Ephesians 2.

If you’ve gotten this far with reading my post, know that I am no Scrooge. I’m just sharing my heart.

In conclusion

I am aware this is more of a personal blog entry. I don’t intend to do a lot of these. This is the route this one went because it’s the first one I’ve done in several months and I really just wanted to spill my heart about a few things. I hope all of you had a wonderful 2017 and pray you’re 2018 is at least twice as wonderful.

Much love.

שלום

-Daniel Kent