Archives For Illustrative Stories

Wealthy Man’s Son
I used this illustration in a recent message. I am not sure where I originally found it but it is a wonderful story. The message I gave can be watched at

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.

When the Viet Nam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.

About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands. He said, “Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art.”

The young man held out his package. “I know this isn’t much. I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.”
The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture.

“Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.”

The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.

The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection. On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel.

“We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?”

There was silence. Then a voice in the back of the room shouted. “We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.”

But the auctioneer persisted. “Will someone bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?”

Another voice shouted angrily. “We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts. Get on with the real bids!”

But still the auctioneer continued. “The son! The son! Who’ll take the son?”

Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. “I’ll give $10 for the painting.”

Being a poor man, it was all he could afford. “We have $10, who will bid $20?”

“Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the masters.”

“$10 is the bid, won’t someone bid $20?” The crowd was becoming angry. They didn’t want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections. The auctioneer pounded the gavel “Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!”

A man sitting on the second row shouted. “Now let’s get on with the collection!”

The auctioneer laid down his gavel. “I’m sorry, the auction is over.”

“What about the paintings?”

“I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets every thing!”

God gave His son 2,000 years ago to die on a cruel cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is, “The son, the son, who’ll take the son?” Because, you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything.

Just this past weekend I was contemplating how confusing it must be for foreigners to grasp the nuances of the English language. We have certain rules but sometimes the exceptions to the rule comprise a longer list than the rule itself. Take a word like “bear,” which can mean a large fuzzy animal, a verb (to grin and bear it) or pronounced the same it can mean a cupboard is empty or a naked person. There are literally thousands of such confusions in the English language. I also lived for three years in Germany and understand a little of the precise manner in which the Germans view everything. When they follow a rule, they really actually follow it. It was therefore hilarious to me to read the following attempt by the Europeans to fix the problems in the English language in order to make it, instead of German, usable on the continent – enjoy:

Euro-English Instead of German

The European Union commissioners have announced that agreement has been reached to adopt English as the preferred language for European communications, rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty’s Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five-year phased plan for what will be known as Euro-English (Euro for short). In the first year, ‘s’ will be used instead of the soft ‘c’. Sertainly, sivil servants will resieve this news with joy. Also, the hard ‘c’ will be replaced with ‘k.’ Not only will this klear up konfusion, but typewriters kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome ‘ph’ will be replaced by ‘f’. This will make words like ‘fotograf’ 20 per sent shorter.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of silent ‘e’s in the languag is disgrasful, and they would go.

By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing ‘th’ by ‘z’ and ‘W’ by ‘V’. During ze fifz year, ze unesesary ‘o’ kan be dropd from vords kontaining ‘ou’, and similar changes vud of kors; be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil b no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer. Ze drem vil finali kum tru.

Now that the royal couple have tied the knot, I felt it was time to provide some practical advice on living peacefully with each other, not just Will and Kate but all of us. My wife and I have been ‘happily’ married for 25 years. She comes from a large Italian Midwest family with a few somewhat dubious connections. When we were engaged, my future mother in law called me over and issued to me the following dictate, “I just want you to know,” she said eerily, “that we in this family do not believe in divorce but we do believe in murder.”  I just want to repeat, we have been ‘happily’ married for 25 years (Just violated point #6).

Looking back at those years, I have tried to identify not only the fear of my mother in law as a source of marital success but also I must attribute it to my wife and I learning to overcome what we view as the 12 major sources of conflict in relationships. These we call the dirty dozen and they are listed below.

By revealing and understanding the roots of conflict, steps can be taken to resolve each challenging situation. Although these apply largely to marriage or dating relationships, most of the following principles actually apply to all human interactions.  If there is one area that people need help, it is in the arena of relational wisdom. This blog shares some powerful, insightful and helpful tips that provide some practical answers to conflict resolution.

A former teacher of mine once shared an anecdote about his marriage. He confessed at the time to have been at his wits end with his wife’s behavior. Being a person of faith he finally blurted out at her, “I cannot understand why God made you so beautiful and yet so stupid.” She barely missed a beat and fired back at him, “He made me beautiful so you would marry me and he made me stupid so I would marry you.” Sometimes it just takes one light sentence for a woman to put a 200 pound man in his place.

In the first blog on this topic, I will cover the first six areas of the dirty dozen and mention the other six. In a future blog, I will cover the other six in more detail. Let’s look at the first one.

1)   Pride – An old adage says, “Only by pride comes contention.” By this definition, whenever there is conflict, pride is either in one party or both. – Solution: both parties kick pride to the curb and swallow a good dose of humility. Remember that when you point a finger at someone else, there are 4 others pointing back at you. Always start with yourself and if both parties humble themselves, you create a pathway to forgiveness and healing in the conflict.

2)   Differences of Perspective – We all see things from a very subjective viewpoint. Often not understanding the other’s perspective leads to strife.  Solution: Each person needs to step out of their own shoes and make an effort to put themselves into the shoes of the other.  Role playing and arguing from the other’s point of view may help both of you understand where each person is coming from.

3)   Misunderstanding based on a lack of communication – How many times do people in a conflict start a sentence with “I thought…” Remember that a lack of communication always leaves room for imagination. Solution: a healthy dose of listening, not just to the words but also to the non-verbal communication of the other. Some have pointed out that God gave each of us one mouth but two ears, from which we can deduce that we should do twice as much listening as we do speaking. Whole wars have been started and continued because of bad communication. Probably the most famous is the Japanese Premier’s use of the word mokusatsu in response to the allies Potsdam ‘terms of surrender’ Declaration at the end of World War II. The word has two meanings, one is “to withhold comment for the moment” and the other means to “ignore”. The premier meant the former, the press interpreted the word as meaning the latter. The rest is history, Truman made the decision to drop the atomic bomb and hundreds of thousands of innocent lives were lost as a result. That’s an extreme example I know but the point is that miscommunication can have dire consequences.

4)   Differences of convictions, beliefs and opinions – These are often deep seated and frame our worldview. They can be like impenetrable barriers to healthy communication and understanding. Solution: People in close relationship need to have respect and a high degree of tolerance for the convictions of each other. Even the Apostle Paul in the New Testament taught that if someone has a problem eating meat, don’t criticize them. Never try and impose your freedom to do something on another human being’s inability to embrace your position. This must work both ways, liberal to conservative and conservative to liberal. Where there are few or no convictions, then some framework of right and wrong will have to be found, agreed upon and adopted if there is going to be peace.

5)   Selfish behavior – This is behavior that does not consider the implications of personal actions on the livelihood and well being of others.  A woman is free to smoke but not if she is carrying a child because then her actions will damage the life of an innocent other. People can consume alcohol but if they get behind the wheel of a car under the influence, then their behavior moves into a realm of utter selfishness. Gambling, drugs, alcohol, reckless spending and self-abuse would all fall into this category.  Solution: Each person in the relationship needs to understand that they are not an island unto themselves. Both parties must learn to respect the law of sowing and reaping and realize that every decision in life has consequences beyond themselves, both for good and for bad. Doing one’s best to obey the golden rule will solve most conflicts caused by selfish behavior.

6)   Outside influences (parents, relatives, work etc.) – This is a tough one for many because it overlaps a later reason for conflict, which is a lack of right priorities. Most of the conflict caused by outside influences in relationships come from people who have a high degree of manipulation and control in people’s lives. Solution: Ancient Jewish culture mandated that a man had to sever the controlling relationship with a father and mother when he got married. I only start with the influence of parents because the control of a mother in law is legendary in relational lore. When people outside a relationship try to interfere, they need to politely or not so politely be told to mind their own business. If that control is coming from a boss, boundaries to the influence need to be established. Work time and non-work time need to be clearly separated. So in a nutshell, identify the source of conflict from outside parties, set boundaries on it and do your best to neutralize or distance yourselves from those influences.

Here are the other 6 sources of conflict, which will be covered in Conflict Resolution Part 2

7)   A Violation of the three As – Adultery, addictions and abuse

8)   Unfulfilled and unrealistic expectations

9)   Finances – their mismanagement and a lack of communication & unity in their use.

10)  Wrong priorities

11)  A lack of clear good definition of roles and responsibilities in the relationship

12) A violation of the relational requirement to love and respect each other and to treat each other with dignity.

Please subscribe to the blog if you want to get notification as to when part 2 will post. You can also order a full copy of this message, which my wife and I team-taught for a Valentine’s Day meeting. It is hilarious but also very helpful, especially on the resolution side of the equation. Order that $10 Audio CD (shipping included) by clicking on the following link. Resolving Conflict


This story tells how you should always look on the positive side of things no matter how bad your situation gets.

Phil and Ernie were friends who lived during the time of the Wild West in America. Wild animals still roamed the countryside and traveling without a gun was often dangerous. Phil and Ernie did not have a lot of money. They went from town to town looking for employment. One day they came across a poster, which was put there by the state government. The poster told how farmers were losing hundreds of sheep to packs of wolves that lived in the mountains. The poster then announced a reward of $1,000 for every wolf that anyone killed. Now in those days $1,000 was a large amount of money. Phil and Ernie scraped together enough money to buy a gun and they headed for the mountains to hunt wolves. For five days they searched for wolves and found none. One night they went to sleep in their small tent only to be awakened in the night by some terrible growling. Phil woke up and discovered a pack of 12 wolves surrounding them. They were hungry and Phil could see their eyes glowing as they came closer and closer. He reached over and shook Ernie. “Wake up Ernie,” he said, “you won’t believe it – we are rich.”

On a more serious note, if you or someone you love have lost a loved one, please check out this amazing story of former miss America, Cheryl Salem on the loss of her 5-yr old to a brain tumor. One of the most uplifting stories I have ever seen.

Gandhi and Candy

April 7, 2011 — Leave a comment

The great spiritual leader of India, Mahatma Gandhi was not a Christian but taught many good principles about life that are worth following. There is a story about him being visited by a very worried mother. She had a young boy who would eat large amounts of candy and sweets all the time whenever his mother was not looking. She would try and hide the candy but the boy would find it or get the candy from relatives and neighbors. The boy would not listen when his mother told him how bad the candy was for him and how it would destroy his teeth. Finally in desperation, she thought of taking him to see the famous Gandhi. Gandhi was respected in all of India and she knew if he told the boy to stop eating the candy, he would certainly listen. It took the lady three days of standing in a very long line to get an audience with the great leader. When she finally saw him, she told him her story. “Please,” she said, “will you tell my son to stop eating candy. I know he will obey you.” Mr. Ghandi looked up at her and simply said. “Lady, please come back and see me in two weeks.” The woman left looking confused, not understanding why she had to come back.  Two weeks later, she again waited three days in the long line and finally got to see Mr. Gandhi again. She brought her boy to the great leader and again presented her story. Mr. Gandhi looked the young boy sternly in his eyes. “Young man, I want you to stop eating candy.” He said. The boy bowed down and said, “yes sir. I will not eat candy anymore.” As the mother and boy were leaving the room, the mother turned back with a question that was bothering her. “Mr. Gandhi,” she said. “Why did I have to wait again in that long line a second time? Why did you not tell my son to stop eating candy two weeks ago?” Mr. Gandhi looked up at the woman and said: “Lady, it took me that long to stop eating candy myself.”

The moral of that story is that we should not tell other people to do things that we ourselves are not doing.