Snow Man

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Me:  Howdy, Prodigal!  I like your horse.


Prodigal:  Thank you, I love to go horseback riding.


Me:  Well that reminds me of a story about a great horse.


Prodigal:  Who doesn’t love horse stories!


In the book Chicken Soup for the Country Soul a story was submitted by Philip Kunhardt Jr.  It is a long story but it is one of those stories that make you feel good inside so I am going to write it out and I think it is worth reading all of it.

Snow Man had been on his way to the slaughterhouse, a tired farm horse that nobody seemed to want to care about.  Fortunately, somebody did care-and this is the story of that caring.

One wintery Monday in February 1956, Harry de Leyer, a riding master at the Knox School for Girls on Long Island headed for the Pennsylvania horse auction and was aiming to buy several horses for the school to use.  He arrived late, however; most of the horses had been sold.  Wandering outside, he saw several sorry-looking animals being loaded into a butcher’s van.  These were the “killers”-worn-out work horses that nobody wanted, except the meat dealer.  The sight made Harry sad.

Suddenly, Harry spotted a big gray gelding plodding up the ramp.  The horse was chunky, but lighter than the others, and there was a spirited pitch to his ears, a brightness in his eyes.  Unaccountably, on instinct alone, de Leyer called to the loader to bring the horse back down.

“You crazy?”  said the meat dealer.”  He is just an old farm horse.”

Probably, Harry thought.  The animal’s ribs showed, his coat was matted with dirt and manure, there were sores on his legs.  Still, there was something about him…

“How much do you want for him?” de Leyer asked.

That is how it all started.  Harry de Leyer redeemed and old plug for eighty dollars.

The whole de Leyer family was out to greet the horse the next day.  Down the ramp of the van he came, stumbling over his big feet.  He looked slowly about, blinking in the bright winter sun.  Then, ankle-deep in snow, covered with shaggy white hair, he stood still as a statue.  One of the children said, “He looks just like a snow man.”

They all set about turning Snow Man into a horse again.  First they clipped him lightly, and then they washed him-three times.  In a while, the horseshoer came.  Finally, cleaned and curried and shod, Snow Man was ready for his training sessions as a riding horse.

But Snow Man learned fast.  By spring, he was carrying the novice riders at Knox, and some of the girls even began asking for him in preference to the better-looking horses.

When school closed that summer, Harry de Leyer made what might have been the biggest mistake of his life: he sold Snow Man to a neighborhood doctor for double his money, with the understanding that the doctor would not sell Snow Man, except back to him.

Now Snow Man began showing a side that hadn’t previously come to light.  He insisted on jumping the doctor’s fences, no matter how high they were raised, and coming home-cross-country over fields and lawns, through backyards and gardens.  Irate citizens called the police.  The doctor was glad to let de Leyer have Snow Man back.

The feeling was mutual.  For in some strange way, de Leyer had come to believe that he and Snow Man shared a common destiny.  Solemnly he promised himself never again to part with the horse.

Now, with indication that Snow Man liked to jump, de Leyer began giving him special schooling as a jumper.  With kindness and hard work, he helped Snow Man over tougher and tougher obstacles.  Finally, in the spring of 1958, de Leyer decided to put the big gray to his first real test-at the Sands Point Horse Show on Long Island, where he would compete with some of the top open jumpers in the land.

Incredibly, out on the Sands Point jump course, Snow Man could do no wrong.  Again and again, spectators held their breath, expecting the ungainly looking animal to come crashing down on the bars-but he never did.  By nightfall of the second day of the three-day show, he had achieved the seemingly impossible:  He was tied for the lead in the open jumper division with the great old campaigner, Andante.

Then, with success so close, on his final jump of the day, Snow Man landed with his feet too close together, and a back hoof slashed his right foreleg.  By the following day, it would be swollen and stiff.  But de Leyer wasn’t one to give up easily.  He cut a section out of a tire tube, slipped it over Snow Man’s injured leg like a sock, tied up the bottom and filled the tube with ice.  All night long, he kept the improvised sock full of fresh ice, telling Snow Man over and over how they would win the next day.

Harry de Leyer now saw that he had a potential champion-possibly even a national champion.  However, giving Snow Man a chance to prove it meant hitting the horse-show circuit in earnest, vanning to a new show each weekend, putting up big entry fees, riding his heart out-a long, tiring summer and autumn that could end in little reward.  Moreover, a spot on Harry’s tongue had started hurting, and that worried him.  It would be easier to forget about championships.  Still, after talking it over, Harry and Joanna decided that Snow Man deserved a try.

So, to Connecticut they went.  Snow Man won at the Fairfield Horse Show and at Lakeville.  Then to Branchville, New Jersey, but Harry was in no condition to ride a winner.  His tongue was bothering him badly, and he had scarcely eaten for a week.  Consequently, Snow Man had a bad day.  Blaming himself for the big jumper’s first loss, Harry de Leyer drove home that Sunday night gritting his teeth against his pain.

On Monday, he went to the doctor.  On Tuesday, he entered a Long Island hospital to have a tumor removed from his tongue.  On Saturday, he got the laboratory report:  The tumor was malignant.  It was the end of the life he had known, the end of Snow Man’s quest for glory.

Sitting at the show, de Leyer heard his name announced over the loud-speaker:  He needed to go home immediately.  Harry’s first thought was his children!  His second-a fire!  He sped home, wondering how much more a man could take.  But when he turned into the driveway, the children were playing in the yard and there stood the house.  Joanna was close to hysteria, however.  A message had come from the hospital that Harry’s laboratory report had been mixed up with another:  The tumor was no malignant!

“All of a sudden,”  Harry says, “my life was handed back to me.”

From then on, the summer and early fall became one happy rush toward more and more championships at important shows.  And finally it was November, time for the biggest show of all-the National at Madison Square Garden.

The National Horse Show lasts eight days.  Horses that lack either consistency or stamina are weeded out long before the final night.  After seven days Snow Man was tied in the Open Jumper Division with a chestnut mare, First Chance.  For their jump-off on the eight day, the course was long and intricate.  It wove around the Garden oval in four overlapping loops; it included quick turns and changes of direction-combinations that call for perfect timing and coordination.

First Chance went first.  Whether is was the tenseness of the moment, wear and tear from so many days of jumping or difficulties of the course, no one can be sure.  At any rate, First Chance “knocked” several barriers.

Now it was up to Snow Man to run a cleaner course.  There were a few touches, but far fewer than First Chance had made.  Finally Snow Man approached the last jump.

Now Harry de Leyer sat up in the saddle and threw the reins across the horse’s neck.  He was showing, for everyone to see, that it was not he who was responsible for this great performance, it was the horse.  Snow Man rumbled up to that final jump, and he thrust and sailed and it was done! and he thrust and he sailed and it was done!  An old and unpedigreed farm horse had won it all-the National Horse Show Open Jumper Championship, the Professional Horsemen’s Association Trophy and the American Horse Shows Association High Score Award.  He was declared “Horse of the Year” in open jumping.


You know I love this story.  You might not have known but I am that horse.  I was matted with dirt, ribs showing and sores and headed toward death.  I was in line for death and, I didn’t even know how bad I was.  Then I was saved.

Then the unthinkable happened.  In a world with pedigrees and beautiful horses and the most beautiful pastures.  This horse was allowed to be tested with several races.  With nothing to show but heart, and a faithful rider, this horse somehow managed to stay in the race.  There is one difference though.  The final race the reins will be let go, but it is not to show that the horse is responsible for this great performance, it is to show that the faithful rider is sole responsible for the beginning to the end.  At the end this horse will hear those words “Well done, good and faithful servant, well done.”   See I am the horse and Christ is that faithful rider.


Matthew 25:21

His master said to hi, Well done, good and faithful servant.


Jennifer Van Allen

Adversity Provides Opportunities



Prodigal:  Help!  Help!


Me:  I am here to help.  What have you got yourself into?


Prodigal:  I am trapped and stuck.  I have been all day.


Me:  That sounds like a long day to be stuck like that.  I will help you down now though.


Prodigal:  It was a very long day and wasted.


Me:  Well not all adversity is wasted.  In fact it can provide opportunities.


Prodigal:  I want to hear how adversity can provide opportunities!


David Jeremiah in his book Turning Toward Joy discusses the life of Paul.  One paragraph that I felt was encouraging I will share below.


Apart from his imprisonment, there would have been no way Paul could have approached the highest dignitaries in the palace in Rome.  We know that some of them became Christians because of the final word of Paul in this letter.  He referred to “the saints…who are of Caesar’s household” (Phil 4:22).

For twenty-four hours a day he was chained to a Roman soldier.  Every six hours the shift changed, so Paul had four prospects for salvation every day of the week.  During his two-year imprisonment, he would have been able to engage in almost three thousand witnessing opportunities with Rome’s top military personnel.

Adversity.  How many hours are you feeling it today?  Praise God that it probably is not 24 hours like Paul went threw.  I know, you are probably thinking it feels like 24 hours.  I know the adversity is tough today.  I know you are thinking, I am not Paul.  I have a hard time speaking and witnessing.  You are right.  You are not Paul and chances are you are not chained to Roman guards.

What God wants to show you though, is that someone is watching your adversity.  Someone that you would not have been in contact with if it was not for your adversity.  They need to see Christ through you.  They need to see how God upholds you through the adversity.  So don’t be weary and give your burden to Christ.  Don’t forget God can use this adversity in ways that you cannot imagine.


Philippians 1:13  So that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.


Jennifer Van Allen

Celebrity or Friend



Me:  Prodigal, who are you with today?


Prodigal:  Mr.Lizard, he is a celebrity here on the beach.  All the animals know him.


Me:  How did you meet him then.


Prodigal:  I was walking the beach and just ran into him and had to say hello.


Me: Meeting a celebrity, imagine that.  That does lead me to the story today.  I will tell it to both of you.


Tommy Tenney in the book the God Chasers.  Talks about our relationship with God.  I liked how he explained it compared to our culture today.


You can know all about presidents, royalties, and celebrities; you can know their eating habits, address, and marital status.  But knowing about them doesn’t imply intimacy.  That doesn’t mean you know them.  In this information age, with tidbits of gossip passed from mouth to mouth, from paper to paper, and from person to person, it’s possible to traffic in facts about someone without knowing him personally.  Were you to overhear two people conversing about the latest calamity befalling some celebrity, or the latest victory he experienced, you might be led to think that they know that individual, when really all they know is facts about him!  For too long the Church has been only conversant in the things of God.  We talk techniques, but we don’t talk with Him.  That’s the difference between knowing someone and knowing about him.  Presidents, royalties, and celebrities-I may know many facts about them, but I don’t really know them.  If I ever met them in person, they would have to be introduced to me because mere knowledge about a person is not the same as an intimate friendship.

Have you ever had a close relationship or a close friendship where you could feel that they knew you?  Think of them now.  What made it special?  Was it that they knew you loved sports and you bake and whatever else you want to add in there.  That might have been part of it but there is more.  A lot of people know I like sports and that I love to bake.  They don’t have an intimate friendship with me though.  So what is that difference?

Spending time with each other of course.  I would like to add more though.  I think that the close intimacy in that relationship wants to encourage you with a closer relationship with God and given you freedom to walk your own walk.  See we can encourage that closer relationship but can sound like a list of to do’s and don’ts and no intimacy is present.

I have relationships where I see they encourage me through prayers and words and just being there.  I feel a genuine love behind their actions.  I value this so much.  So if little ole me could figure out if you have genuine love behind your actions, could God do the same?  If people are encouraging me, could God do the same for you?  Is God raging with anger if He knows you only have facts versus an intimacy with Him or is He ever so softly calling your name.  God has known all along.  He is not rejecting you because of it, he is just patiently waiting.

Psalm 139:1-5

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.  You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.  Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.  You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.


Jennifer Van Allen

The Unseen World



Me:  Howdy, Prodigal!  You look stuck and all the sand seems to be closing in on you.


Prodigal:  That may what it appears to you to be going on but there is something else.


Me:  So you are not in a bad position?


Prodigal:  No not at all, You see me in a hole that I cannot get our of.  Really I was buried underneath and I have just broke through to the top.  So it is not the end but just the beginning.


Me:  Wow, how we can focus to much on what we perceive and not what is going on spiritually.


Philip Yancey talks about faith when all around us seems to be in ruin in his book Disappointment With God.


For many of the heroes listed in Hebrews 11, they have one thing in common:  a dread time of testing like Job’s, a time when the fog descends and everything goes blank.  Torture, jeers, floggings, chains, stonings, sawings in two-Hebrews records in grim detail the trials that may befall faith-full people.

Saints become saints by somehow hanging on to the stubborn conviction that things are not as they appear, and that the unseen world is as solid and trustworthy as the visible world around them.  God deserves trust, even when it looks like the world is caving in.


The fog has descended.  Your time of testing is here.  You look with your eyes around you and there is nothing that will point you to encouragement.  You go to God.  You spiritual ears hear nothing but encouragement and telling you that it will all be turned around.

Now is the time to be blind.

Now is the time to hear.

Now is the time to show God your trust.


John 10:27  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.


Jennifer Van Allen

Removal of Barriers



Me:  Howdy Prodigal!  That is a nice castle.


Prodigal:  Yes, I have been trying to get inside all day long.  This castle has so many barriers though.  It has a moat, walls, and these towers.


Me:  When you put it that way, I see a lot of barriers too.


Prodigal:  It is also discouraging me at the moment.


Me:  Well I have a story that can help with discouragement of barriers.


David Jeremiah discusses Paul and his barriers in the book Turning Toward Joy

Paul viewed his imprisonment as the removal of barriers to the gospel in Rome.  As Paul looks back over these events…he stresses the masses of dark threads that the recent years had woven into the pattern of his life…the animosities and bodily pains, the lies, misrepresentations and deceitfulness, the miscarriage of justice, the chains…the mental turmoil of appealing to Caesar against his own people, the nearness of death and the loss of hope, the triumph of wickedness and the continued suppression of the truth.  He invites us to take these things and look them in the face, for it is these which have resulted-contrary to what their surface appearance might have suggested–in the progress of the Gospel.

How could this happen?  Is this even true?  How could so many events that would seem like life was going all wrong turn out to progress the Gospel?  When we progress the Gospel doesn’t it mean that it should be filled with everybody happy, welcoming you with smiles.  That everybody thinks you are wonderful in all that you do?  Maybe as you progress the Gospel, it is a little discouraging but it is not to the nearness of death and we would never lose hope.  So how does this all make any sense?

It makes sense because Jesus is the son of God and if he has defeated death, then what limit is their to His power?  To Him the ability to turn the most hopeless discouraged situation into something beautiful is not out of His reach.

Some of you need this word today, to have the faith to make it through this next hour.  Hold on to that power of Jesus.  We need to hold on to Jesus to make it.  Hold on to see how he will turn this all over to glorify Himself and grow  you closer to Him.


Philippians 1:12

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.


Jennifer Van Allen




Me:  Prodigal, I see you are in church.


Prodigal:  Yes, I decided to see learn more about the church.  I do hear a lot about hypocrites in the church though.


Me:  Yes, a lot of people will avoid church saying their are hypocrites there.


Prodigal:  How do hypocrites start in the church?


Me:  Good question and it is a subject not often talked about openly but I have been reading about it.


Bruce Wilkinson talks about our personal holiness and also how we can become distracted.


After calling the Pharisees hypocrites, the Lord says that their hearts are far from God.  For a person to be holy, his or her heart motives must be pure before the Lord.  In other words, it is possible for a person to do something that the Bible clearly defines as holy and yet not fulfill biblical holiness.  Holiness can be faked before men, but faked holiness is nothing less than unholiness!

When a Christian seeks holiness in his life and engages in practices that the Bible would affirm, yet permits his heart to remain aloof or even rebellious to the Lord, such behavior would be unholy-even if the behavior appears to others to be holy.  For the Lord to declare something to be holy, both the habit and the heart must be separated unto the Lord.  One without the other only breeds destructive unholiness.

External holiness without internal holiness breeds hypocrisy, and hypocritical holiness inevitable degenerates into the bondage of legalism.

Internal holiness without external holiness breeds emotionalism, and emotional holiness inevitable degenerates into the bondage of fanaticism.


Legalism-strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, especially to the letter rather than the spirit. (

Fanaticism-holding extreme beliefs that may lead to unreasonable or violent behavior (Cambridge


We have seen these behaviors in the church.  How interesting that we can point them out in other people in other churches but we do not look out ourselves.  I think our churches are in danger of being in bondage.

We can easily attend all these church functions.  People tell us we are good Christians and the whole time we have sin in our heart.  What are our motives in having coffee with 10 people?  Are we doing this activity to say we are “good”?  Have we ever prayed with who we should spend our time with?  Have we ever completed a behavior in the unseen that glorifies God but no one knows about?  Are we only interested in behaviors that will point a little to God but also point to what wonderful Christians we are?  What are you doing today?  Is it for your praise or for Gods?

Talk to God and let Him examine your motives right now.  If not, God will eventually deal with that sin and it will be tougher then you can imagine because you will not surrender it.



If I had cherished sin in my heat, the Lord would not have listened.


Jennifer Van Allen

Fighting Our Way to the Top



Me:  Howdy Prodigal, Are you climbing?


Prodigal:  Yes, I am trying to make it to the top as fast as I can.


Me:  What happens when you make it to the top?


Prodigal:  You know, I have not figure that out yet.  I think it means everything will be perfect.


Me:  No, that is not quite true.


James Gills talks about fighting to the top in the book The Unseen Essential.


Many of us go through life trying to climb to the top of our professional fields.  We want to be the very best.  Science, medicine, economics, business, or education–it matters little.  The race to the top is the same, regardless.  Fighting and elbowing our way to the pinnacle of our respective pile, we wind up on the bottom of life because we’re missing the very center, which is Christ.  We must come to a point of agreement where we understand who He is, who we are in relation to Him, and what He considers important.  Climbing to the top or having the most “toys” is not what pleases God.

Oftentimes, our line of sight is fixed only on the horizontal.  Today’s philosophies train young people early to value things more than people.  We all focus on what we can acquire rather than on what we can give.  Such an attitude of consumerism has become  a way of life, crossing the boundaries into Christian camps.  It has insidiously wormed its way in and destroyed the Church’s sense of values concerning this most important of all relationships.  Many of us want to know exactly what the church can do for us before we join.  Before some us will even give our lives to Jesus Christ, we want to know the complete “benefits package,” as we would before accepting an employment opportunity.  From that moment on, we pray, asking Him to give, give, give.  Selfishness reigns.  How many people go to church just to share or, better yet, live their lives filled with a desire to give to God?  Not many.  Can we expect to grow close to Him when we haven’t the faintest idea of what it means to be in a relationship with Him–the Creator of heaven and earth?


What does it mean to me, to be in a relationship with God?

It means I value that relationship.

It means I nurture it everyday.

It means sometimes I don’t agree with God but I surrender to Him.

It means I don’t understand God but I am obedient to Him.

It means that I listen to His voice and tune out the voice of men.

It means that I have a love that is worthy of holding onto, fighting for and cherishing because it has changed me for the better.


Jeremiah 31:3

The Lord appeared to him from far away.  I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.


Jennifer Van Allen





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Me:  Howdy, Prodigal!  Who is your friend?


Prodigal:  He is my friend, Baker.  We have been talking about all that is going on.


Me: Has it been helpful?


Prodigal:  I hope so, we have been talking about sin.


Me:  I was just reading about sin in a book from David Jeremiah called Slaying the Giants in Your Life.


David talks about sin and then confession.


Confession is all about naked honesty before God or before fellow Christians.  It means describing our actions with the same words God uses, and no dissembling or distortion.  Confession will not allow us to foolishly hide, as Adam and Eve did in the Garden;  it will force us to change from the inside out.  “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart-these, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).  David knew what it meant for his actions to be despised by God.  The act of confession was intensely painful and thoroughly liberating.

We all sin.  I sin. I am not perfect.  Sin can be tricky.  Sometimes only the closes ones to us can see that we have sinned.  We can fool a lot of people at times.  We cannot fool God.  We cannot fool those that love us.

This is tough for me to write this.  I don’t want to come across as someone on this throne that is judging others.  Honestly I don’t feel I even have to right to say anything about sin.

How many times have I made the wrong choice.  A thousand it seems.

How many times have I said the wrong thing.  A thousand it seems.

How many times has Jesus forgiven me.  All the time, because he shows me a love I don’t deserve.

So how in the world could I not forgive wrong words?  I am not a better person then you.  I can’t point a finger and condemn.  I can only give grace, because I understand.


Romans 1:5

Through Him and for His name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.


Jennifer Van Allen