My name is Randy Martin Snyder. I was named Randy because my mother liked the television cowboy Randolph Scott and my middle name is a family pass me down from my mother’s side of the family. I was raised in a very loving family. My Mother and Dad were excellent parents and always affirming, accepting, but right in discipline. They were considered the cool parents of the neighborhood. My Mom and Dad were always involved with whatever activity my Sister and I were involved in. My Dad was also a race car driver and all around sports guy. So the guys thought he was the greatest.
I grew up going fishing, hunting, or going to sporting events on Saturday and to the Drag Race Track on Sundays instead of Church. I only knew of one or possibly two families in my neighborhood that actually went to Church nominally. I did think about God growing up but I had very little knowledge about God.
I remember when I was very young I had an epiphany about my mortality and realized that my parents were going to die someday and it drove me to tears since I was so in love with them. My Dad came upon me in my distress and tried to calm my fears by telling me that if we stay good people we will always be together after death because we will go to heaven. That still didn’t help a whole lot but it did guide me in some of my theological understanding for the next years.
By the time I got to my mid-teen years, I realized that I was not a good person. My Dad had left my Mom for another woman. I actually caught him cheating. That was devastating. I had been involved with drugs, alcohol, and crimes that I am too embarrassed to speak about. I was on a very self-destructive course of life. Just weeks before turning 18 years of age I had stolen a car and passed out at the wheel sending it through the other side of a six lane interstate. I awoke with a Policeman asking me if I was okay.
I ended up going into the United States Navy so that I could pay restitution and fulfill my obligations for my crime. I was pretty fortunate that I was still considered a juvenile. My punishment would have been much more severe had I been 18.
After joining the Navy I endured boot camp and the training I needed to go through for doing my job as a mechanic on fighter jets. I was still heavily involved with drugs and alcohol but was ever growing tired of all the heartache and sorrow it brought. Some things transpired that caused me to ask my mother to send me a Living Bible that she had been trying to get me to read for some time. My roommates were members of the KKK and asked me to join. I refused and I felt very threatened. I sensed I might even lose my life over this because I was introduced to guys who were seeking a carrier in the Navy and I could hurt them with knowledge of their associations. At the same time I had been contemplating my mortality during this time also and all the fortunate things that had happened to me. I figured if I continued on the path I was on I was going to run out of fortune. I did believe in God and figured that He was going to run out of patience with me someday. After all, I had a few close friends who were dead already. Why should I be allowed to continue to live?
I read through the four Gospels in a few weeks. The book of Matthew exposed my sinful heart. It wasn’t just the actions of my life that condemned me. I discovered it was the attitudes of my heart that brought me into conflict with God.
(Mat 5:21) Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
(Mat 5:22) But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca (You’re Worthless), shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
The next one really hit home because adultery was a sin that tore my family apart and it was a very painful thing in my life.
(Mat 5:27) Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
(Mat 5:28) But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
That portion of scripture exposed a major problem in my life. My heart. My inclinations, desires, and attitudes were sinful and disobedient to God.
The book of Mark showed me the Compassion of Christ. The book of Luke showed me the wonderful healer. But the Book of John revealed the most wonderful thing to me. It revealed to me who Jesus was.
When I was young we had five channels to watch on the television. Today we have hundreds. The three major networks were CBS, ABC, and NBC. We also had a local channel and a UHF (Ultra High Frequency) channel. Back in those days we celebrated holidays and centered our seasonal times around a Church Calendar. We had Easter Break instead of Spring Break. There was Christmas Vacation instead of Winter Break. During those holiday seasons they played religious programs on television like the Ten Commandments, The Robe, The King of Kings, and a few others. My parents always watched them. One in particular was very important to me. It was Cecil B. Demille’s movie ‘The Ten Commandments’. During one point of the movie Moses, who is God’s Prophet, goes up to see a sight he finds miraculous. It is a bush that is on fire but is not being consumed. A voice speaks to him out of the burning bush and it is God proclaiming that He is the God of Moses’ past ancestors. Moses asked this God what His name was. God replied back by telling Moses that “I AM” is His name. There are a lot of things God reveals by his many descriptive names, but that is another topic.
To allow you to understand why the book of John is so wonderful to me I will have to back up a bit. When I was going to school for my Naval training at Millington, Tennessee I was approached by a street preacher. He tried to tell me that Jesus Christ was God manifest as a man and that He loved me. I just thought he was a nut job. I could not understand what he was telling me because I reasoned that I am not my Dad and my Dad is not me. I was having problems also with the concept that God loved mankind by giving his Son to die for the sins of the World. My Dad cast me and my family off for the love of another woman. He sacrificed us for the love of another and I just couldn’t see the good in any of that. So I perceived Christianity was a terrible religion. Especially if God made his son pay for my sin. That didnt sound like good to me. But I sure did admire Jesus for his good words and the good life he lived exposing man’s shortcomings. I also liked how Jesus was a friend to sinners and rebuffed religious people. At the same time He expected people to be like himself, good. I wanted that goodness.
By the time I got to the book of John I was growing more convinced about how good Jesus was and how good God was and wanted us to be. I started to see that my understanding about God was a bit out of kilter. I also started questioning what it meant to be the Son of God because of this passage.
But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
I knew I was never going to be equal with God. Because of this I started realizing God was truthful, good, and just. My perceptions were faulty also. When I got through the eighth Chapter of John my life was totally turned around. I read…
The Living Bible
(John 8:53) So you are greater than our father Abraham, who died? Who do you think you are?
(John 8:54) Then Jesus told them this: “If I am merely boasting about Myself, it doesn’t count. But it is My Father—and you claim Him as your God—who is saying these glorious things about Me.
(John 8:55) But you do not even know Him. I do. If I said other-wise, I would be as great a liar as you! But it is true—I know Him and fully obey Him.
(John 8:56) Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day. He knew I was coming and was glad.”
(John 8:57) The Jewish leaders: “You aren’t even 50 years old—sure, you’ve seen Abraham!”
(John 8:58) Jesus: “The absolute truth is that I was in existence before Abraham was ever born!”
I had realized that my whole conception about God was incorrect and that my understanding about God was wrong. My understanding about God was based upon my understanding and relationship with my Dad. By the time I got done reading John 8:58 I realized that Jesus was the God who said his name was “I AM” to Moses. Jesus was the God who talked to Moses out of the burning bush. The Living Bible is not a translation of the Bible. It is what they call a paraphrase. A paraphrase is an over simplistic explanation of what someone wrote instead of translating what was truly said or written. The real rendering of John 8:58 quotes Jesus as saying, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” I realized that the almighty God loved me and sacrificed Himself for me. I realized that God loved me and paid the price for my sin. He was my rescuer. I started to understand that God was Three persons in one being. This teaching is called the Trinity. I learned that God loved me as a Father and would never cast me off. He paid the highest price of all. He gave Himself. What love!
I have to admit at this time that my mother played a big part in my coming to Christ. After my Dad left home she sacrificed and tolerated me when I did nothing but hurt her. She never gave up on me. She prayed and tried to point me to Christ. She did her best to exhibit the same love of God that St. John had revealed to me.
During that few weeks of reading the four Gospels I had prayed and asked God to forgive me for all of my wretchedness. I asked him to help me know him. I asked Him what he wanted me to do now that I had come to understand and know who He was. Shortly after that I met another sailor (Tom Irwin) who lived across the hall from me in the barracks. He was carrying a Bible so we struck up a conversation and the next thing I knew was that I was attending a Bible Study with a bunch of guys who belonged to a group called the Navigators. Tom Perkins was the Navigator Staff member for the base and he took a wonderful interest in me. He taught me how to memorize scripture and how to share my faith and the gospel message through an illustrative diagram called the Bridge Illustration. He also hooked me up with a Navy Officer in my squadron named Bernie Vanosdall to mentor me. But the thing that helped me the most I believe was the deep friendships I had developed with a few other guys in my squadron and the Navigator group. Joe Carr, Ron Crook, and Tim Carraro were and still are a few of my best friends. Joe was a solid Christian and Tim was a Roman Catholic who I witnessed to and led to Christ during my first Cruise to the Med and Ron Crook was just a guy who I dearly loved and could identify with. Those friendships meant and still mean the world to me. We were closer than brothers.
Two very important things happened to me when I met Christ. I learned what the Gospel is. The Gospel was something I truly didn’t understand till I started reading the Bible. I thought men had to be good to go to heaven. I learned there is no person good enough to go to heaven. I learned we are all sinners and even if we just break one of God’s commandments that they are all so closely associated that breaking one is breaking them all.
(Rom 3:10) As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
(Rom 3:11) There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
(Rom 3:12) They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
(Rom 3:23) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
(Jas 2:10) For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
(Jas 2:11) For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
So if we were all sinners and come up short , I wondered what could the remedy be? I learned that we can’t be good enough to go to heaven. We can’t be good enough to have a relationship with God. We can’t perfectly obey the law enough since we are sinful. God is too pure and Holy to accept fallen mankind. That is why He planned on and became a man and died on the cross.
St. Paul knew this and wrote…
(Gal 2:21) I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
Since we cannot earn our salvation or deserve a right relationship with God by our own effort, how is it that we can come to have what we need? I learned it is by faith in a person of Jesus Christ and believing in what he did for me and everyone who will believe the good news. It is a free gift we must receive at His invitation for us to come to Him.
(Mat 11:28) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
(Mat 11:29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
(Mat 11:30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Listen to what Saint Paul wrote about how we can’t earn salvation or reconciliation with God because we are good enough.
(Eph 2:8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
(Eph 2:9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.
(Eph 2:10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
(Tit 3:5) Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
(Tit 3:6) Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
(Tit 3:7) That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
It is a gift that must be received by faith. It is just like any relationship we have.
(John 1:12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
(John 1:13) Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
(Rev 3:19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
(Rev 3:20) Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
When God awakens our hearts and causes us to be made alive in spirit again (born again) he calls for us to receive him and come to him freely for our salvation and reconciliation to God. He paid a very high price to redeem us from our fallen state because He loves us.
The second thing I learned was that God didn’t leave us in a state where we had no power or hope for change. God has provided a means and life so that we may mature and grow up. Just like life on this earth with my parents, God is loving and caring and wants to see us grow up in His care under His Parental guidance. He has also provided us with hope through His written word even when we struggle with sin. We can know that he loves us and bares with us as a Father who pities his children..
Tom Perkins the Navigator Leadership missionary to us Sailors had me memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13.
(1Co 10:13) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
I learned to become accountable for my sin. My sin was my fault. and I needed to trust God for the way out. At the same time I also learned that I would struggle. Romans Chapter 7 revealed a lot of this struggle so I knew I wouldn’t be perfect. I learned to struggle with my sinful inclinations and desires. God had done something in me. He gave me a desire for His goodness which is something I needed. I have learned to love better. I am still learning it and growing in it. Even 30 years later. I have learned to care about my fellow man better and put others concerns before mine. I am learning to be more like Christ. It has been a long process and I am still learning how to overcome things and sin that I allowed into my life long ago. I am growing to be more Christ like as St. Paul admonished.
(Php 2:1) If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
(Php 2:2) Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
(Php 2:3) Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
(Php 2:4) Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
(Php 2:5) Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
(Php 2:6) Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
(Php 2:7) But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
(Php 2:8) And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
(Php 2:9) Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
(Php 2:10) That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
(Php 2:11) And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
I am still growing and hopefully learning what St. Paul learned. I pray we all may learn it and experience this love and abundant life while pressing on to know and grow in His goodness. I try not to let the past weigh me down as I keep looking on with a future hope.
(Php 3:7) But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
(Php 3:8) Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
(Php 3:9) And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
(Php 3:10) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
(Php 3:11) If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
(Php 3:12) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
(Php 3:13) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
(Php 3:14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
(Joh 10:9) I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
(Joh 10:10) The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
(Joh 10:11) I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
May you find Christ and His goodness. I plead with everyone to call me to account and to be reconciled to God. That way we help keep each other in the way of Love and shine forth God’s glory.
For a quick Gospel Presentation please click on this.
A word about Second Reformed Presbyterian Church.
I have found that Church membership has been very important to the Christian life. I have discussed this with others who have fears of belonging to a local Church. Some people have been hurt and seen things done that ought not be done by Christians. I admit to having done and seeing things that shouldn’t have been done. I understand those fears having been a member of a few different Churches.
After I was discharged from my enlistment in the Navy I came back home and found I was without the encouragement of my Christian friends. I started to struggle with obeying God and doing what is right. I was like the amber of a fire that popped and flew out of the fire pit. I started to lose my heat and cool off. I also knew God intended for me to be in fellowship but I was neglecting it. Fortunately I started to find some fellowship.
(Heb 10:24) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
(Heb 10:25) Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
I just didn’t know where to turn or where to attend Church since I really didn’t have a Church background here at home. The Church I did have some attachment to preached a different Gospel and believed that our works had something to do with our Justification before God. (justification means being right or being made righteous before God) Which I have exhibited above is not the gospel of our Lord or the scriptures. Our Sanctification (or holiness) has to do with our relationship with God as Christians and does depend upon our obedience.
In the mid to late 80’s I found and became a member of 2nd Reformed Presbyterian Church because of a few friends and their association with the Navigators. I had a wonderful experience of growth and discipleship there. I developed some friendships that have been ongoing for 25 years. I ended up transferring membership to a Baptist Church for many years during my marriage. The Church I transferred to is and was a wonderful Church for my young family.
As things progressed in life I went through a divorce after 12 years of marriage. I am grateful for my church membership and the care the Eldership of that Church had for my family. They literally kept my soul and protected all of my family. Submission to my Elders and Church Leadership was very important. It protected my family and gave us care we needed when I got really sick. I found myself in hard times and obeyed my Elders even when what they were saying seemed hard. I listened to them even when I didn’t think they understood my situation. In the end God proved true in that He gives grace to the humble. He protected me and my kids when the divorce was thrust upon us. I ended up raising my Sons full time.
We visited 2nd Reformed Presbyterian Church a few times through the years. Dr. Blackwood (now Emeritus Pastor) sat down with my Son Daniel when he was in Jr. High School and Dr. Blackwood shared his testimony based on Christ and Psalm 19 with my son’s Daniel and Samuel. Roy’s testimony impacted greatly them at that time. A few years later we asked if we could return back to Second Reformed Presbyterian Church. We were welcomed back with arms opened wide.
The accountability and love that we receive from our Pastors, Elders, and friends are such a blessing. Pastor Rich and James have both been to my house numerous times as friends. My Elders visit me as friends. My friends come by and it is just like the old days when I use to go visiting with my Grandparents. We didn’t just sit around the house in those days. My family actually would go visiting their friends while us kids got together and played.
The encouragement we receive and are able to give at 2nd RP is the best I have experienced in my 30 some years of knowing God. No one is on a witch hunt to point out where we need to grow but we are encouraged to see what God wants us to see and respond to God’s word. We are encouraged to be doers of the Word and not just hearers.
The one thing that is most important to the Church God has built at 2nd Reformed Presbyterian Church is that Christ is the King. He is a loving gracious King. And we are all supposed to be fitted into the body of Christ for the benefit of His Kingdom. And it is worldwide. It isn’t just a Kingdom that focuses on a local congregation.
I would encourage everyone to come by for a visit. Especially if you want to see what Jesus is doing in the World today. After Andrew (St. Peter’s brother) and another disciple of John the Baptist heard Jesus speak they lingered after him. Jesus noticing it turned and asked them what they were seeking. Andrew asked him where he was staying. Jesus just turned to him and said, “Come and see.” That small invite and conversation changed Andrew for the rest of his life. If you want to see where Jesus is dwelling and what he is doing in His world as King, come by and get to know us. Christ dwells in the midst of our Congregation as He is the King of our hearts and souls. Wherever He has planted His Church He dwells in their midst. Come and See.
(Mat 18:20) For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.