Reckless Pursuit: Part 1 – How It Could Have Been

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Reckless Pursuit: God’s Story of Relentless Love is in its final stages of production and will be made available early this Fall. As we move toward announcing its arrival, I will be posting regular teasers straight from the content of the book. Today’s snapshot look at Reckless Pursuit comes from Part 1: How It Could Have Been.

                The phone rang. Without hesitation, I ran to pick it up, hoping I was quick enough to keep it from waking our baby boy. “Hello,” I answered in a hushed tone. On the other end was a voice I recognized. It was a mom of one of the girls in our ministry and there was a noticeable sense of desperation in her voice.

                  “Landon! I’m sorry to be calling you so late but I need your help. It’s Candice…she’s really struggling and I don’t know what to do. I hate to ask this but can you come over and talk with her right now?”

                  I glanced at Kristen and she gave me that understanding look. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the clock; it was a quarter past ten. I turned back to the phone, told the mom I’d be right there and hung up.

                  In the five minutes it took me to get to their house, my mind went a thousand different directions. The past year or so was a tremendously difficult time for our community. Our town had been hit over and over by teenage suicide and I had watched our people move from shock to despair to anger and finally to a strange and uncomfortable apathy. I came back to focus on Candice and the questions kept flying. “What could be going on with her? Why didn’t I ask more questions? Does it have anything to do with the suicides? Is she struggling herself or is she hurting for someone else? Will I have a clue what to do?” And again, “Why didn’t I ask more questions?” I found myself in the all too familiar place of the unknown and the out of control. In response, I did the only thing I knew to do…I prayed.

                  When I arrived at the house, Candice’s mom met me on the sidewalk, thanked me for coming and began to fill me in on the situation. “Landon, I just don’t know what to do. Nothing I say seems to matter. I can’t get through to her.”

                  “What’s the problem?” I replied. “What is she struggling with so much?”

                  As she was forming the answer, I could see tears begin to surface in her eyes. “Candice doesn’t know if she believes there is a God!”

Does this sound familiar? Is this how life is supposed to be? Does faith have to be so hard? Do our experiences have to be defined in struggle? Keep checking back for more from Reckless Pursuit.

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Reckless Pursuit: God’s Story of Relentless Love

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OK. It is finally time! After a year and a half of writing, speaking, revising and listening to feedback – it’s time to begin getting the word out about the book. Yes, I’ve written a book and if all goes well, it will be made available early this Fall!

It’s entitled, Reckless Pursuit: God’s Story of Relentless Love.

Here’s some initial feedback:

In Reckless Pursuit, Landon Collard expresses with down-to-earth eloquence the ongoing story of God and His constant, faithful quest for our hearts. Using solid biblical foundations, occasional heart wrenching narrative, and humorous insights, Collard offers hope for those of us who wrestle with life and loss, faith and the God relationship. Reckless Pursuit spoke to my heart and my intellect. It’s not an emotionally-manipulative book, as so many are today, but an honest and encouraging look at God’s relentless love of his creation. I think we’re going to be hearing a lot more about, and from, Landon Collard. God willing. – Caron Guillo, An Uncommon Crusade

I really enjoyed reading the book, and it touched me in a lot of ways… (it had) me laughing and crying at various times.  – Paul Millsaps

Just read the text you sent me. Heart stopping is my first reaction! – Ginger McBride

I read it ALL YESTERDAY!!! COULD NOT put it down!!!! Seriously, the Love you poured into this book, the Love of our Heavenly Father who inspired you through the Holy Spirit in writing this is such an AMAZING LOVE!! I was pulled into it, it really pulls you into the heart of God, I love how you use your own family examples, your personal intimate God/family relationship. I could not PUT IT DOWN. AND THATS GOOD!!! I WAS DRAWN!! What an awesome way you  have portrayed the relentless love of our HEAVENLY FATHER!! – Roni Byrd

First thoughts, love the intro, like the chapters titles.  Intro is wonderful, if this was a book that I picked up in the store, I would buy it just from reading the intro, it gives me the idea of where the book is headed, and from reading it I will begin to see my relationship with Father in a different way. I definitely want to purchase a copy of the book! – Sue Wells

I can’t wait to share Reckless Pursuit with you! And I couldn’t be more excited about telling this story – the story of our Father’s relentless love of us! It is a love that changes everything. It has changed me to the core. And I know it will change you as well.

Keep coming back here for more info…

Reblog: Don’t Mix Colors (or Words)

Is there a difference between transparency and brutal honesty? I love the simplicity at which children approach the world. Don’t always love the sting that it brings and want to coach the pursuit of love over everything but honest, transparent living is SO GOOD!

May you live free today!

Stuff Kids Write

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Melanie asked her 5th grade students to “be honest” with their assessments.

This artist received an A+ in Not Mixing Words.

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Help, Help!

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I love “family night!”

It doesn’t happen as often as I’d like but we’re pretty good about scheduling it at least a couple of times a month. When the day comes (usually a Friday) we intentionally say, “No,” to everything else that is pressing around us so we can simply enjoy each other. It’s a night when we turn off the world (including our cell phones) and tune into each other. It’s a night of enjoying family and making memories. We talk, laugh, eat together, and most often, all 5 of us end up on the couch – with popcorn bowl in hand – to finish the evening with a movie.

One family night recently, we watched a 1962 Elvis movie entitled, “Follow That Dream.” In it, Elvis plays this over the top naive character named Toby and he plays it amazingly well. I have to admit, I wasn’t real thrilled about spending an evening with Elvis but I was definitely won over. All 5 of us laughed and laughed at the ridiculously simple way Toby saw the world. By the end of the movie, I began to wonder what it would be like to live that free, that pure. It made me think about the call for us to live free of the garbage of the world around us. To live fully in the Kingdom. And it made me think about the conversations we have on this blog about being fully sold out Jesus followers.

In one scene from the movie, Elvis’ character is being given a word association test in order to complete a psychological evaluation. In it, he is given a word and asked to say the first word that comes to mind. A series of words are given and each of his responses are more and more unusual. One of the words given was, “Help.” His response…”Help, Help!” Because no one ever just says help, it’s always followed with more cries for help. Naive but true!

So, in the spirit of Elvis’ “Follow That Dream” – I am coming to you with a great big, “Help, Help!”

I am currently in the final stages of completing a book that depicts the relentless love God has for us. I started this project about this time last year but pushed the pause button for several reasons. Now, however, I am ready to follow that dream but I need your help. I am looking for a handful of readers/partners to commit to read the manuscript over the next few weeks (between April 1-22, 2013) and offer me your feedback. The goal of this is for me to fine tune the book based off your thoughts and to gather a handful of helpful reviews.

If you are interested in this, please click on the link below. It will take you to the “Contact Us” page at Journey’s website. At the top of the page, click on “Lead Pastor e-mail” and send me a message telling me you’d like to help. I’ll get back to you quickly. We’ll discuss what I’m looking for in more detail and make all the arrangements needed. Thank you for walking with me in this and for following Jesus into the greatest life available!

Here’s the link to my email: “Yes, I’d like to help!”

Reblog: Eyes of Christ

It’s incredible the impact we can have by simply living in a way that reflects Jesus. It’s what authentic Christian community promotes and reproduces. It’s what “church” is all about! Live well today. Live with the eyes of Christ. Live in love!

Morning Story and Dilbert

He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes
in it, jeans, and no shoes.  This was literally his
wardrobe for his entire four years of college.

He is brilliant.  Kind of profound and very, very bright.
He became a Christian while attending college.

Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed,
very conservative church.  They want to develop a ministry
to the students but are not sure how to go about it.

One day Tim decides to go there.  He walks in
with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair.

The service has already started, and so Tim
starts down the aisle looking for a seat.

The church is completely packed and he can’t
find a seat.  By now, people are really looking
a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything.

Tim gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit,
and when he realizes there are…

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Monday Morning Smile

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Monday morning. It’s the start of our work week. The dreaded day when life has to return to normal after the weekend. It’s the move back to reality after our weekly mini-vacation. For many, it is truly the repetitive journey from freedom to slavery. It’s when we leave the life we love, the life that we script – full of the activities we enjoy and the people that we want to be around – and move into a world that we would rather not be in. A world that is scripted for us, full of expectations and obligations. And so Monday marches on, another beginning to a life that is half-lived.

I know what Mondays are and I admit, sometimes it’s hard to crawl out of bed. However, I don’t dread them. In fact, I revel in Mondays.

Mondays are when my family, a messy bunch of Jesus followers, begins to live in their identity. It’s when they go into the world to infect it with the heart of our God. It’s when they become Jesus more than ever. It’s when the celebration we had the day before gets applied. It’s when people who have been given an incredible gift offer it to others freely and recklessly.

When Monday morning comes, I often go to the office to grab a notebook and my computer and then head back out the door to one of my favorite coffee shops. It’s my day to study, reflect, pray and it’s my day to be in the community. Sometimes, before I leave, I’ll poke my head into the sanctuary and see a quiet, empty room that was buzzing with people less than 24 hours earlier…and I smile. I know that it’s already beginning. Our small band of Kingdom Warriors are already taking their places. They have been reminded of who they are and who they serve and they are ready. They scatter throughout the city with a greater purpose than to make it through their week just to get to another weekend. No, they long for the week of opportunity in front of them. Opportunity to leave Jesus’ thumbprint in their world. Opportunity to prioritize people. Opportunity to offer what people are dying for and what so many don’t even know they need. Hope. Freedom. Transformation. Forgiveness. And Love.

So, today we are sent out once again. And I’ve got that Monday morning smile!

Angry Bird Valentine

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I love my little boy’s heart. They way he experiences the world is so refreshing. It reminds me often of what life is to look like for us. Earlier this week, I was banging around in the kitchen – cleaning up from a hectic morning – while he was watching his cartoons. Over the clanging of dishes and pans, I was shocked to hear his little voice turn into a monstrous scream. As I turned around to see what was going on, I realized that this scream was directed at…me!

He was out of control beside himself, thundering at me because I was making too much noise for him to hear his show. This has NEVER happened before and I admit, I was a bit in shock. However, what happened next shocked me even more.

In mid-scream, he stopped. His face fell and he immediately began saying, “I’m sorry, Daddy! I’m sorry!” Before I even had time to react, my little guy caught himself, changed course and began begging for forgiveness.

And it was given immediately. I picked him up, looked him deep in the eyes and said, “We don’t scream at people like that. Not at me. Not at anybody.” As tears welled up in his eyes, I looked at him and said, “I love you Brycen” and our little encounter was done.

Oh, that we would live like this with our Daddy! The perfect, fullest life available. Not a perfect life but one that is overcome with love and forgiveness. Could there be anything more beautiful than an “Angry Bird Valentine?”

I Hate That Guy!

I have known what it is to live for myself, to choose me over those I love and to pursue every desire of my heart. I hate that part of me. I can’t stand it when that voice emerges in my head and encourages me to grab at what I want or to defend my rights. Truly, I hate that guy. I know him so well but also feel like he is an alien and a stranger in my own body. He does not belong there. And he is not welcome.

I used to invite that guy in. Knowing that he would ultimately do me harm but thinking I would enjoy his gifts. However, I have come to the place that his gifts are torture. Even the thought of them causes a physical reaction in my body. My back gets tense, my legs feel heavy and tight and I can feel my freedom beginning to slip away. I can actually feel death creeping into my heart.

As a result, my eyes dim. I walk with my shoulders a little lower. The cadence of my speech is altered. Little moments that would normally make me smile and fill my heart with joy are now lost on me or even irritate me. In my submission to the voice of that old guy, I am defeated and broken. In my pursuit of selfishness, I am actually destroying everything that I love. Yeah, I hate that guy!

But this is not the way of my Jesus. He has taught me a different way to live. One that is free. A life that is defined by comfort, intimacy and joy. A life of overwhelming love.

This is the life that dominates my heart and my thoughts. When I am living in it, I hear the voice of Jesus reminding me, encouraging me and celebrating with me constantly. I find myself smiling at young children and laughing freely with friends. I see people’s eyes and respond to what seems to be an unmistakable need, whether it be a hug or a probing question or a high five.

What’s amazing is this is a life that is not about me. I am constantly led to consider the person in front of me. To offer care and concern and challenge and love. This new life seems to be an upside down way of living. The more I think about other people, the more my heart comes alive. The more I serve my wife and my kids and my friends and the guy at the grocery store, the more my heart leaps.

It has even led me to a new way of dealing with conflict and struggle. I am reminded that the person I am dealing with has a heart that matters and I cannot be the reason for the lack of freedom in their life. That if humility and submission can serve them – then I can offer it. And I am challenged to not allow that old guy to rise up and attack both of us. Freedom is too precious for that!

The attitude of Jesus…no, I don’t always live there. But I love the days that I do!

Professional Christianity

I grew up as a preacher’s kid. I have known the name of God all my life and I have attended church since I was born. I love much of it and at the same time can’t stand much of it. I find myself in conflict constantly between what it means to be a Christian and what I know about being a Jesus follower.

As a pastor myself, I look at Christianity and say, “It’s become too safe…too slick…too polished…too commercialized…too business oriented…too focused on programs…too concerned with paying the bills…too professional.”

Professionalism is one of the worst things that could ever happen to Christianity. No, I’m not railing against education nor order nor having a vision nor any of that. But when the movement of God becomes a business, housed in an institution, ran by professionals…the resulting mindset too often becomes “promote and protect our ‘product’ at all cost.” As a result, the “obligation” we push on the people in our care is to the youth group or to the church or to the ministry rather than to Christ. The goal of living a reckless life of love – love of people because of our love for our Father – somehow gets lost in the ever-present need to keep the machine running.

Whether we say it or not, we end up functioning with the mindset that we can’t REALLY send people into the world, away from us, because we define maturity and faithfulness through our programs. And if we send out our best, what would happen to our churches? What would happen to our budgets? Our paychecks? This struggle is one of the many reasons why the missional/organic movement of Christianity is so popular. A movement that has so many challenging truths for every follower of Jesus to consider – whether you find yourself reaching out to the man at the bar or the woman sitting next to you in worship.

Question: Is it possible for an organized, institutional body of Christ to escape the many traps of professional Christianity and simply follow Jesus?

I say, “Yes!”

I believe that I am a part of a community that is intent on doing just that. We don’t do it perfectly and we will make many mistakes but our target is clear. We are after Jesus. We want to know him. We want to become like him. And we want to show people the way to him.

We are an institutional church…we have a building, ministry programs and a staff that includes both volunteers and paid professionals. We don’t see these as enemies of the kingdom but tools to reach our culture. We speak constantly that these things are not the point. That we are not building our kingdom but his. That the success of our programs is not the issue but seeing people find true life with Christ is. We realize that the kingdom is so much bigger than us but that we have a significant role to play. And we are intent to partner everywhere we can for its expansion, while sending and planting other expressions that are needed. Some of them will be national church plants, some will be international ministries, some of them will be local organic movements that don’t look like what we know church to be and will never enter our walls. We celebrate them all, look for new opportunities and send people out!

We live on a mission, with one real purpose: to love God and to bring people to him through authentic love.

This is what being a Jesus follower is all about. It is where life and purpose and meaning are found. If we chase his kingdom and not our own, he will be with us. He will bless us and use us as his partners in reaching a desperate world. In this process, people who have been wounded by Christianity and have given up on God will be drawn back to him by our love.

There truly is no better way to live!