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Landon

2006 July 21
by Mike

Because of the state tournament — my parenting and coaching responsibilities — I won’t arrive in North Carolina today for the celebration of the life of Landon Saunders.

The people who organized it told me that Landon only had one request when they told him they were doing it: he wanted his preacher to speak on Sunday morning. (I’m sure that story is hyperbolic, but it still means a lot to me.)

When I was a college student at Harding University from ’74 to ’78, Landon came through several times. His clarity, his passion, his faith, and his voice captivated me. Later I got ahold of the lectures on preaching that he gave at ACU in the ’70s. They altered my life. I nearly memorized the message called “The Marketplace.” (Anyone else out there remember being impacted by those messages? “The Wilderness.” “The Wolf.” “The Marketplace.” One or two others whose titles I can’t remember.)

During the seven years I preached at the College Church in Searcy, he often came through and we became friends. He was such a great encourager and clarifier.

But it’s in the past dozen years that he’s become one of the most significant men in my life. About the age of my father. The vigor of a 40 year old. And the joy of a kid. That’s Landon.

Our dear friends James and Marla Walters moved from AR to NH to work with Heartbeat, and it was through them that we became so close to Landon.

I’d give up almost anything to be there this weekend for the celebration.

Anything except this trip to the state tournament with my son!

39 Responses leave one →
  1. Larry James permalink
    July 21, 2006

    Yep, Mike, I remember those messages as well. I’ve been connected to Landon in much the same way since my Harding days as well. I remember him coming through Searcy and I recall the same impact you describe. My friendship with Landon has grown and deepened across the years through my connection with Brant Bryan, Don Williams, Tim Minnix and James Walters. Since working in inner city Dallas, we have been in a partnership of sorts with Heartbeat. The Personal and Community Empowerment materials that Landon and James developed are being used in our community organizing efforts in the city right now. Landon has encouraged me in countless ways across the years. I was able to be at the retreat last year and it meant everything to me. Landon is a jewel. . .one of a kind for sure. I won’t be able to be in NC this weekend either, but I’ll be there in spirit. What a friend!

  2. July 21, 2006

    Here’s my take on Landon:
    In about 1967, maybe ’66, he came to speak all week during ACC Lectureship at the “Youth Forum”. Teens were all rallied at Hillcrest after school, kinda like a revival for us. Landon just blew me away. It was a real turning point in my spiritual formation. I can only remember vaguely the content of the messages, but can vividly remember his energy, enthusiasm, his conviction, his openness to us. The power of his voice when he really got revved up. I even think he had hair back then, or at least a comb-over!
    Then in about 1974 a Bible study group meeting at my house had him over, just to probe his mind. He very patiently answered many questions, and I still am in awe that he made himself available to searching young people, acted like he had all the time in the world.

    Looking forward to news of the state tournament. I have my birthday week off next week and if y’all make it to the last level, we may just drop in on Waco! It has been fun to watch the Cardinals at the park where our son played 10 years ago. Brings back great memories, except for the advancement to STATE. GO ABILENE!

  3. July 21, 2006

    I was a senior in High School in Massachusetts when our congregation hosted one of Landon’s workshops for our city. I was involved in many aspects of the event and therefore involved with Landon. He totally impacted that high school student. Since then, his life and mission has cast a long shadow over my life. Landon is truly a special gift to humanity and to God’s kingdom.

  4. July 21, 2006

    I’ve still got the set of tapes (Wolf, Wilderness, Mission, Discipline, Message, Assembly, and Marketplace)and have listened to them about a dozen times over the years and loaned them to others to listen to. They had (and continue to have) a profound impact on my direction in ministry.

  5. July 21, 2006

    While a student worker for Jack Reese, we were having a conversation and he said something like…”this is what Landon Saunders would have said.” I obviously had a blank stare and he stamered a minute and gave me a very intense look and then said “you know who Landon Saunders is, don’t you?” There was no way out. I had to admit that I had not heard that name. Now lets remember that I grew up in South Africa and ACU was my first US experience. I thought I was going to have to pick Jack up from the floor. I will never forget the look he gave me. It was one of pity, shock, surprise and a little disgust all in one. After that I heard the name of Landon Saunders everywhere and have continued to hear the stories of his life and impact.

  6. July 21, 2006

    Back in the late 1980’s Landon and James tag teamed a Ganderbrook Men’s Retreat. It was one of the best retreats ever. The combination of the two men was a powerful one and it set the stage for their future work together.

    Landon grew up about an hour south of my home so the stories he tells of his boyhood in West Virginia always resonated with me.

    But more than that, it is the acceptance that he offers to people that has had the greatest impact on my life. I know that this is dangerous territory ~ but from what I have observed ~ I have never seen another human being be Jesus in a more effortless way.

    And his sense of humor catches me off guard every time.

    I get to see him about once a year or so and afterwards I always wish it had been longer visit. – no matter the length.

  7. July 21, 2006

    I have heard Landon speak in person and watched videos of him speaking. I have met him also and always I am moved by the Spirit that lives in Landon. He has challenged us to live beyond the scriptures and to be real. He keeps telling us that relationships are important and how we treat each other in those relationships is important. I love, love, love Landon’s smile. It melts your heart.

  8. July 21, 2006

    Those tapes were required listening in Lynn Anderson’s “Theology of Ministry” at ACU. Two of my favorite quotes from the Wolf:

    “Every man of God has a limp.”

    “The nails of reality have been driven through the hands and feet of God’s man. The sword of the Spirit has been plunged into his side, and from the very life of God flows faith.”

  9. David U permalink
    July 21, 2006

    If Heaven has a radio station, no doubt Landon will have the gig as the #1 DJ! I could never get tired of listening to his wonderful voice.
    What a spiritual giant! His life surely is one that needs to be celebrated!

    DU

  10. July 21, 2006

    Landon taught the first class at McKnight Road in the Vanguard courses. I remember him coming through here from time to time. I, too, do not remember the exact lessons that he taught, just that it was different kind of Christianity that I had only seen scattered here and there before.

  11. July 21, 2006

    Not having lived in that neck of the woods, my exposure to Landon was through the “Heart of a Fighter” videos back in the ’80s. I loved his gentle manner…

    But does anyone else here ever think of Landon when they see Colin Mochrie (of Whose Line Is It Anyway?). I think the first time I ever saw the guy, I was immediately reminded of Landon.

  12. July 21, 2006

    Phyllis, my wife, had the privilidge of having Landon as a teacher for New Testament Survey at ACU for the 1974 fall semester. This may have been the only time he was an adjuct professor. Wouldn’t that have been cool?!

  13. July 21, 2006

    When I think of Landon Saunders, I first think of the time when our family was visiting his home in NH and he gave my brother and me (we were maybe 9 and 6) each a crisp $5 bill to spend “however we wanted.” That’ll impact a kid’s life, that’s for sure…

    Landon loves kids. Throughout our childhood growing up in New England, guys like Landon and Stanley Shipp were in and out of our lives — sometimes with years in between visits — but picking up right where we left off. They were kind of like 3rd and 4th grandfathers for us, in a strange way.

    The other thing I think about is my friend Landon Smith, with whom I roomed my senior year at ACU. He was named after Landon Saunders. He’s now a youth minister in Georgia. Landon’s impact runs wide and deep.

  14. July 21, 2006

    Steve – There are Landons all over the country who grew up in Churches of Christ. Even though Landon has been a lifelong bachelor, he impacted the lives of so many young couples that many named a child after him.

    Jeff P. – Couldn’t have said it better. If I just did the stupidest thing in the world, was lying flat on my back, suddenly opened my eyes, and looked up — I’d be delighted to see Landon’s face.

  15. July 21, 2006

    Here’s the answer of my expert technology team (translation: Greg) to the problem someone brought up yesterday about the comments section:

    Mike,
    That “problem” is probably on the user’s end. The first time they
    entered their name, email address and URL in the comments section,
    their web browser most likely popped up a dialog box asking if they
    wanted to program to “Remember” their information. They will need to clear their cache, or delete any cookies from preachermike.com and the next time they try to make a comment, they will have to choose the “Do Not Remember” option.

    Hope that helps,
    GKB

  16. July 21, 2006

    I haven’t kept many tapes of sermons (all digital now; don’t even own a tape player anymore), but I still have Wilderness, Wolf, and a sermon on Ecclesiastes by a guy named Cope on tape!

  17. Rick permalink
    July 21, 2006

    I’m glad the “Heart of a Fighter” series was mentioned. I’ve never met him, but that series was one of the first things I remember that really caught my attention in church.
    A speaker never knows for sure what is said that people will remember. For me and that series, it was something he said about being fun to be around.

  18. July 21, 2006

    “Of ev’ry glove that laid him down Or cut him till he cried out In his anger and his shame, ‘I am leaving, I am leaving.’ but the fighter still remains…”

  19. JamesH permalink
    July 21, 2006

    I was a student at ACU when Landon gave the messages you mentioned. They were excellent. I still have my notes of them in my old Bible. My wife and I watched his Heart of the Fighter series during a hard time in our lives and it gave us a lot of encouragement. He does that special voice, doesn’t he?

  20. Steve Holt Sr. permalink
    July 21, 2006

    I became a follower of Jesus within a week of hearing Landon for the first time in 1973 in Memphis. I had never heard Jesus presented the way Landon presented him. How could anyone not want to follow Jesus even into the depths of hell? I thought. He has impacted my life for more than 30 years now, and I am proud to say he has impacted the lives of my two sons as well. Long live Landon!

  21. Steve Holt Sr. permalink
    July 21, 2006

    One more thing…does anyone know what Greg Ross, former colleague of Landon, is doing and where he is?

  22. July 21, 2006

    Speaking of baseball…

    The Tigers defeated the A’s to help the Rangers pull to within a half game of the lead in their division. The Rangers returned the favor by crushing the White Sox to help the Tigers to a 6.5 game lead in theirs. Nice teamwork!

    P.S. Landon is indeed an amazing man. I haven’t seen him in many years, but he’s one of my heroes.

  23. July 22, 2006

    Hey Steve Sr., we were just reviewing a DVD done for the anniversary of Camp WaMaVa and Greg Ross is in one of the pictures. He would come to camp and teach during the teen weeks when I was a camper. I would also love to know where he is now.

  24. July 22, 2006

    Mike, Boy, do I remember those tapes! I would love to hear them again. Do you know how to get a copy of them? Landon inspired a lot of us with those messages! To be honest, I didn’t always totally understand them then, but the “Marketplace” totally gave me a vision for my ministry. Thanks for the reminder.

  25. Ron Hull permalink
    July 23, 2006

    The 7 lectures (“Wolf” etc.) presented by Landon are the best “Theology of Preaching” that I know of in any form. If I remember correctly, they were the first in the annual (September)series “Lectures on Preaching” arranged by the late J. D. Thomas. Over the years many “Landonisms” have succintly encapsulated for me thoughts worth chewing on, much like the parabolic style of Jesus. Perhaps Landon, the life-long bachelor, understood and followed the advice he gave young people struggling to know God’s will for them concerning marriage: “Marry — unless you have to.”

  26. July 23, 2006

    I do believe that Landon is one of the very few speakers I have ever listened to without once looking at my watch…Can’t say that about too many people whether he was preaching when I was in college, speaking at the Leadership Barteltt Forum or at the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Praise God for Landon and the many lives he has touched and for the opportunities that I have had to be among them!

  27. Alice permalink
    July 24, 2006

    I got to talk to Landon before a Jubilee class one time, a few of us were early and waiting for the rest to show up. I told him I personally knew a couple who went to a costume party as “The Heart of the Fighter” couple, complete with sprayed out stiff hair and the potato sack baby. (Remember the cartoon graphics as the AWESOME themesong was playing?)

  28. July 24, 2006

    I, too, was profoundly shaped by the messages and character of Landon. Hearing and meeting him was the highlight of my time at Harding (in the early ’80’s). That ,and discovering the writings of Carl Ketcherside and Leroy Garrett).

    I recall one time where he had breakfast with a few of us Harding student. In the middle of answering all our questions, Landon got up, went to the coffee machine, and went around the table pouring coffee for all of us.

    Another great moment– when I lived in Connecticut, I was blessed to attend his “Academy of Ideas” retreat in Vermont. 1989, I believe. After one of the evening sessions, he took me and a friend out to dinner. Insisted on buying the meal. One of the things I recall him saying that night was, “I’ve decided to focus my life on Jesus…and keep everything else really flexible.”

    One person mentioned that smile — I remember those eyes, which oozed with the love of Jesus.

    May God be praised for how He has used this dear brother in Christ.

  29. August 2, 2006

    Mike

    Any idea where someone could get hold of those lectures of Landon’s? I’ve had a small chance to meet with him at the two Walters girls weddings, and he appears a wonderful, hearty, joyful man.

    I’d love to hear him speaking.

    Bernard

  30. January 16, 2007

    Google is the best search engine

  31. March 9, 2008

    I still have his ACU lectures on cassette…I am another one that he has profoundly influenced…I was sitting here this morning in Denton, TX wondering what ever happened to one of my all time great heroes…I have googled him before… or maybe it was before google…but without success. I am so thankful to find your blog. Please, how do I contact Landon? Jim Nutt

  32. Timothy Fowler permalink
    July 4, 2008

    Landon friends–

    Landon’s influence will continue beyond his years on this sphere… in my heart and through my 7 week old son named, Elijah Landon. My Elijah Landon was born with a neuroblastoma tumor which we just found out he had last Thursday and are already taking chemo. I emailed Landon our website that chronicles our jouney and to pray. He did and also took the time to send a note of courage and hope for us.

    By the way, I have all those preaching tapes, Wolf, Wilderness, etc. And one of the most powerful evangelistic motivative messages given called, “Into All the World.” Let me know if you would like a copy. When at Harding I made many copies for all the preacher grads for 2 years straight!

    God Bless!

  33. Carolyn Wing/Angel_Wings grandma to Laura Stage IV Neuroblastoma Carepage LauraVDB permalink
    July 5, 2008

    Does Landon elijah have a web site? My grand daughter Laura has neuroblastoma carepages.com page name LauraVDB

  34. September 27, 2008

    ???????, ??????? ??????. ??????????.

  35. January 23, 2009

    Hi Mike. I wanted to pass along some info about Landon – he has a great new site up at http://www.landonsaunders.org.

    There is also a podcast available for free on itunes. Just search “landon saunders” or “heartbeat” in the itunes store search field and it should direct you to the podcast. There are already over 200 audio files available with many more coming periodically.

    Hope all are able to enjoy and be encouraged.

  36. March 10, 2009

    The podcasts from Landon on iTunes include Heart of the Fighter and Feeling Good About Yourself. And then a whole bunch of Heartbeat spots.

  37. Don and Jackie Hayes permalink
    December 5, 2009

    We had the opportunity of hearing Landon Saunders preach In Corning Arkansas In the late 60’S. He delivers a powerful message and we would love to find some of his tapes. Does anyone know where he is now? He had such an impact on our lives we have mentioned him often in our family conversations and would love to see and hear him again.

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