Michael is survived by his wife Denise and children Noel (who is married to Ryan) and Clay (who is married to Taylor). Please pray God’s peace, strength and mercy for them.
For the past 2 decades, Michael served as campus minister, Bible and English teacher, among other duties, at Oneida Baptist Institute, a Christian boarding school in far southeastern Kentucky. He was more widely known as The Internet Monk, the voice behind the Christian blog that featured some of the most popular, provocative and genuinely important writing and conversations of the past decade.
I could tell a lot more stories about Michael, but here’s the bottom line I think he would want you to know: Michael was simply a disciple of Jesus.
Michael was Jesus’ man– on a life-long journey to center his thoughts, emotions, actions and character around Jesus and to genuinely know Jesus. That quest was not simple for Michael. It was often quite complicated, full of questions and doubt and darkness. But it was also marked by unique clarity, certainty and the light of heaven’s smile.
And along the way, Michael was relentlessly honest about where he was on that journey at every moment. He was honest and shared his heart with those around him– in the intentional community where he lived and worked, and in the larger community that formed on his blogs. The transparency of his joy in discovery of some new reality from God’s Word, or of his lament over his sin and struggles for holiness, or of his hunger to grow as a husband or father, of his delight to glory in the gospel, or of the pain of processing his childhood, or of his lover’s quarrel with the church were consistently compelling, relentlessly grace-filled, and always pointed to Christ.
For those who know Jesus, Michael’s open journey with Jesus helped the rest of us journey with Jesus more faithfully. For those who don’t, or who had been burned by the church or those who claimed Jesus’ name, Michael’s open journey with Jesus reminded them of the largeness of mercy and the possibilities of grace for those who just never found a fit with mere religion. They found the welcome of Jesus’ open arms through Michael.
Michael would be the first to tell you he was not a saint. Nevertheless, a Jesus-leaning stubbornness resulted in an astonishing life of life-changing, Jesus-shaped ripples emanating from a rock tossed in the pond of our time from a hidden shore in Kentucky’s mountains.
Earlier this evening, I’m quite sure that Michael heard, “Well done, good and faithful servant” from the lips of the Savior he so loved. He finished his race and finished well. He has entered the eternal rest promised to Jesus’ people. He is already experiencing the resurrection life we celebrated yesterday.
So yes, rest in peace, Michael. We’ll see you soon.