A tribute to my late friend Michael Spencer—who passed away in April of 2010 at the young age of 54 after what turned out to be a brief and brutal battle with cancer.

I miss him every day.

The year before his passing Michael and I exchanged several emails that turned into a running conversation with him sharing some excellent advice on blogging and a thought or two of his on the world of book publishing.

I’ll never forget him taking the liberty to tell me what he thought of my writing without my asking: “Like your stuff. It’s good.” Michael still inspires me as a writer today.

The following is from his renowned blog, Internet Monk, and these words continue to stick to me like a chronic case of the break-up blues.

The Gospel is scandalous in its proclamation that God justifies the wicked by grace, through faith. Apparently, that scandal has now reached into the church itself, where it doesn’t take any effort at all to find evangelicals ready to contend that you can’t “just believe” and be saved without also becoming a “good” person. It seems that few evangelicals have contemplated just how radically different the Christian message is from the message of ‘self-improvement’ or ‘moral reformation’.

…What you can do, not what God has done, is the great theme of most of what is published and recorded in the evangelical world. Grace writers and poets stand out like lighthouses in a sea of mediocre legalism and do-it-yourself religion. Grace is an endangered species, and we all need to celebrate and promote any writer who truly, passionately communicates grace. This isn’t a matter of theological labels. We can quibble about the footnotes some other time. No matter who they are, when they wrote or where you find them, applaud, buy and give away the grace writers and artists. The beauty of what they are saying needs to be heard in a church choking on legalism, moralism and timidity about the Gospel.

I only hope my writing can scratch that surface.


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