I was in a meeting with our LifeBox Executive Director, Joseph Bonifacio when a young man popped in our meeting.

He was downcast and in a forlorn mood.

He is usually jolly and cheerful but this day, he was not his usual self.

He then pours out his heart and tells us about the struggles he had been going through.  He was pretty disgusted with himself, feeling a lot of guilt for offending God with what he had done.

He further explains that he has been trying to control all that he had struggled in the past. He gave his life to Christ a year ago and have been victorious so far.  Until that week.

I told him that while it is saddening and heartbreaking that what happened happened, I also wasn’t very surprised.  Suppressing, bottling up and controlling … all that is quite hard to sustain. Sooner or later, we will implode.  Trying to measure up and keep the standards are failures waiting to happen.

He said something that caught my attention, “I have to make it up to Him (God).

I can’t tell you how much I’ve said that or thought that throughout my Christian life… and failed.  Trying to make it up to God is not only nonviable, much less unsustainable.

Jesus said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

From our salvation to our sanctification, He did it for us. Nothing to add. Nothing to append.

Tetelestai. Done. Completed. Accomplished. Executed. Fulfilled.

While we have received our salvation through the gospel of grace, we then hope to achieve our sanctification through the gospel of performance.

Eeeeeeennnnkkkk.  X Factor judges push the buttons to show 3 X’s.

We have been deceived to believe that “if you behave, you belong.”  Nothing can be farther from the truth.

As the famous hymn goes…

“‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far and Grace will lead me home.”

Truly, His grace is amazing.


After an evening service one Sunday, a young man comes up to me to ask for prayer.

He relates to me his experience the past several months. He said that hearing, reading and studying the grace of God has caused him to go back to his old ways and live a life that is licentious.

In his mind, “because God is so gracious, then I know He will forgive because His grace can cover any of my mistakes.”

I can understand where he might be coming from. However, I told him that causing us to go back to our old ways and maybe worse is missing the point. That wouldn’t be the grace Paul talks about in Galatians.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. You who are trying to be justified by the lawhave been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. (Galatians 5:1,4)

The operation of God’s grace on our behalf doesn’t imply any lessening of his demands. God has always and will always demand perfect obedience. But his grace is experienced when we realize that those demands for perfection for each of us have already been met by our Savior, Jesus. Jesus fulfilled all of God’s conditions on our behalf so that our relationship with God could be unconditional. Christianity is the only faith system where God both makes the demands and meets them. (Tullian, Jesus + Nothing = Everything)



I worked as a guidance counselor in a school for several years.

One morning, a young girl in grade 3 came to my office crying. Immediately I asked her what was wrong so I could bring comfort.

She told me that she was just told by her parents that if she didn’t get at least second honor, they would not go to their family trip to Hong Kong.

Wow. The pressure of your family vacation not pushing through because of you.

My heart went out to her and prayed for her.

I thought about many kids and adults alike who bring this
performance orientation into their relationship with Jesus.

“If you don’t do this, if you can’t make this, if you can’t perform well then you’ll miss out of My blessing.”

How many people think this way today?

I obviously don’t mean disobedience and rebellion against God. But what I’m saying is that many think that after giving their life to Christ, they need to continue to earn God’s favor.

We already have His favor through Christ.

Read what Tulian Tchivijian says in his book Jesus Plus Nothing = Everything.

The hard work of Christian growth, therefore, is to think less of ourselves and our performance and more of Jesus and his performance for us. Ironically, when we focus mostly on our need to get better, we actually get worse. We become neurotic and self-absorbed. Preoccupation with our effort instead of with God’s effort for us makes us increasingly self-centered and morbidly introspective.


Can a person who has been saved and fall away come back to the Lord?

Certainly.  His grace is so much bigger than our sin.

Watch this testimony as Luis shares what Jesus has done in his life.



I spoke to Varsha, one of our top small group leaders. After Worship Night, she made a comment about grace that got me thinking.

Grace is not like fuel you get week after week for a fill went you’re running on empty. Grace is needed from moment to moment that when you feel need for a refill, then you’re no longer living on grace. You’ve allowed ‘self’ to step in in place of grace.

Here’s another excellent sketch by the SKIT GUYS that explains the GRACE OF GOD.


What do you do when you’ve messed up real bad?

How can you get back on track?

Is God forever mad at what I’ve done to offend Him, His people and my loved ones?

Watch this and understand that His grace is inexhaustible.

He loves us too much to allow us to remain the way we are.


There seems to be a slight difference but actually the difference is HUGE!

My wife, Jenn, prepared salad for me lunchtime.  I can react in one of 2 ways – be grateful, sincerely thanking her for what she did.  Or I can try to ‘pay back’ the kindness she’s done by preparing dinner for her tonight.

Both reactions are great.  However, when we carry that over to our relationship with God, we will miss out on His definition of GRACE.

John Piper in his book “Brothers, We Are Not Professionals” says,

“Every good deed we do in dependence on God does just the opposite of paying Him back; it puts us ever deeper in debt to His grace.  And that is exactly where God wants us to be through all eternity.”

As we encourage people (and ourselves) to serve God out of gratitude, we need to also realize the lurking dangers, and describe how gratitude can motivate obedience without succumbing to a debtor’s mentality.

“Good deeds do not pay back grace; they borrow more grace.”

“Gratitude will always degenerate into the debtor’s ethic if it only looks back on past grace and not forward as well to future grace.”

Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?  Are you so foolish?  Having begun with the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?  (Gal. 3:2-3)