Thoughts on Sin and Grace

{This post ended up being a lot longer than normal.  Apparently I had a lot to say.}

My girl is 13.  She’s in 8th grade. She’s a cheerleader, a dancer, and in her school’s Show Choir. She has a boyfriend and a cell phone. I’m sure there are those who think we are too permissive … she, of course, thinks we are overprotective. I hope and pray we are wise and discerning.

It isn’t easy raising kids these days. The world is full of sex and drugs and abductions and more awful stuff then I care to really consider most of the time. I don’t know if we are doing it right or wrong a lot of the time. But I do know this … we love this girl and we’d move heaven and earth to protect her and keep her heart and mind and body free from the hurts of living in a broken world.

Sometimes I realize I haven’t done all I could. I make changes and I pray. {a lot} But this post-Eden world isn’t good, y’all. And, really, it isn’t going to get better until Jesus comes back. In fact, if I read Scripture correctly, it’s just going to keep getting worse.

{Yes, my spiritual gift is encouragement. Obviously.}

Sin sucks everything from the abundant life God promises us. ||

In the past week I’ve read a ton of blog posts, many about Miley and the VMAs. My husband and I have discussed the situation several times. I have to admit, my heart just breaks for her. I want to be mad at the culture that makes girls think they have to be sexy to be grown up. I want to slap some sense into adults who seem to have totally forgotten their job is to protect children. I want to look deep into my daughter’s eyes and the eyes of all her friends and say, “Don’t go there! Please.” But mostly, I just want to cry. Because sin sucks. I know, that’s not a very nice word. {Mom, if you’re reading, I am sorry for using it. I know you hate it.} I tried to come up with a better way to say it … but I just couldn’t.

Sin sucks the joy and beauty and purity out of living. Sin sucks the hopes and dreams of children from their hearts. Sin sucks the commitment from marriages. Sin sucks everything away from the abundant life God offers us. Sin just sucks.

I’ve tried to teach my daughter and the other girls I’ve had the opportunity to mentor how sin rarely starts big. No little girl {well, except maybe Honey Boo Boo} says, “I just want to be an example to the world of how to be an idiot. I want to live selfishly and use people and do whatever it takes to get my version of success.” Sin creeps into our hearts. Our flesh craves itself … and left unchecked, leads us down paths we can never foresee when we first cross the line. James writes,

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.  James 1:14-15

Lure and enticed by his {her} own desires. Been there? I know I have. The desire to be seen, to be accepted, to be appreciated, to be liked. And isn’t this one of our enemy’s greatest tricks … he convinces us if we gossip or dress promiscuously or listen to this music or read this book or spend time with these people, we’ll be loved. I believe this lie is the one that seeps into the hearts of our children and far too often starts the ball rolling.

But it never stops there … the desire gives birth to sin. We whisper about someone else’s mistake or wear the inappropriate dress or whatever it is … and the spiral begins. We like that feeling. And we want more of it. We crave it. And we are willing to do whatever it takes to keep it.

…. and when it is fully grown brings forth death.

That is exactly what happens in the end, right? We know that when we look at girls like Miley. We realize it’s all empty and there’s no real life in that sort of living for self.

But what about when we look at ourselves. What about when we want to be accepted so badly by this group at church or be recognized by this big blogger or be appreciated by someone so much that we make that the focus of our lives? I think maybe we’ve all been guilty at times of living for self.

This week I finished reading Own It: Leaving Behind a Borrowed Faith by Hayley and Michael DiMarco. This book is featured in the upcoming movie, Grace Unplugged. And it is fabulous! In the introduction they write:

When you own your own faith, the love of God eclipses all other loves and, since His love is perfect, solid, and unshakable, you never have to fear again.  You are never alone again, never helpless or hopeless. (p. 4)

I think I underlined half the book … and I loved the movie. I think Haley and Michael are right — Far too many of us sitting in churches don’t own our faith.  There’s a lot of mimicking going on … a lot of saying and doing the “right” things but a real lack of surrendered hearts and lives.  

Grace Unplugged is the story of girl whose dad was a rock star. A girl who can sing and wants to have it all. {Sound familiar?} It’s a gut-wrenching story of chasing dreams and finding there isn’t always gold at the end of the rainbow. But it’s also a story of a father’s heart … a father who knows what sin promises and how it never measures up. A father who is willing to fight for his girl and who loves her to the ends of the earth.

grace unplugged || Teri Lynne UnderwoodI can’t wait to see the movie when it releases. I read the novelization and it is great.These books are awesome and I recommend them both.

Yeah, sin sucks … but grace? Grace fills … grace fills the emptiness sin leaves. And I choose grace. What about you?

For more information about Grace Unplugged, check out the movie website.

{I was provided free copies of these books for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.}

Read the Psalms this summer with Scripture Dig!


  1. Your image on facebook “Sin Sucks” grabbed my eye, Teri Lynne. I have said that same phrase so many times and felt the true and ugly weight of it many more. I saw previews for this movie a few weeks ago, and that was the first time I’d heard anything about it. It does have my curiosity piqued. I didn’t know anything about the books–For me, owning my faith means standing up under the Gospel in spite of whatever society tells me is “cool” or appropriate. I cannot even tell you haw any things we do not do because we feel that it is *unsafe* for us, spiritually. Owning my faith means not cracking the doors and windows to the enemy in the name of *harmless* entertainment or fun. Whatever we miss out on is far outweighed by what we gain in pursuit of living a faithful life. Love you–my friend. You are a great Mama.

  2. Owning my own faith means having the daily courage to face what comes my way with an assurance that God is with me. He doesn’t leave-ever.
    We all have our own ‘story’; our own battles we’ve fought or are currently fighting. I believe when we go through hard times we realize that God carries us and gets us over these life hurdles. I personally have looked back on the trying times of my life, and without a doubt, during my darkest hours, God was right there with me. My “faith” is in God. i try very hard to never place too much faith and reliance on friends & family. It is easy to own my faith when my faith has been deeply developed over time throughout the course of my life, so far.
    I’m not really sure how much emphasis I placed on faith or how I truly believed before I lived through my first “tough time”, but I know that I feel very sad for those who don’t know God, and have no faith. I often wonder how they get through anything in life.
    By the way, my two cents about Miss Cyrus…I am sickened by the entire episode. The media’s reaction makes me sick. Miley’s performance was more sick than artistic, only, I may be one of only two people who truly does believe she was aiming for some sort of artistic/shock value performance, more so than what she actually ended up portraying. It sickens me that the 37 year old married male, Robin Thicke’s [raunchy] song w/very eyebrow-raising lyrics has rose to the top of the charts. I am equally sickened that Miss Cyrus likely has a multitude of people on her payroll [I fear possible family members], and clearly these people should be protecting this young woman, and what I saw in the video of her performance was certainly no portrayal of ANYONE protecting this girl. It almost appeared as though someone is trying to destroy this girl’s career, and allowed her to get up there and humiliate herself, so that she would be out of business.
    Finally, it is sad to me that in this wonderful country we love so much, on the brink of WW III, the media chooses to systematically bully this young woman who isn’t even legally old enough to buy an alcoholic beverage, but apparently someone allowed her to have something intoxicating Sunday night.
    I don’t think the media should get involved with issues like this. If Miley were black or gay, I honestly believe the media would shy away from all the hype. If Miley was the 37 year old married person (switching her role with Robin Thicke), and she was up there singing a raunchy song, allowing a 20 year old boy to rub against her in an erotic way, she would still be ridiculed for “allowing” it to happen and she would be deemed the responsible “adult”, behaving irresponsibly, BUT none of those hypotheticals actually occurred, and Robin Thicke is still topping charts. I just think the way the media seems to hand-select certain “stars” and focus on one thing they do wrong, and just absolutely CRUCIFY said star, is wrong in so many ways. [Paula Deen comes to mind]
    I’m just really sick and tired of the double standards.
    Great post Teri! I always enjoy reading your perspective on things. I know you and Scott are wonderful parents. Parenting a teenage girl has to be the hardest job in the world. I have much respect and admiration for you both.

  3. For me grace is a wonderful gift from God that gives me strength and courage to face whatever comes my way, courage to share my faith with others, and the comfort that God loves me when I mess up.

  4. To own your faith is to say I know how I have always done it and every time He gives us an opportunity to change, to embrace Him more and ourselves less, by trusting, by letting go of control, by stepping out of the boat, we are opening up our hearts, our own selves and asking Him to make us just a little more like Him. It’s not in the big most times, but in the very small that the deepest changes take root and are life changing.

  5. You are so right on about how sin sucks us dry, Praise God for the Living Water that fills us as He pours out His grace into our tattered lives. I am grateful that the holes in my imperfect life hopefully allow His grace and love to leak out to others. I think that is owning your faith. When it is not just something you do because others have done it, but you have a deep relationship with your Abba God and your brother, His Son, Jesus, through the Holy Spirit within you. I put the movie on my todo list for October when my hubby is gone hunting!

  6. Owning your faith means an inner strength and confidence that projects out to those around you. It makes you a better person, a better friend, a better mentor. It makes you a light for God that no one can ever diminish.

  7. I laughed at your apology to your mom for using “that” word. Almost got my mouth washed out with soap when I was a kid for saying it. 😉
    Realizing it may sound redundant, I think owning your faith is simply that – professing the faith is YOURS, not “blaming” it on someone else. Then living like you believe it. If you own your faith, what you say you believe will be obvious to the world around you when they look at your life.

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