The Truth About Religion

I am a church child of the 80’s.

I wore this pin, remember?

I did all the stuff Christians do.

And then a few years ago, I realized I was spiritually fat.

I was well-fed, plump on a lot of religion, but lacking obedience.


Faith has always been a huge part of my life. I guess I would characterize myself as full of faith but lacking in obedience. I believed everything Jesus said; I just didn’t always do what He told me.

But when I began to say yes in my mess, that’s when I started to slim down.

Getting fit is uncomfortable. It can be painful and stretch us further then we thought possible.

It makes us stronger.


When we started rescuing young pregnant girls in Kenya, many orphaned, we hired young and old widows as housemothers to help us help them.  And somewhere in the mix of helping orphans and widows, I discovered the truth about religion.

It’s not so much about what we believe, it’s also about what we do.



We can’t really separate the two. One without the other is dead.

And when we find a way-some way in our busy lives and busy world- to serve the least of these, we find God. Every time.

When we step out of our comfort zone and serve another human, it’s a spiritual act of worship.

Religion is so much more than a check in a box. It’s being the hands and feet of Jesus. It’s about fulfilling what we were created to do. It’s about focusing on what matters. It’s about bringing God glory.

Faithful widows like Jessica, Winfred and Judy spend their days serving the least of these.


“Thank you for helping these girls,” Judy grasped both my hands last week in Kenya.

“You’re helping us, too. We love our job and we need it,” Jessica hugged me tight.


My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7


As I watched widowed women love orphaned girls and fatherless babies, I saw Jesus.

I found true religion in an unlikely place.

And I’ve never seen a more beautiful site.



  1. 1


    “When we step out of our comfort zone and serve another human, it’s a spiritual act of worship.” Amen.

    My family and I serve at a soup kitchen. It’s just one Saturday a month. It’s tiring, but often I find that it’s my favorite Saturday of the month. Though some of the guests can be hard to love, we see so much gratitude in the faces of those we serve. My husband greets them at the door; I cook; our son serves food and prays with guests. Others sit at the tables and chat with guests. Almost as much as they need the hot meal, those who come in need fellowship and dignity. We are full of joy as we serve them. All of that is to say that when we step out of our comfort zone to serve others, God often blesses us, as well.

  2. 4


    After reading Rhinestone Jesus and really learning more about Mercy House, the pictures made me smile from ear to ear. I’m almost ready to launch my new blog site and I’d like to use Mercy House button on my sidebar. Can you let me know what to do to make that happen? Thanks so much!

  3. 5

    Erika says

    I completely agree with you that it’s not only faith, you need the works as well! Faith without works is not he way to heaven, as is works without faith. I am Catholic and that’s what we are taught! Every time I see the “say yes in your mess” I think of Mary and how she said “yes” to God’s will for her.

  4. 6

    Tanya Dudley says

    I just finished your book last night. Great story…very challenging. Praying for God to show me where to put my next act of service. I read a quote today and it reminded me of your story. “When we say we want to be the hands and feet of Jesus, we must remember what happened to the hands and feet of Jesus.” The struggles that you share in your book show that it is never easy but oh so worth the sacrifice. Thanks for sharing with all of us!

  5. 7

    amy says

    We just need to be sure that when we’re acting in obedience that the #1 goal is to make sure we’ve told people what Christ did on the cross. By simply giving someone a bag of food or clothing & never mentioning the Gospel we’ve not helped their souls one bit.

  6. 9

    Amanda says

    I absolutely agree that we are meant to serve. I just want to share with you the need to not over emphasize works in your ministry. We have quite a few too many religions out there that preach salvation through works. YES as we draw closer to God’s heart, we are moved to help others. NO this is not more important than belief. Your statement “It’s not so much about what we believe, it’s also about what we do.” is the first *red flag* I’ve seen on your blog, and I’ve been following you for a while. Those women you are helping are exposed to God through your works, but it is ultimately God that is saving them in the long run.
    Our belief and faith in God is completely free. Work free. That is the most important part of our mission. It is good to push your followers to do good works, but be careful, there has to be a balance.

  7. 10


    Great points! It is tough to practice what you preach and know to be what He wants you to do. I had a hard time forgiving until I realized it was a choice that I made, not a feeling I felt or something they earned. The easy part is knowing, the hard part is acting on that knowledge.

  8. 11


    Hey! :-)

    My husband and I are figuring out that in order to do well spiritually, we need both God’s Spirit to work in us to will and act according to his good purpose, and we need repentance. We often focus on repentance, but sometimes we’re simply tired. And worn out. That’s how we’re feeling now. So we’re searching for at what point we need to let God come in and rejuvenate us, and at what point we simply need to pull up our bootstraps and get to work.

    If that makes any sense.

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