Foundation for TRUTH: The Bible or Your Heart? (Continuing Conversation with Nathan)

My friend Nathan has responded in full and great detail on Facebook to my blog post from October 25 (read that post here to catch up). I’m going to respond now to him again so we can continue this enlightening conversation about the Bible and where we find truth.

I can’t thank you, enough, Nathan, for your insightful thoughts and for your respect/ love for me, which comes through in your writing. I respect you very much!

I regret that I can’t respond in full (in one blog post) to every great point you’ve made, so I’m going to focus on the ones I’m most passionate about.

From Nathan:

Sources of Truth:

I would not say that the Bible is the ONLY source of truth. Rather, I say that it is the foundation for truth (being that it is God’s word). So, as you mention, truth can be found in conversations with people, music, nature, movies, books, etc. Truth exists in all of those places because it has a source or reference point. If God is to have made all things, as the Bible claims, then of course we should see truth all around us because He is Truth. But if the Bible is merely a source of truth standing on a level playing field with all other truth claims, with any of them being perfectly possible and passable as truth, how can we make any determinations? Some would say “Yay!” to that idea, but nothing operates like that for very long – it’s unsustainable. Whether this or that truth is worth following based on how it resonates with me or you or anyone is a scary prospect, particularly once we start applying it to morality and how people’s behaviors and choices affect others.

Ok, great! We agree that truth can be found in a variety of ways, all throughout life, not just from the Bible.

Our point of disagreement is that you believe the Bible is the foundation for truth, and I think that our foundation for truth is found within.

Since this is such a huge topic, let’s dial it down to how we each approach the Bible, specifically.

When I read the Bible, I listen to my own voice, I feel God’s Spirit within me, which is fully connected to my own Spirit, as I let my ego fall away.

I listen for what Spirit is guiding me to see. And I find spiritual treasure. I go to the passages that resonate and uplift me.

When I used to go to the Bible from my ego, looking for concrete answers, looking to prove or disprove something, looking at it intellectually, studying theology, I didn’t find food for my spirit, and I could get lost in confusion in my head. The same book, which, while being directed by my Spirit, would give me LIFE, could also lead me towards ‘death’ and confusion, if I approached it from my ego.

You say that the Bible is your foundation for truth, but the problem I have with that idea is that when you read this book which is your “foundation”, you are still using your heart to guide you. You have to interpret the words on the page in order to assimilate them into your life. Ultimately, I think you are your own foundation whether you realize it or not.

The Bible is a very special book with great spiritual treasure, but to say that it can be our foundation, is, in my opinion, impossible.

How can words on a page that can be interpreted a million different ways be a foundation for anything? That’s why there are so many various Christian denominations, because of the myriad of ways the Bible is interpreted.

And so, you might be thinking, if the heart is such a great guide and foundation for truth, why are there so many different interpretations of the Bible?

Because each of us has a choice, every moment, whether to live out of our ego, or our Spirit. Our false self, or our True Self.

Fear, or Love. If someone is approaching the Bible from fear, they are going to get a much different interpretation than someone approaching it from Love, Trust, and Peace.

Ultimately, the Spirit of Love within has to guide us in order for us to find Truth.

Ok, so now to your next point:

I am interested to hear more what you mean about living in a “fear-based belief in the Bible.” When I read that comment I thought of this verse from John 8: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The Bible talks consistently of not living in fear, so I am wondering why you ever felt you were in a fearful situation as it relates to the Bible.

You actually describe perfectly what I meant by a fear-based attachment to the Bible, when you said “Whether this or that truth is worth following based on how it resonates with me or you or anyone is a scary prospect”.

I used to think it was a scary prospect as well, so I held onto the Bible as ultimate truth, as my foundation. But since it is impossible for it to BE a foundation, the attachment to it kept me from being fully guided by Spirit, from within.

Once I courageously let go of the idea that the Bible is my foundation for truth, I entered a realm of Peace, Life, and Joy, beyond my ego, and the freedom and stability this has brought to my life is beyond description!

Ironically, letting go of my attachment to this ‘solid rock’, put me on the true solid rock of being able to trust myself. When you let go of ego and fully enter your true identity, which is LOVE, SPIRIT, WISDOM – – you can then trust your desires, and be fully guided from within.

And then passages in the Bible are new and fresh and actually start to resonate deeply and clearly and bring me Life, because I’m approaching them from my spirit within. The Spirit within me enlightens everything I see, and I’m able to discern what is good and what is not good for me in every moment, simply by listening to myself and to where my joy is leading me. This method of living has led me to greater emotional, physical, spiritual health, passion and enthusiasm for life than I EVER dreamed possible! I highly recommend it!

Thanks, again, Nathan for taking the time to have this conversation with me. I welcome your continued thoughts, as I’m sure they represent the thoughts of many other readers.

“What’s the freaking difference?” Response to Amelia’s Passionate Comments on Christianity

My dear friend from college, Amelia, posted a comment publicly on Facebook yesterday:

I’m confused. So, do you follow Jesus? Or not? And how does following Jesus make you not a Christian? What’s the freaking difference? I mean, we’ve all gone through times when we didn’t particularly like the Bible… I just feel like saying things like “I’ve left Christianity” followed by “I LOVE Jesus!” …. It’s incongruous and makes me feel like there’s a little web being spun (through you, not purposefully by you) and really you’re still confused yourself.

This is good stuff Amelia has brought up. It obviously really strikes a chord with some people, to separate Jesus from Christianity, and yet that is one of the things I am passionate to do. There is a strong attachment to the label of Christianity, which in most cases has way more involved in it than just ‘following Jesus’. I have a passion to separate the heart from the skin, the truth from the illusion, the person from the structures.

Do you think Jesus is as attached to the label of Christianity, the culture of Christianity, the religion of Christianity as you are?

I don’t think Jesus cares about Christianity at all. That’s something we created. (He cares about people, not the way we’ve organized our intention to follow him).

I would challenge you to ask yourself why it bothers you that I have chosen a unique path that doesn’t fit in your grid?

I do love Jesus and follow a lot of his teachings that resonate with me, and yet:

1. I am not involved in church

2. I don’t think the Bible is absolute truth (it is full of treasure, if you have spiritual ears to hear it)

3. I think Jesus came to show us the way to our highest potential, to show us our own magnificence and power — not to save us from our sins

These are major reasons why I don’t call myself a Christian.

I am not confused.

I have spent years on a passionate journey of discovery, excavating the real, powerful Jesus from this religion that I’ve followed most of my life.

And if you’ve read all of my blog posts, you know that I honor and respect anyone who loves Christianity and finds fulfillment within it.

I am speaking boldly about this because I’ve found something in my own life journey that has led me to more passion, joy, and love than I personally experienced within Christianity.

How can you not share something with others that has brought you so much LIFE?

There are obviously many Christians who are completely fulfilled and are living powerful lives of love which do exemplify the powerful essence of Jesus.

This is GREAT and I fully support these people on their paths!

It really doesn’t matter what we call ourselves, if we are living powerful lives of LOVE!

When we talk about Christianity, we are talking about a huge group of people all over the world, with a multitude of differing definitions of this word.

My personal journey has led me on a unique path, and I’m excited to have moved beyond this label. I don’t think it offends Jesus at all.

We need to get beyond labels, beyond organizations, beyond structures, beyond beliefs, beyond our attachment to all of these mental constructs that keep us from fully living and fully loving.

I am not a Christian, but I do seek to be Christ-like.

And I again leave you today with my personal definition of what it means to be Christ-like:

To love without condition, looking straight to the heart, and to fully and fearlessly be who we really are!

I love you!

Noelle

The Book That Led Me to Let Go of Christianity: ‘Dying To Be Me’

Obviously it is never ONE single book or life experience that leads us to take a huge leap of faith.

I was already on a journey away from Christianity when this book appeared at just the right time in my spiritual development – June of 2013. I was on a path that was surprising to me, but that I had to trust, simply because of the insane increase in joy and peace that was flooding my life. My spiritual journey of JOY had led me beyond all ‘Christian activities’. I had stopped going to church, stopped reading my Bible as a daily ritual, and even stopped reading Jesus Calling (the highly inspirational book that I still recommend to people).

The only thing left holding me to this religion, was my deeply-ingrained Christian belief system.

Dying To Be Me, by Anita Moorjani, appeared in my life the day before my mom and I went on a trip from my home in Colorado to Minneapolis to visit family. On the road trip, we took turns reading out loud to each other, and it is a couple of days that I will never forget. I couldn’t get enough of it. It was difficult to even stop and take a lunch break or use the restroom, because I didn’t want to stop reading. We devoured it. We both just kept laughing and crying and saying “WOW!”

It was the spiritual food we had both been looking for. It was so amazing to share those precious moments with my incredible mom, who has always been such a shining personification of Love and Grace all throughout my life!

Dying To Be Me is a memoir of Anita Moorjani’s life. She tells her journey through advanced stage-4 cancer, to a near-death experience, to complete healing.

She grew up in Hong Kong and was raised in a traditional Hindu family. She recounts her childhood struggles of attempting to manage all of the cultural and religious demands that were placed on her, while trying to find and express who she really was as a person. I identified with her struggle, and it was very enlightening to read someone’s similar journey to mine, but with a religion outside of Christianity. It helped to open my grid – there are so many people on this earth of various religions and cultures, and it’s so easy for us to get stuck in our little and narrow American-Christian worldview.

As an adult, Anita was stricken with cancer, and after an intense 4-year battle, was at the end of life as she knew it, with lemon-size malignant tumors all throughout her body. Her body shut down, and she was catapulted into the most transformational experience of her life. She experienced ‘the other side’ – and was embraced by the most complete and extravagant LOVE she had ever known.

The biggest inspiration from this unconditional love was her realization that she was not a failure as she had always believed, but that she was truly magnificent and powerful.

This single experiential revelation during her time on the other side, changed her view of life and of herself so completely, that all traces of  cancer were gone from her body within 4 days of returning to the physical realm.

It is a documented, medical case that is still a complete mystery to the scientific field. But it’s not a mystery to Anita, because on the other side she learned EXACTLY why she had cancer, which gave her the key to healing herself when she returned to her body.

In this inspirational book, she shares everything she learned from her heavenly experience, and the content of it changed my life. This is the book that taught me about my own magnificence and limitlessness. My spirit resonated completely with everything she said, and one passage in particular, seemed to LEAP off the page at me:

“When I step into the realm of ambiguity I’m really at my most powerful. Letting go of all previous beliefs, disbeliefs, dogma, and doctrines puts the infinite universe at my disposal and works to give me the best possible outcome for my life. This is where I receive the most internal clarity. It’s where magic happens.”

 It thrilled me, yet scared me, because I had the voice of Christian fear in my ear, “You’re being deceived! This is a ploy of the enemy to take you away from the truth!”

But I could not listen to that voice. I had to trust my own voice of LOVE and JOY and peace – and the thrilling, adventurous journey that had led me to this moment.

I had to trust myself.

So I took the leap, and wrote down in my journal that I was letting go of all previously held doctrines and beliefs, and that I would be open to whatever answers God wanted to bring me for the next step on my path.

I opened myself to the mystery and adventure of LIFE and LOVE.

The results were instantly astonishing. I felt the most incredible LOVE flow over me. I felt FREE!

The only thing that I can compare it to was my BIG spiritual awakening in 2008. This was almost as intense.

I have been on a magical journey ever since, which has led me to more love, more freedom, more enthusiasm and passion, more peace, than I EVER experienced while I still had my limited Christian theology chaining me to the ground.

And although I entered the realm of ‘not knowing anything concrete’ about God or the spiritual world, I felt more secure, more stable, more SOLID, than I ever had in my life before.

Our strength and security does not come from our beliefs.

It comes from surrendering to LOVE.

And as I’ve surrendered, I’ve received answers to my questions just when I needed them. But the answers are not what bring me LIFE.

It’s always returning to the simplicity and power of trusting in LOVE that  transforms my reality every day and gives me life.

I HIGHLY recommend this book, if this blog post has inspired you at all.

Maybe it will change your life, like it changed mine!

P.S. Check out my full life story, motivational talks, and my inspirational music on my YouTube channel.

What About Howard Storm’s Hellish Experience in ‘My Descent Into Death’?

Lest you think I have ignorantly blinded myself to the idea of a place called Hell where people are punished forever, I want to openly share with you a book that vividly describes a first-hand experience with what the author interprets as hell. Howard Storm’s book, My Descent Into Death, is a riveting account of his astonishing near-death experience, in which he had intense encounters with both tormenting, hateful beings as well as with the most extravagantly loving, comforting Beings he could have ever imagined.

I’m putting this book out there, precisely so that you will see that I have explored in-depth, not just the Bible, but also books like this with first-hand accounts of experiencing ‘ hell’ after dying.

Before I tell you how I’ve interpreted this book, let it transform me, and yet still have no fear of hell whatsoever, I want to give you a brief synopsis:

Howard Storm, before his encounter with death, was an angry, devout atheist who manipulated people and did not live a life of love. He hated religion and whole-mindedly believed that the material world was all there was to life. On June 1, 1985, at the age of 38, he experienced death due to a perforation of his stomach. When his body completely shut down, he let go of his life, and thought he would be entering nothingness. But instead, he was instantly in his hospital room, more alive than ever, looking at his body, all of his senses awakened fully, and being drawn out of the room by beings that he thought were his doctors and nurses, but soon discovered were in this other realm with him, outside the physical realm.

They drew him into the darkness and proceeded to attack and torment him. He heard a voice within him, his OWN voice, telling him to cry out to God, and as he did, the hateful beings retreated immediately. He remembered the song “Jesus loves me” from his childhood, and something within him started singing that song. When he cried out to Jesus, the most unconditional, bright Light he had ever known came rushing to him, and he was instantly surrounded by light and love, unlike anything he had ever experienced. He called this bright ‘Light Being’ his friend, and this friend brought him to many more friends, and they all surrounded him with the most brilliant Light and Love he had ever known.

He watched his entire ‘life movie’ with them, and felt their complete acceptance of him, although he had lived such a life of non-love, deception, and fear. He wanted to stay with them forever, but they urged him to return to his body because his spirit was so underdeveloped and he had much to learn about love. When he returned to his body, he woke up and everything changed. He completely transformed his life, became a pastor, and gives his life now serving the world in love.

When I read this book the first time, I was a strong hell-believing Christian, and I viewed it in that light and everything made sense. But when I let go of my Christian belief system, I had to revisit this book, because it had had such an impact on me. How could I reconcile my new thoughts of there being NO eternal punishment, if I was so impacted by this book, and had felt my spirit so strongly resonate with this incredible true story?

With my new eyes, I read the account of this story again, and I was so uplifted!

When Howard Storm ‘died’ he was an atheist, with no belief in anything outside of the material world – so definitely no belief in Jesus, since he didn’t even believe in God. And YET, where did he ultimately end up? In a realm of beautiful love and light – a state of being that he never wanted to leave, that completely transformed his life forever. This, and countless other near-death experiences, confirm that what we believe at the time of the death transition does not seal our fate for eternity.

Yes, he encountered great darkness and torment when he first left his body, but ultimately the darkness had no power over him whatsoever. His true essence, which had always been love and light, although he had lived a life of emptiness and hate, rose up within him even as the hatred engulfed him.

The darkness actually worked as a catalyst to bring him to the light.

And both were ultimately his choice.

In a way, I think it makes sense, since he was full of hatred for himself and others, that his first encounter on the other side was in this reality of hatred he had chosen. But again, this is nothing for us to be afraid of, because the minute he chose to cry out to Love, to God, the tormenting creatures had to leave.

So to me, this story is a beautiful confirmation that what we believe about Jesus and God, really does not determine anything in our experience of reality when we die. The determination of our experience, both now and in the next moment, comes down to LOVE. Are we letting ourselves shine with goodness and love to the world, which is our true essence, or are we deliberately cutting ourselves off from God (Love), thereby by dividing ourselves against each other?

In this other realm of light and love, Howard Storm asked the Loving Beings a LOT of questions, and their answers are fascinating.

Here’s one excerpt:

I asked them, for example, which was the best religion. I was looking for an answer which was like, “Presbyterians.” I figured these guys were all Christians. The answer I got was,

“The best religion is the religion that brings you closest to God.”

Howard Storm became a Christian pastor after returning to his earthly life. And yet, it was very clear to him, after his experience with Love, that God is bigger than any religion.

I highly recommend this book, if you are interested in what happens when we die – it’s life-changing and you won’t be able to put it down!

Response to Heather’s GREAT Comments about Hell and Being a Christian

Last night my precious friend Heather from high school commented on yesterday’s blog regarding Salvation, Heaven, and Hell. I appreciate her heart so much, and the graciousness with which she disagreed with me and shared her thoughts. This kind of comment I can fully respond to, because she is reaching out to my heart, seeing me as a person, not just preaching at me. Thank you Heather!

She said:

I love you, Noelle. I am going to be real, so please forgive me in advance as we do not agree.
In my opinion why would I follow Jesus if he wasn’t my savior? I believe when he came to earth he wanted to teach us about heaven and hell. Hell is real…. It is hard to understand in our finite minds that a Lord who created us would condemn some to Hell. Heaven is for real, but so is hell. Jesus was very clear about that.

Heather, I love you too, and you don’t need to apologize for disagreeing with me. I hope that even though we have a fundamental difference in our views on Jesus, that we can keep our hearts connected. We don’t have to agree on everything in order to love each other.

I respect your thoughts and your belief about hell being a real place. In response to your comment on Jesus being ‘very clear’ about hell as an actual physical location:

How can you know for sure that he was so clear about it? From what we see in the Bible, almost everything he said was a metaphor, a story, an analogy – and I think the reason he spoke this way was because it forces us to depend on the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment for our interpretation. He was always pointing us to search within for guidance by enclosing his messages behind stories and parables. It seems like he wanted it to be like a treasure hunt for truth! He could have easily laid down ’10 steps for righteous living’, or detailed for us exactly how to get into heaven, but instead he summed everything up with the only true law: LOVE.

More importantly, please remember that the people who actually wrote down the accounts of his life and words, didn’t do so until decades later, and they had their own deeply-entrenched cultural and religious grids that most likely influenced the words they actually recorded. I’m just challenging you to seek within your heart and open yourself to the possibility that you are depending on a book for absolute truth that may not be as rock solid as you’ve always been told it is.

Heather also commented:

I challenge you to get beyond the love of Jesus and return to the simplicity of what it means to be a Christian. Being a Christian means being “Christ-like”. Isn’t that what we are all striving for?

Wow, such a GREAT comment and question, Heather! This is what I have wrestled with, because if the only definition of Christian was ‘to be Christ-like’, then I would feel great about calling myself a Christian.  I definitely seek to be Christ-like.  Jesus is my greatest inspiration. And I want it to be clear that I do not judge anyone who loves Christianity.  If you feel great about it, and are full of joy, confidence, and peace in your beliefs and faith – that’s wonderful!

I simply have to follow my own enthusiasm and my own path. If I’m gonna say “I AM something”, I want to feel great about it. It’s a big deal to identify and label myself, and I don’t take it lightly.

And there are people who call themselves Christians, and probably have very similar views as mine. We all have to follow our own unique paths of joy and destiny, and for ME, although I don’t want to alienate Christians because I share so much with them and was so recently one of them, I also don’t want to be deceptive by saying ‘I’m a Christian’, and then have people find out that I don’t believe in Jesus as my savior.

This is why I feel so excited about my new life, because as a Christian, I always felt like I was hiding something, and always felt conflicted in my spirit by the big doubts I had. Now I can be open and fully authentic, and while that may alienate me from some Christians who can’t handle my differing beliefs, it also connects me with so many more people of various belief systems outside Christianity.  This is truly a wonderful reality!  The walls are down!

At the end, Heather said:

All I know is God is real and his love is what keeps me going.

Amen, Heather! This is where we connect. We love God and love each other, and I appreciate your support of me as a person, even though you disagree with my unique view on Jesus. This, to me, is the heart of being Christ-like:

To love without condition, looking straight to the heart, and to fully and fearlessly be who we really are.

Thank you for your comments, Heather!

I love you all!

Noelle