The Quest for Wisdom: Finding Truth Is Simple — but Are You Embracing It?

The definitions of wisdom range from "good sense" to the "ability to discern inner qualities and relationships" — to "a wise attitude, belief, or course of action."

All of us aspire to have wisdom, but a central question remains: what is the source of our beliefs and how do those perspectives impact our attitudes and actions?

Proverbs 9 makes it clear that God is the ultimate source of truth and wisdom and that He, alone, is the baseline for wisdom and knowledge.

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Sadly, culture sings a totally different tune, though, and many of us are so distracted by what we're taking in and by our own emotional whims that we totally forget or ignore this reality. Wisdom becomes a fluid concept rather than a bedrock — and we end up lost.

But that's not how it's supposed to work. Proverbs 9:1-6 frames "wisdom" in a truly fascinating and easy-to-discern way. In the text, Solomon encourages people to leave their own simple ways and to, instead, seek God's holy wisdom:

"'Let all who are simple come to my house!' To those who have no sense she says, 'Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.'"

As the chapter moves on, Solomon makes the roots and realities of wisdom even clearer. In verse 10 he writes, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."

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Wisdom, Solomon writes, allows peoples' days "to be many," with rewards flowing from it. In the end, it's a simple concept: the best way to live is God's way; the best morals to follow flow from God. Good choices yield the best possible life; bad choices can usher in chaos. 

Where does your wisdom flow from?

Be sure to also check out my quick devotions and reflections on Proverbs 1Proverbs 2Proverbs 3Proverbs 4Proverbs 5Proverbs 6Proverbs 7 and Proverbs 8And...curious about what all this means? Looking to better understand who God is? Take the next step.

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No, You Absolutely Shouldn't 'Follow Your Heart'

There's a lot of talk today about "following your heart." The generally spouted mantras are "be true to yourself" and "be who you want to be," but there's an important reality that these feel-good slogans fail to take into account: we must first be who God wants us to be.

Proverbs 4 implores believers not to merely "follow" their hearts, but to guard them. Verses 23-24 (NIV) read:

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips."

Those words "above all else" are fascinating, as they seem to indicate that it's of the utmost importance that we each keep careful watch over our own hearts and minds, while also exercising self-control over what we say and do.

In many ways, this call is the opposite of merely "following" one's heart. We're called to start with God, then move forward from there. 

_Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips._.jpg

The latter piece about keeping corrupt talk from our lips is convicting as well, especially in an era that encourages divisive social media chatter and debate — elements that turn dark when we don't monitor ourselves before we tweet and Facebook.

So, how do we guard our hearts? As we've explored in the first three chapters of Proverbs, it all boils down to a reliance on God to discern His wisdom. Proverbs 4:5 encourages people to "get wisdom" and to "get understanding." And verse 6 further expands on this:

"Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you."

In the end, it's not about following our own whims; it's about discovering God's heart and asking Him to guide our paths. If we trust only in ourselves, we're on shaky ground. 

I'll leave you with Proverbs 4:26, which encourages us to think carefully about what we're doing in our lives:

"Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways."

Start with the Bible, prayer and a reliance on God; everything else will come together.

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Be sure to also check out my quick devotions and reflections on Proverbs 1, Proverbs 2 and Proverbs 3.

And...curious about what all this means? Looking to better understand who God is? Take the next step.

Humility Matters

Humility matters. But don’t just take my word for it. The Bible gives us quite a bit to chew on when it comes to pride, humility and the like:

 “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’” -James 4:6

 “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of  you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” -Micah 6:8

 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one n in love.” -Ephesians 4:2

And there’s plenty more.  I know this is an area I still need work in. Join me?

 

What Is True 'Freedom?'

What is "freedom?" 

We love to throw the word around, but what does it actually mean in its purest, most unadulterated form?

It's the ability to make choices without "absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint."

It's the ability to live without being controlled by someone — or something.

But freedom goes far beyond that. It's the opportunity to wake up each day and make decisions about one's own destiny. 

From the small decisions to the large, freedom offers us the chance to pave our own way.

In America, freedom is most typically associated with rights. The right to pursue happiness, the right to enjoy liberty. And these ideals are immeasurably important.

In America we can:

- Voice our political perspectives

- Worship God in the way we see fit

- Speak our minds

- Seek to fulfill our dreams, whatever they might be

I'm eternally grateful for these freedoms, among many others, and I too often forget to thank God for allowing me to live in a nation that so profoundly affords me the opportunity to make choices, both big and small.

There are too many places in the world where these rights don't exist — where people cannot express their beliefs and are harassed, beaten and killed for doing so. 

That is tragic and horrific. 

I praise God for America and the blessings given to us on a daily basis — rights too many of us forget to be thankful for. Our normal ability to decide for ourselves is an unattainable fairy tale for so many across the globe.

So, back to that question: what is freedom? As I've stated, it has much to do with rights (at least in the modern context), though my focus here, again, is "true freedom," the purest form. 

The Bible speaks deeply and profoundly on this topic.

2 Corinthians 3:17 tells us, "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." And John 8:36 reads, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." 

It doesn't end there, either. The Scriptures are filled with explanations of what freedom really means. 

Galatians 5:1 adds, "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."

It's clear that God created us for freedom, but that freedom can only be attained in its truest and purest form through Jesus. That might seem confusing; that might appear odd to someone outside the Christian faith.

But it's truth. Freedom isn't free. We were bought at a price. 

And as we celebrate Independence Day today and reflect on our nation's history and on the liberty we all enjoy, we must also remember that true freedom runs much deeper — and it can be attained not by tradition or ritual, but by simple belief: an understanding that Jesus, who was sinless, is God's son who came to Earth, died for our sins and offered redemption. 

Why not accept this free gift and let it transform you? So many of us are hurting, wondering what life really means, looking for something deeper. You'll find that meaning — that purpose — in Jesus.

Think deeper. Pray harder. Be thankful. Find out what it means to accept Jesus here.

Waking Up: What Matters Most Isn't What We Think

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." -Proverbs 3:5-6

Resolutions weren't really my thing at the start of this year; instead, it has been all about realizations — and over the past 12 months I've come into one key understanding that will forever change my perspective.

Without a doubt, 2016 was a year filled with a plethora of lessons, experiences and learning curves. Above all else, I finally came to understand how to "let go and led God." Okay, okay: I know, the sentiment sounds corny, but there's something much deeper there than mere cliche. 

If I'm being honest and transparent, I must admit something: Over my 18 years (I started at age 15) working on media, my motivations have sometimes been a bit off; at moments, I've allowed the quest for notoriety, pride, the desire for money and other sentiments to sometimes take over as the primary drivers of my professional quests and decision-making.

And when those motivations take the lead, it's easy to find ourselves a bit off course. Luckily, I've always believed in the projects and companies I've been a part of, but I guess what I'm saying is that in 2016 I came to the realization that it's what God's wants that really matters.

It's easy to obsess about Twitter followers, social media chatter, book sales and other markers of success and prominence — and having a healthy business view on these things is great and beneficial. But it's when we pour ourselves so deeply into these efforts that we miss out on what's important — on God's calling for our lives — that we've got a problem. 

Just think: when we die, none of that stuff matters. None of it.

Instead, what matters is: Did we accept Christ? Did we acknowledge God the way he wanted us to? What have we done to help others? How have we loved those in our lives? And the list goes on. I guess my point is this: All too often, what we come to value in life and what we allow to drive us is totally and utterly out of sync with what really and truly matters.

And trust me: I'm not lecturing here. I, too, still struggle to live it out despite getting a little bit of clarity on it all these past 12 months. 

During my years at TheBlaze, I became obsessed with readership numbers, rankings, etc. I wanted to bring attention to my own name and push hard on the stories that I felt would advance my personal "brand." Some of those qualities were wonderful, though there was something I was missing. I was constantly chasing success, but my motivation wasn't always to serve God or, more importantly, to act in a way I felt Him leading me.

That all changed in 2016. I published my first book (I never thought in a million years that I'd write my first book about the end times), willingly left my position as faith and culture editor of TheBlaze and took a short-term contract with Deseret News before landing at Faithwire.com this past fall.

Instead of playing it safe of just acting on my own whims, I tried to choose what I felt God wanted. Am I still working hard? Absolutely (I still obsess over readership stats and pour myself into whatever I do). 

But things are a bit different now. I'm seeking God more, asking Him where he wants me and acting on His plan and not merely my own. And it's pretty freeing. I'm realizing more and more that things that might feel like failures or disappointments in the moment might have a greater purpose later on that I can't see in the immediate.

I think, in the end, 2016 brought me an entirely new perspective: notoriety and fame don't matter; what matters is how we live, whether we live for God, what we do with our lives and how we impact our world. I'm no longer depressed when things don't go my way, and I'm no longer aimlessly pushing toward opportunities without seeking guidance. 

As a Christian I always knew this was the case, but I simply got distracted. That's my 2017 realization.

Get Billy's New Book!

What will happen during the biblical end times? That's a question that has sparked debate over the centuries — and it's one that I directly address in my new book, "The Armageddon Code," which releases on May 3, 2016. Find out more below: --

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Learn more about "The Armageddon Code."

Get Wisdom. Get Understanding.

A discussion about the quest for knowledge continues in Proverbs 4, with Solomon imploring readers to essentially "get wisdom at any cost." The power of such wisdom is detailed in verses 5-6, which read:

"Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you."

It is, once again, made clear that the search for wisdom has profound implications, with the scriptures proclaiming that acquiring it can help people stay on the straight and narrow.

Verse 11 proclaims, "I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths," with verse 12 continuing, "When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble."

The chapter specifically reminds believers to avoid the "path of the wicked" and to look, instead, toward "the path of the righteous," appealing to the human heart as the moral centerpiece.

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it," verse 23 reads.

And though it all starts with the heart, the chapter goes on to tell readers to keep perverse and corrupt messages out of their mouths, and to closely consider "the paths for your feet."

Pretty powerful stuff.

You, Sin and Christ

Talk about a powerful video. Love this: