One Question That Can Change the Way You Do Life

Navy SEALs of Operation Red

I have a tendency  to make things more complicated than they need to be. This is especially true for things like working out or sticking to a diet.

“It’s time to work out, but I’m busy”, “I don’t feel like it, it’s not sunny and 75 out.”  

“It’s dinner time, but I’m tired and don’t feel like cooking and cleaning up afterward. Let’s get pizza.”

“There’s a tough day ahead, busyness, stress so I don’t have time for prayer or to read scripture.”

The question that distills my complicated reasoning to the essence of the struggle is:

Which do you choose: Discipline or regret?

[ctt title=”Which do you choose: Discipline or Regret” tweet=”Which do you choose: Discipline or Regret @themattrise” coverup=”M9S29″]

It’s really a simple choice at that point.

I first heard this from Andy Stumpf, former Navy Seal, on the Strong Life Podcast, and it really struck a chord with me. In the context of the Navy Seals, the choice is probably very clear and the consequences stark. You are either disciplined (train, train, train) or you will experience immediate regret (the loss of life to name one). The choice isn’t always so clear and immediate in our lives of relative ease and comfort. Ignoring your diet and eating that cinnamon roll for breakfast doesn’t necessarily translate to immediate regret. But continued indiscipline over time does.

[pullquote]”The alternative to discipline is disaster.” Vance Havner[/pullquote]

The reason Andy’s statement resonated so much with me, is that I’ve never heard it put so simply and plainly before. This simple statement in the last few weeks has made it easier for me to do the tough things, the disciplined things. It can for you too. This isn’t just “Try Harder!” at the things that plague you or you fail at regularly. It’s a mindset change and a re-framing of the question of why you do something. But, It is like a muscle. It needs work to go with it. The more you workout your discipline muscle the easier it is.

Start the Discipline Habit

So how to start the discipline habit? Get an index card (or several) and write “Discipline or Regret” on it. Carry it with you, tape one to your bathroom mirror, put it on top of your bible, put one on top of your work out clothes, stick it to the fridge. Put one where ever you need more discipline. This will help to cement the idea in places you will notice it. Our brains have a way of complicating the decisions we make day in and day out. Your “Discipline or Regret” cards will remind you that it really is simple. Your choice.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 2:13

As A.W. Tozer said, “We must face the fact that many today are notoriously careless in their living. This attitude finds its way into the church. We have liberty, we have money, we live in comparative luxury. As a result, discipline practically has disappeared. What would a violin solo sound like if the strings on the musician’s instrument were all hanging loose, not stretched tight, not “disciplined”?
Life is too short to live carelessly.

What “complicated: choice do you regularly make that would be cleared up with the question Which do you choose: Discipline or Regret?

Stay Sharp

December Whetstone Newsletter

The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God. Quote by CS Lews


Merry Christmas!  Tis the season for stress, busyness, and overspending. So, take some time, say no to something, jump off the hamster wheel, and just spend time with your family. Play some board games, go sledding, do something non-commercial and relationship oriented. Christmas isn’t about the gifts you get your kids (or don’t get them). They won’t even remember what they got next year anyway. So remember, Christmas is about God coming down to us to say I Love You.


Articles of the Month

Advent: How to Resist the Culture and Clutter of Christmas Stephen W. Smith

Advent is choosing to resist the culture and to slow down not hurry.”

Remember when you were a kid and it took forever for Christmas to get here? Doesn’t seem like that now does it? Work holiday parties, gift buying, decorating, treat making, filling the unrealistic expectations of others (and your own) make this season fly by leaving us exhausted, weary, and thankful when it’s over. But, as Stephen writes, it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact it should be the opposite. We should slow down this time of year. Say “No”, to something or two.  “Start today. It’s not too late. Resist the culture and choose to wait!”

The 6 Assassins of a Man’s Contentment – Darrin Patrick

“These enemies distract us from the present and prompt us to either idolize or demonize our past and future. We either worship or hate the past or future, but doing so makes it impossible to embrace the glory of the contented life.”

Ahh contentment. We don’t see much of it in our consumption based, never have enough culture. But, what if the true enemy is us? “We have seen the enemy, and he is us.” Darrin gives us 6 internal assassins of contentment.

And, #6 Hurriedness is the one the hit me the most. Because, “Hurried people can’t celebrate (which is the secret sauce of contentment) because they are focused on the next thing on their to-do list.” Which one hits home with you?


10 Diagnostic Questions for Your Marriage – Kevin DeYoung

I love the picture at the beginning of this article. It’s what I see my marriage like in 30 years. Still laughing because Jen pulled my finger.

[ctt title=”The couple that laughs together, lasts together.” tweet=”The couple that laughs together, lasts together. @mattrise” coverup=”OFG0R”]

Want to get a simple gauge on how your marriage is doing? Go through Kevin’s 10 questions and give them honest answers. How will your spouse answer them? Better yet, go through them together. I dare you.  Now ask your wife to pull your finger.


4 Dangers of Pornography – BJ Foster

“It starts simple enough without any sign of danger, a movie on cable or the click of the mouse. We tell ourselves there’s nothing wrong with it, or perhaps it’s not that bad, even though we keep it secret. Pretty soon what started as “controllable” and “here and there” turns into a habit, deeper and deeper.”

The internet is a wonderful thing. Never in the history of mankind has information been so cheap, easy to access, and widespread. But, the inherent sinfulness of man corrupts all things. And so we have done it to the internet with pornography. Porn too has become “cheap”, easier to access, and more widespread. Even if this isn’t something that you deal with, someone you know does, so check out BJ’s article to see what damage and danger this seemingly “victimless” sin creates.

Need help quitting porn? Take the X3 Pure 30 Days to Purity Course Here. *


Slay Your Dragons Before Breakfast – Michael Hyatt

“I face a dragon named Lethargy every morning. It has three heads: Pneuma (spiritual), Soma (physical), and Nous (intellectual). If I don’t slay this dragon before breakfast, he usually gets the best of me. “

One of the best things I’ve done for my life daily has been to have an intentional morning ritual. We all have a morning ritual, but is it intentional? Do you wonder why you never get consistent with important disciplines like bible reading, prayer or exercise? It’s because we’ve only got so much willpower. We get fatigued throughout the day making decisions. So if we leave the important stuff until later, chances are we won’t do them. Michael’s strategy is to slay those dragons right off the bat, when you’re at your strongest.


Podcast Episode of the Month

Become More Productive By Reengineering Your Morning Ritual – Michael Hyatt

This podcast builds on the previous article by giving you 7 steps to building a morning that will kick your day off right. Want to change your life drastically and simply? Start your days off right with an intentional morning ritual.


App of the Month


Prayer is a discipline that I really struggle with. Not in a get it done daily sort of way. I can check off boxes with the best of them. But, in a meaningful, intentionalPrayerMate Logo way. I could sit down and “pray”, but the monkeys in my brain would always start throwing bananas distracting me. So enter PrayerMate. PrayerMate is an app that I have been using for sometime now. It has not only helped me remember who and what I need to pray for, but helped me to see God’s work in my life and in the lives of others. The app takes a bit of setup but once you’ve got it going it takes a lot of the resistance to praying out.



Stay Sharp,


Signature for Matt Rise

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