As believers we can be so grateful for the Lord’s loving discipline that is bestowed upon our lives. Like a critical surgery that is needed, we’ve got to have it, and we are grateful for the surgeon. For us, our surgeon is none other than our loving Father pruning us that we might bear more fruit.
Question: Could you describe a time in which the Lord disciplined you, and you look back on that time with utter thankfulness for the fruit it yielded in your life?
Could you describe a time in your life in which the Lord disciplined you? And you look back on that time with utter thankfulness for the fruit it yielded in your life?
Mack: Well, the one thing that comes to my mind is what I kind of alluded to earlier. In about 1990, the church we were in had a split – a big division – and I was so discouraged in it. I was one of the pastors. And I was so discouraged in that experience that I withdrew. I did not take a stand of confronting people in a right way, in a loving way, but still confronting. I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid. I had the fear of man, so I didn’t respond right. And it caused me to move in discouragement. And I didn’t realize at the time – I honestly didn’t – but I think for ten years, the Lord kind of let that wilderness experience – I wasn’t pastoring. We weren’t even settled really. I worked. We had twins come along in 1992. And it was a very difficult time, because I couldn’t get any clear direction. What does God want of me? And it was a refining time of loving discipline. And I don’t fully know why it took ten years. Maybe it wasn’t even ten years, but that was a time I was truly disciplined by the Lord. Discipline is loving correction to make us more fruitful. It’s not punishment, right? So, I learned huge lessons in retrospect that I should have done this as a pastor. If I would have done this, I would have protected those believers more. If I had been courageous to say, “Brother, I disagree, and what you’re doing is wrong because it’s affecting others and you’re being selfish in this.” Saying things like that when I should have, but I didn’t have the courage to, I learned so much through that as a discipline from the Lord. And it’s borne fruit in my life to take a stand when I need to; to see truth is on trial here, and people are going to be affected by this if I don’t respond in love, but still respond, so I’ve got to. And that was a big hard discipline, but that’s the biggest one I can remember in my own life. Now, for the present, discipline is not joyful. It’s grievous. It’s hard to go through it. But, it’s John 15 – He disciplines and prunes us because we are bearing fruit. Then we’ll bear more fruit.
James: So after that season of ten years, is that when you ended up back in Denton and the church started up again?
Mack: Well, not the same church, but yes, we moved back to Denton in 1998. So it wasn’t a full ten years, but it seemed like an eternity almost. So we came back because what came to me clearly was it was like God had shown me in my heart, I left where I was out of discouragement without direction to go to something positive and clear and specific. And so, it’s always wrong to make decisions and choices out of discouragement. You’ll almost always make a mistake. It’s like marrying on the rebound four months later, and you realize, oh man, what did I do? You know people who do that. So we came back to Denton in 1998. (Incomplete thought) I truly had matured I honestly feel like. And I had been preaching since 1975, and now it was ’98. I honestly believe I was now prepared enough to truly preach and help somebody. I mean, I don’t know how to say it any more than that. My spirit had matured. God had developed patience in me. He had given me a pastor’s heart. He let me learn how to view issues in a right and wrong way. How to give answers about assurance of salvation when somebody comes. How to help them analyze it. He gave me a pastor’s heart. But if I hadn’t been through what I’d gone through in those years in the 1990’s, I wouldn’t have been near as equipped. So I praise God now for the fruit of it. I wouldn’t want to go through it again. It’s like open heart surgery. Praise God for that surgery! Lord, may it never be again. But when you can have it, you’ve got to have it to save your life. You’re thankful for it and you’re thankful for the surgeon.