Pastor’s Biography

Reverend Galen “Joe” MacDonald

Reverend Galen “Joe” MacDonald and his wife, Pam, began their tenure with First Presbyterian Church of Livingston in September, 2010. Pastor MacDonald, a native of northern Maine, came to us from the Sandy Lake, PA area. Before he came to us, he served two churches for 12 years in the Sandy Lake area. He has been with First Presbyterian Church in Livingston since 2010. Rev. MacDonald earned bachelor degrees in Bible and Psychology in 1968 from Gordon College and a Master of Divinity from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary and was ordained in 1970. In 1990 he earned a Masters Degree in clinical psychology from Edinboro University.

Looking for Peace in All the Wrong Places

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you—” John 14: 27
When I came to faith I remember well the words the pastor in a small church in Maine was saying. They were words that were so timely that I thought he was speaking them only for me. He said that so many people experience a deep restlessness inside that they cannot seem to satisfy. They will wander down so many dead- end streets like the street of money, fame, sex, power, or worldly success. He said the streets are dead ends because none of them fulfill the longing for happiness, meaning or lasting peace. He said there will still be a vacuum that you cannot fill; an itch you cannot scratch. Those words went like darts to my heart and the timing could not have been better. Not only was I restless and wandering but I longed to have some kind of meaning and purpose. I felt lost and directionless. What really sealed it for me is when he said that until you find Jesus as your personal Savior and discover that you can have a personal relationship with God you will never find peace. He said Jesus is like the last piece of a puzzle for your heart. Until you find that Piece you will never find permanent peace in your life. I have found that to be true not only in the journey of coming to Christ but in the journey of walking with Him through the years. When I have wandered spiritually or neglected to feed my spirit with God’s Word or praying or fellowship with others, that sense of restlessness and longing haunts me inside. It is like a compass or a warning light on the dash of a car. It means that peace and contentment are only found in a close walk with God. Remember the old saying: If you feel far from God, guess who moved?
Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald

More of Thee – Less of Me

“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs  is the kingdom of heaven” -Matthew 5:3
I really like the Message Bible rendering of this beatitude, in fact, all of them. You’re blessed when you are at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. I want to share a poem that has touched my heart many times. It was written by Theodore Monod in 1874, and was put to music by my spiritual mother and sung at my ordination to the ministry:
O the bitter pain and sorrow
That a time could ever be
When I proudly said to Jesus
“All of self, and none of Thee”
Yet he found me, I beheld him,
Bleeding on the accursed tree
And my wistful heart said faintly,
“Some of self and some of thee.”
Day by day his tender mercies
Healing, helping, full and free
Brought me lower while I whispered
“Less of self and more of Thee.”
Higher than the highest heavens
Deeper than the deepest sea Lord
Thy love, at last, has conquered:
None of self, and all of Thee.
The secret to really understanding the power of God is to come to the end of our rope and find that His is just beginning.
Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald

I Wish I Had

“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord…” -Psalm 78:4
The story is told about a question that was asked of fifty people over 95. Here is the question: If you had your life to live over what would you do differently? Three common answers emerged from the group. “We would risk more, reflect more and do more things that would live on after we die.” Those are phenomenal responses, and all seem to have a relationship to our legacy. What will we leave when we leave? All of us leave memories, good or bad, but memories fade; legacies do not. We need to ask what kind of a “foot print” we are leaving on the souls of others. Pam and I recently had the privilege of listening to a presentation by Don Piper. He is the author of the book, 90 Minutes In Heaven, which also was the inspiration of a full length movie. I will never forget when he said that all the people who met him during his sojourn in heaven were people who had had some influence on his salvation and spiritual growth. You may not believe his story at all or any stories about near death experience, but one impactful question arises from what he said. Whose life, or lives, are you influencing in the direction of a relationship with Jesus Christ? I couldn’t help asking myself, “Who would I have the opportunity of greeting in heaven? Are there any lives that I have pointed in Christ’s direction by my life and my words?” Some time ago I heard this statement: “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; only what is done for Christ will last?” There can be no greater legacy than to have had an influence in the life of someone in coming to Christ. I am sure you can name the people who set you on the road and so can I. Yes, only the Holy Spirit can draw us to Christ, but the Holy Spirit partners with God’s people to make it happen. Remember Paul’s words in I Corinthians 3: “I planted, Apollos watered but God gives the increase.” Blessings, Pastor Joe