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.

World’s Meanest Mother

It is May already, the month we celebrate and honor our mothers. It is my hope that your mother was as “mean” as the following by Bobbie Pingaro  and, if you are a mother, that you are as well:
“The Meanest Mother”
I had the meanest mother in the whole world. While other kids ate candy for breakfast, I had to have cereal, eggs or toast. When others had cokes and candy for lunch, I had to eat a sandwich. As you can guess, my supper was different than the other kids’ also. But at least, I wasn’t alone in my sufferings. My sister and two brothers had the same mean mother as I did. My mother insisted upon knowing where we were at all times. You’d think we were on a chain gang. She had to know who our friends were and where we were going. She insisted if we said we’d be gone an hour, that were gone one hour or less–not one hour and one minute. I am nearly ashamed to admit it, but she actually struck us. Not once, but each time we had a mind of our own and did as we pleased. That poor belt was used more on our seats than it was to hold up Daddy’s pants. Can you imagine someone actually hitting a child just because he disobeyed? Now you can begin to see how mean she really was. We had to wear clean clothes and take a bath. The other kids always wore their clothes for days. We reached the height of insults because she made our clothes herself, just to save money. Why, oh why, did we have to have a mother who made us feel different from our friends? The worst is yet to come. We had to be in bed by nine each night and up at eight the next morning. We couldn’t sleep till noon like our friends. So while they slept-my mother actually had the nerve to break the child-labor law. She made us work. We had to wash dishes, make beds, learn to cook and all sorts of cruel things. I believe she laid awake at night thinking up mean things to do to us. She always insisted upon us telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, even if it killed us- and it nearly did. By the time we were teenagers, she was much wiser, and our life became even more unbearable. None of this tooting the horn of a car for us to come running. She embarrassed us to no end by making our dates and friends come to the door to get us. If I spent the night with a girlfriend, can you imagine she checked on me to see if I were really there. I never had the chance to elope to Mexico. That is if I’d had a boyfriend to elope with. I forgot to mention, while my friends were dating at the mature age of 12 and 13, my old fashioned mother refused to let me date until the age of 15 and 16. Fifteen, that is, if you dated only to go to a school function. And that was maybe twice a year. Through the years, things didn’t improve a bit. We could not lie in bed, “sick” like our friends did, and miss school. If our friends had a toe ache, a hang nail or serious ailment, they could stay home from school. Our marks in school had to be up to par. Our friends’ report cards had beautiful colors on them, black for passing, red for failing. My mother being as different as she was, would settle for nothing less than ugly black marks. As the years rolled by, first one and then the other of us was put to shame. We were graduated from high school.  With our mother behind us, talking, hitting and demanding respect, none of us was allowed the pleasure of being a drop-out. My mother was a complete failure as a mother. Out of four children, a couple of us attained some higher education. None of us have ever been arrested, divorced or beaten his mate.  Each of my brothers served his time in the service of this country. And whom do we have to blame for the terrible way we turned out? You’re right, our mean mother. Look at the things we missed. We never got to march in a protest parade, nor to take part in a riot, burn draft cards, and a million and one other things that our friends did. She forced us to grow up into God-fearing, educated, honest adults. Using this as a background, I am trying to raise my three children. I stand a little taller and I am filled with pride when my children call me mean. Because, you see, I thank God, He gave me the meanest mother in the whole world. (written by Bobbie Pingaro, 1967)
It is my prayer that you will always strive to be a Proverbs 31 mom.
Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald

Image is Everything

“So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God, He created them; male and female he created them” -Genesis 1:27
It is almost frightening how important “image” has become in our culture. Though it is not stated overtly, it is obvious that the news media make sure their announcers and anchor people fit a certain image (notwithstanding the potential risk of being accused of discrimination because certain qualified people may not fit that image). Furthermore, millions, even billions of dollars are spent on cosmetic creams or surgical procedures on Hollywood stars and starlets to maintain a certain image that will “sell” on screen. Those in the modeling industry are so pressured to fit a certain image that many suffer from bulimia, anorexia, or dietary extremes just to fit a certain socially acceptable look. Unfortunately teenagers and even younger children buy into this obsession with image, sometimes to the extent that if they are not able to fit it they even attempt or commit suicide. It is a tragedy when anyone’s value is dictated by a culturally driven image demand. Thank God, those who know Christ never have to be a slave to those cultural demands. As God’s child you already have and carry a perfect image. It is not that any human being is perfect. No, we are all sinners by birth; but God says we are made in and carry His image. Even those who do not know Christ carry the image of God by the act of creation. Your value and mine are not dictated by how culture or others see us but by the value our Creator puts upon us. How valuable is that? So valuable that God Himself took on flesh and died on a cross, that our relationship with Him could be restored and His image in us could be renewed. You never have to live in the slavery of the dictates of culture or the pressure of peers. God has made us unique and more valuable to Him than anything else in the universe. It is my prayer that the only One you want to look like is Him shining through your uniqueness.
Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald

Just a Touch

“If I only touch His cloak I will be healed” Matthew 9:21
In 1944, a highly unethical, cruel and undoubtedly criminal experiment was conducted using 40 newborn infants to determine whether they could survive alone with all their physiological needs met including diaper changes and bathing. Twenty of them were placed in a special facility where caregivers would feed them, change their diapers, and bathe and clothe them, but nothing else. The caregivers were instructed not to look at them, touch them in any way (other than what was necessary) or communicate at all with them. The environment was kept sterile and none of the babies became physically ill. After four months the experiment was halted since half of the babies had died even though there was nothing wrong with them physically. Just prior to their deaths the infants would stop verbalizing, stop trying to engage with their caregivers, stop crying, stop moving and even changing expression. Death would soon follow. Yes, this is a horrible illustration but it points out one of the most important principles of life: the power of human touch. Sometimes when people who are going through severe trauma or loss, there is nothing more important at that time than a loving, caring touch. When words seem so useless, even insensitive, a touch on the hand or a shoulder or a hug can say more than a thousand words to really comfort. The woman in Matthew 9 with the issue of blood knew that a touch was not just comforting but healing when the she could merely touch the Master. She wanted her touch to be unnoticed by everyone including Jesus but He was fully aware of power flowing from Him to this woman. It wasn’t simply the touch that Jesus noticed but the faith that was behind it. She did not require His full attention, or for Him to come to her house or for Him to do anything. She knew that just a mere contact, just a touch would suffice. The ministry of touch was important in Jesus’ ministry. Whenever he healed he often touched the person. Each of us should not fear the ministry of touch. Granted, we must take care that all and any touch is appropriate and never misleading. Physical touch is one way of caring but reaching out to others with a note, an e-mail or blog, or even a sincere, “I am thinking about you and praying for you,” may touch someone in ways that you never know. Is there someone you know who just needs a touch?
Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald