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.

Wisdom is Your BFF

“If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally without reproach, and it will be given to him”
-James 1:5.
For those who may not be initiated, BFF means “best friend forever”. And how true that is. The genius of Solomon is that, of all the things he could have asked God for, he chose wisdom. Isn’t it interesting that with the wisdom God gave him came everything else? We speak of kings or “wise men” following a star to see a new born King. It wasn’t what they knew about this king, they had little factual knowledge. It was a sense of understanding and insight that something cosmically significant was about to take place, which was a priority for them and the world. Amassing knowledge about anything is possible for anyone and is available at the click of a mouse and the internet. Wisdom is not so much about how much knowledge one has, but how one utilizes that knowledge to the benefit of those around him or her. Some of the wisest men or women you and I have known have not been those who necessarily had lots of knowledge. They were people who had learned, often the hard way, and had profound insight and discernment. I like one definition of wisdom which says “wisdom is learning from experience, that of others who have been there.”

Blessings, Pastor Joe

When God Does Not Answer Prayer

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us”
-I John 5:14.
A little boy whose father was a pastor was gathered with the family around the table for an evening meal. The little boy asked his dad, “Why is it that I see you praying every Saturday night at the same time?” His father replied, “I am praying that God will help me preach a good sermon on Sunday”. To which the boy responded, “Then how come He never answers your prayers?” I hope that made you chuckle but there are some people who ask that question of God a lot. “Why is it that God doesn’t answer my prayer?”
First of all, God answers all prayers, but He answers them on His terms not on ours. There are some very good reasons for that. First, He knows what is best for us at any given time in our lives and because he knows the beginning to the end He also knows what is best for each of us long term. The reason that the scripture from I John includes the qualifier “according to His will” is for our good and the good of the kingdom of God. The most important issue related to prayer is our willingness to want, even long for His will in all that we pray. So many times our prayers are misguided, self-centered or driven by what we want or think is best for us. He will always give us bread and not stones. In other words, our very best is at His heart and often our prayers are not directed on what He knows is best for us but what we think is best for us. He will not answer a prayer that He knows will harm us or His answer will be a life- saving NO. Remember, God answers in only three ways: yes, no and not yet. The question is, are we ready to accept the “no” or “wait” as enthusiastically as the yes?
Blessings, Pastor Joe


“Draw near to me and I will draw near to you” -James 4:8

The word “intimacy” has been mutilated by a culture that has little understanding of its depth and dignity. If you ask the average person what they think intimacy means, they only understand it within a sexual context. It only connotes some form of sexual encounter.

Don’t misunderstand, it certainly does mean the beauty of physical intercourse between two people in the context of marriage. However, what if age or physical disability forego that aspect of intimacy? Is that all there is, or is there a broader more profound meaning?

God makes it clear in His Word that He longs for an “intimate” relationship with all of his children. In that context, intimacy means a closeness, a cherished oneness, and full commitment to the relationship. It entails total transparency and exposure of all that we are to all that He is. In a progressively technology driven society, real intimacy is being lost. People are more ‘intimate’ with their iPhones than they are with God or people.

Intimacy between two people is a frightening concept to some, because it always involves risk; risk of being exposed and vulnerable to another person including God himself. One person said, “Women long for real intimacy, and men flee from it in fear.” While that statement may not be totally true, both men and women desperately need to experience intimacy in their lifetimes; both with God, for certain, and hopefully with another special person.

Intimacy is part of  creation’s spiritual DNA. A God who is intimate has reproduced that need as part of His image at the very core of mankind, so that his children have the capacity to have an intimate relationship with Him. He brought us to Himself not just to have a religious, theological, or conceptual relationship, but an intimate relationship with Him. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.

Blessings, Pastor Joe