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.

Holy Toleration

Our culture cries out that we must be tolerant, but what is the cultural intention of toleration? More and more it is coming to mean that we should embrace and accept anything so that we can be open to everything. By implication, culture says that the more inclusive we are of everyone’s thinking and behavior the more enlightened and compassionate we are. However, when we look at what is happening all around us we are discovering that this type of cultural tolerance doesn’t work. In fact it breeds chaos, violence, fear and even intolerance. 

Cultural toleration really morphs into universal relativism, free from any ultimate reference to truth or guidelines. It simply says that everyone has their own laws or they are autonomous. That word broken down means: auto- self; nomous- a law unto. In other words, we are to be a law unto ourselves and accountable only to ourselves. While there are many ways that autonomy is healthy (e.g., the ability to take care of ourselves, maintain independence in daily living and not have to be dependent on  others,  make wise and free decisions,  etc.), there is a destructive sense in which there is no ultimate guide to life outside ourselves.

What is the difference when we speak of Holy toleration or God’s view of toleration? How is God’s toleration radically different from cultural toleration? God’s toleration involves loving us all just as we are, meeting us right where we are but not leaving us there. His invitation to a relationship with Him is universal and open to all without exception.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but shall have eternal life” John 3:16. God embraces us as people even when we were sinners and had our backs turned to him. What he does not tolerate is sin and the behavior or life style of sin. The person is unconditionally loved, the sin and the behavior of sin is hated by God because he knows that the sin destroys the person. The good news is that none of us can pay the price for sin. God has paid that price in Christ and when we receive Christ as Savior we are no longer simply “tolerated”, we are now adopted as his child. Holy tolerance does not mean anything goes; it means that everything goes (sin) that destroys our lives so that we can become free to be what He wants us to be. The old saying is that “ He hates the sin but loves the sinner”

Blessings, Pastor Joe


The Power of Mentorship

“You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses; now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others—“ II Timothy 2:2

My dad was a master carpenter for his day and time. He used hand saws instead of skill saws, hammers instead of nail guns, hand crank drills that he called “bit and bores”, etc. I was extremely proud of his ability at construction. He built six homes from the foundation to the shingles on the roof by himself, and when he retired at the age of 75, he and mother moved in and out of four homes in five years, completely remodeled and sold them before he contracted cancer and died at the age of eighty. Three days before he died I said to him (he talked openly about his pending death) “Dad, there is only one thing I wish that I could do before you leave us; I wish I could download everything you know and preserve it for posterity”. Even as I said those words it hit me. I could have “downloaded” what he knew if I had invested time with him allowing him to mentor me in what he knew. It was no one’s fault but my own that I did not enter into that lifetime training program. Whether we are aware of it or not we all need a mentor or mentors at all stages of life and whether we like it or not we are always mentoring someone who is watching. It might be a child or grandchild, someone in the church, someone else’s child or someone that is watching us, though we may not know it. We are always teaching something by our actions and attitudes, good or bad. The biblical term is discipleship. We are always discipling, or pouring something of ourselves into others. We always are part of a mentorship process. What are we reproducing in others?
Blessings, Pastor Joe