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.

The End From the Beginning

“I am the Alpha and the Omega”
Think about this quote as you launch on a new year: “No one can go back and make a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” It is obvious that none of us can change the past. We may want to. All of us have things we wish we could turn the time back and change, but the past is the past and it is what it is. We don’t change the past, but we can certainly learn from it and make different choices going forward.Just like there was an ending to the old year there will be an ending to the new that is before us. That ending will depend on our day by day choices in every aspect of life. Instead of making new year’s resolutions (which usually go by the wayside all too soon), maybe it is more important to make daily choices that will lead to a different ending to 2019. Start by praying that God will guide those decisions because He is the only one who sees the end from the beginning and will faithfully guide you to those choices that will lead to a fulfilling ending. Here is a tough but important question. “As I set my goals for a new year, what are my motives?” If we are honest with ourselves our deepest motives will be either self- centered, others centered or God centered. Those are the only options even though they have overlaps. Jesus promised that if we seek His Kingdom first everything else will be added to you. Let us join with Paul who said he was pressing on toward the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Our audience is not other people, cultural pressure, or the “shoulds and oughts” of life. Daily seek to put a smile on the face of the Master and the new year will be unforgettable.
Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald

If It Were Not for People You Could Love Everyone

“Arrogant foes are attacking me, ruthless people are trying to kill me–“ Psalm 54:3
In a “Peanuts” cartoon Lucy has her back turned to Charlie Brown with her arms folded. Charlie is pleading with her to be tolerant and understanding. He says: “Lucy, you must be loving. This world really needs love. You have to let yourself love to make the world a better place in which to live.” Lucy whirls around and screams: “Look, Blockhead— the world I love. It’s people I can’t stand.”I am sure you have seen the little pictorial cartoon of a really frazzled individual, and the caption reads: “I am down to my last nerve and you are getting on it.” Everyone has someone or maybe many someones in their lives like that. We try to avoid them, ignore them, move away from them or forget them but no matter what we do they will still be there like an unmitigating hangnail. The scary reality is that we are like that to someone else and we may not even be aware of it. You know what is amazing? Those are the very people God puts in our lives to grow us in His likeness in ways that we could not grow otherwise. God uses those people like sandpaper to take off the rough edges of our character and make us into the people He wants us to be. This sounds crazy, but when you begin to thank God for those very people and begin to pray that God will bless them and pour His love out on them, that is when you will begin to understand how God is using them to bring you closer to Christ.
Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald

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