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.

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

Almost Obedient

“Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” – Acts 26:28

This “almost” statement from King Agrippa is one of the most tragic statements in all of scripture. Think of it. His eternal destiny hinged on his becoming a Christian, and yet he says, “almost.” So near and yet so far. We have all heard the saying that almost only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades and, while that may be true in those venues, it is absolutely fatal when it comes to receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The Enemy knows that almost is as far away as outright rejection when it comes to believing faith. Jesus never said to Nicodemus that it was okay to be almost born again. He did not say, “It is enough that you came by night to even ask the question. That is proof of your sincerity”. No He said, “Nicodemus you “must” be born again. It is either or, all or none when it comes to giving one’s life to Christ.

Unfortunately, this ‘almost’ mentality is also too apparent in the Body of Christ. Our half-hearted, mediocre commitment to total discipleship is way too evident in our service and worship. Jesus is looking for his children to fully embrace the call to be His disciples without reservation. I love the story about the policeman who watched a man every day come to a stop sign and proceed through it using a “rolling” stop. The policeman stopped the man time after time, and warned as well as ticketed him. The man would always say, “I looked both ways and went so slow and almost stopped, that should be safe enough.” The man continued to ‘slow down’ through the light, and the policeman became so frustrated that he pulled the man over, drug him out of the car, and began beating him with his night stick. During the beating he said to the man, “Now, do you want me to stop or just slow down?”

Jesus is not going to beat us with a night stick, but his Spirit is urging us to stop being almost totally committed to Him. What would happen if all of us simply said, “I am tired of half-hearted commitment. Here is my life to use, Lord, any way you wish. I will go where You want, do what you want. There will be no excuses, no limits, and no hesitations.” That may sound scary, even ridiculous, but every Christian who has ever made that unconditional commitment to God’s will has never regretted it and has discovered life that they never knew was possible.

Blessings, Pastor Joe