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.

Remember the Drop Cloth

“Put on the whole armor of God” Ephesians 6:11

Never have we as a society been made more aware of the need to protect ourselves from disease-filled microorganisms as we have during the severe precautions we have been obligated to take during the recent pandemic. Regardless of how we may feel about these extreme steps, the intention was to protect all of us from a super virus as much as possible.

Life is full of potential hazards that can take place if proper preparations are not made to protect against those hazards. For example, just like masks can protect us from viruses, drop cloths can protect things that we value from becoming permanently stained or covered with paint when they are in place. Some of us have to learn the hard way, however, and I confess that recently I was one of the “some of us.” What is there about the ego that says, “Oh, I am such a careful painter that I won’t spill or drip paint. I really don’t need a drop cloth”? That was my mindset recently as I was painting some doors (without any drop cloth or covering in place) and within two minutes, to my horror, I saw splotches of paint fly from my brush and soak into one of my wife’s favorite porch pillows. You might know it was oil-based paint so a water cleanup was not going to happen.

Furiously I tried to use mineral spirits to get the paint off the pillow but all I did was smear the paint and add a nauseous aroma to the pillow. Needless to say, that was not one of my more intelligent moves of the day. The deserved consequence will be the replacement of that pillow with a new one as soon as possible. The most painful part of that experience was not so much a stained pillow as the honest realization of my laziness to not be prepared. I am sure you all know that painting something is not hard, but the real work is getting everything ready to paint (clean and prepare the surface, mask off the things you do not want to paint, put down a drop cloth etc.). I thought I could short cut the preparation by “being careful.” I could almost hear a little voice in my head after I spattered paint on the pillow say, “How’s that working for you?”

The apostle Paul says that there is a critical “spiritual drop cloth” called the armor of God. Because we have an enemy that doesn’t just want to soil our life but destroy it, we cannot afford to not have it in place. All the particulars are in Ephesians chapter 6. Don’t ever think that you can take short cuts in preparation for life. Remember the “drop cloth.”

Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald

When Jesus Himself Prays for You

Can you imagine if Jesus were to say to you, “How can I pray for you?” I mean, wouldn’t His prayers be more effective than any prayers of any human? Actually the scriptures indicate that your prayers and mine are just as effective (“the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” James 5:16.) As God’s child, He is as desirous of answering you prayers as He is the prayers of Jesus. But I digress. What would you ask Jesus to pray for; would it be for some physical need like a healing or provision? Would it be to get you out of some problem? Would it be for direction for some decisions that are before you? All of these are wonderful and appropriate prayers, but how do they compare to the actual prayer that Jesus prayed for his disciples and us by extension?

When we think of the “Lord’s Prayer,” we think of the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples when they asked Him how they should pray, and that we pray on a weekly basis. The prayer I am referring to is the one found in chapter 17 of John’s gospel. None of what Jesus prays has anything to do with physical needs or problems we may have. His prayer is a confirmation testimony to the Father that his disciples (including all of us as believers) belong to Him. It would be like someone hosting you to an exclusive private club, and when you walked through the door your host would say to the person at the door, “It is okay, they are with me.” That alone would gain your entrance. However, it is more significant than that. Jesus doesn’t just declare before the Father that we are His guests, but that we are one with Him. He declares that these are precious ones. Verse 9 is an amazing statement by Jesus back to the Father: “I am not praying for the world but for those You have given me, for they are yours.” We are not just guests of Jesus; we belong to Him, we are His possession. We are not our own but we have been purchased with a high price, the blood of Jesus Christ.

When we understand that when Jesus prays for us, his prayers consist of our understanding our standing as belonging to the Father Himself. This raises the bar from the mundane content of our requests to the more profound standing that we have in the Kingdom of God. For Jesus the priority is relationship, not circumstances. When we really get that we are God’s “property,” then the circumstances of our lives, including the current one we all are experiencing, diminish to subservience to the Lord to whom we belong. For Jesus, who and whose we are, is far more important than what we are going through. In, fact, it is precisely because of whose we are that we will be brought through anything we face.

Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald

Don’t let them do it, Ed

A young boy was coming home from fishing in his favorite fishing brook when he stumbled and fell into some briars, skinning his knee and leg. Though it was painful he didn’t give it much thought and went on doing what any young boy would do on a summer day. That night he went to bed, and when he awoke in the morning the pain in his leg had increased and it had begun to swell. Still not taking it too seriously he went about his day playing with his friends and enjoying his summer. The next day, however, things were much worse; the pain now unbearable and the swelling now serious. His parents took him to the doctor, and after examining the leg the doctor told the boy and his parents that the infection was so advanced that he might have to amputate the leg. “What does that mean?” the boy asked. “It means that we might have to remove your leg, son,” said the doctor. The boy replied with tears in his eyes, “No, no, you will not cut off my leg.” While the parents continued talking with the doctor the boy called his brother into the examining room and said, “Don’t let them do it Ed, don’t let them. If they put me to sleep don’t let them take my leg off.”

As the parents continued to talk with the doctor they noticed their son Ed standing at the door of the examining room with his legs spread apart, his arms crossed, and a determined look on his face that said, without words, ‘you will not cut my brother’s leg off’. The doctor told the parents that he had done all that he could do and to take the boy home, but that if he were not better in the morning then the leg would have to be removed to save his life. Being a strong Christian family, they went home and Ed urged his parents to pray and to call the church to have them pray. They did, and somewhere in the middle of the night the boy’s fever broke, and in the morning the swelling began to go down. Over the next few days the leg healed normally and everyone thanked God for His healing. Many years later, when Dwight David Eisenhower was elected President of the United States in 1952, a reporter stated to his mother, “You must be very proud of your son.” To which she replied, thinking also of her other son, Ed, “Which one?”

God is a bit like brother Ed, isn’t He? When the world says we are going to remove your joy, or peace, or faith the Holy Spirit spreads His legs, crosses His arms, and says, “Not on my watch.”

Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald