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.

Love Others When They Least Expect It and Least Deserve It

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. -Romans 6:23

In 1993 Mary Johnson lost her son when the boy got into a fight with another boy named Oshea Isreal and was shot by Isreal. In spite of many unanswered questions Mary went to visit Isreal in prison. She said that after that first contact she felt “something” in her feet that began to move up across her body and left her. She recounts that from that moment all anger and hatred that she had held inside for twelve years left her and was replaced by total forgiveness. The two now live as neighbors in the same duplex and Mary has even referred to Isreal as her “son” in interviews. Isreal is so grateful for the bravery of this woman to take that step of forgiveness and says that that forgiveness is a constant motivation for him to stay on track and make his life count.

That is one of untold numbers of stories of forgiveness. In most cases forgiveness is that which happens when people least expect it or deserve it. However, it doesn’t always have to be an act of forgiveness that offers unexpected or surprising love to someone who least expects it. It might be as simple as a call, email, text or visit to someone with whom you have had no contact for a long time. It might be a surprise check in the mail for someone that you know is in need. It might be the offer of temporary shelter in your home to a family who has recently experienced a natural disaster and has lost theirs. So many different examples will come to your mind just be creative with the above principle in mind.

Just remember that the greatest example of loving others when they least expected it and certainly least deserved it was the offer of Christ of salvation and forgiveness of sin to all mankind. Even while we were yet sinners, even when our backs were completely turned on Him and we could care less; that is when He couldn’t care more and the Cross is the proof.  Love that is least expected and least deserved is really described by the word GRACE.

Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald

Endings are the Beginning of Beginnings

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

Isn’t it interesting that the beginning of the ministry of Christ in His birth is almost simultaneously involved (at least on the western calendar) with the ending of another year of life and work. And isn’t it also interesting that the ending of another year of life and work signals the beginning of a new year with new possibilities, experiences and events both positive and negative.

Emotionally we experience sadness when anything that is positive ends. It may be the end of the life of a loved one or the end of a career that has provided fulfillment and sustenance for a family. It may be the end of a marriage in divorce or the end of a relationship with a loved one because of dementia or Alzheimer’s, which can cause complete loss of recognition. It may be the loss of a building or a landmark that has been the focus of many memories for generations of people. For example, I have a friend who, years ago, purchased a landmark home owned by the historical society of that particular county. He promised the society that he would restore the home to as close an approximation to its original state as possible. He noticed, as he was in the process of restoration that older people in the community who “knew what it was when” would pass by and watch the progress with smiles on their faces and even tears of joy because of the memories connected with it.

Here is the reality of endings, they always give birth to some kind of beginning. The ending of Jesus’ earthly ministry was the beginning of a whole new paradigm of redemption for mankind. The ending of earthly life signals the beginning of an eternal life (positive or negative in nature but eternal nonetheless). The end of an era or dynasty allows the possibility of a new one. We live our lives with a focus on what was because that is known. We hesitate to focus on the possibilities of the future because that is what is unknown. The above verse can be our theme individually for ourselves and our church as we step into a new year. God does have a wonderful plan as we move ahead but it only happens when we see the ending of one year as the doorway to the new one.

Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald

It’s Not Over ‘Til I Win

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” -Romans 8:37

Several years ago I heard a story told by a motivational speaker known as Les Brown. He recounted a time when he was playing a table game with his seven year old son. Les said that even though he tried to let his son win, the boy was so inept at the game that he kept losing over and over again. Feeling bad for his son but not wanting him to feel that he was only a loser, Less sensitively said, “Why don’t we stop for now and pick the game up again later?” His son’s reply was amazing and became the title of a speech and later a book that Les wrote. The boy simply said, “No, Dad, it is not over ‘til I win.” What an amazing statement. On first blush, we might say that the kid was so spoiled that life couldn’t go on until he got his own way. A deeper reading of the statement has amazing application to our lives as God’s children. Before we knew Christ through faith we were all like Les’ boy; all we could do was lose. We were losers, not just because we were inept at the game of life, but because of the curse, it was impossible for us or anyone to even approach winning.

However, the work of Christ and our choice to receive Him by faith changed everything. We don’t have to wait ‘til it is all over (meaning Christ’s second coming). We are winners now because He won then (at the Cross). Oh, there are times when we don’t feel much like winners and we only feel defeated. Don’t let that lie from the Enemy control your life. If you know Christ by faith you are not only a winner but a conqueror, as Paul says in Romans. It also changes the statement from “it’s not over ‘til I win” to “because Jesus won, it’s all over”

Blessings, Pastor Joe  MacDonald