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.

Walk In Another Man’s Shoes

“We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses” -Hebrews 4:15

There was once a young boy who came from a family of means. He never missed a meal and had anything he wanted. He lacked for nothing, got everything he asked for, and lived a life of luxury. One day he came across a poor boy who had nothing, a boy whose family had to scrape by, and the boy often ate from garbage cans. The wealthy boy began to tease and call the poor boy names, and they got into a fight. The boy with wealth put the poor boy down, and when the fight was done, the poor boy said to the rich boy as he left, “If I had all that you have I would have been able to put you down.” The rich boy just stood there, stunned. He never forgot those words as long as he lived.

We make hasty judgments about people because we have them in a stereotypical box. We have no idea what they are going through because we have not “walked in their shoes.” We think we know because our judgment is always based on preconceived notions. I had a friend that I worked with who learned the lesson of prejudging the hard way. He said he was a salesman in a car dealership in the northwest. He said a man who was dressed in ragged clothes and was unshaven was walking around the parking lot looking at new cars. My friend, who was concerned that the man may be casing the dealership with the idea of coming back later to steal a car, went to him and asked what he wanted. My friend said that the man asked to test drive one of the most beautiful and expensive of sports cars, a Dodge Viper. My friend made every excuse in the book to not allow this to happen, based solely on the man’s appearance. Finally, the man left the dealership and my friend said that his sales manager immediately gave him a pink slip and told him he was fired. When asked why he was fired, the manager told him that he was never ever to pre-qualify a potential customer simply on their appearance. The manager then told him that this man could have purchased every Viper they had. His name: Bill Gates of Microsoft.

Jesus, who had every right to judge every person He met, loved, healed and transformed them instead. He understood and had sympathy for everyone because He experienced every weakness. Before we criticize the place others are in, maybe we should try to put ourselves in their places first. There is a saying I remember: “I complained because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.” By the way, the rich boy who had bullied and put down the poor boy was so impacted by what that poor boy said that he gave his entire life to helping the poor. His name: Albert Schweitzer.

Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald

Anger has gotten a bad rap

“Be angry and sin not”

In recent days we have seen an outpouring of anger in our country, most of which has been filled with hate and destruction. That is the kind of anger that most people are keenly aware of and abhor. The tendency is to relegate anger to only this destructive category. However, we need to remember that the scripture designates two types of anger: destructive and constructive. The enemy of Christ, the devil, knows and is the author of only the destructive kind. It is an anger that grows out of our personal hurts, insecurities or egos. It is self-centered in that we feel that something or someone has said or done something that has hurt us and we feel betrayed, picked on, ignored, slandered or any number of personal assaults. It is accompanied by self-pity, a hurt ego or a sense of being treated unfairly and feel victimized. This kind of anger can fester and grow like a bad infection until it becomes what the scripture calls “a root of bitterness”. The tragedy is that the anger never affects the object of the anger as much as it does the owner or holder of the anger. A root of bitterness impacts one’s whole life and negatively affects people around us who are not the source, but the innocent victims of the bitterness. Ultimately it will isolate the one who holds it from others because no one wants to be around a bitter person. Only the Lord can take that anger away, but we must be willing to, as a favorite line from the animated movie “Frozen” states, “let it go, let it go.”

Constructive anger, on the other hand, is that which incenses us when truth and principals are being attacked with lies. When justice for all who need it is being withheld there is a valuable term in scripture called righteous anger. We hear about a term called “endemic racism,” but I am not sure the term “race” is the right term. God only knows one race: the human race. I recently heard an African American lawyer say that there is only one race (human race) with various skin colors which he called a “pigment” of God’s imagination. He made it clear that the negative hatred in our country is not because of race but because of blind prejudice both from whites to blacks and from blacks to whites. “Culture is not the problem,” he said, “the heart is the problem, and only Jesus can deal with our corporate ‘heart problem’”. Constructive anger should be aimed at prejudice, hatred, malice toward God and His principals, and toward philosophies bent on destroying human freedom. Anger itself is an emotion like other emotions. We can choose whether our anger will be constructive or destructive. How true it is: “be angry and sin not.”

-Pastor Joe MacDonald

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