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.

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

The Master’s Touch

I want to share with you a poem that impacted my life many years ago, which illustrates what happens when God touches a life.

-Pastor Joe MacDonald

The Touch of the Masters Hand

Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer thought it scarcely worth his while to waste much time on the old violin, but held it up with a smile; “What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried, “Who’ll start the bidding for me?” “A dollar, a dollar”; then two!” “Only two? Two dollars, and who’ll make it three? Three dollars, once; three dollars twice; going for three..” But no, from the room, far back, a gray-haired man came forward and picked up the bow; Then, wiping the dust from the old violin, and tightening the loose strings, he played a melody pure and sweet as caroling angel sings. The music ceased, and the auctioneer, with a voice that was quiet and low, said; “What am I bid for the old violin?” And he held it up with the bow. A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two? Two thousand! And who’ll make it three? Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice, and going and gone,” said he. The people cheered, but some of them cried, “We do not quite understand what changed its worth.” Swift came the reply: “The touch of a master’s hand.” And many a man with life out of tune, and battered and scarred with sin, is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd, much like the old violin, a “mess of pottage,” a glass of wine; a game – and he travels on. “He is going” once, and “going twice, He’s going and almost gone.” But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd never can quite understand the worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought by the touch of the Masters hand.

-Myra ‘Brooks’ Welch

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