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 be misled, bad company corrupts good character” I Corinthians 15:33

I am sure that none of us has escaped people who love to rain on our parades. These are negative, sarcastic individuals who can easily find the wrong in anything that might be good. We need to turn a deaf ear to people like that, or we will run the danger of being a S.N.I.O.P. The acrostic stands for “Susceptible to the Negative Influence of Other People.” There are always people that want to steal your dream by putting your ideas down or finding fault with anything you want to try or do. They have no capacity to encourage, but are masterful at discouragement. For example, just try something for fun. Walk into any social gathering and state with excitement, “I just bought a (Chevy, Ford or any other model car) and I got a great deal! I only paid ___ dollars for it.” Watch what happens: someone in that crowd will not be able to resist the temptation to say, “Why would you want to buy a piece of junk like that?” (or words to that effect) and, “further more, you got robbed.” They have to say things like that out of jealousy or a know-it-all spirit. They always feel they have a better idea or a better deal somehow. They are somewhat like crabs in a basket. Did you know that if you go out to a beach or a bog to catch crabs that as you catch them you can leave the top off the crab basket? If there is more than one crab and one tries to climb out of his prison (of status quo), the others will pull him back down into the basket.

A young boy from Kansas city loved to draw; he drew everything that caught his attention. One day an elderly gentleman asked him to draw a horse, which he did. The old man was so impressed that he encouraged him to go to work at the local newspaper and draw for their cartoon department. He worked doing this for a short time until the editor of the paper called him into his office and said “You have no talent for what you are doing son, why don’t you go get a job where you can get some real success?” Fortunately, the boy did not allow himself to become a S.N.I.O.P. You know, we will never hear Jesus say, “You are useless and will never be anything in life.” Jesus always affirms that He has a wonderful plan for our lives, and that He proved it by dying on a cross for us. He will always be your greatest cheerleader and, more, your complete resource as you go for your dream. You will always hear Him say, “Go for it, I’ve got your back.” Oh, by the way, the name of that little boy was Walt Disney, but no one remembers the editor who told him he was a failure.

Blessings, Pastor Joe

Troubling Truth

“You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” John 8:32

It doesn’t seem to make sense that the very thing that can set us free is the very thing we often find uncomfortable and try to avoid, and that is the truth. Remember the classic line from the movie “A Few Good Men” uttered by Jack Nicholson, who played the part of Col. Nathan Jessup, when he said, “You can’t handle the truth”? Unfortunately that is closer to reality than we want to admit. We want to dance around the pure truth about our lives because the truth is hard to face sometimes. It seems to be easier to avoid, deny, postpone, embellish, or put a biased spin on the truth. It is far easier to play the blame game or make excuses to keep truth from exposing what is behind the various masks we wear (by the way, an excuse was once defined as the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie).

What, then, is so freeing about the truth? In any kind of healing or recovery program, the inevitable first step is to admit the truth about where you really are and face that truth. There is no prison greater than that of self-deception. The ultimate deceiver, Satan, makes every effort to keep us in that prison of excuses, blames and lies. Have you ever “come clean” about something you were guilty of? Regardless of the consequences, there was a relief and a freeing experience because you were tired of covering up the truth and having to add more and more lies to keep it covered. If this touches a nerve for you, let me just say that the “Truth” is not just a state of reality, but a Person whose name is Jesus. He said He was the Way, the Truth and the Life. There is nothing you have done or nothing you could do that would cause Him to love you any more or less than He does at this moment. Let the Truth set you free.

Blessings, Pastor Joe

The Value of A Father’s Presence

“ The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him” Proverbs 20:7

We just celebrated Father’s Day, but maybe we still need to understand the critical importance of a father in the life of his children. In spite of the lament in our society about “dead beat dads” (and there are many), more likely than not, fathers are relegated by family courts to the role of “accessory parents,” valued for their role as financial providers rather than active caregivers. They are expected to be the “weekend respite” for single female parents rather than having substantial influence on modeling for and molding of the character and integrity of their children. Research has shown that the absence of a father results in angry children (especially boys). Fatherless households produce more problems with children’s self-concept, behavioral problems both at home and school, poor social adjustment and truancy. There is also a correlation between lack of a father model and later incidences of incarceration. God intended in His design that children have the greatest foundation in life when they are raised by both a mother and a father together. This does not mean that a single parent cannot develop amazing children; we have seen great and wonderful examples of that. All of us, as Christian men, do have the responsibility to be fathers to the fatherless where we can within the church and be a model to those children who desperately need us to demonstrate the love of Christ.

Blessings, Pastor Joe