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.

Never, Never, Never Give Up

“Therefore we do not lose heart—”II Corinthians 4:16

 Stories abound about people who have never given up when all the circumstances have indicated that all hope is lost. One of the greatest speeches in history was delivered by Prime Minister Winston Churchill on October 29, 1941. It was delivered at Harrow school (from which he nearly flunked out). There are two versions of the speech which he delivered. When the fanfare and introductions died down, one of the versions stated that Churchill stood and simply said, “ Never, never, never, never give up,” and then he sat down. Another version stated that he said “never, never, never, never give in.” In either case that brief statement (hardly considered to be a speech) propelled and sustained the morale and spirit of England through the great conflagration of WWII. Much earlier in history, another Englishman was considered the leader of the banishment of slavery in that country. The following  excerpt reveals the impetus that sustained him in the tiring battle against slavery  in England.

Young William Wilberforce was discouraged one night in the early 1790s after another defeat in his 10 year battle against the slave trade in England. Tired and frustrated, he opened his Bible and began to leaf through it. A small piece of paper fell out and fluttered to the floor. It was a letter written by John Wesley shortly before his death. Wilberforce read it again: “Unless the divine power has raised you up… I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that (abominable practice of slavery), which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? Oh, be not weary of well-doing. Go on in the name of God, and in the power of His might.”

Is there something in your life for which you have been striving or waiting for such a long time that you are ready to give up? Are you tired of continuing the battle? Consider this: is what you have been striving or waiting for worth it? Is it really a significantly important goal for you, your family, your church and/or your community? Will it make a difference in the future? God loves to reward perseverance, but if we give up we will never know how much he wants to honor our “hanging in there.”

Blessings, Pastor Joe

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

“Trust In the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

We know one thing for sure about the new year and that is that there will be decisions that face us in every aspect of life. Will I buy something new? Will I get rid of too many things that I have accumulated? Will I downsize my life or increase my activities? If my health or finances cause me to have to make changes, what will I choose to do? The questions and possibilities go on and on. There are decisions that we make every day. Some are minor and others are major.
The story is told of the man who told his friend that the success of his marriage was simple. He said that when he and his wife were married, they agreed that he would get to make all the major decisions and she would get to make all the minor decisions. As he contemplated the agreement he said, “You know, come to think of it, there hasn’t been a major decision to be made since we were married.”
Decisions big or small are based on making good choices; in fact, making Godly choices.
Little choices create habits.
Habits carve and mold character.
Out of character flows decisions.
What that says is that even the little things count. Determine not to be halfhearted about work or life. Resist cutting corners even in the seemingly unimportant choices you have to make. Think of all you do, say, or think as though it were for your Lord. This will result in wise and productive decisions, and He can direct your path.

Blessings, Pastor Joe

Wisdom is Your BFF

“If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally without reproach, and it will be given to him”
-James 1:5.
For those who may not be initiated, BFF means “best friend forever”. And how true that is. The genius of Solomon is that, of all the things he could have asked God for, he chose wisdom. Isn’t it interesting that with the wisdom God gave him came everything else? We speak of kings or “wise men” following a star to see a new born King. It wasn’t what they knew about this king, they had little factual knowledge. It was a sense of understanding and insight that something cosmically significant was about to take place, which was a priority for them and the world. Amassing knowledge about anything is possible for anyone and is available at the click of a mouse and the internet. Wisdom is not so much about how much knowledge one has, but how one utilizes that knowledge to the benefit of those around him or her. Some of the wisest men or women you and I have known have not been those who necessarily had lots of knowledge. They were people who had learned, often the hard way, and had profound insight and discernment. I like one definition of wisdom which says “wisdom is learning from experience, that of others who have been there.”

Blessings, Pastor Joe