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.

Dying to Live

I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. -Galatians 2:20
Ironically, real victory and success in life is not how we develop our own fleshly resources, but how we die to them in exchange for dependence on Christ’s resources. Paul says that everything he had ever accomplished, and all his credentials were considered “rubbish” compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ (Phil. 3: 3-8). On the other hand he said that “I can do all things through Christ—“ (Phil. 4:13). This thinking flies in the face of the cultural dogma of self-help, self-improvement, self-sustenance, be the best “you” you can be, etc.
Don’t get me wrong. We can be grateful for the many resources that are available to us and thank God for them. It is when we become solely dependent on ourselves and the resources that are available to us to the exclusion of any dependence on the One who has made all of them possible. We think that when we are in control of the car of life and everything starts to get out of control, that things will be better if we just grip the wheel of life a little harder.
It is a reminder of the old adage that insanity is doing the same things we have always done and expect different results. How many times have Christians had to be brought to their knees by the removal of all other resources but the Lord Himself? Why is Christ always the last resort? Why do we always feel that we have to figure it out instead of figuring Him in? Here is a thought. As you face all that life throws your way, start by saying “Apart from You I can do nothing; I confess death to my own puny resources and depend alone on You, Lord.”
The bottom line issue is trust. Do we trust in self and what we think self can provide or do we die to the insufficiency of self-sustenance and find life in dependence on Christ? Death to self is the discovery of real life and peace in Christ. Jim Elliot said, “ He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald

World’s Meanest Mother

It is May already, the month we celebrate and honor our mothers. It is my hope that your mother was as “mean” as the following by Bobbie Pingaro  and, if you are a mother, that you are as well:
“The Meanest Mother”
I had the meanest mother in the whole world. While other kids ate candy for breakfast, I had to have cereal, eggs or toast. When others had cokes and candy for lunch, I had to eat a sandwich. As you can guess, my supper was different than the other kids’ also. But at least, I wasn’t alone in my sufferings. My sister and two brothers had the same mean mother as I did. My mother insisted upon knowing where we were at all times. You’d think we were on a chain gang. She had to know who our friends were and where we were going. She insisted if we said we’d be gone an hour, that were gone one hour or less–not one hour and one minute. I am nearly ashamed to admit it, but she actually struck us. Not once, but each time we had a mind of our own and did as we pleased. That poor belt was used more on our seats than it was to hold up Daddy’s pants. Can you imagine someone actually hitting a child just because he disobeyed? Now you can begin to see how mean she really was. We had to wear clean clothes and take a bath. The other kids always wore their clothes for days. We reached the height of insults because she made our clothes herself, just to save money. Why, oh why, did we have to have a mother who made us feel different from our friends? The worst is yet to come. We had to be in bed by nine each night and up at eight the next morning. We couldn’t sleep till noon like our friends. So while they slept-my mother actually had the nerve to break the child-labor law. She made us work. We had to wash dishes, make beds, learn to cook and all sorts of cruel things. I believe she laid awake at night thinking up mean things to do to us. She always insisted upon us telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, even if it killed us- and it nearly did. By the time we were teenagers, she was much wiser, and our life became even more unbearable. None of this tooting the horn of a car for us to come running. She embarrassed us to no end by making our dates and friends come to the door to get us. If I spent the night with a girlfriend, can you imagine she checked on me to see if I were really there. I never had the chance to elope to Mexico. That is if I’d had a boyfriend to elope with. I forgot to mention, while my friends were dating at the mature age of 12 and 13, my old fashioned mother refused to let me date until the age of 15 and 16. Fifteen, that is, if you dated only to go to a school function. And that was maybe twice a year. Through the years, things didn’t improve a bit. We could not lie in bed, “sick” like our friends did, and miss school. If our friends had a toe ache, a hang nail or serious ailment, they could stay home from school. Our marks in school had to be up to par. Our friends’ report cards had beautiful colors on them, black for passing, red for failing. My mother being as different as she was, would settle for nothing less than ugly black marks. As the years rolled by, first one and then the other of us was put to shame. We were graduated from high school.  With our mother behind us, talking, hitting and demanding respect, none of us was allowed the pleasure of being a drop-out. My mother was a complete failure as a mother. Out of four children, a couple of us attained some higher education. None of us have ever been arrested, divorced or beaten his mate.  Each of my brothers served his time in the service of this country. And whom do we have to blame for the terrible way we turned out? You’re right, our mean mother. Look at the things we missed. We never got to march in a protest parade, nor to take part in a riot, burn draft cards, and a million and one other things that our friends did. She forced us to grow up into God-fearing, educated, honest adults. Using this as a background, I am trying to raise my three children. I stand a little taller and I am filled with pride when my children call me mean. Because, you see, I thank God, He gave me the meanest mother in the whole world. (written by Bobbie Pingaro, 1967)
It is my prayer that you will always strive to be a Proverbs 31 mom.
Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald

Image is Everything

“So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God, He created them; male and female he created them” -Genesis 1:27
It is almost frightening how important “image” has become in our culture. Though it is not stated overtly, it is obvious that the news media make sure their announcers and anchor people fit a certain image (notwithstanding the potential risk of being accused of discrimination because certain qualified people may not fit that image). Furthermore, millions, even billions of dollars are spent on cosmetic creams or surgical procedures on Hollywood stars and starlets to maintain a certain image that will “sell” on screen. Those in the modeling industry are so pressured to fit a certain image that many suffer from bulimia, anorexia, or dietary extremes just to fit a certain socially acceptable look. Unfortunately teenagers and even younger children buy into this obsession with image, sometimes to the extent that if they are not able to fit it they even attempt or commit suicide. It is a tragedy when anyone’s value is dictated by a culturally driven image demand. Thank God, those who know Christ never have to be a slave to those cultural demands. As God’s child you already have and carry a perfect image. It is not that any human being is perfect. No, we are all sinners by birth; but God says we are made in and carry His image. Even those who do not know Christ carry the image of God by the act of creation. Your value and mine are not dictated by how culture or others see us but by the value our Creator puts upon us. How valuable is that? So valuable that God Himself took on flesh and died on a cross, that our relationship with Him could be restored and His image in us could be renewed. You never have to live in the slavery of the dictates of culture or the pressure of peers. God has made us unique and more valuable to Him than anything else in the universe. It is my prayer that the only One you want to look like is Him shining through your uniqueness.
Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald