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.

Just a Touch

“If I only touch His cloak I will be healed” Matthew 9:21
In 1944, a highly unethical, cruel and undoubtedly criminal experiment was conducted using 40 newborn infants to determine whether they could survive alone with all their physiological needs met including diaper changes and bathing. Twenty of them were placed in a special facility where caregivers would feed them, change their diapers, and bathe and clothe them, but nothing else. The caregivers were instructed not to look at them, touch them in any way (other than what was necessary) or communicate at all with them. The environment was kept sterile and none of the babies became physically ill. After four months the experiment was halted since half of the babies had died even though there was nothing wrong with them physically. Just prior to their deaths the infants would stop verbalizing, stop trying to engage with their caregivers, stop crying, stop moving and even changing expression. Death would soon follow. Yes, this is a horrible illustration but it points out one of the most important principles of life: the power of human touch. Sometimes when people who are going through severe trauma or loss, there is nothing more important at that time than a loving, caring touch. When words seem so useless, even insensitive, a touch on the hand or a shoulder or a hug can say more than a thousand words to really comfort. The woman in Matthew 9 with the issue of blood knew that a touch was not just comforting but healing when the she could merely touch the Master. She wanted her touch to be unnoticed by everyone including Jesus but He was fully aware of power flowing from Him to this woman. It wasn’t simply the touch that Jesus noticed but the faith that was behind it. She did not require His full attention, or for Him to come to her house or for Him to do anything. She knew that just a mere contact, just a touch would suffice. The ministry of touch was important in Jesus’ ministry. Whenever he healed he often touched the person. Each of us should not fear the ministry of touch. Granted, we must take care that all and any touch is appropriate and never misleading. Physical touch is one way of caring but reaching out to others with a note, an e-mail or blog, or even a sincere, “I am thinking about you and praying for you,” may touch someone in ways that you never know. Is there someone you know who just needs a touch?
Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald

The One Thing God Wants- Our Trust

“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
In 1858 a French acrobat named Monsieur Charles Blondin traveled to Niagara Falls in America with the goal of crossing the more than 2,000 foot span from the American side to the Canadian side on a two inch diameter rope. He not only crossed that span and back once but many times. On one occasion he carried a camera, took the camera off in the middle of the walk and took a picture of the onlookers on the bank. He also crossed Niagara in shackles and once with a bag over his head and body. On another occasion he stopped in the center of the tightrope, asked for the “Maid of the Mist”, Niagara’s famous tour boat, to stop underneath him. He let down a rope, had a flask of wine attached and hoisted it up for a mid-rope glass of wine before finishing the walk. On July 15th, before a huge crowd, including President Millard Fillmore, he walked backwards on the rope to Canada and pushed a wheel barrow back to America. His most noted exploit was when he carried a stove and utensils on his back, stopped in the middle of the walk, started a fire, cooked an omelet and let it down on a rope to serve passengers on the Maid of the Mist. On one occasion he was said to ask the crowd if they thought he could take a man across on the rope. Everyone shouted yes of course; to which he replied, “Then who will be the first to get on my back?” That’s right. The real test of trust is when we “cut off the limb” and depend only on Him. Jesus said take my yoke and give me yours. He doesn’t want to just take your load “on His back,” he wants to take you as well. Incidentally, there was a man by the name of Harry Colcord, who accepted the challenge and rode across the great falls on Blondin’s back. It was estimated that when he made his final crossing in 1896 that he had crossed the falls 300 times and had walked the rope more than 10,000 miles. By the way, he never had any life insurance. All the companies refused because of the risk. Are we willing to let Jesus take us “on His back” in every life situation?
Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald

The End From the Beginning

“I am the Alpha and the Omega”
Think about this quote as you launch on a new year: “No one can go back and make a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” It is obvious that none of us can change the past. We may want to. All of us have things we wish we could turn the time back and change, but the past is the past and it is what it is. We don’t change the past, but we can certainly learn from it and make different choices going forward.Just like there was an ending to the old year there will be an ending to the new that is before us. That ending will depend on our day by day choices in every aspect of life. Instead of making new year’s resolutions (which usually go by the wayside all too soon), maybe it is more important to make daily choices that will lead to a different ending to 2019. Start by praying that God will guide those decisions because He is the only one who sees the end from the beginning and will faithfully guide you to those choices that will lead to a fulfilling ending. Here is a tough but important question. “As I set my goals for a new year, what are my motives?” If we are honest with ourselves our deepest motives will be either self- centered, others centered or God centered. Those are the only options even though they have overlaps. Jesus promised that if we seek His Kingdom first everything else will be added to you. Let us join with Paul who said he was pressing on toward the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Our audience is not other people, cultural pressure, or the “shoulds and oughts” of life. Daily seek to put a smile on the face of the Master and the new year will be unforgettable.
Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald