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.

If It Were Not for People You Could Love Everyone

“Arrogant foes are attacking me, ruthless people are trying to kill me–“ Psalm 54:3
In a “Peanuts” cartoon Lucy has her back turned to Charlie Brown with her arms folded. Charlie is pleading with her to be tolerant and understanding. He says: “Lucy, you must be loving. This world really needs love. You have to let yourself love to make the world a better place in which to live.” Lucy whirls around and screams: “Look, Blockhead— the world I love. It’s people I can’t stand.”I am sure you have seen the little pictorial cartoon of a really frazzled individual, and the caption reads: “I am down to my last nerve and you are getting on it.” Everyone has someone or maybe many someones in their lives like that. We try to avoid them, ignore them, move away from them or forget them but no matter what we do they will still be there like an unmitigating hangnail. The scary reality is that we are like that to someone else and we may not even be aware of it. You know what is amazing? Those are the very people God puts in our lives to grow us in His likeness in ways that we could not grow otherwise. God uses those people like sandpaper to take off the rough edges of our character and make us into the people He wants us to be. This sounds crazy, but when you begin to thank God for those very people and begin to pray that God will bless them and pour His love out on them, that is when you will begin to understand how God is using them to bring you closer to Christ.
Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald

Looking for Peace in All the Wrong Places

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you—” John 14: 27
When I came to faith I remember well the words the pastor in a small church in Maine was saying. They were words that were so timely that I thought he was speaking them only for me. He said that so many people experience a deep restlessness inside that they cannot seem to satisfy. They will wander down so many dead- end streets like the street of money, fame, sex, power, or worldly success. He said the streets are dead ends because none of them fulfill the longing for happiness, meaning or lasting peace. He said there will still be a vacuum that you cannot fill; an itch you cannot scratch. Those words went like darts to my heart and the timing could not have been better. Not only was I restless and wandering but I longed to have some kind of meaning and purpose. I felt lost and directionless. What really sealed it for me is when he said that until you find Jesus as your personal Savior and discover that you can have a personal relationship with God you will never find peace. He said Jesus is like the last piece of a puzzle for your heart. Until you find that Piece you will never find permanent peace in your life. I have found that to be true not only in the journey of coming to Christ but in the journey of walking with Him through the years. When I have wandered spiritually or neglected to feed my spirit with God’s Word or praying or fellowship with others, that sense of restlessness and longing haunts me inside. It is like a compass or a warning light on the dash of a car. It means that peace and contentment are only found in a close walk with God. Remember the old saying: If you feel far from God, guess who moved?
Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald

More of Thee – Less of Me

“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs  is the kingdom of heaven” -Matthew 5:3
I really like the Message Bible rendering of this beatitude, in fact, all of them. You’re blessed when you are at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. I want to share a poem that has touched my heart many times. It was written by Theodore Monod in 1874, and was put to music by my spiritual mother and sung at my ordination to the ministry:
O the bitter pain and sorrow
That a time could ever be
When I proudly said to Jesus
“All of self, and none of Thee”
Yet he found me, I beheld him,
Bleeding on the accursed tree
And my wistful heart said faintly,
“Some of self and some of thee.”
Day by day his tender mercies
Healing, helping, full and free
Brought me lower while I whispered
“Less of self and more of Thee.”
Higher than the highest heavens
Deeper than the deepest sea Lord
Thy love, at last, has conquered:
None of self, and all of Thee.
The secret to really understanding the power of God is to come to the end of our rope and find that His is just beginning.
Blessings, Pastor Joe MacDonald