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.

I Wish I Had

“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord…” -Psalm 78:4
The story is told about a question that was asked of fifty people over 95. Here is the question: If you had your life to live over what would you do differently? Three common answers emerged from the group. “We would risk more, reflect more and do more things that would live on after we die.” Those are phenomenal responses, and all seem to have a relationship to our legacy. What will we leave when we leave? All of us leave memories, good or bad, but memories fade; legacies do not. We need to ask what kind of a “foot print” we are leaving on the souls of others. Pam and I recently had the privilege of listening to a presentation by Don Piper. He is the author of the book, 90 Minutes In Heaven, which also was the inspiration of a full length movie. I will never forget when he said that all the people who met him during his sojourn in heaven were people who had had some influence on his salvation and spiritual growth. You may not believe his story at all or any stories about near death experience, but one impactful question arises from what he said. Whose life, or lives, are you influencing in the direction of a relationship with Jesus Christ? I couldn’t help asking myself, “Who would I have the opportunity of greeting in heaven? Are there any lives that I have pointed in Christ’s direction by my life and my words?” Some time ago I heard this statement: “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; only what is done for Christ will last?” There can be no greater legacy than to have had an influence in the life of someone in coming to Christ. I am sure you can name the people who set you on the road and so can I. Yes, only the Holy Spirit can draw us to Christ, but the Holy Spirit partners with God’s people to make it happen. Remember Paul’s words in I Corinthians 3: “I planted, Apollos watered but God gives the increase.” Blessings, Pastor Joe

Almost Obedient

“Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” – Acts 26:28

This “almost” statement from King Agrippa is one of the most tragic statements in all of scripture. Think of it. His eternal destiny hinged on his becoming a Christian, and yet he says, “almost.” So near and yet so far. We have all heard the saying that almost only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades and, while that may be true in those venues, it is absolutely fatal when it comes to receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The Enemy knows that almost is as far away as outright rejection when it comes to believing faith. Jesus never said to Nicodemus that it was okay to be almost born again. He did not say, “It is enough that you came by night to even ask the question. That is proof of your sincerity”. No He said, “Nicodemus you “must” be born again. It is either or, all or none when it comes to giving one’s life to Christ.

Unfortunately, this ‘almost’ mentality is also too apparent in the Body of Christ. Our half-hearted, mediocre commitment to total discipleship is way too evident in our service and worship. Jesus is looking for his children to fully embrace the call to be His disciples without reservation. I love the story about the policeman who watched a man every day come to a stop sign and proceed through it using a “rolling” stop. The policeman stopped the man time after time, and warned as well as ticketed him. The man would always say, “I looked both ways and went so slow and almost stopped, that should be safe enough.” The man continued to ‘slow down’ through the light, and the policeman became so frustrated that he pulled the man over, drug him out of the car, and began beating him with his night stick. During the beating he said to the man, “Now, do you want me to stop or just slow down?”

Jesus is not going to beat us with a night stick, but his Spirit is urging us to stop being almost totally committed to Him. What would happen if all of us simply said, “I am tired of half-hearted commitment. Here is my life to use, Lord, any way you wish. I will go where You want, do what you want. There will be no excuses, no limits, and no hesitations.” That may sound scary, even ridiculous, but every Christian who has ever made that unconditional commitment to God’s will has never regretted it and has discovered life that they never knew was possible.

Blessings, Pastor Joe

Poor Planning

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty” – Proverbs 21:5

I have always loved the following story, and whether you have heard it or not, you will love it too:

“A bricklayer working on a three-story-tall chimney had set up a pulley system so that his helper could raise the bricks up to where he needed them. As he was working, his helper complained about how difficult it would be to get the last of the bricks up to the flat roof of the building. Just then another contractor had some material delivered and it was placed on the roof by a fork lift brought to unload it. The bricklayer asked if the driver would load the rest of the bricks up there as well and the driver agreed. The bricklayer realized that he would not need his helper anymore and sent him home.

When the bricklayer completed the chimney he noticed that he had quite a few bricks left over and that the fork lift was no longer at the job site. Now he had to figure out how to get the leftover bricks back down by himself. If he dropped them, they would surely break. So he decided to use the pulley he had set up earlier to lower them down.

First, he went down to the ground and raised a large metal bucket up to the roof level using the rope and pulley. Next, he tied the rope off onto a railing and climbed back up to the roof and loaded the bricks into the bucket. Then he went back down to the ground. He knew that the bricks would be heavy, so he wrapped the rope around his hand a couple of times and then untied the end of the rope with his other hand. Well, the bricks were heavier than he imagined and with physics being as it is, he was immediately launched upwards at a high rate of speed.

As he was racing up towards the roof he encountered the bucket full of bricks coming down at an equally fast rate. He collided with the bucket and broke his nose and his shoulder. The bucket passed him by as he sped upwards. He reached the pulley just before the bucket hit the ground and broke a few of his fingers as they were pulled into the pulley. When the bucket hit the ground, its bottom fell out and all of the bricks spilled onto the ground. Now the fun reversed. As the now light bucket sped upwards, the mason took a shot to the groin when one of his legs slipped into the empty bucket.

He then tilted enough to fall out of the bucket and continued with his gravity experiment. Eventually, he landed on top of the pile of bricks and broke both feet. He collapsed in pain there on the bricks but was glad to be alive. He let go off the rope and cried out for help. It was then that the bucket hit him in the head and fractured his skull.”

An oft-told urban legend known as “The Barrel of Bricks”

Most of us don’t plan to fail, we just fail to plan. I confess that I wish I were a better planner. Lack of planning and preparation is a form of laziness and often procrastination. Are you guilty, as I often am, of this phrase: ready, FIRE, aim? Planning is critical and God is our greatest example. He planned for us before the foundation of the world, not only to be born but to be born again by believing in Jesus Christ, through whom His work of redemption was planned even before the fall of Adam and Eve.

Blessings, Pastor Joe