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.

Life Is Only Good When It Is Mixed Up

“ –All things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose” -Romans 8:28

A pastor was hosting a men’s breakfast and asked an older farmer to ask the blessing. The man began by saying “Lord, You know I hate buttermilk.” The pastor began to wonder where this was going. “Lord, You also know I hate lard.” Now the pastor was getting worried. The farmer continued, “And You know I don’t care at all for raw flour.” The minister was about to interrupt the prayer when the farmer said, “But Lord, when they are all mixed up and baked together I really love those fresh biscuits that are produced. So, Lord, when things happen we don’t like and life gets hard and we don’t understand, we just need to be patient and wait until You are done fixin’.”

What an awesome blessing prayer! The verse in Romans does not say that all things that are working in life are good. It says that all things work together for good to them who love God. You have to pay attention to the qualifiers in that verse. We tend to become myopic when it comes to the “bad” things that come to our lives and we like to recite those things ad-nauseam to others until they tire of listening to the drama. By broadening our perspective, we are able to put the bumps in life’s road in perspective and understand that those times are as critical in the process of growing and shaping us into who God wants us to be as the good things. The mix of both good and bad is the recipe for real spiritual growth and maturity and that is the greatest “good” that God can do in our lives. That may sound callous and harsh if you are in the midst of one of those tough times, and you certainly need the support, love and prayer of God’s people at those times, but as the old farmer encouraged: “—we just need to trust You in patience until God is done fixin’.”

Blessings, Pastor Joe

A Dearth of Scriptural Knowledge

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and instruction in righteousness” -2 Timothy 3:16-17

The story is told of the preacher who had taken a position as pastor of a new church and in an attempt to get to know the children of the church, he visited a Sunday school class. He asked little Johnny, “Son, do you know who knocked down the walls of Jericho?” Surprised by the question, the little boy quickly replied, “No sir, I never went near or touched them.” A bit concerned by the answer, he turned to the teacher and told her what the boy had said. At which point, the teacher asked the rest of the class if any one of them had touched those walls or if they had seen anyone who did, and they all said they had not. Now seriously upset about these responses, the preacher decided to call a meeting of the board to discuss the problem. After placing the problem before the board, the chairperson of the board said to the pastor, “We have decided not to make a big issue out of this and we will be glad to make reimbursement for the damages and chock it up to vandalism.” At this point, the pastor fainted.

There really is no excuse for biblical ignorance in a society where the scriptures are in virtually every home in multiple translations. The obvious issue is not the availability of scripture, but the consistent practice of reading it. Remember the old saying, “That Bible has been collecting dust on that shelf for years”? There is a plethora of excuses for not investing time in God’s Word, none of which is valid. There are myriads of ways of reading or even listening to the Word through technology. It is the only book that has lasted every attempt in history to eliminate it; the only book that is the comprehensive, God-breathed revelation of Himself, and the only book that can totally transform a life. It is far more than a book but a living dynamic light to all of our lives. Let this new year have all of us digging into the scriptures on a daily basis. By the way, do you know who knocked down the walls of Jericho?

Blessings, Pastor Joe

Resolution or Revolution

“—for it is God who works in you both to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose” Philippians 2:13

Once again we are faced with that time of year where we promise ourselves that we are going to set some positive goals for a new year before us (i.e., weight loss, projects completed, completion of some “bucket list” wish), and once again we set ourselves up for the inevitable failure that usually takes place as to follow through. In the new year, maybe a different approach to the hoped for changes could be applied.

Instead of resolutions that are self-generated, maybe it is time to be open to revolutions that are Christ-generated. It is always His desire to do a “new thing” within us, but that new thing can never happen by our good intentions to bring it to pass. The attitude of The Little Train Who Could (“I think I can, I think I can..”) never works over the long haul. What if we simply say to God, “There are some things in me, some attitudes and habits that are negatively affecting me and my relationship to others, that I cannot change. I simply want to let You, Lord, make changes that I cannot.” When you give him full reign in these matters, and admit your inability to change them, the result will be a revolution from inside out that will be permanent changes that can and will happen. The “new” that will take place in the new year will not be produced by self-effort (which ultimately fails), but by the power of the Holy Spirit which creates permanent change.

Blessings, Pastor Joe