2023 Graduation Magazine

Page 56 CLASS OF 2023 LINCOLN DAILY NEWS.COM MAY / JUNE 2023 of our Lord Jesus Christ” has become the signature of my life. In fact, here is the signature for all my emails that I created soon after the death in 2022 of my beloved wife, Marie: Committed to love everyone Because life here is so precious Because death here is so final Because Christ is Lord always I pray that my sharing the story behind my email signature will challenge you and inspire you so that you make being our Lord Jesus’ Christ’s obedient servant your signature that captures your name as well as the purpose of your life. Here is my story: Donald Castelein, my Belgian father, was converted by an American soldier he met in WWII. Having taken on the name of Christian, dad brought his family to Tennessee to study for the preaching ministry. My father graduated with highest honors from Johnson Bible College and in 1956 became the first Christian Church missionary to the Dutch (Flemish) speaking part of Belgium. He baptized me in 1957, as his first convert. Do you remember your baptism as well as I remember mine? John Donald Castelein had been baptized into the larger name of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Bible says. I had a “new name, written down in glory” as older Christians used to sing! However, and here is where some of you this morning can identify with me: as I slowly created my own way of signing my character, I experienced a profound intellectual, emotional, and spiritual contradiction that would affect me every day for the rest of my life. If you can identify with this inner warfare, how I pray my words may bring you hope and comfort! During my high school years in Belgium, on the one hand, there was my dad who preached weekly a conservative and devotionally inspiring sermon. But there was also my Protestant religion teacher in the Atheneum, the public school system, who weekly taught me a very liberal religion as part of a very secular, Post-Christian Belgian culture. To varying degrees, some of you if not all, our graduates that we are honoring this morning, are experiencing this same tension to which I am confessing. It is the tug of war between living in an increasingly secular culture and trying to serve in a biblical church. Whose obedient servant are you planning on being? My testimony is that even ten years of being a preacher in various churches, and thirty-seven years of studying the Bible, exploring religion, and teaching theology, did not make me immune to serious doubts and actual apostacy! I say this not with pride or arrogance but with deep shame and painful regret!! As you leave this campus, graduates, you will be walking through “the valley of the shadow of death”—moral, intellectual, and spiritual death! Follow close to your Shepherd, your Lord, and let his rod discipline you and his staff comfort you and you will be part of the spiritual awakening God is bringing to this great country! Continued --