2023 Graduation Magazine

CLASS OF 2023 LINCOLN DAILY NEWS.COM MAY / JUNE 2023 Page 57 If you are hearing me as a Christan who has never wavered in your commitment to our Lord’s name, then share my concern about your children, your grandchildren, and some of your friend no longer serving our Lord. At three different times in my life, I felt like my personal integrity compelled me to change the basic signature of my life. To be explicit about it, I, John Castelein, Christian Church preacher for a total of 10 year, I, LCU professor in theology for 37 years, at three separate times rejected our Lord Jesus Christ, whose name I had been baptized in and into according to the Bible. Listen, 2023 graduates of LCU, leaders of tomorrow’s churches and ministries, if Peter decided he had to deny even knowing the name of Jesus Christ our Lord three times, it can happen to you! I know this so painfully: it happened to me! I. The first time I rejected the name of Christian, I was age 14. I was a rebellious juvenile. I turned away from the faith inwardly and secretly, in my heart,while still having to attend dad’s church in Genk, Belgium. Do you remember if you rebelled against your parents, your church, your Lord? However, God used tragedy to reclaim me into His family and into His name! My father’s sudden death of a heart attack at age 44 resulted in me, as a 16-year-old,rededicating my life and entering Johnson Bible College myself in 1966. How old were you when you for the first time wrestled with whether your name, your signature, your identity was that of someone who truly is “an obedient servant of our Lord Jesus Christ”? II. My second denial of Christ’s name occurred when I was 66, now as a mature thinking person. In May of 2014, the year I retired from teaching at LCU, I finally succumbed to all my critical questions, which had been significantly increased by my PhD studies in religion. I once again, at least inwardly, left the faith. I even joined an anonymous online community of doubting clergy, both active and retired. And yet, I still continued to attend the church and my beloved Sunday School class here in Lincoln. And, during all these years of internal turmoil, I was extremely careful to honor my covenant with Lincoln Christian College, and later with LCU, not to undermine the faith of any of my undergraduate or graduate students! But then, once again, another very serious incident occurred. I needed double bypass heart surgery in December of 2014 because stents would no longer fix my problem. This emergency surgery resulted in me experiencing an enormous sense of gratitude to be alive. I desperately wanted to say “thank you” to Someone bigger than the doctors, the nurses, the therapists, or even Marie. Have you ever experienced a thankfulness so allencompassing that you know there only God is big enough for you to say “thank you” to? So, I firmly resolved to redouble my efforts at finding the living God, through daily devotions, earnest prayer, and regular worship and I did so--for seven months! Continued --