Making the Decision to go to Seminary

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I taught Christian Doctrine and World Religions/Apologetics at Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine, CA, for nine years.  The following is a farewell interview that the school published between myself and the school’s founding principal and now Executive Director, Jeffrey Beavers, in 2018. 

Head shot 2Crean Lutheran faculty and author, Andy Wrasman, feels God’s Call to serve in a church parish.

Last week, Mr. Wrasman made final decisions to heed the Lord’s Call to head to seminary in St. Louis and become an ordained pastor in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. He and his wife Jessica plan to pack up after this school year and move there. Mr. Wrasman will be enrolling in Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, next fall. Crean Lutheran administration, faculty, and staff receive this message with mixed emotions; sad to see Mr. Wrasman leave, but delighted to hear the Lord is moving him into full-time church work. In a recent conversation between Mr. Beavers and Mr. Wrasman, the following remarks were shared:
Mr. Beavers:​ Mr. Wrasman, you know we will miss you dearly. We have had a wonderful history with both you and Mrs. Wrasman teaching at Crean Lutheran from our earliest days. You’ve both made a tremendous impact on the lives of our CLHS students who have been taught by you both. This must be bittersweet for you?

Mr. Wrasman​: Of course it is bittersweet. I never dread coming to school to teach, grade, and prepare for classes. In many ways, teaching at CLHS does not feel like work, because I enjoy being here with the students and all of my colleagues. I will miss everyone here deeply.

I’ve been blessed to teach our senior theology course, World Religions and Christian Apologetics, and until the 2016-2017 school year, I was the only teacher to have taught this course. So for many years, every four-year student at CLHS started theology with Mrs. Schramm and ended with me. Thinking of that type of imprint I’ve been able to have on so many of our graduating classes makes leaving here very difficult, and I certainly have weighed that influence through the process of making this decision. I do think changing roles from teacher to pastor will increase the impact and service I can have in God’s Kingdom; otherwise, I would never consider leaving Crean.

The Vision Statement we have to be “a beacon which shines the light of Jesus Christ in a world of spiritual darkness” is one of the aspects that drew me to CLHS, and with my departure now, I’ve come to see that this school is not just sending students out equipped to be a light of Christ for the world, but Crean Lutheran has been doing this with its teachers and administrators too!

Mr. Beavers​: I admire your faithful heart that is hearing the Lord’s call to serve in a congregational church setting; share on how the Lord led you to make this decision.

​Mr. Wrasman​: As a high school student in Tennessee, I loved being involved with football and track (and the free year-long gym membership that came with football). Apart from sports, a few elective classes, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), I didn’t enjoy my studies, so I never planned to go to college. I had said a few times to people who asked why I wasn’t going to college that the only thing I’d ever consider paying to study was the Bible, and after a near-death experience as a result of sin in my life, God pushed me to leave the career I had chosen as an electrician to be a pastor, which is a long story to explain here. I came to Irvine, California to Concordia University to study the Bible as a first step to being a pastor. Again, I found that I didn’t enjoy certain elements of school so much, so I began to find a way around another four years of school to be a pastor in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, which was being a theology teacher.

I figured that if God really wanted me to be a pastor that he would eventually get me to seminary. The idea of being a pastor has never left my mind, and finally all the excuses and reasons I had to keep me from entering into our denominations’ ordination process have been removed. With these obstacles out of the way, I began to consider this transition seriously by seeking the Lord for confirmation. The Sunday after this prayerful questioning, my pastor preached a message that was directly for me concerning this move, and that afternoon I watched the movie, ​Babe, with my daughter. The farmer in that film tries to have his pig do the work of a sheepdog because he kept thinking the pig could do the work and “Farmer Hoggett knew that little ideas that tickled and nagged and refused to go away should never be ignored for in them lie the seeds of destiny.” Since I had been praying throughout the movie about the pastor’s sermon that day, I took the quote to be an answer to my prayers.

Mr. Beavers: ​You moved from China to join our faculty, and are now off to St. Louis to study at Concordia Seminary, clearly another new adventure for you and Mrs. Wrasman; how has your past and experiences at CLHS influenced this decision?

Mr. Wrasman​: I made a big move when I first left Tennessee for California, not knowing anyone here, and having never crossed the Mississippi River before, but God blessed me tremendously through that move. It was here that I met my wife and together we were blessed in China. We had a wonderful church body where we lived called Hangzhou International Christian Fellowship, where I was able to preach every couple of months. We both began to write and publish articles in the local English newspaper and travel magazine, oftentimes managing to share the Christian faith in the articles we published.

At Crean Lutheran, I was blessed to be Chapel Coordinator for two years, which gave me a foretaste of what planning a yearly church calendar will entail as a pastor. I also have been able to get connected within the Christian Apologetics community because of teaching Apologetics at CLHS. Christian Apologetics isn’t even a required course at our seminary, and I think there are only one, maybe two electives in Apologetics offered, so I hope to play a role in our denomination as a pastor in the realm of defending the Christian faith.

Mr. Beavers:​ I’ve always admired your efforts to boldly evangelize in the community, on college campuses, and here at CLHS; a few years ago you authored ​Contradict – They Can’t All Be True, based on John 14:6; how did that research and writing influence you as a Christian witnessing to the world?

Mr. Wrasman​: My role at CLHS was very instrumental in this regard. When we first returned from China, we attended Light of Christ Lutheran Church which is extremely close to University of California, Irvine (UCI). The congregational president asked me to spearhead evangelism to the campus. Because I was teaching World Religions and Apologetics at CLHS, when one of my evangelism partners suggested using a ​contradict image​ as a conversation starter, I immediately was drawn to it. Everything I was learning and teaching to create the course at CLHS equipped me for the evangelism and apologetic discussions on the campus, and all the encounters at UCI helped flavor my classroom discussions. It also provided me with some street credibility with our students. In many ways, ​Contradict – They Can’t All Be True, is the product of teaching at CLHS and sharing the Gospel at UCI.

Mr. Beavers: ​We will miss you, and I know our students will too. We will keep you and your family in our prayers. What message do you want to leave our students and their families with?

Mr. Wrasman​: Jesus Christ is the first and the last. He is the way, the truth, and the life, the only way to eternal life and a relationship with God, because Jesus is our all-sufficient Savior who has paid for all of our sins. Without him in your life all is, in the end, meaningless, a chasing after the wind. But in Christ, there is certainty of eternal life and meaning even in the most mundane aspects of life and hope even in the most painful trials of this world. Turn to him if you haven’t, and if you are already in Christ, rest in him, the author and perfecter of your faith.

56. Building Bridges Part 2

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Episode 16 of Reconnect featured guest, Ken Chitwood, sharing an article he wrote entitled, “Building Bridges: Toward Constructing a Christian Foundation for Inter-Religious Relationships in the Shift from Religious Privilege to Spiritual Plurality”.  The key points for inter-religious dialog that Ken suggests are: pay attention, find, and form, friendships, listen and learn, dine, dialog, and do together, discern, and witness to the worldview.

While I agree with many of Ken’s points to approaching inter-religious dialog, I have a different application of the term “building bridges”.  I explain this approach in an article that I wrote for Reformation 21: “Embracing Religious Contradictions to Proclaim Christ Crucified: Tolerance and Coexistence”.   Looking at Acts 17, I see how Paul knew the beliefs and culture of those he was sharing the Gospel of Jesus.  He made the presentation of the Gospel from starting within their belief system with a point of contact that he could use to make a connection to the Biblical narrative of salvation.  I was given the opportunity to share this approach to evangelism at Brookfield Lutheran Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin.  This episode contains that sermon message. 

Senior pastor at Brookfield Lutheran Church, Robert Mrosko, was a guest on Reconnect Episode 39, discussing Star Wars.

The building bridges technique I am advocating for is also shared in Episode 34: “Storytelling Evangelism”.

Why is Contradict a movement?

Dan Palmere at FSU
Dan Palmere at Florida State University, sharing the Gospel using a Contradict poster. He is a member of the campus’ Ratio Christi club.

When I decided to begin sharing Contradict with a broader audience than tabletop evangelism, I chose to start a Web site with the name Contradict Movement. Calling trends, fads, and new tendencies “movements” seems to be a popular development of its own lately. I think that what I’d like to see happen is for Contradict to spread, classifying as a movement in the tradition sense of organizing and rallying the troops behind a cause of action or expression. In a way I was jumping on the movement-branding bandwagon, but I have a dual meaning in mind.

I intend the term Contradict Movement to refer to the movement of the Holy Spirit as he leads Christians to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Jesus indicates this unpredictable movement of the Holy Spirit in his often-quoted discourse to Nicodemus in John chapter 3, saying, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (verse 8).

With this in mind, each Christian reading this book will likely be prompted to share the gospel with others in ways that I haven’t yet perceived. Maybe some readers will be moved to step directly into the manner in which I have shared Contradict, using a poster at a college campus. The objective of the Contradict Movement is to counter the spirit of this age that all religions are equally valid and true, that all roads and paths lead to God.

It is more specific than this, however. A conservative Muslim could easily stand alongside a conservative Christian and boldly proclaim, “We worship a different God.” Grounded in the Christian worldview, my goal is to move people not only to see that all religions can’t be true, but to point them to Jesus Christ as mankind’s one and only, all-sufficient Savior. Then I want to prayerfully and winsomely reason with them in the various marketplaces of life to which God has called each Christian to serve and be his witnesses.

To participate in this movement, a person is not required to use the Contradict logo I have made. Many people are likely participating in this movement already without having seen Contradict; in fact I think this movement goes all the way back to the beginning of humanity. God’s people have always stood in opposition to the patterns of this world which lure us to exchange the truth of God for a lie, enticing us to bow down to the things of God’s creation rather than worship and praise the Creator.

It is not surprising that the lies of pluralism have infiltrated the ranks of the visible church. Jesus indicated that this would happen with his parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matthew 13:24–30). Lies, the Enemy, and people who claim to be followers of Christ but are not will spring up within Christ’s church (Matthew 13:36–43).

You can see Satan’s sowing of lies within the church in the way that a large percentage of Christians in America have embraced certain New Age elements within their Christian beliefs and practices. With the lie swallowed and craved by society and even within the church, taking a stance in our pluralistic age will receive harsh criticism. This is what Jesus promised would happen. He said, “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13).

Everyone in the church won’t stand firm. Jesus promised this too. He said that when persecution comes, “many will turn away from the faith and will betray many people” (Matthew 24:10). This is why those of us who are standing upon Christ, pointing to Jesus as the only way to salvation, must band together, meet with one another, and encourage each other as we see the signs of the day of the Lord approaching (Hebrews 10:25).

Click this image to get 25% of my book, Contradict - They Can't All Be True, for Free!
Click this image to get 25% of my book, Contradict – They Can’t All Be True, for Free!

My Lutheran Heritage and Study

In response to a recent post on Baptism, I was asked how old is my Lutheran heritage or study?  Here was my reply, in case any of you are interested in this same topic and find this blog post:

My grandparents on my mother’s side were both Lutheran from NC.  I have no idea how far back it goes on my granddad’s side of the family.  My understanding is that my grandmother was the first believer in her family.  She went to church on her own since she was 5 or 6 years old and always did until she was married to my granddad.

They then raised my mom in a Lutheran Church.  My mom married a Roman Catholic and so my dad’s whole side of the family was Roman Catholic, and now they are splintering into other denominations, but the bulk is still Catholic.

I initially was brought up going to Roman Catholic masses until second grade when we went to a Presbyterian Church, then we landed Lutheran when I was in 7th grade.  I had a horrid confirmation and I didn’t learn what Lutherans actually believe.  I grew up in TN so I was heavily Baptist influenced and from my background I didn’t think it mattered what denomination you went to.  I thought the differences was mostly in the worship styles at services.  In high school I visited other churches on Wednesdays and I quickly found that there were plenty of differences doctrinally, and it wasn’t until after high school when I was hounded by a group to be baptized because  my first baptism didn’t count because I was an infant and because I continued to actively deny the command to be baptized I wasn’t saved or a Christian, that I really dug in with my pastor and learned what the Scriptures said and finally claimed Lutheran as the denomination that was right (not the one I preferred, which to be honest based on my experiences, it wasn’t the one I preferred).

I went to Concordia Irvine when I was 21 and it was there that I discovered that I wasn’t actually a Lutheran.  I agreed with the sacraments, but I didn’t know anything about the doctrine of election.  I had essentially been taught Arminian (Decision Theology) my whole life.  After a lot of wrestling with God and professors, I came full swing  I can say that I am in agreement with Lutheran theology. My heart actually aches for those who confess Christ as Lord, speak of his salvation for us, but still live under the yoke of the law.  I pray that the Lord sees them as believing, but needing help from him with their unbelief.