Graduation Day, pt. 1


On May 12, 2018, I graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary with a Masters of Theology degree. It was a long time coming. I never graduated from college the first time, leaving to continue a career in music. But decades later, my amazing wife encouraged me to pursue this line of education. I believe her exact words were “You study more than anyone I know, and you’re NOT IN SCHOOL!” I believe she recognized that God had gifted me in learning and I was passionate about the Bible, so if I had an opportunity to combine those, it would probably serve me well. And she was right.

One of the things I remember about starting school at DTS was that one of our advisors came into class and said, “When people find out you’re going to seminary, the first thing they are going to ask you is ‘What are you going to do when you’re done?’” And she was right. I got asked that all the time, often followed by “Are you going to pastor a church?” So, I was very grateful for what she said next that day, which has obviously stuck with me ever since. She said, “You don’t have to have the answer to that question.” What freedom! I knew that God had brought me there, but I couldn’t be sure why. I didn’t know what was next. I was just trying to get through Greek.

So I thought I’d write a few blogs about my experience in seminary. And the natural place to start was with “Why did I go?” So here are two main reasons.

  1. I love the Bible.And I had an amazing opportunity to learn more. DTS is well-known for its excellence in biblical languages. I had the chance to learn Greek and Hebrew and read the scriptures in the original languages. What an amazing privilege! I also got to take classes in Bible Exposition where I learned a lot about the larger picture of the Bible. I mean, I’ve read the Bible as lots of little pieces, but in class, those pieces were part of a whole. I already understood the main overarching story of the Bible, but I learned a ton about the larger stories within that story. I still remember the day that Dr. Klingler came into our class and outlined the Pentateuch (Genesis­–Deuteronomy), explaining it as God’s promise and fulfillment in establishing Israel in pictures on a white board in about three minutes. So helpful.

 

  1. I care about training the next generation of ministers.And honestly, I felt unprepared. As we put together a worship leader development program in Austin, I felt like I had a lot of experience to share and a few scriptural highlights. But that’s not what I wanted to give to the next gen of young men and women who follow this path. I wanted to really pass on a deep understanding of scripture that all of the sudden, I wasn’t sure I had. Specifically, I wanted to be able to help worship leaders form a biblical concept of worship from the whole Bible, not just a couple of favorite verses.

That’s why I went. That’s all I knew. I loved God and wanted to understand his word in a better and deeper way so that it would shape my life and so I could share it with others.

The new blog plan is to post new blogs on Wednesday. So check back next Wednesday for part two of the graduation reflection blogs. And comment below. You don’t have to write about what I wrote. In fact, why don’t you share with us why you’re doing what God has you doing right now? You don’t have to know what’s next. God can take care of that. But what is the path that has brought you to today?

 

Todd

The Tale of a Tail

I know I haven’t written a real blog in a while. I promise it’s coming. Right after the blogs I agreed to write for someone else, and after homework. And maybe after church this Sunday. But until then, I thought I would share this poem that I wrote about my dog. Really. That’s what it is. No hidden meaning. Just a poem. About my dog.

The Tale of a Tail

I write this poem to my hound Henry
Whose steadfast love endures forever
Whose tail swings like a silent metronome
Welcoming me home, as if my wanderings
Covered years instead of minutes
The tempo of his tail
Communicates emotion more clearly than all my vocabulary
A swift steady wag celebrates the joy
Of simply hearing me speak his name
Who could restrain the bliss of dinner served?
A repeating yet reticent wag expresses grief and shame
Whether I have wronged him
With anger improperly aimed
Or he has wronged me
With the aromatic gift he left on the carpet
Yet even then he cannot keep from declaring love
For his passion does not stop or slow,
Merely repressed in fear of my response
But quickly accelerating at a smile or step,
at the slightest hope
for a brighter future
His steadfast love endures forever
So I write this for love, uninhibited and unconditional
May I love anyone the way you love me
For you, Henry, my basset hound

 

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Todd’s Songs on Discover Worship

Attention Worship Leaders, the piano vocal scores for “Grace Like Rain” (as well as “This Fragile Breath” and “Gloria”) are now available through Discover Worship, an online subscription service for choir directors and worship leaders.

Member churches can search, download and make unlimited copies of more than 2000 songs, musicals and collections and also have unlimited access to all the demos, tracks, midi files and vocal and instrumental charts they need to rehearse and present these songs.

Discover Worship is currently offering a FREE 2-song TRIAL so you can check out their worship resources. Here’s the link to the page with “Grace Like Rain.” You can listen to the music all you want but will need a free login to view the PDF’s of the arrangements.

http://www.discoverworship.com/store/grace-like-rain

 

 

Sojourners

Pictured w Todd at Ardent Studios is Katie Toebbe, Eric Mackey and Tommu Lozure from Visible Music College

Pictured with me at Ardent Studios is Katie Toebbe, Eric Mackey and Tommu Lozure from Visible Music College

As many of you know, I am a huge fan of the music of Rich Mullins. I recently had the opportunity to participate in a new record by Visible College in Memphis. As a school-wide project, they re-recorded “Liturgy, Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band,” an amazing record by Rich from 1993. So the artists on the project are students, graduates, and professors from the school, as are the engineers and producers. These are college students looking toward a career serving Christ in the music industry. So when they called and asked if I would sing on a song, I said, “When do we start?” They ended up recording the whole track and I just came in and sang. They treated me like a superstar. I’m used to being in the studio the whole time and costing us hours of studio time because I can’t play my guitar part correctly.

If you’re not familiar with the original record by Rich, you still probably know one song from it: Hold Me Jesus. And this was the song I got to record on the new Read more →

Goodbye Old Friend

Well, it was time. The old white van took us around the country many times. The van brought us to most of the concerts where we met you. It was a 2001 Ford E350 15-passenger van with over 340,000 miles. The air conditioning hasn’t worked in over a year. I’ve had to unlock it from the passenger side for years because someone tried to break into it and broke the lock on the driver’s side. It got about 8 miles a gallon. And I was commuting to school across Dallas. So it was time.

Carmax gave me $500 for it. It was worth more than that. To me, at least. But honestly, they were being generous. So I bought another Ford. It’s 12 years newer. 309,000 fewer miles. And it gets 38 miles a gallon. THIRTY-EIGHT!! I’m sure it will be a great car. But it will never replace the van in our hearts. Oh, except that the sound system is killer!

BEFORE

AFTER

Current Status

Married, with children.

Is that the right response to a status question. I don’t keep up with these things. Well, in the first post on the new site, I promised to update you guys on life so here we go.

Jenny and I celebrated our 7 year wedding anniversary in February. That’s crazy, right? 7 years! God has done so much work in my life through the woman he gave to me. I am so grateful for the time we have had together. Our two kids are also growing up quickly. So I don’t travel near as much as I used to. I want them always to think of our family being together as the norm and my being gone as the aberration, not vice versa. With school, church, baseball, softball, and the rest of life, we don’t have nearly as much free time as we used to.

We moved to the DFW metroplex almost two years ago. I am now halfway through the Masters of Theology (ThM) program at Dallas Theological Seminary. I love going to school and all the amazing things I’ve been learning. I’m sure you will hear much more about school in future posts.

So, there’s only one topic left… music. We are having serious conversations about the next project. The music industry has changed a lot since Grace Like Rain, and I am spending some quality time with my manager and with Ardent to figure out what the best next step is. The good news is there definitely IS a next step. The songs are here. I finally finished one that I have been working hard on for a long time. It’s called “Glory to our Great Redeemer.” I can’t wait to share it with you. So there is definitely new music in the pipe, and I will keep you updated right here at the new toddagnew.com site. Looking forward to sharing new stuff with you. If you’ve seen me live in the last couple of years and there is a specific song you are hoping will be on the next project, please comment below and let me know. Your feedback is always helpful. If you hated all the songs, you don’t need to comment. Thanks though!

Love to you all. Hope to see you on the road sometime soon. I will be in Alabama, Tennessee (camp), Nebraska, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin in the coming weeks. So if you live anywhere near any of those, check out the tour page and let me know you’re coming. See you soon.

Todd