Here on release day for the new record, I thought it was time to share the story of this record. It’s a compilation record but not exactly a greatest hits. More like some hits and some other songs we wish you knew about. And a couple of new songs. It came out today (Friday May 26), so you should be able to find it where you buy music (iTunes, Amazon, wherever). So here’s the story…
I assumed the story of From Grace to Glory would be a story of songs. But it turns out it is really a story of people. It’s the story of one man and one God who goes to extreme lengths in loving that man. It’s a story of families: first, the Agnews adopting a baby, giving him parents and then a sister, then the McKinneys and the Carrolls opening their homes and families in new towns, and now a new generation of Agnews, learning to love and be loved by a wife and two awesome kids. It’s a story of friends willing to love and support the life and ministry of someone who is not a very good friend in return. It’s a story of people across cities, states, countries and continents—all a part of the story God is telling through my life and ministry.
The story of the creation of the record Grace Like Rain is really the story of a church in the Woodlands providing a time of healing and a church in Memphis partnering with me as we all learned ministry. The song Grace is the story of a dear friendship with Chris Collins as we learned what it meant to lead God’s people in worship. The Thunder Song (as most people called it) was my story of an encounter with God (specifically Psalm 29), but ended up as the story of a group of young adults learning to worship in Memphis. But the story of how Grace Like Rain got out into the world included a whole other cast of characters: Dana and Ardent, Vince and VLW, Greg and GOA, Eddie and Newsong. And God’s grace poured out from each of their lives into mine.
Reflection was the story of a past and a present. An adoption story reflected my own parents and sister. Worship stories came from years with Highpoint. Music came from all over, but especially from Memphis. Those musicians shaped me. And Hampton shaped the record. Then the Nashville team, Josh Peterson and everyone at INO, believed not only in the record but in My Jesus specifically. Those years and those songs would have never happened without my new family on the road: Wilson, Chu, Cody, Rob, and Farns. New friends joined us on tours and old friends loved us at home.
Do You See What I See was itself a story, a story of the first Christmas. I still remember starting to tell the story to the Rivers that first year. Then going home to Memphis and sharing the story with John Fry. How crazy to have a label that said, “We may not make any money, but this is what God is doing right now.” DYSWIS was the story of friends who joined with me to tell a story.
Better Questions allowed me to explore a lot of tough topics. They were the songs I never thought I’d share with anyone. They are the stories we don’t like to tell. Once again, Ardent made the record possible, but a lot of hurting believers across the world brought the ministry to life.
Need is the story of making a record when you don’t feel confident enough about your life to write about it. I was newly married and I loved my wife, but I didn’t feel I had anything worthwhile to say about marriage. Or about being a dad. The only thing I knew was I desperately needed God to do these things. So I turned back to old trusted friends; some of them were people, some were hymns. And my wife pointed out how powerful songs could be when they said the name of Jesus.
And How To Be Loved was the story of being married and being a dad. Because that story was the same as the first story. It was still the story of God loving me, of God showing his grace to me. He had redeemed my soul and he was recreating my life. He loved me through them. And new friends helped me tell the story.
And now, the story continues. DTS is a big part of it. Visible is a part of it. Not the institutions but the people, the professors, the students. Drs. Glahn and Jones and Horrell and Kreider. Small group: Kent, Joshua, Stephen, Bryan, and Shane. The new songs owe a lot to Quimby and the Jeremys in addition to old partners Dave and Kim. I co-wrote one of the new songs with Chris Collins; so, that circle is continuing. And now Ardent is moving forward with Pat, Ryan, and others. These people shape me, my wife and my kids most of all. They are God’s grace to me. And I continue to try to write and live for his glory.