Thrive
Podcast

Overview

Today on the podcast, I had the privilege of talking to Adam Weber, Asbury Seminary alum, church planter and lead pastor of Embrace Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We talk about a lot of things in today’s conversation—how he experienced his call to ministry and church planting, how Embrace church got started, and the release of his newest book Love Has a Name. We talk about loving people even when it’s difficult, from a heart that embodies the grace and truth of Jesus.

Let’s listen!

Adam Weber, Lead Pastor and Founder of Embrace Church

Adam Weber is the lead pastor and founder of Embrace. He likes typewriters, drives a Rambler, cheers for the Cincinnati Bengals, and has seven chickens (Yep, seven). He once made worldwide news when a turkey vulture fell out of the sky and landed on his back porch during an ice storm. Google it. Adam started Embrace in 2006 when he was 24 years-old. He wasn’t planning on becoming a pastor, but God had a different plan. Adam has been recognized as one of the youngest pastors on the list of fastest-growing churches in the country, speaks at national conferences, has a blog, hosts his own podcast, and wrote the best-selling book, Talking With God. Adam’s married to his beautiful wife, Becky, and has four kids: Hudson, Wilson, Grayson, and Anderson. And yeah, we did mention his chickens before his children. You can connect with Adam on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

Heidi Wilcox, host of the Thrive Podcast

Writer, podcaster, and social media manager, Heidi Wilcox shares stories of truth, justice, healing and hope. She is best known as the host of Spotlight, (especially her blooper reel) highlighting news, events, culturally relevant topics and stories of the ways alumni, current students and faculty are attempting something big for God. If you can’t find her, she’s probably cheering on her Kentucky Wildcats, enjoying a cup of coffee, reading or spending time with her husband, Wes.



Transcript

Heidi Wilcox:
Hey, everyone. Welcome to this week’s episode of the Thrive with Asbury Seminary Podcast. I’m your host Heidi E. Wilcox bringing you conversations with authors, thought leaders, and people just like you who are looking to connect where your passion meets the world’s deep need.

Heidi Wilcox:
Today on the podcast, I have the privilege of talking to Adam Weber, Asbury Seminary alum, church planter, and lead pastor at Embrace Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We talk about a lot of things in today’s conversation, how he experienced his call to church planting and to ministry, how Embrace Church got started, and the release of his newest book, Love Has a Name. So we talk about loving people even when it’s difficult, from a heart that embodies the grace and truth of Jesus. Let’s listen.

Heidi Wilcox:
So how are things going in Sioux Falls?

Adam Weber:
They’re doing really, really well. Really, really well, actually. Yeah, just all the way around, like for me personally, I’m in a really fruitful, wonderful season of life and the church is doing well. We are the only state in the country whose governor didn’t kind of officially shut things down. So we’ve had four weeks of services already and physical services and it’s been really, really light. So it was super discouraging at first, but just like continuing to pray like, “God, help us to see this as a different season and doing ministry in different way.” And so, it’s been discouraging at moments and then it’s been really exciting at others of like what’s possible.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. So, because I know every state is different, but you said that your governor didn’t really shut the state down. So how did life change then for you and for your church then with COVID?

Adam Weber:
As far as how it changed it, I think it changed what we’re all kind of facing is really instead of kind of sort of doing online services, I mean, having to really lean into that and not to see it as a side thing, but as an equal thing of like this is really important. And I think more and more and more, even when things return back to “normal” I think worship services are not going to be the front door, I think online is. And so, just the intentionality of online services, but also online services for kids. Something we’ve never done before is have an online experience for kids.

Heidi Wilcox:
That’s cool.

Adam Weber:
And we’ve done that both for our young kids and also our like youth, and it’s went over amazing.

Heidi Wilcox:
That’s awesome.

Adam Weber:
So it’s been cool to like push in some of those things. Even camera-wise in our sanctuary, actually this week we went from a three camera shoot to a nine camera shoot.

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh, wow!

Adam Weber:
And we just, because we started physical services back up and it was really a reality moment of like, “Whoa, people are not going to rush back to the church.” So that. And then I think even, this is something that church should always be doing, but it’s kind of taken a second seat to worship services, but we’ve really challenged people, “Go out and be the hands and the feet of Jesus.”

Heidi Wilcox:
For sure, yeah.

Adam Weber:
Like go out and actually do that. And so, it’s been cool to kind of get back to some of the basics. And I was on a conference call the other night with some Hillsong people and it was one of those churches, the Hillsong churches in Europe, and he said, “We told our staff that we are a brand new church again. Like we are church planters again.”

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Adam Weber:
And just kind of crazy to think through that.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, definitely. I think from, I’m not being a pastor at all, but just attending a church, I think it definitely is or could be a new day for churches, just because of how people are responding to the online offerings and things like that.

Adam Weber:
Yes.

Heidi Wilcox:
So even though for our churches it is hard, I think just from looking at it from an outside perspective, I think it can have a lot of good for like new opportunities at the same time.

Adam Weber:
Yes. I think it’s kind of the reality part is the discouragement part. And I think anybody who is listening, whether they’re a pastor or a small business, I mean, this has been discouraging in so many different ways and yet God also specializes in doing new things. And so, what are those new things? And that’s the exciting part of, what is this going to look like moving forward? Nobody knows. Like for the first time in my lifetime, like legitimately, nobody knows what the future holds. And so, there’s something exciting about that. It kind of levels the playing field and it’s like, “Okay, let’s try things.”

Adam Weber:
And I mean, as pastors, I think of some of the things we’ve tried to change in our worship services and styles, it’s all changed. I mean, there is no service. So hey, it’s going to look like this. And so, I think there’s the opportunity to try some really new things. And I’m just excited about what God is doing this and not be literally at the hurt and heartache that people around the world have experienced from this pandemic.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, for sure.

Adam Weber:
I genuinely think, like not making light of that first part, I genuinely think this might be the best thing that’s happened to the global church.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yes. Yes. Like isolating it to that part. Yes. Because I hear what you’re saying. Yeah.

Adam Weber:
Yes. Like it might be the best thing that ever happened to the worldwide church as far as shaking some things up and really helping us to deal with some stuff and also to try new things. And so, I really think God will use it even this for good.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, definitely. So how did you experience your call to church planting? And then, I kind of want to hear about maybe some of the new things you’re thinking about as you think about church planting again during this time of pandemic.

Adam Weber:
Yeah. So my call to church planting, I honestly don’t know if I had a call to church planting. And even my call to ministry is much more clear for me, but really my call, when I came to Christ as a sophomore, junior in high school, my call was to tell people about Jesus. I mean, that was my call, that was so clear. I thought God really placed that on my life. And I honestly thought that that was going to work through the business world. I had no desire to be a pastor. And so, I just thought, “I’m going to be a missionary out in the world,” and then ended up filling in for a pastor in North Dakota, the summer before my senior year of college through the most outrageous like circumstances. And within the first week I knew I was supposed to be a pastor.

Heidi Wilcox:
Wow!

Adam Weber:
The call to plant a church, I actually still don’t think I ever had a call to plant a church, the pastor who led me to Christ, and he’s also the one that introduced me to the idea of that internship that summer and also the one who made the church I started possible, I really just didn’t have the courage to tell him, “No.” Not because I feared him, but totally the opposite, because I respected him and looked up to him so much.

Adam Weber:
And so, he came to me with the concept of Embrace and I just basically couldn’t say no to him. And one thing led to another and now I think 14 years later, I’m still pastoring that church. And so, I think it’s so cool. Sometimes it’s like, I think God does make it really clear like you need to do this, you need to do that. And really, I didn’t even make a decision with starting a church, it was made for me.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Adam Weber:
But really my overall call on my life is just to tell people about Jesus. I genuinely think if Lord willing, I’m 80 years old in a nursing home someday, I’ll be wheeling from door to door, hoping to tell people about Jesus.

Heidi Wilcox:
I love that.

Adam Weber:
So yeah, that’s the clearest call that I have on my life. Regardless of what I do with the rest of my time on earth, that will be the call that God has put on me.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. So how did Embrace Church come to be about or come about?

Adam Weber:
Yeah. So similar to what I was saying, so the pastor that led me to Christ, he’s an Asbury grad as well, he reached out to me one day and said, “Hey, we’re thinking about starting a church in Sioux Falls.” He pastored a church about a 100 miles North at the time, and was a wonderful church, Life-Giving Church, and he said, “Hey, we’re thinking about starting a church in Sioux Falls. What do you think?” And I actually told him, I thought it was a bad idea. I thought Sioux Falls had enough churches and didn’t really know why. And then I said, “And who would be the pastor?” And he said, “Well, that’s why I’m calling you.” And I’m like, “Oh, my gosh.” I’m like, “I’m not interested.” And he said what every pastor says to make a person feel guilty. He said, “Why don’t you pray about it?” I’m like, “Awesome. Okay. Great.” And I didn’t pray about it. Like I legitimately did not pray about it because I thought it was a bad idea and I didn’t want to do it.

Adam Weber:
Well, he found out that I was coming back, I was in Wilmore, he found out I was coming back to do my brother’s wedding just for a weekend. And so, he reached out and he said, “Hey, I hear you’re coming back to South Dakota.” And I’m like, “Yeah, for the weekend. And then I’m going back to Kentucky.” And he said, “How about this? How about you send an email and I’ll send an email and we’ll see who’s interested, who shows up and is interested in a new church.”

Adam Weber:
So that night, it was Labor Day weekend, 2006, I showed up and Roger showed up, that pastor, I again, did not want to pastor a new church, and 32 other people showed up that night too.

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh, wow!

Adam Weber:
And they were all jazzed about starting a church. And I’m like, “Oh, okay, well, I’m not really, you know.” And through the craziest, I mean, after that night, Roger, said, “Once a month, we’ll pay for you to come back and do a worship service. And then when you’re finished with seminary, you’d come back and pastor full-time.”

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh, wow!

Adam Weber:
And that’s exactly what happened. And early on, the first three years of the church, we really struggled to grow and we were almost closed. And through those first three years, I can remember praying, “God, this wasn’t my pipe dream, this was yours. And so, I don’t need to sustain it because I’m just the vessel, I’ve been told, I’m just an instrument. And again, this is your idea. So you’re going to provide.” And he did.

Adam Weber:
We went into nine or 10 years of back-to-back explosive growth. You know, Outreach 100 year after year after year, the whole nine yards. And in that season it was so good to remember, “God, this wasn’t my pipe dream, this was yours. And so, on this part of the story, like where everything is up into the right, and I’m speaking at major conferences and whatever else, only you can take credit for this. I can’t.”

Adam Weber:
And so, what was weird those first three years, it’s what brought me confidence to keep going. And during that explosive season, it’s what kept me on my knees and brought me humility. And then… Yeah, so it’s just kind of crazy how that works out.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. I love that because for me personally, it can be easy to take the credit when whatever I’m doing is going well and forget that I needed God in the very beginning of it. You know what I mean?

Adam Weber:
Yes.

Heidi Wilcox:
I love that spirit that you have about that.

Adam Weber:
Yeah. It’s like, God, so clearly said, “Adam, I’ve been taking care of you and providing for you the entire time. Don’t for a second think it’s because of you.”

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Adam Weber:
And it was just this wonderful, like sweet reminder of all that God had done.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. So were there like specific moments when you felt like God was really equipping you to plant Embrace? I mean, after you got there?

Adam Weber:
I think there are so many things that I look to. One of the things I didn’t realize was, until I spent a few years in Kentucky, how uniquely wired I was to reach people outside the church in South Dakota. So a majority of South Dakotans, I’m going to generalize here big time, but majority of South Dakotans are Lutheran, Catholic, Methodist. And I grew up Lutheran, all my extended family is Catholic, and there’s not much emphasis on our relationship with Jesus and very little emphasis on hell here.

Adam Weber:
So, I mean, kind of like, how are you made right with God to most people here, they’d say, “Get baptized, confirmed, be a good person and go to church.” Well, in Kentucky, if you, I always joke, if you asked someone in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, who’s going to hell? They’d give you a puzzled look and they’d say, “Maybe somebody who murdered a bunch of people?” Like question mark. If you asked that question in Kentucky, you would get a very clear answer.

Heidi Wilcox:
I know. I feel like conversations and sermons about hell traumatized me as a child. I was terrified of it.

Adam Weber:
Yeah. I mean, in Kentucky there’s billboards that say, “Repent or burn, basically.”

Heidi Wilcox:
For real.

Adam Weber:
There’s very much like, “I know I need to get right with God. I know I need to go to church. I know I’m living a sinful life. Like I know…” We don’t have that at all in South Dakota.

Heidi Wilcox:
Wow!

Adam Weber:
And we might look exactly the same, and I didn’t realize how uniquely wired I was to reach people outside the church in South Dakota. It was me. It was my story. It was the same thing. So that was just a moment where I’m like, “God, you’ve uniquely wired me to reach people in this area.” Because their story in so many ways is my story.

Adam Weber:
I think other ways that he’s equipped me was just the passion for the loss. Just really realizing how broken and far I was from God, it made me desperate to tell that person who was looking for Jesus and didn’t even know it. I think that was a part of it. I also even look at my college degree. My degree was business with marketing emphasis. And I’ve always been passionate about marketing. And I can remember when I went to seminary, I’m like, “Gosh, I wasted my undergraduate.” And in hindsight it was like, “No, you actually did the best undergraduate possible. You’re going to plant a church. You need to get the word out about this.”

Adam Weber:
We have the greatest news that’s ever been told. And in church world, marketing and strategy is a sinful word, you know?

Heidi Wilcox:
Yes.

Adam Weber:
And if that’s true, I’d encourage that same person to never read the Book of Acts, because there’s strategy throughout all of it. Paul goes to major hub cities. He goes to places where there’s all kinds of travel, all kinds of culture. I mean, he’s being very, very strategic. And so, again, really just to say it for that person, if you don’t like strategy, you’re not going to like the Apostle Paul.

Adam Weber:
And so, using that wisdom that God has given us, whatever it looks like, leadership, marketing, counseling, whatever that looks like, I think just tapping into that. And that’s really what God tapped into me. He’s like, “No, you did not waste your undergrad, I was equipping you for ministry. Because you’re going to get this awesome foundation at Asbury. You’re going to learn the heart of the gospel, the heart of the Book of Philippians, when you focus on that for a class. Like you’re going to learn all this rich stuff, and this marketing degree is going to come side to side.

Adam Weber:
And another last little thing that I think is just so cool about God, as a little kid, my mom would often play hymns at nursing homes and I would be the one who would help different residents at the nursing home find their page and their worship hymnal. And I think it’s so crazy that at the time I wanted nothing to do with God and I struggled for years with kind of running from God, run from God, but it’s so cool that God was developing in me a heart for worship and how to lead worship even as a little boy, helping people find their page and a hymnal. I think that’s pretty cool of just like, “God, you were equipping me even when I was just a little tyke.”

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. I love looking back and seeing how our lives and our interest and like helping our parents do what they were doing, kind of sometimes come to align with what, when we discover who God made us to be, it all kind of lines up. I love that.

Adam Weber:
It does. It’s so cool. God’s just, he’s just writing such a beautiful story in through all of us.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Yeah. So how did you, because, I mean, I talked to you a couple of years ago because your church was named one of the largest or fastest growing churches in the United Methodist Church. How has… So, I mean, you had great things going on. How has your church changed because of the pandemic? Like I know we talked about the online services, but how else have you guys had to adapt to this time?

Adam Weber:
Yeah, I think in so many ways. Again, really just being honest about the discouragement, one of my kind of close right-hand people said, this is like three weeks ago, he said, “I am struggling big time. Every part of ministry that I love has been taken away.” Just the large room gathering in worship, leading groups in person, a lot of that has changed. And I think that some of the methods have changed, but the mission has not changed at all.

Adam Weber:
And so, I think really thinking outside the box with, we do something at Embrace called Run Projects. It’s where you can apply, if you’re a part of Embrace in any way, you can apply for up to $2,000 to go do something awesome for someone other than yourself or a family member.

Heidi Wilcox:
That’s so cool.

Adam Weber:
Yeah. So we’re constantly, I mean, each week we’re approving thousands of dollars that go out the door, which is so cool. Instead of creating another ministry of Embrace that gets led by two people and then fizzles out, we’re like, “No, we want to come alongside of what God’s doing in you out in the world and we just want to help you run even faster.” And so, we’ve really been encouraging people to do run projects of like, “Hey, just go do things.”

Adam Weber:
For me personally, I’ve been a part of flipping a teacher’s lounge. We did that this last fall. I’ve been a part of doing a yard cleanup for one of my neighbors. We did a parade for a nursing home. We threw them a pizza party with hats and balloons and everything, and then drove through with a parade. Another one I just got approved, we’re doing a mural in downtown Sioux Falls.

Heidi Wilcox:
That’s awesome.

Adam Weber:
The person I’m partnering with, I don’t believe he’s a Christian, and it’s just kind of a token of like us just being a light out in the city. I got approved of another. I apply for them all the time. But I applied to go serve Root Beer Floats and offer prayer to people throughout all the cities. So me and a few friends are going to serve up, hopefully, Lord willing, a hundreds of Root Beer Floats to people and offer prayer to people. So-

Heidi Wilcox:
That’s so cool.

Adam Weber:
That’s been one of the focuses is just like go out and be the hands and feet of Jesus. Like if you see an opportunity that you can help, that you can serve somebody, go do it. And there’s not the, “Hey, put Embrace’s name all over it.” It’s like, “If it comes up, sure, you can mention it.” But the heartbeat is just to obey Jesus, so really challenging people to do that.

Adam Weber:
And then another thing, just even doing online groups. I led a group for new Christians. It was just called New to Jesus, Now What? And me and one of my best friends led a group of Christians in kind of the basics of the faith and what it looks like to follow Jesus. And other thing that I’m wanting to try is Alpha. So we’ve done Alpha at the church here before. I’m a huge fan of Alpha. And Alpha has really began to push online groups. And so, I want to lead an online Alpha group myself. But I think just looking for opportunities.

Adam Weber:
Even one of the things we do, I’m kind of rambling here, but we-

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh, you’re great.

Adam Weber:
We do something on our podcast called CUT FOR TIME. And we’ve done this for close to eight months, so it was pre-pandemic, but it’s a simple episode each week of what got cut from the message because of time or what conversations and questions came up after the message. Like did somebody ask like, “Hey, I kind of wish you would have talked more about this or about that or…” Just any little nugget that you wished you could share. So we do that. We do an episode after each message later in the week that we talk about what was cut for time.

Adam Weber:
Well, now we’ve been doing those on Facebook Live at the same time. So we record them for the podcast, but we also do them on FaceTime or on Facebook Live. And it’s been so cool just to see the engagement there of people tuning in and like, “Oh, man, this is live right now.” And, “Yeah, I was wondering the same thing from the message.”

Heidi Wilcox:
That’s so cool. And so, your podcast is The Conversation with Adam Weber, is that right?

Adam Weber:
Yes. Yep. Yep, I have that one for myself. And then the CUT FOR TIME one is on Embrace churches.

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh, okay.

Adam Weber:
Yeah. So that’s on the Embrace Church one. But, yeah. Yeah.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. And we will, like we do show notes and everything, so we will definitely link all that out so that people can hop on and listen to an episode and hopefully subscribe to you as well.

Adam Weber:
That’s wonderful. That’s fantastic.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. So what do you know, as we’re talking about just ways that you guys are doing ministry, normally when I ask this question, I say, “What do you know about God this year that you didn’t know last year?” But I feel like even though it’s been a short amount of time, we’ve all gone through and process quite a bit in the last few months. So if I could, I want to change the question to: What do you know about God now that say you didn’t know in January or February?

Adam Weber:
That’s a great question. I think that God is constantly up to something new. That he’s constantly doing a new thing. And he uses times like this to address some things in us that maybe we’d glance over in our society, with everything around George Floyd, within the church, some sacred cows that we had that we didn’t know we needed to deal with. And so, he uses all things for good. And I just think he’s constantly up to something new.

Adam Weber:
And so, that’s one thing I’ve learned on a more practical level, we’re really getting an understanding of what the church is. You know, we say the church is a people it’s not a building and that has been tested. Like our theology has been so tested. It’s like, “Oh, my gosh,” but I kind of want the church to be a building. Not even for a building sake, but just to gather. Like just even that part of it.

Adam Weber:
And so, I think it’s really challenged us to be like, “No, we are still the church. Like, no matter how we gather, we are still there and we’re still seeing people grow in their relationship with God.” And so, I think it’s just really like helping me have a new perspective on what the church really is and like how it’s still. I told a pastor friend, I said, “I was so discouraged because right before the pandemic hit, we had the most momentum that I think we’ve ever had in our church’s history. And I’m just sad that that momentum has gone.” And he said, “The momentum’s not gone.” And I just was like, “No, I promise you, the last four services have been the lightest they’ve been in a decade. Like it’s gone.” And yet it might look different though. Like the momentum might look different.

Adam Weber:
And so, I think it’s really made me question in a good way, like what is the church? And it’s just reminded me, God is up to something new. And so, I just keep praying, like, “Lord, would you help me to see that new thing because I want to be a part of it.”

Heidi Wilcox:
Definitely. So one of the new things that is happening for you this summer is you’re publishing a book on, is it August 25th? Is that right?

Adam Weber:
August 25th, yeah.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. That’s awesome. So would you just tell us a little bit about your new book, Love Has a Name?

Adam Weber:
Yeah. So the book has been a labor of love. It was supposed to release, I think like a year and a half ago. I did a two book deal for writing. And so, it’s been a book that’s been in the making for quite some time and I started it out and then paused, I went through just a hard leadership season of ministry, honestly. And so, I reached out to my agent and said, “Hey, I think we should pause.” And she was like, “Yep. Fully agree.” And so, coming out of that season, I began to work on it again.

Adam Weber:
And it was so crazy because I knew the overall concept of the book of just like, what does it look like to love others like Jesus? Like how do we love people like Jesus? So I had the concept and then I come out of this season where I’ve never struggled to love people more. Just went through kind of a hard church season and really was just like kind of broken and hurt by it. And I was just like, “I don’t want to love anyone, and now I’m going to write a book on how to love people?”

Adam Weber:
And so, it was coming out of a season where I was struggling to love, and I would argue the season that we’re in, as humans, we are struggling to love other people. It’s such an interesting thing in society, right now love is a word that we’re quick to hang on banners and quick to be the mantras of our lives. Like we’re quick to shout, “Love, love, love,” and yet I would argue we’ve never been so divided. We’re never so quick to draw our lines in the sand and like, “Hey, if you don’t agree with me, I cancel you.” And it’s like, “Oh, my gosh, we’re shouting, ‘Love,’ while our lives and our words and our actions and attitude are anything but that.”

Adam Weber:
And then so it’s like, “That stinks.” And then Jesus comes along and he’s like, “Oh, by the way, guys, loving God alone, loving others, it’s the two most important things.” It’s like, “Oh, my gosh.” Okay. So this is really important. So that’s really where this book flows out of is, what does it look like to love like Jesus? And so, the book it’s kind of an interesting layout, every chapter is the name of a person. And it’s the name of a specific person who’s either loved me or I’ve tried to love them, combined with a similar person that Jesus has loved.

Heidi Wilcox:
Wow!

Adam Weber:
And so, some of the stories are hilarious, some of them are kind of heartbreaking. None of the people that have a chapter named after them are famous, none of them have platforms. And yet for me, that’s pretty encouraging that even someone who’s not famous can be used by God to shape somebody. And so, it’s just these simple stories combined with Jesus and really pointed to him as a person to learn how to love. Like he’s the one that shows us how to love, I don’t. So that’s kind of the overall heartbeat of the book. And it was a riot to put together, it was a lot of fun.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. I love that. Can you tell us about one of the people in the book who helped you learn more about love?

Adam Weber:
Yeah. So one of my favorite chapters is on a man named Antonio. Antonio is 21 years old. He’s an African American fellow. And he has kind of the mental capacity of roughly a 10 year old. And so, the first time I met Antonio, I was preaching. And I think I was preaching, the first time I was preaching about cancer and really having a heavy moment. And as I was talking about cancer, I heard someone laughing and I was like, “Oh, my gosh, that’s kind of weird.”

Adam Weber:
You know, like I’ve preached through babies screaming, through people like moving around, but I’m like, “Oh, my gosh,” it’s kind of threw me off. Well, the next week I was talking about something like divorce and again, I heard laughing. And I was like, “Oh, my gosh, maybe he’s hearing me wrong. Like what’s going on?” So after the service, I came to the campus pastor and I’m like, “Hey, is someone laughing?” And he’s like, “Let me introduce you to Antonio.”

Adam Weber:
So we go in the entryway and there he is. And before I got to him, like 15 yards away, he started shaking his hands. Like he was getting all excited and I came up to him, I’m like, “And your name is Antonio?” And, I mean, he’s like waving his hands, like with excitement. And he’s like, “Yes.” And I’m like, “Dude,” and I’m like, “I’m Adam. Like you come to Embrace? Like you come here?” “Yes.” I mean, I was like, “Oh, awesome.” And I’m like, “Oh, it’s so nice to meet you.” And he just like would give me all these one word responses.

Adam Weber:
But in that interaction, I felt like the most important person in the world. And he loved me so extravagantly. He wasn’t checking his phone as we talked, he wasn’t scanning the room to see if there was someone that was more important than me to go talk to, you know how you’re kind of looking like, “Who else is here? Should I break this conversation off, so I can go over there?” He was 110% zoned in on me. And he was thrilled by it. He didn’t care who heard him say, “Yes,” he didn’t care where he was.

Adam Weber:
A few weeks later, I saw him walking. He was walking with a group of friends and I said, “Hey, Antonio,” and he literally froze in the middle of the intersection and just started waving, “Adam!” I’m like… And it was so crazy. Like I got to the point where every Sunday I wanted to go out and see him because of how he loved, he made me feel. He loved extravagantly. And during those first few months that he was coming every so often, we’d have people say, “Hey, is there a way to get this guy to be quiet? Like not even rudely, like it’s kind of awkward that he’s laughing at really weird times, like he’s kind of loud. Can we try to keep him down?”

Adam Weber:
And it reminded me of a story of, there was this lady who had this jar of perfume. Jesus was hanging out with a Pharisee, and she comes in and pours perfume all over Jesus. And the Pharisee’s like, “Can’t we just keep it down? Like what she’s doing is she let her hair down and she’s a woman. That’s really disgraceful. And like she’s kind of making a fool of herself. Like what’s she doing? Can’t she just be quiet?” And here she is, with this expensive perfume, it’s like the most valuable thing that she has. She’s extravagantly loving Jesus.

Adam Weber:
And so, I couldn’t help but think of like Antonio, when I read that story. It was just like, “Oh, my gosh, that’s Antonio.” And it’s so interesting to me that oftentimes in Antonio, we’re like, “Oh, yeah. Can we just kind of figure out what to do with Antonio?” And Jesus, he was like, “No, actually, there’s this Pharisee… Like the most important person right now is this woman right here. Like she’s actually the VIP. And how she’s loving me right now is the same way that I want you to love others.” And so, Antonio was one of the chapters.

Adam Weber:
I talk about my friend, Jake, in another chapter. Jake pursued me, the kind of the underlying for that is, love pursues the unpopular. And that was Jake towards me. I was the nerdiest kid in my class. You’re sixth grade, kind of at the lowest place of society in my class, and Jake was at the very top. He was super cool. He used to wear these Jibo pants that were really popular. Had he railroad tracks. Like he was just so cool. And yet Jake could care less what other people thought about me and what people thought about him when he was hanging out with me. He was my best friend. And he always would go out of his way to love me.

Adam Weber:
And when his mom would tell him that he got to invite a friend over, he picked me.

Heidi Wilcox:
Wow!

Adam Weber:
And I just always, I look back and I’m like, “Man, you showed me what it looks like to love someone when it’s really unpopular.” Jesus loved a guy named Levi. And didn’t just meet him at his tax collector’s booth, ended up going over to his house, hanging out with kind of his loser friends. And I think it’s a powerful thing. It’s one thing to love someone when it helps your popularity and helps your status, it’s another thing all together when it hurts your status, your recognition, and yet that’s what Jesus calls us to do.

Adam Weber:
And really from Jake, I’ve always had this desire to love someone that’s unpopular. It’s easy to be with someone on their best day, it’s like Jesus to be with someone on their worst day. And that’s the different things that set us apart. And so, that’s another person that showed me what it looks like to love like Jesus.

Heidi Wilcox:
I love hearing all these stories. I read the sneak peek of the first chapter and I was like, “Oh, do I have to wait till August? Give me more now.”

Adam Weber:
I’m quite possibly the biggest nerd on the planet. And so, the book, I tried to show as much Jesus and nerdiness and humor in it as I possibly could. So I hope it warms your soul, convicts you, and I hope it makes your cheeks hurt from smiling. That’s my goal.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Well, I was going to tell you, I have smiled throughout our entire conversation so far. I am just loving it.

Adam Weber:
My face is hurting as well. I’ve been pushing on my cheeks, like trying to not make them smile so much.

Heidi Wilcox:
That’s awesome. We talked about this a little bit, but especially because of the season that we’re in, you mentioned it like, how do you believe your book is especially applicable to the time where, I’ll get it out…

Adam Weber:
Yeah, you got it. You did it right.

Heidi Wilcox:
…applicable to the time we’re living in right now? Because you couldn’t have known that when you started writing it, you know?

Adam Weber:
No. No, it’s honestly, the publisher just reached out the other day and said, “We can’t believe the timing of this book.” And I’m like, “I feel like I can’t believe it either.” And one of the chapters talks about love pulls up a chair, love seeks out the different person. And I just think that’s Jesus so much. Even in our society, like we’re so… well, you can’t love that person while at the same time simultaneously loving that person. Yeah, you actually can. You can’t love that person because they totally disagree with what you have to say about this and that. No, you actually still can love them. And I think we’ve lost the ability to agree to disagree and really see the value that each person has and each perspective has.

Adam Weber:
I posted the other day, if you disagree with what I have to say about anything, can we still be friends?

Heidi Wilcox:
Yes, for real.

Adam Weber:
I’m like, I still want to be friends. Like I have something to learn from you. And so, don’t cancel me out of your life. Don’t just unfriend away just because we disagree. Like we need to have even a deeper friendship with each other. I look at Jesus who he hung out with, he absolutely did not agree with their choices, with their lifestyle, with what they thought. I mean, just everything. And yet he loved them anyway. And I just think, man, if we could love like Jesus, people would be drawn to us and we’ve never needed it more.

Adam Weber:
And so, I just think like, I just really am praying that it would just, my hope is that it would lead someone to have a conversation with someone who looks different than them. It would lead them to interact with people who are different than them. That it’s whenever we turn people into numbers or into a blur sometimes it’s easy to like, “Okay, just give me my coffee.” Well, the person giving you the coffee is a human. “And just let me go like this. Let me do this.” Well, the person you’re speaking with, they’re a human too. And like, anytime we turn people into a blur of faces, it dehumanizes them in some way. But when we know a person’s name and we know their story, awesome. It’s like, “Man, I’ve disagreed with you still, but I really like you.” Like we’re on different sides of that, politically run different sides, what you believe about that, we’re at different places, but I really enjoy our conversations. Like I really enjoy that.

Adam Weber:
And we actually have more in common that we have, that we disagree on. And, man, I just think Jesus was so good at that and he just loves so well. And I’m like, “We need that more than ever. What does it look like to love like Jesus?” And even in our walk with Christ as Christians, it’s so easy to be really great at a whole bunch of things in theory. I’m just like, “Yes, that’s what the gospel of Luke says. Well, have you tried living it out?” That’s when it goes from theory to practice and that’s when the depth through our relationship with Jesus just grows and it explodes.

Adam Weber:
And when we take what we know about God and we begin to put it into place in our lives, people will be drawn to know more about the Jesus that we follow. You know, they won’t be skeptical of us talking about God, they’ll be the ones asking questions to say, “Can you tell me more about this? Like, you’re just so different. You know? Like you engage and ask calm questions of me and you actually seem like you’re interested in me. And I report to you and yet you serve me, and I don’t understand that. And I wronged you and yet you still want a relationship with me and a friendship, like that’s not like everybody else. They write me off as soon as I wrong them or hurt them, but you offered me grace.”

Adam Weber:
There’s something so contagious about that. And what an opportunity for us as followers of Jesus to be a light? People are looking for light right now.

Heidi Wilcox:
Definitely. What is so significant or the importance of knowing somebody else’s name, as we learn to love them and learn their story?

Adam Weber:
It, just kind of like what we spoke about, it acknowledges that a person is a human and it acknowledges that someone has value. It acknowledges that they do have a story. And I think for anybody that’s hard to love, if you have a person that’s just really hard to love, maybe just ask them a few questions. First off, they’re probably going to be taken aback by the fact that you’re asking questions to them. It’s like, “I’m rude to you constantly. Why do you want to hear about that? Why do you want to hear about my weekend?” And all of a sudden you begin to know more about their story.

Adam Weber:
Just even I have a neighbor, I’m actually not sure where he lives, he walks by my house probably eight or nine times a day. His name’s Bradley. He’s a Native American fellow who struggles big time with mental health. And it can be a hard relationship. He can be a hard person to love, just to be honest with you. Probably about 60% of the time he’s intoxicated. Sometimes he gets angry and I don’t even know why we haven’t spoken. Like he’ll just walk up and be angry.

Adam Weber:
But the other day I just asked Bradley, I said, “Do your parents live locally?” And he’s probably my age. He’s probably 30 something. And he’s like, “Oh, they live on the west part of the state.” And I’m like, “Oh, well.” I was like, “Do you have a relationship with them?” And he’s like, “Yeah.” You could just tell he could not believe I was asking about his parents, you know?

Heidi Wilcox:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Adam Weber:
And he’s like, “Well, yeah. Yeah, my mom lives here. My dad lives in this other place.” And I’m like, “Oh, they seem like pretty good people. Like are they good people?” And he said, “My mom, she’s a really good person when she’s not drunk.” And I’m like, “Oh, wow! Really? She’s just a really nice woman when she’s not drinking, when she…” And he just got really tender with me and he said, “When she’s not drinking, she’s really kind. And she’s just a really good person and I love spending time with her.”

Adam Weber:
And all sudden I’m like, here is this man that I am guessing has not been asked about his parents possibly in a decade, maybe in his entire lifetime. And then a white man is asking him the questions. I mean, and we’ve established a relationship now for a year and a half, but I, all of a sudden, when the times that I see Bradley and he’s totally intoxicated, there’s a point that he can’t walk and he’s laying on the sidewalk, all of a sudden it makes me love him. I know his story. I know his name. He’s not just a person that looks different, and others might say his a drag on society. Instead, I’m like, “Oh, he’s a person.”

Adam Weber:
And it might be hard to grasp and it be easy to say this and just lightly say it, but I’m saying it from like a place of like profoundly interacting with him on a regular basis, he has the same worth before God that I do.

Adam Weber:
That’s unbelievable.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Adam Weber:
I mean, if you began to look, anybody would say, “Ah, I don’t know, like he’s in jail like often and he goes to the hospital. Almost half the time I see him, he has a bracelet because he’s went to the hospital for something.” And he’s yet, it’s like, no, in the eyes of God, equal value. And I think if Jesus walked up, he wouldn’t talk to me, he’d talk to Bradley. I mean, that just all of a sudden it’s like, oh, my gosh. And so, a person’s name and their story, it changes everything.

Adam Weber:
You know, the friend, the college friend, that’s quick to sleep around, it changes big time when all of a sudden you know that she was abused as a little girl. It’s like…

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Adam Weber:
And the person who’s really critical, kind of an angry person at your workplace, it’s just like, oh, my gosh, bitter, bitter, bitter, bitter. It changes everything, when you know that her dad just died of cancer four years, and she cries most nights thinking about it.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Adam Weber:
All of a sudden it’s like, wow, she’s really bitter, but she’s bitter because, man, she’s angry at God because her dad who got pancreatic cancer went through this horrible death and she was there. She was the only person there and now she has no other loved ones around her. I mean, it just changes something. And all of a sudden it’s like, oh, she’s human. And, Bradley, he’s human. Wow! He’s not less value than me, he’s equal value. And, again, Jesus would be drawn to the two of those people, not me first.

Adam Weber:
So it changes everything when we know a person’s name. And I think Jesus was so good at Zacchaeus. Everybody else was thinking, “You know that scumbag’s name? Like legitimately, you know his name? That actually makes me think less of you, Jesus. Like you know a bad guy? Have I told you about him and all the money he’s taken from my family? And now you’re going to know his name and you’re going to go to his house? When I went to the temple and I’ve been religious and I know the Shammah, the Torah, and all that, like you’re going to choose him? How dare you? Like how dare you know Zacchaeus’ name?”

Adam Weber:
And I even think about Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus is a man that I’m guessing didn’t want anybody to know his name.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, for real.

Adam Weber:
He’s like, “I hope nobody knows what I do for work. Like I want to hide when people…” I’m watching the Chosen film right now and just seeing how they portrayed the tax collectors, really, really powerful. And I just think like, man, and yet for the one time in his life, how excited he must have been when he found out that Jesus knew his name.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Adam Weber:
That changed the whole… He was so desperate, he climbed up in a tree. And I just think of how cool that would have been for Zacchaeus in that moment of like, “He knows my name? And he wants to come to my house?” And it’s cool to think that he knows your name and he knows my name too.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. So you mentioned that when you started writing this book, you were going through a hard season and struggling to love anybody. And so, but it sounds like now that loving people, I don’t know, if it’s always easy for you, but it sounds like it comes easier than maybe it did at one time. So what did you learn and what changed for you?

Adam Weber:
Yeah. Well, that’s a great question. So it’s kind of weird. I think for most of my life, my agent, she said this and write in the book, before your heart season, Adam, I think it would have been a good book. Now out of your heart season, it’s a book I want to read. You know, like there’s…

Heidi Wilcox:
That’s a huge compliment too.

Adam Weber:
Yeah, specifically from her, I mean, she’s one of the best in publishing world, and I was like, “Oh my gosh, like, can I just put that on the book? That’s awesome.” But before the season, I think joy and loving people and just kind of the adventure of finding a person’s name and their story, that actually has come very, very naturally for me most of my life.

Adam Weber:
As I shared about Jake, I was picked on heavily in elementary school. And then we moved to a different town and I literally went from being the loser in my grade to the most popular kid in my class. And so, I’ve always had a heart for the outsider, even though I became the “popular kid.” It’s because I know what it’s felt like to be unwanted and unseen and overlooked. And so, I’ve always had a desire to love people.

Adam Weber:
But through that season of really hard stuff, I had to make a really hard leadership decision that wasn’t popular. I wouldn’t change a single thing I did, so there’s nothing wrong in what I did, there was just a whole bunch of people who were not happy with the decision I made. And so, I had a lot of people walk out, people that I had loved and cared for, for a decade, walked out of my life and it was hard.

Adam Weber:
And I think really the place from which I love from is what changed the most. I think before, love from a place of wanting validation and wanting people to love me in return and just kind of eager for validation and approval, I think that’s what it was. And through that season, I really felt like God was saying to me, “Hey, Adam, I didn’t cause the season, but I’m going to use this season. Because I’ve been trying to address this people pleaser in you, your entire life and I’ve never really gotten your attention till now.” And so, I mean, it was brutal to go through that season.

Adam Weber:
You know you hear about people using the phrase, “The dark night of the soul,” for me, it was a good 12, 13 month dark night of the soul. Days I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Like I didn’t know if I was going to recover as a human. And so, but through that, I used to hear, “I am the vine, you are the branches. I prune, so you can bear more fruit,” that’s a hard, painful thing to learn. I’m like, I don’t want to be pruned, like never, ever again.

Adam Weber:
I can remember, I preached on it years ago and I called a local winery, a vineyard, and I said, “Can you tell me about the pruning process?” And he wasn’t a Christian. So he was just strictly speaking about how to care for a vine. He said, “When you prune a vine, to the naked eye, like to an untrained eye, someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing, if they saw when I was doing, you would think that I’m killing the vine.” He’s like, “You don’t just gently prune a vine and kind of cut off like a leaf here or a leaf there.,” he’s like, “You hack at the heart of the vine.” I mean, he’s like, “It’s…I mean it. You’d think I’m trying to kill the vine.”

Adam Weber:
And I can remember through that season feeling like, “I feel like I’m being killed. Like this is brutal.” And I think anybody leadership-wise, you will have a season like this, you’ll have a time like this, where it feels that way, and yet God’s doing something wonderful if you can hold onto him, if you can cling to him.

Adam Weber:
So out of that season, really, it’s kind of it’s come back now. Like what’s been so cool this last year, year and a half, has just been lovely. Like I thank God for it daily. But it’s really comes from, now my love comes from a place of, I’m so loved by God that I can’t help but love somebody else.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, definitely.

Adam Weber:
My love for Jesus is what makes me want to engage in the George Floyd conversation. My love for Jesus is the reason that I want to hear the story of Bradley. And even after he gets angry at me randomly, it makes me want to open my door to him the next day. It’s because of the love of Jesus that I want to extend grace to the Pharisees. It’s the reason that I want to extravagantly love other people. It’s because of who Jesus is. John refers to himself as the one he loves. And I want that for me. Like I want to understand, like my first title is the one that he loves. And that begins to change everything.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. That’s beautiful. So I watched the trailer for your book, and you had like a talking table, I don’t know what else to call it, but you had … Did you really do that or was that just for the promo?

Adam Weber:
I’ve really done that many, many times.

Heidi Wilcox:
I love that. That’s awesome.

Adam Weber:
You can use the word awesome, you can also use the word bizarre for it.

Heidi Wilcox:
I think those two are closely related.

Adam Weber:
Closely, yes. This was really out of that hard season, to be honest with you. One day I felt convicted that I was supposed to go sit on a street corner and just listen to people. So I ordered this desk that I found online. It’s a pop-up suitcase desk. And I had the desk for, I think, eight, nine months, and just kept feeling like I was supposed to go do something, but I didn’t. I just passed it up every time, because I’m like, “This is insane. Who would do such a thing? Not to mention, I’m guessing a whole bunch of people who know me will be like, ‘Adam, what are you doing?'”

Heidi Wilcox:
The worst they have to do it in your hometown. Right?

Adam Weber:
Yeah. In my hometown, where a bunch of like professionals who attend my church will walk by because it’s downtown. And one day I literally prayed. I’m like, “God, if…” Because I had in mind, I have to sit underneath a tree of some kind or under a shade because I’m as white as they come or I’ll burn. And so, I prayed. I’m like, “God, if there’s a parking spot right next to one of these two locations, that’s open, I’ll do it.”

Adam Weber:
So the first one I drove past, I’m like, “It’s full. There’s no place to park. Yes.” I get to the second place, no option. And so, I sheepishly set up my stuff as fast as I can. So I have two chairs, my pop-up desk, I got a bobblehead, I got a picture of my wife and a plant that I bring out because I want it to be a desk. And then I got a little sign that says, “Need to talk? Grab a seat.”

Adam Weber:
And so, I get put in a place and I get my laptop out and I’m working with my head down because I’m like, maybe if I put my head down on my computer, no one would realize that I’ve got a makeshift office on the street corner. And so, first I sit down and I had a lot of people be like, “Hey, that’s really cool. Hey, that’s really cool. Like what’s the strings attached? How much do you charge? Blah, blah, blah.” And I’m like, “It’s free.” “Why are you doing this?” “I have no idea.”

Adam Weber:
And the first man who sat down, I’ll never forget this, and I’ve done this probably, oh, it’s more times than I can count, 20 times, 25 times. And I’ll do it out for hours at a time. And the first guy who sat down was probably 50 some years old and he walks, he’s like, “So you can grab a seat?” And I’m like, “Yeah.” And then so he sits down and I say, “What’s your name?” And he tells me his name. I think it was Gerald. And I’m like, “Oh, what do you do?” And he told me he was like some advanced high scientist of some kind. And I’m like, “Oh, that’s great.” And he said, “I’m just waiting for my son.” He said, “I’m really stressed lately.” And then he began to tell me all about his job. I mean, like tell me all his awards that he had won, recognitions. And so, he gets done for like 10 minutes using every word that I’ve no idea what he’s even saying. I struggled in science classes.

Adam Weber:
I was like, “Oh, wow, that’s amazing.” I was like, “None of my business, before you started telling me about your job, you said you were really stressed. Would you want to tell me about that?” And he had sunglasses on and he was dressed. His clothing was really expensive. I mean, you could just tell he was very well off. And all of a sudden he started sobbing in front of me.

Heidi Wilcox:
Wow!

Adam Weber:
And he’s like, “I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have sat down.” And I’m like, “No, are you kidding? I’ve got a sign that says, ‘Need to talk, I’ll listen.'” He’s like, “I’m embarrassed. I can’t believe I’m…” And I’m like, “No.” I was like, “Man, I had a good cry last week. We’re in the same boat.” So for 10 minutes, he cried in front of me. And he said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’ve been having panic attacks and I’m highly anxious, which is why I’m in town. I’m actually staying at my adult son’s house. And I just don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

Adam Weber:
And we talked, we talked, we talked, and right kind of close to the end, I said, “Have you ever thought about inviting God into this?” And he started bawling all and again. And he said, “You think God would want anything to do with this?” And he pointed to himself. He’s like, “You think God would want something to do with this mess? With me?” And I said, “Actually, I don’t think,” I said, “Actually, I know even in our darkest valleys that God is with us.”

Adam Weber:
He just started bawling again. I said, “Gerald, even right now, in all of this crap that you’re walking with and there’s darkness,” I said, “I can just feel it around you. Like it’s dark, isn’t it?” And he’s like, “It’s so dark. I don’t even know what’s wrong with me.” I said, “Even right now, the Lord is with you.” I was like, “No pressure.” I was like, “Would you mind if I prayed for you?” And he was like, “I’d love that.”

Adam Weber:
We prayed. We prayed. We talked. His son’s work time came up, so it was time for him to go see his dad. And he stood up. Again, here’s this guy who… Like I don’t know what kind of car he had, but he had to have a nice one. He said, “I walked by you before I sat down. I was on a walk because I was really struggling with anxiety. And I said to myself, ‘If that man is still there when I get back, I’ll sit down and talk with him.'”

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh, wow!

Adam Weber:
He said, “If for nobody else you are here for me. I just wanted to say, thank you. If for nobody else you were here for me.” And that was the first time. I ended up… So the next time I’m sitting there and a young woman sat down. She was probably 30 years old, beautiful girl. She sat down so quickly, it scared me. I got into a place, I’d just got my laptop down. And she said, she’s like, “Okay, I’m sitting here.” I literally jumped. I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, you scared me”. And I’m like, “Okay.” And she’s like, “I don’t normally do this kind of thing.”

Heidi Wilcox:
You’re like, “I don’t either.”

Adam Weber:
That’s exactly… I’m like, “I don’t either. I’ve actually done it one time to be technically clear. Like I did it one other time last week, that’s it.” And I said, “You doing okay?” And she swore, so I’ll bleep this a little bit. She said, “It’s been a… storm of a day.” And I said, “I’ve been through some of those.” And she said, “You have?” And I’m like, “Yeah, I’ve walked through some of those storms. I know what those feel like.” And she said, “I got to my car, I saw your sign. I got to your car, my car and I started bawling.” She’s like, “My dad just found out he’s got terminal cancer.”

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh, no.

Adam Weber:
And she said, “I saw your sign, ‘Need to talk, I’ll listen.”” And she was like, “I’ve never in my entire life needed to talk more.” And so, she was like, “So I got my butt out of my car,” she swore again, “I got my butt out of my car and now I’m sitting here.” And I’m like, “Well, I’m honored that you’d sit here with me.” And so, she just talked and I listened and I was like, “Hey, there’s no pressure. This might be weird. I just want to share this Bible verse with you.”

Adam Weber:
And she’s like, “That means so much.” And she said, “My dad’s just so scared.” And I’m like, “Well, it is, it’s scary. You know, it’s scary.” I said, “I don’t know how much you know about God, but I’m so thankful, he’s always with us no matter where we’re at. There’s actually no place we can go that he’s not already there.”

Adam Weber:
And so, I said, “For your dad,” and she said her little brother was really struggling with it too. He just graduated high school. I was like, “Even for your brother and for you, there’s no place you can go that God’s not already there.” I was like, “Isn’t that so wonderful to know?” She was like, “That’s so great.” And so, I ended up praying for her.

Adam Weber:
And, I mean, it was just like, it was so bizarre of just how that same day somebody walked by, this random looking guy. He’s like, “Thank you.” He’s like, “Every single one of us humans needs to talk and be listened to.” And I was like-

Heidi Wilcox:
For real, yeah.

Adam Weber:
Yes. I’m like, “Exactly.” And he’s like, “And what a simple way to love somebody.” I’m like, “It really is. It’s really simple.” Like I think so often we think it’s got to be this grand thing, and sometimes it is a grand thing. We think we got to give money, and sometimes we need to give money, we need to serve somebody. And some of the times we do need to serve somebody, but sometimes it’s as simple as just listening to another person and hearing their story.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, for real. I mean, because I watched that on the video and I was like, there have been times in my life where I wanted a complete stranger who was willing to listen to me to be able to talk because I didn’t. I was like, I can’t tell my friends, whatever, I don’t want to tell my family, I just need to tell somebody who’s going to listen to me and not judge me because they don’t really know me. So, yeah.

Adam Weber:
Yes. Like, honestly, if someone is listening to this and they’re like, “I want to grow in my relationship with Jesus. Like what can I do right now?” And I would specifically say this for the person who knows all the right Bible answers and stuff, my biggest challenge to you is each day, and this is for the person who wants to go deep in their relationship with God, so I’ll just kind of put that out there. I’m being a little bit snarky when I say that, but I think I can get to that person, that person who really wants to go deep, deep, deep. I’m talking like the rich stuff. Here it is.

Adam Weber:
This is just for the person who really wants to push in each way, each day, wake up, get on your knees and ask God to help you see one person that you can go out of your way to love today.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Adam Weber:
Again, that’s for the person who really wants to go deep. And especially, in seminary world, I’m really kind of pushing that person who really wants to get to the deep stuff. The deep stuff is not knowing the Bible, word for word, the deep stuff is not being able to read your Bible in the Greek, that’s not actually deep at all, it’s actually really shallow. Jesus once said, “The wise man is the person who builds his house on the rock and the foolish man is the one who builds his house on the sand.” The difference between the two is not that the one hears the word of God and the other doesn’t, that’s oftentimes what we hear when we hear that, that’s not what Jesus says.

Adam Weber:
Jesus says, “The fool is the person who hears God’s word,” you could also say, the fool is the person who reads the Bible in Greek, the fool is the person who knows all about Paul’s theology and doesn’t put it into place. That’s the fool. The wise person is the person who hears God’s word, which could also be translated as reads the Bible in Greek, knows all about Paul’s theology and he puts it into place. And when we begin to do that in the simplest ways, like each day just waking up and saying, “God, help me to find one person today that I can go out of my way to love, whether it’s listening, serving, helping financially, standing up for whatever it might look like.”

Adam Weber:
When we begin to do that, God will take us on one of the most wonderful rich adventures every single day. And whether it’s Gerald or a young lady who just found out her dad’s got terminal cancer, it will lead to something so beautiful. And all of a sudden, I know for myself, I feel so imperfect to be used, as the church I pastor has gotten larger, I feel even more inadequate. I find myself even getting even more nervous on Sundays. And here’s what’s so wonderful if God can use every single one of us in the most wonderful, beautiful way to show the love of Jesus, which I would say could change the world.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, definitely. Well, Adam, this has been great. You’ve, like seriously, really challenged me in this conversation. Because when you said I’m talking to the person who knows the Bible and all the right answers, I was like, I was taking notes…I just like looked up because I was like, “He’s getting ready to talk to me right now.” So thank you for that.

Adam Weber:
Well, I’m preaching to myself the same exact time. I am far from having anything figured out. And at the end of my life, I just truly want to look more like Jesus. Because when we look like Jesus, last thing, John, in one of his letters, he says, “When we love one another, his love is made perfect within us.” And I’ve always thought that verse just applied to the person being loved. You know, when you love somebody, they see the perfect love of God, which is so cool. It’s like, “How do you see the perfect love of God through me?”

Adam Weber:
But when I read through it this last time, all of a sudden, it just was like, God spoke. When you love one another, my love is made perfect within you too. Like you get to experience my perfect love, which is why it feels so good to love somebody. Because in those moments, we are the closest we can be to the heart of Jesus and we’re most like him. And so, there’s something so wonderful about that. And so, I pray that would be true for every single one of us. And Heidi, thank you for just the wonderful time. This has been amazing.

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh, yeah. Thank you so much. We have one last question that we like to ask everybody as we wrap up the show. So because it’s called the Thrive with Asbury Seminary Podcast, what is one practice, it can be spiritual or otherwise like binging on Netflix, whatever is working for you right now that is helping you thrive in your life right now?

Adam Weber:
Oh, so good. For me, it’s really been two things. I mentioned one of them. It’s really been just time with God, which sounds crazy. Through this, the virus, it’s really changed my schedule a lot. Usually, I drop my kids off in the morning at school and so I need to drop them and be there at a certain time. Well, now I’ve been able to leave the house early. And I go and sit at a coffee shop and I start, before I even read the Bible, I just sit there in silence and I just listen to the birds and I still my soul. And then I begin to read God’s word of just that extra time of just looking around, noticing people who are walking by at the coffee shop that I’m at. Just really taking in and being quiet and allowing myself to really open my soul up to hear from God. That’s one specific thing.

Adam Weber:
The other thing is the thing I’ve just mentioned. More than any time in my life, I’ve just been praying, “God, can you just help me to see one person today that I can go out of my way to love.” And it has been, I mean, some of the stories I have right now, I’m like, “I can’t make this stuff up,” and it’s not been anything like, “Oh, look at Adam, look at Adam,” the whole time I’m just like, “Look at you, God.” Like this is such a crazy thing. And I’ve just seen so many different aspects of who God is through it. So that’d be the second thing. Just waking up, praying, “God help me to see one person that I could love today.”

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Can I ask you one more question? I know I said that was the last one.

Adam Weber:
Yeah. Yeah. No, this is great! Fire away!

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, but you mentioned like the second thing was praying to help you see one person that God would have you love specifically that day. And your first book was talking with God, what to say when you don’t know how to pray.

Adam Weber:
Yeah.

Heidi Wilcox:
So why do you think it’s significant that you learned and wrote about prayer before you started talking and learning about love?

Adam Weber:
That’s a great question. It wasn’t super intentional way like, I really think it’s the next step. Like it’s prayer is really where you come to love God. Like can you really grow in that relationship with him? And this second book is really about loving others out of that love from God. And so, I think it’s actually, it’s pretty cool, when I began to think about it, it’s like they really build off of each other and they’re kind of the most full way of just like, “Oh, my gosh, because of that, now we’re able to love well.” I mean, it’s even really where that prayer came from in my own soul, was what I learned as I began to process and write the book. It’s really where that prayer came from of, “Lord, would you help me to see one person that you would want me to love today.” And really prayer not just being on specific time in our day, sometimes we have more intentional prayer times, for sure, but really it becoming [inaudible 01:07:42] all of it.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. That’s awesome. Adam, thank you so much. I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed our conversation and just the take chance to get to touch base with you again. So thank you so much.

Adam Weber:
Oh, thank you too. Like I am a huge fan of everything Asbury is doing. And Heidi, you’re fantastic. My cheeks are still hurting…so just thank you for your kindness and thank you for the ways that God is using you and the ways that God is using this podcast. It’s awesome to think about the people who are touched tonight. I pray anyone listening today was encouraged.

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh, well, thank you so much. Hey, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me for today’s conversation with Adam Weber. I don’t know about you guys, but I could not stop smiling from ear to ear the entire time we were talking. So I hope you guys enjoyed the conversation as well.

Heidi Wilcox:
And his book is releasing on August 25th. So if you haven’t already done so, go ahead and pre-order your copy today. It’ll totally be worth it. I’ve read the first chapter, and it left me wanting more. So go ahead and order that from your favorite online retailer or a local bookstore.

Heidi Wilcox:
And if you haven’t already done so, I hope you’ll go ahead and subscribe to this podcast. And as always, you can follow us in all the places on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @AsburySeminary.

Heidi Wilcox:
Until next time, have a great day you all, and go do something that helps you thrive.