Mancation

This afternoon, I will be taking off for the weekend to The Man Cave’s second annual Mancation. We will be at the beautiful Granlibakken resort in Tahoe City. I’ll be leading worship this weekend, which is always a great thrill. There is something about a room full of men who are hungry for God, singing and worshiping without a care of what others will think of them. As we say, it’s a safe place with a dangerous message. 

In the year and a half since The Cave started, we have seen some very special things. We hear incredible stories, most commonly from the wives and children of men who have been influenced positively by The Man Cave. We’ve seen men turn away from a life of alcoholism. So many of the men have been dealing with unemployment issues, trouble paying the bills, businesses collapsing, and so much more. Even those who haven’t experienced desperate times find a refreshing presence in and among the men of The Cave.

I was very surprised to find that God would put me in a place of ministry in such a venue, but it has been pretty incredible. I’m excited to see what God has in store over the next 48 hours. 

“A good man obtains favor from the Lord…” 
~Proverbs 12:2 

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An Amazing Night In The Cave

It’s nearly 11 PM as I begin writing this. I just got home a bit ago from this week’s Man Cave, and I have to tell you, it was an amazing night. I mean, I am involved with every moment of these nights for days, even weeks ahead of time. And when they all come together before your eyes, and those of a couple hundred other men, it’s awesome.

Tonight was a night to honor our military. Those who are serving now, and those who served in the past. At one point, we shared a video from a documentary about a soldier, Stephen McGowan, who died almost exactly 4 years ago in Iraq. He was known, and has since become famous as the “Beanie Baby” soldier. For the sake of brevity, I won’t go into his entire story in detail. But he was known for giving Beanie Babies to Iraqi children he came across. People back home, many of whom he never met, would send him Beanie Babies to give away because they were easy for him to carry and give away.

He died from a blast of an improvised explosive device. Without going into gory details, a couple of his buddies went to heroic lengths to retrieve as much of Stephen as they could. They were determined that every bit of him would be returned to his mother. One of these men was his best friend, and a good friend of The Man Cave. He lives here in the Sacramento area and was featured in this documentary segment we showed. Unfortunately, he was unable to attend tonight.

Toward the end of the video, we sneaked a guest into the room. He waited at the rear of the room for his queue. As the video faded to black, a faint sound began to pierce through the fading applause. We had a live bagpiper there, and the men began to recognize the haunting melody of Amazing Grace. The men rose to their feet. At first, many of them thought it was from the video, but then they realized the sound was originating from behind them. Slowly, the bagpiper made his way from the rear of the room, and up a ramp to the stage. He pivoted, and continued to play from the front-most edge of the stage. Every light was off, except for one bright spotlight on the bagpiper.

Wow.

When he finished, you could hear a pin drop. For what seemed like minutes, but was really maybe 5-7 seconds, upwards of 200 men, myself included, gulped down the softball sized lumps in our collective throats.

You have to understand something. I was the one who talked to this guy days ago. I booked him. I told him of all the elements to the evening. Hours earlier, I walked him through the room, and gave him all of the details that would lead up to his moment. I had seen the video. But when it all came together in the service, the tears flowed down my face as if I had no idea it was coming. I couldn’t stop. It was more powerful than I was prepared for. I was prepared for the whole thing. It went exactly as I had planned it. But there was something in that moment that penetrated my heart in a profound way.

All gave some, but some gave all.

Why do I complain about the things I do? Why do I let things bother me which are so insignificant in the big picture of life? Am I more concerned with being successful in the world’s eye, or being a man of significance in God’s?

Fittingly, at the end of the service, we sang “Jesus Paid It All”. I’ve included it in my music player in the right column of this page.

It was a powerful night. One I’ll never forget.

Brief Departure

I don’t know about you, but I need a little bit of a change of pace. I’m afraid my recent posts are going to drive someone to drink. Namely, me.

With that, I want to shift gears and let you know that things are getting crazy fun for Man Cave Ministries. This Saturday, we are going to be doing our first ever live video podcast. We got connected recently with an amazing organization called Operation Worship. These guys are amazing. Check out their website (after you’re done reading this) to see what they’re all about.

Anyway, they have an incredible media center in their headquarters right here in Rocklin. They invited Gary and I to come over on Tuesday, and our eyes lit up like Paris Hilton at Fort Knox. Then, they basically shoved the idea of doing a live video podcast right down our collective throats. So, not being ones to back down from playing with gadgets and technology, we accepted. So they set up a cool background, some sound effects, and let Gary take it from there. Below is the outcome of the insanity that is Gary Zelesky in front of television cameras.

So now, I hustled up and put together a You Tube page for Man Cave Ministries, (www.youtube.com/mancaveministries), and even a Twitter account, (www.twitter.com/themancave). Check it out!

Overwhelming Kindness

I’m writing this at about 10 PM Wednesday night. I just got home moments ago from the Man Cave. It has been a long day, as my Wednesdays routinely are, as of late. It’s a little weird to leave the porch light on when you leave the house in broad daylight at 8:30 AM knowing you’re going to need it when you get home some 12-13 hours later.

If you’ve been following my recent posts, you know my mom’s health is poor. Wednesday was a very strange day. My boss, Gary, is out of town at a speaking engagement in Boston. It was up to me to put all the pieces together for the Man Cave. It is something I put great time, effort and joy into. I really do love it. It’s exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. The church office blocks Facebook, but not Twitter or my blog. I was able to update my Twitter, which updates my Facebook status, and I was able to post brief blog updates about my mom’s condition. What I wasn’t able to do, was view all of the support which has been flowing in from people I know from all over the country, from various stops on my journey through life. I got home and found many, many comments from friends far and wide who are praying for my mom and supporting me emotionally. I received notes from people I absolutely didn’t expect, and many from those who I know are there for me.

It was overwhelming…in a good way.

It means so much to my family when I can genuinely say that there are so many people, most of whom they don’t even know, who are praying for my mom. My parents have touched so many lives with their love and generosity for so many years, it comes as quite a blessing that people they’ve never met are lifting them up to the Lord. It’s truly inspiring to me.

I know people who scoff at Facebook and other social networking tools and sites. I understand that. But I have to tell you, being able to update people I love in real time after just a few keystrokes on my computer is awesome. And to return home after a day of rollercoaster emotions and distractions to find such an outpouring…well, don’t tell me God can’t use modern technology to bless His people.

Thursday is a new day. I have no idea what it holds. I have no idea if joy or sorrow awaits as I write this on Wednesday night. But no matter what awaits, it’s comforting to know two things. My God is in the center of it all and is there for me when I rejoice and when I mourn, and there are people like you who care enough to read these words and offer your friendship to me, and quite likely, a dear woman you’ve never met.

My heart is full, and I thank God, and I thank you, with all my heart.

The Lengths Some People Go

I’m very tired as I write this, (Wednesday night), so this WILL be brief. Mark my words.

We had another great night in the Man Cave on Wednesday. Before we even started, I spoke with a guy I know who is the father-in-law of our youth pastor. This gentleman lives in Concord, but was in the Man Cave on Wednesday. I asked him if he came all the way from Concord. He said no, he actually spent the day in San Francisco, then drove all the way to Rocklin after work. I asked him if there was some family thing going on, and maybe that’s why he was in town.

Nope. He came to be part of what’s happening in the men’s group on Wednesday night.

I can’t even begin to tell you what that meant to me. Not because we’re doing anything extraordinary. It’s because GOD is. God moved me here from San Jose, and He chose this time to do it. Coincidence?

Yeah, no.

I needed this. These men need it. Are you someone, or do you know someone who needs this? What lengths are you willing to go to experience God in a new and exciting way?

Me? Men’s Ministries?

It’s really interesting to look back over your life and see the long and winding road which you’ve taken to get where you are today. I can honestly link together the circuitous route to Rocklin, CA clear back to about 1984 rather easily. It’s just wild to think how such seemingly insignificant events from that long ago have a ripple effect which is evident today.

I have been asked numerous times throughout my life what my plans were for my future. When you’re a kid in high school, you may have an idea about where you want to go to college, what you want to study and such. I really didn’t have a plan then. And now, all these years later…I still don’t have a plan, but for different reasons.

Back then, I was just a dumb kid with no real ambition. Now, I’m a guy whose life has consisted of numerous twists and turns which have found me involved with exciting people and things I never would have imagined I’d ever do, or even want to do. Let me give you a few examples.

I grew up thinking singing was THE most embarrassing thing a person could do in front of a group of people. As you probably know, singing is probably what I’m known for the most. I remember confessing to people that I would never work with children because I really didn’t feel I could connect with them on any level. Finding me working with kids would have been like finding Boy George at a tractor pull. But then God put me in a position of leading a youth basketball league and coaching kids for several years. I also remember telling people I was very uncomfortable working with the elderly. It would break my heart to see aging people struggling to walk or breathe. But yet again, God put me in a position where a job I loved put me in the lives and homes of seniors on a daily basis.

And I loved all those things. I even had a passion for them.

Now I’m in a new season. I’ve typically steered clear of men’s ministry programs. I’ve never felt drawn to them. I’ve been to the standard men’s breakfast with a special speaker. They were good, but nothing that really inspired me to make it a regular part of my life. And now here we are, 2009. I’m now eyeball deep in a men’s ministry program, and I’m loving it. I have gotten to know some incredibly wonderful men. Men whose hearts have the unimaginable blend of masculinity and tenderness. Men whose lives have been, and even are being impacted by human suffering and tragedy. But men who recognize from where, and from Whom their help comes.

I haven’t found the spirit of volunteerism as I have discovered with these men. I have had more guys come to me saying that they are willing to help in any way they can. I ask them if they have any specific interests, and most of them say they don’t. They just want to be involved.

It is exciting to be part of this ministry. I’m excited and humbled by God choosing me, at such a time as this, to have anything to do with what He has in his heart for the men at my church, and those we connect with beyond the walls of the church. I don’t know what God has planned for my future, but I know that I’m sure enjoying the ride!

Now, one final thing before I end this post. My GBFF, (girl-best-friend-forever), Lisa, and I had a little challenge for one another last night. I thought it would be fun if she would pick a word, a person…something random for each of us to include in our blogs. She chose the subject of Boy George…so that is why you see him ever-so-cleverly inserted into my post today. When Lisa is feeling a bit more whimsical, I’m sure she’ll weave him, (somehow), into a future post. Stay tuned. You never know what may come next.

Bob the Builder

One of the cool things I’ve enjoyed over the past few weeks in getting things ready to roll with the Man Cave has been getting to know some of the guys. One character I’ve gotten to know is a guy affectionately known as Bob the Builder. We’ve all become familiar with Joe the Plumber, but c’mon, ya gotta love the alliterative nature of “Bob the Builder”. It just rolls off the tongue, like Dave the Dentist, Tom the Teacher, Phil the Phlebotomist.

Bob is a man’s man. Scraggly beard, leathery skin which shows the amount of time he’s spent in the great outdoors, rides a Harley (and has no interest if you ride anything but a Harley), and has been in construction since he could hold his Fisher Price plastic hammer as a toddler.

The thing about Bob the Builder (BtB) is that he has a servant’s heart. Last Friday, Gary and I went out to the warehouse where the church stores EVERYTHING which isn’t kept on site. Our purpose in going out there was to get some ideas, and possibly some material to set the stage for the Man Cave. It was like shopping at The Home Depot, only the stuff had already been bought or made. In talking with BtB, Gary described the stage he had in mind for Wednesday nights. BtB then took the idea, took us over to a pile of wood at the warehouse, and began to load it in the back of his truck.

“I’ll have it built for you by the end of the weekend.”

True to his word, he informed us Sunday morning that the thing was done. In his spare time, BtB put together a stage that previously only existed in Gary’s mind. Wednesday night, it was on display, and was perfect for the occasion.

We’re discovering a lot of guys with hearts like BtB. Guys with many different talents and abilities. But guys who are eager to lend their gifts, donate their time, and do something tangible for the Lord. I’ll be sure to introduce you to some of the guys along the way. They’re really special, and Gary and I know we’re very blessed to have a team of guys who want to serve in any way they can.