Tuesday, September 2, 2008


In case you missed the Pinata-bashing, candy-throwing, ay-yi-yi-ing that went on last week at Fuel, let me catch you up.

Fuel people are nothing if not fun and a little crazy, and in two weeks we get a chance to let loose with a Mexican Fiesta for our annual Fall Kick-Off.

Come to Mariners on September 11th, 2008 at 7:30 pm for live music, taco salad and great company! (And stop by this week, Sept. 4th, for MORE awesomely hilarious promo...)

Friday, July 11, 2008

What is Fuel?

Being away from Fuel at the moment (I'm in Michigan working on my masters in music education for most of the summer), I believe I have a unique viewpoint on what Fuel is. It's hard being away from it! But I thought I would try to explain what Fuel is to those people who maybe are checking out the website. You should come!

First off, Fuel is a group that focuses on Christ. Our main purpose is to worship God and honor Him with our lives. Each week we meet in the Upper Room at Mariners Church (7:30 p.m.) to have fellowship, worship, and study the Word with our awesome pastor, Justin. It is so important, especially at this crucial time in our lives, to put our focus on Jesus. He alone knows what is best for us, and He alone knows where we are going in our lives.

At Fuel, we experience community. I believe that the community of Fuel is the best I have ever seen. (of course, I am a little biased, as community is my focus as a Core Leader!) At Fuel, you can come to know others, and be known yourself. I have heard from numerous people that the members of Fuel are more authentic than most people they've met, especially in light of our Southern California culture. At Fuel we seek to encourage each other and build each other up through fellowship. You will make some lifelong friends at this group.

We are focused on spiritual growth. Everyone is encouraged to join a small group. For those of you who have not encountered a small group before - it's a "small group" (less than 10) of people who meet together and talk about God's Word. Furthermore, we talk about what is happening in our own lives. It's a great experience, because you can give and receive encouragement in your daily walk with God. Many great relationships have been formed through small groups.

We focus on serving. Each year we go down to Estado 29, an orphanage in Mexico, to serve the children there. We collect money for those orphans so they can have fresh milk. We work at a homeless shelter serving dinners. I'm really excited about the serve aspect of Fuel - it is growing even as we speak!

We focus on bringing others to Fuel. Living as a Christian is so much easier with others around you who share your faith. We want people to experience all that Fuel offers. So we do a variety of fun events that you can invite friends to - take a trip to Mammoth, go bowling, hang out at the beach, have a game night. It's super easy to bring people along with you - who doesn't want to have fun?

Most of all, Fuel is a place to know God, and know others. Please come and experience it for yourself. It is one of the greatest blessings in my life, and I know many others who would agree with me.

Hope to see you when I get back!


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fuel at the Beach

On Thursday, June 26th at 7:30 pm - Fuel will be at Corona Del Mar state beach. You should come! There will be S'mores and sand and fun people and good worship and all the fun of Fuel in a way better location. Come and bring a friend!

Monday, May 19, 2008

To Goatee or Not to Goatee

So, Justin finally caved to peer pressure and shaved the Peruvian Facial Hair. However, he got some mixed messages about whether or not to grow it back. In case you've forgotten what the Goatee looked like, Microsoft Paint and I have banded together in the common cause of helping you out:
And, just to give you a true comparison-shopping experience, there's this:

We know that the Facial Hair has at least one fan, but we also know that he has some stiff competition. Which will it be? Goatee or No? Give Justin a comment, and weigh in on this highly debated and deeply philosophical point.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Extra! Extra! Hear all about it!

This week at Fuel, the 17 team members who went to New Orleans last month will be sharing photos and personal stories from their trip. We'll also be hearing from other 20-somethings about their serving experiences.

This Thursday, Fuel will be focused on how
God wants to do an “Extreme Makeover” in our hearts and how he uses missions to do that.

Come and learn how you can be a part of what God is doing in Orange County and around the world - it will be a powerful night, so don't miss it!

We meet at 7:30 pm every Thursday, in the Upper Room above the Cafe at Mariners Church. 5001 Bonita Canyon Drive, New port Beach, CA 92660

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Bruce (A Portrait from New Orleans)

He's a large man, with thick, muscular arms and legs that seem better suited for a bouncer at a Bourbon Street bar than a humble volunteer cook. As we walk into the BridgeHouse, (an alcohol and drug recovery center) he greets us with a smile and an invitation into the "Cage" where food is kept for distribution.

"This's where ah live," he says with a wink, as he pulls the chain-link gate open. As we walk in, we see boxes of crackers, granola bars, canned goods and countless other food items stacked from floor to almost-ceiling. He explains to us that BridgeHouse receives far more donated food than they can use, so they share with the churches and shelters in the community whatever they can.

"That's what y'all'r here to help me with," He says, leading the way into an enclosed room in the Cage. As soon as we walk in the room, the smell of old milk and the disorganized jumble of food containers assaults our senses.

"Ah've gotten a lil' behind," Bruce says, somewhat shamefacedly, leaning down to pick up a can of tomatoes off the floor.

Like most "Big Easy" natives, he likes to talk, and as he tells stories about BridgeHouse and New Orleans, we set to work on the disarray. He openly shares that he made some bad choices, which is how he ended up in BridgeHouse. He's been here five years off and on, and is proud of his sobriety and management of the kitchen. He talks almost nonchalantly about his old "using" lifestyle, saying, "I'm allergic to Cocaine, I break out in handcuffs."

When one of our team - still overwhelmed by the stories we're hearing - fails to smile, he points a meaty finger her direction with a playful grin. "That was funny!" He says, chuckling at his own joke. His laughter is infectious and we all join in.

He decides that since we're "from the big city in California an' all," we probably like hip-hop rather than the country radio station he had playing. Soon, scratchy hip-hop beats is blasting from his ancient boom-box, and we laugh. He's constantly being called away for questions and advice, and deals with everyone who comes by with grace and dignity. When he comes back to the cage from one such call, he is shocked to find us sweeping up rat droppings, hauling boxes and throwing away bad food, every now and then taking a few-second dancing break when the mood strikes.

"Whoa!" He says, trying to imitate some dance moves and laughing at us good-naturedly. "Too bad they don't got this piped through Naw'lans, or y'all'd 'ave the whole city rebuilt."

Bruce is trying to get his cooking certification through a local culinary arts school, and these dented, donated cans mean much more to him than someone's leftovers. He taps the labels, planning menus out loud for the residents of BridgeHouse and the homeless community they feed every Tuesday and Thursday. "We eat a lot o' that," he says, waving a case of peanut butter back onto the shelf. He comes over with a case of canned peaches. "Take this'n out, ma'am," he says to me. "They need these at that church."

Within a few hours, we've loaded two church vans and a small school bus with food, cleaned the cage and taught Bruce some sweet moves as an added bonus. He gives us (and anyone else who comes by) some cold bottles of Sunny D-type stuff, and we take a break to cool off and talk, sitting around on cases of green beans and lounging against metal shelving.

Like most people from New Orleans, Bruce is a drawling storyteller with a wealth of life experience and colorful characters to liven it. We're drawn into his tales, not just because they're interesting, but because he shows such a depth of faith. His stories casually reveal that he's had some tough times, but we don't hear bitterness or "why me?" - just a desire to keep others from the same mistakes.

Before we know it, it's time to leave the Cage for lunch. It's touching to help the men of the BridgeHouse serve a hot lunch to the homeless men and women - who are daily, flesh-and-blood reminders of where they come from.

Bruce is a gentle giant and seems to be everywhere at once. He's kind and caring to those whom he serves, greeting everyone with hearty handshakes and easy-going generosity, but willing to throw his weight around if necessary. When he feels one of the BridgeHouse guys gets "fresh" with a girl on our team, it's clear that he doesn't take any guff.

Redemption is a running theme with Bruce and those at the BridgeHouse. The homeless who are there for a free lunch, the men who have checked themselves into BridgeHouse to "get clean" the church volunteers who come to pick up food, all have a story of how the old is gone and the new has come. In this place, Christ is not a pie-in-the-sky, unreachable, church-nut God. He is here, making red beans and rice, handing out fake Sunny D, in our "how are you, sir?" and our smiles.

It takes courage for us to bridge the age, cultural and racial gaps that seem so broad at first. There are moments when I don't know what to say or how to feel. When we're done, Bruce gathers us, with bear hugs for the girls and strong handshakes for the men.

"Y'all come back anytime," he says, giving us each a stern look in the eye so we know he means it. "Ah had so much fun with y'all..."

We take a picture together and he insists that we send him a copy, telling us that he has a few, and they help him remember to pray for people. I don't feel worthy of his praying for me.

As I write this, I want to go back. I feel like I don't do enough in my everyday life, like one trip wasn't enough. I want to see people as valued children of a living God, no matter how they've squandered that gift (in my oh-so-holy opinion). I want to look into people's eyes and really listen to them. I want to look at my pictures and pray for the people I love. I want to use these moments for good. I want to never forget how a burly ex-alcoholic made me feel.

L-R: Adam, Me, Bruce, Kenny, Christina. 2nd Row: Holli, Kara, Becky.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Cooking with PJ at St. Barnard's

I want to describe for you the sensation that I felt today as we completed the serve aspect of our trip here in New Orleans...

We went down to the 9th Ward, the place most hit by "The Storm." The place there is ravaged by poverty, destroyed homes, joblessness, and lost hope. The church that we are there working with, Celebration, has established at campus, and we went down there to witness to the "shut-ins" and cook for them. It was perhaps one of the greatest things that we were able to do on this trip.

As a result of the hurricane, a lot of people don't ever leave their house or attend church. Our task today was to introduce them to this campus which opened on Easter Sunday and give them a free meal. Jeanna, Holli, and I stayed behind to set up the bbq and eating areas. The remaining people went out into the town and went to their homes and knocked on doors, and told people about Celebration and that we were cooking free meals at the campus.

At around noon, we got our first customers. They were grateful and appreciative for the efforts that we were making for the community and thanked us for the food. There was a van of Mom and two daughters that I remember most. They asked me how much I was charging for the food. When I told them it was free, the look of joy on her face, spoke volumes to me. She was blessed by the church and said that she would come and give the church a chance. What a great God we serve!

The team came back and we each did different tasks. There was the advertising team that went out and stood in the streets telling people that we were having a free bbq and where to go. They were awesome and entertaining. Ask Christina some time about her impression of advertising the free bbq. Jeanna, Liz, Beth, Charlene, and Christina (She did multiple things that were awesome!) each helped me at the grill, putting the cooked food into packages for the people. The rest of the team talked with the people, prayed with them, gave out Bibles, and promoted Christ and the church to the people!

We were supposed to be there till 2:00-2:30. We didn't stop feeding people, till almost 4:00. I couldn't help but be blessed by the people who were desperately needing to be comforted or fed. I know where my strengths are, and I know where I am weak. I am not the greatest witness in the world, something I am working on, but I can grill, I can cook. I wanted everyone who came to us to be fed in both body and spirit. I could handle the body part.

When all was said and done, after four hours of cooking, I had cooked 200 hamburgers and 134 hotdogs. My back hurt, my eyes were burning, but I didn't want to stop because this is what I could do on this day. I enjoyed serving this way.

So what is the point? My point is this... I was moved by the power of God today. I was moved by people... the people who came, the people who served, the people who advertised, the people who witnessed, all of it. I broke down and cried three times during the event... not because of the pain, but because of comments people made to me about how they enjoyed the food, or how they appreciated my work. I didn't do it for the recognition, I did it because it was something I could do for these people, the church, this team, for my Jesus. I put my last burger down onto the bun, and I felt a sense of relief, that I was done, and sad, sad that I wasn't able to cook anymore food.

My friends, my team, applauded me, and I thank them for it, but it has to go to God who inspired me to do this, to be this guy today, and to serve Him, the church, and my team. I didn't do it alone, I couldn't. I am blessed by this day. I am thankful for this day, and I wish you all, those who read this, to feel for one day, what it's like to be truly empowered by God, to build His church, and feed His people.

I guess all those Patio days, and Son of Man Soul Jam was preparation for me to be here and serve in this way.

This day meant the world to me, and I can't wait to experience another one like it. Thank you, Lord Jesus, thank you for creating a day like this. I am proud to be your servant.


Bringing in customers in true Fuel style - loudly with lots of smiles!

PJ hard at work on the grill