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

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Finding the Moment

The New Orleans Team after a morning of yard work.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is my first blog on this page and and I am excited to write to you from New Orleans. This has been a great trip where I have had the pleasure of getting to know my fellow FUELERS and leader, Justin, more. We have had some amazing stories and would be happy to share them with you; you just have to ask.

I had a moment on Wednesday where I saw this team doing something all together for the first time on this adventure and felt proud and moved. It was a moment that I will remember as the image from this trip. It wasn't something profound or outrageously cool, it was simply cleaning a yard. I mowed my very first lawn, and we then cleaned it and made it look very nice. What made it great for me was how well we worked together and how we were able to be there for each other without really saying anything, we just did it!

For me, that was a moment where I saw what God is doing with FUEL and what God will do with FUEL. I love moments where teams get together, function for the Lord, for each other; and then get together and enjoy one another like you hadn't just spent the whole day together. We spend 24 hours together, and when we are at dinner or we are at Celebration meeting with their version of FUEL and meeting them and helping them establish their own "FUEL" and we don't get tired of each other, we get excited even when we haven't spoken for five minutes. I love this team, I love these people, and I am honored to have been part of this adventure for Christ.

CHOZEN, the Celebration version of FUEL has great potential and some really great people who want to serve, grow and make people BELONG. Their are driven, they are passionate, they are great leaders who were touched to have us there and we were touched by what they are and what they presented. God is doing great things in New Orleans, and for a moment, we got to be part of that. It was awesome. They have a worship leader, Amanda, who is incredibly talented, with a great story. She made some of us cry with her singing. It was awesome. Another girl, Nabilla, a great story teller (she did a drama that moved me!), and a great leader, talked to Charlene and I about how much she loves CHOZEN and she loves God. Keep her in your prayers.

Thank you, Lord. Thank you for this team and this experience.


You Are Valued

Today we spent all day at Crescent City Christian School, affiliated with Celebration Church on one of their campuses. They've recently gotten a brand-new computer system, new desks, new plasma screen TVs... basically tons of spankin' new goodies.

It was amazing how much time it takes to tear out old desks, put in new, re-wire an entire school, hook up new computers... but it was so rewarding to see this brand-new high-tech Christian education take shape.

We worked with another Mariners team, so it was so cool to see the whole school campus crawling with bright blue "Mariners Global Outreach" t-shirts and watch it be transformed from old broken desks to new, clean, shiny desks, newly-waxed floors, brand-new computers and monitors and the air around us permeated with hope and optimism.

A team of 2-8 people were constantly breaking down computer boxes and hauling trash to the dumpsters, others were running cable through the ceiling, others were cleaning, assembling tables... endless tasks done with cheerful hearts!

Hopefully, this new facelift and technology will encourage parents to enroll their kids here so they can learn about the Lord at school, as well as get the kind of great education that many in New Orleans never receive. This was a huge chance to reach entire generations, just by a willingness to break down a few boxes and sweat a little. We get to show this community that they are valuable to people and to God by giving of our time.

How great is our God!


One of the coolest opportunities we've had here in New Orleans is the chance hang out with the members of Chozen, Celebration Church's young adult group.

Last night we went to their Leadership Summit, where all the leaders of ministries in the church come together for a night of worship and a chance to catch up on the available ministries and fellowship with other leaders. After the main event, we got the chance to hang out with Chozen peeps and get to talk together about our common goals, frustations, joys and lessons learned in Christian leadership.

The incredible thing is the commonalities we have, despite the differences in hometowns and cultures. Seeing people come to Christ-centered community, find a place to belong, grow spiritually and reach out again in service is what we're all working towards and it is so encouraging to see people, thousands of miles apart, catching the same vision.

The Chozen folks were tons of fun, too, hence our nearly-midnight run to IHOP. We all gelled together right away, and were laughing and bonding together like one group (which I guess we are,) by the end of the night.

Tonight we're going back for more discussion, fellowship and leadership training, and we can't wait!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

They will know you are Christians...

...by your love.

John 13:35

We've realized something over the last couple of days. Maybe this is more of a personal revelation for me (Dani) because I tend to be task-oriented.

But this is the truth of Service in His name. They won't know that we're Christians by the houses we build, the lots we clear, the food we serve, although that's all good stuff, that's not our real witness. They will KNOW about Christ because of our love.

1 Corintihians 13 says: "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing."

Just serving is not enough. The grass that we cut today will grow back and homes that we work on will eventually need more work. What lasts is out attitudes while we serve. Does our service "profit us" because of the attitude with which we perform it?

SO here is our high call, how they will know that we know Christ's disciples. 1 Corinthians continues:

"Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

Little bit of a high call there - I'm not gonna lie, I'm intimidated by the immensity of it. But we can do all things through Christ... He's our Hope - whether we need a new house for the first time or just the strength to get through today.

God is working in New Orleans!

Work-a-day Wednesday

Hey everybody!

Sorry for the lack of blogging yesterday, I did sit down to write but got distracted. It's Phil's fault.

Anyway, today we went to work with Crossroads Ministries, a homebuilding ministry that creates custom homes in low-income neighborhoods where families have rented for generations, and offers affordable mortgages so that these individuals can own their own homes and gain more economic independence and a sense of well... ownership.

We spent all morning tackling an overgrown lot where Crossroads will be building a new home. It was pretty jungle-fied, complete with vines crawling over the fence and large bugs, but thanks to weed-whackers, pocket-knives, lawn-movers, sturdy gloves and old-fashioned elbow grease, we conquered and left a couple of nicely trimmed-up, cleaned-out lots in our wake.

After a satisfying brown bag lunch in the vans, (PB&J... Mmmm...) We went to Celebration Church's other campus to help clean, build, scrub, break down boxes, fill up dumpsters, and install a new computer system in the Christian School at Celebration.

Tonight, we're going back to Celebration for some leadership training with the leaders of their singles' groups. Hopefully we'll get a chance to pass on everything that serving at Fuel has taught us in a clear, effective way.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Arrival in Naw'lans

Things we've learned in the seven hours we've been here:
  1. "New Orlleeeans" is not right. The locals say "Naw'lans" although we're still not sure we can pull that off.
  2. It's easy to get lost here.
  3. Speaking of getting lost, Fuel has some crazy drivers, although we'll try to avoid mentioning names. *cough*Justin*cough*
  4. Bouncy balls can provide hours of entertainment.
  5. We like dancing. In cars.

OK, so maybe that's not all we've learned - it really is amazing how much God can teach us and use us in such a short amount of time, when we're out of our comfort zones and willing to let Him.

Just to recap the day, we met at 6:45 am at John Wayne Airport, and were blessed to all get through security quickly and all sit in the same vicinity on the flight. (We try to keep from annoying our fellow travelers. Really.)

We had a brief 50-minute layover in the ginormous Dallas/Fort Worth airport, but luckily we braved the SkyTram and most of us even grabbed some Subway before boarding our next hopper flight Southeast.

I think the stewardesses put something in the beverage service on that flight, because most of us konked out, but arrived in Louisiana with smiles, all of our baggage on the baggage claim, (Hallelujah!) and very messy hair. (Well, the sleepy girls, anyway.)

Justin, Jeff and Adam, being the "elders" of the trip, went to go get our sweet rides (3 mini-vans) and before we knew it, we were loaded up and ready to go.

We arrived at Celebration Church to great hospitality (comfy cots and Southern cookin'!) we had a bit to eat and went out to explore.

A couple of the Celebration volunteers rode with us to give a first-hand tour of the worst-hit areas of the city (St. Bernard's Parish and the 9th Ward,) and share what Celebration is and has been doing to help.

I think our whole team was surprised at what we saw. Seeing homes still completely destroyed, standing empty with their windows blown out like empty eye-sockets and dilapadated porches still sagging - and to realize that these are families' lives and homes and heritage that is still in shambles years later - it moves us to feel a tiny part of what God must feel when His children are hurting.

As one member of our team pointed out - especially in Orange County - we live in a constant state of instant gratification. I want something, I buy it. Simple. But many people here don't have that option. Years later, people are still struggling to rebuild in an area that is still so broken and crime-ridden that Hope is hard to come by. That kind of perserverance convicts our hearts and reminds us that God also, does not give up on us. He is faithful, and we as a team are so excited to see more of that this week.

Tomorrow, we're going to serve at a Homeless Shelter and then go out for some Streetcar Evangelism. We're excited to see what God does in and through us, it's only Day One and He's already shown Himself in great ways...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Packin' Up and Rarin' to Go

Fuel New Orleans Trip Dates: March 24-30

Fuel's New Orleans Team,
L-R: Kenny, PJ, Adam, Justin, Christina, Scott, Dani, Kirsten, Phil, Jeanna, Holli, Kara, Liz, Beth, Charlene, Jeff (and Becky, not pictured, she was still working hard somewhere in South America - we can't remember if it was Argentina or Peru - when this picture was taken. Just kidding, Justin... ;)
We just got our itinerary last night, and we are so excited for what God is going to do in us and through us in the coming week.

Right now, the plan is to spend every day (8 am - 4 pm) working on community projects - from construction to computer set-up for a school - yay IT guys! - and our evenings working with the young adult ministry at Celebration Church, who we're partnering with while we're there.

However, even though we have a plan at the moment, our motto for this trip is: "stay flexible". While those of us who keep desk calendars (and Outlook reminders and Google calendars and... I mean, what? I'm totally flexible,) may get uncomfortable at the thought of not having a set plan, we know that God is in charge, and our plans don't always match up to His.

We want to be available for whatever ministry comes our way, stay gracious in the face of changing plans or unmet expectations, and to keep our minds and hearts open for what He would like to teach us through this trip and how we can give back to Him.

Everyone on the team is so excited for this opportunity, and THANK YOU for your support. Whether you're supporting us financially, through prayer, or by telling your friends and family, we couldn't do this without you.

Monday is take-off - 6:45 am at John Wayne Airport! Please pray for us as we travel (we'll need caffeine...) and check back for more updates...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What's going on?

It's a new year, a new website, and a new study that we've got going on at Fuel! Come, join, partake, and part-ay with us as we meet at 7:30pm in the Upper Room. Right now we're going through a series called "The Sayings of Jesus". Check it.

There is no greater voice we can listen to in our lives than the voice of Jesus. Whether it’s his written word or his direct message to our hearts, it doesn’t matter…what is important is that we are constantly listening to His voice as God and Saviour of the world. He is the only one who is worthy for us to listen to, 100% of the time. Are we listening to the voice of Jesus in our lives? Hear what Has to say to your heart in 2008 on Thursday Nights.

Hope to see you soon!

Post by Justin Sogoian, Pastor to Fuel