New Beginnings…

New Beginnings – “The new has come”  (2 Cor. 5:17 ESV)
Right at the start of this morning’s run around the neighborhood (not above – I wish!), I kept turning around marveling as the sun slowly crept up over the mountains in the east. After so many days of gloomy sunrises due to the fires and all, God gave us a doozy sendoff this morning.  Dynamite stuff.  I instantly flashed on the gorgeous sunrise I was blessed to witness at the Dead Sea a few years ago (now the above pic).  “Oh Lord,” I said this morning,  “How did you ever come up with this morning’s golden ball lighting up our skies? It’s so beautiful!”   And the clouds this morning – there were thousands of teeny ones all over sky – all over!  It was truly panoramic.  Definitely a breakout morning for me.

New Days

You know it’s hasn’t been just in the skies or in the air like it was this morning.  I’ve been experiencing the Lord making “new” things appear all over the place lately, starting around Labor Day week. It’s weird.  I’m doing mostly the same stuff as before but they’re all taking on a new, fresh look.  Remember your first day in grade school?  New pencils, new notebook, new shoes and socks?  Well, I’m still wearing the same old dumpy clothes but I’m sooo ready for new adventures and surprises this semester.  And I bet Jesus has a few more on His fingertips ready to pop out at me any second.  He does that, right? Can’t wait!  Let’s take a look at some of the sort of ‘newbies’ I’ve been blessed with so far during this long hot summer.   

New Mornings Facebook devos – 
It’s nervous, exciting and responsible all rolled up into one, to be given the privilege and responsibility to teach a 20 minute morning devotion.  I’ve been doing these pretty much once a week; keeps me on my toes.  I pray the “congregants” are being blessed by God’s Word.  I know I am by studying and preparing for the messages.  It’s definitely a learning process for me. The cool thing is in our new intern classes (see Missionary Internship program below) we are learning to let the Holy Spirit do the preaching.  Yes, study, do your homework, but when you’re in front of your iPhone camera and ready to rock and roll, just preach the Word and allow the Holy Spirit to work in you.  What I have to say, my personal opinion, really doesn’t amount to a hill of beans anyway, right?  Try not to go off onto rabbit trails.  Ha!  I really think I am doing a pretty good job in that area because we only have 20 minutes to teach.  I finished the book of Mark on Friday, September 25, at 9:00 am, on our Calvary Chapel Saving Grace’s live video Facebook page.  So why don’t you grab a cup of coffee and join me as we begin the book of 1 Corinthians?

Church Inside Soon!
God willing, we will be resuming church upstairs in the Sanctuary before too long.  How cool is that!  I think we about ran out of chairs at our September 20th Sunday morning outdoor courtyard service.  Standing room only to hear the Word of God – now that’s is what the Lord wants to see. The ground level courtyard has been so pretty during the spring and summer months and many volunteers have worked real hard to get church setup outside early in the morning. I think we are all looking forward to going back inside the Sanctuary.  Praise the Lord!         

New Afternoons 

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Missionary Internship program
We kicked off our 2nd year of the Saving Grace World Missions (SGWM) Missionary Internship Program a couple weeks ago. The class is on Wedneday afternoons.  It looks like the focus this year will be on learning and then applying probably the two most important tenets in Christian living- preaching the Word of God and discipling.  Our pastor teachers are giving it to us straight – all followers/disciples of Jesus Christ must be biblically equipped to preach the Word no matter where we serve, next door or across the sea. Guys or gals, we need to be able to share the gospel and make disciples.  Jesus Himself gave us our marching orders:  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).  But there’s more!  We finished our Homiletics 101 class last year; now we’re doing H102. Homiletics is the art of preaching a sermon – a homily.  Our audience?  CCSG pastors!  We all received their “loving” criticism last term; we expect a lot more of the same this semester as well.  And lastly we’re  reading a new series of books from the “classic preachers” like John Calvin on how to preach the Word as well as selected audio Bible Studies. Man are we ever getting into the Word! Let’s do it!

Voice of Refugee (VOR) teaching English classes

I started teaching the new Fall semester ESL (teaching English as a second language) zoom classes with Voice of Refugees the day after Labor Day. VOR is really going forward in many ways to reach these dear families.  In addition to the Mon-Wed afternoon English classes, we are now offering  new evening classes, such as 1-on-1 Academic Tutoring, Conversational English, Citizenship and even a bi-monthly Friday @ the Movies. We teachers are flavoring up our curriculum while spicing things up with new interactive websites attempting to keep our students engaged.  I think it’s working.  And anyways, I know my students love spice.  I do too. Rice and chicken and pasta.  Food is our vocab!

New Evenings

Life Group:  We haven’t come up for air yet!  Our dedicated Wednesday night sold out Christian soldiers have been marching forward throughout this summer. I think we did have a two-week break somewhere.  We even had a movie night outside munching burgers and chips (even me, thanks Jeff) while getting pumped up watching Free Burma Rangers on a poolside big screen. The good life!  But really, if you are looking to share God’s Word, receive and give out intercessory prayer along with sweet fellowship, CCSG Life Groups are where it’s at. We all so need this. On Sunday mornings, there’s a sign-up sheet outside the high school room for all the available Life Groups and their locations. Get plugged in.

Growth Group:  Now these GG’s are where the rubber meets the road.  Guys and gals have their own GG’s respectively.  Those of you guys who want a more enriching walk with the Lord, learn how to become real followers/disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, please get a hold of me. We all need to grow spiritually – together. I want to start up a brand new growth group.  No age requirement.  No dress code.  Just bring your bibles and yourselves.  The only thing is we will have to host it at one of your houses because I live in Kansas with Dorothy and Toto.  If you think I am using this newsletter as a platform to solicit/pressure you into joining my new Growth Group, well you bet I am!  I don’t want to take any of you away from your existing Growth Groups; I just want to present to those of you who are not engaged in one, that this is a great opportunity to get involved, get plugged in, for us to grow closer in the Lord together. Dates, times, syllabuses are TBD.  I know it will be a Bible study geared around discipleship. Shoot me an email, text, or call.  I’m praying for you.  Gotcha!

10/40 Window Care Teams
My heart is still in the 10/40 window.  I pray the Lord in His timing will open up a door for me to teach English there. For over a year I’ve been attending a Saving Grace World Missions (SGWM) care team for a couple of missionary families in the 10/40 window.  I head up a care team for our 24 pastors in that area of the world. Their needs and the needs of all of our missionaries around the world are many.  I know you know that. Intercessory prayer for them is vital. Get a hold of me or our church office if you would like to join one of our care teams. The missionaries and their families and sheep will be blessed and you will too.  Thanks.  

Good Night

All done for the day.  Kick back with a bowl of cereal.  And then before I turn off the lights, I think, “you know, all Jesus desires from me each day is I stay close to Him.”  That’s all. 

It can start in the morning like it did today by thanking Him for the morning sun. Oh, and a real treat is to watch the birds fly 2-by-2 or 100-by-100 across the cloud covered blue skies and thank Him for that too.  I think Jesus is, really, a simple kind of guy.  I say this in the most respectable way.  I pray He continues to make me simple too.  Paul made himself simple when He encountered the brainiest people on the planet in Corinth: 

“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).  Nothing more. Nothing less.

New Goals
I’ve been running a lot more lately.  I’ve set a goal on how many miles I want to run and walk by the end of the year.  Goals are good (“press toward the goal ” Phil. 2:12-14). Competition is good too with the right attitude  (“run with endurance the race” Heb. 12:1). I would like to ask each of you to continue to pray for me, that I would continue to seek the Lord and His calling for me to serve Him here and abroad. And please if you are led to support me financially, that would be a great blessing as well.  Just click on the Become a Financial Partner button below. You can do this through a one-time donation or monthly reoccurring donation. Come on, put on your running shoes and run with me!  I’ll slow down – ha!  Thank you again for your prayers and financial support.  

Praise Report
That all my family and friends here stateside are in good health.

That our church, Calvary Chapel Saving Grace, will be moving church inside soon. The Lord willing.

That the Lord is doing new things in my heart keeping the fire of the Holy Spirit burning bright.  Love it!

Prayer Requests
For the safety, well-being, strength and good health for all of our SGWM missionaries serving all over the world.  This is so needed and will also be an ongoing prayer request as well.

That Jesus will continue to teach me His Word so I can preach the Gospel – simply.

That I become more flexible and creative while teaching my Zoom English classes.  I see the Lord doing new things which is exciting.  Keep it going Lord!

That I would continue to learn and prepare for the mission field so when He gives my marching orders I will be as ready as can be. 

If you’d like to get my monthly updates sent directly to your email inbox, just click on the following link:  Jim Needham Updates.    You can reach me at jneedham@sgwm.com.  The Lord bless all of you.

Jim Needham

For Such a Time as This

Ok, this is it. I got it! You can get your own pic on a paper cutout displayed in the new Dodger Stadium Pavilion Home Run Seats for only $299! There are other less expensive options higher up in the nosebleed seats. What a deal! Do we have any takers? Play ball!

Man, for such a time as this…. Babe Ruth must rolling in his grave right now.  Paper cutouts?  

Hey, I thought I’d take your mind off things for a second before we dive into what the Lord has been doing in my live during  this past month.  Let’s play ball… 

Teaching Calvary Chapel Saving Grace Morning Devotions

I started teaching a 20-minute morning devotion ‘live’ on our church Facebook. What a privilege and responsibility. So much studying as I want to make sure I teach the Lord’s Word accurately. We’re going through the book of Mark. This apostle is so on the GO! I mean the Lord is. One teaching and one healing after another after another. Didn’t anyone eat or sleep during those three years of ministry? Slow down Lord; my cardio isn’t what it used to be! CCSG pastors from all over the world and we SGWM missionary interns are doing the teachings Monday through Friday at 9:00 am. PST.  Check it out.  Grab your coffee and get into the word!

Teaching Mark 6:30-44 – Feeding of the 5,000

Internship Discipleship Class

Pastor Mike is doing a short Discipleship class for us interns who are still stateside (half the missionary interns are serving at the Calvary School of Missions (CSOM) in Mexico (see prayer request below). For me this has been a very convicting class.  I know I have been and am being discipled by our church – that is what the Saving Grace World Missions (SGWM) Internship program is all about, getting us ready to serve out in the mission field.  In this class, we are learning this discipleship thing is a two-way street. We, as Spirit filled believers should be discipled throughout our entire lives by someone and at the same time we should be discipling others.  This “spiritual handshake,” you can call it, is simply a response to Jesus’ command, “Follow Me” in the Gospel accounts.  Are we truly following Jesus?  Are we being groomed by the Holy Spirit to be “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19)?  I told you it’s convicting.  

L-R Jerusha, Me, Rebekah, James

On a Personal Note… 

On a personal note, I know for a lot of you, being a grandparent is probably a long ways off.  Too bad. Enjoy pulling your hair out?  Well,  as some of you know I’ve been super blessed with a wonderful family  (see cool pics). My three kids each have two kids of their own, ranging from 17 yrs to 1.  You know I loved being a dad, still do. My kids were always well behaved, I think…  Hey, it was ALL God’s grace as I made every mistake in the book (patience and humility always seemed to be an arm’s length away).  Now they’re all grown up and have their own kiddos.  I love being a Papa.  It is soooo cool.  The best!  I love sipping pretend tea with Storyanne and romping with the boys in the pool or guzzling down Chai boba with the older ones.  Being retired and no longer chasing the American Dream, my life is now simply – simple.  So fulfilling   And during our Thursday afternoon Discipleship class, Pastor Mike said being a grandparent could be a calling/ministry.  I like that. 

On a side note, I do have to  restrain myself at times at church and in ministry from being goofy and acting like a kid.  Next to the Bible my favorite book is probably Peter Pan.  I guess it comes with being a Papa. 

Korryn and Mackenzie
Storyanne and Marvel
Skylar and Carter

Laughing, learning, praying in Jesus name  

Am I ever loving teaching English to my refugee gals at Voice of Refugees (VOR)!  Zoom, duh. It’s ok.  It just makes making relationships harder.  I’m finding myself yelling at my screen, “Speak English with your husbands or daughters! They speak perfect English.” Over the last couple weeks or so, right in the middle of class, one of my gals said, “I’d like you to meet my husband Mohammad.”  We introduce ourselves and I hear this guy speak fluent English. Hello? “He’s your teacher!” I scream at my screen.  They can see the smile on my face.  Just last Wednesday, one of my gals said it was her anniversary. Wow!  Now that was an open door if I ever saw one.  We went over each of the 8 gals’ anniversary dates and how many years they were married.  That alone was a good conversation and math exercise.  Then I talked a couple minutes on the sanctity of marriage.  I drew a triangle on our shared virtual whiteboard and went over husband, wife and Jesus.  It was a blessing.  One of my dear ones missed class for a couple days.  I felt led to lead my students in prayer for the sick gal, who we all know.  I ended it with “In Jesus name, Amen.”  I felt good not shortchanging the Lord.  All I can say, I so love getting to know these gals.  We laugh.  I even show them my toast with mangos and bananas sometimes before we start the lesson (late breakfast).  We are building up quite a vocabulary – mostly food and the different beaches in Orange County!  Love it!  Love them.

Sooo done!

Keep your commitments

I want to share something that happened last Saturday.  Over a year ago I made an agreement with the Lord that I would not run long distances anymore. Bad knees. Goodbye half and full marathons.  Well, last Saturday, August 1, I thought I got the ok from Him for me to run a half marathon race at Huntington Beach – knowing full well the agreement I had made with Him in June, 2019.  Doesn’t make sense, right?  I’ll spare you the details.  Well, around mile five after walking up the Huntington Beach steps from the bike path to the pier, I felt a lot of pain (normal pain you just deal with it) in my right knee.  I limped to a bench and prayed – and repented – for disobeying Him.  Ha!  It took the injury/pain for me to realize I was wrong all along. I was not even half way done with no phone and no debit card to call for help.  No more than 30 seconds after I continued running (more like hobbling) did I run into two of my usher buddies from Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa.  Talk about grace!  We did hugs and I immediately cried out for intercessory prayer – pleeeeeze!  We fellowshipped for a good 20 minutes and had a great time.  I then continued on my race and took my time (had no choice) and finished.  It was not easy.  Prayer works at the beach!

I learned my lesson.  The important thing wasn’t that the Lord wanted me to no longer run long distances to save my knees.  The important thing was that I broke my agreement with Him.  You don’t do that.  Always do what you say you will do.  Keep your commitments.  The Lord knows what we should do and not do. 

Well, I’m still running my race.  Ha, ok, short races for sure.  And in closing, as I always say, come run with me. Nothing is more enjoyable for a runner than to have someone run alongside of them, even all the way to the finish line.  It’s so true. So please partner with me financially, by clicking on the Become a Partner Financial button below. You can do this through a one-time donation or monthly reoccurring donation. Thank you so much for your financial and prayerful support.

Praise Report
That all my family and friends here stateside stay in good health

That our church, Calvary Chapel Saving Grace, can continue to enjoy our Sunday service outside.  So great to be amongst the brethren.

That the Lord is building closer relationships between myself and my VOR students

Prayer Requests
That the Lord would, of course, put an end to COVID and in turn open up the schools so my grandkids can attend real school.  My oldest one is graduating from high school this coming year; my youngest one is entering pre-preschool or whatever you call it.

That the Lord would bring out more people to church on Sunday.  As long as we are coviding our service, this will be an ongoing prayer request.

That the CSOM team in Mexico would finish strong in all that they do.  They are winding up their 6-weeks on August 17.

For the safety, well-being, strength, and good health for all of our SGWM missionaries serving all over the world.  This is so needed and will also be an ongoing prayer request as well.

Praise report and prayer request:  Last  month I asked for prayer for the  opportunity to teach more hours for VOR.  There may be an opportunity coming up this fall for more hours as our zoom classes will most likely continue for the remainder of the year.  Pray our Lord’s will.  Exciting!

That I continue to be steadfast in my Bible studies in the teaching of God’s word.

If you’d like to get my monthly updates sent directly to your email inbox, just click on the following link:  Jim Needham Updates. You can reach me at jneedham@sgwm.com.  The Lord bless all of you.

Jim Needham