by Mike Ratliff
My friend and dear brother in the Lord Jon Cardwell has ALS. He is a preacher of the Word of God and one who earnestly contends for the faith. God is working in and through Jon for His glory and our edification. Here is a link to his latest, and possibly last, sermon, Preaching the Kingdom of God. Please read the following “letter” from Jon then I pray that you will also pray for Jon and his family that they be encouraged and strengthened in the Lord.
In sending out an email concerning our situation, particularly updates on my medical condition, it may be very difficult for some of you to respond, or to know how to respond appropriately, because you may have very mixed emotions concerning my condition. I understand that. I too, have been learning that God is not only preparing me through this situation, but He is also preparing my family and all those around me for what may be coming next.
Because you have been praying for me and for my family, I believe it is a good time to let you know how things are going. I’ve put it off long enough… a month ago today actually was our last visit to the neurologist, and almost a week ago with my primary care doctor at the Veteran’s Administration. My symptoms have progressed so rapidly that it appears that I don’t have a rare form of “slow degenerative” ALS as first thought. I am in the early stages of the regular ALS that affects 80% of those diagnosed with the disease. Yet, I continue to rejoice because this malady has drawn me ever nearer to our Lord, and His strength is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Today I had the blessing of delivering a message, possibly my last sermon, to West Grand Baptist Church in Corona, California. You can listen to or download that message for free through SermonAudio.com. As much as I love to preach Christ and Him crucified, I realize that Jesus doesn’t need me (or any of us) to proclaim the gospel. God can cause the stones to cry out the gospel truth even if the mouths of every man, woman, and child on the face of the planet were stopped. God is sufficient in Himself and needs not the help from this sinful ball of mud called Jon Cardwell. And I’m not only all right with that (and anyone who truly knows me knows that I can’t help but to proclaim God’s truth from His holy Word), I rejoice in all the things that the Lord has for me during this light and momentary affliction (2 Corinthians 4:17).
A clearer perspective comes to me through such things as what my family had to suffer early this afternoon. For about two minutes (and it may have seemed like eternity to Lisa and her mom) I had cramping all over my body so badly that at times it was hard to catch my breath. As I writhed on the floor, Lisa and her mom were trying to massage the cramps in my feet, legs, arms, hands, back, neck, and stomach. When the cramps subsided my entire body was so fatigued, and my muscles so weak, that I could only lie there for the next couple of hours. I’m still quite a bit fatigued but I wanted to get this newsletter out while I still have the courage (and strength) to do so (and it’s much easier to type than it is to write with pen or pencil, albeit, I type much slower than I used to… with a lot more mistakes).
Sometimes my body feels well enough that I might say to myself, “Perhaps I don’t have Lou Gehrig’s disease.” But those moments have become fewer and farther between as the symptoms are increasing in abundance and frequency. Yet, it is through the symptoms that allow me to draw nearer unto God… not in some perverse way that kind of says to God, “Look what I’m going through for your name’s sake…” God forbid. But when the symptoms come, my faith grows “from faith to faith” (Romans 1:17) because in that moment of adversity I have a tremendous opportunity to rest in Christ, and to trust in Him. How sad it would be, that through all that the Lord has brought to me through His Word in my own personal walk with Him, and through the opportunity to minister to His saints the truths of God, and through the blessedness of preaching the gospel to those who do not know Him and have not heard, yes, how sad it would be if the time of affliction only brought me to a point in my life to question God in an accusatory tone, or wallow in self-pity, or have a concern for anything above or equal to my desire to have Christ and Him alone.
If the Lord should tarry, one evening very soon, I’ll go to bed and my diaphragm will cramp to the point that I will not get my next breath; and although the reality of my Lord’s presence through His infinite and eternal Holy Spirit is as real to me and as tangible as anything our senses can behold, and although a glimpse of His glory is such an awesome and wonderful thing now, it cannot compare to that day when I am absent from this body and present with my Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). In that day, when in His presence, I will not look to the left or to the right and my every thought will be of Him, for Him, and toward Him. Every glance upon the Master will reveal even more unspeakable majesty of every one of His divine attributes at work in the infinite glory of the wisdom and knowledge of Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
As much as I love you, I will not be thinking about you. It sounds cold and warped to the unbelieving world, but it is joy unspeakable to all those saved by the sovereign grace and glorious work of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. I could not have a love for my wife, my family, or for any of you, whether saint or sinner, were it not for the infinite glories and superlative excellencies of the Christ who hung upon Calvary’s Tree.
We have moved to Moreno Valley, California. We’re renting a house that is owned by a pastor and his wife, who are currently ministering in Chico, California. It is the same house that was previously occupied by the pastor of Higher Ground Calvary Chapel, Harold Anderson.
That address is:
25413 Alpha Street
Moreno Valley, CA 92557-5730
Although I believe I preached my last sermon, we are open to having a Bible study in this new home in Moreno Valley. We’re praying to see what the Lord’s good pleasure is concerning this.
Some of you know that I have written a book, a treatise really. It’s titled Christ and Him Crucified. My dear sister in the Lord, Dwayna Litz, has read it and has had some very nice things to say about it. Whether it is published or not, I do not know. Although the manuscript format puts this treatise in at over 54,000 words on nearly 290 pages, I’ve compressed it to a readable 119 pages in Adobe pdf format for anyone interested in perusing it. Even if you don’t like it and think that it is the worst thing ever written, please let me know. I welcome all reviews, positive and negative.
UPDATE… Christ and Him Crucified is available on the edocs page or you can download it by CLICKING HERE.
Thank you all so much for your love, prayers, and blessed support. We miss our beloved family in Scammon Bay, but we are also blessed with the joy of meeting so many other brothers and sisters in Christ that we would not have met, had this medical condition never come up.
We are ever…
…at the Cross and in God’s Word by His sovereign grace,
jon cardwell & family
Moreno Valley, California
My brethren, this has humbled me tremendously. Our focus needs to be on our Lord and His will, not on our petty little problems. Jon’s spirit is still one of rejoicing in the Lord as he encourages us. Please pray for Jon and his family and I pray that all of us will repent of our self-righteousness, humble ourselves before our Lord and obey Him in all things. Why? Because he is worthy.
Soli Deo Gloria!