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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » John Bradshaw » John Bradshaw - Conversation with Michael Jones

John Bradshaw - Conversation with Michael Jones

John Bradshaw - Conversation with Michael Jones
TOPICS: Conversations

Imagine being in your 40s and seeing worrying signs that maybe not everything is right with you cognitively. Imagine being 50... 50!... and being told by a physician that you have early onset Alzheimer's. Then imagine less than a year later hearing that same physician tell you that you had made a miraculous recovery. He is Pastor Michael Jones, I am John Bradshaw, and this is our conversation.

John Bradshaw: Michael Jones, thank you so much for joining me.

Michael Jones: It's a pleasure to be here.

John Bradshaw: I really appreciate it. Now, let's quickly run over this big picture. You're in your late 40s, and you start to see worrying signs that things aren't 100% cognitively. Is that correct?

Michael Jones: Absolutely.

John Bradshaw: Okay. At the age of 50, what were you told?

Michael Jones: I was told that I had Alzheimer's, and that at some point in my life, I'm going to die as a result of that.

John Bradshaw: Okay. We're gonna explore that and talk about the emotions and so forth, but just briefly... I mean, 50, some people would call you a kid.

Michael Jones: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: I mean, some old people...

Michael Jones: Right.

John Bradshaw: ...they'd call you a kid.

Michael Jones: Very true.

John Bradshaw: What's it like to hear at 50? I mean, otherwise, look at you. You're healthy and fit and strong and well. What's it like to hear that news at the age of 50?

Michael Jones: You know, it was very... it hit me pretty good. I'm thinking about my family. I've got my wife; I've got our two boys. One is in academy, and one's in elementary school. And so those are the things that were weighing heavy on my heart.

John Bradshaw: Sure, sure, okay. And you're looking into the future and you're saying, obviously, "This isn't looking good". It's gotta be a little frightening.

Michael Jones: You know, you would think so.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, I would think so.

Michael Jones: Yeah, absolutely. You know, one of the things that really, really ministered to me is the Bible.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Michael Jones: I'll just be 100% honest with you. The passage that just came to me was... and now I'm losing it right now.

Which is interesting. We'll talk about that. That's okay.

Michael Jones: Okay.

John Bradshaw: Can you find that passage, or should we move on?

Michael Jones: I think we should move on.

John Bradshaw: Okay. But the Bible passage came to you...

Michael Jones: Yes, it'll come back.

John Bradshaw: ...gave you a lot of comfort, a lot of assurance.

Michael Jones: Yes, yeah.

John Bradshaw: Okay, okay. And... but, so, 50 years old, you get this diagnosis.

Michael Jones: Yes.

John Bradshaw: I mean, this is a death sentence.

Michael Jones: Right, 100%.

John Bradshaw: But later, less than a year later, just give me the shorthand of what you were told by your physician.

Michael Jones: It was amazing. He asked me after just a little while, I was waiting in doctor's office, and he asks me... and here he comes out 20 minutes later, and he says to me, "What have you been doing"? And I didn't know quite how to take it. I couldn't tell if it was positive, if it was negative.

John Bradshaw: Oh, sure.

Michael Jones: And so I just asked him, I said, "Well, what do you mean"? And he says to me, "You scored on this MoCA test a 26".

John Bradshaw: What does a 26 mean?

Michael Jones: So now, a 26... well, let me just... the first time that I took the test, I scored a 20. Okay, the highest that you can get is a 30.

John Bradshaw: And is a 20 average, or is it not good?

Michael Jones: Twenty is pretty low; it can go even lower.

John Bradshaw: Oh, so 20s are low.

Michael Jones: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: And that's an indicator that you had early onset Alzheimer's?

Michael Jones: For sure, 100%.

John Bradshaw: Okay. Well, what does the 26 mean?

Michael Jones: Twenty-six is like... Well, let me just say this. Here's what he said to me. And I asked him, I said, "So this is pretty good"? He says, "No, you don't understand this. In the Alzheimer's world, this doesn't happen". That was literally what he said to me.

John Bradshaw: Okay. So, at 50, it's over. But less than a year later...

Michael Jones: Nine months, even.

John Bradshaw: had experienced something that in the Alzheimer's world just doesn't happen. Okay, okay. So you are diagnosed as having early onset Alzheimer's, and I'm gonna say Alzheimer's and Alzheimer's.

Michael Jones: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: We just deal with that.

Michael Jones: That's all right.

John Bradshaw: And less than a year later, you are doing way... you're doing so well. This never happens.

Michael Jones: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: Okay. So you'd been doing something, we're not gonna talk about this yet, but we are going to talk about it.

Michael Jones: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: You've made a stunning recovery from Alzheimer's. Although just a moment ago, you said, "Oh, oh, I can't find that Bible verse," so we're gonna talk about just exactly where you are, but it's a remarkable story of an amazing, one might say miraculous, recovery. So let's get back to that. First, I wanna talk about you.


Who is this man sitting in front of me? So you are a pastor, correct?

I am.

Where were you born and raised, or raised, at least?

I was born and raised in California.


My dad was in the military, and I was born on Travis Air Force Base.

Ah, there we go.

Yep. And then we went to the Philippines.

All right.

And then came on back to the States, and Dad stayed in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Ooh, South Dakota.

And that's where he retired.

Oh, all right. So South Dakota was home for a good many years.


Okay, and in South Dakota, you're a good church-going boy or...


What did life look like?

No, here's what I'll tell ya. I tell people I can't believe I'm a Christian, let alone a pastor.

Oh, tell me why.

I didn't grow up that way.


Yeah. No, I... it was interesting. Our parents would send us to school, I mean, to Sunday school.

Oh, they would?


Yeah, okay. A lot of parents will do that. They won't go themselves, but they'll send you. It's good, it's good for you. They know it's good for you. They wanna teach you some morals and so forth.

Right, right.

That was kind of your family's orientation?

Yeah, that's exactly how it was. But now, I loved going, and here's the reason why. Are you ready for this?

Ah, yes. I wonder if it's the same reason I loved going.

Because they had donuts.

Oh, that's not why I loved going. There wasn't a donut ever brought into our church. Donuts?


I'm surprised that church wasn't packed full of young guys.

Right, right. But this wasn't Adventist; this was just... again, they had a church on the base.


And so that's where I went to.

Yeah, okay, the donut church.


Okay, yeah, that would get me too. So you went to church, but did that have it stick?

No, nothing sticked but those donuts.


And then I moved on, and I grew up.

What'd you move on to?

I moved on to high school.


Then I moved to college, played college football, division one.

What kind of... we'll get back to that.


What kind of kid were ya? I mean, were you a bad kid or just a normal kid?

I think I was pretty normal.


I was a pretty good kid.

Good, pretty good kid, but mischief wasn't beyond you?

No, it wasn't.

Okay, now hold on a second. You played division 1 football?


Where'd you play?

University of Wyoming.

Oh, that's not nothing.


They got a quarterback from the University of Wyoming...


...right now who's burned out the NFL.

He is.

So you went to Wyoming. What position did you play?

When I first started, I was a receiver.

Okay. Ya don't look like a receiver.

Coach said to me at one point, he says, "You know, you're a good hustler. You work hard, but..."

I know what's coming.

You understand, right?

Yeah, I know what's coming.

And he says to me, "You're not good enough to be a wide receiver at this level".


And so, again, that was hurt pride.

You don't wanna hear that.

No, you don't. And so, eventually, though, here's what he says, "I think you would be good at a tight end".

Oh, tight end?


Yeah, okay.

And so, crazy enough, I ended up getting a little bit bigger and working out, and my junior and senior year, I weighed 240 pounds.


Yeah, projected to be a... what, a fifth-round draft pick.

You were... is that so?


Okay, so let me just ask you a couple of those little fanboy questions.


Did you play against anybody whose name we might recognize?

Yeah, what was the guy... man, this is... I may not remember their names, though.

Yeah, all right.

We'll forgive you that, given what you've been through. But you played against some notable players.

Oh, for sure.

And now, you were projected to go in the fifth round.


But you didn't.

Well, yeah, because when you're a tight end and you're only six foot two...


...they look at you as a 'tweener.

Yeah. They want you to be six four, six five. Bigger is better.

Well, even if you're six... yeah, they do want you to be bigger.


But even if you are six two, they're looking at does he have amazing speed...


...or does he have amazing strength?


Because if you have amazing speed or amazing strength, they're still gonna look at you.


So I'll give you an example of what amazing strength is.


We had a guy on our team... he bench-pressed 225 pounds... no, 200?... yeah, 225 pounds.


And he did it 40 times.

Okay, he was a strong lad.

Yes. So when I did it, I stepped up to the mic, and I did it 18 times. That's not...

Right. Hey, that's pretty good.

It is.

But it's not 40.

No, no.

I think we forget that these guys who make it to the elite level, if we're gonna call it that, the professionals, they're very special.

It's very true.

They're very strong, very big, very fast.


Yeah, they're not They are abnormal.

Yeah. It's very true, yep.

I'm maybe normal. So... But you didn't go, so you were around, and you just didn't go in the draft? Or did something else happen?

So I ended up going to play in a Canadian league.


Yeah, and did well for a little bit on the tryouts. And after a while I was... it didn't work there either.

Okay. See... and I wanna double back around and say there's... 'cause I'm fascinated. I mean, there's this certain glamour about professional sports.


But let's be honest, man. Very few people get in there and survive spiritually. It's a one-way street. It not good, usually, for a person's relationship with God. It can be a very difficult environment. So I'm not gonna extend a whole lot of sympathy towards ya for missing out. But I am gonna ask you this question.


So, in many professional contact sports, rugby, football in this country...


...we're dealing now with the after-effects of head-knocks and concussions. Could your diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's, could it have been related to the knocks you took when you were playing football?

You know, it's interesting you're bringing this out because with my early onset Alzheimer's, we've learned that there are six types of Alzheimer's, and one of them has to deal with what you just brought up.


But I will... this is the thing with me. I've never been diagnosed with concussion.

Oh, okay, okay.

So I don't think that's...

So, probably not.


Yeah, but if you had, if you were one of these guys who got knocked around and got concussed a lot, you'd may be looking at that as a potential cause.

Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

So we've got a couple of things here. We've got a guy playing professional football in Canada, but we have the same fellow who became a pastor.


You gotta connect the dots here. Connect some dots for me.


And just to reiterate, we are here talking about your amazing journey to and out of Alzheimer's. I say "out of" guardedly, but we'll dig deeper into that.

Yeah, absolutely.

So you had a diagnosis of Alzheimer's that has been an amazing recovery. So how did you get to ministry? What happened?

Well, after everything was done with football, I finished up one more year and became a teacher.


Yeah, so I taught for six years.

Yeah. In the Dakotas?

Started out in Wyoming.

Okay, sure, sure.

Cheyenne, 'cause that's where I was there. And then afterwards, two years back in my hometown.


And then two more years in Colorado.

All right, yup.


But being a teacher... I mean, you got to being a pastor, so, tell me.

So here's a little bit more. So my sister became an Adventist before I did. And she kept on asking me to do Bible studies. And I was like, "Oh, no, Ginger, get away, get away". And so she kept on asking me. And so for three years I kept on saying, "No". And so here's the beauty of my sister. She changed her canvass, and she says this to me, "Hey, Michael, how about you come and see the girls"? Now, I've got two nieces that are just beautiful. One is... at the point, at the time, one was nine months old, and the other one was 3 years old.


So there I go.

That got ya?

Yes, got me completely. And so I went in, in the house, played with my sweet nieces. And... but you know how it is; at 3 years old, the batteries don't last very long, or nine months old, the batteries don't last very long.

Yeah, that's right.

And so she goes and puts them to bed, and then she comes back with this big grin, looking at me, and she says, "Hey, Michael, how about we do a Bible study now"? And I said, "Oh my goodness". She got me.

Yeah. So you had the Bible study. So what happened after the Bible study?

Well, I'll just tell you it literally changed my life. And we didn't even get completely into the Bible study. So my brother-in-law then steps in, and he says this, he says, "Where are you at with God and religion"? And I said, "Well, hmm... I'm not really interested. People hate, people kill, and people are prejudiced, and they do it all in the name of God. I want nothing to do with it".

Mmm, mm-mm-mm.

And let me tell you, what my brother-in-law told me next literally changed my whole life.

What'd he tell you?

Here's what he said to me. He says, "Michael, the most important thing is you and your relationship with Jesus". And I was like, "Wow"! I mean, I had never heard anything like that.


See, my whole life I was looking at people.


And here's what he said to me: "You need to look at the person of Jesus Christ".

That's right. That's right.

And, brother, let me tell you, I go telling this to everybody.


Because that's, that's where my whole life changed, literally in that one moment.

Yeah. Yeah, it's just like saying, "Well, I don't wanna live in France or Germany", or whatever, "because there are so many people there that are hypocrites".


Well, I mean, sure. But, you know, that's everywhere.


People are people. So, bring this down to somehow you entered ministry. How did that happen?

You know, I continued. I was still teaching.


And...I became Adventist. And there's this family that took me underneath their wings. And it just, I just... at one point, I came to the family on a Wednesday, we had something going on in their home. And, man, I just was in tears. And I said to... I can't even remember her name now, but... the sweet dear sister, and I said to her, like, "I've gotta learn; I've gotta go somewhere where I can teach people about Jesus".

There you go, amen.

And that was where it started, literally.

Yeah. How did you enjoy pastoral ministry?

Oh, loved it.

Yep. Yeah.

Oh yeah. Yeah.

And what states of the country did you pastor in?

We were in Minnesota for quite a bit.

Okay, yeah.

Yeah. Also, in... in fact, most our full-time was in Minnesota and then here in Georgia.

In Georgia.


Yeah, there you go.

Yeah, and then before that, we did Bible work.

Oh, fantastic.


That's just about the greatest work you can do.

Yeah, it is wonderful.

Okay, we're gonna go fast-forward.


So, secular upbringing with a little bit of church back there, a sister who studied the Bible with you, other people who influenced you. You became a pastor. You moved to Georgia.


Things started to change... that is, for you cognitively.


What did you notice that caused you to wonder if things were going on? Were there any early warning signs for you?

You know, there was. You know, I can remember this... wow, it's, like, etched in my mind. I remember one day I was getting ready for church, and my wife's in bed, and I'm getting up, and I'm getting dressed, getting clothes, everything. And I grabbed my tie, and I couldn't remember how to put my tie on. This is probably about maybe two, two-and-a-half years ago.


And I just was like... so literally for 10 minutes, I'm like, "What's going on"? And I couldn't put my tie on. And so after 10 minutes, I literally, brother, I literally said, "God, I need Your help right now". And I kid you not, it came right back to me.

Wow, just like that?

Just like that.


I ran out of the house and said to myself, "Wow, what just happened"?

And did you think about that a lot afterwards? Did you play that back, or did you just move on?

You know, I just moved on.

You did?



Four months later, I said to my... I told my wife about the whole story. She got me into the hospital. She got me into labs and all kinds of things.

Right away?

Right away, brother, as soon as I told her about it.

Yeah, okay.

And I tell you, man, like, our wives, they're a rebuke to us.

Let me hear you say "amen" out there.


Yeah, and such a blessing because, you know, we just go on in our way. And the Lord put those special people in our lives to keep us pointing in the right direction.

That's right.

So what did the tests, those earlier tests, reveal?

You know, the earlier tests, they were thinking maybe... 'cause I did a sleep study...

Okay, okay. they thought maybe Parkinson's.


Yeah. And so we didn't know what to think about that.


And so that was what they were thinking in the beginning.

No one said at any time, "It's nothing; you're fine"?

Yeah, I've had several people say that.

Oh yeah?

Michael Jones: I've had several people, even the church, who said, "Oh, no, you don't have Alzheimer's".

John Bradshaw: Oh, really?

Michael Jones: Just because it's me, it's Pastor Michael.

John Bradshaw: Couldn't possibly be you.

Michael Jones: Right, "There's no way you have that".

John Bradshaw: 'Cause it always happens to somebody else.

Michael Jones: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Yeah. So you continued down this line, I guess, of pursuing medical treatment or a diagnosis.

Michael Jones: Yes. And there were some things that had happened even when I was in the pulpit.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Michael Jones: You know, I would start... like, my papers, right? You set them up on the pulpit. And sometimes I was just messing with them, and I couldn't get a grip on everything. And it was an awkward thing. You know how a pause... right?... a pause is a good thing as a pastor.

John Bradshaw: And a bad thing, yeah.

Michael Jones: Yeah. And it can be a bad thing when it's too long.

John Bradshaw: That's right.

Michael Jones: And so, some of those things came into place as well.

John Bradshaw: Is that right? So in the pulpit, you started to get disoriented and couldn't figure out where your notes were meant to be and so forth.

Michael Jones: Absolutely.

John Bradshaw: Interesting. In just a minute, I'm gonna ask you about that day the doctor said, "You have early onset Alzheimer's". I'm glad you're here. He is Michael Jones. I'm John Bradshaw. More from our conversation in just a moment, brought to you by It Is Written.

John Bradshaw: Welcome back to "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written. My guest is Pastor Michael Jones, who at the tender age of 50 was given news he did not expect to receive, and that is that he had early onset Alzheimer's. Getting a diagnosis like that, we discussed it a little bit earlier, but by the time you got it, did you think by the time you got the diagnosis, were you aware that you had an actual... what I'm gonna call... a problem?

Michael Jones: Yeah. I felt something. Yeah, I could tell that there was something going on.

John Bradshaw: Hey, describe that to me. What were you experiencing?

Michael Jones: It happened in the pulpit again.

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Michael Jones: I was in the pulpit preaching; things were going well. Now, by this time... I was telling you about the papers earlier, right?

John Bradshaw: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Michael Jones: Now, by this time I'm using my wife's iPad.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Michael Jones: Because that was... I couldn't... that was too much.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Michael Jones: And so I'm on the iPad, and there's this word that I'm looking at, and I just couldn't make sense of it.

John Bradshaw: Oh my.

Michael Jones: And it was probably for, like, I mean, it was a while. It was pause-plus.

John Bradshaw: Yeah. Yeah, so to you it felt like an eternity.

Michael Jones: Oh yeah.

John Bradshaw: To the people in the congregation, they're thinking, "This is not normal".

Michael Jones: Yeah, "What's going on"?

John Bradshaw: Okay. Was there a moment... maybe that was it... was there a moment that you said, "Okay, I really have a problem"? I mean, the tie, you could explain that away, if you wanted to.

Michael Jones: Yeah. Yeah.

"Ah, that was weird. What was that"?


But was there a moment that you go, "Okay, I just have to admit this is a problem"?



That one, the one that I just told you, that was it.

That one there, that was it.

That was it.


In fact... Yeah, that one literally changed everything. The next morning I woke up, and I was deep in prayer with God, talking about, like, "God, there's something going on. I don't know what it is". I was impressed to get on the internet. And then I said, "Well, what are the indications of Alzheimer's"?


Like, what are the top 10? And, man, I had eight of them.

Oh, ouch.

And I just felt like, "Okay, so this is this". And then I called my cousin because I knew that my auntie had Alzheimer's. And so we started talking then. And I was like, "Okay, there's something more to this".

That's interesting, so it's in your family.


That's interesting. Hey, let me ask you about your family.


So you are the one who's looking down the barrel at Alzheimer's and affecting the rest of your life, but you're not alone in this; you have a wife.

Yeah, I got a wife...

Yeah. two boys.

Yeah, so what's your wife thinking? "My husband may have dementia". That's pretty scary...


...when you're way too young. I mean, if you were mid- to late-70s or 80s or something, you know, it's far more common then.


What's she experiencing?

You know, she is, she's amazing. Let me first set that right away. She's just been... she's been my rock...

Yeah. so much of it. But again, I think when I told her, you know, after that four months, about what had happened...


...I think she was like, "Okay, we've gotta get him going".


And so she just... I mean, brother, she was just on it.

Nice. Your boys, were they aware there was anything wrong with Dad?

Yeah. Oh yeah.


'Cause I got a little bit different. You know, I... for a season, I mean, I was pretty rough and gruff with the boys.


And I didn't even recognize it.

Oh, is that so?


And they're not used to that coming from Dad, so they're realizing...


...there's something changing around here.

Yeah, yeah.

At some stage you had to have realized, "I'm probably not gonna be able to carry on as a pastor".


How did that affect you?

You know, I... It was just a, it was an interesting ride.

Was there any one thing that hit you hardest, "I'm not able to do this now"? Was there one thing, or were there two things above others that really impacted you?

You know, just the point... I think the point that I probably wasn't gonna be going into pastoral ministry anymore.

Yeah. Yep, yep, yep, yep.

That was just kind of a...

Now your calling has been pulled away from you.


Had to be tough.


Okay. So you're diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. That's that. And cognitively you're doing this.


You're declining. I don't know how slow, but we're on a downward gradient.

Oh, there's, yeah, no doubt.

Going downhill. You can see it. You can say, "Wow, I'm worse today than I was two months ago". You're experiencing that.


You're experiencing that.

Oh yeah.

That was happening. You can... you're aware of your own decline. Your wife is witnessing it.


Your kids are witnessing it.


Okay. Let's go back to the beginning. We said at the beginning that you scored a 20... pretty... it's bad. But then you came back and you scored a 26; 30 is really good; 26 is...good.


And the doctor said, "Whatever you're doing, just keep doing it".

Yeah. appeared you have reversed the decline, and you've started to improve.


Now, I wanna say this first: Your experience won't be the same as everybody else's.

That's right.

The fact that you've experienced improvement isn't a guarantee for anyone. I wanna be very, very clear about that.

Mm-hmm. But it does offer hope for people who are in your situation.

That's right.

Absolute hope. Okay. What did you do?

I'll tell ya. We... this was at the time when the NAD had the pastors meetings.


And so I was there, and I started talking to some people, and they were telling us about it can be reversed. And we had never heard of that, my wife and I.

You never heard that?



And so we're there at the meetings with the pastors, and several pastors were telling us about this. So we leave, you know, the pastoral meeting and everything, and everybody goes their separate ways, and so we got in touch with some friends who told us about that we could go to a Alzheimer's bootcamp. And so that was the start of the reversal that we're talking here about.

Wow, okay. So what'd they have you do?

It was a five-day Alzheimer's bootcamp.

Yeah, okay.

And they just talked about the importance of food.


They talked about exercise.


They talked about sleep.


And just good things that we probably should be doing.

Probably things everybody should be doing anyway.

Yeah, exactly.

Now, you didn't turn this around in five days. I don't want anybody...


But that was like the crash course, wanna teach you what you can do to help yourself.

Yes. That's what it was.

Okay. Okay, okay, okay. And this isn't quackery?


Or is it?


This isn't run by the crazies.

No. These are...

Some people in a commune on a mountaintop who eat funny and don't shower. This is medical. We're talking medical.

Oh yeah, these are medical doctors.

Okay, okay.

Medical doctors.

Okay, so let's talk a little bit about how you found the program you found and how you were shepherded through that and what you did.


Tell me about that.

So one of the things we found out was this guy's named Dale Bredesen. And so we started reading his book. And this is the book.

That's the book right there.

Right here, yeah. "The End of Alzheimer's".

There it is.

I mean, how exciting it is to hear something like that, right?


And so my wife and I, we got excited, brother.

You didn't worry, "Oh, this could be a setup or false hope"?


Okay, so you dived into this believing that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

Oh yeah, because of the people who we talked to.


We believe them. You know what I mean?

Okay. Yeah.


And you'd spoken to people who'd experienced reversal?


Ooh, you hadn't?

No, I'd just heard from others...


...that it was possible.


But I haven't heard of anybody...

Yeah. But somebody who's told, as a young man, you have early onset Alzheimer's, if you've got any brains, you're gonna throw yourself at something that offers you hope.


Particularly as this isn't cranky, you didn't have to go to another country and attend a clinic with strange treatments.

No, none of that stuff.

Okay, okay.


Let's talk about the, what Dr. Bredesen advocates, and again, I want to be very clear.


I do not want to even intimate that we're saying this will work for everybody.

That's right.

Different bodies react differently to different treatments. The disease one person has, though it's the same disease as another person, it may not work precisely the same in each context.


So I want to be clear, but it has helped you immensely, and therefore, hopefully it may help others.



So some of the things that we learned is, first I just wanna maybe set it like "Steps to Christ," right?


Thirteen principles within that, that book that she writes...

That beautiful book.

...that beautiful book.


And so I'm looking at steps to Alzheimer's.

Okay, sure.

And so here's what I discovered: no sugar.

Right. I've heard that.


Yep. Number two...



Hey, pause. By "no sugar," you mean what?


'Cause, you know, I know people who eat no sugar, and they drink soda every other day. But they would never eat... they're cutting back on their sugar. "No sugar" means no sugar...

No sugar.

...or just really cutting back? What does it mean?

It means no sugar. But again...


...everybody's who they are.

Yeah, okay.

You know what I mean?

And we're talking no added sugar. You can eat an apple?

Oh yeah.

Yeah, okay, okay.

Yeah, I mean, fruits and vegetables is really the ideal thing.


And that's what I did for nine months.

Okay, okay. Exercise...


What does that mean?

That means getting in the gym, working out, walking, running.

Okay, okay.


Normal stuff?

Normal stuff.

But exercise.


Okay. Not like many of us who either don't exercise or would agree that exercise is a great idea, but we hardly do it. You're pursuing exercise.


I don't wanna overstate that, but you mean active exercise program.

Yeah, absolutely.


So before I was doing the exercise, I weighed 200 and maybe 20 pounds...


Michael Jones: Something like that.

John Bradshaw: Yeah?

Michael Jones: After those nine months that I just spoke about...

John Bradshaw: Yeah?

Michael Jones: ...I got down to 180 pounds.

John Bradshaw: Ooh, okay, that's 40 pounds.

Michael Jones: It's a lot of weight.

John Bradshaw: That's good, yeah.

Michael Jones: And I didn't like the way that I looked. I kid you not, brother. I'm like, "Okay, we've gotta make a change now".

John Bradshaw: And you did.

Michael Jones: I did.

John Bradshaw: Well, congratulations, it's a great change.

Michael Jones: Yeah, so again, I was motivated by my dad, who has Alzheimer's.

John Bradshaw: Ooh, that's interesting.

Michael Jones: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: Your dad has Alzheimer's.

Michael Jones: Yeah. That's one of the things...

John Bradshaw: And an aunt.

Michael Jones: And an aunt.

John Bradshaw: Is the aunt his sister?

Michael Jones: Yep, they're siblings.

John Bradshaw: Ohhh, all right. Okay, so it's... I'm just seeing this in the family here.

Michael Jones: It is. So, and again, I have another uncle who passed away from it...

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Michael Jones: well.

John Bradshaw: Which is interesting, man, because you are told you have Alzheimer's, and you can look at people in your family and say, "That's where I'm headed".

Michael Jones: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: That's sobering...

Michael Jones: It was, it was very sobering.

John Bradshaw: ...and provides you with the motivation to do something about it.

Michael Jones: That's right.

John Bradshaw: Okay. Sugar, exercise, what else?

Michael Jones: And then sleep.

John Bradshaw: Sleep?

Michael Jones: For the last 18 years, I've been waking up at four o'clock.

John Bradshaw: By choice?

Michael Jones: You know... it was.

John Bradshaw: It was?

Michael Jones: It was, it was.


Not getting enough sleep, though?

Not not getting enough sleep.

Were you aware during those 18 hours that you're cutting things too close? Were you aware of that? Or did it just feel normal to you?

No, it was just normal.



So how many hours of sleep a night would you be getting? Five, six?

Yeah, something...

Along those lines?


And what did the experts tell you you should get?

Seven to eight.


Seven to eight.

Good advice.


Yeah. So you started getting your 7-8 hours' sleep?

I guess.

Yeah, yeah.

And now I've been... I started it. It took a little while. I probably took probably three to five months to really get in a groove and be serious about it.


You know, same thing with the food...


...and all of that.

And that's good to know.

It takes a while.

So you were human enough that it took a... there was a gradual process.


Okay, okay.

Like, nine months, like, you know, that whole thing and...

So it's good to know that's okay. One need not master it overnight.

Yeah. And same thing with the sugar. I mean, I didn't... I still don't think I have sugar mastered, you know, right now, I'm just being honest.

Because it's everywhere.

Yes, it is.

It's everywhere.


Buy a box of cereal... many of them you might as well buying a box of candy.

I'm telling ya, that's right.


It is.

So, okay, so that's just... listen, you were told you had early onset Alzheimer's.


And then you were told by the doctor... in fact, are you still seeing that doctor?

He's the one who said, "You don't need to come see me anymore".

The doctor said that to you?

That's exactly what he said.

Don't come back.

He says, "There's no need for you to come back because what you're doing works". And he said, "Stick with it".

Wow. Okay, so what you're doing is exercising, which is pretty normal.


You cut sugar, as far as possible from your diet. You got more sleep.


I mean, are there more legs on the stool?

There's one more that I think that we don't usually talk about...

What is that?

And that is communion.

Oh, is that so? Dr. Bredesen talks about that?

No, I talk about that.

Oh, okay.

I just bring that out.

You think that's an important one?

I think it's huge.


And here's the reason why.


When I started going to the gym, I had a group of people that was my community.


And so I got to know probably, I bet, 10, 15 guys.


And we talk; we pray together.

Oh yeah?

We're... yeah, it's been amazing. There's been so many... yeah, just, it's been wonderful.


So that community part, I believe, is huge, because most of us pastors, we're isolated.

That's true, you know.

It's very true, brother.

You're the center of a congregation, and yet you can be absolutely isolated.

Yes. And that's what I discovered in my ministry.

Yeah. And you know what? I'll tell you what, a lot of church members will be surprised to hear that.


But it's true.

I mean, we do, I mean, we love our church members. I mean it, absolutely.

And some of them love us.


But it doesn't change the fact that it's very isolating.

Yeah, it is.

Just for a number of reasons that, for us, are pretty easy to understand.

And again, well, think about it. We connect with, you know, once... I mean, we don't do it always once a week, I mean, maybe two, three.

Maybe, but mostly.



So I think that that community component is huge.

Vital, huh?

Yeah, so those are the three that I learned from Bredesen, and I just threw in this...

Yeah. part.

Because for you, that's been really significant.

Yeah, I've just seen the blessing...


...of connecting.

Yeah. Okay. So, going back, you were experiencing the decline of Alzheimer's.


Okay. So if I were to ask someone in your congregation, "What was Pastor Michael like"?, they would say... would they say, "Oh, we hardly noticed"? Or they would say, "Oh yeah, it was noticeable"?

I would think they'd say that it was noticeable.


I would, for sure. And I don't blame them.

Right. No, but it was noticeable?


Yeah, I mean, if guy walks in with a broken leg, and he's got it in a cast, that's noticeable.

Yes, sir.

For them, your challenge was discernible.


Okay, okay.

And so, again, we were at a point where, you know, what should we do?

Yep. Yeah.


Hey, what were your options? As someone who had Alzheimer's, what did the medical people say? "Well, here's what your options are". What do they hold out to you as a possible way forward?

Michael Jones: Brother, this is what they said to me, the doctor, 'kay? So when we first were waiting for him, he comes out and he says... with this loud voice, boisterous, right?... and he says, "You have Alzheimer's". That's what he says.

John Bradshaw: Wow.

Michael Jones: And so then my wife, sitting right next to me, she says to him, "Well, you tell him what that means". And he didn't want to say anything.

John Bradshaw: Really?

Michael Jones: And she says it again: "Tell him what that means".

John Bradshaw: What did he say?

Michael Jones: And this is what he says: "That means that your brain is going to atrophy, and at some point you're gonna die because of Alzheimer's".

John Bradshaw: "At some point"... did he dare give you a timeframe?

Michael Jones: No.

John Bradshaw: No?

Michael Jones: No.

John Bradshaw: Just "at some point"?

Michael Jones: Yep, "At some point you're gonna die because of this".

John Bradshaw: Death sentence.

Michael Jones: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: Okay. Okay, in a moment, I wanna ask you about the journey back and the incredible progress you made, and we're gonna talk to you about the fact that things aren't perfect.

Michael Jones: Right.

John Bradshaw: But they're a whole lot better than they've been.

Michael Jones: Amen, yeah.

John Bradshaw: Thank you so much. Thanks for joining us. This is "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written. I'm speaking with Pastor Michael Jones, and we'll be back with more of this remarkable story in just a moment.

John Bradshaw: Welcome back to "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written. My guest is Pastor Michael Jones. Told at 50 you have Alzheimer's, and you're gonna die from it. But then you got on a program where you adopted some pretty straightforward, simple lifestyle changes.

Michael Jones: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: What did you start to experience in terms of improvement? And when?

Michael Jones: Phew, that's a good question. It probably took four, five, seven months, somewhere in there...

John Bradshaw: Before you started to see improvement?

Michael Jones: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: Okay, hit the pause button. Let me ask you about that. So you've stopped eating cotton candy, and... you're not staying up till 2:30 in the morning anymore, and you're out jogging and pushing weights in the gym with your 10 or 15 new friends.

Michael Jones: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: And you'd been doing that for four months, and there'd been no change. Was there a time that you attempted to say, "Well, this ain't helping"?

Michael Jones: No.

John Bradshaw: Why should I do this?

Michael Jones: No.

John Bradshaw: No?

Michael Jones: No.

John Bradshaw: Why not?

Michael Jones: Probably because of what I've known from exercising when I was in football.

John Bradshaw: Okay, so you knew it was good.

Michael Jones: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: You just gonna do it anyway.

Michael Jones: It just, you just have to keep pushing through.

John Bradshaw: Okay. And you're experiencing losing weight.

Michael Jones: Right.

So, okay, okay. So you never thought about quitting?


Okay. But after several months, a light goes on. Tell me what one of those lights were, one of those changes. You discovered what?

Well, it... How do I say this? The way that I knew that things were good...


...was through my family, because they could recognize it before that I can.

Okay, interesting. Yeah, tell me about that.

So, I remember when... when Tristan, our youngest son, said to me, "I can tell that you're getting better". And I said, "Well, what do you mean"? And he says, "Just the way that you're talking".

Because you said a few moments ago that as you were declining, you started to get a little less... become a little more impatient with the kids.


And they noticed that there'd been a turnaround.


Ooh, that's a lovely thing to hear from your boys, yeah.

It was very much. And I kept on hearing that more and more.


And then I started seeing certain things, like, for example, like, in order for me to, especially in the early parts...

Yeah. order for me to remember something, I literally had to stop where I was...


...and I had to go back, and then I could go again.

Okay, okay. You mean go back in your mind or go back physically, go back to the other room?

I had to go back physically to know what I was doing.

Yeah, hey, you know, there's so many of us right now are going, "That happens to us all the time".


Or, "What did I walk into this room for"? You walk out to the other room, you go, "Oh, now I remember". And it's not really very funny. So you were having to do that before?

Oh, man, I was doing that every day, all the time.

Ooh, is that right?

All the time, all the time.

That could be frustrating.

Yeah, it was.

But one day you walk from the living room to the kitchen, and you thought, "I need to grab my teacup," and you didn't forget.

Didn't forget.

And did you say, "Look at me"?

Yes, absolutely. Just like that, yeah.


Told my wife...


...and she saw it, and yeah, it was pretty amazing.

I can imagine it had to be exhilarating.

Oh, it was, it was. But it takes time.

Yep. But the sharpness started coming back.


Give me another example, something that came back.

Another one, when it came back, was... my sleeping.


The sleep, yeah.


I would, it would take a while to sleep, and then it was just, I was just in sync, in sync, getting good eight, nine hours of sleep. And it was just... and then I could just feel it. I mean, things were just getting better.

Is that so? So you could feel it?


Had to feel good.


Yeah. Hey, talk with me about your relationship with God. We both know that God could have prevented it.


We both know that God, in His infinite wisdom, chose not to.


But you're in your late 40s, and you realize you're declining and you're told at 50, in a boisterous fashion, "You have Alzheimer's". Did you ever look towards heaven and go, "You have let me down"? Did you ever have that conversation with God?

Michael Jones: Not once.

John Bradshaw: No? Why do you think you didn't? Given that we both know you had church members who have.

Michael Jones: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: We both know that people frequently have that conversation. Why did you not?

Michael Jones: I think it comes back to what my brother-in-law told me.

John Bradshaw: Remind us what he told you.

Michael Jones: He said to me when I first became... when I had that Bible study with him...

John Bradshaw: Yes.

Michael Jones: ...he asked me, "Where are you with God"? and everything.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Michael Jones: And I said, "You know, I'm not interested". And he told me, "Michael, the most important thing is you and your relationship with Jesus".

John Bradshaw: Look to Jesus.

Michael Jones: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: Yeah. And so you held on to that?

Michael Jones: 100%.

John Bradshaw: You didn't get bitter with Jesus?

Michael Jones: Not even.

John Bradshaw: No?

Michael Jones: No.

John Bradshaw: That's fantastic.

Michael Jones: No, I... in fact, I just, I talk with Him more.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, yeah.

Michael Jones: You know, and again, I pray, but then there's this relationship where, like, when Jesus was in the... and walking with Him in the morning, and so, like, I walk with Him all the time.

John Bradshaw: Right.

Michael Jones: I mean, He's been so good to me.

John Bradshaw: Yes, He's been good to you.

Michael Jones: He's been very good.

John Bradshaw: So, listen, you've had Alzheimer's, and you say, "He's been good to me". Wouldn't He have been better if He didn't permit the Alzheimer's? Or you don't see it that way? Take your time. It's okay. You are able to say, "He has been so good to me," in spite of what you've been through and your family's been through.

He's literally just...closer. You know, we had that quarterly about the crucible.


And I was right in the midst of it.

That's right, you would've been.

And He just walked with me.

So let me ask you this: Has your relationship with God been enhanced by this experience?



There's a passage, 1 Peter 5:10.

That's it. Yeah, I've got a Bible here, 1 Peter 5:10.

Okay, where is that? First Peter...

Go ahead, read that.

You know, one of the things that hasn't come back is a lot of my vision.



Yeah, I'm gonna talk to you about that in just a moment.

Okay, let me find this here. Verse 10, here it is. "But...the God of all grace, who [has] called us to His eternal glory [in] Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while"...


..."[He will make you] perfect, ...strengthen, and [establish] you".


So it wasn't before; it's after you suffer.

Yeah, that's interesting, isn't it?

It is. And so I've held on to that.

Yeah. Did you feel along the way like you were suffering? Is that a word you would use?


Yeah, it felt that way, huh?

It did, but I also realized that there are people who suffer way much more than I do.

Ah, of course, sure.

You know, like, I'm...

Yeah. Yeah, but still, you know, you can only go through your own experience.

That's right.

And being told that your brain is gonna atrophy to the place you're gonna die, that's pretty heavy duty.

It is, and it was.

Yeah, yeah. But the light started to come back on...


...and you started to regain some of what the locusts had eaten.

Phoof! That's right.

Yeah, God has been faithful.

He has.

But I wanna ask you... you're not back at 100%.


So, what's still missing? And what's life like with that deficit you have, whatever it looks like. What do you still struggle with today?

I'm still pushing.


Oh yeah. I'm not stoppin'. I'm just keepin' pushin'.

Yeah? Where are you finding, though, you're not back to 100%? Where is that? Where are the gaps in your experience today?

Probably a little bit in the sugar area. Is that what you're talking about? I'm not quite sure.

No. No, no. So, early on, when you had to think about, "Oh, sorry, I can't remember that"...


...And you know that you're not back to 100% function.


Maybe you're pressing up towards that. So where are the gaps?

Oh, I see. Okay. So, some of them are in my speech.

Yes? Your speech sounds good to me. What do you mean by that?

Well, I don't know, then maybe I'm just self-conscious or something.

Okay, but you notice it?


All right, so if you're noticing it's there...

And then another thing is that when we were in Minnesota, I had a, what they call a co-infection, with Lyme's disease.

Oh, okay.

And so that's what's probably I'm dealing with, my eyes.

Oh, is that so?

Yeah. So I rarely read.

Oh yeah?


What do you experience when you try to read?

It's just very... I don't know, my eyes just strain.

Oh, is that so?


That's interesting.


Is that an Alzheimer's thing or more the Lyme disease thing?

It's both. In fact, Dr. Bredesen...


...talks about how that happens.

Oh, interesting.

And so, what's amazing... they were able to find out on the labs here in Georgia that back in Minnesota I had Lyme disease. It's a co-infection.

Yeah? And when they found that out, that was a significant finding for them?





And so I'm still... I'm taking supplements right now to deal with that.

All right. Okay, okay. Are you forgetful?



Yeah, that's still there. Now, many of us are forgetful because we're not getting any younger and because forgetful...

Right. kind of part of life for some people. But you notice. Do you ever do that "Ah"! and notice that that's a hangover from before?


Yeah, you do?

Mm-hmm. There's some of that.

Does it annoy you?


Does it bug you? You're just used to it?



I just, I'm just keepin' pressin' on, knowing that...


...that God's gonna keep growing me.

Yeah. And your wife? She's seen this remarkable comeback that you've made.


And it must overjoy her and your boys.

Yeah, amazingly.

If I were to ask them, "So what do you notice about Dad", your boys... or, or "your husband"... if I spoke to your wife... "that's not the same as, say, five years ago"? What would they notice? What would they say? "Yeah, there's this little area where he's still got some recovery to make". What would they notice?

"Dad isn't probably as fun as he used to be". I'll be honest. I don't recognize it, but that's, I would think...

Now, what do you mean by that? Is that like, "I don't wanna jump off this cliff into the water"? That kind of fun or just the spontaneous stuff?

Just the spontaneous playing around, wrestling...

Okay, yeah.

...that kind of thing.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. But, I mean, that's significant. But...

But it's changing.

It's a small price to pay.


And it's changing?

It is. It is. That's what's exciting.

That's gotta be a fun journey for you to see it coming back.

Yeah, for sure, brother.

Yeah. Okay, let me ask you a delicate question.


Do you ever fear... that this recovery is gonna stop? Or, worse, do you ever fear that one day they're gonna tell you you're declining again? Do you fear that?

I never even thought about that.

You haven't?

No way.

That's a fantastic thing.

No, I...

Tell me why you haven't thought about that.

'Cause that's just not the trajectory where I'm going.


I'm just... I'm that way.


That's where I'm going.

Oh, fantastic. Isn't that amazing? Okay, so somebody is listening to you right now, watching you right now.


And they're thinking, "My wife was just diagnosed with Alzheimer's last week"... or last month... or, "My brother-in-law has early onset Alzheimer's". What's your advice to a person in that situation?

I share with them: Get a diagnosis.


And then I tell them, "You've got to get in touch with this book right here".

"The End of Alzheimer's".

"The End of Alzheimer's" with Bredesen... hit the New York bestseller list.


Yeah, and I share with them and encourage them to... if I can, if I know them well, I share with them about those four that we just talked about.

Yes. Yes.


Have you known people who have got on the program because they've learned about you and heard about your recovery?

Yeah, I've put it on posts, I've put it on Facebook, and I had several people contact me and a number of people who have been asking me and with questions. And it's been pretty humbling.

That's really interesting.

Yeah, it is.

Do you see a return to pastoral ministry one day? Do you hope for that? Or has that ship sailed? How do you feel?

You know, I probably think that ship has sailed.


I think, though, that I'm gonna continue in ministry.


I see myself being kind of a Paul tentmaker kind of a thing.

All right, sure.

Yeah. We as a family, we're looking at starting a family business.

Right, good.

And so, and somewhere in there I'm thinking that ministry is going to... what word would I say? It's going to arise.

Gonna arrive or arise in there, and there'll be ministry opportunities.

Yes, absolutely.

And that's really exciting, isn't it?


Isn't it amazing that God has made the human body in such a way that when sin strikes, there are frequently... I use that word carefully, can't say "always" because that just isn't true... there are frequently methodologies, methods, treatments, interventions that can be employed, even natural, to bring restoration where the results of sin have done the damage. Isn't that a phenomenal thing?

It really is.

Yeah. What have you learned about God through this journey? Or what has come into clearer focus?

Mm. His patience.


His love. His kindness.


Unfailing. And even if we're in the worst, He still loves us. He hasn't walked; he hasn't left us.


And that is such

Hey, let me ask you this.


What would this journey have looked like for you... this is unknowable, but...


...let's ask the question. What do you think this journey would've looked like for you if you had no God to lean on? You understand my question?


If you were not a man of faith, if you were not a Christian believer, how do you think you'd have coped with this journey?

Whoof. I don't think I could.


There's just no way. That's speaking... that's me speaking.

Sure, sure.


What's tomorrow gonna look like?

Hey, here's what I say.


Yesterday's history.


Tomorrow's a mystery. But today's the day we got.

Yeah, that's right.

Yes, so, like, tomorrow, I'm looking forward to it.

You're looking forward to it.

Oh yeah, brother.

Hey, when you got this diagnosis, were you looking forward to tomorrow when you knew that you were declining? What did tomorrow feel like then? Were you hopeful about tomorrow when you're going deeper into deficit? How did that look? How did that feel?

I just love just every day.

Imagine it had to have been a little tough, though, right?

There were days.

You go to bed, you go to bed tonight, and someone's taken 10 different crayons outta the crayon box. Weren't you worried that you're gonna wake up tomorrow morning... there ain't gonna be a blue; there might not be a magenta; the yellow might be gone... were you concerned about what tomorrow would look like?

Yeah, it wasn't fear. I may be concerned, but it wasn't a fearful concern.

Wasn't fear?


Interesting. And you put that down to...?

My relationship with Him.

Yeah, amen.


Hey, this has been a remarkable conversation.


I've really loved talking with ya. It's just so exciting seeing what God has done in your life...

Thank you. He's blessed you, to hear you say that God is faithful, even when things are upside down. Hey, thank you for spending your time. I pray God will bless you and that each new tomorrow will be filled with His presence.


Pastor, thank you so much.

Thank you.

What a blessing. Thank you for joining with us. I trust you've been... if you're half as blessed as I've been, then I'm really thankful. He is Pastor Michael Jones, I am John Bradshaw, and this has been our conversation, brought to you by It Is Written.
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