Part III — The Christian’s Bucket List

30. Make up your own bucket list.

These fifty are only suggestions, some of them mine and some from Facebook friends. Not everything will suit you; find those that do.

A friend who works with the Baptist churches across Montana suggested no one should go to Heaven without first visiting the Big Sky state. I’m not sure everyone will want that on their list, but there it is.

Someone else suggested sky diving and bungee jumping. Not for me, thanks. But you will have your own list.

29. Make a will.

You’d be surprised how few Christians have wills stating what is to be done with all they leave behind after their death. I suspect it’s because we don’t want to think about dying, don’t want to have to arrange to see a lawyer, or think we’re far too young for this sort of thing.

Read the ages in the people across your newspaper’s obituary page today and decide for yourself. I just turned 70 and fully half the people making today’s obits are younger than I am.

In most cases, you simply leave everything to your children to be divided equally. But if they’re small, you’ll still want to name their guardians in case you and your spouse depart simultaneously. And then, the lawyer will think of questions to ask that never occurred to you.

The Baptist Foundation in whatever state convention your church is part of will have a type of kit to assist you in thinking this through. After filling out the information it asks for, you could take that to your lawyer and simplify the process.

28. Wash someone’s feet.

I would not have thought of this as a Bucket List thing to do before I die. But a Facebook friend suggested it.

You’ll recognize foot-washing as what our Lord did with the disciples the night before He went to the cross. It’s in John 13. God’s people rightfully see it as the ultimate act of humility and servitude.

The leader of St. Bernard Parish, just downriver from New Orleans, recently made the news when he went around to various offices in parish government and washed the feet of his employees. He emphasized that he did not tell them he was coming and did not alert the media. “I don’t want people thinking I did this for the publicity,” he said.

So why did he do it? To make an unforgettable statement to his people that he was there to serve them.

In my last pastorate, I brought up a number of deacons and washed their feet in an evening worship service. Later, a man who had been visiting with his family came by to grill me about that. He had heard that some bizarre sects do this and so was afraid we were morphing into weirdom.

Just because we washed one another’s feet. Go figure. (The man and his family joined the church and are still here, some 15 years later.)

27. Buy a pastor a suit of clothes.

Now, not every pastor needs a new suit and these days, with the changing standards of worship attire, not every pastor may even want a suit.

Here’s my thinking on the subject.

As a beginning pastor, my two or three suits and one sport coat were in a constant rotation. They were embarrassingly cheap. One day, Pastor James Richardson, my mentor and dearest friend in the ministry, told me he had bought several new suits for himself and wondered if I would mind receiving seven of his older suits. Mind? I was ecstatic. The fact that this gift came just as I was transitioning from the pastorate to the staff of the largest church in the state–where James had recommended me–was clearly more than coincidental.

Some years later, when I was pastoring again and making a livable income, I would notice a neighboring pastor who would benefit from a new suit. I placed a phone call to the friend who sold me my clothing and ask him to call that brother, saying someone is paying for him to come in and choose a new suit. We kept it anonymous.

What’s even more special about this is from time to time, someone would do the same thing for me.

One thing we learned early on that the salesman should tell the pastor who is getting the new suit: Don’t choose the cheapest thing on the rack. We’re trying to upgrade your wardrobe, so pick out anything in the store you want.

A good suit–such as a Hart Shaffner Marx–will last for generations. I know because the two or three I purchased will outlive me.

26. Chaperone a youth mission trip.

I can hear someone laugh, “Yes. Once in a lifetime is enough.”

For some, it will be. And for those who have never done it, it should go on their Bucket List.

In doing this, you will make a lasting investment in the lives of a few youngsters. And you might discover those youth have opened up a part of your own life you didn’t know existed.

Last night, as I write, a friend in Jackson, Mississippi, e-mailed to say that her church is sending their youth choir to New Orleans the last week of May. Her church is large, so the group is 250 strong. That must be about as large as any youth choir I’ve ever heard of. The adult counselors will have a mammoth challenge, one that demands excellent organization, infinite patience, and divine wisdom.

She said their itinerary in our city calls for them to do a program at the parish prison. That will be an unforgettable experience, one I’ve never had and I suspect none of the adults along on the trip have had either.

The kids will be ministering to their audience. The adult chaperones/sponsors will be ministering to the youngsters in the choir. Everyone benefits.

25. Give a needy child the Christmas of his life.

A Facebook friend suggested this and gave no other information. I suppose it stands as it is.

A hundred questions flood my mind: what if the child has siblings? would you omit them? can you do this once, then abandon the kid because “I checked it off my Bucket List”? what else will you do for him/her? what would be the most beneficial type of Christmas to give a child? And how would one go about this?

We’ll leave the questions there. It’s an idea.

24. Become something of an expert on one book of the Bible.

A generation ago a friend suggested it would transform the life of the typical Christian to focus on one book of the Bible and really master it, to make it his. I decided to do that with I Peter.

Why I Peter? It’s short–just 5 chapters, so it’s manageable. It has great treasures in it, unlike some of similar length which I will not name (because they are all treasures in themselves).

Thereafter, I read and re-read I Peter. I memorized a good bit of it and recited it often in the car or while walking. As a pastor, I preached through the book on several occasions. I read numerous commentaries on this little epistle.

If you choose the right book–the Gospel of Mark would probably be an even better choice for most people–mastering it will provide a guidestone for understanding the rest of the Bible. The thing about Mark’s Gospel is that it’s shorter than the other three, is primarily devoted to what Jesus did and not to lengthy teaching passages, and is a great entry level study book.

In the middle years of my ministry, I did this with the New Testament book of Hebrews. That one had always lurked in the back of my mind as a mysterious book, one I was not sure I should tackle. But studying it, learning it, and teaching it turned out to be one of the greatest joys in over 40 years of pastoring.

In the last decade of my pastoring, I chose Romans and “went to seed” on it. Later I wondered why I had waited so late in life when learning it early on would have made a great difference. Clearly it’s because the book is so deep, with chapters 9-11 in particular scaring off the typical Bible student. But it wasn’t that bad at all, and the Holy Spirit showed me such wonderful delights in studying Romans.

On my blog,, on the right side of the page, scroll down to the section on Romans and you’ll see some of the choice insights which made studying this “gospel according to Paul” such a blessing.

23. Make sure all within your sneeze halo are saved.

I’m indebted to Harry Lucenay, longtime friend, neighboring pastor, and now pastor of an international Baptist Church in Hong Kong, for the “sneeze halo” concept.

A few years ago when a flu epidemic broke out in his part of the world, members came to church wearing masks. Health experts cautioned people about the distance germs travel from a sneeze, some 15 or 20 feet. They called it the “sneeze halo.”

The people inside your sneeze halo would be your immediate family members, co-workers, and next door neighbors.

Best way to find out if they’re saved? Ask them. Start with yourself: “Look, I know you say you believe in Jesus Christ and in His Word and His Church. But have you genuinely repented of your sin and put faith and trust in Him for eternal salvation? Are you trusting in what He did on Calvary as payment for your sins? And are you abiding in Him and living your life for Him?”

Then, it gets a little harder. In asking those nearest you this question, you might want to preface it with an explanation that this is a Bucket List item dear to your heart.

When baseball pitcher Al Worthington came to know the Lord in a Billy Graham Crusade, he went to a phone and started calling his large family to tell them about the new Master of his life. When an older brother said, “Why, Al, I’ve been a Christian for 8 years,” the Minnesota Twin hurler answered, “Brother, I don’t believe it. If you had, you would have told me about it before now.”

Have you told those nearest you?

22. Read through the Bible.

Recently while preaching in an Alabama church, I brought a weekday noontime brief message about the Scripture. I urged people to read the Bible through at least once in their lives and more if possible. Hearing someone murmur that he was doing that, I stopped. “How many of you are reading through the Bible at this very time?” Over half the hands in the room went up.

What that church was doing is something I recommend heartily: the pastor is leading them and they’re reading it at the same time.

My son tells me he’s reading the Bible through these days with a group from our church.

I have no idea when I read the Bible through for the first time, but it was only five years ago I decided to start on January 1 and to finish that year.

One other thought on this subject. Mark up your Bible. Underline or highlight the verses that bless you most. Use one of the white pages in front or back and write your testimony of when you came to the Lord and what he means to you. In most cases, that Bible will outlive you and will minister to the next person who owns it.

I’ve read the Bible through several times, marking it up, and then have given to some of my grandchildren.

21. Do a random act of kindness.

This too was a suggestion from a Facebook friend. I’m not sure it belongs on a Bucket List for the simple reason that it’s not large enough.

A “random act of kindness” is a good deed done anonymously. You’re in the drive-through lane at a fast food place and you pay for the order of the car behind you. You’re in a poor neighborhood and you drop a $5 bill on the sidewalk for someone to find. You’re at the toll plaza on the highway and you pay the toll for the car behind.

In counseling with Al and Alison about their marriage, I learned that his greed and materialism were destroying their relationship. One day when he was in my office without his wife, I said, “Al, I have a suggestion. Give away your money.”

He almost had a stroke on the spot. “Are you serious?”

“I’m serious about giving a lot of it away. It’s killing your soul, friend. Unless you master your love for money, it’s going to destroy you.”

The next week he walked in beaming. “I did it,” he smiled. What he had done was to give his step-daughter a $100 bill. That’s all he did, just gave that to her. It was not anonymous and probably was never repeated. You would have thought he had set up a million dollar foundation though, the way he was so satisfied with himself.

The bad news is Al never broke the bondage to the dollar. His marriage self-destructed.

Acts of kindness are good any time and any way, but anonymously is great. And they should be a regular pattern, not a one-time thing.

20. Next chapter.