Last Ten: The Christian Bucket List

10. Make your own bucket list.

What would you like to have done before departing this earthly scene for heavenly realms? Build a plane? Jump out of a plane? Fly a plane as the pilot? Or just take a ride on a plane? Put it on your list.

We’re all so different, no two people’s bucket list will be alike. Some years back, I would have put toward the top of my list to attend the annual meeting of the National Cartoonists Society. These men and women are the heroes, so to speak, of this cartooning business, the best there are, and some are household names in America. I own original cartoons from many of them, drawings they did for their newspaper strips which are now signed, framed, and (mostly) displayed on the walls of my home. In the study where I’m working at this moment, 13 original cartoons are staring down upon me.

I’m past the groupie stage of cartooning, for the most part, so that would no longer be on my list. So, lists vary and they have a way of changing.

Make your own list.

9. Postpone your bucket-kicking event.

I’m not one who believes a day was calendared for your death the moment you arrived on the planet. There seems to be a lot of it’s-your-call involved in how long we live and when we die, based on how we take care of ourselves and the risks we take.

To postpone the time of our departure simply means to do a few basic things that should increase the length of our lives:

–eat better. More fresh fruits and veggies, and fewer fries and chips and empty calory-type foods such as cola drinks.

–exercise more. Take walks, do stretching routines, buy some small weights from Wal-Mart or an athletic store and tone up your flesh.

–have a full checkup with your doctor. You’ll have to take the initiative with this. If you call your doctor’s office and say, “I want a checkup,” unless he/she knows you, what you’ll get will be fairly worthless. Tell the doctor’s nurse you want a) a complete head-to-toe examination, b) blood work, and c) a colonoscopy (if you are 50 or older). If you are female and have not had mammograms as recommended, schedule one of those too.

–ask your doctor or a nutritionist to tell you what vitamins to take each day. In the 1990s, my primary care physician at Ochsner’s Foundation Hospital in New Orleans put me on a regimen of vitamins and a baby aspirin each day. She said, “Mr. McKeever, I think we have just prevented a heart attack in you.”

–lose some weight. Quit smoking. Laugh more. Get up off the couch, turn off the television (or computer!), and get outside. Go to the park with your children or grandchildren. Toss a frisbee or football. Laugh some more. Enjoy a snow-cone in some weird flavor (they’re called snowballs around here).

8. Widen yourself.

For one year, try this: each week visit your local library and spend a minimum of one hour in the periodicals section. This is the sitting area with tables and chairs and with magazines on display. Take down several magazines you have never heard of and flip through them. Read anything that attracts your attention.

If you are a preacher or teacher, always have a notepad handy. I guarantee you are going to run into fascinating articles with information you’ll want to remember. And think what fun it will be when you stand before your group and say, “The other day, I was reading an article in Rolling Stone magazine….” Or, Electronics Monthly. Or, Archaeology in Zimbabwe.

You may discover a new career this way. (It’s been done, believe me.) And if nothing else, you’ll broaden your scope.

7. Deepen Yourself

The 8th item was to widen yourself by reading widely. This one is the opposite. Pick a field you find fascinating and delve into it.

Years ago, we might have said, “Take a course in that subject at your local community college.” That still might be the thing to do, but you can almost do as well with your computer. This is somewhat of an overstatement, but…

…the world’s knowledge is as close as your fingertips.

Go online. It’s all there. You might have to dig a little, and you will definitely have to wade through a lot of irrelevant stuff (I started to call it junk!). And you may end up needing to ask someone more knowledgeable about cyberspace how to find what you’re looking for. But it’s there, I promise you.

6. Find someone who changed your life and do something special for him/her.

I was reminded of this two days ago by someone who did it for me.

Mike McCain was around 14 years old when his family began attending the church I was pastoring. I was barely a decade older than him and a student in our seminary in New Orleans. A little Baptist church on Alligator Bayou some 25 miles west of the city had invited me to become their pastor. When Mike’s father retired from the Navy and took a job with the shipyards in New Orleans, the family moved to the area and started attending my church.

In time, the Lord used me to lead Mike and his father to the Lord. The entire family joined the church and for another year or so I was their pastor, before moving to my next assignment in Mississippi.

That was in 1967 and this is 43 years later.

Mike McCain pastors a Covenant Church in Pennock, Minnesota. He and his wife Connie were visiting his widowed (and now remarried) mother in Baton Rouge, and we agreed to meet at Shoney’s in LaPlace. I told him when they walked into the restaurant I could have picked him out of a crowd, he still looks so much like the young Mike.

What a blessing just to sit across the table and see the fruits of a small amount of labor so many years ago. To be sure, the Lord used many teachers and preachers and friends–and his wonderful wife, to be sure–to bring Mike to where he is today. We all are the workmanship of so many people.

What if today you thought of a person who has made a lasting difference in your life and sought them out to thank them.

5. Forgive someone.

This pertains to those who have someone in our past who has hurt us deeply and left scars on our soul.

Do yourself a great favor: forgive them. Get rid of the anger, turn loose of the ill will, and even erase those ugly memories.

It’s possible. Not necessarily easy, but it can be done. The Lord is a great healer of the soul. His restoration work will require us to obey Him, however.

This involves bringing ourselves under His lordship in every area. It means humbling ourselves to the Holy Spirit and obeying Him.

If you know where the individual is–and if you are confident he/she knows of the strife between you–then a phone call or letter will do the trick. If you have no idea where they are, ask the Lord to bring your paths together.

In the call or the letter, it’s not necessary to rehash old stories. Just say, “I want you to know I have forgiven you. I hope you are doing well. I’ve prayed for you today.”

My guess is you’ll want to rehearse that several times to get it right. Don’t overtalk, however, and do not stir up more strife by blaming. Just say it simply and close your mouth.

Depending on the circumstances, you may or may not want to renew the friendship. You may or may not want to contact them and tell them of your forgiveness. Ask the Lord to guide you in these matters, or talk to your pastor or another trusted counselor.

On this subject…

It could be you are the one who needs forgiveness. So, you will be the one who calls or writes the individual you have wounded and ask them to please forgive you.

Once again, keep it simple: “I’m so sorry for the pain I caused you back when (and finish the sentence). I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.”

Don’t overtalk, don’t excuse yourself, and do not make matters worse. Say it, mean it, and shut up.

4. Take your entire family on a Caribbean cruise.

I have just the way for you to do this. I live in New Orleans where cruise ships arrive and depart all the time. This November 20-27, the most wonderful ministry in town–Global Maritime Ministry, which reaches out to the crews of ships using our port as well as to the local port workers–has reserved several hundred rooms on a cruise ship that will go to Belize and Cozumel.

A solid week of fellowship with hundreds of the Lord’s choice people in some of the most beautiful parts of His creation! Rest and entertainment, great food and scenery, good fellowship and times of worship–what could be better?

The website is (I have a flyer with details and will be adding them to this page.)

If the idea sounds staggering to you, then consider taking this particular trip with just you and your spouse. Then, after gettting that under your belt, you can plan a subsequent cruise with the entire family.

3. Pack some things, lock your house up, arrange to have a friend look after your house, ask the post office to forward your mail, and move to the city where your grandchildren live. Rent an apartment there for a few months. Become a citizen of that town. Subscribe to their newspaper, explore all the great places to go and things to do with your grandchildren.

Oh, and you might want to make sure your son/daughter and their spouses are okay on this before doing it.

I have grandchildren in North Carolina and New Hampshire who wish grandpa and grandma would quit talking about this and do it!

2. Do the same thing–locking the house up and moving to a community in another state–where you don’t know a soul. You have read everything you could find on that area and you think it would be fascinating to live in that sweet little village. So, why not?

How would you go about finding such a community to “try out” for a while? Go online, for starters. Your library has a variety of travel magazines. But if you’re like the rest of us, over the years as you have traveled you have encountered fascinating little towns (or huge cities) and thought you would love to live there for a while. So, check it out and do it.

Thirty years ago when the Cincinnati Reds baseball team was all the rage, I attended two games there and loved every moment of that weekend. Thereafter, I used to say to Margaret, “When we retire, I want to move to Cincinnati. Every afternoon, between 1 and 4, you can find me at Riverfront Stadium watching the Big Red Machine.” She learned to ignore that, knowing how changeable her husband is. And she was right in doing so. Cincy is no longer on my bucket list. Although New Hampshire is.

Where would you like to live? Why don’t you move there?

1. Get saved.

We’ve built this list backwards, beginning with #50 and working downward. But the first priority in all of life, no matter our age or circumstances, should be this: get to know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and start living faithfully for Him.

How to do that? It’s the simplest thing ever: repent of your sins and invite Christ to come in and take over. Yield yourself to Him. Start reading your Bible every day, praying throughout the day during which you worship Him and tell Him what’s going on, and find yourself a great church family to join. (Ask Him to lead you in this. Don’t try it on your own.)

I said it was simple; I did not say it was easy.

To turn to Christ in repentance and faith involves humbling yourself before God. That’s harder for some than others. It might require going against everything you have believed (or not believed) and been taught (and mistaught) for a lifetime.

Why would you want to do this? The reasons number in the hundreds, but here are three–

–The God who created you knows you better than anyone and has plans for you beyond anything you ever dreamed of. Get your life back to the Master Designer and ask Him to proceed with His will for you.

–You and I were not given an infinite number of days for this earthly life. Just as there was a beginning point, there will be an end to it. Thereafter, our eternal destiny will depend on one major thing: your relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew 25 describes the eternal abode of the faithful as “a place prepared for you from the foundation of the world” and the wicked as “a place prepared for the devil and his angels.” We each get to choose. We have to choose.

–This life can be so much more with Jesus Christ reigning as our Lord and Guide than otherwise. Jesus put it this way: “I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

That’s it. Fifty items on a Christian bucket list. Now, using this as a prompter, make your own list.  

by Joe McKeever
Dr. Joe McKeever is a preacher, cartoonist and the Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. Visit him at
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