My Favorite New Year’s Lists

Have you made your list of New Year’s Resolutions yet?

Here’s my list: To consume massive quantities of potato chips and junk food. To eliminate physical activity altogether. To watch at least 40 hours of TV a week, concentrating on professional wrestling. Please do not try these things at home – they’re best left to experts like me.

The death list

One list I find interesting is the list of celebrities and notable people who died the past year. Here is a list of some well-known people who died in 2007. A couple of these people might only be of interest to former rock stars like me. A few were well-known Christians. But all stepped into eternity in 2007.

January 8 – Yvonne De Carlo, actress (Lily, the mother on the “Munsters”). I loved this show as a kid.
Jan 19 – Denny Doherty, founding member and lead singer of The Mamas and the Papas. They had great harmonies.
Feb 13 – Bruce Metzger, Bible scholar and translator who supervised the 1990 New Revised Standard Version of the Bible
March 9 – Brad Delp, lead singer of band Boston (“More Than a Feeling”)
March 31 – Liz Claiborne, fashion designer
April 23 – Boris Yeltsin, former Russian President
May 15 – Rev. Jerry Falwell, Founder and Chancellor of Liberty University
May 17 – Lloyd Alexander, writer of fantasy novels “The Chronicles of Prydain”
June 14 – Ruth Graham, wife of Rev. Billy Graham
June 21 – Bob Evans, founder of Bob Evans Restaurant chain
July 11 – Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson, former First Lady of the United States 1963-1969
July 20 – Tammy Faye (Bakker) Messner, fomer wife of TV preacher Jim Bakker
July 30 – Bill Walsh, coach of the San Francisco 49ers
August 12 – Merv Griffin, talk show host, creator of TV game shows “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune”
September 6 – Luciano Pavoratti, Italian tenor
September 6 – Madeleine L’Engle, author of children’s fiction, notably, A Wrinkle in Time
September 22 – Marcel Marceau, well-known mime
November 27 – Sean Taylor, safety for the Washington Redskins, age 24
November 30 – Evil Knievel, famous motorcycle daredevil
December 12 – Ike Turner, former husband of Tina Turner, who sang “Proud Mary” with her

Jonathan Edwards’ list

Jonathan Edwards made a list of 70 resolutions. They are worth reading. Here’s one of them:

Resolution #9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.

You may be thinking, Hey, what’s up with all the talk about dying? Happy New Year to you too, Mark. Can we think about something less morbid? Actually, the Bible tells us it’s good to think about dying.

Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Contemplating our finiteness produces wisdom and humility. Psalm 90 contrasts puny man to the Infinite Ageless One. How can we not be humbled when we compare ourselves who are like grass of the field to the Timeless One, to whom a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years like a day?

A list of things you’d like people to say about you at your funeral

Contemplating our death brings into sharp focus what is truly important in life. I once read that when setting goals for your life you should write a list of things you’d like people to say about you at your funeral. Now that’s a good list. I’ve written that list from time to time. What would I like my wife Kristi to say about me at my funeral? What do I hope my children will say? What would I want my Christian brothers and sisters to say?

I have a list of about 20 things I hope my family and friends will say about me at my funeral party. I hope they celebrate, because I’ll be celebrating before the throne of my Savior! Anyway, my list does NOT include anything about what I accomplished in life or any talents I had. I don’t want my kids to say, “My dad sure was successful” (I don’t think that’s likely) or Kristi to say, “Mark was incredible at home maintenance” (no chance of that). I hope my kids will say things like, “My dad really loved Jesus.” Or, “My dad sure was a lot of fun.” I hope Kristi can say things like, “Mark was a humble man.” I hope.

When you think about dying, it helps you focus on what’s truly important. What really matters is glorifying God. I encourage you to write your own list of things you’d like people to say about you at your funeral. May it stir you to godliness. Happy New Year!

Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.