Category Archives: humor

Plagues of Egypt That Did Not Make The God of Abraham’s Final Cut (a mcsweeney’s list)

love me some mcsweeney’s lists. this one totally brought audible chortling noises from me whilst reading it.



i plague you– – – –
Plague of athlete’s foot.

Plague of Band-Aids in everyone’s salad.

Plague of leaky pens in shirt pockets.

Plague of in-laws coming into town and staying the whole weekend.

Plague of mariachi bands in every restaurant.

Plague of dry heat, why’s it so dry lately?

Plague of no good place to get a decent cup of coffee around here.

Plague of recurring dreams of being naked in front of the whole class.

Plague of Pharaoh sex scandal that everybody just can’t stop talking about.

Plague of heart burn even after a light lunch.

Plague of teenagers.

Plague of nobody can find their keys.

Plague of three days and nights of goats screaming like people in unison.

Plague of peanut allergy of the second-born child.

Plague of anachronisms.

Plague of sudden indifference towards cats.

Plague of fear of public speaking.

Plague of picking at that scab even though the Egyptians know they shouldn’t.

Plague of eye twitch that won’t seem to go away.

Plague of inappropriate advances.

Plague of wildcard, all the people of Egypt get a different plague upon this day.

photo in need of a caption (winter sports edition!)

happy day! it’s a winter sports (of sorts) edition of photo in need of a caption.

winner gets a download of Stations of the Cross, by Steve Case, a new curriculum resource from The Youth Cartel releasing in a couple weeks!


lots of funny ones this time; but here are my completely subjective top contenders…

“The last time Johnny misses the bus for school.”

Mark Ordus
Speaking of segues…

Pastor Johnson was regretting the board’s decision to sell the church van and go with something cheaper.

Next time on “Ice Road Segways”…

James Brown
Instead of riding on dad’s shoulders, “Captain Poopy Pants” was relegated to a long and embarrassing sled ride home.

The research and development team from The Youth Cartel hard at work on “Game Idea Book: Wisconsin Edition”

Dad, stop crop dusting!

Eat your heart out chimpanzee. I have my own Segway now.

Kirk Moore

Fargo residents Jerry & Timmy Lundegaard celebrate the first day of summer

and the winner is…

i’m speaking at a great youth event in tupelo, mississippi this weekend. 1300 teenagers from 18 churches in tupelo. really cool how the churches work together on this event. anyhow, there’s a great worship band of guys from nashville, and i’ve enjoyed getting to know them and work with them. i asked them to vote on the winner, and they were unanimous. and i agree with their choice.

the winner is Mark Ordus’s creative and witty “Speaking of segues…” brilliant.

mark: you get a downloadable copy of the new curriculum resource from The Youth Cartel, Stations of the Cross. it’s set to release in early february, in time for use during lent. congrats!

photo in need of a caption

stripey guy!

saw this the other day and felt the guy must have conceived that outfit and bike, then gone riding, just hoping to get his pic on the internet in a place where i would find it and make it into a photo in need of a caption. right.

prize: your choice of The Youth Cartel books, in digital form (either The Youth Cartel’s Unauthorized Dictionary of Youth Ministry, Masterpiece: The Art of Discipling Teenagers, or Leading Up: Finding Influence in the Church Beyond Role and Experience).


so many great entries this time. trying to narrow it to the best of the best…

Suddenly Tom realized that he was a long way from Who-ville.

Where’d I put my zebra crocs?

Where are they now? Yukon Cornelius hits rock bottom

Dave Wollan
Peter’s miraculous escape from prison

The Misfit Toy
… meanwhile his accomplice is pick pocketing all the gawkers, a criminal mastermind.

David Hanson
“Catching up with Lance Armstrong after 20 years in prison.”

Chris Adkins
Some days even Dr. Seuss feels a little emo.

Todd O
…meanwhile, in Sweden…

Looks like Crowder* is having an identity crisis after leaving the band!

Brian Aaby
Huffy Presents: The Zoolander

Ellis Carson
One of these kids is doing his own thing, one of these kids is not the same. One of these kids is doing his own thing. That is how we play our game.

and the winner is…

tough one. more than a few really, really funny captions this time. had to call in jeannie and max to help me.

jeannie picked Scott’s “Where’d I put my zebra crocs?”
max picked Todd O’s “…meanwhile, in Sweden…”

so we’ll call you both winners, Scott and Todd O. shoot me an email ([email protected]) and we’ll get you sorted with your prize!

the 42 worst nativity sets

NOTE: this post is the 2012 list. for the 2017 list (now with 77!), click here.

each year i’ve posted an expanding list of “the worst nativity sets.” last year, things blew up (120,000 visits on one day, a half million total visits, almost 50,000 shares on facebook). i started adding to the post, but couldn’t keep up.

this year, i thought about skipping it. but my lovely wife encouraged to give it another go.

a few comments right up front:

  • after posting these for years, most of them have moved — in my thinking — from “worst” to “awesome.” there are still a few i think hideous, due to my own subjective criteria. but calling it the “42 worst nativity sets” is probably no longer accurate, particularly as i own a few of ’em.
  • to my christian brothers and sisters (i am one of you!), i believe that the One who created laughter and humor and mouths that involuntarily curl into a smile loves laughter. i don’t believe this list detracts from what i believe to be one of the most significant moments in human history, when God became a human. if anything, this is a roundabout way of drawing attention to Emmanuel, God with us (albeit, in a strange way!).
  • for the most part, i’ve only included nativities that were made as nativities (though there are a few notable exceptions to this rule that i couldn’t resist). in other words, i haven’t included photos of the dozens of lego nativities, superhero nativities, star wars figurines nativities, barbie doll nativities, coke can nativities, alcohol bottle nativities, and others i’ve received. however, alert reader “joan from the detroit ‘burbs” pointed me to a website with these kinds of nativities, and i just have to include two of them, because they both made me laugh out loud (proving that i cannot effectively draw the line).

enough pre-amble. let’s get to it! merry christmas all, and enjoy or be horrified by this weird collection of nativity oddness.

the kitty cat nativity. makes me want to cough up a hairball.

the nativity kitchen timer (ding-ding! baby jesus is born!):

yeah, the cat nativity is probably worse. but these dogs ain’t much better…

technically, not a nativity. but it’s a christmas lawn ornament, showing (can you believe it?) the flogging of jesus on the way to the cross. there’s some christmas cheer for your neighborhood!

also not technically a nativity; just a horribly cheesy christian kitschmas decoration: the jesus tree topper. dude, that robe is not working for you. and stop using that flat-iron on your hair.

back to actual nativity sets. this one is a craft kit, using marshmallows to make a s’mores nativity. yum.

this isn’t a whole nativity set, but there are other pieces available. this mouse drummer boy is just about as confusing as a bit of kitschmas junk can get.

when searching for tasteless nativity sets online, it doesn’t take long for one to stumble onto multiple versions of bears…

this rubber duckie nativity has to be right up there in the “worst” section of cheesy nativity sets…

lotsa santa nativity sets and pieces out there, but this one is a bit disorienting. is the holy family IN santa’s bag? or does santa have an nice applique of the holy family on his bag of gifts? and, what can the letters in santa be re-arranged to spell?

if cats, dogs, and teddy bears weren’t enough, how ’bout penguins!?

sure. snowmen. shouldn’t be a surprise.

ah, the veggie nativity. i debated on this one, because my kids loved veggie tales back in the day. but the baby carrot pushed me over the edge into including it.

this nativity — well, i just don’t even know how to describe it. clowns? modern art? the baby jesus seriously looks like something out of a circus or a john waters movie.

oh, the animals. i suppose, while i think the dog nativity and cat nativity are somehow explainable as something people WAY too “into” those particular animals might display, this chicken nativity is just a bit beyond my comprehension as a purchasable — nay, displayable — holiday trinket.

you know those people who have those geese on their porch? yeah, them. and they put a cute little goosey costume on their porch-goose to mark every season? yeah, those people. this costume set is made for those people. or, to clarify, for those who actually have TWO of those geese already. sigh. i’m guessing the rubber ducky baby is “not supplied” (not to mention zoologically impossible).

what better expresses the spirit of the incarnation than owls? i found these at this cavalcade of nativities, where the comment was: whoooo is the son of god? whooooo?

yes, i give you, the naked troll doll nativity. eesh. feh.

the irish nativity, where the 3 irish wise guys have clover, gold and guinness:

the most viral nativity from the 2010 holiday season… the meat nativity (yes, bacon and sausage):

and, why not the butter nativity:

the cupcake topper nativity. holy and yummy all at once!

the pig nativity. oink-vey: certainly not kosher…

the mary-and-josesph-as-kids nativity. this one is mildly disturbing, particularly in light of rampant infantalization of teenagers in our culture and the dropping age in puberty (though i’m sure that’s not what the creators of this had in mind).

in keeping with our current cultural fascination with all things zombie, i give you the etsy craftiness of: the zombie nativity. full disclosure: after last year’s nativity post blew up, my business partner, adam mclane, bought me this one as a christmas gift. it now sits proudly in my home. and my interactions with the creators was just lovely (they “get it”).

the nativity carved out of spam! (thanks, adam!)

the shotgun shell nativity. what a blast (get it!?). perfect for your redneck christmas, i suppose.

the peg doll nativity. other than collecting some larger figures and one smaller one, and telling me it’s a nativity, this one doesn’t exactly scream “manger”.

the mice nativity. say goodbye to the cookies you left out for santa.

um, the official description is “folk nativity“. but i’m pretty sure that’s a small 7 eleven frozen burrito with a face on it, along with two new age tree fairies, or something (btw: i had interaction with the creators of this gem last year, and they’re good people).

from a nice reader in the UK (thanks, mary!) who bothered to email this pic…
the soggy jesus nativity. i’m sure there are plenty of nativities in a snow globe, were all three (or more) characters are IN the globe. but this freakish thing just has jesus in there, with mary and joe staring at their baby-in-a-fishbowl. too weird and hilarious.

honestly, this one — the mexican mermaid family nativity — is some pretty beautiful art work, even if it is fairly strange. thanks to karen on flickr for allowing me to post this one.

a cheat on one of my rules: the godzilla nativity. horrible/funny/creative/sacrilegious.

and what i can only call the ‘minimalist nativity’. props to some kindergarten art class for this one, or some very lazy community college art student.

as you might imagine, this annual list has generated hundreds of additional nativity suggestions, both in blog comments, and via email. many i’d seen before. many were just ok. some were truly inspiring.
but this one, i just had to post for its creativity. sent to me by David Lober, the ‘arranger’ and photographer. the humor takes a few seconds to start setting in…

new to the list this year!

yeah, this one probably crosses some line. sent to me by the creators, i give you the halloween/christmas mash-up nativity.

more animals! this time, it’s meerkats! hakuna matata.

not to be left out of the animal kingdom nativities, the frog nativity:

ok. if i had a line, i’ve probably crossed it by now. i hesitated on this one, but it was suggested SO many times last year, and it’s from a crafty little website called (really). yup: it’s the tampon nativity:

more animals! this time its moose (meese? mooses?).

robin, the creator of this soap nativity, sent it to me. i suppose the birth of christ has something to do with getting us all squeeky clean.

and the final new addition this year is my favorite of the new ones. three wise-men cheers for the color nativity!

check out bohemian rhapsody re-written as “bethlehemian rhapsody” (so totally fun!).

also check out this awesome take on the real christmas story, as if it played out on facebook, and this fantastic imagining of the nativity story played out on a a wide variety of social media.

photo in need of a caption (hard knock life version)

busy day for me, with Summit prep out the wazoo. plus, i get to vote today. and tash mcgill arrives from new zealand tonight for her emceeing role in The Summit (tash, adam and i all fly to atlanta really early tomorrow morning). with all that: seems like a good day for a photo in need of a caption!

winner gets a free download of steve case’s book, The Youth Cartel’s Unauthorized Dictionary of Youth Ministry!


i’ll pick a winner tonight (wednesday). but here are some front runners at this point…

Jim Sparks
Here you go Mr. Carrot Top sign here…wait what?
(marko comment: i thought jim’s caption was funnier without the 2nd sentence, so i’m just shortening it!)

The wig was the only good choice Todd made that day.

I see YOU dressed as a policeman for Halloween. Trick or Treat, Officer?

D. Scott Miller
Here’s a behind the scenes look at the extended vetting process involved in the search for new staff partners for the Youth Cartel.

(marko comment: makes no sense, but totally made me snort.)

You said you were on your way to which Cartel Event again?

“The last thing I remember? Well, I was at a lock-in…”

and the winner is…

adam and i voted. we’re going with the hilariously twisted caption from Jess: “The wig was the only good choice Todd made that day.”

shoot me an email, jess ([email protected]), and we’ll get your prize to you!

selections from The Youth Cartel’s Unauthorized Dictionary of Youth Ministry (part 4)

the second book published by The Youth Cartel is out. it’s real (ha! we’re a real publisher!). it’s a feisty little book of snark and giggles, by steve case, called The Youth Cartel’s Unauthorized Dictionary of Youth Ministry.

this is the last in my posts of some of my favorites, this time from the Ps through the Xs:

P is for…

Plagues of locusts, flies, lice, blood, frogs, disease. Is it just me or does this sound like the church van after a youth trip?

R is for…

The moment you find yourself on a mission trip, eating (right from the box) the cereal from the variety pack that nobody else wanted and washing it down with warm soda while standing in line to get a shower before the hot water runs out, and then you begin wondering if maybe you should have pursued accounting like your father suggested.

When the youth ministry want ad reads, “We are receptive to new ideas,” it means as long as they’re the same ideas as the old ideas.

T is for…

Classic game from the ‘70s. Never works out like it does on the box. Plus, there will always be some junior high kid who gets all creepy and says, “Let’s play it nekid!”

V is for…

Wait, what do you mean taking 150 kids to the beach for a mission weekend counts toward my vacation?

W is for…

Welcome Wagon
The pair of mothers who sit outside your office door on your first day just so they can tell you how sad they were to see the last youth worker leave.

X is for…

Youth worship service gone horribly, horribly wrong.

this is the last post in this series! but, you can pre-order the whole thing here!

(btw: that illustration is one of 10 in the book, all done by the amazing melanie crutchfield.)

selections from The Youth Cartel’s Unauthorized Dictionary of Youth Ministry (part 3)

the second book published by The Youth Cartel is officially out (ha! we’re a real publisher!). it’s a feisty little book of snark and giggles, by steve case, called The Youth Cartel’s Unauthorized Dictionary of Youth Ministry.

how ’bout i give you a sampler platter of a handful of my favorites, from the Hs through the Ns:

H is for…

The thing your little side comment during Bible study became when it finally got back to your senior pastor.

Cling to it. You’ll find that kid. Hide and Seek can’t go on for more than 24 hours. #craftcabinet #boilerroom #communionwine

I is for…


  • Don’t bring your dog.
  • Don’t have burritos beforehand.
  • Don’t laugh when they ask for references.
  • Don’t start any story with, “This one time when we were on the roof …”

K is for…

The most holy and sacred place in the church building (be¬sides the secretary’s desk, of course). Whatever you place in this room will disappear. Actually, whatever anyone places in this room will disappear, but your students will be blamed. So avoid this room at all costs.

M is for…

Disciple. Tax collector. The money guy of the group. The one disciple who was always on Jesus’ case about keeping the receipts.

You may often hear the question, “You’re almost 30 (40, 50). When are you going to become a real minister?” You can usually answer with, “You’re almost 70 (80, 90). When are you going to break your hip?”

N is for…

Negative Parents
When paired with positive parents, you can complete an electrical circuit. #staygrounded

#longcardrives #letsplaythequietgame

i’ll post more in the weeks to come. and, you can order the whole thing here!

selections from The Youth Cartel’s Unauthorized Dictionary of Youth Ministry (part 2)

the second book published by The Youth Cartel comes out in about a week. it’s a feisty little book of snark and giggles, by steve case, called The Youth Cartel’s Unauthorized Dictionary of Youth Ministry.

today’s sampler platter is a handful of my favorites from the Ds, Es, and Gs:

D is for…

Demon Possession

Those quiet moments at the end of the day on the mission trip when you gather your youth together with (Jimmy stop that) candles and music and read (Shhhh, let’s be quiet now) something meaningful and feel the presence of the Creator God (Ewww, OK, who did that) in your midst (You know what? Just forget it. Go to bed.).

That really weird teenager who sings to himself and spends too much time at the convenience store, and nobody likes him, so he just hangs around you every time you go to the amusement park, and he won’t ride the roller coaster ‘cause it makes him throw up. #apologiestoalldougs

E is for…

Jesus comes hopping out of the tomb and gives everyone chocolate bunnies and jelly beans. #mixedmessages

Good, kindhearted church people who move slowly enough to be used as slalom poles for skateboard races.

G is for…

God’s messenger angel. Usually depicted in art and Sunday school curriculum as having a horn to get people’s attention. Continue this “biblical” custom at your next youth gathering, board meeting, or church event. #funeral

Graduation Gifts
Top five books to give your graduating seniors:

  1. Angry White Grandpa: Not Everyone Sees God Like You Do
  2. Converting The Unconvertible: How To Make A First Impression on Your Roommate.
  3. Real College: Study Habits to keep you from Moving Home with Mom and Dad
  4. Is That a Cross In Your Pocket? Dealing with Missional Temptation
  5. That’s Not Incense: Worship Practices of College Dormitories

i’ll post more in the weeks to come. and, you can pre-order the whole thing here!

overheard at my 7th grade guys small group

yup, we’re off to the races. from last week’s small group…

during our “highs and lows” sharing…

7th grade guy: my low was that i got yelled at by turgen urgen. (apparently this is a teacher’s name where the first and last name rhyme, and he loves saying it.)

7th grade guy: my high is that tomorrow i get to go to disney on ice fineas and ferb.
happy response from another: o, booger!

i had them share, “what would you have been named if you’d been born a girl, or, if you don’t know, what girl name would you pick for yourself?”
two who didn’t know what they would have been name chose:

  • oprah
  • lafawnda

me: some of you don’t know what you would have been named, and you’re going to go home and ask your parents!
7th grade guy, being honest: i’m not going to remember this in 10 minutes!

we had a question on our discussion sheet about what an invisible martian, hanging around you all day, might see that would give him some indication you were depending on jesus…

7th grade guy: that would be really awkward because when you go to the bathroom, the invisible martian would be there.

me: what percentage did jesus depend on god?
7th grade guy: whadya mean? he WAS god!