Devotionals & Prayer

December 05
Nativity Scenes: A Closer Look

by Todd Beller

Christmas is rapidly approaching, and that means trees, lights and decorations are up everywhere. One decoration you’re sure to see is the nativity scene. But don’t be surprised if you never see two alike. They come in all different shapes, sizes and colors, made of almost any material imaginable…including Legos and cupcakes. (Yes, really.) Some are especially intricate and realistic; others, well, let’s just say I’ve seen them with Star Wars Stormtroopers, Justice League superheroes and Despicable Me minions.

Look closely and you’ll notice that not all nativity scenes include the same characters. Sure, most of them have the “Big Three” – Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus – but beyond that, there’s a wide variety of what people think is necessary for a complete set. You might find wise men, shepherds, angels or an assortment of farm animals.

One part I’ve often overlooked, but am now convinced is essential, is the star. “What’s so important about a little star?” you may ask. Look at what Matthew 2:9-11 says:

After [the wise men] had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.

I’d say the star was pretty significant. It led the wise men right to Jesus. By simply following that star, they found their way to the promised Savior.

Two thousand years later, as you serve within Young Life, you have the privilege of being for kids what that star was for the wise men. Whether you’re on the frontlines as a leader or behind the scenes as a committee member, you are someone to follow…someone to point kids to Jesus. The result? Kids who were once far off are now finding their Savior!

As you anticipate the craziness that can often accompany this time of year, take time to slow down and…

  • Consider those who are following you. Pray for them. Thank God for them.
  • Consider your life as one who is a “star” for others. Ask God to show you areas in your life that need attention, so that you might more faithfully say as Paul did in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”
  • Consider the “stars” in your life – those who pointed you to Jesus years ago…or do so today. Pray for them. Thank God for them. Consider writing them a short note thanking them for the impact they’ve had on your life. That might be the best gift they receive all Christmas.

In the meantime, keep shining bright. Our world is in desperate need of light and direction!


Todd Beller has been on staff 22 years and serves as the area director in Lake Highlands. He is married to Anne Beller, and they have four kids: Ellie, Brandon, Kelly and Bailey. He’s been known to live for days on a diet of sunflower seeds and Slurpees (especially during banquet season.) He may be old, slow and short but he loves all things basketball – watching, playing and coaching.

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November 07
Participate in the Power

by Jordan Cunningham

​“And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:2-4)

 The events in Acts 2 signify a moment that would forever change the life of Jesus’ followers and their mission on this earth. The promised Holy Spirit had been given, and a supernatural filling had occurred. In a moment, the supernatural interrupted the natural, and they began speaking in other languages to the amazement of all who witnessed.

This filling was the presence of God making its home in the believers. But it wasn’t just God’s presence that made a home in them — it was also His power. And it’s this power that Jesus referred to as He prepared to ascend to Heaven and tasked them with spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

This was no simple mission. In fact, it was impossible, naturally speaking. Facing intense persecution, God’s Word and God’s love were the only two weapons they were given. But in spite of all the odds, the Gospel spread, and followers of Christ were multiplied.

Thousands of years later, we’re still witnessing this multiplication through Young Life.  But we’re not invited to just witness it; we’re invited to participate in it. As believers in Christ, we’ve been given the gift of the Holy Spirit — not as an accessory or add-on, but as the operating system for our lives. 

Remind yourself of this fact.  You’re not alone. God’s presence is with you, and so is His power.

How are you using the power you have been given through the Holy Spirit?


Jordan Cunningham is the area director of Young Life in Mansfield.  He is married to Ashley and they have three kids, Ian (7), Ava (6), and Kai (3). 

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October 16
Follow Me

​by Allison Turner

Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”  And immediately they left their nets and followed him. Mark 1:16-18

I often share this story at the first club of the semester, extending the same invitation to kids that Jesus extended to his disciples. Come, follow, see, and be part of more than you could have imagined. 

The invitation to “follow me” almost seems like a command more than a request. Either way, it is an offer the disciples cannot refuse. I wonder what the next twenty four hours looked like after saying yes to Jesus. I imagine things that were once ordinary, were suddenly electric with purpose. The mundane, now significant.

As I prepared for our first Young Life club of the semester this year, Jesus’ invitation to Simon and Andrew struck me in a new way. I know that this personal invitation has also been extended to me. I said “yes” to being a part of Young Life for this reason - to follow and become a “fisher of men.” But too often the start of fall doesn't look like me excitedly “dropping my net” to follow the Messiah. The season carries anxious thoughts, hurried schedules and a heavy weight. 

Often I translate Jesus’ words “Follow me” into – “Do more, be better.” I wonder what Jesus is really inviting me into when he “Follow me.” Am I willing to go there? For me it isn't always to the next football game, or the next table at the cafeteria. He is inviting me to stillness and a quieting of my soul. Sometimes it is easier for me to chase another relationship or go to another event, than to sit and follow Jesus to the depths of my own heart and fears. 

I have a friend who says that when we are healthy ministers, we just get out of the way and we let Jesus do the work. If I skew Jesus’ invitation to follow him into a command to do more and be better, Jesus’ second offer becomes impossible. I cannot become a fisher of men when I am not healthy myself. Jesus is inviting me into an inner peace, stillness and adventure. But it is an adventure where I am following behind him, not trying to run faster ahead. 

This week, Jesus is pressing me to ask Him, “What are you inviting me into? Where are you leading me? Am I following?” I want to be faithful and obedient to that calling. 

How do you view Jesus’ invitation to come and follow Him? Is it a command to do more or to actually follow? What is Jesus inviting you into today? 


Allison Turner is the area director in Wylie. She has a brother named Brent and a dog named Brother. She is an expert at reading lips and loves pulling weeds.

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