Was that Satan, or just me?

I’ve spent some time the last week researching and studying about Satan and spiritual warfare. I really wanted to explore what the “evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” [Eph 6:12] actually do and, more importantly, how to recognize their work in my own life.

Through my work, I kept coming back to this;

Is Satan just getting a bad wrap?   Meaning, is it always his fault? 

How do we determine if we are under evil attack or just struggling with sin?

Satan didn’t cram that apple down Eve’s or Adam’s throat.  He simply got them to believe the lie.  Then when God confronted Eve, she said “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” [Genesis 3:13].  I wonder if this is where the whole “my brother made me do it” and “if your brother jumped off a bridge…” conversation first started?  I mean the blame game works, right?  We still do it today.  Sometimes it is just in the name of warding off evil spirits instead of confronting our sin.  You ever hear of the “too much social media keeps me from studying my bible” spirit?  What about “I’m too tired to get up for quiet time – the spirit of laziness is all over me.”  (PLEASE insert your fullest sarcastic tone there – I do not believe in these spirits!)  What I’m trying to relay here is to some extent we’ve extended the evil spirits in the heavenly places teaching to somehow name every weakness or sin we encounter.

I am in no way belittling the spiritual warfare we all battle.  We must be fully aware of the war we are engaged in prepared at all times with the Armor of God.  What I am saying is that before you are quick to blame the demonic forces hanging around every corner of your life,  maybe you should ask, “Is it Satan or me?”  Satan deserves plenty of blame and certainly has little victory dances when we stumble and fall victim to his temptations attempts.

Satan is absolutely 100% accountable to much of the evil in the world, but we do have free will in the equation.  It would be way too easy to just let Satan take the blame and get the full weight of our sinful nature off our shoulders.  If it is Satan’s fault all the time, we have a scapegoat.  If it is all Satan, then we do not have to come to terms with how totally utterly and hopelessly sinful we are.  If it is all Satan, we lose sight of the deep need we have for all that Jesus did for us. Blaming Satan in our own sinful choices is not going to help us in any way achieve the victory over sin we are called to have.

Sin in our lives is a manifestation of our flesh, our human nature, where we have not completely conquered.  In Galatians 5 we learn, “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.”  We all have something in our life we struggle with that’s just plain fleshed-out struggle, not a demonic attack.  It is exactly this hopeless sinful person that Jesus came to save.

He came to set us free. “Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.” [Romans 6:18]  He came so that, “Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.” [Romans 6:14).

Jesus took all our sin and bore the total weight at the cross.  “IT IS FINISHED” he said. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.” [Colossians 2:15]  And “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.” [Galatians 5:24]

Instead of blaming Satan, let’s examine the battle in our life.  Let’s make a clear God led acknowledgement of where the battle lies.  We need to recognize our sins and walk upright in the truth of Jesus who died for those very sins.  Take up the saving promises of Jesus.  Be keenly aware of our areas of weakness, where we stumble and confess them. Repent and walk in the light of glorious, merciful salvation.  We can face sin head on and say, “we will not be overcome”.  Find accountability partners that will hold us up and help us battle through our moments of potential failing.  We need to “hide HIS word in our heart, so that we might not sin against Him.” [Psalm 119:11] (paraphrase and emphasis mine)

Let’s stop playing the blame game, hold ourselves accountable and know even though Satan will temp and do all in his power to influence us, we ourselves are accountable to our actions.  God has already told us He “will not allow the temptation to be more than we can stand. When we are tempted, he will show us a way out so that we can endure.” [1 Corinthians 10:13]

Our eyes are glued to the one who saved us and we will follow his lead. Because HE is ALWAYS right.  In Him there is perfect peace and promise of VICTORY for all who rest in his saving power.  “Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.” [John 4:4]

Pray with me: Dear Heavenly Father God, We are completely humbled to once again be in your presence through prayer.  Thank you for always wanting to listen and for your unending patience as we struggle to learn and grow.  We are face down in the presence of your holiness.   Today, Lord, help us to see where we allow sin to control us and give us the courage to face it head on with full responsibility knowing your son already handled the forgiveness at the cross.  May we continually humble ourselves with full accountability, confess, repent and turn from our sinful ways focusing on the Holy Spirit that lives in us and gives us strength.  In Jesus name, Amen. 

In His Grip,  Ashlee

You don’t have to pretend life doesn’t hurt.


Wow! I swear this was spoken right from God directly to my heart today.

“You don’t have to pretend life doesn’t hurt.”

I have found myself not sharing in the hard times because I didn’t want to seem weak or appear that I had less faith than I should.  When my heart desperately wants to cry out for support and prayer, I have literally thought; “will they think I am a bad Christian?”  Or; “they will think my problems are so trivial.” Or; “I’ve been so blessed, who am I to complain?”

Ok, who is “THEY” and do “THEY” even matter?

The answer is no one cares and no ‘they’ don’t matter.

Life gets hard and it hurts.  It is full of schedules and demands and laundry and dinner and sick children and aging parents and budgets due at work and half your staff being out sick and your boss with demands and really great things you wish you had time to devote your time to (except see the former)… and … and … you get the idea.  In those moments when I want so desperately to cry out that life hurts and it is just too stinkin’ hard, I don’t.

I don’t because I worry that maybe I will look weak in my faith.  Maybe my problems don’t look like total joy and peace resting in Jesus.  Ok WHOA!  Can I throw a flag here?  TOTAL PENALTY! Personal foul type penalty – lose 15 yards.  That is not what it is about people!  That is not the way the story goes.  I can’t believe that I allow that lie from the mouth of Satan to darken the doors of my world.

 Jesus told us, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” [John 16:33]

What is going on in this verse is basically Jesus is going over what is going to happen. Think of it as a pre-Calvary orientation.  Training, if you will.  Jesus is the only one that knows what is really about to happen.  Jesus was preparing the disciples for the death and burial and resurrection.  He knew it would be hard and He wanted the disciples to have hope.  ‘Jesus won the battle and conquered the world’ kind of hope.  Not a physical earth conquering, but a spiritual victory over death.  A final defeat of Satan that was going to happen with Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus is going to conquer Satan and the evil in this world once and for all.  The corrupt and the cruel discouraging ways of Satan in this world.

So, Jesus is telling us in the syntax of this sentence – you will have trouble.  Not maybe or might, but definitively you will have trouble.  Get ready and prepare yourself. Surely, it is part of your destiny.  (Encouraging – I know! Hold on, good stuff is coming).   We all have troubles we will have to face.  The overwhelming days, the sickness, the sadness, the mean people – through these or whatever other thing are pulling you down, whatever way Satan tries to break us.  Yet Jesus give us hope through His conquering. He says “take heart – I have overcome!”

Hard days come and life gets overwhelming.  You don’t have to pretend life doesn’t hurt and isn’t hard. You don’t have to pretend you don’t feel the pressure. Jesus said it would be hard. The troubles don’t make you weak.  The hope through troubles makes you strong!

Go get your people, your tribe, tell them it’s hard and have them help you remember who overcame.  Then live in the hope of what is to come.

Pray with me.  Dear Lord, We come before your honored and humbled to call your Holy name.  Be with us, God, in the middle of the junk of this life. When we get overwhelmed stir our hearts with the peace of your Spirit calling to mind your promises and your complete triumph over Satan and death through Jesus.  May we know in the trouble of this world, Jesus overcame and it is in his precious name we pray. Amen.

In His Grip, Ashlee

…, but God.

FullSizeRender (8)My husband is not dead, but on February 8th, 2015 he died.  He suffered full cardiac arrest in our garage and was dead.  Through many people I will never be able to thank enough, used as God’s tools on earth, he was saved.

I felt as though my heart stopped with his.  There was so much left undone and unsaid and an eternity to be separated. He was not ready.  I was not ready.  We were (are!) young… He was only 42 and me 43.  We were launching the last of the kids to college and our lives were about to really be getting started.   I did not want to do life alone.

Certainly, I’ll never be able to articulate all I felt in those moments and hours that followed.  Here I sit a year later and my heart is pressing deeply in my chest like it was just this minute it all happened.  Please do not misunderstand – the last year has been a series of miracle after miracle in our lives where we have constantly felt the hand of God gripping us ever so tightly.  Yet, I will never get over the minute I had nothing…. but God.

My husband’s heart quit … but God.

Questions about how long he was without oxygen …  but God.

Family and children to contact … but God.

“Shock him again” …. but God.

“They call this type of blockage the widow maker” … but God.

“Prepare your family to make decisions, all signs show your husband is brain-dead” … but God.

“Everything will be different now, he’ll need special care” … but God.


I sit typing with tears flowing down my cheeks, because GOD y’all.  In the moments when I felt like I had nothing, I had God.  When the trivial of the world was of no consequence, because the full weight of my world bore down on me, I had God.  The peace that passed all understanding became a reality in my life.

I have heard it said so many times, yet in my darkest I knew exactly where my strength came from –  my strength came from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

Today I challenge you.  Fill in your blank:

_______________________, but God.

My husband died in my arms, but God.   (He lived and is perfectly normal.)

My husband didn’t know Jesus, but God.   (He is saved now and will spend eternity with Jesus.)

Maybe you don’t have such a happy ending;

I lost my child, but God.

I feel lonely all the time, but God.

I am battling a silent eating disorder, but God.

I am an addict, but God.

My husband had an affair and left me, but God.

Whatever your blank, BUT GOD.  He is the constant and He does desire goodness for you. Turn to Him and find your comfort, your strength, your will to go on and your life’s way. When you feel you have nowhere to turn, pray to God.  He hears your prayers and wants to answer you, to hold you in his grip.  Pray like life depends on it and pray believing God is going to work.

Inserted below is of my daughter’s eloquent Facebook post on February 8, 2015, the day of the cardiac arrest.  I keep it taped to my computer monitor so I can stay encouraged by her words so wise beyond her years.


“I pray because I believe in the power of prayer. I pray because I have no doubt that God has and will answer my prayers.  I pray because God has allowed us to see another day.  No matter what others may think or say, I will pray.” ~Johna Clarke Ricks


Whatever your blank, y’all. WHATEVER. YOUR. BLANK. God is constant and desires deeply to talk to you about it.  Stay in his presence in prayer and he will bless your life.  The blessings may not be exactly what you asked, but they will be exactly what God knows you need to live a victorious life in Him.

The day my husband died, but God.   When I had nothing, God gave me everything I needed.  Then blessed exceedingly and abundantly more than I could ever hope or imagine. [A miracle story for another post!]

Just God.  I stand in awe.

In His grip, Ashlee

Affirmations from Scripture

What better way to honor our Lord than by praying His affirmations for us over our lives and the lives of our people.  Here are some of my favorites in the form of a drawing I did a year ago.  I love looking back over them and being reminded God’s promises for me will never return void.  May you also find great comfort in our Father’s words for you!

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