I am having serious troubles with faith. It's a big problem, now, and likely my own fault that it is. Long story short, a number of years ago, I fell into and became associated with a group of people who I now realize to be undesirable, and very immature people, living a lifestyle, that, really, just is not in any way healthy, physically, mentally, spiritually, or emotionally, nor does it even work in the world. As a result of repeated social exposure to them, I picked up a number of bad habits, attitudes, vices, etc., and ended up falling away from the faith. I found my way back to it in May of last year, during which the process of breaking away from those people began. Needless to say, they didn't take this very well, and I eventually came under some pretty heavy attack by one of them, a very charismatic, and pushy person who I found out, is much worse than a mere atheist, he actually worshipped that which was cast out of Heaven, and he was, and probably still is, bent on breaking my Christianity. Well, an argument with that person turned very ugly, and round one was a draw, round two I made a mistake and had to retreat, round three was another draw, and I haven't said a word to the person since, and have even blocked off all means of communication with that person. However, I still am having difficulty getting this out of my head, and it is screwing with my head, and tainting the heart. I've been reading the Bible, praying to God, Jesus Christ, Mary, St. Michael, etc. trying to get this fixed and out of my head, and heart, trying to listen to what I've been instructed before upon talking to a pastor about it, to just stand with God, and push all things not of God out of my head. Been trying that, and hasn't been as successful as I'd hoped, if at all, and certainly hasn't been for lack of trying. And now I'm just becoming more and more confused about what I believe, and my prayers and readings of Scripture feel distant, with a liar speaking loudly in my ear over the words I read in the Bible, trying to mislead my interpretation of them. Been praying for God to take some form of decisive and swift action on this to make it stop and remove this mess from my head and heart so I can focus on His son Jesus more successfully, but it feels distant, and either God is taking His time with it, or such a course of action isn't His style, or something. Either way, what do I do with this? Where do I go from here? Something's gotta give.
You say you have been praying and reading the bible, have you been making sure to spend time with people who you do want to be like? One of the reasons his voice might still be there is that you haven't reached out to others to help you push that voice away.
It sounds like you're doing it all alone? Any way you can get someone, or several someones, in the real world that you can talk to about this -- not just once, but many times, until it's no longer an issue?
There's also the possibility that those lies, whatever they are, hook into your feelings in some way. (Actually, it must be, based on what you've said!) What do those feelings want? And can you find a way to give it to them, rather than giving in to something destructive?
Finally: sounds like you are going to have to rely on God to get you through this. Not plucked out of it, but through. Many say that a crisis of faith made theirs stronger. You can be like that, I am sure.
Situation sounds like that in the fictional Screwtape Letters: an interesting perspective on temptation.
You're both right, I have been going it alone for the most part, with no strong social attatchments existing anywhere. The harder I try, the more I pray, the worse it seems to get. And yes, my feelings are involved in this, to a degree. The conflict put in me temptations to go back to the ways I used to think, feel, and act socially, that are indeed very destructive, and altogether not a good way to be. Feelings of anger, disdain, discouragement, doubt, fear, envy, pride, lust, mindless self-indulgence, and that angry desire and temptation to make the guy regret coming against, and attempting to shatter my faith and separate me from my belief in God. I know better than to indulge that, nothing good ever comes out of revenge, plus I'd look like the child he is. What do you mean by "give it to them"? God, the temptation to stick it to this guy is big, fortunately I'm bigger, and so is God. Through, eh? Hmm.
"Give it to them": give your feelings what they need, not what they're calling for.
You need a church. If you're Catholic, go to the nearest church, to Mass, as often as you can, but at least on Sunday, preferably the same time each week.
If you're not, go to the church nearest your home. If someone welcomes you, keep coming. If no one does, go to the church next-nearest your home until you find one that's welcoming. But don't let the search go on too long. You need a Christian community.
Find a Wisconsin Synod (WELS) or Missouri Synod (MSLS) Lutheran Church. There is a WELS congregation in Centerville. They both offer Adult Information classes for free and you do not have to be a member. They will ask if you want to join after taking the class but they shouldn't be pushy about it. Often times these classes are on weeknights and are led by the Pastor of the church. You get to learn and discuss what the Bible teaches. Lutheran Pastors have great Biblical knowledge and will answer any questions you have. By taking the class you are simply learning with other Christians and hopefully helps you get to know what you believe and where to go from there.
I would recommend staying away from ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America).
What is your background in terms of the church?
I'm a cradle Catholic. I have observed two other church environments outside of the Catholic Church, one a baptist community, the other born again. I could tell where the energy and faith of the baptist community was, in the songs they played, and said their prayers alongside of, and that was pretty cool that works for them, and I can respect that, but I wasn't very impressed with the approach of the preacher after the band got done playing, just rattled off a whole bunch of statistics instead of reading from the Gospels, and the whole service just felt like a lot was missing, no Eucharist, no Liturgy of the Word, Gospel and Scripture readings, no Homily, and so-on. The born again community, I got the impression that they indeed came back to Christ and Christianity, but that they also went a little bit insane, and push some really out their thoughts on Christianity, makes me wonder if some of the things they say are even in the scripture, and other things they say I've confirmed to either not be part of scripture, or a twisting of scripture.
Baptists are generally considered "born again".
If you didn't like the Pastor, try a different one. Some preachers are more Scripture-based than others. Mine uses Scripture passages in every single sermon. If you didn't like the lack of Liturgy and Homily, you'll probably need to stick with the Catholic Church.
Baptists do Communion, though (our term for "Eucharist") ... just not every week.
Good this is exactly why I asked. If you had been from one of those churches you mentioned you might not feel comfortable at a Lutheran church. A Lutheran church service is very similar to a Catholic service. The Bible says we should receive the bread and the body often so most Lutheran churches don't take communion every Sunday but usually every other Sunday. There are the scripture readings, hymns, confession of sins, sermon and benediction. Call a Lutheran church and ask about their adult information class.
I was referring to a different variety of born again, Jack. I do distinguish between Baptist and born again, and consider them to be two different people, entirely. Sorry about any offense. Hmm...Lutheran I don't know much about. Never discussed theology with anyone from the Lutheran community before. Might be interesting to have a conversation with someone from that community.
No apology necessary. Wasn't offended in the least.