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Our neighbor George recently commented that all too often when we think of the concept of faith we relate it to the "giants of faith" like Abraham, who was promised descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky; Moses, who led his people from bondage to freedom; or the Apostle Paul, who led his people from bondage to freedom. The Apostle Paul, who spread the message of Jesus to the known world.

This is fine for the "giants of faith," but what about the rest of us? What about faith for ordinary human beings like me and you?

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How does my faith in God relate to funding for public education or the closing of schools? How does it relate to public housing or homelessness or how our county commissioners create a meaningful budget? What does my everyday faith say about interpersonal relations, finding a job, dealing with terrorism or voting in national elections?

In a prayer, Episcopal priest and author the Rev. Malcolm Boyd writes, "It's morning, Jesus. It's morning and here's that light and sound all over again. I've got to move fast — get into the bathroom, wash up, grab a bite to eat and run some more. … Where am I running? … What counts most is just that somebody knows and it's you … So I'll follow along, OK? But lead, Lord. Now I've got to run. Are you running with me, Jesus?"

Like many of you, I need a faith that is a verb, not a noun — that is, faith that will run with me in my daily life. A faith that you can live with when you don't have it all together. A faith that allows for struggle and even doubt at times.

In divinity school we were asked to read historic creeds, like the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed. At the same time, personal faith is more than simply being obedient to doctrines or rules. We were urged to write our own affirmation of faith and to encourage congregations that we would serve to do the same thing. We asked, "what do I believe in?" And, once we answered that question, "How do we put that faith into action?"

A personal document of faith generally comes from several things, including your interpretation and understanding of your own Holy Scriptures, your personal experiences, your reasoning, and your faith community and its traditions.

Consider several things when we talk about our own faith statement. First, faith comes as a gift from God. The word "faith," translated from the word "pistis" in ancient Greek, means "conviction" or "assurance." It is an assurance on which you can trust and build your life. It is more than a Sunday "go to church" faith. It is also based on some form of intellectual understanding, assent or trust. This is the kind of faith that, when you enter the church building, you do not have to leave your brain (reason) or your heart (experience) outside.

At the same time, your brain or reason needs to communicate with your heart or emotion/experience.

In a world that is so vast, so infinite and constantly changing, my faith needs to be dynamic — not static. We are called to constantly learn more of our Creator and the creation and to grow in the faith we hold.

Do you practice what you say you believe in? You might believe a chair is a chair, but trusting your belief means actually sitting in the chair.

My faith (or trust) is directly related to what I choose to believe. For example, I believe God loves me. The best example of God's love for me is Jesus. For me, the life and teachings of Jesus is foundational to understanding God. I also believe God is always with me. It is based on the belief that God is Emmanuel, always with me, as well as the words "even though I walk through the valley of shadows I do not fear for God is with me." Another belief for me is that my faith must result in doing good works. And the list goes on.

What is your faith based on? Have you ever taken time to think about what you believe and why? How does your faith in God help you deal with issues that you face every day?

Let the dialogue continue. I simply ask that you think on these things.

The Rev. Dr. Wm. Louis "Lou" Piel is pastor of Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Finksburg and can be reached at julo1@verizon.net.

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