1. Where have all the heroes gone?

2. I remember that as a child, I had many heroes.

3. Through books I remember reading of the great men of history - of pharaohs and kings, of inventors and pioneers, and of presidents like Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln.

4. On television I would sit for hours watching Andy Griffith, Tarzan, Batman & Robin, Superman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman, and many others who fought for the cause of good.

5. I remember in the world of sports, names like Jim Thorpe, Gehrig and Ruth, Dimaggio, Mantle, Staubach, Unitas, Starr & Lombardi, Marovich, Dr. J, Byrd and Magic - how they all stirred-up dreams of succeeding and becoming something bigger than life.

6. But then I grew up - Someone pointed out to me that Andy Griffith smoked - that Babe Ruth was an alcoholic - that Jefferson was an adulterer - that Superfriends arenât real· even the Lone Ranger had to hand over his mask!

7. In the world we now live in, the heroes of my youth have all been stripped of their dignity - the magic torn away from the innocence of childhood.

8. I even remember as a child thinking my own father was a huge man who could do nothing wrong, but Iâll never forget that day - a man in my early twenties, I entered into the hospital room after my father had a stroke, and realized my fatherâs fragile state, his weakness, his imperfection.

9. And so I ask you again, where have all the heroes gone? Can they be found in Bart Simpson, in Beavis and "friend," in Al Bundy, Howard Stern, Dennis Rodman or RuPaul? Not to mention the President of the United States·

10. What better place may we turn to find real heroes than the Word of God·

11. In Hebrews 11we find a definition for faith as 1. Assurance of things hoped for and 2. Evidence of things unseen.

12. The rest of chapter 11 lists examples of faith in those Godly men and women who were known for their belief in God - People like Abel, Enoch, Abraham & Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and Rahab the harlot. READ [Hebrews 11:32-40a].

13. These men and women lived their lives as examples to all who would follow after them

14. Though all were imperfect, and they all lived at various times in uncommon situations, they all set their feet upon the same track.

15. In Hebrews 12, the great heroes of faith are seen as a great cloud of witnesses.

16. The writer of Hebrews describes them as spectators who have passed on the baton of faith which we are now called to carry.

17. READ [Hebrews 12:1-3].

18. Today, As each of us holds on to that baton of faith, desiring to run the race that God has set before us - I challenge each of us to take to the track and strive to become a hero for the next generation to follow.

19. There are three things I would like to suggest to you today, that may help you to become a hero through your faith in Christ:

I. Rid yourself of sin.

A. Have you ever tried to run a marathon while carrying a couple of bowling balls? Sounds silly, doesnât it?

B. You have a much better chance of winning if you cast off the extra weight.

C. And yet, so often as Christians, we continue to carry the burden of sin when we donât have to - Christ redeemed us from the burden of sin by dying on Calvaryâs cross!

D. On the day you were baptized you were freed from the burden of sin - being raised with Christ, you became a new person.

E. At times we still do wrong- As we strive to do right, we must constantly be aware of our struggles with sin. [James 1:12-15] encourages us to "put aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness."

F. [1 Corinthians 10:13] allows us to know that God always provides a way of escape from tempting situations.

G. If we attempt to run the race while carrying the burden of sin, we will never leave the starting block!

H. [James 4:7-8a] says, "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

I. Real Heroes rid themselves of sin.

II. Fix your eyes on Jesus!

A. Paraphrase [Matthew 15:22-31]. Peter walked on water until he took his eyes off of Jesus - He lost his focus.

B. Jesus is our coach and guide - it is Jesus who shows us how to run the race.

C. [Hebrews 4:15] says, "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin."

D. Jesus is also why we run the race. {1 Peter 2:21] says, "For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ suffered for you leaving you an example to follow in his steps."

E. We have been called to exemplify Jesus by the way we live our lives.

F. {Ephesians 5:1-2] states, "Therefore, be imitators of God as beloved children, and walk in love just as Christ also loved you, a gave himself up for us."

G. Real heroes fix their eyes on Jesus.

III. With your eyes fixed on Jesus, God calls you to Run with perseverance!

A. In [Philippians 3:14] Paul writes, "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

B. Jimmy Valvano, the great college basketball coach on his deathbed was quoted, "Never give up! Never give up! Never give up!"

C. Jesus tells us, "Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect" [Matthew 5:48], meaning that we are to be complete.

D. So many begin the race, but so few Heroes complete it! Remember this - Nothings matters if you do not finish!

E. Iâm not ashamed - I desperately desire to be hero to my children, Victoria and Justin, but I cannot be the hero they need without finishing the race God has set before me.

Conclusion: I ask you once again, Where have all the heroes gone? One of my heroes, John Bowman, crossed over the finish line last week. I loved him - Iâll see him again. I feel as if he has passed on his baton to me. Other heroes are still here striving to finish the race: a seventy-nine year old man who has dedicated his life to loving God and loving people more than anyone Iâve ever seen, a struggling young mother, trying desperately to instill her belief in God in her children, an elderly lady on a fixed income who mails out at least 200 cards a month to others to encourage them, two crippled men who ache with physical pains daily who constantly put others before themselves - these are some of my heroes· Just look around - youâll find many heroes of the faith here in this very room, all striving to follow the one - Christ - to the end.

[Hebrews 12:3-4] "Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not resisted to the point of shedding your blood."

But Jesus shed his blood! And he did it for you! Wonât you allow him to be your hero for now and eternity? If you are here and need to be baptized - or if you, as a baptized believer, need to respond because of struggles and sin do not delay but accept the Lordâs invitation.