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Summary: Spiritual Olympians, with a "go for the goal" mindset, remove any hindrance to their race.

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Title: Olympians Remove Any Hindrances

Text: Hebrews 12:1

The Big Idea: Spiritual Olympians, with a “go for the goal” mindset, remove any hindrances.

Series: Spiritual Olympians: Going for the Goal, is based on Hebrews 12:1-13 and designed to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, August 8 – 24 and beyond. It is a series developed from Go for the Goal: Become a Spiritual Champion, Mainstay Ministries.

Introduction

The ancient Olympic Games were primarily a part of a religious festival in honor of Zeus, the father of the Greek gods and goddesses and held in Olympia, which was the site of the Sanctuary of Zeus. (www.museum.upenn.edu/new/olympics/olympic origins.shtml)

Over the centuries, the Games have become a very secular event as well as a platform for protesting whatever it is protestors think needs protested… I am hoping that in the next few weeks we will be able to use the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing as a springboard to launch a spiritual event in our lives.

Last week I spoke of the preparations China made for Beijing 2008. In addition to the actual building of the sites where the Olympic Games will be held, China has been working hard to polish its image before the watching world. However, there is another kind of preparation that has been in the works for, in some cases, years. Yesterday we saw Dara Torres, who won her first gold medal when she was 17, win a silver medal in the 400 meter freestyle relay at the age of 41. She not only won a silver medal but set a new Olympic record as the oldest swimmer ever to win an Olympic medal. Dara Torres has been preparing for competition for over 24 years.

Originally, Olympians were required to arrive at the city of Elis one month before the games began… it was something of the first Olympic Village. Would be Olympians participated in a grueling training regime that served to weed out athletes who could not meet Olympic standards of fitness and skill. (Stefan Lovgren, Ancient Olympics Mixed Naked Sports, Pagan Partying, NationalGeographic.com, August 13, 2004)

This summer there are 55 athletes from Colorado who will be competing in the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. They have most recently been preparing at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

The preparation for being an Olympian is rigorous:

• Olympians train every day. They are not couch potatoes all week and then hit the gym on Saturday morning.

• Olympians train with their eyes on the prize. A Colorado Olympian may be swimming in the Olympic pool in Colorado Springs but his or her heart is in Beijing.

• Olympians are specific in their training… weight lifters lift, runners run, wrestlers wrestle.

• Olympians fuel their bodies for peak performance. While I may look at food as an enemy, an athlete looks at food as essential nutrient and caloric intake as fuel for competition.

• Olympians know when to rest… they know they can over train and break down their bodies rather than build them up.

• In addition, Olympians constantly work on developing and maintaining perfect form. Divers cannot cannonball off the high board. (Paige Waehler, Train Like an Olympian, Abrout.com, April 5, 2006)

In one sense, becoming an Athlete Olympian is different than becoming a Spiritual Olympian. Olympic marathon runners prepare for an extended time before they actually run their race. Spiritual Olympians, on the other hand, are already in their races.

We are already in the race. The Christian life and the life of living out one’s faith is not something for which we prepare. In fact, quite to the contrary. Often when we come to Christ, our lives are hardly marked by the warm glow of spiritual grooming and godliness. Our text today is not about how you can prepare for the race… it more about what to do now that you realize you are in a race.

It’s like we are suddenly made aware that we are in a race… we look up and see that we are surrounded by a vast crowd of witnesses to our life of faith.

The watches are cheering us on and want us to do well. So, what does a person who is willing to adopt the “go for the goal” mindset of the Spiritual Olympian do?

The first word of instruction is about an action we take or do.

1. Spiritual Olympians understands that some things are hindrances in the Christian life and that those things must go.

The text is variously translated:

• Let us strip off… NLT

• Let us throw off… NIV

• Let us lay aside… KJV

It is said that the ancient Olympians competed in the nude. There are varying explanations, among them the Wikipedia people suggest it was weather related… it was hot so they ran naked. They also suggest it was part of the Greek celebration of the achievements of the human body.

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