Issuu on Google+

The SportsBarn

Front Room Entry of the SportsBarn 15207 South 3rd St. Bennington ,Ne


Often, one hears the phrase "no pain, no gain," but for Mike Bliss, his view of sports is more aptly described as "no pain, no glory." Mike runs the SportsBarn, and he does it to glorify the Lord. The SportsBarn is a place where Mike can empower and encourage other men to walk into the destiny God has for them. Perhaps Mike is able to flip the saying around because God has flipped him around. "God flipped me upside down, in a good way," says Mike, "and it's just been a roller coaster ever since." But, Mike tells us, he "wouldn't trade it for the world." Mike first began feeling the Lord tug at his heart after hearing Coach Ron Brown speak at various events around the state of Nebraska. Mike isn't an athlete; however, he was intrigued. Ultimately, Mike heard a radio broadcast of Ron Brown speaking at the funeral of Brook Berringer, a Nebraska quarterback who died in a plane crash in 1996. Coach Brown began talking about how heaven is such a tremendous place that Brook would not leave it, even for the opportunity to come to earth to comfort those mourning for him. The Holy Spirit moved Mike during that speech. He recalls praying, "Lord, if this is true, I give my life to You." Mike had been in Omaha for about four years at that time. "Ron Brown is a true Nebraska state treasure," says Mike. Mike, who is from Chicago, met his wife Lisa while in southern California. The two then moved to South Carolina for a time, before moving to Nebraska in late 1992. They, and their two sons, now live in Bennington, Nebraska, where the SportsBarn is located. Mike enjoys his work selling spinal implants for a medical device company, and

considers it a blessing to see how surgeons use the gifts God has given them to help those with severe back problems be healed. However, he also enjoys sports a great deal. Mike is involved in sports with his 15 year old son, Zachary, and enjoys golfing with his son Jacob, age 18. Mike's love for sports also is evident when one walks into the SportsBarn. As you look around the barn, it seems quite fitting that a coach is who God used to first draw Mike to Himself. Sports memorabilia lines the walls; the seats are arranged like a stadium; and of course, there are always plenty of snacks on hand, in true tail-gate fashion. When Mike opened the new addition to the SportsBarn in 2008, he wrote to Coach Brown and invited him to come and speak. That day, a crowd of 170 men and young men turned out, but the strongest presence in the room was that of the Holy Spirit. "God is bringing the body of Christ together," says Mike. "We're not designed to do life on our own." Indeed, you won't find Mike sitting alone on the sidelines. Mike is absolutely interested in reaching out to others. He literally beams with a genuine love for people. And Mike starts at the line of scrimmage, if you will. Just as the line of scrimmage is where the play begins, the ball is snapped, and the quarterback takes the ball and runs with it, so too Mike is there to help others get the ball rolling in terms of their spiritual walk. Mike feels a great deal of joy putting Bibles into the hands of others. "My heart is to get people into God's Word." He sometimes gives Bibles away, but feels it is better if a person pays at least a little something for their Bible. "When someone invests in a Bible, they have skin in the game. It is a wonderful privilege to watch God grow and stretch them as they


Morning men's fellowship, message, and worship at the SportsBarn

Attention: Men of All Ages Come Fellowship with us every Friday 5:45 am to 6:10 am - Prayer and Worship 6:15 am to 7:15 am - Bible Study 15207 South 3rd St. Bennington,Ne 68007


put their roots down into His Truth." Mike especially loves handing out the One Year Bible by Tyndale Publishing because it gives people an easy way to read on a daily basis. Some of Mike's favorite Bible verses are John 3:3, which says one must be born again, and 1 Samuel 16:7, which tells us that the Lord looks on the heart. "I have seen a lot of things in my life; don’t let anyone discourage you," says Mike. "It's not about having the best car or house, it's about the heart. Nothing is more important than giving your life up to Jesus Christ," Mike says. "God speaks to us and reveals himself to us through His Word." Every Friday morning at the SportsBarn, men of all ages, all walks of life, and at all points in their spiritual journey meet for prayer and bible study. From about 5:50 am to 6:10 am, the men gather to pray. Bible study spans from 6:15 am to 7:15 am, and covers relevant topics such as marriage, raising children, work, and issues such as addiction and how God’s grace is sufficient for all men. Those who gather range from high school age, to men over 70; from business men to men from the Open Door Mission; from spiritual seekers to godly men full of spiritual wisdom. Mike, as the facilitator for the group, is somewhat like a coach. He has a strong desire to help other men, and to lead them. Mike did not start to really read the Bible until he was in his 40's, he explains. He attended church in his youth and in the early years of his marriage, so he had a solid foundation and was poised to take off when God opened his spiritual eyes and ears to His Truth. Mike had many experiences, positive and negative, growing up in the Chicago area. He is blown away time and again as God has used his past life experiences to help others. "God has each

one of us here for a reason. He is working through us, if we let Him." As Mike explains, "When you get into God's Word, He will begin to speak to you, and soon you will be running to It. The Bible is a love letter and our life handbook," says Mike. Mike is also a member of the board for FreedMen Nebraska (www.freedmennebraska.org ). "It's a massive blessing," says Mike, "to watch men and young men desiring to know God in a more intimate way and living out the gospel of Jesus Christ through the issues of the day…it's a powerful thing, uniting men from the whole state of Nebraska. God really has His hand on this ministry." Even when Mike is not at the SportsBarn or a Freedmen event, he can still be found witnessing to others. "I love to hand out little tools," he says, referring to gospel tracts. One of his favorites is called, "What if I'm Pretending?" The tract discusses how one can know if they are just going to church, or have really surrendered their life to Christ. "Reading the Bible on a daily basis is really something that'll change your life," says Mike, "at least give it a try. God gave us that Bible; He tells us in Hebrews 4:12 that it's alive and active." Mike says he has learned many lessons from the Bible, which he calls the GPS of life. "There are so many blessings in there," says Mike. Another very important scripture Mike mentions is from Hebrews 9:27. "There is a heaven," he says, "there is a hell, and we all have a choice to make." Mike's love for God and His Word are very clear. One can see Mike at the back of the line of scrimmage, as he reiterates the importance of reading the Bible. "Even if you think 'this sounds crazy,' just give it a try for 60 days. Please read! From now until you stand


before the Lord, invest and study--you will be blown away!" Mike correctly advises. "Having the Lord with you, in your life is a powerful thing." This year marks the fifth anniversary of the SportsBarn. Mike hopes to grow his ministry to be able to share with teens and college students about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and pornography. "2 Timothy 2:22 says we have to flee." Contrary to what culture tells us, Mike has found that a person can absolutely have fun in life without those things. If we are willing to let Him, Mike says, "the Lord can take our weakness and past pain and use it for His glory." Mike is praying that God will raise up people to help with a SportsBarn website. He prays he will find "someone who's excited about this opportunity to reach others and make Christ known." Of course, Mike also prays for the SportsBarn financially, so he can continue to give out Bibles and reach into the lives of men in Nebraska. If you are interested in visiting the SportsBarn, Mike says, "we'd love to have you come out. You will be out of here by 7:15, unless you choose to stay and socialize." If you would like to receive daily scripture emails or invites to events at the SportsBarn, please contact Mike via email at: michaeljosephbliss@gmail.com. To find the online study tools for the One Year Bible, go to www.oneyearbibleblog.com. You can also purchase the One Year Bible online at: http://www.christianbook.com/nlt-premiumslimline-bible-anniversarysoftcover/9781414312446/pd/31244X? item_code=WW&netp_id=175279&event= ESRCG&view=details

Mike Bliss of the SportsBarn


The SportsBarn