NFL chaplain urges local youths to join ‘God’s team’

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 8, 2002

Travis Hoegh, Joel Rivera, and Milton Shambley are part of a Nansemond River football team that roared out of nowhere to snap up a 5-1 Southeastern District record thus far this season. But to New Orleans Saints chaplain Doug Greengard, no accomplishment on the football field will qualify a player for &uot;the coolest team of all.

&uot;As good as these players are, their best isn’t good enough to be on God’s team,&uot; Greengard told his listeners, including the Warriors, at the Football Party 2K2 at the Suffolk Armory on Thursday evening. &uot;So many people think that being cool means that we have to look like certain people, that we have to buy as many things as possible. But to be on God’s team, there are no tryouts or tests to pass. It doesn’t require anything but to make a decision to receive the gifts that God has for us.

&uot;Let me look in a place where I can always find all the answers,&uot; Greengard said, opening a Bible and turning to Ephesians 2:8. &uot;’For it is by grace that we have been saved through faith and faith alone, not from yourselves, but from a gift of God; not by your own works, but that no one may boast.’

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&uot;God’s gift is for everyone. When God looks down, He sees His beautiful children. When we’re born, the uniform that God sees us in is stained and filthy. But when we make a decision to live in Jesus, the uniform changes for us. God puts this clean, lily-white uniform on us, and we become righteous in His eyes.&uot;

No matter what people have done in their past, no matter who they have hurt or what mistakes they have made, said Greengard, God will accept them. &uot;God does not care about our pasts. When we accept Jesus, He starts living inside of us. For all of us have sinned, but Jesus died for all our sins. No matter how many good things we do, no matter how great we think we are, if we don’t get on God’s team, we will go straight to Hell – and nice people go to Hell everyday.&uot;

Greengard wasn’t always a man of the Lord. &uot;I was a nice guy, but I was going straight to Hell. But Jesus didn’t see me lost in my sins; He saw me as redeemed by His blood. It is not I who live, but that Jesus lives inside of me.&uot;

Through his work in the NFL, Greengard has seen the statement, &uot;Money can’t buy happiness,&uot; come true again and again. &uot;We think that people in the NFL have it all: big houses, big paychecks, lot of cars, everything. But some of these players still go to bed miserable. Some of them have seen their marriages fall apart. Because no matter how great your successes in life are, they will never, ever bring you total fulfillment. The only way to do that is to get on God’s team. You can’t buy salvation; you can only receive it as a gift from God.&uot;