Welcome to Class 78 of “The Ramp” to the Highway of Success course for young men. I am Daniel Whyte III, chairman of the National Association to Save Young Black Men in partnership with the Martin Luther King Senior Institute for Young Men & Young Women. The Institute aims to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Sr., commonly referred to as “Daddy King”, whom God used to raise the great leader, Martin Luther King Jr. Our purpose is to guide young men and young women, and help them get on the path to becoming kings and queens for the glory of God.
I am your instructor for this course and the author of the ESSENCE national bestselling book “Letters to Young Black Men”. We are using that book as the text and its study guide to guide you through the course. The study guide was developed with the help of Jamie McCallum (M.Div, Truett Theological Seminary), Charles Garrett (M.Div, Southwestern Theological Seminary), and now my youngest son Danyel Ezekiel Whyte who is in his third year of college. This course is for all young men, but especially for young black men and young men of color who oftentimes have a “difficult journey” in this great country called America. I call this class “the Ramp” to the Highway of Success because my goal is to get you on “the Ramp”. As a man, you ought to be able to make it from there. Out of respect for you as a young man, my job is to get you on the ramp and point you in the right direction, not to tell you all the details once you get onto the highway of success. With God, you can do great things.
— Let’s Pray —
This lesson is titled “Oh, The Joys I’ve Had.”
Dear Y.B.M.: “Happiness depends on the happenings, but having joy does not depend on the circumstances. Joy comes from God and you better get some.” I pray that you are not in any trouble. I apologize for staying on trouble so long, but sometimes trouble comes double. In my previous letter, I shared some of my mistakes, failures and troubles in hopes that you will not make them. Now, I want to share with you how God delivered me from fleeting happiness to permanent joy. Then, I want to share with you the three greatest joys of my life.
Up until December 19, 1979, at the age of nineteen, my happiness was dependent on what was happening. You know what I am talking about. You have been there. When I was a little boy, if the sun was shining and the sky was blue, I was happy; but if the clouds covered the sun and the day was overcast, I was sad. When I was playing football, I was happy; when I was made to go to choir rehearsal, I was sad. When I could stay at home and watch the Dallas Cowboys play, I was happy; when I had to go to church, I was sad. As I grew a little older, when I was drinking and partying, I was happy; the next day, I was sad. That was how I lived my life up until December 19, 1979, because on that memorable day I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour.
Now, remember that I told you earlier how I used to hate preachers and churches. Well, on that night, December 19, 1979, a young man, by the name of Michael Lewis, came to my dorm room on Kessler Air Force Base around 8:00 p.m., and showed me from the Bible how to truly be saved from hell. Even though I had been in church all of my life, this was the first time anyone took the time to show me from the Bible how to be saved from hell. I accepted Jesus Christ that night and God completely filled my life with joy—“A joy the world can’t take away.” I am telling you the truth. That joy has never left me since I accepted Christ as my Saviour. Every day has been and is a sunshiny day, as far as I am concerned. It is truly a “joy unspeakable.” The Lord will do the same thing for you as well. There is nothing like having God’s joy. It will beat happiness every time. Since that time, God has added joy to joy. My three greatest joys in life are:
1. Knowing the Lord as Saviour, and my relationship with Him through prayer and through His eternal Word.
2. My family.There is no other place on God’s green earth where I would rather be than home with my family. I really mean that.
3. My third greatest joy in life is doing something that matters beyond my life span. Jesus gave me a purpose to live for, and that purpose is to serve Him with all my heart, mind, soul, and body. By the grace of God, by the time I was thirty-three, I had traveled around the world preaching the Gospel. I had also written several books and edited a Christian magazine. It is my prayer that you will be a man who has the same joy in your life as I have in mine.
George Bernard Shaw said, “This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.”
Henry Nouwen said, “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”
Richard Wagner said, “Joy is not in things; it is in us.”
Paige Ferrari said:
Joy is usually synonymous with happiness. But even in day-to-day conversations, we make the distinction that happiness and joy are two very separate things. If I describe someone as a joyful person, that doesn’t mean to say that they are happy all of the time; it means that there is joy that flows out of them and reveals its face in the form of happiness.
Joy is a choice.
Rick Warren gave us this definition of joy: “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”
The two parts of his definition are “quiet confidence” and “determined choice.” We feel a sense of joy when we praise God and know that He is in control is a daily, minute-by-minute choice. When we rest in joy, we are truly able to acknowledge the one who is in control of it all.
In closing, Tony Dungy, the first black coach to win the Super Bowl and the host of NBC’s Sunday Night Football said, “You are never going to get anywhere in sports or in life until you become convinced of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You may become a professional athlete or have fame and nice cars and nice houses and a lot of money, but what you’ll find is that all of that stuff goes away pretty quickly. You have to understand that Christ died for our sins, and that He died not just to be our Savior but so that He could be the center of our lives.”
Now, like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people I grew up around said “being saved” was back then especially, in my community, is wrong according to the Bible. I wrote an article about it titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.
First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, understand that a horrible punishment — eternal Hell — awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon Him in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.
Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That is the most important decision you will ever make.
If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, I’ll see you for our next class.