Christian Book Reviews, Author Interviews, Excerpts

Author Draws Parallels Between Challenges, Life of Joseph

  • Randall Murphree AgapePress
  • 2007 30 Jan
Author Draws Parallels Between Challenges, Life of Joseph

Author:  Kevin Mangum
Title:  "Opportunities Knock"
Publisher:  Xulon

Sinking a boat in a Honduran river or suffering the consequences of a foolish decision on the ski slopes – wherever he is, author Kevin Mangum looks for the opportunity behind every challenging circumstance.

I have to be up front here, to clarify that I am not totally unbiased. I write a lot of book reviews, and seldom do I know the author personally. In this case, however, the author is one of my weekly prayer partners, a trusted confidant, and the teaching pastor at my church. He's more than 20 years my junior, but he's one of the godliest men I know. And I don't make such statements lightly. When I pass out superlatives like that, I figure my reputation's on the line, too.

"Opportunities Knock: Turning Trials Into Personal Triumphs" (Xulon, 2006) comes from deep in Kevin's heart, from his personal challenges, his disappointments and his fears. In each chapter, he draws a parallel between his own challenges and experiences and the life of Joseph.

Thus, the reader finds in Kevin's amusing experiences and transparent heart, an example of a man who sometimes make choices that just don't work. And of course, sometimes he faces tough times that aren't the result of anything he's done wrong.

Still, he helps the reader see that, while failure and disappointment are often the stuff of daily living, we don't have to be overwhelmed. So, in "Opportunities Knock," we have a tangible picture of one who doesn't let negative situations keep him down. He gets up, fights back and looks for a lesson to learn, an opportunity to grow.

More importantly, he points us to Joseph, one scriptural hero whose life beautifully reflects the opportunity-knocks principle. It couldn't be more practical. For example, in chapter one, Kevin articulates the first of eight kinds of opportunities we have – the opportunity to recognize that God is in control. He opens with an anecdote about his questionable choice on the slopes at Keystone, Colorado.

He then transitions into scriptural truths by contemplating the challenges young Joseph must have faced when his brothers resented him for what they interpreted as arrogance. Finally, as with each chapter, he poses several questions for thought or discussion.

Kevin knows the impact that unexpected circumstances can bring. He has just been through a 30-month season that stretched him and his faith farther than he would have wanted to go. Two-and-a-half years ago, he was our youth pastor, one of four full-time pastoral/ministry staffers. In April 2004 we broke ground for an ambitious building project with a commitment to pay for it as we built.

A couple of months later, Kevin's three co-laborers were all called to other avenues of ministry. Suddenly, he was in charge, with a church of more than 500 looking to him for every detail in leadership. Gradually, some of the gaps were filled in, but only recently – after 30 months – did a new lead pastor join the staff.

Some would call it "trial by fire," though I'm not sure Kevin would call it that. He didn't ask for the challenge, but he seized every opportunity to grow during this demanding journey. Along the way, he has demonstrated humility, wisdom, strength, patience, compassion and grace.

Kevin Mangum has earned the right to be heard. Preaching from the Sunday morning pulpit, teaching in Power House (our church's youth ministry), teaching at Global Theological Seminary in Uganda, or leading a men's study of "Wild at Heart," his teaching is solid.

All of us who read "Opportunities Knock" are the beneficiaries of his experience and his insight. Don't miss this opportunity to grow.

© 2006 AgapePress.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.