Read an Excerpt
Whatever the Cost
Facing Your Fears, Dying to Your Dreams, and Living Powerfully
By David Benham, Jason Benham, Scott Lamb
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2015 David Benham and Jason Benham
All rights reserved.
WHAT'S ALL THE FUSS ABOUT?
Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. —1 Corinthians 16:13
When your faith is under fire, it is important to remember that God uses fire to make your faith flourish. #ltsGettingHotlnHere
"WE WANT YOU GUYS TO KNOW THAT WE THINK YOU'RE GOING TO BE stars on our network."
Those were the last words we heard from HGTV before getting fired the next day. Looking back, that phone conversation was the height of our reality TV career. Life for us as big-time reality TV stars was about to begin.
We had several weeks of production under our belts, and HGTV would begin airing our Flip It Forward show in the fall (2014). Although we didn't have long beards, a crazy uncle, or a hunting business, we were going to give those Duck boys a run for their money! At least we were gonna try.
We'll go ahead and state the obvious in case you couldn't tell from the cover of this book—we're identical twins. There's not much different about us other than the fact that each of us thinks he's better looking than the other. We love competing, talking smack, and having a lot of fun. Life's too short to be so serious all the time. So when we started filming our reality show, nothing really changed for us. We just had a bunch of cameras around now.
A few days before the network fired us, our show producer had the brilliant idea for us to carry an old toilet down the stairs and into the front yard of one of our flip houses. No problem—but which one of us was going to hold the tank, and which one was going to hold the bowl? Rock-paper-scissors worked every time when we were kids, so we did it again. I (David) won—and I chose the tank (there was no way I was carrying the bowl!). And being the loving brother that I am, I chose to walk backward down the stairs for the sake of my bowl-carrying brother.
For those of you wanting to be on reality TV, here's a tip to remember: if your show's producer can't stop smiling from ear to ear before filming a scene, you may want to ask why. Halfway down the stairs we faced the gruesome reality that our producer had left the toilet full! Once the water started spilling out of the sides, it was all she wrote for us. We barely made it down the stairs before we dropped to our knees and started dry heaving. "Hold the moment, boys! Embrace this moment. We're gonna kill 'em with this footage!" yelled our producer. We weren't interested in killer footage at that moment—we were interested in killing our producer! For nearly five weeks we did some of the craziest stuff we've ever done in a house—stuff we hadn't seen on TV before—all to embrace the exhilarating moments of house flipping. Whatever the cost, right?
During the first week of filming, one of the executives from HGTV came in town to check on the show. He was eager to take us out for a steak dinner the night he arrived, so when we wrapped filming for the day we headed uptown to get our steak on. Just before we dove into our filets, he leaned back in his chair and said, "Okay, guys, I've got to tell you: you're about to be known by millions ofpeople. Nobody knows you right now, but very soon millions of people are going to discover you and start checking you out. We're going to reveal your show at the New York City upfronts."
Okay—that's cool, we get it. Can you pass the salt?
He continued. "We've been following your Twitter posts, and we noticed that you guys tweet a lot of stuff about your faith, and you even speak about controversial issues. We don't mind you talking about your faith, but speaking about the controversial stuff may give people the impression that you're 'haters,' and I don't want people thinking something about you that you're not."
The conversation started getting real. We tuned in a bit more closely.
"David tweeted something about your dad baptizing 'Jane Roe' of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision." (In 1995 our dad had the privilege of leading Norma McCorvey to faith in Jesus Christ. If that name sounds familiar, it's because McCorvey is also known as "Jane Roe" from the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which legalized abortion in the United States.)
He finished by saying, "That may be a little much right now."
At this point we stopped eating. Our appetites faded as fast as our heart rates elevated. We thought, Oh boy, here we go again. It's coming.
HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED WHY ALL THE FUSS ON THE EARTH? Think about it—so much turmoil, fighting, and bickering all the time. From the Middle East conflict to the bully in kindergarten to the halls of our legislature, there's always a clash—a fight taking place ... every day.
Well, the Bible has a lot to say about this. In particular the book of Revelation sheds an incredible amount of light on all this fighting. We will talk about this more in chapter 19, but at first glance Revelation is tough to understand. Yet the overall message of the book is actually pretty simple. There are just two basic facts to remember:
1. There are two kingdoms—the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness—and they are in conflict. They are enemies with no option for peace. This is a fight to the death.
2. By the end of the book, one kingdom has destroyed the other—utterly and completely.
That's the message of the book of Revelation. And if you haven't guessed it by now, the kingdom of God (light) destroys the kingdom of Satan (darkness).
Nestled into the middle of the book is the scene of the original battle that started in heaven and now rages here on the earth. Satan threw the first punch and tried to take authority away from God—he wanted it all for himself. However, God defeated Satan and tossed him and his followers, angels like himself (now called demons), out of heaven. In Revelation 12:11, we read this powerful verse:
And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.
This verse serves as an explanation for how the people of God will overcome the devil.
* "because of the blood of the Lamb"—salvation
* "because of the word of their testimony"—salvation lived out
* "they did not love their life even when faced with death"— whatever the cost
This verse provides the three-step formula for defeating Satan when he attacks us on the earth:
First—salvation. All of us are sinners, and therefore we must pay the penalty for sin, which is death. But Jesus, who never sinned, took our punishment for us and stripped Satan's authority at the cross. Through salvation we become children of God—we are transferred from Satan's kingdom of darkness into God's kingdom of light. That's step one.
Second—salvation lived out. When we become children of God, we experience internal transformation that produces external transformation. In other words, our actions begin to reflect the kingdom of light in our lives. Living out our salvation in this way is called our testimony. It's like a witness who testifies in court because he or she has firsthand experience. Our testimony declares to the world that Jesus is both a merciful Savior and also the universal King because we've witnessed it in our own lives. That's step two.
Third—whatever the cost. When we live out our salvation, there will be a price to pay because the kingdom of light that now resides in our hearts stands opposed to the kingdom of darkness. We don't fit in like we used to because our lives are revealing God's authority. So Satan attacks. And when he does, we have the choice to raise the white flag or fight. The only way we'll fight is with the same attitude the angels had in heaven: even in the face of death, I will stand. This whatever-the-cost attitude is step three.
Our journey hasn't resulted in martyrdom, like many before us, but it is in the same spirit of Revelation 12:11 that we have approached the writing of this book. God's amazing grace and tender mercy saved us when we were young. And for the last thirty-nine years, He's built our testimony for Him—with lots of ups and downs. During those rough times when Satan attacked us, God was right there all along, forging a whatever-the-cost attitude in our hearts.
We certainly hope the title of this book doesn't make you think we're picture-perfect examples of how to live powerfully for Christ whatever the cost. You'll see in many chapters how we didn't get it right and how God was faithful to strengthen us to live powerfully for Him the next time around. You'll see where we failed and where we stood strong. You'll walk with us as we ambitiously jumped out ahead of God and where we faithfully let Him lead. You'll experience the roller-coaster ride of what life was like being super aggressive, hardheaded twins who needed quite a bit of restraining for most of our lives. This book is the "word of our testimony" so far.
We tried to write in the way we normally talk, so it's a bit unconventional. You'll see our personal comments and jabs at each other throughout—standard stuff for twin brothers who take their message seriously but don't take themselves too seriously. If you're anything like us, you'll skim through the pages looking for the good stuff, so we've made it easy for you by highlighting some of our life principles. These are also compiled in Appendix B for quick reference. By the time you finish reading the book, we hope to compel you to trust Jesus with your life whatever the cost, to live powerfully for Him, and to provide you with biblical principles you can apply to your life the minute you put the book down.
Hopefully, as you read our story, you'll be able to see how we lived out these principles in unique situations. Like many others we had to learn the hard way, but we're so glad we did. You'll read about competitive twins who had a dream of playing professional baseball, who did exactly that in their early twenties before having to give up the dream of making it to the big leagues. You'll see how we used biblical principles to build a successful real estate business from scratch and how you can do the same in your own work life. You'll experience the thrill of us signing a deal with HGTV for a show on flipping houses and the whirlwind of confusion brought on by the abrupt cancellation of that show because of our beliefs. You'll see the immense power wielded by certain organizations whose ultimate goal appears to be destroying others with opposing views, especially those based on the Bible. And you'll understand why we couldn't be more thankful for all that has occurred and more steadfast in our desire to live for Christ and to love others with all the conviction we have.
But to fully appreciate our story, our actions, and the principles we live by, it's important to know the background of everything that made us who we are today. So let's head back to Orlando, Florida, in 1975. Although we never rocked tennis headbands with lamb-chop sideburns and butterfly collars, we were just about to enter the scene.CHAPTER 2
The Early Years (1975—1980)
I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it.
—2 Corinthians 12:11 NIV
Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose ... but sometimes you just get rained out. When God gives you crazy kids you just gotta take what you got. #WeLoveYouMom
YOU'VE SEEN THE DISNEY MOVIE BRAVE, RIGHT? IN THE MOVIE there were three little boys—crazy critters—who magically turned into bear cubs. They ripped into everything and terrorized the entire palace. That was the two of us as toddlers. There's really no other way to describe it.
We're certain our parents loved us during this time in our lives, but we're not so certain they liked us much. We've got plenty of stories. It's probably a good thing we don't remember a lot of them, so we'll rely on Mom and Dad to describe just how terrible and wonderful we were.
Rocking his 1970s bell-bottomed jeans and bushy brown hair, Dad took Mom to the doctor three days before we were born, which was when they found out they were having twins.
"Her belly was huge," Dad said. "Massive. We figured we were having a giant baby."
"I couldn't fit behind the steering wheel of the car," Mom added. "So they did an X-ray and then called me at home to say there were two babies on the picture. I remember sitting down and thinking, 'Oh my word! What will this even mean?'" (Jason: Uh, Mom, it means you're about to experience the greatest blessing of your life!)
Three days later, there we were. The most adorable munchkins the world has ever seen. Or maybe not. Here's the word-for-word transcription of how Dad described us: "You were the ugliest two little guys ever seen on the face of the earth. You were all squished up together and when they got you out, we thought, 'Oh my—what's wrong with them?'"
Mom said those early months were nonstop bottles and laundry. And she couldn't even tell us apart.
She put wristbands on us labeled "Baby A" and "Baby B." Eventually she just started dressing us in different colors. David was always in blue and Jason was anything else that wasn't blue. Still today she gets us mixed up from time to time if she sees Jason wearing blue. Even we get confused when we go to Mom's for dinner and browse through old photo albums. We were so identical that our grandma made us personalized shirts. One said: "I'm David. He's Jason." The other said: "I'm Jason. He's David." That was about the only way people could tell us apart. (Jason: Today it's pretty easy to tell us apart. If you look at us on the cover of this book and your heart skips a beat, that's me. When looking at David nothing happens, so it's pretty simple.)
Then there was our older sister, Tracy. Can anyone say, Darla from Finding Nemo? (Sorry for all the animated movie references—can you tell we have nine kids between the two of us?) Our big sis had no reservations in showing us how she felt. One day when we were six weeks old, she waited until Mom got in the shower, took us from our crib—where we were playing quietly, of course—and stuffed us under her bed. It was an evil plan to eliminate her competition.
Mom couldn't stop the madness. As toddlers we were everywhere, into everything, and all over everyone. So she hatched a plan: put the always-moving monsters in the playpen and give them Scotch Tape. What?
Mom says we were fascinated with the stuff. We would tape ourselves and each other—and the never-ending machine of disaster stopped for a bit. Everything got quiet. It was a miracle.
To this day we still enjoy playing with tape. Just ask any of our employees and they will tell you it's a rare occasion not to catch us with tape on our fingers or stuck on our top lips. Crazy, we know—but don't blame us. It's Mom's fault.
During this time Dad owned a bar and was going to Bible college. It's not every day you get to read a sentence like that! But Grandma was there, too, helping to take care of us. Mom worked at a nursing home from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. while Dad and Grandma watched us. Dad says he would come home from Bible school and see us playing in our sandbox, beating each other with sticks and throwing sand at each other. We're still not quite sure what Grandma was doing at the time.
Then there was the day we were playing outside, right under Dad's nose. He was exhausted, so we can't blame him for nodding off just before we found a large, concrete drainage cover. How we were able to pick it up is beyond us, but suffice it to say that we had just enough strength to lift it off the ground and drop it on Jason's big toe, cutting off the tip of it. (David: He's got an alien toe. If he's ever wearing sandals, check out his left big toe. It's a great way to tell us apart.)
In the summer of 1976, Mom and Dad packed up Tracy and the twin terrors, and we headed to Kentucky so Dad could go to Asbury Theological Seminary. For the next three years Birch Drive had no idea what hit it. Nor did the neighbors!
We'll share just one interesting story from that time. One day while Dad studied Greek, we got into the neighbor's garage. Dad was left watching the boys (mistake number one). And our neighbor had left his garage door open (mistake number two). On the floor were several bags of ready-mix concrete (mistake number three). A nearby water hose was connected and ready to be used (mistake number four). By the time Mom got home, we were washing each other's hair with concrete shampoo. As for the neighbor's garage, let's just say it provided a perfect opportunity for Dad to exercise some of the Bible lessons he had learned at seminary, making things right with those whom you've offended.
Excerpted from Whatever the Cost by David Benham, Jason Benham, Scott Lamb. Copyright © 2015 David Benham and Jason Benham. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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