My wife and kids, of course! And my guitar and mandolin. But besides all that, I brought home a powerful reminder of the importance of faithfulness.
Someone mentioned the way David had saved his father's sheep from lions and bears. He noted, "David could easily have said, 'oh well, it's just one little sheep. No one will miss it.' But instead he risked his life to save that sheep." When I heard these words, I immediately recognized that there have been times when I have not guarded my Father's "sheep," have not stood up bravely to oppose the aggressor, have not risked my life, have not been faithful in the "little things," have not "shed blood" in the fight against sin. I suddenly realized (anew) that seemingly small compromises are serious violations in God's eyes. God values His little sheep very highly, and He values our faithfulness very highly. All things are HIS, and I have no right to relinquish any of His property to the enemy. Whatever He has given me, I must guard carefully.
My mind is His. My mouth is His. My body is His. My life belongs to Him, and I must show that I belong to Him in all of the small ways as well as the big ways. I need to be fierce and courageous in guarding the little sheep in my life. Every stray word, thought and deed must be repented quickly, and every detail must be kept in faithfulness. I have to guard the trust.
My wife and children are His. I must place myself between them and the destroyer. I must stand my ground without flinching, and oppose every threat that comes against them. I must defend them with my life. Love always protects.
That's what I brought home from the retreat. I am grateful that God loves me so much that He will not let me go astray in these things without conviction, rebuke and discipline. Because I am also His sheep, and His son. He calls me, like David, to be a man "after His own heart" - a man who will defend himself and his family against evil.
I Samuel 17:34-37 But David said to Saul, "Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God." And David said, "The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "Go, and the LORD be with you!"