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Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself (Re: Lit Books) Paperback – April 7, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


“I know of no other book that deals with the issue of preaching to yourself directly, and I can’t imagine another book will come along to fill this void better than Note to Self. Pastor Joe Thorn offers a richly pastoral, theological, and practical guide for thinking through the Christian life. After reading Note to Self, you will not only have Joe’s notes on how to preach to yourself on issues related to God, others, and yourself, but also you will have a model for practicing the discipline on your own.”
Ed Stetzer, President, LifeWay Research; author, Subversive Kingdom;

Note to Self is a gospel-guided smart bomb scoring a direct hit on our strongholds of emptiness. But the explosion it detonates is life giving. It clears the way for Christ to enter in with powers of salvation where we really need help.”
Raymond C. Ortlund Jr., Lead Pastor, Immanuel Church, Nashville, Tennessee

“I am thoroughly engrossed with Joe Thorn’s personal meditations on preaching the gospel to oneself. He combines a clear biblical knowledge with an excellent grasp of doctrine from a historical Reformed perspective and is able to press home a rich application of each aspect of truth to the development of personal holiness. These applications are not trite, but arise from knowledge of the church’s best soul doctors. My wife and I have been reading this each evening and have profited greatly. Each chapter can be managed in less than five minutes but provides an evening’s worth of rich reflection.”
Tom J. Nettles, Professor of Historical Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, By His Grace and for His Glory

“Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said that most of your unhappiness is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself. Joe Thorn brings this truth to bear on a new generation in Note to Self. It’s filled with pastoral concern and practical advice packaged as brief notes. I’ve been looking for a book like this my entire Christian life, and it’s every bit as good as I hoped it would be. I’m buying a copy for everyone in my church.”
Steve McCoy, Pastor, Doxa Fellowship; blogger, Reformissionary

“Joe Thorn’s gift to our spiritual well-being is a contemporary, practical example of what the Puritan pastor Richard Baxter called ‘discursive meditation.’ At once both convicting and exhilarating, Note to Self is a great resource for cultivating the godly habit of preaching to oneself.”
C. Ben Mitchell, Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs and Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy, Union University

“Joe Thorn has not only given us a good piece of writing, he’s given us a great idea! Note to Self is a series of brief notes in which Joe preaches the gospel to himself on a wide range of topics. The notes offer memorable insights on our view of God, others, and self. Everyone should write ‘notes to self.’ Read this book and learn firsthand how to write the gospel into every nook and cranny of your life!”
Jonathan K. Dodson, Lead Pastor, Austin City Life, Austin, Texas; founding leader, The GCM Collective; author, Gospel-Centered Discipleship

“I talk to myself. Joe Thorn wants me to talk to myself more. And I need that. Regardless of one’s theological view of Law and gospel, these biblical repasts are a good chew.”
Jim Elliff, Christian Communicators Worldwide

“Joe Thorn is my favorite kind of pastor—a theologian and a shepherd. Even better, he is a serious follower of Jesus Christ. Listen to him ‘talk to himself’ and you will discover that he is doing more listening than talking. Read Note to Self and it will help you to hear God’s Word and discern the gracious moving of his Spirit in your own life.”
John Koessler, Professor and Chair of Pastoral Studies Department, Moody Bible Institute

“Joe Thorn has written a series of devotions that are concise and clear but also profound and penetrating. This is just the sort of resource that frazzled and frayed people (like this pastor!) need to read to come back to center and be refreshed by the wonder of the gospel and the beauty and majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Chris Brauns, Pastor, The Red Brick Church, Stillman Valley, Illinois; author, Unpacking Forgiveness, Bound Together, and When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search

Note to Self teaches you a skill that will permanently change your life: the skill of preaching to yourself. This is a forgotten habit in our day, and Joe Thorn winsomely models how to resurrect this lost art. Note to Self models what I want to see more of in my life and in the lives of the people I pastor. Practice what this book preaches and your life will be different.”
Justin Buzzard, Lead Pastor, Garden City Church, Silicon Valley; author, Date Your Wife and The Big Story

“It’s not enough to simply call people to the gospel. We must help them make the connections between the gospel and their everyday living. Joe Thorn’s Note to Self is gospel proclamation and application at its best. I will put this in the hands of my people."
Daniel Montgomery, Pastor, Sojourn Community Church, Louisville, Kentucky; Founder, Sojourn Network; author, Faithmapping and Proof

About the Author

Joe Thorn (MDiv, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the founding and lead pastor of Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, Illinois. He is an active blogger at, a contributor to The Story ESV Bible and The Mission of God Study Bible, and the author of Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself and Experiencing the Trinity: The Grace of God for the People of God. He and his wife, Jen, have four children.

Sam Storms (PhD, University of Texas at Dallas) has spent more than four decades in ministry as a pastor, professor, and the author of more than two-dozen books. He was visiting associate professor of theology at Wheaton College from 2000 to 2004, and is currently senior pastor at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He is the founder of Enjoying God Ministries and the author of numerous books, including Chosen for Life, Tough Topics: Biblical Answers to 25 Challenging QuestionsKept for Jesus, and Packer on the Christian Life.

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Product Details

  • Series: Re: Lit Books
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway; Csm edition (April 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433522063
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433522062
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 5.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Nick Rynerson on April 19, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
Last week (4/12-4/14) at The Gospel Coalition 2011 we were loaded up with free stuff (or, swag, if you will). Even more so for us bloggers fortunate enough to attend Band of Bloggers on Tuesday. On the Band of Bloggers panel was Church Planter and fellow Acts 29 guy Joe Thorn. Thorn is a great guy and I have had the pleasure of meeting and listening to on several occasions, so when I found out he was writing a book and it was getting published though Re:Lit, I was stoked. I was even more stoked when I found out those signed up for Band of Bloggers would be getting a pre-released copy!

It's a small book, not very intimidating and the text is of readable size: a good weekend read. But what a weekend it was, between Note to Self and The Greener Grass Conspiracy, I forcefully, yet lovingly was kicked in the rear end by the Gospel.

Note To Self is really like nothing I have ever read. It's made for the trenches, battle tactics in the Spiritual War we fight as Christians. It is sort of to the Good Guys what The Screwtape Letters is to the Bad Guys, letters from the trenches. The concept is simple yet brilliant. It's Joe (or you) preaching the Gospel to yourself amidst 48 real-time situations that we all have and will continue to face. What Joe does in Note To Self is take a section of scripture and in about 500 words engages in "self talk" as Martyn Lloyd Jones would call it.

Every section starts off with a rich verse of scripture at the top of the page and then the words Dear Self... What happens after that is straight up, honest Gospel talk. Every chapter points back to Jesus and how the Gospel actually matters pertaining to whatever subject Joe is dealing with.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kevin M. Fiske on May 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
Feelings are like rollercoasters. We feel up, down, upside down, or all twisted up. Within the span of a few moments, depending on our circumstances, our feelings can span nearly the entire range of human emotion. And for some, feelings can be very strong. Indeed so strong that we have the tendency, at times, to embrace a self-constructed view of reality based on what we feel at a given moment. This can be especially true within the Christian life. As Christians, we often fall into the deceitful trap of our own feelings; coming to the false conclusion that our standing before God, or God's perception of us, is based on how we feel at a particular point in time.

Thankfully, every so often a voice is raised calling us away from the instability of our feelings and emotions to the solid and stable ground of God's written Word. Deitrich Bonheoffer was one such voice. In his classic, Life Together, published in 1954, Bonhoeffer wrote:

the Christian is the man who no longer seeks his salvation, his deliverance, his justification in himself, but in Jesus Christ alone. He knows that God's Word in Jesus Christ pronounces him guilty, even when he does not feel his guilt, and God's Word in Jesus Christ pronounces him not guilty and righteous, even when he does not feel that he is righteous at all. The Christian no longer lives of himself, by his own claims and his own justification, but by God's claims and God's justification. He lives wholly by God's Word pronounced upon him, whether that Word declares him guilty or innocent. (p. 22)

In the next decade, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones followed with his classic, Spiritual Depression, writing:

Feelings must be engaged. They are meant to be involved.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Ben Terry on April 22, 2011
Format: Paperback
We hear that we should be preaching the gospel to ourselves, but you don't find many resources on how to do it. In Note To Self, Joe Thorn, founding pastor of Redeemer Fellowship, serves us well by demonstrating in this small but powerful book how we should preach the gospel to ourselves. This discipline of preaching the gospel to yourself has become a popular phrase, but actually doing it hasn't caught on so quickly. Thankfully, Thorn demonstrates in his book what it actually means and what it looks like to preach the gospel to yourself, so that, through this discipline you may grow in intimacy with Christ and conformity to Christ.

In Note To Self, Thorn begins by introducing us to the idea that it is not just the gospel that we must preach to ourselves, but law and gospel. Thorn states that "just as the lost cannot come to know Christ apart from an understanding of law and gospel, neither will the believer grow in grace apart from the preaching of both law and gospel." Therefore, Thorn identifies and defines that "preaching to ourselves is the personal act of applying the law and the gospel to our own lives with the aim of experiencing the transforming grace of God." This is where Thorn begins laying a foundation for us as the practical guide for thinking through the Christian life. He points us in a direction of gospel proclamation and application. And then what I love most is that Thorn doesn't allow the reader any time to assume what is law and gospel, but rather he goes straight into clearly and biblically defining what they mean. It is through the preaching of both the law and gospel to yourself that you begin to grow in truth.
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