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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars written from the trenches of Spiritual Warfare, April 19, 2011
This review is from: Note to Self (Foreword by Sam Storms): The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself (Re:Lit) (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. The way Thorn writes, you can tell he is not just some armchair theologian, but is living the fight with those, like me, reading what he writes. It is apparent that he gets the Gospel and he gets his sin when he says:

"Dear Self,

You are proud, and what makes this so dangerous is that you don't realize just how proud you are....What you need is a clear picture of God, yourself and your hope; this only comes through law and gospel. You must see yourself as you really are -- creature, not Creator; sinful, not righteous; undeserving, not deserving; dependent, not independent; made for his glory, not your own... This is the theology that erodes pride, builds humility and produces joy." (P. 108)

Woah. Note To Self is really about 136 pages of that. Every single page of Note To Self is drowning in Gospel truths, so much so that it forces you to put a Gospel lens on everything from loving your wife (P.69) to complaining (P.109) to not being a Christian fanboy [personally my favorite chapter] (P.123) to being the Church [close second favorite] (P.87). It is a continual hammering of the Gospel into the thick skulls of prideful people. It doesn't do this directly, but in fact the book is set up as to observe a man preaching the gospel to himself. It is sort of like watching game film of a good team as you prepare for the season.

When I was reading this, I felt as if I was reading Joe Thorn's journal [minus the 'Love you husband' chapter, I just pretended that was his wife writing]. I felt as if I was experiencing a spiritual battle raging, very, very similar to the one that I fight day in and day out. It gives perspective to the war we are truly in and the weapon we've been given, the discipline of preaching [the Gospel] to ourselves. Reading it was challenging, as it confronted a lot of my own personal sin head on and didn't let me shy away from it. It then applied the spiritual rubbing alcohol on to my wounded pride. Every night (as I read it before going to bed) I went to sleep more in love with Jesus than before reading this book.

I foresee this being an incredible resource for the Church in the years to come. As it is small, accessible, practical and biblical. Anyone can pick up this book and get something out of it. And that something is going to be gospel-centered. Because this book is not just gospel-centered, but gospel-submerged, and cannot be avoided. Charis is considering getting a bulk quantity and giving them out at Sunday service.

This book knows its limitations, it doesn't try to be what it isn't. This is not a systematic theology or a book designed to tackle any certain issue at length but a manual on preaching the Gospel to yourself in the midst of spiritual warfare. At times I wish he would elaborate more on some topics and wish he would've written like twenty pages on the issues of work and local church involvement instead of two, but like I said, not the purpose of Note To Self.

Oh, and did I mention how well written it is? It isn't sloppy or indulgent. No word is wasted and the language is intentionally blunt, it comes off sharp and discerning. Joe Thorn also uses the word "legit" on Page 134, which in my book gives him 100% street cred [not a big accomplishment getting street cred from a white guy in central Illinois who listens to Steve Earle, but regardless...]

So whether you are a pastor or a non-Christian that is confused as to what the Christian life actually is or somewhere in between, Note To Self by Joe Thorn is a must read. You will finish the book with a new and more complete understanding of the discipline of preaching to yourself. The book is available now for Kindle at and will be available for purchase at the end of April. It's cheap so do yourself a favor and get this book.

Rating: 9/10

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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 23, 2011 7:48:56 PM PDT
Luke Hoesly says:
Great stuff... I don't have a clue who you are but I agree 100%.

Posted on Dec 11, 2011 1:19:02 PM PST
LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS BOOK. I was going to give it away but I want to keep it by my Bible so I am buying more of them on LOVE IT!
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