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Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself Paperback – April 7, 2011
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“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, Billy Graham Distinguished Chair for Church, Mission, and Evangelism, Wheaton College
“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, Lead Pastor, Sojourn Community Church, Louisville, Kentucky; Founder, Sojourn Network; author, Faithmapping, PROOF, and Leadership Mosaic
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 JoeThorn.net, 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 author. He is currently the senior pastor at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and was previously a visiting associate professor of theology at Wheaton College from 2000 to 2004. He is the founder of Enjoying God Ministries and blogs regularly at SamStorms.com.
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Path: Thorn writes 48 short chapters as reminders of what God commands, how I fail, and how I must run to Jesus. They range from how I view myself, my theology, my family, my church, my neighbors, my work, and my world.
Sources: The author understands what we are tempted to believe, and he knows how Scripture intersects.
Agreement: I thought these were very helpful meditations to consider each day. They were short, convicting, and hope giving.
Personal App: Am I evaluating my heart in light of God’s commands and Jesus’ call for repentance?
Favorite Quote: “Jesus’ life is good news, for his obedience to the Father and fulfillment of the law is for us. Where we as sinners fail to keep the law, Jesus was perfectly faithful. Jesus’ death is good news because his death was a payment for our sin, and by it we are cleansed from our guilt and released from condemnation. Jesus’ resurrection is good news because his victory over death is ours and through it we look forward to a resurrection of our own.”
It would be worth another read and I would recommend it to someone who:
is looking for a daily devotion
is wondering how to live out the gospel
is new in their faith
is mature in their faith
Other books along this same theme would be:
Bridges, Jerry. Holiness Day by Day: Transformational Thoughts for Your Spiritual Journey. Edited by Tom Womack. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2008.
———. Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God’s Unfailing Love. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1991.
Mahaney, C. J. Living the Cross Centered Life. Sisters, Or.: Multnomah Publishers, 2006.
When I received this book in the mail, I had just finished reading John 4 - the chapter on Jesus' interaction with the woman of Samaria at the well. How timely! This incident recounted by the Apostle John is a good illustration of preaching the Law and the Gospel, straight from the mouth of our Lord Himself. When the woman asks Jesus for the "living water" of which He spoke, He asks her to go call her husband as well, which leads to the revelation of her sin. Thus, He confronts her with the Law, and her transgression of it. Upon her tacit admission, He reveals to her the Gospel, that is, reveals Himself to her as the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior who comes to deliver us from the curse of sin.
This, in a nutshell, is what Thorn wants us to do as we preach to ourselves, preferably through journaling since this is the best record of our spiritual insight and growth. We must hold the Law up as a mirror to ourselves, see ourselves as sinners in need of a Savior, then we must look to the Gospel, the good news of our redemption through His life, death, and resurrection.
Each "note to self" is an illustration of this discipline at work day by day.
This short book is more of a devotional, with quick, two-page chapters reminding us of some aspect of the Christian life. The three sections are "The Gospel and God," "The Gospel and Others," and "The Gospel and You." Chapters include:
Chapter 8: Jesus is Enough
Chapter 9: God Does Not Answer to You
Chapter 10: Be Humble in Your Theology
Chapter 16: Love Your Wife
Chapter 34: You are Proud
Chapter 35: Stop Complaining
Chapter 41: Be Careful in Your Theology
Chapter 44: Suffer Well
While I usually do not read devotional books, this is a good one to help remind us that we are loved and were bought at a price through the blood of Christ.