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Crossway Books & Bibles Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself

We need good preaching-preaching that challenges us by God's Word and brings the comfort that comes from God's promises. Yet many of us rely solely on others to preach to us and are not benefitting from the kind of preaching that should be most consistent and personal-preaching to ourselves.

Note to Self is a practical introduction to this daily discipline. Pastor Joe Thorn delivers fifty brief, devotional chapters that model preaching the gospel to ourselves and its practical implications. Readers will be challenged by the book's direct, personal exhortations to apply the law and the gospel to their own lives. Part of the Re:Lit series.
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Customer Reviews for Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself
Review 1 for Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Powerful and life changing

Date:April 20, 2012
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Sandy
Location:Seattle, WA
Age:45-54
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I've never been a devotional reader...but if this is considered a devotional, then I've been converted. This is not your "feel good" book. It is a powerful, hard hitting, soul-searching study...packed into incredibly short yet concise and complete messages. What a great way to start or end a day...or just read and devour the messages as they prompt you to allow the Lord to work on your heart. Tremendous insight into Scripture and into both the ugly and beautiful parts of life and human nature. Powerful.
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Review 2 for Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself
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5 out of 5
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I'll be reading this again

Date:February 28, 2012
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Walter Walkowski
Location:Jackson, MI
Age:35-44
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This book represents some of the best devotional material I have ever read. Joe Thorn writes simply, powerfully and personally and connects with both head and heart. I have finished the book, but am already looking forward to reading it again.
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Review 3 for Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself
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4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Date:February 3, 2012
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Barb
Location:Colorado
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Preaching to yourself is new term to me, but the spiritual discipline of applying Scripture to the specifics of one's life has been around for a long time. The forward by Sam Storms is excellent-- like an exhortative sermon reminding readers of the transformative power of God's Word, how we need to crave it and energetically apply it to our lives. The introduction spells out the crucial balance between law and gospel when preaching to oneself. The "notes"are grouped in three categories: Gospel and God, Gospel and Others, Gospel and You. Each begins with a Scripture passage and, while never more than two pages long, gives readers plenty to consider in applying that Word personally.
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Review 4 for Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself
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4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Date:December 29, 2011
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David Shaw
Location:US
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A pitfall all of us can fall into is to look at the Bible as a book to conquer, like a Shakespearian novel, and not a book to be lived. We read, study and pray over a particularly hard text with understanding as the only goal when we should do those things so we can learn how to live the life of obedience God desires from us. Joe Thorn in his book Note to Self gives us multitude of examples of how we can put our doctrine into practice.
This books set up is simple; Thorn takes 48 different Biblical topics/doctrines and gives us a one to two page exhortation on how to live each, all from the perspective of his own shortcomings. He starts each chapter with the title “Dear Self” because he is expressing his own struggles with living that doctrine as it should be lived. Each chapter is hard hitting but those that deal with the war against sin are his best (maybe because that is my main struggle and it’s yours if you are honest with yourself).
This is a book that I can turn to throughout my life to find help and encouragement and conviction in the myriad of struggles I may and will face. It will do the same for you.
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Review 5 for Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Gospel-Guided Smart Bomb

Date:June 1, 2011
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Dave Jenkins
Location:Caldwell, Idaho
Age:25-34
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5 out of 5
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Note to Self: The Disciple of Preaching to Yourself is written by Joe Thorn, the founding and lead Pastor of Redeemer Fellowship in Saint Charles, Illinois. There is much good conversation in in the blogosphere today about "preaching the Gospel to oneself". Joe Thorn noticed this conversation but then went beyond just thinking about "preaching the Gospel to himself" but started to ask, "What does preaching the Gospel to oneself mean? and, "How do the people of God preach the Gospel to oneself?"
Note to Self is a very well-written easy-to-read book. Each chapter explores a different topic but the focus of each chapter is personal, biblical, theological and practical as Joe preaches the gospel to himself and the reader gets to see how he practices what he preaches. A good writer engages his reader and draws them into the topic he/she is discussing. Joe Thorn does this in a way that points to the truths of Scripture and draws the reader to discover what it means to implement preaching the Gospel to oneself. Dr. Ray Ortlund rightly describes this book as a "gospel-guided smart bomb scoring a direct hit on our strongholds of emptiness."
The book is divided into three parts: the first part explores the Gospel and God. Part two describes the Gospel and others, and the final part is the Gospel and you. Reading a book like Note to Self is always challenging and convicting. This book in particular will challenge you to implement what you believe into your everyday life. This book will challenge your apathy and confront your stubbornness and pride with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is not often that I read a book that is so well-written but so concise, focused, but yet biblical, deeply theological, and saturated in and by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm thankful for the example Joe has given in Note to Self on how to preach the Gospel to myself. I plan on keeping this book on my desk to turn to often.
Note to Self is one of the most important books published this year and perhaps in the last several years in my opinion. I say this because it addresses a topic that is currently undergoing much discussion, and this book will lead that conversation on preaching the Gospel forward in significant ways by causing the discussion to not just be theoretical but now to be aimed primarily on application. Joe Thorn has written the definitive book on "preaching the Gospel to oneself."
Note to Self is a book I encourage every Christian to read. It would be a great gift for any Bible college or seminary student or even one of the elders, deacons or Pastor(s) at your local church. I encourage you to pick up Note to Self and learn how to preach the Gospel to yourself so that you may grow in depth of insight in the glorious truths of the Gospel.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Crossway as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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Review 6 for Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

REVIEW: Note To Self

Date:May 28, 2011
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Kevin M. Fiske
Location:Aurora, IL
Age:25-34
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5 out of 5
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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. [Yet] our danger is to submit ourselves to our feelings and to allow them to dictate to us, to govern and to master us and to control the whole of our lives…[However] I must never ask myself in the first instance: What do I feel about this? The first question is, Do I believe it? Do I accept it, has it gripped me?…We must not concentrate overmuch upon our feelings. Do not spend too much time feeling your own pulse taking your own spiritual temperature, do not spend too much time analyzing your feelings. That is the high road to morbidity. (pp. 110, 112, 115)
Truthfully, the Christian is first and foremost the person God has declared him to be based on the finished, substitutionary atoning work of Jesus Christ. Because we have a bad habit of either thinking the glorious truth of the gospel is only for unbelievers or, as believers, forgetting what God has done for us in Christ, we must grow in our discipline of preaching God’s Word to ourselves on a daily basis.
Joe Thorn, pastor of Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, IL, in his recent book, Note To Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself (Crossway, 2011), has taken what Bonhoeffer and Lloyd-Jones have articulated, and practically addresses how the truth of God’s Word in the gospel applies to the believer’s relationship with God, others, and himself.
Introducing the reader to the importance of preaching both the God’s law (convicting us of our sin) and God’s gospel (convicting us of our righteousness in Christ alone) daily, Thorn creatively accomplishes the development of the discipline of preaching daily to one’s self through a series of short, journal-like entries addressed “Dear Self…” Defining the discipline of preaching to yourself as, “the personal act of applying the law and gospel to our own lives with the aim of experiencing the transforming grace of God leading to ongoing faith, repentance, and greater godliness” (p. 24), Thorn helps the reader see how the gospel truly and deeply applies to every area of life from personal theology to relationships to one’s work ethic and more.
Note To Self is theologically rich, gospel saturated, Christ exalting and thoroughly practical. Thorn does an exemplary job of articulating the riches and realities of the gospel in powerfully gracious and pastorally sensitive punches. As well, the brevity of each devotional-like entry allows the book to be read quickly, while inviting the reader back to work through it repeatedly. Moreover, the format and flow of the book would make it an excellent resource for family or community group discussion/study.
I can say, without hesitation, that Note To Self will be a book that I both read and recommend regularly! It is a book that is well written and readily applicable for both the new believer and those who have been following Christ for years. Furthermore, Note To Self is a book that can even help those skeptical of the gospel effectively encounter the message of God’s saving power in a clear and compelling way.
I highly recommend Note To Self, by Joe Thorn!
*The publisher, at no charge, for the purpose of review, provided a copy of this book. I was under no obligation to write a favorable review.
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Review 7 for Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

The Word You Need to Hear

Date:May 20, 2011
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Unashamed Gospel
Quality: 
5 out of 5
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There are two types of books. There are books that you read once or maybe twice and when they’re finished, the book sits on the bookshelf. And then there are books that you always have at hand within arms reach because the book contains insight, guidance, direction, and answers that you come back to again and again. Note to Self by Joe Thorn is one of those books where you want to read it more and more because this book contains words that meet you where you are at and refresh your life. I have shared chapters and quotes of this book to friends and after they read it, my friends come back and say that the passage was exactly the word they needed to hear. What makes this book great is that it interacts with the reader and preaches the gospel to the reader’s self. Preaching to oneself is one of the most important discipline that a believer in Jesus Christ should do and Note to Self engages the reader to take up that task.
Note to Self is unlike any other book because it constantly keeps directing you back to the gospel. The book is broken up into three sections: The Gospel and God, The Gospel and Others, and The Gospel and You. Each section is filled with 13 chapters or more (totaling 48 chapters) on specific areas of life where the author compels your heart to turn to God. Each chapter starts with a rich verse from the bible and then points to Jesus and how the Gospel needs to be the forefront of believers’ minds, all within two or three pages. One of my favorite quotes from the book says, “You can, and must, return to God daily. His promise is that he will receive you as you come-in faith, not in moral purity. This is what gospel confidence looks like. It is not an insincere approach to God that dismisses our corruption while presuming on his grace, but a heartfelt dependency on the grace of Christ to make us acceptable at all times. Gospel confidence is not found in our best religious performance, be it guilt-penance or law keeping, but in the merit and mercy of Jesus on our behalf.” Even though every chapter was really encouraging to me, I found the chapters on Love, Seeking God, Love Your Wife, Forgive, Don’t Be a Fan Boy, You Can’t Make it Alone, Work, and Take Risks to be some of my many favorites.
Note to Self is an excellent book that challenges the way you think and live for God. It persuades the reader to be transformed by the gospel in very specific ways. I implore all Christians to read this book because it will change the way you look at life. Note to Self will align your heart and mind to what God loves and thinks. It does a great job calling the reader’s heart to the one true God. I highly recommend this book to all believers and encourage them to read and reread this book on a regular basis. It is deserving of your time to attentively read Note to Self. This is the Word You Need to Hear!
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Review 8 for Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

One of the best books I have read this year!

Date:May 17, 2011
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Ricky Kirk
Location:South Point, OH
Age:35-44
Gender:male
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5 out of 5
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Joe Thorn's book, Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself, brings clarity, focus, and practicality to the daily discipline of living in light of the gospel. While the gospel is the power of God displayed in bringing salvation to the lost, it is also the power of God in the believer's life as we grow in grace. In three sections (The Gospel and God; The Gospel and Others; and The Gospel and You) Thorn shares brief, devotional insights that bring to light how the gospel is our life. Thorn provides excellent examples, bringing together scripture, the gospel, and all aspects of life together in a way that will challenge, convict, and correct!
I have been preaching/pastoring for nearly 13 years. Any pastor who has preached any length of time understands how we can focus so intently on preaching the gospel to others that we fail to preach the gospel to ourselves. Or, we preach the gospel (the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus) to the lost that we miss connecting the gospel to our daily lives. As a pastor it was a great reminder that I need to continually preach to myself, but don't think this is only for pastor's!
This book will speak to every believer, whether we stand behind the pulpit or we sit in front of the pulpit. Throughout our churches many believers have grown accustomed to seeing the gospel as a message for the lost, or something we hear about on Sunday. Too few understand the reality that the gospel undergirds all of life. If one takes the time to read through this book prayerfully, they will no doubt be awakened to the discipline of preaching to themselves.
I would highly encourage every pastor to read this book and will recommend it to others. Of the countless books I have read in the past year, this is by far of the best! And it is one I will read more than once!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Crossway as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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Review 9 for Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Shows you how to preach the gospel to yourself

Date:May 6, 2011
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Aaron Fenlason
Location:Wichita, KS
Age:35-44
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5 out of 5
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D. Martin Lloyd-Jones once wrote about the importance of talking to ourselves instead of allowing ourselves to talk to us:
“You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: ‘Why art thou cast down’ – what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God’ – instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: ‘I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God’” (Spiritual Depression, 21).
In this little book, Joe Thorn takes up Lloyd-Jones’ exhortation and gives examples of what this discipline looks like. Rather than a “how-to” guide, Thorn writes each chapter to himself, teaching by example how to preach to oneself. In forty-eight chapters, averaging about two pages each, he talks of practical issues such as love, fear, forgiveness, and marriage and demonstrates how to address them in light of the law and the gospel.
The law and the gospel – both are necessary. Thorn explains in the introduction the role of each of these components of preaching to oneself. The law is God’s “revealed will and standard of righteousness... summarized as loving God and neighbor, is organized in the Decalogue, and is taught in detail by the prophets, the apostles, and Jesus himself” (p. 25). The purpose of the law is to show us what is right (what righteous living looks like), what is wrong (our failure and condemnation), and what is needed (forgiveness and redemption). Without this understanding of the law, the gospel is cloudy and, in some cases, seemingly irrelevant. A proper understanding of the law, though, leads one directly to the gospel.
A necessary balance to preaching to law, the gospel is “the good news of what Jesus accomplished in his life, death, and resurrection” (p. 30). In preaching to oneself, the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, are each significant. In his life, he is our righteousness, having perfectly fulfilled the law on our behalf. In his death, he is our forgiveness, having died for our sins. In his resurrection, he is our victory, because the Spirit who raised him from the dead lives also in us.
The body of the book is practical – it deals with everyday issues, rather than theological speculations. It is doctrinally sound – the doctrine, instead of being set aside, provides the foundation for the rebuke and encouragement of each chapter. It is convicting – the second person narrative draws the reader into the act of speaking to himself, making the corrections personal and individual. It is encouraging – for the same reasons just listed. The most beneficial contribution of the book will not be found by those who only read it and are encouraged by it, however. That would result in readers who have read about preaching to themselves, or who have watched a man preach to himself, and a book that failed to produce what it aimed for. The lasting contribution of Note to Self will be found only by those who learn its principles and take up for themselves the discipline of preaching to themselves.
A word should be said, too, about the foreword by Sam Storms, which itself is a reward to read. Storms avoids the trap, which he identifies, of “simply [repeating], in only slightly different terms, what the book itself says” (p. 11). Instead, he addresses the foundational supposition of Note to Self, that “the truth of God’s written Word is unparalleled in its capacity to change a human life” (ibid.). Storms calls this capacity “the functional authority of Scripture” (p. 12). He identifies two truths about the nature of Scripture that contribute to its functional authority. First, God’s word is imperishable. It is always “true and unchanging and ever powerful” (p. 14). Second, God’s word is the “catalyst and cause of spiritual growth and maturity” (p. 16). As a result, believers ought earnestly to desire and long for the word of God because “God’s Word is always carried along by God’s Spirit and empowered to produce what it proclaims” (p. 19).
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