Note to Self is a deceptively simple book. The first 10 pages explain the subtitle (why we need the discipline of preaching to ourselves), but then the rest of the book is actual “notes” to help you start regularly preaching to yourself.
This is nothing short of genius.
While a slim book (it shouldn’t take you more than 3hrs to read) it not so much a “read it and forget it” book, as a devotional resource. I read it straight through for this review, but in that process, I quickly realized that some of the notes in here I need to return and read regularly.
Note to Self was published on the Re:Lit imprint of Crossway and is part of several great books put out this year by the Resurgence. I appreciated though that author Joe Thorn doesn’t back away from calling out people who become theology “fan boys.” I can only think he must have in mind some of the uncritical followers of the young restless Reformed movement. He provides a good corrective though in that note and applies to anyone who ever starts down the road of inadvertently becoming a theological sycophant.
- The Gospel and God
- The Gospel and Others
- The Gospel and You
Much like the children’s song about spelling JOY (Jesus + Others + You) this book starts in the right place and then drives the gospel home where it is most needed: our hearts. All 48 of the notes start with a verse or two of Scripture before launching into a direct address style. These are literal “notes to self.” The only thing missing is your own name scribbled at the beginning of each note.
Because most all of this notes are general in focus, it is especially helpful that there are blank notes in the back to personalize your own copy of the book. The last section of notes applying to everyone focuses mostly on worship, theology, and putting to death sin. The specific sins and the specific idolatries we all will have deserve their own note to self penned by our own hands. My wife needs to notes to self that I don’t need and vice versa. But this last section contain notes that hit deep and serve as timely reminders to our wayward hearts. I found the notes “Repent,” “Stop Complaining,” “Theology is for Worship,” and “Worship in Private,” to be particularly helpful for me and will need to return to these sooner rather than later.
Similar to what I said about the Greener Grass Conspiracy, I can’t really think of anyone who shouldn’t read this book. The difference between the two though is that this book is specifically targeted to Christians, whereas the Greener Grass Conspiracy starts with a wide enough scope that a non-Christian could be drawn into it. This book would be ideal for a new Christian, but it is just as timely for those of us who have been Christians most of our life and can struggle with slipping into a “going through the motions” routine.
For most people, their devotional life could benefit from soaking in these notes to self. In “Worship in Private,” Thorn expresses this warning:
If your meditation on Scripture, prayer, and seeking of God is limited to a thirty-minute quiet time, you will wind up having a romantic experience in the morning and an atheistic experience throughout the rest of the day when life gets real.” (pg. 118)
This book provides short, self-directed sermons that will keep your private devotional life from devolving into romanticism without heart change and push your public relational life in a gospel-centered and God-oriented direction. Unless you’ve already mastered the discipline of daily preaching to yourself, then this book is for you.
If you haven’t, then what are you waiting for?
- Paperback: 144pgs
- Publisher: Crossway (April 7, 2011)
- General Reader
- Priestly wisdom for preaching the gospel to yourself daily
[You’re reading this review of Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself because I asked Crossway for a review copy and they said yes!]