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Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to…

Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself (edition 2011)

by Joe Thorn (Author), Sam Storms (Foreword)

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311354,128 (4.03)1
Title:Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself
Authors:Joe Thorn (Author)
Other authors:Sam Storms (Foreword)
Info:Crossway (2011), Edition: Csm, 144 pages
Collections:Your library

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Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself (Re:Lit) by Joe Thorn



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Excellent, challenging book. We used it for family worship, and found the short chapters to be just the right length for our family. The strength of the book comes in its direct address. Many devotional books give pious thoughts that everyone nods in agreement, but I've found few books that are as provocative and challenging. The book makes direct, forceful statements about the state of your mind and heart, and because they are rooted in Scripture, the arrows hit home. Don't despair; grace is in abundance, but it is deep grace that restores, not cheap grace that soothes hurt feelings. Great stuff, and we'll be buying and using book 2 as soon as it comes out. ( )
  cjsdg | Jun 21, 2012 |
"Note to Self" is a reflection on what it means to apply the gospel to one's life - to thoroughly and deeply allow the gospel to penetrate our thoughts, actions, and interactions with the world. Thorn divides these 2-3 page "notes" into three sections: the gospel and God; the gospel and others; the gospel and you. Thorn's writing was generally thought-provoking, although each note seemed to be either hit or miss. Thorn offers a short, easy-to-read introduction to daily reorienting ourselves to the gospel. B ( )
  bsanner | Jul 13, 2011 |
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).

(This review was originally posted at www.hopeofrighteousness.com) ( )
  AaronFenlason | May 6, 2011 |
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Provides a practical introduction to the discipline of preaching to oneself alongside fifty brief devotionals that will challenge readers to apply the law and the gospel to their own lives. Part of the Re:Lit series.

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