Book Review: Note to Self

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I bought this book on a bit of a whim – I’d heard good things, and the concept of the book interested me. As someone with the hope of preaching some day, some where, the idea of preaching to yourself is an interesting one. This book is a small one – only around 137 pages – but the punch it packs utterly belies its small size. The introduction is small too – but explains what Thorn means by this slightly odd idea of ‘Preaching to Yourself’. In the foreword by Sam Storms, we are challenged that to read this book as “a no-holds barred appeal to expose our lives to the searing searchlight of Scripture and to let its voice speak to the way we formulate our beliefs and relate to other people and think about God and make choices in the course of daily life“. I think thats an admirable and succinct summary – but I want to go a little deeper into why you SHOULD read and buy this excellent little book.

The book is divided into three parts: “The Gospel and God”, “The Gospel and Others”, and “The Gospel and You”. Each of those parts has a multitude of little ‘Notes’, to your self, accompanied by a passage of Scripture. Thats one of the really great things about this book – its drenched in, reliant on, subservient to, and focused with, Scripture.

I read this book as someone with a myriad of interests, but the ultimate concern of being a follower of Jesus, then a husband in the near future, a theologian now and generally, and a serving member of a local church. This book shook me up, challenged me, and made me think about each of these. The first part really shakes up our understanding of God – reminding us of the need to be aware of God, waiting on Jesus, and how BIG Jesus is. I love this section – I ended up sharing “Jesus is Big” in an impromptu fashion at a prayer meeting – and people really heard it. Really heard it.

In part two I was especially challenged by the three sections – “Love Your Wife”, “Love Your Husband” and “Honor Your Parents”. I think there are some great truths there. It is a great – and biblical in the simplest, truest sense – that “You should seek to be the brightest representation of Jesus she sees, as your represent Christ as Savior and servant to her“. That is bang in line with Ephesians 5 – verses 22 and 24 Thorn lets open this Note. 

Part Three, for me, was the most refreshing and challenging. Because it speaks directly to ‘theology’, this thing that every Christian – deliberately or not – has in their mind. Theology is talk and thoughts about God – this book challenged me to think that theology only happens when it is talked about and discussed. This section emphasises some crucial things. For young leaders. For median age leaders. For old leaders. For everyone. “Theology is for Worship” – a truth that is SO easy to skim over – but incredibly needed. An expansion and discussion of what this means relates to worship out loud and worship in private – things we often forget to do, or end up being unbalanced in. I was most challenged by parts 41 and 42 – “Be Careful in Your Theology” and “Don’t be a Fan Boy”, respectively. Every young leader needs to read both of these – I was challenged in my attitudes in both of these areas.

All in all – and I don’t say this on commission, I bought this book – “Note To Self” is an incredibly good book. It’s biblical. It’s challenging. It’s short – in the good way. It’s worth reading if you call yourself a Christian, a follower of Jesus. It’s especially worth reading if you are a leader of any kind, have aspirations of leadership, or do any form of theology in any way or context. Get this book, read it, and start preaching the Gospel to yourself.

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