Testimony Turned Inward: Why You Need Notes To Self

by Bobby Gilles

in Testimony Tips

Book cover of Joe Thorn's "Notes To Self: The Discipline Of Preaching To Yourself"Here at My Song In The Night we talk a lot about the importance of your story, your testimony, your description of how God has revealed himself to you, shown you who he is, demonstrated your wretched state and redeemed you from it, plotting a new course for you that brings you into his family forever.

But what about the need to testify to yourself and preach the gospel to yourself? We often forget our own place in the story. We need to remind ourselves of who God is and what he has done. We need to remember, to dwell afresh on the wonders of the gospel.

My friend Joe Thorn, pastor of Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, Illinois wrote one of my favorite books of this year, Note To Self: The Discipline Of Preaching To Yourself. And Joe himself provides a great reason why preaching the gospel to yourself is an important part of your life as a testifier of truth, in his Introduction:

“This personal, devotional work is essential to our own health, but also to our effectiveness in sharing the law and the gospel with others. The more deeply we understand and experience law and gospel, the more capable we become in communicating and applying it to those around us. A good teacher or evangelist is first a good preacher to himself.

You could read this 136-page book in a day. You could also read each of its 48 short chapters individually — a chapter a day, or week — as a devotional guide. It’s small enough to fit in the smallest pack, purse or briefcase and take with you to work, school, the park, coffeeshop or wherever you go to read.

Pastor Joe has divided Note To Self into three Parts:

  1. The Gospel and God
  2. The Gospel and Others
  3. The Gospel and You

and titled his chapters with simple, helpful “action list” items, like:

  • Be Humble In Your Theology
  • Stop Pretending
  • Honor Your Parents
  • Listen To Others
  • Kill Your Sin
  • Know Your Idols
  • Don’t Be A Fan Boy
  • Suffer Well

His writing is accessible, succinct and action-oriented. And sometimes colorful. A few of his chapter titles may raise your eyebrows, but they are all grounded in sound theology. For instance, from his chapter Hate Well:

Genuine love for your neighbor will produce within you antipathy toward all that robs him of his dignity or leads her away from God. Do you hate pride and arrogance? Injustice and the way of evil? Hurtful speech? Do false gospels and false teachers create a holy hostility in you? … And what about your own sin? Do you see it? Is it ever before your eyes? Do you really hate it for what it is, or do you simply dislike its unpleasant consequences?

You can get Note To Self: The Discipline of Preaching To Yourself from amazon.com here. And visit Joe Thorn’s blog daily for further insights.


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