There have been many books written on the gospel in the past several years. I have read many of them. I have reviewed many of them. But Note To Self by Joe Thorn is out of a different mold when it comes to a book about the gospel. I say that it is different because the book is written as a series of letters to yourself. The book is written to your soul. It is as if you wrote the book to yourself. Well, at least, you are reading the book to yourself.
Why would you do such a thing? The book hits home on the concept of learning how to preach the gospel to your own soul. The topics begin like the topics you might expect in a book like this: Love, joy, fear, singing, and so on. But soon, Thorn introduces some topics that you might not often think is a necessary message to your own soul. He addresses topics like your contentment, hospitality, forgiveness, theology, and reading the Bible.
This book would be a great book to keep by your bedside and read each morning before beginning your day. As I read it, I felt as if I did not do it justice in my own heart. I read this book mostly in two days. I think it would be most beneficial to be read one chapter each day (there are 48 short chapters). Then take that day and contemplate the message that was being preached to your soul.
The best way to explain this short book is to give an extended quote. This was one of the chapters that I appreciated the most. It is Chapter 25: You Can't Make It Alone. Each of the chapters are like this--short and relevant to life.
Let me be direct. You are not strong enough, or spiritual enough to successfully follow Jesus and be faithful to his mission on your own. The words of God recorded in Genesis, 'It is not good for a man to be alone,' speak not only to the issue of marriage but also to the very basic need all people have. We are created by God to dwell in community. You have been considering your need to both hear and speak biblical exhortations in community, but you also need to consider that the mission of Jesus, which you have been called to participate in, is carried out only through the church.
Consider the mission of the church: 'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you' (Matt. 28:19-20). The mission is to make disciples; and to make disciples, one must be a disciple. In both of these callings the church is essential to the work.
To be a disciple of Jesus you must belong to and work with, for, and through the local church. You need the strengthening, encouragement, and reproof that only the church can give, and you need the church to be faithful to the command of Jesus. God calls his followers to live in community together, loving, serving, sharing, and discipling one another. The church, for all of its faults, is essentially connected to God's mission and our spiritual life. You simply cannot survive spiritually on a weekly worship service, podcasts, and books. You need the community more than you probably realize. You can't make it alone; nor can anyone else." (87-88)
I would give this book a hearty recommendation. It will be well worth your time in reading it.