I’ve been sharing my journey of reading through the books of the Bible chronologically. A group invited me to join them on this adventure and, even while I have whined from time to time, I have learned a lot. I have noticed new things, been reminded of stories, and been able to see how different writers capture moments. Seeing how God’s story is woven together in a pattern that honors the timeline of scripture is illuminating.

We are now reading through the four gospels, which often highlight the same moments in Jesus’ ministry. A variation of a sentence among Mark and Luke caught my attention.

After a brief analogy involving lamps and bringing things to light, Mark quotes Jesus saying, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given.” (4:24)

Luke writes a similar passage, but varies with one word, “Pay close attention to how you hear.” (8:18)

What you hear vs. how you hear. I love it.

The Greek reflects the difference too. I have to wonder about Mark’s and Luke’s personalities and how they plays into this tiny variation. It’s a small difference, and not one that creates any type of conflict in my opinion, but more reminds me the value in paying attention both to what you hear and how you hear.

Paying attention to what you hear matters.

I’m not talking about breaking your CDs, if you even remember what a CD is. I was always confused when my friends growing up attended youth group Wednesday night, and by Friday, were tearing apart their secular cassettes or cracking their newest CDs in half. I understand the aim of these exercises, and I’m sure in my early years of ministry I gave some rousing messages about bad music. However, I think I would approach things differently today. Still, I understand the value in paying attention to the soundtrack I’m creating in my home, through my ear buds or in my car.

Side Note: Do you remember your first cassette purchase? Mine was either Debbie Gibson’s single “Electric Youth” or Depeche Mode’s “Policy of Truth”.

New healthy food pyramid for health – Healthy Food Planet

Making sure we have a balanced diet of healthy sounds, encouraging music, and for sure a decent dose of silence, is important. I consider my rap or screamo binges the “desserts/sweets” portion of the sound pyramid. And I think the same concept can be applied to what we read, what we see in our homes … basically anything we take in with our senses could probably use a dose of attention.

I read a parenting book forever ago. I can’t remember the name 🤦🏽‍♀️  but I can picture the orange cover. One section of the book challenged parents to think about the “soundtrack” and “canvas” of their homes. While the main point was to be attentive, to pay attention to volume, word-choice, repeat phrases, all the ways our children might complete the phrase “In my house we always heard…,” they also briefly reflected on the subtle messages music might give, or how the artwork, photos or quotes on a wall might quietly communicate to our kids.

Now before you run out to Hobby Lobby and strip their shelves of that amazing artwork with scripture, that is not what I’m suggesting. Jesus, while more directly speaking to his own teaching and parables, simply nudges us to pay attention. Notice what is being said. Listen to what you are listening to. Sort and sift through sounds. Noise pollution is real.

After I read that book, I took notice of the images that surround me. Recently, I’ve realized I don’t play enough music in our home. We have friends that have country music playing all the time, and I grew up in a home where classical music, mixed in with the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel, streamed constantly. For some reason, a while back I stopped playing music, which is super odd for someone that went to school for music. I’m not saying what we should hang on our walls or pour in our ears, I’m just saying, pause to pay attention. Pay close attention to what you hear.

Now, what about how you hear …

What vs. How

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