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19 Cent Gas . . . and Wall-Building

2006 September 6
by Mike

Am I the only one who has paid $.19/gallon for gas? Back when I first got my driver’s license in Missouri, there were occasional gas wars that drove the price of gas down from $.24/gal to $.19/gal.

We were a Ford family (had to do with who did the most advertising in the newspaper where my dad was the publisher), so I drove a Falcon. That was followed by a Maverick.

Yesterday, the range of gas prices I saw in Abilene was from $2.30/gal to $2.64/gal. I decided to go with the $2.30. That’s quite a free fall from the $2.99 of a couple months ago.

The temptation every time gas falls a bit or a new source is discovered (as was reported yesterday) is to forget about the need for conservation. But we all know that over the long haul, that’s essential. There is not an unlimited supply of oil, and we must not be in a situation where our oil dependence dictates foreign policy.

– – – –

Yesterday as I read Nehemiah, these insights stuck with me:

First, he was a man on a mission — to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (about 445 B.C.) — and wasn’t going to be deterred by opposition. Sanballat, the fly in his soup, sent him a letter through an aide that read:

“It is reported among the nations — and Geshem says it is true — that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall. Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us meet together.”

He sent this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.” He knew they were just trying to discourage him so he wouldn’t complete his task. So Nehemiah prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”

Second, he was angered by the way the people of privilege were ignoring the needs of the poorer members of the community. He challenged them: “Let us stop charging interest! Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the interest you are charging them — one percent of the money, grain, new wine and olive oil.”

And third, when the law of God was interpreted and explained to the people and when they were filled with sorrow, Nehemiah told them not to weep. There’s a time for repentant sorrow, but this was a time of joy. The word of God was being heard and they were being reformed as a community of trust. So he said: “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

29 Responses leave one →
  1. September 6, 2006

    What if each person who claims to be a Christ follower were dedicated to giving 1% of their total income to directly help the needs of the poor? Not just give their tithe to the church and “let them take care of it” but to give that one percent directly to those who live around, among, and before us.

    I can assure you that there would be some powerfu & mighty changes.

    Thanks for the reminder, Mike! Isn’t it cool how the same passage strikes totally different chords with different people? I love that!

  2. September 6, 2006

    I just finished reading Claiborne’s Irresistible Revolution and have been thinking quite a bit about what my responsibility is towards the poor. No major conclusions yet, but I’m working on it.

    How neat to sometimes decide to be joyful because you are changing for the better, rather than to mourn over the time you spent doing wrong.

  3. September 6, 2006

    I don’t remember how much gas cost but my daddy gave me a $12 check every Monday for gas for my 1972 Torino. It lasted the whole week everytime (if it didn’t, I visited my papaw who would fill up the tank!)

    I spend too much time looking back instead of imagining how great the present is and how great the future will be. Today, I’ll be joyful!

  4. Terry permalink
    September 6, 2006

    Okay, I am old enough to remember that 19 cent gas. They had gas wars in Michigan too. My dad took a second job at a gas station so he could have a garage and a hoist to keep his old Ford running. He finally bought a Chevy and gave up that second job to be a milkman for a second job, thus he kept milk, butter,cottage cheese, and eggs on our table.

    Seems like some lessons from Nehimiah could be used today, he knew what had to be done to keep the city safe. The other people that wanted to keep the city vulnerable made up lies to mess with his head. They wanted the power. Yet he just kept watching over the Lord’s people and doing his job. He asked for the Lord’s guidance and just listened to Him.

  5. Dee permalink
    September 6, 2006

    In 1972 we purchased gas for 13 cents a gallon in Deer Park, Texas! Most of the time it was up around 20-22 cents…but we enjoyed the gas wars when they happened. I grew up in the 50s seeing frequent gas wars with prices of 14-18 cents per gallon. However, we need to remember that many people worked for 50 cents an hour (if they were lucky) or less…and were thankful to have work!

  6. September 6, 2006

    Does anybody remember when gas was going up so fast that the old pumps with the dial numbers on them couldn’t keep up with the higher prices (I guess that was the reason), so they would set the pumps to read half of your total sale. If the pump said you pumped 10 gallons, it was really 20 and you had to pay them twice what the total sale number read. Weird!

  7. Tim permalink
    September 6, 2006

    I saw gas for $2.47/gallon last week in Bald Knob, about 10 miles from Searcy. I drove around for 2 hours to use up all my expensive gas so I could replace it with the cheaper gas. Just think of all the money I saved that day!

    I remember commuting with Greg Nance to HUGSR from Searcy in the early 80s. Gas was cheaper in Bald Knob then too, so one morning Greg decided to wait until we got there to fill up. We ran out (about 5:30AM) half way between Searcy and Balk Knob and were very late for Annie May’s class, which was not a good thing to do. The sad part is gas was just 2 cents cheaper, and I think Greg drove an Opal, which had something like an 11 gallon tank. So all of that to save about a quarter. It was the only time I ever remember hearing Annie May use the word “stupid.”

  8. Keith permalink
    September 6, 2006

    My first car was also a Ford Falcon, a ’65 model with “three on the tree.” (manual transmission with the shift lever on the steering column for those born in the 70″s and beyond) You never forget your first car. Many trips from Wynne to Searcy for youth outings and bowling at Harding. I love Nehemiah. I have great admiration for builders, especially those who are visionaries. Don’t remember gas being as low as .29cents, but I remember our Sunday school teacher encouraging us not to smoke. She said that .35cents for a pack of cigarettes could be better spent on other things. I agree.

  9. September 6, 2006

    Mike excelelnt thoughts on Nehemiah. Nehemiah is one of my favorite Old Testament books.
    It is amazing how God worked though his people to accomplish his will and in plan, building the temple, building the wall in less than 2 months. Isn’t it wonderful that God still works through us to accomplish his purpose.
    The Joy of the Lord is our Strength!

  10. Evan permalink
    September 6, 2006


    New to blogging…love your thoughts.

    If you have the time, could you read my post from today

    Let me know your thoughts. I’m curious if I’m the only one who has been seeing this trend lately. I’m struggling with the concept that God calls us to be “Good Americans.” You see my wife is a beautiful Canadian woman, and I’ve learned a lot from her about how to look at people. In fact, it’s because of this growth that I “retired” from full-time ministry to become a “full time minister” at a Community Mental Health Center. I hope that my thoughts do not come across as unpatriotic, but I do hope they come across as “Pro-Jesus.”

    Anticipating a word of wisdom.


  11. David U permalink
    September 6, 2006

    Mike, I heard Donnie talk about God calling Nehemiah to “stack rocks”, and so that is what Nehemiah did. God does not always call us to a glamorous mission. He just calls to be faithful……whatever the particular mission is. I thank God for the Nehemiahs amongst us today!


  12. Dee permalink
    September 6, 2006

    Tim, gas has always been cheaper in Bald Knob than Searcy! Back in the late 50s/early 60s my dad’s employer told him to always fill up the company car either in Bald Knob or Beebe before returning home, because it was 2-3 cents less than in Searcy…this was when gas was 21-24 cents per gallon…so that 2-3 cents was a big percentage of the cost in Searcy!

  13. Buzz permalink
    September 6, 2006

    Oh my, how I long for the days where I could drive up to a service station, roll down the window and say, “Give me a dollar’s worth of regular.” During gas wars, that would give me five gallons, have my oil and water and tire pressure checked. Those were the days, but these are pretty good days, too. We are not quite at the “cashing in your CD” stage to buy gas yet.

  14. Amy Boone permalink
    September 6, 2006

    What is really scary is that when we lived in Atlanta only SIX years ago– yes that was the year 2000– we paid about 80 CENTS per gallon! Yes, you read that right! We could fill up our Honda Accord for about 9 bucks. ONLY SIX YEARS AGO!!!!

  15. September 6, 2006

    I can remember about $0.65, and ‘Full serve’ where someone would come to you and do the dirty work. But that was Mom and Dad driving. If I had to do full serve now, I wouldn’t know how to act.

    I’m fortunate enough to live where gas is cheapest in Columbus OH, it was $2.25 when I went by this AM.

  16. September 6, 2006

    Just think of how much it costs to mow your lawn. I chose to buy a reel mower (humna powered) then my neighbor felt sorry for me and gave me an electic mower. Now i am the weird lawn mowing guy in my neighborhood. All because I did not want to pay $5.00 a week to mow my grass.

    The cheapest gas price I can remember is $0.65. Then again, I am 31.

    Thoughts from a young whipper snapper

  17. September 6, 2006

    In Houston, when we went to youth devos in the 60s, different guys who had cars drove the rest of us “have-nots.” I remember one fellow who had a container on his dashboard and we were expected to chip in a quarter a trip to buy gas. And we always went to gas stations that gave S&H green stamps. I think he made enough to make a few improvements to his Chevy.

    And sometimes on a hot summer night, we’d roll up the windows and drive by people and let them think the ’57 Chevy was air conditioned. I remember the car load of us fanning in the “air conditioning.”

  18. Leland permalink
    September 6, 2006

    When I was a kid, when Bald Knob was just Bad Comb Over Knob, gas was free. We used to fill up for $0. We also put dirt in a sock, called it a burrito and ate it with government cheese melted on it. Oh those were the days, I do declare.

    Now gas is $18 gallon where I live and we still have to eat the Old school burritos except we use Velveeta now. Ever since Pa got sick we don’t get out much so we don’t spend much on gas but the cost of his lumbago medicine is killin us along with that SumBitch Bush in the Whitehouse.

    But at least we got each other. Praise 8lb 6oz Baby Jesus!


  19. September 6, 2006

    I do realize that we pay alot more for our gas these days but I also think that we make alot more because the physical quality of life today is much easier than ever before. I think as Americans especially we have it so good.

  20. September 6, 2006

    Chris G–

    If it takes $5 worth of gasoline to mow your yard, either (a) your yard is considerably larger than mine, or (b) you mow v-e-r-r-r-r-y slowly, or (c) your mower was custom-fit with a 405 Chevy short block by the guys at Monster Garage.

  21. September 6, 2006

    Leland – That’s funny.

    Mark – I was wondering about that.

  22. Belinda permalink
    September 6, 2006

    I see things from Evan’s perspective. I am married to a Russian. Funny how different cultures see things. He says we (the U.S.) seem to believe the church started on Main Street U.S.A. and that God is not only an American, but also a republican. hahaha He is also considered a Jew because his mother was Jewish. He grew up going to church at “the True Church.” We know it here as the Russian Orthodox. I told him I was taught that they didn’t have God or churches there. Boy was I wrong! Embarrassing for me, but he knows way more about God and the scriptures than I do. It’s very sad all of the false information we’ve been given.

  23. Dan permalink
    September 6, 2006

    My first car was a 63 Falcon with a 180 Cubic inch (before liters) and an awe inspiring two speed automatic transmission. I actually managed to get a speeding ticket with it. My parents couldn’t believe it. Oh for the days of the in-line 6. Then the first oil embargo hit!!

  24. September 6, 2006

    I wonder what kind of gas mileage Nehemiah got…

  25. September 6, 2006

    I remember 19 cent gas. I also remember paying $6 a gallon when we moved to Brazil. We still have it made compared to the rest of the world.

  26. September 6, 2006

    I remember 20 cent gas…and the gas wars. My Dad always said no worries, it will go back down. He said there was NO WAY the oil industry would allow gas to become unaffordable to the American people and force them to search for an alternative source of energy. While everyone else was panicking and wanting the prices to go down, my Dad always wished they would go up!

    ….If there was no money from oil in the Middle East …..

  27. September 7, 2006

    Mike, a memento I brought home from my Granny today is a little clock that is inscribed with “The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength”.

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