Jerry Hablitzel

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Favorites:

Favorite food: Tex-Mex enchiladas and tacos. I grew up in California and have found it difficult to find really good Mexican food on the east coast.

Activity: I am an active person yet before taking this new role I really loved my quiet, contemplative life! It was full of reading, writing and thinking apart from doing and obligation. It is a beautiful spiritual space to live in and I am learning how to incorporate it into my new life.

Sport: I love watersports. I love the beach, snorkeling and used to be an impressive slalom waterskier. The ocean doesn't freak me out half as much as thinking about the possibility of alligators in fresh water.

Scripture: Philippians 1:6; "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ". This is good news for a recovering perfectionist and legalist.

Book: Tough choice. I have several favorites. The one most foundational to my relational theology is We Really Do Need Each Other. This book is based on a sermon series on 1 John by my college chaplain and professor, Ruben Welch.

Place in Delray: The Colony Beach Club. I am not a member but have been a guest many times. It always feels like a vacation far away.

Wisdom: "He who cannot forgive another breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself." George Herbert. My corollary, "He who forgives builds a bridge that leads to his freedom." Also, "We cannot ask God to forgive us with any confidence if we are harboring an unforgiving spirit toward others." My corollary. "In our judgment, we keep at bay that which we desperately desire or draw to ourselves the evil we are trying to avoid."

Favorite quote: "Abortion has never been about choice . . . It's about escaping the consequences of your choices by taking all choices away from another human being."

Fun stuff: I love exotic birds, orchids and women. Right now I am very satisfied with one exotic woman. This year we are celebrating 40 beautiful years together. Together we have a son, Andrew, 35 years old and a daughter Victoria, 32. Andrew and his wife Lindsay are expecting our first grandchild which is due on our anniversary, November 11, 2018.

 

My story: I grew up in a conservative Christian home. Between the ages of 8 and 14, I watched how my parents were sustained by their faith while in great distress and ultimately the death of my mother when I was 14. Even though I was raised in Sunday School and heard a minimum of two sermons a week, God was elusive and invisible to me. What I did see was that my parents had engaged with a Power greater than them. I wanted to know this God. My journey to faith was halting and slow. This was exacerbated by the fact that although my parents were Bible-believing, born-again Christians, my father was abusive. Our apparently sweet Christian family was quite dysfunctional.

I can't name a time or place where I committed my life to Christ but there was a time at 14 years old when I cried out to God and said, "If you exist, I want to know you." That was now 50 years ago! Little did I know, he was pursuing me all along. There was no miraculous transformation but a new interest in spiritual things and an ability to listen and learn from sermons. From that point on, I sought to follow and obey and never seriously strayed. I was, however, influenced by the mixed messages in both family and church. I devolved into legalism.

In my mid-thirties, married with two kids, I discovered the world of 12 Step Recovery. By providential accident, I wound up in an Adult Child focused Al-Anon group. This helped me heal from much of the damage from my family of origin. This was truly like being born again. Some of my biggest transformations have come out of working the 12 Steps.

At about the same time, my next spiritual awakening came when I consciously set out to recover from the spiritual bondage of legalism. Through sound counsel from a para-church organization, I ventured into the land of grace. It was not an easy journey but has made all the difference. I was sovereignly redeemed from trying to measure up by my own deeds and now rest firmly in all that Christ has done to fully reconcile me to His father.

My spiritual journey has taken me through decades of doubt, despair and discouragement. I am happy to say my suffering has yielded a sweet assurance that I am my Father's beloved son and he is well pleased with me. This is a solid and beautiful place from which to minister to those engulfed in great pain and suffering.

My greatest experience with God: In June of 2006, I had an encounter with Jesus that involved forgiveness and freed me from intense panic attacks that were brought on by some dire circumstances. Twelve years later; when the Lord heals it is permanent.