Every morning, my father-in-law went to a local restaurant to meet his buddies. They would drink coffee, have breakfast, and discuss the issues of the day. For me, Rick was that kind of gathering together. Every morning for the past several years, Rick and I would gather together and talk about Jesus, politics, and ministry. He was the kind of trusted friend with who you could tell your deepest darkest secrets and you knew you were safe in discussing them. We would discuss our visions of ministry that could make a difference in the lives of people. We often joked that the hours upon hours of our discussions could have been great reading had we recorded all of them.
Tonight, as I came home from a dinner engagement I learned that Rick had passed away. He was recently hospitalized for COVID-19 and never left the hospital. Friends like Rick come along so few times in one’s life, and I was grateful and blessed to have known him as one of my closest friends. When you have a Rick as your friend in your life you feel a sense of normalcy, and the friendship transcends anything that is happening in the world around you.
Tonight, Rick is gone.
Rick knew and loved the Lord, so there is no doubt where he will spend eternity. He leaves behind his wife, his family, and the myriad of friends who called Rick their friend.
Rick was a prolific visionary and always kept Jesus as the most important reason for his life. Rick was an innovator. He always thought outside of the box. In our conversations, he would come up with some of the most entrepreneurial dreams of how to make organizations better, or how to make ministries more effective. He always put the message of the Gospel at the center of all. He always wanted God to get the credit and the glory because God was his goal and his aim in life. To illustrate the kind of person Rick was … he never served in the military, but founded a ministry called ‘Operation High Ground’ that ministered to the pain of PTSD in the lives of returning veterans. Recently, his focus was trying to find ways to bring healing and hope to the everyday heroes who are our first responders. Rick and I would occasionally get together to ride our Harleys out to a favorite hamburger joint and reminisce about our younger days. (Something guys do as they age.)
Rick is now standing before God Almighty, hearing those words he lived to hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant of God.”
Having a friend like Rick was like having a Labrador dog, whose loyalty as a canine is second to none. Rick was a friend to everyone because everyone was important to him. Nothing you said or did would prevent Rick from talking to you because everyone mattered to him.
Your lifetime gives you few friends like Rick, so when they are gone you feel the great loss. I know I speak for many friends who knew Rick and are shocked today because of his passing. When I told my wife about Rick’s passing, she said, “He now has his reward. We live to one day experience what Rick is now experiencing.” She is right … as sad as it is to lose him, he now has his reward.
Rick taught me many things … here are just a few that I am so grateful for:
1. He never withdrew from any idea that could make a difference in the lives of people, or presented the opportunity to tell the story of the Gospel.
2. He had a heart for the hurting and used his personal past pain to help others.
3. He had a playful spirit, which is just one of the things I loved about him. He made me laugh every time he would impersonate various people with his voice. He was very talented.
4. He was insightful on politics, religion, and ministry. This caused us to have wonderful daily conversations about all three.
5. He always came alongside people to assist them in what they were doing. His latest was the IMF Chaplaincy Conference where he emceed the event and make huge contributions to its success.
Rick, you will be missed, and most of all, I will miss our daily phone calls full of humor, wisdom, and clarity.
Psalm 15 1Lord, who may go and find refuge and shelter in your tabernacle up on your holy hill? 2Anyone who leads a blameless life and is truly sincere. 3Anyone who refuses to slander others, does not listen to gossip, never harms his neighbor, 4speaks out against sin, criticizes those committing it, commends the faithful followers of the Lord, keeps a promise even if it ruins him, 5does not crush his debtors with high interest rates, and refuses to testify against the innocent despite the bribes offered him—such a man shall stand firm forever.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler