Does Prayer Actually Work?

This was the view off my back deck yesterday. The fire has spread significantly today, threatening evacuations of friends at the top of the ridge in this picture. This is one horrific fire that has displaced thousands of families.

Black Forest Fire

I believe we’re safe, for now. Everyone in the area has felt a bit helpless. See the YouTube video I took just moments ago (Wednesday, 2:55pm). There’s not much we can do when the wind blows like that. Besides pray.

We were in a very similar situation one year ago with the Waldo Canyon Fire. This fire was the most destructive fire in Colorado’s history, and my family even evacuated at one point. We did just as much praying—probably more—as we packed up our trailer with treasured items and took photos throughout the house with our phones in case we needed to make insurance claims.

This article is an unfettered appeal to you for prayer. Those families suffering the loss of their homes and livelihood need you. The firefighters, law enforcement, civil servants and everyone involved in fighting the Black Forest Fire do too. I believe prayer works.

I’m reminded of an article I posted on our family blog last year. Shortly after the fire’s worst day when the community was extremely thankful for the time being over, a noted atheist in the community posted an article slamming Christians for praying. He made the audacious, offensive and unwarranted claim that “the evidence” showed prayer had nothing to do with anything.

Well, I took issue with the claim. I hope this article—republished from July 5, 2012—encourages you to make an appeal to God:

Make-a-Wish for Speech and Debate Camp

If you had leukemia, and someone granted you the wish of a fully-funded trip of your choice, where would you go? Fulfilling such wishes is what the Make-a-Wish Foundation does. They contacted me to let me know that a 17-year-old from Missouri has made her wish to attend my Training Minds Camp this summer.

Make-a-Wish Foundation of Missouri

This is incredible. What a privilege and honor this is. Most young people would opt for Disneyland or meeting Justin Bieber, but this young lady is choosing debate camp. Now that’s WOW for you!

There’s quite a bit to this story. I’d like to focus on three specifics that are certain to inspire you as much as they have inspired me.

Survey on 2014 Speaking Topics

Here’s a peak under the hood of my 2014 plans: Wendy and I plan to take an extended trip around the country and do a bunch of speaking engagements. Here’s what we have planned so far, and I’d appreciate your feedback.

Wendy and I attended a huge homeschool conference last weekend. We intend to make a run through many conferences in 2014.

Wendy and I attended a huge homeschool conference last weekend. We intend to make a run through several conferences in 2014.

Why We Opt for Coached Rounds Rather Than a Tournament

Speech and debate camp is totally awesome. Those who take advantage of the summer months to fit a camp into their schedule don’t ever go away dissatisfied. If you have the opportunity, take it.

Coached Round

We do things differently at camp, making first debate rounds an educational experience rather than a competitive one.

Some coaches and I started the Training Minds Camps in 2001. We’ve grown quite the program with dozens of the best coaches in the world involved. We used to be the only outfit out there, but today, there are quite a few debate camps available to students.

Most camps do a small tournament at the end of their training. It has some value, particularly apply what you learned. On its surface, that’s a good idea, but my coaches and I have decided not to do this. I believe for good reason.

Keys to Lincoln-Douglas Debate

Travis Herche and I worked on putting the long-awaited Keys to Lincoln-Douglas Debate to press, sent off today. We’ve been working on this for at least a year, he as the writer and me as the publisher. Its release is July 31 (see I have a special deal to share with you, but first let me say a few things about Coach Travis and his new book.


I’ve been serving the debate community since 1995, and very few coaches rise to the quality, enthusiasm and success of Travis. He left his own competitive stint in 2006 after he took top awards in speech and debate. He didn’t just dabble in forensics. He was all over it. He participated in countless speech events, but made sure he mastered both formats of debate, Team-Policy and Lincoln-Douglas. Back in the day, Travis was something else.

Youth Injured in Rollover

This is a good story that I’ll share with you someday. I nearly died, but it was a dramatic experience that made me sit up straight in life.

You Want to Be There This Summer

Debate camps are awesome. I’m telling ya, if you have a chance to go (or bring your kids), you won’t regret it. My program has been training young people for competition since 2001. However, there is a deeper purpose to the training that I don’t want you to miss.

2008 Virginia

They learn the technique at camp, but there is a greater purpose to it all.

NOTE: Limited space is available. See here to register.

The first Training Minds Speech & Debate Camp for Summer 2013 will be at Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA. We’re opening this up students studying the NCFCA team-policy and Lincoln-Douglas topics. If you’re into speech and debate competition, be sure to make it. Special keynote speaker: Andrew Pudewa.

Date: July 23, 2013
Time: 5 days
Event: Training Minds EAST (Regent University)
Topic: TP, LD, Extemp, Apologetics, Interp, Platform Competitive Speaking
Sponsor: Training Minds
Venue: Regent University
Location: Virginia Beach, VA
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.

This is one of several events I'm running in 2013. Be sure to check out all Training Minds events here.

My Paperless Plan

That’s it. My home office is going paperless. I bought a Fujitsu ScanSnap and have already scanned in my business cards and debate flows, and I’m on my way to a clutter free desk.

Paper Mess

I’m a publisher. Paper has been very good to me. I own an extremely nice and expensive printer. You’d think I would be a stubborn goat and resist the coming paperless trend. But not this publisher. I’m all in.

A few people have come into my life who have persuaded me that paperless is the way to go: