By Norris Burkes April 7. 2024

All the talk about Powerball jackpots these days honestly has me thinking about buying a ticket.

I know the odds are terribly impossible, but I think I just might have the winning numbers. And today, I’m going to share those divinely inspired numbers.

Well, the “divine” claim is probably an overreach, but I do know that if you pick numbers above 31, you’re likely to be the sole winner. That’s because most people choose their birth dates.

So with that in mind, can I get a drum roll?

Chaplain Norris’s winning numbers are 35-40-45-50-55-60. Bonus number 65.

Yup, I know choosing numbers in multiples of five may seem whacky, but statistics suggest that the odds never change no matter how many times you play or what numbers you choose. Your winning odds are similar to getting struck by lightning on your birthday two years in a row.

Truthfully, you really shouldn’t take gambling advice from a chaplain. Unless it’s “Don’t gamble!”

But the whole lotto game provides some analogy for the way folks choose the right kind of faith.

Why is it that we sometimes think faith is all about luck?

We seek out the nearest weeping statue and drive hundreds of miles to light a candle. We say a prayer and hope a god in a good mood hears it.

Sometimes we search for faith like we are playing scratch cards. We scratch at the deep questions of faith, hoping to come up with a win.

Still others rely on some lucky combination that their grandfather passed along to them. “My granddaddy prayed for my grandmother inside that church, and she was healed, so I guess it’s a winner.”

Yet, still others rely on the big-spin approach and take the one they land on. Others see faith like picking the right card out of a newly shuffled deck.

And some play faith the way they play a bluffing poker hand, refusing to let anyone see the cards of doubt they hold.

The problem with these approaches is they produce a routine of losing, much like those who return each night to the same casino only to lose again.

The faith choice made with these methods usually ends up discarded, much like a Lotto ticket on a gas-station driveway.

Faith has little to do with winning or losing. Faith is too important to treat with the same glibness we use to choose our winning numbers. Perhaps it’s more about investing in who we are, not about gambling on what we never had.

Maybe faith comes about when we invest in the search. We find it inspired by the conversations, the discussions, the questions, and the debates that we have with others. In fact, I believe God prefers honest “searchers” or “questioners,” even when they challenge him directly, even when they are unflattering.

Jesus suggested faith might well be something compared to a mustard seed. A mustard seed is the tiniest of seeds, yet in ratio, it grows into one of the biggest plants. Faith starts from the smallest beginnings in the hearts of people and produces not a personal profit, but a powerful and personal transformation.

Well, all this talk about winning the lottery made me wonder what might happen if I actually bought a ticket. I mean, if I ever bought just one, what might happen?

I may never know.


But if you do happen to win with my divine numbers, please remember my favorite charity – Chispa Project. I think it’s fair to say that any gift can be an investment in faith.




Make a sure bet on education. I’m returning to Honduras in June to help Chispa Project create six new libraries, reach 4,000+ more students and 200 teachers. Your donations are needed to buy 9,000 new books.


Every $100 donation will buy library access to four children. Give online today at or make check to “Chispa Project.”


Send donations or column comments to 10556 Combie Rd. Suite 6643 Auburn, CA 95602. Email or message at (843) 608-9715.