Jesus Wasn’t Born to Die

Jesus Wasn’t Born to Die

It’s Christmas season, or as Christians have called it, Advent.

Nativity scenes are in our yards, statues of baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes are on our coffee tables, and cute songs about Jesus’ birthday are being sung at our churches.

And it’s in seasons like this that a lot of the same platitudes make their way into our sermons, conversations, and tweets. A lot of them probably shouldn’t have any place there.

One of them is this: Jesus was born to die.

You might hear another version of it like this: Christmas is important, but only because it led to Easter.

This probably isn’t a good thing to say or believe, and here’s why: Continue reading “Jesus Wasn’t Born to Die”


Why I Took My Wife’s Last Name (And She Took Mine)

Why I Took My Wife’s Last Name (And She Took Mine)

My new bride and I have had an interesting story. But that’s probably not the reason you’re reading this right now. You’re probably reading this because you’re more interested in the fact that I have taken my wife’s last name. And since that’s what the title of this article says, I’ll satisfy that interest with this explanation.

Obviously, it’s traditional for the wife to take the last name of the husband. And firstly, I would like to say that this article in no way proposes (pun intended) that the way that my wife and I chose is the “better” way or that people who chose the traditional way are wrong for doing so. That would literally be every married person I know.

But let’s dive in. Now my name is Blake Rivera-Baggott. So, why did I take my wife’s last name? And why did she take mine?

  1. I Mean… Why Not?

    Firstly, I want to say that this whole thing was my idea. I came to Brenda (my wife) with this thought of doing this (no guys… I wasn’t begrudgingly forced to do this by a headstrong wife… tsk tsk). And the idea that first sparked it was, well, what good reason is there for the wife taking the husband’s last name?

    I couldn’t find any good reasons other than it was tradition. There’s nothing in the Bible about it. It’s not even a thing that people, specifically Christians, today across the world agree about. It has more to do with culture than religion (which I’ll touch on more later).

    So then, once I had figured that there were no strong arguments for the traditional way, I decided to look at the pros of combining our names together.

  2. Mutuality

    The biggest positive I could find behind the wife taking the name of the husband was that the idea of the two becoming one (a la Genesis 2) was beautifully embodied in sharing a last name. So, it made sense why one would change their last name after an event like this. After all, God has a track record of changing names (ask Abram/Abraham, Jacob/Israel, and Simon/Peter, to name a few).

    I liked that idea. However, I know many modern couples simply keep their names. Still, Brenda and I didn’t necessarily want her to remain a Rivera while I was a Baggott.

    We still wondered though, why have it as just the wife changing her name? Obviously, we believe in coming to our relationship as equal partners. There’s no sort of patriarchal, male-centered framework guiding the way we view our relationship. So, what if our names reflected the way we view our relationship? What if we brought both of our names together?

    So that’s what we did. Now, she’s a Baggott. But, I’m also a Rivera. The two have become one—and not in a way that erases the other. It’s in a way that includes each of ourselves into each other. Which brings me to my next point.

  3. Maintaining Her Heritage

    My wife is Mexican. She was born in Houston to Mexican parents and lived in Mexico for years, where we still visit her family. She speaks Spanish. She uses Mexican slang. And, most relevant, she has a Spanish name.

    Brenda Guadalupe Rivera. That’s the girl I fell in love with. And I couldn’t see myself stripping away part of her identity. She is a Rivera—it’s just who she is. Our children will be Mexican; they will have Rivera blood.

    Yes, she could have kept it as her middle name. But refer to point 1 as well. And what about our kids? They will be half Mexican. And we thought that their name should reflect that too. Especially since there’s a longstanding tradition in the Spanish speaking world of the children taking both the mother’s and father’s last name.

    So now, she’s still a Rivera. She didn’t change that part of herself. But now, I’m also a Rivera as well. I’m honored to be invited into her culture and her heritage, as well her being invited into mine. Our kids share both of us equally, and we will all share a last name that reflects that.

We’re still figuring out life and how to navigate through it as a married couple. Our journey has just started. But we both feel confident that this was a great idea that honored each other’s family, each other’s heritage, and, most importantly, that honored God.

As for our kids, they’ll be Rivera-Baggotts, and when the time comes for them to get married, we look forward to them thinking through some of the same things that we’ve thought through and making their own decisions about their last name. It’s theirs to work with.

And as for why we decided to put Rivera first? Well I mean… it sounds better than Baggott-Rivera, right?


Why Has God Called Us Not to Sin?

Why Has God Called Us Not to Sin?

In our adolescence, we usually question the validity of why sin is, well… sin. We may ask if God is just a cosmic killjoy, trying to suck all the fun out of life and keep us from doing all of the really cool things.

But, once we mature a little and get past that, the question still remains as to why has God has called us not to sin in the first place.

Or the deeper question, why are sins wrong? In other words, is God more than just a parent responding to his kids with “because I told you so”?

A lot of times, the answer we are given merely scratches the surface, with something like, “God wants the best life for you. He said that we could have abundant life. A life without sin is the ideal life—the one created us to have.”

And while I believe there is truth in that, it may go a little deeper.

Continue reading “Why Has God Called Us Not to Sin?”

Crucifixion of Power

Crucifixion of Power

In the real world, it’s all about who know. If you know powerful people, then you have a certain kind of power yourself. The more people you know at the front of the race, the closer to the lead you can get.

Not much has changed since the world of the early Christians either. Look at this passage from 1 Corinthians 1:11-12:

For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.”

Paul, Apollos, Peter, Jesus… these were big players for first century Christians. It’s likely that Christians from all across the Roman Empire knew these names. If you had connections with one of these guys, you probably felt like you were connected to a little bit of power.

Paul was the man who spread the faith all across Roman territory, Apollos was a big teacher and apparently helped grow the church at Corinth, Peter was the man God said he’d build his church on, and Jesus was, well, Jesus. I imagine the people in the Jesus camp decided to bypass all “human” streams of power and go straight to the “source.” A little bit like a friend quoting Thomas Aquinas, and you responding with the Beatitudes.

But that isn’t the way power works in the kingdom of God. Continue reading “Crucifixion of Power”

3 Ways Learning a Language Changed Me

3 Ways Learning a Language Changed Me

What usually is every high school kid’s worst nightmare turned out to be something revolutionary for me.

Yeah, I know. It sounds nerdy. I can just imagine judging a headline like “3 Ways Applied Statistics Changed Me.”

But, hear me out.

When I started to learn Spanish, it really rocked my world.

This article isn’t just about the ways that knowing a little bit of Spanish changed my life, e.g. giving me business opportunities, allowing me to travel and communicate, etc.

I’m going to write about how learning a second language actually changed me

And hopefully how it might change (or have changed) you too. Continue reading “3 Ways Learning a Language Changed Me”

Would We Vote For Jesus?

Would We Vote For Jesus?

In times of presidential elections, the question that is usually asked is “Who would Jesus vote for?”

However, if that’s the main question we ask, then we’ll most likely just end up making Jesus look like a Republican or a Democrat. He will just fit neatly into our American two-party system.

Seeing as Jesus is King, I don’t imagine he’s terribly interested in voting or joining any existing political party.

Perhaps the better question to ask is this: if Jesus was running for President, would we vote for him? Continue reading “Would We Vote For Jesus?”

We Might Not Love Jesus Like We Thought

We Might Not Love Jesus Like We Thought

Do you love Jesus? I’m not trying to get you to go from saying no to saying yes. Because there’s a very high likelihood that, if you’re reading this, you already answer yes to that question. But, sometimes the right answer can be wrong. And Jesus has a way of making us realize how the things we always thought were right aren’t as right as we thought they were.

When we look at John 21, we see this famous question asked:

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Before we can answer the question, “Do you love Jesus?” I think we have to ask the question, “What does it mean to love Jesus?” When asked, “Do you love Jesus?” we all know that we’re supposed to yes, right? But when we look at this story of Peter, I think we discover that loving Jesus may not mean what we think it means. Continue reading “We Might Not Love Jesus Like We Thought”

The Unblessedness of Giving

The Unblessedness of Giving

A while back, I was visiting back home in South Carolina and I was at a restaurant that had one of those really fancy soda machines. It was the one with the screen that you had to press buttons in order to choose your drink.

As I was going to get my drink, there was an older lady in front of me having a really hard time figuring out what to do. I saw her in crisis and decided to step up and help her out with her drink selection.

After I helped her, she had a gracious look on her face, but then she said this to me:

“You see… women do need men!”


It just really took me off guard. And I let out one of the most awkward laughs you’ve probably ever heard.

I just started to think, how could someone possibly interpret a situation like that in such a way that it made them come to the conclusion that one entire gender is absolutely dependent upon another entire gender? If anything, this was a sign that older people need young people… I kid!

However, that event helped show me that we are trained to see the world in a certain way and all of our experience are filtered through that certain way of seeing the world. Hers, unfortunately, was a one colored by male superiority, despite being a woman herself!

Still, it made me consider the ways that I may unfaithfully see the world too. Continue reading “The Unblessedness of Giving”

Pilgrimage Tour: Day 5—Jesus Isn’t All I Need

Pilgrimage Tour: Day 5—Jesus Isn’t All I Need
For all posts thus far in the Pilgrimage Tour series, click here.

Jesus isn’t all you need.

This may go against everything you’ve ever heard about God. But hear me out.

What do we mean when we say, “All I need is Jesus”? If it is something like, “I don’t need anyone else in my life to be who I need to be… All I need is God,” then I’m afraid that this simply isn’t true.

I found this out in a very real way as I began to hike. Continue reading “Pilgrimage Tour: Day 5—Jesus Isn’t All I Need”

Pilgrimage Tour: Day 4—(Re)Imagining “the Valley”

Pilgrimage Tour: Day 4—(Re)Imagining “the Valley”
For all posts thus far in the Pilgrimage Tour series, click here.

What do you think about when you think of a valley?

Most likely, you think about a dark place. A place of sorrow. A place of mourning, depression, and despair. I know I do.

The goal is the mountaintop, right? To get past the misery and desolation, finally receiving the joy and victory that comes on the top of the mountain.

All of those clichés seemed really nice—until I began to climb a mountain. Continue reading “Pilgrimage Tour: Day 4—(Re)Imagining “the Valley””