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Summary: A message addressing how parents can love and help their prodigal or wayward son or daughter.

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INTRO: Franklin was a rebellious kid--even though his parents raised him with fair and loving discipline.

-His dad, in fact, was a well-respected leader--consistently listed among the top 10 "most admired" people in the country!

-When Franklin reached high school age, his mom and dad sent him to a private Christian boarding school--hoping that the moral and structured environment would have a positive impact on him. But instead, Franklin had a negative impact on his classmates: breaking rules; smoking cigarettes on the roof of the boys’ dorm; and sneaking into town to drink.

-After high school, Franklin’s parents enrolled him in a Christian college. But his drinking and fighting constantly got him into trouble. The school finally kicked him out after he disappeared for several days with a co-ed, in a private plane that he’d rented at an airfield where he’d been taking flying lessons.

-Franklin’s mom and dad tried everything to straighten him out. They even sent him to a Middle East country to work with some missionary friends who were building a hospital. Franklin did construction by day, and drank his private supply of scotch by night.

-Franklin was the epitome of a prodigal son. You’ve probably heard of his daddy--Billy Graham, the famous evangelist.

We’re in the fourth week of a 5-part series: I’ve Got a Secret.

-We’ve been taking a look at some of the major problems that people face--problems that they often keep secret, because of their pain and embarrassment.

-I know a lot of moms and dads who are broken-hearted by the problem of wayward kids. That’s today’s topic: parents who have children that are prodigals.

-Maybe I’m describing you. You have: a son who’s gotten kicked out of school, or who’s abusing drugs, or who can’t hold down a job; a daughter who’s moved in with her boyfriend, or who’s pregnant out of wedlock, or who has cut herself off from the family.

-You don’t know what to do about it. And you’ve been keeping it to yourself--because you feel like a failure as a parent.

One of the reasons that I told you about Franklin Graham is because his mom and dad had good reason to keep their prodigal son a secret--but they didn’t.

-In fact, in Franklin’s autobiography, Rebel With a Cause, he tells about the time that he needed some money from his dad.

He rode over to his father’s office on his motorcycle, long hair whipping in the wind. When he got there, Billy Graham was in a board meeting--surrounded by important people.

*But when Dr. Graham learned that his son had arrived--he invited him in and introduced him to each of the board members.

*Years later, Franklin wrote: I never forgot that feeling. My dad wasn’t ashamed of me.

-Billy and Ruth Graham chose not to keep their prodigal son a secret. That’s one of the reasons I told you Franklin’s story.

-The other reason is because it has a happy ending. Franklin is now a world-renowned evangelist himself, as well as the president of Samaritan’s Purse--a Christian relief organization that meets the physical and spiritual needs of victims of war, famine, disease and natural disasters around the world!

-There may be a happy ending to the story of your prodigal child--if not for your child, at least for you!

Let’s take a look at six biblical principles for dealing with a prodigal child.

-If you don’t need these principles for yourself--somebody you know may need them. So write them down. OUTLINE.

-Now--what famous parable of Jesus do you think we’re going to look at, to pick up these six principles?

-Luke 15: The Parable of the Prodigal Son.

-Prodigal, by the way, means wasteful. A prodigal child is one who throws away (2x) resources and opportunities and moral standards and wholesome relationships.

-READ vv.11-13.

*The younger son, in this story, was probably in his late teens. He was tired of living at home. He wanted his cut of the family inheritance so that he could move out on his own.

*Now, in this culture, an estate wouldn’t be divvied up until the death of the father. So the younger son’s request indicated that--as far as he was concerned--his dad was as good as dead. (Nice kid!)

*Well, the father gave him what he wanted--and the younger son took it, ran off with it, and squandered it. You see that word squandered, in v.13? It comes from a verb that means, literally, to toss into the wind.

*That’s what he did with his wealth. He wasted it. He threw it all away--which is how he got the title of the Prodigal Son. Verse13 says that he blew it on wild living. Verse 30 (if we look ahead) tells us that this included, among other things, prostitutes.

-What do you do with a son like this? Six directives for moms and dads of prodigals from this story.

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